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Critical Special Elections in North Carolina; Trump Defends Taliban Invitation; New Vaping Warnings; Big Papi's Big Return; British PM Johnson's Brexit Options Narrow. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 10, 2019 - 04:00   ET




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The radical Democrats want to dismantle, demolish and destroy everything that you've gained. And they will do it and it won't take that long.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A president with a lot on the line today. Special elections could show if the voters are turning on the president in the first big bellwether of 2020.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Peace talks with Taliban are completely dead, crumbling after secret talks were cancelled. The president defying his own vice president to set up the summit.

BRIGGS: The nation's leading e-cigarette maker warned to stop deceptive marketing. Now, a new warning against vaping from the American Medical Association.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number 34, David Ortiz.


ROMANS: A big return for Big Papi. David Ortiz back in public for the first time since he was shot in June.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and the around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

You're happy about it.

BRIGGS: I'm happy to see Big Papi back. Good man.

I'm Dave Briggs. Tuesday, September 10th, 4:00 a.m. in New York, 9:00 a.m. in London. It is 11:00 a.m. in Jerusalem.

We start with Election Day. Critical special elections in North Carolina today could be a bellwether for 2020. The key race is in the state's ninth district, held by the GOP for more than 50 years. It has been vacant since a razor-thin vote in 2018, no winner was declared amid allegations of absentee ballot fraud that prompted state officials to call for a new vote.

President Trump won the district by 12 points as did Mitt Romney four years prior. But early voting for this race has the Democrat ahead of the Republican by more than six points. The president tried to rally support in North Carolina last night.


TRUMP: The radical Democrats want to dismantle, demolish and destroy everything that you've gained. And they will do it and it won't take that long.

Your way of life is under assault by these people. With your support, tomorrow, we take the first steps to firing Speaker Pelosi and winning back the House in 2020.


ROMANS: One possible advantage for McCready is that the Democrats hold an eight-point voter registration advantage in the district, even though Republicans keep winning the seat. There's another special election in the third district open. That seat open hat's due to the death of longtime Congressman Walter Jones. Polls open this morning at 6:30 a.m.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, the president is defending his widely criticized decision to set up a secret meeting with the Taliban at Camp David. The talks would have come just days before the anniversary of 9/11. It is the Taliban who harbor the terrorists responsible for the attacks. The president claims he called off the meetings when he learned last week the group claimed responsibility for killing an American soldier.

ROMANS: The Taliban have already claimed the deaths of at least nine U.S. service members this year and likely responsible for seven others. The president now insisting there is no path forward.


TRUMP: They're dead. They're dead. As far as I'm concerned they're dead. They thought they had to kill people to put themselves in a little better negotiating position.


ROMANS: Sources tell CNN the president overruled National Security Advisor John Bolton and his Vice President Mike Pence when he decided to set up that meeting with the Taliban at Camp David. Bolton and his staff do not trust the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and thought he had too much leverage in the talks.

BRIGGS: President Trump sealed a partnership with the Scottish airport in 2014 that routinely sent refueling flight crews to his resort in Turnberry. That's according to a report in "The New York Times." But on this tweet on Monday, the president claimed to know nothing about Air Force crews staying at his resort.

"The New York Times" obtained documents from the Scottish government detailing the Trump Organization's deal with Glasgow Prestwick Airport. The report says Mr. Trump played a direct role. The president claims he doesn't need this kind of arrangement to help his bottom line.


TRUMP: I'm going to give out my financial condition. And you'll be extremely shocked that the numbers are many, many times what you think. I don't need to have somebody take a room overnight at a hotel.


BRIGGS: The arrangement again raises question about whether Mr. Trump is benefitting financial from the presidency. On Sunday, the Air Force ordered a review of all international layover stays.

ROMANS: An effort to clean up after President Trump's false claim Alabama would be hit by Hurricane Dorian led to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatening to fire top staffers at NOAA.


That's the agency that runs the National Weather Service. "The New York Times" reports Ross ordered NOAA to disavow a tweet from a regional weather that contradicted the president's claim. When the acting head of NOAA pushed back, Ross told him the agency's political staff would be fired. The commerce spokesman denies this story.

Now, NOAA's acting chief scientist told colleagues in an e-mail that he is investigating. Craig McLean calls the agency's response and a danger to public health and safety.

BRIGGS: North Korea said, yesterday, it's ready to restart nuclear talks with the U.S. then, just hours later, test-fired two weapons. After more than a year of refraining from missile tests, Pyongyang has launched 10 since May. The Kim Jong-un regime is barred from conducting missile tests under U.N. Security Council resolutions. President Trump has played down North Korea's short range ballistic missile tests, calling them, quote, very standard.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday Kim has not broken any commitments to the president but e said the U.S. is disappointed.

ROMANS: All right. Concerned that President Trump repeatedly mishandled classified intel led the U.S. to extract one of its highest level covert sources inside the Russian government. CNN was first to report on the successful previously secret mission citing multiple U.S. officials with direct knowledge. The mission was ordered after a May -- this May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office, where the president discussed highly classified intelligence with top Russian officials. BRIGGS: Sources say the informant was the highest level source the

U.S. had inside the Kremlin. The spy had access to Vladimir Putin and could even provide pictures of documents on his desk. One source says there was no equal alternative inside the Kremlin.

President Trump said yesterday he knows nothing about reports suggesting he mishandled classified information.

ROMANS: All right. Nearly every state is now investigating Google over antitrust, marking the latest escalation of regulatory scrutiny of the tech giant. A bipartisan group of attorneys general representing 48 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico launched this investigation. Only California and Alabama have not signed on to the probe.


KEN PAXTON (R), TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: While many consumers believe that the Internet is free, certainly, we know from Google's profits of $117 billion that the Internet is not free. This investigation is not a lawsuit. It's an investigation to determine the facts. And right now, we're looking at advertising. But the facts will lead to where the facts lead.


ROMANS: Silicon Valley has faced growing criticism into whether it's become too big, harming competition and consumers. The probe will initially look into Google's advertising though it may expand from there.

The tech giant has already faced antitrust scrutiny from federal lawmakers and the Justice Department. You know, regulators around the world have been critical of Google. The E.U. has issued Google $9 billion in fine for antitrust violations over the past three years. Google declined to comment to CNN.

BRIGGS: The FDA is warning e-cigarette maker Juul about illegally marketing its product as a safer alternative to cigarettes. The company has been ordered to respond with corrective actions within 15 working days. Juul says it is reviewing the order and will fully cooperate.

There has been an alarming rise in cases of severe lung illness linked to vaping. The American Medical Association is now urging everyone to avoid these cigarettes. In November, the FDA revealed vaping increased nearly 80 percent among high school students and 50 percent among middle schoolers compared to a year earlier. First Lady Melania Trump tweeting she is deeply concerned about the growing epidemic and we need to do all we can to prevent e-cigarettes from leading to nicotine addiction.

ROMANS: This is a big deal. If you think your kids and grandkids don't know about this, you're wrong.

BRIGGS: You don't know. ROMANS: You know.

BRIGGS: Most parents have no clue. We talk about this a little here on EARLY START.

ROMANS: I mean, it's a real issue in the schools. You know, they find these little cartridges all over the place. And these kids can vape and you don't really know it. You can't smell it. Now, we know it's a potential significant health risk.

All right. Time is running out to find survivors in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian. Why did one ferry operator ask people seeking refuge in the U.S. to disembark?




BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I earlier urged the House to trust the people. But once again, the opposition think they know better.


ROMANS: British parliament again rejecting Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call for an early election, narrowing his options now on Brexit. Johnson exercising his power to suspend parliament for the next five weeks. Does that give him the maneuvering room to keep his promise to yank Britain out of the E.U. by the October 31st deadline?

CNN's Max Foster is live in London with the very latest.

Good morning, sir.


Extraordinary scenes last night, just the last few hours actually, because in the early hours of the morning in parliament, the House of Commons was suspended but with a huge degree of acrimony. There were protests in the House. We haven't seen anything like it for centuries really. Opposition MPs literally holding down the speaker, refusing to let him leave so the session couldn't end.


Homemade banners up, some of them saying we wouldn't be silenced. Opposition M.P.s shouting "shame on you" to the conservative benches on the other side. You can see that. They were just sitting there stone cold.

We haven't seen anything like this for a very long time. But it does mean parliament is suspended now for five weeks.

And Boris Johnson's options have very much been narrowed. His idea of a snap election was rejected by the House yesterday. He can't have a no-deal Brexit. They ruled that out as well.

So, he's really got one option left, which is to try to find some sort of deal with the European Union. And he says he is working towards that. And we're looking at, again, is this Irish border issue.

And all of the talk from his side seems to be pointing to this idea that was muted earlier in the year by the E.U. actually, that there would be a soft border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. But Northern Ireland would be tied potentially into the customs union. And the border is between the island of Ireland and Great Britain, the rest of the U.K.

So, possibly getting a deal in time before October 31st, of course, there, guys, it's going to be tough. There's not long left.

ROMANS: It's just remarkable to watch.

All right. Max, thank you so much for that. Keep us posted.

BRIGGS: Desperation growing in the Bahamas as the death toll continues to rise. At least 50 people now are confirmed dead. The power company on the devastated island of Abaco calls the situation, quote, dire, and says there are no standing electricity poles for 15 miles, from Marsh Harbour to Treasure Cay.

Families of the missing are still holding out hope.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope they find him. I hope so. We just have a son. You know, we have not on baby phase (ph) yet. I hope they find him. I hope so.


BRIGGS: Meantime, the ferryboat operator that ordered dozens of Hurricane Dorian evacuees from the Bahamas off its boat is now apologizing.

CNN affiliates WSVN posted this video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All passengers that don't have U.S. visa, please proceed to disembark.


ROMANS: All right. The ferry operator says at the time he was told evacuates needed more travel authorization. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the ferry operator did not properly coordinate the evacuation ahead of time.

President Trump even raised concerns gang members were using Dorian's aftermath to gain entry into the U.S.


TRUMP: Everybody needs totally proper documentation. Look, the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren't supposed to be there. I don't want to allow people that weren't supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States.


ROMANS: There is simply zero proof of that claim. Nearly 5,000 residents have fled the Bahamas in the wake of the violent storm. The prime minister says evacuees will be returned home as homes are rebuilt. Just a desperate situation there.


Ahead, a bank accidentally gave a couple $120,000. They spent it, and now, are facing felony charges.



ROMANS: All four crew members who were trapped inside a capsized cargo ship have now been rescued.


ROMANS: Wow. Cheers as the final member of the South Korean crew was brought up Monday. He was trapped behind glass in an engineering control room when the Golden Ray cargo ship ran aground off of the coast of Brunswick, Georgia. Three crew members who were in the propeller shaft area were rescued earlier Monday. All four were taken to area hospitals.

They were unable to get off that ship when it overturned and caught fire in St. Simon Sound early Sunday morning.

BRIGGS: If a bank mistakenly deposited $120,000 in your account, what would you do? One Pennsylvania couple spent it. And Robert and Tiffany Williams are now facing felony charges. According to court papers the couple used to buy an SUV, a camper, two four-wheelers and a car trailer, among other things.


ROBERT WILLIAMS, ACCUSED OF SHOPPING SPREE AFTER BANK ERROR: We took bad legal advice from people and it probably wasn't the best thing in the end.


BRIGGS: The bank error occurred when a customer in Georgia made a deposit and the BB&T bank teller entered the wrong account number. On top of the felony charge, the Williams also faced $107,000 in overdraft fees.

ROMANS: There's no such thing as a free lunch. When a money shows up in a bank account --


ROMANS: -- ask some questions.

ROMANS: All right. Billy Bush returning to television three years after this controversy forced him off the air.


TRUMP: When you're a star, you can do it. You can do anything.


BILLY BUSH, TV HOST: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.


ROMANS: Oh, that infamous Trump access Hollywood tape.

Billy Bush making a debut Monday as the new host of "Extra."


BUSH: I've learned a few things during my time off or time-out. Bad things happen to all of us. The ingredients of our disasters differ. But the shock to the system and the struggle to overcome we share. Going forward, I will no doubt have to report on people who had a bad moment. I'm especially interested in seeing them own it and get back up.


ROMANS: Or not do it in the first place.


ROMANS: In an interview, Bush said the "Access Hollywood" Trump tape was weaponized and he added everyone at NBC knew about the tape before it was released.

BRIGGS: You know who else is back? Big Papi is back.


ANNOUNCER: Number 34, David Ortiz.


BRIGGS: Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz making his first appearance since he was shot in June in the Dominican Republic. Big Papi threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his former teammate, catcher Jason Varitek. Ortiz offered thanks on the field, even to long-time rivals. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID ORTIZ, FORMER RED SOX PLAYER: I want to thank the Yankees. A lot of my boys over there came to check up on Big Papi. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. CC, Encarnacion, all y'all, man, thank you very much.

God bless you all. Go, Sox.


BRIGGS: That's funny. One of the defining moments of his career was a brawl between the Red Sox and Yankees. And now, they're coming together. Good to see him back.

ROMANS: Twenty-six minutes past the hour.

The final House race in 2018 in many ways the first race of 2020. Are voters in reliably red districts turning on the president? The special election today is going to give some pretty big clues.