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North Carolina's Critical Special Elections Could Be Trump Bellwether; Trump Defends Decision to Meet with Taliban; New Vaping Warnings; Big Papi's Big Return. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 10, 2019 - 05:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks to our international viewers for joining us.


Have a great rest of your day.

For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.



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.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president with a lot on the line. Special elections could show if the voters are turning on the president in the first big bellwether of 2020.

BRIGGS: Peace talks with the Taliban are completely dead, crumbling after secret talks were canceled. The president defying his own vice president to set up the summit.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number 34, David Ortiz.


BRIGGS: A huge ovation for Big Papi. David Ortiz back in public for the first time since he was shot back in June.

He looks and sounds great. Good to see him back.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs. ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: It's Tuesday, September 10th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And we begin, though, in North Carolina. Critical special elections in North Carolina today that 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 that district by 12 points, but early voting suggests strong Democratic turnout.

For context, Democrats represent only four congressional districts won by a larger margin than 12 points.

BRIGGS: The president tried to rally support for Dan Bishop 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.


BRIGGS: One possible advantage for Democrat Dan McCready is that Democrats hold an eight-point voter registration in the district, although Republicans continue winning that seat. There's another seat open in the third district, due to the death of long-time congressman Walter Jones. Polls open in 90 minutes, 6:30 a.m.

ROMANS: All right. The president is defending a 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, of course, who harbored the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The president claims he called off the meeting when he learned last week the group claimed responsibility for killing an American soldier.

BRIGGS: But the Taliban have already claimed the deaths of at least nine service members in 2019 and are 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 in order to put themselves in a little better negotiating position.


BRIGGS: Sources tell CNN the president overruled national security adviser John Bolton and Vice President Mike Pence, when he decided to set up the meeting with the Taliban. Bolton and his staff did not trust the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and thought he gave the Taliban too much leverage in the talks.

ROMANS: 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 in this tweet on Monday, the president claimed to know nothing about Air Force crews staying at his resort there.

"The New York Times" obtained documents from the Scottish government detailing the Trump administration's deal with Glasgow Prestwick Airport. The report says Mr. Trump played a direct role. But 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.


ROMANS: Special financial report. Tax returns could do that trick, too.

BRIGGS: It wouldn't hurt.

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

BRIGGS: An effort to clean up after President Trump's false claim that Alabama would be hit by Dorian led to the 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 the 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. ROMANS: 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 he said the U.S. is disappointed.

BRIGGS: 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.

ROMANS: 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, quote, no equal alternative inside the Kremlin.

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

BRIGGS: Top Democratic candidates for president are teaming up ahead of Thursday's debate to deliver a powerful message on guns.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Gun violence is literally life and death.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That has become so numbingly common.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have kids going to school wondering if they're going to be physically safe.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Learning how to duck, cover, hide.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For fear there's a mass shooter roaming the hallways of their school.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's wrong. That shouldn't happen in a country like ours.


BRIGGS: Candidates are speaking out in support of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords' organization. The candidates have differences on how to combat gun violence but they deliver a unified message in an increasingly hostile primary.

After mass shootings in Texas and Ohio last month, President Trump instructed the Justice Department to prepare a list for lawmakers. It did not include universal background checks. Sources say some officials including Attorney General William Barr quietly urged the president to consider backing such a measure.

A new poll shows very broad support for background checks, including 83 percent of Republicans.

ROMANS: That is good context there.

All right. Nearly every state now investigating Google over antitrust, marking the latest escalation in 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.


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 just become too big, harming competition and consumers.

Big tech, a constant target for politicians. Conservatives claim they face discrimination. Liberals claim algorithms elevate fringe voices and conspiracies. The probe will initially focused on Google's advertising, it may expand from there. Regulators around the world have also been critical of Google. You know, the E.U. has fined Google $9 billion in antitrust violations in the past three years. Google declined to comment for us.

BRIGGS: Time is running out to find survivors in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian. Why did one ferry operator ask some people seeking refuge in the U.S. to get off?



ROMANS: 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 e-cigarettes. A direct warning from the American Medical Association.

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.

BRIGGS: Desperation growing in the Bahamas as the death toll continues to rise. At least 50 people now confirmed dead. The power company on the devastated island of Abaco calls the situation dire. It says there are no standing electricity poles for 16 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 don't know (INAUDIBLE) 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 of its boat is now apologizing.

CNN affiliate WSVN posted the video.


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


BRIGGS: The ferry operator says at the time he was told evacuees needed more travel authorization.

ROMANS: 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 to 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 no 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.

And you think about proper documentation when you look at smashed homes from miles and miles. Just a real humanitarian crisis.

BRIGGS: Yes, not exactly convenient to you at the time.

Coming up, we'll talk a little sports. Big drama for the Saints back on the field for the first time since that heartbreaking no-call in the NFC title game.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty-eight-yard attempt for the win.


BRIGGS: Did it have enough?

Carolyn Manno has the rest of that video in "The Bleacher Report."

Good to see you, my friend.




BRIGGS: All right. Week one of the NFL came to an end Monday night. Not one but two primetime games, well past our bedtime.


BRIGGS: Some would say they saved the best for last. I would not say that.

ROMANS: Carolyn Manno is here with "The Bleacher Report".

Hey, Carolyn.

MANNO: That sounds like an upset Broncos fan, if you ask me.

BRIGGS: I'm thankful it was a 10:20 Eastern Time kickoff because I would have been angry and not sleep a minute.

MANNO: Can I just say, it's been a long, long off-season for the Saints.

BRIGGS: Oh, man.

MANNO: After getting oh, so close to the Super Bowl last season.

BRIGGS: They are still feeling that.

MANNO: That controversial no call. They are still feeling that in that NFC championship game.

Their fans have not forgotten. Many of them showed up against the Houston Texans in referee jerseys. They were treated to a thriller that went down to the wire. With just 37 seconds left in the game. Houston's Deshaun Watson hitting his new wide receiver Kenny Stills for a 37-yard score to give the Texans a one-point lead.

But that is plenty of time for Drew Brees and the Saints. The 40- year-old quarterback doing what he does. He gets the Saints in position for the longest kick in Will Lutz's career. And Lutz delivers, drilling the game winning 58-yard field goal as time expires. The Saints begin their quest for a third-straight NFC south title.

The Raiders opened their last season in Oakland in the second game of the Monday night doubleheader against their division rivals, the Denver Broncos. The silver and black looked ready to put the Antonio Brown drama behind them, with quarterback Derek Carr leading to a statement win, even though A.B. has signed with the Patriots, Carr couldn't escape questions about his one-time teammate.


DERER CARR, OAKLAND RAIDERS' QUARTERBACK: Just get the elephant out of the room. Antonio is no longer with us. We love Antonio. The guys in this locker room, the guys that competed in training camp, all offseason, we grinded, we came together. We're a family. This family is pretty special. I'm glad to be a quarterback part of it.


MANNO: So, what is Antonio Brown doing, while the Raiders are moving on? He is spending quality time with his quarterback, Tom Brady. The duo spotted with a caption claiming that they are new best friends.

Brown is Brady's house guest until he is settled in Boston. He makes his debut for the Patriots on Sunday against the Dolphins in Miami.

The love that Bostonians have for Tom Brady is rivaled by few. But this next man is right up there with him.

David Ortiz making a surprise appearance at Fenway park last night, throwing out the first pitch against the Yankees. It was Big Papi's first public appearance since being shot in June during a botched assassination attempt. Ortiz seemed to be moving well after spending nearly two months in the hospital.

Good for fans to see there. BRIGGS: It's funny you said that. Rivaled by few. Having lived

there, and you did, too, I would say Big Papi is more popular in Boston than even Tom Brady, because they know him.


They love him. They hug him.

MANNO: It's 1 and 1A. He is more approachable and more fan-friendly. That's why the fans went nuts for him at Fenway.

And Yankees, by the way, too, congratulating him after a tough couple months.

BRIGGS: Yes, CC Sabathia seeing him in the hospital.

MANNO: You bet.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Carolyn.

BRIGGS: Good to see you.

ROMANS: Thank you, Carolyn Manno.

The final House race of 2018, in many ways, the first house race of 2020. Are voters in reliably red districts turning on the president? Special elections today will give some big clues.