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EARLY START

GOP Gets 2 Wins in North Carolina; Search for Another National Security Adviser; Another Warning Against Vaping; Antonio Brown Rape Allegations. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2019 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:00:20]

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Republicans get the wins they had to have. What two races in North Carolina tell us about 2020?

The fallout fast and fierce after the ousting of national security adviser John Bolton. What it means for adversaries worldwide.

Another prominent call to stop vaping after a sixth person died from a related lung disease.

Also, rape allegations against troubled New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown. The accuser was his trainer.

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

Good to see you, my friend.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to see you.

Good morning, everyone. It's Wednesday. September 11th, this is this morning the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It's 4:00 a.m. in New York.

BRIGGS: We start, though, with a big night for the GOP in North Carolina. The party held onto two seats it badly needed in order to slow Democratic momentum going into 2020.

CNN projects North Carolina State Senator Dan Bishop will narrowly defeat Dan McCready in the ninth district, keeping the seat that's been in Republican hands since 1963. The state forced to rerun the election because of ballot of fraud allegations against the 2018 GOP campaign. Voters in North Carolina's third district elected Republican State Rep Greg Murphy, he replaces Republican Walter Jones who died in February.

ROMANS: Bishop's raise drew attention as a possible 2020 bellwether. President Trump and Vice President Pence both made trips to the district Monday. Bishop had Trump on speaker phone after the win and made clear he is a Trump Republican.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAN BISHOP (R), PROJECTED WINNER, NORTH CAROLINA NINTH CONGRESSIONAL

DISTRICT: President Trump's vision for America is received warmly by people in the Ninth District, and let's give him his due. He stepped in when some said that perhaps he should let it ride and he -- that's what he does -- he commits. And that's what I do, and I'm just going to fight for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: President Trump savoring the win: Big night for the Republican Party. Congratulations to all.

BRIGGS: A win is a win, but Republicans looking to 2020 might worry about competitive seats in several districts. Democratic Party offering this warning, quote: Those close results in a district Trump won by double digits should send waves of fear through the Republican Party at every level.

Here's the analysis of "INSIDE POLITICS" anchor, John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, "INSIDE POLITICS": Christine and Dave, on this morning after, North Carolina nine will be represented by a Republican Dan Bishop and now, the big debate begins. Even though the Republican won, because this margin, two points is so narrow, is there actually a silver lining for the Democrats as we head into 2020?

Let's first focus on the winner. Dan Bishop winning ballpark, 4,100 votes, as they tally the last votes. How did he do it? Number one, there's a reason the president claimed credit. His election eve rally was over here, in the eastern part of the state.

Now, that's not a huge win, just 30 or so votes in Cumberland County for Bishop, but Dan McCready, the Democratic, knew this needed to be blue for him to have any realistic chance to win. And in the Fayetteville suburbs, Dan Bishop ran even. That's a victory for Republicans, especially given this environment.

Where did the Democrats see a silver lining? Over at the other end of the district. You come over here, the Mecklenburg County, that's where Charlotte is. It's the most votes in the district. You touch on Charlotte. You come down here in the eastern suburbs, Dan McCready not only winning but winning big there. Democrats will say this is proof the trend continues. First, Trump in 2016, then the big Republican rout that made Nancy Pelosi speaker in 2018, in 2019, more.

Why do I say that? You see Dan McCready almost 13-point edge there. If you go back to the presidential race, President Trump didn't win it by much, but he won it. The suburbs continue to shift, away from the president and his party. That will be seen by Democrats as a bit of a moral victory here.

In the end, though, a win is a win, right? This district in Republicans' hands since 1963 will stay there for the time being. Democrats will probably field a challenger next time, given this is so close. President Trump, he looks at the top here. Red on top, Republicans win, he will take credit.

Other Republicans may be on the fence about running for re-election next year will look at this one-time very strong ruby red Republican district, now a two-point race. The bottom line, the president's happy. Other Republicans are looking at this in other parts of the country in districts that are less Republican than this, might think maybe I'll think about retiring -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. John King, thank you so much for that.

Republican victories in North Carolina come at a time when President Trump can use a pick me up because his poll numbers are heading in the wrong direction.

[0405:06]

Take a look at the latest CNN poll. The president's approval rating dropping to 39 percent, the lowest number since January. Gets worse. Only 6 percent of voters feel Trump deserves to be re-elected in 2020. Sixty percent say he does not deserve re-election.

And when it comes to the president's strong suit, the economy, the poll numbers show he is slipping, with voters basically split on his performance, 48 percent to 47 percent. That's down eight points since April.

BRIGGS: President Trump searching for his fourth national security adviser in three years. John Bolton is out. How that happened fends on who you ask. The job became vacant when President Trump tweeted: I informed John his services are no longer needed. I asked John for his resignation.

But just 12 minutes later, an extraordinary rebuttal from Bolton who tweeted: I offered to resign last night, and the president said, let's talk about it tomorrow.

Only one of those stories, of course, can be true.

ROMANS: CNN has learned Bolton and Trump gotten to a bitter argument on Monday night over the president's plan to host the Taliban at Camp David. Bolton was also thought to be a prolific leaker. A source who spoke to the president tells CNN, quote, there's a lot Trump can take. Leaking is not one.

Bolton had been isolated in recent months by President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. A source close to the White House tells CNN Bolton felt the president caves too much when he deals with dictators. The administration is currently considering at least ten candidates to replace Bolton. The president says he will announce his pick next week.

BRIGGS: Bolton's firing leaves a power vacuum at the White House, and legitimate concerns about how the U.S. handles foreign policy. Officials at the National Security Council left wondering about the future of their organization. The Taliban talks were just one area of contention between Bolton and Trump. They also butted heads on Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, and Afghanistan.

Clarissa Ward who was embedded with the Taliban was just in Iran weeks ago with more on the fallout for us live this morning.

Clarissa, good morning.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave.

Well, in some ways, when you look at all the different areas of foreign policy, it's amazing that John Bolton lasted as long as he did, because really he did not see eye to eye with president Trump on many issues, whether it was Venezuela, whether it was Iran, whether it was North Korea. Essentially, John Bolton is a man who sees the world in very manikin terms, you're good or you're evil, it's black or it's white, you should be punished or rewarded.

He was extremely hawkish particularly on Iran as you mentioned, after the U.S. drone was shot down by Iranians back in June. He pushed President Trump hard to respond hard with force, the president deciding in the end not to go ahead and do that. But from everything we've heard, Bolton was repeatedly irritated by President Trump's willingness to kind of sit down with dictators, to open the door to President Rouhani and repeatedly say he would sit down and meet with him if the Iranian leader would sit down with president Trump or his decision to go to the DMZ, the border crossing, heavily militarized border crossing between North and South Korea, and to meet with Kim Jong-un.

So this was definitely a thorn in the side of John Bolton, and many people are surprised that it took this long before Bolton ultimately left and that he ultimately left over the issue of bringing the Taliban to Camp David, which was not so much a sort of issue that people really debated. There were many, many advisers close to the president who questioned the wisdom of extending that invitation to the Taliban.

But as you said, the question now becomes who steps in to fill the void and what does it mean for President Trump's foreign policy. What does this foreign policy actually look like? We've seen him cycle through so many different advisers and seemingly flirt with different foreign policy strategies. And now, the question is, what comes next, what does it look like, and has the president yet found a coherent and consistent foreign policy?

Looking from the inside, though, Dave, it does not appear to have happened yet.

BRIGGS: Turn rate is remarkable. Any theories about who might replace him?

WARD: I have long ago given up bets on who President Trump will hire to be adviser or to serve in his cabinet in any capacity. I was just telling your executive producer that I would be very poor if I continue to indulge in some bets. But at this stage, I would say it's anyone's guess, honestly, Dave.

BRIGGS: Whoever that person is should not get too comfortable.

Clarissa Ward, live for us in London, thank you.

ROMANS: So, President Trump would be happy if the U.S. simply stopped using spies. Multiple senior officials tell CNN the president has repeatedly expressed opposition to gathering foreign intel from covert sources.

[04:10:02] That includes overseas spies who provide the U.S. with crucial information on hostile countries. The president says spies can damage his relationships with foreign leaders. He also has doubts about their credibility.

BRIGGS: This follows CNN's exclusive report the U.S. extracted one of its highest level covert sources inside Russian government. That 2017 decision driven in part by worries the president was mishandling classified information. A Kremlin spokesman called the reporting pope fiction.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also disputing the report of extraction. He called it factually wrong without saying exactly what was wrong.

ROMANS: All right. Ten minutes past the hour.

The number of uninsured Americans increased in 2018 for the first time since Obamacare was fully implemented. According to brand new census data, 27.5 million people went without health insurance last year, an increase of 1.9 million. The trend driven by decline in coverage under public programs like Medicaid.

The percentage of Americans of private coverage did not statistically change. Health care has become, of course, a central issue in the 2020 presidential campaign, Democrats debating ways to extend coverage to more people while President Trump tries to gut the Affordable Care Act.

BRIGGS: Another major warning against vaping. The American Lung Association saying straight out do not use e-cigarettes. The health charity says in a new statement e-cigarettes are not safe and can cause irreversible lung damage.

The warning came the same day authorities in Kansas announced a sixth American has died from lung disease related to vaping.

This week, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's foundation committed $160 million to help stop the vaping epidemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE BLOOMBERG, CEO, BLOOMBERG L.P.: Kids are dying, people are dying now and getting addicted. A time line is yesterday, not tomorrow. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The CDC says at least 450 possible cases of severe lung disease nationwide may have been caused by vaping. Overnight, we learned Hawaii's investigating its first possible case.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, significant structural damage in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after a confirmed tornado hit. The mayor says the city is setting up an emergency operation center. Almost 20,000 customers in the dark right now.

This used to be an auto parts store. One hospital, the Avera Behavioral Health Center is being evacuated. More than ten tornadoes were reported in the upper plains Tuesday. The same system set to bring another round of severe weather today.

BRIGGS: On this morning, 18 years ago, America endured its darkest day, planes crashing into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Shanksville, Ohio. Almost 3,000 people killed. There will be a ceremony taking place at 8:40 p.m. to 12:40 p.m. at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.

Former President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Mark Esper will lay a wreath at the 9/11 Pentagon memorial.

And a new tradition begins today in public schools across New York State. A brief moment of silence will be observed before the start of classes on every September 11th moving forward.

ROMANS: It's a hard day for New Yorkers, a hard day for Americans, but an important to take a moment today and remember.

BRIGGS: Yes, those -- a lot of these kids aren't aware. You know, that next generation needs to unfortunately hear this lesson.

ROMANS: We'll be right back.

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[04:18:08]

ROMANS: New this morning, China says some U.S. goods will be exempt from Chinese tariffs starting next week for a year. The list covers 16 types of products including agricultural, medical and chemical products. Pork and soybeans are not on the list.

Voters are beginning to express fear President Trump's trade war with China will begin to hurt the economy and them. A new "Washington Post"/ABC News polling shows six in ten say a recession is either very likely or somewhat likely in the next year.

And despite the president's repeated claims that China pays tariffs, voters don't pay the tariffs, voters are not really buying that. Sixty percent say they are concerned the president's trade war will raise prices for them. Here's what they're worried about. Here's what we're seeing in the

data, specifically in manufacturing. Manufacturing activities shrank for the first time in several years last quarter, the very sector the president promised to save through tariffs. Hiring here has really stalled out.

Now, in terms of the jobs market, the economy is pretty much fine here. There are 7.2 million job openings in America here. That is near a record. The president calls this the best economy in history. It is not, but it is growing and it is adding jobs.

The challenge for the administration is squaring that message with Trump's demands that the Fed cut interest rates to stabilize it. You don't need to cut interest rates in a booming economy. We heard yesterday from the National Federation of Independent Business that there is pessimism that seems to be contagious here in the overall economy even though the actual economy is thriving.

So you've got, Dave, this push and pull, the polling here showing that there is something uneasy happening about -- among voters. We're seeing it in small business. We're seeing it in manufacturing, even though the overall economy is still fine.

BRIGGS: The next Fed meeting is when?

ROMANS: Weeks, we're going to hear what the Fed is going to do in terms of interest rates.

BRIGGS: Do you expect a quarter point cut?

ROMANS: I expect a quarter point interest rate cut.

[04:20:01]

I think it's baked in here. Now, it would be a big surprise if you didn't get that rate cut.

BRIGGS: It still won't satisfy the boss, one would assume.

ROMANS: It will not satisfy the boss. He wants multiple rate cuts.

BRIGGS: Indeed. Good stuff.

All right. Ahead, a 9-year-old is denied his lunch on his birthday. Now, the district is promising changes. Hear from that boy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:25:17]

BRIGGS: The Antonio Brown saga taking a potentially criminal turn. The star receiver accused of raping and sexually assaulting a former trainer.

A civil suit alleges Brown, in three separate incidents in 2017 and 2018, attacked Britney Taylor. Brown, through his attorney, denies the allegations, saying the two had a consensual personal relationship.

The lawsuit was filed a day after Brown signed with the New England Patriots. The Patriots, in a statement, say they take the allegations very seriously but they won't comment while the NFL investigates.

ROMANS: An Ohio school district is changing its policy after a 9- year-old boy had his school lunch taken away because of an unpaid $9.00 balance on his account.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFFERSON SHARPNACK, DENIED SCHOOL LUNCH: The lunch lady didn't say anything. Took away my cheesy breadsticks and sauce, put them over there, and took out bread -- cheese on bread out of the frig and put it on my lunch tray.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: To make matters even worse, all this happened to Jefferson Sharpnack on his birthday.

Jefferson and his siblings recently moved in with their grandmother. She was waiting for paperwork to be processed so she could enroll the kids in the district's free and reduced-price lunch program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANE BAILEY, JEFFERSON SHARPNACK'S GRANDMOTHER: You would take the food off of a tray. You can't re-serve it. You're going to throw it away and not feed the child? That doesn't make sense to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: It didn't make sense to the superintendent of schools, either. After all, three out of four school districts in the U.S. report having unpaid student meal debt. On Monday, the superintendent sent a notice to parents that all children will now receive a standard lunch regardless of their account balance.

You know, common sense is one of those things in so of these cases. It's just -- come on. Common sense.

BRIGGS: Lunch lady.

All right. Ahead, Republicans are celebrating two wins in North Carolina special elections, but should the margin give the GOP concern for 2020.

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