Return to Transcripts main page


United Auto Workers Strike; Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy; President Trump's Locked And Loaded; Relitigating Brett Kavanaugh; President Trump Authorizes Use Of Emergency Oil Reserves; Boeing Committee To Make Safety Recommendations; Israeli Elections Tomorrow; Crisis In Venezuela; Vaping Epidemic; Ric Ocasek Died At Age 75. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 16, 2019 - 04:00   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly 50,000 auto workers walk off the job. It's the biggest labor strike in the U.S. in more than a decade.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking overnight, the company accused of pushing pills for profit. At the height of the opioid crisis files for bankruptcy, what is next for Purdue Pharma?

ROMANS: Locked and loaded, the president hints at military response after an attack that crippled oil facilities areas in Saudi Arabia.

BRIGGS: Several 2020 Democrats calling for impeachment, but it's not from president they are after. Why Brett Kavanaugh is now back in their sights.

Welcome to our viewers in United States and around the world, this is Early Start. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Happy Monday.

ROMANS: Happy Monday. I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday September 16, it is 4:00 a.m. in New York. 12:30 p.m. in Tehran, it is 11:00 a.m. in Jerusalem.

United Auto workers union is on strike against General Motors, the largest strike by any union against any business since the last strike at GM more than a decade ago. The unions 46,000 hourly workers walks out of factories and facilities across the country after the two sides failed to come to a tentative contract agreement.

Workers say they want fair wages, affordable healthcare, profit- sharing, job security and a defined path to permit seniority for temporary employees. GM said it made a substantial offer that includes improved pay and profit-sharing for union members along with investment to bring new jobs. It also promised a solution for two of the four plants currently slated to close one in Detroit and another in Lordstown, Ohio. GM did not say what that solution would be.

Hours before the strike began. The president tweeted, here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers get together and make a deal. A new meeting between the union and GM is set for 10:00 a.m. this morning.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, Purdue Pharma are filing for bankruptcy. The company makes OxyContin, the drugs fueling the opioid crisis. The filing is part of framework for settling 2000 lawsuits filed by state local and tribal governments. The company used aggressive and allegedly misleading sales tactics to push millions of doses of dangerously addictive pills.

This set of resettlement grew after Johnson and Johnson was found liable for $572 million in damages for similar marketing practices in Oklahoma. Purdue Pharma had already reached a tentative deal worth billions, but many states rejected it saying, it didn't go far enough. This weekend, it was revealed, authorities identified about $1 billion in wild -- wire transfers by the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, New York and other states alleged the family is moving billions offshore to protect their wealth.

ROMANS: All right. The U.S. is now weighing how to respond to attacks on critical oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Iran is denying any role after being blamed directly by the U.S. President Trump seeming to raise the possibility of a military response saying the U.S. is quote, locked and loaded depending on verification of the attacker.

The president's foreign policy team at the White House met for a national Security Council meeting on Sunday and moments ago, Iran ruled out meeting with President Trump at the U.N. General Assembly, when leaders come to New York next week.

BRIGGS: All these follows coordinated drone strike Saturday on key Saudi oil facilities. These are among the world's largest production centers. The attacks disrupted 5 percent of the daily global oil supply. Satellite images show the huge plume of smoke. Yemen's Houthi rebels often backed by Iran took responsibility. And a senior official briefing CNN suggested that in fact the attack was most likely originated in Iran or Iraq where there are Iran back proxies. But evidence so far is limited. For the latest let's bring in Nick Paton Walsh live in Tehran. Nick, good morning when are we learning?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is setting this morning where we are getting to see a little bit more of quite how the U.S. is going to measure its response here. Mike Pompeo first thing yesterday morning, very clear that Iran was responsible. Donald Trump saying, he thinks he knows who the culprits are and using that phrase, locked and loaded. While students of his tweets will suggest perhaps a military action is maybe less likely, given to how he has used to perform military actions didn't follow necessary off of that.

But saying he is very much waiting for Saudi Arabia to suggest what the response might be, obviously the key U.S. ally in the region. So he's not already moved us particular in any further directional, though the notion that he's weighing possibly military response, meet to his national security team will have many here, possibly on edge.

[04:05:08] But we are still really looking for the evidence at this point. U.S. officials, suggesting last night that the facts that the attacks came from a particular angle may suggest they came from Southern Iraq, or Iran themselves making it less likely that they came from Yemen as the Houthi Yemeni rebels who claim responsibility for the attacks, they say using 10 drones said they did.

Now, none of this is constitutes proof at this point. So, I think the burden, the necessity for that will arise as the temperature increases too. Saudi Arabia, most interestingly have not come forward yet and stated they believe, Iran is behind this, that's key, some may say, because frankly if you make that accusation in a region as sort of febrile as this, you are possibly oblige to make some kind of military response.

That's the key here, the large worry. Many in Iran had been watching frankly the U.S. policy towards that country, sort of self-combust to some degree, the departure of John Bolton, the national security adviser of Donald Trump really making many feel that major Iran hawk could vanished almost within hours of his departure, Mike Pompeo came forward this very hawkish tweets early on Saturday without evidence saying Iran was behind those attacks on the Saudi oil fields.

Where are we? We simply don't know. It looks increasingly unlikely that the week meetings in New York at the U.N. will lead to Rouhani, the Iranian president meeting with Donald Trump. That was always an outside chance too, but I have to stress here, where an extraordinary dangerous position as the tension ratcheting up in the region, many I think were concerned that a vacuum possibly in decision-making in the White House might lead the U.S.'s enemies to try something on to see how far they could push things. Saudi Arabia potentially febrile in its response too.

We are in a dangerous moments here where diplomacy seems to have a store closed and people are still asking, who carried out this substantial game changing attack in the Middle East. Back to you.

BRIGGS: And John Bolton's gone, but it sounds like his policies towards Iran might remain. Nick Paton Walsh, we'll check back to you in the next half hour. Thank you.

ROMANS: Yes. Game changing. Indeed, those attacks as shock to the global oil market. Oil prices spiking a 1.10 percent of the highest level since May. That could mean a jump in gas prices worldwide, gasoline futures at 9 percent.

John Defterios is live from Abu Dhabi with the details. And we've heard from the White House that if needed, the U.S. could tap its vast supplies of emergency oil to try to stabilize the market that would be, you know, weeks before that could actually, you know, put a damper on oil prices. What do we seeing overnight?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, we are watching to see if they do release a strategic petroleum reserve and at which level Christine, because the markets could use the help right now. They don't like risk, of course in hitting the number one exporter in the world, Saudi Arabia, delivers a boatload. Overnight, losing 5.7 million barrels a day is a record by all accounts. SO we've seen a spike up actually 15 percent in Asia for the first 10 minutes of trading.

We are looking at gains now 7 to 8 percent on the U.S. benchmark WTI, gain about $4.5. This will mean higher gas prices in the United States, especially in the West Coast of California because a refinery challenges. But there's a big concern. This could tilt us into recession. Now Saudi Arabia, they are making the right message go out suggesting they'd like to keep the market balance. They have 200 million barrels according to sources I know in Saudi Arabia and here in the region.

That could last about 40 days to replace what they loss, better than 5 million barrels. We're waiting to see what President Trump does on the strategic petroleum reserves, because of the U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, kind of a dirty secret is, Christine, there's not a lot of spare capacity within OPEC itself. Perhaps Russia has some spare capacity and to put in the context, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, 2003 war in Iraq, the overthrow market off in Libya. Nothing compares to what we saw this weekend in Saudi Arabia.

ROMANS: I think it's a really, I mean, the world, we woke up today into a world less certain and less safe for sure and at oil supply that is that is -- I guess you could say in question here for the near-term. How long will it take the Saudi's to get things up and running, do you think?

DEFTERIOS: Well, there's also reporting today from the Wall Street Journal saying they could get through their supplies up, Christine, by the end of business Monday. I got in touch with two senior sources in Saudi Arabia, they said that's not realistic. Both have told me this is not a matter of days, but a matter of weeks. So, they could lean on those surplus supplies, I was talking about. But to get the processing facility and after getting their second largest field hit over the weekend, this is going to be a big hill to climb. They have hundreds of engineers coming through the damage right now and we don't have an assessment report to answer that bluntly.

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

BRIGGS: A committee of Boeing board members expected to make safety recommendations this week after those two deadly crashes involving 737 Max passenger jets killed 346 people and grounded the entire fleet.


CNN has learned the committee will recommend Boeing engineers first report safety concerns of the chief engineer and then to business leaders. Other Boeing's current structure, safety issues are first reported to business leaders who face production and deadlines of -- have potential conflicts of interest with delays. The Committee is also expected to urge Boeing to make changes to airplane cockpits to accommodate new pilots who have less training. ROMANS: Several top Democrats are calling for the impeachment of

Brett Kavanaugh after the New York Times published an excerpt from a new book detailing sexual misconduct allegations against the Supreme Court Justice. Kavanaugh has previously denied that the allegations. 2020 Democratic candidates, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg are calling for Kavanaugh's removal.

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar are not going quite as far but they want further investigation. President Trump is calling on the Justice Department to quote, save Kavanaugh.

BRIGGS: The new book revisits claims by Deborah Ramirez, that Kavanaugh exposed himself at party in Yale. There's also a new allegation from a former male classmate, which the authors say was corroborated by two sources.

According to the Times, the female victim in that incident declined to be interviewed for and say she does not recall the incident. A person close to Kavanaugh tells CNN, the accusation is not new because according to the book's authors it was previously reported to the FBI and some lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

CNN is not reporting details of the allegation because they have not been u=independently verified. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted Sunday, he looks forward to many years of service to come from justice Kavanaugh.

Elections in Israel just one day away. Benjamin Netanyahu now talking about a defense treaty with the U.S. The rally is based, CNN live in Israel next.



BRIGGS: Israel gearing up for an extremely tight race tomorrow, its second election this year to form a government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeking reelection, making a series of last-minute place to his base.

Senior international correspondent Sam Kiley live for us in Israel with the latest. Sam, good morning.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Dave, you talk there about making appeals to his base, he is also trying to appeal to his nontraditional base. The extreme right Jewish power party that the latest opinion polls are indicating could get four seats. Now, he could be guaranteed their support in a coalition government, which is almost inevitably what you have to put together if he emerged as the leading candidate after the elections, but he doesn't want to have their brand of extremist politics tying his hands in the future, because this is an election the really, really matters to Benjamin Netanyahu.

Because if he doesn't win, then he has no chance at all of legislating for immunity for himself against those three possible indictments on corruption and mismanagement charges that he's facing. But the two sides of Likud on the Netanyahu side. Benny (inaudible), blue and white, our opinion poll showing neck and neck, so, it would appear at this stage anyway, that the postelection dispensation. That's when the real politics will begin at the moment as you indicate everybody's really trying to get their base out to vote. Dave.

BRIGGS: Seeking support wherever he can. Sam Kiley live for us this morning in Tel Aviv, thank you.

ROMANS: Well, the opposition in Venezuela says it is finished trying to negotiate with the government of Nicholas Maduro. A statement from opposition leader Juan Guaido says Maduro's negotiators simply left the table six weeks ago. The opposition says it will now focus on ousting Maduro.

Talks brokered by the government of Norway took place in June and July. Then on August 5th, President Trump tighten U.S. sanctions and Maduro withdrew his own voice.

One of the most populous state in the nation will ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarette to curb the vaping epidemic, we will tell you where.



ROMANS: Amid a surge in vaping related illnesses and deaths. New York State moving to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarette. Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing an emergency executive action aimed at eliminating deceptive marketing practices of e-cigarette's underage users. Michigan recently took similar action. Governor Cuomo tells CNN, new legislation would also raise the age to buy e-cigarette from 18 to 21.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): There is no dispute but that vaping is dangerous at a minimum you have young people getting addicted to nicotine at a very early age, probably earlier than they did with cigarettes.


BRIGGS: The American Lung Association says the governor's action doesn't go far enough, because it excludes tobacco and menthol flavored e-cigarettes. There have been six confirmed vaping related deaths nationwide and hundreds of illnesses. Meantime, President Trump appears to be backtracking on vaping, he said last week's administration would work toward banning flavored e-cigarette, but in his tweet Friday, he seem to suggest that it was a safe alternative to smoking, stressing the need to get counterfeits off the market.

ROMANS: That's a little bit of whiplash there on the president's hue on this. All right, nearly two dozen people were injured this weekend when a multilevel debt collapsed at beach house on the Jersey shore. Authorities say people became trapped when the second and third floor decks suffered a complete pancake type collapsed. Remarkably, no fatalities. The Wildwood New Jersey Fire Chief says rescue effort started quickly because first responders were gathered in the area for estate firemen's convention.

BRIGGS: The Tennessee Titans were playing with fire in their home opener against Indianapolis on Sunday, literally. Shortly before kickoff, the players ran off the field with the usual pyrotechnic show when something malfunctions. Wow, spark a fire in the end zone and force teams to clear the field. The flames were quickly put out but it was downhill from there for Tennessee. The Colts beat the Titans 19- set.

ROMANS: Ric Ocasek, lead singer of the iconic new-wave band, The Cars has died. Police say he was found unresponsive in his New York City apartment Sunday afternoon. His band carved out its own musical niche and had a number of big hits including, Shake it up, Good times roll, My best friend's girl and Magic. His death comes a year after the cars were inducted into the rock 'n roll Hall of Fame.


The cause of his death is not yet known, Ric Ocasek is 75 years old.

BRIGGS: Easily identifiable sound, iconic. Sad. Ahead the biggest labor strike in over a decade. What will it take to get United Auto Workers back on the job? And the president teases possible military action after an attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The price of oil spiking, gas prices could do next.


ROMANS: Nearly 50,000 auto workers walk off the job. It's the biggest labor strike in the U.S. in more than a decade.

BRIGGS: Also breaking overnight, the company accused of pushing pills for profit. At the height of the opioid crisis, files for bankruptcy. What's next for Purdue Pharma?

ROMANS: Locked and loaded. The president hints at a military.