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United Auto Workers Go on Strike Against General Motors; Purdue Pharma Files for Bankruptcy; U.S. Suspects Iran for Drone Strikes on Saudi Energy Facility. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 16, 2019 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Nearly 50,000 auto workers walked off the job, it's the biggest labor strike in the U.S. in more than a decade.

DAVE BRIGGS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: 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 response after an attack that crippled oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

BRIGGS: And several 2020 Democrats calling for impeachment. But it's not the president they're after, but the Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is now back in their sights. Welcome back to EARLY START, I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans, nice to see you all this morning, it is Monday, September 16th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the east. First, this morning, breaking business news, the biggest union walkout in a decade.




ROMANS: The United Auto Workers Union on strike against General Motors, the largest strike by any union since the last strike at GM over a decade ago. The union's 46,000 hourly workers walked out of the factories and facilities across the country.

Workers say they want fair wages, affordable healthcare, profit sharing and job security, and a defined path to permanent 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 plans currently slated to close, one in Detroit, another in Lordstown, Ohio. GM did not say what that solution would be. Hours before the strike began, President Trump tweeted, "here we go again with GM and the UAW get together and make a deal." A new meeting between the union and GM is set for 10:00 a.m. today.

BRIGGS: Also breaking overnight, Purdue Pharma filing for bankruptcy. The company makes OxyContin; a drug fueling the opioid crisis. The filing, part of the framework for settling 2,000 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.

In center for settlement grew after Johnson & Johnson was found liable for $572 million in damages for similar marketing practices in Oklahoma. Purdue had already reached a tentative deal worth billions, but many states rejecting it, saying it didn't go far enough. This weekend it was revealed authorities identified about $1 billion in wire transfers by the Sackler family which owns Purdue.

New York and other states allege that 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 who struck those oil facilities."

The president's foreign policy team was at the White House for a national security council meeting on Sunday. And just moments ago, Iran ruled out meeting with President Trump at the UN General Assembly when leaders come to visit next week.

BRIGGS: All this follows coordinated drone strikes 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 this huge plume of smoke -- the Yemen Houthi rebels often backed by Iran took responsibility. And a senior official briefing, CNN suggested that in fact, the attack most likely originated in Iran or Iraq where there are Iran-backed proxies.

But evidence so far limited to say the least. Let's bring in Nick Paton Walsh live in Tehran with the latest. Nick, good morning, what are you learning?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dave, I mean, we are in a very sort of dangerous morning here in a region where tensions have been building over months, frankly. But it's always been sort of all the various adversaries sniping each other, testing each other over small issues, nothing on the scale of this so far.

And President Trump's tweets overnight, well, quite clear, that he is waiting for Saudi Arabia to kind of cast the final word. He says he thinks he knows where the blame should lie, but he's stopping short of the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's direct accusations toward Iran, made on two tweets early on Saturday morning with no evidence. It's fair to say, as well.

And U.S. officials trying to establish this kind of chain of why they think they've come to this conclusion. Haven't yet put anything out in public that's particularly convincing. It seems mostly pointing towards direction from which these attacks occurred.

Also pointing out that if it is indeed, 10 drones that did this as the Houthi rebels in Yemen claim, claiming they managed to fly through hundreds of miles of Saudi Arabian air space, defended by tens of billions of dollars of often American supply technology that, in fact, those ten drones couldn't have hit the 19 separate targets that the U.S. say have been attacked.


Those are technical details essentially which are going to come under massive scrutiny in the hours and days ahead. A big burden on the White House to explain how they got to Mike Pompeo's conclusion that Iran was behind this. But also, what is the potential next phase? Well, we have Saudi Arabia that have said very little so far about Iran.

They've certainly stopped short of matching Mike Pompeo's direct accusation, perhaps analysts say, because it might force them to retaliate, and that could spark awful regional confrontation between those major adversaries here.

But Iran itself has said, look, we've gone from maximum pressure, that was the U.S. initial strategy with an extra sanctions and pulling out of the nuclear deal, now to maximum deceit, in the words of their Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. In fact, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, not necessarily completely ruling out a meeting in New York between Hassan Rouhani; the Iranian president and his American counterpart President Trump.

But saying there's nothing on the agenda now and it seems pretty unlikely -- well, yes, absolutely. People thought the departure of National Security adviser John Bolton might see a major Iran hawk leaving the White House and talking his ideas with him, well, Mike Pompeo seemed to have stepped very quickly into that position.

Again, where does it lead? We simply do not know. Iran's Foreign Ministry pointed out just today that Trump's words last 24 hours will have to see -- he is facing a bit of a vacuum at the heart of his national security team and the White House. Now, Bolton is gone, and I think many people, long time observers here are concerned.

We have lots of untested actors here, power vacuums, new people on the stage, long-term adversaries here, and often governments in the region that don't always speak of the same page. A lot of messy things moving, and a lot at stake. I cannot stress what a departure from the previous sniping at each other, we've seen over the past months, the attack on those oil fields as being, and what the response will be is quite unclear yet. The burden still on every side explaining exactly what occurred here. Back to you. BRIGGS: Does seem that Bolton's anti-Iran sentiments do remain. Nick Paton Walsh live in Tehran, a couple of tense stakes ahead there, thank you.

ROMANS: Yes, those attacks, a shock to the global oil market. Oil prices spiking at 15 percent at one point, now, trading at the highest level since May. You can expect a jump in gas prices worldwide. The gasoline futures up 9 percent or so. John Defterios live from Abu Dhabi with details.

And you know, this is a huge facility, incredibly important to Saudi Arabian energy output. We haven't seen this much oil off the market in -- I don't know when? This will mean higher energy prices, higher gas prices for consumers around the world, won't it?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, to answer your point, we've never seen so much oil pulled off the market in a 24-hour period. That is for certain, I think you hit the nail right on the head. This is an intense shock to the global energy market, indeed, right at the heart of Saudi-Aramco's facilities, the largest processing facility in the world, second-largest oil field in Saudi Arabia.

So, the Houthis did know what they wanted to do here. What's the reaction, Christine, we saw a spike right at the open in Asia of about 15 percent higher on WTI in the international benchmark Norsi Brent. Those gains have been limited now to about 8 percent or $4.30 a barrel.

That's a big gain in the oil market, but not an absolute shock to the system going forward. There are concerns that higher oil prices could lead the U.S. economy and the global economy into recession, we're not there yet. This is a very fragile balance though, let's put it that way. Saudi Arabia plans for a disaster, they have about 200 million barrels in storage, sources tell me in Asia and then Amsterdam, so they can use that for 35, 40 days if needed.

The multi-billion dollar question here though, Christine is, how fast can they get their operations back to full capacity? Two sources tell me, that will be weeks, not days, another used the word unprecedented in terms of the attack. Which leads us to Donald Trump, he says they're willing to use the strategic petroleum reserve in the United States at 645 million barrels, it sounds like a lot, but the world uses a 100 million barrels a day.

How much by when would Donald Trump put on to the market? We don't have an answer for that. To put into context also this attack, the U.S. shale boom over the last six, seven years added about 6 million barrels. Overnight, the narrative has been turned upside down, we're losing about 6 million barrels from Saudi Arabia, 5.7.

It takes a long time to restore it, and I can roll back the clock 30 years with the invasion of Kuwait, we didn't lose anything close to that, Christine, in 1990. This is unprecedented.

ROMANS: That is just something, all right, John Defterios, thank you so much for that. All right, 9 minutes past the hour, 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 those allegations -- 2020 Democratic candidates Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg are all calling for Kavanaugh's removal. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, not going quite as far, but they want further investigation.


President Trump is calling on the Justice Department to, quote, "rescue Kavanaugh".

BRIGGS: The new book revisits claims by Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a party at Yale. There's also a new allegation from a former male classmate which authors say was corroborated by two sources. According to the "Times", the female victim in that incident declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not recall the incident.

A person close to Kavanaugh tells CNN, the accusation isn't new because according to the books, 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 been independently verified.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell tweeted Sunday, he looks forward to many years of service to come from Justice Kavanaugh. Ahead here, one of the most populous states in the nation will ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes to curb the vaping epidemic. I'll tell you where?



ROMANS: Big safety changes at Boeing. A committee of board members expected to make recommendations this week after two deadly crashes involving 737 Max jets killed 346 people and grounded the entire fleet. Now, CNN has learned that the committee will recommend Boeing engineers report safety concerns to the chief engineer first and then to business leaders.

Under Boeing's current structure, safety issues are first reported to business leaders who face production deadlines and have potential conflicts of interest with any delays.

BRIGGS: New York State is moving to ban the sale of flavored e- cigarettes. Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing a plan to eliminate deceptive marketing practices of e-cigarettes to underage users. Michigan recently took similar action amid a surge and vaping-related illnesses and deaths.

Governor Cuomo telling CNN new legislation would also raise the age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): There's 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.


ROMANS: 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 back-tracking on vaping. He said last week, his administration would work towards banning flavored e-cigarettes. But in this tweet, Friday, he seem to suggest vaping was a safe alternative to smoking. That's exactly the language from the industry by the way.

Also stressing the need to get counterfeits off the market. Also, that is the industry position, not the consumer position.

BRIGGS: Wild reversal there. Nearly two dozen people were injured this weekend when a multi-level deck collapsed at a beach house on the Jersey shore. Authorities say people became trapped when the second and third floor deck suffered a complete pancake-style collapse.

Wildwood, New Jersey fire chief says rescue efforts started quickly because first responders were gathered in the area for a state fire men convention.

Humberto is now a hurricane, but it's fortunately moving away from shore. Meantime, temperatures are set to spike from Florida to Montana increasing the wild fire threat in the west. Here's meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, METEOROLOGIST: Dave and Christine, good morning, guys, yes, it's very fortunate to see the storm system not only turn away from the Bahamas, but also turn away from the East Coast of the United States. It is a category 1 hitting some 250 miles east of Daytona Beach, and it is expected to move over warmer waters the next couple of days.

And we think a category 2 in the works within the next, say 24 to 36 hours. And notice, the lone land mass in its path would be Bermuda, but quite a bit of time here for the storm system to easily move west of Bermuda and not impact the island. But look at this, back towards the central portion and also the upper mid-western region and the northern plains of the U.S.

Big time heating place, we're talking about temps running in some cases 15 to 20 degrees above average -- how about this? Ninety three degree September afternoon in Billings, Montana, Minneapolis enjoy the 86 degree afternoon. Again, some of these areas like Billings should be in the lower 70s, not the lower 90s.

And with that said, across the southwest, we do have a critical concern here, fire weather behavior certainly going to be in place, winds as high as 40 miles per hour, and humidity is also down to about 10 percent across large areas of Nevada and also the state of Utah. Guys?

ROMANS: All right, thank you.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, Tom Brady has a new target, Antonio Brown makes his Pats debut under the cloud of rape allegations, Andy Scholes in Miami this morning with the "BLEACHER REPORT", that's next.



BRIGGS: Antonio Brown making his debut for the New England Patriots despite facing sexual assault allegations. Andy Scholes who was at the game joins us from Miami with more in the BLEACHER REPORT. Good morning Andy, we didn't hear much from AB, did we?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: We didn't hear a word, Dave, good morning to you. And Antonio Brown, he did not only played for the Patriots this weekend, already was a big part of their offence. Tom Brady getting him involved right away in this game. Brady hitting ground three times on the team's opening drive, entered the second quarter, the two hooking up for their first touchdown.

Brown jumping into the crowd to celebrate with some Patriots fans. New England won this game in an absolute blow-out. It was 43-0. After the game though, Brown, nowhere to be found, he left without speaking with the media which will earn him a fine from the league.

Now, I did speak with some of Brown's teammates and asked them what they thought of his debut with the team.


JULIAN EDELMAN, WIDE RECEIVER, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: He's awesome, yes, he's a playmaker. Got energy.

SONY MICHEL, RUNNING BACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: He's a team player, he did what he needed to do and to help this team succeed.

TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: It starts -- you know, I was just stranded, trying to open a guy and he -- you know, was snapping off some routes and did a great job.


SCHOLES: That's a big week for Brown and the Patriots. According to multiple reports, Brown's accuser Britney Taylor will meet with the NFL to discuss her sexual assault allegations later today. Brown denies those allegations, the league will then decide whether Brown will go on the commissioner's exempt list, which means he gets paid but can't play, they could also announce a suspension or the league can decide to let Brown keep playing will the civil suit plays out.

All right, bad news for New Orleans Saints fans, Drew Brees slams his thump into Aaron Donald's hand on this pass in the first quarter.


He would then try to grab a football on the sideline, and he couldn't. Brees never came back into the game. He said afterwards, he's concerned about this injury. The 40-year-old have been super adorable, missing only one game since high school. Now, the Rams won the NFC Championship game rematch 27-9.

All right, Falcons hosting the Eagles on Sunday night football, down 20 to 17 under three minutes to go, and Julio Jones is going to get this pass from Matt Ryan and takes it to the house. His second touchdown of the game, and that touchdown there will decide it. Falcons win 24-20 to avoid the 0-2 start to the season.

All right, luckily, they had some fire extinguishers handy in Tennessee yesterday. They pyrotechnics catching the field on fire before the game. Now, the start was delayed a bit, but no one was injured. Now, there was an awesome moment in this game, Marcus Mariota finding David Quessenberry for the score.

Quessenberry was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014, and after several routes of treatment, he was cancer-free in 2017. He returned to play for the Houston Texas, now, he's a member of the Titans, yesterday, Dave, getting his first touchdown.

You know, always awesome to see an offensive lineman --

BRIGGS: Yes --

SCHOLES: Gets a touchdown pass, extra special to see Quessenberry do it there.

BRIGGS: Big man, TDs around standing. Andy Scholes, good stuff from Miami, thank you. Romans, what's coming up?

ROMANS: Are you talking to me now -- are you talking to me now after your last night (INAUDIBLE) yes -- no, Dave is not talking to me. All right, cold shoulder from Dave. Forty six minutes passed the hour. The biggest labor strike in more than 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 is spiking higher gas prices are coming to you.