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United Auto Workers Go On Strike Against General Motors; Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy; Trump: U.S. "Locked And Loaded" To Respond To Oil Attack. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 16, 2019 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Nearly 50,000 auto workers walk off the job. 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'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 not of the president. Why they're after Brett Kavanaugh.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour. Good morning, everyone, this Monday morning.

First, this morning, breaking business news, the biggest walkout in a decade. The United Auto Workers Union is on strike against General Motors, the largest strike by any union since the last strike at G.M. over a decade ago. The union's 46,000 hourly workers walked out of factories and facilities across the country.

Workers say they want fair wages, affordable health care, profit sharing, job security, and a defined path to permanent seniority for temporary employees. G.M. 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 is in Detroit, the other is in Lordstown, Ohio. G.M. didn't say what that solution would be.

Hours before the strike began, President Trump 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 G.M. set for 10:00 a.m. today. BRIGGS: Also breaking overnight, Purdue Pharma filing for bankruptcy. The company makes OxyContin, the 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.

The incentive for a settlement grew after Johnson & Johnson was found liable for $572 million in damages similar -- for similar marketing practices in Oklahoma.

Purdue 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 wire transfers by the Sackler family, which owns Purdue. New York and other states allege 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 locked and loaded, depending on verification of who launched those attacks in Saudi Arabia. The president's foreign policy team was at the White House for a National Security Council meeting on Sunday.

And moments ago, Iran seemed to rule out meeting with President Trump at the U.N. General Assembly when leaders come to New York next week.

BRIGGS: All of this follows coordinated strikes Saturday on key Saudi oil facilities. Now, these are among the world's largest production centers. The attacks disrupted five percent of 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 most likely originated in Iran or Iraq where there are Iran-backed proxies but limited evidence, thus far.

For the latest, let's check in with Nick Paton Walsh who is live for us in Tehran. Those words, Nick, locked and loaded, how are they being met there?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, the Foreign Ministry has said just this morning that anything Trump says only lasts 24 hours. And I think if you're a student of Donald Trump's tweets you will notice that the phrase locked and loaded hasn't necessarily preceded military action.

But frankly, there is a bit of vacuum after the departure of national security adviser John Bolton, his key Iran hawk. Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, seemed to step into those shoes early on Saturday morning when he said that Iran was behind those attacks on the Saudi oil fields.


But frankly, we just don't know which way President Trump is going to go. Is it going to be Syria, where he launched overnight strikes to make a point over the use of chemical weapons? Or will it be North Korea, where he threatened fire and fury like the world's never seen, but months later was right next to Kim Jong Un inside -- just inside North Korea, itself?

That uncertainty is the key issue here, really, because normally in a region like this where the adversaries -- where the amnity (ph) is so practiced and long-term, people know what the consequences of actions may often be. We just don't know what will come next.

Importantly, what we also don't know are the facts of what occurred around these Saudi oil fields -- these competing claims. The idea from the Yemeni Houthi rebels that they managed to send drones -- 10 of them -- hundreds of miles inside Saudi territory through their air defenses -- that cost tens of billions of dollars and are often supplied by U.S. corporations -- that managed to hit these prized oil refineries.

The Houthis and even some Iranian officials say that drones are now capable of doing that. That may be the case. We have U.S. officials pointing out that the attacks came from a different direction, possibly suggesting they emanated from south Iraq.

Now, we simply don't know what comes next. We know that Mike Pompeo -- his Iran -- his Iraqi counterpart -- Iraq's government denies any involvement. Iran's government has called Pompeo's claims, quote, "max deceit."

And we are also looking at the possibility of diplomacy between America and Iran, which many thought just 72 hours ago was the most likely conclusion after the departure of John Bolton. Well, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman saying that that seems less likely than ever at this point.

To be fair, Iran said they don't really want to talk face-to-face, president-to-president until sanctions are eased. The problem is we're in untested territory here. We don't know where Iran wants to go with this, we don't know the facts of what happened in the first place, and we don't know how far the U.S. is willing to push this.

One massively important final fact. Saudi Arabia has yet to blame Iran. We're still awaiting for their verdict, as is Donald Trump. Very tense days ahead -- Dave, Christine.

BRIGGS: Yes, a tenuous few days, indeed. Nick Paton Walsh, 2:06 there in Tehran. Thank you.

ROMANS: Nick telling us what we don't know. What we do know, this is a shock to the global oil market -- no

question. Oil prices spiking 10, 15 percent to the highest levels of trading right now since May.

This will mean a jump in gas prices worldwide. This will mean higher costs for businesses -- manufacturers who consume energy products to make their goods.

John Defterios live from Abu Dhabi with the details. I mean, people will feel this. This is a very big development.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR AND ANCHOR: And the big spike up, Christine, as you're talking about it -- unprecedented in terms of the attack itself over the weekend, losing 5.7 million barrels a day.

It has never happened in the history of the Middle East or, in fact, of the oil industry. And as a result, we saw a 15 percent spike in Asia. We've come off those highs but since we last talked in the last 30 minutes, Christine, we're back again better than nine percent with the West Texas benchmark knocking on the door of $60.00 a barrel.

Now, this is a very delicate balance because Saudi Arabia is trying to manage expectations, saying it will serve U.S. consumers and global consumers by providing energy as much as possible. Sources tell me over there they have about 200 million barrels of oil in storage in Asia and in Europe and they can tap that, but it lasts about 35 to 40 days.

The U.S. president suggesting he'll use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is 645 million barrels. It sounds like a lot but the world consumes 100 million barrels a day. So we're awaiting further guidance from President Trump. How much by when is the real key to the oil markets right now.

And we have to underscore the U.S. sanctions policy by the United States against Iran and Venezuela has wiped out a lot of production within OPEC players. Five of them have lost six million barrels a day over the last 10 years alone and there's not a lot of spare capacity around. So the real question is where's the oil come from is Saudi does not fill the void. And we're awaiting further guidance from Reah.

ROMANS: All right, John Defterios. Thank you so much for your expertise there.

BRIGGS: All right, let's talk about this with Julian Zelizer, Princeton University professor and historian, and a CNN political analyst. Good to see you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning.


BRIGGS: This fits a pattern for the president, often reaching a conclusion then going to search for whatever evidence to justify that.

How volatile, though, is this particular situation, given the principal players?

ZELIZER: This one's volatile because of the effects that we just heard about, so there's a lot of consequences to what happened. They'll be more pressure to do something.

But there's still big questions about what actually happened. Is this worth military action? And a lack of confidence in the president to handle either of those problems.

ROMANS: You know, this is -- no question, we wake up and we start this week in a more dangerous situation than we did when we went to bed at the end of last week.

And you've got a president who's facing a big test here, especially when we know how he handles this is critical for peace, right? But also, consumers, and companies, and economies could face higher energy costs and even, this could the -- tip of a recession. That's the big fear.


ZELIZER: Absolutely, and again, that's why there might be more pressure to do something. That doesn't mean the president will take military action just because he tweets that. We've seen he doesn't do anything.

But economically, that's a big story. If this has ripples economically, that can then affect what happens here politically.

ROMANS: And a strong economy is like his central -- his central selling point for reelection.


All right, moving now to the ongoing discussion over gun violence and how to handle any legislation moving forward.

Beto O'Rourke changed the conversation at the Democratic debate, saying he would take AR-15s. But, Pete Buttigieg, also a candidate, pushed back a little bit on that narrative and how it may hurt the conversation.

Let's listen to both sides of this on the same party, rather.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" AND "STATE OF THE UNION": Did Beto O'Rourke say something that's playing into the hands of Republicans? MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. Look, right now, we have an amazing moment on our hands. When even this president and even Mitch McConnell are at least pretending to be open to reforms, we know that we have a moment on our hands. Let's make the most of it.


BRIGGS: Does this, in your estimation, mirror what happened on health care? The country had come around to supporting Obamacare and wanting to fix it. Bernie Sanders changed that entire discussion and moved the party to the left. Did Beto do something similar with gun violence?

ZELIZER: Well, a little bit, but the fact is the gun crisis is very real. We've been through so many mass shootings.

With Obamacare there's a real program and they're debating what do you do with a real program? In this case, there's total congressional inaction.

I mean, to say that Sen. McConnell is on the cusp of a deal belies everything that we've seen. And so that's why this debate is a little bit different. What do you do and it's a major problem.

BRIGGS: But just for clarity's sake, I'm talking about the country has come around to universal background checks.


BRIGGS: It's at 89 percent, 80 percent among Republicans. And that is where I equate that to the favorability now of Obamacare.

Romans, I didn't mean to interrupt.

ROMANS: Oh, no, no -- I'm just wondering where the presidential leadership is on this because you have seen the president say yesterday he talked with Democratic leaders. Talked about -- you know, talked about talking about some sort of solutions or compromise. But I don't know where the president blows in this debate.

ZELIZER: Well, so far, there's a lot of talk and there's a lot of inaction at the same time. And so that's why there's not much confidence in what's going to happen.

We can't look at the president's record and say that there's great odds he's going to enter into a deal. He's backed off when the NRA have pushed back. And he's aware that Senate Republicans, at this point, despite public opinion, have not really moved on even common- sense gun control.

ROMANS: All right, Julian Zelizer. Nice to see you this Monday morning. Thank you, sir.


ROMANS: All right.

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 the allegations.

Twenty twenty Democratic candidates Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg all calling for Kavanaugh's removal. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Amy Klobuchar not going quite as far but they want further investigation.

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

BRIGGS: The new book prefaces its claims by Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a party at Yale.

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 and friends 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 this allegation because they have not been independently verified.

ROMANS: All right.

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



BRIGGS: Israel gearing up for an extremely tight race tomorrow in its second election this year to form a government.

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


You find me on the stunt with former prime minister Ehud Barak. Of course, a key figure in the history of Israel. He's just appearing here in central Tel Aviv, trying to muster a bit of last-minute support because, of course, this election is all about getting the base out first.

He's a party to the Democratic Union and is not likely to do particularly well. But it will be a key element if the center-left need to try to put together a coalition if they get enough seats in the first round to be asked by President Rivlin to do that.

On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Likud, of course, trying to get reelected.

Ehud Barak -- earlier on, I spoke to him and he said that one of the main issues for Mr. Netanyahu -- bearing in mind that Mr. Barak is his political opponent -- is to try to get immunity for himself as prime minister if he were to win. Immunity that he is facing three corruption and mismanagement charges that at the moment are several months away from becoming active prosecutions.

But within all of that context the two main blocs, the Lukid and the Blue and White Party, are effectively, according to the polls -- and they can be notoriously incorrect here in Israel -- they're neck and neck. So this election, if the polls are right, is very unlikely to produce a clear winner and then the process of coalition negotiations. And that's when from the left's perspective people like Ehud Barak and his Democratic Union Party plus Arab voters are going to be key.


From Mr. Netanyahu's perspective, he has been campaigning very hard to try to absorb a lot of hard-right elements into his voting bloc to vote Lukid rather than for the extremists because he doesn't want to end up in a coalition with those extremists.

Back to you.

BRIGGS: All right, Sam Kiley live in Tel Aviv. Just about 1:00 p.m. there. Thank you.

We'll be right back.



BRIGGS: Big safety changes at Boeing. A committee of board members is expected to make recommendations this week after two deadly crashes involving 737 MAX jets killed 346 people and grounded the entire fleet.

CNN has learned the committee will recommend Boeing engineers report safety concerns to the chief engineer first, and then to business leaders. Under Boeing's current structure, issues are first reported to business leaders who face production deadlines and potential conflicts of interest with delays.

New York State 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 of surge of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.

Gov. Cuomo telling CNN new legislation would also raise the age to buy cigarettes 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 deaths nationwide and hundreds of illnesses.

Meantime, President Trump appears to be backtracking on vaping. He said last week his administration would work toward banning flavored e-cigarettes. But in this tweet Friday he seemed to suggest vaping was a safe alternative to smoking, stressing the need to get counterfeits off the market.

Twenty twenty Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang weighing in on the controversy over racial slurs by a new "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" cast member. After comedian Shane Gillis was officially hired last week, comments emerged from a podcast where he used racial slurs aimed at Asian-Americans, including Yang.

Gillis responded to the criticism saying, quote, "I'm a comedian who pushes boundaries and sometimes I miss."

Yang, a Taiwanese-American, tweeted directly to Gillis, calling the jokes "cheap shots" and later said this on CNN.


ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- bigger picture, I believe that our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist. And that we need to try and move beyond that if we can, particularly in a case where the person is, in this case, to me, like a comedian whose work should be taken in a slightly different light.


BRIGGS: Yang says he doesn't think Gillis should be fired.

Yang, himself, has drawn criticism for jokes about his own ethnicity, including at last week's debate when he quipped, I'm Asian, so I know a lot of doctors.

Did you ever have a dream that felt all too real? Well, it happened to Jenna Evans and it was tough to swallow.

The San Diego woman woke up last Wednesday morning and noticed her engagement ring was no longer on her finger. It didn't take her too long to realize what happened.


JENNA EVANS, SWALLOWED ENGAGEMENT RING: I was having a dream that we were on a cargo train and it was a dangerous situation. And, Bobby told me you have to swallow your ring. When I woke up and it was not on my hand, I knew exactly where it was.


BRIGGS: Jenna had taken it off and swallowed it in her sleep. Everyone actually had a good laugh until doctors told her she needed an upper endoscopy to get it out.

Jenna says she now takes her ring off at night before bed.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, September 16th. It's 6:00 here in New York.

Alisyn is off. Erica Hill joins me this morning.


BERMAN: Great to have you here.

We've got a lot of breaking news from around the world. First off, strike -- the biggest strike among U.S. auto workers in more than 10 years.

Contract talks between General Motors and the United Auto Workers broke off over the weekend and now, nearly 50,000 UAW members at over 50 facilities in the United States will stay home or they will man the picket lines this morning.

HILL: Plus, the end may be near for Purdue Pharma. The company that made billions selling the painkiller OxyContin, filing for bankruptcy.

This is all part of a settlement involving some 2,000 lawsuits related to the company's role in the opioid crisis. Now, some reports put the price tag here at over $10 billion. This morning, though, there is major resistance to that plan.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich who is live in Detroit at a G.M. factory with our top story.


Today, we are seeing about 50,000.