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Israel's Election Results Final in A Few Days; U.S. Rules Out "Knee Jerk" Response; DNI Doesn't Comply with Subpoena; Carl Yastrzemski's Grandson Homes in Fenway Debut. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 18, 2019 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Everybody trying to grab their cornerstone, whether it's, you know, "The Big Bang Theory" or "Friends" or "Parks and Rec."


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Or more "Saved By the Bell", just what the world needed at this hour.


BRIGGS: 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.


BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, no clear winner and no concession in Israel's critical election. New numbers show a deadlock.

ROMANS: Patience prevents stupid moves. The White House taking a hands-off approach as it plans a response to the attack on Saudi oil.

BRIGGS: And the acting spy chief misses a subpoena deadline. How will House Democrats get their hands on an urgent whistleblower complaint?

CNN live this morning in Jerusalem, Riyadh, and Jeddah.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Good morning.


ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, September 18. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And breaking overnight, too close to call. New numbers just in from Israel TV in unprecedented repeat general election.

Israel's longest serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party deadlocked against Benny Gantz and his Blue & White Party.

BRIGGS: The exit polls have a reputation for unreliability. Remember, both Netanyahu and Gantz claimed victory five months ago.

Overnight, no one declared victory, but no one was ready to concede.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER, LIKUD PARTY (through translator): Israel needs a strong and stable and Zionist government -- a government that is committed to Israel as a national state for the Jewish people.

BENNY GANTZ, BLUE AND WHITE PARTY (through translator): I hope to create a wide unity government -- a government that is willing to return to Israel its special values where one people, one society -- the polarization is behind us.


BRIGGS: So which leader will get to form a governing coalition as Israel faces critical decisions at home and abroad?

Let's turn to Sam Kiley live in Jerusalem.

Sam, this is also to an attempt to avoid prosecution for Benjamin Netanyahu.


Well, once again, everything is about Benjamin Netanyahu. He drove the narrative in the run-up to the election, and now his role is driving it afterwards, and the reason for that is according to the exit polls -- and they're sort of consistent now with the percentages, not the seat allocations, but the official percentages that are coming out of the electoral commission after 88 percent of the vote has been counted, that both the Likud led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White led by Benny Gantz are polling similar percentages.

So, what does that mean? Well, it means that Benny Gantz's declaration that he'd like to form a national unity government with the Likud but without Benjamin Netanyahu puts the former or serving current Israeli prime minister at the center of events. Now, the Likud is absolutely adamant for now that that isn't going to happen, that Benjamin Netanyahu is not going to step down, not the least because he has to try to stitch together a coalition because that is his political agenda, but also there is an intent he has to pass legislation that would give him immunity from prosecution for these three corruption allegations in cases that are out there against him.

Concurrent with all of that, we've also seen a very strong showing it would appear again from the exit polls from the Joint List. That's predominantly Arab parties that were to be a government unity but would become an opposition in this country. But all of this adds up to an inconclusive set of results and a conclusion that we're looking at days, possibly weeks more of coalition negotiations with no certain outcome at all, Dave.

BRIGGS: Still a long and cloudy road ahead. All right. Sam Kiley live for us in Jerusalem, thank you.

ROMANS: And the Trump administration appears to be showing constraint after a missile attack crippled a huge oil facility in Saudi Arabia. Defense officials were ordered to plan potential responses, but the White House waiting instead for the Saudi Kingdom's rulers to decide on the next step.

A source tells CNN the administration wants, quote, no knee-jerk reactions to this. The source says this: It's very systemic -- what happens with patience is, it prevents stupid moves.

Nic Robertson joins us from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the latest -- Nic.


Local media reporting that the crown prince has said this terrorist attack is a test of international resolve. That's what we've heard from a number of Saudi officials this morning, the Saudi ambassador to the U.K. saying that Saudi Arabia doesn't want to rush into any kind of conflict. The last thing the region needs is a conflict.

He also said that this attack was almost certainly backed by Iran, an effort to build international support for the Saudi position, which is very close to the U.S. position, that Iran is a maligned actor in the region and both countries want to curtail that.


The ambassador in London inviting countries, inviting allies, the United Nations, the U.K., the U.S., all partners to join in on the investigation. Others signed up saying they're going to be part of the investigation here.

Also, we're learning from the ministry of defense here, they plan to tell the world later on this afternoon in a press conference what they describe as the final results of their investigation that will present, and I quote here, material evidence of Iran's weapons, proving Iranian regime involvement.

That is what we're told to expect later today from the ministry of defense here, put in front of the world it appears the material evidence they say that supports Iran's involvement. They do not say here that they're going to prove where these weapons systems actually took off from. That is part of that current now internationalizing investigation as the Saudis try to draw their conclusions and put those together with the United States.

ROMANS: All right. Nick for us in Riyadh. Thank you, Nic.

BRIGGS: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo en route this morning to Saudi Arabia to consult with the Kingdom's rulers. Global oil prices dropped sharply on Tuesday, that's following their surge on Monday, which sent financial shockwaves around the world.

Why did prices tumble? Largely because the Saudis announced plans to sharply ramp up oil and gas production.

John Defterios was at the Saudi news conference in Jeddah.

John, good morning. What's the time frame here?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR AND ANCHOR: Well, thanks, Dave. In fact, we have clarity. That's what the markets do like to see, and the markets have been cut in half. It will still be weeks but not four to six rather than two to three announced at a press conference here at Ritz-Carlton in Jeddah as you were suggesting last night.

The CEO of Aramco spoke to us after that press conference giving us exclusive access. They're saying they're at 70 percent now. He's really clear they can get to 100 percent. But also he described this drama, Dave. Fifteen concurrent fires taking place, all men on deck trying to fight it off. But they say they feel comfortable, though, with where they're going by the end of September.

Let's take a listen.


AMIN NASSER, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF SAUDI ARABIAN OIL COMPANY SAUDI ARAMCO: We will be back at our production levels before the attack by the end of this month.

DEFTERIOS: If not earlier?

NASSER: If not earlier, but by the end of the month, more comfortable, we will be definitely.


DEFTERIOS: That means there will be close to 10 million barrel as day of production, which means he's going to tell Donald Trump through the crown prince in a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, they don't need the strategic petroleum from the United States, they're comfortable where they are. That's relief to U.S. consumers because there won't be a spike up in inflation going forward if this holds.

But the other thing to underscore, the Saudis do not want conflict, but they want international support, not just to keep the waterways open in the Strait of Hormuz, but to protect them because what has been happening doesn't work. They have to protect the mother ship going forward.

BRIGGS: All right. John Defterios live for us in Saudi Arabia, just past 12:00 there. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, refusing to comply with a deadline to hand over a whistleblower complaint to the House Intel Committee. The Intelligence Committee inspector general deemed the complaint credible and urgent, but the DNI's office says the complaint does not meet the definition of urgent concern, because it does not relate to intelligence activity.

BRIGGS: The letter does acknowledge the whistleblower complaint involves confidential and potentially privileged matters relating to the interest of other stakeholders within the executive branch. The acting DNI's office says he will not be able to appear at a hearing tomorrow on such short notice.

Chairman Adam Schiff says he expect Maguire to appear under subpoena if necessary.

ROMANS: Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski stonewalling and tweaking the Democrats during the first official House impeachment hearing. In that hearing, marked by partisan sniping, Lewandowski did disclose some new details confirming the president did tell him to order then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the Mueller investigation


REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): That's what he wanted you to deliver to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, correct?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I believe that's an accurate representation.

JOHNSON: And he wanted you to deliver it to Jeff so that Jeff could say it to the people, right?

LEWANDOWSKI: I believe so.


ROMANS: That's a significant admission. He seemed to be confirming under oath the president told him to obstruct the investigation. The Mueller report concluded Lewandowski did not carry out the president's order.


The prosecutors found there were substantial evidence of obstruction, at least ten instances.

BRIGGS: Ahead, two Democratic candidates taking a subtle shot at one another on a critical issue for voters.


ROMANS: Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden sparred over health care for union workers Tuesday as United Autoworkers patrolled the picket lines in their strike against General Motors.


Biden and Sanders appeared separately at a union forum in Philadelphia.

During his remarks, the former vice president took a not-so-subtle shot at Sanders and his Medicare-for-All plan.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a significant health care plan, but guess what? Under mine, you can keep your health insurance you have bargained for if you like it. If you don't, you can move and come into a public plan.


ROMANS: Sanders took issue with Biden's assessment.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's wrong. The United States has got to join every other major country on Earth and guarantee health care to all people, union workers and non-union workers, as a right.


ROMANS: Labor groups have raised questions about what would happen to the benefits they have negotiated in collective bargaining agreements if Medicare-for-All becomes law. Sanders argued under his plan, striking GM workers at risk of losing their insurance during the walkout would still be covered.

BRIGGS: The latest polling, the first since last week's debate shows Senator Elizabeth Warren second and gaining on the 2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden. They are the only two candidates making a substantial gain in this poll.

While you were sleeping, Warren paid a visit to the "Late Show" with Stephen Colbert and was pressed on remarks she made at a rally in New York City Monday.


STEPHEN COLBERT, TV HOST/COMEDIAN: You said, we can't choose a candidate we don't believe in just because we're too scared to do anything else. Now, some people saw that -- by some people, I mean everyone -- saw that at a veiled shot at Joe Biden. Is that accurate?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. It's -- no, the way I see this is these really are scary times. It's scary times, because Donald Trump is truly a terrible president. Not just bad, terrible!


ROMANS: Successful dodge?

BRIGGS: No. Why not just go after the front-runner? What's the risk there?

ROMANS: You know, the risk is --

BRIGGS: Alienating some of the large -- she's going to have to take out bide finance she wants to win this thing.

Ahead, a back to the future moment at Fenway Park as a man named Yastrzemski hit a home run. Andy Scholes with the Fenway story in the "Bleacher Report."



BRIGGS: Some baseball news this morning. Pittsburgh Pirates all star closer Felipe Vazquez faces charges of child sex crimes and Pennsylvania.

Andy Scholes with that story in "The Bleacher Report".

Good morning.


Felipe Vazquez was arrested yesterday in Pittsburgh and charged with multiple felony charges including statutory sexual assault of a person under 16 and soliciting a child. The investigation began last month after authorities received information that Vazquez had a sexual relationship with a Florida girl who was 13 at the time. The victim is now 15.

Vazquez did not enter a plea in court and was denied bail. His attorney provided the following comment to CNN. We are in the process of reviewing both the Pennsylvania and Florida charging documents, as well as the underlying facts of the matter at this time. Any comment would be premature.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said Major League Baseball has placed the 28-year-old on unpaid administrative leave. And meantime, it seems that Vazquez's locker has been cleaned out and any signage picture has been removed.

Vazquez's Pirates teammate Chris Archer, he was asked about the charges yesterday.


CHRIS ARCHER, PITTSBURGH PIRATES PITCHER: These allegations are very, very serious. The term that was used earlier is heinous, but, again, right now as far as we know they're just allegations. There's not a whole lot we can say. But I do have a 14-year-old sister, so it's something that hits home.


SCHOELS: Vazquez who's from Venezuela is being held in Allegheny County jail and will have a preliminary hearing on the charges. He also faces extradition to Florida according to authorities.

All right, the end of an era for the New York Giants. The team announcing yesterday that they are benching Eli Manning in order to start rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. The Giants drafted Jones, the fifth overall pick in April draft.

After an 0-2 start, the team deciding it's time to take a look at the future. This is Eli's 16th season in New York and it looks like he may have taken his last snap with the Giants.

All right, now to the Giants in baseball. San Francisco's Mike Yastrzemski's living a childhood dream of starring at Fenway Park. Mike's grandfather Carl, a Red Sox icon, Hall of Famer, played 23 years for the Red Sox. Michael grew up rooting for the team.

The two walked in the field together before the game and then Mike getting a nice ovation from the Fenway faithful for his first at-bat and check out what happened in the fourth inning. Yastrzemski homering to dead center. First home run by Yastrzemski at Fenway in 36 years.


And, Dave, you know, Mike, he had to fight his way through the Minor Leagues playing hundreds of games, 29 years old. To finally get to the big leagues, have a rookie season, and have that moment at Fenway Park in front of his friends and family had to be just surreal.

BRIGGS: And kudos to the Fenway fans for acknowledging an opposing player and for sitting through six hours of baseball and 24 pitchers in that game, by the way.


BRIGGS: Andy, thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: That's a cool story.

BRIGGS: What's coming up?

ROMANS: All right, thanks, Dave.

Has time run out on Benjamin Netanyahu? The Israeli elections still too close to call. New vote totals just in. We go live to Jerusalem.