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Trump Ordered Hold On Ukraine Military Aid; U.K. Supreme Court Rules Against Prime Minister; Greta Thunberg Blasts World Leaders At U.N. Climate Session. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 24, 2019 - 5:30   ET



[05:30:33] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Breaking overnight, the president himself ordered a hold on military aid to Ukraine days before pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden. House Democrats will meet behind closed doors as calls for impeachment grow.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN HOST: With Iran topping the agenda, the president speaks at the U.N. this morning, is there a path for diplomacy?

ROMANS: And did the FAA mislead Congress on training for the Boeing 373 MAX? Investigators say inspectors were underqualified.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans. Good morning.

BRIGGS: Amazing how long that's gone on.


BRIGGS: Good morning, I'm Dave Briggs. It is 5:30 Eastern Time. We start with breaking news overnight.

The strongest suggestion yet, President Trump may have had political motives when he spoke with Ukraine's president and pressured him to investigate Joe Biden's son. Now, we could be on the verge of a very big move on impeachment by House Democrats. CNN learning President Trump ordered a hold on $400 million in military aid to Ukraine just days before a late July call with President Volodymyr Selensky.

"The Washington Post" first to report this.

ROMANS: A senior administration official says the president was mainly concerned about corruption and pushing Europe to shoulder more of the financial burden for Ukraine's defenses. But, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy who met Selensky in Ukraine this month says Selensky was concerned the aid was being cut as a consequence for not launching a probe of the Bidens.

Monday, the president kept up the drum beat accusing the Biden and his son, Hunter, of wrongdoing without offering any proof.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Joe Biden and his son are corrupt. If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they'd be getting the electric chair by right now.


ROMANS: Trump did not specify what Biden said or did. Senate Republicans, in the meantime, offering a variety of responses to developments.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It is regrettable that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff and Senator Schumer have chosen to politicize the issue.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): I would like to have the whistleblower come and talk to me so we know what his story is. I don't want to hear a secondhand.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I believe that President Trump is going to blow you away with his willingness to disclose and be transparent about this phone call because I think he did nothing wrong and he has nothing to hide.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): The bottom line is I don't think he should have done it. But that's a far cry from what some people around here are claiming to know what's fact that frankly we don't know is fact.


BRIGGS: House Democrats will discuss the investigations in a members- only meeting this afternoon. Some of them telling us the caucus is reaching a "tipping point" as the administration blocks the release of a whistleblower's complaint over the Ukraine call. At least 145 Democrats have now declared they are in favor of an impeachment probe.

That's more than 60 percent of the caucus and that number rising quickly as moderate Democrats show new openness to moving on impeachment. During a flight from New York to Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi read a "Washington Post" op-ed signed by seven freshmen Democrats from -- all from swing districts who made the case for impeachment.

ROMANS: The speaker sharpened her rhetoric over the weekend. In the "Washington Post" report, she is quietly checking with House Democrats about whether to impeach the president. In a brief in-flight interview with CNN, Pelosi left little doubt the whistleblower complaint has escalated the standoff. And a move toward impeachment proceedings is all but certain.

She said this, we'll have no choice. President Trump and the Ukrainian President Selensky are set to meet at the U.N. General Assembly tomorrow. Joining us this morning in person, the famous --

BRIGGS: What a treat.

ROMANS: -- CNN senior diplomatic editor Nic Robertson. Nice to have you here.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, nice for you say that it's a nice thing.

BRIGGS: We're very excited to have you.

ROMANS: We really are. And now you're going to be heading over to the U.N. today. The president is speaking --


ROMANS: -- there in about five hours time. And he's -- we're told he's going to talk about the economy. He's going to talk about Iran, the American economy and Iran. But how much is this controversy, this scandal with Ukraine overshadowing his visit at the U.N.?

ROBERTSON: You know, I don't think it matters too much for the leaders for meeting him because they are used to this. They are used to President Trump coming with baggage whenever he goes to one of the big summits, the G7, the G20 or whatever it is. There's always something trailing him. It was the Mueller investigation, Mueller inquiry, but now it's other things (ph). So I think they're used to this.

But it leads to high degree of uncertainty and unpredictability about what this president is going to do. So, if you're a country looking after your national interests, you're never really sure about this president, where he's going to stand the next day and where that leaves you. So, that -- it is an undermining concern.


[05:35:02] BRIGGS: So some would like to give the president the benefit of the doubt here that he wants to stamp out corruption and broaden (ph) -- in fact, he talked about that yesterday at the UNGA.


TRUMP: It's very important to talk about corruption. If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? It's very important that on occasion you speak to somebody about corruption.


BRIGGS: That is true. The two biggest recipients, however, of foreign military aid are Israel and Egypt, OK. What did the leaders of Israel and Egypt have in common besides being Trump's two biggest allies on the foreign stage? ROBERTSON: Well, I would say that Egypt right now, the leadership

there is in question and under pressure. Protests on the street this weekend. And right now, Israel is trying to form a unity government. So, in that context, they're two countries potentially poised for a moment of transition.

But, on the stage of corruption, Mr. Netanyahu, the outgoing prime minister there, being investigated on several accounts of it. President Sisi has many meetings with President Trump. He always seems to be getting a meeting, favorite dictator as we understand the president who's called him.

BRIGGS: And those protests you mentioned, are people protesting el- Sisi corruption?

ROBERTSON: Protesting el-Sisi corruption and there's also real concern within the military ranks. This is something we don't hear about too much. And there was a thought in Egypt that Sisi left to come to the UNGA early because he's worried about a possible potential for a coup.

And that is all down to corruption. These military officers, mid- level, are very concerned. The contrite, senior military officers, very senior military officers are getting and their paychecks are the same.

BRIGGS: Selective concern about corruption. Sorry.

ROMANS: Yes. I know a big story that you're even following is Brexit, of course, we're waiting for the Supreme Court decision --


ROMANS: --over the future of Brexit. And what does it signify for both the future of Brexit and Boris Johnson, whatever we hear from the Supreme Court.

ROBERTSON: This could undermine him. Look, the thing that he's been able to do is to convince himself, the country and the European Union that he will leave without a deal at the end of October, 37 days and counting down right now. So he's done that.

This would undermine his argument because he would-- if he's found to be lying, not only has he been lying to the queen, which is hard to see something worse than that, this would put his leadership in doubt. Who would replace him, that's not clear.

He would very likely have to reopen parliament. We don't know until we get the full reading of --

ROMANS: It's being read right now. But we're actually in the courtroom listening to it to be read. So as soon as we have the final rule.

ROBERTSON: And the guidance on it from Lady Hale who has -- who's reading this is that the guidance says this is not about a political issue. This is not about Brexit. This is purely about whether or not it was breaking the law.

So, again, they're trying to separate out the politics from this. It all comes about, was this done for a good political reason or a bad political reason? A political reason to one side, the legal rational is the case here. So we don't know quite where it's going to go. But it will undermine Boris Johnson and undermine his ability to say, no deal or nothing, we're leaving without it, undermines his negotiating position. But where we know he's at today, he doesn't have a deal on the table, not one that's working.

BRIGGS: All right, speaking of deals, what we thought would be the big story to UNGA would be Iran and the talk between the U.S. and Iran. There -- it appears to be none. Here's what Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister told Christiane Amanpour about a possible path forward between the U.S. and Iran. Listen.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We are prepared if President Trump is serious about permanent for permanent. Permanent peaceful nuclear program in Iran and permanent monitoring of Iranian nuclear facilities in return for what he has said he is prepared to do. And that is to go to Congress and have this ratified, which would mean Congress lifting the sanction.


BRIGGS: How significant a glimmer of hope is that?

ROBERTSON: Look, I think everyone, particularly in the region, is hoping that this is diplomatic path here. But the reality is, and we heard this from the British, French and Germans yesterday that Iran is not taking the diplomatic path, that it's taking the military path. That this was an act of war, essentially, on Saudi Arabia, the striking of the refineries over the past weekend.

So, it's difficult to see if Zarif is really speaking for the real leadership, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Is he really speaking for them? Is he being undermined by the IRGC, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, in Iran?

And no one's really sure. So, you know, the real concern is military approach will massively escalate and potentially lead to a very wide war in the Middle East. If you go the diplomatic path, which is what everyone wants, there is -- there may be light at the end of the tunnel.

But I think we're a long way away from having an agreement even how to get on that track. But what the British, French and Germans have said backs up the United States, Mike Pompeo has welcomed it. They are saying, let's negotiate completely on new terms, new set of clauses and about the ballistic missiles, too.

ROMANS: All right, Nic Robertson, nice to see you this morning. ROBERTSON: Thank you.

ROMANS: Thanks. And we'll give you those details as soon as we get them on what the Supreme Court is ruling this morning. Thanks.

BRIGGS: All right, breaking overnight, investigators say the FAA misled Congress on inspector training for the now grounded Boeing 737 MAX and inspectors themselves were underqualified.

[05:40:09] The finding is first reported by "The Washington Post's" compound questions about safety oversight at the FAA which has come under scrutiny after two 737 MAX jets crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia killing 346 people. These findings are from the Office of Special Counsel, a government watchdog that investigates whistleblower complaints led by a Trump appointee. The FAA says it is reviewing the Special Counsel's findings but remains confident in what it told Congress.

ROMANS: A U.S. soldier now in custody accused of suggesting the use of a vehicle bomb against a major news network, which sources say was CNN. Twenty-four-year-old army specialist, Jarrett William Smith, was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas before his arrest Saturday. Court documents say he told an FBI informant about a month ago he was looking for more right-wing radicals like himself. Prosecutors say he offered to teach others how to build bombs, said that he wanted to kill members of the left-wing antifa movement and named Democratic candidate, Beto O'Rourke, as another possible target.

Smith's attorney did not return a request for a comment.

BRIGGS: All right, coming up, a school resource officer arrested not one, but two children in Florida. Now, that officer is out of a job.


[05:45:32] BRIGGS: Breaking moments ago, Britain Supreme Court handing Prime Minister Boris Johnson a stinging defeat. Justice is saying the prime minister cannot suspend parliament for as long as he chooses.

Melissa Bell is live outside the Supreme Court with a significance of this ruling. Melissa, good morning.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, as that ruling was read out by the president of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, a cheer went out from the pro remain campaigners who gathered here on one side of the mass ranks of the press.

Now, two things, first of all, she began by ruling, and this was one of the questions that was put to the Supreme Court, whether it was even a question for the judiciary, it ruled that it was. The next question was whether Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament for five weeks, historically, quite a long time for parliament to be suspended. At that crucial time, Dave, just before the 31st of October, deadline for Brexit to happen, whether or not that had been lawful, the court ruled that it was not lawful. Then Lady Hale moved on to the question of remedies, because there was

much -- many questions about whether those -- the India (ph), and the court would decide to leave the power with the executive, could it, should it decide to recall parliament or could it decide to suspend it again. Or whether once this ruling was complete, it would hand the power to the legislative that is the parliament, and in the end, the court really went as far as it possibly could in that sense against the government, against Boris Johnson, and in favor of leaving power with the parliamentarians.

And this is such an important decision for the future of Brexit for whether a deal happens, when it happens, whether the U.K. comes crashing out of the E.U. without one. The power now lies squarely with parliamentarians as this next chapter in the crucial Brexit debate continues. Dave.

BRIGGS: Already murky future for Brexit just got cloudier. Melissa Bell, great reporting live for us from London this morning, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, let's go to check on CNN business this Tuesday morning, a look at global markets. You can see mostly gains around the world. Some optimism about the trajectory of U.S.-China trade talks, because the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said the Chinese delegation farm visit that was canceled suddenly this weekend will be rescheduled. And that's seen as a positive sign in Asia.

On Wall Street, Futures also leading a little bit higher here after almost a nothing day yesterday. Stocks barely moved on mixed performance. The Dow snapped a two-day losing streak to barely close hire. The S&P 500 flat, the Nasdaq down slightly.

After a long back and forth with the White House, Apple now says it will keep production of the newest Mac Pro here in the United States. It will manufacture the latest generation of the computer in Texas, because it secured a tariff exemption for key parts of the device. Over the summer, reports indicated Apple may move production of the computer to China because of the trade war. Apple needs parts from China to make this Mac Pro, but they've become more expensive because of tariffs. Apple has been making the Mac Pro in Texas since 2013.

Google is introducing its own subscription game service going head to head with Apple. Google Play Pass will give android users access to more than 350 apps in games, costs 4.99 a month, the same price as Apple Arcade. The price is identical but the content will be different. Apple Arcade offers a catalog of over 100 exclusive games. Google Play Pass will have apps and games that are already available on the play service.

We'll be right back.


[05:53:21] ROMANS: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg chastising world leaders saying she will never forgive them for their failure on climate change. The 16-year-old fought back tears while delivering this passionate message at the U.N. Climate Action Summit. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? People are suffering. People are dying and dying ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?


ROMANS: President Trump briefly attended that climate summit, despite plans to skip it for a session on religious persecution.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, a strong magnitude 6.0 earthquake strikes off the coast of Puerto Rico. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake hit some 50 miles northwest of San Antonio, at least three aftershocks have followed. No reports of damage to the island. Making matters worse, Tropical Storm Karen threatening to soak much of Puerto Rico. Schools are close there today.

ROMANS: The nation's tech giants are revamping an organization to fight online extremism so it can work more extensively with outside parties. The global internet forum to counter terrorism was established in 2017 by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube to share information about violent terrorist content. The aim is to create a civil defense style mechanism to counter the increasingly sophisticated efforts by extremists to abuse digital platforms.

BRIGGS: And the effort (ph) comes six months after the suspect in the New Zealand mosque shooting streamed the massacre live on Facebook, at least three atrocities in 2019 have involved suspects posting hate- filled messages on online forums in advance of an attack.

[05:55:09] ROMANS: A Dallas prosecutor says former police officer, Amber Guyger, missed multiple signs she was not in her own apartment before she opened fire killing her upstairs neighbor, Botham Jean, mistaking him for a burglar. Guyger's murder trial opened Monday with the D.A. telling jurors she failed to notice differences in the hallway, including a skylight and Jean's red doormat. Once inside, she didn't notice a missing table, she didn't notice clatter on the counter and the smell of marijuana.

Guyger's lawyer said she was fatigued and on autopilot that night in September last year. He called it an epic tragedy.

BRIGGS: A dramatic rescue after a train tragedy in New York City. Video shows Good Samaritans coming to the rescue of a 5-year-old girl after her father jumped to his death in front of an oncoming subway train while holding her. Incredibly, the little girl was not hit by the train and managed to crawl out from under the subway car. The rush hour crowd in AMTs comforted that little girl before she was taken to the hospital. Police say she barely had a scratch on her.

ROMANS: Oh, poor thing. Right, an Orlando elementary school resource officer has been fired after arresting two 6-year-olds in separate incidents. Orlando's police chief says he tried to give the officer the benefit of reviewing paperwork and statements but it became clear there was no choice but to terminate him.


ORLANDO ROLON, ORLANDO POLICE CHIEF: We were all appalled. We could not fathom the idea of a 6-year-old being put in the back of a police car. And, to be honest with you, it's still shocking to us.


ROMANS: The police chief says the officer's actions put the trust between the police and the community in jeopardy. He says an investigation is ongoing.

BRIGGS: So, some cows walked into a bar, but there's no punch line, because it's not a joke. The Wisconsin brewery that makes Spotted Cow beer had a late night visit from 16 spotted cows. The dairy cows walked into the parking lot of the New Glarus Brewing Company early Monday morning. A security guard and police corralled the cows with their cars until the owner came to pick up his herd. In case you're wondering, Spotted Cow is a farmhouse ale that's sold only in Wisconsin.

ROMANS: You got to find a distributor because that is some free advertising there. That's Spotted Cow free advertising. You got to move on that.

BRIGGS: Utterly brilliant.

ROMANS: Utterly brilliant.

BRIGGS: Sorry, apologies.

ROMANS: Oh, that's bad. Let's move on. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is sounding out Democrats on impeachment. And while you were sleeping, the late-night hosts chimed in.


SETH MEYERS, LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS HOST: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today called for the director of National Intelligence to release the whistleblower report made against President Trump. And if they don't, she's going to -- she -- well, she's going to politely ask again.

JIMMY KIMMEL, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE HOST: It would appear that the president of the United States use his office to ask a foreign country to dig up dirt on an opponent, and Democrats in Congress are now thinking very seriously about threatening to maybe consider almost doing something about it.

JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON HOST: Trump's call with the Ukraine had really put his presidency in danger though. Today, Nance Pelosi said another 500 or 600 major violations and we might think about impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. MEYERS: Nancy Pelosi accused President Trump of endangering national

security. Yes, Nancy, where have you been? You're like my mom's friend who's watching Season 4 of "Breaking Bad" and says, I think this guy might be dealing meth.


ROMANS: Strong. Strong, Seth. All right, thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. See you tomorrow.


TRUMP: We had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine. Everybody knows it. It's just a democrat witch hunt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He put a hold on this aid to Ukraine a week before calling up Selensky and then badgering him to investigate Joe Biden. That is highly suspicious.

GRAHAM: Because I think he did nothing wrong and he has nothing to hide.

REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D-TX): We must move forward with impeachment proceedings. I don't think we'll have much of a choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're beyond the tipping point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are (INAUDIBLE) starting that turnaround so loosely (ph). It's lost all meaning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nancy Pelosi is in a tough spot. The impeachment math (ph) is still not great for them.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hey, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is "NEW DAY", it is Tuesday, September 24th, 6:00 here in New York.

Breaking overnight, a major development in the Ukraine controversy and a potentially seismic shift in democratic leadership's thinking about impeaching President Trump. CNN has confirmed that the president ordered a whole of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine roughly one week before a phone call in which President Trump admits to talking to the new Ukrainian leader about investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

"The Washington Post" reports that administration officials were told to tell Congress that delay was a result of "an interagency process", without giving anymore information.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: And all that is a backdrop to what could be an even bigger development. There are signs that by tonight, impeachment could be on. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a closed door meeting with committee chairs and then the whole caucus. [06:00:00]