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Impeachment Inquiry Begins; Parliament Reopens in United Kingdom; Prince Harry & Family in Africa. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 25, 2019 - 04:30   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The speaker takes an historic first step towards impeachment. A polarized country will be put to the test with the 2020 election on the online.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs. Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning to all of you, 4:31 Eastern Time and 4:31 in the nation's capital.

That's where we begin this morning. Only three presidents in American history have faced impeachment proceedings. Donald Trump will be the fourth.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially launching an impeachment inquiry against the president. Mr. Trump has admitted pressing the president of Ukraine to investigate former VP and possible 2020 opponent, Joe Biden. This was, at the same time military aid was being withheld on the president's orders and sets up a fierce battle between the House majority and a president who has fought oversight after every turn.

Pelosi resisted impeachment calls for months, but now seems to believe necessity outweighs possible political fallout in the 2020 election.

ROMANS: The White House is planning to release two key documents in an effort to slow the building Democratic momentum. As early as today, it will release the whistle-blower complaint that set off the Ukraine scandal. The White House will also put out the transcript of Mr. Trump's call with the Ukrainian president. Unclear how much we will see before acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, appears before House Intel Committee tomorrow.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff also says the whistle-blower wants to speak to his panel.

More now from CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.



Now, after months of internal debate, infighting, and questions about the way forward, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally got behind the idea of moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, after Democrat after Democrat in her caucus called for the impeachment inquiries to begin, at least to move forward.

PELOSI: The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections. Therefore, today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.

RAJU: Now, she made very clear what was the straw that broke the camel's back was the complaint that was issued by this whistleblower and the president's handling of it, as well as the substance of the allegations. The president himself talking on the phone with the Ukrainian president about the Bidens. That, of course, becoming an issue that she seized upon, saying that's one reason why we need -- the major reason why we need to move forward.

At the same time, what does that actually mean? She's saying that the six committees that have already been investigating the committee on Capitol Hill, including the House Intelligence Committee and House Judiciary Committee will continue their investigations. And ultimately, they will decide whether or not to move forward on articles of impeachment.

And if they do, the House Judiciary Committee will vote to move forward and impeach the president. Then the full house will vote to impeach the president, but only to remove him to office. You'll need two-thirds majority in the United States Senate, which is led by Republicans to do that, which is unlikely to succeed.

So, this process could take a few months. Speaker Pelosi says she wants this to be done expeditiously. So, while it may not lead to removal of the president, it's a symbolic, but historic move because the president himself will be only the third president in American history to be impeached by the House.


Back to you. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Manu, thank you.

The groundswell for impeachment is rapidly growing in the House, 196 Democrats now back an impeachment inquiry. That's 83 percent of the members, an increase of 50 members in the single day.

A good number of the holdouts were Democrats in swing districts and close allies of Speaker Pelosi, but for many like civil rights icon John Lewis, the Ukraine whistleblower fallout was simply the final straw.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I have been patient while we tried every other path and used every other tool. We will never find the truth unless we use the power given to the House of Representatives and the House alone to begin an official investigation.


ROMANS: Pelosi is telling colleagues the investigation will be done expeditiously. Democrats have said they hope to have it concluded by the end of the year. This is the last week in session for the House before a two-week recess.

BRIGGS: Obsessed with impeachment, that's how the president is trying to paint Democrats after Speaker Pelosi's announcement.


BRIGGS: The president's campaign team releasing this dramatic video less than 30 minutes after Pelosi's announcement. CNN has learned it was prepared weeks ago. The campaign's communications director says, quote, we were ready in case the Democrats were that dumb and they were.

ROMANS: The president has changed his story for withholding military aid from Ukraine. On Monday, he said it was all about corruption. On Tuesday, he blamed Europe.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My complaint has always been, and I will withhold again, and I'll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine, because they're not doing it. The United States, we're putting up the bulk of the money. And I'm asking, why is that?


ROMANS: The president claims there was never any quid pro quo behind his decision to eventually release the funding to Ukraine.

BRIGGS: Former Vice President Joe Biden following Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lead, going further than he has thus far on impeachment.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we allow a president to get away with shredding the United States Constitution, that will last forever. If he continues to obstruct Congress and flout the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment. That would be a tragedy, but a tragedy of his own making.


BRIGGS: Several of Biden's 2020 Democratic rivals have already said they believe that Congress should take up the full impeachment proceedings.

ROMANS: Overnight, more extensive reporting from "The Washington Post," detailing how the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pursued a shadow Ukraine agenda, while key foreign policy officials were neutralized. The timeline involves the abrupt removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, senior officials being circumvented and the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

BRIGGS: Several officials involve tense meetings on Ukraine among national security personnel with some fearing the president was prepared to leverage the new Ukrainian president for political gain. It should be an interesting visual when President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet at the U.N. today.

Let's go live to Kiev and bring in Matthew Chance.

Matthew, good morning.


Well, the Ukrainians so far have kept their lips tightly sealed, fearing about the possibility of making this situation even worse. They are absolutely mortified about being sucked into this American partisan, political drama, because they don't see it through -- they see it through the prism of their own interests. The fact that they need American cross-party support in their ongoing confrontation with Russia in the east, they're fighting pro-Russian rebels there, trying to diplomatically get back Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. The Americans have been significant backers in that campaign.

But, you know, this is jeopardizing all of that relationship, something that was reiterated to me when I spoke to the former Ukrainian foreign minister earlier. And he said that this whole scandal is handing the Kremlin an important victory.


PAVLO KLIMKIN, UKRAINIAN DIPLOMAT: Yes, definitely, (INAUDIBLE). Yes, definitely. It's -- for them, it's the best way to drive a wrench in our unique, and I really mean unique, bipartisan support for Ukraine. So now, you know, the Russians should be crazy happy about that.

CHANCE: And do you hold the president of the United States, President Trump, responsible for driving in that wedge?


KLIMKIN: No, but --

CHANCE: He's the one who made the request to investigate Joe Biden?

KLIMKIN: But justly, we still have to find out the fact. But we also remember his position during the G7 summit and the idea to get the Russians back into G7. And for me, you could not make America great again by letting Putin feeling better.


CHANCE: Well, controversial transcript of the phone call will be released later today.

The Ukrainians, you know, haven't been explicit about it, but they don't seem too happy that that's taking place. President Zelensky speaking to reporters briefly on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York yesterday, saying that conversation between the two presidents was in his words, private and confidential -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Certainly not what they imagine, being thrust into the center of the political universe.

Matthew Chance live for us in Ukraine.

ROMANS: Sowing political discord in the United States is Vladimir Putin's number one priority and there it is.

BRIGGS: With no effort in this particular instance.

But, yes, you would imagine this is exactly how he wanted things to play out, chaos.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-one minutes past the hour.

Speaking of chaos, the latest on Brexit. Parliament back in session after the U.K. Supreme Court ruled the prime minister misled the queen when he brought lawmakers to a halt. CNN is live in London, next.



ROMANS: Lawmakers return to work in the United Kingdom today after Britain's Supreme Court declared in an historic ruling, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's suspension of parliament was unlawful. Johnson is flying back to the U.K. early from the U.N. General Assembly.

Let's go live to London and bring in Melissa Bell. Good morning.


The British prime minister flying back into a political storm this morning here in London. Now, in normal circumstances, given the humiliation of yesterday's Supreme Court decision and the backfiring, the miscalculation that he made politically in choosing to suspend parliament a few weeks ago would see an ordinary British prime minister resign or would see the opposition parties trigger a no- confidence vote once they got back to work in a couple of hours here at Westminster.

But these are not ordinary times. You have to bear in mind that the October 31st deadline for Britain to get out of the E.U. looms. On one hand, an executive determined to keep a no-deal Brexit on the table. On the other, a parliament decided in its majority to avoid him doing that.

What you're likely to see, because it's very difficult for them to call a no confidence vote with that deadline looming, they would risk the constitutional process being so long that the U.K. inadvertently came crashing out of the U.K. without a deal. So, that appears to be off the table. It's certainly what the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has indicated this morning.

Instead, what you're likely to see are emboldened and fairly bitter parliamentarians, let's be clear, determined to tie the prime minister's hands further, ensuring that he is unable by the time that 31st of October deadline comes to take the U.K. out with a deal, ensuring that he is obliged to ask for an extension shouted no deal be found with the European partners of that summit in October. And that for the prime minister is going to be a very humiliating process to deal with Christine and Dave.

ROMANS: I'll say.

All right. Melissa Bell for us in London this morning, thank you so much for that.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, day 3 of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal tour of Africa with their 5-month-old son, Archie. Today, they part ways for a little bit.

CNN's Max Foster live in Cape Town to explain all of this.

Good morning, sir.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: the big moment has arrived, Dave. Archie has made his appearance in Cape Town. It literally just happened a few seconds ago.

But they've taken him to a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, very much associated with the apartheid movement. He was a major campaigner over there. Meghan has been talking about being a woman of color, this is a country still struggling with races and issues. That's a big moment.

And Desmond Tutu getting on an opportunity, perhaps, for young Archie to have a photo with that legend of South African history. But we'll bring you those pictures in the next half hour or so as they come in.

The duchess is going to, after that meeting, go on to really pursue her core cause, which is female empowerment. So she's going to meet a group of female entrepreneurs. She's going to meet a group of women living with HIV/AIDS later on in a program trying to help them. She is putting women at the center of all of her work. That's the message coming out from this whole visit, really, whilst Harry goes off to other parts of Africa to pursue his interests in HIV/AIDS awareness as well, but also conservation, the environment and the clearance of land mines.

Interesting to see the U.K. media response to all of this, because there's a bit of a rehabilitation, potentially, going on there. The couple have been very interactive with the media on this visit. They've been very enthusiastic in all the engagements that they've chosen. They're not doing the big formal engagements where Harry is oftentimes quite uncomfortable.

The big story for the U.K. papers is trying to get an insight into their minds and this comment that Harry made yesterday when he visited a mosque. He talked about himself struggling to get up some days, because of the problems in the world. So, that's what the U.K. media are focusing on, the South African media are focusing on, you know, the racial issues, perhaps, and the world media focusing on a celebrity couple looking at some pretty interesting projects down here in Africa, Dave.


BRIGGS: Yes. Some very insightful comments, as well. Max Foster, live for us in Cape Town.

Teasing my co-host, Christine Romans, who is dying to see those pictures of little Archie.

ROMANS: I know.

BRIGGS: Max knows it too. He's just keep you hanging on a while.

ROMANS: All right. We'll see you hopefully in about 30 minutes. But I would imagine the first sort of public debut of Archie with Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, that's cool.


ROMANS: All right. Fifty minutes past the hour. The president is not laughing about impeachment, but the late-night comics are.


JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Who knew, you make one phone call blackmailing a foreign leader and everyone acts like you made one phone call blackmailing a foreign leader? I guess it's like the old saying, collude once, shame on you, collude twice, why not collude a third time?




BRIGGS: Opera legend Placido Domingo has agreed to drop out as the start of "Macbeth" at New York's Metropolitan Opera, amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. "Macbeth" is still set to open tonight, according to the Met's Website. In a statement, the Met says Domingo withdrew from "Macbeth" and severed their agreement through mutual agreement.

"The Associated Press" reports that nine women have claimed that Domingo sexually harassed them. The accusations ranged over three decades, starting in the '80s. CNN has unable to verify their accounts and Domingo has denied the allegations.

ROMANS: L.A. businessman Devin Sloane was the second parent sentenced in a college admission scandal. The 53-year-old was sentenced to four months in prison for paying $250,000 in bribes to get his son into USC. Sloan actually dressed his son in a Speedo and swim cap and photographed him with a water polo ball in the family swimming pool, then created a fake athletic profile.

Sloan choked up in front of the judge at sentencing, apologized, and said he was repulsed by his own actions.

BRIGGS: The new "Joker" movie will not be screened at the Aurora, Colorado, theater where a mass shooting took place. In July 2012, a gunman opened fire during a showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." Twelve people were killed and 70 more wounded.

Family members of those killed in a letter to Warner Brothers expressed concern that the film's dark take on the Batman villain could invite more violence if screened in Aurora. They asked the studio to donate to gun victims' charities. "Joker" opens nationwide October 4th.

ROMANS: It's a wise move.

All right. Fifty-six minutes past the hour.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning, and take a look at markets around the world. You can see weakness here. On Wall Street, you've got futures also leaning slightly lower here.

Look, trade tensions and politics are the story here. They took a toll on markets Tuesday. The Dow closed 142 points lower. The S&P 500 down 0.8 percent. The Nasdaq even worst. This is the worst day for the two averages since August 23rd.

Stocks began selling off after President Trump's speech at the U.N., where he reiterated his views that China was gaming the system. He was tough on China, which made people concerned about progress in the trade war. And then stocks were hit further by political turmoil, around the impeachment inquiry into the president stemming from that Ukraine whistleblower case.

WeWork struggling to go public and now its CEO is stepping down. Adam Neumann's role at WeWork has been under scrutiny, including reports of his erratic behavior, drug use, and potential conflicts of interest.

Last week, WeWork announced it would delay its highly anticipated Wall Street debut, even with the leadership change, it's unclear if WeWork will go public anytime soon.

BRIGGS: We may find out details of President Trump's call with Ukraine's leader as soon as today. While you were sleeping the late- night show played its version.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, this is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, this is the president! Congratulations on Chernobyl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chernobyl was a horrible tragedy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What can I do for you, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me some dirt on sleepy Joe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think I can help with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you like to wake up in the morning next to the head of a horse?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, asking a foreign power to help you is an impeachable offense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T me, it's a dirty word, the word impeach. It's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do you stand on grab 'em by the pussy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm fine with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't you do the same thing with Russia, asking them for dirt on Hillary in the 2016 election?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what I'm good at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, Mr. President, Ukraine is going into a tunnel! I have to go!


BRIGGS: Some hard work by editors. We didn't expect one of those lines. ROMANS: Stephen Colbert's team, wow!

BRIGGS: Hard work there.

All right. 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.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


PELOSI: I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.


ROMANS: The speaker takes an historic first step towards impeachment. A polarized country will be put to the test with the 2020 election on the online.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning. Good morning to all of you.

I'm Dave Briggs. It is Wednesday, September 25th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We start with these major developments in the nation's capital.

Only three presidents in history, only three in American history have faced impeachment proceedings. Donald Trump will be the fourth.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially launching an impeachment inquiry against the president. Mr. Trump has admitted pressing the president of Ukraine to investigate former V.P. and possible 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, at the same time military aid was being withheld.

This sets up a battle between the House majority and a president who has fought oversight at every turn. Pelosi resisted impeachment calls for months, but she now seems to believe that necessity outweighs possible political fallout in the 2020 election.