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EARLY START

Speaker Nancy Pelosi Launches Impeachment Proceedings; Parliament Reopens in United Kingdom; Trump Slams Iran in U.N. Speech; Nationals Clinch Wild Card Berth. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 25, 2019 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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.

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

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

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.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

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 Raju there, 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 in a 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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: Yes.

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

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

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.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:05:00]

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

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 to say the least when President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet at the U.N. today.

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

Matthew, good morning. What's the reaction there?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reaction has been pretty muted. Although overnight, there was first statement from President Zelensky, he made it to journalists on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly there in New York. And he basically said, look, I can't be pressurized because I'm president -- pressured, because I'm president of an independent country.

There were brief comments he made in relation to the telephone scandal at which Ukraine has found itself sucked into. I mean, they see all this, remember, through the prism of their own interests. They want to keep a good relationship not just with the current U.S. president but future U.S. presidents as well and they hate the fact they've been sucked into this American political drama because they feel it undermines them in their confrontation with Russia.

They're fighting a conflict against pro-Russian rebel to the east of the country. Diplomatically, they're trying to get back Crimea which was annexed in 2014. This was reiterated by the foreign minister I spoke to earlier. He said this whole scandal is handing a victory to the Kremlin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAVLO KLIMKIN, UKRAINIAN DIPLOMAT: Yes, definitely, open champagne. Yes, definitely.

CHANCE: Why?

KLIMKIN: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: Well, the Ukrainians had hoped that this face to face meeting with President Trump could have been focused on strategic issues between the two countries. But -- I mean, the fact is we're expecting a transcript of the controversial call in question to be released later today. So, it seems like that is going to be overshadowing this meeting between these two leaders.

BRIGGS: It just may. Matthew Chance live for us in Ukraine this morning. Thanks so much.

Again, in the words of the diplomat, they should be crazy happy and opening champagne, the ultimately goal of chaos of Vladimir Putin.

All right. Ahead, the latest on Brexit. Parliament is back in session after the U.K. Supreme Court ruled the suspension of parliament was unlawful. CNN is live in London with the latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:13:16]

ROMANS: Lawmakers return to work in the United Kingdom today after Britain's Supreme Court declared in an historic ruling that 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.

Hi, Melissa.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, it's overstated to say what a blow it was to the prime minister, what a blow it was to his Brexit strategy that the Supreme Court would deliver such a stinging rebuke that only cancels his controversial suspension of parliament, but essentially meant that the MPs can get back to work as though nothing had ever happened. This was his response in New York last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We respect the judiciary in our country. We respect the court. I disagree profoundly, with what they had to say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: Now, it was a fairly unrepentant response in its tone, and that's what we expect to hear from the British prime minister after he lands back in London anytime now. The question is whether he's going to face these MPs who just came back from suspension, who get back to work in over an hour's time. They're going to be even more angered than they are before, and even more determined the muzzle the British prime minister, to tie his hands so he can't achieve his ambition of heading towards that October 31st deadline with the possibility of a no deal Brexit still on the table.

He has fought tooth and nail to keep that on the table. It was partly why he decided to suspend parliament for such a long time. He can no longer do that.

What you can expect to see are very angry M.P.s coming back to try and ensure that he does not take the United Kingdom crashing out of the E.U. This is a weakened British prime minister that gets back to London and back to work today, Christine and Dave.

[05:15:01]

ROMANS: Yes, a weakened Boris Johnson.

Thank you so much for that, Melissa Bell in London.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, in just a few hours, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will address the U.N. General Assembly. This comes after President Trump tore into Iran during his speech Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: No responsible government should subsidize Iran's bloodlust. As long as Iran's menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: All right. Let's go live to Tehran and bring in Fred Pleitgen this morning.

Fred, one would imagine, these are not playing so well in Tehran this morning.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. They certainly aren't playing well at all. And if you look at some of the reaction that we've seen from the Iranians, they certainly are saying that under these circumstances, they're not going to be willing to speak with the United States and certainly not with President Trump himself.

It was quite interesting to see in President Trump's speech for the first -- the largest part of that segment on Iran, that he absolutely ripped into Iran saying he was definitely going to tighten sanctions and not loosen the sanctions. But in the end, there seems to be maybe sort of an olive branch to Iran and said the U.S. does not seek further adversaries and instead wants to embrace other countries. So, we're waiting to see whether or not that might mean that there may be some chances from sort of sideline meeting at UNGA or some talks.

The Iranians for their part are saying it's absolutely not going to happen. The president of the country, Hassan Rouhani, he gave an interview last night where he said he doesn't any see reason why he would bump at President Trump on the sidelines. He believes that right now, President Trump has taken away any sort of possibility of direct talks between these two countries. Whereas the Iranians for their part in the past few days say there might be circumstances where they would be willing to speak to the United States, but they say they want sanctions relief first.

It's quite interesting to see because, especially, the French right now making an effort to get the two sides together. President Emmanuel Macron says if President Trump and President Hassan Rouhani don't talk, it will be a missed opportunity, Dave.

BRIGGS: Can't help but wonder if Rouhani gave a preview where he told Chris Wallace wherever America has gone, terrorism has expanded in the wake. We shall see. It will be interesting to see at UNGA.

Fred, thanks so much.

All right. Ahead, we'll shift gears and talk a little sports. The Washington Nationals punching their ticket to the postseason with an old friend Bryce Harper and the opposing dugout.

Carolyn Manno here with the "Bleacher Report" this morning. That's next.

ROMANS : Good morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:22:31]

BRIGGS: We are less than a week away from the Major League Baseball playoffs, and the Washington Nationals punched their ticket with two big wins yesterday.

ROMANS: And Carolyn Manno is here this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hi, Carolyn. Good to see you.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning.

What a season for Washington that does games under .500 back in May and now, here they are. The postseason begins officially next Tuesday. We still don't know exactly who is in and who's out. Seven teams are fighting for four spots entering last night. Now, there are only three remaining.

Nationals and Phillies playing a doubleheader in D.C. yesterday. The Nats took game one, down 4-2 in the nightcap with Trea Turner at the plate, gets ahold of one in a big way. Way out of there. Grand slam for turner, 18th homer of the year for him.

But this is up there for the hit of his career as he vaults the Nationals into the postseason, and you know what this means. If the champagne tasted a little sweeter than normal, it's probably

because the Nats also eliminated their division rival the Phillies from postseason contention which includes former teammate Bryce Harper who signed with Philadelphia Phillies for $330 million before the start of this year's regular season.

Down in Tampa, a pair of young Yankee fans had a night they will never forget. Not only did they get to meet superstar Aaron Judge before last night's game against the Rays. They got his bat, they got his batting gloves and judging by their sweet reaction, these kids are fans for life. Such a sweet moment there.

In the NFL, Dak Prescott and Dallas Cowboys are off to one of the best starts in franchise story, so, you would think they would be all business in the huddle, right? That is true, thought on Sunday, it sounded more like the fast food business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Skip to flank right stack, 32 sound alert X foot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, spicy nuggets are back. I might have to stop on the way home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANNO: That guy number four for Wendy's. They did not miss a beat, by the way, responding to the viral video with a reply on Twitter. Perfect play calling in action right there.

And one of the most influential people in sports is celebrating a birthday, he's very first birthday. Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty officially has his year under his belt in the NHL and in a Tuesday celebration of self-love at its purest form threw himself a surprise party, the beloved ball of orange capturing the hears of many over the last year. He is politely requested that September 24th be known as national Gritty day from here on out.

[05:25:03]

BRIGGS: Hold on. Was there anyone there?

MANNO: I think he had a bodyguard with him for safety's sake.

BRIGGS: But there's no children because they would have been terrified.

MANNO: There was nobody present.

BRIGGS: At least some like executives or something.

MANNO: If nobody throws you a birthday party, you throw one for yourself.

BRIGGS: I like that, Gritty.

ROMANS: Thanks, Carolyn.

BRIGGS: Carolyn, good to see you.

A historic move by Nancy Pelosi, impeachment proceedings set to begin against the president after he tried to get an ally to help dig up dirt on Joe Biden and silence a whistleblower.

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[05:30:00]