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Pelosi Launches Impeachment Inquiry; 6 House Committees Will Continue Investigations; Prince Harry & Family In Africa. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired September 25, 2019 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:16] REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): 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.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Speaker Pelosi takes an historic first step toward impeachment. A polarized country will be put to the test with the 2020 election on the line.

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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romance. Good morning everyone. Its 30 minutes past the hour.

Only three presidents in American history have faced impeachment proceedings. Donald Trump will be 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 vice president and possible 2020 opponent, Joe Biden.

This was at the very same time military aid was being withheld on the President's orders. This sets up a fierce battle between the house majority and a President who has fought oversight at every turn. Pelosi resisting impeachment calls for months but she now seems to believe necessity outweighs possible political fallout in the 2020 election.

BRIGGS: The White House is planning to release two key documents in an effort to slow the building Democratic momentum. As early as today 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'll see before acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire appears before the House Intel Committee tomorrow.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff also says, the whistle blower wants to speak his or her mind to the panel, more now from CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.


Now, after months of intro debate infighting and about questions about the way forward, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally got behind the idea of moving forward with an impeachment inquiry after a 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 that what was the straw that broke the camel's back was the complaint that was issued by this whistle blower and the President's handling of it as well as the substance of the allegation, the President himself talking on the phone with Ukrainian president about the Biden's. That of course becoming an issue that she seized upon saying, that's one reason why we need a big reason, major reason why we need to move forward.

At the same time, the question is, what does that actually mean? She's saying that the six committees that have already been investigating the President 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 an articles of impeachment.

If they do, the House Judiciary Committee will vote to move forward and to impeach the President. Then the full house will vote to impeach the President but to remove him from office, you'll need two- thirds of the majority in the United States Senate which is lead by Republicans to do that, which is unlikely to succeed.

So this process could take a few months. Speaker Pelosi said she wants this to be done expeditiously. So while it may not lead to the removable of the President, it's a symbolic but historic move since the President himself would be only the third president in American history to be impeached by the House. Back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Manu, thank you so much for that. Now, the groundswell for impeachment is growing in the House. One hundred ninety-six Democrats now back in impeachment inquiry. That's 83 percent of the members, an increase of 50 members in a single day.

Now, a good number of the holdouts were Democrats in swing districts and close allies with Speaker Pelosi. But for many like civil rights icon John Lewis, the Ukraine whistle blower fallout was simply the final straw.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I have been patient when 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.


BRIGGS: Democrats who've said they hope to have an investigation done by the end of the year. This is the last week in session for the House before a two-week recess.

ROMANS: Obsessed with impeachment, that's how President Trump is trying to paint Democrats after Speaker Pelosi's announcement.

[05:35:03] And the President's campaign releasing this dramatic video less than 30 minutes after Pelosi's announcement, CNN has learned it was prepared weeks ago. The campaign communications director says, quote, we were ready in case the Democrats were that dumb, and they were.

BRIGGS: Former Vice President Biden going further than he has ever before 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 obstruction Congress and flank 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 Congress should take up full impeachment proceedings.

Overnight more extensive reporting from the "Washington Post" detailing how the President's personal lawyer 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 hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

ROMANS: Several officials describe 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 the Ukrainian president, Zelensky, meet at the U.N. today. Approached by Russian T.V., Tuesday, Zelensky said, nobody can put pressure on me.

BRIGGS: All right joining us this morning, our friend, chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, host of CNN's Reliable Sources and in Washington CNN politics senior writer, Zach Wolf.

ROMANS: Hi guys. BRIGGS: Good to see you both.


BRIGGS: Brian, we will start with you. Given the timing here, OK, so the transcript we believe will be released today and the White House is prepared to release the entire whistle blower complaint so they say. So after two years of wavering, why now for Speaker Pelosi?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's been a head- spinning week. I feel for the viewers at home for 48 hours, what a difference everything has made. I think the Dem burst because Democrats at home in their districts were under increasing pressure.

I spoke to house lawmaker who said, look, this is a situation where the people that were holding back the Dem starting to buckle one by one and as you mentioned 50 in the past, 24 to 48 hours. I think the answer here is there's been a long list of impeachable conduct that's been piling up for two plus years. But the Democrats believe that this Ukraine story is more understandable, it's more digestible, it's easier to explain to the public.

And now, they want this on the Democrats to actually go out and explain why they're doing what they're doing. We know that President Trump is a master media manipulator with his base. Not with the entire country but with his base. He knows how communicate to his audience. Now the Democrats had fear to how do that with their audience.

ROMANS: I love it. They had a video ready to go, 30 minutes after.

STELTER: Right. So what will the Dems, will the Dems be on T.V.? Are they going to hold televised hearings? I think in kind of a clear sense. We now know what the next year is about.


STELTER: We know what the next 13 months until the election is about. It's going to be about this fight. This country is already traumatized. I wonder if this will lead to more ailing or just more drama.

ROMANS: It will test the skills of Nancy Pelosi to be able to get Democrats on board and also explain to the American people exactly why they are pursuing this and why it's important for the constitution and the moral fabric of this country, if that's the case she's going to make.

Zach, let me bring you in. Let's talk about the logistics of this. This is what the "New York Post" said this morning. The President will no doubt see this, this morning, impeaching to the choir. And it says this, Pelosi, announces inquiry but isn't that what they've already been doing? There have been six committees investigating the president along these lines already. She hasn't called for a vote for impeachment like prior impeachment proceedings have had. But this really finalizes and formalizes that this will be an impeachment inquiry, right?

WOLF: Yes. It felt like a very big moment yesterday when she announced that they would be holding these inquiries, but then when you sort of dial down into what exactly is happening, she's really doing this her way without a vote. Her members aren't going to have to get on the record about this, you know, those few Democrats who are still waffling on it and also previous impeachments have all had some amount of bipartisanship in supporting an impeachment inquiry in both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton that was the case.

That would not be the case here. So she's not sort of forcing her members on a record. And it's also interesting the way she's spreading the wealth across all six of these committees, sort of de- emphasizing the Judiciary Committee, although they would ultimately draw up the articles of impeachment.

I think it's interesting that essentially what we're seeing is, they're going to continue going forward and she's sort of, you know, holding the lions in her party who really want to go forward with this at bay while they do this more formal process. I also think Brian makes a great point. Are there going to be any sort of, you know, committees -- committee hearings, publicized committee hearings or is this going to defused?

ROMANS: Right.

WOLF: Is it going to lack some kind of focus and is that going to make it hard to transmit to people what's going on?

[05:40:03] ROMANS: Quickly, expeditiously she said, by the end of the year. Is that reasonable?

WOLF: You know previous impeachments have taken around 180 days. You know, I don't know, we'll just have to see.


WOLF: That they have gathered a lot of the evidence it seems like already.

BRIGGS: Well, Clinton took 127 days. We're 131 days from the Iowa caucus so you can't ignore the timing of all this. And that's takes eye off of the candidates. But Brian, it comes down to this question. What is -- what are high crimes and misdemeanors? This is an interesting interaction on Fox News, the President's favorite network. Yesterday their Fox News legal analyst Judge Napolitano said this.


JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, JUDICIAL ANALYST: It is a crime for the President to solicit aid for his campaign from a foreign government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that would be -- that to which the President has admitted is in and of itself a crime.

NAPOLITANO: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudy Giuliani said he, too, pressed Ukraine officials to investigate Biden at the direction, he says, of the administration. Is that a crime?

NAPOLITANO: If that was done in order to enhance the President's reelection campaign, yes.


BRIGGS: Your reaction to the Fox News legal analyst saying, the President has already admitted to a crime.

STELTER: To crimes. And it's striking because elsewhere on Fox and the right wing media, people are constantly being told there's no evidence of this, in fact, the crime are on the Biden side. This White House is going to try to get back on the offense today by releasing documents, releasing the transcript eventually. This White House long ago lost the benefit of the doubt when it comes to releasing accurate information.

So I think there's going to be rightly a lot of skepticism with whatever comes out. And I'm going to be looking for both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to be affirming what is released because ultimately, it's about the Congress and what they want to see, they want to see this whistle blower complaint in full.

ROMANS: We've already seen, you know, the President's supporters who've been very clear that this is, you know, Democrats who are obsessed with impeachment that they're still litigating a 2016 election that they lost. In fact here's Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader yesterday, listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I realize 2016 did not turn out the way Speaker Pelosi wanted it to happen, but she cannot change the laws of this Congress. She cannot unilaterally decide on an impeachment inquiry.


ROMANS: So Zach, guess what, this is not about the 2016 election. It's not. This is about the 2020 election, isn't it?


WOLF: Yes. That's something that, you know, we need to pay attention to. Obviously Bill Clinton was impeached after he was, you know, reelected. And so was Richard Nixon. So this is sort of happening in a very political way.

Is this going to be a distraction from what Democrats really want to be talking about heading into the election, that we'd always thought it was they wanted to talk about health care, although, they're sort of split on that. They wanted to talk about, you know, the climate change and all these other things that sort of motivate their base voters. But I think what they started to find is that the issue of impeachment was also motivating their voters and they couldn't turn their heads anymore to it. So that's an important element here as well.

STELTER: Hey, let me just add, it's not just about 2020, it's about the decades to come, what is acceptable standard, what is acceptable behavior for a president. Obviously, Americans have a lot of different views about that. The country is divided on that question. Impeachment to me fundamentally is about that question.

ROMANS: It's interesting that Nancy Pelosi has been so reluctant thus far. Does that -- I wonder if that helps her or hurts her as she has to shepherd this?

STELTER: Right. The claim has been that she's been putting on a show saying, she doesn't want this so that when it comes it seems like she had no choice.

ROMANS: Right.

STELTER: Yes, that's been the spin, I was talking members of her family who were saying, she knows what she's doing.

ROMANS: Right.

STELTER: There's a plan here. Maybe the plan is now in place. But again, as Zach was saying, is she just again hitting the brakes actually today? Is this impeachment light because there isn't a vote in the House?

BRIGGS: Right. And without that, what does all these mean, Zach, and the President has long believed that impeachment is good for him.

WOLF: Well, I think Democrats in particular really need to level-set what they expect to come from these proceedings. Do they expect to be able to impeach Donald Trump? I think there's a really good chance that they have the votes in their own party to do that at the end of the day.

Do they expect Donald Trump to be pulled from office which you would think is the ultimate aim of impeachment in the constitution in a trial on the Senate? No. I don't think that 20 Dem or Republican senators are going to flip on Trump in the Senate unless we learn something we don't know today. So they need to be ready for impeachment to possibly succeed. And removing Trump for office almost surely to fail.

BRIGGS: And they still need 22-plus just in the House, so a long, long way ahead.

ROMANS: All right, Brian, Zach, nice to have you on board guys. This is going to be another interesting day.

BRIGGS: Yes. Thank you both.

[05:44:45] ROMANS: All right, 44 minutes past the hour. A new vaping ban, as states try to curb a deadly epidemic. We'll tell you where.


ROMANS: All right, in the middle of a trade war, President Trump says the U.S. wants to end the grave economic injustice of unfair trading practices, calling out China.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not only has China declined to adopt promised reforms, it has embraced an economic model dependent on massive market barriers, heavy state subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, forced technology transfers, and the theft of intellectual property, and also trade secrets on a grand scale.


ROMANS: Reuters reports, China's top diplomat responded to the President's criticism saying, Beijing had no intention to, quote, playing the "Game of Thrones" on the world stage. The next round of level talks between the U.S. and China is set to take place the week of October 7th in Washington.

BRIGGS: Its day three of the royals' tour of Africa, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and the star of the show, their 5 months old son, Archie. We finally got a look at the little guy.

[05:50:07] Max Foster live in Cape Town, hopefully no longer going to tease Christine Romans. Let's see it, Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Let's bring her those pictures. She needs to see them. This is young Archie on his first official engagement happened here in South Africa. And it's interesting because when they went in to meet the Tutus', Desmond Tutu's daughter was joking about the cameras.

And the reality is, this is the first experience of a lifetime media moments for young Archie, so a big moment in his life. We shouldn't forget as well that this is a rare appearance by Desmond Tutu, this aging icon of the anti-apartheid movement here. He's not seen very often in public. So this was a historic piece of video in two senses, a young royal and an aging icon of South African history as well.

So there we have the pictures everyone's been waiting for these pictures of young Archie. And the main thing, Christine, of course is that he's well, he's smiling, looking really healthy. We just wanted to know that really, didn't we?

ROMANS: He's cute, like 5 months old is such a great, great age for a baby, you know. It's all like happy naps and gurgling and.

BRIGGS: It's not everyday Desmond Tutu and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, see the spotlight to a baby.

ROMANS: I know. I'd be so protective of him. They really did a really good job of keeping him under wraps and, you know.

BRIGGS: All right, Max Foster, great stuff.

ROMANS: Thanks Max.

BRIGGS: Thank you very much. You made Romans day. We'll be right back.

ROMANS: Cute babies.


[05:55:55] ROMANS: Opera legend, Placido Domingo has agreed to drop out as the star of Macbeth, New York's metropolitan opera amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Macbeth is still such open tonight. The Met says, Domingo withdrew from Macbeth and severed their relationship by mutual agreement. The associated press reports, nine women have claimed Domingo sexually harassed them. CNN has been unable to verify their accounts. And Domingo has denied those allegations.

BRIGGS: Massachusetts governor ordering a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping products and devices. It comes in response to a nationwide outbreak of lung illnesses and deaths linked to vaping. The CDC reports at least nine deaths and 530 vaping-related lung illnesses across 39 states. Massachusetts would be the first state to issue a total ban. Two states, both Michigan and New York, have banned the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes.

ROMANS: L.A. businessman Devin Sloane is the second parent sentenced in the college admission scandal. He was sentenced to four months in prison for paying $250,000 in bribes to get his son into USC. Sloane even 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. Sloane choked up in front of the judge, apologized and said he was repulsed by his own actions.

BRIGGS: Young climate activist, Greta Thunberg embracing mockery from President Trump.


GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: All you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.


BRIGGS: A 16-year-old gave an impassioned speech at the U.N. blasting world leaders for inaction on the climate crisis. At times she was near tears. President Trump later tweeted, quote, she seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. President's twitter trolling is well known. But this one drew striking rebuttal for teasing a child. Thunberg though taking the slight and stride, she updated her twitter bio to read, a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.

ROMANS: All right, while you were sleeping "The Late Show" took on the Trump Impeachment inquiry.


STEPHEN COLBERT, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT HOST: Buckle up because for two and a half years, Donald Trump has had scandal after scandal. Russian collusion, obstruction of justice, saying nazis are fine people, being an unnamed coconspirator to campaign finance violations, lying about the Moscow Trump Tower, stealing money to pay for the border wall, faking the weather with a sharpie, every time, every time. None of those are made up.

Every time people have asked, is this the thing? Surely this must be the thing. And every time, it wasn't the thing. But here's the thing. There's a new thing, and it might be the thing.


ROMANS: There's always a thing.

BRIGGS: There is always a thing.

ROMANS: There's always a thing.

BRIGGS: It's a huge gamble for Nancy Pelosi. The next week will be pivotal with the transcript and whistle blower complaint getting daylight.

ROMANS: We'll see if Democrats will be able to get public support along with their impeachment proceeds here, what the public will start to say.

Fifty-eight minutes past the hour. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. NEW DAY, a lot to get to, starts right now.


PELOSI: I'm announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a historic day, I think monumental. I don't see how we don't end up with an impeachment vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been trying to impeach this president since literally before he was inaugurated. I think they're going to regret it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An impeachment process is going to divide us further. But we can't be divided by rule of law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no evidence here yet that he committed any crime. And I don't believe he did.

LEWIS: We cannot delay. We must not wait. The future of our democracy is at stake. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, September 25th, it's 6:00 here in New York, wow.

[06:00:01] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Let's take a breath. Let's take a breath because this may be the last one that we have for the next three hours because of the velocity of with which things are moving.

BERMAN: Well, that's the thing.