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Whistleblower Accuses White House of Cover Up; Trump Warns Stocks Will "Crash" If He's Impeached; Eagles Face Must-Win Game. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 27, 2019 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A cover-up at the White House. A whistleblower says officials try to hide damaging details about the president. And it wasn't the first time.

What's next as the impeachment inquiry marches on?


Good morning, everyone. Welcome back 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 Friday, September 27th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Major news. Big questions for the White House, following a gripping day on Capitol Hill. The whistleblower complaint alleges a White House cover-up, after President Trump pressed the leader of Ukraine, to interfere in the 2020 election.

Overnight, CNN learned the Justice Department knew about the allegations soon after President Trump's July 25th call with the Ukrainian president. Officials briefed on the matter say the whistleblower performed an intelligence agency general counsel, who alerted the Justice Department, as required. "The New York Times" reports the DOJ then told the White House, the timing involve is raising more questions about the handling of the complaint and effort to keep the details from Congress.

ROMANS: Overnight, "The Washington Post" reporting the White House has taken extraordinary measures to keep details of the president's calls with foreign leaders secret. A number of steps have been taken after embarrassment disclosures early in the administration. Among them, reducing the number of aides allowed to listen in on calls. And some officials who deliver memos now have to sign chain of custody records in case there's a leak.

Moments after the whistleblower complaints went public, acting spy chief Joseph Maguire testified to the House Intel Committee. He defended both the whistleblower and his own handling of the complaint.


JOSEPH MAGUIRE, ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I am not familiar with any prior instances where a whistleblower complaint, touched on such complicated and executive issues including executive privilege. I believe this matter is unprecedented.


ROMANS: The fallout from all of this has come fast and fierce.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is in Washington.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, the details of the whistleblower's complaint are now fully revealed. And the stunning allegations are two-fold. First, of course, that President Trump sought out Ukraine's interference for the benefit of his 2020 reelection campaign. And second, that the White House subsequently tried to cover it up.

The whistleblower laying it all out in stark detail, saying that senior White House officials intervened after the call to, quote, lock down all records of that phone call. And that White House officials told the whistleblower that they were directed by White House lawyers to remove from electronic transcript from the regular computer system it would normally be on and transfer it to a separate system only normally used for highly sensitive materials and only certain officials have access to. All of this, in what some are saying amounts to a cover-up by the White House.

The whistleblower also recounting how White House officials said they were deeply disturbed by what transpired in the July 25th phone call, where President Trump pressed the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and his son. And the whistleblower also saying that White House officials put it this way -- that they had, quote, witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.

And even more alarming, the whistleblower says this isn't the first time that a presidential phone call transcript was placed in the separate electronic system, leading to a lot of questions.

Now, the director of intelligence was on Capitol Hill for fierce questioning on Thursday. He defended not only his handling of the complaint, but also the whistleblower, saying that that whistleblower did the right thing and followed the right steps to get that complaint into the right hands. The whistleblower does want to talk to members of Congress, and if he is allowed to, that could, of course, be the next step in what has officially become an impeachment inquiry -- Christine and Dave.


BRIGGS: Terrific reporting, Jessica, thanks.

As for the next steps, Speaker Pelosi has assigned the House Intel Committee to take the lead on the impeachment inquiry. She is telling members the probe will for now focus narrowly on the allegations related to this Ukraine call. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The complaint reports a, quote, repeated abuse of an electronics record system designed to store classified, sensitive national security information, which the White House used to hide information of a political nature. This is a cover-up. This is a cover-up.


BRIGGS: Democrats are voting to hope -- hope on formal articles of impeachment before the holidays, before the holidays. This is moving lightning speed. For now, they don't plan to make Robert Mueller's report central to their investigation.

ROMANS: Mueller's work had been under the purview of the Judiciary Committee. But its hearings on alleged Trump misconduct were widely panned for turning into a circus. More than half of House members support an impeachment inquiry. Remember, impeachment requires only a majority of the House. Removal from office requires two-thirds of the Senate, which is, of course, controlled by the GOP.

BRIGGS: President Trump reacted angrily to the whistleblower complaint, suggesting whoever spoke to the whistleblower is a traitor and alluded to execution as a punishment.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to know who the person that gave the whistle-blower, who is the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that's close to a spy.

You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right with spies and treason. We used to handle them a little differently than we do now.


BRIGGS: CNN has learned some inside the White House are now second- guessing the decision to release the whistleblower complaint and the Ukraine call summary under the belief it would deescalate the situation.

ROMANS: All right. The president claims that the stock market will crash if he is impeached. First of all, it's not likely and it's not the biggest threat to the economy.



ROMANS: All right. President Trump is warning that the stock market will crash if he is impeached. Tweeting this: Do you think it was luck that got us to the best stock market and economy in our history. It wasn't.

First of all, it's not the best economy in history. But that's a fact check for another time.

BRIGGS: Bygones.

ROMANS: Also, impeachments don't cause markets to crash, recessions do.

CNN Business lead writer Matt Egan is here with us this morning.

Matt, so nice to see you.

I mean, you look for example to Clinton era. During impeachment, from the day that the House voted to impeach him until the day that the Senate voted not to remove him from office, the S&P rose 27 percent. That's less because of probably him than Bill Gates, for example, who invented the internet or the personal computer, but that's another story altogether.

And Nixon, during the Nixon era, stocks one year after the impeachment inquiry began, stocks were down 33 percent. That's because the economy sucked. The president trying to say an impeachment would wreck the stock market is not true.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Yes, that's right. Happy Friday, guys, first of all.

Now, listen, there's no doubt. This has been a political earthquake in Washington. But on Wall Street, it hasn't been a big deal yet, right? Investors are just thinking that it's not going to change the underlying fundamentals, to your point, the economy and corporate profits.

And yes, you know, there are a couple of instances in history. But there's not much to go by. Stocks did go up under Clinton, during the impeachment fight. But there was a little dip. The economy was really, really strong.

ROMANS: Really strong.

EGAN: Nixon, the market did fall. It wasn't because of Watergate. It was because of high oil prices and the recession.

So, to your point, you know, these impeachments, that's not what causes market crashes. It's actually recessions.

BRIGGS: Let's throw Nixon and just use Clinton. He was in his second term. They knew economic conditions would not change.


BRIGGS: This is different. We're 120 some days before the Iowa caucus. And Elizabeth Warren is surging. How important is that, the Democratic candidate, versus the actual impeachment? EGAN: Right. So, I think there are three ways that this could impact

the market. One would be if it somehow really hurt consumer confidence, right? Because consumers, that's the bright spot in the economy right now. So, any sort of dent to spending would be a negative.

The other is, to your point, what if this leads to a less business- friendly president, whether that's Warren or if it's Bernie Sanders? I think that that would be a concern for the market. But the real big deal is what does this mean for the trade war, right?

ROMANS: Exactly.

EGAN: Because the trade war is the most obvious trigger for a recession. So, I think that investors are really going to be paying attention. Does this increase the chances of a trade war because President Trump needs a win? And this actually forces him to just make a deal? Or does it actually lower the odds because he's distracted with the impeachment fight, and because China sees a weakened president and decides it's just doesn't want to make a deal?


BRIGGS: He loves a distraction, and you know, she thinks he's weakened right now at home.

ROMANS: Yes, you wonder, you know, the American public has been through just sort of chaos and scandal, one after one. You wonder if there's Trump chaos fatigue, that leads him to be a one-term president, and then that can have a reaction to the stock market, as well, no matter who is elected.

EGAN: Right. This is just one more uncertainty for investors and for business owners. I mean, think about it, there's a trade war between the world's biggest two economies? We have an election coming up and now there's this impeachment fight. I mean, there truly is no playbook for this.

ROMANS: What are the markets telling us? Because people bet on everything. You can bet on impeachment.

BRIGGS: You can bet on this stuff, speaking my language now.


EGAN: You bet on this.

Now, what's really interesting is that these traders on prediction platforms like Predicted, they are increasingly pricing in a chance that President Trump will be impeached. The chance of him getting impeached during the first term, it's up from 60 percent. That's from just up 24 percent eight days ago.


EGAN: It's a really big move. But traders think there's very little chance that he's going to get removed because the Senate, of course, is controlled by the Republicans.

BRIGGS: No indication the Senate would remove him from office.

EGAN: That's right.

BRIGGS: These Republicans.

Matt Egan, great to see you, my friend.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Matt.

EGAN: Thank you, guys.

ROMANS: Happy Friday.

BRIGGS: Have a great weekend.

All right. Two Republican governors now support the impeachment inquiry, Vermont Governor Phil Scott and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

Among Republicans in Congress, criticism of the president is rare. Support for impeachment, nonexistent. Instead, the party strategy involves trying to discredit the whistleblower.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): What in this case rises to impeachment? This is a president of the United States that had a conversation with a leader in another country.

REP. MIKE CONWAY (R-TX): Find anybody out there who third and fourth- hand information can build an allegation that they want -- that they're concerned about. My guess is, based on the reporting that you guys do, there's a lot of folks out there --

REPORTER: The inspector-general said that this was an urgent and credible concern.


CONWAY: Well, under the pure definition. Not urgent the way we normally consider urgent.


BRIGGS: A handful of Republicans in the House and Senate have criticized the president. But most are deflecting. Many influential GOP senators saying they hadn't read the complaint as of late yesterday.

Hard to imagine. It's not that extensive.

ROMANS: It's nice and breezy. Nine pages --

BRIGGS: Yes, it's a summer read. ROMANS: -- of pretty gripping information.

All right. Fifteen minutes past the hour.

Two more deaths and hundreds more sick, as the vaping epidemic expands nationwide.



BRIGGS: Boeing overestimated how well 737 max pilots could respond to emergency warnings in the cockpit. That's according to the NTSB, in its first safety analysis since two 737 MAX planes crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 346 people. Aircraft design flaws took the planes into steep dives that pilots were unable to correct.

Federal safety investigators issued a series of recommendations. They say Boeing should re-evaluate how cockpit confusion can slow the pilot's response time. The 737 MAX fleet has been grounded since March.

ROMANS: Two more deaths related to vaping, bringing the nationwide total to 13. The CDC says there are 805 confirmed and probable cases of lung illness associated with e-cigarette use in 46 states. That is up sharply from 530 cases just last week.

Later today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee is expected to announce a vaping-related executive order. Several states have put a hold on the sale of vaping products.

BRIGGS: All right. We'll talk a little sports now.

Only week four of the NFL season, but the Eagles found themselves in a must-win game early in Green Bay.

ROMANS: Carolyn Manno has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Happy Friday.


BRIGGS: Good morning . Great game last night.

MANNO: Yes, good game, 1-2 start. Not exactly how you want to head into week four if you're the Eagles. Critical game on the road, no less. Lambeau, not an easy place to play.

All eyes on the quarterbacks who have each struggled to find consistency early in the season. And this one was a gritty, back and forth affair. Phillies defense didn't seem to have an answer for Aaron Rodgers most of the night, two touchdown passes including this one, and Jimmy Graham ties the game up at 27-27. Carson Wentz led five scoring drives to turn things around for Philly, and the ground game was there, too. Eagles running back Jordan Howard, scoring three touchdowns, his best

performance of the season, came down to the end of the game. Rogers, intercepted, in the end zone, in the game's final minute. He cannot believe it.

The Eagles hand the Packers their first loss of the season. It is only week four.

But big postseason news, as well. Shakira's hips don't lie. And neither does her twitter account.

Was that low-hanging fruit? I feel like it's Friday.

ROMANS: Well done.

MANNO: Jennifer Lopez and Shakira headlining the Super Bowl half time show in Miami. It's the first time that the global superstars are sharing the stage, first time two Latina women will serve as headliners in the game's 54-year history. The February 2nd performance will also mark Shakira's 43rd birthday.

And as the lead NFL analyst for CBS, Tony Romo is one of the headliners for Sunday's Vikings-Bears game in Chicago. He's trying to play hookie from his day job. The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback turned in his best round of his PGA tour career at the Safeway open ion Napa on Wednesday, 2 under par 70. If Romo can make the weekend cut, he is playing golf on Sunday.

ROMANS: Looking good.

BRIGGS: You're only supposed to be good at one thing in life. I'm still searching for what I'm good at. But Romo just seems to glide through careers perfectly.

MANNO: He's a natural athlete, tried to make the cut here a couple of times, if he does it, he says, you know what, Sunday can wait. I'm going to pursue this other thing.

BRIGGS: He's not going to make it.

All right. That's a good story, though.

ROMANS: Carolyn Manno, nice to see you.

All right. A week of whiplash not over yet. The White House accused of covering up damaging phone calls from the president and it looks like the White House knew about the whistleblower sooner than we thought.



ROMANS: Another escalation between the White House and the state of California. President Trump said he would go after the state last week for water pollution, that he blames on its growing homeless population. The warning became real Thursday with an EPA letter to the governor saying he is failing to enforce the Clean Water Act because of homelessness.

The agency is giving the state 30 days to respond to a list of deficiencies. The White House recently revoked the state's ability to set stricter auto emissions. And it threatened to withhold billions of dollars of highway improvement funds over the state's air quality.

BRIGGS: Chicago teachers set to walk off the job as early as October 7th. The teachers union voting Thursday to authorize a strike by 29,000 educators, 94 percent of its membership approved the potential strike. They had been working for three months under an expired contract. A teachers strike could affect the approximately 360,000 students in Chicago's public schools.

ROMANS: A Delta employee arrested on charges of stealing a bag with $250,000 in cash from JFK airport. Quincy Thorpe, a Delta ground services employee, was responsible for scanning and loading eight bags unto a plane bound for Miami. According to the complaint, only seven bags made it on to the plane.

Thorpe then called off sick from work over the next couple of days. He has now admitted to the FBI he knew the bags contained valuables.

A lot more to get to. EARLY START continues right now.


BRIGGS: A cover-up at the White House. A whistleblower says officials tried to hide damaging details about the president and it wasn't the first time. What's next as the impeachment inquiry marches on?

Welcome back to EARLY START on a Friday. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Good morning. Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning.