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EARLY START

Escalating Attacks; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Message; What Do Americans Think; Whistleblower Lawyers Say His Safety At Grave Risk; Whistleblower Fallout; Republican Defend Trump In Ukraine Scandal; Ukraine Braces For Fallout from U.S. Scandal; White House Steps Up Probe on Clinton Aides Emails; Farmers Express Concern Over Biofuel Waivers; Saudi Crown Prince Denies Ordering Jamal Khashoggi Murder; Hong Kong Protest; Four Prisoners Escape From Ohio Jail. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 30, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Lawyers for the anonymous whistleblower say they are worried for their client's safety as President Trump escalates his attacks.

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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Don't make this any worse than it already is.

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Nancy Pelosi with a new message for the White House, about the House impeachment inquiry.

ROMANS: Plus, new polling shows Americans' opinion on impeachment is now shifting. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is Early Start. I'm Christine Romans. Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning, everyone, I'm Dave Briggs. Monday, September 30th. It is 4:00 a.m. in New York, 11:00 a.m. In Kiev, 4:00 p.m. in Hong Kong, 10:00 a.m. on Johannesburg reports from all of those locations ahead. We start though in the nation's capital. Lawyers for the whistleblower, the Ukraine scandal, warning that President Trump's threats are posing a grave risk to their clients' safety.

60 Minutes report on their letter, the House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff came as President Trump escalated his war on the whistleblower and on Schiff. Tweeting, I deserved to meet my accuser and he said the whistleblower portrayed his conversation pressing Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden quote, in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way.

And then, the president slamming Intel Chairman for misrepresenting his word writing, I want Schiff question at the highest level for fraud and treason.

And then, then the president went after whoever gave information to the whistleblower about his call to the Ukrainian president. He tweeted, was the person spying on the president of the United States? Big consequences. Chairman Schiff confirming there is now a tentative agreement for the whistleblower to testify to his committee. He says the president's threats have heightened security concerns for the whistleblower.

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REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): All that needs to be done at this point is to make sure that the attorneys that represent the whistleblower get the clearances that they need to be able to accompany the whistleblower and to testimony and that we figure out the list -- logistics to make sure that we protect the identity of the whistleblower. That's out paramount concern here.

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ROMANS: Schiff said, he expects the whistleblower to testify soon.

BRIGGS: Meantime, the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is refusing to commit to a response to a House subpoena. House Chairman Adam Schiff, telling CBS, he plans to subpoena documents and perhaps testimony about the Ukraine affair from Giuliani.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you call Rudy Giuliani?

SCHIFF: We're going to need evidence from Rudy Giuliani. And it's our intention as soon as first thing next week, to subpoena him for documents. And there may very well come a time where we want to hear from him directly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Giuliani was noncommittal to CNN. Quote, I'm not saying I will or I will not. On ABC, he was more self-contradictory.

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RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I won't cooperate with Adam Schiff. I think Adam Schiff should be remove. If they remove Adam Schiff, if they put a neutral person who hasn't prejudged the case, if they put someone in a Democrat, who hasn't expressed an opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you are not going to cooperate?

GIULIANI: I didn't say that. I said, I will consider it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you wouldn't do it. You said, you wouldn't cooperate with Adam Schiff.

GIULIANI: I said I would consider it. I have to be guided my client, frankly. I'm a lawyer. It's his privilege, not mine. If he decides that he wants me to testify, of course, I'll testify. Even though I think Adam Schiff is an illegitimate chairman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: He said he would not cooperate. And then, he said he would consider it. And then, he said that Adam Schiff is illegitimate. I mean, the tape is very clear there.

House and Senate Republicans now rushing to the President Trump's defense of the Ukraine issue, implying a variety of tactics on Sunday. Senator Lindsey Graham honing in on the whistleblower's report as hearsay, despite the fact the report was largely confirmed by the White House transcript of Mr. Trump's call with the Ukrainian president.

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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): It things to me like a political setup, it's all hearsay. You can't get a parking ticket conviction based on hearsay. The whistleblower didn't hear the phone call.

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ROMANS: Ohio Congressman, Jim Jordan focused on the alleged corruption by Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. A corruption has been established as a conspiracy theory. He uses that as the allegation for which there is no evidence.

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REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): And then, when the company that is paying him that money is under investigation, guess what? Daddy comes running to the rescue. The vice president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not what happened, sir. Sir, that is not what happened. The European Union, the Obama administration, the international monetary fund, pro-clean government activists in Ukraine, thought that the prosecutor was not prosecuting corruption?

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JORDAN: You are saying Joe Biden didn't tell Ukraine to fire that prosecutor? I think he did. He bragged about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did, but the guy was not prosecuting anything.

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ROMANS: Republican Kevin McCarthy tangled with 60 Minutes Scott Pelley over the president's use of the word though in his call with the Ukrainian president.

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SCOTT PELLEY, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: President Trump replies, I would like you to do us a favor, though.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You just added another word.

PELLEY: No. It's in the transcript.

MCCARTHY: I would like you to do a favor, though.

PELLEY: Yes, it's in the White House transcript.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, President Trump's first Homeland Security Adviser says he is deeply disturbed by the president's actions in the Ukraine controversy. Tom Bossert telling ABC, he repeatedly warned the president that the Ukraine conspiracy Mr. Trump was pushing, had been completely debunked.

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TOM BOSSERT, FROMER TRUMP HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: At this point, I'm deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again and for clarify here, George, let me just again, repeat that it has no validity.

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BRIGGS: Wow, in addition to requesting a probe of the Biden's, Trump also asked the president of Ukraine, to look into whether a computer base in Ukraine had been used to hack Democratic servers. In other words, the possibility that Ukraine had meddled in the U.S. elections, not Russia. Bossert says, he told Trump again and again that it simply was not true, to no effect.

ROMANS: As preparations for the impeachment inquiry ramp up, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells fellow Democrats, it's not about politics or partisanship, it's about patriotism. Pelosi telling CBS, 60 minutes, President Trump painted himself into an impeachment corner.

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PELOSI: We could not ignore what the president did. He gave us no choice. It wasn't any change of mind. I always said, we will follow the facts where they take us. And when we see them, we will be ready. And we are ready.

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ROMANS: Pelosi says her message to the president's White House concerning the impeachment inquiry is quote, speak the truth. Honor your oath of office to the constitution of the United States.

BRIGGS: Some new polling out this weekend shows Americans' opinions shifting on impeachment. A CBS News YouGov Poll finds 55 percent believe an impeachment inquiry by Congress is necessary. As usual, a sharp partisan split most Republicans disapprove on an inquiry. Most Democrats support one and Independence are closely divided. An ABC News IPSOS Polls taking a different approach to the question asked, how serious of a problem it is for President Trump encouraging the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. Nearly two- thirds say it's serious, about a third says it's not.

ROMANS: All right. CNN track down two Ukrainian men mentioned in the whistleblower's report, more on what they told us. We have a live report from Kiev, next.

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ROMANS: Officials in Ukraine, tight-lips about fallout from President Trump's phone call, pressuring President Zelensky to dig up dirt on possible 2020 opponent Joe Biden and his son. Officials in Kiev believe getting dragged into America's widening political scandal can only hurt Ukraine, but a former campaign aide to Zelensky said, President Trump attorney, Rudy Giuliani did pressure the Ukraine administration to investigate Hunter Biden. Chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward standing by live in Kiev, with the latest. What have you found, Clarissa?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, that is right. We managed to track down two different people who are cited in the whistleblower's complaint. The first one, who you mentioned is called, Sergei Leshchenko. He is a former parliamentarian, and anti-corruption activist, also a former journalist, but most importantly he was an adviser to the campaign of Ukrainian President Zelensky.

And he said, essentially that the minute that election was won by Zelensky, that the calls started coming in from the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. That Giuliani appeared very keen to try to meet with Zelensky. And he said that he appeared particularly keen to meet with Zelensky before his inauguration. Before he was technically president.

He said that there was no doubt among Zelensky's team as to what the purpose and focus of Giuliani's interest was in Ukraine. That he was very much focused on issues of what he referred to as collusion between Ukrainian officials and the Democrats in the 2016 election, against President Trump.

We should add that these claims are completely unsubstantiated. And also that he was very much focused on investigating Hunter Biden and then Vice President Joe Biden and Hunter Biden's membership on the board of a Ukrainian energy holding company called Burisma.

Ultimately, Sergei Leshchenko, was accused by Giuliani of being involved in that alleged collusion with the Democrats. He therefor lost in a position in the current administration, because as you said, Christine, in your introduction for the Ukrainians, this is an existential issue. They cannot be seen to be taking sides politically one way or the other in this. They rely heavily on the U.S. for aid and they're very keen for this to blow over. But as you know, no sign that that's going to happen anytime soon, Christine. ROMANS: No, not at all. All right, Clarissa Ward, for us this

morning, thank you for that.

BRIGGS: A former official who left the State Department in 2012 received a letter in August informing him that dozens of his e-mails, sent to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, were now being re- categorized as classified. It is one instance of what the Washington Post calls an intensifying e-mail probe by the Trump administration of dozens of former Clinton aides.

The wide scale reclassification of e-mails, sent to Clinton's private email affecting as many as 130 current and former senior state department officials. Several people telling the Washington Post, the recent change in the investigation, was an effort to harass diplomats for doing their job.

[04:15:09]

ROMANS: All right to business this morning. The U.S./China trade war has been painful for American farmers. And another issue is causing frustration with the administration, bio fuel. The leaders of 23 corn growers association sent a letter to President Trump, Friday arguing, his administration bio fuel waivers have reduced demand for their crops. Growers said, frustration in the countryside is growing.

Last month, the EPA grant a 31 waivers to small refiners, temporarily exempting them from bio fuel laws under the renewable fuel standards program, small refiners can apply for a temporary exceptions if they show that (inaudible) requirement will cause an economic hardship. The administration has approved 85 waivers in total. Growers note a number of ethanol plants have closed or reduced production, costing 2,700 jobs. If refiners use fewer soybeans and corn, it drags down the price that farmers can get for their crops. Spokesman for the EPA said it will continue to consult with our federal partners on the best path forward to ensure stability in the renewable fuel standards.

BRIGGS: All right, straight ahead here, the Saudi crown prince talking about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Did he order the killing? His answer, just ahead.

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BRIGGS: The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, says he takes full responsibility for the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, but denies ordering the killing. The CIA believes Prince Mohamad Bin Salman ordered the murder inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey last year. IN a 60 Minutes interview, Sunday, the crown prince was ask directly about the murder.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you order the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?

MOHAMMAD BIN SALMAN, CROWNED PRINCE, SAUDI ARABIA (TRANSLATOR): Absolutely not. This was a heinous crime, but I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean? That you take responsibility?

BIN SALMAN: When a crime is committed against a Saudi citizen by officials working for the Saudi government, as a leader, I must take responsibility. This was a mistake. And I must take all actions to avoid such thing in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: A mistake. To this day, Khashoggi's remains have not been found, five high-ranking Saudi officials were dismissed. Another 18 detained in connection with Khashoggi's death. The crown prince said, an investigation is being carried out and once charges are proven against someone, it will be prosecuted regardless of rank.

ROMANS: In Hong Kong, violent clashes between pro-democracy demonstrators and the police now stretched into their 17th week. Thousands marched peacefully over the weekend before confrontations took an aggressive turn. Protesters, throwing Molotov cocktails and bricks at police. Police firing teargas, rubber bullets and water cannons. Tensions rising ahead of China's National Day, celebrating 70 years of communist rule. CNN's Will Ripley is live in Hong Kong and clearly that 70th anniversary such an important kind of piece of theater for the Chinese government. And then, there's this. This democracy, this protests on the street in sharp contrast.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Christine. The last thing that the central government in Beijing want are images of Hong Kong burning on the day they are celebrating their 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People's Republic of China, but that is exactly what could potentially happen here.

I was standing yesterday about seven minutes' walk down that way, Christine. When we saw a huge smoke plume rising up. It was this massive plume of black smoke from a fire that was set right here. This is one of the entrances to the Wan Chai subway station. You can see just how charred the, you know, the steps are here. This exit temporarily closed. There were dozens of fires that is potted yesterday.

Police are holding a press conference right now, they said that 100 petrol bombs, molotov cocktails, were thrown by protesters yesterday. Protesters who also sprayed graffiti all over the city. Including this one here, that says, give me freedom or give me death. It is that mindset that is so troubling to many people, as we watch what could potentially unfold here on the streets of Hong Kong tomorrow.

Police are holding a press conference as I said, in just minutes ago, they said that what is happening, is moving these city one step closer to terrorism. And that terrorism reference is very, very important, because if the police determined that what they see unfolding here, on the streets of Hong Kong tomorrow qualifies as terrorism. Meaning damage to property, potential or injury to civilians, the intent to disrupt for some political or ideological reason.

Well, then, Hong Kong could institute something known as emergency law, which some fear could essentially turn this city, which is known to be a Bastian of freedom throughout these region. Especially when compared with the rest of the authoritarian mainland China. It could essentially turn Hong Kong into a land of martial law, where police have much heightened powers to try to crack down on dissent. And the fear on the streets here is that, if Hong Kong were to turn that corner, they might not turn back, Christine.

ROMANS: It is, Will, an international business center, right? And so, you have to think that the Chinese government, the Chinese authorities know, the chilling effect they could have on business, international business, by being too heavy-handed.

RIPLEY: Absolutely. And that is what they're trying to weigh here are obviously maintaining law and order in the city. Because, we do need to put into context even -- when I was here, you know, in this neighborhood in Wan Chai just yesterday. It was chaotic, absolutely. But you get in the taxi and five minutes later it's back to normal.

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I mean, these things tend to occur in relatively isolated pockets. The crowds and demonstrators are getting smaller, but tomorrow, they're calling on people to protest in at least 10 different areas around this city. So, you have to maintain law and order. But also, you have to maintain that sense that international businesses continue to feel comfortable doing business here. The confidence that Hong Kong -- you know, one of the freest markets in the world, will continue to operate freely and will not become just like any other Chinese City.

ROMANS: All right. Will Ripley for us, thanks for walking us through that in from Hong Kong. Thanks, Will.

BRIGGS: A manhunt is underway for four prisoners who broke out of jail in Southern Ohio this weekend. Authorities say they used a homemade weapon over powered two female guards. They were able to force open a secure door and escape early Sunday morning. According to the Galia County Sheriff, the inmates were helped in their rescue, by at least one person on the outside. The sheriff say they found four escapees should be considered extremely dangerous.

ROMANS: All right. There's a deal for the whistleblower, the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry to testify, but there are new concerns for that person's safety. We'll bring you that next.

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