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House Impeachment Inquiry Committees Release Diplomatic Texts; Trump Publicly Calls for China to Investigate the Bidens; Trump's Call to China in June Similar to Ukraine. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 4, 2019 - 04:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: New text messages suggest evidence of a quid pro quo between the U.S. and Ukraine. What both sides wanted depends which side you ask.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Good morning, everyone. I'm Dave Briggs. Friday, October 4th, it is 4:00 a.m. here in New York.

We start with that major breaking news overnight, text messages released by House Democrats with a damming new twist for the White House. The texts show how the U.S. leveraged a possible meeting between President Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to push for an investigation into the 2016 election.

The texts were provided by former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who testified behind closed doors yesterday.

ROMANS: On July 25th, the morning of the now infamous phone call between the presidents, Volker texted a top Zelensky adviser. "Heard from White House, assuming President Z convinces Trump he will investigate/get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for a visit to Washington."

A source tells us the Ukrainians responded by drafting a public statement committing to investigate corruption. The statement ultimately made it to the president's -- President Trump's personal attorney and point man on Ukraine, Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani said it did not go far enough and suggested adding references that would imply investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter and the 2016 election.

BRIGGS: The newly released texts also show a top U.S. diplomat was concerned President Trump withholding hundreds of millions in military aid would amount to a quid pro quo. On September 1st the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor texted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.


Taylor wrote, quote, "Are we now saying that security assistance and a White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?" Sondland responded, "Call me."

ROMANS: On September 9th, Taylor spelled out his concerns, as

On September 9th, Taylor spelled out his concerns, "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." Just look at that, those words, for just a few minutes. Four and a half hours later, Sondland replied, "I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The president has been crystal clear no quid pro quos of any kind."

BRIGGS: Sources say Volker told investigators yesterday he urged Ukraine not interfere in U.S. politics. "The Washington Post" reports Volker said he warned Giuliani that Ukrainian claims were unreliable. And today, the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, will testify to the House panels behind closed doors.

ROMANS: All right, those text messages capped a whirlwind day of developments on the impeachment front. Perhaps the most shocking, with President Trump, already under investigation for secretly asking a foreign government to interfere in U.S. elections, he did it again for all the world to see.

CNN's Jim Acosta is at the White House.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, it was a remarkable moment, one for the history books, as President Trump stood outside the White House and called for foreign interference in the 2020 election.

The president asked China to dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden. Unlike his conversation with Ukraine's president, no call transcript is necessary here. The president said the quiet part out loud.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened to China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.


ACOSTA: It's become more difficult for the White House and its defenders to accuse the whistleblower complaint of relying upon hearsay to accuse the president of asking a foreign government to interfere in the upcoming election, as the president did that in front of the cameras -- Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: OK, Jim Acosta, thank you.

The president also saying yesterday that he had not spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping about investigating unproven claims about the Bidens. That, however, is not true. CNN has learned exclusively Mr. Trump did raise Joe Biden with President Xi in a June phone call. The president's suggestion that the Chinese investigate the Bidens thrust his political grudge into the world's most complicated and consequential relationship.

Kylie Atwood, part of the team that broke the story, has more.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, now during a phone call between President Trump and President Xi in June, we are learning that Trump did mention Joe Biden, the former vice president, now his most formidable Democratic opponent leading up to 2020. He also mentioned Elizabeth Warren, according to sources familiar with this phone call, and it was in the political sense that they were doing well in the polls and that they were the ones opposing him when it comes to 2020.

We are also learning that the transcript of that call was put in the highly sensitive server, the same server that the Ukrainian transcript was put into that we have consistently reported on over the last few weeks.

I did speak with one Chinese diplomat today who said it was chaotic as they saw these media reports coming in, but also said that China wasn't interested in getting involved in the domestic politics of the U.S. But we are still waiting to see how the Chinese government officially reacts to those statements from President Trump today.

ROMANS: All right, Kylie, thank you for that.

All right. Amid the avalanche of Ukraine related news Thursday there was new damaging information about Vice President Mike Pence. Two sources tell us the vice president was told about the July 25th call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky the day after it happened. Those two and a third source confirm Pence was provided a transcript of the call. It's not certain whether the vice president read that transcript.

But CNN has reported that Pence prepares and relies on briefings before meetings with foreign leaders and he did meet with President Zelensky weeks after the July 25th call.

BRIGGS: New details on another whistleblower complaint this one coming from the IRS. According to "The Washington Post," an IRS official alleges he was informed of at least one political appointee at the Treasury Department trying to interfere with the audit of President Trump or Vice President Pence's tax returns. The president, of course, never released his.

On Tuesday CNN reporter the House Ways and Means Committee received information at the end of July alleging inappropriate efforts to influence the audit program. The "Post" reports two administration officials described the IRS complaint as hearsay. The whistleblower is identified as a career IRS official who denies acting with political motivations.


ROMANS: Several key subpoena deadlines today. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he intends to respond to a congressional subpoena calling for documents related to Ukraine by today. And House Democrats plan to subpoena the White House if it fails to comply with broad requests for documents.

But the White House may have another idea. Axios reports the White House is planning to send House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a letter as soon as today arguing President Trump and his team can ignore lawmakers' demands until Pelosi holds a formal House vote approving an impeachment inquiry. Axios reports a letter has been drafted but has not been finalized and signed as of last night.

All right. Big slowdowns in U.S. manufacturing and now the service sector. That made for a really wild day on Wall Street and the monthly jobs report is just hours away.



ROMANS: All right. More evidence of cracks developing in the American economy. Another damaging economic report and then rising odds of a rate cut from the Fed. After two terrible days of losses to start the fourth quarter, the Dow closed up more than 120 points yesterday. It has lost on balance more than 700 points since Tuesday.

Look, yesterday, before that higher close, the stock market tumbled. The sell-off began after the Institute of Supply Management reported a slowdown in the biggest chunk of the economy, the U.S. service sector. The Nonmanufacturing Index which measures growth among banks, restaurants and hotels dropped to its lowest level since August 2016.

Businesses expressed concern about tariffs, a shortage of workers and the direction of the economy. The gloomy report raises concern the contraction in manufacturing is spilling into the broader economy.

Then stocks of course fell on that news and then later rallied because the bad news was seen as something that would maybe have the Fed cut rates. Hopes for an interest rate cut spiked to 90 percent, they were 49 percent just a week ago.

Today investors will pay close attention to the September jobs report. The labor market has remained strong so people are spending money. Consumer spending has helped prop up this economy.

BRIGGS: A health scare won't stop 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His campaign says he plans to return home to Vermont in the coming days before taking part in the next Democratic primary debate. His wife Jane says her husband is up and about after having two stents inserted when doctors discovered a blockage in an artery. No word yet on when Sanders will return to his busy stump schedule but his campaign surrogates will fan out across the country this weekend.

ROMANS: Joe Biden's third quarter fundraising numbers show some cause for concern. For most presidential candidates a $15 million total and a virtual tie at the top of the polls would be a win-win. But his haul this quarter was $7 million less than his second quarter number and substantially behind Senator Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. We have yet to see Senator Elizabeth Warren's third quarter results. Biden, Warren and Buttigieg are among seven 2020 Democratic presidential candidates slated to appear at the SEIU Unions for All summit in Los Angeles today.

BRIGGS: Ahead, it could be one of the biggest movies of the year, but social media threats have the feds warning about safety at theaters showing "Joker."



JOAQUIN PHOENIX, ACTOR, "JOKER": When you bring me out, can you introduce me as Joker?


BRIGGS: This weekend's opening of the movie "Joker" has prompted a warning from the FBI. Social media threats have called for mass shootings at showings of the movie. Officials say they flagged local law enforcement out of an abundance of caution and there is no specific or credible threat. Fears are heightened because the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, at a midnight showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

ROMANS: A Florida mother faces attempted murder charges. Police say she drove into a tree after telling her kids to unbuckle their seatbelts. Authorities say Calicia Williams told her children ages 7 to 13 to stretch out their hands right before she crashed her speeding minivan into a tree. All four kids were injured, none of their injuries are life threatening. Williams told police her husband had put a hex on her that caused the crash. She also had marijuana in her system.

BRIGGS: There are now more than a thousand cases of vaping related lung injuries across the United States. The CDC says 1,080 cases have been reported in 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 19 deaths have been confirmed in 16 states. Additional deaths are under investigation. This week the Mayo Clinic reported lung damage in some victims resembles a chemical burn. Researcher at the clinic says the injuries look like the kind you expect to see in toxic chemical spills.

ROMANS: All right. Frequent fliers beware, Los Angeles International Airport will soon ban ride share and taxi drivers from curb side pickups and drop-offs at its terminals. Instead, travelers at LAX will have to take a shuttle bus to its designated parking lot to catch their ride. The changes are due to take effect at the end of the month. It's in response to worsening congestion at LAX. The airport is currently undergoing a massive overhaul of its road network and terminals. BRIGGS: A dramatic start to Major League Baseball's Division Series.

The St. Louis Cardinals rallied to beat the Atlanta Braves in game one of the NLDS. The Cards scored six runs in the last two innings, doubles by Marcell Ozuna and Kolten Wong, doing much of the damage. The Braves rallied, scoring three in the ninth. But the comeback fell short, 7-6.

The Dodgers had an easier time in their opener shutting out the Washington Nationals 6-0. The Nats managed just two hits. Max Muncie drove in three runs for L.A.


And your two American League playoffs get underway today. The Tampa Bay Rays play the Houston Astros. The New York Yankees take on the Minnesota Twins. Four games in all on this Friday.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, new text messages suggest a quid pro quo between the U.S. and Ukraine. What each side wanted a little different.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BRIGGS: Some breaking news, new text messages suggest evidence of a --