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Texts Suggests Evidence of Quid Pro Quo; Trump Calls for China to Probe Joe Biden and Son on Live TV; Trump Made Similar Call to President Xi in June; Ukrainian Prosecutors Claim Sources for Rudy Giuliani Deeply Corrupt; Violent Protests in Iraq the Largest in Decades. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 4, 2019 - 04:30   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Some breaking news, new text messages suggest evidence of a quid pro quo between the U.S. and Ukraine. What both sides wanted depends on which side you ask.

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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Christine Romans, it is 30 minutes past the hour here in New York.

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.

BRIGGS: On July 25th, the morning of the now infamous call between the presidents, Volker texted a top Zelensky adviser. Quote, "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 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 investigations to Joe Biden and his son Hunter and the 2016 election.

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

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

BRIGGS: The texts 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 is that he did it again for all the world to see on live television.

CNN's Jim Acosta 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.

ROMANS: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you.

The president also saying yesterday he had not spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping about investigating conspiracy theories about the Bidens. But that's 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 CNN team that broke that 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.

BRIGGS: All right, Kylie, thank you.

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 that 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. Not certain whether the vice president read it 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.

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.

ROMANS: But the White House may have another idea. Axios reports the White House 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 or signed as of last night.

CNN's KFile has unearthed a letter from 2016 that shows Republican senators echoing calls by then Vice President Joe Biden for Ukraine's president to address corruption in the prosecutor general's office. This bipartisan letter undercuts a baseless attack made by President Trump. The president claims Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire the prosecutor general to stop investigations into a company his son Hunter was on the board of. The 2016 letter was signed by Republican Senators Rob Portman, Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson. Just last week, Johnson signed on to a letter asking Attorney General William Barr to investigate allegations surrounding Biden and Ukraine.

BRIGGS: President Trump is throwing a lot of allegations around, but his sources alleging corruption are accused of being corrupt themselves.

CNN's Matthew Chance is live in Kiev for us this morning.

Matthew, good morning. What are you learning?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. Well, we've been speaking to some of the people in the prosecutor's office over the past couple of days. And, you know, they've been saying, look, you know, these individuals that were depended on by Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, to sort of furnish him with those allegations about election meddling in 2016 and about the wrongdoings -- alleged wrongdoings by Mr. Biden of the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden, that these individuals themselves were not credible.

That's something that came out in Kurt Volker's testimony to Congress yesterday. It's also something that deputies in that prosecutor general's office have been saying about their former bosses. These people were corrupt themselves and had their own sort of business and political interests at stake when they spoke to the U.S. -- when they spoke to U.S. officials including Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer.

There's just been a press conference under way in the past few minutes, with the prosecutor general here, the new one, announcing sweeping reforms to the way it operates here, saying that, you know, there is going to be major reforms to make the prosecutor general's office much more transparent and much less corrupt. And he's also interestingly announced that there will be a review of the Burisma case, which is the gas company which Hunter Biden worked for. That's the central to the allegations that Vice President Biden used his political influence to end that investigation into that company to help his son's business interests.

Well, that whole issue, we're hearing now this morning, from the new prosecutor's office, is going to be reviewed by Ukrainian prosecutors. It doesn't mean they're opening an investigation, it doesn't mean that Hunter Biden and Joe Biden are going to be implicated in that, but remember Ukraine is trying to walk a very narrow tight rope, between, you know, kind of doing what the Trump administration wants them to do. They need a good relationship with the Trump administration. Those are making sure they don't alienate future administrations of the United States -- Dave.

BRIGGS: A nearly impossible position. Every day a new layer there.

Matthew Chance, live for us, thank you.

ROMANS: Head spinning, actually, the developments of the past week or so.

Thirty-nine minutes past the hour. A mother of four told her children to unbuckle their seatbelts and then she rammed her minivan into a tree.



ROMANS: After almost 10 years now of steady growth, is the jobs market holding up? The key government jobs report will be released in just a few hours. Economists estimate the economy added 145,000 jobs last month. That's up from 130,000 in August. The unemployment rate is expected to stay at 3.7 percent. A 50-year low.

Now America's labor market has been strong, but job creation has slowed. The average number of new jobs created every month this year is running about 158,000 compared with last year's average of 223,000.

Now there is evidence of cracks in the American economy, the manufacturing sector is contracting and the service sector is growing at the slowest pace in three years. President Trump's trade war with China is hurting businesses and more challenges could be ahead as a new front in the trade war with the E.U. opens up. The more that America's companies get stressed about trade developments, the more likely those jitters will show up in the labor market.


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 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, that'd be a win-win, right? 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.

All right. The plant-based meat craze is quickly changing the way we look at meat. I sat down with the CEO of Beyond Meat to talk about the growing industry and the misconception surrounding their product.

CNN Business has the details next.


[04:50:42] BRIGGS: 4:50 Eastern Time. With some breaking news, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has invoked emergency powers in an attempt to quell protests there. The emergency legislation bans masks used by protesters citing extensive public danger. The penalty for breaking the anti-mask law is imprisonment for one year and a fine.

This is the first time the emergency regulations have been used in more than half century since the anti-extradition bill protest began in June. 1100 people have been injured including 300 police officers.

Iraqi leaders trying to ease tensions after days of violent anti- government demonstrations. At least 34 people have been killed and more than 1500 injured. Overnight Iraq's prime minister calling some of the protesters' demands righteous and legitimate and says they have been heard.

Ben Wedeman live for us in Beirut.

Ben, what are you hearing?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far today, Dave, things are quiet. It is the weekend in Baghdad, and we expect for Friday prayers, some sort of word from some of the religious leaders as to whether they expect this to get worse or calm down. Now overnight the prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi did say he has no magic solution to Iraq's problems. He promised, for instance, providing a basic income to poor families, but that really is a tiny band-aid on some old and gaping wounds.

It's important to keep in mind that Iraq has been in a state of disarray, shall we say, since the 1980s, with its eight-year war with Iran, followed by the invasion of Kuwait and the American expulsion and the destruction of much of the infrastructure, followed by years of sanctions and the U.S.-led American invasion and the bloody and chaotic occupation, followed by the war with ISIS. And what we've seen over this -- over that period of time is increasing corruption, an infrastructure that has never really been repaired for years.

So, Iraqis are desperate for some sort of improvement in their lives. And, of course, keep in mind, Iraq is floating on a sea of oil. It should be a very rich country, but much of the money is lost through corruption, mismanagement. And so, it is not surprising that Iraqis come out in these numbers and demonstrate against a political system that has in effect given them nothing after all of these years -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Not working for the people. OK. Ben Wedeman live for us from Beirut, with the latest on Iraq, thanks.


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

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: 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."

BRIGGS: 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.

ROMANS: A Chicago jury has convicted a reputed gang member accused of luring a 9-year-old boy into an alley to kill him. 22-year-old Dwright Doty found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Tyshawn Lee. Another man, Cory Morgan, was tried in the same courtroom before a separate jury, which is still deliberating. Prosecutors say Morgan and Lee executed boy as revenge. They suspected Tyshawn's father belonged to a gang that killed Morgan's brother. Morgan and Doty blamed each other for the killing.

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. And 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 would expect to see in toxic chemical spills.

ROMANS: A major settlement in the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts International agreeing to pay up to $800 million to victims and surviving family members of the 58 people killed in that massacre. It's the third largest victims' compensation settlement in U.S. history. Thousands of people may be eligible, the agreement means all parties will dismiss any pending litigation against MGM. The court will appoint an independent administrator to oversee a settlement fund that MGM will pay into.

BRIGGS: A top government weather forecaster died in rough surf on North Carolina's outer banks. 58-year-old William Lapenta's death coming just hours after the National Weather Service issued a warning about the high risk of rip currents in that area. Officials say he was swimming alone and it's not clear if he was caught in a rip current. Lapenta was charged with overseeing the U.S. agencies responsible for issuing forecasts and warnings for aviation, ocean, storm and climate conditions. Frequent flyers 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 a designated parking lot to catch their ride. The changes are due to take effect at the end of this month. Congestion is getting worse at LAX. The airport undergoing a massive overhaul of its road network and terminals.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Taking a look at global markets, markets around the world, Chinese markets remain closed for the holiday week. They'll reopen next Tuesday. You can see European markets trying to bounce, but not by much.

These is what the futures look like in the U.S. right now, down just slightly. Stocks finished higher Thursday, but just that 122-point print doesn't tell you the whole story. It was a crazy day. The S&P and the Nasdaq also higher as well. But it had been down 300 and then up 100 some points. A lot of concerns about cracks emerging in the American economy. The major averages are on track to finish the week lower. For the Dow and the S&P, it's shaping up to be the worst week since early August.

The jobs report comes out at 8:30 a.m. That would be the next big important piece of information to look out for investors who are worried about these cracks emerging in the American economy.

The alternative meat craze is growing quickly and one of the industry leaders is a company called Beyond Meat. McDonald's is testing a Beyond Meat patty in Canada. Grocery stores are adding it to shelves. Disney announced that plant-based options will be added to every dining location in their U.S. theme parks.

Now advocates say this kind of meat is better for the environment, doesn't kill animals. Critics say fake meat is too processed, even the Chipotle CEO Brian Nichols said it's too processed for his restaurants right now.

Beyond Meat CEO, though, Ethan Brown told me that's one of the biggest misunderstandings about the industry.


ETHAN BROWN, FOUNDER AND CEO, BEYOND MEAT: We're not trying to hide anything from you. Like what we do is we take protein directly from the plant, run it through heating, cooling and pressure, that's our process. It's not a question of processed or not processed. It's a tale of two processes and which one do you want.


ROMANS: The industry is growing fast. Brown optimistic about the future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: We're going to be a $35 billion company. That's absolutely clear in my mind. And what we're doing is building a platform that will allow us to not only provide all the taste, all the nutrition, but if we get that third pillar, which is price, we should be cheaper than animal protein. It's a $1.4 trillion industry. We can get a significant amount of that.


ROMANS: And that's his goal in the next five years, to have one of their products that cost less than the meat equivalent.

BRIGGS: And have you had one yet?

ROMANS: I have. I have. They've done --

BRIGGS: And? Review?

ROMANS: You know, it was fine. I mean, it had like a garlic aioli in it, and I don't like mayonnaise, so that was my problem. But it was fine. And they're working really hard to make it taste and look like real meat.

BRIGGS: Yes. I've heard great things. Have to try that.

Ahead, thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day and a wonderful weekend. For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BRIGGS: New text messages suggest evidence of the quid pro quo between the United States and Ukraine. What both sides wanted, well, depends on which side you ask.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Another 24 hours of incredible developments in the U.S. here. I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, October 4th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Major breaking news overnight to tell you about. Text messages released by House Democrats with a damning new twist for the White House. The texts show how the U.S. leveraged a possible meeting between President Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr --