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Joker Movie Breaks Box Office Records; A Second Whistleblower for Trump-Zelensky's Phone Call Comes Out; Houston Rockets' General Manager's Hong Kong Tweet Angers China. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 7, 2019 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Violence. The Warner Brothers film starring Joaquin Phoenix brought in an estimated $93.5 million in North America, making it the highest grossing opening in the history of October. Joker, the largest opening for Warner Brothers this year as well as one of the biggest openings for an R- rated film.

The film put critics and authorities on edge. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned of threats ahead of the film's opening. But all that worry was a recipe in the end for Box Office success. However, looking at some of the reviews, and one of the reviews in the "New York Times" essentially says that was the most interesting part of the movie, was all the controversy ahead of time.


ROMANS: And once you buy the ticket, it wasn't --

BRIGGS: Neither of us rushed to see --

ROMANS: I don't know --

BRIGGS: That one.

ROMANS: People really spent a lot of money on that one.

BRIGGS: Looks scary. Thanks to our international viewers for joining us, have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now. A second whistleblower in the Ukraine scandal, lawyers say the person's spoken to a government watchdog, what does he or she know about the president's demands to Ukraine's leader?

ROMANS: Joe Biden speaking out, defending his family against unproven accusations of wrongdoing, saying he'll beat Trump like a drum.

BRIGGS: Leading experts warning that an economic slowdown could get worse, with new evidence the trade war with China is hurting American workers.

ROMANS: The general manager of the Houston Rockets is in trouble with China after speaking out about Hong Kong, the NBA reacting. Good morning, everyone, welcome to EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning, good morning everyone, I'm Dave Briggs, Monday, October 7th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the east. We start with the second whistleblower coming forward with information about President Trump. An attorney Mark Zaid confirming to CNN that his team now represents a second person who said -- Zaid says works in the Intelligence community.

Zaid says his client has first-hand knowledge backing claims made by the first whistleblower who raised the alarm about a call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

ROMANS: That is likely the undercut Republicans who have called the first whistleblower's claims hearsay based on second-hand evidence. The first whistleblower claimed the president abused his official powers, pressuring Zelensky to dig up dirt on Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and that the White House tried to cover that up.

The president has denied doing anything improper. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more for us this morning from the White House.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, there is now a second whistleblower from within the Intelligence community who has also raised concerns about President Trump's call with the Ukrainian president. Attorneys for that first whistleblower whose complaint set off an impeachment inquiry from house Democrats now say they're also representing this second whistleblower.

Andrew Bakaj; one of those attorneys says in a statement, "I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlining August 12th, 2019 disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General. Now, the second whistleblower has not filed a formal complaint, but we are told that this official has spoken with the Intelligence Community's Inspector- General.

That is the same Trump-appointed Inspector-General who found the first whistleblower complaints credible. Now, as far as the White House, their message right now is that there is simply nothing to see here. Here's the statement from the White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham that she issued on Sunday.

She says, "it doesn't matter how many people decide to call themselves whistleblowers about the same telephone call, a call the president has already made public. It doesn't change the fact that he has done nothing wrong." Now, as for the president, he has spent much of his weekend on Twitter, where he is lashing out at his enemies, attacking the credibility of this whistleblower, and also of course going after Democrats.

But the president is also attacking some Republicans, namely one, the former Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and now, a senator from Utah, who has called the president's requests of China and Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden appalling. The president taking to Twitter to call for Senator Romney's impeachment, even though senators can't be impeached. But the president's message here really is not just about Mitt Romney. It's about any Republican who would step out of line and criticize him. Dave, Christine?

BRIGGS: All right, Jeremy, thank you. A group of 90 former national security officials are praising the first whistleblower in an open letter. The officials who have served under both Republicans and Democrats write, "a responsible whistleblower makes all Americans safer by ensuring that serious wrongdoing can be investigated and addressed with everyone's view of the matter discussed in the whistleblower's complaint.

All Americans should be united in demanding that all branches of our government and our outlets of our media protect this whistleblower and his or her identity." Among the officials signing that letter are former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

ROMANS: Congress is out of session, but house Democrats are still holding hearings in the impeachment inquiry. On Tuesday, a source says U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland is expected at a closed-door deposition. You recall, he was mentioned in the whistleblower complaint as a key player.


BRIGGS: On Friday, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch will have her own closed-door deposition. She was abruptly recalled from her post in May. The administration is accused of removing her because she would not push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

It does not look as though two other depositions with State Department officials set for this week will happen. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week accused the panels of quote, "bullying" his officials.

ROMANS: All right, Joe Biden is slamming President Trump in a new opinion piece, saying he is still ready to beat President Trump like a drum. That's next.


BRIGGS: Republican lawmakers defended the president over the weekend. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell vowing to stop the Democrats push for impeachment in a campaign fundraising video.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): When our impeachment stops is when Senate majority with me as majority leader. But I need your help. Please contribute before the deadline.


[05:10:00] BRIGGS: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said he wants the whistleblowers to speak publicly.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If the whistleblowers' allegations are turned into an impeachment article, it's imperative that the whistleblower be interviewed in public under oath and cross-examined. Nobody in America goes to jail or has anything done to them without confronting their accuser.


ROMANS: Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson spoke out, following his admission last week to the "Wall Street Journal" that he had heard the whistleblowers' claims over the Summer, he explained why he believed the president's denials of wrongdoing.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): When I asked the president about that, he completely denied it, he adamantly denied it. Unlike the narrative of the press, that President Trump wants to dig up dirt on his 2020 opponent. What he wants is he wants to -- an accounting of what happened in 2016.


ROMANS: Senator Johnson also made a stunning claim about America's Intelligence agencies.


JOHNSON: I just want the truth. The American people want --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, do you not trust -- do you not trust the FBI?


You don't trust the CIA?

JOHNSON: No, not at all --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am just very confused here.

JOHNSON: Absolutely --



JOHNSON: After James Comey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You believe the FBI and the CIA --

JOHNSON: John Brennan, no, I don't trust any of these guys in the Obama administration --


JOHNSON: I didn't trust any of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't trust them now? You trust them now?

JOHNSON: No, I didn't trust them back then.


ROMANS: Senator Johnson is on the Homeland Security Committee.

BRIGGS: More questions than answers this morning on the origin of the president's call to Ukrainian President Zelensky. The Energy Department acknowledging Sunday that Secretary Rick Perry, quote -- supported and encouraged the president to speak to Zelensky was about energy matters.

In a statement, a spokesman said, "Secretary Perry continues to believe that there is significant need for improved regional security, energy security." Perry in the impeachment probe spotlight after Trump told house Republicans, Friday, it was the Energy Secretary who pushed him to call Zelensky. Energy issues don't appear anywhere in the rough transcript of the now infamous July 25th phone call.

Former Vice President and 2020 candidate Joe Biden is speaking out, slamming what he called the president's efforts to destroy him and his family. In an op-ed in "The Washington Post", Biden writes, "President Trump slanders anyone he sees as a threat. That is why he is frantically pushing flat-out lies, debunked conspiracy theories and smears against me and my family, no doubt hoping to undermine my candidacy for the presidency. This time it won't work because the American people know me and they know him."

ROMANS: Biden added that he doesn't intend to go anywhere, telling Trump, "you won't destroy me and you won't destroy my family. And come November, 2020, I intend to beat you like a drum."

BRIGGS: Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders recovering in Vermont this morning after suffering a heart attack last week. The senator thanked voters on Twitter and said, "I am recovering well and feeling much better. I am more determined than ever to fight alongside you to make healthcare a human right."

Sanders underwent surgery after the heart attack, he's cancelled events until further notice, although his campaign says he will be on the debate stage, October 15th. That event hosted by CNN and the "New York Times".

ROMANS: A stumble in the American economy to start the month, and now business economists warn the risks are getting worse. The National Association for Business Economists expects a GDP to dip below 2 percent next year, the first time that's happened since 2016.

The New York Federal Reserve also downgrading its economic growth forecast to 1.3 percent for the fourth quarter this year. Although, economists don't expect a recession. These forecasts, the latest example that a slowdown is no longer an expectation. It is likely here to stay. New evidence last week showed the trade war with China is hurting the economy, the manufacturing sector suffered its worst month since June, 2009.

Manufacturing job growth has stalled, we saw this on Friday, that shows you in the manufacturing sector, there is not a healthy job market happening. And then in the service sector, that also grew at the weakest pace in three years. The mixed jobs report overall left investors wondering whether the Federal Reserve will cut rates again to stimulate growth later this month.

Another round of trade talks is scheduled for Thursday and with tariffs set to go up next week, investors will be looking for any signs of a breakthrough. I mean, over and over again, you're hearing from economists, from CEOs, from business leaders, you've got to have a resolution of these trade issues because you're seeing it really --

BRIGGS: Yes --

ROMANS: Starting to cripple the economy --

BRIGGS: But is there any glimmer of hope there?

ROMANS: They're going to be talking, they are still talking here.

BRIGGS: Yes, all right --

ROMANS: And the Chinese are buying -- are starting to buy U.S. agriculture, it's a sign of goodwill, so, we'll see if that's enough for the administration if they want more.

BRIGGS: No structural changes --

ROMANS: Not yet --

BRIGGS: It doesn't appear coming. All right, the NBA is speaking out after the general manager of the Houston Rockets made comments that angered China. Andy Scholes has that, plus, the stunning upset of the unstoppable Kansas City Chiefs. That's ahead in the "BLEACHER REPORT".



BRIGGS: With just one tweet, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey ignited a firestorm with China. Andy Scholes has that story in the "BLEACHER REPORT", good morning, my friend.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Yes, good morning, Dave. You know, the NBA, one of the most popular sports in all of China, and on Friday, Daryl Morey tweeted, "fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong." Now, he later deleted that tweet. But that was the first instance of someone related to the NBA showing their support for the Hong Kong protesters.

And that tweet angering multiple Chinese businesses including the Chinese Basketball Association. Now, the CBA which is led by former Rockets Yao Ming, suspending cooperation with the Rockets.


And that's pretty big deal -- because of Yao, you know, the Rockets, one of the most popular teams in China. Now, Morey says he didn't mean to offend anyone, tweeting again, "I was merely voicing one thought based on one interpretation of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunities since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives."

Now, Morey also added his tweet don't represent the Rockets or the NBA. And the NBA also releasing a statement on the matter, saying, "we have great respect for the history and culture of China, and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together."

Now, this all comes as the Rockets get set to play a pre-season game in Japan and LeBron and the Lakers play in China later this week. All right, this is post-season baseball. The Braves and Cardinals playing a thriller yesterday in game three of their series. The Braves were down 1-0, down to their final out in the ninth when Dansby Swanson comes through with a double left to tie the game.

Then the very next batter is going to be Adam Duvall, and he comes through again for Atlanta, singling in two more runs. The Braves down to their final out stuns St. Louis 3-1 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Right, the Dodgers and Nationals playing several game three as well. Washington was up 2-1 in the sixth, they bring in starter Patrick Corbin in relief, he gets the first two outs, but well, you need 3 outs to end an inning. And the Dodgers get hot, they score seven runs with two outs, the last three going to come on a Justin Turner three- run home run.

L.A. goes on to win this game big, 10-4. Now, they can close out that series later today on our sister network, "TBS", that one gets started at 6:40 Eastern. You've got a quadruple header of post-season baseball today. Astros and Rays getting even started at 1:00 Eastern.

All right, to the NFL, Chiefs looking to remain undefeated, hosting the Colts on Sunday night football. Patrick Mahomes doing Patrick Mahomes thing. Look at him, rolling around, eventually throws it downfield, finding Byron Pringle for the touchdown. That's pretty much though the only highlight of the night for the Chiefs. Indy would win the field goal-fest, 19-13, handing K.C. now their first loss of the season.

All right, and finally, a terrifying moment, the Steelers-Ravens. Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph gets drilled by Earl Thomas right there. Rudolph immediately was not unconscious, players were frantically signaling for help after being examined by team personnel. Rudolph would eventually get to his feet, but the cart they brought out for him on the field, they couldn't get it to work.

So, Rudolph was carried off by his teammates. Now, he was taken to the hospital, coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that he had a concussion. But definitely a scary moment there, Dave, and luckily, Rudolph reportedly out of the hospital and resting at home. We hope for a speedy recovery for him.

BRIGGS: Yes, it was scary. They said they had a second car ready to go, but that he was fine to walk off. But if you're watching, he was woozy walking off that field.

SCHOLES: Yes, he did not look like --

BRIGGS: I mean --

SCHOLES: He was all there.

BRIGGS: No, he was not, that was a frightening moment. We -- our thoughts are with Mason Rudolph and his family. Thank you my friend.

SCHOLES: Right --

ROMANS: And you could see the looks on those other players' faces, they were worried --

BRIGGS: Oh, there were tears in one of the receiver's eyes --

ROMANS: Yes, they really are --

BRIGGS: Yes --

ROMANS: Wow, all right, 23 minutes past the hour. Lawyers say a second whistleblower has come forward in the Ukraine scandal. It's coming as house Democrats set up a busy week for impeachment hearings this week. More next.



ROMANS: A new Trump proclamation will bar illegal immigrants -- immigration for those who can't prove they'll have health insurance or the means to pay for medical care outright. Approved health insurance for immigrant-visa applicants will include employer-paid, individual and short-term plans. Medicaid or Obamacare subsidies will not qualify. There will be some exceptions including certain groups of children refugees and asylum seekers. The proclamation takes effect November 3rd. Immigrants with a visa issue before that date are also exempt from the new rule.

BRIGGS: A few Republican lawmakers are speaking out about the president's public call to ask China to investigate the Bidens. Senator Susan Collins of Maine said she was not comfortable with the president's comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): The president made a big mistake by asking

China to get involved in investigating. That's completely inappropriate.


BRIGGS: Collins joining Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who slammed Chinese commies. Utah Senator Mitt Romney who called Trump's words wrong and appalling, and Texas Congressman Will Herd who called it disturbing. Some other Republicans took a different approach on Sunday show, suggesting it was just trolling.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I don't think it's a real request -- I think he did it to gig you guys.

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I doubt if the China comment was serious, to tell you the truth.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): You really think he was serious about thinking that China is going to investigate the Biden family?


BRIGGS: CNN contacted the offices of more than 80 Republican lawmakers in the house and Senate, but very few responded.

ROMANS: We told you the story of a homeless woman caught on video singing opera in the subway. This weekend, Emily Zamourka performed on stage at a Los Angeles event. She thanked the crowd for the support she's received since that video.


EMILY ZAMOURKA, OPERA SINGER: I'm so glad about that, that I could touch your hearts with my voice. Thank you so much for all of this that's happening right now. I really thank you, I'm so overwhelmed.


ROMANS: Since the video of her first went viral, there it is, in the subway, a Los Angeles city council member has helped Emily get housing and a hotel, and is helping her look for long-term housing. She has received more than $110,000 from donors via two internet fundraisers. She's also being offered a recording contract. EARLY START continues right now.