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House Democrats Preparing a Wave of Possible Subpoenas for Its Impeachment Inquiry; White House Aides Trying to Convince Trump to Prepare for Impeachment; Turkish Makes Ground Movements in Northern Syria; NBA Boss Shanghai Press Conference Cancelled Amid Hong Kong Tweet Uproar. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 10, 2019 - 04:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: House Democrats getting ready to demand documents and testimony, as they plan the next phase in their impeachment inquiry.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now the Kurds are fighting for their land. Just so you understand. They didn't help us in the Second World War. They didn't help us with Normandy.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump dismissing the need to support Kurdish allies in norther Syria as Turkey launches deadly strikes in the region.

ROMANS: In just hours NBA commissioner Adam Silver set to make remarks on Chinese soil as the fallout from a pro-democracy tweet continues. A tweet by the way never even seen in China because Twitter is banned in China.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: Huge, huge controversy over something that is censored in the first place.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. 4:33 Eastern Time. We start of course in the nation's capital.

This morning, House Democrats are taking a harder line against Trump administration's stonewalling of their impeachment investigation. White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent an eight-page letter to House leaders this week saying the administration will not cooperate. He wrote, "It does not view the impeachment inquiry as legitimate, partly because there's been no vote to authorize it."

ROMANS: Now a debate is growing in the Democratic caucus. Should the House call the West Wing's bluff with a formal vote for an impeachment inquiry?

CNN's Manu Raju has the latest from Capitol Hill.


Now, Democrats are preparing for the next phase of their impeachment push, including a new wave of subpoenas to compel people to testify. Expect three of Rudy Giuliani's associates to come before Congress or at least by subpoenaed to come before Congress because they have yet to comply to Democratic demands, both to turn over records and to come in for voluntary interviews.

Some Democrats I'm talking to say what's the point of voluntary interviews? Let's go straight to subpoenas right now because we're not getting any compliance. This could also pertain to current State Department officials including, potentially, on Friday, when a very important witness is scheduled at the moment to come in, Marie Yovanovitch. She's the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

She was recalled from that post but she's a current State Department employee, and there are questions about whether she will appear on Friday, and so Democrats are suggesting that perhaps she, too, will need a subpoena, although at the moment she's still expected to come and testify.


Now, behind the scenes, there's also discussions happening with the whistleblower himself or herself, asking this individual to come in. I am told that there are extreme measures being considered to secure this person's testimony, including allowing this person to testify in complete secrecy so no one would have any idea whether or not the testimony took place until after the fact.

Now, Democrats behind the scenes are also having this debate, whether or not to formalize an impeachment inquiry. This is a debate that is going to take place in the coming days ahead, especially as Democrats return to town next week. Some believe, including John Garamendi of California, that it makes sense to have a vote to formalize the inquiry.


REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): I do think that it's time for us to put a vote on the floor, a resolution for the inquiry, structured in such a way that it can move forward with full power of the Congress behind it. I think that's probably going to come in the next week or so.

If they want a fight, OK, then let us arm ourselves completely and totally with the full power of Congress. The votes, I'm sure, are there.


RAJU: But one important person is still not on board. That's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She does not believe it makes sense to go that route. She also does not believe it's necessary because current House rules do not require such a vote, neither does the Constitution. So expect that debate to continue behind closed doors this week and next -- Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: Manu Raju, thanks.

Meanwhile, President Trump is still hedging his bets about cooperating with the impeachment inquiry even if a full House vote were held.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If they held a vote, a vote in the full House and the vote were to authorize, would you --

TRUMP: Well, that's --

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Would you cooperate?

TRUMP: Well, we would if they give us our rights. It depends.


BRIGGS: The administration shifting its strategy as it waits for House Democrats to make the next move.

Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, as Democrats are figuring out what their next move is going to be, the White House is kind of sitting back watching and waiting to see how they're going to respond to that scathing eight-page letter that the White House counsel sent to them earlier this week.

Now, while they're saying publicly, though, that they're not going to be cooperating, not going to be working with Democrats, what we're seeing behind the scenes is actually the White House start to gear up in case there is an impeachment. You're starting to see a shift a little bit in the White House from aides trying to convince the president that yes, this could potentially be inevitable.

And they feel like the president is starting to respond to that, evident enough by the fact that he has agreed to have Trey Gowdy, that former South Carolina congressman, come on as outside counsel because that was an idea that the president was initially resistant to.

This idea of bringing on any new lawyers or any kind of impeachment defense strategy. But what they say they're seeing inside the White House is he's starting to realize he's going to need something here in case Democrats do decide to move forward.

What will be interesting to watch going forward is who it is that's running the impeachment defense strategy from inside the West Wing because basically what we've been speaking to sources about so far, some say it's Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, some say it's Mick Mulvaney, the chief of staff, and some people say it's just President Trump himself.

BRIGGS: Kaitlan Collins, thank you.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promising the State Department will follow the law in the impeachment inquiry. His comments coming after the Trump administration blocked a diplomat from appearing as a key witness at a House deposition.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I've made clear, I think the White House has made very clear, we will ensure that we do everything we're required to do by the law and the Constitution. Every time.


BRIGGS: Pompeo, though, offering little clarity whether the department will allow its diplomats to cooperate with the probe. In a separate interview Wednesday, the secretary said this, quote, "The White House made a decision yesterday. They issued an extended letter talking about this process that the House is engaged in, making clear that the White House's view is that this is not a legitimate impeachment proceeding. We'll take our guidance from them in terms of how we respond."

Pompeo says the State Department still has a mission and objectives to achieve in Ukraine and it is focused on that.

BRIGGS: More than half of all U.S. voters want President Trump impeached and removed from office. According to the latest FOX News poll, here are the numbers, 51 percent want the president out, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. Note the numbers are trending in the wrong direction for the president. Since July support for impeachment is up 11 points among Democrats, five points among Republicans, 3 points among independents.

ROMANS: All right, trade war as it turns out are not easy to win and they are expensive. Data analyzed by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, that's a coalition of business and trade groups that opposes the tariffs, this data shows the trade war with China has cost U.S. importers $34 billion since February 2018. In August alone, Americans paid $6.5 billion in tariffs, that's a 48 percent increase from August of last year.

More than a year in, the trade war is biting into family budgets. Policymakers at the Federal Reserve are worried it could hurt consumer spending and hiring eventually. Minutes of the central bank's September meeting show officials raised concerns that weakness in business investment, trade and manufacturing would trigger American consumers to pull back in spending.


Strong consumer spending has been the key driver of the U.S. economy. BRIGGS: All right, ahead, Turkey launching deadly strikes in northern

Syria. Senior Defense officials warning the action could hurt the fight against ISIS. We're live on the border, next.


ROMANS: All right, Turkey's military strike in northern Syria has killed at least eight people, including three fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces and five civilians.


Republicans are slamming President Trump for his decision to pull U.S. troops out of the region. Senator Lindsey Graham announcing an agreement with Democrats to hit Turkey with severe sanctions and he's calling on the president to turn U.S. troops around.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The Kurds are the ground forces that destroyed the caliphate with American airpower. We've abandoned them. That breaks my heart. I hope the president will change and readjust his policy before it's too late.


ROMANS: The president doesn't see it that way. Listen to his reasoning for leaving the Kurds to fend for themselves.


TRUMP: Now the Kurds are fighting for their land. Just so you understand. They're fighting for their land. And as somebody wrote in a very, very powerful article today, they didn't help us in the Second World War. They didn't help us with Normandy as an example. They mentioned names of different battles, they were there. But they're there to help us with their land. And that's a different thing.


ROMANS: It is important to note an estimated 11,000 Kurds died in the fight against ISIS.

Nick Paton Walsh is on the Turkish-Syrian border for us with the latest developments and the connecting the tissue -- the thread from Normandy to destroying the caliphate the last four years. What a powerful ally the Kurds have been to the U.S. I can't figure out what that connective tissue is. But tell us what is on the ground -- happening on the ground right now.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, obviously, there are few forces alive in the world now that still fought at Normandy. And world allegiance has changed constantly. But that's a whole distraction and possibly deliberate from what we're seeing behind us here, which in the last 10, 15 minutes or so have involved I would say up to about 10 explosions. Some of them in the distance.

Over one of the hills, where we've seen a collection of what looked like Turkish armored personnel carriers, with some SUVs alongside them, which would suggest possibly the Syrian rebel forces which they say they have in their midst as part of this ground incursion. That was proceeded by about 12 Turkish armored personnel carriers coming out of Syria, moving back through the wall.

We're not quite sure why there were four reasonably visible explosions on one of the main roads just behind me here in the last 10 minutes or so. But you may argue, a lot of this is perhaps for our consumption. The mass ranks of Turkish state media are certainly alongside me here. But certainly proof that there is a Turkish ground presence inside of Syria. We don't know how far in it extends. And we know that Turkish Defense Ministry to day have said that they have succeeded in getting their targets inside of Syria so far.

They said last night that 181 targets have been hit. That's between artillery and air strikes. We're not hearing air cover at the moment here. This is what's happening on the ground time. And it is proceeding, it seems, at a hard-to-define pace but not visibly altered by what we also heard, which is staunch criticism from pretty much everybody you would normally expect to be a Turkish ally or certainly a NATO member to that degree.

And regardless, Turkey is pressing ahead with this. The last phone call it seems that President Erdogan took was to President Putin before the operation began yesterday. But how fast it moves, how deep it goes in, that's the key question and that will define a lot of the international condemnation. Back to you.

ROMANS: Condemnation internationally, condemnation at home. This is a move many people are just trying to understand what the president's strategy is here if there is one.

Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

BRIGGS: A deadly attack near a synagogue in Germany on the holiest day of the year for Jews. Two people killed in a shooting rampage near a synagogue in the eastern German town of Halle. One woman was killed near the town synagogue then the gunman opened fire at a nearby kebab shop fatally wounding a man. The shooter, a 27-year-old man, appears to have live streamed the attack on Twitch, an online video streaming platform. In the video, the gunman launched into an anti- Semitic rant. Police confirmed to CNN they believed the suspect had an extreme far-right and anti-Semitic motive.

ROMANS: It's just awful.

All right, 49 minutes past the hour. Recession fears are still gripping markets. CNN Business has when the Fed -- the New York Fed thinks a recession could happen. That's next.


[04:53:46] BRIGGS: President Trump making his first comments on camera about the NBA-China controversy and taking shots at two NBA head coaches who are Trump critics. Listen.


TRUMP: I watch the way that like Kerr and Popovich and some of the others were pandering to China. And yet to our own country, they don't -- it's like they don't respect it. It's like they don't respect it.


BRIGGS: Hmm. Now just for context, the president himself never said a thing about the Hong Kong protests, promised silence during trade talks.

Golden State Warrior coach, Steve Kerr, is who he is referencing and San Antonio Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich. Coach Kerr said he had to learn more about the issue before commenting and popped praise to NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

ROMANS: Adam Silver was supposed to be speaking on Chinese soil momentarily but there were reports in just the last few minutes that that press conference may have been canceled.

This is the latest move in the face-off between the NBA's support of free speech and Chinese economic power and censorship. China unhappy after the Houston Rockets general manager tweeted his support for pro- democracy protests in Hong Kong and then deleted the tweet.

CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai for us with the very latest.

And, David, first of all, the tweet, the tweet at the center of all this can't even be seen in China in the first place.


So one wonders how this controversy was manufactured by the Chinese and spread by the Chinese. And now Adam Silver expected to have a press conference. But what are you hearing?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can see we're in the room, Christine, that was set up for that press conference. Just in the past five to 10 minutes, we started to hear murmurs amongst the staff here, the NBA staff, that that press conference was not going to happen. Not only the Adam Silver pre-game press conference has been canceled, but we're hearing from NBA that there will be no player media availabilities.

So does that speak to on a broader issue? It shows the sensitivities that continue with any word that is feared to be taken out of context when it comes to this back and forth between the NBA and China. Now to your point about the tweet not even being able to be seen here in China, that's true. But certainly, it has had this amplification from the Chinese media, from social media here in China, that has put this really out on a broader scale and made this a geopolitical crisis that goes well beyond the border here.

We know that Adam Silver has been here, the NBA commissioner, since yesterday. He's been trying to have this back and forth meetings with officials, trying to salvage the relationship that's three decades long between the NBA and China. And they're hoping that this game that is scheduled to be in the next couple of hours here in Shanghai will go forward. It's between the Lakers and the Nets.

But this has grown, as I mentioned, beyond the borders here in China. We're seeing it in the U.S., even, Christine. In fact we can show you some video of what was Wednesday night, at Capital One Arena in D.C., when some of the fans there had some pro-Hong Kong democracy signs that were taken away. On Tuesday, a similar situation at another NBA exhibition game, that was up in Philadelphia, at the 76ers.

So this is something that is certainly being felt for NBA games and the preseason games even, well beyond what is happening just here in China. The Chinese anger here has continued to grow. We saw that with a statement that came out from CCTV. They're the big broadcaster normally of these games. They have halted broadcasting those games. And they have said that the NBA is hiding behind a shield of freedom of expression -- Christine.

ROMANS: And it's really important to point out that we have a Chinese trade delegation in Washington, D.C., today talking about bigger issues, about what the United States says is unfair treatment of American companies in China. The U.S. has put visa restrictions on some Chinese who are affiliated with those weaker, you know, internment camps in the northwest part of China. So there's a big, big issue here happening with the United States and China. It's not just basketball of course.

David, nice to see you. Thank you so much.

David Culver in Shanghai. We'll go back to him as soon as events warrant.

All right. New York City filing a federal lawsuit against nearly two dozen national online e-cigarette vendors. The suit alleges the online retailers do not have age verification systems and they market to minors in violation of New York City law.

Meantime, the Washington State Board of Health approved an emergency ban on the sale of flavored vaping products. The ban takes effect today and will last 120. Last month, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order for state health officials to take emergency steps to address the vaping crisis.

BRIGGS: Two winner-take-all game fives yesterday setting up the National League Championship Series. First, the thriller. The Washington Nationals overcome a three-run deficit to beat the L.A. Dodgers. Dodgers up 3-1 and cruising until this happened. Manager Dave Roberts brings in Clayton Kershaw, future Hall of Famer, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto. Go back-to-back homeruns on back-to-back pitches. Tying the score to the tenth, bases loaded. Howie Kendrick, that is gone. Bases loaded. Grand slam sends the 106 Dodgers home. And that's the National League Championship Series. Other game five

between the Braves and Cardinals over before it began. St. Louis scores 10 -- 10 runs in the first inning. More than any team in playoff history. They did it without adding a single homerun. St. Louis wins 13-1. Heartbreak goes on for Brave fans. No postseason series win since 2001. The Cardinals completed the comeback down 2-1 in that series.

Another winner-take-all game five tonight, Astros-Rays for the right to play the Yankees.

ROMANS: All right. Let's go check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world. You can see a mixed performance here. You know, stocks in the U.S. closed higher Wednesday, despite what would have been mixed messages on trade. News of a potential partial deal boosted investor confidence but then minutes before the close, Reuters reported China is less optimistic about progress.

The Dow closed down 180 points -- up, rather. The S&P 500 up about nine-tenths of 1 percent. The Nasdaq 1 percent higher.

An important recession model is still flashing red. The New York Federal Reserve says there's a 35 percent chance of a recession in the U.S., in next 12 months. Now that's down a little bit from August but still above the 30 percent level that typically signals trouble. Warning signs have been flashing about the strength of --