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EARLY START

House Dems Ramping Up Impeachment Inquiry; Turkey Launches Military Offensive in Syria; NBA Boss to Speak in China Amid Hong Kong Tweet Uproar. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 10, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- in the U.S. in the next 12 months.

[05:00:02]

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 the economy. The trade war has hammered the manufacturing sector. That pain has spilled over into services. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday, the economy faces some risks but it's still in the good place.

Consumer spending has been key in the economy, with the holiday shopping season quickly approaching.

Target is helping to revive the Toys "R" Us brand online. Under the partnership, shoppers can buy toys through the Toys "R" Us website. They complete the purchase on Target's website. Shoppers can pick up orders in Target stores or have them delivered. The cost of the deal is not disclosed.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

(MUSIC)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We would, if they give us our rights. It depends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: As Democrats debate an impeachment vote, President Trump is less than clear on whether he would cooperate.

BRIGGS: At least eight dead after Turkey launches strikes in northern Syria. A senior defense official tells CNN, it's already hurt the ability to fight and contain ISIS.

ROMANS: In just hours, NBA commissioner Adam Silver was set to make remarks on Chinese soil. But will that even happen? A fallout from the pro-democracy tweet that the Chinese cannot even see continues.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

You wonder if the game today is canceled.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: Thursday, October 10th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We start this morning in the nation's capital. Democrats are taking a harder line against the Trump administration's stonewalling of their impeachment investigation. The 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.

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

Manu Raju has the latest from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

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 volunteering 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'm 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 and neither does the Constitution.

So expect that debate to continue behind closed doors this week and next -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Manu. Thank you so much for that.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

TRUMP: Again, that's not something --

REPORTER: -- would you -- would you cooperate?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLIN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, as Democrats are figuring out what they're 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.

[05:05:07]

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 is 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: All right. Kaitlan, thank you.

Turkey's military strikes in northern Syria killing at least eight. We are live on the Turkish border with Syria with the latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:10:53]

ROMANS: Today begins the 13th round of trade talks between the U.S. and China and hopes of a major deals are dimming. Officials say the American trade team is setting expectations low for progress. Negativity inside the administration, based on signs the Chinese are unlikely to make major concessions.

President Trump appeared a little more optimistic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: China is having a hard time at this moment. And I think they'd like to make a deal very badly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Now, there's speculation both sides might try to reach a smaller deal that would include additional agriculture purchases in exchange for not escalating tariffs.

And on the tariffs, there is leverage on the U.S. side. The president delayed raising tariffs to 30 percent on $250 billion on Chinese goods until October 15th, so that Xi Jinping could celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Communist Party there. He pushed back tariffs on $160 million of consumer facing goods to December 15th to protect American consumers. Those tariffs are on goods like laptops, smartphones and clothes and shoes.

So, you've got these two deadlines where the president could raise tariffs or he could decide to hold them at current levels. Deputy level officials have been meeting this week. One person familiar with those talks said there's been little progress on the core issues like technology and industrial policy. Without agreement on those things, getting a good deal seems virtually impossible.

BRIGGS: Turkey's military strike in northern Syria has killed at least eight people, including three fighters in 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: President Trump doesn't see it that way. Listen to his reasoning for leaving the Kurds to fend for themselves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 weren't there. But they're there to help us with their land and that's a different thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: For context, an estimated 11,000 Kurds died in the fight against ISIS.

Nick Paton Walsh is live for us from the Turkish/Syrian border with the latest. Nick, good morning. What are you seeing now? Is that incursion still

ongoing?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, as the last hour has elapsed, we've seen initially about 12 Turkish armored personnel carriers coming out of inside Syria, towards the border. There's quite a few Turkish troops parked on a hill behind us. And in the last half hour, 45 minutes, there's been in the region of 20 blasts, some very visible, possibly related to smoke in the distance. And others artillery related.

It's unclear who's fighting at who, probably a mixture, very hard to tell, really. A lot of this is occurring to the state media of our side. So, a visible spectacle certainly this morning of what Turkey said last night was its ground incurious move into Syria proper.

They've said in the last hour or so they have accomplished all of the targets they set to hit inside Syria overnight. And overnight, they said 181 places have been hit. We don't know the focus of the objective. They want to move in the village behind me, which U.S. forces withdrew swiftly. The Kurds said they managed to push the Turkish out of there.

It's really unclear who's having success where and bear in mind here, Turkey is the second-larges army in NATO. So, a lot really that they're able to do if they choose.

What they choose to do is the border question. We have seen extraordinary condemnation from most nations you would normally think to be allied with Turkey, about this operation, meeting at the Security Council at the U.N. later today.

[05:15:12]

But still, Donald Trump, slightly ambivalent, really. He called this operation a bad idea. He said it's not been endorsed by the White House. But he did expect Turkey to be humanitarian and take custody of the ISIS prisoners, but are still in Syrian Kurds custody.

How that happens, one of the many unanswered questions here. How far and how deep is this Turkish offensive going to go? Back to you.

BRIGGS: Right. And the president threatened to ruin Turkey's economy. No idea what that line that he says they can't cross.

Nick Paton Walsh live from the Turkish-Syrian border with the latest, thank you.

ROMANS: And of those ISIS fighters who could, you know, be set free, he said they're going to --

BRIGGS: Eleven thousand.

ROMANS: He said they're going to go to Europe anyway.

BRIGGS: Right. ROMANS: Which is -- Europe is our ally.

BRIGGS: Yes, it is a big concern that the Kurds abandon that prison and ISIS rebuilds.

All right. Ahead, we'll talk a little sports. No joy in Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers in their 106 wins, done, knocked out of the playoffs again this time by the Washington Nationals.

Coy Wire has the heartbreak in L.A. in the "Bleacher Report".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:21:14]

BRIGGS: The National League Championship series match-up is all set, after two game fives. One was a thriller, one was anything but.

Coy Wire, you told us about the rage room in the Philadelphia Flyers, arena. I think the Dodgers need a rage room, as well.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they need -- they need to let out some frustration for sure, Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes.

WIRE: Like playoff heartbreak has been a tradition for the Nationals and the Dodgers. The Nats had never won a postseason series since moving to D.C. 14 years ago. The Dodgers losing each of the last two World Series.

But fans in L.A. last night, hopeful. Their ace, Clayton Kershaw, stepping in with a 3-1 lead. Within the 8th inning, the wheels came off. Two pitches, two home runs, back-to-back.

Just like that, it was tied and headed to extra innings. One of the greatest pitchers ever, with the second-worst ERA in postseason history.

In the 10th inning, former Dodger Howie Kendrick steps in for the Nats and hits this shot, with the bases loaded, sending the fastball over the wall in dead-center for just the second extra innings grand slam in playoff history. Washington comes back to win it, 7-3.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWIE KENDRICK, NATIONALS SECOND BASEMAN: We never gave up. You know, the city has faith in us. The fans have faith in us.

We believed in ourselves. You know, everybody came through for us. Every guy on this roster and some that aren't, they stepped up and did a great job. There's no success without effort and error. So, you know, to being out here and being able to play and have an opportunity to do what I did tonight, you know, is truly a blessing.

CLAYTON KERSHAW, DODGERS PITCHER: You know, I had one job to do. That's get three outs. I got one out. Didn't get the other two. One over the fence and that cost us the game right there.

So, it's a terrible feeling. There's no excuses. Didn't make pitches. And a guy hit it over the fence twice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: The tone in Atlanta very similar to the one in the L.A. this morning. Braves fans utterly heartbroken after what happened to their team. The Cardinals scoring ten runs in the first inning, tied for the most in any inning in post-season history.

The Cardinals' first at-bat lasted nearly half an hour. It was death by 1,000 cuts by the Braves. The game over before they even picked up a bat. St. Louis wins it 13-1. They come back 2-1 in this series to advance to the National League Championship Series.

Nationals/Cardinals, starting in St. Louis, 8:08 Eastern. You can see it on our sister channel TBS.

Meantime, another winner-take-all game five tonight, Astros hosting the Rays, for the right to play the Yankees in the ALCS. It will be Derrick Cole on the mound for the Astros, Dave, and Tyler Glasgow for the Rays. We'll see how this one plays out, but it's not looking good for those going in with the advantage.

BRIGGS: No.

WIRE: The favored team.

BRIGGS: Can you imagine? The best -- the World Series prohibitive favorite losing to the lowest payroll in baseball.

Good stuff, Coy Wire. Thank you, my friend.

Romans, what's coming up?

ROMANS: All right. What's coming up?

Twenty-four minutes past the hour.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was supposed to be speaking on Chinese soil momentarily, but new reports in the last few minutes, that press conference has been canceled. It's the latest move in the face-off between the NBA's support of free speech and China's economic power.

China unhappy after the Houston Rockets general manager tweeted his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and deleted the tweet.

CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai for us.

David, bring us up to speed.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, you have to put in perspective what cancellation of this press conference before and we're also hearing now, the post-game press conferences will not happen.

What exactly does that suggest? Well, it shows how sensitive any word that is spoken can be taken out of context here and further damaging the relationship between the NBA and China. Now, we've moved away from the press conference room because there's no point, we won't be hearing anything in there. We brought you into the stadium. This is Mercedes-Benz stadium.

You can see some of the players are over here and they're starting to warm up, the Lakers and the Nets. That's who are here in town. They haven't been speaking at all. They've been coming in and out of the hotel, almost looking discomforted at the thought of approaching fans or certainly the media, for something to be taken out of context.

Let me show you some of the fans here. China has a huge following for basketball. We expect this to be filled up as the hours move forward. You can see, some fans have their Chinese flags. They're holding that with them.

It's been interesting being in this city as the tempers have flared, because you've seen everything from massive banners and posters that are hung up to welcome the NBA players. Usually they get the red carpet welcome. Those banners are pulled down. We're watching people repelling from buildings and tearing the banners down yesterday into the evening.

So, this morning, there's no promotional sign for the NBA around here. And back in the States, this is something that is continuing to be a problem. People had signs taken away, that showed support for the Hong Kong protesters, Christine.

ROMANS: Dave Culver in Shanghai where the game is still set to get under way, even though the press conference before and after is not. David, thank you so much.

And, you know, I was looking some of these numbers, why the NBA is so important in China, 350 million people play basketball in China. That's more than people live in the United States. And 500 million people watch --

BRIGGS: Watch the NBA.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: And in part, because of Yao Ming.

But these people haven't seen that tweet. I wonder what they know about this controversy.

ROMANS: Yes, interesting. All right.

BRIGGS: We'll never know.

ROMANS: Democrats getting ready to take the impeachment inquiry to the next level. Their next steps in bringing witness to Capitol Hill. We've got that next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END