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Two Rudy Giuliani Associates Arrested Linked to Ukraine Scandal; Democrats Target Rick Perry in Impeachment Probe; NBA Apologizes for Blocking CNN Reporter's Question; Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 11, 2019 - 04:30   ET



PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we just want to get that out of the way. All of these little scenarios part of this wind event in southern California.

Now back to you.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: What a mess. Paul, thank you.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Two associates of Rudy Giuliani arrested at the airport. Their role in the widening White House- Ukraine scandal ahead.


KOSIK: Two associates of Rudy Giuliani arrested with one-way tickets at the airport. They're charged with campaign finance violations and they're linked to the Ukraine scandal.

BRIGGS: A former ambassador to the Ukraine set to testify in the impeachment inquiry, if she's allowed to go. Will the White House, though, block her?

KOSIK: GM CEO meeting with union leadership, trying to find an end to the nearly monthlong autoworkers strike.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, we are taking basketball questions only.



MACFARLANE: This is an event that's happened this week during the NBA.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's already been answered.


BRIGGS: Stick to sports? The NBA apologizing for shutting down a CNN reporter's questions about the league's face-off with China.

Not a single word from those NBA stars, either.

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

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's half past the hour here in New York, and a stunning and dramatic airport arrest that could have links to the Ukraine scandal, currently engulfing the White House.

Two associates of Rudy Giuliani were arrested on charges they violated campaign finance laws, including donations they made to a pro-Trump super PAC. The men, both Soviet-born U.S. citizens, were detained at Washington's Dulles Airport on Wednesday after the feds learned they had one-way tickets out of the country.

BRIGGS: Giuliani told "The Wall Street Journal" the men were traveling to Vienna where Giuliani was also headed. Giuliani tells CNN that starting in November of last year, the two men helped him in Ukraine, digging up dirt on Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

You can see the two men here with Giuliani in a Twitter video. We don't know when or where the video was shot but we do know the three met for lunch on Wednesday before the men headed to the airport.

President Trump denies he knows them.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know those gentlemen. Now it's possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody. I don't know them. I don't know about them. I don't know what they do. But -- I don't know. Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You'd have to ask Rudy.


KOSIK: And as it happens, yes, there is a photo of the president with at least one of the men. Here it is.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has more of the shocking details.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: These two men arrested, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, they could be key characters in this broader Ukraine impeachment inquiry. That's because of a few things. First of all, Rudy Giuliani has said that they helped dig up dirt in Ukraine on the president's political rivals, including Joe Biden. Also, that these two men introduced Giuliani to former and current Ukrainian officials.

And this indictment alleges that these two men asked for the help of a former U.S. congressman who we've since learned is a Texas Republican, Pete Sessions. They asked him to help with the firing of the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. She, of course, eventually was fired in May, mostly at the behest of Rudy Giuliani. Now, these two men were arrested late night on Wednesday at Dulles

Airport. And we've learned that prosecutors really had to act fast here. That's because they did not intend to unseal their indictment on Thursday, but these two men had one-way tickets. Prosecutors had to act fast to unseal that indictment and to make the arrest.

Now, these two men, along with two others, are facing several charges, including conspiracy and false statements, and also funneling foreign money into U.S. elections. They were accused of giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Trump-aligned PAC. And the indictment says they did it largely at the behest of a Ukrainian official.

The two men are also accused of funneling about $1 million from a Russian national that they then put toward other state candidates in Nevada here. So, these men are ultimately facing charges in New York but they will be held in Virginia on $1 million bond in the meantime. And they are also facing new congressional subpoenas. Congressional investigators really want to know more about their role in Ukraine and also their relationship with Rudy Giuliani.

BRIGGS: Jessica, thanks.

As she pointed out there, those two Giuliani associates were subpoenaed by House Democrats in connection with their impeachment inquiry. And they were not the only ones.

Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Subpoena after subpoena now coming out to demand documents, as Democrats try to move to wrap up this impeachment probe in the coming weeks. Potentially decide whether or not to impeach this president as soon as Thanksgiving.

Now, what the latest information, subpoena for Rick Perry, the Energy secretary, over conversations that he had with President Zelensky of Ukraine and about with President Trump and Rudy Giuliani, as part of Giuliani and Trump's efforts to investigate -- get the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.

Now, Perry has said all along he did not speak to Zelensky at all about the Bidens.


He said it was all about energy and energy issues. But Democrats have raised concerns about some of those conversations, saying this in their letter to Perry, saying, "These reports have also raised significant questions about your efforts to press Ukrainian officials to change the management structure at a Ukrainian state energy company to benefit individuals involved with Rudy Giuliani's push to get Ukrainian officials to interfere in our 2020 elections."

Now this comes amid the subpoenas that have gone out to the White House, the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Pentagon, the State Department, Giuliani and Giuliani associates, including those two Giuliani associates who are arrested yesterday. Democrats hope to get information. If they don't, or if the White House continues to deny their demands, expect that ultimately to be rolled into an Article of Impeachment against this president because what they say is that the president is obstructing Congress from doing its job.

So, no matter what happens here, Democrats believe they could get more evidence to go after the president but also potentially more evidence on obstruction of Congress.

Back to you.

KOSIK: Manu Raju, thanks very much.

Will she show up? Former Ukraine envoy Marie Yovanovitch is expected to appear before Congress today. But President Trump is signaling he may try to block her testimony.


TRUMP: I just don't think you're running a country. I just don't think that you can have all of these people testifying about every conversation you've had. No, I don't think people should be allowed. You have to run a country. I don't think you should be allowed to do that.


KOSIK: Mr. Trump also complained when asked about Energy Secretary Rick Perry's subpoena.

BRIGGS: At least four National Security officials were so concerned by the Trump administration's efforts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes they reported it to a White House lawyer before and after President Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president. According to "The Washington Post," officials told National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg they were alarmed by the removal of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in May.

They expressed concern about Rudy Giuliani's promotion of Ukraine- related conspiracy theories. The officials told Eisenberg they were also worried about the president pressing the Ukrainian government to deliver politically damaging information on Joe Biden.

KOSIK: For the first time since the strike against General Motors began, its CEO met with union leadership. Mary Barra sat down with United Auto Workers vice president Terry Dittes and others for a face- to-face meeting on Wednesday. According to a source familiar with the meeting, Barra pressed union leaders to agree to a deal, citing the risk of GM's credit rating dropping to junk bond status.

About 50,000 union members have been on strike for almost a month, making it the biggest strike at any U.S. business since the last GM strike in 2007. GM's losses are mounting as its factories in Mexico and Canada are idle, and many of its U.S. suppliers struggle from a lack of work. Negotiations stalled over the weekend after GM rejected the union's latest contract proposal. The union has insisted GM bring product lines back from Mexico in order to save some or all of three plants that closed earlier this year.

GM said it offered some undisclosed solutions for the two plants in Ohio and Detroit. But those have not been acceptable to the union.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, the NBA apologizing for this moment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, we are taking basketball questions only.

MACFARLANE: It's a legitimate question.


MACFARLANE: This is an event that's happened this week during the NBA.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's already been answered.


BRIGGS: How questions over the league's face-off with China led to this moment?



BRIGGS: The NBA has now apologized for blocking CNN correspondent Christina Macfarlane's question to Houston Rockets players about the NBA standoff with China.

Take a look.


MACFARLANE: The NBA has always been a league that prides itself when its players and its coaches being able to speak out openly about political and societal affairs. I just wonder after the events of this week and the fallout we've seen, whether you would both feel differently about speaking out in that way in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, we are taking basketball questions only.

MACFARLANE: This is a legitimate question.


MACFARLANE: This is an event that's happened this week during the NBA.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's already been answered. MACFARLANE: This particular question has not been answered. James?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any other questions?


BRIGGS: Christina joins us now live from Tokyo.

Christina, nice to see you. Who stopped James Harden from answering that question? And what is the NBA telling you?

MACFARLANE: Well, it certainly seemed to be the Rockets' communications person in the room in that incident. As you've been saying, I did receive an apology from the NBA. They phoned me last night to apologize for that moment. And then they actually issued a direct statement to me afterwards from their chief communications director, Mike Bass. I'll just show you what they said.

They said, "During today's Houston Rockets media availability, a team representative inappropriately interjected to prevent CNN's Christina Macfarlane from receiving an answer to her question. We've apologized to Miss Macfarlane as this was inconsistent with how the NBA conducts media events."

And guys, I think what this moment exposed is the utter confusion that exists within the NBA now, from the top down, is how to manage the continuing fallout of the situation, now a week on from when managing director of the Rockets Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong. But the reality is, there's nothing those players could have said that would have helped the NBA in their predicament because they are in between a rock and a hard place right now.

On the one side, trying to protect the financial bottom line in China, their revenue, their 10 percent revenue there. Their 600 million fans who tuned in to watch these global games every year. And on the other side trying to protect what they call their core values, their right to freedom of expressive, freedom of speech, which we've heard all of this week. But also their reputation as one of the most globally conscious leagues -- sports leagues in the world. And at the best of times, these would be two very difficult positions to consolidate. But when you throw politics into the mix, well, it become virtually impossible.

BRIGGS: You're right about that. And this just in, Christina, the NBA has now canceled all of remaining press conferences on this trip, presumably as a consequence of that excellent questioning you did there. Well done, we appreciate the time.

KOSIK: The man accused of going on a shooting spree at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart, pleading not guilty. The 21-year-old faces capital murder charges in the August massacre. 22 people were killed, 26 others injured. The suspect's attorneys say they hope to save his life by preventing him from getting the death penalty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE SPENCER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I believe that the El Paso community needs healing. The El Paso community needs closure. And the quickest way to get closure and healing is not seeking the death penalty. I will tell you that, Mark and I will use every breath we have to try to save Patrick's life.

KOSIK: Federal authorities say they are treating the shooting as domestic terrorism. And the district attorney says he does intend to seek the death penalty. The next hearing scheduled for November 7th.

BRIGGS: Dozens of homes destroyed by an out-of-control brush fire in the southern California town of Calla Mesa. The Sta. Wood Fire has already burned 500 acres and 74 homes, and it's only 10 percent contained. Fire officials say it started when the load on a garbage truck caught fire and spread to dry vegetation. Less than 20 miles away, the Moreno Valley brush fire has already burned 400 acres in this zero percent contained. The cause is still under investigation.

KOSIK: You hungry?

BRIGGS: Always, my friend. Always.

KOSIK: Well, how about a bacon cheeseburger without real bacon or real cheese? How does that sound to you?

BRIGGS: Hmm. Skeptical.

KOSIK: Nestle is going in on the plant-based food craze. We'll have more on that with CNN Business, coming up next.



BRIGGS: The Southeast Conference Title is on the line. And when it's Florida versus Louisiana, well, that means gator. Actual alligator on the menu at Chris's Specialty Meats in Louisiana. They say this is their busiest time of the year for selling alligator. About 60 whole gators this week alone. It will wind up fried or links or po-boys or jambalaya. Gators, pricey too, anywhere from seven to 20 bucks a pound depending on the cut.

KOSIK: Taste like chicken.

BRIGGS: It does actually.

KOSIK: Does it really?


KOSIK: Hmm. All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. First let's look at the markets around the world. Looks like Asian markets closing higher. As far as European markets go, they've opened and we are seeing green arrows. U.S. Futures, they are pointing to a positive open. Yesterday, we saw stocks close higher, rallying on hopes for a U.S.-China trade deal. The Dow finishing 151 points in the green. The S&P 500, the Nasdaq ended the day higher as well.

Investors will be paying close attention to the second day of trade talks. And President Trump says he will meet with the Chinese vice premier today.

Amazon debuted a new Web site, explaining its views on a number of hot-button issues. It's faced a lot of criticism for the positions page includes issues like minimum wage, climate change, and the rights of LGBTQ people. Amazon was recently criticized by its own employees for its climate policies and practices. And several presidential candidates have claimed the company doesn't pay taxes. It also has faced repeated attacks from President Trump.

Amazon said this, "While our positions are carefully considered and deeply held, there is much room for healthy debate and differing opinions."

Nestle is leaning into the plant-based craze with two, new vegan alternatives. The company said it will begin selling vegan bacon and cheddar cheese to its restaurant and food service clients in the U.S. and Europe next year. And it already has a plant-based patty called the Awesome Burger, not to be confused with the Incredible Burger. With the three new products, Nestle is trying to create a space for itself in the rapidly expanding plant-based food market.

Restaurants like Dunkin' and McDonald's, they've begun selling items that featured plant-based meat alternatives. The difference here is those meals actually aren't fully vegan.

BRIGGS: Hmm. I still have yet to try any of these burgers. You have, though.

KOSIK: I have. The Incredible Burger tastes good, I've tried it.


KOSIK: But honestly if you look, and if you compare the ingredients in the Incredible Burger and a regular burger, I'm actually right that the Incredible Burger isn't as good for you as you think.

BRIGGS: I need all three. Taste test, next week.

All right, EARLY START continues right now.