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CNN/NYT Democratic Debate Tonight; Former Trump Aide's Damning Testimony; Trump Levies Sanctions on Turkey; LeBron: NBA GM's Hong Kong Tweet Was "Misinformed"; Huge Search & Rescue Operation in Japan. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 15, 2019 - 05:00   ET



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Twelve candidates, one battleground stage. Can anyone break out in the largest presidential primary debate in history, tonight on CNN?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade and a White House operation resembles a drug deal. Damning details from closed-door testimony on impeachment.

BRIGGS: New sanctions on Turkey and new trouble for U.S. allies in Syria. The U.S. scrambling to remove troops from a worsening situation.


LEBRON JAMES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: When you're misinformed or you're not educated about something -- and I'm just talking about, you know, the tweet itself -- you know, you never know the ramifications that can happen.


ROMANS: LeBron James finally addresses the controversy that followed the NBA to China, but now he's the one facing big pushback.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. He had a week and he came up with that.

It's Tuesday, October 15, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We start with breaking news overnight. Stunning, new details from closed-door testimony in the impeachment inquiry.


President Trump's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, raising serious concerns about Rudy Giuliani's role in U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Multiple sources say Hill told lawmakers she tried to report wrongdoing, including to the attorney for the National Security Council.

One source tells CNN, Hill testified former national security adviser John Bolton referred to Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, as a, quote, hand grenade who was going to blow everybody up.

ROMANS: Hill also told lawmakers Bolton characterized a rogue operation by U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney as being like a drug deal.

Another source says Hill drew a link between Sondland and President Trump that went beyond the text messages we already know about, whereas Sondland said there was no quid pro quo on Ukraine.

After 10 hours of testimony, Democrats came out backing Fiona Hill, Republicans complained about the process.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Rudy Giuliani has clearly been a leading force for the administration in defining a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine.

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY): You have these witnesses, with their attorney, trying to scratch their head and figure out what they could say and what they can't say. There's a reason why White House counsel should be present.


BRIGGS: Hill told lawmakers the public squabbling that sowed confusion on U.S. policy was a corruption the Russians could exploit.

This was just the start of a very full week of testimony in the inquiry. Today, the impeachment committees hear from a senior State Department official. Tomorrow, a departed top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And on Thursday, a chance to question ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland.

ROMANS: And even dozen Democrats face high stakes on the biggest primary debate stage ever. The CNN presidential debate is just hours away.

Political reporter Arlette Saenz has a preview for us from Westerville, Ohio.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Dave and Christine, it is debate day here in Westerville, Ohio where later tonight 12 of the Democratic presidential candidates will be taking the stage to face off in CNN's Democratic primary debate. Front and center on stage will be Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

Biden, in recent days, has ramped up his pressure on President Trump and also defending his son, Hunter, who has faced attacks from the president for weeks over his business dealings in Ukraine and China. Over the weekend, Biden vowing that his son or other members of his families will not be working for foreign corporations or sit on boards of foreign companies if he becomes president.

Now, Elizabeth Warren is also going to be in the spotlight. She has been rising in the polls. So one thing to watch tonight is will more candidates, particularly the moderates on that stage -- will they go after Elizabeth Warren, trying to draw contrasts with her?

One other part to watch is what are those candidates on the outer edges of that stage going to do tonight? Are they looking for those big make or break moments, especially as we're getting closer to that next debate in November where the field will be whittled down and fewer candidates will be making the stage?

Also tonight, Bernie Sanders is making his return to the campaign trail after suffering a heart attack nearly two weeks ago.

This is all going to play out in a few hours here in Westerville, Ohio for the next Democratic primary debate -- Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Arlette, thank you for that.

The fourth Democratic presidential debate presented by CNN and "The New York Times," live tonight, 8:00 Eastern Time, only on CNN.

BRIGGS: President Trump has signed an executive order imposing sanctions on Turkey. Vice President Mike Pence saying Mr. Trump spoke to Turkey's president about his country's attack on the Kurds, a U.S. ally in Syria.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States of America wants Turkey to stop the invasion, to implement an immediate ceasefire, and to begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria to bring an end to the violence.


BRIGGS: Pence says the president has directed him to travel to Turkey to help start negotiations.

Trump has faced intense criticism, even from leading Republicans, for his decision to pull U.S. forces from northern Syria. The situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.

Nick Paton Walsh has the latest live from Erbil, Iraq.

Nick, good morning. How serious would the sanctions be on the Turkish economy?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not really, in all truth. After Donald Trump threatened obliteration of Turkey, this is a defense ministry being designated tariffs on steel and a trade deal that hasn't happened yet. Probably not going to happen. So, that's not going to be causing a shock and take a breath in Ankara.

I just have to pause, though, and remember how we got here. Nine days ago, it was Donald Trump who said in a phone call that he expected the Turkish invasion to go ahead. Now, his vice president says he wants it to stop. Frankly, if you're Ankara, you're not paying a I tension to what is being said.


So, Donald Trump's slide toward the U.S. mediating between everybody seems not far-fetched but a distant goal. The Turkish won't be listening that keenly. They're more interested in what Russia is saying, who backs the Syrian regime whose forces moving towards theirs right now.

And the Syrian Kurds, well, they're still fuming frankly. They felt massively betrayed and they blame America, frankly, for this. Not the regime, they always knew the regime would have to make alliance of it. And not really Turkey because they knew they wanted them kicked out of those lands.

It's devastating to see how fast this has deteriorating and whether this visit to Ankara will shift the dial at all, we'll simply have to see because it looks like the sanctions probably won't. The Turkish said they are stepping in where everybody has failed. There's some merit to that to some degree.

The Syrian refugee crisis they've been dealing with for eight years or so, has taken a burden on the Turkish economy, doing well in 2012, when this all began. But we now have, inside the country, a sort of massive humanitarian crisis. The Syrian regime moving fast into areas that once the areas had free reign, along with the allies, the Syrian Kurds.

And more troublingly, the Turkish proxies, the Syrian rebels doing a lot of fighting for them. These are not always the friendliest of guys, the civilians, coming from the opposite side. Extremists, said one official to me, former ISIS and al Qaeda. Well, of ISIS, the reason the U.S. was there in the first place, Donald Trump did accuse his erstwhile allies of letting them out of jail to drag the U.S. back in, farfetched. No evidence for that.

It seems the SDF is struggling to hold them in certain facilities. But that problem is the key issue going ahead. This is all about destroying ISIS' so-called caliphate. They are going to see a vacuum here, they're going to see a space, and the forces fighting around them simply aren't cohesive enough to keep them in check. That's the main worry ahead.

Back to you, guys.

BRIGGS: Hurting our allies. Helping ISIS, the Assad regime and Russia, extraordinary move by the administration. Nick Paton Walsh live for us in Erbil, Iraq, thanks.

ROMANS: It's about seven minutes past the hour now.

He was going to be fired and he fit instead. Now, a former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a woman in her own home, he is charged with murder.



BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, a now-former Fort Worth police officer has been charged with murder for fatally shooting a woman in her own home.

Aaron Dean was arrested Monday after resigning from the force. He later posted bail.

The family of the victim, Atatiana Jefferson, is relieved by that arrest but they know there's a long way, too.


ADARIUS CARR, ATATIANA JEFFERSON'S BROTHER: This is only the start. There's no way this is enough. We know this is a good step in the direction there where we want to go but it's definitely not the end.

It's been a lot. It's been quite a bit of -- today, itself, has been speech -- I'm speechless about it. I can't put it into words.


BRIGGS: The arrest capping a day of rapid fire developments in the case.

We get more from CNN's Lucy Kafanov in Fort Worth.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Dave, good morning.

It's been fascinating to watch just how quickly all of this unfolded over the course of Monday.

That morning, Aaron Dean was a Fort Worth Police Department officer who quit just moments before he got fired, depriving investigators a chance to properly interrogate, to properly question him. That evening, he was behind bars, arrested, charged with the murder of 28- year-old Atatiana Jefferson inside her own home.

At the end of the day, the strongest evidence against him might just be that heavily-edited police body cam footage which shows him flashing a light through a darkened window, shouting a verbal command, and two seconds later, opening deadly fire.

Atatiana Jefferson died in her own bedroom in front of, according to the police department, her 8-year-old nephew who she was babysitting.

The community torn apart.

Now, we know that Aaron Dean is a rookie officer. He graduated from the academy about two years ago, joining the police force last April.

We also know that the interim chief has launched a criminal investigation into the shooting and has asked the FBI to look into a civil rights investigation. We are expecting a press conference later today with more of those details.

Guys, back to you.


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

Oil prices fell Monday. Investors considering the U.S./China trade deal as kind of a nondeal. The Brent crude, the global oil benchmark closed down almost 2 percent. Take a look at the energy sector and we can show you how things are moving, down still here.

Prices fell on reports China wants more talks as early as the end of the month, before President Xi Jinping agrees to sign phase one of this agreement.

Investors initially cheered this announcement. Now, they're not so sure. One warning sign is there's no paper deal. And the details have not been revealed.

The treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said this.



STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: This is like when you buy a building, you've reached an agreement to buy a building and now, you've got to negotiate the contract. There's execution work to be done on the document. But this document is substantially done.


ROMANS: Pantheon Economics called the agreement a nothingburger. It's an agreement to not make things worse and keep talking. The damage from tariffs continues with another round scheduled for December.

It's -- essentially it's a cessation of hostilities.


ROMANS: The U.S. is going to get some ag purchases and unspecified intellectual property and currency agreements. And the Chinese are not going to get a big increase in tariffs that was supposed to go in effect today. BRIGGS: Safe to say, Mr. Mnuchin doesn't often buy buildings. You

generally know a lot more about those buildings --


ROMANS: I like to do more work before I buy the building.

BRIGGS: Details.

What's harder to do in Washington -- follow impeachment or hit this?

That. Another sterling performance has the Nationals one win from the World Series. Andy Scholes has "The Bleacher Report", next.



ROMANS: A delayed opening for California schools permanently.

California becoming the first state to mandate later start times for middle and high schools. The changes will phase in over three years so middle schools will not be allowed to begin earlier than 8:00 a.m. And high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Some rural schools are exempt.

The governor says the measure brings the state in line with research that shows that teenagers benefit academically and other ways with a later start to their school day. Changes take effect in the 2022-2023 school year.

BRIGGS: Let me just say, bravo, California.

LeBron James speaking out for the first time about the pro-Hong Kong tweet by the Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that sparked outrage in China. Now, LeBron is the one feeling some heat.

Andy Scholes has more in "The Bleacher Report."

Good morning, my friend. He had a week to think this over.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: He did, Dave. And, you know, the sports world had been waiting for LeBron to weigh in on this controversy. And while LeBron says, he believes Morey was misinformed about the ramifications his tweet would have and that Morey was just not really educated about the situation.


JAMES: Yes, we all do have freedom of speech. But at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you're not thinking about others.

I believe he wasn't educated on the situation at hand and he spoke. And so many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So, just be careful in what we tweet, say and what we do. Even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.


SCHOLES: After those comments, LeBron was heavily criticized on social media. He then tried to explain and clarify what he meant on Twitter, saying: Let me clear up the confusion. I don't believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications for the tweet. I'm not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that.

All right. Let's do some football. The Packers and Lions, coming down to the final seconds on Monday Night Football. Detroit fans not happy with this one. Trey Flowers called for hands to the face. There were no hands to the face. That first down let the Packers run out the clock and kick a game-winning field goal as time expires. Green Bay wins 23-22, to improve to 5-1 on the season.

The Washington Nationals a win away from their first-ever World Series. Steven Strausbaugh, great again, pitching seven innings, striking out 12. Nationals cruised to 8-1 win, and this would 3-0 lead in the series.

Cardinals just two runs in the first three games of the series. The Nationals could punch their ticket to the fall classic tonight on our sister network, TBS. That first pitch is at 8:00 Eastern.

Yankees and Astros, they play game three of their series. They get going at 4:00.

All right. New Jersey Devils played a rare day game yesterday. They decided to make it a kids day. One of the best parts came during player introductions.

Instead of the videos, they used hand-drawn pictures that kids and fans made. And, Dave, those things are school, aren't they? Look at that.


SCHOLES: To me, if I saw that, I would be, that's PK Subban.

BRIGGS: PK Subban, I was going to say that one. Cory Schneider --

SCHOLES: Not so much, maybe that's not a great image of Cory Schneider.

BRIGGS: Yes, the netminder, probably not so psyched about that one.

We need some Romans and Briggs and Scholes kids drawing and this stuff.

SCHOLES: Those should be great.

BRIGGS: Good luck to the Houston Astros, my friend. I know you're not at all biased in the Yankees/Astros series.

SCHOLES: I'll be locked and loaded, 4:00 Eastern. BRIGGS: All right. Thank you, my friend.

Romans, you should have seen Andy Sholes' Instagram video, celebrating the last Astros win.

Looked like a 17-year-old kid.

ROMANS: I'm going to look, I'm going to look.


All right. Thanks, guys.

We are counting down to the CNN debate. A pivotal night for candidates to stay in the race. How about some kids' drawings of these guys?

A stark picture painted also by a former top aide to the president. She says John Bolton warned Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade. Much more.


ROMANS: At this hour, an enormous search and rescue operation in Japan. More than 110,000 personnel looking for survivors of this typhoon, the storm that hit over the weekend bringing widespread flooding and landslides. Fifty-eight people are confirmed dead, 200 injured, at least 12 missing.