Return to Transcripts main page


Mulvaney Denies He Said What He Said; President Trump Reverse On G7 Summit; Tornado Strikes Dallas, Texas; Impeachment Inquiry, Trump Launches Twitter Tirade Against Adam Schiff; Syria Crisis, Major U.S. Troops Withdrawal From Syria Underway; America's Choice 2020, Warren To Release Plan To Pay For Medicare For All; Hillary Clinton Cleared In Email Probe; Markets Face Extremely Political Uncertainty; Hanging For Her Life; Three Soldiers Killed In Training Accident At GA Base; West Point Cadet And Rifle Missing; First Federal Opioid Trial Begins Today; U.K. Prime Minister Makes Contradictory Brexit Requests; HS Football Coach Disarms Student With Shotgun. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 04:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were asked by Jonathan Karl, you described a quid pro quo and you said that happens all the time.

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Again, reporters will use their language all the time. So, my language never said quid pro quo.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I never said what I said. The White House struggling to limit fallout from impeachment key witnesses on top this week.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A quick reversal by the president, next year's G6 will no longer be at his Doral resort after some fierce bipartisan backlash.

ROMANS: And breaking overnight, a tornado rips through northern Dallas, debris is widespread. More than 100,000 customers without power this morning.

BRIGGS: And a school coach disarms a student with a gun. The emotional moment he consoled that student caught on video. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is Early Start. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, October 21st, it's 4:00 a.m. in New York, 9:00 a.m. in London, 11:00 a.m. in Syria. And a very busy week ahead in the impeachment inquiry, we'll hear from senior U.S. Diplomats in Ukraine, advisers from the National Security Council and top officials. Most notable, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor. He is the career diplomat who texted at Trump appointee's saying it would be quote, crazy to withhold U.S. military aid in exchange for a politically-charged investigation into Joe Biden and his son.

BRIGGS: Now, acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, still frantically back pedaling after this remarkable admission from last week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he found to withhold funding for Ukraine.

MULVANEY: The look back to what happen in 2016, certainly was part of what he was worried about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened, as well.

MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy.


BRIGGS: Mulvaney and the White House are trying to convince the nation that heard that -- well, they didn't hear that. Jeremy Diamond has more from the White House.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, Dave and Christine. White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, batting cleanup this weekend, continuing to try and backtrack on his words last week, when he made that stunning admission, that security aid to Ukraine was withheld in part of because of President Donald Trump's interest in Ukraine investigating this debugged conspiracy theory related to the 2016 election and the Democratic National Committee.

Mulvaney on Sunday was confronted with his own words on a Sunday news program, but he once again insisted that what he said was not what he said.


MULVANEY: You again said, just a few seconds ago that I said there was a quid pro quo. Never used that language, because there is not a quid pro quo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were asked by Jonathan Karl, as you described a quid pro quo and you said that happens all the time.

MULVANEY: And reporters will use their language all the time. So, my language never said quid pro quo. But let's get to the heart of the matter, go back and look at that list of three things, what I was talking about. Things that it was legitimate for the president to do.


DIAMOND: The latest twist in Mulvaney's defense appears to be that he did not explicitly say the words quid pro quo, even as he continued to say that part of the calculus was indeed the president's interest in this investigation from Ukraine. None of this though appears to be helping the Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney.

A source familiar with the president's thinking telling me that, the president is increasingly frustrated with his chief of staff. And that Mulvaney is now on an increasingly shaky ground. Now, that being said, the president frequently gets frustrated with his aides, including his top advisers. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are out the door or headed for it anytime soon. Dave, Christine?


ROMANS: All right, Jeremy at the White House, thank you for that.

The president lashing out at a key rival as the impeachment pressure builds. He is demanding that House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff, be deposed in front of his own committee. And adds a call on Republicans to quote, finally fight back. The president seems to be sensing trouble ahead. More Republicans are starting to show signs of discomfort trying to defend the president. One of them, moderate House Republican Francis Rooney, suggesting he is open to impeachment and says he will not be seeking another term.


REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R-FL): I think it's very bad, that the system that we have now, would probably disappoint our founders, it's so oriented towards re-election, raising money, and it creates a bias against action. Everybody is quaking in fear of being criticized by the president or something.


BRIGGS: CNN has also learning, weeks before Rudy Giuliani became embroiled in the Ukraine scandal, the president's lawyer managed to get a meeting with the top official in the Justice Department's criminal division on behalf of a client.


The DOJ now says it would not have agreed to that meeting if it had known the Manhattan U.S. Attorney was investigating. Two Giuliani associates who were indicted this month for allegedly trying to funnel Russian money into U.S. elections.

ROMANS: President Trump making an abrupt U-turn over the weekend. The White House announcing next year's G7 summit, it will not be held at his south Florida resort after all, after fierce bipartisan backlash. The White House had been staunchly defending this decision to use Trump national Doral, saying it would be significantly cheaper than other options. The Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, stood by the choice, even after it had been reversed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MULVANEY: At the end of the day, you know, he still considers himself

to be in the hospitality business. And he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world and he wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could. And he was very comfort in doing it at Doral.


ROMANS: The White House had said that the event would be run at cost, but making no profit might still had violated the constitution. The emoluments clause bars the president from accepting any gifts or money from foreign government.

BRIGGS: Defense Secretary, Mark Esper says, the ceasefire between Turkish and Kurdish forces in northern Syria generally seems to be holding despite what he calls reports of intermittent fires. The New York Times reports that President Trump is leaning in favor of a new Pentagon plan to keep a small contingent of American troops in eastern Syria for counterterrorism.

Meantime, the largest U.S. troop withdraw from Syria so far is under way. CNN observing trucks carrying U.S. personnel crossing the border into Iraq overnight. Nick Paton Walsh live for us in Northern Syria with what this all means. Nick, good morning.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are seeing, as you saw in those pictures of trucks crossing from Syria into Iraq. Clearly, the largest movement here of personnel out into Iraqi Kurdistan, where the U.S. says they will now be, based again in the continuing fight against ISIS. The thousands reposition not going home, that is the key flaw really in this withdrawal. It is essentially taking the continues fight against ISIS somewhere else, into a neighboring country.

We've seen around this since yesterday, convoys gathering down there. And moving up east. In the nights, nearest here, there was a substantial convoy that moved through (inaudible) and now it appears that little dribs and drabs, possibly the American personnel still moving, but the majority of this withdrawal has now it seems happened.

I understand about 500 or so personnel were in fact involved in this particular movement. But it brings a deeply symbolic set of images here at the end of messy two weeks in U.S. policy toward Syria. Messy, I think is a generous word. And there's something important to remember, we are about to deal here with a complex 48 hours, in which a ceasefire, frankly will either collapse in a bloody mess or potentially bring some stability here.

And the absence of U.S. forces to potentially act as buffer, although they are not monitoring the ceasefire and they are not involve in the combat is potentially leaving an extra vacuum here. Deep concerns among Syrian Kurds by what comes next, what may actually be arrange in such (inaudible), with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Erdogan. They are kind of a power brokers here to some degree. And the symbolic moments of U.S. vehicles leaving on mass.

I think will make many Syrian Kurds feel the betrayal that they have been led to by political leadership in Washington is sharper, but also very hard, I think for U.S. troops who've served here and perhaps they may find it hard to leave in such haste to see, back to you.

BRIGGS: Another difficult day for our allies, the Kurds. Nick Paton Walsh live for us in northern Syria, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, back here, for the first time, Elizabeth Warren is vowing to reveal how she plans to fund her Medicare for all plan. At the last week's CNN debate, she was asked again and again whether taxes would have to be raised on the middle class. On Sunday, she told supporters in Iowa the financial details will come soon. But her Democratic rivals don't seem convinced.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), 2020 U.S. DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: We need to talk about the cost. And I plan over the next few weeks, to put out a plan, that talks about, specifically, the cost of Medicare for all. And specifically, how we pay for it.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm surprised that we haven't seen it yet. Because, you know, I think if she had a good answer, we would have seen it by now.

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When she studies it, she's going to find that it's impossible to fund what she is talking about without taxing the middle class.


ROMANS: And this statement from the Joe Biden campaign, it's mystifying that for someone who has put -- having a plan for everything, at the center of her pitch to voters, Senator Warren has decided to release a health care plan only after enduring immense public pressure for refusing to do so.


BRIGGS: The Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal that dominated the 2016 election narrative has ended with a whimper. The State Department acknowledging in a late Friday news dump, that there was no deliberate mishandling of classified information. We are telling you about this morning so it actually sees the light of day.

The report appears to represent a final and anti-climactic chapter in the controversy that arguably led to Clinton's 2016 election defeat. State Department investigators found 38 current or former employees did violate security procedures.

In a review of e-mails to and from the personal computer system Clinton used. President Trump continues to raise that Clinton emails issue to attack Democrats. That's even though that impeachment inquiry testimony has revealed that Trump administration diplomats used private phones and apps to text about their efforts on Ukraine.

ROMANS: Do you think it puts an end to the but her e-mail's line of questioning?

BRIGGS: No. Probably not.

ROMANS: That is 2019.


ROMANS: All right, 11 minutes past the hour. Boris Johnson asked for a Brexit extension? And then asks the E.U. not to grant an extension. Confused? Then you're following Brexit. We will explain live from London.



BRIGGS: A tornado touching down overnight in Dallas. See how ominous it looks backlit by lightning strikes here. Officials warned of trees and powerlines down in northern Dallas along with debris. Three injuries reported so far. Emergency officials asking residents to stay indoors. You can hear the alarms blaring there. And you can see the home depot crushed by the tornado. The power company says over 100,000 customers are still in the dark.

ROMANS: All right. Earning season is in full swing and company profits are under pressure. Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, Verizon, Intel, just some of the big names of the S&P 500 reporting their earning results this week. Profits for S&P 500 companies expected to fall 4.7 percent for the third quarter. If that happens, it would be the biggest profit drop since the 2016 third quarter.

Even though stocks are record highs, investors are facing extreme levels of uncertainty. A lot of things happening here. The U.S./China trade war, Brexit, impeachment proceedings in Washington, just some of the major political obstacles facing investors. And what companies say about this condition going forward, this will be really important for sentiment this week. Downbeat outlooks could trigger fears of an earnings recession, a prolong downturn in corporate profits. That's the last thing a market already on edge needs. So, a big week for investors this week.

BRIGGS: All right. Would you try this on the outside of a cruise ship? Just for a selfie? We'll explain when we come back.



ROMANS: All right. A tragic weekend accident to the Fort Stewart army base in Georgia. Three soldiers were killed during a training exercise early Sunday, three others suffered nonlife-threatening injuries. Officials say they were riding in a Bradley fighting vehicle when it flipped over and rolled into water. All six soldiers are members of the first army brigade combat team. The accident is now under investigation. The soldier's names will not be released publicly until 24 hours after next of kin are notified. BRIGGS: A U.S. Army cadet is missing from West Point along with a M4

rifle. The military academy says authorities started land, air and river searches for the unnamed cadet after he didn't show up for a competition Friday. Authorities don't believe the cadet had any ammunition or poses a threat to the public. Though he may be a danger to himself. West Point says it will be operating normally, but with an increase police presence.

ROMANS: A landmark opioid trial pitting state and local governments against the makers and distributors of highly addictive pain killers. Set to begin this morning in Ohio. (Inaudible), counties are suing drug manufacture Teva Pharmaceuticals, four distributors and Walgreens for allegedly contributing to an epidemic that has killed 400,000 Americans over the last two decades. The trial is considered test case for more than 2300 similar lawsuits filed by governments across the country and could be a linchpin for settling all of them.

BRIGGS: A wild weekend of Brexit drama in London.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: The best thing for the U.K. and for the whole of Europe, is for us to leave with this new deal on October 31st.


BRIGGS: Prime Minister Boris Johnson sending contradictory signals, first to ask the European Union for an extension, something he wants infamously said he rather be dead in a ditch than do. But he also ask E.U. leaders not to grant the delay, but the Prime Minister is hoping for a vote on his Brexit package as soon as today. Let's go live to London and bring in Max Foster. Max, where are we headed now?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, who knows, Dave? It's an extraordinary situation, isn't it? We've got this letter that was sent to the E.U. with it, accompanying this other letter, saying actually -- you know, pretty much disregard the other letter. So, the E.U. though are carrying on as if they have a deal with Boris Johnson and the British government.

So, carrying on without legal process but Boris hasn't yet got it through or Johnson hasn't yet got it through the parliament here. The issue he has with the deal as he presents it back to the parliament, is that there could be an argument that this is being presented for the second time, which is against the rules. So, it could get thrown out of the parliament.

I think, that is unlikely because everyone accepts we need to make some progress here, but more likely argument, is that there will be an amendment attached to this deal which makes it very difficult for Boris Johnson. And one of the amendments they're talking about this morning is keeping Britain within the Customs Union while leaving the European Union which Boris Johnson would be firmly against because he would see that as remaining within the European Union. So, we're going to see what the amendments are today. See how it plays

out as the hours unfold. But ultimately, it's going to be very, very difficult to get the deal through as he wants it to go through today, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Max Foster, live for us in London with the latest there. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, a cruise ship passenger banned for life by Royal Caribbean. The company says, the female passenger on its allure of the sea cruise ship was spotted recklessly standing on a balcony railing apparently taking a selfie. Officials say the passenger and her traveling companion were taken off the ship in Jamaica. The companion is also banned for life.


BRIGGS: He was already considered a hero, but new details about how a high school coach in Portland, Oregon, disarmed a student. To make the story that much more remarkable. Authorities say the student walk into a classroom at Parkrose High School back in May, carrying a gun he planned to use to take his own life. When the student entered, others began running out through the hallways. Initial report said, Coach Keanon Lowe tackled the student, but newly released surveillance video shows it was something else entirely.

ROMANS: Coach Lowe is seen emerging from the classroom shotgun in hand, holding the student arm's length. Another staff member takes the gun and Lowe gives the student a big hug, calming him, consoling him, de-escalating the situation. Lowe spoke about the incident months ago before all this details went public.


KEANON LOWE, COACH: I feel I was put in that room at that very moment for a reason, to protect those kids.


ROMANS: Lowe and the student are later seen sitting on the floor as police arrive. According to the D.A.'s office, the student never pointed the gun at anyone, but himself and never fired it on campus.

BRIGGS: Kudos to Coach Lowe.

Ahead, Mick Mulvaney told the nation an investigation into Democrats is part of the reason military aid for Ukraine was held up. Now, he wants you to believe he didn't say what we thought he said.