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EARLY START

House Impeachment Committees to Hear from Key Witnesses; White House Back-Pedals on Mulvaney's Quid Pro Quo Admission; President Trump Launches Twitter Tirade Against Schiff. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


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DAVE BRIGGS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Great rest of your day -- for our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.

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CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: You were asked by Jonathan Karl, is that you described a quid pro, and you said, that happens all the time.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: You see, I never said what I said. The White House struggling to limit the fallout from impeachment -- key witnesses on tap this week.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: A quick and very rare reversal by the president. Next year's G7 will not be held at Doral Resort after fierce backlash.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight. A tornado rips through northern Dallas, debris is widespread, more than 100,000 customers without power.

ROMANS: And a school coach disarms a student with a gun, we now can see the emotional moment where he consoled the student caught on video. This happened a few months ago, but now we're seeing exactly what happened and it resonates just as much today as it did then --

BRIGGS: Guess so --

ROMANS: Good morning and welcome to EARLY START everybody, I'm Christine Romans --

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Monday, October 21st, 5:00 a.m. in the east, and it's a very busy week ahead in the impeachment inquiry. We'll hear from senior U.S. diplomats in Ukraine, advisors from the National Security Council and top Pentagon officials as well. Most notable, the acting Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor. He is the career diplomat who texted the Trump appointee, saying it

would be crazy to withhold U.S. military aid in exchange for a politically-charged investigation into Joe Biden and his son.

ROMANS: And now, acting White Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, back- pedaling after this remarkable admission from last week.

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JONATHAN KARL, ABC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that --

MULVANEY: It was --

KARL: He wanted to withhold funding to Ukraine.

MULVANEY: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the things that he was worried about.

KARL: To be clear, 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 -- we do that all the time with foreign policy.

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ROMANS: Now, Mulvaney and the White House are trying to convince a nation that heard that exchange they didn't hear that. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more from the White House.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave and Christine. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney batting clean-up 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 because of President Donald Trump's interest in Ukraine investigating this d-bugged 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.

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WALLACE: You've again said just a few seconds ago that I said there was a quid pro quo. Never use that language because there is not a quid pro quo --

MULVANEY: You --

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

MULVANEY: 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 was I talking about? Things that was legitimate for the president to do.

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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 increasingly shaky grounds. Now, that being said, the president frequently gets frustrated with his aides including his top advisors, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are out the door or headed for it anytime soon. Dave, Christine?

BRIGGS: Jeremy Diamond, thank you. 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, he calls on Republicans to finally fight back. The president seems to be sensing a bit of trouble ahead, more Republicans starting to show some 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 won't be seeking another term.

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REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R-FL): I think it's very bad that the system that we have right now would 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.

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

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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.

BRIGGS: A rare reversal from President Trump. The White House announcing next year's G7 Summit will not be held at his south Florida resort after all, following fierce backlash. The White House had been staunchly defending the decision to use Trump National Doral, saying it would be significantly cheaper than other options. Mick Mulvaney stood by the choice even after it had been reversed.

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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 confident doing it at Doral.

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BRIGGS: The White House had said the event would be at cost, making no profit might still have violated the constitution. The Emoluments Clause bars the president from accepting any gifts or money from foreign governments.

ROMANS: And even when the president announced that he was not going to do it, he still was boasting about how great it was, and how great meeting rooms and it was so close to the airport. It was as if he was using the presidential Twitter handle to still advertise and promote his business.

BRIGGS: Well, and just remember, even filling that place up in June is far more -- making far more money than it --

ROMANS: Right --

BRIGGS: Ordinarily would, so.

ROMANS: All right, six minutes past the hour -- overnight, U.S. troops cross into Iraq from Syria. A cease-fire between Turkey and the American allied-Kurds barely hanging on. CNN is live in northern Syria, next.

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BRIGGS: Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the cease-fire 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 counter-terrorism.

Meantime, the largest U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria so far is under way. CNN observing these trucks carrying U.S. personnel crossing the border into Iraq overnight. Nick Paton Walsh live in northern Syria with what this all means. And Nick, some are saying ethnic cleansing is going to take part as a result of this withdrawal.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, that is obviously a deeply sort of dangerous term. But some say, yes, that what we're seeing here, the forcing of Syrian-Kurdish populations from some of the areas under conflict at the moment. Now, she points out that not always those settlements have in fact being entirely Syrian- Kurdish. But we have a very distinct ethnic divide here between the pro-Turkish forces and new Syrian Arabs and the Kurdish side here, formerly the U.S. allies now at the regime backing them. This U.S. withdrawal is perilous potentially because while the U.S. were involved in monitoring this ceasefire, that's been patchy.

Let's be honest, two U.S. officials told me 48 hours ago, it simply was not holding. While the U.S. not involved in monitoring it and not competent in this, they still certainly acted as a kind of like a large bloc if you were of some description which could act if people perhaps overstep various marks. I'm kind of speculating here.

But their withdrawal will lead the Syrian Kurds feeling yet more exposed. They've yet to strike a convincing-enough deal with a Syrian regime that potential new backers that their territory is protected, and people are looking to Sochi, the meeting between Turkey and Russia to work out if there can be a broader deal done here.

This U.S. withdrawal vote is so symbolic, we saw it begin near Hasakah where vehicles gathered at a rallying point to rest and refuel. Hundreds of them, the largest move they've made in Syria, 500 personnel or so on that particular move go through the city, commercially where we are here and then out towards the Iraqi border to Iraqi Kurdistan in the north.

You might feel seeing these images that the troops are coming home. They're not. And simply, they're being repositioned to Iraq to continue the fight against ISIS, sometimes inside of Syria. That is Pentagon policy at the moment. So, the question essentially is why do that?

Why put yourself in a worse tactical position to fight a resurging group like ISIS? And the answer is simple, Donald Trump made a phone call in which Turkey felt they had the green light. They began this operation, it got a bit out of hand and the U.S. left much faster than anybody thought they were going to.

So, but they are in this new tactical disadvantage, a home to fight ISIS in Iraq, essentially from their own commander-in-chief's doing. And this hugely symbolic departure of hundreds of vehicles moving all the way through Syria out to Iraq here, with air cover is a deep -- I think, moment of pause about U.S. leadership in the area and quite what this historically will mean for the Syrian Kurds left in their wake. Back to you.

BRIGGS: Withdrawal asks far more questions than it answers. Nick Paton Walsh live for us in northern Syria. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, for the first time Elizabeth Warren is vowing to reveal how she plans to fund her Medicare-for-all plan. At last week's CNN debate, she was asked repeatedly whether taxes would have to be raised on the middle class.

On Sunday, she told supporters in Iowa the financial details will be publicized soon. But her Democratic rivals don't seem convinced.

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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): 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): I am 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): When she studies, she's going to find that it's impossible to fund what she's talking about without taxing the middle class.

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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: All right, straight ahead here, Boris Johnson asks for a Brexit extension, then asks the EU not to grant a Brexit extension. Confused? So, are we. We'll explain live from London.

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

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ROMANS: A wild weekend of Brexit drama in London. Prime Minister Boris Johnson sending contradictory signals, forced to ask the European Union for an extension, something he once remember -- he said he'd rather be dead in a ditch than do -- well, he did it, and then he also asked EU leaders not to grant a delay.

The Prime Minister hoping for a vote on his Brexit package as soon as today. For the latest developments, let's go live to London and CNN's Max Foster. And Max, if you're confused, bravo, you're up to speed on Brexit.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Don't feel like an alien in this story if you don't know what's going on because no one really knows. Even the government, perhaps just an e-mail though from the government, saying they were confirming that they will present this bill to parliament today. Some concern that John Bercow; Speaker of the House of Commons will

throw it out. I don't think that's going to happen because they have to make some progress. And we're really up against -- even if this bill is voted on today and passed, it's going to take, you know, a good few days to turn it into law, and they only really have until Sunday.

So, everyone is trying to work out what they're going to do with this bill. I think the bill will be discussed today and they will vote on it. It's whether or not any amendments are attached to it, which everyone is looking out for. So, the opposition party saying they want an amendment attached which keeps Britain within the Customs Union which would be a disaster for Boris Johnson.

He'd have to go back to Brussels and renegotiate the deal effectively. I can't see him doing that. Another possible attachment could be a second referendum, again, something that Boris Johnson doesn't want to do. So, he obviously thinks he has the numbers to get this bill passed, which would allow him to leave the European Union at the end of this month with a deal. We'll wait and see, Christine, see what happens in the hours ahead.

ROMANS: Wait and see, another weekend of Brexit chaos. All right, we'll look forward to you making sense of it for us, thanks, Max. Dave?

BRIGGS: All right, the Dallas Cowboys snapping a three-game losing streak in style Sunday night. Coy Wire has that story in the BLEACHER REPORT. Good morning, my friend.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Top of the morning to you, Dave. Earlier in the week, Eagles coach Doug Peterson came out, predicted that his team would go down to Dallas and beat the boys. Well, they went down to Dallas -- Dallas about it because their defense swarmed Carson Wentz and the Eagles from the start.

Philly fumbling on their first two possessions, both of those led to Cowboys' scores. Watch Dak Prescott here just completely fool the entire defense, easy touchdown pass to Blake Jarwin -- Dallas breaks that three-game losing streak by dominating their division rival 37- 10, they're now in first place in the NFC East at 4-3.

Now, we go to Green Bay where Aaron Rodgers had the best game of his career. Through all of his success, his MVP awards and a Super Bowl win, he never had a game with a perfect passer rating until now. Four hundred and twenty nine yards and 5 touchdowns through the air. He even ran for a sixth. Packers roll past the Raiders 42-24, they're 6- 1, and atop the NFC North.

This photo sums up the San Fran-Washington game. Tough mudders, Niners keeping their record pristine in ugly weather in D.C., a shutout for their defense, is giving up just 10 points combined in their last three games. They're slipping and sliding their way to 6-0 for the first time since 1990 -- to be the best, sometimes you've got to be able to go on the road and win even the ugly ones. All right, some better news for D.C. sports fans. They're getting

ready to watch the Nationals play in their first-ever World Series. One of their fan favorites, Gerardo Parra. He used "Baby Shark" as his walk-up song this season just two days before their first game against Houston. He and his wife Tania(ph) brought "Baby Shark" vibes to the Children's National Hospital.

They were singing with the kids and hanging out. They were even given some toy shark -- it's rather baby shark toys and signing autographs. Game one is in Houston tomorrow night. But how about that, Dave? Right before your big moment, and you're taking time to give back to some kids.

BRIGGS: It's been one of the coolest things that's happened on the playoffs. When those 40-plus thousands start doing "Baby Shark" and "Momma Shark" --

WIRE: Yes --

BRIGGS: It is a fantastic ritual.

WIRE: Our Andy Scholes will be live in Houston for us starting tomorrow. So, it's going to be fun stuff.

BRIGGS: Completely unbiased, Andy Scholes by the way.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you, Coy. Andy Scholes has been at the Houston games --

ROMANS: Yes --

BRIGGS: Overly ecstatic --

ROMANS: Yes --

BRIGGS: Along the way --

ROMANS: Think so. At least, he's very clear about his bias.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for that, Dave. And Mick Mulvaney told the nation an investigation into Democrats is part of the reason military aids for Ukraine was held up. But now, he wants you to believe he didn't say what he said.

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ROMANS: A tornado touching down overnight in Dallas.

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(SCREAMING) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in a tornado! We're in a tornado!

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ROMANS: Moments for residents. The power company says more than 100,000 customers are still in the dark. See how ominous it looks back-lit by lightning strikes. Officials warn of trees and power lines down in northern Dallas along with other debris. Emergency officials are asking residents to stay indoors, three injuries reported so far.

BRIGGS: Yes, he was already considered a hero, but new details about how a high school coach in Portland, Oregon disarmed a student -- make this story that much more remarkable. Authorities say the student walked into a classroom at Parkrose High School back in May carrying a gun, he planned to use to take his own life.

Initial report said coach Keanon Lowe tackled the student -- but newly released video, you can see shows it was something else entirely.

ROMANS: Now, coach Lowe is seen emerging from the classroom, shotgun at hand, holding the student at arm's length. Lowe's gives the student a big hug, calming him, consoling him and de-escalating the situation. Lowe spoke about the incident months ago before all of these new details and videos was public.

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KEANON LOWE, PARKROSE HIGH SCHOOL COACH: I feel like I was put in that -- in that room, in that.

END