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EARLY START

White House Backpedals On Mulvaney Admission; Major U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Syria Underway; Prince Harry Acknowledges Tensions With Brother William. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- escalating the situation.

Lowe spoke about the incident months ago before all of these details and video was public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEANON LOWE, COACH, PARKROSE HIGH SCHOOL, PORTLAND, OREGON: I feel like I was put in that -- in that room in that very moment for a reason to protect those kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Later, Lowe and the student are seen sitting on the floor as police arrive.

The D.A.'s office -- according to the D.A.'s office, the student never pointed the gun at anyone but himself and never fired it on campus -- remarkable.

All right, EARLY START continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: See, I never said what I said. The White House struggling to limit fallout from impeachment. Key witnesses on tap this week.

ROMANS: A quick and rare reversal by the president. Next year's G7 will no longer be at his Doral resort after fierce backlash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: Look, we're brothers. We'll always be brothers and we're certainly on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him and as I know, he'll always be there for me. As brothers, you have good days, you have bad days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Is there trouble in the royal family? Prince Harry reveals what some feel is a rift with his brother. Harry and Meghan Markle will take time away from their royal duties.

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

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

And it is a very busy week ahead in the impeachment inquiry, folks. We're going to hear from senior U.S. diplomats in Ukraine, advisers from the National Security Council, and top Pentagon officials.

And most notable, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor. He is the career diplomat who texted a Trump appointee 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 backpedaling after this remarkable admission last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN KARL, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: The demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he wanted to withhold funding to Ukraine.

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

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Mulvaney and the White House are trying to convince a nation that heard that they didn't hear that.

Jeremy Diamond with more from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 because of President Donald Trump's interest in Ukraine investigating this debunked 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. I never used that language because there is not a quid pro quo.

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

MULVANEY: Well, and again, 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 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 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

The president lashing out at a key rival as the impeachment pressure builds. He wants House Intel chairman Adam Schiff to be deposed in front of his own committee and adds a call on Republicans to finally fight back. The president seems to be sensing trouble ahead.

More Republicans starting to show signs of discomfort trying to defend the president. One of them, moderate House Republican Francis Rooney suggesting he's open to impeachment and says he won't be seeking another term.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:35:07]

BRIGGS: 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.

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.

A lot more ahead on all of this. And overnight, U.S. troops crossed into Iraq from Syria. A ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds barely hanging on. CNN live in northern Syria, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said to be on shaky ground with the president as he struggles to clean up his quid pro quo admission and explain the president's rare about-face on holding the G7 at his Florida resort.

[05:40:08]

Joining us this morning, Princeton University historian and professor Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst. Good morning, Julian.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, CO-AUTHOR, "FAULT LINES: A HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES SINCE 1974": Good morning.

BRIGGS: Morning.

ROMANS: So many tests for Republican support for Trump. The banner -- the headline on the front page of "The Wall Street Journal." The White House is testing this Republican support.

And, Mitt Romney was asked by Axios -- by Mike Allen at Axios -- you know, hey -- you know, is there a tipping here and could Mitt Romney be part of this movement get Republican senators, in particular, to be more critical of the president -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE ALLEN, CO-FOUNDER, AXIOS, CO-FOUNDER, POLITICO: If you put your shoulder to it you could convince 19 other Republican senators, which is the minimum that it would take to convict, to go against the president.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Are you smoking something that I don't see? I -- that's simply not true. As I point out, the idea that any one senator, even me -- even Mitch McConnell is not going to convince other senators to reach a different conclusion that they would reach on their own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Interesting.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: Are those who say that senators being quiet about all of these -- the chaos and problems at the White House isn't necessarily support for the president, it's just waiting for the next shoe to drop.

What do you see?

ZELIZER: Well, both are true.

Privately, there might be grumbling and there might be fear, politically, that standing by the president can cost the party support. But publicly, right now, the Republicans are standing firm. Romney does not have the capacity to switch votes -- McConnell does. But at this point, the president is still comfortable, at least with where Senate Republicans are.

BRIGGS: OK.

So on this G7 thing, the president, he always wants mulligans on the golf course. Rarely does he want a mulligan off it. He rarely reverses himself. He did in this case, canceling the G7 to be held at Doral.

Here's Mick Mulvaney explaining that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be a -- 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 comfortable doing that at Doral.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: He still considers himself in the hospitality business.

ROMANS: And that was the problem in the first place because he's the President of the United States.

BRIGGS: Sure. There wasn't a lot of Republican backlash here. Why do you think he reversed here?

ZELIZER: Well, I do think if he stuck to it you would have more Republicans at least criticizing him. This is how impeachment changes a lot of things, meaning he would have done things pre-impeachment and stuck to them but here, he was worried.

And, Mulvaney's wrong. He's President of the United States. He's not in the hospitality business and if he still thinks that we have a problem. And that's why I think the president reversed himself.

ROMANS: Even in reversing himself, though, if you look at his tweet he was still extolling the virtues of his property --

ZELIZER: Yes.

ROMANS: -- and almost advertising for his property, which is what you're not supposed to do.

ZELIZER: Well look, there's a conflict of interest problem at the heart of this presidency and it's been there since day one, and it's about the Trump business and the Trump presidency. They don't go hand-in-hand and the president has not separated them. And that's why we keep coming back to this story again and again.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the Democrats because Bernie Sanders back on the campaign trail with a big rally in Queens, looking robust. His campaign really trying to put him out there looking healthy after suffering a heart attack and taking some time off.

I think the campaign said there were -- how many -- 26,000 people or something at this.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: And then you have Elizabeth Warren, I think at Simpson College in Iowa, not asked about how to pay for Medicare for All. So at the end of her speech she brought up this announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL 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), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am surprised that we haven't seen it yet because I think if she had a good answer we would have seen it by now.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The Biden campaign put out this statement.

"It's mystifying that for someone who has put having a plan for everything at the center of her pitch to voters, Sen. Warren has decided to release a health care plan only after enduring immense public pressure for refusing to do so."

How much of a problem is the cost of Medicare for All and her not having a price tag for it?

ZELIZER: Well, it's become a vulnerability of hers and the cost will be an issue for her if she embraces the proposal. She is going to put forth some kind of plan. I assume she's going to shift the conversation to the problems with the existing health care system, but that's the vulnerability. And if she can do that I think she actually can move forward.

But this will be an issue. The most important thing is it's moved her way from talking about the issues she really cares about. That's middle-class Americans --

ROMANS: Yes.

ZELIZER: -- and how they struggle with credit and how they struggle with security. So I think with this plan she needs to come back to that issue. Whether she can do it, we'll see.

[05:45:02]

BRIGGS: And whether or not this raises taxes on the middle class is everything moving forward for her campaign.

ZELIZER: Yes.

BRIGGS: Julian Zelizer, good to see you, sir. Thank you.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Julian.

ZELIZER: Yes.

BRIGGS: All right.

Defense Sec. 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 withdrawal from Syria is underway. CNN observing these trucks carrying U.S. personnel crossing the border into Iraq overnight.

Nick Paton Walsh live in northern Syria. How symbolic is that withdrawal, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Massively, I think, for those who live here who in Syrian Kurdish areas look to the U.S. as their security guarantor. They've seen that collapse in the past weeks. But also, too, for U.S. standing in the region because while their eventual drawdown inside Syria was inevitable the chaotic way in which it occurred was absolutely not.

And these last two weeks have seen an announcement of the departure happen before it was able to be executed. That's a basic no-no in terms of keeping your troops safe on the ground and this occurred, itself, in complicated, hasty circumstances.

We saw it begin yesterday near Hasakah, where various different convoys rallied together for rest and refueling, the largest from the Khmeimim landing zone airfield out near a base which the U.S. had to blow up with jets to destroy munitions and equipment on it as they left in such a hurry.

And it all moved north out to Iraqi Kurdistan. You see those pictures of it leaving Syria there.

This, though, is not the end of their mission. It is not the sort of end of a narrative where everyone goes home back to America. They are staying in Iraqi Kurdistan -- according to Mark Esper, the secretary of Defense -- to continue the fight against ISIS, but simply from a worst position than if they were fighting inside of Syria.

That's what's so extraordinary about what this last fortnight has done. It's taken the U.S. from a position of strength where they were keeping Turkey away from the Syrian Kurds that Turkey's always called terrorists but were America's ally in fighting ISIS, and instead, caused them to have to leave in a hurry with great confusion over American policy and attitude towards the Syrian Kurds.

And, frankly, humiliating withdrawal -- I can't find another word for it -- for an elite force here who were keeping the peace, were the powerbroker, and now having to continue the same mission from a much worse tactical position really because of their commander in chief's orders.

And watching Turkey and Russia, potentially at a key meeting in Sochi tomorrow, work out exactly what the rules of the game are going to be here inside Syria -- Dave, Christine.

BRIGGS: Continuing our fight against ISIS, albeit from a far worse position. Nick Paton Walsh, great reporting from northern Syria -- thanks.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:52:45]

ROMANS: Welcome back.

There's a rift in the royal family? Prince Harry acknowledging tensions with his brother, William, in an interview during his recent trip to Africa. It's part of an hour-long ITV documentary that aired Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: Part of this role and part of this job and this family being under the pressure that it's under never to be, you know, stuff happens.

But look, we're brothers. We'll always be brothers. And we're certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him and as I know, he will always be there for me.

We don't see each other as much as we -- as much as we used to because we're so busy. But, you know, I love him dearly.

And, you know, the majority of the stuff is probably -- well, the majority of the stuff is created out of nothing. But, you know, just as I said, as brothers, you have good days, you have bad days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Max Foster live from London with the very latest. It just sounds like any brother talking about his brother, but these aren't any brothers, this is the royal family. And this admission, you say, is -- it's rare.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is unusual because traditionally, members of the royal family don't talk publicly, at least, about family dynamics because it weakens the wider institution that is the British monarchy, which isn't just about that family, it's about representing British society.

So whilst, of course, there are differences between the brothers behind the scenes, it's unheard of, really, to go and speak to a documentary team about that and bring it out in the open. Of course, though, on social media, a lot of people are singing Harry's praises of being so open and not going by palace scripture and just being himself.

So it really depends on how you want to look at the situation. And ultimately, he says, they are still brothers and they still love each other, so that's the most important thing.

But the other element of all of this is that Harry and Meghan both speak about how they're struggling with royal life, and Harry talking quite openly about his mental health concerns. Every time he hears the camera flash he thinks of his mother dying. He's under a huge amount of pressure.

And the duchess also talking about how -- you know, the pressure that she feels is not something that she could ever have predicted.

[05:55:03]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: It's not enough to just survive something, right? Like, that's not the point of life. You've got to thrive, you've got to feel happy. And I think I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. TOM BRADBY, BRITISH JOURNALIST AND NOVELIST: It has its -- you know, it has its advantages, I guess.

MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: I've tried -- I've really tried. But I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging. And the biggest thing that I know is that I never thought that this would be easy but I thought it would be fair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: So she's not thriving, she's not finding it easy.

And this comes at the same time as a palace source tells CNN that they are about to take a break after this run of engagements which finishes about mid-November. They're going to go off and have some family time, spending their time between the U.S. and the U.K., effectively opting out of their roles, at least temporarily, whilst they kind of call it recovery. I mean --

ROMANS: Sure.

FOSTER: -- what you call it, they need some time out.

ROMANS: Some R&R. And they have a young child. I mean, they're still -- and they've only been married for a little over a year, right, so any couple deserves some time to bond as a small family and they're under all this scrutiny.

Max, thank you so much for that reporting.

BRIGGS: Three soldiers were killed during a training exercise at the Fort Stewart Army base in Georgia. Three others suffered non-life- threatening injuries.

Officials say the vehicle they were riding in flipped over and rolled into the water. The accident is now under investigation.

The soldiers' names will not be released until 24 hours after next of kin are notified.

ROMANS: A landmark opioid trial pitting state and local governments against the makers and distributors of highly-addictive painkillers. It's set to begin this morning in Ohio.

Cuyahoga and Summit counties are suing drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals, four distributors, and Walgreens. They're accused of contributing to an epidemic that has killed 400,000 Americans over two decades.

The trial considered a test case for more -- similar lawsuits across the country.

BRIGGS: A cruise ship passenger banned for life by Royal Caribbean. The company says a woman on its Allure of the Seas ship was spotted recklessly standing on a balcony railing apparently taking a selfie.

Officials say she and her traveling companion were taken off the ship in Jamaica. The companion also banned for life.

ROMANS: It looks really dumb.

BRIGGS: I hope they got a good shot.

ROMANS: It looks dumb.

All right, let's get a check on "CNN Business" this morning.

Taking a look at markets around the world, really, a mixed, barely- moving performance. I mean, they're slightly higher in Europe right now but not by much.

Taking a look at futures here in the U.S., a very small advance there.

Look, trade could take a backseat to earnings this week and so we're waiting for this flood of companies to deliver their quarterly report cards. Microsoft, Amazon, Tesla, Caterpillar, Verizon -- these are among the names reporting results.

Stocks have been at the mercy of trade and political headlines but they are hanging on to gains for the month.

Calling all Disney fans. You can earn $1,000 just by watching Disney movies. Review.org is looking for the biggest, baddest Disney fan to watch and review 30 of their favorites on Disney+. Five candidates will have 30 days after the Disney+ launches on November 12th to complete 30 reviews.

To apply, you must be at least 18, a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.

Dave is already signing up. You have to submit, Dave, a sample video review --

BRIGGS: OK.

ROMANS: -- of your favorite Disney movie and share details about your own social media following.

Along with a grand, the selected fanatics will get a year's subscription to Disney+ and a Disney-themed movie-watching kit. The application, Dave, closes on November seventh.

BRIGGS: I'm on review.org. I can't find it.

ROMANS: So, what's your favorite Disney movie?

BRIGGS: "Aladdin."

ROMANS: What's your favorite Disney princess? You're --

BRIGGS: Jasmine.

ROMANS: All right, for the record.

BRIGGS: Yes. But look, "Tangled" is underrated, let me just say, as is -- you want to talk more about this?

ROMANS: I don't -- oh my God -- all right.

BRIGGS: Which is your favorite?

ROMANS: Our producer is killing us right now.

I'm not a -- I'm not a princess fan. I'm just not, sorry.

BRIGGS: That's outrageous.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "Tangled" underrated, huh?

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Key figures in the impeachment inquiry set to testify this week.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): And we stand behind the president. This investigation is unfair and partisan.

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): And I don't think any of us anticipated that the chief of staff would confirm that military aid was being held up in favor of a crackpot theory. It's almost embarrassing.

MULVANEY: My language never said quid pro quo.

ROMNEY: We can't have presidents asking foreign countries to provide something of political value. That is against the law.

ROONEY: The system that we have now would probably disappoint our founders. Everybody's quaking in fear of being criticized by the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, October 21st. It's 6:00 here in New York.

And you smell that?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: What?

BERMAN: What you are picking up might be the -

END