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Dems Want to Pick Up the Pace; Trump's Wild Claim Now a Legal Defense; Power Cuts and Evacuations in California; Google Touts "Quantum Supremacy" Breakthrough; Nationals Take Control of World Series. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 05:00   ET




Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Thursday, October 24th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We start in the nation's capital.

House Democrats looking to pick up the pace on impeachment. They want more done in public after their Republican colleagues pulled a political stunt over proceedings held in private.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a few questions. My question is, why aren't they letting us in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going in.


BRIGGS: GOP lawmakers stormed the secure hearing room, stalling the proceedings for five full hours. Note that about a quarter of them actually sit on these committees. They were entitled to be there without busting in of them. By early afternoon, pizza and snacks were being brought in to committee rooms, so that's nice.

And now the "Washington Post" reports, House Democrats are feeling the pressure to wrap up the private testimony and plan to move on to public hearings as soon as mid-November.

ROMANS: Among the witnesses Democrats hope to question in front of the whole country the top diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and his predecessor Marie Yovanovitch, both expressed concern over the White House plan to withhold military aid from Ukraine until Ukraine publicly committed to investigating Joe Biden and his son.

Also, on the radar for Democrats, John Bolton, the president's former National Security adviser. Bolton made his steadfast opposition to pressuring Ukraine well known around the White House.

Here's congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, Republicans have made no secret of their frustration about the fact that much of the Democratic impeachment inquiry up to this point, one month in, is taking place behind closed doors. And well, they decided to let that frustration come out a little bit.

Going into a closed-door deposition, interrupting that closed-door deposition, inside a secured complex, inside a secured conference room, including bringing, some of them, some of their electronic devices in, something that is total no-no when it comes to these complexes. All to make the point that they don't believe the Democratic investigation is on the up and up.

It was, to say the least, a piece of theater, one with an intent. And that is kind of twofold. One to show that frustration in public, make a big show of it, but also to make clear to the president who many of those members had met with the day before at the White House, that they are fighting for him.

What it did? Well, it postponed, for hours, the deposition of a top Pentagon official, Laura Cooper, who had oversight of the Ukraine portfolio which is at the crux of this investigation.

Now Democrats are going to continue those closed-door depositions in the week ahead as they continue to move forward on their impeachment inquiry. But there's no question about it, after the testimony of the top diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, making clear in very, very detailed way, that he believed that there had in fact been a quid pro quo related to that Ukrainian aid, something the president has denied.

Democrats believe that their case is as strong as ever. This point in time, House Republicans, at least, making clear they're going to be fighting for the president, even if it's in a very public manner in a very secure conference room -- guys.


BRIGGS: Interesting times for Phil Mattingly.

Republicans are also demanding House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff bring the whistleblower to testify in public. GOP lawmakers focusing their rage not on the substance of the impeachment inquiry but that of the process.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): It should be the people of this country, who decide who's going to be the president, not Nancy Pelosi and not Adam Schiff in secret, behind closed doors.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The opening statement says very clear, this is not --

The opening statement doesn't make any difference.

RAJU: Hold on, let me -- let me finish what I'm saying. Let me finish my question. He says very clearly -- REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): You should not be relying on it.

RAJU: Why --


BROOKS: If you're in the court of law, if you're in a court of law, would you rely just on the opening statement of an attorney?

RAJU: But let me ask you --

BROOKS: On the first witness?

RAJU: Can I ask you --

BROOKS: Or would you have cross examination? Would you allow rebuttal witnesses to determine, to explore, whether the first witness --


RAJU: I'm asking on the -- I'm asking about the substance of what he said. He said that --

BROOKS: That didn't make any difference. We don't know whether what he said is true or not because of the sham process that's being used.


ROMANS: "The New York Times" reports top-level Ukrainian officials were aware by august that President Trump was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid. That undermines arguments by the president and his allies, that the Ukrainians weren't being bullied because they weren't aware that security was being withheld.

CNN has also learned that two weeks before taking office in May Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and his team discussed the pressure they were already feeling from the Trump administration and from Rudy Giuliani to publicly launch investigations, investigations meant to help Mr. Trump's re-election prospects.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, allegations of war crimes against Turkey not enough for President Trump to keep sanctions on for Turkey's offensive against U.S. allies in Syria.

CNN live, in Turkey, ahead.



BRIGGS: Remember when then-candidate Donald Trump said this --


DOANLD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?


BRIGGS: Well, now, it's become a legal argument for Trump's attorneys in a case involving a subpoena for Trump tax returns. Ask about the limits of presidential immunity, the president's attorney told a federal judge, the president could not be charged nor investigated if he shot someone in the street.



JUDGE DENNY CHIN, SECOND CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: What's your view on the Fifth Avenue example? Local authorities couldn't investigate? They couldn't do anything about it?

WILLIAM CONSOVOY, TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think once a president is removed from office, any local authority -- this is not a permanent immunity.

CHIN: Well, I'm talking about while in office.


CHINA: That's the hypo. Nothing could be done? That's your position?

CONSOVOY: That is correct.


ROMANS: Now, the judge appeared skeptical of these sweeping claims of presidential immunity. The president's attorney asked the court to block a subpoena for financial records. The case stems from hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and another woman before the 2016 election. The matter could end up at the Supreme Court during an election year.

BRIGGS: President Trump lifting all sanctions against Turkey after it agreed to end its attacks on America's former Kurdish allies in Syria. The announcement came after Russia and Turkey agreed to hold joint patrols on the border. The Kremlin moving in as the U.S. withdraws.

President Trump seemed to wash his hands of future involvement in Syria.


TRUMP: Supposed to be a very quick hit and let's get out. And it was a quick hit except they stayed for almost 10 years. Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand.


BRIGGS: Just a short time earlier, the special envoy to Syria voicing his concerns to Congress.


JAMES JEFFREY, U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SYRIA, SPECIAL ENVOY TO COALITION FIGHTING ISIS: We obviously had troops there for a mission. The mission was defeating ISIS. So, if you remove those troops before that mission is complete, then you have a problem. And we do have a problem right now.


BRIGGS: Syrian envoy James Jeffrey and Defense Secretary Mark Esper both say Turkish-backed rebels have likely committed multiple war crimes.

Jomana Karadsheh live for us near the Turkey-Syria border.

Jomana, good morning.


When you look at the situation on the ground right now, yes, you might have this agreement between Turkey and the Russians. It could mean, basically, an extension of this cease-fire and Turkey extending its operations for now. But the actual situation on the ground is so messy and so chaotic, there's been so many different officials voicing concerns about what this will mean for ISIS. This is a group that is known for exploiting these kind of situations.

And if you listen to what President Trump was saying, again, it's a classic case that he was contradicting what senior officials were saying. He says, only about 100 ISIS officials have escaped, while they have been largely recaptured, while you hear from Jim Jeffrey and other officials are saying, that no, about 100 prisoners escaped and they don't know where they are. And you have the president saying the Syrian Democratic Forces are guarding the ISIS forces right now, making it like there's no issue when it comes to ISIS.

But, of course, there's a lot of concern because of the chaos on the ground, you have so many different groups, the president saying Turkey is going to take over. They will be a backup for the Syrian Kurds, when it comes to making sure that the ISIS prisoners don't escape. But the reality on the ground is, this is not in the area of the Turkish government. And you have the Syrian regime and the Russians moving in.

So, a very complex and chaotic situation on the ground. And the question is, who will be picking up this fight against ISIS? And as many would say right now, ISIS is definitely, along with other extremist groups, one of the biggest winners in this chaotic situation, Dave. BRIGGS: Jomana Karadsheh, live for us along the Turkish-Syrian

border, thank you.

Ahead, we'll talk a little World Series. The nationals on a roll and heading home. Coy Wire has "The Bleacher Report", next.



ROMANS: Breaking overnight, evacuations in Sonoma County, California, ahead of the fast-moving Kincade wildfires, already up to 7,000 acres, a 2,000-acre surge over the last hour.

Seventeen hundred people and almost 600 homes east of Geyserville have been asked to leave immediately. And now, a recurring nightmare for hundreds of thousands of power customers in California. The Pacific Gas and Electric has cut electricity more than a dozen counties in the northern part of the state to reduce the risk of wildfires. It's the second time this month that a major utility in Southern California could be following suit.

Our Dan Simon is in L.A.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, folks here in Northern California, once again, firing up those portable generators as PG&E, Pacific Gas and Electric, once again shutting off power for thousands of people. About 180,000 customers expected to lose power this time around. And this happening because of the strong winds.


Forecasters say the winds could be as strong as 60 miles per hour, enough to topple over utility poles and cause a catastrophic wildfire.

Of course, this is angering a lot of folks, angering a lot of businesses. Businesses are of course are going to lose money. And it's no fun for anybody when you lose electricity. One of the biggest critics towards PG&E for all of this has been the governor, Gavin Newsom, who has been saying that for decades, PG&E has been prioritizing profits over public safety.

In the meantime, Southern California could be impacted, as well. A couple of utilities there saying that about 300,000 or so customers could lose power over the next day or so because of the Santa Ana winds. And all this, once again a reaction to some of the state's worst and most destructive wildfires in recent years including the Camp Fire which killed 85 people last year and a PG&E power line is believed to be the main culprit in terms of what cost that wildfire.

Dave and Christine, we'll send it back to you.


BRIGGS: Dan Simon, thanks.

The Washington Nationals heading home with a commanding two games to nothing lead in the World Series.

Interestingly enough, Andy Scholes is not here, Coy Wire. Coincidence?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I didn't know, you know, you could have your team lose like my team did, the Super Bowl, Atlanta Falcons. I had to report the next day, Dave.

But, hey, happy to be here with you. Scholes' Astros, man, they ran into a buzzsaw. There may not be a better team in the world right now, than the Washington Nationals. A post-season tying record, eight straight wins, and they're getting contributions from everybody.

Juan Soto was game one's hero. But it was 37-year-old Kurt Suzuki stealing the show last night in Houston. Game tied at two since the first inning. But in the seventh, this home run on Justin Verlander opened the floodgates for the Nats.

Suzuki was just 2 for 25, Dave, before this at-bat this postseason. The Nats explode to win 12-3 in the end, stunning the Astros, taking a commanding 2-0 lead back to D.C.

This moment, not lost on catcher Kurt Suzuki.


KURT SUZUKI, NATIONALS CATCHER: I waited 13 seasons for this, you know, for this moment, to be able to play in the world series. If you can't get up for these games, you're in the wrong sport. You should retire or something, because this is it.


WIRE: All right. Let's go to hoops. Kyrie Irving had a debut to remember in Brooklyn last night. On the one-year anniversary of his grandfather's death, the New Jersey native lit up the scoreboard at Barclays Center, 50 points, the most ever by a player in his first game with a new team. The only thing that didn't go right, was this, winning the game.

A great effort for him. The stepback at the buzzer in O.T. but no. The Nets fall to the T-wolves, 127-126.

Hey, we had a great opening week double doubleheader tonight on our sister network TNT. First up, the Bucks and Rockets, followed by Kawhi and the Clippers taking on the Warriors in their brand-new arena in San Fran.

Tiger Woods is back with a bang. The 15-time major champ opening his PGA tour season in Japan overnight had been out for two months after a knee surgery. It showed early, three-straight bogeys. But Tiger caught fire, running up nine birdies en route to his best round in other a year, a 6 under 64. He's got a share of the lead. Dave, we have to go back to the World Series for a trending moment.

Superstar gymnast Simone Biles threw out the first pitch for her hometown Astros. I know you saw this, a back flip with a twist, before flowing the ball across the plate. Incredible.

The Astros are going to need some acrobatics to come back in this World Series. Only three of the last 25 teams go down 2-zip have come back to win it. So, they're up against the battle here.

How about Simone Biles?

BRIGGS: She's the GOAT, man. She stuck the landing right now. And you know it is now for now in the World Series, shark chant, baby shark, mama shark, daddy shark, I can't wait Friday night.

WIRE: Absolutely.

BRIGGS: Coy, good to see you, my friend.

WIRE: You too.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, guys.

BRIGGS: That gives you reason to be excited, right?

ROMANS: I'm very excited for the World Series. I promise. It just doesn't show.

All right. Twenty-four minutes past the hour.

Democrats want to speed up the pace of the impeachment probe. House Republicans pull a stunt to get private hearings into public view.



ROMANS: The strongest warning yet for breast implants. The FDA wants a boxed warning on all labeling materials. The agency says said manufacturers need to make women fully aware of the possible risks. The FDA is also asking patients considering implants review a checklist that outlines the risks with their doctors.

BRIGGS: Google says it has designed a computer that needs 200 seconds to solve a problem that the world's fastest supercomputer would need 10,000 years to figure out.

In a paper published in the journal "Nature", Google touts some breakthrough in quantum computing. The new technology can manipulate much more information than regular computers, which are limited to calculation using ones and zeros.

Google says the next step is to make quantum computing practical, which won't be easy. Technology could be applied to inscription, new devices and developing lightweight car batteries. Like Tom Hanks in "Big." I don't get it.