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Republicans Storm Impeachment Hearing; Lawyer: Trump Couldn't Be Charged For Shooting Someone; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Grilled On Capitol Hill. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 05:30   ET



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Technology could be applied to encryption, new devices, and developing lightweight car batteries like Tom Hanks in "Big." I don't get it.

EARLY START continues right now.


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going in.


BRIGGS: House Republicans with a public stunt over private hearings. Now, Democrats are rethinking the pace of impeachment.


DONALD 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?


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: That claim was ridiculed but now, the president's lawyer says it's the very reason he can't turn over his tax records.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, a fast-moving wildfire forces evacuations in Northern California. Power companies are already pulling the plug.

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

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour this Thursday morning. And, House Democrats are looking to pick up the pace now 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 questions -- all right, why aren't they letting us in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going in.


ROMANS: Those are GOP lawmakers storming the secure hearing room, stalling the proceedings for five hours.

It's really important to note here that about a quarter of those Republicans storming that room, they actually sit on these committees so they are privy to what's happening there behind closed doors. They were entitled to be there without busting in with cameras and with pizza. By early afternoon, pizza and snacks were being brought into the committee area.

BRIGGS: So there's that.

Now, "The Washington Post" reports House Democrats are feeling the pressure to wrap up the private testimony. They plan to move on to public hearings as soon as mid-November and are struggling to figure out how to present the increasingly complex Ukraine saga to the American people.

Among the witnesses Democrats hope to question in front of the entire 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 on Capitol Hill.


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, has taken 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 a 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 two-fold. One, to show that frustration in public and 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 a 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.

At 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.


ROMANS: All right, Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill for us. Thanks, Phil.

Republicans are also demanding House Intel chairman Adam Schiff bring the whistleblower before Congress to testify in public.

GOP lawmakers focusing their rage now, not on the substance of the impeachment inquiry. They're focused on the process.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): It should be the people of this country who decide who is going to 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 clearly this is not -- this is what --

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Look, the opening statement doesn't make any difference.

RAJU: Hold on. Let me -- let me -- let me finish what I'm saying. Let me finish what I'm saying. Let me finish my question.

He says very clearly that --

BROOKS: Look, you should not be relying on it. If you --

RAJU: Why should I not be relying on his public testimony? BROOKS: If you were in a court of law -- if you were 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 called --

RAJU: Can I ask you what he's saying (ph)?

BROOKS: or would you have cross-examination? Would you allow rebuttal witnesses to determine -- to explore whether the first witness' testimony was accurate?

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

BROOKS: That doesn'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.



BRIGGS: "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 directly undermines arguments by the president and his allies that the Ukrainians could not have been bullied into investigations because they weren't aware security aid was being withheld.

ROMANS: All right, much more on all of this. Plus, Mark Zuckerberg gets an earful on Capitol Hill for refusing to fact-check political ads, among other things.


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


TRUMP: 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 President Trump's attorneys in a case involving a subpoena for Trump tax returns.


Asked about the limits of presidential immunity, the president's attorney told a federal judge the president could not be charged nor investigated even if he shot someone in the street.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUDGE DENNY CHIN, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS SECOND DISTRICT, NEW YORK: What's your view on the Fifth Avenue example? The local authorities couldn't investigation -- they couldn't do anything about it?

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

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


CHIN: That's the hypo.

CONSOVOY: There -- I --

CHIN: Nothing could be done? That's your position?

CONSOVOY: That is correct.


BRIGGS: The judge appeared skeptical of the sweeping claims of presidential immunity.

The president's attorney asked the court to block a subpoena for private financial records. The case stems from hush money payments before the 2016 election.

Let's talk about all of this with CNN's Marshall Cohen. He was in the courtroom for those proceedings and joins us live from Washington. Good to see you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning.


BRIGGS: So what did you make of that interaction and further, that exchange? What did the judge make of the legal argument there?

COHEN: Well, some of us in the courtroom were a little surprised to hear how far they were willing to go on the immunity. But to be totally clear, it was actually the people on the other side that brought this up.

The lawyer arguing on behalf of the Manhattan district attorney invoked that Fifth Avenue statement from Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. And it was later in the arguments that the federal judges brought it to Trump's lawyer and said you know what, what would happen? And you heard it right there in the tape nothing could be done.

But overall, they were pretty skeptical of the arguments from the president's legal team that this subpoena to his accounting firm should be blocked -- should be thrown out. They said basically, listen, what would the distraction be to the

president if his accountants filled out some paperwork and sent some documents to the D.A.? They weren't really buying the arguments. They'll have a chance to weigh in.

But everybody agreed this thing is probably heading to the Supreme Court next year for the election-year showdown.

ROMANS: And that will be fascinating.

Meantime, yesterday, this GOP -- grand old pizza party where some GOP lawmakers --

BRIGGS: Solid -- well done.

ROMANS: Thank you -- where some GOP lawmakers tried to storm the secure briefing room to try to make a point that they don't like the process here of this impeachment inquiry. It's not an impeachment trial; it is an impeachment inquiry. They don't like things happening behind closed doors.

Now, a couple of points.

Some of those lawmakers were actually on the committee so they were -- they had access already.

COHEN: They could have been in there.

ROMANS: They could have been there.

This was a publicity stunt, right, but it may have pushed Democrats to say OK, fine -- we want to speed up the impeachment process and make this open to the public.

COHEN: It could have, and there's some reporting out in the past 24 hours that things may be changing on that front.

But, you know, I'm not 100 percent sure that if the Democrats move to the public testimony that Republicans are going to be all that happy with the outcome. Wouldn't it be more damaging to the president to have these officials testify in public, in front of the cameras? Those hearings will go on for hours. They'll dominate the coverage.


COHEN: That could really sway public opinion in a way that a few leaks here and there in an article doesn't really percolate. So, maybe --

ROMANS: Democrats are trying to figure out how to present it though, too -- how to tell that story of Ukraine -- because it is a complicated story, too. I mean, the public was confused many times by the Mueller testimony. They didn't see that --


ROMANS: -- storyline and that threat. Couldn't grab it.

BRIGGS: To that point, tomorrow, actually, marks a month in all of this. What do you think has resonated with the American people because we do see the line moving slowly up toward supporting?

COHEN: Great question, Dave, and that line is moving.

I think -- take a look back at where we started, right? We started with the whistleblower and a complaint about Trump and Ukraine and we weren't really sure what had gone on behind the scenes.

One month later, we know a lot and we know that a lot that was in that complaint has been corroborated by multiple witnesses. And it boils down to Donald Trump allegedly using the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference, and he's confirmed some parts of it with his own public statements. The witnesses have done so behind closed doors.

They've made a lot of progress this past month and we'll see how quickly they want to pick up the pace heading towards Thanksgiving next month.

ROMANS: But it's interesting to me how so many of the Republicans -- like we listened to Congressman Mo Brooks who just would not accept 15 pages of single-spaced prepared testimony from the top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor. He just would not accept the substance. They're talking about the process.

That could undermine them if the American people get a look at these so-called deep-staters and realize oh my gosh, this is a Vietnam veteran who is a career public servant.


COHEN: Yes. He was -- he was pretty tough with Manu there.

And the question that was posed to that congressman was about Bill Taylor's testimony -- the sworn testimony from the U.S. ambassador. He's currently the highest-ranking U.S. diplomat in Ukraine so his testimony carries some weight. He's an expert on the topic.

He's been appointed to that post by George W. Bush, he stayed there for a bit under Obama, and he was sent back there by Mike Pompeo. And now, all of a sudden, they're painting him as this deep-stater, like you said.

The president tweeted that he was a never-Trumper and said that the never-Trumpers were worse than human scum.

I mean, this is -- it's getting brutal.


BRIGGS: Well, you should be a busy man. Marshall is, what, Marshalling for lack of a better term, our impeachment tracker, following every twist in the saga. A deep dive, putting all the pieces together in one place. Find it on CNN's Web site. We'll tweet out the link.

But, Marshall Cohen, bring pizza next time like the grand old pizza party that Romans coined earlier.

ROMANS: Grand old pizza party.

BRIGGS: Terrific work. Thanks, Marshall.

ROMANS: All right, Marshall Cohen -- thank you.

COHEN: Thanks, guys.

ROMANS: All right.

Breaking overnight, evacuations in Sonoma County, California ahead of the fast-moving Kincade wildfire -- already up to 7,000 acres burning. That's a 2,000-acre surge in just the last hour or so. Seventeen hundred people in almost 600 homes east of Geyserville -- they have been asked to leave immediately.

And now, a recurring nightmare for hundreds of -- hundreds of thousands of power customers in California. Pacific Gas and Electric cutting electricity to 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.

And a major utility now in Southern California could do the same thing with over 300,000 possible outages.

Here's what to watch today.


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To do our part, Wells Fargo has committed $1 billion over the next six years to develop housing affordability solutions, putting affordable homes within reach. This is our commitment. This is Wells Fargo.




ROMANS: All right.

Lawmakers grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for six hours on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Now, he defended Facebook's controversial policy of not fact-checking political ads ahead of the 2020 election.

CNN's Cristina Alesci has more this morning, there watching all of this unfold yesterday -- Cristina. CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Christine, sometimes that hearing was painful to watch. As you said, lawmakers spent six hours skewering Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, really lighting into him for what they say is Facebook's inability to police its own platform from -- for everything from discriminatory practices to the spread of misinformation.

The chair of that committee, Maxine Waters, really laid it out early on in the hearing, saying that it's past missteps and the distrust there is for the platform is really raising questions as to whether or not Facebook should be broken up at this point.

She kicked things off by questioning and trying to pin down Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook's policy for political advertising -- listen.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: From a business perspective, the very small percent of our business that is made up of political ads does not come anywhere close to justifying the controversy that this incurs.

On principle, I believe in giving people a voice. I believe that ads can be an important part of voice.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): You plan on doing no fact-checking on political ads?

ZUCKERBERG: Chairwoman, our policy is that we do not fact-check politicians' speech.

WATERS: Let me be clear. You do no fact-checking on any ads. Is that correct?

ZUCKERBERG: Chairwoman, what we do is we work with a set of independent fact-checkers who --

WATERS: Somebody fact-checks on ads. You have -- you contract with someone to do that. Is that right?

ZUCKERBERG: Chairwoman, yes.


ALESCI: Christine, it was confusing to follow that conversation if you don't know the ins and outs of Facebook's policies.

But one thing is clear. Mark Zuckerberg said multiple times that he believes that when politicians lie he wants the public to see it, and that is his rationale for not fact-checking political ads. It did not sit well --


ALESCI: -- with the committee at all. ROMANS: Well, what we've learned is that when there are lies -- meddling, lies, and fake stuff on Facebook the public does believe it, right? And he has said previously said he's looking -- for example, journalists to fact-check it.

So lawmakers just kept challenging this, right -- this question of fact-checking?

ALESCI: It came up repeatedly.

And, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez really underscored how dangerous some of this misinformation is and the lack of the ability of the company to police it. She really got into the specifics and tried to pin him down on just that -- listen.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries, saying that they voted for the Green New Deal? I mean, if you're not fact- checking political advertisements I'm just trying to understand the balance here. What's fair game.

ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, I don't know the answer to that off the top of my head. I think probably --


OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you don't know if I'll be able to do that?

ZUCKERBERG: I think probably.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact-checking on political advertisements?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, Congresswoman, I think lying is bad and I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie that would be bad. That's different from it being -- from -- in our position, the right thing to do to prevent your constituents or people in an election from seeing that you had lied.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: So we can -- so you won't take down lies or you will take down lies? I mean, it's just a pretty simple yes or no.


ALESCI: So bottom line here, Christine, this hearing was really supposed to be about Facebook's ambitions to develop a digital currency --

ROMANS: Currency.

ALESCI: -- and a digital wallet -- exactly. And what it turned into was this real overriding question that if Facebook can't manage the information and fact-check ads and be held accountable and responsible for some of the information on its site, how on earth can lawmakers or America, really, trust Facebook with something as sensitive as financial information and digital payments, Christine? ROMANS: Yes, a very good point and I'm sure it's not the last that we've heard of this.

Cristina Alesci in D.C. Thanks, Cristina.

ALESCI: Thank you, Christine.

BRIGGS: From Facebook to Google, who says it has designed a computer that needs only 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 a breakthrough in quantum computing. New technology can manipulate much more information than regular computers, which are limited to calculating zeroes and ones.

Google says the next step is to make quantum computing practical, which won't be easy. Technology could be applied to encryption, new devices, and developing lightweight car batteries.

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

Taking a look at markets around the world, leaning higher on this Thursday.

On Wall Street, futures barely moving here. I would say that's directionless here. It was also a quiet day for the major averages. The Dow closed up just 45 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq finished slightly higher as well.

It's really all about earnings right now. Ford posted strong third- quarter Wednesday but it warned investors don't expect to do as well in the fourth quarter. Ford said it's facing challenges, including higher than planned incentives to attract North America car buyers and lower sales in China.

Meanwhile, Tesla shares soared. It posted a surprise profit. Tesla made money -- $342 million in the third quarter. Analysts expected it would post a net loss as big as $257 million.

Tesla said it delivered 97,000 cars, outpacing deliveries it made the two previous quarters but it still faces slowing economic growth and trade tensions.

All right. In the race for holiday shoppers, major retailers are promising speedy deliveries and technology in stores. There are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, so sales are starting early. If you've noticed, you're right.

They're trying to draw shoppers away from Amazon, so Walmart and Best Buy are offering next-day delivery. And, Walmart is outfitting some workers with mobile checkout scanners to ring up customers on the spot.

The National Retail Federation estimates retail sales in November and December will grow as much as 4.2 percent. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WORLD SERIES ANNOUNCER: That's into center field and a couple more will score.


BRIGGS: The sizzling hot Washington Nationals heading home with a commanding two games to nothing lead in the World Series. The offense erupted in game two last night with six runs in the seventh on the way to a beatdown 12-3 of the Astros.

Fifty-five teams have raced to a 2-0 lead in the history of the World Series. Forty-four of them won it all.

The best performance by anyone in an Astros' jersey -- there it is -- Simone Biles, the GOAT. She stuck the landing and then threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Well done by Biles. A perfect 10, as always.

ROMANS: As always.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Here's "NEW DAY." See you Friday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They came storming into the room and started disrupting the proceeding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have every right to hear the testimony, to see the evidence.

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): It's a bunch of Freedom Caucus members having pizza around the conference table, pretending to be brave.

BRIGGS: "The Washington Post" reports House Democrats now say public impeachment hearings could begin by mid-November.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): If you want to impeach a duly-elected president you better be sure the American public is able to see it all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a tension now that is really undermining the Halls of Congress.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, October 24th, 6:00 here in New York.

Another busy morning.


CAMEROTA: Yes, it never stops.


CAMEROTA: The pace never slows down.

BERMAN: Thank goodness it's Friday.


We begin with several big developments in the impeachment inquiry "The Washington Post" reports that Democrats are hoping to finish private depositions of key witnesses in early November, then hold public hearings.