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ISIS Founder Killed In U.S. Operation; President Trump Did Not Inform Dems Before Raid; Will Impeachment Witness Show Up; California Wildfire Threat Grows; Microsoft Wins Pentagon Contract; Rep. Katie Hill Resigns; Houston Astros Apologizes To Sports Illustrated Journalist; President Trump Attends World Series Game Five. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired October 28, 2019 - 04:00   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The founder of ISIS killed in a U.S. operation in Syria. But big concerns about what's next with the U.S. reducing its role in the region.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The impeachment program sump this week. A key witness on the schedule today. But will he show up?

ROMANS: All of California, now under a state of emergency. Historic winds feeding wildfires, 200,000 people forced to flee, a 1 million power customers in California, in the dark.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is Early Start, I'm Christine Romans. Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning. Good morning everyone, I'm Dave Briggs. It is Monday, October 28, 4:00 a.m. in New York, 1:00 a.m. on the West Coast. We will have reports from there shortly.

We start though with U.S. Special Forces, killing one of the most wanted men in a daring and dangerous raid.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is dead. He was the founder and leader of ISIS, the most ruthless and violent terror organization anywhere in the world. He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others, spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.


BRIGGS: President Trump and his team watching as the founder and leader of ISIS was killed, bringing a long search for a ruthless extremist to a dramatic end. Baghdadi grew, ISIS from an insurgent gang to a formidable quasi state that spawned copycat groups and lone wolves around the world.

ROMANS: The raid that killed him was carried out in northern Syria, just weeks after President Trump pulled U.S. troops out. A source tells CNN the withdrawal had a major effect on planning the Baghdadi operation. The source says, it would have been impossible without U.S. troops stationed in Syria and their partnership with the Kurds. More now from Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Christine, President Trump offering explicit details about how Abu Bakr al Baghdadi met his fate when U.S. Special Forces landed at the compound in northwest Syria, where he had been hiding out. About 100 troops coming in on eight helicopters with overwhelming firepower. They called for Baghdadi to come out. He did not. He apparently fled into an underground tunnel.

And it was at that point, that he detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three children he had dragged down there with him. U.S. Forces then spent about two hours at the compound gathering intelligence, the kind of thing they typically look for, computers, laptop computers, cell phones with data of addresses or context, any documents, any photographs, anything that might give them clues about who Baghdadi had been communicating with, what the network looked like, whether their operatives even potentially outside of Syria and Iraq.

But with U.S. troops coming out of Syria, the real question at hand is whether they will be able to readily continue these kinds of raids. They have to depend clearly on intelligence on the ground and if U.S. troops are not on the ground getting that intelligence to be able to conduct these types of raids may be increasingly hard. Dave, Christine?


BRIGGS: Barbara Starr, thanks.

Baghdadi may be gone, but officials warn that ISIS will go on. Two senior law sources tell us the alert for potential retaliation from ISIS sympathizers inside the U.S. One defense official suggests there could be more operations targeting high-value terrorists in Idlib, Syria. The senior defense source says the targeting operations require a presence on the ground which the official says will be harder to do as we withdraw. For more, let's go live to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. Nick, Good morning.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave, one of the glaring contradictions in Donald Trump's speech yesterday, was the recognition, that while he was busy ordering the withdrawal, the dismantling of the U.S. counter-terror mission inside of Syria. Remember, that is what happened, when he gave the green light to Turkey, to launch their incursion, putting into chain, a series of events that led to pretty half of the territory which the U.S. had presence of being handed over, eventually, to Turkish forces. But at the same time, too, Donald Trump said, he was being briefed on

this operation to go and get Baghdadi. Those two things, very hard to consider compatible, frankly.


And at the same time, I think, we are hearing now, from U.S. officials that they're having to speed up operations, because of the nature of this withdrawal. That there are high-value targets within Idlib, within Syria, that they said they simply can't let live, because they can't keep eyes on them, if they're going to have forces pulled back.

Now we see, U.S. officials and intelligence likes to keep eyes on various people's whereabouts to know where they are, to gain more intelligence, to be able to go off to someone like Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. And now seems they're into a more aggressive phase of operations. Hard to get full transparency on it.

But the Syrian Kurds, who say they contributed five months ago, key intelligence information that led them to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. They are in fact saying last night, that there was an operation near Jarabulus, which is going after yet another key leader in ISIS, inside a Baghdadi's inner circle.

We may learned more about that. It's obvious though, of course, when you go through the compound of someone like Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, you will be looking for clues, cell phones, computer records, anything really that shows where his other accomplices may have been. But this is bare and no doubt here, this is a body blow, certainly, for ISIS. They will have to regroup. They will continue to function. They have a succession plan already in place. But really, the symbolic death of the man who offered their ideology, absolutely key. Dave?

BRIGGS: A very complicated U.S. mission moving forward. Nick Paton Walsh, live for us in Iraq this morning, thank you.

ROMANS: President Trump did not inform any key Democrats about the Baghdadi raid, because this was a U.S. military operations and not a covert intelligence operations. He was not required to provide advance notice. But it does defy the typical protocol for such high profile operations. The president suggesting that by informing Democrats, Baghdadi might had been tipped off.


TRUMP: We were going to notify them last night, but we decided not to do that, because Washington leaks like I've never seen before. There's nothings -- there's no country in the world that leaks like we do. And Washington is a leaking machine. And I told my people we will not notify them until our great people are out. Not just in, but out.


BRIGGS: House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi was quick to point out that the Russians were notified of the raid in advance, but not the top Congressional leaders. After making his big announcement, the president made a series of dubious claims, even insisting the death of Baghdadi was a quote, bigger deal than Osama Bin Laden's assassination.


TRUMP: Bin Laden was a big thing, but this is the biggest there is, this is the worst-ever. Osama Bin Laden was very big. But Osama Bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center. This is a man who built a whole -- as we should like to call it -- a country, a caliphate. And he was trying to do it again.


BRIGGS: You might recall this 2012 tweet from Donald Trump after Bin Laden's death. He wrote, stop congratulating Obama for killing Bin Laden. The navy SEALS killed Bin Laden.

ROMANS: Baghdadi's death may relieve the political pressure on President Trump in some respects, but it's not slowing the pace of House Democrats' impeachment probe. The testimony set this week from a half-dozen national security and State Department officials. Much of the intrigue hovering over whether today's witness will even show up.

BRIGGS: Charles Kupperman was the deputy former national security adviser to John Bolton. He listened in on the infamous July 25th call where Trump press the president of Ukraine to investigate potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. The White House has ordered Kupperman not to testify. The Democrats are standing by their subpoena requiring him to. Kupperman has ask the judge to decide what he should do, Zach Wolf now in Washington.


ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: The White House has made clear that it won't be cooperating with the impeachment inquiry, but what is a former White House official supposed to do? This new chapter in the ongoing standoff between the Trump administration, Democrats in the House went to a third branch of government on Friday. Kupperman filed a lawsuit essentially asking the court for guidance. Is he immune from Congressional process? As White House lawyers contend.

Or can he testify and avert a contempt of Congress citation from Democrats. The implications are bigger that Kupperman know. He shares a lawyer with John Bolton, the former national security adviser, who compared Trump's shadow foreign policy operation, to a drug deal. Democrats shot back in a legal filing over the weekend, that Kupperman was trying to delay and obstruct the lawful constitutional functions of Congress, and conceal evidence about his conduct from the impeachment inquiry.

Impeachment investigators will also hear from several State Department officials and later in a week, Alexander Vinman, a national Security Council adviser on Ukraine. And Tim Morrison, a top Russian adviser, at the White House. It will be another busy week for the impeachment inquiry. Dave and Christine?



ROMANS: It sure will. All right, Zach, thank you for that.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, Microsoft beats out Amazon for major defense contract. Was the president's disdain for Jeff Bezos behind the move?


BRIGGS: 1:14 hour in the West Coast, California under a statewide emergency, as wind-whipped wildfires in the north and south of the state, continue to spread, destroying homes and forcing almost 200,000 people to flee.

Terrifying. Amid Northern California's wine country, the Kincaid fire has expanded to about 50,000 acres and is 10 percent contained. Two firefighters suffered burned injuries. Soda Rock Winery, a landmarked dating back to 1869, engulfed in flames.





ROMANS: People driving on I-80, terrified as fires roared all around them, closed to a million Pacific gas and Electric customers lost power in these outages, planned to prevent new wildfires. It could be in the dark until Thursday now.


About 100,000 people lost power after a powerful winds knocked down power poles or damaged infrastructure. Governor Gavin Newsome describing a historic wind event with unprecedented scope. The National Weather Service says, winds reaching 70 to 80 miles an hour. Officials say, Californians should not expect immediate relief.


BRIAN VITORELO, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY AND FIRE PROTECTION: We have done everything that smart planning and firefighter and citizen safety can allow. This is a very difficult event to stop, because it exacerbates fire behavior so drastically.


BRIGGS: All 40 Sonoma County public school districts are closed today and tomorrow. More than 800 Airbnb hosts in northern California have opened up their homes and rental properties for free for evacuees and relief workers. Meantime, in southern California, L.A. fire county officials say the tick fire has destroyed at least 22 structures and threatened 10,000 more.

ROMANS: The fifth-largest economy in the world, all those people in the dark or facing flames.

All right, to business now. Microsoft won a hotly contested contract to provide cloud services to the defense department. A contract said to be worth as much as $10 billion over the next decade. Now, Amazon had been seen as the front-runner to win the bidding, but the president, President Trump put himself into these process, questioning whether the process have been fair. Even though multiple reviews found real evidence of wrongdoing.

Now, Trump is a frequent critic of Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos. He has accused the company of taking advantage of the pollster service without evidence. He doesn't like the coverage of the Washington Post, which Bezos owns and he complains about. Trump became involved in the decision according to a new biography of former defense secretary Jim Mattis.

Now, Trump reportedly called Mattis and told him to quote, screw Amazon out of the chance to bid on the contract. Amazon said in a statement, it is surprise of the decision and then Amazon web services is the clear leader in cloud computing.

BRIGGS: President Trump, denying that former White House chief of staff, John Kelly, warned him last year against hiring a yes man or risk being impeached. At an interview at the Sea Island summit political conference hosted by the Washington Examiner this weekend, Kelly described his advice to the president.


JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I said, whatever you do -- and we were still in the process of trying find someone to take my place -- I said, whatever you do, don't hire a yes man, someone that's not going to tell you -- it won't tell the truth. Don't do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached.


BRIGGS: Kelly's comments come after his successor, Mick Mulvaney brassily confirmed and then denied a quid pro quo for Ukraine's security aid by President Trump. In a statement to CNN, the president says, quote, John Kelly never said that. He never said anything like that. If he would have said that, I would have thrown him out of the office. He just wants to come back into the action like everybody else does.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, also responded saying, and we quote, I worked with John Kelly and he was totally, unequipped to handle the genius of our great president.

ROMANS: All right, 18 minutes past the hour. Allegations of improper relationships have cost an up-and-coming Congresswoman her job.


ROMANS: Welcome back. California Congresswoman Katie Hill has resigned. She was facing allegations of improper relationships with staffers. Hill releases a statement calling the decision to step down, quote, the hardest thing she's ever had to do.

She also called it the best thing for her constituents. Last week, Hill admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a campaign staffer before taking office. The House Ethics Committee had also announced it would investigate a separate allegation of a relationship with a staffer in her Congressional office.

BRIGGS: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane apologizing to Sports Illustrated journalist, Stephanie Apstein. Last week, the Astros trashed a story Apstein criticizing now former Astros' executive Brandon Taubman. The story of Taubman yelled at three female reporters, bragging about acquiring a pitcher suspended for domestic violence. Astro's officials called the article quote, misleading and irresponsible. But now in a letter shared by Apstein, Crane tells her quote, we were wrong and I am sorry that we initially questioned your professionals.

ROMANS: All right. Former Congressman, John Conyers died Sunday. The Michigan Democrats was a founding member of the Congressional black caucus. He was elected in 1964. Eventually becoming a chairman of the house Judiciary Committee and become the longest serving African- American member of Congress in history. He resigned in 2017, amid sexual harassment allegations. Conyers was 90 years old.

BRIGGS: A North Carolina man's good day got even better when he won a $200,000 lottery prize on his last day of chemotherapy. Ronnie Foster said he decided to buy two tickets after the first one he purchased only scored him only five bucks. The first ticket won him nothing. But then, he scratched that lucky second one. After taxes, Foster takes home more than $140,000, he says some of the money will pay off treatment costs were not covered by his insurance. The rest will be saved quote, for the future.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible), crushed into left. Good-bye.


BRIGGS: That's the crack of the bat from George Springer, hitting in Houston's third home run of the game, powering the Astros to a 7-1 win over the Nationals in game five of the World Series. That gives Houston a 3-2 lead, heading back to Texas for game six.


It was ace Gerrit Cole, who gave up just one run over seven innings to pick-up the win for the Astros. This is the first time since 1996, the road team has won each of the first five games in a World Series. President Trump and first lady Melania, were there to see this game. Let's call it a mix. But certainly a lot of boos there. And then, there was this chant.

That's lock him up for those of that couldn't hear it. Several sections throughout the stadium and a critic of the president, Jose Andres, a chef, a celebrity chef, true out the first pitch. Some felt they may even trolling the president, but politics certainly on the menu at game five.

ROMANS: I would say -- 16 minutes past the hour. U.S. raid takes down the founder of ISIS. But after the president calls U.S. troops, can operations like this continue without eyes on the ground.