Return to Transcripts main page


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; President Trump Attends World Series Game Five; Woman Dies After Gender Reveal Party Explosion; One Year Since Three Of Life Synagogue Massacre; Markets Rise On Trade Optimism; Popeye's Chicken Sandwich Coming Back; Tiffany Receives Takeover Bid; SNL, Bill Clinton, Trump Share Impeachment Moment. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 28, 2019 - 04:30   ET




DAVE BRIGGS, 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.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The impeachment program sump this week. A key witness on the schedule today, but will he even show up?

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


BRIGGS: Welcome back to Early Start on a Monday, 1:30 out there on the West Coast. Scary stuff.

ROMANS: It sure is. I'm Christine Romans. He's Dave Briggs. It's 31 minutes past the hour here in New York. Let's begin with this -- U.S. Special forces, killing one of the world's 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.


ROMANS: 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 -- inspiring lone wolves around the world.

BRIGGS: 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?


ROMANS: All right, Barbara Starr, thank you for that.

Baghdadi may be gone but officials warn that ISIS will go on. Two senior sources tell us law enforcement agencies are on 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 these 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 in Iraq. And Nick, is it clear how the president's abrupt decision to withdraw the U.S. presence or downgrade the U.S. presence in Syria, whether that rushed this operation or affected this operation at all?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It seems certainly to have altered parts of the timetable, judging by the defense official who spoke to our Pentagon colleagues, saying how they had to hurry up targeting other key leaders there. [04:35:02]

Look, you know, you have to start asking about the presidential motivation. There seems to be a parallel thought process going on in the commander in chief's mind where in one moment he is having a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, in which he is agreeing to allow them to perform an incursion which eventually leads to about at least half of the territory which is special forces operating and hunting down ISIS being seeded to pro-Turkish forces.

While, in his own admission, he said at the same time, he was getting high-level briefings, saying that they were closing in on ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who he said in his speech, he had been looking for three years, despite mispronouncing his name twice. It is a startling parallel of series of events here and one cannot have not an effect on the other.

So, we're now seeing of course, a sped-up, it seems, series of events, too. U.S. forces realizing that footprint will be a lot smaller, saying that they will not have the eyes on the ground they need to keep track of high-level ISIS. Remember, a lot of times the U.S. know where these people are, but they want to follow them in order to be able to get higher level targets. Well, there's no high level targets, no (inaudible), so perhaps, we will be seeing more raids in the nights and weeks ahead.

We already know that the Syrian Kurds who say five months ago, they provided some of the information that helped lead to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, they last night said there was another raid, targeting another member of Baghdadi's inner circle near a town called Jarabulus. Hard to authenticate or confirm. But that's a sign the Syrian Kurds want to keep broadcasting the nature of their assistance here.

The big outstanding question though is what did Turkey know? Turkey has a lot of influence in Idlib where Baghdadi was hiding. He was hiding a matter of miles. Covered in one hand from the Turkish border. Does this fundamentally mean Turkey has questions to answer? Christine?

ROMANS: Absolutely. All right, a lot of questions. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for that from Iraq.

BRIGGS: 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 usual 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.


ROMANS: But the president did notified the Russians, something the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi was quick to point out that the Russians were indeed 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, insisting the death of Baghdadi was a 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.


ROMANS: 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.

BRIGGS: 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 with 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.

ROMANS: Charles Kupperman was the deputy, the 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 a potential 2020 rival Joe Biden. The White House has ordered Kupperman not to testify. The Democrats are standing by their subpoena requiring him to. So, Kupperman has ask a judge to decide what he should do.

BRIGGS: Vice President Mike Pence is refusing to say whether the U.S. officials were lying when they testified President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. U.S. diplomat William Taylor told House investigators the president withheld military aide and refuse to meet with Ukraine's president as part of the pressure campaign. Listen to the Vice President evade, giving a yes or no, when asked if he had knowledge of the president's efforts.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can only tell you what I know. And what I know is that the transcript of the president's call with President Zelensky, shows that there was no quid pro quo and he did nothing wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But were you aware of that deal that they are --


And sworn under oath existed?

PENCE: I can also tell you and all of my interactions with President Zelensky. We focused entirely on his President Zelensky's agenda.



BRIGGS: The president denies withholding military aid in exchange for political help for investigations. That denial has been contradicted by several career officials.

ROMANS: All right. A candid warning from the president's former chief of staff.


JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Whatever you do, don't hire a yes man.


ROMANS: The White House's stinging rebuttal to John Kelly, next.


ROMANS: All right. California is under a statewide emergency as wind- whipped wildfires in the north and south of the state spread, destroying homes and forcing almost 200,000 people to flee.

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






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

About 100,000 lost power after powerful winds knocked down power lines or damaged infrastructure. California Governor Gavin Newsome describing a historic wind event with unprecedented scope. The National Weather Service says, winds reaching 70 to 80 miles per 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.


ROMANS: 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 to evacuees and relief workers. Meantime, in southern California, L.A. county fire officials say the tick fire has destroyed at least 22 structures and threatened 10,000 more.

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.

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

ROMANS: 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. Amazon had been seen as the front-runner to win the bidding, but the president, President Trump put himself in the process, questioning whether the process is fair. Even though multiple reviews found little evidence of wrongdoing.

Trump, of course, is a frequent critic of Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos. He has accused the company of taking advantage of the postal service without evidence. He doesn't like the coverage of the Washington Post, which Bezos owns. 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 at the outcome of the decision and then Amazon web services is the clear leader in cloud computing.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, the insanely popular Popeye's chicken sandwich isn't too chicken to make a return. CNN Business, next.



ROMANS: California Congresswoman Katie Hill has resigned. She was facing allegations of improper relationships with staffers. Hill released a statement calling the decision to step down, 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: An Iowa woman lost her life. An explosion at a gender reveal Party gone tragically wrong. Police say the 56 year-old woman died after being struck by a flying piece of debris from the blast. The rest of the circumstances are still not completely clear. CNN affiliate KCCI reports that the sheriff plans to release more details on the incident this morning.

ROMANS: Eleven candles lit on stage, marking the one-year anniversary of the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Eleven people were killed in the shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in United States history. In his term, the rabbi talked about how he looked to god for the right words to say.



HAZZAN JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE: I complained about the paradox in the opening verse of Psalm 23. The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Although this might seem totally impious, I have learned from Mick Jagger that I can't always get what I want, but if I try sometimes, I find, I get what I need. Who would think you'd get word from Mick Jagger.



ROMANS: The World Trade Center also paid tribute by lighting up blue and white for the day of action to combat anti-Semitism. The day was declared by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to remember those victims. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is punched into left. Good-bye.


BRIGGS: That's 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 shocking 3-2 lead, heading back to Texas for game six.

Gerrit Cole, 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 five -- first five games of the World Series. President Trump, by the way and the first lady there to see it.

Mr. Trump greeted by mostly boos and then this chant.


CROWD CHANTING: Lock him up.


BRIGGS: That's lock him up for those who couldn't catch it. The series now heads back to Houston for game six.

ROMANS: All right, let's go check on CNN business this Monday morning. In global markets, you've got Asian shares moving higher here. But Europe opening pretty much mixed. A phase one trade deal between the U.S. and China, a little bit of optimism about that at least in Asian markets.

On Wall Street, futures leaning higher a bit. The markets are pretty close to record highs. And you know, this week, there are going to be a lot of reasons to move one way or the other. A lot of data on Wednesday. The fed is expected to cut interest rates for the third meeting in a row. We'll get a first read of third quarter GDP economic growth forecasts, just about 1.5 percent or so.

On Friday, the Labor Department releases the jobs data for October. All of this against the backdrop of a ballooning federal budget deficit. The Treasury Department Friday, announced a widening deficit of almost a trillion dollars.

All right, Louie Vuitton owner LVMH is thinking inside the box, the (inaudible) blue box that is. LVMH offering to buy tiffany for $120 a share, all-cash. That values Tiffany at close to $14.5 billion. The Wall Street Journal says this deal would help LVMH increase its exposure to jewelry, one of the fastest growing businesses in the luxury market. Tiffany has struggled to grow sales in recent years. It is said to be evaluating this offer.

All right. This is the most anticipated comeback of the year in the world of fast food. Popeyes is bringing back that spicy chicken sandwich. This is according to the Wall Street Journal. The sandwich sold out after a viral marketing campaign. It involve Popeyes and rivals exchanging snarky comments on social media. Since then, the company struggled to find suppliers that could deliver chicken of the right size and quantity. A sandwich sold out in about two weeks. The supply was supposed to last for three months.

BRIGGS: So, it was not a publicity stunt.

ROMANS: No. Every time we talk about these chicken sandwiches running out, it's more publicly.

BRIGGS: Yes. Did you try it?

ROMANS: I've never tried it. It was always -- I couldn't get it.

BRIGGS: I tried to try it. But the drive-through took too long.

All right, ahead. Saturday Night Live, naturally as you might imagine focusing heavily on impeachment. They brought back an old friend with some experience on the subject.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, I wish I would have known that the president could be on the road like this doing rallies. Can you imagine, oh, my lord, I would never come home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Bill, you know, I'm getting impeached. Right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are? You dirty dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not for that. They don't mind when I do that. Trust me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that is progress.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what the hell happened to Rudy Giuliani? I'm in New York. I remember Giuliani coming out on TV (inaudible) on 11, so calm and measured. And he told us not to worry. And now, I watch him on TV and I go, wait. Did this guy understand what was going on then? Was he like Forrest Gump in Vietnam? Somehow Giuliani went from the mayor of 9/11 to the 9/11 of mayors.


BRIGGS: That one hit hard. Early Start continues right now.

The founder of ISIS killed in a U.S. operation in Syria.