Return to Transcripts main page


House to Enact Rules for Public Impeachment Inquiry; Wildfires Raging Across California; Nats Force Game 7 in World Series. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired October 30, 2019 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: House Democrats to start setting up a public formal impeachment process. Will the White House cooperate?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Southern California on alert for an extreme fire danger with at least 26 million people under red flag warnings.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One out. Now they're with two outs. And Rendon shoots one into left. Back at the wall and it is gone!


ROMANS: The Nats strike back, beating the Houston Astros and forcing game seven in the World Series.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Some controversy in that game regarding the umpires.

I'm Dave Briggs. It's Wednesday, October 30th, 4:00 a.m. in New York, it's 11:00 a.m. on the Turkish/Syria border, 1:00 a.m. in California. We'll go there shortly.

But first, after weeks of closed-door testimony, House Democrats begin setting up their formal impeachment process, starting with a committee debate this afternoon. The panel will consider a resolution on the scope and rules for the next steps in the impeachment inquiry, ahead of a full house vote on Thursday. That vote will mark the first time each House Democrat will have to go on record on the attempt to oust the president.

More now from Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill.


LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Dave and Christine, Democrats unveiled their new resolution. Basically, what it does is it sets up the rules for the next steps of the impeachment inquiry. It announces that the Intelligence Committee will have a report they'll send over to the Judiciary Committee. It also expands minority rights.

Basically, what it does is it gives Republicans an opportunity to request testimony and documents from individuals. Of course, they have to do that with consultation from the Democratic chairman. And if there's a agreement, there will be a full committee vote.

Of course, Republicans are arguing that gives Democrats more of an advantage, because they have the majority in the House of Representatives. But most importantly, it gives the president of the United States, Donald Trump, his own rights in this impeachment probe. What it does is it sets out the opportunity for the president and his lawyer to present their case and respond to evidence, to attend hearings, including those in executive session, and raise objections and cross-examine witnesses.

Of course, this all undercuts a key Republican talking point that this process has been happening behind closed doors and that it doesn't give Republicans or the president a right to defend the party.

So, obviously, this is a big step. Democrats are planning to bring this not floor on Thursday for a vote -- Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill.

The House impeachment inquiry hearing from its first witness who actually listened in on the call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the national security official in charge of Ukraine policy, testified for more than 10 hours.

ROMANS: Sources say Vindman told lawmakers the White House' rough transcript was mostly accurate, but that he would have made a couple of minor changes. One of them to this section, where Zelensky says he or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in the issue.

According to Vindman, instead of the company, Zelensky specified Burisma. That's the name of the energy firm that employed Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

BRIGGS: Vindman also pointed to the ellipses in the statement, quote, Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it, dot, dot, dot, it sounds horrible to me. Now, according to Vindman, where the three dots were, President Trump said there were tapes of Biden, an apparent reference to Joe Biden speaking at a 2018 event.

That contradicts the White House which told reporters that nothing was missing there, it was just a pause.

ROMANS: All right. A tense moment in Vindman's deposition as a shouting match broke out between the parties. Five sources from both sides of the aisle tell us that Democrats accused Republicans of trying to out the anonymous whistle-blower whose report sparked this inquiry. They claim the GOP line of questioning on who Vindman had spoken was meant to reveal the whistle-blower's identity.

Republicans pushed back and the exchange became heated. Lawmakers say Vindman testified that he does not know who the whistle-blower is.

BRIGGS: Some key lawmakers slamming fellow Republicans for trying to smear yesterday's witness, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. On Tuesday, Trump called Vindman a never Trumper. And on "NEW DAY", former Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy suggested Vindman was more concerned about Ukraine, which his family fled when he was 3, than the U.S., where he's an Army officer.



SEAN DUFFY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense. I don't know that he's concerned about American policy, but his main mission was to make sure that the Ukraine got those weapons.


BRIGGS: Within hours, Duffy's sentiments were being denounced from all sides. Here's house GOP conference chair, Liz Cheney.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Questioning the patriotism, questioning the dedication to country of people like Mr. Vindman, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, who will be coming today, and others who have testified. We're talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation, who have put their lives on the line, and it is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation, and we should not be involved in that process.


BRIGGS: On the other side of the Capitol, the number two Republican, John Thune, and Senator Mitt Romney were both calling the attacks on Vindman's patriotism a, quote, mistake.

ROMANS: Meantime, one Republican lawmaker is thumbing his nose at the Democratic-led impeachment process. Florida Congressman Ted Yoho says he hasn't attended any impeachment depositions, despite sitting on one of the committee's hearing closed-door testimony from these witnesses. That includes the Vindman deposition on Tuesday.

Here's what he told CNN about why he was a no-show.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: But why are you not there?

REP. TED YOHO (R-FL): Because I have other responsibilities in the House and I see this as a side show. HARLOW: Respectfully, Congressman, as glad as I am that you're on the

show, you don't need to be on this show. You could be in there -- you could be in there deposing --

YOHO: Well, I've got my questions written down.


ROMANS: The GOP have accused Democrats of running an illegitimate impeachment inquiry behind closed doors.

BRIGGS: Later today, two more officials testify on Capitol Hill. Both previously worked under Kurt Volker. Volker was a Trump appointee who communicated with Ukrainian officials about the president's desire for investigation into the Bidens. In the morning, lawmakers hear from State Department special adviser for Ukraine, Catherine Croft. She previously focused on Ukraine at the National Security Council.

In the afternoon, Croft's predecessor, special adviser for Ukraine, Christopher Anderson, testifies.

A new CNN poll shows two New England senators, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren running neck and neck for the lead in New Hampshire, site of the first 2020 Democratic presidential primary. The poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire has Sanders at 21 percent, Warren at 18 percent. They're followed by Joe Biden at 15, Pete Buttigieg at 10 percent.

Although his support in the granite state has dipped since July, 36 percent still see Biden as the Democrat with the best chance to defeat Trump in November. But Elizabeth Warren has gained ground on that question, jumping from 9 percent to 18 percent in the last three months.

ROMANS: Julian Castro is polling far behind the top 2020 Democrats, but he's not giving up the fight just yet. Castro says he has hit 80 percent of his fund-raising goal for the end of October. The former San Antonio mayor has told supporters he needs to raise $80,000 by the end of the month or he will end his campaign.

BRIGGS: Meantime, Democratic front-runner Joe Biden is keeping up his new, tougher tone towards president Trump. Biden telling CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin, quote, it's like dealing not with a commander in chief, but a whiner in chief. It's bizarre.

Biden slammed the Trump foreign policy as utterly incompetent and says he must reverse course on the Syria troop pullout that abandoned America's Kurdish allies.

ROMANS: All right. America's economy is slowing, but how much? In a few hours, we'll get a chance of how the trade war, a global slowdown, a GM strike, Boeing, and the fading effects of those tax cuts, how they have rippled through the U.S. economy in the third quarter. The Atlanta Fed estimates the economy grew 1.7 percent for the quarter. The New York Fed, slightly more optimistic at 1.9 percent. Others down at 1.4 to 1.5 percent.

Look, there was a sugar rush from tax cuts early last year, but that growth appears to be fading. What happened to the 4, 5, 6 percent growth that President Trump promised? The president's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, blamed one of Trump's favorite targets.


PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: I know where 1 percent of that is. And that's Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve.

ROMANS: You think so?

NAVARRO: Absolutely, no question. And if you look at Q2, GDP numbers, we lost two-thirds of a point to export fall alone. And that's all on Jay Powell.

ROMANS: We certainly don't want to emulate --

NAVARRO: Jerome Powell.


ROMANS: And he talked about how there were negative interest rates in the rest of the world, and I was saying, you don't want to emulate the rest of the world. This economy is still the strongest one.

Even if you believe that a percentage point of growth is gone because of the Fed, this is still not the super charged economic growth that the president promised. That GDP report comes out just as the Federal Reserve meets, just hours before announcing whether the Fed will cut interest rates for a third time this year.


BRIGGS: What do we figure the trade war took out? A percent? More or less?

RONMANS: That's interesting. There is definitely a drag. I heard someone yesterday describing economic growth right now. It feels like the Obama economy with the added -- with the added down -- you know, the added drag of a trade war.

BRIGGS: Trade war, yes.

All right. Ahead, Russia and Turkey starting a patrol inside Syria after America's Kurdish allies are told to get out of the way. We're live on the Turkish/Syrian border, next.



BRIGGS: Russia and Turkey are moving into northern Syria to set up patrols to make sure Kurdish fighters have moved out of the region. Under the agreement, the two countries will take control of a narrow strip along the border.

That's where you'll find Sam Kiley live with more on all of this.

Sam, good morning.


Yes, this is a momentous occasion from the perspective of the Turks and the Russians. Relatively peaceful in the first 12 or so hours of this withdrawal or requirement, getting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to leave that band of territory, 32 kilometers, about 28 miles or so deep inside Syria.

Now, that is sort of going okay, but the issues rarely remain as to what is the long-term future for the remaining area under Kurdish dominance in Syria, which the Syrians don't like, the Turks don't like, and the Russians are pretty indifferent to. Because within that, and we've seen recently pictures have emerged, video pictures from prisons, one prison or a number of prisons holding 10,000 ISIS fighters under lock and key, guarded by the Kurds.

And another camp where there were 70,000 members of families alleged to have been associated with the so-called Islamic State. This obviously is a repository. If they were to escape, if the camps which were there be abandoned, if the Kurdish administration were to collapse, this would be a repository for the regrowth of some sort of terrorist movement, a new terrorist army, perhaps under the banner of the so-called Islamic State.

Highly problematic issue that remains to be resolved by the international community. Notably, as Donald Trump has repeatedly said, Christine and Dave, the Europeans have essentially washed their hands of the many hundreds of citizens that hail from Europe that went to join the Islamic State, that are locked up in these camps, in which they don't want to take home.

BRIGGS: Volatile situation, to say the least.

Sam Kiley live for us along the Turkish/Syrian border. Thanks.

ROMANS: All right. About 17 minutes past the hour.

The U.K. heading for an early election in December, as the European Union formally adopts an extension to Brexit. The departure of Britain from the E.U. now delayed until January 31st. The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, warned Britain that the extension may be the last one. Please make the best use of this time.

This as the House of Commons votes to hold a general election on December 12th. The bill still has to be signed off by the House of Lords. It's a win for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who demanded a new election after losing support for his tough Brexit proposals in the Lower House.

BRIGGS: The parents of a British teen killed in a motorcycle crash involving the wife of a U.S. diplomat say they will sue the U.S. government. Harry Dunn's family accused the Trump administration of, quote, lawless misconduct and a cover-up. They will also sue the American diplomat's wife for civil damage damages. The Dunn family spokesman saying that no one is above the law and the family are determined to ensure that this never happens to their family again. It will be Harry's memorial, his legacy.

Harry Dunn was killed in the U.K. in August after he was hit by a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road at the time. Police say Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity.

ROMANS: At least 26 million people under red flag warnings. Southern California on alert for extreme fire danger. We've got more, next.



ROMANS: In California, strong winds are fueling major wildfires across the state. The largest, the Kincade Fire, has burned more than 76,000 acres in California's Wine Country. It's just 15 percent contained. Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed, including nearly 90 homes.

Take a look, though, at this stunning video or photo that's getting a lot of attention. A California couple decides their wedding must go on, despite the heavy smoke conditions and evacuations in Sonoma County. A beautiful Wine Country wedding with face masks. Southern California's Getty Fire near L.A. is threatening some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

Celebrities from LeBron James to Arnold Schwarzenegger are among the thousands forced to evacuate. The National Weather Service warns conditions will get even worse today.

Let's get more from Stephanie Elam. She's in L.A. for us.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, they're saying this wind event is like no other. So much so that the national weather service has now said that this is an extreme weather event, the first time they've ever used language like that for Los Angeles. They're saying that these winds could be as much as 80 miles per hour and in-line with some hurricane-force winds.

That said, they're saying that people should not mess around and they want people to be ready, prepared to leave at a moment's notice out of their homes. Obviously, we are standing in part of the area that has been affected by the Getty Fire. Firefighters still out, still monitoring any hot spots that are burning, because they want to make sure they can tamp those down as much as possible, as these winds pick up and increase, because they don't want those embers to catch on the wind and blow miles away and start a fire in another neighborhood, as we've already seen, about a dozen homes lost here in the Getty Fire.


Another bit of news as the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, coming out and saying that the power companies are going to credit the millions of Californians that have been living without power during these two wind events, as they have affected people in northern California at the Kincade Fire and people here at the Getty Fire -- Christine and Dave.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two out and Rendon shoots one into left. Back at the wall. It is gone!


BRIGGS: The Washington nationals forcing a winner-take-all game seven of the world series. The Nats winning game six, 7-2 over the Astros. A big night for third baseman Anthony Rendon who drove in five of the seven runs and an historic post season continues for pitcher Stephen Strasbourg who pitched into the ninth for his record fifth post-season win.

Washington manager Dave Martinez was ejected in the seventh inning after arguing a controversial call. It's the first time a manager has been tossed from a World Series game since 1996. The first time ever in the World Series or NHL or NBA. The road teams won each of the first six games in a deciding series. Game seven tonight in Houston.

ROMANS: All right. In Chicago, a strike by public schoolteachers now entering its tenth day. The city's mayor and union leaders met for almost five hours Tuesday, but did not reach an agreement.

The union president says progress has been made in the negotiations. He says there have been meaningful and important offers, but they haven't settled everything.

Talks are expected to resume this morning. Chicago Teachers Union officials could vote as early as today if there is a tentative agreement in place.

BRIGGS: Johnson & Johnson says new lab tests found no asbestos in recalled baby powder. Earlier this month, they recalled about 33,000 bottles after an FDA test found low levels of the carcinogen in a bottle purchased tested online. They company says more than a dozen new tests of the same bottle found no asbestos contamination.

Officials say an additional 48 tests of sample from the recalled baby powder lot also found no asbestos. The tests were performed by two third-party labs as part of the company's testing and investigation.

ROMANS: All right. Comedy fans mourning the sudden death of actor John Witherspoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN WITHERSPOON, ACTOR: Hey! Hey! Come on out of that house! Oh, damn! Oh, goodness gracious. What is going on here? Oh, man. Oh --


ROMANS: Witherspoon started in stand-up, but he's probably best known for his role as Ice Cube's father in the "Friday" movie franchise. He was also featured in the "Wayne's Brothers" and "The Tracey Morgan Show". Ice Cube paid tribute to Witherspoon in a tweet, saying he is devastated and life won't be as funny without him.

Witherspoon was 77 years old.

BRIGGS: Oh, man. One of the funniest guys in Hollywood. If you've seen "Boomerang" --


BRIGGS: -- you've got to coordinate. He was an absolute legend, will be missed.

Ahead in just hours, Ukraine experts are headed to Capitol Hill as House Democrats get ready to bring the impeachment inquiry out from behind closed doors. That's just ahead.