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Dems Mull Rules for Public Impeachment Probe; Wildfires Raging Across California; Nats Force Game 7 in World Series; NCAA: Athletes Can Get Endorsements. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 30, 2019 - 04:30   ET




DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Today, House Democrats are taking their first steps to bring the impeachment inquiry out from behind closed doors into the public eye.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Wildfires raging through California, millions under red flag warnings. Fears now that strong winds could make these fires worse.

BRIGGS: The NCAA overturning a long-standing rule, deciding to let collegiate athletes profit from endorsements. Several caveats, though.


BRIGGS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 33 minutes past the hour here in New York. Good morning, everyone.

After weeks of closed-door testimony, House Democrats begin setting up their formal public impeachment process, starting with a committee debate this afternoon. Now, 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, that Thursday vote will mark the first time each House Democrat will have to go on the record in 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.


ROMANS: All right. Lauren, thanks for that.

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

BRIGGS: 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, quote, he or she will look into the situation specifically to the company that you mentioned in this 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.

ROMANS: Vindman also pointed to the ellipses in the sentence, Biden went around 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 are, President Trump said there were tapes of Biden, an apparent reference to Joe Biden speaking at an event in 2018.

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

BRIGGS: A tense moment in Vindman's deposition as a shouting match break out between the two parties. Five sources from both sides of the aisle tell us that Democrats accused Republicans of trying to out the whistle-blower that sparked the inquiry. They claim the GOP line of questioning on who Vindman had spoken to would 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.

ROMANS: Later today, two more officials testify on Capitol Hill, both previously worked under former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Volker was a Trump appointee who communicated with Ukrainian officials about the president's desire for investigations 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 as special adviser for Ukraine, Christopher Anderson, testifies.

BRIGGS: Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser and son-in-law to the president, is striking back Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Biden has said it was improper for Kushner and Ivanka Trump to serve as top White House officials.

Here's how Kushner responded.


JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Look, he's entitled to his opinion, but a lot of the work that the president's had me doing over the last three years has actually been cleaning up the messes that Vice President Biden left behind.


BRIGGS: The interview came during a trip that Kushner made to Israel, where he met with Israel's current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his political opponent and potential next prime minister, Benny Gantz.

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

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 President Trump in November. Elizabeth Warren has gained ground on that question, jumping from 9 percent to 18 percent in the last three months.

BRIGGS: Julian Castro is polling far behind the top 2020 Democrats, but he is not giving up the fight just yet. Castro says he has hit 80 percent of his fund-raising goal for the end of percent. The former San Antonio mayor has told supporters he needed to raise $800,000 by the end of the month or he would end his campaign.

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: The longest nation-wide auto strike in 50 years will end up costing General Motors almost $3 billion. The six-week strike cost the automaker just under $750 million in the final two weeks of the third quarter. Although GM was unable to build any cars at American factories during the strike, it had built up an inventory to give its dealers what they needed to keep selling.

But as production picks back up, CEO Mary Barra said with no additional vehicles in the pipeline for many weeks, our dealer inventories will be temporarily leaner than we like. Barra also said it will be hard to make up for six weeks of loss production particularly for its best selling vehicles.


GM insisted the four-year deal reached with the UAW is a good one and they will be able to find savings in coming years. We'll be looking at 8:30 Eastern Time to see how that gm strike may have affected the overall economic growth in this country, because, you know, it was a big event.

BRIGGS: Massive.

OK, thousands of homes threatened by raging wildfires. Southern California on alert for extreme fire danger. That's next.



ROMANS: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry are both in Saudi Arabia. They're taking part in the country's annual future investment initiative. This is nicknamed Davos in the Desert.

The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi prompted a boycott of the event last year. And while many are shunning the conference, Wall Street is jumping in. The American contingent also includes Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

CNN's John Defterios is live in Riyadh.

At least from the administration, a show of support for Saudi leadership here.


In fact, this is a very clarified position and strategy by Saudi Arabia to revive investment in even the brand after setbacks as you suggested last year, but going back to the Ritz Carlton arrest three years ago in the same venue right now. The no-shows from last year are here from the Trump administration. In fact, Secretary Mnuchin was on stage, get this, for just five to six minutes, but it was long enough to usher in the support for Saudi Arabia, saying they have the right approach to reforms and the country offers the right level of investment opportunities for the United States. And that was ditto for the Wall Street bankers.

Now, the other interesting narrative here is, I've approached ten of them, formally by email and approaching them in person. Nobody wanted to talk. So the idea here is, be present in Riyadh, but don't go public with support internationally right now. Do it very quietly.

And I think Saudi Arabia is very happy with that. They're letting the money do the talking. There's about 15 billion of deals taking shape. I did the math. The firm deals are about a fifth of that, $3 billion, but not bad considering their FDI in 2018 was about $3 billion.

Now, the biggest deal of all, Aramco, which they're trying to get a $2 trillion valuation is not happening at the FII, but I'm getting guidance from the ministry of energy and other sources that they could formalize their plans as early as next week and might get a listing by the end of the year.

But keep in mind,G-20 next year is happening in Saudi Arabia. So perhaps for Mohammad bin Salman, the crowned prince, this is the turning point for the kingdom to put the past behind them, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. John Defterios for us in Riyadh -- thanks, John.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, protesters in Beirut taking to the streets to celebrate. After Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri giving into the demands of protesters, announcing that he is resigning. The nationwide protests erupted almost two weeks ago after the government proposed a tax on WhatsApp calls along with other austerity measures. Lebanon has been under lockdown since the protests began. Banks and schools have been closed while protesters block major routes throughout the country.

ROMANS: All right. Fiat Chrysler looking for another merger. CNN business has the details, next.



BRIGGS: 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 is just 15 percent contained. Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed, including nearly 90 homes.

Southern California's Getty Fire near Los Angeles 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 could get even worse today. More from CNN's Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles.


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: Wild series. The Washington nationals forcing a winner-take- all game seven in the World Series. The Nats winning games six, 7-2 over the Astros. A big night for third baseman Anthony Rendon who drove in five of the seven runs in an historic performance and the post season continues for Stephen Strasburg who pitched into the ninth inning for his record fifth post-season wins, no losses.

Washington manager Dave Martinez ejected in the seventh inning after arguing a controversial call.


The first time a manager has been tossed from a World Series game since 1996. And it's the first time ever in the World Series or NBA or NHL finals the road team has won each of the first six games. Game seven tonight in Houston.

ROMANS: The NCAA reversing course, now says it will allow student athletes to profit from the use of their name, their image, their likeness. The board of governors voting unanimously to embrace this change. It follows a new California law allowing college athletes to have endorsement deals and hire agents.

The state's governor called it the beginning of a national movement. Ohio state's athletic director admits that have a factor.


EUGENE SMITH, DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS, THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY: The California law and other states bring about laws is probably a pressure point for us and caused us to move and I think that that's OK. So the bottom line is, we're doing what's right for our student athletes. And so I think it's OK.


BRIGGS: LeBron James is celebrating the move by the NCAA, something he's campaigned for. LeBron tweeting: It's a beautiful day for all college athletes going forward from this day on. Thank you guys for allowing me to bring more light to it. I'm so proud of the team that's uninterrupted, bringing focus to this and everyone who's been fighting this fight. Not a victory, but a start.

The White House held its traditional trick or treat Halloween party while you were sleeping, late-night's James Corden showed a horrifying or hilarious highlight. You be the judge.


JAMES CORDEN, COMEDIAN: In other news, the president and the first lady hosted a Halloween celebration at the White House last night. Here they are here, as you can see, Trump is dressed in the same unconvincing president costume he's had on since 2016.

But things got a little weird when they started handing out candy to their trick-or-treaters, right? Look at this video. So look at that. Look, there's a cute minion coming up, but rather than putting the candy bar in the bag, Trump just puts it on his head.

What is even going on here? Those are two people who definitely don't know how children work. Trump should be very comfortable around minions. His cabinet is full of them.


ROMANS: OK. Well played.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

Taking a look at stock markets around the world. You can see a bit of a step back here on Wall Street. Futures also watching those this morning a little bit lower, sort of directionless. Stocks stepped back one day after S&P hit an all-time high. The Dow closed 20 points lower, the S&P and Nasdaq also fell.

The Fed meets today and could cut interest rates for a third time, but first up is the first read on economic growth in the third quarter. GDP out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, looking for something a little bit below 2 percent for economic growth.

A competition in the food delivery wars is taking a told on Grubhub. The delivery service fell 43.3 percent on disappointing earnings. Grubhub is finding it tougher to keep customers in a crowded market.

HBO Max finally has a launch date. The new service from Warner Media, CNN's parent company, will debut May 2020. And the cost, this was what we were looking for, right? $14.99 a month. The platform will include classics like Looney Toons, "Friends," Turner classic movies, original content.

HBO max joins a crowded market. Apple TV Plus launches Friday. Disney Plus will launch early next month. NBCUniversal's Peacock set to debut next spring.

Don't forget, there's already Hulu and already Netflix with 158 million subscribers. AT&T has said it will spend $2 billion on HBO Max in the next couple of years. It's hoping of 50 million subscribers by the year 2025.

Fiat Chrysler once again looking at a merger, this time with Peugeot. The carmaker has confirmed in statements they're taking part in ongoing discussions over a potential deal, a deal that could create a $50 billion company. The talks come as global automakers are facing increasing costs and declining sales because of a slowdown in China. The proposed merger comes months after Fiat dropped an offer to merge with Renault. Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot declined to comment on that report.

BRIGGS: All right. Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.


BRIGGS: New details on the impeachment inquiry. What Ukraine experts will tell Congress in just a few hours.

ROMANS: Southern California on alert for an extreme fire danger with at least 26 million people under red flag warnings.


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


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

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, October 30th. It is exactly 5:00 a.m. in the east.

And breaking news.