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EARLY START

Washington Nationals Win World Series for the First Time; House Floor Vote on Impeachment Resolution; Twitter Bans Political Ads; New Declassified Video of Raid That Killed ISIS Leader; Hurricane-Force Winds Whip "Easy Fire" in California. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 31, 2019 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3-2. There it is.

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A World Series for the ages. The Washington Nationals with the furious comeback to win the fall classic.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: One of the most consequential days in the impeachment inquiry. Big moments expected in Congress, in court and behind closed doors.

BRIGGS: Twitter bans political ads amid heightened social media scrutiny. What do the 2020 candidates think?

ROMANS: And the Pentagon declassifies images from that raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Was the ISIS whimpering like a dog as the president claims or fighting back?

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

BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Thursday, Halloween, October 31st. 4:00 a.m. in New York, 1:00 a.m. in California.

We start in the nation's capital, with major breaking news this morning and it has nothing to do with politics.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3-2. There it is.

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BRIGGS: That's right. The nation's capital is united for once. The Washington Nationals coming from behind in game seven to beat the Houston Astros and win their first World Series. For six innings, the Astros were in total control. But the Nats rallied and took the lead in the seventh.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's hitting .176 against him. That's down the right field line into the corner. This ball is gone for a homerun.

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BRIGGS: That was 36-year-old journeyman Howie Kendrick. The homerun put Washington in front to stay. They erupted for six runs in the last three innings, 6-2 the final. The series, historic to say the least. The first time in any major sport the road team won every single game in a seven-game series.

Check out the celebration there. Stephen Strasburg named World Series MVP after brilliant starts and talked about the comeback.

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STEPHEN STRASBURG, WASHINGTON NATIONALS PITCHER: It's almost like we've done it so many times that it's like we have to get punched in the face to kind of wake up. And, you know, I think it's just the M.O. You know? I mean, we've -- we don't quit. And we never quit throughout the season despite kind of everybody saying that we were done.

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BRIGGS: They started the season 19-31. Look at that dude. A new legendary Nats fan. You see the fans there in Nationals Park going nuts. With that guy really taking the cake.

Romans, too much for you there or should we have a viewer warning about that?

ROMANS: It's a little early for me.

BRIGGS: The Nats' official Twitter feed summed it up this way, "BRB. Be right back. We're partying." No doubt the Nationals win a bitter pill for Astros fan Andy Scholes. He'll be live for us in the "Bleacher Report" in the next hour. This team started 19 and 31. Stay in the fight was their motto. Adversity is a great theme in professional sports.

Congratulations to them.

ROMANS: And bipartisanship for once in D.C., as they all cheered the Nats. All right.

BRIGGS: Until now.

ROMANS: Until now. Because some dramatic turns are expected today in the impeachment inquiry, folks. At 8:00 a.m., the National Security Council's top Russia expert, Tim Morrison, testifies. He will be the second witness who listened in on the call, the July 25th call, between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine.

Now CNN has reported Morrison will corroborate key elements of Bill Taylor's account. Taylor is the top U.S. diplomat and Ukraine and testified Mr. Trump pressed to publicly announced an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for security assistance.

BRIGGS: CNN has also learned Morrison is leaving his job soon, raising expectations to speak more freely in his deposition.

Also this morning the first House floor vote on impeachment around 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The resolution allows for public impeachment hearings and the release of depositions transcripts, also outlines the role of House Democrats and limited rights for Republicans and the White House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounding optimistic.

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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Mr. Clyburn, our whip, has given me a very good report about our vote tomorrow. He's the whip -- the vote counter. Thank you, Mr. Clyburn.

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ROMANS: One big remaining question, will John Bolton testify? A source tells CNN House investigators invited the former National Security adviser to appear next week. But Bolton's lawyer says he won't appear unless he is subpoenaed. Other witnesses have said Bolton raised concerns about shadow diplomacy with Ukraine by the president and by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

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BRIGGS: Also today, two hearings that will determine whether the White House can defy subpoenas. Bolton's his former aide, Charles Kupperman, has asked a judge to decide whether he should testify over White House objections. A different judge will hear arguments on whether former White House counsel Don McGahn is immune from testifying.

ROMANS: All right. No more political ads on Twitter. Its CEO tweeting, "We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Best to focus our efforts on the root problems without the additional burden and complexity of taking money brings. Trying to fix both means fixing neither well." The announcement comes amid intense scrutiny of social media giants, particularly Facebook, for allowing politicians to run fake ads.

BRIGGS: 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are responding. Former vice president Joe Biden's spokesperson saying, quote, "Faced with the choice between ad dollars and the integrity of our democracy, it is encouraging that for once revenue did not win out." Fellow presidential hopeful Andrew Yang called it, "The rare triumph of the public good over the bottom line." South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said this in New Hampshire. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a bold step. And I think it reflects that sense responsibility. And I think other online platforms would do well to either accept their responsibility for truth or question whether they should be in the business.

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ROMANS: It wasn't all heart emojis for Twitter. In a statement, President Trump's campaign manager called the move yet another attempt to silence -- conservatives, rather, since Twitter knows President Trump has the most sophisticated online program ever known. Without directly addressing Dorsey's announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opened his company's third quarter earnings call by saying, "We need to be careful about adopting more and more rules around political speech."

CNN has also learned that even as Facebook's executives were fiercely defending its political ad policy, it was allowing an obviously fake page that purported to be linked to President Trump's re-election campaign to run ads on his platform.

BRIGGS: The Pentagon releasing newly declassified video and images of the daring two-hour raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The U.S. Cent-Com commander revealing Special Operation Forces that carried out the raid were pre-staged in Syria after Trump ordered most U.S. troops to withdraw.

CNN's Barbara Starr has the latest from the Pentagon.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Christine, the top U.S. commander, General Kenneth McKenzie, briefing reporters at the Pentagon about the mission to get Baghdadi. Right off the top it should be noted that General McKenzie said he could not confirm President Trump's details that Baghdadi died whimpering and crying. In fact, General McKenzie suggested that Baghdadi had at some point attempted to fire his weapon.

He showed three sets of videos. The first video was U.S. forces on helicopters approaching the compound when they came under fire from the ground. Forces on board those helicopters returned fire and eliminated that threat. They don't actually think it was ISIS forces protecting Baghdadi, that it was simply other militants in the area.

The second video, then, if you can look and see the dark figures approaching, those are U.S. Special Forces approaching Baghdadi's compound. They of course found him in a tunnel. He detonated a suicide vest killing himself and two children. They had thought it was three, now they know there were two children there.

The tunnel then collapses, fills with water and two U.S. troops and a military working dog are injured with electrocution injuries because there were wires in that water. Very dangerous business. All three, including the dog, have returned to duty. The final video that they showed, of course, was U.S. warplanes

rolling in and bombing the compound. General McKenzie said they really wanted to obliterate it. They didn't want it to become a shrine. They wanted it just to become another piece of ground -- Dave, Christine.

BRIGGS: All right. Barbara Starr there from the Pentagon. Great details there.

ROMANS: All right. Winds as fierce as a hurricane, driving raging fires across California, including one fire inching extremely close to the Ronald Reagan Library.

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ROMANS: Hurricane-force winds driving giant flames across a six-lane freeway in Simi Valley, California, setting fire to grass on the other side. A new inferno with a new name, the Easy Fire. Some flames reaching 30 feet into the air. Firefighters attacking the Easy Fire from the ground and in the air. A CNN news van got a little too close, drenched in fire retardant. At last report, the Easy Fire has burned 1300 acres and threatened 6500 homes. The flames inching dangerously close, look at this, to the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley. A herd of hungry goats helped save this library. That's right. The goats are brought in every year to chew a fire break on the hillside around the facility.

Our Stephanie Elam is in Simi Valley with more.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, imagine all of this ablaze. In winds just like this. The intensity is something I've never felt and I've grown up here in California. The winds that we are feeling here is like no other. All of that propelling this fire to grow very rapidly yesterday and threatening the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library here.

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If you look inside, you can see the retired Air Force One inside. Luckily, as things have been standing now, they look a lot better for the library itself. But still, the fire growing very fast. This Easy Fire here in Simi Valley, because of these winds propelling those embers very fast. They're fighting the fire from the sky, from on the ground, as well. At the same time in northern California, the Kincade Fire, the winds are more favorable up there. And they're looking to ease some of the restrictions as far as evacuations are concerned. But still, with winds this strong, you can imagine that fire season is far from over here in California -- Dave and Christine?

BRIGGS: Thank you, Stephanie.

As she mentioned, the Kincade Fire in northern California. Crews are finally getting ground on the huge fire. It has grown to more than 76,000 acres but is 45 percent contained. Look at these images. Evacuation orders remain in place for nearly 6,000 people. Meantime, Pacific Gas and Electric says its equipment may be linked to three more fires in the state. Right now more than 200,000 customers without power in northern California, down from almost a million earlier this week.

ROMANS: Those same hurricane-force winds are fueling the Getty Fire that has torched the hills north of Santa Monica. The fire threatens more than 7,000 homes. Finally, a silver lining to all the black smoke, a Northern California couple hoping to deliver their baby at home were forced to evacuate earlier this week by the Kincade Fire. Well, Rachel and James Page had their baby in a hotel in Napa. Penelope Page is just two days old but she will have quite a story to tell.

All right. Teachers in Chicago have a tentative deal to go back to work. So why is the strike now entering day 11?

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ROMANS: The Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the third time this year.

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JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: We took this step to help keep the U.S. economy strong in the face of global developments and to provide some insurance against ongoing risks. We believe that monetary policy is in a good place.

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ROMANS: Interest rates now will hover between 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent. So what are the risks he's talking about facing the economy? Slowing global growth and ongoing trade tensions.

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POWELL: If we were to have a sustained reconduction in trade tensions, broad reduction in trade tensions, and a resolution of these uncertainties, that would bode well for business sentiment and ultimately it could affect activity. I think it would take some time after -- the recent things. But I do think it would be quite positive overtime.

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ROMANS: Before the Fed's decision, new data showed the U.S. economy is slowing, growing 1.9 percent in the third quarter, short of the president's 3 percent goal. Still, Trump claimed this is the greatest economy in American history. Just over seven years ago, when the economy grew at the exact same rate under President Obama, Trump said this, "The economy is in big trouble." The Fed meets one more time this year. BRIGGS: The Chicago Teachers Union reaching a tentative agreement

with the city on a new contract but teachers will remain on strike for an 11th day. Union officials voted to accept the new day but say they won't end the strike unless Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot agrees to add the days lost during the walkout to this year's school calendar. The mayor in response says she was gravely disappointed that the union moved the goal posts again, resulting in another day of canceled classes.

ROMANS: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says the U.S. is in a middle of a student achievement crisis and she is pointing the finger at federal meddling. New test data released yesterday shows average math and reading schoolers are down in some grades compared to 2017. Her remarks at the National Press Club, and those remarks DeVos pushed for empowering local districts. And she applauded states like Florida, that embrace charter school and education vouchers. DeVos backs a $5 billion proposal that would allow students to use tax credits to attend public or private schools outside their districts.

BRIGGS: Lori Loughlin is terrified. She's going to jail for her alleged part in the college admissions scandal. A longtime of the actress tells CNN Loughlin is, quote, "at rock-bottom, devastated," she knows she could go away for a long time. Loughlin's husband Mossimo Giannulli and nine other accused parents who rejected a plea deal were hit last week with a new bribery charge. Prosecutors say Loughlin and Giannulli bribed USC employees to have their two daughters falsely admitted as athletic recruits. Loughlin and Giannulli have both pleaded not guilty. And that ultimately sounds like it's going to cost them dearly. But we shall see.

ROMANS: All right, in court, in Congress, and behind closed doors, it's shaping up to be a big day in the impeachment inquiry. That plus the story that's actually uniting the nation's capital, the Washington Nationals are world champs.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3-2. There it is.

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BRIGGS: A World Series for the ages. The Washington Nationals with the furious comeback to win the fall classic.

ROMANS: One of the most consequential days in the impeachment inquiry. Big moments expected in Congress, in court and behind closed doors.

BRIGGS: Twitter bans political ads amid heightened social media scrutiny. What do the 2020 candidates think?

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