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EARLY START

The Impeachment Probe Back In The Spotlight Today; The U.S. Role As A Middle East Broker Again In Doubt; President Trump Holds Cordial Private Meeting Monday With Fed Chief; New Revelations From Diplomat Make Him Critical For Democrats; Violent Clashes Between Police And Anti-Government Protesters In Hong Kong; Gary Cohn Says The President Will Impose New Tariffs Next Month If No Deal Is Reached. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 19, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:17]

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The impeachment probe back in the spotlight today. Four top officials set to testify. Why they matter and how new revelations from this diplomat make him critical for Democrats?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. role as a Middle East broker again in doubt. The White House reversing decades of policy, recognizing Israel's settlements in the West Bank.

BRIGGS: And a major shift for a major brand. Why Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to groups with anti-gay abuse.

ROMANS: Doctor said a little boy wouldn't live past his second birthday. Well, he just turned three, and his entire town is celebrating.

Good morning everyone and welcome to a very early, EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans this morning.

BRIGGS: Yes it is. It is 3:00 a.m.

ROMANS: Every morning, I'm Christine Romans, but it is this morning.

BRIGGS: In New York. You are.

ROMANS: I am Christine Romans this morning. That sounded weird. Of course, Dave.

BRIGGS: You are in fact, every day I've been here. I've been here it is midnight Pacific. It is a little bit early. It is 3:00 a.m. in the nation's capital, that's where we begin this morning with Democrats trying to remove President Trump and Republicans battling to save him are bracing for the most momentous phase yet of the Impeachment Inquiry.

Four senior national security officials will testify in public today. That's just the warm up. Five more set to appear later this week.

ROMANS: Democrats now accusing the President of bribery, saying he abused his power to pressure Ukraine for political favors. Republicans are hoping to show Trump was only exercising his sweeping authority.

A week of packed testimony will also test Trump who has been blasting witnesses publicly since last week. CNN's Phil Mattingly has more from Capitol Hill.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, I hope you're well-rested, well-fed, maybe have some snacks ready because Week 2 of public impeachment hearings is going to be a slog. It's going to be a lot. It's going to be nine witnesses over the course of three days, starting with four over the course of two separate hearings just today.

Now, here's what you need to know about the hearings that are happening today. The first hearing will be two White House officials. One, Jennifer Williams, who works in the Vice President's office; the other, Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman who is the top Ukraine policy expert on the National Security Council.

Now both of these individuals testified in their closed door depositions that they had concerns with President Trump's July 25th call with Ukrainian President Zelensky wondering why certain investigations were brought up, why Vice President Biden's son was brought up, as well as what those two individuals working in their roles inside the White House knew about the broader U.S. policy as it pertained to Ukraine, particularly the kind of outside shadow policy channel that was being run in part by the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Keep it on the afternoon as well though. These are two witnesses: Kurt Volker, who is the former U.S. Special Representative to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former top Russia hand on the National Security Council, who actually witnessed request from Republicans. One of those individuals, Kurt Volker has made very clear in his private deposition, closed-door deposition, that there was as Republicans say, no quid pro quo.

They didn't believe the President did anything illegal. However, he did raise some concerns about some of the individuals involved with the foreign policy related to Ukraine.

Same goes for Tim Morrison. He made clear that he was on the July 25th call between the two Presidents, saying he didn't think anything illegal was said on that call, but made clear various elements of the U.S.-Ukraine policy outside of regular channels, whether it's Rudy Giuliani or U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland were problems in their roles.

So that's Tuesday's hearing. I want to flash forward just real quick because there's also a new development.

On Thursday a new individual has been added to the testimony list. That would be David Holmes. He is the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine official who overheard the phone call between Sondland and President Trump at an outdoor tavern. That phone call which he testified behind closed doors in rather

explicit detail in terms of what was said has now become central to the Democrats' Impeachment Inquiry that will come on Thursday, but as I said, it'll be a long week. So get ready -- guys.

BRIGGS: Phil Mattingly. Thank you. Some of that explicit firsthand detail was revealed overnight in newly released transcripts. David Holmes testified last week. He heard Sondland tell President Trump, Ukraine was prepared to move forward with the investigation he was demanding.

State Department officials says he was taken aback by the conversation and the lack of operational security. He told investigators, "I've never seen anything like this, someone calling the President from a mobile phone at a restaurant and then having a conversation of this level of candor, colorful language."

ROMANS: Holmes also described how Ukrainian officials repeatedly pressed for a meeting at the White House because it would lend credibility to their new administration, especially in the eyes of the Kremlin. He says the Ukrainians saw it as a setback when President Trump agreed to meet with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20.

Holmes also admits telling friends about the Sondland-Trump call, but insists he did not go into detail.

[03:05:10]

ROMANS: Now that could be ammunition for Republicans, since it raises questions about how much internal government information Holmes shared.

BRIGGS: Transcript of State Department official David Hale's testimony was also released overnight. He says it took him two days to find out who was holding up military aid to Ukraine. Hale testified, "I wanted a name of a named person who was saying this is the President's wish. I never got that response until ... the deputies' small group meeting on July 25, in which OMB stated on the record that it was the President through Chief of Staff Mulvaney."

ROMANS: White House officials are looking at moving some of the impeachment probe witnesses out of the White House and back to their home departments.

And like many White House National Security and diplomatic staffers, several witnesses including Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, they are on loan to the White House. Sources tell CNN, President Trump has repeatedly suggested dismissing them, even as his advisers warn that firing witnesses could be viewed as retaliation.

In fact, the President has implied on Twitter, some have already been fired, though they all still have their jobs.

BRIGGS: The same day the President suggested he may testify in the Impeachment Inquiry, we learned the House of Representatives is investigating whether he lied to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The President only provided written answers to Mueller's questions in the Russia investigation. House lawyers now say they need access to Grand Jury material following a series of revelations at Roger Stone's trial.

Former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates testifying Stone and Mr. Trump talked about information that was coming that could help the campaign.

But the President told Mueller he did not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone.

ROMANS: All right, the Supreme Court pressing a pause on a ruling that would hand President Trump's financial records to a House Committee without the order by Chief Justice John Roberts. The accounting firm Mazars was under orders by a lower court to turn over eight years of personal and business records tomorrow.

In an unrelated major ruling late Monday, a Federal judge ordered a two-week grace period if House Democrats request the President's tax returns under a New York law. The case is one of four in Federal Courts where the house is seeking Trump's financial records.

BRIGGS: The White House now has released a letter from President Trump's doctor claiming his unscheduled checkup at Walter Reed Hospital was routine and planned. CNN has reported the hospital visit did not follow protocol, but the doctor's letter says it was handled the way it was because of quote "scheduling uncertainties."

It goes on to say the President has not had any chest pain and was not treated for any urgent or acute issues.

ROMANS: All right, she is accused of padding her resume, even creating a fake "Time Magazine" cover with her face on it. Now, a senior State Department official has resigned.

Mina Chang claims she is the victim of character assassination based on innuendo. She had worked in the division that responds to conflicts threatening American interests.

In her resignation letter, Chang also cites a toxic culture at the State Department. NBC News first reported Chang embellished her resume leading claims, raising questions about her qualifications.

BRIGGS: It's 2020 now. Pete Buttigieg taking a critical pitch for black voters -- to black voters. A new CNN poll puts Mayor Buttigieg clearly on top in overwhelmingly white Iowa, but the latest Quinnipiac poll in South Carolina shows zero percent support among black voters.

In Atlanta, ahead of tomorrow's debate, he spoke to students at Historically Black Morehouse College.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D-IN), MAYOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Try not to get too caught up in poll numbers, but I did have a chance to look at the one you were mentioning and I think I saw that a strong majority of black voters in South Carolina still say that they have not formed an opinion or haven't heard enough to form an opinion at all about my candidacy. All the more indication that it's so important for us to do this engagement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Buttigieg just released a $500 billion College Affordability Plan that would make public college free for households earning under $100,000.00 a year.

Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren proposed wiping out all college tuition and debt. The New York Fed says U.S. student debt climbed last quarter to $1.5 trillion.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, he has been the President's punching bag for a year, but the Fed Chair went face-to-face with the President yesterday. What happened behind closed doors?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:13:35]

ROMANS: The Trump administration upending 40 years of U.S. policy in Israel; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing the U.S. has determined West Bank settlements do not violate international law. The major reversal risks America's decades' long role as a neutral broker in the region. Pompeo claims the move has actually increased the likelihood of a Middle East peace settlement.

CNN's Oren Liebermann standing by live in Jerusalem with the latest. The Secretary of State, how does he think that that is going to follow through with Middle East peace?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there wasn't quite an explanation for that, but it almost certainly can't bring them down because at this point in the Trump administration, the odds of that peace process working out are just about zero percent with the distrust and the animosity between the Palestinians and the Trump administration.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in announcing this decision said previous policies hadn't worked, so this was a new way of starting this. We've learned that the administration was considering this policy for the past year. But the timing here, certainly conspicuous for two reasons.

First, it seems a slap in the face to the European Court of Justice, which ruled that goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank have to be labeled as such, if they want to be sold in Europe. This seems an outright rejection of that.

But the other part of the timing here that's conspicuous is that it's definitely a benefit for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is in a very perilous political situation. This is a boost to him. It is a boost to Israel's right wing and it's a boost to settlement advocates who see this as basically a green light from the Trump administration to pursue a wider annexation of all or parts of the West Bank, so they very much are celebrating this decision.

But who is it very clearly a win for? Well, that will be President Donald Trump.

[03:15:10]

LIEBERMANN: This is the kind of issue when it comes to Israel that will excite and energize his religious and evangelical voter base and they immediately began celebrating, and we even saw those statements from evangelical organizations here who see this as a victory for them.

Does it change Israel's political situation? Perhaps not, but it is still a victory claimed by Netanyahu and by Trump.

ROMANS: Yes, absolutely. All right. Thanks so much for that, Oren Liebermann for us this morning in Jerusalem.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, the U.S. is ratcheting up its sanctions against Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing the U.S. will end the waiver on sanctions related to Iran's Fordow nuclear facility effective December 15th. Tehran recently restarted uranium enrichment at the underground site.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world's largest state sponsored terror is zero.

There is no legitimate reason for Iran to Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Iran hid photo from U.N. inspectors until it was exposed in 2009. European countries have been trying to salvage the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, but Tehran has been stepping back from it since President Trump ordered the U.S. out of the pact last year.

ROMANS: President Trump held a cordial private meeting Monday with the Fed Chief, the Chief he publicly criticized. The unannounced meeting is the first between Trump and Fed Chair, Jerome Powell since February. Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin also there.

Over the past year, Trump has routinely attacked Powell, just last week saying this about the Fed Chair he appointed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But we all make mistakes, don't we? Not too often, we do make them on occasion.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Calling the Fed Chief choice a mistake. Now Trump pressures

Powell often to slash interest rates even calling for negative rates breaking precedent. The Fed is not a political institution. He doesn't work for the President of the United States. Jerome Powell works for the people.

The President tweeted that the two discussed interest rates at a very good and cordial meeting. However, the Federal Reserve said in a statement that Powell told Trump, the Fed will continue to set interest rates based solely on non-political analysis.

The Fed also said the meeting came at the President's invitation. Central Bank has cut interest rates three times this year in an effort to shield the economy from a downturn.

BRIGGS: Coming up, the scary scene in Illinois as a truck goes flying towards a State Trooper. The driver stuck on the road. How this ends, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:21:57]

BRIGGS: 3:21 Eastern Time and Chick-fil-A changing its approach to charitable giving. The restaurant chain has been criticized for donating to Christian groups with anti-LGBTQ views. Now, it plans to give to a smaller number of organizations with a focus on education, homelessness and hunger.

Chick-fil-A says its foundation will donate over $9 million to those causes next year. The company is not ruling out support for faith- based charities moving forward.

ROMANS: The State of California is suing Juul for marketing vape products to teenagers and failing to warn consumers about potential health risks.

The lawsuit comes just days after Juul announced a $1 billion recovery plan that includes cuts to its marketing budget. The company has already announced plans to stop selling most flavored pods that appeal to younger users.

Two Washington State counties and a local school district also sued Juul and Altria Group, a major shareholder in Juul for allegedly targeting minors. No comment yet from Juul.

BRIGGS: A man and a woman shot and killed in a Walmart parking lot in Duncan, Oklahoma. Police say the gunman turned his weapon on himself after a bystander with a firearm confronted him. The incident has everyone in the community shaken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANNY FORD, POLICE CHIEF, DUNCAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: With the history from the last several years, it has a lot of impact. It makes people very fearful. It puts everybody on edge. It puts the schools on its, hospitals, businesses -- everyone is on edge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Police confirmed the victims knew the suspect, but they cannot detail the nature of the relationship. No shots were fired inside the store.

[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]

ROMANS: Now, that is a close call. Illinois State Police call it the miracle on ice. It happened November 12th with roads still icy after a storm. Two troopers were helping to change a tire when they saw the skidding truck. They yanked the driver into the ditch.

Officials say the truck flew right over her, barely missed the Troopers. There were no injuries.

BRIGGS: Reality TV star turned billionaire cosmetics mogul Kylie Jenner has agreed to sell a majority stake in her cosmetics line for $600 million with plans to stay on as its creative leader.

Under the deal, beauty giant Coty which owns CoverGirl will buy a 51 percent stake of Kylie Cosmetics. The two companies say the partnership helps Jenner's brand expand globally and enter new categories. Jenner's team will still manage communications. She is wildly popular on social media with 150 million Instagram followers and 30 million Twitter followers.

ROMANS: All right, doctors said a boy with a rare disease would not live past his second birthday. So a Chicago suburb held a parade in Nash Stineman's honor when he reached his third birthday.

More than 100 trucks, jeeps and cars drove down the family's street to celebrate. Nash has a rare neuromuscular disease, which affects breathing and the spine. Now, instead of getting candy at the parade, Nash got banana pudding. It's the only food he eats by mouth because he is fed through an IV.

[03:25:09]

ROMANS: His mom -- wow -- called it a magical day. Happy birthday, Nash Stineman.

BRIGGS: Yes, happy birthday, my friend. Ahead, just the start of a very big week, four top officials testify today in the impeachment probe and new revelations from a diplomat in Ukraine make him critical for Democrats.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:30:09]

ROMANS: The impeachment probe back in the spotlight today. Four top officials set to testify. Why they matter? And how new revelations from this diplomat make him critical for Democrats. BRIGGS: U.S. role as a Middle East broker, again in doubt. The White

House reversing decades of policy recognizing Israel's settlements in the West Bank.

ROMANS: A major shift for a major brand, why Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to groups with anti-gay views.

BRIGGS: Doctors said a little boy wouldn't live past his second birthday. Well, he just turned three. His town is celebrating. Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour. Let's begin with the Democrats here trying to remove President Trump and Republicans battling to save him. Both are bracing for the most momentous phase yet in the Impeachment Inquiry.

Four senior national security officials will testify in public today. That's just the warm up. Five more are set to appear later this week.

BRIGGS: Democrats now accusing the President of bribery saying he abused his power to pressure Ukraine for political favors. Republicans are hoping to show Trump was only exercising his sweeping authority.

A week of packed testimony will also test Trump who has been blasting witnesses publicly since last week. Phil Mattingly with more from Capitol Hill.

MATTINGLY: Christine and Dave, I hope you're well-rested, well-fed, maybe have some snacks ready because Week 2 of public impeachment hearings is going to be a slog. It's going to be a lot. It's going to be nine witnesses over the course of three days, starting with four over the course of two separate hearings just today.

Now, here's what you need to know about the hearings that are happening today. The first hearing will be two White House officials. One, Jennifer Williams, who works in the Vice President's office; the other, Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman who is the top Ukraine policy expert on the National Security Council.

Now both of these individuals testified in their closed door depositions that they had concerns with President Trump's July 25th call with Ukrainian President Zelensky wondering why certain investigations were brought up, why Vice President Biden's son was brought up, as well as what those two individuals working in their roles inside the White House knew about the broader U.S. policy as it pertained to Ukraine, particularly the kind of outside shadow policy channel that was being run in part by the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Keep it on the afternoon as well though. These are two witnesses: Kurt Volker, who is the former U.S. Special Representative to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former top Russia hand on the National Security Council, who actually witnessed request from Republicans. One of those individuals, Kurt Volker has made very clear in his private deposition, closed-door deposition, that there was as Republicans say, no quid pro quo.

They didn't believe the President did anything illegal. However, he did raise some concerns about some of the individuals involved with the foreign policy related to Ukraine.

Same goes for Tim Morrison. He made clear that he was on the July 25th call between the two Presidents, saying he didn't think anything illegal was said on that call, but made clear various elements of the U.S.-Ukraine policy outside of regular channels, whether it's Rudy Giuliani or U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland were problems in their roles.

So that's Tuesday's hearing. I want to flash forward just real quick because there's also a new development.

On Thursday a new individual has been added to the testimony list. That would be David Holmes. He is the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine official who overheard the phone call between Sondland and President Trump at an outdoor tavern.

That phone call which he testified behind closed doors in rather explicit detail in terms of what was said has now become central to the Democrats' Impeachment Inquiry that will come on Thursday, but as I said, it'll be a long week. So get ready -- guys.

ROMANS: All right, Phil, and we know that you will guide us. Thank you. Some of that explicit firsthand detail was revealed overnight in newly released transcripts, David Holmes testified last week. He heard Gordon Sondland tell President Trump, Ukraine was prepared to move forward with the investigation the President was demanding.

The State Department official says he was taken aback by the conversation and the lack of operational security. He told investigators, "I've never seen anything like this. Someone calling the President from a mobile phone at a restaurant and then having a conversation of this level of candor, colorful language."

BRIGGS: Holmes also describes how Ukrainian officials repeatedly pressed for a meeting at the White House because it would lend credibility to their new administration, especially in the eyes of the Kremlin.

He says Ukrainian saw it as a setback when President Trump agreed to meet with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20. Holmes also admits telling friends about the Sondland-Trump call, but insists he did not go into detail. That could be ammunition for Republicans since it raises questions about how much internal government information Holmes shared.

ROMANS: For the Ukrainians, these impeachment hearings are a high stakes game. They rely on U.S. support to fight the Russians who have invaded their country. How are they navigating what's happening in Washington? Frederik Pleitgen is in Kiev.

[03:35:07] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good

morning, Dave and Christine. The Ukrainians really are trying to get out of this situation without being damaged too much. There's no doubt that the Ukrainian President, Vladimir Zelensky, he was put in an extremely difficult situation by President Trump, when President Trump in that phone call essentially demanded investigations into the Biden's.

There's no doubt that the Ukrainians need strong bipartisan support in Washington, D.C. They're combating a Russian backed insurgency in the east of this country, and so therefore, they certainly need all the support that they can get.

So essentially, what we've been seeing over the past couple of weeks, the past couple of months is the Ukrainians have really been trying to comment on this as little as possible, and hoping that all this goes away eventually.

When they have commented, for instance, President Vladimir Zelensky, he said, look, I'm the leader of a sovereign nation, of a sovereign Ukraine, and therefore no one can put any sort of pressure on me, and therefore, Ukraine did not feel any pressure from the Trump administration.

Now, of course, there are other politicians here in Ukraine who have said that, of course, for instance, folks like Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. had been mentioning things like investigations in the past. And of course, that's something that has essentially put pressure on the Ukrainians.

So essentially, for them right now, they're looking at this impeachment process, obviously, very, very closely. For them, the main key thing is to not get on the bad side of President Trump and the Republicans, but also not get on the bad side of the Democrats either -- Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: Fred Pleitgen, thank you. The White House has released a letter from President Trump's doctor claiming his unscheduled checkup at Walter Reed Hospital was routine and planned.

CNN has reported the hospital visit did not follow protocol, but the doctor's letter says it was handled the way it was because of quote, "scheduling uncertainties." It goes on to say the President has not had any chest pain and was not treated for any urgent or acute issues.

ROMANS: And Pete Buttigieg is taking a critical pitch for black voters to black voters. A new CNN poll puts Mayor Pete Buttigieg clearly on top in overwhelmingly white Iowa. But the latest Quinnipiac poll in South Carolina shows zero percent support among black voters.

In Atlanta, ahead of tomorrow's debate, he spoke to students at Historically Black Morehouse College.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D-IN), MAYOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Try not to

get too caught up in poll numbers, but I did have a chance to look at the one you were mentioning and I think I saw that a strong majority of black voters in South Carolina still say that they have not formed an opinion or haven't heard enough to form an opinion at all about my candidacy. All the more indication that it's so important for us to do this engagement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Buttigieg just released a $500 billion College Affordability Plan that would make public college free for households earning under $100,000.00 a year. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren propose wiping out most college debt. The New York Fed says U.S. student debt climbed last year to $1.5 trillion.

ROMANS: And we know that 11 percent of student loan debt is in arrears is -- 90 days late or more. That is a big, big number.

All right, disagreements on tariffs forced him out of the White House. Why Gary Cohn now says the President may have no choice, but to follow through on his threat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:42:59]

BRIGGS: Violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. Petrol bombs, Molotov cocktails, and teargas punctuating the political unrest. The latest flashpoint, the campus of Polytechnic University where a small number of demonstrators remain barricaded inside.

Let's go live inside the university and bring in Paula Hancocks. Paula, what are you seeing?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, we're just in the main courtyard here and we are seeing dozens of protesters still holding up in this particular area. Let me just give you a look around because this is quite something.

There are boxes. There are crates. There are shopping trolleys galore of petrol bombs. There is a huge amount of weaponry still here. This is a real powder keg, this particular area.

We've seen methanol, acetone -- all sorts of things that have come from the laboratories within the campus. There have been officials coming through looking at this and checking what is missing from the laboratories as well.

But we do know as well from officials that about 600 protesters at least have left this campus. Those over 18 who are going outside and they will be arrested immediately by police. Those under the age of 18, there has been a special deal done. They are minors, and they believe there's about 200 of them. They won't be arrested immediately by police. Now, we did speak to one 16-year-old just a little earlier. He is one

of these so-called frontliners. He is determined to stay here. He says he wants to continue this fight. There is definitely though, a sense that this is a lot calmer than it was on Monday. There's a lot less riot police out there. We know that there's been at least 1,100 protesters that have been arrested from just this one university on Monday and Tuesday.

So there is a sense of this calming down. We know that the police have said that they will calm down if the protesters calm down. The President of the University saying he sees light at the end of the tunnel. But yet there is still that small, hardcore radical element that is refusing to give up. We have spoken to them. They are still holding down here -- Dave.

BRIGGS: It's calmer, but still no signs of stopping. Paula Hancocks live for us in Hong Kong. Thank you.

[03:45:07]

ROMANS: All right, Wall Street hinging on any hint of progress in the 17-month-old trade war with China and this from former White House adviser Gary Cohn; he says the President will impose new tariffs next month if no deal is reached.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY COHN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: December 15th is a long time from now in terms of tariff negotiations. I think that he thinks that that's a forcing function and if he keeps blinking, you know, he loses credibility in the Chinese eyes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Cohn left the White House in 2018, largely because he did not agree with the way the President was embarking on this trade war, the use of tariffs in particular. Now he urges Trump to sign that Phase 1 trade deal with China and avoid those tariffs -- big round of tariffs set for December 15th. That next big tariff round, that list includes iPhones, video games, toys. This is 10 days before Christmas. These are products popular among consumers.

The Phase 1 deal is not the grand course correction, of course, the President promised at the start of this trade war, instead, this is a more narrow agreement, leaving thorny issues until later, but progress to keep them talking.

Even though this is Phase 1 plan, though has been difficult, until then billions of dollars and tariffs remain on U.S. and Chinese goods that hurts U.S. businesses. Businesses pay the tariffs, it also hurts American farmers. Ag products have been hit particularly hard by China's retaliation.

BRIGGS: The Trump administration upending 40 years of U.S. policy on Israel. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcing the U.S. has determined West Bank settlements do not violate international law. Major reversal risks America's decades' long role as a neutral broker

in the region. Pompeo claims the move has actually increased the likelihood of a Middle East peace settlement. Oren Liebermann live in Jerusalem with the latest. What do you think about that assumption?

LIEBERMANN: Well, it's not really clear how Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this would help the peace process. Although he did say that what worked before or what was tried before didn't work. So essentially, we're going to try something new here.

It is a major announcement, but it's one that's not much of a surprise. The administration has been moving in this direction for quite some time now. First, not calling the occupied West Bank occupied anymore. Then one of the leaders on the peace team said he didn't want to refer to them as settlements, but as cities and villages and towns, and then this -- all essentially a normalization of Israel's occupation of the West Bank. And this is a continuation of that.

The administration says they've been working on this for a year, but the timing is certainly conspicuous. First, it seems an outright rejection of a European Court ruling that goods and products from settlements have to be labeled as such, they can't say Made in Israel, so the U.S. -- this is the U.S. rejecting that.

And second, it is a major political gift to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he is in a very precarious political situation. He has already essentially claimed victory for this and celebrated this as has Israel's right wing and settlement advocates in general, they see this and many of them have already called for, an annexation for parts or all of the West Bank. That is the green light they see from the Trump administration even if Pompeo tried to hedge away from that.

But who is the real winner here? Well, that would be President Donald Trump. Israel is a big issue for his religious and evangelical voter base. And they see this as a victory for them. And one more reason to rally behind Trump -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, Oren Liebermann live for us in Jerusalem. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, a vegan man is suing Burger King for not making its Whopper his way. He claims the company contaminates its meatless burgers. More on CNN Business, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:53:37]

BRIGGS: Schools across almost half of Indiana are closed today. Teachers from 147 districts are demanding pay raises and better funding for public education. Thousands of teachers plan to protest at the Capitol. That means thousands of students will be out of class.

"The Indianapolis Star" report schools that canceled class will have students complete assignments from home. Last week, the State Superintendent said her central focus is on student learning and school improvement.

ROMANS: Chick-fil-A is changing its approach to charitable giving. The restaurant chain has been criticized for donating to Christian groups with anti-LGBT views. Now it plans to give to a smaller number of organizations with a focus on education, homelessness and hunger.

Chick-fil-A says its foundation will donate over $9 million to those causes next year. It's not ruling out support for faith based charities moving forward.

All right, a five-year-old brought cocaine to school in Massachusetts. Now, his dad is facing charges. Holyoke Police say the boy ingested the cocaine and was taken to the hospital. A five-year-old boy. He is expected to be okay. Listen to prosecutors describe how the child was caught.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW GREEN, HAMPDEN COUNTY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: A kindergarten student told the teacher that when he eats or tastes the powder, he turns into Superman.

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ROMANS: He turns into Superman. The boy's father, 29-year-old Benny Garcia is being held without bail. He is facing drug possession and other charges.

BRIGGS: For the seventh time in 12 days, Syracuse University officials are investigating a racist incident at one of their residence halls. This graffiti in the latest case targeted African- Americans.

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BRIGGS: The school just announced on Sunday that all fraternity activities on campus have been suspended for the rest of the fall semester because of racist incidents.

ROMANS: Pacific Gas & Electric is notified more than 300,000 customers in 25 Northern California counties, it may shut off their power.

The outages would start tomorrow morning once again due to high fire risk conditions through Thursday. The utility implementing the power shutoff to prevent fires caused by sparking equipment.

In October PG&E cut off power to almost 800,000 customers in Northern California.

BRIGGS: An incredible show in the skies over Eastern China. Some 1,200 drones lit up the sky Sunday night ahead of a film festival. Crowds cheering as the drones assembled into formations that look like egrets, dolphins and a golden symbol which is the festival's logo. ROMANS: A doctor said a boy with a rare disease wouldn't live past

his second birthday, so a Chicago suburb held a parade in Nash Stineman's honor when he reached his third.

More than a hundred trucks, jeeps and cars drove down the family's street to celebrate. Nash has a rare neuromuscular disease which affects breathing and the spine.

Now, instead of candy at the parade, Nash ate banana pudding. It's the only food he eats by mouth because he is fed through an IV. His mom called it a magical day.

BRIGGS: The U.S. Postal Service is now giving all of us the chance to be Santa's helpers by answering holiday gift requests from children in need. Many ask only for a warm coat, new shoes or a favorite toy.

Up until last year, less than two dozen cities participated, but this year letters from every U.S. city may be answered before the Post Office sends them to the North Pole. To read some of them or answer one Santa can't, go to uspsoperationsanta.com.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Take a look at markets around the world. You can see European shares have opened higher here and at Wall Street, futures, well, they look like they're a little bit higher. Still above 28,000 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Investors once again concerned over the state of the U.S.-China trade talks. This has been three steps forward two steps back from the beginning. We are now in the two steps back mode, it feels like.

CNBC reports that Beijing is pessimistic citing government sources why President Trump's reluctance to roll back tariffs. This contradicts what both sides said over the weekend. Both sides said the talks were constructive. And that sent U.S. stocks to fresh record highs across the board on Monday. So watch this space. Three steps forward two steps back on the trade talks.

WeWork's 12,000 employees are bracing for mass layoffs this week. In an e-mail obtained by CNN, the troubled co-working startup confirmed layoffs are coming. It did not reveal how many, but reports cite at least 4,000. WeWork declined to comment publicly.

These layoffs follow WeWork's disastrous IPO cancelled after investors balked at its growing losses and mismanagement. WeWork has become a cautionary tale for high valued startups and its problems may not be over.

Reuters reports the New York State Attorney General is now investigating the company.

A man is suing Burger King for not making its Whopper his way without meat. A vegan customer claims the company contaminates its meatless Impossible Burgers -- how? By allegedly cooking them on the same grill as its traditional meat products leaving it coated in meat byproducts. The class action suit seeks damages for all U.S. customers who bought

Impossible Burgers. Burger King did not respond to a request for comment. The chain began selling the Impossible Burger in August.

Plant-based protein has become a big trend in fast food as many people reduce their meat intake.

Marie Kondo cleared your homes of clutter.

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ROMANS: Now, she wants to replace them with products that spark joy. That's right. She told you to get rid of your stuff and now, she is selling you some.

The Netflix star has launched an online shop on her website selling more than a hundred products across categories like aroma therapy, cooking decor, and of course organization. The shop was first reported by "The Wall Street Journal."

In an interview, Kondo said she is not encouraging customers to over purchase anything.

Have you done the Marie Kondo thing?

BRIGGS: No, my closet is a disaster.

ROMANS: Did it spark joy?

BRIGGS: But we should have been suspicious when she wanted us to get rid of stuff that eventually we'd have to replace it with her own.

ROMANS: She is pretty brutal once you get rid of --

BRIGGS: Did you do it?

ROMANS: I have done it. I did it in two different rooms. And I felt really good about it at first, but then I went to the thrift shop where I gave everything away. And I was like, oh, I really like that hat. I said, wait a minute. That's my hat. Like I gave away things that I wanted back.

BRIGGS: Right. And now it's the holiday seasons. A reason to get more junk.

ROMANS: Exactly.

BRIGGS: Do it all over again. EARLY START continues right now.

ROMANS: The impeachment probe back in the spotlight today. Four top officials set to testify. Why they matter and how new revelations from this diplomat make him critical for Democrats.

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