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EARLY START

Democrats Take On Impeachment Inquiry; EU Ambassador Links Trump To Ukraine Quid Pro Quo; Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) Presidential Candidate Reaches Out To Black Voters; Stocks Slip On Renewed Trade War Worries; Prince Andrew Stepping Down From Public Duties; Report: Antonio Brown Countersues Rape Accuser; Man Pulls Driver From A Burning Car In CT; SpaceX Prototype Blows Up During Test; Nominations for 2020 Grammy Awards. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired November 21, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to establish the principal. No one is above the law. We have a constitutional responsibility and we need to meet it.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: 2020 candidates take on impeachment right out of the gate during last night's debate.

GORDON SONDLAND, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A diplomat hand-picked by President Trump delivers what might be the most damaging impeachment testimony yet.

ROMANS: Britain's Prince Andrew is stepping away from his royal duties over his ties to the now deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

BRIGGS: A dramatic setback for SpaceX as a Starship prototype blows up during testing.

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BRIGGS: Good morning for some of you. It's also midnight, I suppose. Welcome to "EARLY START" or late going, I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. I prefer EARLY START. Let's get moving into the new day. It is Thursday, November 21st. It is 3:00 a.m. in the east. It is midnight on the West Coast.

The Democrats taking on each other, but even more, are blasting President Trump at their fifth presidential debate in Atlanta. First question out of the gate focused on the impeachment inquiry and the hearings that had wrapped up just minutes earlier on Capitol Hill.

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SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me make very clear that what this impeachment proceeding about is really our democracy at stake.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is likely the most corrupt President in the modern history of America. But we cannot simply be consumed by Donald Trump, because if we are, you know what, we're going to lose the election.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a criminal living in the White House. What it means when I watch this, is that there are clearly two different set of rules for two different groups of people in America. The powerful people, who with their arrogance think they can get away with this, and then everybody else.

WARREN: Read the Mueller Report, all 442 pages of it, that showed how the President tried to obstruct justice, and when Congress failed to act at that moment, and that the President felt free to break the law again and again and again.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are absolutely going to confront this President for his wrongdoing, but we are also each running to be the president who will lead this country after the Trump Presidency comes to an end, one way or the other.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I learned something about these impeachment trials. I learned, number one, that Donald Trump doesn't want me to be the nominee. That's pretty clear. I think we have to ask ourselves an honest question, who is most likely to do what needs to be done and produce a Democratic majority in the United States Senate, maintain the House and beat Trump?

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BRIGGS: Now we'll give you many more key moments from last night's debate coming up. But, first, the most damning testimony thus far in the House impeachment hearings. U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, directly implicating President Trump in a campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

Sondland telling lawmakers there was a quid pro quo for Ukraine to launch an investigation into Joe Biden and his son. He testified, the orders came via a Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the President's express direction.

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SONDLAND: It was abundantly clear to everyone that there was a link and that we were discussing the chicken and egg issue of should the Ukrainians go out on a ledge and make the statement that President Trump wanted them to make, and then they still don't get their White House visit and their aide, that would be really bad for our credibility. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The third and likely final day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry begins this morning 9:00 a.m. Congressional Correspondent Phil Mattingly with more from Washington.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, this is the last day or is very likely to be the last day of this stage of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.

You're going to have two witnesses today. Fiona Hill, the former top Russia adviser on the National Security Council, and David Holmes, who obviously became famous just less than a week ago when he flew to the United States for a closed door deposition where he talked about a phone call that he overheard between Ambassador Gordon Sondland and President Trump while in Ukraine.

They will both be testifying publicly. And there are no shortage of issues for them to address, questions for them to answer from lawmakers. But there's one thing to be certain. I mentioned Gordon Sondland, his testimony from Wednesday will most certainly carry into today as well. Take a listen to this very important moment.

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SONDLAND: Mr. Giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election, DNC server and Burisma.

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Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States.

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MATTINGLY: Now for Democrats that sound what Gordon Solomon said there what he said repeatedly, particularly at the beginning of his testimony, was reason enough for them to say that they have all the evidence they need to move forward.

No final decision has been made yet, but they have what they need. Gordon Sondland gave them first person testimony, a first person witness who had conversations with President Trump, who had conversations with Rudy Giuliani. That was what they had been looking for.

Now it's worth noting, Republicans made clear that there was one point that he continued to make. When it came to the U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, there was never a clear linkage to the investigations that he was talking about - to the quid pro quo related to a White House meeting.

Long story short. There's a lot of confusing details here, a lot of different winding roads, certainly a lot of names. One thing is clear, though, Democrats, very confident in the case they're making, a case they're going to try and close out at least in the public hearing phase of the inquiry.

Today, Republicans completely unbowed. Guys I've not talked to a single House Republican who thinks they're going to jump ship. A single House Republican, who while privately maybe somewhat unsettled by what they're hearing, not publicly going to say that in any shape or way - shape or form. This is a partisan camps at this point time. It's not going to change. At least not any anytime soon. Guys?

ROMANS: All right. Phil, thank you so much for that. Republicans now seizing on this, Ambassador Sondland did not explicitly link the $400 million in withheld military aid to those Ukraine investigations.

He distinguished that carrot dangled in front of Ukraine's President from a different one, a possible face-to-face between President Zelensky and President Trump, a meeting Ukraine wanted and needed very much.

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SONDLAND: President Trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. The only thing we got directly from Giuliani was that the Burisma and 2016 elections were conditioned on the White House meeting. The aid was my own personal guess based again on your analogy, two plus two equals four.

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BRIGGS: President Trump himself also trying to spin Ambassador Sondland's damning impeachment testimony that directly tied the President to the Ukraine pressure campaign. He claims Sondland testimony actually vindicates him.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He asked me where - what should he do. I said I want nothing. Then I repeated it. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Why didn't he put this statement into his into his opening remarks? It's the most important - important statement there are.

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BRIGGS: President contends Wednesday's testimony was a win. And he says it's time for the impeachment hearings to end.

ROMANS: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dodging questions about Ambassador Sondland's testimony that put Pompeo right in the center of the Ukraine storm.

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REPORTER: How do you respond to Ambassador Sondland's evidence today that you directed and coordinated Ukraine policy with the President's lawyer Rudy Giuliani? MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: The second one is easy. I didn't see

a single thing that I was working. Sounds like you might not have been. I was in meetings all day and haven't had a chance to see any of that testimony.

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ROMANS: Sondland testified that not only was Pompeo "in the loop about activities connected to Ukraine - the Ukraine pressure campaign, but Vice President Mike Pence and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were as well."

BRIGGS: After his testimony Sondland told reporters that he is not resigning. The Ambassador making the comments as he prepared for his return flight to Brussels.

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REPORTER: Do you have any plans to resign sir?

SONDLAND: Absolutely not. Going back to work.

REPORTER: How do you believe your testimony went today? Do you believe you were able to show your concerns?

SONDLAND: Told the truth.

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ROMANS: All right sparks fly last night during that Democratic debate.

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HARRIS: It's unfortunate that we have someone on the stage who is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, who during the Obama administration spent four years, full- time on Fox news criticizing President Obama.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's ridiculous Senator Harris.

HARRIS: Who had spent full-time--

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ROMANS: More from that exchange and other key moments. Next.

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BRIGGS: During last night's debate, the 2020 Field spoke of the importance of the African-American vote. Senator Kamala Harris repeatedly talked about the need to rebuild the Obama Coalition.

Senator Cory Booker said black voters are "pissed off," because their issues only seem to matter when politicians need their vote. Biden tried to argue that he is part of the Obama coalition, but Mayor Pete Buttigieg who has taken heat for overstating his black support in South Carolina eloquently used the opportunity to reach out to African-American voters.

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BUTTIGIEG: While I do not have the experience of ever having been discriminated against because of the color of my skin, I do have the experience of sometimes feeling like a stranger in my own country. Turning on the news and seeing my own rights come up for debate.

And seeing my rights expanded by a coalition of people like me and people not at all like me working side by side, shoulder to shoulder. Making it possible for me to be standing here wearing this wedding ring in a way that couldn't have happened two elections ago, lets me know just how deep my obligation is to help those whose rights are on the line every day even if they are nothing like me in their experience.

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ROMANS: There are also some clashes. Senator Kamala Harris lashed back at Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, after Gabbard was asked about what she described as the rot in her own party.

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GABBARD: That our Democratic Party unfortunately is not the party that is of, by and for the people.

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HARRIS: think that it's unfortunate that we have someone on this stage who is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States who during the Obama administration spent four years, full-time on Fox news criticizing President Obama.

GABBARD: That's ridiculous Senator Harris.

HARRIS: Who had spent full-time--

GABBARD: That's ridiculous

HARRIS: Who had spent full-time criticizing people on this stage, as affiliated with the Democratic Party, when Donald Trump was elected, not even sworn in, buddied up to Steve Bannon to get a meeting with Donald Trump--

GABBARD: What Senator Harris is doing is unfortunately continuing to traffic in lies and smears and innuendos because she cannot challenge the substance of the argument that I'm making, the leadership and the change that I'm seeking to bring--

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BRIGGS: Joe Biden though reinforcing his reputation as a gaffe machine for this remark on stopping violence against women.

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BIDEN: No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman in anger other than in self-defense, and that rarely ever occurs. And we have to just change the culture, period, and keep punching at it and punching at it and punching it. It will be a big punch... no, I really mean it. It's a gigantic issue

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BRIGGS: Unfortunate choice of words to say the least. The next debate set for December 19th on PBS.

ROMANS: All right. Trade uncertainty is back on Wall Street. The Dow fell 113 points after Reuters reported a phase one trade deal between the U.S. and China might not happen this year. President Trump said this about the status of the deal.

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TRUMP: China would much rather make a trade deal than I would.

REPORTER: Then why haven't they?

TRUMP: Because I haven't wanted to do it yet.

REPORTER: And why haven't you wanted to do it yet?

TRUMP: Because I don't think they're stepping up to the level that I want.

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ROMANS: Here are the core issues. Beijing wants extensive rollbacks on tariffs. The U.S. is seeking promises on agriculture purchases, intellectual property protections and enforcement. There's been - there have been complaints about - from people who are watching this process that the Chinese make promises in meetings and then don't follow through on paper.

Trump and President Xi were supposed to meet in Chile this week to sign the deal. New locations have been floated, but nothing has been set in stone and negotiations appear to be getting harder and the clock is ticking down. A new round of tariffs on $156 billion in Chinese made goods, these are consumer goods. That new round of tariffs looms December 15.

BRIGGS: And it puts Democrats in an interesting position at that debate. Would you continue the tariffs, would you continue the money the farmers and they're trying to thread the needle, but eventually they have to say well, yes, but we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

ROMANS: There have been pro labor Democrats for years who've been critical of trade deals and critical of China, so they find themselves simpatico with the pressure campaign on China, but not necessarily on the way it's playing out in the American economy.

BRIGGS: Interesting debate ahead. All right. The driver pulls a man from a burning car. A last second save captured on camera. Next.

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ROMANS: Britain's Prince Andrew is stepping away from his public duties for the foreseeable future. The Duke of York trying to contain a firestorm over his ties to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

He says in a statement that, he asked the Queen's permission to make a public retreat from his royal duties and she granted it. The move comes after Andrew's much maligned BBC interview with - about his history with Epstein. He now says he unequivocally regrets his "ill judged" association with the late convicted sex offender. And he says he is willing to help with any ongoing investigations.

BRIGGS: A new chapter in the Antonio Brown saga. The wide receiver reportedly countersuing Britney Taylor, former trainer who has accused Brown of rape and sexual assault in her own lawsuit. According to ESPN, Brown is seeking damages for defamation and interference with his NFL opportunities and endorsements.

Taylor sued Brown earlier this year for alleged rape and multiple instances of sexual assault. Brown denies all of Taylor's accusations. He is asking for a jury trial.

ROMANS: A lifesaving rescue caught on video in Connecticut. The Stafford Fire Department releasing this video that shows a car exploding into flames. Edward Cyr was driving by in the other direction. You can see him pull over. Get out of his car. Run to the burning vehicle and somehow pull the driver out of it to safety.

This happened earlier this month. The man who was saved, 61 year old Glenwood Little joins town officials on Wednesday for a ceremony to honor Edward Cyr as a bona fide hero.

BRIGGS: A prototype upper stage for the planned SpaceX Starship blew up during a test at the company's Texas launch complex. In a statement SpaceX says, the purpose of the test was to "pressurize systems to the max." So the blast wasn't entirely unexpected.

The private space launch company says there was no injuries and it doesn't view the explosion as a serious setback. SpaceX Starship is intended to carry passengers and cargo to orbit the moon and eventually Mars.

ROMANS: Nominations for 2020 Grammy Awards are out and there's a new class in town.

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(VIDEO PLAYING) ROMANS: Lizzo, one of three newcomers, leads the way with eight nominations, including Album, Song and Record of The Year. She's up for Best New Artist.

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ROMANS: A 17-year-old Billie Eilish was right behind with six nominations. The two will go head to head in all the major categories.

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ROMANS: This song - the Song of The Year, Lil Nas X, who was - has that blockbuster hit of Old Town Road also picked up six Grammy nominations.

And former First Lady Michelle Obama was nominated for a Grammy. She will compete in the Best Spoken Word category for her work on the audiobook of her memoir, "Becoming." The Grammy Awards will be handed out on January 26th.

It took me months to get that song out of my head, and it's right back in my head.

BRIGGS: Right back here in, and that's our gift to you this morning. Ahead, 2020 Democrats debate in Atlanta just hours after a pivotal impeachment witness testifies on Capitol Hill. You'll hear both big events next.

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