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EARLY START

Fiona Hill Puts the Nail in Democrats' Case to Go Ahead; White House Dismisses Importance of Final Witnesses; Hecklers Interrupt Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren's Campaign Stops; Benjamin Netanyahu Faces Bribery and Fraud Charges. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 22, 2019 - 04:30   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: Mayday, mayday, mayday --

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Scare in the sky as passengers see flames shoot from a jet engine in mid-flight.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Happy Friday, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Friday. It is Friday. We made it. I'm Christine Romans. Thirty minutes past the hour here in New York.

Democrats moving full speed into the next phase of impeachment proceedings after hearing the last of the planned public testimony. House leaders say they are undeterred by the White House blocking key documents and testimony from firsthand witnesses. Democrats could fight for court orders, compelling testimony from White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security adviser, John Bolton, or they could proceed with the evidence they have. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi making her choice clear yesterday.

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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): No, we're not going to wait until the courts decide. We can't wait for that because again it's a technique. It's obstruction of justice. Obstruction of Congress.

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ROMANS: Democrats say they have the evidence they need to build a solid case to impeach this president for abuse of power, extortion, bribery and obstruction.

Two final building blocks in that case came yesterday. The testimony of U.S. Ukrainian embassy official, David Holmes, who overheard that call between the president and the E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, and more crucially from White House Russia expert Fiona Hill.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has more from Capitol Hill.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Dave, lawmakers who had seen Fiona Hill's closed-door deposition were keenly aware of what she was going to bring to the table on Thursday in what would be the last public hearing at least for the House Intelligence Committee's part into the impeachment inquiry.

That wasn't necessarily the case for everybody else, who got to see an individual who knew her subject matter, who was keenly aware of everything that was going on around her, and had some sharp criticisms, not just for Republicans on the committee of jurisdiction, Republicans who had pushed the idea that the Ukrainians had meddled in the 2016 election, but also for the administration with which she served, especially as it related to what had become known as an irregular channel, a channel of individuals led by E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland, who appeared to be operating out of the normal lines when it came to Ukraine policy inside the United States. This was how she framed it.

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HILL: He was being involved in a domestic political errand. And I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up. And here we are.

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MATTINGLY: Strong words. Very concise words for a problem the Democrats have been exploring in their investigation now for a series of weeks. And that investigation is only going to ramp up going forward. They are done with the public hearing phase. Now comes the report writing phase. Over the course of Thanksgiving week, staff on the House Intelligence Committee will be drafting a report, in which point they will transmit that report to the Judiciary Committee where Articles of Impeachment will be drafted.

Here's what we know for a fact. At this point in time, just about everybody involved with this acknowledges that impeachment is coming. There will be Articles of Impeachment. There will be a House floor vote to impeach the president of the United States. That seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point. And Democrats aren't waiting. They are moving over the course of the next couple of weeks to do that and have a vote as early as the week of Christmas.

This is happening in other words. Now where do Republicans stand on all this? They've made very clear their opposition throughout this process. I've talked to a number of senior Republicans after the end of the day hearings this week, they have made clear, they do not expect to lose any Republicans.

Democrats, Republicans, very firm in their positions right now. Moving forward, very much diverging on how they view this entire process -- guys.

BRIGGS: All right, thanks, Phil.

The White House dismissing the importance of the final witnesses. One official tells CNN that testimony from Pompeo, Bolton or Mulvaney would be -- would obviously change things. But the White House says that as things stand now they believe a Senate trial would actually work in the president's favor.

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GIDLEY: He wants a trial in the Senate. He wants to be able to bring up witnesses like Adam Schiff, like the whistleblower, like Hunter Biden. Like Joe Biden. And he says if the House moves forward with this sham and they continue to push these fake, illegitimate proceedings on to the American people, then he wants it to go to the Senate and he wants a trial.

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BRIGGS: More now from CNN's Pamela Brown at the White House.

PAMELA BROWN, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave. Here at the White House officials are claiming that the last two witnesses' testimony wasn't very damaging to the president. And they're already looking ahead to the potential Senate trial. In fact sources here at the White House claim that a Senate trial could be good for the president as they make their case, and as one senior White House official told me, have the opportunity to take down the Democrats' weak case, as this official put it.

In fact, the White House had several Republican lawmakers come over, meet with the White House counsel and game out what a potential Senate trial might look like. Now I'm told through sources that White House officials have made clear they do not want a long, drawn-out Senate trial. But at the same time, if it does go there, they want to make sure that the process is thorough enough so that it doesn't give Democrats ammunition to say the process is flawed, as Republicans and the White House have been complaining about the Democrats' process on the House side.

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Also the whistleblower came up as well. There had been talk publicly about whether the whistleblower should be subpoenaed. But these Republican lawmakers sent the message to the White House that there shouldn't be focus on the whistleblower. The whistleblower should not be compelled to testify. But I'm told by officials a lot is still under discussion. Options have not been taken off the table yet. And there's still a ways to go until this happens.

And of course a wild card is the president himself, who will ultimately come up with his own defense. And he hosted Republican lawmakers for lunch here at the White House, as well including those who have been critical of him, like Mitt Romney. But lawmakers say that while impeachment did come up during that lunch, that the president wasn't trying to butter up these Republican lawmakers for their votes if this does go to a Senate trial. Back to you, Dave and Christine.

BRIGGS: Pamela Brown, thank you.

Possible new fuel for accusations by President Trump and his allies against U.S. intelligence agencies. A former FBI lawyer under criminal investigation accused of altering a document connected to Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Sources briefed on the matter tell CNN the document was part of the package used to get a surveillance warrant for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The probe by the Justice Department's internal watchdog likely to spark more Republican claims the FBI committed wrongdoing as it investigated connections between Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign.

ROMANS: All right. The window is closing for Congress to approve President Trump's North American trade deal, the USMCA, before the year ends. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said leaders were in a good place. Yesterday, that optimism seemed to fade.

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PELOSI: I'm not even sure if we came to an agreement today that it would be enough time to finish. But that just depends on how much agreement we come to.

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ROMANS: Politico reports Speaker Pelosi met with U.S. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer and House Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal to discuss the remaining issues of that deal. The meeting ended without any announcement. Congressman Neal was still optimistic and told reporters he plans to talk to talk to the trade ambassador again before Thanksgiving. But the clock is ticking. Thursday was the last day before Thanksgiving break for the House. There are now only eight official working days left this year for lawmakers to approve this deal.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, two 2020 candidates confronted by protesters on the campaign trail. You'll see how both dealt with the situation, next.

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ROMANS: Two 2020 Democrat presidential candidates had pivot to deal with protesters during campaign stops Thursday. First, former vice president Joe Biden interrupted while speaking last night in Greenwood, South Carolina.

The group is chanting not one more deportation. Those protesters angry about Obama-era deportations. (INAUDIBLE) center of the arena. Here's he dealt with it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No matter what happens, if somebody (INAUDIBLE) should deported -- no, I'm asking a question.

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ROMANS: The two men continued talking off-mic. Biden offered this to the crowd before waving off a security guard.

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BIDEN: There'll be no family separations under my -- under my -- as president of the United States. That's -- let him go.

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ROMANS: Biden went on to defend the Obama administration's record on immigration.

BRIGGS: Senator Elizabeth Warren was interrupted last night in the first minutes of her speech in Atlanta. Listen.

Protesters there chanting, our voice, our choice in support of charter schools. Warren wants to end federal funding for opening new charter schools. The crowd then turned in Warren's favor.

The crowd now chanting, let her speak. Moments later she did, acknowledging the activists.

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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I love you. We're good. Let's talk about fighters and fighters in history because the lessons of history will live in every part of my presidency. And I will ask you to hold me accountable for those lessons every single day.

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BRIGGS: Warren continued her speech which focused on civil rights.

ROMANS: Senator Kamala Harris speaking last night on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert." Here's some of what they talked about.

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STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE SHOW HOST: There's news that just broke that none of these people know about is that "Washington Post" is reporting.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.

COLBERT: That Lindsey Graham is launching a probe of the Bidens, Burisma and Ukraine. First question, what the hell?

HARRIS: Yes.

COLBERT: You're on Judiciary with him.

HARRIS: Yes.

COLBERT: What do you make of this?

HARRIS: I make of it -- it's the same thing that they've been doing which is to create a big distraction from the facts and the evidence. And frankly, you know, my perspective is leave Joe alone. Just leave him alone.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: Leave him alone. Because this has -- this has been -- you know, we know this from every day of, thank God, open to the public hearings that we've been witnessing.

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The Burisma, the Biden probe, it's a bunch of BS.

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ROMANS: So Senate Judiciary chairman Lindsey Graham is the State Department for documents related to the former vice president's communications with Ukrainian officials.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now facing charges in three separate corruption cases. The first time in Israel's history that a sitting prime minister has been indicted in criminal investigations. The defiant prime minister vows to remain in power, calling the charges against him an attempted coup.

Paula Newton live in Jerusalem with the latest.

Paula, good morning.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: And good morning, Dave. I bet those words sound familiar to you. We will get to that in a moment, but this is a country that is right now in political limbo and the stakes are very high. Remember that Benjamin Netanyahu right now is still prime minister. That is because this country has failed to actually form a new government. And that is significant.

To those charges, though, you were are talking about, it is fraud, breach of trust and most seriously, bribery. It could all lead to prison time. As you said, a defiant Netanyahu saying that look, this is an attempted coup, calling it a witch hunt and saying it's the investigators that now need to be investigated. As I said, he is taking a page from Donald Trump's playbook. And some critics here say that he is really threatening the entire political system by doing that.

Many people now calling him to resign, something he says emphatically that he will not do. But in the next few weeks and months here, every dramatic turn here is going to actually make history. And that is because, as I said, they have failed to form a new government. They could here in Israel be heading to an unprecedented third election early next year. And because of that, because he is prime minister, a certain level of immunity there already.

But if he runs again, and he wins as prime minister this time, and is able to form a coalition government, again, a lot of these charges and indictments, it will be up to the courts to decide whether or not he can retain that title of prime minister. A lot going on here. And Israelis really quite cynical about the whole thing.

BRIGGS: One would imagine. Quite a mess there. Paula, thank you.

Back here, a frightening moment for passengers aboard a flight from Los Angeles to the Philippines when one engine caught fire.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayday, mayday, mayday, Philippine 113, we have a --

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BRIGGS: That was the call from the cockpit. This is the view from the passenger cabin, flames began shooting from the engine on the wing.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blowing fire out of there. I've never seen that before. That doesn't sound good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were panicking, smoke, fire coming out of the right engine.

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BRIGGS: The FAA says the plane was able to turn back and land at LAX with one working engine. Without injuries or incident other than blowing some tires and scaring some passengers.

ROMANS: Yes, that would have been frightening.

All right, an awkward moment for Tesla boss Elon Musk. How the rollout of his new Cybertruck didn't go exactly as planned. Look at how -- I don't know, like, straight it is.

BRIGGS: Awful it looks?

(LAUGHTER)

BRIGGS: Come on.

ROMANS: More like angular.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BRIGGS: The Houston Texans coming through with a huge comeback win over the Colts to take control of the AFC South.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys. You know, still five weeks left in the NFL season. But I think this is a big win for Deshaun Watson and the Texans. They now have firm control of their division. And they were down in this game multiple times. Down 7-3 in the second quarter. Watson in a scramble here a little bit, then go deep. Finds a wide-open DeAndre Hopkins for the touchdown.

Those two will hook up again in a fourth quarter, trailing by four. Watson hits Hopkins in stride for the go-ahead touchdown. Texans hold on for the big win, 20-17. Now after each of one of those touchdown receptions, Hopkins handing the ball to his biggest fan, his mom. She's legally blind after having acid thrown in her face back in 2002.

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DEANDRE HOPKINS, HOUSTON TEXANS WIDE RECEIVER: My mom is my biggest supporter, my biggest critic. Whenever I drop a ball, she's on me. Whenever I catch a touchdown, she's still on me. So, you know, that's my hardest critic. And you know, I put her up there in the first row so she can be part of, you know, my accomplishment of scoring a touchdown. Obviously, you know, you guys know the story about her. And not being able to visually see me on the football field. So I want her to be part of that touchdown.

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SCHOLES: All right, and the NFL announcing yesterday that they are upholding the Browns' Myles Garrett indefinite suspension for hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with a helmet. It's the longest suspension for an on-field incident in NFL history. And a new wrinkle on this case came out yesterday. According to reports, Garrett told the NFL in his hearing that Rudolph said a racial slur towards him during the skirmish.

In a statement, Garrett said, "This was not meant for public dissemination nor was it a convenient attempt to justify my actions or restore my image in the eyes of those I disappointed. I know what I heard. Whether my opponent's comment was borne out of frustration or ignorance, I cannot say. But his actions do not excuse my lack of restraint in the moment."

Now Rudolph through his attorney vehemently denied using any kind of racial slur and said the attack on his integrity is worse than the assault that occurred during the game. And guys, the NFL also said they looked into the racial slur allegation and found no such evidence.

BRIGGS: And no player on either side knew about it in the immediate aftermath so it is tough to believe and wouldn't change the facts anyway.

Andy Scholes, good to see you, buddy. Have a good weekend.

SCHOLES: All right.

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ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this Friday morning. Taking a look at markets around the world. A little bit of optimism seeping into investors' psyche this morning. On Wall Street, futures also moving up here. A bounce from yesterday because stocks ended lower as investors are grappling with trade developments, conflicting trade developments every single day.

The Dow closed 55 points lower. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell. There's still no deal with China and the two sides are divided on issues like agriculture purchases and tariff rollbacks. Major averages have been up and down on each trade headline. Tech stocks, though, overall for the year, really want to take a look here, they have been so resilient. Look at this. Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google, all up this year.

Apple is far and away the winner there. Look at that, 68 percent. So, this is the best start to a year -- or the best year for tech stocks in a decade. So it bears watching there.

WeWork's former CEO, he had a massive payout, right? Now 2400 employees are losing their jobs. The co-working space founder announced the layoffs Thursday as part of its effort to cut cost and move forward after its failed IPO attempt. A WeWork spokesperson told CNN the layoffs were necessarily to create a more efficient organization. WeWork reportedly delayed those layoffs because it couldn't afford to pay severance before it was bailed out by Softbank.

If you've ever wanted to drive something that looks like a Bat mobile, you might want to -- you might like Tesla's new electric pickup truck.

Elon Musk unveiled the Cybertruck Thursday. A bullet-proof truck that looks more like art, I would say, instead of a truck. CEO Elon Musk says a stainless steel alloy allows the car to be literally bullet- proof against smaller firearms, including a 9 millimeter handgun. But during a demonstration of the unbreakable metal glass windows.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. Well, maybe that was a little too hard.

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ROMANS: The glass broke. Production on the Cybertruck begins in late 2021.

BRIGGS: Best laid plans.

ROMANS: All right. Coldplay holding off on touring for its new album until it can figure out how to make its concerts more environmentally friendly.

Front man Chris Martin telling the BBC the band wants to take time over the next year or two to consider how future tours can be sustainable and even actively beneficial. So he says flying is the biggest problem and he would be disappointed if the band's tour wasn't carbon-neutral. Martin says the dream would be to have a largely solar powered show with no single-use plastic.

I mean, what I'm thinking about like a big mega concert like these guys put on, can you imagine how many plastic straws in a concert like that? And how you would have to change the system to unwind all that. They want -- they want to think about how to get that done.

BRIGGS: Undoing single-use plastics at hundreds of venues around the world. That is a massive task.

All right, you --

ROMANS: I'd give up a plastic straw to see Coldplay.

BRIGGS: Oh, no, absolutely. As your kids would.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: All right. We all survived a week of impeachment hearings. And while you were sleeping, Stephen Colbert pointed out the whole thing was kind of confusing and offered up his own late-night solution.

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COLBERT: The witnesses have been compelling. They've corroborated what the whistleblower said. But the people on the TV say the whole thing has one problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The issue keeps on being kind of complicated for people to follow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has this gotten too confusing for the American people?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: There are too many names and too many of you tell me you're too confused.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that sometimes it's not easy to follow all these -- all the names in this particular saga.

COLBERT: Are you seriously claiming that it's not easy for Americans to follow sagas with a lot of characters? Have you heard of "Game of Thrones"? But to help everyone remember, we've written this catchy jingle.

Everybody. (Singing) There's just one thing that you need to know, Trump said, do us a favor, though. Now --

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Now it makes sense.

ROMANS: I get it. There's just one thing you need to know. It's time for us to go. Thanks for joining us. Have a great weekend, everybody. But a great rest to your Friday. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Have a great weekend. Here's "NEW DAY."

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HILL: He was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were being involved in national security foreign policy.

DAVID HOLMES, U.S. UKRAINIAN EMBASSY OFFICIAL: The president's voice was loud and recognizable. I then heard President Trump ask, so he's going to do the investigation?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We got to stop this. They're not going to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It undercuts all of the defenses that the president and the Republicans have put forward.

GIDLEY: They continue to push these fake, illegitimate proceedings on to the American people. He wants it to go to the Senate and he wants a trial.

PELOSI: No, we're not going to wait until the courts decide. It's obstruction of justice. Obstruction of Congress.

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ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY, with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is a --

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