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Secret Deal Costs Top Official His Job; White House Tried To Justify Ukraine Move; Michael Bloomberg Enters 2020 Presidential Race; Big Night For Taylor Swift; Donald Trump's Impeachment Inquiry; Adam Schiff Leaves Door Open To More Hearings; Trump Pushes Monthly Drug Cost Cap For Seniors; Questions Surround U.S.-China Trade War; Pro- Democracy Parties Win Big In Hong Kong; Fighting Anti-Semitism; Indiana Surgical Patients Exposed To Diseases; Teen Arrested After Fatal Shooting Of Al Sheriff; Woman Calls 911, Orders Pizza To Signal Domestic Violence. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 25, 2019 - 04:00   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Escalating turmoil between the White House and Defense Department. A top official fired over a secret agreement on a war crimes case.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: A newly uncovered documents show the White House trying to justify withholding military aid to Ukraine, after the president gave the order.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Bloomberg became the guy who did good. And now, he's taking on him.


CHURCH: Mike Bloomberg enters the 2020 race. He calls Donald Trump an existential threat. But is it too late to mount a challenge?




COLLINS: And it was a historic night for Taylor Swift. We'll tell you what she won at the American Music Awards. Good morning and welcome to Early Start. I'm Kaitlan Collins.

CHURCH: Nice to have you here, Kaitlan. Welcome.

COLLINS: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Nice to see you. I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, November 25th. It is 4:00 a.m. in New York. A secret agreement with the White House, costing a top Pentagon leader his job, the force departure of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer highlights an extraordinary dispute over the handling of war crimes charges against Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher. Now, many at the Pentagon think the president's involvement is in punishment for Gallagher and other service members could undermine military discipline.

COLLINS: On Thursday, the president tweeted that the Navy will not be taking away Gallagher's trident pin, which is the symbol of his membership in the SEALS. Navy Secretary Spencer push back on that saying, I don't interpret the president's tweets as a formal order. That's despite the fact that the president's tweets had dictated policy in the past. And the White House said they should be considered official statements. Spencer said on Saturday, he had no plans to resign.


RICHARD SPENCER, THEN-SECRETRAY OF THE NAVY: Contrary to popular belief, I'm still here. I did not threaten to resign. But let's just say that we're here to talk about external threats and Eddie Gallagher is not one of them.


CHURCH: On Sunday, Gallagher went on Fox and attacked his own superiors.


EDDIE GALLAGHER, U.S. NAVY: This is all about ego and retaliation. This has everything to do with good order and discipline. They could have taken by trident at any time they wanted. Now, they're trying to take it after the president restored my rank.


CHURCH: Pentagon turmoil has created a three competing narratives here to explain why Spencer is stepping down. National Security reporter, Ryan Browne, explains.


RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY: Good morning, Christine and Kaitlan. Now the Pentagon issuing a statement saying that Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired because he had had secret talks with the White House about the fate of Gallagher, who was due to face a review over allegations of misconduct, including posing with a picture of a corpse while serving in Iraq.

Now that review was going to go ahead, but the Pentagon claiming that Spencer had come to a secret deal with the White House, where Gallagher would be allowed to retain his status as a Navy SEAL upon departing the Navy.

Now, we've also heard two different explanations. One from President Donald Trump, who tweeted after Spencer's firing was announced, that he had been disappointed with how the Navy had handled the Gallagher case. And then Spencer himself writing a letter and saying that he, in fact, was removed from his post, because he was unwilling to follow an order that he felt was unethical. That he said he believe in the need for good order and discipline within the military saying, that what's set us apart from our adversaries.

Spencer had been a long-time senior member of the Pentagon. He had come in the earliest days of the Trump administration. He had kept a relatively low profile and even served as acting Secretary of Defense for a brief time. So a very, very major development at the Pentagon as the White House's review of the high profile, Eddie Gallagher Navy SEAL case leads to the firing of the top -- the Navy's top civilian. Back to you guys.


COLLINS: Thank you, Ryan.

And now, to the impeachment front. A confidential White House review of the freeze on military aid to Ukraine, has uncovered hundreds of documents, revealing extensive efforts to justify President Trump's actions after the hold was already in place. They also showed there was a debate involving the acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, about whether the delay was even legal. It's not clear whether these records pose a new legal problems for Trump, but they could be embarrassing. Let's get more now from Jeremy Diamond, who is at the White House.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The White House has been conducting an internal review of President Trump's decision last summer to withhold nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraine. Now according to the Washington Post, that review is turning up hundreds of documents that suggest that White House officials and officials in the Office and Management and Budget, were working to draw up a legal justification for that move after the facts.


Again, this reporting suggest that this was yet another instance of a scramble by officials to essentially catch up with another one of President Trump's decisions. The Office of Management and Budget, though, is denying that anything improper took place. Here's a statement from a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, Rachel Semmel. She said, to be clear, there was a legal consensus at every step of the way that the money could be withheld in order to conduct the policy review.

The Washington Post also highlights an early August exchange between the acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney and the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget, Russ Vogt, in which Mulvaney asks for an update on the legal justification. Now, two administration officials yell me that doesn't mean that Mulvaney was seeking to change that justification or that one wasn't already in place. Christine, Kaitlan. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: All right, Jeremy, thanks for that. The White House officials named in those e-mails include many who have not testified in the impeachment hearings. Also on the no testimony list, former National Security Adviser, John Bolton. House Intel Chairman, Adam Schiff is urging Bolton to testify and follow the lead of his former staffers.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): He did not choose to come in and testify. Notwithstanding the fact that his Deputy, Fiona Hill, and his other Deputy, Colonel Vindman and Tim Morrison, others the National Security Council have shown the courage to come in. He will have to explain one day if that -- if he maintains that position, why he wanted to wait to put it in a book instead of tell the American people what he knew.


CHURCH: Democratic aides in the House are spending thanksgiving week preparing a report, spelling out the case for impeachment. Chairman Schiff leaving the door open to more hearings or depositions that he says, Democrats will not wait months while the administration stalls.

COLLINS: Devin Nunes, the Republican who led the Party through the impeachment hearings, may have been directly involved in the effort to get dirt on Joe Biden. An attorney for Lev Parnas, one of the two indicted associates of Rudy Giuliani says Parnas is willing to testify before Congress and he's apparently ready to reveal that Nunes met last year with the disgraced Ukrainian prosecutor. Nunes claims the allegation is false, that that's about all he is willing to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bottom line, were you in Vienna with Chocken (ph).

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Yes, look, Maria, I really want to answer all of these questions. And I promise you I will come back on the show and answer these questions. But I think you can understand that I can't compete by trying to debate this out with the public media, when 90 percent of the media are totally corrupt.


COLLINS: Pretty notable that there was not a denial there from Devin Nunes. But the prosecutor, Victor (inaudible), was ousted in 2016, under pressure from several western leaders for not prosecuting corruption cases.

CHURCH: All right, 10 weeks now to the Iowa caucuses, Michael Bloomberg is officially in the race.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Bloomberg became the guy who did good. And now, he's taking on him.


CHURCH: Bloomberg laying out a moderate vision and labeling President Trump an existential threat. After ruling out a run earlier this year, the billionaire New Yorker reversed course, because he doesn't think any Democrat in the race can beat President Trump. To kick start his campaign, Bloomberg is spending at least $37 million on television ads over the next two weeks. The former New York City mayor is deploying an unconventional strategy. He's trying to build support in states that hold primaries on Super Tuesday, March 3rd. but those voters may not be onboard. A recent CBS poll shows only 20 percent of likely Democratic primary voters through Super Tuesday would even consider Bloomberg.

COLLINS: And the Trump administration is pushing for a monthly cap on what seniors pay out of pocket for medications. Axios reports that the change would be added to a bipartisan drug pricing bill making its way through the Senate. For the president and for lawmakers, lowering these prescription drug costs remains a top priority. The White House thinks the president needs that to enter winning the 2020 campaign. So far, the most drug pricing efforts are tied up in Congress. The courts or even the administration itself.

CHURCH: All right. The stock market has been resilient. But there are a lot of questions around the U.S./China trade war. Will there be a trade deal before tariffs rise December 15th. Will a phase one deal be signed in the beginning of 2020? How watered down will it be? Can President Trump rebrand a deal that involved say, soybean purchases in exchange for drop tariffs? Can the president even brand that as a win? Here's what Trump said Friday on Fox.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're also are in the process of making the largest trade deal in history. And if we could do that, that would be great.


CHURCH: The largest trade deal in history. Not quite sure if that is true. That's a very skinny deal that on the table right now. Now despite the trade war, markets remain strong. A couple reasons why here, the fed has cut rates three times. There's a $4 trillion fed balance sheet, swelled by emergency funding meant to push in the money markets and to keep short-term lending smooth.


Outside of manufacturing, the economy overall is fine. And stronger than struggling economies in Europe and Asia. Taking stock this holiday week, this is the best year for tech stocks in decade. The S&P 500 up almost 24 percent this year. Still, Kaitlan, trade risk remain the biggest thing here.

COLLINS: Yes, they certainly do and major gains for pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong elections and what that means for the protest. We're live in Hong Kong right after this.


COLLINS: There has been a stunning landslide victory for pro- democracy parties in Hong Kong's district council elections. Voter turnaround was historic and the question now is will months of violent anti-government protest stop to allow the new government to implement reforms. Will Ripley is on the ground for us in Hong Kong.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kaitlan. Well, I'll tell you, if there was a buzz this weekend from the election victory and the overwhelming victory from the pro-democracy protesters, well, the buzz is already wearing off on this Monday and reality is setting in. Because Hong Kong is a city where democracy has its limits. And even though this weekend's elections was overwhelmingly in favor of candidates who support democracy, these were only local elections.

The people who actually make laws here in Hong Kong, are selected by a system that overwhelmingly favors Beijing. It's not a vote, you know, for-vote kind of thing. So, as a result, you have all of the basic tension still existing today that we saw before the election, and perhaps even more now because the pro-democracy movement knows that the Hong Kong system fundamentally remains unchanged and so they are vowing to continue their fight. Which is why we are seeing a protest like this one outside of (inaudible), where dozens of protesters are believed to be hiding out inside buildings of that campus that we are seeing of intense clashes just over a week ago.

And protests that begin peacefully like this here in Hong Kong, often have the potential to turn violent. So, while we had one weekend, a weekend of democracy, a weekend of voting, a weekend free of teargas, we're now back on a Monday to the situation that has locked this city in the cycle of turmoil for almost six months.

Anger at the government, anger at the police and anger at a system controlled by Beijing that remains unchanged no matter what the election result over the weekend. And we see more of this potentially more of the kind of violence that has sunk Hong Kong into a recession and threatens to continue for the foreseeable future. Kaitlan, back to you.

COLLINS: Just a stunning turn events. Thank you for that, Will.

CHURCH: All right. Another tragedy in the world of Korean pop. 28- year-old k-pop star Goo Hara was found dead in her home in Seoul, Sunday. Police now say they had found a note in her leaving room. Police presume this to be a suicide note. Last May, she was found unconscious in her home after posting good-bye on Instagram. Hara recovered, but the incident renewed the debate over the pressure facing k-pop stars. Two of them have died of apparent suicides since 2017.

All right. A man goes on an anti-Semitic rant towards Jewish children in London. We'll show you how this ended. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COLLINS: Police in the U.K. have arrested a man who aimed an anti- Semitic rant at a young Jewish boy and his mother on the London underground.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're trying to tell me --


COLLINS: That viral video shows a man threatening fellow passengers who tried to intervene, including a woman wearing a hijab. The mother of the two told Britain's press association she knew she had to confront him. She said, I know what it's like to be in that situation and I would want someone to help me. Anti-Semitic incidents have spiked 10 percent in the U.K. this year.

CHURCH: Unsanitary surgical equipment may have exposed nearly 1,200 patients in an Indiana hospital for serious diseases. According to a spokesperson for Goshen Hospital, a technician missed one of the steps in a multistep cleaning process. Patients who underwent surgery at Goshen Hospital between April and September this year, were potentially exposed to hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. All affected patients have been sent letters and are being offered free testing. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Goshen health.

COLLINS: The suspect in the fatal shooting of a beloved Alabama sheriff is the son of a sheriff's Deputy in a different county, 18- year-old William Chase Johnson was taken into custody Sunday, just hours after the shooting in the (inaudible) county sheriff that sparked a statewide manhunt. Sheriff Big John Williams was responding to a call at a gas station when he was gun down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Big John Williams, who was a wonderful man. Everybody in law enforcement knew him. If you ever met him, you would never forget him.


COLLINS: William Johnson was arrested without incident when he returned to the same gas station where that tragic shooting took place.

CHURCH: All right. An Ohio woman's quick-thinking 911 call to order pizza, alerted authorities to domestic violence against her mother. 911 dispatcher Tim Tenneck, says when he fielded the call, he assumed someone dialed the wrong number. I mean asking for a pizza, but he soon realized it was a plea for help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You called 911 to order a pizza?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Apartment number (BEEP) --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the wrong number to call for a pizza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. You're not understanding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm getting you now. I got it. Is the other guy still there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I need a large pizza.



CHURCH: When police arrived, they arrested Simon Lopez on domestic violence charges. Teneck says in 14 years, he never received a call from someone using coded language. But he could tell she wasn't intoxicated and her insistence she called the right number convinced him she needed help.

COLLINS: Taylor swift is making history at the American Music Awards.




COLLINS: Last night, she shattered Michael Jackson's records for the most all-time wins at the AMA's. She now has 29. Swift was also honored as the artist of the decade. And she didn't directly address that ugly public feud with her former record label which kept her from playing her older music. But she said this after winning the lights biggest prize of artist of the year.



TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER: The last year of my life has had some of the most amazing times and also some of the, just, like, hardest things I've gone through in my life. And a lot of them are things that haven't been public. And I wanted to thank you so much for being the thing that has been a constant in my life.


COLLINS: Some people saw that as an indirect reference. And this is the record fifth time that Swift has won artist of the year at the AMA's.

CHURCH: She deserves it. She's awesome. All right, 25 minutes past the hour. He refused to follow the

president's order by tweet. But now, a top Navy official is out of a job for secret talks with the White House on a war crimes case.