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Judge: Former White House Counsel Must Testify to Congress; Deadly Earthquake in Albania; Ugly Holiday Forecast; Don't Mess with Grandma; Test of Support for Netanyahu. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 26, 2019 - 04:30   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House can't keep its former top lawyer from testifying -- a big ruling with major implications for impeachment witnesses and the president.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It's going to be an ugly week for holiday travel. Flights are already canceled as rain and snow move across the country.

COLLINS: Breaking overnight, a deadly earthquake in Albania. Hundreds are hurt, and rescue operations are still under way.


WILLIE MURPHY, STOPPED HOME INVASION: I'm alone and I'm old. But guess what. I'm tough. I took that table and I went to working on him.


ROMANS: And one Upstate New York burglar messed with the wrong woman. How an 82-year-old grandma took care of business.

My favorite story of the day. I hope it's yours, too.

Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

COLLINS: I'm Kaitlan Collins. It's 30 minutes past the hour here in New York.

It's a major victory for House Democrats and their investigations into the president, as a federal judge has ruled former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify under congressional subpoena.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is rejecting the sweeping White House claim that aides are, quote, absolutely immune from testifying. The judge says the subpoena is not political, but part of the legal system, and, quote, for the Constitution, no one is above the law. Jackson ruled that if McGahn wants to refuse to testify, like by claiming executive privilege, he must do so in person and question by question.

The justice because it will appeal the ruling, setting the stage for a historic showdown between the executive and legislative branches.

ROMANS: This decision is bad news for anyone who has ever worked in the Trump White House and is now refusing to testify. House Democrats hope the ruling could pave the way for some of them, like former national security adviser, John Bolton, to testify in the impeachment probe. Earlier this month, his lawyer said Bolton was personally involved in matters that are being investigated. The House Intel Committee just wrapped up two weeks of public hearings. Chairman Adam Schiff said Monday they could release the report as soon as next week, but he had warned that that timetable could be extended.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We don't foreclose the possibility of more depositions and more hearings. We're in the process of getting more documents all the time. So, that investigative work is going to go on. What we're not prepared to do is wait months and months while the administration plays a game of rope-a-dope in an effort to try to stall.


COLLINS: Democrats say those who won't testify might find themselves named in additional articles of impeachment. Judge Jackson noting that even the president may not be immune from having to testify. She writes, stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that presidents are not kings.

ROMANS: It was a mixed verdict Monday. President Trump did receive a temporary reprieve on the fight for his financial documents. The court wants to hear from both sides next week before deciding whether to conduct a full review.

Let's get more this morning from CNN's Ariane De Vogue.


ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Christine, Kaitlan, the Supreme Court said the House will not get President Trump's financial documents, at least for now. That's a win for the president. Now, a House subpoena has been put on hold. And President Trump will ask the justices to take up the case this term.

He's been fighting on several fronts to shield his records from disclosure. The court's action tees up a landmark separation of powers case. It also delays at least for several weeks the House's ability to obtain the information it says is critical to congressional oversight.

How the court rules in this case, could impact several other lower court cases, as well as the impeachment proceedings -- Kaitlan, Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Ariane. Thank you for that.

President Trump is defending his decisions to intervene in a high profile war crimes case after he insisted that a Navy SEAL convicted of misconduct should not be punished.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They wanted to take his pin away. I said you're not going to take it away. He was a great fighter. He was one of the ultimate fighters. Tough guy. We're going to protect our war fighters.


ROMANS: Eddie Gallagher was convicted of posing for a photo next to a dead ISIS fighter's body. He was acquitted of more serious war crime charges. A secret proposal to the White House to resolve the status of his SEAL pin led to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer's firing Sunday. And now, Spencer has a warning about the president's intervention in war crimes cases.


RICHARD SPENCER, FIRED NAVY SECRETARY: What message does that send to the troops?

REPORTER: Well, what message does it send?

SPENCER: That you can get away with things. We have to have good order and discipline. It's the backbone of what we do. I don't think he really understands the full definition of a war fighter. A war fighter is a profession of arms. And a profession of arms has standards.


COLLINS: Those comments from Spencer came the day after the defense secretary forced him out, saying that he went around the chain of command.


Here's what Esper told reporters.


MARK ESPER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Secretary Esper broke these rules and thus lost my trust and confidence. We had no knowledge whatsoever. We were flabbergasted by it and quite surprised and caught completely off guard.


COLLINS: Esper says he wanted the Navy peer review board to look at the case, but as President Trump told him not the pursue that route, he did as he was told. Esper didn't say whether or not he disagreed or agreed with Trump.

ROMANS: And this, a complete about-face from Louisiana Senator John Kennedy. The question, who was behind the hack of Democratic headquarters back in 2016?

Here is what he first said when asked by Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday".


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Was it Russia or Ukraine?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I don't know. Nor do you. Nor do any of us.

WALLACE: The entire intelligence community says it was Russia.

KENNEDY: Right. But it could also be Ukraine.


ROMANS: Last night on CNN with Chris Cuomo, Senator Kennedy reversed himself, claiming he misheard the question.


KENNEDY: I was answering one of his questions and he interjected a statement and asked me to react to it. What I heard Chris say was, he made the statement, that only Russia had tried to interfere in the election. And I answered the question. That's not what he said.

Chris is right. I was wrong.


ROMANS: The Louisiana senator adding he has seen no indication that Ukraine tried to hack the DNC servers.

Folks, this is a debunked theory the president has pushed. He says the evidence, now, is overwhelming that it was Russia.

COLLINS: In addition to that storm, forecasters are calling something else a historic storm, saying it may disrupt your holiday travel plans. Twenty-one million people are facing brutal rain and snow. And already, more than 500 flights have been canceled for today, most of them out of that very crowded airport you see there in Denver.

Our meteorologist Karen Maginnis has the latest.


KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine and Kaitlan. We've got big problems on the roadways. Lots of travelers. AAA says

about 55 million people, about 90 percent of those 55 million people going to head out on the highways. Going to make good time.

No. We have back-to-back storm systems. One ejects out of the Rockies. Another one moving in across the West Coast, going to be lowering snow levels.

By the way, this weather report brought by Ninja Foodi, the grill the sears, sizzle and air fry crisps.

All right. Big problems, interstate 70 across Colorado. That will be problematic. Right around Denver, could see a foot of snowfall there. Also, Interstate 80, right around Reno, Minneapolis, you're looking at Interstate 94, big problems there, the temperature really drops dramatically.

Also, could see potential for some strong storms all the way from southern Missouri into Arkansas and into Louisiana. If you're traveling to Des Moines, watch out. You'll see poor visibility.

After the West Coast, look at that, along with strong wind gusts, maybe some sections of southeast Oregon could see wind gusts up over 80 miles an hour. Drive carefully. Have a safe holiday.

Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: All right, Karen, indeed.

All right. Breaking overnight, a powerful magnitude 6.4 earthquake rocks Albania, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 300. The epicenter was in Durres, about 13 miles from the capital of Tirana. It is the strongest quake to hit the country in decades. Video from a CNN affiliate shows this attempted rescue of a woman trapped in the rubble. Strong aftershocks felt in the capital, separate buildings near the city collapsed. We're going to bring you more details as we get them.

COLLINS: There's a big test happening for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Does the indicted prime minister have support from his own party to stay in the fight?

CNN is live in Jerusalem right after this.



ROMANS: Crisis in farm country -- falling crop prices, a string of natural disasters and the U.S./China trade war. Data from the American Farm Bureau Federation shows farm bankruptcies have soared 24 percent since September 2018. Soybeans, cotton and dairy hard hit by retaliation against the president's tariffs. Farmers, a key demographic for Trump in the 2020 election. He's often

called them patriots for making sacrifices while he negotiates with Beijing. And he's handed out $28 billion in taxpayer bailouts to those farmers.

Now, one of those farmers is taking on one of Trump's biggest backers. Christopher Gibbs, an Ohio farmer, is weighing an independent run to unseat Representative Jim Jordan. Jordan has been one of Trump's strongest supporters attached to the House impeachment inquiry. Gibbs raises cattle, grows soybeans, alfalfa and corn, all crops hurt by the trade war. He said his interest in running for office is more than Trump's agricultural policies and defeating Jordan.


CHRISTOPHER GIBBS, OHIO FARMER: This is bigger than that. Listen, populism, the destructive nature of populism has crept into both of these parties.


ROMANS: Gibbs, a former Republican official voted for Trump in 2016. But he became an outspoken critic of the president's trade policies and left the Republican Party.

COLLINS: There's a critical test support today for the embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


His backers are holding a top the coup rally in downtown Tel Aviv, after the prime minister is facing one count of bribery, three counts of fraud and breach of trust.

Let's go live to Jerusalem and bring in CNN's Paula Newton.

Paula, Netanyahu has survived these political tests in the past. But do you think this time is going to be any different?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, the short answer there, Kaitlan, I hate to be trite. But it's the same thing with impeachment or Brexit or Israeli politics right now. If you think you know what is going to happen, you haven't been paying attention.

Let's just take this rally that you were talking about as the first example, right? It's a stop the coup rally. It's something that Netanyahu called for. Because of security reasons and political reasons, we don't know if Netanyahu himself will be there.

Having said that, it seems that some Netanyahu loyalists will also not be there. Does that mean that they're going to be able to unseat him as a leader of the party? Most bet that they won't be able to. And what does that mean? It means it leaves Netanyahu, his party and Israeli politics still in a state of stalemate. I'll tell you, we are 16 days left to go to see if they can pull

together a coalition government. If they can't, this country is headed for its third election in less than a year, and still no conclusive result. As I was just saying, though, Netanyahu remains prime minister.

In the meantime, I want you to have a look at this video. This is him at the Golan Heights a couple of days ago. And he is trying to portray this as business as usual. But this is not too much of a subtle point here, guys.

He's trying to tell Israel, reminding them, who has secured Israel over more than a decade now. It is me. And I will continue to have my eye on Iran and other threats and make sure I will keep Israel safe. He says this is not a time for enemies. His enemies to come together, but a time for the country to unite.

You can imagine, there's plenty of rhetoric around that from his opponents. But just to make his point, you know, today continues with a day of rage out of Palestine. They will have another day of rage on Friday, as well. A lot of that, in fact, is to protest, in fact, U.S. policy on settlements, a policy changed last week that was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Having said that, though, Netanyahu will continue to stay close to his ally, President Trump, and the Trump administration, saying she the one who can guarantee Israel's security -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And the first sitting Israeli leader to be indicted. Thank you for that, Paula.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-seven minutes past the hour.

Remember that awkward moment during Tesla Cybertruck reveal?




ROMANS: Elon Musk explains and breaks his silence, should we say, on the unbreakable glass incident. CNN Business is next.



ROMANS: In southern California, the so-called Cave Fire is growing and threatening homes in Santa Barbara County. The fire started yesterday in the Los Padres National Forest. Fire officials say driven by strong winds, it crossed a highway near the Santa Barbara City limits.

It has now burned 3,300 acres, zero percent containment. Southern California Edison has cut power for more than 400 homes and is considering thousands more.

COLLINS: A robbery suspect wielding a big machete was shot and killed by police in Hollywood. Some of it was captured on cell phone video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, don't do it. Don't do it!



COLLINS: The suspect first being chased by an officer and then turning and charging at that officer. Police think the suspect robbed an auto parts store and then carried stolen batteries and jumper cables to a nearby drive-thru. He carjacked a customer and tried to drive away but then crashed into two patrol cars.

Officers chased him. And officials put -- say police say used less lethal force before firing live rounds. The officer you saw in the video taking a tumble suffered only minor injuries.

ROMANS: The story of an Alabama sheriff's murder just became even sadder. It turns out the son of fallen Lowndes County sheriff, Big John Williams, witnessed his father's murder.


SHERIFF DERRICK CUNNINGHAM, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, ALABAMA SHERIFF: The son was at the gas station that same night. When you're dealing with loved ones and your loved one is actually there and witnesses you being shot, that's something.


ROMANS: The 18-year-old suspect, William Chase Johnson, is the son of a deputy in neighboring Montgomery County. Officials say Johnson killed Sheriff Williams when the 40-year-old law enforcement veteran approached a truck, asking the occupant to turn down the loud music.

COLLINS: A Florida woman called 911 to report a dead body in her driveway. Hours later, Yvonne Serrano was charged with murder. Police say Serrano and the victim 21-year-old Daniela Tabares Maya, were part of a group outing Friday night. And that Maya drove Serrano home around 2:00 a.m. on Saturday.

According to the police, Serrano called 911 after she deleted doorbell camera footage and washed her clothes. She told them she didn't remember how she got home and there's no word right now if Serrano has an attorney.

ROMANS: After 36 years behind bars, three men will be home for Thanksgiving. They have been exonerated from a wrongful murder conviction when they were in their mid-teens. Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Steward left the courthouse surrounded by friends, family and their legal team. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW STEWART, EXONERATED AFTER 36 YEARS IN PRISON: I didn't know how to stop crime until a friend of mine came to me and said to me, your journey is coming to an end.


But it's not. My journey is just beginning.


ROMANS: The Baltimore prosecutors' Conviction Integrity Unit uncovered a flawed case. They now say police encouraged false witness testimony in the 1983 murder of a 14-year-old shot in a school hallway for his jacket. The freed men say they want those involved held accountable for their wrongful convictions.

COLLINS: Use of screen time by toddlers is exploding as children move from infancy to toddlerhood. A new study finds that daily use of TV, computers and mobile devices by children increased three-fold between 12 months to 3 years, from an average of 53 minutes to more than 150 minutes. The study says children of first-time mothers and kids in home-based child care logged the most screen time by the time they hit elementary school. The study appears in JAMA Pediatrics.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We spotted the fugitives.


ROMANS: The force has been shaken but remains unbroken. An actual script for the upcoming new "Star Wars" movie "The Rise of Skywalker" wound up on eBay. It seems one of the main actors left the script under his or her bed and it was found by someone cleaning room. Director J.J. Abrams won't say which actor it was. Disney was able to dodge a disaster when a staffer saw the script on eBay and bought it before it could be sold. Give that person a raise.

COLLINS: A statement and a first for Carmelo Anthony. The ten-time all-star scoring 25 points in just his fourth game with the Portland Trail Blazers. He moved to 18th place in the NBA's career scoring list. The night to remember even more special when Melo had an on- court FaceTime call with Kiyan through his wife's phone. Anthony saluted his son.

The interaction going over a lot better than another player fan interaction. Redskins quarterback Duane Haskins, who took a selfie with a fan on Sunday and missed the last play of the game.

ROMANS: That was something, wasn't it?

COLLINS: Oh my gosh.

ROMANS: All right. Let's go and check in CNN Business this morning, taking a look at markets around the world.

A mixed performance, really, here, narrowly mixed I'd call it. On Wall Street, look at futures. A few hours from the opening bell. They're barely moving.

Look, stocks closed record highs Monday. China signaled it's willing to tighten intellectual property protections. That could help a U.S.- China trade deal. The Dow closed up 190 points, the Nasdaq jumped 1.3 percent.

Some big mergers also moved markets. LVMH confirmed it will buy Tiffany for $16.2 billion. Charles Schwab agreed to buy T.D. Ameritrade for $26 billion. And eBay sold its StubHub ticketing business to Viagogo, a European rival, that's a $4 billion deal. So, a lot of merger activity.

Remember this awkward moment during Tesla's Cybertruck reveal?




ROMANS: The unbreakable glass on the electric truck broke. Over the weekend, CEO Elon Musk offered an explanation.

Before one of Tesla's designers threw the steel ball at the window. He had hit the truck's door with a sledgehammer. Musk says the impact of that blow also damaged the glass, tweeting, should have done steel ball on window, then sledgehammer the door next time.

COLLINS: Remember that one for next time.

ROMANS: OK, check.

COLLINS: A man who broke into a Rochester, New York, home, picked the wrong grandmother. Eighty-year-old Willie Murphy was getting ready for bed last Thursday night when she heard someone pounding on her door and he was urging her to call an ambulance for him.


MURPHY: I heard a loud noise. I'm saying to myself, what the heck is that? A young man is in my home. I'm alone and I'm old. But guess what? I'm tough.

I took that table and I went to working on him. And guess what? The table broke. I had really did a number on that man.


COLLINS: If you can't tell from the video, she's 5 feet tall and 105 pounds.

Murphy also squirted the intruder in the face with shampoo and whacked him a few times with a broom. In turns out, she's an award-winning bodybuilder who works out at the local YMCA nearly every, single day. She doesn't plan to press charges against the intruder who required medical treatment when the police arrived.

ROMANS: She's a retired social worker. And she didn't start dead lifting until her mid-70s. So, there's hope for all of us coach potatoes that somebody we can be as fit as she is.

COLLINS: Yes. Thank you to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of our day.

For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.


COLLINS: The White House can't keep its former top lawyer from testifying. A big ruling that has major implications for the impeachment witnesses and President Trump.

ROMANS: It's going to be an ugly week for holiday travel. Flights are already canceled as rain and snow move across the country.

COLLINS: Breaking overnight, there was a deadly earthquake in Albania. Hundreds are hurt, and rescue operations under way.