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EARLY START

Will Dems Include Mueller Details In Impeachment; Full House Vote On Impeachment Before Holiday Recess; Debunked Ukraine Theory; Trump White House; FBI Probe Shooting As Terror; Deadly Eruption; Remembering Carroll Spinney; Pete Buttigieg Versus Elizabeth Warren; The North Korea Threat; Mass Shooting Practice; Arkansas Officer Ambushed And Executed; Remembering Juice Wrld; Miss South Africa Crowned Miss Universe; $120,000 Banana Artwork Eaten; CNN Honors 2019 Hero Of The Year. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 9, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The impeachment probe is nearing a climax in the House. Will Democrats risk adding details from the Mueller probe into articles of impeachment?

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: The FBI is investigating the Pensacola shooting as an act of terror. Why the gunman's time in Saudi Arabia is being examined.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, the death toll climbing after a massive volcanic eruption in New Zealand.

WALKER: And his legendary characters defined our childhood. Fans around the world are mourning the loss of Sesame Street puppeteer Carroll Spinney.

Welcome everyone to our viewers in the United States and around the world, this is Early Start. I'm Amara Walker in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning. Good Monday morning everybody, I'm Dave Briggs, it's December 9th, 4:00 a.m. in New York, we are 56 days to the Iowa caucuses. And we start this morning in the nation's capital, with Democrats facing a momentous impeachment finale, as they set the scope of the charges against President Trump. Judiciary Committee Democrats spent the weekend mapping out a crucial hearing today, where investigators will lay out their case. Party leaders are still debating whether to include evidence from the Russia investigation. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report included potential examples of obstruction by the president.

WALKER: Judiciary Chairman, Jerry Nadler, confident in his case, but cautious about using Mueller's evidence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel comfortable that this whole thing was directed by the president himself?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Absolutely. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You feel you have a rock-solid case?

NADLER: We have a very rock-solid case. I think, the case, we have -- if presented to the jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you were talking about this, you keep bringing up the 2016 election and Russia. It certainly sounds to me like you want that to be included going forward.

NADLER: No, I wouldn't draw any conclusions. It is part of the pattern, which is why I bring it up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Reviving Mueller's evidence could cause potential headaches and political headaches for Democrats in swing districts. They must balance a push to defeat the president with the needs of their constituents less than a year before the election. For more on what to expect today, CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Dave and Amara, a huge day on Capitol Hill, with the House Judiciary Committee hearing slated to take place in just a couple of hours. This hearing is going to look a little bit more like a trial, with House Judiciary Committee lawyers laying out what they believe is the evidence to impeach Donald Trump.

Republicans, of course, will refute that. And then House Intel Committee lawyers will also lay out the evidence that they documented in that 300-page House Intelligence Committee report. We know that President Trump's lawyers had an opportunity to participate. They declined that opportunity on Friday.

And it could be a huge week in the House Judiciary Committee, because they could unveil articles of impeachment. And they could vote on them as soon as the end of this week. Then, there could be a full vote in the House of Representatives on whether or not to impeach Donald Trump before Christmas. Dave and Amara?

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BRIGGS: Lauren Fox, thank you.

Another prominent senator pushing the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddle in the 2016 election. Republican Senator Ted Cruz got in a heated exchange with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Do you think Ukraine meddled in the American election in 2016? SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I do. I think there's considerable evidence.

TODD: You do?

(LAUGHTER)

CRUZ: Yes. And, Chuck, let me say --

TODD: Senator, this sort of strikes me as odd. Because you went through a primary campaign with this president. He launched a birtherism campaign against you, he went after your faith, he threatened to quote, spill the beans about your wife about something.

CRUZ: Because Russia interfered, the media pretends nobody else did. Ukraine blatantly interfered in our election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Note the audible laughter there on-set on Meet the Press. Experts warn the Ukraine conspiracy theory has been promoted by Russian intelligence services. Last Wek, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy claimed former Ukrainian President Poroshenko quote, actively worked for Hillary Clinton. Trump allies have been using the Ukraine election meddling claim to justify the president's decision to withhold military aid.

WALKER: Attorney General Bill Barr, warning President Trump, his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has become a liability. And that is according to the Washington Post. Concerns are escalating among the president's advisers now that the former New York City mayor is becoming a key player in the impeachment inquiry. Giuliani is already under federal investigation in Manhattan for his

business dealings in Ukraine.

[04:05:00]

On Sunday, the post reported Giuliani also attempted to replace the ambassador of Qatar and pursuit a communications back channel between President Trump and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

BRIGGS: Still, no official motive for Friday's deadly shooting at a Pensacola naval base, killing three people. Federal investigators with this grave assessment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RACHEL J. ROJAS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism. This allows us to take advantage of investigative techniques that can help us more quickly identify and then eliminate any additional potential threats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: A 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi air force opened fire in a classroom building on Friday. He was killed in exchange of gunfire with two deputies. There was a dignified transfer last night for his three victims, Joshua Kaleb Watson, Mohammed Sameh Haitham and Cameron Scott Walters. Now, law enforcement looking into the shooter's recent time in Saudi Arabia. And the president's relationship with the Saudi kingdom back under a microscope. Nic Robertson is live for us from Riyadh with the latest there. Nic, good morning to you. What's been the Saudi reaction?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reaction, again, overnight, was a phone call from the Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, the second in command here after the king, if you will, to President Trump, to say an absolute commitment from the Saudis to support the investigation -- to support the U.S. investigation into Mohammed Alshamrani.

Now, what does that mean here on the ground? What does it look like? We had been asking the Saudis those questions. We don't have details about it. But we do know that his family will come under scrutiny, because he returned to Saudi Arabia on a normal break that many of these Saudi students who are doing this long military training courses in the United States routinely take.

The family had previously told us that they hadn't seen any change in his behavior, but of course, the U.S. investigators are going to want to find out more about that, where he was, who he met, what he did. And undoubtedly, the Saudi officials also will have a very, very keen will and desire to find out what was on this young man's mind. Because that is the key to all of this. Was he motivated by terrorism? Or was he motivated by something else or could it be a combination of both?

And that is what's under way here, as far as we know at the moment. Again, the Saudis, short on details. And I think if we look at what they've done in the past, in terms of investigations, quite often shrouded in secrecy, however, very clearly publicly stating supporting the United States in this investigation.

BRIGGS: Another critical moment between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Nic Robertson, live for us in Riyadh. Thank you.

WALKER: Just incredible images there. At least five people are dead in the eruption overnight of a New Zealand volcano popular with tourists. Officials say about 50 people were on White Island when the volcano exploded. More than 30 of them were traveling on a royal Caribbean cruise liner out of Australia. The explosion sent people rushing away by boat. Police say the dead are among 23 victims evacuated from the island earlier. And more fatalities are expected. An unknown number are still unaccounted for. It's too dangerous for rescue teams to approach the island. More than 10,000 people visit White Island each year.

BRIGGS: The man behind the characters that shaped millions of childhoods has died. Carroll Spinney was the puppeteer who brought the iconic big bird and Oscar the grouch, to life on Sesame Street.

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BIG BIRD, SESAME STREET: I got a great idea. Since you're here playing with me, why don't we go through my old toy trunk and we'll see what's in there. I haven't looked in there for a long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Spinney died Sunday at his Connecticut home after battling dystonia, he was 85. Sesame Street co-founder Joan Ganz Cooney said, we at Sesame workshop mourn he's passing and feel an immense gratitude for all he has given to Sesame Street and the children around the world.

WALKER: Spinney's passing came the same day Sesame Street became the first television show to receive Kennedy Center honors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIG BIRD: I think you're in my seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry. I'll just go backstage.

BIG BIRD: That's OK. That's OK. I know that song. That's about my favorite street.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Matt Vogel filled Big Bird's shoes when Spinney retired last October. Before the Kennedy Center event, he tweeted he would be thinking about his mentor and friend.

BRIGGS: All right, he'll be missed. Ahead, they spent months battling about the future. Now, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg accuse each other of keeping quiet about their past.

[04:10:05]

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BRIGGS: Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, putting pressure on each other as they push to build support in early voting states. Warren releasing new details about her corporate legal works over the past 33 years. She's earned at least $1.9 million from private clients over the years. Last week, Warren called on Buttigieg to open his fund- raisers to reporters and name the clients he worked for at his job at the elite consulting firm, McKinsey.

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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), 2020 U.S. DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: He should release who is bundling for him. He should make clear who is on his finance team. This is about the conflicts that he is creating every, single day, right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Buttigieg had said he can't release more details about his work at McKinsey because he signed nondisclosure agreements, NDA's, he is now seeking to be released from.

[04:15:04]

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MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-SOUTH BEND-IN) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This above all is competition for the nominee to take on Donald Trump. And I will put my professional history, civilian and military, public and private, up against his any day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Nine candidates have yet to qualify for the last debate of 2019, coming up next week. They have only until Thursday. And only two appear to have a real chance that would be Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard, who need just a single poll to make it. Now as of this morning, only six candidates will be on the debate stage in L.A. on December 19th.

BRIGGS: President Trump warning Kim Jong-un their special relationship could be lost after the North Korean leader claimed his country just completed an important test at a missile site. President Trump previously claimed that site had been dismantled. Paula Hancocks is tracking this for us live from Seoul, South Korea. Paula, good morning, what are we learning?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, we know that the U.S. President has been warning North Korea about that test, saying that North Korea knows it has much to lose. In fact, everything, if it does decide to carry on with hostile acts. This was after over the weekend. We saw from North Korea a test which they said was successful, very important and potentially could change the strategic position of North Korea. They haven't specified what it is at this point.

But experts looking at satellite images believe that it could in fact be a rocket engine test, which could help with, either a satellite launch or in fact an ICBM, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Now, we have in the past half hour, Dave, had a response from North Korea. This is from Kim Jong Chol, the former North Korea nuclear negotiator who was in the Oval Office with President Trump, handing over those so-called love letters, from Kim Jong-un.

And he has said and slammed what President Trump said, saying if he continues, then Kim Jong-un's perception of President Trump could change, saying that North Korea has nothing more to lose. Also saying, that President Trump does not know much about North Korea. Now, this is interesting because in the past North Korean officials have refrained from slamming the U.S. President himself. But clearly, that appears to be changing now. So, the rhetoric on both sides is increasing. Dave?

BRIGGS: And the name-calling is back. Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul, South Korea. Thank you.

WALKER: A California man facing serious charges. Police say he posted videos online, practicing a mass shooting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:20:00]

BRIGGS: The man behind this video, accused of practicing a mass shooting in what officials call distressing YouTube videos. San Diego police arresting 30-year-old Steven Homoki on gun and child endangerment charges. He is set to be arraign today. In the video, Homoki appears to be loading guns, crawling on a floor with bullets, reloading and pointing the weapons at people out the window. He was taken into custody without incident last week. No word on an active plot.

WALKER: An Arkansas police officer ambushed and killed according to Fayetteville police. Officer Steven Carr was sitting in his vehicle in the station parking lot Saturday night when he was shot and killed. Authorities are describing it as an execution. The gunman identified as 35-year-old London Philips, was shot and killed by responding officers. Police say they have no motive for the killing.

BRIGGS: A rising rapper and singer has died in Chicago. Juice Wrld turned 21 last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have these lucid dreams where I can't move a thing thinking of you in my bed --

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BRIGGS: Chicago police say Juice suffered a medical emergency shortly after arriving at Midway Airport. He died a short time later at the hospital. Police say there were no signs of foul play. Juice was named top new artist at the Billboard Music awards in May. Tributes pouring in, Drake posting on Instagram -- I would like to see all the younger talent live longer and I hate waking up hearing another story filled with blessings was cut short.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new miss universe is -- South Africa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Miss South Africa, 26 year-old, Zozibini Tunzi is Miss Universe 2019. She is a public relations professional and an activist against gender based violence. There was another awkward moment for host Steve Harvey. A teleprompter problem caused him to introduce Miss Philippines as the winner of the national costume contest. Oh gosh, when the real winner was actually Miss Malaysia. In 2015, Harvey mistakenly named Miss Columbia the winner instead of Miss Philippines. It just keeps happening.

BRIGGS: Steve wins for best costume there, as well.

One man's art, another man's lunch. Artist Maurizio Cattelan duct taped a banana to the wall and priced that masterpiece, if you call it that at $125,000 at the weekend art show in Miami Beach. And would you know it, a New York artist identified as David Detuna picked the banana off of the wall and ate it in front of stunned onlookers there. Then he posted on Instagram, it's very delicious. Organizers say the banana can be easily displaced but the display caused so much commotion, it's being removed because of safety concerns.

[04:25:08]

WALKER: The results are in, 2019 CNN Hero of the year is Freweini Mebrahtu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREWEINI MEBRAHTU, CNN HERO WINNER: This is for all the girls and women, everywhere. Dignity for all. This moment is not just for me. This moment is for every girl.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Mebrahtu has dedicated her life to keeping girls in school by designing a reusable menstrual pad. And she partnered with the non- profit dignity period to end the cultural stigma around the issue. All of the top 10 CNN heroes were winners. Tonight each receive -- last night, each received a $10,000 cash award.

BRIGGS: All right. Coming up, House Democrats say they have an air- tight case to impeach the president. But could they derail that plan by including details from the Mueller report?

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