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EARLY START

Democrats to Unveil Articles of Impeachment; Barr Pushes Back on IG Report; USMCA Could Be Announced Today; Man Who Inspired Ice Bucket Challenge Dies. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 10, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:22]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Today is the day. Democrats ready to unveil two articles of impeachment. What they are and what they mean for the president.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Serious mistakes but no spying. No bias. Watchdog says the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign was fair. The attorney general disagrees.

ROMANS: A big day on the trade front. Democrats and the White House on the brink of a deal with Mexico and Canada. What it means for American workers.

BRIGGS: He inspired a movement that raised more than $100 million to fight ALS. Pete Frates has succumbed to that disease, an inspiration to people around the world.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

BRIGGS: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's Tuesday, December 10th. It is 4:00 a.m. in New York, 10:00 p.m. in New Zealand, noon in Saudi Arabia. And if you're counting, 55 days now to the Iowa caucuses.

But we begin with this -- breaking overnight, House Democrats plan to unveil two articles of impeachment against President Trump this morning. We expect to learn more at a news conference set for 9:00 a.m. Eastern. What we do, according to sources, there will be one article on abuse of power and another on obstruction of Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We're at a place where our members -- our leadership of our committees of jurisdiction have now gotten the last input of it and the Q and A -- the question and answer from the minority side on all of this. They'll make a determination and recommendation as to how we -- how we will go forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: At a closed door meeting last night, with Speaker Pelosi, Democrats debated whether to also include the obstruction of justice detailed in the Mueller report. A source tells CNN getting the votes to pass that separate count could be too difficult but references to the Mueller allegation will likely be woven in to show a larger pattern of misconduct by the president.

ROMANS: Yesterday's chaotic hearing kicked off a two week dash to end in the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history. Staff attorneys on each side laid out a case for and against impeachment, highlighting a better partisan divide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL GOLDMAN, DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL: President Trump's persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security.

STEPHEN CASTOR, REPUBLICAN COUNSEL: To impeach a president who 63 million people voted for, over eight lines in a call transcript is baloney.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): If these abuses go unchecked they will only continue and only grow worse. Each of us took an oath to defend the Constitution. The president is a continuing threat to that Constitution.

We will now hear presentations of evidence --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman --

NADLER: The gentleman is not recognized.

We will now hear presentations of evidence --

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I have a parliamentary inquiry.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): I haven't relayed (ph) my objection yet.

GAETZ: Is this when we just hear staff ask questions of other staff and the members get dealt out of this whole hearing and --

NADLER: The gentleman will --

GAETZ: -- for the next four hours you're going to try to overturn the results of an election with --

NADLER: The gentleman --

GAETZ: -- unelected people giving testimony?

NADLER: The gentleman will suspend. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Sources tell CNN debate on the articles of impeachment will be begin in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday. White House sources believe impeachment is a foregone conclusion. They are looking now beyond the House to a trial in the Senate and choosing witnesses to refute accusations that President Trump pressured Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election.

BRIGGS: President Trump's claim that the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign is false. According to a report by the Justice Department's inspector general, the bureau's investigation of the campaign was legal and without bias. That finding undercuts years of conspiracy theories peddled by the president and his allies. The I.G.'s report did find the case was plagued by 17 significant inaccuracies and omissions in surveillance and warrant applications for Carter Page.

Baker was the top FBI lawyer when the investigation started. Given these findings, he would like to hear from the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM BAKER, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL, FBI: I think the president should apologize to us. I respectfully ask him to -- I would ask him to apologize to me, to my colleagues because the things he said are just wrong. And I think he should step up and do that at a minimum.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: There were some new revelations in the report. Among them, pro-Trump texts by FBI agents in 2016, comparing his win to a Super Bowl come back. The president has spent years calling out anti-Trump texts by members of the bureau.

And Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a controversial dossier on the president told investigators it was ridiculous to think that he was biased against Mr. Trump.

[04:05:02]

Why? Because he had been friendly with Ivanka Trump.

According to the report, Steele said if anything he was favorably disposed towards the Trump family.

BRIGGS: The inspector general's findings are clear and undeniable. The president and his allies disagree.

Get that sound for you later on.

It was not, but Attorney General Bill Barr is still taking the extraordinary step of disagreeing publicly with his own inspector general. He insists the Russia probe was launched, quote, on the thinnest of suspicions that in my view were insufficient to justify the steps taken. U.S. Attorney John Durham handpicked by Barr to separately investigate the investigation also says he does not agree with some of the reports conclusions.

ROMANS: All right. Five minutes past the hour.

A sobering and tragic revelation drawing comparisons to the Pentagon Papers from nearly 50 years ago, a huge new trove of confidential documents obtained by "The Washington Post". They reveal U.S. officials lied about the war virtually from day one to manipulate public opinion. And they show a fatally flawed strategy for winning the war to remake Afghanistan into a stable modern democracy so the U.S. could leave.

Now, "The Post" says it received nearly 2,000 pages in a Freedom of Information lawsuit. They include memos from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He wrote in April 2002, six months after the war began. Quote: The fact that Iran and Russia have plans for Afghanistan and we don't concerns me. Help.

BRIGGS: General Douglas Lute, a top adviser to President Bush and Obama, said in 2015, quote: We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan. What are we trying to do here? We didn't have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: What we're looking at here is something that calls into question, not only our military operations, but also is a dishonor to the sacrifices that have been made by the service men and women in Afghanistan over these years. This is an inexcusable way to run things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: George W. Bush said the U.S. would be in Afghanistan until al Qaeda was brought to justice. He gave a timeline from a month to a year or two. Over the last 18 years, the U.S. has deployed 775,000 troops, many of them more than once. Two thousand three hundred have died, 20,000 were wounded. The Pentagon alone has spent about $950 billion there.

ROMANS: All right. An announcement to advance President Trump's North American trade deal, the USMCA could be made as early as today. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won't say if she has all Democrats on board to make sure it passes instead saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: With all the aspects for Mexico, for Canada, for U.S., for our friends in labor, for the environmental concerns that we have, for issues that relate to pharmaceuticals that are perhaps going to be part of the discussion, but we also have to implement it -- let me just say, once we go down that path, we'll be OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: USMCA is different from the 1993 NAFTA in several ways. One of the biggest changes is it will require more car parts to be made in North America in order for the car to be free from tariffs. It also includes a chapter on digital trade.

If it is approved, it would be a win for Trump, a rarity with Democrats in control of the House. The deal is key for freshman Democrats for more conservative districts. They support the deal in substance and believe a bipartisan achievement would play well for them on the campaign trail.

A source said Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and senior adviser Jared Kushner are heading to Mexico to discuss final stages to the deal but caution the deal is not final yet.

BRIGGS: All right. Coming up, more than a dozen people feared dead after that huge volcano eruption in New Zealand. (INAUDIBLE) at capacity with no signs of life on the island.

CNN live in New Zealand ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:13:52]

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, a search-and-rescue operation under way for a Chilean air force plane that went missing on its way to a base in Antarctica. A Chilean general says the plane is presumed to have crashed. Authorities say the last known location before the plane lost contact was near the Drake Passage between tip of South America and Antarctica. Seventeen crew members, 21 other passengers were on board.

ROMANS: A number of people are still missing after volcanic eruption on New Zealand's White Island. But an Australian woman feared missing has been found alive in the hospital with severe burns. Emergency crews are still unable to access the island also known as Wakari. Based on lengthy flyovers, they say there are no signs of life.

Intensive care paramedic who flew to help with the rescue effort compared the scene to a nuclear disaster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSSELL CLARK, INTENSIVE CARE PARAMEDIC: It was like I've seen the Chernobyl mini series. It was blanketed in ash. It's quite an overwhelming feeling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: CNN's Will Ripley is live for us this morning in New Zealand.

[04:15:01]

Just such a tragedy. What do we know? WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been

overwhelming being on the ground here, Christine. From the passengers who were streaming into this cruise line, Ovation of the Seas, 4,900 people on that boat and yet so many of the people who we met here including some who have been laying flowers at the gate by the port told us they were chatting with somebody on the boat who didn't turn up and now they're worried, wondering if they are one of the people missing.

We've been to hospitals who tell us people who have been admitted have burns that are so severe some of them very likely may not survive. People with burns of more than 30 percent of their body. An American couple on their honeymoon, they were apparently on this excursion to the White Island an active volcano visited by thousands of tourists every single year. It was one of the trips that they offer on the boat.

People pay money to go to this active volcano and hike and there are actually images showing people hiking right in the crater of the volcano just moments before the explosion, including this American couple on their honeymoon, a couple from Virginia, a husband with 80 percent of his body burned, his wife undergoing surgery for her own severe burns.

And then there are the missing. We know five people are reported dead. Eight people missing. And based on what we're hearing from rescuers who haven't been able to get on the island because it's still deemed too be too dangerous, that they flew drones overheard, and they could see bodies laying there covered in ash, as you heard that paramedic mentioned, just a horrific scene.

The tour company that was bringing these people to the island, they've been doing it for years. They have a good safety record. They said there was no indication that there was an elevated risk for volcanic eruption. The alert level was just at level two, which they deemed to be safe.

And now, the police are asking questions, wondering if something went wrong, if security protocols weren't followed, if new regulations need to be put in place to protect these people who are on this tour. But the one good news, Christine, there is a woman who had been reported missing. She's turned up alive. She is in the hospital tonight here but with very severe burns herself.

Will, do we know how many people were on that island?

RIPLEY: At the time, 47 people were on the island, when the eruption itself occurred.

But keep in mind, the number could have been much higher. Just minutes earlier, there were up to 100 people. There were three different boat loads. Two of the boats just pulled away when the eruption happened.

And that's why we see some of these incredible and startling images of the huge smoke plume. These are people who just minutes earlier these people were standing by the crater and got in the boats and went off.

So, it really was a matter of minutes that made the difference between life and death for some.

ROMANS: All right. Will Ripley us in New Zealand -- thanks, Will.

BRIGGS: Ukraine and Russia inching forward on a long dormant peace process. Presidents Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin meeting in Paris. They committed to a cease-fire by the end of the year, both also pledged to work toward local elections in separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine where five years of fighting has killed 13,000 people. The presidents did not address when those elections might happen.

President Trump planning the to meet Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov today in Washington. You might remember, the last time the two met in the Oval Office, Trump shared highly classified information with the foreign minister.

ROMANS: And the pictures came from the Russian side. The American media were not alerted. That was something then. We'll see what happens today.

Why would you throw a person out of her wheelchair and then run off with it? This is caught on video in Phoenix. We'll show you how bystanders reacted.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:23:38]

ROMANS: Welcome back.

A Boeing whistle-blower expected to tell lawmakers he alerted managers about mistakes and corner cutting months before two deadly crashes that killed 346 people. Former Boeing employee Ed Pierson is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the House Transportation Committee. Before the crashes, Pierson wrote to an executive: For the first time, I'm hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane.

FAA administrator Steven Dixon is also expected to testify. The agency has come under scrutiny for letting the company self-certify planes. That process, it is now changing.

BRIGGS: A 5-year-old Alabama boy shot and killed during a fight between family members. Birmingham police say there was an altercation Saturday Tanarius Moore caught in the crossfire. He was shot in the head. One suspect is in police custody, the other is still at large.

Tanarius loved football and selected to play in the league's all-star game on the morning he died.

ROMANS: Fellow train passenger saved the day after a man tries to steal a woman's wheelchair out from one her. Phoenix police security footage showing the suspect aggressively pushing this woman out of her wheelchair on the train. She tries to grab hold of the hand rail, but he eventually throws her to the ground and runs off with the chair.

But fellow passengers chased the man, grabbing him on the platform. Get the wheelchair back.

[04:25:00]

Twenty-six-year-old Austin Shurbutt is charged with robbery, kidnapping and assault.

BRIGGS: Pete Frates whose battle with ALS helped inspire the ice bucket challenge has died. He was 34.

The former Boston college baseball star was diagnosed in 2012 with Lou Gehrig's disease, which has no known cure. The challenge went viral in the summer of 2014 after Frates and his family started daring each other to dump ice water on their heads. Soon, people all over the world were posting videos of themselves doing the same.

According to the ALS association it raised $115 million over an eight week period that summer. I know I did the ice bucket challenge, presumably you did and your kids as well. A lot of time those don't raise a lot of money. But this one raised awareness and a ton of money, and Pete Frates is a legend. Never to be forgotten.

Ahead, two articles of impeachment will be unveiled in a few hours. Democrats laying the groundwork, calling the president a danger to the country.

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