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EARLY START

Democrats To Unveil Articles Of Impeachment Today Against President Trump; Attorney General Barr Pushes Back On I.G. Report; Saudi Defense Official Traveling To Pensacola Naval Base. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired December 10, 2019 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00]

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: According to the ALS Association, it raised $115 million over an eight-week period that summer. He'll be missed.

EARLY START continues right now.

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.

BRIGGS: Not perfect, not biased. A watchdog says the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign was fair, but 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: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is exactly 30 minutes past the hour. Nice to see you all this morning.

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.

Here's what we do know. 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&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. The source tells CNN getting votes to pass that separate count could be too difficult, but references to the Mueller allegations 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 in the House likely to end in the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history.

Staff attorneys for each side laid out the cases for and against impeachment, highlighting a bitter 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 --

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Mr. Chairman --

NADLER: The gentleman is not recognized.

We will now hear presentations of evidence --

GAETZ: I have a parliamentary inquiry.

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

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: And that's how it went.

Sources tell CNN debate on the articles of impeachment will begin in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

White House sources believe impeachment is a foregone conclusion. They are looking behind the house to a trial in the Senate now 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 warrant applications for former campaign adviser Carter Page.

Jim Baker was the top FBI lawyer when the investigation started. Given these findings, he'd 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 comeback. Now, the president, of course, has spent years calling out anti-Trump texts by members of the Bureau.

And, Christopher Steele -- he's the former British spy who compiled that controversial dossier on the president -- he told investigators it was ridiculous to think he was biased against Mr. Trump. Why? Because he had been friendly with Ivanka Trump. According to the report, Steele says, if anything, he was favorably disposed toward the Trump family.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was an overthrow of government. This was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it and they got caught. They got caught red-handed.

[05:35:01] TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT": The actual report was something of a disaster for the FBI and it was obvious to anyone who actually read it.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEW HOST, "THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW": Everything we have been reporting for years was dead-on accurate. We were right every step of the way.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE LAURA INGRAHAM SHOW": The report, as I mentioned to Hannity, is a devastating indictment of our FBI and our intel-gathering apparatus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: 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 report's conclusions.

Much more on all of this ahead. Plus, the Houston police chief is fed up with guns as he buries another officer lost to gun violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF ART ACEVEDO, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: So I don't want to see their little smug faces about how much they care about law enforcement when I'm burying a sergeant because they don't want to piss off the NRA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:40:25]

ROMANS: In just over three hours, Democrats in the House will unveil at least two articles of impeachment against President Trump. Sources say there will be one article on abuse of power and another on obstruction of Congress. Less likely, we're told, an obstruction of justice count citing the Mueller investigation.

And sources tell us the White House is taking for granted the House will impeach the president.

BRIGGS: Let's bring in CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood, who is live in Washington this morning. Good to see you, Sarah.

ROMANS: Hi, Sarah. BRIGGS: So, those articles of impeachment, do we learn more from what the two are or what the one that is missing there -- the omission, which is obstruction of justice, which would take us down the road of the Mueller report?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Dave. And sources tell CNN that at the moment, it appears the most likely scenario is that the House Democrats will unveil two articles of impeachment -- one on abuse of power, one on obstruction of Congress.

Now, that third article of impeachment that was under discussion late last night as House Democrats huddled behind closed doors working on these articles of impeachment, obstruction of justice, would reach back into some of the things that special counsel Robert Mueller uncovered during the Russia investigation.

But there was some concern among moderate House Democrats that perhaps that could lend credence to the GOP talking points that Democrats are overreaching that could lead to this perception that Democrats have been fishing for something to impeach President Trump on for months now and aren't just acting on the clear evidence that they have in the Ukrainian controversy.

And that just really demonstrates the extremely thin tightrope that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been walking throughout this process, trying to navigate this incredibly difficult scenario with such a diverse conference when you have more than two dozen Democrats who are in districts that Trump carried in 2016. You also have progressives who have long believed that President Trump should be impeached for far less than this.

So, Nancy Pelosi has been navigating that without losing more than just a couple --

ROMANS: Yes.

WESTWOOD: -- of potentially moderate House Democrats.

ROMANS: Yes. And, you know, yesterday, she was at a "Wall Street Journal" CEO council meeting in D.C. and she was asked, you know, does she have the votes? Is she counting the votes?

This is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: On an issue like this we don't count the votes; people will just do what they do. I have never asked anybody were they for the inquiry -- are they for going forth -- never. People will just make their voices known on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: People just make their voices known on it.

I mean, I find it a little hard to believe that they have -- they don't have an idea --

BRIGGS: Yes, me, too.

ROMANS: -- of a count here.

WESTWOOD: That's right, but even people just deeply involved in the process as House intelligence chairman Adam Schiff have played their eventual vote on the impeachment articles close to the vest, Democrats don't want to give the perception that this is a foregone conclusion. That they aren't going through the process. That they aren't at least giving the appearance of fairness to the White House.

So if many Democrats were telegraphing exactly how they were going to vote before all the boxes were checked with impeachment, that could really undermine the strength of the Democrats' argument. The Democrats, right now, believe that they have a very strong case. They don't want to do anything to undermine that.

And so I don't think you will see a lot of Democrats telegraphing exactly how they are going to vote on the articles of impeachment even though it's pretty clear that support for moving on these articles of impeachment is clearly there in the House right now.

ROMANS: Just looking from this, Sarah, from outside the Beltway view that she's also getting this USMCA kind of to the finish line here, it's sort of interesting to me that a win -- you know, passing the USMCA is a win for the White House but also for those same moderate Democrats who want to be able to go home to their districts that were Trump districts and say oh, look, we got this done for American workers even as we are proceeding on impeachment.

WESTWOOD: That's right. It was sort of an amazing juxtaposition yesterday that even as you had this incredibly partisan hearing unfolding in the House Judiciary Committee --

ROMANS: Yes.

WESTWOOD: -- you also saw signals that there was going to be movement on USMCA. That there was going to be movement on government funding, perhaps avoiding a shutdown this month even on other things like surprise medical billing, like paid family leave.

We saw signals even just yesterday that there's going to be potentially this flurry of bipartisan activity even though we're going to most likely have what could be a very party-line vote on impeachment at the same time during these last two weeks of the year. That House Democrats are poised to join in these bipartisan agreements.

That will undercut what has become the central argument of Trump allies and President Trump calling them do-nothing Democrats -- that they're focused only on impeachment. It's shrewd of Pelosi to pursue also these other things even though they do give President Trump a win at a time --

ROMANS: Yes. WESTWOOD: -- when he's politically vulnerable.

[05:45:00]

BRIGGS: And finally, yesterday, the long-awaited DOJ inspector general report is out, addressing those long-held President Trump conspiracy theories about a deep state spying on the Trump campaign.

Look, like everything today, Sarah, this was a political Rorschach test. Either it was the process was littered with mistakes or it confirms that there was no political bias in the starting of the Russia investigation. If I could cherry-pick one, it's my favorite part comparing election coverage to watching a Super Bowl comeback.

In broad strokes, what were your key takeaways from the report?

WESTWOOD: Well, principally, the report did punch a hole in one of Trump's top conspiracy theories -- that theory from which all of his other ones about Russia emanate -- and that's the investigation was started solely to hurt his campaign. That's something that the inspector general refuted right off the bat in that report. Very clearly, he said there was no documentary or testimonial evidence that the opening of the investigation was biased.

Now, that being said, this report did not exonerate what the FBI did in the investigation. There were some pretty serious mistakes that agents made along the way. You could characterize them as questionable decisions or really egregious errors in what the FBI was doing. That's something Republicans are likely to seize on.

And we're likely to hear some harsh scrutiny applied to that later this week -- it's actually tomorrow -- before the Senate, when Horowitz, the inspector general, testifies about his report. Some Republicans are cautioning people not to make a decision -- not to draw conclusions about the report until they hear directly from Horowitz.

ROMANS: All right, Sarah Westwood. Nice to see you this morning. Thank you for that.

BRIGGS: Thanks.

ROMANS: Have a great day -- busy day -- another busy day.

All right, an announcement -- that announcement to advance President Trump's North American trade deal -- the USMCA -- that could happen as early as today.

It's 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.

And this is key for American workers. Forty to 45 percent of auto content must be made in countries where workers earn at least $16.00 an hour. That's the U.S. and Canada, not the cheaper labor market of Mexico. It also introduces a chapter on digital trade, something that didn't exist in 1993.

A source said trade representative Robert Lighthizer and senior adviser Jared Kushner are heading to Mexico to discuss the final changes to the deal. Aides caution, though, the deal is not yet final.

But sounding upbeat -- more upbeat on this than we've seen in some time.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

Rain and snow from Boston to Texas. Cooler temperatures will follow as well.

Here's meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, guys. Quite a bit of wet weather and some wintry weather to be had over the next couple of days.

And this weather is brought to you by the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker, the pressure cooker that crisps.

And you've got to look at what's happening across the country. We've got wet weather spanning about a 2,300-mile stretch of land from western Texas into portions of New England and beyond.

And, of course, that frontal boundary in place not only responsible for the wet weather but a blast of arctic air over the next couple of days. It's cold enough to produce some snow showers as early as this morning across parts of Tennessee. Nashville, you're included in all of that.

And then you get into later on tonight, potentially getting the wintry weather to mix into places such as northern Mississippi, central Mississippi, and parts of Alabama as well. And, of course, eventually, this skirts off in towards the northeast by Wednesday, bringing with it a brief show of snow showers as well.

But the cold air really becomes the big story here over the next couple of days and it really sets up shop Wednesday into Thursday. Look at this. The warm before the storm takes us up to 60 in Boston, upper 50s in New York City.

And then the bottom drops out. About 20 degrees by Wednesday afternoon. A high of only 38 degrees.

But notice this weekend, some light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, wet -- but still back up into about 50 degrees -- guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Oh, it looks like I'm getting up the Christmas lights in the rain. Thanks, Pedram.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:53:11]

BRIGGS: A high-ranking Saudi defense official is traveling to Pensacola to meet with U.S. officials investigating Friday's shooting at a naval base. Three service members were killed. The FBI investigating this as an act of terrorism.

Tensions are rising between the two countries over the detention of a dozen Saudi nationals, but President Trump not budging in his support for the Kingdom.

Nic Robertson live for us in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Nic, good morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, good morning, Dave.

It isn't clear at the moment precisely what this Saudi defense official wants to achieve when he goes to Pensacola.

We do know that some of those Saudis who are being questioned there on base want to leave the base. We do know that they've had access through the Saudi authorities -- through the Saudi embassy in Washington, they've had access to lawyers.

But a lot of what transpires -- the transparency that they offer and what the Saudis are learning through their own investigations that the king has promised to share with the FBI is going to be very important and critical to how President Trump's handling of this with the Saudis is viewed and the political pressures that possibly will pile up on him because of that.

What we've learned through the Twitter thread that appears to be and is being accepted by investigators as the Twitter thread belonging to the attacker, himself, is that while he posted in the minutes before the attack anti-American sentiment, he had for a number of months been posting what was -- retweeting what was essentially anti-Saudi sentiment.

It was expressed through the words of an author -- an author who has been locked up in Saudi Arabia for the past 2 1/2 years, and others that the Saudis deem to be radicals. How the Saudis have not spotted that -- the transparencies they offer around it will reflect, very likely, on the investigation on President Trump -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Absolute transparency here.

[05:55:01]

Nic Robertson live for us in Riyadh. Thank you.

ROMANS: Blistering criticism for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Republican lawmakers from Houston police chief Art Acevedo. Acevedo is outraged by their failure to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Listen to his anger as his department prepares to bury Sgt. Chris Brewster, who was shot and killed responding to a call Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACEVEDO: The NRA doesn't like the fact that we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends that abuse their girlfriends. And who killed our sergeant? A boyfriend abusing his girlfriend.

So you're either here for women and children, and our daughters and our sisters and our aunts or you're here for the NRA. So I don't want to see their little smug faces about how much they care about law enforcement when I'm burying a sergeant because they don't want to piss off the NRA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: In April, the House voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, but talks fell apart in the Senate.

BRIGGS: Fellow passengers saved the day after a man tries to steal a woman's wheelchair right out from under her.

Phoenix police posted security footage showing the suspect aggressively pushing a woman out of her wheelchair on the train. She tried to grab the handrails 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, and retrieving the wheelchair.

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

ROMANS: New York City has agreed to stop sending homeless families to Newark, at least for now. Newark claimed in a lawsuit that New York was pressuring families in shelters to move across the Hudson River or jettison them, as Newark's mayor called it.

New York was supposed to check the condition of the apartments but the suit says that was not happening and the homes were often substandard. The two cities will work out a more permanent deal, which includes giving Newark a list of apartments so Newark can check them out.

BRIGGS: Pete Frates, whose battle with ALS helped inspire the ice bucket challenge, has died. He was just 34. The former Boston College baseball star 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 starting daring each other to dump ice water on their heads. Soon, people all over the world, from athletes to U.S. presidents, posting videos of themselves doing the same. The ALS Association says it raised $115 million over eight weeks that summer.

Quite a legacy. He'll be missed.

ROMANS: All right. A look at markets around the world all leaning lower here this morning.

And on Wall Street, it looks like kind of a downbeat opening if this holds here. Stocks closed lower on Monday, giving back a chunk of the rally from late last week. The Dow down 105, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also lower.

Investors are watching the Federal Reserve, which meets today and Wednesday. Policymakers are expected to leave interest rates unchanged.

This sweater is not safe for your office holiday party. Walmart Canada is apologizing for a Christmas sweater that features Santa and three little white lines that look similar to cocaine.

Walmart said, "These sweaters, sold by a third-party on Walmart.ca (our Web site in Canada), do not represent Walmart's values and have no place on our Web site." Walmart added the sweater has been removed and is not available in the U.S.

BRIGGS: Needless to say, it's a deplorable sweater. But look, it is getting difficult to create a unique ugly Christmas sweater idea, so you know --

ROMANS: There's ugly and then there's, like, felonious. I don't know -- that is an ugly sweater.

BRIGGS: It's brutal. There's no excuse.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Here's "NEW DAY."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Articles of impeachment will be unveiled after that contentious final day of House hearings on the subject.

COLLINS: Where is the impeachable offense? Why are we here?

GOLDMAN: He abused his power, betrayed his oath, and corrupted our election process.

CASTOR: To impeach a president over eight lines in a call transcript is baloney.

NADLER: Each of us took an oath to defend the Constitution. The president is a continuing threat to our democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, December 10th, 6:00 here in New York.

And we do have breaking news. CNN has learned that this morning, House Democrats will unveil the articles of impeachment they plan to bring against President Trump. We're waiting for that event on Capitol Hill to hear exactly what they say.

But sources tell CNN they will move forward with at least two articles -- abuse of power and obstruction of justice. Now, the key number there is two and likely, only two. We're told the Democratic leadership is still debating whether to include an article of obstruction of justice related to the Mueller report, but at this point, that appears unlikely.

END