Return to Transcripts main page


Impeachment Opening Statements Tonight; Trump and Barr Rebuff IG Findings; Four Killed in Jersey City Rampage; Gerrit Cole Cashes In; Last Campaign Day Before UK Vote . Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 11, 2019 - 04:00   ET



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the first formal step toward impeaching the president. What to watch for ahead of the first votes tomorrow.



WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: These irregularities, these misstatements leave open the possibility to infer bad faith.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president and his attorney general both refuse to accept there was no spying on the 2016 campaign.

BRIGGS: Four people, including a police officer, killed in a shooting rampage in Jersey City. Who the mayor says was targeted.

ROMANS: And what does $324 million mean to you? Gerrit Cole gets the highest annual value in baseball history from the New York Yankees, that little team with the very small payroll, a little budget.

BRIGGS: Yes, the little engine that could in baseball.

ROMANS: Welcome to our viewers in United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: It means to me baseball has lost its collective mine.

I'm Dave Briggs. Wednesday, December 11th, 4:00 in New York. We are 54 four days to the Iowa caucuses.

And we start this morning in the nation's capital.

Investigators have laid out impeachment charges, now debate officially begins. Tonight, the House Judiciary Committee begins discussing and amending the articles of impeachment. The meetings will be public and on camera. Lawmakers will consider two articles introduced yesterday, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. ROMANS: Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff pushing back on the

suggestion voters should decide the president's fate next November.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The argument why don't you just wait amounts to this. Why don't you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time? Why not let him have foreign help just one more time?


ROMANS: Now, congressional Democrats face a glaring spotlight and a ticking clock.

Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly has the latest in Capitol Hill.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Dave, the articles are out. Two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Here's what's going to happen next. You've had over the course of the last day or two, members in the Judiciary Committee meeting behind closed doors, kind of figure out how this process will move forward and the process will kick off on Wednesday night. That will be the committee consideration of those articles of impeachment.

Now, we're expected to hear opening statements on Wednesday night. Not a lot of legislative back and forth. But this is going to be a lengthy process in the committee.

On Thursday, throughout the course of day, the committee will consider the articles and consider potential amendments to the articles. Republicans likely to throw up a lot of different offers to try and change the articles, strip the articles. We'll see. It's going be divisive and, frankly, kind of painful, depending on how long it goes.

But the expectation is the committee will complete its consideration of articles of impeachment by Thursday night at some point. And here's what this all sets up. This is the bottom line and the most important thing here. The House is on track to vote to impeach President Trump this week. This is what they've been targeting for the last several weeks.

If everything went according to plan, this is when they were going to have the vote, and right now they're very much on track. We don't know exactly which day. We know lawmakers will leave for the Christmas holiday at the end of the week. So, at least sometime before the end of the week, House Democratic leaders are certain they have the votes to impeach President Donald Trump, and that will absolutely set off a Senate trial. There's a lot of ifs, ands, buts, and open questions as to that will entail. The bottom line is this: House is very much on track with those

articles of impeachment now public, to impeach President Trump -- guys.


BRIGGS: As Phil mentioned there, Thursday's committee debate likely to be long and contentious. What may end, all that rancor by 7:00 p.m. sharp is the congressional holiday ball at the White House. Sources tell us several committee members especially Republicans are expected to attend.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump hit the road just hours after the articles of impeachment were unveiled. He attended a raucous rally in Hersey, Pennsylvania, a key battleground state. This was peak Trump campaign mood. He attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and called the case flimsy and pathetic.


TRUMP: This is the lightest, weakest impeachment. You know, our country's had, actually, many impeachments. You call judges and lots of other -- many impeachments, but it was on today everybody said this is impeachment light. They're embarrassed by the impeachment. And our poll numbers have gone through the roof because of her stupid impeachment.


ROMANS: So, that's just not true. It is not a weak case, and the president's poll numbers are essentially unchanged over the past few weeks. They haven't budged amid impeachment.


Mr. Trump downplayed his chances of being removed from office, pointing to the strong support he currently enjoys among Republicans.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, the Justice Department watchdog who found no bias in the FBI probe of the Trump campaign testifies publicly today. Michael Horowitz's report found the investigation was justified, undercutting two years of Trump conspiracy theories. But the president not backing away.


TRUMP: The inspector general's shocking report proved that the Obama FBI obtained secret warrants to spy on my campaign based on a phony foreign dossier of debunked smears paid for by crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

And, folks, they spied on our campaign, OK? They spied.


BRIGGS: That also is not true. There was no spying and many parts of that dossier were later corroborated.

ROMANS: The inspector general did find some inaccuracies and omissions with surveillance applications for former Trump adviser Carter Page.

And the attorney general, Bill Barr, seizing on those mistakes. He claims they spoiled the entire investigation.


BARR: These irregularities, these misstatements, these omissions were not satisfactorily explained and I think that leaves open the possibility to infer bad faith.


ROMANS: Barr has appointed Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham to perform a more wide-ranging review of the 2016 FBI investigations. He says he will consider that the final word. Durham's report is expected in the spring or summer, just in time for the election.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, a federal judge in El Paso blocking President Trump from using $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to build a border wall. The ruling says the administration does not have the authority to divert money appropriated by Congress. The judge's decision affects roughly one third of the $10 billion the president needs for his signature process.

The White House is expected to appeal. This is the first time a local jurisdiction successfully sue to block border wall construction. El Paso County argued the wall was opposed by the community.

ROMANS: All right. House Democrats and the White House have reached a deal to advance President Trump's North American trade deal. The USMCA, the deal is different from NAFTA in five key ways. One of the biggest ways is auto manufacturing. The deal requires 75 percent of the cars' parts be made in one of the three countries, in order for the car to be free from tariffs. It also requires parts to be made by workers earning at least 16 bucks an hour, and that favors U.S. factories and Canadian factories.

USMCA strengthens the enforcement of labor rules. Dairy farmers will have more access to Canada's market. Also it includes a chapter of digital trade, something that didn't exist when the original NAFTA was written. It removes language that would have protected expensive biologic drugs from generic imitators for 10 years.

This is a rare win for both the Democrats and President Trump. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell said the vote will take up the deal after the impeachment trial. Republicans are also signaling they're not completely happy with the deal.

A deal with China still hangs in the balance. The U.S. and China working to daily tariffs that are just four days away, those tariffs will hit consumer goods. The tariffs have been postponed before and investors are becoming increasingly more cynical with every headline. Still, trade is the biggest driver for markets going into 2020.

BRIGGS: Many unanswered questions this morning after an hours-long gun battle ended in the deaths of four people, including a police officer, in Jersey City, New Jersey.




BRIGGS: The shooting began just afternoon and moved among three locations that drew officers from neighboring departments.

Businesses in the areas were shut down. Schools went on lockdown. The fallen officer was Detective Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the department. He was part of the statewide antiviolence unit credited with removing guns from the street.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY, NEW JERSEY: There are days that require us to stop and think about what it means to put on a uniform every day, and God knows this is one of those days. If not for them, I shudder, we shudder to think of how much worse today could have been.


ROMANS: Police say the bodies of three victim and two suspects were found inside a kosher grocery store. Jersey City's mayor says based on an initial investigation, the shooters targeted that location, but he did not offer further explanation.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio directing the NYPD to redeploy assets to protect key locations in the Jewish community. Two officers and one civilian were in stable condition after being shot. Jersey City public schools will open at 10:00 a.m. today.

All right. One day away from an election with big implications for the future of the U.K.


CNN is live in London.


ROMANS: Today is the final campaign day before British voters go to the polls. Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the controls of that front-end loader, a politician on a mission. He announced the election date with MPs refused to fast track his Brexit bill.

Tomorrow's vote widely seen as a referendum on withdrawal from the E.U.

[04:15:02] CNN's Hadas Gold is live in London this morning with the very latest.

Good morning.


This has definitely been dubbed the Brexit election. We have just less than 24 hours until the polls open here in the U.K. Of course, it's called the Brexit election because as you noted, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it when he could not get his Brexit deal through parliament.

Now, while the conservatives and Boris Johnson are hinging this entire election on getting Brexit done, that's their slogan. You saw that on that tractor busting through that wall, the opposition Labour Party is focusing on more sort of domestic issues, especially the National Health Service. They're highlighting, for example, this really image of a young boy who was forced to sleep on the emergency room floor being treated for pneumonia because the hospital said they did not have enough beds.

But when we're looking at the numbers here, the consumers have pretty much held a majority when you look at the polls over the past few months. However, we just got a recent poll last night from YouGov that says while conservatives will still likely have a predicted majority of about 28 seats, which is more than what they had in 2017, the race is tightening. The last poll shows them actually down in the number of seats compared to the last time YouGov did this poll just a few weeks ago.

And now, most importantly, Christine, is that it's possible that this majority is within the margin of error of the polls. So, that could leave us back to a hung parliament, gets us back to square one with Brexit -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Hadas Gold, thank you so much for that.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, smoke from Australia's many brush fires smothering Sydney and creating unhealthy air quality conditions. Look at this. In some parts of the city, air quality is 11 times higher than the hazardous level. The director of environmental health for New South Wales calls the conditions unprecedented. Many locals are experiencing eye, nose, and throat irritation, but there's growing concern about the long-term impact on children and elderly.

ROMANS: That is remarkable. Just almost a blackout from this smog.

BRIGGS: Yes, just astounding.

ROMANS: All right. $10,000 in holiday gifts paid off by a local church. We'll tell you where.


[04:22:05] BRIGGS: Four-twenty-one Eastern Time.

The Pentagon is halting operational training for all Saudi military students in the United States as it investigates last week's deadly shooting at naval air station in Pensacola. The shooter was a Saudi airman. The Pentagon plans to review how it screens foreign military students and how they're given access to bases.

CNN has also learned the FBI issued a warning in May about a hunting licensing loophole for gun purchases. It permits non-immigrant visa holders to buy firearms with a hunting license. The Pensacola shooter was able to legally purchase a 9 millimeter Glock handgun under that exception.

ROMANS: The Federal Aviation Administration is creating a safety branch to address gaps in the agency's oversight. It comes after deadly crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX planes that killed 346 people. The FAA has come under intense scrutiny for certifying the 737 MAX plane as safe despite what investigators would later say was a flawed flight control feature that contributed to the crashes. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson will face questions from Congress at an oversight hearing today.

BRIGGS: Children born from frozen embryos face a higher risk of childhood cancer. That's according to fertility researchers who studied over one million children born in Denmark. More than 2,200 of those children were diagnosed with cancer. The cancer rate among those born to fertile women was about 17 for 100,000. It was 44 per 100,000 in children born from frozen embryo transfers, more than double. There wasn't significantly higher risk found using other types of fertility treatment.

ROMANS: Nine-year-old child prodigy Laurent Simons dropping out of college because the school won't let him graduate early. Simons made headlines recently with news he was due to complete a three-year electrical engineering degree in just ten months. The school, Eindhoven University in the Netherlands, says there were too many exams he needed to take. The boy's parents refused to let him graduate in the middle of next year and remove. They say he will start a PhD program at an unnamed American university.

BRIGGS: Former child star Philip McKeon has died.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where did you get that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Roger. I traded my electric guitar for it.


BRIGGS: McKeon starred as the precocious son of Linda Lavin's title character in the CBS show "Alice" from the mid-1970s and '80s. A family spokesman says he died at home in Texas following a long illness. He survived by his mother and his younger sister, former "Facts of Life" actress Nancy McKeon. Philip McKeon was 55. ROMANS: An Atlanta church lending a big helping hand to struggling families this holiday season. The Cascade United Methodist Church paid off $10,000 in layaway accounts at a local Walmart for nearly two dozen families.

For Suhwanda McCreary, who lost her son back in April, the generous gift came at just the right time.



SUHWANDA MCREARY, SON DIED IN APRIL: It's a big help. It's a tremendous help because I really wasn't able to do it because sometime I would borrow money. And to get this phone call, it meant a whole lot.


ROMANS: The church pastor says he hopes the families will be inspired to pay it forward someday.

BRIGGS: Speaking of paid, Gerrit Cole, a very rich New York Yankee this morning. The highly coveted free agent pitcher agreed to a record-shattering nine-year deal worth $324 million. The signing was first reported by MLB Network's John Hayman. The 29-year-old Cole was 20-5 with Houston Astros last season and led the majors in strikeouts. The new deal has annual value of $36 million.

ROMANS: It was a day of history in Washington on so many fronts. A reworked trade deal, a two-pronged assault on the FBI. Now, House Democrats are about to start the process of impeaching President Trump.