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Debate on Impeachment Articles Tonight; Trump and Barr Rebuff IG Findings; Four Killed in Jersey City Rampage; Gerrit Cole Cashes In; Still Too Dangerous to Recover Bodies at Volcano. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 11, 2019 - 04:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, 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.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president and his attorney general both refusing to accept there was no spying on the 2016 campaign.

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

BRIGGS: And what does $324 million mean to you? It means Gerrit Cole gets the highest baseball salary in history with the New York Yankees, baseball's richest team.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. Thirty-one minutes past the hour here in New York.

We begin here. First, the charges, now the debate officially begins on impeachment charges against President Trump. 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.

BRIGGS: Chairman Adam Schiff pushing back on the suggest voters should decide the president's faith next November. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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?


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

Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill with more.


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: OK. Phil Mattingly, thank you.

President Trump hit the road just hours after the impeachment articles were unveiled. He attended a raucous in Hersey, Pennsylvania, a key battleground state. He attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and called the case against him 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.


BRIGGS: It is not a weak case, and the president's poll numbers are essentially unchanged over the last few weeks. Mr. Trump downplayed his chances of being removed from office, pointing to the strong support he currently enjoys among Republicans.

ROMANS: The Justice Department watchdog who found no bias testifies publicly today.


Michael Horowitz's report found the investigation was justified, undercutting two years of Trump conspiracy theories. But the president stuck to his conspiracy theory.


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.


ROMANS: It's not true. There was no spying and many parts of that dossier were later corroborated.

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


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

ROMANS: All right. The new NAFTA is moving forward. It's a lot like the old one, with some much needed modernizations. One of the biggest changes is in auto manufacturing.

The deal requires 75 percent of the car's parts to be made in one of the three countries in order for the car to be free from tariffs. It also requires more parts, more content be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour. That is seen as a boost to U.S. and Canadian factories.

USMCA, as it's called, 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.

This is a rare win for both the Democrats and President Trump. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell says the Senate 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, by the way, still hangs the balance. The U.S. and China are working to delay tariffs that are four days away. Those tariffs will hit consumer goods. The tariffs have been postponed before and investors are becoming more cynical with every headline. Still trade is a big driver for markets going into 2020.

BRIGGS: Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates might be able to avoid prison. Federal prosecutors are recommending probation because Gates cooperated extensively with Mueller investigation. Gates' plea deal puts his potential maximum sentence of ten years. Prosecutors also point out he's helped them with at least one ongoing investigation and they say he received pressure not to cooperate with the government including assurances of monetary assistance from former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

ROMANS: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov returns to the Oval Office. He met with President Trump yesterday for the first time since this infamous meeting photographed by the Russians, the president disclosed highly classified information. Now, after years of Trump minimizing Russian interference in 2016, the White House says that the president did warn Lavrov against any Russian attempts to interfere. The Russians may not have gotten the message.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dave and Christine. It was the Russian foreign minister's first official visit to Washington since that famous Oval Office meeting the day after the president fired James Comey, and after his hour-long sit-down with Sergey Lavrov. There was some confusion about whether or not the two discussed Russian interference in the election.

The White House published a readout of the meeting pretty quickly, saying that President Trump warned against any Russian attempts at interference but shortly thereafter, Sergey Lavrov held a press conference in Washington where he said we did not discuss that at all. The readout says you did discuss election interference. Are you contradicting what the White House said? That's when he said he did bring up Secretary of State Pompeo in their previous meeting that day had, in fact, brought up election interference and he did talk about it with the president.

The question, of course, is to the extent, because this all comes as the president is pushing the theory that Ukraine has interfered in the election, something we've seen pushed before for several months, including his private attorney Rudy Giuliani.

So the question of just how much he pushed it is something we don't know because that was a meeting that was closed to the press. No reporters were allowed in the room.



BRIGGS: Kaitlan Collins, thank you.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg responding to calls for more transparency. Buttigieg released the first list of clients he worked with during his time as a consultant at McKinsey. He initially declined because of a non-disclosure agreement. His clients include Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Michigan two years before large- scale layoffs.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Was your work part of what led to those layoffs?

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I doubt it. I don't know what happened in the time after I left. That was in 2007 when they decided to shrink in 2009. Now, what I do know is there are some voices in the Democratic primary right now who are calling for a policy that would eliminate the job of every single American working at every single insurance company in the country.


ROMANS: That is a clear shot at Medicare-for-All favored by rivals Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders that would eliminate private insurance. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan downplayed Buttigieg's role saying he was part of a larger consulting group. Not a leader on that team.

Two new national polls show former Vice President Joe Biden holding his front-runner position followed by Sanders and Warren. By reaching 4 percent in the Quinnipiac poll, Andrew Yang qualifies for debate next week.

And the president last night used it in his speech last night or rally. He took off after Buttigieg, he took after Elizabeth Warren, revived the whole Pocahontas, really just tore that whole field apart.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, we could all use some good in the world. No doubt about that. One Iowa man is footing the bill for his whole town to see the feel-good movie of the year.



BRIGGS: Four-forty-six Eastern Time.

And there are many unanswered questions this morning after 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. BRIGGS: Bad news for coastal cities around the world. A new study

says Greenland's ice sheet is melting at a rate five times faster than the 1990s. The study in the journal "Nature" found that Greenland's ice sheet is melting fast enough now to raise sea levels by about 0.7 of a millimeter a year. That may not sound like much, but 100 million people currently live below the high tide expected in the year 2100. So even small rises in sea level could have catastrophic effects on coastal communities.

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

Still searching for a Christmas present? What about a new computer for the bargain price, oh, $52,000?

CNN Business is next.



ROMANS: All right. Police in New Zealand say it's still too dangers to return to White Island to recover the dead, the dead following Monday's volcano disaster. They say the likelihood of a further eruption on the island also called Wakari is just too high.

CNN's Will Ripley is on the phone from New Zealand for us.

I mean, this was an adventure hiking destination, cruise ships dropping off passengers and just ending in disaster. What do we know?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Christine, I just got off a helicopter where we flew close to the island, and I tell you. It is chilling. It's a beautiful place. I can see why people are drawn to the natural beauty.

But there's still a plume of smoke rising from the volcanic crater and there are new warnings that there could be another eruption on the island because it is active. Geothermal activity is a regular occurrence.

And that's now triggering this big debate in New Zealand whether tourists should have been on the island in the first place. We know the identities of some who are missing. They include an American family of four who are now living in Australia and two teenage sons and their parents who went on this excursion, they are missing on the island.

And we also know that one of the confirmed dead, a tour guide from New Zealand, his brother is asking the prime minister to pardon him in advance, because he says he's going to go to the island anyway to retrieve his brother's remains. People are outraged here because you have bodies sitting there, presumably decomposing. It's raining now. you know, they're out in the elements.

And people are furious. One, people were put in the position in the first place where they were killed but now that they can't be recovered. Their bodies can't be recovered.

It's a truly heartbreaking situation. We continue to be on the ground. A lot of fast moving developments, and we're waiting to see if and when people will be able to get on the island and bring missing people back to their families.

ROMANS: You were able to fly over the islands. Is it lava flow? Is it ash?


I mean, what could you see?

RIPLEY: It's a large plume of white smoke. It looks like steam basically. It's the kind of plume people were enveloped like when people were standing by the crater looking in. Some were five meters away from the epicenter of this eruption.

Of course, those people were not been able to survive. Those who have survived, the burns have been just horrific. I talked with somebody, a first responder who described skin falling off of the people screaming for help saying they were burning and in pain, sitting silently drifting in and out of consciousness. And to think they're sitting in the hospital fighting for their lives at this very moment, it's truly heartbreaking.

ROMANS: It really is.

All right. Will Ripley, keep us posted. Thanks for that.

BRIGGS: All right. The maker of Cheerios adding hearts to its iconic O shape. General Mills telling "USA Today" the limited edition hearts are spark heart conversations. It will pop up in time for 2020 resolutions. They should stick around through February which is heart health month.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood a beautiful day for a neighbor would you be mine could you be mine --


ROMANS: This is nice. Someone in Webster City, Iowa, is being very neighborly, buying tickets to the movie "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" for the entire town of 8,000 people. The city's secret Santa brought out the entire run of eight shoes at the Webster theater so everybody could see the movie about his hero, Public Television's Mr. Rogers.

The donor tells CNN affiliate KCCI he believes remaining anonymous is an important part of generosity, giving without the expectation of any return.

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

ROMANS: Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

First, a look at markets around the world right now. Asian markets struggling for direction without more concrete progress on the U.S./China trade deal. On Wall Street, futures right now also limping along here a little bit without much direction.

You know, markets didn't do strongly on Tuesday. Investors really didn't respond strongly to the new U.S. USMCA, the NAFTA, the new NAFTA, or the news the U.S. and China are working on a deal to delay the December 15th tariff.

The Dow fell about 28 points. The S&P and the Nasdaq also closed lower.

Investors will be paying close attention to today's Federal Reserve meeting. Policymakers are expected to hold rates steady, but could hint at future rate cuts next year.

Let's hope you're on Santa's nice list if you want the latest top of the line Mac or be prepared to shell out 52 grand. That's right. Apple's Mac pro is available if you shell out $52,000. That's if you choose all the high end options and preinstalled software. The computer alone is about 6 grand. You have to purchase the screen and fixtures separately. It's the Mac's first update in six years. Apple fans are looking forward to its cheese grater like designed.

Peloton is skidding downhill. The stock skidded six percent lower after a warning from a short seller, Citron Research. Citron says the stock is worth of only about 5 bucks a share. There's competition from cheaper rivals.

You'll remember this Peloton holiday commercial went viral for all the wrong reasons. Critics accused it of peddling a negative body initiative, but I will say Peloton executives said, look, this is an interactive company. It's not just a fitness company. And there are a lot of new tricks down the road.

BRIGGS: Yes, I like using other workouts.

ROMANS: I'm a yoga fiend at the moment and a little bit of meditation.

BRIGGS: We need that everyday.

Thanks for our international viewers for joining us. Have a good rest of your day.

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

(MUSIC) BRIGGS: Tonight, the first formal step toward impeaching the president. What to watch for ahead of the first votes tomorrow.


TRUMP: They spied on our campaign, OK?

BARR: These irregularities, these misstatements leave open the possibility to infer bad faith.


ROMANS: The president and his attorney general both refusing 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, New Jersey. Who the mayor says was targeted.