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House On Track to Impeach Trump Next Week; Trump and Barr Rebuff IG Findings; Four Killed in Jersey City Rampage; Gerrit Cole Cashes In. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 11, 2019 - 05:00   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 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.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday, December 11th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East, and 54 days to the Iowa caucuses.

But first, first, the charges. Now 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 justice.

BRIGGS: Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff pushing back that 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?


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

Phil Mattingly with more on 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.


ROMANS: All right. History in the making. Phil Mattingly, thank you.

One kind of ironic note. Thursday's contentious debate could be cut short by the holiday spirit. The congressional holiday ball is at the White House at 7:00 p.m. sharp. Several committee members especially Republicans are expected to attend.

BRIGGS: 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. 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: That's not entirely true. The president's poll numbers are essentially unchanged. Over the last few weeks, Mr. Trump downplayed his chances of being in office pointing to the strong support he currently enjoys among Republicans.

ROMANS: 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.


ROMANS: That's just not true. There was no spying. Many parts of the dossier were later corroborated.

BRIGGS: 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. (END VIDEO CLIP)


BRIGGS: 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.

ROMANS: All right. The president said he would redo the worth trade deal in history. So did he redo NAFTA or just rebrand NAFTA?



ROMANS: The new NAFTA is moving forward. It's a lot like the old one with 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 content to be made by workers who are earning at least $16 an hour. That favors U.S. and Canadian factory workers.

USMCA as what it's called now, strengthens enforcement of labor rules, something the Democrats really wanted. Dairy farmers will get more access to Canada's market. It also includes the chapter on digital trade and removes controversial protections for biological drugs.

While it's a rare win for both, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will take up the deal after the impeachment trial.

Joining us here, CNN business lead writer Matt Egan.

Good morning, Matt, this was a good win after a year of fighting with the Democrats. Democrats say it's better than NAFTA and better than what the president agreed to a year ago. Is it?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Well, good morning, guys.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

EGAN: This is also a win for compromise and civility. Two things --

BRIGGS: Hey --

ROMANS: Say that again? Compromise and civility.

EGAN: Two things that have been missing from Washington for quite a while. Think about the fact that this is a complex deal, yet it's got some really unlikely alliance that President Trump is hailing this as a signature accomplishment, but Speaker Pelosi is strongly backing it too. We've got corporate America including Business Roundtable, the Chamber of Commerce, Detroit automakers, they're all supporting it, but so are the powers of the labor unions.


EGAN: The head of the AFL-CIO, he said this isn't perfect but it's certainly making the rules fairer.

I would think it's a mistake to think it's a game-changer for the economy. I asked economists, how much are you upgrading your GDP estimates because of this deal, and they say not at all because it's not really all that different from NAFTA. It's sort of NAFTA 2.0 or some critics saying NAFTA 1.1.

But listen, this all could have ended very differently, though. Investors and CEOs will be freaking out if instead of planning a signing ceremony President Trump was holding a ceremony to celebrate ripping up NAFTA and not replacing.

ROMANS: That would be terrible.

EGAN: That would be very bad.

BRIGGS: But the president called NAFTA one of the worst trade deals ever made and now he calls it the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Look, I understand the importance of branding and marketing, but if that's the case, why did stocks say, mah.

EGAN: I think the market kind of baked in that something had to happen because it had to. If they had just ripped up NAFTA, it would have really done a big number on the economy. We're talking about 12 million American jobs, $1.12 trillion in trading relationship. It does seem like this is a step in the right direction. The nonpartisan --

BRIGGS: Certainty.

EGAN: Right. It certainly provides some of that for investors and business owners. And the nonpartisan International Trade Commission, they're saying that over six years, this will add about 176,000 jobs, 0.4 percent to U.S. GDP. So, not a lot but a step in the right direction.

ROMANS: Yes, let's talk about another trade deal. We know in four days tariffs are expected to go up on a bunch of Chinese goods. The U.S. and China have been talking about delaying those tariffs. Every headline is full of speculation and competing interests, leaking information.

Where do we stand on U.S./China trade talks?

EGAN: Well, something has to happen pretty soon because the United States is scheduled to put those tariffs on China on December 15th. So that's coming up. If they don't do anything, the tariffs will be put in place. And it will not be good for consumers or businesses either.

But there's a growing sense that perhaps this will all get punted. As we've seen before, they may decide to delay the implementation of these tariffs because there's a realization it wouldn't be good for either economy and maybe this is something they take up next year. President Trump even said that maybe this is better if they the U.S. and China reached a trade agreement after the election.

ROMANS: Yes. But I will say the president loves tariffs, he thinks they work, and the China hawks around him thinks tariffs are good for the American economy. So, I could see a scenario where he sees the tariffs on and doesn't roll things back the Chinese want.

BRIGGS: More immediate future, Fed meeting today. Any movement on rates anticipated?

EGAN: Not at all. It's pretty much a slam dunk that the Fed is going to keep rates steady. It would be hard to justify cuts rates for a fourth straight meeting especially after that blockbuster November jobs reports. The U.S. added 260,000 jobs, unemployment rate 3.5 percent, matching a 50-year low.

So, the Fed is likely to keep rates steady, but we could see more action on the balance sheet because behind the scenes, the Fed has been buying short-term bonds.


The balance sheet is up by $300 billion.

BRIGGS: Suggesting what?

EGAN: The reason they're doing it is because of the turmoil in the overnight lending market in September. And in order to try to ease the stress in the system, they're buying short-term debt. The Fed said it's not going to impact the economy. It's not really going to impact the market.

But what's interesting is some who I have talked to say the Feds pumping in all that money is probably supporting the stock market even if that was not the intended goal.

ROMANS: Yes, that $4 trillion balance sheet is not something to sneeze at.

All right. Nice to see you, Matt Egan. Thank you.

EGAN: Thank you, guys.

BRIGGS: All right. If you wonder why the Avengers villain Thanos was trending all night long, it's because President Trump was channeling his inner Thanos in that campaign video.


BRIGGS: That stunning ad released on Twitter last night depicts the president as a menacing Avengers villain with a message for the Democratic leadership. The creator of Thanos character is not amused. He tells "The Hollywood Reporter" he feels, quote, violated by the Trump campaign ad. That's the moment where Thanos' plan fails. The whole Internet said that's a sick twisted demented killer who

eliminates half the world's population and gets murdered by the Avengers at the end of the movie. So --

ROMANS: He's a bad guy who loses with a weirdly shaped head, bad skin.

BRIGGS: Different color, obsessed with his daughter. A lot of things you probably don't want said about you.

ROMANS: That's why Thanos was trending.

BRIGGS: The big fish in baseball's free agent pond lands in the Big Apple. Coy Wire has the Gerrit Cole hard cash in the "Bleacher Report."



ROMANS: 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.




ROMANS: The shooting began just after noon, moved among three locations, drew officers from neighboring departments. The fallen officer was identified as Detective Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the department. He was part of a statewide anti-violence unit credited with removing guns in the street. Police say the bodies of three victims 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. He did not offer further explanation -- Dave.

BRIGGS: We'll talk a little sports now.

Stephen Strasburg's run as baseball's highest paid pitcher lasted about a day, as the Yankees land the biggest prize of the free agent market.

Coy Wire has that story in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, my friend.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It must be nice, Dave. There's rich and then Gerrit Cole-rich. Average out, he'll be making nearly $100,000 from the Yankees every day for the next nine years. The deal worth $324 million according to multiple reports, making him

the highest pitcher in baseball history. He's 29-year-old, dominated with the Astros last season. He led the majors with strikeouts, finishing second in the Cy Young behind Justin Verlander. Cole will be paid $36 million each season. That's more than he's made in his entire seven-year career at this point.

Based on his stats last season, he'll make more than a million bucks per start or 110 per strikeout or how about 9,200 bucks every time he throws a pitch.

Wow, let's go to college hoops. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. For the fifth time, the number one team has gone down. This time it's unranked Texas Tech upsetting Louisville at Madison Square Garden, 70-57. The Raiders came in to the game on a three-game losing streak. That made the locker room celebration even sweeter.

This is the first time in the school's history they've knocked off a top ranked team.

Twenty-one-year-old hockey star Trae Young learning the hard way, it's not over until it's other in the NBA. Up six with a minute ago, Young shouts it's over to the Miami crowd. Well, Jimmy Butler and the heat taught the young fella a lesson. They scored the next 22 points unanswered and end up winning the game in overtime.

Afterward Butler couldn't resist a little jab at Young on Instagram, posting: This man, Trae Young is a teller of the future. He was right. Game was over.

Finally, the videotaping scandal involving the Patriots is getting a little messier. The Patriots have admitted their production team inappropriately filmed the Bengal sideline from the press box, a report from the athletic claiming New England had eight minutes of video showing players running on and off the field and coaches making plays for signals for plays.


The Pats play the Bengals this Sunday. The NFL investigation is ongoing. Coach Belichick denies having any involvement or knowledge of the filming.

The Patriots, Dave, known to push the envelope. Several NFL rules have been changed because of things they've been involved in. Pre- game protocol changed after deflate-gate. You can't leap over a snapper on field goals anymore, Dave.

They're the only team in my nine-year NFL career where we had a staff member scour our hotel rooms before going to the field because they said coaches from -- or staff members from the Patriots were coming in and looking in garbage cans, looking for any sort of tidbit of information that might help them get the win.

BRIGGS: What's your spidey sense say here? Spying or honest mistake? WIRE: It's just hard to believe they would put themselves in that

precarious of a situation after the spygate situation in 2007 when they were docked a draft pick and fined because of what they did.

BRIGGS: Hard to believe such a small organization would cheat so stupid if, in fact, that is the case.

Coy Wire, thank you, my friend.

ROMANS: Cheat so stupid.

BRIGGS: Yes, that's blatantly obvious.

ROMANS: All right. Dave, thanks for that.

A lot of developments on a historic day, a reworked trade deal, a two- prong assault on the FBI. Now, House Democrats are about to start the process of impeaching President Trump.