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EARLY START

Partisan Debate Over Impeachment Articles Ahead of Full House Vote; Trump Publicly Minimizes Impeachment; Jersey Mayor Calls Kosher Market Shooting a Hate Crime; Voters in United Kingdom Head to Polls. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 12, 2019 - 04:30   ET

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


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[04:31:08]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Do what you were elected to do. You didn't swear an oath to Donald Trump. You swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): House Democrats aren't clarifying that no one is above the law. They are just declaring that none of them are above partisanship and politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats and Republicans resume their historic debate on the impeachment of the president just hours from now.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has learned Republicans are leaning towards a short impeachment trial in the Senate without the witnesses President Trump would like to see.

WALKER: New video shows the moment two shooters launch their deadly attack on a kosher market in New Jersey.

BRIGGS: Two people emerge unhurt after this plane was seen on video crash-landing on a Phoenix parking lot.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. Papers are here. I'm Dave Briggs. 4:31 Eastern Time.

WALKER: Good morning, everyone, and thanks for being with us here in New York.

In just a few hours, the actual legislative work on articles of impeachment finally begins. After weeks of hearings and last night's many opening statements, today the House Judiciary Committee will debate amendments, possibly a lot of them. By the end of the day, the committee will vote with Democrats almost certainly sending the matter to a full House over Republicans' strenuous objections. Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly with more.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara and Dave, it was a long night, it was a late night, but it was also an important night for a couple of reasons. First off, this was obviously on Wednesday night the next step to what is clearly going to lead to the impeachment of President Trump. One more step for House Democrats in their effort. One more step of trying to block those Democrats by all Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

But there's also the idea of kind of framing. Through the 41 members, Republicans and Democrats on this Judiciary Committee giving their personal statements as to why they were for or against impeachment, kind of how it was laid out. Take a listen to how one Democrat and one Republican put it.

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REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): I believe that three questions should frame our debate. First, does the evidence show clearly that the president committed these acts? Second, do they rise to the level of impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors? Third, what are the consequences for our national security, for the integrity of our elections and for our country if we fail to act?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): This is not about Ukraine. Facts are on the president's side. Zelensky said he wasn't pressured. Ukrainians didn't even know aid was held at the time of the call and most importantly, they did nothing to get the aid released. This is about one basic fact. The Democrats have never accepted the will of the American people.

Three weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi called the president of the United States an impostor and the attacks on the president started before the election.

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MATTINGLY: So, if Wednesday night was the opening statements, Thursday is the legislative action. There's going to be a lot of back and forth. It will be very long. It will be probably be pretty dense in the weeds in terms of what they're actually doing. But kind of the bottom line I think is this, you're going to see Republicans draft and try to propose a number of amendments to try and change the two articles of impeachment that had been presented by House Democrats.

Democrats themselves will defend those articles of impeachment. They will be not looking to amend those articles of impeachment and they will try and keep everything in its own place. And they can do that. They have the majority on the committee. So, whatever Republicans propose, Democrats can one by one shoot it down.

But what it's all kind of leading to right now is the fact that by the end of the day on Thursday, by the end of legislative consideration before the House Judiciary Committee, the House floor is what's next. The full House vote is what's next. Once the Judiciary Committee is done, there are no more stops, there are no more hearings, there are no more closed-door depositions. The House of Representatives will vote to impeach President Donald Trump next week.

We don't have the exact did day yet but that's what the Judiciary Committee meeting actually means.

[04:35:04]

It means it's on its way to the House floor. It means President Trump is on his way to being impeached. And it means that in short order, the Senate, not the House anymore, the Senate will take up the mantle. A Senate trial for President Trump to see if they actually have the votes to remove him office -- guys.

BRIGGS: Phil Mattingly, thank you.

Impeachment light. Witch hunt. President Trump has used a lot of slogans to dismiss his imminent impeachment, downplaying it as just another political stunt by the Democrats. But according to people familiar with his mindset, the prospect of becoming the third U.S. president ever impeached is weighing heavily on Mr. Trump.

More now from chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Amara, we are hearing President Trump is growing increasingly aggravated over the likelihood that he will be impeached. A Trump campaign adviser told me simply the coverage bugs him. A separate Trump adviser said the president has been preparing for this moment for some time, suspecting for the better part of the last year the Democrats would try to impeach him after taking control of the House.

This adviser said Mr. Trump is somewhat taken aback that it's this Ukraine scandal that is leading to his impeachment. The adviser said, quote, "Frankly, I think he is a little surprised it's the Ukraine thing that's done it."

Another thing that we're hearing is that Mr. Trump is irked by the fact that he will be joining the less than envious list of presidents who have been impeached. Still, aides said that the president is of the belief at this point that he is winning his debate on impeachment. He's satisfied that Republicans aren't showing many signs that they will defect at either the House or the Senate.

Administration officials are pointing to recent polling that shows that support for impeachment has either held steady or begun to slide against removing the president from office. And we should note at his rally this week, the president appeared to crow over the fact that he's only facing two articles of impeachment. He's dubbed this process impeachment light.

But in the history books, Dave and Amara, it doesn't say impeachment light. It says impeached -- Dave and Amara.

WALKER: Jim Acosta, thank you. If the president is impeached and there is a Senate trial, Majority

Leader Mitch McConnell is not planning to hold a vote to quickly dismiss the articles of impeachment. According to two Republican senators he will wait to hold a final vote to acquit once the majority of senators feel the trial has run its course. Most Republicans want an acquittal to clear the president rather than rely on a procedural motion to dismiss the charges with a 51-vote threshold. And note that only 34 votes would be acquired for an acquittal.

BRIGGS: Senate Republicans also seemed to be coalescing around the idea of a shorter Senate impeachment trial. Contrary to President Trump's stated desire, a short-form trial would not include witnesses like the whistleblower nor Hunter Biden.

Those new details coming from CNN interviews with Republican senators over the past few days. They say the trial is still in the planning stages that no final decisions on strategy or structure have been made. But GOP senators say they are beginning to see the benefit of keeping the process short, simply laying out evidence in a presentation by House managers and the White House.

WALKER: The nonpartisan watchdog for the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz, standing by his findings on Crossfire Hurricane. That is the FBI investigation into whether Trump campaign associates coordinated with the Russian government to sway the 2016 presidential election. Testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he defended his conclusion that there had been no political bias in launching the FBI probe.

But Horowitz criticized the FBI's handling of the probe in no uncertain terms. He said he uncovered 17 significant errors or omissions in the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee both scoring political points.

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SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): So your report states that you didn't find documentary or testimony or evidence that political bias or improper motivation played a role?

MICHAEL HOROWITZ, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INSPECTOR GENERAL: That's correct.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you. And you didn't find a deep state conspiracy against candidate or President Trump?

HOROWITZ: As to the opening, we found no bias, no testimony or documentary evidence on that. We found and as we outlined here are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate handpicked investigative teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Would you have submitted a warrant application as a lawyer?

HOROWITZ: Let me put it this way. I would not have submitted the one they put in. They certainly misled -- it was misleading to the court.

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WALKER: Horowitz refused to speculate about the motivations of FBI officials who made major mistakes applying for a surveillance warrant.

BRIGGS: Like most things today, it was a political Rorschach test.

All right, ahead, hundreds of mourners turn out for the victims of a deadly kosher market attack in New Jersey. More on them and the suspects, next.

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BRIGGS: A check on CNN Business at 4:44 Eastern Time. The Federal Reserve has made its last interest rate decision of 2019.

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JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: My colleagues and I decided to leave our policy rate unchanged, after lowering a total of 0.75 of a percentage point at the previous three meetings.

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BRIGGS: Interest rates will remain hovering between 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent.

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Two big threats still faced the U.S. economy, though, slowing global growth and ongoing trade tensions. A new round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods is days away. But Fed chair Jerome Powell would not speculate on what would happen if talks break down.

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POWELL: We try to look through the volatility in trade news and trade negotiations. We try not to react. We can't react. Monetary policy is not the right tool to react in the very short term to volatility.

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BRIGGS: Powell also signaled the Fed plans to keep rates unchanged in 2020 unless there is a material change to the economic outlook. President Trump has repeated attacked Powell and the Fed for not lowering rates, even demanding zero interest rates. Stocks closed slightly higher after Powell's comments.

WALKER: Police officers in Jersey City, New Jersey, lining the streets in memory of Detective Joseph Seals, shot to death by a pair of gunmen who then attacked a kosher supermarket killing three more people. Seals was a 15-year veteran of the department and was Jersey City's officer in charge of trying to get guns off the street. Investigators say they are still trying to determine a motive for the

attack but "The New York Times" is reporting one of the two shooters has been linked to Black Hebrew Israelites Movement. The movement has many splinter groups but experts say they're all united by the belief that African-Americans are the true descendants of the Jews of the Bible.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has more on the victims and the investigation.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Amara, this is the Jewish market where this horrific incident took place. You can see it's boarded up, still surrounded by police tape. The mayor of Jersey City saying there are no ifs, ands or buts about it, this was a hate crime.

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MAYOR STEVEN FULOP, JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY: We need to be aggressive in calling it out for what it is. I know some people will say that we should review things and take our time, but when you look at the facts of what transpired yesterday, it's difficult to argue anything other than that.

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MARQUEZ: The lead agencies investigating this crime are being somewhat more circumspect. They're saying that 47-year-old David Anderson and 50-year-old Francine Graham got out of a stolen U-Haul vehicle, pulling out long rifles, went into this store, but it's still not clear what their motivation was.

CNN does understand through other law enforcement officials that not only was there a pipe bomb in the vehicle, in that stolen U-Haul, there were also writings in there, anti-Semitic and anti-police writings, not only in notes in the vehicle, but also online by these two individuals.

Killed in that store were Mindy Ferencz, she was the store owner, 24- year-old Moshe Deutsch who was shopping in the store, and 49-year-old Miguel Douglas we believe was working in the store. A fourth victim was able to escape after being shot and that person is expected to survive.

All authorities pointing to the bravery of the Jersey City police officers, though, that when they heard shooting starts at this location, they were just a couple of blocks away, ran to this location, that's where our officers got injured. We expect to hear more information from officials here in New Jersey later today -- Dave, Amara.

BRIGGS: Miguel Marquez in Jersey City.

A small plane crash in Phoenix caught on a surveillance camera. Take a look at this aircraft slamming into a utility pole before taking out several vehicles in a used car lot and then skidding into the middle of the street. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wanted to try to land on 23rd Avenue. And thank God he didn't because if he would he probably would have taken us out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they led us on to our property for, like, maybe two minutes and just seen about 10 of our cars damaged.

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BRIGGS: Two people were onboard the plane. A 48-year-old pilot who was also a flight instructor and a 42-year-old passenger. They were not hurt. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

WALKER: There is a strong chance New Zealand's White Island volcano could erupt again. And that warning from scientists is hampering efforts to recover the bodies of eight missing people who were presumably killed in Monday's eruption. 47 people were on White Island, also called Whakaari, when the volcano blew. Six people have now been confirmed dead and 25 others are hospitalized in critical condition.

Will Ripley is live in New Zealand with the very latest.

And Will, before we get to how the victims are doing, can you talk a little bit about these recovery efforts? I mean, you've got to feel for the families who, you know, want to get these bodies recovered from that island. But like we were saying, I mean, this volcano could blow again at any moment.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is going to be a very risky operation for the New Zealand Defense Force personnel who will try to get on the island in the early morning hours tomorrow.

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Now it's not a guarantee that this is going to happen, Amara, because they have to check a lot of things, such as the geothermal activity at the White Island volcano, the weather conditions. All of those are going to be factors. We don't even know the specifics of the operation and they might even not know for sure yet whether they're going to try to go by boat because we know that there is a naval frigate just offshore here in Whakatane or are they going to try to land a helicopter in the volcanic crater.

They believe that there are eight people, possibly even one additional person, although we're still trying to confirm all of that. The numbers are fluctuating. They know the location of six of the bodies. So that's going to be their first priority because they think if they can get to where those six bodies are and get them off quickly, that will at least provide closure for those six families. But they know that there are at least two more bodies somewhere on White Island and whether or not they can find them in time, whether it'll be safe enough to search, well, that is the unknown factor at this hour, Amara. Clearly, this will be much-needed closure for the families. Many of

whom are now here in Whakatane. On the ground, you know, watching the operation from the mainland, in addition to the families, there will be New Zealand police and also scientists trying to guide the Defense Force as they try to conduct this recovery operation.

And we also continue to learn updates about some of the people who were injured. I actually just got off of the phone with Janet (INAUDIBLE). She is the mother of Matt (INAUDIBLE), an American from Virginia who was badly burned, horrifically burned on his honeymoon. He just got out of surgery a short time ago, a five-hour surgery, and his mother tells me, Amara, she expects to be here with him in New Zealand in the hospital for at least the next month.

WALKER: It says a lot about the extent of the injuries when you have New Zealand hospitals ordering skin from the United States, I believe.

RIPLEY: Yes.

WALKER: Will Ripley, appreciate your reporting there from New Zealand. Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, a police officer in the right place at just the right time to stop a robbery. You'll see it all go down, next.

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WALKERS: Voters in the United Kingdom are casting votes in their country's third general election in less than five years.

Max Foster is tracking the latest developments live from London. Another election over Brexit -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. And there would normally be one election over five years. This is also the first December election in 100 years. So the polls are open across 650 constituencies. But because of that, Amara, that's pretty much all I can say. There are very strict reporting rules for broadcasters in this country. We can't talk about campaign issues or the polls, any political statements or anything the candidates are saying, effectively. Anything we're seeing to do to sway the votes could mean one of us ends up in prison.

The irony is, though, that the same rules don't apply to newspapers. I've got two newspapers here. I can show the back pages. You can see them across the U.K. I can't show you the front of them because both of them are endorsing one side or the other.

The other irony is that the same rules don't apply to social media. So those articles are being tweeted as we speak. But we can't show you the tweets either because we're broadcasters, Amara. But that is the election law of the U.K. I know you've seen it before.

WALKER: Short and sweet, we don't want you to go to jail. We'll leave it there.

Max Foster, thank you.

A would-be thief picked the wrong time to rob a convenience store in Newton, Massachusetts. Security video shows him threatening the store clerk with a knife and forcing him to open the register. What the thief didn't know was that an off-duty police officer had entered the store minutes before he did and was in the back of the store. The officer drew the gun. When the suspect didn't drop his weapon and tried to flee, the officer tackled him to the ground. Other customers blocked the door until police backup arrived.

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LT. BRUCE APOTHEKER, NEWTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Right place, right time for the department. Wrong place, wrong time for the suspect. She showed great restraint. You know, the suspect was armed, had a knife, and the officer, with the help of the community, was able to subdue the suspect and place him under arrest.

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WALKER: The suspect was charged in connection with armed robbery.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. First, take a look at markets around the world. Asian markets closed higher after the Federal Reserve holds interest rates steady. On Wall Street, futures pointing to a positive open. Stocks turned positive after Fed chair Jerome Powell suggested an interest rate pause in 2020. The Dow closed up 29 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished slightly higher.

Investors turn their attention back to the U.S./China trade war. New tariffs on Chinese goods are just three days away.

The Boeing 737 MAX won't be back in the air this year. FAA chief Steven Dixon told CNBC there were at least 11 steps in the certification process that have not been completed yet. Dixon also declined to give any timeframe for when the plane will be allowed to fly again.

The planes have been grounded since March after two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. Since then, Boeing has lost $29 billion off of its market value. Boeing saying, quote, "We continue to work closely with the FAA and global regulators toward certification in the safe return to service of the MAX."

The three airlines that own the plane, Southwest, American and United, say they are not including it on flight schedules until at least March.

Do you have your Christmas tree yet? Well, if you live in New York City, you may want to get the fake one. "The New York Times," excuse me, "The New York Post," rather, reports real trees in the city are going for as much as $6,500 and they are actually selling out at that price.

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