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Historic Impeachment Debate; Short Senate Trial?; Roger Goodell Gives Update on Patriots Investigation. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 12, 2019 - 05:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Do you have your Christmas tree yet? Well, if you live in New York City, you may want to get a 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. Why the hefty fee? Well, the National Christmas Tree Association says the Fraser fir is experiencing a shortage because farmers in North Carolina didn't plant as many trees during the 2008 recession. The tree takes about 10 years to mature.

It turns out people are not buying real trees as much as they used to. Declined dramatically over the years, 47 percent of the people had a real tree in 1989, only 21 percent last year. People like the fake ones.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: I have to say, I like the fake ones, too.

BRIGGS: Do you have a fake tree?

WALKER: And don't have to clean up the mess once they start to die and I'm not paying $6,500, nor can I afford that.

BRIGGS: Oh, man, real tree (INAUDIBLE) for me.

WALKER: EARLY START continues right now.



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 are not clarifying that no one is above the law. They're just clarifying that none of them are above partisanship and politics.


WALKER: Democrats and Republicans resume the historic debate on the impeachment of the president just hours from now.

BRIGGS: Republicans are leaning towards a short impeachment trial on the Senate without the witnesses President Trump would like to see called.

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

WALKER: Good morning, and I'm Amara Walker. It is Thursday, December 12th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East. Fifty-three days to the Iowa caucuses.

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 has more.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara and Dave, it was a long night, it was a late night, but it's 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 and their efforts one more step by the Republicans 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 the 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.

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. Fact's 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.

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 terms of what they're actually doing.

But kind of the bottom line I think this is, you're going to see Republicans draft and try to propose a number of amendments to try and change the 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 try to keep everything in 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 on 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. It means it's on its way to the House floor, it means President Trump is on his way to being impeached.

It means that in short order, the Senate, not the House anymore, the Senate will take up the mantle, Senate trial by President Trump to see if they actually have the votes to remove him office -- guys.


BRIGGS: Thanks, Phil.

Impeachment light, witch hunt -- President Trump has used a lot of slogans to dismiss the imminent impeachment, downplaying it's just another political stunt by Democrats.


According to people familiar with his mindset, the prospect of becoming the third U.S. president 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 America, we are hearing President Trump is growing increasingly aggravated over the likelihood that he will be impeached. Campaign adviser told me simply the coverage bugs him.

A separate Trump adviser said the president has been preparing for this moment for sometime, suspecting for the better part of 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 the 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'll be joining the less than envious list of presidents who have been impeached. Still, an aide 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 either the House or the Senate. Administration officials are point 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 a 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 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 the 51-vote threshold, and notes that only 34 votes would be required for an acquittal.

BRIGGS: Senate Republicans also seem 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 whistle-blower or Hunter Biden. Those new details coming in from CNN interviews with Republican senators over the past few days. They say the trial is still in planning stages but 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 and 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 finding 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 advisor, Carter Page. Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee both scoring local points.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): So your report states you didn't find document area or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation played a role?


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 testimonial documentary on that.

We found and as we outlined here are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate hand-picked 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.


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

BRIGGS: 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.



BRIGGS: All right. CNN Business at 5:14 Eastern Time.

Well, Ron Vara is back to support the tariff man. "The New York Times" reports White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has revived his alter-ego to make the case that the U.S. should go ahead with tariffs on Chinese goods, tariffs on $156 billion of Chinese imports are set to kick on Sunday. Those tariffs will hit consumer goods like phones, laptops phones and office supplies.

According to "The Times", Navarro supplemented his argument in a memo sent from an email address that belonged to "Ron Vara". Navarro has acknowledged quoting this alter-ego as an inside joke in his books. The alias is in at least six of Navarro's works including in "The Coming China Wars" from 2008.

Trade officials from both sides are looking to delay the tariffs, but a source says no final decision has been made. Navarro did confirm the memo to "The Times." It's not clear how widely it was sent out.

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're 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 Jews of the Bible.

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


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and 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, this was a hate crime.

STEVEN FULOP, JERSEY CITY MAYOR: We need to be aggressive calling it out for what it is. I know some people will say 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.

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 the 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. Twenty-four-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, when they heard shooting starts at this location, they were just a couple 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: OK, Miguel Marquez there in Jersey City.

Ahead, we'll talk a little sports. There's a big defection for World Series champions. Their best hitter heading west.

Andy Scholes has that report in "Bleacher Report", next.



BRIGGS: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell weighing in on the latest Patriots filming controversy.

Andy Scholes has that story in "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, my friend.


You know, Commissioner Goodell, he was speaking at the latest owners meeting in Texas yesterday. And he was asked if spygate would factor into the current investigation into the Patriots' improperly filming during a game.


ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: I think the key thing are the information that we have, that information we already have. But I think the issue is what information do we have from this incident. We're going to be thorough. We're going to get all of the facts and we'll go from there.


SCHOLES: Patriots acknowledge that they had independent film crew credentialed at the Browns/Bengals game to film a scout for a web series. Bill Belichick insisting again yesterday that he and no one in the Patriots football operation had anything to by with that film crew.

Goodell also chiming in on the Colin Kaepernick workout, saying that the NFL created an opportunity for Kaepernick and he chose not to take it, adding, quote: We've moved on here.

All right. Kawhi Leonard is getting a hero's welcome as he made his return to Toronto for the first time since winning the NBA title. Fans chanting "MVP" at Kawhi as he was given his ring. He received cheers throughout the game.

Kawhi winning one season there in Toronto before moving to L.A. Kawhi and Clippers beating the Raptors in that one, 112-96.

All right. Another day, another huge deal in baseball. Anthony Rendon off the market as he signs a massive seven-year, $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The all-star third baseman was instrumental in helping the Nationals win their first title this past season.

Big week for agent Scott Boras between Rendon, Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole. Boras has signed his clients to $814 million worth of deals. Not bad.

All right. Finally, college football awards show is going to take place tonight in Atlanta. Minnesota's Casey O'Brien is going to be honored with the Disney Spirit Award. In high school, Casey was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer.


He spent more than 200 days in the hospital, has undergone numerous rounds of chemotherapy and had 14 surgeries.

But he's beaten the cancer four different times. Earlier this year, he made his debut for the Golden Gophers as a place holder. It was an awesome moment.

Last night, I had a privilege to speak with Casey about what playing college football this year has meant to him.


CASEY O'BRIEN, MINNESOTA PLACEHOLDER: I mean, it's been -- it's been a roller coaster for sure. And I've kept the main thing the main thing, and that's playing football. And, obviously, there have been setbacks and thing like that have came up. But I've kind of had the dream the whole way through and that's what led me here.

SCHOLES: What kind of message for other kids who may be going through something similar and have dreams just like you.

O'BRIEN: I would just tell them that if you got a dream, don't let anybody tell you that you can't. I mean, I've been told that I would never jog again, I'd never step on a football field. I've had six different long surgeries, still playing football. So, I mean, if you believe you can do it, then you can go make it happen.


SCHOLES: Yes, and, Dave, two weeks ago doctors found a spot on Casey's lung during his three-month scans. He's had that removed. So, we certainly wish him well as he continues his fight because he is just such an aspiration.

BRIGGS: You know, spygate is intriguing, but that right there, that's the power of sports.

Great stuff. Good interview, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

BRIGGS: What's coming up, Amara?

WALKER: All right, Dave. Marathon two-day debate on the impeachment of President Trump resumes again on Capitol Hill just hours from now. We'll have the latest on that and the next steps, coming up.