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EARLY START

House Committee To Debate Articles Of Impeachment; President Trump Publicly Minimizes Impeachment While Stewing Privately; Small Plane Crash In North Phoenix. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 12, 2019 - 05:30   ET

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


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[05:31:10]

(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's above the law. They're just clarifying that none of them are above partisanship and politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

AMARA WALKER, 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 called.

Good morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Amara Walker.

BRIGGS: Good morning, I'm Dave Briggs, 5:31 Eastern time on a Thursday.

We start with the latest on impeachment.

In just a few hours from now, the actual legislative work on articles of impeachment finally begins. And after weeks of hearings and last night's many openings statements, today, the House Judiciary Committee will debate amendments -- possibly, a lot of them. And by the end of the day, the committee will vote, with Democrats almost certainly sending the matter to the full House over Republicans' strenuous objections.

Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, 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 forward for House Democrats in their effort, one more step of trying to block those Democrats by all the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

But there is 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.

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. The 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 imposter, and the attacks and 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 and it will probably be pretty dense in terms of what they're actually doing.

But kind of bottom line I think is this. You're going to see Republicans draft and try and propose a number of amendments to try and change the two articles of impeachment that have been presented by House Democrats.

Democrats, themselves, will defend those articles of impeachment. They will not be looking to amend those articles of impeachment and they will try and keep everything in its same 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 for 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 date yet but that's what the Judiciary Committee final 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. 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 from office -- guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[05:35:03]

WALKER: 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 to be impeached is weighing heavily on Mr. Trump.

More now from chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 that 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's a little surprised it's the Ukraine thing that's done it."

Another thing we are hearing is that Mr. Trump is irked by the fact that he would 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 this debate on impeachment. He's satisfied that Republicans aren't showing many signs that they will defect in 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Jim Acosta, thanks.

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 a 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 note that only 34 votes would be required for an acquittal.

WALKER: 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 whistleblower or Hunter Biden.

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.

BRIGGS: All right, more on this ahead with Zach Wolf, including what's next for Republicans and Democrats as this historic process plays out in the coming hours.

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[05:41:50]

WALKER: The House Judiciary Committee resumes its debates over two articles of impeachment against President Trump just a few hours from now, and here's some of what we've been hearing from lawmakers already.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): We have the evidence. The transcript of the call is a crystal clear confession. His chief of staff co- conspirator admitted to it in the White House press briefing room.

We have hours of testimony from State Department witnesses. Confessions, admissions, witnesses, video -- we have everything but DNA. What else do you need?

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): This is as much about political expediency as it is anything else. Two articles like that? Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in 70-something days? The only abuse of power here is the majority racing the fastest they ever have to clock in the calendar determining what impeachment looks like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Let's bring in our "CNN POLITICS" senior writer Zach Wolf, live in Washington this morning. Good to see you, sir.

ZACHARY WOLF, DIGITAL DIRECTOR, CNN POLITICS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: What do you expect today?

WOLF: Today, I think -- you know, we heard Phil Mattingly talk about this. It's kind of the second process of this Judiciary Committee markup.

They will essentially try to amend or change -- Republicans will -- these two articles of impeachment, Democrats will try to not change them, and then they will send it off to the -- to the House floor for sometime next week. So we will have the first real vote, potentially, today on these articles of impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee.

WALKER: And, Zach, are we getting a sense of how things are going to play out during the Senate trial?

I mean, there's obviously this disagreement between the president and Sen. Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell wants a short trial -- he doesn't want to make a spectacle of it -- while the president has been telling the people around him that he would actually like the opposite -- something more dramatic for T.V. and to call plenty of witnesses, including the whistleblower.

WOLF: Yes. I think it's -- a lot of it's up in the air. They are still trying to figure it out.

I've been reading a lot about the rules for Senate impeachment trials. It's not a made-for-T.V. process and I'm not sure that Donald Trump knows that. It's downright baroque.

I mean, the chief justice sits there and senators aren't allowed to talk, essentially. They have to pass notes back and forth between the chief justice if they even want to ask a question. It's not the kind of -- it's not Court T.V., in other words.

And so, you know, maybe Mitch McConnell is trying to convince Donald Trump of this. He probably doesn't want to belabor this being the headline about the only thing anybody can talk about will be impeachment while this is going on. Why make that go even longer when I think everybody pretty much agrees that this is --

BRIGGS: Yes.

WOLF: -- essentially a foregone conclusion --

BRIGGS: Sure. WOLF: -- what's going to happen at the end of the day.

BRIGGS: But also, Zach, how much do you think that has to do with kind of the personalities and the Republicans -- House versus Senate? You don't have Matt Gaetz, you don't have Doug Collins, Louie Gohmert over in the Senate. It's a much more, I would say, serious group.

WOLF: That's absolutely right, and it's also a much closer margin, essentially.

In the -- in the House, the majority rules with an iron fist. And in the Senate, if you can pick off a couple of people -- maybe you can't call the witnesses you want to call. Maybe in addition to the witnesses you want to call -- you know, Donald Trump wants to call Adam Schiff, he wants to call the whistleblower, he wants to call people like that.

[05:45:13]

Maybe in addition to that, maybe they also call people he doesn't want to be testifying in a Senate trial if they can get a couple of moderates to vote with them there.

WALKER: Regarding the inspector general's report for the Department of Justice, I mean, what finding turned out to be more important, Zach? I mean, is that he said that it rejected that there was any kind of conspiracy theory that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign or the fact that there was significant errors and omissions quote-unquote that were found in getting that FISA warrant against Carter Page?

WOLF: Yes. So, earlier this week, we had this report and the bottom line of the report from the DOJ inspector general is that there was no essentially ill intent and that the FBI didn't spy for political reasons on President Trump's campaign. I think that stands.

But in this hearing yesterday where the Department of Justice inspector general testified, it really shined a light on how nobody looks good after this report. It made the FBI -- it was not a good look for the FBI. There were multiple problems with its FISA warrants, with how it was going about conducting this national security investigation.

So, you know, nobody -- this is a good reason, I think, why Democrats didn't include the Mueller report in the articles of impeachment. It's easy to muddy that stuff down. You can see what feeds President Trump's conspiracy theories, even if at the end of the day they're conspiracy theories.

BRIGGS: And look -- and like everything else today it was a political Rorschach test. Some saw butterflies, some saw pepperoni pizza. In reality, it's just a -- it's just a mess. Just a bunch of dots.

WALKER: Yes, it's not very --

BRIGGS: No -- no one can agree on anything. That we can agree on.

WOLF: Yes.

BRIGGS: Zach Wolf, good to see you, sir.

WOLF: You, too.

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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[05:52:00]

WALKER: A storm system moving toward the Great Lakes likely to worsen. Some lake-effect snow with another storm moving toward the east coast for the weekend.

More from meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Amara. The lake-effect snow machine kicking into high gear today.

But first, this weather broadcast brought to you by the Ninja Foodi Deluxe, the deluxe pressure cooker that crisps.

Here is a look at what's taking place across the Great Lakes and the east coast. High pressure in control of the weather for the major east coast cities, so generally, a dry day. But you can see the snow showers being enhanced by a cold front that will sweep across the northern Great Lakes causing some slick spots on the roadways from northern Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Across the southeast, we have an abundant amount of moisture coming from both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. That will overspread showers for places like Atlanta, Charleston, Charlotte, and into the D.C. region, eventually moving into the east coast by later in the day on Friday.

Let's talk temperatures now. Forty-four degrees today in Chicago, 40 for the nation's capital. Just a degree or two above the freezing mark for the Big Apple. We're expecting a high of 52 in Atlanta.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: All right, thanks, Derek.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to try to land on 23rd Avenue. And thank God he didn't because if he would have he probably would have taken us out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they let us onto our property for like maybe two minutes and just seen about 10 of our cars damaged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Two people were on board 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: A man accused of slapping a reporter's backside during a race in Savannah, Georgia is now apologizing for his actions. It happened last weekend as Alex Bozarjian was reporting live for CNN affiliate WSAV at the Savannah Bridge Run.

As runners go by, one of them appears to slap her on the butt. It clearly startled the reporter, who later said she felt violated on live T.V. You can see her reaction there.

That man, identified as Thomas Callaway, now says he regrets what he did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS CALLAWAY, SLAPPED REPORTER'S BACKSIDE: I'm thankful for this opportunity to share my apology to her and to her family, and to her friends and her coworkers. It was an awful act, it was an awful mistake.

I am not that person that people are portraying me as. I make mistakes. I'm not perfect and I'm asking for forgiveness and to accept my apology.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: The Savannah Sports Council, which organized last Saturday's race, has banned Calloway from all future events.

[05:55:00]

BRIGGS: All right, let's get a check on "CNN Business" at 5:54 eastern time -- 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 closing up 29 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished slightly higher.

Investors turned their attention back to the U.S.-China trade war. New tariffs on Chinese goods just three days away. The Boeing 737 MAX won't be back in the air this year. FAA Chief Steven Dickson told CNBC there were at least 11 steps in the certification process that have not been completed yet. Dickson also declined to give a time frame 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 towards certification and the safe return to service of the Max."

Southwest, American, and United say they are not including the plane on flight schedules until at least March.

Some New Yorkers are paying a pretty penny for one particular kind of Christmas tree. The "New York Post" reports Fraser firs are going for as much as $6,500 and folks, they are selling out.

The National Christmas Tree Association says the species is experiencing a shortage because farmers in North Carolina did not plant as many of them during the 2008 recession. Fraser fir takes about 10 years to mature.

Seventy-six percent of Americans today display a Christmas tree with fake trees accounting for more than half of those purchases, according to recent data.

The boomers even going towards the fakes, but it's really the millennials that make up the brunt of that.

WALKER: I'm definitely a millennial.

BRIGGS: You technically are and --

WALKER: Well, yes, technically.

BRIGGS: -- you go fake tree.

WALKER: I go fake. What about you?

BRIGGS: I'm real all the way.

WALKER: Really?

BRIGGS: I like the smell.

WALKER: I just feel like it's -- yes, I agree with you on that.

BRIGGS: Yes.

WALKER: It's just not as convenient.

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 just minutes before he did and was in the back of the store.

The officer drew his 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 back-up arrived.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. BRUCE APOTHEKER, NEWTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Right place, right time for the department; wrong place, wrong time for the suspect.

He 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

BRIGGS: Free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon has reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $245 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The 29-year-old Rendon helped the Nationals win the World Series this past season. Sources say the deal includes a full no-trade clause and no opt-out clause.

WALKER: A Los Angeles homeowner can rest easy after learning who was stealing packages from his front door. Yes, video caught a sneaky squirrel in the act, grabbing an Amazon package and dragging it away. It appears the porch pirate has been pretty active. The owner says he frequently finds his packages in the bushes around the apartment complex.

BRIGGS: That's just nuts.

After a Trump campaign ad turned the president into the Marvel supervillain, Stephen Colbert took that idea a few steps further.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

"THE LION KING" CHARACTER: Help me, President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am the chosen one.

SHOWER SCENE FROM "PSYCHO": President Trump with knife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALKER: Gosh.

BRIGGS: That last one -- I wasn't ready for that.

WALKER: That's stuck in my mind now.

That's our time. Thanks for being with us. I'm Amara Walker. BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Here's "NEW DAY."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Just hours from now, a contentious debate on articles of impeachment.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Go ahead, vote to impeach President Trump. Join us when President Trump is inaugurated again.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WASHINGTON'S 7TH DISTRICT): The president is the smoking gun. The smoking gun is reloaded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They park, they exit, and immediately begin firing. That was their target and they intended to harm people inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An attack on our Jewish community is an attack against all of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, December 12th, 6:00 here in New York.