Return to Transcripts main page


Schumer Wants Witnesses At Trial; Senate GOP Leader Coordinating With White House; Six Members Of Rep. Van Drew's Staff Resign; James Comey, Real Sloppiness On FBI's Part; China Suspends New Tariffs Amid New Trade Truce; U.S. Trade Deal With Canada, Mexico, In Question; Black Swan Market Indicator Flashes A Warning; Army And Navy Launch Internal Investigations; White Nationalist Or Innocent Gesture; Hallmark CEO, We Were Wrong; School Officer Slams Student; North Korea Diplomacy; Newtown High School Wins State Football Title; Jamaica's Toni-Ann Singh wins Miss World Title; Grease Is Still The Word; One Last Manning Moment. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 16, 2019 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Democrats want witnesses called in an impeachment trial, setting up a battle with the GOP. The House Judiciary impeachment report released overnight does accuse the president of crimes.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Fallout from the army/navy football game. Both academies investigating after cadets and midshipmen captured making a potential white power hand gesture.

ROMANS: That kiss caused a lot of commotion for the Hallmark channel, now the CEO says, the decision to pull that ad was wrong. Backlash, the backlash and backlash on the backlash. We will tell you where we stand now. Welcome to our viewers in United States and around the world. This is Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Backlash and the backlash, very 2019. I'm Dave Briggs. Monday, December 16th. It is 4:00 a.m. in New York, you know, 49 days to the Iowa caucuses and smack-dab in the middle of the impeachment week. It is all but certain the House will vote this week to impeach President Trump. Before the case goes to the Senate, Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, laying out his vision for the Senate's trial.

He says, he wants witness testimony and new documents. That's a far cry from the plan top Republicans are putting forward. One reason Schumer is taking action early, Republican tactics are sparking claims from Democrats, that the impeachment trial will be rigged from the start.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I am trying to give a pretty clear signal, I have made up my mind. I'm not trying to pretend to be a juror here. I want to end it. I don't want to legitimize it. I hate what they're doing. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Everything I do during

I'm coordinating with the White House counsel.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The constitution describes this a special oath to the senators when they sit as a trial of impeachment, they have to pledge to do impartial justice. And here you have the majority leader of the Senate, in affect the foreman of the jury, saying he's going to work hand in glove with the defense attorney. Now that's a violation of the oath that they're about to take and it's a complete subversion of the constitutional scheme.


ROMANS: Now overnight, the House Judiciary Committee released its 6058 page impeachment report, declaring President Trump has realized the framers' worst nightmare. The report does argue the president committed crimes including bribery. That was not exclusively referenced in the impeachment articles. Part of the Republican defense of the president has no actual crimes were committed. Despite all the back and forth, new polls out over the weekend, show little to no movement in public opinion following the House proceedings. Jeremy Diamond is at the White House.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, Dave and Christine. This is the week that the House of Representatives will vote to impeach President Donald Trump. That is all but certain to be the outcome this week, as the House takes up those articles of impeachment that passed the House Judiciary Committee last week, on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

But here at the White House, the focus has really already shifted to the Senate, where the president will face a trial if indeed he is impeached by the House. Senate Republicans and even White House have been coalescing around this notion of a short impeachment trial and one that crucially would feature no witnesses actually coming forward.

But as that conversation is happening, we're now hearing from the top Democrat in the Senate, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, and he is making his own pitch for how a Senate trial would go forward. And he would like to see witnesses come forward. He would also like to see documents be subpoenaed.

The four witnesses now that he says Senate Democrats would like to see come forward in what he is describing as a fair trial, would be the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, his senior adviser, Robert Blare, the former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, as well as Michael Duffy, an associate Director for National Security Programs at the National Security Council.

Duffy is actually one of those officials who signed off on several of those documents on that aid freeze of $400 million in security aid to Ukraine. Now, this is of course, the opening offer that we're hearing from Chuck Schumer. And Schumer and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell are expected to sit down to actually discuss these requests from Senate Democrats and discuss how to move forward with a trial.

But again, unless Schumer can somehow get four Senate Republicans to join him in backing these rules for an impeachment trial, Mitch McConnell, he will be the one to decide how this impeachment trial actually goes forward.


McConnell in fact has already made clear that any decisions as he relates to the rules and the process of the Senate trial, he's already coordinating with the White House. The White House counsel, Pat Cipollone in particular. And there's no indication, of course, that the White House would allow any of these witnesses to actually come forward. Dave? Christine?


BRIGGS: Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

A freshman Democratic lawmaker announcing plans to switch parties and becoming Republican. Now, six members of Jeff Van Drew's staff have quit. In a letter, the staffers say they can no longer in good conscience continue their service. Van Drew strongly opposes the impeachment of President Trump. Internal polling shows he is losing support among Democrats in his district. Switching parties would allow him to avoid a Democratic primary challenge. The Democratic congressional campaign committee is planning to hire Van Drew's former staffers.

ROMANS: After an admission by James Comey, he made a mistake, President Trump is suggesting jail time for the former FBI Director. Comey said Sunday morning there was real sloppiness in the bureaus effort to obtain FISA warrants in 2016, to secretly conduct surveillance on Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. The Justice Department internal watchdog has determined the FBI was justified opening the investigation and found there was no bias. But the inspector-general found serious errors in the way the probe was conducted.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Significant errors in the FISA process. And you say that it was handled in a thoughtful and appropriate way.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Yeah. He's right, I was wrong. I was overconfident in the procedures that the FBI and justice had built over 20 years. I thought they were robust enough. It's incredibly hard to get a FISA. I was overconfident in those.


BRIGGS: Didn't take long for the president to pounce. Mr. Trump tweeting what are the consequences for his unlawful conduct? Could it be years in jail? The tweeting didn't stop there. The president went on to blamed his predecessor, insisting Inspector General Horowitz was appointed by Obama. Big credibility lost. Obama new everything. President Trump provided no proof to back up that claim.

ROMANS: All right, China has scrapped a new round of tariffs on U.S. goods. The two countries are pulling back from a trade war that has rocked the global markets and spread uncertainty among business around the world. On Friday, Washington and Beijing announced a framework of an agreement on the first phase of a trade deal. Businesses will want to see the fine print on that. The U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer touting this as a major Trump victory.


ROBERT LIGHTHIZER, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: Friday was probably the most momentous day in trade history ever. That day, we submitted the USMCA, the Mexico/Canada agreement, which is about $1.4 trillion worth of the economy -- I mean, of trade. And then in addition to this, which is about $600 billion. So, that's literally about half of total trade were announced on the same day. It was extremely momentous.


ROMANS: Most important day in trade history ever. The administration says, now, speaking of the North American trade deal, it may have a snag just days after assigned. Mexico is angry over a clause that will see U.S. Labor Inspectors head south of the border. A House vote to approve the deal is expected as early as Thursday. The USMCA, that's the new NAFTA, and the China trade deals helped lift markets. But we are seeing caution here. Something called the CBOE Skew index, otherwise known as the black swan index, jumped to its highest level in nearly 15 months last week. That indicator that investors are looking for protection in case the recent rally goes awry.

BRIGGS: Internal investigations are now under way at the U.S. Military and Naval academies after midshipmen and cadets were caught on ESPN's army/navy pregame show making a controversial hand gesture. Some are interpreting that gesture as a symbol of white nationalism. Officials at West Point say investigators are looking at the intent of the cadets in question. The anti-defamation league does consider, OK gesture a hate symbol in some cases.

ROMANS: The Hallmark channel abruptly reversing its decision to pull ads featuring same-sex couples and apologizing for removing them in the first place.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We helped a million couples plan their weddings.



ROMANS: Hallmark's decision to pull this ad for the online wedding planning company Zola sparked calls for viewers and advertisers to boycott Hallmark in the middle of the holiday movie season. Hallmark's CEO mike Perry admitted Sunday, the company made, quote, the wrong decision. Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. And anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are.

BRIGGS: The LGBT media watchdog, GLAAS, was one of the groups that had been pushing for the advertiser boycott. Now it's president is applauding the company's change of heart.



SARAH KATE ELLIS, GLAAD PRESIDENT: I'm thrilled. I think, it was off- brand for Hallmark channel to begin with. So, we were surprised by it when it came out of nowhere. They want to do the right thing. And I think that the quick reversal is the right thing. And now, we have to watch and make sure and see what they do in the future.


BRIGGS: Hallmark removed the ZOLA commercials after the conservative group one million moms launched a campaign against the ads. No comment yet from one million moms on Hallmark's reversal.

ROMANS: All right, a school resource officer North Carolina could face charges for this disturbing video. They removed the commercials after one million moms launched backlash against the ads.

A police officer in North Carolina could face charges for this. Disturbing video catches him slamming a child to the ground. Not once. But twice.


ROMANS: A direct plea overnight from the U.S. Special envoy to North Korea.



STEVE BIEGUN, U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA: It is time for us to do our jobs. Let's get this done. We are hear. And you know how to reach us.


ROMANS: Steve Biegun urging North Korea to resume nuclear talks as it ratchets up pressure on the U.S. to make concessions. But Pyongyang's latest veiled threat and insults, maybe making a quick deal all but impossible. CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us live from Seoul with the very latest, Paula? PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, Biegun also said

that the U.S. doesn't have a deadline. Saying that they only have a goal. Now, that's in direct response to the fact that North Korea has this self-imposed deadline. They said, they have given the U.S. until the end of the year to change their attitude, to come up with something new in negotiations or North Korea will choose a new path. Now, we also heard from Steve Biegun, saying it doesn't have to be this way. We're very aware that in the next several days we could see some kind of provocation from North Korea.

But they are ready to talk. So, we know that he is here in the region today. He's here tomorrow potentially, as well, before he heads to Japan. So, there is some time to maybe have talks with North Korea and certainly, we know, that Biegun has made it very clear to his counterparts that he knows, they know how to reach him and he is ready to talk.

We also though, the fact is, we have had over the last two weekends, these tests from North Korea, believe to be a rocket engine tests. And we know also that the head of the military has been speaking through state-run media, saying they have learned to priceless information from those tests, talking about that they can use it for developing another strategic weapon to fight against the nuclear threat of the United States. So, at the same time as you have Steve Biegun saying they are ready to talk, you do have a lot of rhetoric and of course those physical tests from North Korea on the other side. Christine?

ROMANS: Paula, thank you so much for that. Clearly, one of the president's -- thank you, one of the president's big priorities is, you know, getting some kind of a deal with North Korea has been trouble.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead here, the new Miss World is crowned. And her victory makes history.



BRIGGS: Two illegal streaming sites broken up by the FBI. One of them had more subscribers and content than Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. Dale Polo and Luis Vilarino, excuse me have pleaded guilty to copyright infringement for operating Istreamitall with roughly 118,000 TV episodes and 11,000 movies and Jetflix, and illegal TV streaming service. Polo urge Istreamitall members to cancel their license services in favor of pirated content.

ROMANS: All right, we warned you this video we are about to show you is going to be a little bit tough to watch. This is disturbing surveillance video shows a school resource officer in North Carolina, picking up a child, slamming him to the ground twice. After the 11- year-old is thrown down a second time, the officer yanks him up and continues to walk. The incident really hit home for the Vance County sheriff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was stunned and I was shocked. Seeing a child

that small reminded me of one of my grandchildren.


ROMANS: And that sheriff telling a local station, the child was not hospitalized but he has a bump on his head. The officer has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation. The district attorney says, the officer used inappropriate force. A decision on charges could come this week.

BRIGGS: Through the fog, euphoria on the gridiron. A welcome distraction in Newtown Connecticut on the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre. The Newtown high school football team rallying in the closing seconds to win the state championship. Quarterback, Jack Street connecting on a 36 yard touchdown pass with no time left to Reilly Ward to defeat Derian 13-7. Newtown last won the title in 1992. They were honored last night during halftime of NBC's Sunday night football.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- 2019 is, Jamaica.




ROMANS: Jamaica's Toni-Ann Singh crowned Miss World and she makes history in the process, the 23-year-old Singh graduate from Florida State University, she has degrees in Psychology in women's studies and she plans to go to med school. Her win means for the first time ever, the titles for the top five beauty pageants in 2019, Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA, were all won by women of color.

All right, for one night, Grease was the word again.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me about it, stud.


ROMANS: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John re-creating their iconic Grease characters, Danny and Sandy in costume for the first time in 40 years. They appeared in West Palm Beach for a movie sing-a-long and Q and A session. Newton-John appearing in her good girl outfit, while Travolta wear his leather jacket.

And Newton-John later changed into her iconic black leather jacket and pants for the Q and A. Now, that's the jacket that an unidentified fan bought to benefit her cancer charity. And then gave it back to her. Newton-John, battling cancer for the third time. What a great moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of big catches down the stretch. And a run to the end zone. It is caught, outside the arm of --



BRIGGS: Giant's fans may have seen the last of Eli Manning in person. Their two-time Super Bowl MVP, throwing for 283 yards and two touchdowns, cover up 3 interceptions, what might have been his final home start. He was pulled in the final moments of a 36-20 win over Miami to a standing ovation from the crowd. His wife and children waiting for him in the tunnel. He got the game ball in the locker room. And Manning said he has not said publicly whether he plans to retire. What a great moment, there it is, for dad. One can assume that's probably his last game, though, at Giants stadium. Congratulations to you.

ROMANS: All right. Senate Republicans want a short impeachment trial. But minority leader Chuck Schumer is already outlining which witnesses he wants to call. How an overnight report from the House Judiciary could change the whole equation.