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Schumer Wants Witnesses At Trial; Senate GOP Leader Coordinating With White House; Six Members Of Rep. Van Drew's Staff Resign; 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; Final Democratic Debate Of 2019 Set For Thursday Night; COP25 Climate Summit Ends In Disappointment; Harvey Weinstein Speaks Out; Chinese Officials Secretly Expelled; U.S. Troop Pullout Planned In Afghanistan; Winter Hits Across The Country; Remembering James Radio Kennedy; Bank Employee Stole $88K From Vault; Boeing May Curb 737 Max Jet Production; Jumanji Next Level Storms The Box Office; Frozen 2 Crosses $1 Billion Mark; Fans Prepare For Star Wars Finale; SNL Spoofs Christmas Dinner Politics. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 16, 2019 - 04:30   ET




DAVE BRIGGS, 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.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Fallout from the army/navy game. Both academies investigating after cadets and midshipmen were captured making a possible white power hand gesture.

BRIGGS: That kiss caused a lot of commotion for the Hallmark channel, now the CEO says, the decision to pull the ad was wrong. Welcome back to Early Start everyone, I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Happy Monday, I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour here in New York. It is all but certain the House will vote this week to impeach and remove 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 early action, Republican tactics are sparking claims from Democrats. 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 this, 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.


BRIGGS: Now overnight, the House Judiciary Committee released its 658 pages impeachment report, declaring President Trump has realized the framers' worst nightmare. The report argues the president committed crimes including bribery. A point that was not explicitly 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 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 the 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 it 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?


ROMANS: All right, Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us.

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.


BRIGGS: The Democrats final debate of 2019 set for Thursday. But candidates are looking to diversify the stage in 2020. Nine of the candidates are calling on the Democratic Party to ease the standards for qualifying in the January and February debates. Senator Cory Booker leading the charge. He failed to qualify for this night's event and is quick to point out those who did are all white with the exemption of Andrew yang.

ROMANS: He and another candidates wants the DNC to use polling or fund-raising thresholds, currently both are required. DNC Chairman Tom Perez has already decided the January debate will continue to require both. He tells The New York Times, he believes that everything the committee has done has been completely fair and transparent. Meantime, all even Democrats who qualified for this week's debate at Loyal Marymount University in Los Angeles, they are threatening to boycott, if an ongoing union dispute at the venue is not resolved.

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's rocked global markets for more than a year.

On Friday, Washington and Beijing announced 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 saying this is another major Trump victory.


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: Now, speaking of the North American trade deal, there is still a little snag here just days after it was signed. Mexico is angry over a clause that will see U.S. Labor Inspectors head south of the border to enforce labor (inaudible) in Mexico. A House vote to approve the deal is expected as early as Thursday. Now, the USMCA, and the China trade deals helped lift markets. Recession fears are largely on hold for now, but there is some caution. There's this index known as the black swan, jumped to its highest level in over a year. That indicates 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 to the intent of the cadets in question. The anti-defamation league does consider the OK gesture a hate symbol in some cases. CNN has decided not to show the gesture in question.

ROMANS: All right, bruised feelings and very little progress at the end of the global U.N. climate summit in Madrid. The goal was to hammer out the rules of the 2015 Paris climate accord. Instead, the 12 day gathering dragged on for two extra days. The friction demonstrates a huge disconnect between the world's biggest polluters, highlighted by pleas from young people from around the world.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the voice of the dying children, displaced women and people suffering in the hands of climate crisis created by rich countries.


ROMANS: Negotiators tried to salvage a rule book for cutting greenhouse gas emissions but most observers, scientists and climate activists, called the resulting agreement a monumental failure with watered-down language, delaying action on urgent items until next year.

BRIGGS: 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.



BRIGGS: Hallmark's decision to pull this ads for the online wedding planning company Zola sparked calls for viewers and advertisers to boycott the channel in the middle of the holiday 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. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are.

ROMANS: The LGBT media watchdog, GLAAD, 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.


ROMANS: So, Hallmark removed the ZOLA commercials after the conservative group, One million moms launched a campaign against those ads. No comment yet from One million moms on Hallmark's reversal.

BRIGGS: Harvey Weinstein is speaking out publicly weeks before his sex crimes trial. The disgraced Hollywood producer telling the New York Post, he is a, quote, forgotten man. Weinstein claims he has been a pioneer for women in the film industry. He tells the Post quote, he made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker and I'm talking about, 30 years ago. I'm not talking about now, when its (inaudible), 23 women who came forward to report Weinstein's sexual misconduct had this response. Quote, he says in a new interview, he doesn't want to be forgotten. Well, he won't be. He will be remembered as a sexual predator and abuser who took everything and deserves nothing.

ROMANS: To grab that copy of the New York Post, you can see the front page, they call it Whine-stein.

BRIGGS: Whine Stein, there it is.

ROMANS: You know, the forgotten man, please.

BRIGGS: And no one is feeling any sympathy. ROMANS: NO. All right, 40 minutes past the hour. Two Chinse embassy

officials secretly expelled by the U.S. for entering a sensitive military base. CNN is live in Beijing.



BRIGGS: Two Chinese embassy officials have been secretly expelled by the United States. The New York Times reports the officials entered a sensitive military base in Norfolk, Virginia, without permission. For the latest, let's bring in David Culver, live in Beijing. David, good morning, what are we learning?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Dave. Good morning to you. Well, within the past couple of hours, we heard from China's foreign ministry on this. Their spokesperson saying that they have formally lodged complaints with U.S. Representatives. They go on to say, we strongly urge the U.S. to correct its mistakes, revoke relevant decisions and protect Chinese diplomat's legitimate rights.

Now, all of this is stemming from The New York Times report that the U.S. secretly expelled those two Chinese diplomats, accusing them of essentially of trespassing in a sensitive military base. The times said that this happened back in September at a base near Norfolk, Virginia. The two Chinese officials and their spouses reportedly drove their car up to the front gate, were told they did not have permission to enter and to continue through to then turn around and leave.

That's pretty standard at military bases. But the paper says the officials instead proceeded to drive further on to the base and were eventually stopped when fire trucks blocked the roadway. The Chinese officials reportedly said at the time that they didn't understand the guards' English instructions and simply got lost.

Now the Times said that U.S. officials believe at least one of the Chinese officials was an intelligence officer, operating under diplomatic cover. So, the following month in October, the U.S. State Department ruled out new procedures for Chinese diplomats living in or traveling to the U.S. They're now required to notify the State Department if they plan to meet with local or state officials or even if they visit educational or research institutions.

The State Department made the changes to -- in their words, level the playing field with China. They say U.S. diplomats who are operating here in China face multiple restrictions. Instead of having this simply notify if they want to have a meeting with officials. The State Department says diplomats here need to be granted permission to meet with Chinese officials here, which they say is often denied. Dave? Christine?

BRIGGS: Dave Culver, live for us, 5:47 there -- p.m. in Beijing. Thank you, David.

ROMANS: All right. The Trump administration getting set to announce a long-anticipated drawdown of about 4,000 troops from Afghanistan. Between 12,000 and 13,000 U.S. troops are currently there, serving in the 18-year war, 2,300 have died. There's currently a diplomatic push to renew peace talks with the Taliban. Since 2001, the U.S. has spent nearly $133 billion on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, a fraction of the estimated $2 trillion the U.S. Military operations have cost.

BRIGGS: The Chinese state broadcaster pulled a highly anticipated arsenal premiere league soccer match from its schedule after an arsenal player criticized China's treatment of its Muslim's (inaudible) minority. (Inaudible) may suit (inaudible). Posted a message on the Chinses social media platform Wavo saying, in part, that China, quote, Korans are burned, mosques were closed and religious scholars were killed one by one. Chinses officials in websites expressed outraged saying (inaudible), has no right to interfere in China's domestic affairs. Arsenal said that (inaudible) remarks were his personal opinion and club policy is to stay out of politics.

ROMANS: All right. If I had a dollar for every time that I heard of meddling in internal affairs. The Chinse do not like that.

BRIGGS: The NBA knows a thing or two about that.

ROMANS: All right, 40 minutes past the hour. Topping the box office, Jumanji Next level, makes the blockbuster weekend debut. CNN Business is next.



BRIGGS: Winter weather across the heartland. Nearly 40 million people under some type of advisory from the Rockies to the mid-Atlantic. I-70 blocked or closed in several locations by accidents and weather conditions in Missouri and Kansas. Near Greenwood, Nebraska, three people died, four injured in a weather-related crash on I-80. There's also a risk of severe weather today for 10 million people in the southeast. Here's meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Good morning, guys. A lot of weather to be had across the country today and even notice across the Gulf Coast. Some severe weather here along a frontal boundary where an enhanced risk is in place, which on a scale of one to five is a three. And it includes cities such as Jackson and work your way just into western areas of Alabama there.

Enough of the risk in place, for not long strong winds and some large hail and maybe a few possibilities of tornadoes across that region. But, again, the active weather skirts off towards the east. A very quick mover here. So, expecting some wintery weather across portions of Missouri, Illinois and certainly into the Ohio valley. Parts of New England, as well.

But notice much of this is generally two to four inches. A few isolated pockets where we could see more than four to six inches. But a 1700 miles stretch of land, stretching out of say, Eastern New Mexico and Colorado, all the way into areas of New England, where winter weather advisories and alerts have been prompted.


And of course, unfortunately here for New York City, temps just a little too warm to support much in the way of snow showers. It may be as you'll see a flurry mix in but highs on Tuesday climb up to about 40 degrees. And notice, it's going to hovers around that range and then drops off sharply with some colder air coming in as we approach this weekend. Still, though, a warming trend, into the weekend, across the northeast. Guys?


ROMANS: All right. Pedram, thank you so much for that.

The man known for his inspiring relationship with a South Carolina football program has died. James Kennedy earned the nickname Radio in the mid 1960's when he began to show up at TL Hannah's football field, with a transistor radio. He was intellectually disabled. He became a fixture at practices. Coaches and players eventually embraced and cared for him. The relationship was immortalized in a 2003 film. Kennedy died early Sunday morning surrounded by his family. He was 73.

BRIGGS: A bank employee from Charlotte arrested by the FBI, for stealing $88,000 from the bank's vault. The suspected in-House crook might have gotten away with it, if he didn't post the evidence on Facebook. The 29-year-old Orlando Henderson was so impressed with his newfound wealth and lifestyle, he shared photos of himself holding stacks of cash and posing with a new Mercedes he purchase by allegedly falsifying bank documents. Henderson is facing a range of charges including two counts of fraud and 19 counts of theft and embezzlement.

ROMANS: All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Shares in Boeing under pressure in premarket trade. It is considering pulling back production of the troubled 737 Max. Boeing could make that call as early as after the market close today. CNN is hearing that from a source familiar with the decision-making process. Boeing could either suspend production altogether or further reduce it. Boeing left a meeting with the FAA last week with the impression that it's 737 Max Jet would not be cleared to fly by the end of the month.

A gigantic opening for Jumanji.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does everybody keep dropping from the sky?


ROMANS: The latest installment from the franchised the Next Level starring Dwayne the Rock Johnson and Kevin Hart raked in an estimated 60 million bucks in North America. Speaking of sequels, Frozen 2, yes, was there any doubt? It broke the billion-dollar mark at the global box office. The latest Disney film this year to make $1 billion. Avengers, end game, The lion king, Captain Marvel, and Aladdin have all hit that milestone. Good year for Bob Iger and his team. And there could be another one just around the corner. Oh, yes, this one, the finale of the latest Star Wars trilogy opens Friday.

BRIGGS: We have a lot of movies to catch up on, Romans.

ROMANS: I know. We have to make reservations for them. They are like, some of them are selling out.

BRIGGS: All right. In case you missed it, Saturday Night Live tackled divided Christmas dinner politics and Greta Thunberg's clash with President Trump in its cold open.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so happy everyone flew here for the holidays. And I'm even more happy that they did it, they're impeaching Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they did it. They're impeaching Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. It's a disgrace. What crime did he even commit?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I guess, the crime of being an alpha male who actually gets things done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just asking. You don't think Bad Boys 3 is going to be good or not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate to say this, but can we please talk about politics instead?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you mean how Trump is definitely getting impeached and then definitely getting re-elected? I'm good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just don't understand who on earth could vote for Trump after this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How could anyone not vote for Trump after this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think is going to get voted off of the singer next week?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Greta Thunberg and I also have a Christmas message. In 10 years, this snowman won't exist. He will be a puddle. So Merry, may be our last Christmas to all, and Donald Trump, stepped to me. And I'll come at you like a plastic straw comes for a turtle. I can't believe I am saying this to a 70-year-old man, but grow up.


ROMANS: Plastic straw for the turtle. BRIGGS: (Inaudible) got range. Politics-free dinner table for me.


ROMANS: Oh, yeah. I mean, keep your elbows and your politics off the table.

BRIGGS: Absolutely. All right. Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your Monday. For our U.S. viewers Early Start continues, right now.

Senate Democrats want witnesses called in an impeachment trial, setting up a battle with the GOP this week.

ROMANS: Fallout from the army/navy game. Both academies investigating after cadets and midshipmen were captured making a possible white power hand gesture.




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



BRIGGS: That kiss caused a lot of commotion for the Hallmark channel.