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EARLY START

House to Vote on Impeachment Against President Trump This Week; Six Members of Congressman Van Drew's Staff Resign; China Suspends New Tariffs Amid New Trade Truce. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 16, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We help annoying couples plan their weddings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: That kiss start a lot of commotion for the hallmark channel. Now, the CEO says the decision to pull the ad was wrong. Good morning, everyone, welcome to EARLY START, I'm Dave Briggs --

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: I'm Christine Romans, it is Monday, December 16th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the East, seven weeks until the Iowa caucuses. It is all but certain though the house will vote this week to impeach and remove President Trump. Before the case goes to the Senate, Minority leader Chuck Schumer is laying out his vision for the Senate's trial.

He wants -- 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.

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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't in any doubt --

GRAHAM: 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): Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House counsel.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The constitution describes a special oath for the senators when they sit -- there's a trial and impeachment, they have to pledge to do impartial justice. And here you have the majority leader of the Senate, in effect the foreman of the jury, saying he's going to work hand-in-glove with the defense attorney.

And that's a violation of the oath that they're about to take, and it's a complete subversion of the constitutional scheme.

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BRIGGS: Overnight, the House Judiciary Committee released its 658- page 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 articles of impeachment. Part of the Republicans defense is the president is -- no actual crimes were committed.

Meantime, new polls out over the weekend show little to no movement in public opinion, following the house proceedings. Here's Jeremy Diamond at the White House.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: 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 the 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 the 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 Blair, the former National Security adviser John Bolton as well as Michael Duffey, an associate director for National Security programs at the National Security Council.

Duffey 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 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, thanks for that. Sources tell CNN a freshman Democratic lawmaker is planning to switch parties and become a Republican. Now, six members of Jeff Van Drew's staff have quit. In a letter, the staffers say they can no longer in good conscious 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: 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 a real sloppiness in the bureau's effort to obtain FISA warrants in 2016 to secretly conduct surveillance on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

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The Justice Department internal watchdog has determined the FBI was justified opening the investigation, and there was no political bias. But the Inspector-General found serious errors in the way the probe was conducted.

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CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Significant errors in the FISA process. And you say that it was handled in a thoughtful and appropriate way.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Yes, he is 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 enough to get a FISA. I was overconfident in those.

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ROMANS: Cue the president and his Twitter account, the president tweeting this, "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 blame his predecessor, insisting Inspector- General Horowitz was appointed by Obama, big credibility loss, Obama knew everything -- providing, as it's often the case, the president provided no proof to back up that claim.

BRIGGS: All right, coming up right here, school resource officer in North Carolina could face charges for this disturbing video. Resource officer slamming the boy to the ground, not once, but twice.

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ROMANS: Trade truce, China has scrapped new tariffs on U.S. goods with two countries pulling back from a trade war that has gripped global markets. On Friday, Washington and Beijing said they had finally reached the first phase of an elusive trade deal. China promises to buy more farm products, the U.S. will roll back some tariff rates, businesses want to see the fine print. The U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer claimed a major Trump victory.

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ROBERT LIGHTHIZER, TRADE REPRESENTATIVE, UNITED STATES: And 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.

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ROMANS: And that North American trade deal may have hit a snag just days after it was signed. Mexico angry over a clause, allowing U.S. labor inspectors into Mexican factories. A house vote to approve the USMCA is expected as early as Thursday. Now, global markets right now are mixed, one economist puts it this way, saying phase 1, that China deal, phase 1 pick low-hanging fruit. Now, for the hard part.

BRIGGS: Internal investigations are now under way at the U.S. military and Naval Academies after mid-shipmen and cadets were caught on "ESPN's" Army-Navy pre-game 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 into 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: Bruised feelings and very little progress at the end of a 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.

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HILDA FLAVIA NAKABUYE, CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVIST: I am the voice of the children, displaced women and people suffering at the hands of climate crisis created by rich countries.

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ROMANS: And 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: All right, coming up here, we'll talk a little sports as the Bills Mafia heading to the playoffs for just the second time this century. Andy Scholes has that story in the "BLEACHER REPORT" next.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We helped annoying couples plan their weddings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I Taylor would pick Zola --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: "Hallmark's" decision to pull the 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" CEO Mike Perry admitted Sunday that 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 distracts from this purpose is not who we are."

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

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SARAH KATE ELLIS, PRESIDENT, GLAAD: 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 to make sure and see what they do in the future.

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ROMANS: "Hallmark" removed the Zola commercials after the conservative group 1 Million Moms launched a campaign against the ads. No comment yet from 1 Million Moms on "Hallmark's" reversal.

BRIGGS: We're getting our first look at the video at the center of the Patriots latest filming scandal. Andy Scholes has more in the "BLEACHER REPORT". Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Yes, good morning Dave. You know, "Fox Sports" obtaining video shot by a Bengals security guard of the confrontation between him and the Patriots' video crew. And here's a portion that they played on "Fox NFL Sunday".

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is a piece you're filming on your advance scout?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, come on, guys. I don't see the advance scout in this footage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's not. We were trying to get some field perspective like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not the field --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And the Patriots video crew then said they could delete the eight minutes they shot of the sideline. But Bengals' security guard said the damage was done. The Patriots independent video crew was credentialed at the Browns-Bengals game last week to do a special on their scout. In a statement, the Patriots' videographer said they shot the field to show what the scout would be looking at through his binoculars.

Now, Bill Belichick has insisted that he and the coaching staff had nothing to do with this. The NFL continues to investigate -- now, the Patriots easily beat the Bengals yesterday, 34-13.

[05:20:00]

All right, Sunday night football, the Buffalo Bills hold on for victory over the Steelers. Pittsburgh had one last chance to tie the game late. But Devlin Hodges' pass, picked off, he threw four interceptions in the game. Buffalo clinched the playoff berth with the 17-10 win.

All right, the fans at MetLife Stadium haven't had much to cheer about this season, but they did yesterday. Giants fans giving Eli Manning a standing ovation as he left the field for what likely will be the final time as a Giant. Eli's parents were in the stands cheering him on as well.

The two-time Super Bowl MVP throwing two touchdowns in Giants win over the Dolphins. Eli has not yet said whether or not he plans to retire after this season. All right, the upset of the weekend goes to the Atlanta Falcons. Eight seconds to go, down five, Matt Ryan hits Julio Jones. Looks like the Niners kept him out of the end zone.

But after review, it's ruled a touchdown. Now, the Falcons would then actually score again, seconds later, as the Niners just tossed the ball around on the kickoff. A very wild ending there in Santa Clara as the Falcons end up with the 29-22 win.

All right, what do you do when it's pouring snow before your game? I know, you have a snowball fight of course. These players here having some fun before taking on the Broncos, and they delivered a win for all those fans who sat through that snow, beating Denver 23-3. And finally, not a happy day in Oakland.

The Raiders losing their final game in the city to the Jaguars. Now, the fans in the black hole did not go quietly. They started throwing garbage on the field at the end, and they boo-ed the players as they left the field for the final time. Multiple fans were arrested. Just an ugly scene there, Dave, as the Raiders head to play in Las Vegas next season.

BRIGGS: Yes, life-long Broncos fan here, but I was a bit sad to see Oakland call a season -- end that way. That was --

SCHOLES: Yes --

BRIGGS: Punishment, a bummer --

SCHOLES: Stuff --

BRIGGS: For all the football fans in the bay area being how that Niners game ended. Andy Scholes, thank you my friend.

ROMANS: All right --

SCHOLES: Right --

ROMANS: Thanks, Dave, thanks, guys. Senate Republicans want a short impeachment trial. But Minority leader Chuck Schumer, he's starting outlining which witnesses he wants to call. How an overnight report from House Judiciary could change the whole equation.

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ROMANS: We warn you, the video you're about to watch may be tough to view. This is disturbing surveillance video, it shows a school resource officer in North Carolina picking up a child and slamming him to the ground twice. After the 11-year-old is thrown down that second time, the officer yanks him up and continues to walk. The incident really troubling for Vance County sheriff.

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CURTIS BRAME, SHERIFF, VANCE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I was stunned, I was shocked. Seeing a child that small reminded me of one of my grandchildren.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: That sheriff telling a local station the child was not

hospitalized, he has a bump on his head. The officer has been placed on -- has now 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: A volunteer rescue worker killed in a fall while searching for a missing hiker in southern California. Thirty two-year-old Timothy Staples was part of the West Valley search and rescue team in San Bernardino. He was looking for missing 52-year-old hiker Sree Mokkapati on Mount Baldy when he got separated from his partner on Saturday. The search for the missing hiker has been suspended while the operation is re-evaluated.

ROMANS: All right, an amber alert for two missing siblings from Jacksonville, Florida, 6-year-old Braxton Williams and his 5-year-old sister Bri'ya were last seen playing in their front yard at 11:30 Sunday morning. The Jacksonville sheriff's office is searching the area with canines, drones, air units, dive teams. Braxton was last seen wearing a red sweater with blue jeans, Bri'ya was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt with colorful writing on the front and black leggings.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go to -- 2019 is Jamaica!

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BRIGGS: Jamaica's Toni-Ann Singh crowned Miss World and making history in the process. The 23-year-old Singh graduated from Florida State University with degrees in psychology and women studies and plans to attend medical school. Her win means for the first-time ever, the titles for the top five beauty pageants in 2019, that's Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA were all won by women of color.

ROMANS: For one night, "Grease" was the word again.

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(MUSIC)

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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. Here it is. They appeared in West Palm Beach for a movie "Sing Along" in a Q&A session. Newton-John wearing there, her good girl outfit, Travolta wore his leather jacket.

And Newton-John later changed back into her iconic black leather jacket and some pants for the Q&A. OK, so that jacket, that's the jacket that an unidentified fan bought to benefit her cancer charity. And then, he gave it back to her. That just makes me tear up. This whole story makes me tear up. Newton-John is battling cancer for the third time. Isn't that amazing?

BRIGGS: It is awesome. It's a movie that oddly stood the test of time.

ROMANS: It sure did.

BRIGGS: The --

ROMANS: All right --

BRIGGS: The dynamic there, it's on.

ROMANS: Oh, yes, through a prism, really.

BRIGGS: Yes --

ROMANS: EARLY START continues right now. Senate Democrats want witnesses called in an impeachment trial, setting up a battle with the GOP.

BRIGGS: Fallout from the Army-Navy game, both academies investigating after cadet's and mid-shipmen were captured making a possible white power hand gesture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I do!

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That kiss caused a lot of commotion for the "Hallmark Channel". Now, the CEO says the decision to pull that ad was wrong. Good morning, this is EARLY START, this Monday morning, I'm Christine Romans, good morning!

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs, good morning, everyone, 5:29 Eastern Time. We start in the nation's capital this morning.

END