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Today: House to Lay Out Impeachment Rules; Boeing to Suspend 737 MAX Production; Tornadoes Tear Through the South; Emotional Speech Leads to Big Donations. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 17, 2019 - 04:00   ET



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: How will tomorrow's vote to impeach the president play out? All eyes are on House committee laying out the game plan today.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The future of the Boeing 737 MAX is in serious doubt. Production will be suspended with no date to recertify that plane in sight.

BRIGGS: Three people are dead and damage widespread as gusts of tornadoes rip across the South.


JOE BURROW, HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER: I'm here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that, you know, go home to -- not a lot of food on the table.


ROMANS: The Heisman trophy winner gets emotional about his hometown. People got the message. Wait until you hear how.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

I'm Dave Briggs. Tuesday, December 17th. It is 4:00 a.m. here in New York.

We are 48 days to the Iowa caucuses, and we start in the nation's capital, where today marks the beginning of the end for impeachment proceedings in the House. Lawmakers on the brink of a momentous vote on two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abusing his power and obstructing a congressional investigation.

Today, House leaders plan to bring articles to the floor, setting up a historic final vote tomorrow.

Congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly with more from Capitol Hill. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Christine and Dave. Here we go. This is the end, more or less, of the impeachment effort in the House. This is the official start to what you're going see on the House floor tomorrow for those final votes on those two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

You've seen the closed door depositions. You've seen the hearings in the House Intelligence Committee in the House Judiciary Committee. You've seen the House Judiciary Committee kicked the articles out of the committee, along party line votes.

Today, you are going to see a meeting of the Rules Committee and why this is important, guys, and it will seem kind of in the weed and certainly divisive at times but this will structure the debate for the actual articles of impeachment on the House floor -- how long each side gets, who the managers will be, how it will be structured. Those are the things we'll find out today.

Obviously, everything leading up to tomorrow. The final floor vote on those two articles of impeachment supposed to split down party lines over the course of the last three or four days. You've seen the most at risk from House line Democrats coming out in favor of impeachment, kind of underscoring the fact that House leadership knows they will have the votes to pass articles of impeachment.

And the other thing you can be sure of, House Republicans remain very united, almost certain to all vote against the articles of impeachment. Basically, this is now set, this is now moving. Pay to attention to what happens today because it will tell you how it will play out on Wednesday -- guys.


ROMANS: Phil Mattingly, with some history.

Breaking overnight, Rudy Giuliani revealing details about his role getting Marie Yovanovitch removed as envoy to Ukraine. In an interview with "The New York Times", Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, confirms he briefed President Trump, quote, a couple of times earlier this year about Yovanovitch to set her removal in motion.

Now, according to "The Times", Giuliani told the president, Yovanovitch was hampering investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump and that she was impeding Giuliani's attempts to defend the president. No mention, no mention here of corruption in Ukraine.

BRIGGS: Yovanovitch is a 33-year veteran of the Foreign Service. She testified Giuliani orchestrated a smear campaign against her to have her recalled.


MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Shady interests in the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.


BRIGGS: Giuliani also further implicates Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He tells "The Times", after he briefed Mr. Trump, the president told him to either discuss it with Mike or turn it over to Mike. Pompeo has suggested he was unfamiliar with president Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine but he was on the July 25th call where President Trump raised the idea of investigating the Bidens.

ROMANS: All right. A devastating setback for Boeing, the company plans to suspend production of its 737 MAX fleet starting in January as it waits for this plane to be recertified. Now, this plane was grounded worldwide in March after two deadly crashes killed 346 people. That has caused major financial issues for Boeing. Right now, there are about 400 of these planes are in storage.

BRIGGS: Until last week, Boeing was hoping to get certification to fly again before the end of this year but the FAA shot down that idea. Boeing has been building 42 737 MAX jets a month since the grounding to provide hardship for its suppliers and layoffs for its workers.


The company stock price closed down more than 4 percent on Monday.

ROMANS: And you can bet you will see that Boeing production stop in GDP numbers next year quite frankly. You know, it once was as goes GM so goes the nation. It is as goes Boeing, so goes the nation.

It's such a big company, employs so many people, so many different tentacles and so many different parts of the American --

BRIGGS: All the suppliers also really impacted across the country.

ROMANS: All right. Lawmakers have agreed to ban the sale of tobacco sales to anyone under the age of 21, a sweeping new spending bill that will be released next week. According to multiple people involved in these talks, the plan repeals three health care taxes that were designed to pay for Affordable Care Act -- the medical device tax, the health insurance tax and Cadillac tax on high cost employer plans -- all face bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill.

And for the first time in decades, spending bill also includes $25 million for gun violence research. That's a big turning point.

BRIGGS: A fifth Obama cabinet official now lining up behind former President Joe Biden, vice president, excuse me. Mr. Obama remaining neutral on the Democratic nominee for now but former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has endorsed now Obama's VP. Lew follows former Secretary of State John Kerry, Obama's Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. All of them now lining up behind Biden.

And we're now just two days from the next Democratic debate. This one could be critical to voters just starting to pay attention. That is if the debate happens at all.

Jeff Zeleny with that that story in Washington.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christine and Dave, a consequential week for the field of Democratic candidates who are making their way to California for the final debate of the year in Los Angeles. Now, it's scheduled for Thursday night but there's a potential hitch. A union strike at Loyola Marymount University is still threatening to derail the debate. Seven candidates have all said they will kip if the labor strike is not resolved.

So, look for potential movement on that today. But the debate is shaping up to be a big one. A new poll out from Quinnipiac University shows that nationally Joe Biden is still in command of this race at 30 percent in this poll followed by Elizabeth Warren at 17 percent and Bernie Sanders at 16. Pete Buttigieg is at 9.

But the debate offers one last chance for candidates to meet before the end of the year. They have been sparring from afar increasingly and this is one of the frames. Are Democrats looking for a fighter like Warren and Sanders or a healer like Buttigieg, Biden or even Amy Klobuchar.

Now, the race has been overshadowed this week by the impeachment vote set for Wednesday. It will be overshadowed by the Senate trial in January, which is why this gathering on Thursday is so important -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much for that, Jeff Zeleny.

We've been telling you how America's economy is growing. It seems that's been driven by the nation's top 1 percent of the nation's counties. A third of U.S. economy output last year was generated by just 31 counties. That's according to data from the bureau of economic analysis first reviewed by Bloomberg.

Here it is laid out on a map -- those hot spots of economic growth in or near large cities mostly by the coasts. Let's zero in on Los Angeles County, $395 billion to overall U.S. GDP between 2001 and 2018. Manhattan added $340 billion for the same period.

The economic might of those counties are still growing even though the share of the overall population fell. That signals the economy is being concentrated in urban areas as economic output from more rural counties is dwindling.

BRIGGS: More than two dozen tornadoes tearing up the Deep South. At least three people have now been killed. Most of the tornadoes reported in Mississippi.

In Guntown, Mississippi, several homes and churches were damaged. No one was killed. The town's mayor calls that a blessing. There was one fatality reported in Louisiana killed. A woman in a mobile home killed in Vernon Parish. And in Alabama, a husband and his wife were killed on a road in Lawrence County.

At this hour, 1.1 million people remain under a tornado watch.

ROMANS: All right. The big pharma family accused of fueling the opioid crisis withdrew $10 billion from their company as the scandal was building. And it could be untouchable overseas.


BRIGGS: Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf sentenced to death for high treason. He was convicted in absentia on five treason charges in a special court. Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1989 and ran Pakistan as president from 2001 to 2008. The special court ruling is subject to appeal. Musharraf is currently in Dubai receiving medical treatment.

ROMANS: Trade negotiators from the U.S. and Mexico say their trade deal is a done deal, despite some last minute objections and complaints from Mexico about a labor provision in that bill.

CNN's Matt Rivers is in Mexico City.


MAX RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this has been a confusing couple of days here in Mexico to say the least surrounding this USMCA deal. What had looked to be a bit of a crisis in terms of getting this newly negotiated trade deal passed now appears to have been resolved.


So, how did we get here in the first place? Well, it was just last week that members of the Mexican, Canadian and U.S. governments signed this newly agreed to deal.

As a part of that deal, House Democrats in the United States were very concerned that new Mexican labor laws that were enacted as a part of this deal, well, the Democrats wanted to make sure they were enforced down here. So, as a part of the bill that was introduced in the House on Friday, last Friday, that would authorize ultimately the approval, ratification of the USMCA, there was specific language put in that bill that called for up to five labor attaches, Americans, to be based here in Mexico City to help monitor and enforce those newly enacted Mexican labor laws.

Well, Mexico's government saw that bill and said hold on that's a problem we didn't agree to that. We believe that if those five labor attaches were to come to Mexico, that would be a violation of our sovereignty, and that wasn't in the original deal. So, as a result, you had Mexico's chief negotiator for the USMCA fly to the United States, to Washington to meet with his counterpart in Washington during the day on Monday to try and get this ironed out and it appears it has been.

In a letter released on Monday afternoon by the U.S. trade representative, that letter said in part, quote, these personnel, referring to these labor attaches will not be labor inspectors and will abide by all relevant Mexican laws. Basically what the USTR is saying there is this was just a misunderstanding. We will respect your laws. We don't want to let you believe that we will be violating sovereignty and Mexico's chief negotiator for his part said for him, that's good enough.

We can see the U.S. House of Representatives vote on this deal as early as this week.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


BRIGGS: Matt, thanks.

After Purdue Pharma paid out hundreds of millions in opioid fines, its owners, the Sackler family, withdrew more than $10 billion from the company. A new audit in court documents showed withdrawals from 2008 to 2018 as the crisis was worsening for more than eight times as much as the previous decade. There's growing concern a large chunk the Sackler wealth may be held overseas and that would put it out of reach for plaintiffs suing them and Purdue for allegedly misleading doctors and patients about OxyContin. Purdue says the audit shows, quote, extreme transparency.

ROMANS: All right. Seventeen minutes past the hour.

The secret to a better world? Women -- so says former President Barack Obama.



BRIGGS: In California, some quick thinking Good Samaritans rescued a toddler and helped capture an AMBER alert suspect.

Officers moved into rest Victor Magana wanted in San Jose for stabbing his girlfriend and kidnapping their 2-year-old daughter. Hours later, alert customers at a gas station nearly 200 miles away on California's central coast spotted Magana's car and called police. Some also confronted him and physically pinned him down until officers arrived. The toddler's mother is in critical but stable condition.

ROMANS: A Mississippi man tried six times for the same killings can await his seventh trial from home. A judge ruling Curtis Flowers is eligible for bond. After spending 23 years in prison, Flowers had been tried six times for murder with each case resulting in a hung jury or convictions later vacated by higher courts. He's accused of capital murder in 1996 deaths of four people inside a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi. Flowers' bail is set at $250,000. BRIGGS: Former President Barack Obama believes the world would be a lot better if every country was led by a woman. On Monday, Mr. Obama told a Singapore audience he believes older leaders, particularly old men, need to get out of the way in order to solve problems. He says if women ruled every nation on earth for two years, we would see significant improvements in living standards and outcomes. Former president had over a dozen women in his cabinet.

ROMANS: All right. For a quarter a century, Mariah Carey's holiday hit "All I Want for Christmas is You" landing in the number one spot on the Hot 100. It's the first time the 25-year-old song reached the top spot.

Don't need to feel sorry for the self-proclaimed queen of Christmas. The song has earned Carey over $60 million in royalties. Ho, ho, ho.

I love that song.

BRIGGS: I love it. It's the greatest.

Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow's acceptance speech triggered over $300,000 in donations to hungry children in southeast Ohio. The LSU quarterback held back tears during his big moment as he talked about his hometown of Athens, Ohio.


BURROW: Coming from southeast Ohio, it's a very, very impoverished area and the poverty rate is almost two times the national average, and there's so many people there that don't have a lot.


And I'm up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that, you know, go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. And you guys up here too.



BRIGGS: Those words inspired Athens residents Will Drabold (ph) to create a fundraiser for residents living under the poverty line. He set a goal of $50,000. As of a short time ago, donations top $323,000 and still climbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For another might mark. Will he get it here? Yes!


BRIGGS: Not another Louisiana quarterback. Drew Brees taking his place in the history books. The future Hall of Fame quarterback breaking Peyton Manning's career touchdown cross border with that five-yard pass to Josh Hill, in last night's 34-7 trouncing of the Colts. Brees now has 541 career touchdowns. He went 29 of 30 breaking another record for completion percentage and 307 yards and four touchdowns.

Tom Brady just behind Brees with 538. Those two could be dueling for a few more years.

ROMANS: So, Drew Brees broke the record and threw another bomb later, right? So, he broke and he just --

BRIGGS: Yes, and he got at least another year to pad that record. Not clear about Tom Brady.

ROMANS: All right.

Twenty-six minutes past the hour.

How will history play out tomorrow? House committee is getting ready to lay out the ground rules for impeaching President Trump.