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EARLY START

Protesters Withdraw From Baghdad Embassy; North Korea May Resume Nuclear Weapons Testing; Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Asks For Immunity From Corruption Charges. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 2, 2020 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00]

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Demonstrators at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. But this could be the start of a longer protest campaign.

Thousands of angry supporters of an Iran-backed militia tried to storm the embassy. They were protesting deadly U.S. airstrikes launched in response to the death of a U.S. contractor in a rocket attack.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Now, the protesters managed to do some serious damage at the embassy -- some rooms left charred. Remember, this is one of the most fortified American embassies on earth.

Iraqi security forces have regained control of the area but a spokesman for the militia group that organized the demonstrations says, quote, "America should have received the message" and the embassy protests were only a, quote, "first step."

The embassy says all public consular services are suspended until further notice.

Senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is live for us in Baghdad. Tell us what to expect here today.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that group, Kataib Hezbollah, that is the one who made up the bulk of those protesters and also the group that was targeted by the U.S., is continuing their protests in a different location. And they're saying that they're giving the Iraqi Parliament an undetermined amount of time to resolve this within the Iraqi political and legal framework because they still want to see America out.

And this really plays into perhaps the bigger picture here and that is the proxy battle unfolding between Washington and Tehran that is still very, very tense. You have all sort of rhetoric, tweets being traded between President Trump and Trump administration officials. And on the other side, Iranian senior leadership as well -- almost as if each side was trying to dare the other to take the next step.

But, of course, any escalation from either side is going to have devastating consequences, not to mention the potential to quite possibly draw the U.S. into yet another protracted war in the Middle East, which is something that would have devastating consequences across the entire region.

But what happened over the last two days is not something that should be relegated to the shadows. The very fact that this group of people was able to march straight through all these checkpoints, right up to the gate of the U.S. embassy is significant, in and of itself, and perhaps goes to show not just how powerful the group is within Iraq, both militarily and politically, but also just how far Iran's tentacles also stretch.

ROMANS: This was caught off-guard here. This is one of the most secure locations for U.S. personnel in the world. To see those pictures of burning rooms in there certainly troublesome.

Arwa Damon for us in Baghdad, thank you.

Note that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has postponed a planned trip to Ukraine -- it was supposed to start tomorrow -- to deal with those developments in Baghdad.

JARRETT: And another potential international crisis is developing in North Korea. Kim Jong Un declaring his country should no longer feel bound by a self-imposed halt on nuclear weapons development and that the world will witness a new strategic weapon in the near future.

President Trump is trying to remain optimistic. But listen to Joseph Yun, Trump's former special representative for North Korea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: Kim is definitely, definitely playing Trump. President Trump saying that Kim signed a deal for the denuclearization -- well, not so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Let's get the latest on all of this from our David Culver, live in Hong Kong -- David.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Laura. Well, it's a new year but we're back to what is old and rather alarming rhetoric.

Kim Jong Un's remarks to his top officials, they reflect his anger and perhaps even more concerning, his desperation. He is essentially saying that because the U.S. will not bend on easing sanctions that North Korea will now leave open the possibility that they could resume nuclear and long-range missile testing.

This comes after two years of summitry and diplomacy. What was a glimmer of hope in establishing a denuclearized Korean peninsula, all of that seems to have reversed course.

And yet, despite the increased tensions, President Trump still trying to convey that he and Kim have, in his words, a good relationship -- even saying this week that he thinks Kim is a man of his word. Maybe there's something we're not seeing because the words and recent actions out of North Korea, in particular, those satellite images that show movement in and around past ICBM test sites -- well, they suggest that Kim does not feel the same way.

In his remarks to his top officials, Kim reiterated over and over how the sanctions are crushing North Korea, that they are struggling, and that's where this desperation comes in. He said if the U.S. abuses the dialogue between the two countries that they will pay for the pains of the North Korean people.

Now, it is true that North Korea and Kim, they also put out this dramatic wording just to see how the world, especially the U.S., might respond. But given this increased pressure North Korea is feeling with these sanctions Laura, the concern is that they will be motivated now to act drastically.

[05:35:04]

JARRETT: They've come a long way since the president said he and Kim were -- had fell in love.

David, thank you for that reporting.

CULVER: All right.

ROMANS: All right, 35 minutes past the hour.

Why were firefighters in Detroit posing in front of a burning home, next?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JARRETT: President Trump facing twin foreign policy crises as 2020 begins. The U.S. face-off with Iran escalating to a dangerous new level. Protesters stormed the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad in response to U.S. airstrikes on Iran-backed militia forces. And, Kim Jong Un's diplomatic bromance with President Trump wearing thin. The North Korean dictator warning he would soon reveal a new strategic weapon.

ROMANS: What does this mean for the president -- President Trump and his 2020 rivals?

Joining us live, "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin, a CNN political analyst. Good morning. Happy New Year, Josh.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good morning. Happy New Year.

ROMANS: David Sanger, in "The New York Times," writes this. He says, "Both the Iranians and the North Koreans seem to sense the vulnerability of a president under impeachment and facing reelection, even if they are often clumsy as they try to play those events to their advantage."

Do you agree these two flashpoints maybe show a vulnerability or a perceived vulnerability from those two regimes at the White House? ROGIN: Yes, absolutely.

[05:40:00]

I think what both of these regimes have realized is that for President Trump, it's not really about getting these deals. It's about not having these processes fail. He wants to -- if he can't, you know, have a lot of foreign policy successes to run on to at least say that he's working on these problems.

And so what they're both trying to do is to deny him the ability to say that everything is going OK, so they have different strategies to do that. With North Korea, it's about shooting up missiles. With Iran, it's about attacking our embassy. But either way, they want to force the president's hand and get him to make a decision and hopefully, a concession.

Now, what they aren't in control of is how the president operates. And, President Trump has a knack for not doing things strategically and that's why we don't predict that he's going to necessarily concede to either one of these powers. But at the same time, because it's an election year, we never really know what he's going to do.

JARRETT: You know, Josh, it's one thing to make threats -- to talk a big game. But from Kim Jong Un's perspective -- I mean, wouldn't he want to kind of play it cool right now? If he actually was to do anything, that would be the end of everything --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- and Trump would have to then respond. So isn't the smarter, longer play to sort of hold off?

ROGIN: Right. I think what you're seeing is that we've put both of these regimes, the North Korean regime and the Iranian regime, under extreme pressure, OK, and they would hold off if they could but they are both getting desperate. And with the Iranians, we've crushed their economy with sanctions, and with the North Koreans, pretty much the same story.

So they're in a position where they're fighting for their survival. And for the North Koreans, especially, that survival means having an enemy in the United States, showing their people that they're advancing their own programs, and maybe even doing something reckless to make sure that the United States and the international community is taking them seriously.

So, that's the problem with these economic escalations is that you never know when they're going to tip over into an actual hot war.

ROMANS: What's your best sense of how the president will play this? I mean, because American foreign policy is set by one person and that's the President of the United States, clearly, and it -- you know, on North Korea and on Iran.

Is he going to be tough on these two players heading into the election year? Does that make him look strong and make him look presidential? Or is he going to continue on this sort of de-escalation in the Middle East and I want to get out of these -- you know, the foreign sandbox?

ROGIN: Yes, it's really the perfect question Christine because when I talk to a lot of top administration officials they always say the same thing.

The administration, the bureaucracy, the national security professionals, they want to play it tough but they know that the president doesn't want to play it tough. They know that he wants to basically pretend that everything's OK. To keep doing what we're doing and hope that nothing really blows up, no pun intended. And that's the tension inside the administration.

So you're going to have what's a strong policy coming from the State Department and the Defense Department, and then you're going to have the president basically telling everybody there's nothing to see here.

Now, as missiles go up and embassies get attacked, that sort of tension becomes more and more untenable.

ROMANS: Yes.

ROGIN: But the president's going to ride that as long as he possibly can -- hopefully, for him, until the election -- and cross his fingers that that sort of tough policy with the sort of weak rhetoric doesn't actually result in a miscalculation that leads us to a really (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: Well, he's sending troops -- I mean, he's sending new troops, boots on the ground, to protect the American facility there in Baghdad.

You know, one wonders how caught off guard they were. I mean, we have pictures of rooms inside the American embassy burning. The president says this is not Benghazi and will never be Benghazi, but you have protesters inside the embassy burning.

ROGIN: Well, that's right. I mean, I think two things. One, they knew that this situation in Iraq was getting worse and worse and they knew that these attacks from Iran were getting worse and worse.

Now, did they move the troops to the embassy after the attacks? Sure. Could they have moved them there before the attack? Sure.

But basically what you see here is the intention of the president wanting to pull troops out of the Middle East -- and he says it all the time -- and then getting dragged back into the Middle East.

ROMANS: Yes.

ROGIN: So you can't have your cake and eat it, too. Either you're present and you're forward-deployed and you're ready for these things or you're not. And I think what you're seeing now is the president sort of realizing that you can try to leave the Middle East, but the Middle East doesn't want to leave you. ROMANS: Yes.

JARRETT: Clearly, not ready.

ROMANS: Well said.

All right, Josh Rogin. Nice to see you this morning. Happy New Year.

ROGIN: Same to you. Thank you.

JARRETT: Happy New Year, Josh.

Well, with the 2020 Democrats racing towards Iowa caucuses now just over a month away, Pete Buttigieg remains a fundraising force.

His campaign revealing it raised $24.7 million during the fourth quarter of 2019. The year-end haul tops the $19.2 million the former South Bend mayor raised in the third quarter and just about matches the $24.8 million he raked in during 2019's second quarter. The numbers further cementing Buttigieg's position as one of the top fundraisers in the Democratic field.

Meantime, Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign says it's reached five million individual donors. We expect more details from the Sanders camp later today.

ROMANS: All right.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell kicking off the 2020 session of the Senate tomorrow. It's unclear when President Trump's impeachment trial might begin.

[05:45:05]

CNN's Phil Mattingly reports McConnell's plan is to continue business as usual until the House sends over the articles of impeachment. Expect movement on judicial and executive branch nominations, but McConnell has no intention of doing anything impeachment-related until Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends the articles.

JARRETT: And there's now a second Republican senator raising questions about McConnell's strategy. This was Sen. Susan Collins speaking to Maine Public Radio.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I am open to witnesses. I think it's premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence that is presented and get the answers to the questions that we senators can submit through the chief justice to both sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: McConnell has been reluctant to allow the trial to include any witnesses whatsoever. But on Monday, on Fox, he was not ruling it out either. Last month, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was disturbed by coordination between McConnell and the White House over this impeachment trial.

We'll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirms he will ask Israel's Parliament to grant him immunity from corruption charges. In March, Israelis tried for the third time to elect a majority government. The immunity request by Netanyahu is expected to delay any trial until after the election.

Oren Liebermann live from Jerusalem with the latest developments -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's request for immunity sounded a heck of a lot like a campaign speech as he started talking late last night. He said his request for immunity is based on his will to lead the country for many years to come, to lead the will of the people.

[05:50:00]

And then he turned it into a political attack, saying his opponent's campaign is entirely not just Bibi. He says the immunity law is designed to protect politicians from political indictments and fabricated indictments. So there, he continues the attack on the justice system.

Well, his opposition rival Blue and White Party, headed by Benny Gantz, immediately attacked him filing the request for immunity, saying there are now two options in the upcoming election in March, either Netanyahu's interests or the national interests -- either the Kingdom of Netanyahu or the State of Israel. We have until March to see where these elections hold -- or go -- Israel's third election within 12 months.

What happens to Netanyahu's request for immunity? Well, at this point, it has to be heard by the Knesset House Committee. But there hasn't been a House Committee here in months since there is no functioning coalition, which means Netanyahu's request can't be heard and the legal proceedings against him are on hold.

Israel's political deadlock is now part of its legal deadlock -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Oren Liebermann for us in Jerusalem -- thanks.

JARRETT: Well, the new year begins with the passing of two iconic figures from the sports world.

David Stern was NBA commissioner for 30 years, presiding over the league's skyrocketing global growth. He died after a brain hemorrhage he suffered three weeks ago. He was 77 years old. And, Shaquille O'Neal among the NBA greats mourning his death, tweeting, quote, "Rest in peace, Mr. David Stern. The best commissioner to ever do it."

And this from Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. "Without David Stern, the NBA would not be what it is today. His vision and leadership provided me with the global stage that allowed me to succeed."

ROMANS: And baseball has lost one of its World Series legends, pitcher Don Larsen. He was 90. Larsen played for seven teams in 14 seasons.

But he famously pitched a perfect game for the Yankees in game five of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. It is the only perfect game in World Series history.

JARRETT: Well, some notable new laws to ring in the new year.

Marijuana now legal in Illinois. Anyone 21 or older can buy and possess it. Long lines stretched for blocks yesterday -- you can see there. Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton was among hundreds of early-morning customers lining up.

And, New York is the latest state to end its cash bail system for nearly all misdemeanors and non-violent felony cases. That could free thousands of incarcerated people from pretrial detention -- people who have not been convicted but can afford to pay to get out.

Oregon is the newest state to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores. Shoppers are now required to bring their own or pay a fee for paper bags.

And finally, law enforcement in Florida will start writing tickets for anyone caught texting and driving. A similar law goes into effect in Massachusetts later this year.

ROMANS: It makes sense.

All right.

Japanese prosecutors have raided the home of former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. Ghosn was living there while he was free on bail in Tokyo. He was facing trial for alleged financial misconduct before he fled to Lebanon.

Turkey's state media now reporting seven people have been detained in Istanbul on suspicion of helping Ghosn flee. "The Wall Street Journal" reports the escape was months in the making with the help of associates. Not clear how Ghosn was able to leave the country since his passports had supposedly been confiscated.

JARRETT: Some public health groups are not so happy with the president's plan to limit flavored e-cigarettes. The administration plans to ban most fruity or dessert-flavored e-cigarette cartridges, but not menthol or tobacco flavors. Groups like the American Lung Association tell "The Washington Post" the plan will not stop a surge in youth vaping and caves to the vaping industry during an election year.

The president has said the ban is not permanent and it's meant to allow for research before hopefully getting products back on the market.

ROMANS: All right.

The voice behind some classic "SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK!" songs in the 1970s has died.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK SHELDON, "SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK!" (Singing): I'm just a bill. Yes, I'm only a bill. And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Jack Sheldon voiced songs on several episodes of the children's' animated series, "SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK!" The veteran jazz musician also served as musical director on "THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW" for nearly two decades.

Jack Sheldon was 88.

JARRETT: Overnight, the NYPD beginning its enhanced security in Jewish communities following a series of anti-Semitic incidents in and around New York City. There have been 15 since December first, including one on New Year's Day.

New video from Christmas Eve shows a group attacking a 23-year-old Hasidic man, throwing a chair and punching him in the head.

ROMANS: Wow.

At a celebration in New Jersey marking the completion of Jewish learning, a Jewish -- many leaders expressed their concern.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't walk around with our eyes closed. People are scared, they're nervous. People are walking around with their eyes a little bit more open than usual.

At times like this people get very scared. They want to lower themselves under the ground and sort of reach out and hide. And I think the opposite is really what we need in our -- at this time. What we really need to do is shine, but shine with what the best of what humanity has to offer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:55:08] ROMANS: The family of Hanukkah stabbing victim Joseph Newman says doctors are not optimistic about his chances of regaining consciousness.

JARRETT: OK, we need to warn you the video you are about to see is very violent and disturbing. Police in Las Vegas are hoping to identify and find a woman caught on a home security video trying to flee from an attacker. They say she may have been kidnapped.

A Nest camera captured the woman frantically banging on a door shortly after midnight on New Year's night. Moments later, a man pursuing her grabs her and beats her and then forces her into a car. Police say the vehicle is believed to be a white Hyundai Sonata with a sunroof.

Crime Stoppers of Nevada is offering a cash award for help.

And a controversial photo of Detroit firefighters posing in front of this burning home is now under investigation. The picture was posted on Facebook Tuesday night. It was taken outside of a vacant home. The firefighters were commemorating a battalion chief's retirement, but Detroit's deputy fire official says disciplinary action will be taken.

ROMANS: Nobody in the house at the time but the optics not good --

JARRETT: Clearly.

ROMANS: -- posing for a picture while the structure is burning.

Let's get a check on "CNN Business" this morning.

Taking a look at global markets, you can see European shares have opened higher here. Global stocks were boosted Thursday after China's central bank moved to improve economic growth by pumping $115 billion into the country's financial system.

The Tokyo Exchange is closed for a holiday.

On Wall Street right now, you have futures moving higher here. Stocks finished off the year and the decade on a high note. The Dow closed up 75 points Tuesday, the average gain more than 22 percent last year, making it the third-best year of the decade.

The S&P and the Nasdaq also up for the year -- big gains there. Look at that -- 28 percent and 35 percent gains, making it the second-best year of the decade for both of those averages.

All right, new year, new overtime rules for small businesses, meaning a pay raise for 1.3 million workers. The new rule kicked in January first, raising the standard salary level to $684 a week. That's just over $35,000 a year. So anyone making less than those levels, they have to be, by law, paid overtime when they work over 40 hours a week.

The jobs most likely to be affected are assistant managers for retailers, manufacturing companies, and restaurants. The rules will most likely have the bigger impact on small companies. They don't have the revenue streams that the bigger businesses do so it will be an added cost for them.

But there was a definite need for an update. The last time these thresholds were changed was 2004.

How would you like to lose $10 billion and still be the world's richest person? Jeff Bezos held on to the top spot of the 2019 "Bloomberg" billionaire index with an estimated net worth of $115 billion.

Trailing closely behind Bezos is Bill Gates, with an estimated net worth of $113 billion. Gates briefly took the top spot in November after Amazon's profit fell.

The only woman, by the way, on the top 10, Julia Flesher Koch, the widow of conservative businessman David Koch. She's worth $62 billion.

JARRETT: That's not bad.

Well, 2020 is off to a very good start for a Michigan waitress, Danielle Franzoni. A couple left her a tip of $2,020 on a $23.00 check.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIELLE FRANZONI, SERVER, THUNDER BAY RIVER RESTAURANT, ALPENA, MICHIGAN: Because of this, my kids have a future and I have a home. It's a big deal. It's a really big deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Danielle needed that break desperately. She's a 31-year-old single mother of three and a recovering opioid addict who moved to Alpena from Detroit last year to start over.

The couple behind the gesture remains anonymous but it was inspired by the 2020 tip challenge circulating online.

ROMANS: It's certainly -- that's certainly nice. And a reminder, too, that $2,000 can be --

JARRETT: It goes a long way.

ROMANS: It can be a real -- I mean, people in America, many are living on a razor-thin margin there.

JARRETT: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us to start your new year. I'm Christine Romans. Nice to have you here. Happy New Year.

JARRETT: Happy New Year, Christine.

I'm Laura Jarrett. Some big, breaking news on the 2020 race. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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, January second, 2020.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Twenty twenty, Berman.

BERMAN: Happy New Year.

HARLOW: Happy New Year. Good to be next to you.

BERMAN: What did you do for the new year?

HARLOW: I was in bed before midnight.

BERMAN: Yes. I took a healthy dose of antibiotics, you know --

HARLOW: And you're all better.

BERMAN: -- and so, I'm all better.

We do begin with breaking news in the race for president. First of all, can we acknowledge that the 2020 race is now finally taking place in 2020? It is here and this morning it has a distinct Brooklyn accent.

CNN just learned that Sen. Bernie Sanders raised a huge amount of money last quarter. That number released just moments ago -- $34.5 million. That's $34 million in the three months that began with a heart attack.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: And I want you to compare that to a good quarter from now- former South Bend.

END