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EARLY START

Huge Anti-U.S. Protests In Iran; Trump Threatens Iraq If U.S. Troops Expelled; Coalition Fighting ISIS Stops Missions; Oil Prices Rise As U.S.-Iran Tensions Escalate; Three Americans Killed In Kenya Attack; Desperate Effort To Escape Australia Fires; Trump Won't Rule Out Releasing Airstrike Intel; White House Notifies Congress Of Deadly Airstrike; Saudis Look To Lessen Tensions In The Gulf; Saudis Call On White House To De-Escalate; Harvey Weinstein Heads To Trial; Stocks Close Lower; Boeing Uncovers Another Design Flaw With 737 Max. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 6, 2020 - 04:30   ET

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


[04:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Huge protests in Tehran over that U.S. airstrike that took out an Iranian commander. The nuclear deal now in jeopardy. And President Trump doubles down on his latest threat which could amount to a war crime.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Flying in fire. A desperate evacuation effort from wildfires in Australia. Smoke is so bad there the emergency management agency has shutdown. CNN is live this morning in Tehran, Baghdad, Nairobi, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Australia. Welcome back to Early Start, I'm Laura Jarett.

ROMANS: Good morning, I'm Christine Romans, it is 31 minutes past the hour here in New York, and we begin in Tehran. Breaking overnight, huge protests on the streets there. Anger growing over the U.S. air strike that killed the head of Iranian Special Forces. Giant crowds at the burial Sunday of General Qasem Soleimani. Iran now weighing how to retaliate against the U.S.

Death to America chants from Iranian lawmakers. The Iranian cabinet voting to no longer obey restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal. That includes the limits on uranium enrichment.

JARRETT: President Trump aboard Air Force One repeating his threat to target Iran's cultural sites. Action that would likely be considered a war crime. He said they're allowed to kill our people, they're allowed to torture and maim our people, they're allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we're not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn't work that way.

ROMANS: Two senior U.S. officials describe widespread opposition within the admiration to targeting cultural sites. But earlier Sunday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed the president's position.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: So cultural centers are theoretically fair targets in your view?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Jake, you do the things that are right and the things that are consistent with American lives. I've been part of the discussion. Planning process. Everything I've seen about how we will respond with great force and great vigor if Iranian leadership makes a bad decision. We hope that they won't. But when they do, America will respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Meantime, the president appearing to notify Congress of potential military retaliation for an Iranian attack via Twitter. The United States will quickly and fully strike back and perhaps in a disproportionate manner. Note that a disproportionate strike would also violate international law.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter to Democrats says, the House will vote on a war powers resolution aimed at limiting the president's military action in Iran. Senior international correspondent, Frederick Pleitgen is standing live for us there in Tehran. Fred, what are you seeing there? You're in the thick of it on the streets. What are you hearing and seeing?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm still hearing a lot of anger that is being displayed here by the people towards the United States. And as I'm starting to speak to you in English on American TV, the folks that you are seeing here are screaming death to America, right now. You can see there's still a lot of anger that's being unloaded here on the streets of Tehran.

And you know, I've been in this country many times and I've been to a lot of protests here in Iran as well. I've never seen crowds this size. There are people who say that there might be hundreds of thousands here on the streets of Tehran, as the body of Qasem Soleimani is being taken through the streets here at one of the main sites.

Earlier today, very early in the morning hours there was a ceremony for Qasem Soleimani and the others who were killed in that U.S. air strike. And the prayer in that ceremony was actually held by Iran's supreme leader. He was very close to Qasem Soleimani. So, you can see what an important figure Qasem Soleimani was and how much anger right now is being unloaded towards the U.S. but especially towards President Trump and the Trump administration.

[04:35:10]

You know, you're absolutely right, the Iranians have been saying that they will retaliate. And just yesterday I was able to speak to one of the main advisers of the supreme leader of this country, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and he told me that there will definitely be a military response from Iran. It will be against military targets (inaudible).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOSSEIN DEHGHAN, MILITARY ADVISER TO IAN'S SUPREME LEADER (through translator): The response for sure would be military and against military sites. Let me tell you one thing our leadership has officially announced that we've never been seeking war, and we will not be seeking war. It was America that has started the war. Therefore they should accept appropriate reactions to their actions. The only thing that can end this period of war is for the Americans to receive a blow that is equal to the blow they've inflicted. Afterwards they should not seek a new cycle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: So there you can see, Laura, some of the anger that's been unloaded here on the streets of Tehran. You can also see Iranians are essentially saying there will be a response but they want it to end there. They don't want this to descend into a full on shooting war between the U.S. and Iran which of course will have massive repercussions for this entire region.

One of the other interesting things by the way that they also told me is he also said that despite the fact that Qasem Soleimani was of course a towering figure, not just in Iran's military but as you can see, among Iranian people as well. Their foreign operation are not going to miss a beat. They say they've already designated a successor to Qasem Soleimani and certainly not deterred by the (inaudible) of the Trump administration, Laura.

JARRETT: Clearly unifying force there. Fred, thanks so much. We will see you soon.

ROMANS: President Trump is threatening sanction on Iraq after its parliament voted to order all foreign troops out of the country. Sources tell CNN administration officials tried unsuccessfully to convince Iraqi leaders to prevent the nonbinding vote. It is too soon to know whether U.S. troops will actually be expelled. President Trump telling reporters in Air Force One, if they do ask us to leave we will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before. It will make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame. Let's go back to Baghdad and bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh. Jomana?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, the message has been clear from Iraq. The political leadership here, the mainly the majority Shia parliament also making it clear yesterday they want U.S. Forces -- foreign forces to leave this country. We heard from the Prime Minister really a remarkable moment there when you have the Prime Minister of this government addressing parliament, explaining and making a case for why they should vote to ask foreign force to leave.

This is the same Iraqi government that had asked U.S. forces to assist them in the past. But the Prime Minister saying that the situation right now, they find themselves in is that Iraq is becoming a battleground between these two countries, between the United States and Iran. And they really cannot afford that happening. And they're really concerned that they will not be able to protect U.S. forces and coalition forces if they remain in this country.

So, he asked parliament pretty much to vote on a decision to end the presence of U.S. forces, something that they did there obviously legal, procedural questions right now. This is a caretaker government. It's unclear how they're going to be implementing this resolution from the parliament, but of course critical here it's -- you know, there are repercussions. The fight against ISIS is obviously one of them.

A lot of concerns that it will be exploiting any sort of security vacuum that will emerge from this and the chaos that they are known to exploit. We've already heard from the U.S. led coalition saying that they're halting their anti-ISIS operations for now in Iran and they are focusing on protecting their forces, Christine.

ROMANS: OK, Jomana Karadsheh, thank you so much for that from Baghdad this morning.

JARRETT: President Trump not ruling out the possibility that he could release intelligence related to the air strike that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Top U.S. national security officials continue to defend White House claims of an impending threat to American lives. But some Congressional Democrats are questioning how imminent the threat actually was. After a briefing with administration officials on Friday failed to provide convincing evidence.

ROMANS: Over the weekend the White House officially notified Congress of the drone strike that killed Soleimani. Under the war powers act notification is required within 48 hours of an action that could lead to armed conflict, even though President Trump said this Friday.

[04:40:00]

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The president who campaigned on getting out of endless wars in the Middle East now more than 3,000 service members are being deployed to the Middle East. Many of them are from the immediate response force of the 82nd division in Fort Bragg, Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's stressful for sure. Especially with everything that had escalated. He was personally only doing like training and now it's he has obviously transpired into something else, so we are making it through, though.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: These soldiers will first go to Kuwait, one of several countries with the big U.S. military footprint, then military leaders will decide where they need to be deployed. JARRETT: And Saudi Arabia is reaching out to the Trump administration

and looking for ways to de-escalate the lies rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran and now the U.S. and Iraq. CNN's Nic Roberston, live in Riyadh with that part of the story for us, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning. Khalid Bin Salman, the brother of Saudi's crown prince, essentially the third sort of most powerful man in the country here headed to D.C. today to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Saudi of course hosts to many, many U.S. troops already, manning anti-missile battery systems and most of those are tuned to either Iran's proxy firing weapons into Saudi Arabia or Iran itself.

So, Saudi Arabia looking to the United States to get a sense of what is going to happen next, what President Trump's red lines may be with Iran, what Iran might do to essentially to escalate this further. But the message from here is, yes they understand the reasons the United States kills Qasem Soleimani. They also here in Saudi Arabia believed him to have been a force for evil in the region. But they do want to see a de-escalation. They are worried about the potential for war in the region at the moment.

We heard from the Iraqi Prime Minister yesterday saying that Soleimani had been bringing to him a message from Tehran in response to a message that the Iraqis has passed from Saudi Arabia to Tehran so, backchannel efforts of de-escalation were already under way in the region here. Of course the Saudis oil refineries were attacked by Iran just a few months ago. And the Saudis haven't wanted to go to war over that.

The back channel is on the way on that, so that will be part of the discussion in Washington for sure. Also today the Saudis hosting foreign ministers from the region here around the Red Sea. That would become a very important strategic waterway if the Strait of Hormuz get shutdown by Iran which is a possibility, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Nic, we will see what comes to that meeting later today. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, all of this pushing global oil prices higher. Crude above $70 barrel for the first time in six months. And uncertainty over what the Iranians response will be, likely to keep a floor under oil prices. CNN's emerging markets editor John Defterios is live in Abu Dhabi.

John, folks I talked to say they don't expect an outright armed conflict between this two countries, a conventional war that you know, shuts down oil production or closes the Strait of Hormuz, but the uncertainty over what kind of retaliation could be is a real problem here.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: It certainly is, Christine. It almost sounds cliche that investors don't like risk right now, we have a (inaudible), if you will up uncertainty right now and it's really related to oil prices and the specter of attacks here both by Iran and United States could had been on the level of retaliation by Tehran at this stage.

Not surprisingly oil prices are up nearly 2 percent, both for WTI in United States and the international bench mark. In terms of the international bench mark we are above $70 a barrel at one point to 70- 46. That's the highest level in more than six months. A flight to safety at the same time, Christine, with gold prices up nearly 2 percent at the highest levels since 2013. Silver up better than 1 percent. And again we saw Asian markets down. The Tokyo, the biggest loser in Asia down nearly 2 percent. But I wouldn't call it panic selling.

Now, back into the unknowns here with Iran, do they limit their attacks onto U.S. embassies, potentially U.S. jet liners flying to the Middle East or do they reach out and try to strike U.S. allies in the region like Saudi Arabia and the UAE? That's what we saw in 2019. To Nic Robertson's point, I think the Strait of Hormuz is back into play here. Harassment on tankers going out with third of seaborne traffic going out here from the Middle East. The U.S. is the number one producer, Christine, at 13 million barrels a day? That won't matter if we have a break out of serious violence right now. It's not there but the risk certainly is.

ROMANS: All right. Risk, risk, risk, that means higher prices. All right, John Defterios, thank you for that, John.

JARRETT: Well, U.S. personnel already face serious danger overseas, of course. And more proof of that on Sunday when three Americans including a U.S. service member were killed on a terror attack on a military base in Kenya. The attack was carried out by Al Shabaab. And CNN's Farai Sevenzo, live in Nairobi with more for us. What are you hearing there, Farai?

[04:45:16]

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, the day after this tragedy that happened out in Manda Bay, we are trying to unpick how it could have happened. Besides us talking to our viewers on CNN, the local press are also talking about it. Now, of course this is an al-Qaeda affiliated group. In this lovely area called (inaudible) world heritage site bay UNESC, but just the site is, this sits a forest.

And people are believe in -- it was from the forest that the terrorist had emerge. That of course, we can't confirm any of that, but the details of what we know as you say in your introduction, an American service member lost his life, two civilian contractors were also killed. We also had this time, two others working for the Department of Defense had been evacuate, because they were part of the wounded, but they're stable, U.S. Africa command tells us.

Of course, what still shocks the nation of Kenya and the region is the audacity of the attack. To attack such a heavily fortified place which houses U.S. African command, U.S. specialist troops training their African partners with the Kenyan Defense Forces. At the moment as the day goes on we're trying to find out how many of the Kenyan defense force lost their lives. And of course to (inaudible) how this happened, Laura. Back to you. JARRETT: How this happened exactly. Farai, thank you so much. We'll

see you soon.

And growing fires in Australia, we have seen the pictures on morning here, have now burned the size of West Virginia. CNN is live with more on the largest peacetime evacuation effort in Australia's history.

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[04:50:00]

JARRETT: A state of emergency in New South Wales. At least 135 fires are burning in the Australian state home to Sydney. More than 65 of them are uncontained. Try flying through this. Look at that. It's an Australian defense helicopter over (inaudible) through blood red skies. The glow stretches all the way to New Zealand. Here's a before and after look from Auckland, more than 1,300 miles away. The fires have already killed 24 people, burning 23,000 square miles, an area the size of West Virginia. Nationwide, the largest peacetime evacuation in the country's history is unfolding.

Andrew Stevens, live from Canberra, the nation's capital with the latest for us. Andrew, I mean, the pictures are just incredible. Tell us what you're seeing there.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN NEWSTREAM ANCHOR: Yeah, it's been terrifying for 10's of thousands of Australians this weekend, Laura. You talk about the mass evacuation, thousands and thousands of people were told to leave their homes and leave it in the path of the bush fires and just to get out with their lives. Others didn't get warning. We were speaking that someone a little earlier today, and they say they were sitting on their front porch and they heard what sounded like a freight train coming through behind them, they went around the corner of the house and they are met by literally a wall of flame.

They got out. They are OK. They don't know whether their house is OK. Those sort of stories we're hearing all the time. As you say this is the nation's capital behind me, this is the Australian parliament this time yesterday covered with thick black smoke. The only upside that we can report at the moment is the fact that there has been this respite. This Monday the temperatures dropped dramatically. We've had rain in many parts of these fire affected areas and the wind has dropped.

There are still well over a hundred fires burning, but none of them at the critical levels that we saw at the weekend when they were being fanned by extremely high temperatures, up to 120 degrees in some parts of Sydney. But those sort of conditions are expected to come back by Thursday, Friday.

This is not over yet, not by a long shot. It's allowed this brief break has allowed people to go back to see whether they have a home actually to go back to. So there are some tragic stories unfolding as I speak. And really it's now just the start of the bush fire season. This firs, this season will last for another two months or so. So there's no one who can say the worst is behind Australia. And this has wiped out an area the size of West Virginia. And those fires are still as they say, burning as we speak. A lot more still to come, Laura.

JARRETT: A lot more still to come. It's just devastating. Thank you so much, Andrew.

All right, 53 minutes past the hour. Democrats and Republicans promised to lower drug prices. Instead drug prices are rising again. CNN Business has the details on how much they have increased next.

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[04:55:00]

JARRETT: Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault trial gets under way in just a matter of hours. A hearing is set for this morning in New York with jury selection scheduled to begin tomorrow. The one time Hollywood mogul is charged with raping a woman in a New York hotel room in 2013. Another woman has accused him of forcibly performing oral sex on her in 2006. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty and vows he will be fully exonerated. He's not currently expected to take the stand.

ROMANS: All right, just about at the top of the hour this Monday morning. Let's get a check on CNN Business. Take a look at oil prices, they are higher around the world. Global markets showing signs of unease and nervousness and on Wall Street you've got futures pointing to a lower open to the start of the week.

Stocks close down on Friday. The DOW down 235 points, S7P 500 and the NASDAQ also fell. It was the worst day in a month for all of the major averages. Obviously this is the turmoil in the Middle East, this concerns about what will be the reaction from Tehran.

Drug prices are rising again in 2020, weeks after the president's -- the Trump administration advanced efforts to curb rising costs. According to the website Rx, manufacturers jack up the list price of 457 brand name drugs by an average of 5.1 percent as of Friday. Rising drug prices is one of the biggest health care concerns for Americans. Lawmakers on both sides have looked to address this problem though little has actually yet been accomplished.

Another potential hurdle in getting Boeing 737 Max back in the air. Boeing confirms two sections of wiring controlling the tail of the plane are too close together and could cause a short circuit, this could trigger a crash, a catastrophic crash. Boeing says its highest priority is ensuring the 737 Max meets all safety and regulatory requirements before it returns to service. That's a new challenge for Boeing's new chief David Calhoun, he officially takes over the job on January 13th.

JARRETT: Early Start continues right now.

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