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Anger Grows in Iran Over General Soleimani's Death; Trump Threatens Iraq if U.S. Troops Get Expelled; Trump Administration Deploys 3,000-Plus U.S. Troops to the Middle East. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 6, 2020 - 05:00   ET





ROMANS: Huge crowds in Tehran following the U.S. strike that took out an Iranian commander. The nuclear deal now in jeopardy, and President Trump doubles down on a threat which could amount to a war crime.

JARRETT: Flying in fire, a desperate evacuation effort from wildfires in Australia. The smoke is so bad the emergency management agency has shut down. CNN is live this morning in Tehran, Baghdad, Nairobi and Australia. Good morning and welcome to EARLY START, I'm Laura Jarrett, good morning Christine --

ROMANS: Good morning, good morning, I'm Christine Romans, it is Monday, January 6th, it is 5:00 a.m. in the east. And breaking overnight, huge crowds on the streets of Tehran. Anger growing over the U.S. airstrike 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 including limits on uranium enrichment.

JARRETT: President Trump aboard Air Force One, repeating his threats 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 administration to targeting cultural sites. But earlier, Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed the president's position.


JAKE TAPPER, HOST, THE LEAD: So cultural centers are theoretically fair targets in your view?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: Jake, we're going to 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 the Iranian leadership makes a bad decision. We hope that they won't. But when they do, America will respond.


JARRETT: Meantime, President Trump 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. We should note that a disproportionate strike would also violate international law."

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 actions against Iran. Senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen standing by live in Tehran for us. Fred, obviously, a lot of angry down there, what are you hearing the most from folks on the ground?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Laura, yes, absolutely right. I mean, there is definitely a lot of anger here on the streets of Tehran. A lot of people who are -- who are quite angry and who have been chanting the moment that we go on air, and have been chanting things like "death to America", have been very critical also of President Trump and the Trump administration.

And so, you could see also the large crowds that have been turning out. It's really something that I haven't seen in this country even though I've been here, I would say about 15, 16 times already. There have been a protest that have been organized, but these certainly are a lot bigger than anything that I've seen here in Iran before.

It all started very early in the morning today when the body of Qasem Soleimani and the others who were killed were essentially eulogized -- that's Tehran University, the supreme leader himself there speaking the prayer. And that also goes to show how important a figure Qasem Soleimani was for many people here in Iran.

You can see people here have Qasem Soleimani's likeness, many people here also saying that they want revenge for the death of Qasem Soleimani. It was quite interesting because I spoke to the main adviser of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and that adviser told me first of all, there would be revenge, it would be military revenge against military targets, but also that Iran does not want a full-on-war with the United States. Let's listen in.


HOSSEIN DEHGHAN, MILITARY ADVISER TO IRAN'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 have been seeking war and we will not be seeking war. It was America that 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.


PLEITGEN: So, the Iranians, they're essentially saying they're going to strike back against the United States -- there's a bit of breaking at least, chants of "death to America" -- essentially saying, they're going to lash out at the United States, but they want it to end there. They don't want this to escalate any further.


It's also quite interesting, Laura, because that senior adviser also telling me that despite the fact that obviously Qasem Soleimani was a big and important figure to so many Iranians and also in the military structure, they've already named his successor.

And they say, as far as their foreign operations are concerned, they're not deterred and they're going to be able to operate exactly the way that they had before, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Fred, stay safe there in Tehran, we'll see you real soon.

ROMANS: All right, President Trump is threatening sanctions 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 this non-binding vote. Too soon to know whether U.S. troops will actually be expelled.

President Trump telling reporters on Air Force One, "if they do ask us to leave, we will charge them sanctions like they've never seen before ever. It will make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame." Let's go live to Baghdad and bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh. This is -- this is an ally of the United States, I'm sure Iran will like nothing better than to see the United States leave Iraq for good. What's your view from there?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, you know, when you mention those comments by the president, Christine, that is definitely going to anger Iraqis, when he talks about sanctions like they've never seen before. Well, you know, Iraqis did go through some of the worst sanctions here. You know, the U.N. imposed sanctions in the '90s where thousands of people died, and that was attribute to the limits on imports of food and medicine.

So, this is really not going to go down very well with Iraqis. And as you mentioned, this is the key ally that the U.S. president is threatening. The message from the Iraqis has been clear. The Shia majority in this country, the Shia political leadership have said they want U.S. and foreign forces out. And the Prime Minister explained that to parliament yesterday saying

that they are currently in a situation where the only option really for the interests of the United States and Iraq is to ask these forces to leave because Iraq is basically turning into a battleground between Iran and the United States.

And Iraq is going to be ending -- it will end up paying the price, and there, forces cannot protect or guarantee the protection of U.S. forces here. So, they're now -- you know, they've passed this resolution in parliament. The Iraqi government is going to have to work on a way of asking these forces to leave. Of course, there's legal, legislative and procedural issues here.

This is a caretaker government. But the biggest concern of course is the repercussions of a decision like this, asking forces to leave especially when it comes to the fight against ISIS. We've heard from the U.S.-led coalition, saying that right now, they've halted all their operations and they're focusing on protecting their forces, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Jomana Karadsheh for us in Baghdad this morning. Thank you.

JARRETT: Well, President Trump is not ruling out the possibility that he can 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 impending -- of an impending threat to American lives. But some congressional Democrats are questioning how imminent the threat was. After a briefing with administration officials on Friday failed to provide any 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.


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.


ROMANS: More than 3,000 service members are being deployed to the Middle East, many from the immediate response force of the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Here's the wife of one of those service members.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's stressful for sure especially with everything that has escalated with Soleimani. He was supposedly only doing like training, and now it has obviously transpired into something else. So, we are making it through, though. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The soldiers will first go to Kuwait, one of several countries with a big U.S. military footprint, and then military leaders will decide where they need to be deployed.

JARRETT: Growing fires in Australia have now burned an area the size of West Virginia, and this is just the beginning. CNN is live with more on the largest peace time evacuation effort in Australia's history.



ROMANS: All right, even before tensions rose with Iran, U.S. personnel already faced serious danger overseas, and more proof of that, Sunday, when three Americans including a U.S. service member were killed in a terror attack on a military base in Kenya. CNN's Farai Sevenzo live from Nairobi with more. Farai, what are you hearing now?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are still unpicking, Laura, about the events of yesterday morning. But I just have to catch you up that, you know, six days into 2020, the al Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab group have already carried out an attack in Somalia, Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, 28th of December, over 85 killed.

On the 2nd of January, they hit yet another attack in Lamu County where we're talking about this military base being attacked, and attacked a bus, killing four civilians. And then of course, yesterday morning, this sudden unexpected attack on a heavily-fortified base that houses a U.S. special operations who trained with their African partners to try and get rid of this scourge of Al-Shabaab.

At the moment, the country is very tense. There are all kinds of rumors about possible hotels being attacked and much bigger presence of forces on the ground. And of course, the Kenya defense force themselves say that they killed five terrorists or discovered five bodies at the scene of that military base attack near Camp Simba.


And then again, we know that several planes were wrecked by the terrorists, including around about six civilian operated aircrafts. The story is still unfolding. We still need to find out, Laura, how this actually happened.

JARRETT: Still unfolding, but a seriously fortified base as you mentioned. There's a serious reminder of some of the vulnerabilities overseas there. Farai, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, 15 minutes past the hour, state of emergency in New South Wales, at least 135 fires burning in the Australian state, home to Sydney, more than 65 of these fires uncontained. Try flying through this, that's an Australian defense helicopter over Mallacoota through blood red skies. The glow stretches all the way to New Zealand.

And here's a before and after look from Auckland, more than 1,300 miles away. The wildfires have already killed 24 people burning 23,000 square miles. Nationwide, this is the largest peacetime evacuation in the country's history. Andrew Stevens live from Canberra, the national capital with the very latest. And this is the beginning of the Summer, and the forecasts are just unforgiving here in terms of heat.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unforgiving is the word. We already saw on Saturday the needle hitting 120 degrees, and that was in Sydney, on the outskirts of Sydney. That was being driven by this very hot, scorching hot dry wind which has been whipping up the flames, the bush fire flames. And we've had, as you say more than a hundred bush fires many of them out of control over the weekend.

Three of them merging into one sort of mega fire, the size of Manhattan. Tens of thousands of people being evacuated. The hardest hit areas, Christine, also in the most popular states, New South Whales and Victoria. Thousands having to leave their homes, being forced to leave and many more leaving it too late, they couldn't get out, so they just had to hunker down and hope that they -- the fires would pass them.

And we have had the fatalities, 24 people have died so far. There's a lot of anger against the government -- now I'm in parliament -- and just behind me here is parliament, the Australian parliament where the Prime Minister today announced a 2 billion Australian dollar, about $1.4 billion U.S. package to help bush fire recovery.

But there's still a lot of anger about how the government hasn't acted quickly enough. And as you say, we're in a respite today, but by Thursday, Friday, those soaring temperatures are expected to come back with those biting hot winds, and we're back in a very similar situation that we've just come out of. And as you say, this is just the start.


STEVENS: We've got another two months of bush fire season to go, Christine --

ROMANS: Yes, this is the beginning of this story sadly. Andrew Stevens for us in Canberra, thank you.

JARRETT: Gosh, it's the last thing they need is temperatures --

ROMANS: I know --

JARRETT: Over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Well, who took home top prizes at the Golden Globes? And of course, there was a little bit of politics mixed in, up next.


JARRETT: Films based on a true story took center stage at last night's Golden Globe Awards.


SANDRA BULLOCK, ACTRESS: And the Golden Globe goes to "1917".




JARRETT: The World War I epic "1917" took the top prize for best drama. And "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" won for best musical or comedy. It also picked up trophies for writer, director Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt in the screenplay and supporting actor categories.

ROMANS: On the TV side, not too many upsets, "Flea Bag" continues its award season, dominance for best comedy, "HBO's" succession won for best drama, on stage drama came from Tom Hanks choking up as he accepted the Cecil DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.


TOM HANKS, ACTOR: I'm a little jittery. A man is -- sorry. A man is blessed with a family sitting down front like that. A wife who is fantastic in every way, who has taught me what love is, five kids who are braver and stronger and wiser than their old man is, and a loving group of people who have put away with me being away months and months and months at a time.

Of course, otherwise I wouldn't be standing here if they didn't have to put up with that. So I can't tell you how much your love means to me.


JARRETT: But really, that's really something.

ROMANS: Got to love her face. True to Golden Globes form plenty of politics, Russell Crowe won for his betrayal of the late "Fox News" chief Roger Ailes in the loudest voice, but he was home in Australia amid the wildfires. Presenter Jennifer Aniston read a speech from Crowe, demanding a science-based approach to respecting the planet.

JARRETT: And of course politics was top of their minds --

ROMANS: Yes --

JARRETT: Of everyone there last night. Well, tensions between the U.S. and Iran show no signs of letting up. Anger spilling over in Tehran. Iran is opting out of the nuclear deal as President Trump threatens Iran's cultural sites if Americans are targeted.



ROMANS: All right, home field did not turn out to be much of an advantage in the NFL playoffs.

JARRETT: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT" --

ROMANS: Hey, Coy --


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Good morning. Three of the four home teams lost this weekend. The Vikings, they went to New Orleans yesterday as the weekend's biggest underdogs playing in one of the NFL's most hostile environments. Four quarters just not enough for these teams. Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins comes through when it matters most.

In over time, Mannion throws like this 43 yards to Adam Thielen and gets the Vikings down to the goal line. And three plays later, Cousins seals the win. A four-yard phase to Kyle Rudolph for the game-winning touchdown. Saints won't even get a chance to try to score. It wouldn't be a playoff game in New Orleans, though, without a little controversy.

Saints fans saying that push-off there by Rudolph should have been a penalty, but officials said it was not enough to draw a flag. Minnesota upsets the Saints, 26-20, Kirk Cousins answers his critics who doubted that he can win big games.


KIRK COUSINS, QUARTERBACK, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: That's how we've won all year, a team, right?


COUSINS: Let's go up in the 20 points, men --


COUSINS: Because there's a chance in the end. I got three words for you, you like that!



WIRE: Now, the Eagles, they went into yesterday's game against the Seahawks beat up with injury, then things got worst. First quarter, quarterback Carson Wentz hit in the back of the head, forced to leave the game for good, no penalty called. This was his first Playoff start. Now, the Seahawks had a huge game from a rookie, Russell Wilson throws a 53-yard touchdown here to D.K. Metcalf, Metcalf's 160 yards receiving of the most by any rookie in Playoff history.

The Eagles had a chance late, though, down 8 with under two minutes to go, quarterback Josh McCown sacked the Seahawks defense, the season's high seven sacks in this game, Seattle wins 17-9 to advance to the divisional round.


RUSSELL WILSON, QUARTERBACK, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: We knew we had to make a play, and sure enough, D.K. makes sweet play, and I think more than anything else we believe. You know, there's no doubt on us, we believe we have everything we want, and we have everything we need.

Marshawn is back, too, to see him running into the zone, that's pretty cool. So, we've got a lot of good things going for us. We've got to stay the course, though.


WIRE: And then there were eight. Next week's divisional rounds kicks off on Saturday with the Vikings going to San Francisco and the Titans going to Baltimore. And Sunday, the Chiefs host the Texans while the Packers host the Seahawks, only two quarterbacks who have played in a Super Bowl are remaining, and they're playing each other. Russell Wilson --

ROMANS: Yes --

WIRE: And Aaron Rogers, so it's really exciting to see some --

ROMANS: It is --

WIRE: Fresh blood this season.

ROMANS: And no Patriots in the Super Bowl. John Berman may call in sick today, who knows?

WIRE: He might not be there.

ROMANS: All right --

JARRETT: He's not going to be a happy man, Coy, thanks so much --

ROMANS: Coy, thanks --

JARRETT: EARLY START continues right now. Huge crowds in Tehran, following the U.S. strike that took out an Iranian commander. The nuclear deal now in dire jeopardy and the president doubling down on his latest threat.