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EARLY START

Anger Grows In Iran Over Gen. Soleimani's Death; Three Americans Killed In Kenya Terror Attack; New South Wales Under State Of Emergency. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 6, 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: 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, which could amount to a war crime.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Flying in fire. A desperate evacuation effort from wildfires in Australia. Smoke is so bad the Emergency Manage Agency has shut down.

CNN is live this morning in Tehran, Baghdad, Nairobi, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Australia.

Good morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. Good morning.

JARRETT: Good morning. And, I'm Laura Jarrett. Half past the hour.

Breaking overnight, huge crowds on the streets of Tehran, anger growing over the U.S. strike that killed the head of Iranian Special Forces. Giant crowds at the burial Sunday of Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Iran now weighing how to retaliate against the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IRANIAN LAWMAKERS (chanting): Death to America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: "Death to America" chants from Iranian lawmakers -- look at that. The Iranian cabinet voting to no longer obey restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, including the limits on uranium enrichment.

ROMANS: 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."

JARRETT: 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER": So, cultural centers are theoretically fair targets in your view?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Jake, we're going to do the things that are right and the things that are consistent with American lives. I've been -- I've been part of the discussion and the 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: 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." Note that a disproportionate strike, of course, 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.

Let's go to -- let's go to Fred now. Fred Pleitgen is there for us in Tehran.

Fred, what are you seeing there? We've been talking to you this morning -- all morning -- and you've had a lot of protests in the streets -- death to America, death to America's allies.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

ROMANS: What is the scene now?

PLEITGEN: Hi, Christine.

Well, it's dissipating a little bit, I would say. A lot of people now, after the event has ended, seem to be going back towards the city center.

But you're absolutely right. For the past couple of hours it's been massive crowds that have been on the street. There are some, apparently, who are saying that it could have been over a million people who came to the ceremony that took place with the body of Qasem Soleimani and the others who were killed in that air strike were basically taken here through the center of Tehran.

Now at the beginning, there was a service in the Grand Mosque at the Tehran University. And it was at that place that the supreme leader, himself, prayed over the bodies of those who were killed.

Just to give you an idea of how important Qasem Soleimani was to many Iranians -- and you're absolutely right. A lot of those people extremely angry at the United States, chanting "Death to America." And also, a lot of those people saying they want revenge.

And I was actually able to speak the supreme leader's main military adviser, just yesterday, and he told me that yes, there would be military revenge. He said -- he said that revenge would take place against military targets, but he also said Iran does not want a full- on war with the United States. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOSSEIN DEHGHAN, MILITARY ADVISER TO IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER (through translator): The response, for sure, will 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 have the adviser to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying that the Iranians are definitely going to strike back, but also saying they want it to end there.

At the same time, as we've been reporting, a lot of people here saying they want very harsh revenge and they want very quick revenge. Obviously, Qasem Soleimani, for many Iranians, a very revered and very important figure as well.

One of the other interesting things Christine, by the way, that this adviser also said is that he said despite the fact that Qasem Soleimani was such an important person for Iran's military structure, they've already named a successor. And they say they are not going to miss a beat in their foreign operations which, obviously, also means threats to the United States.

[05:35:09]

And that very new commander, by the way, just a couple of minutes ago has come out and already said that there will be revenge as well, Christine.

ROMANS: And, Fred, just quickly. The President of the United States has vowed if there is revenge from the Iranians -- retaliation from the Iranians that he will retaliate on cultural sites inside Iran. That's not popular with the crowds that you see this morning. PLEITGEN: Yes, I think -- I think not popular is probably a big understatement. I mean, one of the things that we have to understand is that Iran is obviously a society that does have its divisions, but when it comes to Iran's history, when it comes to Iran's culture, people here are very much on the same page.

There's already been big campaigns on social media criticizing President Trump for saying that -- posting pictures of these Iranian cultural sites. And that same adviser to Iran's supreme leader, he also told me that if President Trump says that he's going to hit 52 Iranian cultural sites, then the Iranians, they say, are going to hit 300 sites. So clearly, they're saying if that takes place, then the gloves will come off with the Iranians as well, Christine.

ROMANS: None of that sounds like off-ramp talk. All of that sounds like an escalation ladder.

All right, thank you so much. Fred Pleitgen for us on the streets of Tehran. Thanks, Fred.

JARRETT: Well, President Trump now lashing out at Iraq after its Parliament voted to order all foreign troops out of the country. Sources tell us administration officials tried to unsuccessfully convince Iraqi leaders to prevent the nonbinding vote. It's 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'll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame."

Let's go live to Baghdad and bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh. I mean, Jomana, explain to us what effect those sanctions might have.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Laura, we've been -- we haven't heard yet from the Iraqi government -- their response to these comments by the president. But, you know, you talk to Iraqis here and they find these comments by the president quite stunning.

You know, they're questioning whether he actually knows the history of this country -- that it has already gone through devastating sanctions in the 90s -- those U.N.-imposed sanctions that, you know, were -- you know, it's thousands of lives were lost during the 90s and that was blamed on these sanctions.

Right now, the situation in Iraq, the economy was starting to improve. But at the same time, you had protests that were taking place. The youth in this country unhappy with the economic situation with the unemployment in this country. So the Iraqi government has already been dealing with this. So any sort of sanctions will obviously have an impact.

But it's the message that this sends when you have the U.S. president threatening an ally -- one of its key allies in this region, Iraq, with sanctions. And they have made it clear the reason they are doing this -- the reason they are asking the -- or will be asking the U.S. forces -- coalition forces to leave is we heard from the prime minister. He says it is in the best interest of Iraq and the United States. It's because he says the current situation and the current tensions, they are not going to be able to protect U.S. forces here on the ground, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Jomana. Thanks so much for being there for us.

ROMANS: So much going on on a Monday morning here at 38 minutes past the hour. More on all of that, plus growing fires in Australia have now burned an area the size of West Virginia. We are live with more on the largest peacetime evacuation in Australia's history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:42:20]

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 just how imminent that threat 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. Notification came under the War Powers Act even though President Trump said this Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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: 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's stressful for sure, especially with everything that has escalated recently. He was supposed to be home and doing like training and now it has obviously transpired into something else. So we are making it through, though.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The wives and families of these service members are bracing for what comes next. These soldiers will first go to Kuwait, one of several countries with a big U.S. military footprint. Then military leaders will decide where they need to be deployed.

Joining us this morning, Princeton University historian and professor, Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst. Good morning. JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, CO-AUTHOR, "FAULT LINES: A HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES SINCE 1974": Good morning.

ROMANS: Help me see what the White House strategy is here because what I see is the fallout, right?

You've got Iraq, this weekend, voting to expel the U.S. troops -- get American troops out of there. Iran saying it will abandon any of the restrictions to nuclear enrichment under the -- to the nuclear deal. Three thousand U.S. service members headed to the region to contain the fallout.

What is the strategy here from his president who vowed to get out of endless wars?

ZELIZER: Well, that's the million-dollar question and that's what a lot of congressional Democrats and some Republicans are asking. We learned in 2003 you don't take big action in this region without a plan of what to do next, and it's not clear the president has a plan. It's more acting as each event happens.

JARRETT: Julian, talk to us about credibility, right? So we've heard from this administration, since the strike, the word imminent over and over again -- over again --

ROMANS: That's right.

JARRETT: -- from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo --

ROMANS: From the Pentagon.

JARRETT: -- from the Pentagon. But, I mean, we haven't seen a White House briefing in a long time. And so, how do you trust that it's an imminent threat?

ZELIZER: Well, we don't know that and this president does face a credibility gap, not just because of the intelligence on this issue but everything we've seen from the administration before. This is a president who is willing to say things that are not -- are not true and to say misleading statements. And now, there's tough questions about why did we do this?

[05:45:08]

ROMANS: And why does he believe the intelligence now when he hasn't believed intelligence for the past three years?

ZELIZER: Well, we don't know if he even believes the intelligence or he's just using these claims of the intelligence to justify what he did and what a few advisers wanted him to do. And so, Congress is going to be pressing him on this.

ROMANS: America's European allies -- it's been an alliance -- it's been strained, to say the least, over the past few years. Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron, they're all urging de- escalation.

What do you think is the concern or the situation now with American allies who are rightfully concerned about what kind of fallout there could be from all of this?

ZELIZER: Well, I think allies who know the region understand how severe this can be and they understand the consequences of destabilizing the situation. Right now, it's not about liking Iran or thinking Iran is bad, it's about what do you do to control this regime and to contain it. And so, they're very fearful of the financial and human costs that this is going to attract.

ROMANS: I mean, look at just the proxy map for Iran. You can just see where the reach is and we don't know what kind of retaliation it could be. Could it be on Saudi Arabia and oil fields? Could it be in the Strait of Hormuz? Could it be at an embassy --

ZELIZER: Right.

ROMANS: -- or a military installation in one of these other countries? It's that uncertainty that, ironically, is driving up oil prices and gas prices, something that cannot make the president happy heading into an election.

ZELIZER: Once again, many Republicans want this to be a time that everyone's talking about the economy and the president has just diverted attention and even has created some economic effects that Republicans might not enjoy.

JARRETT: And -- OK, look, we have to turn to the politics of this, of course, for Democrats, right? They've spent a year on the campaign trail talking about kitchen table issues.

ROMANS: Yes.

JARRETT: Of course, Christine, he always says right, it's the economy stupid.

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: How are they going to deal with this? How do they pivot to now a global -- potential global crisis? I mean, let's take a listen to sort of what they said over the weekend about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If this weren't so dangerous and so consequential, it would be absolutely mind-blowing to think a president would conduct foreign policy this way.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're hearing two totally contradictory things. We're hearing the administration say that it's focused on de-escalation and then we're seeing the president's Twitter feed, which is not exactly a de-escalatory instrument of U.S. foreign policy. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am deeply concerned that President Trump's actions represent a dangerous escalation that brings us closer to yet another disastrous war in the Middle East.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why now? You know, why not a month ago, why not a month from now? And the answer from the administration seems to be they can't keep their story straight on this. They point it in all different directions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: So every minute they spend talking about this they're not talking about health care.

ROMANS: Yes.

ZELIZER: No, that's true and I think it's important they don't divert all their attention. They continue to talk about the economic issues that matter to a lot of Americans. But when they talk about this they don't just talk about the policy. They raise the question can this president be trusted with the power that comes with the presidency.

And that's what the Iran situation is about, that's what the domestic situation is about, and that's what impeachment is about. And every time he tweets something provocative he raises that concern in a place like Iowa, once again.

ROMANS: Yes.

JARRETT: Well, it also gives Democrats an opportunity to show who has the experience to deal --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- with a foreign policy crisis like this.

Julian, it's always good to see you. Thanks so much for coming in on a Monday.

ROMANS: Julian Zelizer, thanks.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

JARRETT: All right.

U.S. personnel already face serious danger overseas, of course. 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 for us in Nairobi, Kenya with more. Farai, what are you hearing there?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, it's the morning after the night -- the other morning before when this al Qaeda-affiliated group known as Al-Shabaab attacked a U.S. military base.

Now, the surprising thing, of course, this morning is the questions have started to be raised about how this could have happened. Remember, Camp Simba, out there in Manda Bay, is a very heavily fortified area. We are trying to figure out what plan they took and which direction they came from.

And, of course, remember, they hit the base before the sun came up. The sun comes up around 6:00 in this part of the world. But by 5:30, Kenyan defense forces had started hearing explosions, so they must have been there -- you know, at least sometime before.

We are also hearing, as well, condemnation from all quarters. Washington, D.C. Congressman Michael McCaul, a lead Republican of the House on the Foreign Affairs Committee, released a statement. "I strongly condemn the terrorist attack at the Kenya Defense Force Military Base carried by al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-backed terrorist organization that took the lives of three Americans."

[05:50:04]

And we also know that there were very (INAUDIBLE), including civil defense contractors who -- the U.S. Africa Command tells us they are stable and have been evacuated.

At the moment, the Kenyan authorities are telling us that they have five suspects in custody and we are trying to see how coordinated this attack was. Remember, America has been hitting al-Shabaab bases for months now because they are killing people in Somalia. Eighty-five killed on the 28th of December, four killed on January the second, and now this horrific attack, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Farai. Thank you so much for that from Nairobi.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on "CNN Business" this morning.

Taking a look at oil prices, you can see they are all higher here. Brent Crude popping about $70.00 a barrel for the first time in six months, earlier.

Global stock markets showing signs of unease and nervousness. You can see Tokyo down two percent. Hong Kong and the European markets all opened at least one percent lower.

On Wall Street, futures, this morning, also pointing south here. A triple-digit decline likely for the Dow.

Stocks fell Friday. The Dow down 235 points. The Nasdaq and the S&P also lower. It was the worst day in the month for all three of those averages. All of this about uncertainty in the Middle East.

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 Mallacoota, through blood-red skies. The glow stretches all the way to New Zealand. Here's a before and after look from Auckland, 1,300 miles away.

The wildfires have already killed 24 people, burning 23,000 square miles. This is the largest peacetime evacuation in the country's history.

[05:55:06]

Andrew Stevens live from Canberra, the nation's capital with the latest for us -- Andrew.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, Laura.

Yes, the -- what we've been seeing today is a completely different environment in that the temperature has plunged, there's been rain. There's been quite a lot of rain in many of the worst-affected areas hit by fire and that's afforded some relief, both for the firefighters and it's allowing people who have been evacuated to actually get back and see whether they even have a home to go back to.

Those pictures you showed of that helicopter trying to get through those smoky red skies, that was down in one of the worst-hit areas. The evacuation could not go ahead there. They're just trying to get people out of there because they know they've lost their homes. Hundreds and hundreds of homes have been lost over the past two or three days.

It was an absolutely terrifying weekend for so many Australians. Many got out when they could, others left too late -- they were told too late. They had to tough it out, they had to sit it out and hope and pray that they weren't in the direct path of these fires.

One turned into virtually a mega-fire. It was creating its own weather systems, sparking thunderstorms and dry lightning, setting off new fire fronts. That was the sort of situation that firefighters were dealing with Laura, so you can imagine how difficult it was.

There's a brief respite. It's expected to pick up, once again, towards the end of this week. And remember, we're just at the very beginning, really, of the bush fire season in Australia.

JARRETT: Just at the beginning and yet, hundreds of homes already lost, as you mentioned.

Andrew, thank you so much for being there for us.

And a pretty scary moment for passengers on an Air Canada Express flight out of Montreal. The plane lost one of its wheels on takeoff. A shocked passenger caught it all on video.

Pilots were able to quickly turn the plane around and land safely -- wow. No one was hurt, thankfully. Maintenance workers are trying to determine what went wrong there.

ROMANS: Wow.

All right, films based on a true story took center stage at last night's Golden Globe Awards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDRA BULLOCK, ACTRESS, PRESENTER, GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS: And the Golden Globe goes to "1917."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The World War I epic "1917" took the best prize -- the prize for best drama. "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 the supporting actor categories.

JARRETT: And on the T.V. side, not too many upsets. "FLEA BAG" continues its award season dominance for best comedy. And, HBO's "SUCCESSION" won for best drama.

On-stage drama there came from Tom Hanks, choking up as he accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM HANKS, ACTOR, AWARDED CECIL B. DEMILLE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: I'm a little jittery. I -- a man is -- sorry. A man is blessed -- 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: His wife, Rita Wilson, looking on lovingly there.

ROMANS: Yes, it's a good moment.

JARRETT: And true to Golden Globes form, plenty of politics. Russell Crowe won for his portrayal of the late Fox News chief Roger Ailes the "THE LOUDEST VOICE." But he was home in Australia amid the wildfires there.

Presenter Jennifer Aniston read a speech from Crowe demanding a science-based approach to respecting the planet.

ROMANS: Politics, politics, politics.

JARRETT: Of course. ROMANS: But I think the headline would be if there weren't politics at the Golden Globes, then that would be remarkable, right?

JARRETT: Right.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. Have a great day. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: Iran continues to be in a state of mourning but, at the same time, is vowing retaliation after the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

POMPEO: And we took a bad guy off the battlefield. We made the right decision. There is less risk today to American forces in the region.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president threatened to hit Iranian cultural sites if Iran struck any American or any American asset.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Why I really worry that the actions the president took will get us into what he calls another endless war in the Middle East.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Iran needs to understand that if we are attacked we will respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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 Monday, January sixth. It's 6:00 here in New York.

And we do begin with breaking news. Growing anger and fallout from President Trump's decision to kill Iran's top general. We have remarkable live pictures.

END