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Lawmakers Not Happy Over Iran Briefing; U.S., Iran Put a Pause on Tensions; Rockets Land in Baghdad's Green Zone; Harry and Meghan Surprise Everyone Even the Queen. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 9, 2020 - 04:30   ET




SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): Probably the worst briefing I've seen at least on a military issue.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Because I didn't learn anything in the hearing that I hadn't seen in a newspaper already.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A contentious briefing on the strike that took out a top Iranian general. Today, a House vote that could handcuff the president's future moves on Iran.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We will not accede our authority to try this impeachment. The House Democrats' turn is over.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: So Mitch McConnell wants to get moving on the Senate impeachment trial. But now some Democrats look like they agree.

ROMANS: And a stunner in the U.K. Harry and Meghan are stepping back from royal duties. The palace caught so off-guard even the Queen was surprised.

CNN is live this morning in Tehran, Riyadh, Baghdad, Beirut and London.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. 31 minutes past the hour here in New York.

The U.S. and Iran seeming to be backing away from armed conflict. But today House lawmakers will take steps to ensure that they're involved next time around. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi setting a vote on a war powers resolution that will limit the president's military actions against Iran. Pelosi has criticized the president for not consulting Congress before the drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

ROMANS: So Wednesday a contentious classified briefing on Iran infuriated some lawmakers. Two key Republican senators, allies of the president, joined Democrats charging the administration failed to prove Soleimani was planning an imminent attack on U.S. interests.


LEE: Probably the worst briefing I've seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I've served in the United States Senate. To come in and tell us that we can't debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran. It's un- American, it's unconstitutional and it's wrong.

PAUL: There was no specific information given to us of a specific attack. Generality, stuff you read in the newspapers was given to us. I didn't learn anything in the hearing that I hadn't seen in a newspaper already. And none of it was overwhelming that X was going to happen.


ROMANS: One of the briefers, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, defended it.


MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Most members of Congress do not have access to the intelligence that I think was the most compelling. That's just simply the nature of the intelligence and it's restricted to the Gang of Eight, if you will.


ROMANS: Esper and another briefer, Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley, now say they believe Iran's missiles targeting U.S. bases were intended to kill American personnel. That of course is a sharp contrast with the view floated by other administration officials that the Iranians missed on purpose.

JARRETT: CNN has new details from inside the White House as the Iranian missile strikes on U.S. bases unfolded. A senator who spoke with President Trump tells CNN the president seemed ready to attack Iranian facilities if there had been even one American casualty. Fortunately there were none. The president, with a show of military force standing behind him stepped back from the brink.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world. The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: CNN has also learned Iran initiated a contact with the Trump administration through at least three backchannels. The message, no further strikes from Tehran. The ball was in America's court. The president promised punishing sanctions against Iran but said nothing about further military strikes.

For the latest let's turn to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen live for us in Tehran.

And, Fred, you have some new reporting this morning.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I have, Laura. Yes, we do have some new reporting this morning from on the ground here in Tehran. In fact our crew here in Tehran did an interview with the government spokesman of the Iranian government and he said that the Iranians were actually quite encouraged by President Trump's speech last night. They're saying that they had -- saw a degree of rationality in what President Trump said and did.

Obviously deciding not to retaliate against the Iranians after that retaliatory strike coming from the Iranians themselves. However, the spokesman also saying that he's calling on President Trump to return to as they put it international law, return to the nuclear agreement.


Of course the big things that the Iranians are criticizing is the fact that President Trump has now announced yet another round of sanctions against Iran and against the Iranian government. That's something they've been criticizing for a long time. In fact, the U.N. ambassador for Iran, he came out very early this morning, and he called President Trump's call for Iran and the U.S. to work together on issues of mutual interest -- I think President Trump was referring to the fight against ISIS there -- not believable because of these sanctions that the Trump administration keeps coming up with.

The Iranians of course are saying this maximum pressure campaign from the U.S. side is really what's at the heart of the tensions that keep flaring up between the U.S. and Iran. Meanwhile some tough talk from the Iranians as well. Iran's supreme leader calling the Iranian strike against that base with the U.S. troops on it a slap in the face to the United States.

It was very important for the Iranians to showcase the fact they could strike U.S. interests in the region with their ballistic missile program. Of course their ballistic missiles very much at the heart of what they're trying to say in the world. That they have modern technology that they've developed themselves. And certainly they've shown that that technology is very accurate and can strike at a long distance.

I want to show you one headline that we found on Fars News, that's one of the news outlets here. It says Trump's big retreat from the threat of the Islamic Republic of Iran and missiles strikes, so you can see what a spin going that way. And you also have some senior Iranian officials, Laura, who are saying that this by no means is over and that it is the ultimate aim of the Iranians to kick the U.S. out of this region -- Laura.

JARRETT: Fred for us live there in Tehran. Thanks so much

ROMANS: All right. After tensions between the U.S. and Iran seemed to cool -- Baghdad's Green Zone.

Jomana Karadsheh live from Baghdad with the very latest.

And Jomana, do we know who fired those rockets? Could it be, you know, pro-Iranian militia who want to send a message to the United States that hey, we still are opposed to your troop presence in our country?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. I mean the timing of this, Christine, was absolutely interesting here. Of course rocket attacks are not unusual. There have been several attacks recently in the Green Zone. No casualties, no claim of responsibility, and they're usually believed to be the work of these Iranian-backed militias here on the ground. So coming right after President Trump's address and the message from the Iranians that they've concluded their retaliation, and it did seem like this was all headed towards de-escalation for now.

So some would wonder if this was a message from some elements here on the ground saying that for them it is not over yet. You know, these differ Shia paramilitary groups here on the ground, they're not really unified in their position. And of course this is the concern. We've heard some of these groups coming out with statements yesterday. One of those groups the -- we've heard from the influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr whose Mahdi Army in the past fought the U.S. military.

Of course he had deactivated them only last week to ask them to be on alert, to be on standby again. And yesterday coming out with a statement telling them to stand down for now and saying that he wants to allow diplomacy here to take its course and asking people to be patient. But at the same time we've also heard from other more radical groups. For example, groups that say that they have not yet retaliated while Iran may have. For them they have not avenged the death of one of their leaders, Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, who was killed in that U.S. strike.

And these groups are unified in one thing, Christine. They say they want the U.S. military out. If there is no immediate withdrawal, if there's any attempts to stall when it comes to the military pulling out of Iraq, they say they will fight the Americans again just like they did during the years of the U.S. military occupation.

ROMANS: And the president yesterday did not mention U.S. troop presence in his remarks, so that's important to note.

All right, Jomana Karadsheh, thank you so much from Baghdad for us this morning.

To impeachment now, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump met at the White House and discussed the upcoming Senate impeachment trial. Sources tell CNN they discussed format and other issues. McConnell's interactions with Trump are sure to fuel accusations from Democrats that the Senate majority leader is improperly coordinating the trial with the White House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats continue to wait and see what the terms are for that trial. McConnell is also not budging, calling Pelosi's refusal to turn over articles of impeachment shameless game playing.


MCCONNELL: There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure. We will not accede our authority to try this impeachment. The House Democrats' turn is over.


ROMANS: Now several Democrats look like they're siding with McConnell saying the articles should be handed over.


Many of them are concerned the stalemate could affect Democratic presidential primaries. Five senators would have to leave the campaign trail for a trial.

JARRETT: How much does it cost to protect the president and his family on vacation? The White House is trying to hide that information until after the 2020 election. Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a bill requiring the Secret Service to disclose the price of safeguarding the first family when they travel.

But according to the "Washington Post" Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told the Senate Judiciary Committee the costs should not be released until December 2020 at the earliest. The Secret Service has declined to comment. The president has taken more than 50 trips to Trump branded properties outside of Washington.

And of course the issue is how much are the American taxpayers paying the Secret Service to stay there?

ROMANS: Absolutely. Absolutely.

All right, 40 minutes past the hour. American businesses are asking from relief from the president's wine tariffs. The wine industry is caught up in two separate trade spats. The Trump administration placed a 25 percent tariff on most European wine in October in retaliation for European subsidies for Airbus. Trump also threatened a new tariff on champagne in retaliation against France for imposing a tax on digital services.

Now unlike Chinese-made industrial materials wines are not interchangeable. Sellers can't just substitute a sparkling wine from California for a French champagne. The French tariff could lead to smaller profits in the wine industry triggering layoffs and higher costs for consumers. Shoppers haven't seen prices increased in stores because importers have absorbed the costs of the tariffs so far just like many retailers have eaten the costs on Trump tariffs on Chinese made goods. But businesses are finding it hard to place orders. Importers have stopped stocking up as they wait to see what happens with the tariffs. Tariffs equals uncertainty for business, period.

JARRETT: Well, could complications between the U.S. and Iran hurt the investigation into a plane crash that killed 176 people? Stay with us.



JARRETT: Global politics colliding with the pursuit of facts about the crash of the Ukrainian jetliner in Tehran. Tensions between the United States and Iran are complicating the crash investigation. Overnight Iranian officials said initial reports show the plane caught fire before it crashed and then tried to turn back toward the airport. In a typical investigation Boeing, GE and U.S. transportation officials would be granted access to the crash site. But there's nothing typical about this disaster.

Richard Quest live from Beirut with the very latest. And Richard, the black box, Iran's still not turning it over, right?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: No, they're not. And I mean, the way this is supposed to happen, so Iran would find or the country would find the black boxes, and if they didn't have the technology to read them out, then the boxes would be sent to the U.S., the U.K., France, and Australia, one of those countries that have the sophisticated equipment necessary.

Now, Iran is clearly -- we don't know whether Iran has the technology to read out the black boxes. The best opinion is that they don't have that and therefore would need to decide where to send the boxes to get the data. They could -- what would be devastating, of course, Laura is if they decide to have a botched attempt at reading the data themselves and in some cases destroy it.

No, the boxes would probably be sent knowing the geopolitics of it somewhere like Russia which of course does have the technology for reading a black box. But as the investigation proceeds Boeing and General Electric have huge interests in knowing exactly what happened to make sure it's not and so that they can make any changes necessary that's been discovered as a result of this crash.

JARRETT: And it's a fascinating interplay in all the politics of this. Thanks so much, Richard.

ROMANS: All right. A major shakeup in the British royal family. Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, say they will be stepping back from their roles as senior members of the British royal family. The announcement coming as a surprise to everyone even Queen Elizabeth.

CNN's Anna Stewart live in Buckingham Palace.

Good morning, Anna. And the U.S. papers, the "New York Post" calls it Mexit which is clever but is it really I guess a say good-bye to Buckingham Palace? What is it that they want? ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they clearly want

to have a better balance to their private life. But they still they say want to honor their duty to the Queen, to the commonwealth, to their patronages. They're planning to launch a whole new charitable foundation as well. But what they don't want, I suppose, is to be beholden to the British press and actually they've released in addition to the statement -- deal with the press in the future.

They don't want to be -- royal roles which how these things normally operate, allowing all British media to follow them at various events. They want to pick and choose the media that they like. Now interestingly, we've had some super royal mega fans coming down here to Buckingham Palace, a handful or so. And many of them very disappointed with the couple. These are fans that follow them to every event. I see them at every sort of outing or official duty.

They're very disappointed in the couple. Some saying they feel they have to choose now between supporting the Sussexs or supporting the royal family. And all the ones I spoke to today say they support the Queen and they are disappointed.

The fact that the couple are taking a step back isn't in itself a surprise I would say given all the message we've had from them last year. A very turbulent relationship with the press. Both Harry and Meghan are both suing various British tabloids. And of course Archie wasn't given a royal title when he was born last May so perhaps that again was a clue. Plus the recent break in Canada. Six weeks they spent away from public life and perhaps that cemented their decision.

ROMANS: Yes. And Part of the -- in North America.


They don't want to be -- they don't essentially want to live in the U.K. solely.

All right, Anna Stewart, thank you so much for that from Buckingham Palace this morning. Thank you.

JARRETT: Well, RBG says she's cancer free. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg telling CNN she's beaten the disease for the fourth time, fourth time here, after undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer in August. She also battled lung cancer at the end of 2018 forcing her to lose part of a lung and miss oral arguments for the first time in 25 years on the bench. The 86-year-old justice has also beat colon cancer.

ROMANS: She a bionic justice.

JARRETT: Oh, absolutely. She just keeps -- yes.

ROMANS: She's so -- yes. So --


ROMANS: All right, Elon Musk has reason to celebrate. Tesla's market value just hit an impressive milestone. CNN Business has the details next.



ROMANS: Colorado's new red flag gun seizure law has been used for the first time one day after it took effect. A Denver police invoked the measure asking a judge to let them keep weapons they confiscated from a man who allegedly beat his wife and made suicidal comments to investigators. If a judge grants the petition police could keep the guns for 364 days. The man could also be barred from possessing other firearms during that period.

JARRETT: A 2-year-old girl who was hit by a foul ball at a Houston Astros game more than seven months ago has permanent brain damage. An attorney representing the girl's family says she remains subject to seizures and doctors tell us her injury is affecting her central nervous system the same way as a stroke. But she's able to function like most girls her age and the family is said to be doing relatively well.

In December MLB commissioner Rob Manfred ordered netting in every ball park to extend beyond the far end of the dug out before the 2020 season begins.

ROMANS: The Beliebers are eating up Justin Bieber's new song "Yummy," his first solo song in four years. The singer also dropping a hammer on his fans, revealing in an Instagram post that he's been battling lyme disease, an infection caused by bacteria commonly carried by ticks. Bieber says he'll explain more about his diagnosis in a docu- series set for release on YouTube later this month.

JARRETT: Twin sisters who were joined at the chest and abdomen have been successfully separated by a 78-member surgical team in Nigeria. Just look at those pictures. The procedure to separate Mercy and Goodness Ede took 13 hours and happened six weeks ago. Hospital officials are just now releasing the details waiting to ensure there were no post-surgery complications. They say the twins who are born in August are now well enough to go home. The girls are the first to be separated at the government-run specialist center in Nigeria's capital.

ROMANS: Seventy-eight surgeons. Wow. Incredible.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Oil prices are suddenly down here as investors are feeling calmer about the U.S. and Iran. Small moves here today in Brent Crude, still at $65 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate is just below 60. New this morning Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will lead a delegation to the U.S. next week to sign that phase one trade deal. Global markets, stock markets have rallied. Around the world you can see gains in the stock markets on the feeling that there is a pause at least in the tension between the U.S. and Iran.

And on Wall Street, futures are also moving a little bit higher here this morning, about 80 points. That's not even half a percent. Stocks rallied Wednesday after President Trump eased fears about Iran. The Dow closed up 162 points, Nasdaq hit a record high. The S&P 500 finished higher as well.

All right, jobs in America's private sector rose faster than expected in December. Data shows employment grew 202,000 at the end of the year, the biggest increase since April. The better-than-expected numbers suggest the labor market remains strong at the end of the year. Job growth weakened a bit as manufacturers, energy companies and smaller businesses have shed jobs. In December official government jobs report comes out tomorrow 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

I just can't get enough of this video. OK. Elon Musk has reason to celebrate. Tesla is now worth more than the combined market values of rivals General Motors and Ford. Tesla's market value was $88 billion after its stock hit an all-time high of $492. GM is worth around $50 billion. Ford has a market cap of about $37 billion. Tesla still has a ways to go before it beats Toyota. It is the most valuable auto company on the planet worth about $200 billion.

JARRETT: You always tell world leaders never to dance and never to wear hats. Just saying.

Well, while you were sleeping Harry and Meghan's decision to step back from their roles in the royal family got the attention of late-night comics.


STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE-NIGHT HOST: There are senior levels of royal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've got levels to this thing.

COLBERT: I thought it just went like king, queen, prince, princess, jack of spades, boy wizard, dukes of hazard, and then cartoon mouse that sews Cinderella's dress.

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE-NIGHT HOST: What does that mean taking a step back from your roles. They'll be waving less? I don't know but, don't every girl dreams of becoming a princess? Turns out it kind of sucks.

TREVOR NOAH, LATE-NIGHT HOST: Now the big question is if Harry and Meghan comes to America where are they going to live? Everyone wants to know. I think they'll move to L.A. Because Meghan is an actor, right? And then she's going to want to work again and then Harry can just join the cast of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Yes. He'd be like fighting on TV, I know what you said about me, Dede. Say it to my face.


ROMANS: They want to be financially independent, and that's going to be difficult. I mean, they lived in a cottage, you know --