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EARLY START

Contentious Briefing on Iran; Some Dems Calling to Move on Impeachment; Ukraine Investigating Missile Possibility in Plane Crash; Harry and Meghan Step Back from Royal Roles; Cowboys Introduce Mike McCarthy as Head Coach. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 9, 2020 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:01]

TREVOR NOAH, COMEDY CENTRAL HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": Yes, he'd be like fighting on TV. I know what you said about me, Denise. Say it to my face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: That they just re-did. Right.

ROMANS: You know, I mean, they are -- I mean, they are paid for by the British royal family and British taxpayers. I mean, that'll be interesting if they can -- if they can pull it off.

JARRETT: If they can pull it off. I'm excited to see what they do next.

Well, thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day.

For our viewers here in the U.S., EARLY START continues right now.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Mitch McConnell wants to get moving on the Senate impeachment trial. Now, some Democrats look like they agree with him.

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

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

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Thursday, January 9th, 5:00 a.m. in the East, 25 days until the Iowa caucuses.

Well, the U.S. and Iran seem to be backing away from armed conflict. But today, House lawmakers will take steps to ensure they're involved next time. 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 with Congress before the drone strike that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

ROMANS: 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 newspaper 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

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.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

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 contrasts with the view floated by other administration officials that the Iranians missed on purpose.

JARRETT: And CNN has new details from inside the White House as the Iranian missile strikes on the U.S. bases unfold said. A senator who spoke with President Trump tells CNN the president seemed ready to attack Iran facilities if there had been even one American casualty. Fortunately, there were none.

The president with a show of military force there standing behind him stepped back from the brink.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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 contact with the Trump administration through at least three back channels. The message, no further strikes from Tehran. The ball was in America's court. The president promising -- punishing new sanctions against Iran but said nothing about further military strikes.

For the latest, let's turn to CNN's Fred Pleitgen live in Tehran -- Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Laura.

We've got some new reporting coming out of Tehran this morning. Our crew here had an interview with the government spokesman of the Iranian government and he said that the Iranians had been closely analyzing President Trump's speech that, of course, we saw yesterday. And they say they saw a degree of rationality in his words. Obviously with that decision not to lash back out at the Iranians after that retaliatory strike by the Iranians.

They also called on President Trump to come back to the nuclear agreement, come back to international law, as they put it, while criticizing the fact obviously there are these new sanctions that were announced by President Trump there and that of course are supposed to hit Iran very hard. Meanwhile, there are some more critical words coming from the president as well from the Iranian U.N. ambassador who he said that President Trump's word where he said Iran and the United States should work together on issues of mutual interests, of course, that being the fight against ISIS first and foremost were not believable as they put it because of these new sanctions that were also announced by the president.

[05:05:20]

Keep in mind that many Iranian officials have been telling us that maximum pressure campaign of tough sanctions against Iran is really one of the root causes of these big tensions between the Trump administration and the Iranians.

Meanwhile, the Iranians also coming out and saying that the strike against those U.S. interests in Iraq was a slap in the face of the United States. This coming from Iran's supreme leader.

In general, the Iranians showcasing their military technology, praising their ballistic missile program, which has always been a big deal for the Iranian government, saying next time, there would be an even more crushing response, that coming from an Iranian general, and finally, an Iranian website is essentially saying that President Trump's -- essentially saying this headline, Trump's big retreat from the threat of the Islamic Republic of Iran, missile strike.

So, clearly, the Iranians getting a little spin on that as well, saying that President Trump held back because he's afraid of Iran's missiles, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Fred, live for us there in Tehran -- thanks so much.

ROMANS: During his address to the nation president Trump offered up this surprise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: After railing against NATO for years, the president is now seeking help from the alliance.

Let's go live to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and bring in CNN's Nic Robertson.

I mean, the president has really worked for the past three years to distance himself from this alliance and to say it was obsolete, weak, sloppy, too expensive. Now he has a very different tone.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: He does. The United States requests, NATO already fronts much of the Iraqi military training mission in Iraq at the moment. And to that point when Qasem Soleimani was killed in the days after, U.N. Secretary of General Jens Stoltenberg called the Iraqi prime minister to make sure that, you know, that their relationship -- the NATO-Iraqi relationship was on track. Some nations have to pull their troops out. Germany for one, Spain for

another. The whole training mission completely put on hold, still is on hold.

But, you know, for United States allies in the region, it's going to raise this question, is President Trump caving in some way to what Iran is demanding that U.S. troops pull out of the region? Is this a tactical shift to kind of reflag the United States mission in the region under NATO? It's -- we don't know, and that's part of the problem.

What we do know is that NATO's European members do believe in the alliance despite what the president (AUDIO GAP) said. We do know that the secretary-general at NATO has tried very much to keep President Trump on side. We know that he is -- he will very likely be committed to try to do what President Trump is asking.

Allies are going to ask a lot of specific questions, how safe will they be doing that? But the United States own allies in the region will be asking a different question. What is the president signaling here? Is he signaling a diminishment of the U.S. engagement in this region, and what does that mean? Because these allies like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates look to the United States to help give them their sort of security in this region.

NATO's a different prospect for them. They don't have the same relationship with some of those European nations.

ROMANS: Fascinating state of play.

All right. From Riyadh, thank you so much.

Investors are feeling calmer about those tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Oil prices actually fell yesterday after the threat of conflict with Iran seemed to ease and the president -- President Trump said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: America's achieved energy independence. We are now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So the president is overstating America's energy independence. It is not that simple.

Yes, the U.S. is the world's leading oil producer. That is true. It's one reason that recent supply disruptions haven't had more of a dramatic impact on oil prices, but the U.S. is still dependent on oil from the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Oil is globally traded economy. That means a disruption somewhere like a Strait of Hormuz would cause a response everywhere. And really important here the U.S. refinery system was built decades

ago. The U.S. refinery system mostly runs most efficiently with heavy oil. U.S. shale oil, the thing that's made us the world's largest energy producer is light. That's why the U.S. imports heavy oil from overseas including the Middle East.

The largest refinery by the way in the U.S. is in Port Arthur, Texas. That refinery is owned by Saudi Arabia.

JARRETT: Breaking moments ago, Ukraine is investigating multiple possible causes of Tuesday's plane crash including an anti-aircraft missile defense system.

[05:10:08]

A hundred seventy-six passengers and crew members were killed in the crash shortly after take off in Tehran. A top investigator says the anti-aircraft lead is being considered since information about fragments of a Russian missile near the crash site has already appeared on the Internet.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are complicating the investigation. Typically, Boeing, GE and U.S. transportation officials would be granted access to the crash site, but that's not happening. It's interesting.

ROMANS: It really is. All right.

JARRETT: Well, his great escape made headlines around the world. How did Carlos Ghosn do it, and will he ever face a trial? What he told CNN, next.

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[05:15:05]

ROMANS: 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, the 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Now, several Democrats look like they're siding with McConnell, saying articles should be handed over. Many are worried the stalemate could affect Democratic presidential primaries. Five senators would have the leave the campaign trail for a trial.

JARRETT: 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 at Buckingham Palace.

Anna, the queen didn't know ahead of time and then Buckingham Palace puts out a statement essentially saying it's complicated?

ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Yes, let's bring you that statement, because I have to say, it's pretty unprecedented the shock. It was a very terse short statement saying the discussions with the duke and duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.

And let me show you the reaction because the shocked statement from the couple, I think that reaction from the place, from the queen has really taken everyone by surprise. You have the queen's dismay as Harry and Meghan step back from royal life. It's "The Daily Express".

"The Daily Mail", queen's fury as Harry and Meghan say we quit. And then of "The Daily Mirror", they didn't even tell the queen.

And really this is taking everyone by surprise. Some super royal fans have come down here to Buckingham Palace. I was just speaking to them and they say that they are very disappointed. They never felt they had to pick a side, but they're worried that the queen has been disrespected in a way, and therefore, they are going to pick the queen's side if they to pick sides.

It all seems absolutely insane, but that is the royal news of the day, and it just keeps coming.

JARRETT: Yes, the headlines here obviously everyone is having a field day with this.

Anna, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Calling it Megxit, right? The Brits hit the fan is another great headline.

JARRETT: Oh, yes, people can't get enough of this.

ROMANS: All right. Kisses from Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, but there was no love on the court last night. Andy Scholes has "The Bleacher Report", next.

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[05:22:17]

JARRETT: Former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn blasting Japan's legal system from Lebanon where he fled prosecution. Ghosn spoke to CNN in his first major public appearance since pulling off a stunning escape from Japan where he was out on bail for financial wrongdoing.

Speaking to CNN's Richard Quest, he declined to comment how he broke out of Japan but "The Wall Street Journal" and some Turkish media reporting Ghosn hid in a container.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm just going to go for this and hope you'll give me an answer. What was it like in the packing case?

CARLSO GHOSN, NISSAN EX-CEO: No comment. Look, freedom -- freedom no matter the way it happens is always great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Asked if he'll ever face trial, Ghosn said it would have to be in a country where, quote, the rules or -- the rules or rights of the defense would be respected.

ROMANS: All right. The Dallas Cowboys introducing Mike McCarthy as their new head coach yesterday, and owner Jerry Jones had an interesting explanation as to why he chose McCarthy.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Christine.

Jerry Jones has a lot of things to say. One of them was, he said he wanted a proven winner and team builder as his next head coach, and Mike McCarthy is certainly that. You know, McCarthy made the playoffs in 9 of his 13 seasons as the Packers head coach, winning the Super Bowl in Texas in 2011.

McCarthy, the ninth head coach in Cowboys history, and he said he was destined for this job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE MCCARTHY, DALLAS COWBOYS HEAD COACH: Frankly, I believe this is what I was put on this Earth to do, professionally, is I'm a football coach, and I am working at the most iconic franchise in all of professional sports. And it doesn't get any better than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And McCarthy also said he jumped up, gave Jerry a hug when he offered him the job.

And Jerry explained how he knew McCarthy was his man in a way only Jerry could.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY JONES, DALLAS COWBOYS OWNER: My sister explained to my dad one time when she was explaining why she wanted to divorce. And dad loved her husband, and he said, what's gotten into you, and she said, I don't hear bells.

He said, bells, bells? I haven't heard bells for the last 30 years. What's that got to do with it?

The bottom line is I heard bells.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right, the fans in Miami may have been hearing bells last night as well as a fight nearly broke out between Jimmy Butler and T.J. Warren. The two getting tangled here, and they exchanged some words. Next time down, Jimmy Butler going to give Warren a nice little shove there for an offensive foul. Warren then was ejected from the game for clapping in Butler's face.

After the Heat won over the Pacers, Butler he kept the feud going.

[05:25:03]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY BUTLER, MIAMI HEAT FORWARD: He's not even in my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) league and like nowhere near me. And if I was there their coach, I would -- I would never put him on the league ever again. He's -- plain no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Yes, and Butler clearly not going to forget this anytime soon. He posted on Instagram that he already had the Heat's next game with the Pacers on March 30th circled on his calendar.

All right. Things also getting heated in Boston last night. Kemba Walker gets lit up by that screen right there by LaMarcus Aldridge, thought it was an offensive foul. He gets ejected from the game by the refs for profanity.

It was first ejection of Kemba's nine years careers. Fans in Boston also not happy, one of them throwing a full cup of beer from pretty high up and lands right below the Spurs bench see on the top right of your screen. That fan was arrested according to reports.

The Spurs blow out the Celtics, 129-114.

Christine, never a smart idea to throw beer.

ROMANS: Pus you probably paid 15 bucks for it, you know?

SCHOLES: Exactly, one of the main reasons not to do it. ROMANS: Two insults there.

All right. Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

Laura, what's coming up next?

JARRETT: I'm going to start using that line from Jerry Jones. I heard bells.

Well, today, the House votes on a measure that could limit future military action against Iran. A briefing on the strike that took out a top Iranian general was not well-received.

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END