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Lawmakers Slam Iran Briefing; Ukraine Investigating Missile Possibility In Plane Crash; Harry And Meghan Step Back From Royal Roles. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 9, 2020 - 05:30   ET





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

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


LAURA JARRETT, 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.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking moments ago, Ukraine is investigating whether an anti-aircraft missile system brought down a passenger plane departing Tehran.

JARRETT: And a stunner in the United Kingdom. Harry and Meghan -- well, they're stepping back from royal duties. The palace caught so off-guard even the queen was surprised.

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

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Good morning, 31 minutes past the hour.

We begin here. The U.S. and Iran seem to be backing away from armed conflict.

But today, House lawmakers will take steps to ensure they are 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 Congress before the drone strike that killed top Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

JARRETT: 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 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.


JARRETT: One of the briefers, Defense Sec. 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.


JARRETT: 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. Other administration officials have floated the theory the Iranians missed on purpose.

ROMANS: 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 was even one American casualty. Fortunately, there were none.

The president, with a show of military force and unity behind him -- standing behind him there -- 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.


ROMANS: CNN has also learned Iran initiated contact with the administration through at least three backchannels. The message, no further strikes from Tehran. The ball was in America's court.

The president promised punishing new sanctions against Iran but nothing about further military strikes.

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


We're getting some new information here out of Tehran -- a new interview that our crew had with the spokesman of the Iranian government. And they say that they watched President Trump's speech very closely and said they saw a certain degree of rationality in President Trump's speech -- especially, of course, the fact President Trump decided not to lash back out at Iran after Iran's retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani.


The Iranians also calling on the Trump administration to return to the nuclear agreement. Of course, listening to President Trump yesterday it doesn't look like that's in the cards anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Iran's ambassador to the United States -- to the United Nations called President Trump's words not believable when President Trump talked about areas of mutual cooperation between the U.S. and Iran like, for instance, the fight against ISIS.

The Iranians quite angry about these new sanctions that the Trump administration is putting into place. Of course, they say that that maximum pressure campaign is really the root cause of the tensions between the Trump administration and the Iranians.

Meanwhile, also some tough talk from the Iranians as well, showcasing their ballistic missile program after, of course, using those ballistic missiles to fire at those bases with U.S. troops on them. A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard general saying that this -- these strikes showcase to the capabilities of that technology. Another senior Revolutionary Guard commander saying next time there would be an even more crushing blow, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Fred Pleitgen for us with more great reporting from Tehran. Thanks, Fred.

JARRETT: And breaking this morning, Ukraine is investigating multiple possible causes of Tuesday's plane crash, including an anti-aircraft missile defense system. One hundred seventy-six passengers and the crew were killed in the crash shortly after takeoff in Tehran.

Richard Quest live for us in Beirut with the very latest. Richard, what are you hearing?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reason is initially, Ukraine had said in their first statement that it did not appear that there was any missile or military reason for the crash. But overnight and over the last few hours, there have been more considerations.

You see, one of the problems is that the pictures showing -- or the video showing the plane coming down to earth shows the plane on fire or at least flames coming from it and the telemetry from the aircraft suddenly stops.

The plane takes off, it manages to fly for about two to three minutes, and then all the data that was being sent from the aircraft just suddenly stops. There's no mayday, there's no form of distress signal. It's said that the pilots said that they were having technical difficulties.

Now, Laura, why this is all so significant is because it's not Ukraine that will be holding the investigation. It will be Iran because Iran is where the crash took place. And so it begs the question if -- and it's a big if -- either the Iranians or some other force was responsible for shooting the down the plane -- it's an if -- would we ever find out about it? Can we guarantee that Iran would give and would perform an independent, fair investigation into this -- into this crash? And the experts are pretty much saying, so far, they have grave doubts.

JARRETT: Yes, it's a great point. And, Richard, the tensions between the U.S. and Iran already complicating this investigation. Tell us how.

QUEST: Well, because the U.S. would normally be involved as the state of design and the state of manufacture. In other words, Boeing. One would expect Boeing; GE, that made the engines; the NTSB, the official U.S. investigator --

In any crash involving a Boeing plane or American-made engines or American design, you would expect American companies and government to be involved. But since the United States and Iran are virtually -- they're not speaking to each other and they're virtually on a state of war -- that's not going to happen.

And that's deeply worrying for the aviation community because normally when it comes to an investigation, even if you have disagreements between the countries involved, they're normally put to one side so everybody can find out what truly happened. There's no political gain to doing a report that is somehow scrubbed or somehow inaccurate.

It would appear not only have people got doubts about Iran's ability to make a report, but the lack of participation by the U.S. parties -- the U.S. government, Boeing, and General Electric -- GE.

JARRETT: Richard, thanks so much for staying on top of that for us.

ROMANS: It's really fascinating, the timing of that.

JARRETT: It's complicated.

ROMANS: The timing of that crash just really troubling.

All right, 39 minutes past the hour. More ahead on the crisis with Iran. Plus, Elon Musk has reason to celebrate but that's not why the Tesla chief is dancing. CNN Business is next.



JARRETT: The U.S. and Iran stepping back from the brink of armed conflict, but long-simmering tensions between the two countries remain. Iran has a history of delayed retaliation and the threat of proxy violence still persists. So how long will things remain quiet? This is an open question.

ROMANS: Let's bring in "Time" magazine contributor Kim Dozier, a CNN global affairs analyst. So nice to see you this morning and sort of pick your brain on this.

And the piece you write for "Time" -- the analysis you write for "Time" -- you point out that the overt military-to-military conflict that we have seen -- OK, maybe that has stopped now. Now things go back to the way they were before for the past 40 years -- this under the radar conflict. Tell us about that.

KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Exactly -- under the radar but we might have a bit of a pause because Tehran has now learned that this White House will strike.


I had been interviewing people in the Gulf, in Iraq, and in Israel for the past couple of months who had thought the Trump administration was a paper tiger. The strike against Soleimani did change that calculation.

Iran was concerned enough about Trump's willingness to open fire that they found multiple ways, according to our reporting, to telegraph how, when, and where they were going to strike to make sure that those missiles sent a message to the Iranian population that they struck back but didn't risk sparking a wider war with the United States.

JARRETT: So, Kim, let's talk about NATO. The president raising some eyebrows yesterday in his speech, essentially saying please help me. But he didn't always use to feel that way about NATO. Let's take a listen to what he used to say about the alliance.


TRUMP: Let me tell you, NATO is obsolete. Really, NATO is obsolete. It's old, it's fat, it's sloppy. We are spending too much money on NATO and it turns out, very importantly, that it is obsolete.


JARRETT: So what do you make of this about-face? I mean, do they want to help him?

DOZIER: I think that national security officials on his team have finally gotten it through to him that a good thing about alliances, which Trump hasn't been so in favor of the past, is that you can share costs.

Look, NATO does have a training mission on the ground in Iraq. They've had one for a year though, of course, it's suspended now because of the hostilities. NATO Sec. Gen. Jens Stoltenberg has said he hadn't wanted to get involved in the Gulf situation between Iran and the United States.

But now you've got a meeting coming up Monday which is an opportunity for various NATO allies, first of all, to get an ask from the U.S. here's how we would like to see you do more. But also, it's another chance to drive home alliances are worthwhile and we can do something for you.

ROMANS: When we talk about the trajectory of the conflict here between the U.S. and Iran, really, it's been over the past eight months you've seen one after another these episodes that culminated in this military-to-military conflict this week -- very rare -- something new here.

The president, though -- and, you know, the President of the United States pulled the U.S. out of Iran nuclear deal that many thought had been at least constraining Iran. The President of the United States though, yesterday, blaming his predecessor. He keeps going back to Obama. For today's escalation of events, he blames Obama -- listen.


TRUMP: The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.

JOHN KERRY, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The president is so fixated on undoing anything Barack Obama did that he was willing to run the risk of outright war in the effort to fulfill his fantasy about this region and about his presidency.


ROMANS: Of course, that's former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Why do you think the president keeps going back to blaming Obama instead of -- you know, instead of maybe even questioning whether pulling out the nuclear deal is why were are at this moment?

DOZIER: Throughout President Trump's career, way before he ran for president, he has had a fixation on President Barack Obama. But I think the main reason right now is he's looking ahead to 2020 and there is nothing that quite animates his base like animus towards the last president.

So it's a way to say he didn't do this, I did. It's also a way to say OK, well, President Obama might have gotten bin Laden, but I've gotten ISIS leader Baghdadi and now, the Iranian leader Soleimani as well.

JARRETT: Kim Dozier, "Time" magazine contributor and CNN global affairs analyst. Thanks so much for joining us from Washington.

ROMANS: Thank you.

DOZIER: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, we'll be right back.



ROMAN: Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

Oil prices are settling in here as investors are feeling calmer about the U.S. and Iran. Brent crude flat at $65.00 dollars a barrel and West Texas Intermediate is below $60.00

On Wall Street, looking at futures here, you've got futures moving -- these are global markets here -- a big move in global markets. These are futures up just a little bit.

Stocks rallied Wednesday after President Trump eased fears about Iran. The Dow closed up 162. The Nasdaq, a record high there. The S&P 500 finished higher as well.




ROMANS: You know, Elon Musk, I guess, 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 a share. GM is worth around $50 billion. Ford has a market cap of $37 billion.

Now, Tesla still has a way to go before it beats Toyota. Toyota is the most valuable auto company on the planet, worth about $200 billion.

JARRETT: And those shareholders should be glad that it's not contingent on his dance moves.

ROMANS: He makes cars better than he dances.

JARRETT: Exactly.

Well, 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, I mean, this is just enormous drama here, even in the States. What's it like there? ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: It's a big surprise here, I can tell you -- that shocked statement from the couple. But also, the idea that the statement came out without any of the royal family members knowing about it. A serious lack of communication there.

Now, the fact that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex want to take a step back, that isn't really a surprise, particularly if we look at the last year -- a very tense relationship with the British press. Both Harry and Meghan are suing various British tabloids.

Also you've got to consider things like Archie. Baby Archie was born and he wasn't given a royal title.

We had an interview with Prince Harry to ITV, a British broadcaster, last year. He spoke about the rift with Prince William, his brother. He said they were on different paths.

So if you consider all that, this has been brewing for some time.

I think at the heart of it you can certainly feel that this is a new relationship they want to forge with the press. The press seems to be a big issue for them. If they are financially independent, which is what they want to try and aim to be, then they feel they can choose how they have a relationship with the press.

They want to break away from the Royal Rota because in addition to their first statement we had last night, they actually issued new guidelines as to how they want to deal with journalists in the future. They don't want to join the traditional Royal Rota as all the other members of the royal family do, senior and junior. They want to pick and choose who they speak to. They want to say they want to give up and coming journalists an opportunity to speak to them, but they also want to get objective truth by picking the journalists they want.

So, all sorts of news. Big questions about the succession, titles, and so forth. But I'm sure the royal family are trying to absorb this before they put out any further statements -- Laura.

JARRETT: Yes, that statement from Buckingham Palace was just incredible. Thanks so much for being there for us.

ROMANS: All right. Back home, 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 Sec. Steven Mnuchin told the Senate Judiciary Committee the cost 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. JARRETT: RBG says she's cancer-free. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 86, tells CNN she's beaten the disease for the fourth time 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.

ROMANS: Twin sisters who were joined at the chest and abdomen have been successfully separated by a 78-member surgical team in Nigeria. The procedure to separate Mercy and Goodness Ede took 13 hours and happened six weeks ago.

Hospital officials are just now releasing the details. They wanted to ensure there was no post-surgery complication. The twins, who were born in August, are now well enough to go home.

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



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've got levels to this.

COLBERT: I didn't -- 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, ABC HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": And what does that mean, taking a step back from your royal duties? They'll be waving less? I don't know.

Well, every girl dreams of becoming a princess. It turns out it kind of sucks.

TREVOR NOAH, COMEDY CENTRAL HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": Now the big question is if Harry and Meghan come 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 T.V. I know what you said about me, Denise. Say it to my face.


ROMANS: Oh, and they want to be financially independent.

JARRETT: What do you think they're going to do?

ROMANS: I don't know. I mean, look, they -- obviously, both of them have huge earning potential but how do you separate yourself from the monarchy? I mean, it's --

JARRETT: And how do you not tell the queen?

ROMANS: I know. Well, that's a potential faux pas there.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On the cusp of war with Iran, President Trump stepped back.

TRUMP: Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawmakers slammed a classified briefing on the White House decision to take out Iran's top military commander.

LEE: Probably the worst briefing I've seen, at least on a military issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was extraordinary to hear the administration tell Congress that we can't debate war and peace.

PAUL: They have justified the killing of an Iranian general as being something that Congress gave them permission to do in 2002. That is absurd, that's an insult.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.