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Iran Denies Missiles Hit Ukrainian Jet; Civilian Jetliner Crashes with 176 Aboard, No Survivors; Australia Welcomes U.S. Firefighters; Prince Harry and Meghan's Decision Against Queen's Wishes. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 10, 2020 - 04:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: -- that crashed near Tehran. New video of the impact moments away.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had to make a decision. We didn't have time to call up Nancy.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president rails on Democrats and makes a startling claim after the House passes a symbolic measure preventing military action against Iran.

JARRETT: And today is the day. Democrats running short on patience as Nancy Pelosi still holds those articles of impeachment.

CNN is live this morning in Tehran, Moscow, Sydney and London. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour this Friday here in New York.

Let's begin here. U.S. officials now believe the passenger jet that carried -- that crashed near Tehran Wednesday with 176 souls onboard was mistakenly shot out of the sky by Iran. CNN has obtained video that appears to show a missile being fired into the Tehran sky striking an object around the same time a Ukrainian 737 crashed just after takeoff.

A U.S. official familiar with the intel says the plane was shot down by two Russian-made surface-to-air missiles. The U.S. saw Iranian radar signals lock onto the jetliner before it went down. Intelligence later confirmed by Britain, Australia and Canada which lost 63 citizens.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: It is now more important than ever that we know exactly how such a tragedy could have happened. The families of the victims and all Canadians want answers. I want answers.


JARRETT: The jet crashed hours after Iran launched a strike against U.S. military bases in Baghdad. Those hostilities have complicated the investigation with American investigators initially kept out. But now a U.S. official tells CNN Iran has invited the National Transportation Safety Board to join. Allowing U.S. investigators to join here is significant here and allows Boeing to participate as well. But it also sets up a thorny situation because some sanctions on Iran would have to be waived to allow the U.S. to join.

Our coverage this morning begins with Frederik Pleitgen live in Tehran.

Fred, what can you tell us?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Laura. The Iranian Civil Aviation Authority came out earlier this morning and had a press conference where they sort of laid out their stance and essentially what they know so far. Now a key part in that is that the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, he came out and he said categorically this time that the Iranians don't believe that the plane was hit by a missile. He says that that theory as he put it is -- has to be considered not valid. And those were his exact words.

The Iranians are also saying that if the U.S. has any sort of intelligence on this or other countries as well like for instance Canada, they should bring it forward and file it to the official investigation. So the Iranians now saying that while they're looking at a lot of options they don't believe that the plane was struck by a missile, at least as far as the investigation was concerned. They did give some more detail to what exactly may have happened with that flight. The head of the Civil Aviation Authority was saying that the flight was in the air for about five minutes.

was on fire, and this is according to eyewitnesses apparently, for at least 60 to 70 seconds before the plane finally hit the ground. The Iranians are saying the plane took off from Imam Khomeini Airport, then at some point asked to climb to a higher altitude but then made a sharp turn trying to get back to the Imam Khomeini airport before hitting the ground. The Iranians obviously saying that they are still the early stages of their investigation, but again so far saying that they are ruling out this plane was hit by a missile. That's obviously going to be a big point of contention, guys.

JARRETT: A big point of contention and directly in contrast with the intelligence from all the other countries here.

Fred, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Ukraine's president will discuss this investigation with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today. The pilot's mother grieving at the arrival gate at the Ukrainian airport. Families of victims from Canada are shell-shocked.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thing that comes to your mind is that you don't believe that. I still don't believe that it happened. You know, and I will miss them forever. I think that there's a hole in my heart now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They described my mom as a very kind and very smart person. I have been told by many people that she was their best friend.

My dad, he was very inquisitive. I always thought to myself that if he had the opportunity to study and get an education in a first world country, he would become a very prestigious researcher, but unfortunately, that wasn't available to him.


ROMANS: CNN's Matthew Chance is live in Moscow.

Matthew, another crisis for Ukraine's president.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Remember Volodymyr Zelensky is his name is already at the heart of the impeachment investigation allegations against President Trump. And now sis is another national if not international tragedy, issue that he has to deal with.


It's interesting listening to Fred Pleitgen there in Tehran with the Iranians sort of doubling down on this idea that it was definitely not a missile strike that caused that Boeing 737 800 to plunge into the ground in such a dramatic fashion. That's in stark contrast, of course, to what the intelligence services of the United States, Canada, Britain, all say according to the leaders of those countries.

Volodymyr Zelensky has issued -- the Ukrainian president has issued a statement within the past couple of hours saying, look, the missile theory has not been ruled out. But he's called, as the Iranians have there, on U.S., on Canada, on Britain to present any data that they have to the investigators. So there's a big Ukrainian team on the ground at the moment to try and get to the bottom of what actually happened with this Boeing 737 800 airliner with 176 people onboard.

The Ukrainians say the missile theory is not the only theory they're investigating at this stage. They're also looking at the possibility of a terrorist bomb attack, the possibility of engine failure or the possibility that the plane simply struck an object in the sky like a drone or something like that. Remember this investigation is still at its very earliest stages -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Matthew Chance for us from Moscow. Thanks, Matthew.

JARRETT: President Trump in Ohio last night holding his first rally this election year. He railed against Democrats hours after the House passed a largely symbolic measure to stop him from taking further military action against Iran. The vote came as no surprise fell along party lines. Many Democrats questioned the White House justification for the drone strike that killed a top Iranian general that he was planning an imminent attack.

ROMANS: Thursday morning the president said the U.S. took out Qasem Soleimani because he was targeting the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Last night the president went even further.


TRUMP: Soleimani was actively planning new attacks and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just the embassy in Baghdad. But we stopped him and we stopped him quickly and we stopped him cold.


ROMANS: To be clear, so far no public proof Soleimani was targeting embassies, and no members of Congress mentioned that after their briefings. But a senior Defense official says the U.S. was concerned about threats posed by groups linked to Iran. Among possible targets the U.S. embassy in Beirut. That is one reason the U.S. deployed thousands of soldiers closer to Lebanon this week.

JARRETT: Democrats and a handful of Republicans remain frustrated by the White House's resistance to involve Congress. Last night, the president mocked the idea that congressional Democrats should be consulted.


TRUMP: We got a call. We heard where he was. We knew the way he was getting there and we had to make a decision. We didn't have time to call up Nancy who is not operating with a full deck. Shifty Schiff, say, see, Adam, how are you doing? Listen, we have the world's number one terrorist, killed thousands and thousands of people, we'd like to set up a meeting so we can discuss his execution. Would you be willing to meet?


JARRETT: There's a lot of legal uncertainty about whether concurrent resolutions under the War Powers Act are even binding. But it appears House Democrats are trying to force the Senate to vote on the measure.

ROMANS: Patience with Nancy Pelosi's impeachment strategy is running short even among fellow Democrats. The House speaker has been sitting on articles of impeachment for three weeks. She remains steadfast that she wants to understand the parameters of the Senate trial first, but a number of Democrats in the House and Senate are publicly saying it's time to move. Pelosi now suggests that time is coming.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I'm not holding them indefinitely. I'll send them over when I'm ready, and that will probably be soon.


ROMANS: In a separate meeting sources say Pelosi and her top messengers on impeachment discussed polling from six battleground states showing the public support of full trial over a speedy acquittal. But don't expect Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bend. He says he already has the votes to approve rules for a trial without support from Senate Democrats.

JARRETT: President Trump is proposing sweeping changes to environmental regulations that would speed up highway construction, oil pipelines and hundreds of other infrastructure projects. The new rules would allow the administration to move forward with far less federal review of their impact on the environment. It's only the latest in a series of regulatory rollbacks the president has pursued since taking office. Many of them focusing on environmental issues. It could also prevent communities from having much of a say about what gets built in their backyards.

ROMANS: Democratic candidates face a midnight deadline to qualify for next week's Iowa debate. Tom Steyer just made the cut after a surge in the polls in South Carolina and Nevada.


The field right now, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Steyer. It appears Andrew Yang is going to miss out. That means it's likely all six Democrats on the stage will be white. The DNC recently raised the bar to qualify for its January debate despite objections from some of the lower-polling candidates. Next week's debate will be held at Drake University, co- hosted by CNN and the " Des Moines Register."

JARRETT: So what's next for Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex? All sides trying to find a solution for the pair to bow out of their royal roles, but it may not be so easy. CNN is live in London.


ROMANS: Fascinating, fascinating study here. An increase in the minimum wage could help prevent thousands of suicides every year among workers with a high school degree or less. A new 25-year-old observational study found a $1 increase in the minimum wage resulted in an estimated 3.4 percent to 5.9 percent decrease in suicide rates among adults 18 to 64 years old.


A $2 increase could have prevented an estimated 40,000 suicides between 2009 and 2015. Now the study's author said our findings suggest the potential protective effects of a higher minimum wage are more important during times of high unemployment. The federal minimum wage currently stuck at $7.25 an hour. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia pay more. Over the past few years multiple studies have shown a link between economic conditions and health.

JARRETT: Firefighters from America are arriving to cheers at the airport in Sydney. They're going to need a lot of support because extreme dangerous fire conditions are in the forecast across Australia's southern states.

Will Ripley on the ground for us in Sydney.

Will, what's going on there? I see a pretty big crowd.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura, we had a huge crowd out here in Sydney earlier. They were marching for a couple of hours. The protests have ended but you can there were still some people standing out here in this part possibly for our benefit, but they want the world to see what they're protesting.

This particular group here is talking about the food supply. They say people should go vegan because livestock is a major contributor to the kind of pollution that causes climate change. But another big issue that's pressing here in Australia right now is the bushfires, unprecedented bushfires.

Amy Smith, you made this sign. "How do we sleep while our nation's burning." Is that your message? Is that why you're out here?

AMY SMITH, PROTESTER: Yes, it is. I live in the blue mountains where the fires have been particularly vicious and it's been absolutely exhausting.

RIPLEY: I know you guys are angry at your Prime Minister Scott Morrison. But, you know, what would be your message for the U.S. president Donald Trump about climate?

SMITH: You know, show leadership action on climate change. You know, Australia's not the only country. This is a warning to the whole world of what could happen.

RIPLEY: Amy Smith, thank you so much.

Yes, sure really is living on the front lines of climate change right now. You have dozens of fires burning as we speak threatening thousands of people's homes, putting lives in danger. More than two dozen people have already been killed. Australia is suffering from an unprecedented drought, and they say the rest of the world is going to see more natural disasters just like the ones that are happening here if they don't wake up to this issue -- Laura.

JARRETT: So many homes destroyed and it's just the beginning.

Will, thanks so much for being there for us.

ROMANS: All right, to this soap opera in the U.K. The Queen wasn't just caught off-guard. Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's decision to step back from senior royal duties directly defied the Queen's wishes.

CNN's Max Foster is live in London.

And, Max, we are, you know across the pond here. But I cannot tell you how much ink has been spilled and how much time has been spent in this country with every twist and turn of this story. What's the latest?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's been extraordinary, hasn't it? I mean, the latest is the Duchess has gone back to Canada. She spent the holiday season there. She's gone back. But she is due back in the U.K. at least by Tuesday because there's an engagement here in the U.K. on Tuesday which she still signed up for, hasn't been canceled. So we're only expecting her to go back to Canada for a couple of days.

But it does leave Prince Harry back here in the U.K. whilst other senior royals get together and try to find some sort of solution to what is a family crisis if not an institutional crisis. The crisis here is that effectively the Sussexs have set up a Web site to find their new role, this is how it's gonna be. But it wasn't approved by anyone else in the family and they don't see it as workable. So there's got to be some level of compromise here.

What we see on that Web site now can't be seen to live on effectively is what they're saying from the other side. So Prince Harry is going to spend the weekend presumably locked in some sort of negotiation with his brother, father, and grandmother to try to find some sort of way forward.

Interesting that the Duchess won't be here for that. I'm sure she'll be kept in the loop from Canada. But I know that on the senior royal side they want to have this wrapped up by the beginning of next week. So in theory should all be done and dusted by the time she gets back.

But, Christine, if they can't reach a compromise, it's difficult to see a way forward for this couple as working royals.

ROMANS: So what does that mean they could be fired, quit? I mean how do you quit or be fired from your family?

FOSTER: Well, they won't be fired from the family, but they do have official public duties, and they define how they want them to look. And the other side have said it's not workable. If they won't budge, then we're in a situation where the Queen finds their current set-up unworkable. This is unprecedented, I don't know how they find a way out of this. But either they reconsider their position as working Royals or --

ROMANS: Right.

FOSTER: I don't know. Maybe they do need to be nudged. I don't know how it works.

ROMANS: Fascinating. It's just uncharted territory. You know, this is fascinating to watch. OK, Max, thank you so much.


JARRETT: Well, and staying in the U.K. other minor news. Brexit now all but a done deal after a final vote in the House of Commons.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right 330, the noes to the left, 231.


JARRETT: Prime Minister Boris Johnson's commanding win in last month's election made the outcome virtually certain. The Brexit bill now moves to the House of Lords for debate next week considered largely a formality. Britain's withdrawal from the E.U. scheduled for January 31st. Then comes the hard part. An 11-month transition period with tricky negotiations for a full trade agreement with the European union.

ROMANS: All right, 50 minutes past the hour. After two years of growth Lime is pulling out of markets and laying off workers. CNN Business is next.



ROMANS: Jail cell surveillance video of Jeffrey Epstein's first apparent suicide attempt last summer no longer exists because of an accidental mix-up and technical issues. That claim in a court filing by the U.S. attorney's office in New York's Southern District. Now, prison officers found Epstein on the floor of his cell with a bed sheet around his neck on the morning of July 23rd. But according to government jail cell video was not properly provided and is now gone. A technical error is also being blamed for missing video from a backup recording system.

JARRETT: There's new concern about drones in Colorado after one came dangerously close to a medical helicopter Wednesday night. State public safety officials are activating more resources on the ground and in the air to investigate the mysterious drone sightings in Colorado in recent weeks. They're warning against trying to take down drones or approach suspected drone operators.

ROMANS: Overnight police in Chicago captured a coyote after two people were reportedly attacked including a 6-year-old boy. Police and animal control officers caught the coyote after a chase through several city blocks. The animal was finally tranquilized, loaded onto an animal control van. Authorities say a growing number are coyotes are coming in to the city in search of food. And they believe the second one is still at large on the streets of Chicago.

JARRETT: Amazon said it's fired a number of employees in its ring security camera business because they were abusing access to customer surveillance footage. The company disclosed the filings in a letter. Amazon says a smaller number of employees have access to that type of video. There have been numerous reports of ring customers being contacted through the devices by hackers and criminals. Ring blames that data breaches on other companies.

ROMANS: Regular doorbells. Super great.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning, taking a look at global markets. They're all a little bit higher here after what was a pretty big day on Wall Street yesterday. Futures right now -- futures in the U.S. up just a little bit. Record highs Thursday in stocks. Iran fears behind, optimism ahead for that signing of a narrow U.S. trade deal with China next week.

The Dow ended up 211 points, just shy of hitting 29,000 for the first time in history. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also closed higher. Apple rose 2 percent to a record high on news iPhone sales in China jumped 18 percent in December. Important economic data, the December jobs report out at 8:30 a.m. today. A strong end to the year in a mighty American jobs market. An estimated 164,000 new jobs added at the end of the year. The jobless rate 3.5 percent.

The housing market still one of the bright spots in the economy. One index shows housing prices rose more than 3 percent annually. Homebuilder Lennar reported solid fourth quarter earnings citing healthy demand across the country. The average 30 or fixed-rate mortgage now 3.6 percent. That's down -- look at how much that's down from last year. Cheap mortgages, a strong jobs market, confident consumers are the forecasted to keep real estate strong again this year.

The world's largest scooter sharing company is pulling out of 12 markets and laying off some of its staff. Lime eliminating 14 percent of its full-time employees around the world. It's about 100 people. Lime launched as a bike-share company back in 2017 and it switched its focus to scooters in 2018. Now it says it's struggling to become profitable because of low ridership. It's also saying it's seeing challenges from regulators including bans on nighttime riding and high fees to operate. Lime will end operations in Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego and San Antonio.

JARRETT: I'm too afraid to get on one of those. Would you use it?

ROMANS: I have used one before and I used one with my 13-year-old son. It was terrifying. Like to see him zipping around on one was like terrifying.

JARRETT: You are brave, my friend.

Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers EARLY START continues right now.

U.S. officials believe Iran mistakenly shot down a passenger jet that crashed near Tehran. New video of the impact moments away.


TRUMP: We had to make a decision. We didn't have time to call up Nancy.


ROMANS: The president rails against Democrats and makes a startling claim after the House passes a symbolling measure preventing military --