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Demand For Change In Iran; Pelosi Accuses McConnell Of Cover Up; Progressives Battle Ahead Of Last Debate; Crisis In Iran; America's Choice 2020; CNN Democratic Presidential Debate; Big Bank Earnings Could Keep Stock Rally Alive; Royal Crisis Summit; Officials Urge Total Evacuations Near Taal Volcano; Bizarre Weather; NFL Playoffs; Oscar Nominations Set To Be Announced. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 13, 2020 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Death to the supreme leader. Renewed demands for change in Iran after the country admits shooting down a commercial jet.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Dismissing is a cover- up.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN HOST: The president's impeachment trial should finally begin any day now. So, how does the speaker defend holding the articles for weeks?

ROMANS: And Bernie Sanders leaving no stone unturned. He's going right after Joe Biden and defending his campaign after surrogates targeted Elizabeth Warren. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world this Monday morning. This is Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett, it's Monday, January 13th, 4:00 a.m. in New York, 21 days to the Iowa caucuses.

Top national security officials tying themselves in knots to explain the intel behind the killing of the top Iranian general. The White House originally said Qassem Soleimani posed an imminent threat and then the president said he was targeting one U.S. Embassy, then several, then the president went even further.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Large scale attacks planned for other embassies. And if those were planned, why can't be reveal that to the American people? Wouldn't that help your case?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can reveal that I believe it would have been four embassies and I think that probably Baghdad already started.


JARRETT: So, the president says four embassies there. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he didn't see the evidence for that, but he still backs the president's claim.


MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: He didn't cite a specific piece of evidence but what he says, he probably -- he believe --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you saying there wasn't one?

ESPER: I didn't see one with regard to four embassy. What the president said with regard to the four embassies is what I believe as well. And he said he believed that they probably that they could have been targeting the embassies in the region. I believe that as well.


ROMANS: The president's national security advisor offering this explanation for why the administration won't release the intel to back up its claim.


ROBERT O'BRIEN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: That same intelligence, those same streams and channels are what allow us to protect Americans going forward. So rather than have a short-term political win, release the intelligence and say I told you so. We want to keep the American safe and people safe going forward, so we are going to be circumspect, but everything the president says is consistent with his interpretation is very consistent with the intelligence which showed that Soleimani was plotting to kill Americans.


ROMANS: His interpretation consistent with that. All right. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that top eight Congressional leaders were briefed, at least on the intel relating to a possible attack on the Baghdad embassy, but House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff, one of the gang of eight says, he doesn't recall any intelligence specifically on the Baghdad compound.




JARRETT: A stunning scene there on the streets of Tehran. Protesters chanting death to the supreme leader. Iranians demanding the Ayatollah -- to Ayatollah to held accountable for his downing of a Ukrainian airliner. Anger growing after Iran admitted it shot down the jet last week killing all 176 people. Iran calls it an accident and says it was caused in part by heightened tensions just hours after Iran fired missiles to our bases in Iraq that house U.S. troops. It took Tehran three days to admit what Ukrainian investigators say they knew just three hours after arriving at the crash site, that that missile brought down the jet.

ROMANS: Many of the victims were Canadian. One man lost his sister, brother-in-law and 1-year-old niece. That little girl was the youngest victim of that plane tragedy. He speaks to broader frustrations with leadership in Iran.


AMIR ARSALANI, SISTER, BROTHER-IN-LAW, NIECE KILLED ON FLIGHT PS752: She was an angel. Like how can you do that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They say it was an accident.

ARSALANI: It was not an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does justice look like for you and your family?

ARSALANI: We say eye for an eye. I know there's not a possible way. What are they going to do? Give us money, give us piece of land, give us -- put a street under their name? I don't care. I can care less. I want them back. If I can get them back, they have to leave, they have to go.


ROMANS: President Trump went to Twitter to warn Iran leaders several times not to injure or kill those protesters. The posts were retweeted in farcy. CNN's Nic Robertson is following the story from Abu Dhabi and Nic, that man in Canada that Paula talked to, you know, his pain and his anger were just palpable there. And that's what we're seeing on the streets.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, 100 percent it is people angry because they see that their leadership doesn't respect them. It covers up the fact for several days and not only that, it had the opportunity not to allow civil aviation to fly that night while they we're launching strikes against U.S. bases in Iraq.


So they're seen as in effect counting less than the sort of overseas adventures of the regime. What we are seeing on the streets for a second night now in Iran, and not just the capital, these protests are spreading. They're also becoming more violent. We're seeing situations where clearly the Iranian authority is absolutely ignoring perhaps no surprise President Trump's tweet, not to injure civilians.

You can hear gunshots on some of the video. One of them you see what appears to be a woman who is bleeding. You can hear a voice saying words to the effect on she's continuing to bleed. So, there are confrontations. Going back to what we were seeing several weeks ago, before the death of Qassem Soleimani that is Iranians out on the streets protesting about price hikes by the government. That being the government does not care about its people as much as it does about its overseas policies.

It is coming back to the streets. People calling death for the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. There is also a burning images -- burning pictures of Qassem Soleimani. This is significant, they are saying death to him. Death to his leader, meaning the supreme leader. So, this is a turn around on the treats. Hundreds of thousands taking to the streets. Pro-government, pro-Qassem Soleimani a few days ago and now this, back to the protests as before and turning bloody and violent again. People simply angry that their leadership cares no about them.

ROMANS: We should make a quick point, right. People have the right to go out and protest their government in Iran the way they do in democracies.

ROBERTSON: Iran locks up a massive number of people that protest against the government, and no, there is no legitimate right for people to come out and ineffectively expect to be able to walk away from a protest at the end of the day. The British ambassador to Iran was arrested on the edge of a protest and taken into the Iranian foreign ministry for a dressing down over the weekend, accused of joining in the protests. You know, for a British ambassador is going to get rounded up and arrested on street for just being there we can only imagine what it means for Iranians.

ROMANS: yes, just shows you just the personal risk all of those people are taking. Nic, (inaudible) more pointing. All right, Nic, thank you so much for that.

JARRETT: Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has no regrets about her decision to withhold those articles of impeachment against President Trump. Critics say the move has weakened Democrats' case that President Trump poses an immediate national threat to national security, but Pelosi wanted the Senate to lay out the specifics for the trial process and commit to calling witnesses. That did not happen.

ROMANS: But Pelosi argues the delay put pressure on moderate Republicans. She is also calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for supporting a resolution to dismiss the articles.


PELOSI: Dismissing is a cover-up. Dismissing is a cover-up. If they want to go that route, again, the Senators who are thinking now about voting for witnesses or not, they will have to be accountable for not having a fair trial.


ROMANS: Pelosi is expected to name impeachment managers this week after consulting with House Democrats tomorrow. She'll send the articles over to the Senate soon after.

JARRETT: The stage is set. Six 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls will fight it out on this stage in Iowa tomorrow night in the final debate before voting begins three weeks from today. Senator Bernie Sanders edging out his rivals in a new Iowa poll as he pounces on Joe Biden's vote for Iraq war and his campaign attacks Elizabeth Warren as a candidate of the elite in a growing rift between the progressive leaders. CNN's Jeff Zeleny for us in Des Moines.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, the Democratic presidential candidate's descending on Iowa for a final day of campaigning before that debate on Tuesday. That is the final debate before the voting finally begins in the 2020 presidential primary. So much has changed in terms of the conversation.

Foreign policy, of course, now front and center in this debate. Look for Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden to continue their really sharp disagreements about their view of the world. Also something happened over the weekend that we have not yet seen before. A fight between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

It is about the Sanders campaign and some of the language they're using. Politico reported that the Sanders campaign was essentially trying to take back some Warren voters by saying, look, she can't win. So, it was used as a script that volunteers were going out to talk to voters about.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), 2020 U.S. DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me. I hope Bernie reconsiders and turns his campaign in a different direction.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have hundreds of employees. Elizabeth Warren has hundreds of employees and people sometimes say things that they shouldn't. You have heard me give many speeches. Have I ever said one negative word about Elizabeth Warren?



ZELENY: The Warren campaign trying to raise money off this saying look, look, Bernie Sanders is trying to call them out in an unfair way. Now, all of this means one thing. The campaign is getting tighter. Our new CNN Des Moines register poll shows just a close race with those four candidates at top, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, all within the margin of error. Of course, later this week some candidates will go back to Washington for the impeachment trial. Not Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden. They can campaign for the rest of the month. Christine and Laura.


JARRETT: Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much for that report. And it's the last debate before the first vote. The top Democrats had Iowa alive. CNN presidential debate in partnership with the Des Moines register tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN.

ROMANS: All right. America's biggest banks kick off a busier season. Expect record earnings from some of the biggest players. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, City Group, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, all report their fourth quarter results this week.

In 2018 it was the best year ever. The largest banks made more than $120 billion, a record high. Last year 2019 might have been even better. Lower interest rates have been a recent challenge for banks because you know they eat into lending profits, but lower rates also encourage more customers to borrow money like taking out a mortgage.

Job growth, meanwhile, has been steady and consumer spending is strong. All those factors could mean another record year for banks. Optimism around U.S.-China trade deal could also drive stocks higher. President Trump is scheduled to sign the phase one deal on Wednesday along with China's Vice Premier, Liu He.

JARRETT: Well, Prince Harry will face his family today for the first time since he and his wife said they want to step back from their royal duties. A summit with big implications and CNN is live in London.



ROMANS: The top members of Britain's royal family set to meet today. They'll discuss the future of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex also known as Harry and Meghan. The couple announced last week they plan to step back from their role as senior members of the royal family. CNN's Anna Stewart, live in London, with the latest for us on the story that has grip both side of the pond. Good morning, Anna.

ANNA STEWART, CNN PRODUCER: Good morning, Christine. And today we do have the (inaudible) and summits where we hope to find some sort of break through or agreement between the royals. It'll be the first time that the sitting royals have met since this bombshell announcement last Wednesday. It's been very quiet ever since then.

A range of proposals are going to be discussed. And this is between the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry. All of their officials have been talking behind closed doors trying to reach some sort agreement and those proposals will be looked through today.

On the negotiating team table here we expect titles, funding, taxes if Harry and Meghan choose to live between the U.K. in Canada, things like (inaudible) in Windsor, all sorts of different options are likely to be given out. Any one of these options will take a long time to implement. We could see some phasing agreement where they still have money from

Prince Charles, 100 percent maybe for the first year, maybe it gets phased out. Honestly it's fascinating to know where there whether there will be agreement. We are also getting lots of news in the newspapers about the family rift much speculations. The Sunday times reporting that Prince William said to a friend, I put my arm around my brother all our lives and I can't do that anymore. We are separate entities. And this is what's playing so big in the papers. Not just the horse trading but the family rift itself. And I guess there's going to have be some family bonding at n these crucial meeting in a few hours' time.

ROMANS: And Ann, Meghan will be there, right? She's in Canada with her son.

STEWART: Meghan, will not be there. Notably absent. She flew back to Canada shortly after that shock announcement. We discovered that Baby Archie was already in Canada. He haven't return to the U.K. But she is expected to be dialing into the meeting.

ROMANS: All right, on conference call. We will sending him summit. All right, Anna, thank you so much for that.

JARRETT: Authorities in the Philippines urging a total evacuation of nearly half a million people near the capital of Manila after the Taal Volcano spewed ash 9 miles into the air. The latest report, more than 16,000 people have already been ordered to leave their homes. Ash from the volcano mixing with rain, creating a thick black sludge that blanketed nearby towns. Seismologists raising the alert level to a four, meaning an explosive eruption could happen at any time. Taal, isn't actually a very big volcano, but it's considered among the world's most dangerous, because so many people live nearby.

And a deadly series of tornados tears through the south, the same weekend record highs made the northeast feel more like spring.



ROMANS: All right, some wild dangerous weekend weather across the eastern half of the country. About three dozen record highs set from the mid-Atlantic to New England, including Baltimore, New York City and Boston. Boston, where it was 74 degrees. At least 9 people died as severe storms and tornados ravished part of the Midwest and the south.

JARRETT: At one point nearly 350,000 customers were without power in 10 states. There were waves of crippling snow and ice that blanketed areas from the Deep South to the upper Midwest. In Texas a firefighter and police officer were killed while working a crash. The icy roadways were blamed. Today more rain for the southeast on top of the storms over the weekend could lead to some flash flooding.

ROMANS: All right, the NFL conference championship games are set. The Green Bay Packers advance. They took a 21-3 lead and held up a late surge by the Seattle Seahawks. Aaron Rogers throwing two touch downs in the 20-23 win. And a game for the ages in Kansas City. The Chiefs fell behind the Houston Texans 24-nothing. (Inaudible), what did they do, they outscored the Texans 51-7 the rest of the way. Five touchdown passes to Patrick Mahomes in the 51-31 win.

Five touchdown passes. The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to win a playoff game by at least 20 after trailing by at least 20. It was a remarkable game and Patrick Mahomes, man that guy. So, next Sunday, they have sea titles aim the Chiefs host the Tennessee Titans, who offset the top seated Baltimore Ravens, Saturday. The Packers head to San Francisco to face the NFC's top seed the 49ers.

JARRETT: The nominees for the 92nd Annual Academy awards will be announced in just a few hours.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You always charge a guy with a gun. With a knife, you ran away. So, you're charged with a gun, but a knife you run.


JARRETT: Netflix is getting for best picture it has at least two contenders with Martin Scorsese's The Irishman and the divorce drama, Marriage story.


1917, is also likely to get a nod, after sweeping some of the top awards of the Golden Globes. The film widely expected to get the most nominations is Quentin Tarantino's Valentin, Once upon a time in Hollywood.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) -- the cowboy.


JARRETT: And the Oscars will be handed out on February 9th.

ROMANS: I haven't seen those movies yet.

JARRETT: Not a single one.

ROMANS: I do want to see 1917, though. That was getting a lot of critical acclaim.

JARRETT: Everyone says it's terrific, but I still need to see it, too.

ROMANS: All right, 25 minutes past the hour. The White House struggling to explain what led up to the decision to kill the Ayatollah's right hand man. But the sentiment in Iran is less anti- American and more anti-regime. Remarkable what's happening in the streets there. CNN live in the Middle East.