Return to Transcripts main page


CNN Exclusive, What's Left Of Al-Asad Air Base After Iranian Strike; Iranian Strike Blasts U.S. Troops Quarters; 1917 Dethrones Star Wars; Stocks Close Lower After December Jobs Report; GM's New Hummer Will Be Electric; Findings Of FL Navy Base Shooting Probe; David Calhoun Begins As New Boeing CEO; Inside Al-Asad base In Iraq; CNN Exclusive, What's Left Of Al-Asad Air Base After Iranian Strike; Iranian Strike Blasts U.S. Troops Quarters; 1917 Dethrones Star Wars; Stocks Close Lower After December Jobs Report; GM's New Hummer Will Be Electric. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 13, 2020 - 04:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN HOST: Death to the supreme leader. New demands for change in Iran after Tehran admits the shooting down a commercial jet.


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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's impeachment trial should finally begin any day. How does the speaker defend holding those articles for weeks?

JARRETT: And Bernie Sanders leaving no stone unturned. He's going right after Joe Biden and defending his campaign after surrogates targeted Elizabeth Warren. Welcome back to Early Start. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: Good morning, I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour this Monday morning here in New York. We begin here though with top National Security officials tying themselves in knots to explain the intel behind the killing of a top Iranian general. The White House originally said Qassem Soleimani posed an imminent threat and the president said he was targeting one U.S. embassy. Then he said, then several and 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.


ROMANS: So, the president says four embassies. 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'd believed that they probably that they could have been targeting the embassies in the region. I believe that as well.


JARRETT: 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 has said is consistent with his interpretation is very consistent with the intelligence which showed that Soleimani was plotting to kill Americans.


JARRETT: Defense Secretary Esper says the 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 she doesn't recall any intelligence specifically on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.




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

JARRETT: Many of the victims were Canadian. One man lost his sister, brother-in-law and one-year-old niece. She was the youngest victim. 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.


JARRETT: President Trump went to Twitter to warn Iran's leaders several times not to injure or kill the protesters. The posts were then retweeted in farcy. CNN's Nic Robertson is following the story in Abu Dhabi for us. And Nic, you know, we're seeing reports that protesters in Iran actually stepping around U.S. and Israeli flags, not trampling on them.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, these were painted there by the regime on the ground designed so that people would walk over them and show disrespect to those two nations and the protesters showing their disrespect for their current leaders by avoiding walking on those flags. Hugely symbolic. Hugely symbolic.

President Trump has talked about the Iranians should not increase the violence and kill and injure their people. While this story of last night's protest points to the opposite happening, that the protests are spreading, the violence is increasing. We've seen images of what appears to be a woman who get shot, the crowd are talking about blood coming from her leg. It keeps the blood -- the blood keeps coming, bandage him in another voice is heard saying.

So what we're seeing is a spread of the protests, the protests becoming more violent in places, confrontations because the police are trying to stop the protests happening. The protesters are calling for the death of Khamenei, they are calling for the death of the resulting death of Qassem Soleimani, burning his image which is quite startling when you consider just a couple of weeks ago or just last week. People were on the streets and there are hundreds of thousands apparently supporting the government, the regime and Qassem Soleimani.

Think back to several weeks ago, people in Iran were out on the streets protesting against the government, against price hikes, oil and other goods. Now they're back out again protesting the government for essentially the same reason, for not caring about them, not taking enough interest in them. And why quite simply, because it is well understood in Iran that the leadership could have decided not to fly civilian aircraft on the night that they were attacking U.S. bases and could have saved all those lives.

JARRETT: It's just a remarkable turnabout, Nic, as you say after just days from protesting the death of Soleimani. Thanks so much.

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

JARRETT: But Pelosi argues the delay put pressure on moderate Republicans. She's 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.


JARRETT: 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: All right, the stage is set literally. 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 slams Joe Biden's Iraq war vote and attacks Elizabeth Warren as a candidate of the elite in a growing rift between the progressive leaders. Our Jeff Zeleny is there 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 in Iowa, thanks so much.

And today the Attorney General and the Deputy Director of the FBR -- FBI expected to announce last month's mass shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station was an act of terrorists. The two officials will release the findings of a criminal investigation into the December 6 shooting that killed three U.S. service members. The attack was carried out by a Saudi second lieutenant taking part in the U.S. fighter jet training program. More than a dozen Saudi service members are being expelled from the U.S. after a review. They're not accused of aiding the gunman, but some are said to have connections to extremist movements. ROMANS: All right. David Calhoun may have the hardest job in

corporate America. He has to fix Boeing. Calhoun steps into the CEO job today, and he has got a lot of work. His first task getting the 737 Max back in the air. A crisis that has cost billions of dollars. The planes grounded since March after two crashes killed 346 people. He also must rebuild Boeing's reputation for safety and quality. Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin warned the 737 crisis could have a bigger impact.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: There's no question that the Boeing -- the Boeing situation is going to slow down the GDP numbers. Boeing is one of the largest exporters. And with the 737 Max, I think that could impact GDP as much as 50 basis points this year.


ROMANS: All right, Boeing had continued to build the Max for the last year even without being able to deliver it. It's preparing to temporary halt production of the model in the middle of this month. Boeing's biggest supplier Spirit Aero Systems announced Friday it's laying off 2,800 workers because of production suspension. Boeing hasn't said how long that halt will last. By the time it's all said and done there are folks who watch this who say you could have 10,000 jobs lost related to the Boeing situation.

JARRETT: Yes, he has his work cutoff there sure. Well, next, a CNN exclusive you cannot miss. CNN's Arwa Damon is the first journalist to tour the U.S. base that came under attack by Iran last week. CNN's exclusive look at what it was like to be on the receiving end of those attacks.



JARRETT: And now to a CNN exclusive. This terrifying response at the Al Assad air base when Iran attacked last Wednesday. Ten missiles hit the U.S. part of the base and one impacted the Iraqi section. The areas hit would have been populated if it weren't for the advance warning that led soldiers into bunkers. CNN was the first network to reach and report from the airbase. We want to warn you that some of the language here is intense. CNN's Arwa Damon has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy (BEEP). God Damn. Oh, shit bro (BEEP).

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: American forces are not used to being on the receiving end of this kind of firepower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another one, another one.

DAMON: They are usually the ones delivering it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I was scared at a moment, but it had been something that we were ready for, ready as can be.

DAMON: Ready for some sort of ground attack by Iran's proxies, ready for mortars and rockets. But this base is not equipped to defend against ballistic missiles. On any another night some of the 2,500 troops and contractors would have been in the areas hit.

LT. COL. TIM GARLAND, U.S. ARMY: The ballistic missile reporting started to come in a couple of hours before the event and said, at that point we were really scrambling on, you know, how to protect against that, and so it really came down to dispersion, you know, putting space between people and then also getting them into hardened bunkers just to provide that protection.

DAMON: At 11:00 p.m. those who could started to hunker down in bunkers built by their former enemy. This is Saddam Hussein era bunker.

LT. COL. STACI COLEMAN, U.S. AIR FORCE: It is. So we felt it would be somewhat safe in here, because it was designed to take, you know, some kind of hit or it was built for, you know, ballistic missiles.

DAMON: At 1:34 a.m. the first missiles hit.

COLEMAN: And these doors, every time one of the missiles hit the doors would kind of sink in.

DAMON: Dozens of troops were still out in the open holding their position to protect the base. There was still the threat of incoming rockets, mortars and ground assault. Pilots were still at their station operating drones.

CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER MIKE PRIDGEON, U.S. ARMY: As of one of going across the gravel, you could looked out to -- like the eastern sky and I see this orange streak, so I started sprinting going in and giving everybody a kind of warning and it hit so, yeah.

DAMON: Flames swallowed up the drone team living quarters. Some 30 something troops would have been sleeping here had they not been ready. Others rush around the base as missiles came down, looking for anyone who may have been injured, checking on the bases defenses. Along the base perimeter, young soldiers on their first tour fought the instinct to flee and stayed manning the guard towers.

SPECIALIST ERIC KNOWLES, U.S. ARMY: It was definitely scary at first, but we both knew we had a job to do manning the tower, keeping eyes front, so we had to do that more than anything, focused on that. Not trying to focus on everything behind us.

DAMON: When one strike hit too close, they vaulted into the back of a truck and held their position there. It was a night unlike any here had experienced, hunkered down for about two hours, unable to fight back. Some crammed into bunkers that weren't built to withstand missiles like these.

[04:50:00] These kind of small bunkers exist throughout the base, but they're

meant to protect against rockets and mortars. The ballistic missiles that were fired are about 3,000 times more powerful than that. The blast from this one knocked over a 4 ton t-wall but if that hadn't have happened those two who were sheltering here probably would not have survived.

Come daybreak, fear of finding out who was killed or wounded was eclipsed by the joy of shock that no one was.

It's like, what are those reunions like when you see someone you're close to and you realize that you're both OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a warm feeling deep in the heart that all your friends, your family here is OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just felt like forever since I'd seen my guys and you know, there was a lot of hugging and a lot of tears and a lot of -- just a great feeling knowing that all your people are OK.

DAMON: And this is what you're used to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is my room. A little bit open floor plan now but like bunkers right in the corner right there, and this was my neighbor up here. Everything's obviously gone. Just happy no one was inside, you know?

DAMON: It's kind of freaky looking at it like this, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. It's surreal. I'm not bothered looking at it. It's just, you know, a reminder. Threats still exist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we have each other. We had each other that night and he's always like a brother hood that will never break because of it.

DAMON: Does it change your perspective on life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does. It does. It could, you know, it could be over, you know, in an instant. It really does. And it really makes me value -- value mostly my team.

DAMON: The base is still on high alert. The dining facility is open, but people eat elsewhere to avoid a large crowd gathering. The military says they are ready for what may come next. Iran's proxies on the ground continue to vow revenge. Even for those who have seen war before, this was unlike any other battlefield experience. The overwhelming feeling of helplessness that comes with being under ballistic missile attack, to be at the mercy of the enemy, one that could strike again even if it's not like this. Arwa Damon, CNN, Al Assad air base, Iraq.


ROMANS: Fantastic work by Arwa. And just to hear it from them of what it was like to be -- just amazing. JARRETT: And the fact that she's in the same bunkers used by Saddam

Hussein is just incredible.

ROMANS: Yes, is that something.

JARRETT: Arwa, thank you so much for all of that reporting.

ROMANS: Fifty minutes past the hour. Looks like a big night at the Golden Globes helped one movie leapfrog Star Wars at the box office. CNN Business next.



ROMANS: Let's get a check on CNN Business this Monday morning. Taking a look at markets around the world right now. Mostly higher performance. Tokyo stock exchange was closed for a holiday on Wall Street. Futures to start the week leaning a little bit higher. Stocks closed lower Friday after that jobs report, 145,000 new jobs in December. That means 6.5 million new jobs in the first 34 months of the Trump administration, 6.5 million. How does that compare? That trails 7.5 million in the final 34 months of the Obama administration. So, growth slowing a bit.

Also a take away from that report to tell you about. More women than men in the work force for the first time in nearly a decade. Women had more than half of all jobs, 109,000 more jobs held by women than men. Another milestone, the DOW crossed 29,000 points for the first time in history but couldn't sustain it and edged down 133 points for the close. The S&P and the NASDAQ also finished lower.

All right. In the (Inaudible) department, the Hummer goes green. GM bringing back the Hummer, this time as an electric pickup truck. It's a surprisingly green return for the usually gas guzzling Hummer with a reputation for not being fuel efficient. GM discontinued the Hummer back in 2010 after it filed for bankruptcy. You know, it had to cut some of its more costly brand. GM plans to show-off the new truck in a Super Bowl ad and it will hit the market in early 2022.

A war movie topped the box office over the weekend, but this one was set in the trenches of World War I rather than the galaxy far, far away. Universal's 1917 knocked Star Wars, the rise of Skylarked off the top spot with an estimated $36.5 million. On the final installment of the Skywalker saga, it had been number one for the last three weekends. 1917, likely got a boost, thanks to its big night at the Golden Globes. Took home the honor of best Drama. The film also won Best Director.

JARRETT: 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.

Death to the supreme leader. Renewed demands for change in Iran after Tehran admits to shooting down a commercial jet.


PELOSI: Dismissing is a cover-up.


ROMANS: The president's impeachment trial should finally begin any day. How does the speaker defend holding the articles for weeks?