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Democrats Final Debate Before Iowa; Russians Hack Company at Core of Impeachment; LSU Beats Clemson, Becoming College Football National Champs; Queen Agrees to "Transition" for Harry & Meghan. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 14, 2020 - 04:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucus is tonight on CNN and tension is simmering between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Did he tell her a woman couldn't win the race?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The Ukrainian company at the heart of the impeachment probe hacked by the Russians. Impeachment articles could go to the Senate as soon as tomorrow.

JARRETT: And the Tigers win. But which Tigers? We'll tell you whether Clemson or LSU took home the college football national title.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, January 14th. It is 4:00 a.m. in New York. It is 20 days now until the Iowa caucuses.

We are just hours from the final debate before voting begins in Iowa. Now a peace between progressives Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren that stood for more than a year, that peace is at risk of crumbling. CNN was first to report multiple sources Sanders told Warren during a private meeting in December 2018 he did not believe a woman could win the presidency.

Sanders quickly denied that. He said: It's sad that three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren't in the room are lying about what happened.

JARRETT: But last night, Warren issued a statement confirming the account. Quote: Among the topics that came up what was would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.

Both sides struggling for control of the narrative. Warren says it happened, Sanders says it didn't. Only one story can be true.

This is how a senior advisor to Sanders explained this on CNN last night.


JEFF WEAVER, SANDERS CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: I think their wires are crossed. It was a discussion about Trump, misogyny, sexism in politics, and the difficulty of running in the era of Trump for women -- the special challenges that women face in the era of Trump. But, you know, those conversations can sometimes get misconstrued, Chris.


ROMANS: Sunday, it emerged Sanders' surrogates were painting Warren as the candidate of the elites. All this just one thing to watch on the debate stage tonight.

For more, CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Des Moines.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, that's right. It is debate night here in Iowa, the final debate before the first votes begin in the 2020 presidential campaign, on the campus of Drake University.

Now, there will be six Democratic candidates taking the stage. They have debated so many times before. This is a different moment. You can feel that voters are paying more attention, at least in early voting states like Iowa, and the arguments and tensions certainly different as well.

Think of this as sort of a Venn diagram if you will and get out a drawing here. Bernie Sanders going after Joe Biden on foreign policy, making a case of judgment all sparked by the Iran controversy and, of course, Joe Biden's old vote for the Iraq War. At the same time, a new fight breaking out between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, all over electability.

As standing side-by-side on stage, what will their posture be?

Talking to both of their advisers in both campaigns, temperatures may cool a bit on that. They clearly do not want to alienate any progressive voters.

The other dynamic is this: Senator Amy Klobuchar trying to make her mark -- trying to get some momentum going into the final stretch here. She has been going after Pete Buttigieg -- his experience -- 37-year- old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana -- so she's started that argument. She's also been calling out other progressives in the race, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders -- calling for a reality check on some of their proposals.

Will she raise the word socialism? Will she say that Bernie Sanders will be tough to be elected against President Trump?

All of that is setting the stage here. The top four candidates bunched so closely in the race -- Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, and Biden. Amy Klobuchar, of course, far behind. Tom Steyer also on stage. But this is the last big moment for these candidates before the impeachment trial is going to overshadow all of this -- so tonight, a critical moment here in Iowa. But three weeks from this morning, the winner and the losers will be heading to New Hampshire as the race goes on.


So, this is nearing the end -- Christine and Laura.


ZELENY: Nearing the end and nearing the beginning, depending on how you look at it.

The top Democrats head to Iowa for a live CNN presidential debate, in partnership with "The Des Moines Register". That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

JARRETT: New overnight, evidence that Russian military hackers successfully penetrated Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company at the heart of President Trump's impeachment trial. The disclosure raising fears Russian intelligence wanted compromising information on Joe Biden. His son, Hunter, serve on Burisma's board.

The cybersecurity firm Area 1 says fake websites setup by Russian intelligence tricked Burisma employees into giving up their passports. It's unknown how deeply accessed the network. No comments so far from the Russian embassy in Washington.

ROMANS: In just hours, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet with House Democrats. Sources tell CNN she may announce who will serve as impeachment managers as early as this morning. Managers essentially act as prosecutors in the Senate trial. A vote to approve the managers and send articles of impeachment to the Senate may take place tomorrow.

Key GOP senators say they are open to witnesses but not just yet.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I'd like there to be witnesses and be able to hear from someone like John Bolton. At the same time, I'm comfortable with the Clinton model, which is we hear the opening arguments first and then we'll have a vote on whether or not to have witnesses.


JARRETT: And we now know President Trump's defense team is mostly in place. Sources say the team feels confident despite having to adjust after former national security advisor John Bolton offered to testify if subpoenaed.

Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, well, he's been lobbying the president to join his legal team on the Senate floor during the trial. Giuliani's dealings with Ukraine are a key facet of the impeachment case.

ROMANS: New and serious doubts about the imminent threat claim President Trump used to justify the killing of a top Iranian general. State Department officials tell CNN they were not made aware of any imminent threat to four U.S. embassies and no warnings about any specific dangers were sent to diplomatic outposts before the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

One senior State Department official describes being blind-sided. And now, top Trump administration officials are shifting their narrative, shifting it again from imminence to deterrence.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: President Trump and those of us in is national security team are reestablishing deterrents -- real deterrents against the Islamic Republic.

BILL BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It reestablished deterrents. It responded to attacks that had been already committed.


JARRETT: President Trump now insists imminence doesn't matter because of General Soleimani's horrible past. The president also found time to retweet a photoshopped image of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer wearing traditional Muslim clothing.

Two days ago, President Trump tweeted in Farsi to let protesting Iranians know how inspired he was by their courage. Of course, his travel ban prevents any of those people from seeking refuge in the United States.

ROMANS: All right. A reversal ahead of the trade deal. The U.S. has dropped China from its currency manipulator list. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said: China has made enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation, while promoting transparency and accountability.

President Trump backing away from that very tough China talk. China was labeled a currency manipulator only five months ago. Trump really rebranding a lack of meaningful overall progress on the China issue as an election year win today. The phase one deal that will be signed this week shadowed what Trump had promised. We still don't know exactly what's in it. Trump will say the text will be published after the signing.

What is promised, fewer tariffs on Chinese made goods. China will step up purchases of U.S. farm goods, and make some changes to intellectual property and technology rules. "Reuters" is reporting China will increase U.S. car, aircraft, energy purchases as part of this deal.

JARRETT: There's now a permanent stain on one of the greatest baseball seasons in recent memory. Houston Astros owner Jim Crane firing manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for using an intricate camera system to steal opponent signs during their 2017 title season. Hinch and Luhnow were initially suspended for one year without pay by the MLB, but the organization felt it needed to go further.


JIM CRANE, OWNER AND CHAIRMAN, HOUSTON ASTROS: We need to move forward with a clean slate and the Astros will become stronger -- a stronger organization because of this today.


ROMANS: Both men released statements released statements accepting responsibility, but emphasizing they did not orchestrate the scheme. More punishments is likely to come. Major League Baseball's investigation found then Astros bench coach, Alex Cora was also deeply involved. He is now manager of the Boston Red Sox and is likely facing a long suspension when the investigation wraps up.


JARRETT: Let the good times roll at Louisiana State.


GAME ANNOUNCER: Burrow from the pocket, launches to the end zone -- touchdown, Chase.


JARRETT: LSU capping an undefeated season, winning college football's national championship. A 42-25 victory over Clemson, defeating champs -- the defending champs, I should say. LSU with a Heisman winning quarterback Joe Burrow, he threw for 463 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another. This is LSU's first national title since the 2007 season.

Tigers fans have been up all night celebrating. They're on winter break.

President Trump and the first lady attended the game at the Super Dome in New Orleans and received a nice ovation.

ROMANS: Yes, they were chanting "USA, USA". So, a real raucous crowd there.

All right. Almost 11 minutes past the hour this morning. A policeman in Georgia struck by a train while looking for a suspect, and he survived.



ROMANS: A U.S. citizen who begged to President Trump for help has died after more than six years in an Egyptian prison. Sixty-four-year- old Mustafa Kassem was detained in 2013 while visiting family in Cairo.

His representative say he was beaten in pre-trial detention. After his sentencing, Kassem wrote a letter to President Trump. He told the president he was diabetic and going on a hunger strike adding, I am putting my life in your hands. The letter was passed on to the president by New York Congressman Peter King. It's not clear whether the president read it.

The president has focused on getting Americans released from detention overseas, but he's also known to be fond of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

JARRETT: Amazon plans to ask a federal court to temporarily block Microsoft from moving ahead with a $10 billion cloud competing contract with the military. Microsoft is scheduled to begin work on the so-called Jedi project next month. But Amazon is challenging the way the Pentagon project was awarded.

The company was widely believed to be the front-runner for the deal before President Trump vowed to take a look at it. The president has been very open about his hostility towards Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos. Bezos also owns "The Washington Post."

ROMANS: Abby Huntsman is leaving "The View". She's been co-hosting the popular ABC talk show since 2018. Her last day on "The View" will be Friday, and then she goes to work on her father Jon Huntsman's campaign for the governor of Utah.


ABBY HUNTSMAN, HOST, "THE VIEW": This panel's special and I think will always go down as a really crucial time for the show, and I'm so thankful for this opportunity. But as you guys know, my number one priority has always been my family.


ROMANS: Huntsman is not ruling out a return to the show someday.

But behind the scene, sources describe a toxic work environment, including a sour relationship between Huntsman and fellow conservative Meghan McCain.

JARRETT: A Georgia police officer is truly lucky to be alive after he was hit by a train while chasing a burglary suspect. Incredibly, it was captured by the officer's body camera.


ANDY ANDERSON, POLICE OFFICER, POLK COUNTY, GEORGIA: Me and Rob (ph) worked him up towards Piedmont at the railroad tracks.



JARRETT: Wow, just look at that.

Officer Andy Anderson broke six of his ribs, his elbow and his shoulder. He also suffered a concussion, but Anderson is recovering. He was even able to give a thumbs-up from his hospital bed.

ROMANS: Oh, it's just terrifying.

All right. Seventeen minutes past the hour.

Queen Elizabeth agrees to transition period for Harry and Meghan. But she would rather they stayed in the family. What's in store for the next few days? We're live from London.



ROMANS: All right. Britain's Queen Elizabeth agreeing to a period of transition for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The duke and duchess of Sussex said they wanted to step back from their senior royal duties. The queen wants plans finalized in the coming days.

What does this all mean for the royal family?

CNN's Anna Stewart live in London.

Affirmed they've been emergency talks yesterday. Today, the American newspapers are full of consternation and controversy about whether they'll be allowed to keep their royal titles.

What is the latest, Anna?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we had a statement from the queen, and felt like a deeply personal statement on this meeting, lots of emphasis on my family, my grandson. It felt very warm. She mentioned the duke and duchess of Sussex by their first names Harry and Meghan.

Now, that has, of course, led to lots of speculation about their titles. They're called the Sussexes later in the statements, so there's no suggestion here they'd lose that title as the duke and duchess of Sussex, but plenty of people wondering that could be a sign that HRH, his and her royal highness, could be a title that goes, whether or not they're stripped of it or decide to relinquish that. It's part of this big transition.

I want to read part of this statement as well, where it says, although we would have preferred them to remain full time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family, while remaining a valued part of my family. So, my family again there.

Also perhaps quashes those reports that the Sussexes felt they were being frozen out of the new look, future slimmed down royal family. It feels a lot warmer. The tabloids today seem to be talking about Harry and Meghan's joint decision. So, we are seemingly shifting away from that tabloid focus on #megxit -- Christine.

ROMANS: Hashtag Megxit.

All right. Ana for us in London, thank you so much for that.

JARRETT: There appears to be no let-up from a volcano near the Philippines capital. The Taal volcano erupting for a third day, spewing lava and ash and steam. More activity expected over the next several days. Officials have recorded more than 200 earthquakes in the area.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will visit areas affected by the Taal volcano eruption today.

Ten thousands -- tens of thousands of people have been relocated to shelters. Aquino International Airport has resumed normal operations but flights could be suspended again. The country's agriculture secretary says spewing ash has damaged crops, including corn and coffee.

That's a really sad situation there.

ROMANS: Yes, it is.

JARRETT: Progressives on a collision course. Elizabeth Warren says Bernie Sanders told her a woman could not win the election. The final Democratic debate before the iowa caucus just hours away here on CNN.



ROMANS: The final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucus is tonight on CNN. Tensions simmering between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Did he tell her a woman couldn't win the race?

JARRETT: The Ukrainian company at the heart of the impeachment probe hacked by the Russians. Impeachment articles could go to the Senate as soon as tomorrow.

ROMANS: And the Tigers win, but which tigers? We'll tell you whether Clemson or LSU take home the college football national title.

Welcome back to EARLY START this Tuesday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

Good morning.

JARRETT: Good morning.

I'm Laura Jarrett. Twenty-nine minutes past the hour here in New York.

We're just hours from the final moments of the Democratic debate before voting begins in the Iowa caucuses.

Now, a peace between progressives Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that stood for more than a year is at risk of crumbling. CNN was the first to report multiple sources saying Sanders told Warren during a private meeting in December of 2018 he didn't believe a woman could win the presidency.