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Plane Returning To LAX Dumps Jet Fuel On Ground; Democrats' Final Debate Before Voting Begins; Sanders, Warren Address Female Electability; New Docs Show More Ukraine Intrigue; Bushfire Smoke Engulfs Melbourne; Australian Open Qualifiers Disrupted By Smoke; Flynn Seeks To Withdraw Guilty Plea; Stocks Close Flat Before Phase One Deal. Aired 3:30-4a ET

Aired January 15, 2020 - 03:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: A plane returning to Los Angeles International Airport for an emergency landing dumps jet fuel, hitting five elementary schools and one high school. Authorities say 60 people on the ground were treated for minor injuries. At one school, nearly two dozen children were hit by the jet fuel and had to be decontaminated.


JUSTIN GUTI, 5TH GRADER: And it spreaded (ph) on my friends and on me. And then it just got in my eye, and I'm getting -- I'm blurry.


JARRETT: It's terrible. The FAA is investigating Tuesday's incident. All of the schools in the L.A. district will be open today. Officials say there is no longer any danger from the fuel dump.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Alex Cora is out as manager of the Boston Red Sox. The team says they have mutually parted ways. Cora strongly implicated in baseball's ongoing cheating scandal. He was the Houston Astros bench coach in 2017 and joined the Red Sox as manager in 2018. Cora released a statement saying, "We agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization. I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward." Major League Baseball determined Cora was a key figure in the Astro's scheme to steal signs using surveillance cameras. During their 2017 title season. The Astros fired manager A.J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow on Monday. Cheating in sports drives me crazy.

JARRETT: It makes you wonder who else is under scrutiny on this, too. It's still amazing scheme. Well, battles at home and abroad at the final debate before Iowa, Democrats faced weighty questions on war and peace, and tensions laid bare between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. What it means for the race and the Progressive movement?



JARRETT: Conflicts abroad, the big focus at the final debate before Iowa, but a renewed battle could spell big trouble among Progressives. What's in store for the Warren and Sanders campaigns?

And history begins today. The third impeachment trial of an American President is about to get underway. Welcome back to EARLY START, I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. 36 minutes past the hour. This is the last time you will see the leading Democrats on stage together before the first votes are cast. A debate in Iowa live on CNN, light on personal attacks, heavy on policy, climate, free college, health care, and especially foreign intervention. The gravity of this moment is clear, the candidates addressing priorities as commander-in-chief. They denounced President Trump on his dealings with Iran and other crisis looming.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ISIS is going to reconstitute itself. We're in a position where we have to pull our forces out. Americans have to leave the entire region. And quite frank, I think he's flat out lied about saying the reason he went after -- really, made the strike was because our embassies are about to be bombed.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two great foreign policy disasters of our lifetimes of the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq. Both of those wars were based on lies. And right now, what I fear very much is we have a president who is lying again.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have one general after another in Afghanistan who comes in and says, You know, we've just turned the corner. And now it's all going to be different. And then what happens? It's all the same for another year, someone new comes in and we've just turned the corner. We've turned the corner so many times we're going in circles. It's time to get our combat troops home.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Afghanistan, I have long wanted to bring our troops home, I would do that. Some would remain for counterterrorism and training. In Syria, I would have not have removed the 150 troops from the border with Turkey. I think that was a mistake. I think it made our allies and many others much more vulnerable to ISIS.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not just conventional military challenges, not just stateless terrorism, but cyber security challenges, climate security challenges, foreign interference in our elections. It's going to take a view to the future, as well as the readiness to learn from the lessons of the past.

JARRETT: Oh, the most anticipated moment of the night came between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They were asked about Warren's claim that Sanders told her privately, a woman can't win.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to be clear here, you're saying that you never told Senator Warren, that a woman could not win the election?"

SANDER: That is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you, a woman could not win the election?

WARREN: I disagreed. Can a woman beat Donald Trump? Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they've been in, are the women. Amy and me.



JARRETT: Then at the end of the night, a moment to make Progressives cringe. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more from Des Moines.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, the final democratic debate before the voting begins is in the books. Certainly, an interesting evening here on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines. Some of the big takeaways are a tone of civility, really broke out among all of the different candidates.


Certainly, they showed their differences on policy. The Progressive candidates making their case for Medicare For All, for free college, several others like Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden saying, look, the country A, can't afford some of those plans, and B, Medicare For All simply isn't workable. But it was the tone of civility that carried the night that was striking compared to some of the other presidential debates. The candidates said they were trying to leave a positive sense in the minds of voters. But it was after the debate, in the moment right after the debate that certainly were striking.

Senator Bernie Sanders extended his hand to Elizabeth Warren. She appeared to reject that handshake and there was tension clearly between the two of them. It's an extraordinary moment of video there. We will see how this tension goes forward. Of course, it's all over a private meeting they had in 2018, where Senator Warren says that Bernie Sanders said a woman couldn't be elected president. So, that may still be litigated.

Now, the question is, as the Democratic Senators head back to Washington to participate in the impeachment trial, is this race going to be overshadowed by that, or are the candidates here in Iowa still going to have a bigger edge like Pete Buttigieg, like Joe Biden? 19 days before the Iowa caucuses. This race is still very unsettled. And now it's the voters turn. Laura and Christine?

ROMANS: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks for that. An impeachment trial of a U.S. president, only the third in history is about to begin. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will vote this morning on a resolution to transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate. She will also name the impeachment managers who will prosecute the case. The Senate trial likely to begin next Tuesday. Before proceedings moved to the Senate, House Democrats unveiled some new evidence supporting their case for removing President Trump from office.

JARRETT: The documents from Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, raises many questions as they answer, but one intriguing text exchange shows former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, pushing for the removal of then-U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. There were also cryptic text between Parnas and a Republican Congressional candidate, implying the ambassador's movements in the Ukraine were being tracked. Yovanovitch's lawyer called for an investigation, saying the idea she was being surveilled is disturbing.

ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in CNN Politics Senior Writer Zach Wolf live in Washington. Good morning, Zack.


ROMANS: Let's begin with the debate last night. You know, the weight of the moment, the final debate before actually casting votes in Iowa in the 2020 election. Did any of these candidates stand out and show that they can beat Donald J. Trump?

WOLF: You know, I'm not sure that we saw anybody have that kind of standout performance. Nobody sort of rose to the top. It was a, from a policy perspective, a lot like previous debates, where you have this Moderate wing of the party sort of squaring off against the more Progressive wing of the party about things that Democrats really want to do. Like provide health care, provide college, provide, you know, childcare for Americans, and what is the best way to do that.

So, they're still kind of having this policy debate that they believe and the country believes need to happen. But I think that Jeff Zeleny talked about it that what we might remember from this debate is it's the moment where we started to see the Progressive wing, the two Progressive candidates who are left, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, sort of try to find some space from each other. And that was really interesting, because they're really fighting, I think, in Iowa, New Hampshire, for that Progressive wing of the party. And who emerges as the standard bearer of -- for that Progressive wing is going to be really important.

JARRETT: And Zach, we got to talk about Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Leading up to the debate, obviously, this public feud over whether a woman could win the presidency was the thing to watch. You know, Elizabeth Warren tried to pivot a little bit to make it a broader conversation. Bernie still says it didn't happen. Where do you think they go from here? Obviously, you know, the person who wins in this conversation is President Trump, he brought it up last night in Wisconsin.

WOLF: Well, you know, I think she sort of subtly is trying to point out that she is the woman on the -- on the stage in the Progressive wing, and that she can -- she can take up that flogging and carry it. And I think there's a lot of Democrats who would like to see a woman elected. You know, whether or not this sort of pervades the after effects of the debate, is this -- is this the thing that people are going to wake up to, seeing that video on replay of her not shaking his hand? That could ultimately hurt her, I think.

ROMANS: Interesting. Let's pivot now to the impeachment. I mean, this is history that we are going to watch unfolding here today only the third president in history. Will -- do you think -- do you think these new, you know, new -- these text message revelations about Lev Parnas and the former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Do you think these new details put more pressure on Republicans to have witnesses called at this trial, to really flush this out and get more information?


WOLF: Absolutely. And we've seen some Republicans signal that they would support bringing in witnesses. You know, people like Mitt Romney says that he wants to hear from John Bolton. And that's kind of the interesting thing about these text messages and other things being released, we're not sure they're going to be considered by Senators. It's not entirely clear that they'll even be allowed as evidence. And that could be a fight that we have in the days come -- you know, coming up and during the trial.

I think what it definitely shows is that we're having a try -- we're trying Donald Trump in, you know, he has been impeached, he will now be tried. We don't know the whole story of what happened in Ukraine. We don't and nobody does, because we keep learning new things about it.

ROMANS: That's a really good point, Zach Wolf. Zach Wolf, CNN Politics Senior Writer, thank you so much for pulling an all-nighter for us.

WOLF: I wouldn't miss it.

ROMANS: We really appreciate it. This is about more fun than like a 20-page history paper.


ROMANS: So, thank you so much for the all-nighter.

JARRETT: Thanks, Zach.

WOLF: Thanks.

JARRETT: Well, heavy smoke from fires in Australia now impacting the Australian Open. CNN is live in Melbourne.


[03:50:24] JARRETT: Smoke from raging wildfires engulfing the City of Melbourne, just days before the start of the Australian Open Tennis Championship. The air is so thick with smoke, it's already affecting qualifying rounds. Will Ripley live for us in Melbourne. And Will, what is the latest there?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you hearing, Will?

JARRETT: Will, can you hear me?


JARRETT: All right. We might be having some technical difficulties.

RIPLEY: Now, I can. Sorry. Hi.

JARRETT: Thanks, Will. What's the latest?

RIPLEY: OK, sorry about that, Laura. Yes, we're having some IFB issues here. So, what's happening on the ground here is the rain has just stopped, but there has been thunder, there's been lightning, there's been a dramatic drop in temperatures. It's temporarily good news because the temperatures are cooler and the rain has dampened the ground just a bit, but it's not nearly enough to compensate for the drought here in Australia.

And so, what we're hearing are reports that lightning strikes have actually reignited some fires away from Melbourne, but fires that have the potential to flare up in the coming days, as temperatures in the coming days are also expected to rise. And that could make it even more difficult than it's been for some of the biggest stars in tennis who are here, including Roger Federer, Serena Williams, who are going to have to play for hours in very hot temperatures, combined with, at times, hazardous air quality, they're breathing that in.

There was a tennis player a couple of days ago, who actually had a coughing fit and collapsed in one of the -- one of the earlier practice rounds. Now, obviously, some of these people are professionals, they've played in other polluted cities like Beijing, but the difference, we're told, is that when you combine the heat with the pollution, it could be very tough going, not just for the players themselves, but also for the tens of thousands of fans who are expected here for the Australian Open, which is one of Australia's biggest sporting events.

Organizers tell us they're doing everything they can to make sure that conditions are safe for the players and spectators. But this is all happening, of course, with the backdrop of, you know, more than 100 fires burning across Australia right now. And some of these fires, even in this particular state of Victoria, are deemed to be out of control. We were flying in earlier, we saw a huge smoke plume above the cloud line. Some of these fires so intense, they're creating their own weather. And air quality here in Melbourne is expected to get worse in the coming days, potentially hazardous over the weekend. It's going to be a very difficult challenge for the Australian Open, as firefighters continue to do what they can to battle these fires. Laura?

JARRETT: Yes, trying to play tennis in that, no easy feat. Will, thanks so much for being there for us.

ROMANS: All right. 52 minutes past the hour. In the fight for equal pay for women, a pay bump for players in the WNBA. CNN Business, next.



JARRETT: President Trump's former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, is trying to withdraw his guilty plea in the Russia investigation. He claims he was a victim of bad faith by prosecutors. Flynn pleaded guilty more than two years ago to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador. His request to withdraw that plea means Flynn wants to take his chances in a trial. Last week, the Justice Department stiffened its position on Flynn's punishment, recommending he serve up to six months in prison. He's scheduled for sentencing on July -- sorry, January 28th.

ROMANS: All right. Let's go check on CNN Business's Wednesday morning. Taking a look at global markets, a mixed performance around the world. I would say narrowly mixed here. Futures -- Wall Street Futures right now are -- pull them up there -- are also barely moving here. Look, stocks wobbled ahead of the main event today, the signing of the U.S.- China phase one trade deal.

This is not the big course correction the President promised. This is what he vowed he would never do, just do a small deal, leaving the big thorny issues for later, but that's what we're going to get today. The Dow closed up 32 points yesterday. The S&P and the NASDAQ both closed lower. The signing ceremony comes at 11:30 a.m. Eastern today, where the President, the Chinese delegation will ink this deal, and then, finally, the public and the press will get to see the details.

A new eight-year labor deal for the WNBA. The deal would allow top players to earn more than $500,000; lesser stars will also see a bump in pay up to 300,000. It's not all about the money. The agreement also has initiatives designed to promote and support motherhood as well as an improvement to the players' travel situation. If the players and Board of Governors OK the deal, it will kick in this season and run through 2027.

JARRETT: Trying to level the playing field, always a good thing.

ROMANS: Literally level the playing field.

JARRETT: Literally. All right. Well, while you were sleeping, late night hosts delivered some post-debate zingers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SETH MEYERS, HOST, NBC: Democrats held their latest primary debate

tonight, and former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders were placed at the center podiums, instead of where they're usually placed in the balcony.

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, CBS: What happened? The field of candidates went from looking like a diverse representation of the country to looking like the front row of a Jimmy Buffett concert. Tonight's debate was so white, people who turned on their T.V.s were like, wait, I thought the Oscars were next month.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL: To a lot of young Democrats, the beef between Bernie and Warren must feel like seeing your parents getting divorced, you know, which is a situation that Bernie is too blunt to handle delicately. Can you imagine him be like, Daddy, is it my fault that you and mommy don't love each other anymore? He's like, well, we were happy and then we had you, you do the math.


JARRETT: He's got a pretty good Bernie impression.

ROMANS: He does. I didn't realize that. I didn't see that one coming.

JARRETT: He's so talented.