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EARLY START

Democrats Close Abuse Of Power Case Today In Trump's Impeachment Trial; China Ramps Up Efforts To Fight Coronavirus; Longtime PBS News Anchor Jim Lehrer Dies. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 24, 2020 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:30:00]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

An emotional reunion in Florida between a man who nearly died and the two officers who saved him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POLICE OFFICER: Your car's on fire. You've got to get out of here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Sheriff's deputies Robert Ricks and Marco Ruiz were at the end of a long shift January 10th when they heard a loud screech and a crashing noise. They found Christopher Tossas unconscious inside his overturned car with flames and smoke around him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER TOSSAS, RESCUED FROM BURNING CAR: We could watch movies and we see superheroes all the time, and these are my heroes. I'm grateful -- forever grateful and thankful for them to be here alive today because they put their lives on the line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Tossas suffered a concussion and some minor injuries.

EARLY START continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Right matters and the truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The Democrats turn to obstruction of Congress today after a powerful presentation on abuse of power at the impeachment trial.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Growing concerns about the deadly coronavirus -- it's spreading beyond China -- but why health officials are not ready to declare it an emergency.

ROMANS: Gripping testimony at the Harvey Weinstein trial. Actress Annabella Sciorra with vivid details of the night she says the producer raped her.

JARRETT: And a busy night for the Americans at the Australian Open. Who goes on and who goes home.

ROMANS: Good morning, everyone, this is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's about 31 minutes past the hour here in New York.

Today will be the third and final day of opening arguments for the Democrats in the trial to impeach and remove President Trump from office.

House managers on Thursday made the case the president abused his power. They tried to convince skeptical and tired Republican senators the trial needs more witnesses and more documents.

Republicans have said a lot of what they're hearing is repetitive, but at least one admits some of this is fresh.

Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana telling "The New York Times" quote, "I've learned a lot. Everybody has.

Senators didn't know the case. They really didn't. We didn't stay glued to the television. We haven't read the transcripts."

ROMANS: Democrats not shying away from a topic Republicans have tried to use against them. House managers repeatedly mentioned Hunter Biden's position on the board of the Ukrainian energy company at the heart of GOP conspiracy theories.

Democrats also displayed some elaborate exhibits. Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler using a 1999 clip of Lindsey Graham to make the case an actual crime is not required for impeachment. At the time, Graham was a House manager in the Clinton impeachment trial.

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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC) (January 16, 1999): What's a high crime? How about if an important person hurts somebody of low means? It's not very scholarly, but I think it's the truth.

I think that's what they meant by high crimes. It doesn't even have to be a crime. It's just when you start using your office and you're acting in a way that hurts people, you've committed a high crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Sen. Graham was not in the chamber yesterday when that clip was played. JARRETT: Now, CNN has learned the president's allies are lobbying behind the scenes, pushing wavering Republican senators to oppose any witnesses whatsoever. That push coming not only from Capitol Hill but also identifying people back home the senators trust and getting them to call.

Democrats have seven hours and 53 minutes, to be precise, left to open their case. Today, they'll move on to article two, obstruction of Congress.

Senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny has more.

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JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, Democratic impeachment managers begin making their last case in their opening arguments against President Trump. It was after a long day on Thursday about going after abuse of power, which is laid out in the article one impeachment.

Now, throughout the day, the Democratic managers, led by chairman Adam Schiff, made the case that President Trump is an ongoing threat to the nation. It was no mistake, they argue, withholding that political aid from Ukraine. And they listed, through a chronology of events spanning the months throughout the summer into the fall, a series of bad judgments and also intentional bad behavior.

But it was at the end of a long day of trial when senators -- all of them were sitting in their seats when chairman Schiff implored them to do what's right and said this.

SCHIFF: You know you can't trust this president to do what's right for this country. You can trust he will do what's right for Donald Trump. He'll do it now, he's done it before, he'll do it for the next several months. He'll do it in the election if he's allowed to.

This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed because right matters -- because right matters and the truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.

[05:35:16]

ZELENY: So those powerful words certainly hung heavy in the chamber but it's unclear if Republicans, enough, will join Democrats to call for new witnesses or new evidence. Certainly, no one is showing their hands to that point.

But the final day today for the Democratic managers to make their case. The president's lawyers begin making their case in a shorter session on Saturday -- Christine and Laura.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right -- thanks, Jeff.

President Trump's legal team is ready to present its defense, suggesting it won't even need the allotted three days to do so.

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JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: We're going to use a sufficient amount of time to not only defend our case and point out the inconsistencies of their case, but we're going to do it in an appropriate manner. We're not going to try to run the clock out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A growing number of Republican senators are pointing to President Trump's threat to invoke executive privilege to make their case against issuing subpoenas for witnesses. That could bode well for majority leader Mitch McConnell's goal of a swift conclusion to this impeachment trial.

Four GOP senators who could force the chamber to call witnesses are not saying much. They're mostly waiting for the Democrats to finish their opening arguments before committing to a vote, which could come next week.

JARRETT: All right, more ahead on all of this. Plus, remembering an icon of journalism, Jim Lehrer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:40:48]

JARRETT: House managers making the case for President Trump's removal. They'll focus today on obstruction of Congress. Yesterday, Democrats argued the president had abused the power of his office, relying on a long list of exhibits. And they went on offense repeatedly, mentioning a topic Republicans have used against them -- Hunter Biden and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

ROMANS: Let's bring in "Daily Beast" Washington bureau chief Jackie Kucinich, a CNN political analyst. Good morning.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Good morning.

ROMANS: Was this Hunter Biden-Burisma -- these references -- was this sort of inoculation against what they're expecting to hear from the Republicans -- a prebutt, if you will?

KUCINICH: Yes.

ROMANS: They have to walk a fine line here between addressing it but also saying that testimony from him would be irrelevant.

KUCINICH: Yes, exactly. And I think what you were hearing from Democrats yesterday is that the Hunter Biden and Joe Biden Burisma saga was really at the heart of this -- of this scheme to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and to -- and to block the funding from Ukraine. So they couldn't really not address it. But yes, to your point, they really did this in order to prebutt what they think is going to come from the president's lawyers and to sort of get their version of this out first before they're able to -- before the American people and the senators hear it from the president's side.

JARRETT: Jackie, one narrative that you start to see emerging now is executive privilege. And we've heard this --

KUCINICH: Right.

JARRETT: -- from leader McConnell saying look, this whole thing will get slowed down if you try to call the likes of John Bolton. Because of his communications with the president those are privileged -- this will go into the courts.

Are constituents back home going to go for that, though? Are they really going to buy the idea that Bolton can't testify about anything because it's all protected?

KUCINICH: So, that is -- I mean, so that is one of the things that Democrats have been harping on and one of the things why Nancy Pelosi has said that she held onto the articles of impeachment so they really could build this idea that this is a matter of fairness. That they really should be able to hear from people like John Bolton. Particularly, Bolton more than someone like a Mick Mulvaney, the president's acting chief of staff.

Bolton has said he is willing to testify. He does not work there anymore. There's nothing they can really do to him if he does decide -- if he does want to testify.

So they can try to block him; they can try to use executive privilege. However, it's really up to John Bolton at the end of the day. And he said he will come forward and testify if he has that congressional subpoena.

ROMANS: The Democrats finishing up today. How have they done? I mean, when you watch this, it is -- you seem them telling this story again and in some cases, telling it to senators as if they haven't been following along. And, you know -- I mean, some of them probably haven't been following along.

JARRETT: Admittedly.

ROMANS: Admittedly have not been following along.

How are they doing telling this story with clips -- video clips and props and exhibits?

KUCINICH: You know, I feel like it depends on who you speak to.

Lindsey Graham, himself, went up to Adam Schiff after that first day of his oratory, really, and said that he is making a compelling case. But it's -- it really doesn't seem like they're changing a lot of minds. They are trying to make the case that they do need these witnesses and they need to be able to get some of these documents that the president has blocked, which is part of this obstruction of Congress piece of the articles of impeachment. However, it's a -- it would be a very bold thing for some of these senators to go against the president and his team who are pushing for this to be a swiftly-ended trial.

JARRETT: Jackie, just quickly before we let you go, we are also getting some reporting that the president's allies behind the scenes have been pushing --

ROMANS: That's right.

JARRETT: -- having allies call these senators to ask them about calling witnesses. Trying to really put the pressure on --

ROMANS: Back home.

JARRETT: -- back home.

ROMANS: Yes.

JARRETT: To try to put the pressure on. You know, if this was a criminal trial you would not have the defense team --

KUCINICH: Right.

JARRETT: -- talking to the jurors.

What do you make of that? Is that an effective strategy? Is it -- is it fair?

KUCINICH: You know, I think it depends on the senator, right?

Someone like a Lamar Alexander, who is one of the senators that is -- that could potentially vote to allow testimony -- he's not coming back next year -- he's retiring. And he's had a long career in the Senate.

[05:45:09]

So it -- and it also might backfire. Senators don't like to be pressured that overtly and they particularly don't like us talking about the fact that they're succumbing to pressure from the White House. It's ultimately -- it's ultimately up to their constituents if they decide to come back.

And that's a risky endeavor by the White House for some of these senators who are no stranger to pressure, particularly these moderates. It happens every time --

ROMANS: Yes.

KUCINICH: -- there's a big vote.

ROMANS: All right. Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief of the "Daily Beast." Have a great weekend and a great rest of your day, Jackie.

KUCINICH: Great to see you guys.

JARRETT: See you, Jackie.

KUCINICH: Good to see you.

JARRETT: Well, Beijing and Shanghai now on the highest level for a public health emergency because of the coronavirus. Chinese officials ramping up efforts to fight the spread. They're building a dedicated pneumonia hospital in Wuhan by the middle of next week, much like the one quickly built during the 2003 SARS outbreak.

A major economic impact in the region, Shanghai has closed Disneyland. Even the section of the Great Wall of China closest to Beijing has been shut down.

Dozens have died in China and nearly 850 people have now been infected worldwide. But the World Health Organization says coronavirus hasn't spread enough overseas for it to be considered a global health emergency.

CNN's David Culver is live in Beijing. David, what more can you tell us?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, the World Health Organization says that they do acknowledge it does spread from human-to-human and that's something Chinese scientists announced even earlier this week. And we know they have been sharing their information with the WHO.

But for the World Health Organization, they do not know quite yet how readily infectious this is. Why does it matter if they declare this a global emergency? Well, that can impact how other countries are perceiving this and really, the attention it gets. And more importantly, the funding.

Now, I want to show you what we're seeing out of Wuhan because we were there a little bit more than 24 hours now but we're still in touch with a lot of folks on the ground. And social media giving us, really, a desperate storyline that's coming down and it's really tough to see.

I want to show you some of the images. First off, you can see this video. It shows tents being set up. This shows the overflow -- the influx of the number of patients that are flooding into these hospitals.

Another video shows a woman who is apparently a health care worker going down a line -- a long line of potential patients who are -- potentially have been exposed to the coronavirus.

She's yelling something to them. You might be able to hear that. She's essentially telling them to keep quiet and not to be nervous. Tough not to be nervous in those situations, though.

And lastly, this piece of video gives us a patient's perspective. Imagine being in a hospital bed and looking up and seeing this -- several hazmat suits that are being worn by several of the medical team members there. It's rather disturbing.

But even more disturbing is the frustration we're hearing, Laura, from folks who feel like all of these restrictions. All of these measures, while they may have been effective early on, they feel like they're coming a little bit too late. That's the reality for the folks who are dealing with this now. And for them, it's changed their whole lifestyle. I mean, they're restricted, essentially, to their homes.

JARRETT: Yes, too little, too late. That's really the question.

David, thank you so much for being there for us.

We'll be right back.

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[05:52:50]

JARRETT: Powerful testimony in the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault trial.

Actress Annabella Sciorra describing in terrifying detail how the former Hollywood producer barged into her Manhattan apartment more than 25 years ago and raped her.

The "SOPRANOS" star had trouble catching her breath at times, telling the court Weinstein gave her a ride home and later forced his way in. She says she tried to run into the bathroom but, quote, "He kept coming at me. I felt overpowered because he was very big."

Sciorra telling the court she confronted Weinstein about the attack at a dinner in New York weeks later and he told her, quote, "That's what all the nice Catholic girls say. This remains between you and I."

ROMANS: In their cross-examination, Weinstein's lawyers played a video of Sciorra telling David Letterman in 1997 that she has a bad reputation for lying to the press.

Sciorra's encounter with Weinstein happened too long ago to be charged but prosecutors are using her testimony to establish a pattern of behavior.

JARRETT: New York City will cash out on cashless businesses. The city council voting to require brick and mortar stores to accept cash from customers or face a fine.

Cashless technology is popular with newer businesses but critics say it excludes poor consumers who may not have smartphones. Philadelphia and San Francisco have passed similar bills.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the measure.

ROMANS: Tinder is adding new safety features, including a panic button to alert authorities if something goes wrong during a date. Tinder has also added a check-in feature allowing friends to know where daters are. Users will be able to install the new tools free of charge next week.

JARRETT: Well, the doomsday clock, it's ticking again. The "Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" just reset it to 100 seconds before midnight, the closest since the clock's creation in 1947. That means they believe we have never been closer to total annihilation, at least metaphorically.

The Bulletin's president says we're facing a true emergency, citing threats from nuclear weapons and climate change.

ROMANS: Hmm, how's that for a Friday morning? All right, uplifting.

PBS colleagues and news consumers worldwide are remembering "NEWSHOUR" anchor Jim Lehrer.

[05:55:03]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS ANCHOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: Jim Lehrer, our founding anchor, died this morning. We are heartbroken here at the NewsHour. Jim's legacy of journalism is with us every day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Lehrer, who anchored the flagship Public Broadcasting news show for 36 years, died yesterday at his home in Washington at age 85.

He was known as the dean of moderators for presiding over a dozen presidential debates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ten days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. I do not think they are.

JIM LEHRER, PBS ANCHOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: Say it -- say it directly to him. Say it directly to him.

OBAMA: Well, the -- John, 10 days ago you said the fundamentals of the economy are sound. And --

JOHN MCCAIN, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You afraid I couldn't hear him?

LEHRER: No, I'm just determined to get you all to talk to each other. I'm going to try.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: And just a month ago, Lehrer was on CNN sharing his take on the rapidly changing nature of modern media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEHRER: It's a revolution that is based on the division and we haven't gotten -- we are still -- we are still trying to cope with it and trying to figure it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Jim Lehrer started out as a newspaper reporter before switching to broadcast news in the early 1970s, covering the Watergate hearings.

He is survived by his wife Kate, three daughters, and six grandchildren.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER, AUSTRALIAN OPEN: It's over. Serena's been stunned (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Serena Williams eliminated in the third round of the Australian Open by China's Qiang Wang. It's the first time Serena has lost this early in Melbourne since 2006. The defeat extends her drought without a major. Her last win was the Australian Open in 2017.

She's so happy. A big win for American Coco Gauff at the Australian Open. She defeated reigning champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets, avenging an emotional loss at the U.S. Open.

The 15-year-old Gauff heads to the fourth round, tying her best showing at a grand slam. We wish her the best.

Well, a scary moment for the world's top men's player.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sort of looked pretty hard. Watch this right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my goodness. It hit her right on the head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Rafael Nadal hitting a ball girl in the head with that return. There was an audible gasp from the crowd. Nadal called it one of the scarier moments he's ever had on the court. The young girl taking it all in stride, though. Nadal went on to win the match in straight sets.

ROMANS: And she gets a kiss on the cheek.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Taking a look at markets around the world, some optimism here. You know, Chinese markets, though, closed early ahead of the Lunar New Year. European markets opening higher -- at least one percent higher. Investors, though, are still operating against this backdrop of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus -- what it means for travel and business.

On Wall Street, futures leaning up just a little bit -- barely here. Stocks were mixed Thursday, erasing losses after the World Health Organization calmed some of those fears around the coronavirus.

The Dow fell 26. Small gains for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq -- enough for the Nasdaq to hit a record high.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCENE FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES "CATS."

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ROMANS: Universal may be wishing "CATS" was just a memory. The film was a catastrophe at the box office, making just $60 million worldwide since it opened late in December.

Universal's revenue fell 21 percent. Its box office revenue declined nearly 60 percent. A lot of that has to do with "CATS." The film cost $100 million to produce and lost the studio at least $70 million.

We apologize for all the cat puns but one of our viewers came -- wrote in with the best one.

"Cats the movie was absolutely CLAWFUL. I knew from the trailer it would be APWALLING, but I LITTER-ally never expected the MEWSIC to be so FURMIDABLE. Thank goodness it's HISSTORY now." Linzey Christy --

JARRETT: Can I just say that is really talented.

ROMANS: -- you win.

JARRETT: I've never seen so many puns in one tweet.

ROMANS: Meowch -- that's one. I get to use that one.

Thanks for joining us. Have a great weekend. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: Have a great weekend, everyone. I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Abuse, betrayal, corruption. This is exactly the understanding that the framers incorporated into the Constitution.

SCHIFF: You will see some of these facts and videos in a new context. It compels the finding of guilt and conviction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats have literally bought into that premise that if you just say it often enough it must be true. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the president's going to be acquitted. There is not an appetite to shut down or bog down the Senate over weeks or months.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): To have a fair trial, to have witnesses and documents is of paramount importance. These senators can work a little longer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, January 24th. It's 6:00 here in New York.

END