Return to Transcripts main page


Trump on Trial: Bolton Book a Hot Topic on Capitol Hill; CDC Warns: Avoid Travel to China; Lakers Postpone Game After Kobe Bryant's Death; Trump Mideast Peace Plan: Effect on Palestinians. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 28, 2020 - 04:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's lawyers tried to flip the script in the impeachment trial. They're focusing on the Bidens while Washington wonders, what's next from John Bolton?


LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: All of China now under a travel warning because of the coronavirus. Overnight, China said the virus can spread just through contact.

ROMANS: LeBron James breaks his silence on the death of Kobe Bryant. The emotional farewell as the Lakers postponed their return to the court.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. Thirty minutes past the hour here in New York.

Today is the third and final day for the Trump defense team's opening argument trying to sway senators and the public against removing him from office. On day two, the legal team largely avoided the real issue, John Bolton. In a draft book manuscript, the former national security advisor claims President Trump told him he wanted to hold back military aid to Ukraine until the country helped with an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. The revelation undercuts claims by the president and his lawyers.

Now, at least two Republicans are suggesting they'll vote to hear from witnesses.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I can't begin to tell you how John Bolton's testimony would ultimately play on a final decision. But it's relevant. And, therefore, I'd like to hear it. I think it's increasingly likely that other Republicans will join those of us who think we should hear from John Bolton.


ROMANS: That was Senator Mitt Romney. And Susan Collins saying, quote, I've also said from the beginning

that it was very likely that I would vote for witnesses and that has not changed.

OK. So that's two votes. Democrats need four. There are a couple of others known to been on the fence. The White House has been clear it doesn't want witnesses. Republican leader Mitch McConnell said it would make the trial longer and set a bad precedent.

JARRETT: The stakes here, heightened by more "New York Times" reporting. That reporting says Bolton claims in his book manuscript, he told Attorney General Bill Barr he was concerned the president was granting favors to the autocratic leaders of China and Turkey. Bolton claims Barr said he, too, had concerns that Trump created the appearance of undue influence over federal probes involving China and Turkey. The Justice Department says Bolton grossly mischaracterizes his conversation with Barr.

Even as the Trump defense team does its best to dodge this Bolton question, it's certainly a focus -- a major focus on Capitol Hill.

Here's congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Laura, ostensibly, everything was about the White House presentation on Monday, their second day of presenting, their second day of three kind of laying out their defense against the two articles of impeachment against the president.

But the reality was, all anybody was talking about particularly inside the Senate Republican conference, was new revelations about a manuscript from John Bolton, the former national security adviser, saying explicitly that he heard from the president that U.S. assistance to Ukraine was, in fact, contingent on Ukraine launching investigations.

Now, senators were unsettled early in the morning. There is no question about that. Multiple people I spoke with confirmed that. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was blindsided by the news. Even though the White House had been -- the manuscript had been submitted to the White House. The White House never informed anybody in the Senate Republican conference, which was a major problem.

However, McConnell made clear to his members in a close-door lunch before the proceedings for the day even began, quote, take a deep breath. His point, don't make any rash decisions on whether or not to vote for witnesses until you have heard the entire White House presentation. Until you've had an opportunity to ask questions of both sides. Something will occur that the White House presentation concludes.

Still, there are many days to go and obviously a lot of questions left. As for the actual presentations themselves, only one person even mentioned the Bolton revelations. That was Alan Dershowitz when he said this.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.

MATTINGLY: Now, guys, obviously, there are plenty of Democratic senators who disagree with that assessment but the big question is, did it resonate with Republicans? More notably, did it resonate with enough Republicans so that the Democrats wouldn't have the votes to move forward on witnesses?

And we won't have a final answer to that question for at least another couple of days. That's obviously the most operative question at the moment, one everybody is trying to figure out, but one that at least for the moment has no clear answer. And for Republicans, especially those who are unsettled by the Bolton revelations, that in and of itself is a victory again at least for the moment -- guys.


ROMANS: All right, Phil, thank you so much.

The president's legal team apparently believes the best way to defend him is to attack Joe and Hunter Biden. They point out how the former vice president's son secured a job on the board of a Ukrainian energy company at the same time his father was calling on Ukraine to fire its special prosecutor for not pursuing corruption. President's lawyers describing Hunter's post as nepotistic at best, nefarious at worst.

JARRETT: The Biden camp quick to respond saying, quote: Here on Planet Earth, the conspiracy theory has been conclusively refuted.

And here's what Biden told supporters in Iowa City.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Presidents can't hold grudges. These guys are attacking me, I get it. And the press corps with me, they're all good people following me. They keep asking me, you know, they just brought up your son Hunter and they're doing this and that and the other thing.

Well, guess what? I don't hold grudges because presidents can't hold grudges. Presidents have to be fighters but they also have to be healers. They have to be healers.


JARRETT: Biden tells CNN he expected his son hunter to be a focus of the impeachment trial. But does not think there will be a political fallout for him.

ROMANS: All right. All of China now under a travel warning because of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control caution Americans against any nonessential travel and now monitoring for the virus at 20 U.S. airports that handle the most passengers from China.

At least 106 people are now dead. Over 4,500 cases confirmed in mainland China. That number rising by early 65 percent in a single day. Fifteen cities in China's Hubei province remain fully or partially locked down. That covers roughly 60 million people. Mostly, in Hubei province. The magnitude, pretty serious here.

That province would cover a big swath of the eastern U.S. from Pennsylvania down to North Carolina. Now, that is troubling information about how this deadly virus can spread.

Let's go live to Beijing and bring in CNN's David Culver.

What are we learning about the speed and the method for transmitting this virus?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here's what he is pretty troubling here, Christine, is that from Chinese health officials, we're hearing contact is another way that this could spread in addition to droplets or saliva. They are saying this is something else that could help transmit it. And that's making things even more uneasy. Add to that the concern that this could spread from somebody who doesn't even know that they have it, not even showing symptoms, and for 14 days could potentially be in that incubation period and transmit it to somebody else.

It's for that reason we're seeing some extreme measures being taken in surrounding areas in particular. I mean, Hong Kong has essentially said if you have been to Hubei province or if you're from there, you are not to enter Hong Kong within two weeks. Singapore has said, look, if you're a student or a staff member and you were in any place on mainland China, you are not to come back into school for two weeks. So that 14 days seems to be the period of time that they are estimating would allow this to pass through.

Meantime, we know that Americans who are within the locked down zone, you mentioned that 60 million number. Well, they're trying to get out. There's about 1,000 Americans within the city of Wuhan in particular. And we know that there's a flight leaving later today, Christine, that's going to have diplomats, their families.

I spoke to one American woman and her daughter who are actually at the airport right now ready to board that. It's going to be a long flight but get this, Christine. It's going to be a long journey altogether because they get back to the U.S., they'll be in quarantine up to 14 days.

ROMANS: Yes. This is why so many big companies, international companies are postponing travel, telling their people not to move around, and also, postponing international conferences just to try to keep the risk down.

All right. Thank you so much, David Culver.

You know, this coronavirus, big uncertainty for investors. After a dive yesterday, stocks -- they're looking to rebound today. The Dow fell 454 points. That's 1.6 percent Monday. That's the biggest one-day percentage drop since October.

That wipes out the gains for the year. Taking a look at futures right now, looking like they are going to try to claw back a little bit of that decline.

Concerns about the virus are spreading through global markets. Markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong, they are closed for the lunar new year. European stocks now have opened. They opened higher. Now, they've turned a little bit mixed here. There were big falls on Monday for European shares.

The outbreak concerns investors about the Chinese economy. That's the second largest economy in the world. What happens there has a dramatic impact around the world. Any drop off in growth there could hurt the global economy. Pain in China could also hurt demand for oil. U.S. oil prices settled almost 2 percent lower at $53 a barrel.

JARRETT: The Los Angeles Lakers have postponed tonight's game against the Clippers as the team and its city mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

LeBron James pouring out his soul on Instagram writing: Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me. I got us here. There's so much more I want to say but I just can't right now. I can't get through it. Until we meet again, my brother, #mambaforlife. #gigiforlife.

ROMANS: Bryant's daughter Gigi dreamed of playing for the University of Connecticut. Last night, the Lady Huskies held a moment of silence and her uniform was draped over the bench.

All nine victims, nine victims of Sunday's crash have now been identified. Mourners of all ages turned out for a second day at the Staple Center in L.A.



REPORTER: You miss Kobe? It's really hard, isn't it?


But you know what you have? Amazing memories, right? What do you remember about how he played basketball?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: He was really, really good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put your hands down, baby. Tell them how you were watching highlights yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: He was really good and he shoots three -- he shoots threes better than Michael Jordan.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: Bryant's pilot requested to fly under special visual flight rules used for poor weather conditionings. In his final transmission, the pilot told air traffic control he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer. The pilot then asked -- he was then asked what he planned to do. There was no reply.

ROMANS: Some big questions this morning about a U.S. military plane crash in Afghanistan. The Bombardier E-11A is also known as Wi-Fi in the sky because it's used to link troops in the field to headquarters. We still do not know how many people were on board this plane. How many were killed.

A U.S. military spokesman says there is no indication the plane was hit by enemy fire. And it refutes -- the spokesman refutes claims by the Taliban about other U.S. aircraft.

JARRETT: A lot of questions there.

ROMANS: A lot of questions.

JARRETT: Well, the Supreme Court clearing the way for the Trump administration to make it harder for low-income immigrants to come to America, or stay here legally. The administration announced last year it was revising the so-called "Public Charge" rule. The regulation allows officials to deny green cards to immigrants who have used or might use public assistance programs like Medicaid or food stamps. The court's 5-4 decision means the government can now begin applying the new standards while challenges to the program continue to move forward in the lower courts.

The "Public Charge" will gain national attention last year when immigration official revised the iconic poem on the statue of liberty to defend tightening it.

Well, the president will unveil his Middle East peace plan today. Israel's prime minister will be at his side. Benjamin Netanyahu with a surprising announcement overnight. We'll explain.


ROMANS: Forty-six minutes past the hour.

President Trump set to unveil his long-delayed Middle East peace plan today at the White House. Standing next to him will be embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And overnight, a major shift from the prime minister.

CNN's Oren Liebermann live in Jerusalem -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, just moments ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he is withdrawing his request for parliament immunity. That means that the charges against him and a trial against him can proceed, making him officially indicted when the attorney general submits that official indictment on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. From Netanyahu's perspective, better to withdraw the request than be

seen losing a vote in the Knesset, both of which will have the same outcome. The first sitting prime minister in Israel's history to end up on trial.

At this point, we wait to see when the attorney general will officially file those charges. Of course, the timing. All of this happening not only on the day that Knesset, Israel's parliament, was supposed to sit and here about the request to convene the immunity hearings. But also, just hours before president -- President Donald Trump will stand next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and unveil the long-awaited, much-hyped, Middle East plan coming from the Trump administration.

The plan is expected to be very heavily favored in Israel's favor on all of the major issues. Jerusalem, security, borders, and refugees. Netanyahu has already called this a historic moment. His critics say this is an attempt by the Trump administration to get Netanyahu re- elected after he has failed the former government twice. Administration trying to downplay that criticism saying they also invited Netanyahu's rival Benny Gantz to see the plan.

ROMANS: Oren, do we know why he is withdrawing his request for parliamentary immunity?

LIEBERMANN: At this point, it looked certain that he was going to lose that request anyway. And he wouldn't be granted parliamentary immunity. From Netanyahu's perspective, it's better to be seen withdrawing that request than to be seen losing a vote in the Knesset since both have the same outcome. They both lead to a trial.

ROMANS: All right. Oren Liebermann, thanks so much for that in Jerusalem. Thank you.

JARRETT: So what would this peace plan mean for Palestinians? And what are they saying about it?

CNN's Sam Kiley is live in the old city of Jerusalem.

Sam, what are you hearing there?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, actually I'm joining you from Ramallah, which is the executive capital for now, the head of the administration for the Palestinian Authority. The main element within that factor and the Palestine Liberation Organization have called today for widespread protests against what they are guessing will be in the Trump peace plan.

Now, one of the main objections -- and this is all based on conjecture at the moment -- is that even if they are assigned some kind of a Palestinian state, it will be a state minus according to the various leaks they have had access to. Of course, Palestinians have had no direct contact with the Trump administration now for a couple years. Notwithstanding recent attempts by Trump to get in touch with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. What they mean by what they fear they may end up with a state

(INAUDIBLE) is a lot less of the land, perhaps no opportunity to actually trade internationally. No international borders with Israel. Talking about annexing, particularly the Jordan River Valley, which would cut them off in terms of their ability to communicate directly with neighboring Jordan.

But all of this is up in the air as they wait for later on today when the Trump plan is released. So far, though, those claims will demand for a day of rage of being responded to in extent in Gaza where there is generally a higher level of militancy.


But here on the West Bank, people are going about their daily business completely indifferent so far to this plan. And part of that I think also reflects a deep frustration, a long-standing frustration with the Palestinian leadership in general. They frequently talk the talk but as far as Palestinians are concerned, don't walk the walk, particularly, when it comes to threats to suspend security cooperation.

JARRETT: All right. Sam Kiley in Ramallah, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Important news about General Motors Detroit- Hamtramck plant. CNN Business has details about GM's billion dollar investment into the future of electric cars, next.


JARRETT: And endless stream of moisture funneled into the Pacific Northwest. It's been so wet there, Seattle has not had a day without measurable rain since December 29th.

The forecast now from meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.



Yes, the wet weather pattern across the Northwest really the talk of town. And we do have the moisture source directed right towards this region. In fact, once it crops down toward the Hawaiian Islands, that is when we begin to call it a Pineapple Express pattern. Almost looks like it has the potential to get there in the next couple days.

And the story again, a lot of rainfall the next several days on the coast. Get into the higher elevations, that translates into quite a bit of snowfall. In Seattle, in particular, the last time it did not rain, you'd have to go back to the previous decade. Of course, all of 2020 has totaled to amount of about 6 or so inches of rainfall so far this year.

But winter weather advisories in place across higher elevations. You will notice we get multiple shots of energy. But by Sunday afternoon here, we think a chance for some clearing, sunny skies in the northwest. So certainly a better pattern change across that region. Southwest, sunny and mild. Southeast, sunny and cool and get into Midwest and the Great Lakes in particular, snow showers possible, temps there middle 30s. And New York City around 42 degrees -- guys.


ROMANS: All right, Pedram, thank you so much for that.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this Tuesday morning. Taking a look at markets around the world. You know, coronavirus is continuing to cause uncertainty here for investors. Markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong were closed for the holiday.

And you see that European shares opened higher and now have turned more cautious. Stocks fell Monday as fears of the disease worsened. The Dow fell more than 450 points, wiping out gains for the year. It looks like there may be an attempt to try to claw some of that back this morning. But it is not certain.

The S&P 500 had its worst performance since October. The Nasdaq posted its biggest one-day loss since august. Meanwhile, a growing number of economists are actually bullish about growth in the coming year. New data shows 67 percent of economists expect GDP to grow by 1.1 percent to 2 percent this year.

The proportion of economists who expect stronger growth of up to 3 percent jumped to 30 percent. So, a bigger share think that you could actually achieve 3 percent growth. Fears of a recession basically eased and businesses now are confident about the health of the American economy.

General Motors is investing big into electric and autonomous cars and Detroit will be the hub. GM will spend $2.2 billion to retrofit its shuttered Detroit-Hamtramck plant. It was one of those five factories GM said it would close last year. Now, it will be GM's first fully- dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant.

GM will also produce the Cruise Origin, that's a driverless shuttle. It will also produce a new electric Hummer pickup truck. It's all part of a $3 billion investment authorized as part of the deal between GM and the UAW.

JARRETT: While you were sleeping late night hosts paid tribute to Kobe Bryant, a frequent guest on their shows. In one memorable interview, Bryant once told Jimmy Kimmel he wasn't worried about not having any sons because his daughter Gianna would carry on his legacy.


JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT HOST: Kobe was a hero in the way Superman is a hero. He was so big, it was almost like he was a fictional character. He was a real-life superhero with a costume and everything walking amongst us. Those of us who love the Lakers know it seemed like he always came through. He always showed up to save the day. He wanted to save the day. He had a force of will. He never gave up. As an athlete, he was

incredibly gifted, more than almost anyone. He was talented beyond reason.

And yet, he worked harder than everyone. He worked harder than people with much less talent than he had. He took his job and his pursuit of excellence so seriously, he was completely dedicated to being as good as he possibly could be, which is inspiring to anyone who does anything.

And we loved him because of that. But we also loved him because he was ours. We watched him grow up here. He came to L.A. when he was a teenager and unlike almost every other superstar athlete, he never left. In his 20-year career, he only wore two uniforms for the Lakers and for the United States Olympic team.

There were times when it seemed like he would leave but he didn't. He stayed until the end.

There is no silver lining here. It's all bad. It's all sad. He was a bright light and that's how I want to remember him.


JARRETT: Jimmy Kimmel.

ROMANS: I feel terrible for the families. All the families affected by that helicopter crash. It's just tragic that those families are going through right now.

JARRETT: Yes. And obviously, we wish them the best.

Thanks for our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.