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Trump Attorneys Target Joe & Hunter Biden; CDC Issues Travel Warning For China; Lakers Postpone Game After Kobe Bryant's Death. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 28, 2020 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: 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.


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?

JARRETT: 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.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Tuesday, January 28th, 5:00 a.m. here in the East. Six days until the Iowa caucuses.

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 Trump legal team largely avoided the 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 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 Senator Susan Collins, said, quote I've always said from the beginning it's very likely I would vote for witnesses and that has not changed. So that's two votes. Democrats need four. There are a couple of others known to be on the fence.

The White House has been clear it doesn't want witnesses. Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said it will make the trial longer and set a bad precedent.

JARRETT: The stakes here heightened by more "New York Times" reporting. The reporting says Bolton claims in his manuscript, he told Attorney General Bill Barr he was concerned the president was granting favors. Bolton claims 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 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.


JARRETT: Phil, thanks so much.

The president's legal team apparently believes the best way to defend him is to attack Joe and Hunter Biden. They point at how the former vice president's son secured the 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. The president's lawyers describing Hunter's posts at nepotistic at best and nefarious at worst.


ROMANS: The Biden camp quick to respond saying: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Biden tells CNN he expected his son Hunter to be a focus of the impeachment trial but does not think there'll be political fall out for him.

JARRETT: In what appears to be retaliation against the media directed from the highest levels of the State Department, an NPR reporter has been booted from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's upcoming trip. Michele Kelemen was removed from the press pool Monday. No official reason was given. The move comes just days after Pompeo's angry response to an interview with an NPR anchor.

ROMANS: Mary Louise Kelly says the secretary's staff knew ahead of time that she planned to ask him about both Iran and Ukraine. Emails appear to back that up. But Pompeo claims he agreed only to talk about Iran.

Kelly says Pompeo lashed out, berating her and cursing after the interview ended. The secretary doesn't deny it but he accused Kelly of, quote, lying to him and violating an off-the-record agreement which Kelly denies. NPR's chief executive says the network will not be intimidated by the secretary of state.

And a lot of people in media and government this morning are saying what country is this? You're used to dealing with autocratic leaders in other countries who try to restrict access or who slam the media or censure the media but it doesn't happen here.

JARRETT: And NPR, National Public Radio.

ROMANS: Right, right.

JARRETT: For the second time in a week, gripping testimony against Harvey Weinstein.

Stay with us.



JARRETT: All of China now under a travel warning because of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control cautioning 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 have now dead and over 4,500 cases confirmed in mainland China. That number rising by nearly 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 is serious here. Hubei would cover a big swath of the eastern U.S. from Pennsylvania down to North Carolina. Now there's troubling information about how the deadly virus can spread.

Let's go live to Beijing and bring in CNN's David Culver. David, tell us what more you're learning about the methods of


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This coming directly from Chinese health officials and corroborated by World Health Organization health officials, too, Laura. And that is not only can it spread by contact but also by saliva.

So the two of these now making it more concerning this could spread even farther within this region which explains the massive containment effort that is currently under way. It also explains why people within those lock down regions for example Hubei province that has the 60 million people, they want to get out including Americans. And we know Americans that are currently making their way.

In fact, I touched base with an American mom and her daughter a short time ago and they're in Wuhan, among the 200 people planning to get on a chartered flight later on this evening local time and fly back to the U.S. Now, once they get there, they and everybody else on that plane pretty much going to be on that plane for up to two weeks time.

Meantime, you'll have to see how surrounding nations are responding to this and they're taking some radical steps. In the territory of Hong Kong, for example, they've essentially cut down train service and planes coming from the mainland. They say anyone who has been to Hubei province or is from there cannot enter Hong Kong for two weeks. And Singapore and they're saying students and staff in anyplace in mainland China cannot come into school for two weeks time.

So there are some extreme measures taking place to try to contain this, and we expect those measures to only accelerate as these efforts to stop this spread are growing here. But it's becoming all the more concerning given these health updates suggesting how easily it can now spread from one person to another.

JARRETT: Sure, just trying to get a handle on the situation, of course. David Culver, thanks so much.

ROMANS: And the coronavirus is a big uncertainty for investors. After a dive yesterday, stocks looking like they might try to rebound today. The Dow fell 454 points. That's 1.6 percent, the biggest one day percentage drop since October. Now that wipes out the gains for the Dow for the year. Take a look at futures right now, a small advance here. Just 0.2 so that would claw back a little bit.

Concerns about the virus are spreading through global markets. You can see markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong are closed for the Lunar New Year. European stocks opened slightly higher and have wobbled a bit. Big declines Monday in European shares as well.

Now, the outbreak concerns investors about the Chinese economy. It's the second largest economy in the world. Any drop off in growth there could hurt the global economy which has already showed over the past year. Pain in China could also hurt demand for oil. U.S. oil prices settled almost 2 percent lower at $52.14 a barrel, so that could mean you see a small decline in gasoline prices at the pump because of those concerns.


JARRETT: Are you surprised there hasn't been more of a reaction in the markets until now?

ROMANS: That's a good question. I think when you look at yesterday, only -- not even a 2 percent decline on the day, that gives me some hope that the markets will be able to absorb all this. But it is a very big new uncertainty. We're already seeing global travel, global trade impacted, so we just have to see how it shakes out.

JARRETT: Well, the Los Angeles Lakers have postponed tonight's game against the clippers as the team and the 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 because I can't get through it. Until we meet again, my brother. #mambaforlife. #gigiforlife.

ROMANS: It's awful.

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

All nine victims of Sunday's crash have now been identified. Mourners of all ages turned out for a second day at the Staples 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.


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

ROMANS : 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 is used to link troops in the field to their headquarters.

Now, we still don't know how many people were onboard this plane, how many people were killed.

A U.S. military spokesman says there's no indication the plane was hit by enemy fire. And the spokesman refutes claims by the Taliban about other U.S. aircraft crashing, but we're told the Taliban's not allowing anybody in there, right, to be able to assess the damage.

JARRETT: There's just so many questions. And it just shows you the need for a briefing at times like this.

ROMANS: Absolutely. A military plane is down in Afghanistan. We need some answers.


Well, coming up next an incredible rescue. Help arrives just in time for a woman losing her grip on the side of a canyon.



ROMANS: More emotional and graphic testimony at Harvey Weinstein's rape and sexual assault trial in New York. A pivotal witness, former production assistant Miriam Haley, testified Weinstein assaulted in her 2006. She broke down several times describing how Weinstein pinned her down and forced her into a sex act in his apartment in 2006.

JARRETT: Haley said she eventually stopped fighting him because she figured it was pointless. She never reported it to police fearing they would find out she was working illegally on a tourist visa.

A few weeks later, Haley said Weinstein raped her in a hotel room. Haley's testimony is connected to two of the five charges against Weinstein. Meantime, Weinstein's defense presented texts and e-mails to support their argument that the relationship was consensual.

ROMANS: High poverty levels are linked to an increased risk of suicide among children and teens in the U..S

A new study published in JEMA Pediatrics found more suicides involving people ages 5 to 19 in counties that had a higher concentration of poverty. This is from the years 2007 to 2016. Researchers also found the presence of a gun in a household as a significant risk of suicide among adolescence.

As a reminder, the National Suicide Hot Line is 1-800-273-8255.

JARRETT: A truly dramatic rescue in California's Rubio Canyon. Take a look at this hiker clinging to some tree roots after falling off a trail and down a cliff. A rescue chopper lowered a paramedic just below the woman and he was able to catch her just as she let go just in time. The woman's husband also fell both got medical treatment and posed for photos with their rescuers and went on their way.

ROMANS: You know, I went for a jog one time along some of those canyons. And I was like, you know, I think I'm going to walk.

JARRETT: It's tricky, it's tricky.

ROMANS: It is a little treacherous there.

All right. A split focus in the impeachment trial. The president's lawyers target the Bidens. The rest of Washington has eyes on John Bolton.

What it all means for the president's impeachment trial.



ROMANS: A remarkable moment on the streets of New York City caught on video. A group of bystanders banding together to physically lift an SUV off a woman who was pinned underneath and pull her to safety. People can be seen rushing to the aid of the 25-year-old victim after she was hit crossing the street. Miraculously she escaped serious injury. The driver a 65-year-old woman was given a summons by police for failing to yield.

EARLY START continues right now.


JARRETT: The president's lawyers try to flip the script in the impeachment trial. They're focusing on the Bidens while Washington wonders what's next from John Bolton.

ROMANS: All of China now under a travel warning because of the coronavirus. Overnight, China said the virus can now spread also just through contact.

JARRETT: And LeBron James breaks his silence on the death of Kobe Bryant. The emotional fair well as the Lakers postpone their return to the court.

Good morning, this is EARLY START.