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Trump's Lawyers Wrap Their Opening Argument Today In Impeachment Trial; CDC Issues Travel Warning For China; President Trump To Unveil Middle East Peace Plan. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 28, 2020 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaks his silence on the death of Kobe Bryant. The emotional farewell as the Lakers postpone their return to the court.

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And, I'm Christine Romans. It's almost exactly 30 minutes past the hour.

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 real issue, John Bolton. In a draft book manuscript, the former national security adviser claims President Trump told him he wanted to hold back military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine helped with the investigation into Joe Biden. That revelation undercuts claims by the president and his lawyers.

Now, at least two Republicans are suggesting they will 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.


JARRETT: That was Sen. Mitt Romney.

And, Susan Collins weighing in as well, saying, "I've also said from the beginning that it was very likely that 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 any witnesses

whatsoever. Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said it will make the trial longer and set a bad precedent.

ROMANS: The stakes here heightened by more "New York Times" reporting. It says Bolton claims in that 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 it best to dodge the 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 -- the 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 the 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's no question about that -- and multiple people I spoke 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 closed-door lunch before the proceedings for the day even began to quote "take a deep breath." His point, don't make any rash decisions on whether or not to vote for witnesses until you've heard the entire White House presentation -- until you've had an opportunity to ask questions of both sides, something that will occur after the White House presentation concludes.

Still, there are many days to go and obviously, a lot of questions left.

And as for the actual presentations themselves, only one person even mentioned the Bolton revelations. That was Alan Dershowitz when he said this.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, ATTORNEY ON PRESIDENT TRUMP'S IMPEACHMENT LEGAL TEAM: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.

MATTINGLY: But 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 the Democrats wouldn't have the votes to move forward on witnesses?

Again, we won't have a final answer to that question for at least another couple of days. It's obviously the most operative question at the moment when everybody's 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, for the White House and for Senate GOP leadership is a victory. Again, at least for the moment -- guys.


ROMANS: All right, Phil, thanks.

JARRETT: Phil, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood, live this morning in Washington. Sarah, thanks so much for getting up with us.

ROMANS: Hi, Sarah.

JARRETT: You cover the White House every day. As you heard in Phil's report right there, obviously the Bolton book revelations rocking everyone.

I want you to kind of pull back the curtain for us on what it was like at the White House yesterday when this news broke. You have to imagine it sent everybody scrambling. Certainly, senators on Capitol Hill, the reporting shows --


JARRETT: -- were not pleased to get blindsided. Tell us what exactly was it like.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right and it wasn't just Republican senators who were blindsided by the existence of that book and the revelations inside it, but also members of the White House.


Keep in mind, when this was sent to the White House it wasn't distributed widely among aides. This went to the National Security Council where Bolton worked when he was in the White House for a prepublication review for some of the things that Biden -- that Bolton was going to claim about his time in the White House. It was not distributed among White House staff. And so, even senior White House officials felt blindsided by the revelations in this book. Now, the NSC released this carefully worded statement that said that other members of the White House -- other people within the White House didn't review the manuscript itself. That doesn't mean that at some point, the White House counsel's office or others weren't briefed on its existence. That's something we don't know yet.

But there are -- there was a lot of reading between the lines of that statement. But certainly, the White House was sort of caught flat- footed in terms of dealing with this revelation.

And it led to a lot of allies of the president speculating about the timing coming on the heels of what was supposed to be the final day of the president's legal team's presentation. They have decided to close out that presentation and use their third allotted day on the heels of this revelation. It certainly, though, throws uncertainty into whether the president's trial is going to end as soon as the White House would have liked.

ROMANS: A couple of days ago we didn't even know what this book was going to be called or when it was going to be published. Now we know it's Simon and Schuster and when it's going to be published. And there's suddenly a way you can buy it at a --

JARRETT: Skyrockets on Amazon.

ROMANS: So, there's an awful lot of interest in Washington about the Bolton revelations. But the president's legal team not focused there quite so much. Listen to Ken Starr.


KEN STARR, WHITE HOUSE DEFENSE TEAM: Has the House of Representatives, with all due respect, in these articles of impeachment charged a crime or violation of established law or not?

STARR (1999): Whether the president's actions are, in fact, grounds for an impeachment or some other sanction, is a decision in the sole discretion of the Congress.


ROMANS: Ken Starr, 2020; Ken Starr, 1999. Which one is it?

WESTWOOD: Right. The irony of that was not lost on anyone watching yesterday. That was, at best, a distraction for the president's legal team. Perhaps it was a display of hypocrisy -- something that a lot of Democrats seized on while watching Ken Starr's presentation.

But the president wanted Ken Starr. He wanted Alan Dershowitz, who presented last, on that team to add some star power. The rest of the people presenting, with the exception of Jay Sekulow, are people who don't have a lot of T.V. experience. Also, with the exception of Pam Bondi. You had Pat Philbin, Michael Purpura, members of the White House counsel's office who don't really have that name recognition or star power. And no one but Dershowitz really, towards the end of the night, ever even ended up mentioning the Bolton revelations. Really, we saw the legal team all day sidestepping that from Ken Starr's presentation all the way through to Dershowitz's presentation. Really, the heart of the argument was not defending the president on the merits of what he's being accused of, but just on the process. And that the allegations against the president, even if true, are not impeachable and do not rise to the level of that constitutional threshold for impeachment.

ROMANS: Congressman Matt Gaetz -- who is not a juror, by the way, but a sometime ally of the president -- tweeted this. "This defense needs a little less Atticus Finch and a little more Miss Universe."

Ann Coulter, also there. "Ken Starr litigation strategy. Torture the Senate with such an excruciatingly boring presentation that they cannot take another minute of this trial."

JARRETT: Not a glowing review.


WESTWOOD: No, that's right. And, President Trump wanted that robust defense. He wanted that theatrical defense.

And he didn't get it because that was something that Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell counseled him against -- that that wasn't something that was going to play well for the handful of moderate Republicans he needed to convince to vote against witnesses and subpoenaing testimony in order to bring this trial to a quick close.

And so, the president may be agreeing with Matt Gaetz in private but this is the defense that he was counseled. He needed to get him that quick acquittal.


JARRETT: Sarah, one of his defense lawyers, Pam Bondi, the former attorney general, she laid out quite a case against the Bidens, specifically making this connection with Burisma --

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- the Ukrainian energy company. He sat on the board.

Lest we forget it is, what, a week away from the Iowa caucuses. Do you have any sense of whether voters actually care about this issue? Is this something that is actually resonating with the voters there?

WESTWOOD: Well certainly, it's something that Republicans look to weaponize almost immediately after the president's legal team focused in on the Bidens and Burisma here. You saw a couple of Republican senators, like Joni Ernst, like John Barrasso talk about how this could be harmful to Joe Biden's campaign -- his viability.

And certainly, if you're looking at Joe Biden strictly through the lens of electability -- and a lot of voters are -- perhaps there are concerns that down the road in a general election having these vulnerabilities could be something that Trump and Republicans --


WESTWOOD: -- will look to exploit. You're seeing them do that now.

So, if the chief concern for Biden is electability and that's his chief appeal to voters, perhaps this is something that could factor into their evaluation.

ROMANS: Well, voters are smart. I mean, honestly, if you're going to make this about whether someone with the same last name as a public figure is profiting off of the same last name as a public figure -- hello. I mean, the entire Trump family -- that's the Trump family business, right? So --


JARRETT: But, Democrats have to be the ones to make that play --

ROMANS: Yes --

JARRETT: -- and they haven't done it.

ROMANS: -- and they haven't.

Sarah Westwood, CNN White House reporter, nice to see you this morning.

JARRETT: Thanks so much, Sarah.

WESTWOOD: Thank you.

JARRETT: Appreciate it.

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


ROMANS: The Lakers postponing tonight's game at Staples Center as the franchise mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hi, Andy.



You know, Kobe Bryant joined the Lakers when he was a 17-year-old kid and he played for them for 20 years, so you can just imagine there's so many members of the organization just not in a place to put on a big game.

In the meantime, thousands of fans continue to visit Staples Center and the memorials that have popped up to honor Kobe. The Lakers releasing a statement saying, "The Los Angeles Lakers would

like to thank all of you for the tremendous outpouring of support and condolences. This is a very difficult time for all of us. We continue to support the Bryant family and will share more information as it is available."

Now, for the first time, LeBron James commenting on Kobe's death. He posted a very emotional Instagram post saying he can't stop crying thinking about Kobe and his daughter Gigi. LeBron says he and Kobe spoke Sunday morning before the crash.

In the post, LeBron added, "I'm heartbroken and devastated my brother. Man, I love you big bro. My heart goes out to Vanessa and the kids.

I promise you I'll continue your legacy man. You mean so much to us all here, especially Laker Nation, and it's my responsibility to put this on my back and keep it going."

Now, the Lakers' next game is scheduled for Friday night at home against the Portland Trailblazers.

Now, the UConn women's Huskies basketball team honoring Kobe and his daughter Gigi before their game last night. Gigi dreamed of one day playing for the Huskies. The team placing a jersey and flowers on one of the seats on their bench.

They also held a 24-second moment of silence before the game. And when the game started, UConn took a 24-second violation to honor Kobe and Gigi. And you can see coach Geno Auriemma there wiping away tears.

Now, Super Bowl week kicking off last night in Miami with opening night. Hard Rock Stadium was lit up in purple and gold to honor Kobe. Then across town, the players all on hand at Marlins Park to talk about the big game. They had a moment of silence for Kobe before the night got going and many of the players talking about the impact that Kobe had on them.


PATRICK MAHOMES, QUARTERBACK, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: I wasn't lucky enough to get to meet Kobe but the impact that he made in my life -- I mean, it was huge. The way he was able to go about every single day, when I was kid, and the work ethic and the intensity that he had to be great every single day.

RICHARD SHERMAN, CORNERBACK, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: And I was sad this morning. I was -- I was kind of down. I was -- I was in the dumps and I just thought about what he would tell me, you know.

I mean, he would tell me to stop being a baby and man up, and play it and do it in his honor and win this game for him, you know, and that's what we're going to try to do. I'm going to go out there and try to -- try to play some dominating ball just like he wanted. The Mamba mentality still lives on.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: Yes, and Kobe once said, Christine, that he wanted to be remembered for being given plenty of God-given talent but not wasting an ounce of it.


SCHOLES: He certainly will be remembered for that. A lot of those players there, even though they're football players, said they took a lot from Kobe's work ethic and relentless drive to be great.

ROMANS: And we should remember Kobe Bryant was famous. His daughter was a daughter of a famous person, but there were people on that -- on that plane -- families, the pilot -- parents and another child. I mean, just -- it's just tragic for all the families involved. Our hearts go out to them.

Andy Scholes, thank you so much for that.

Laura, what's coming up?

JARRETT: All right, Christine.

Well, all of China now under a travel warning because of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control cautioning Americans against any non-essential travel and now monitoring the virus at 20 U.S. airports that handle the most passengers from China.

At least 106 people are now dead and over 4,500 cases confirmed in Mainland China. Fifteen cities in China's Hubei province remain fully or partially locked down. That covers roughly 60 million people. The magnitude is serious. 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, what are officials saying about the method of transmission here?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So here's what really disturbing, Laura, is that they believe not only can it be transmitted by saliva, but also through contact.

And this is in addition to the concern that in that incubation period that somebody might have been exposed to it and not showing symptoms. It could be up to 14 days. Well, they say that person could be a carrier and transmit it to other people. And that explains why we're seeing these stepped-up efforts to prevent the spread.

And we're seeing it in neighboring territories like Hong Kong, for example. They've cut back on train and airline services going to the territory from the mainland. They are also telling folks who are from Hubei or have been there recently in that province, they are not to enter Hong Kong for at least two weeks.

And similar scenarios are playing out in other countries around the region. In fact, we're even seeing it in Singapore. They're saying to staff and teachers if you have been to a school -- and even students -- if you've been to Mainland China as a whole -- anywhere in the country -- you are not to come into school for at least two weeks. Australia, a state there, doing the same.


Meantime, we know Americans are within the lockdown zone and on their way out. I spoke recently to a mom and her daughter -- in fact, a short time ago. They say they had just arrived at what is an empty Wuhan airport.

They got special permission to go on a chartered flight along with U.S. diplomats and their family members, and they are scheduled to leave tonight, local time, and return to the U.S. And when they get back to the U.S. they will be in quarantine anywhere from three to 14 days. A long journey ahead, no question.

And, Laura, as you mentioned, the U.S. State Department coming out with those new warnings, saying that anyone who is coming to China should reconsider travel. And they say, quite strictly, if you have plans to go to Hubei province, well, you might want to cancel them. Do not travel there.

JARRETT: Yes. And obviously, that 14 days because of the long lag time here.

David, thanks so much for all of your reporting.

ROMANS: So, the coronavirus is now a big new uncertainty for investors and global companies. Reuters reporting that Goldman Sachs is telling its staff who have been in Mainland China to work from home. If they've visited Mainland China, they need to stay out of the office for two weeks.

After a dive yesterday, stocks are looking to rebound today. The Dow fell 454 points. That's about 1.6 percent. Less than two percent but still that was 400 points. It was the biggest one-day percentage drop since October, wiping out gains for the year.

Let's take a look at futures right now. It looks like they're going to try to claw back a little bit of that. Concerns about the virus are rippling through global markets. Now, Shanghai and Hong Kong, those stock markets are closed for the Lunar New Year.

European stocks opened slightly higher and then wobbled a little bit in Germany, trying to rebound, really, after Monday's big falls there in European shares.

The outbreak concerns investors about the Chinese economy. Look, it's the second-largest economy in the world. Any slowdown in growth there could hurt the global economy, which has already slowed over the past year.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


JARRETT: President Trump will unveil his Middle East peace plan today at the White House. Standing next to him will be embattled Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who made a big shift overnight.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live in Jerusalem. Oren, the timing here is notable.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of course, because it comes on a big day here -- certainly, for Israel and for the United States with the unveiling of the long-awaited, much-hyped Trump administration peace plan.

Early this morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would be withdrawing his request for immunity from prosecution in the ongoing corruption cases in which he faces charges of indictment on charges of bribery and breach of trust, meaning that prosecution can begin and we may see the beginning of the over towards a trial here.

Netanyahu essentially had two choices, either withdraw the request or almost certainly lose that vote in the Knesset, which would have been an embarrassing look for Israel's longest-serving leader. He chose to withdraw the request and say his political opponents were trying to interfere with him while he has this historic opportunity at the White House.

Meanwhile, this news will certainly be overshadowed in just a few hours by the unveiling of the peace plan. Netanyahu will be standing right next to Trump as we learn the details in what is certainly a good picture for Netanyahu as he tries to get reelected here.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have outright rejected whatever the plan has in store. Because of the past actions we've seen from the Trump administration, we are expecting we're already seeing some riots in Gaza and the West Bank that will certainly continue.

JARRETT: Oren, thank you so much.

ROMANS: All right.

Boeing's 737 MAX production halt creating a challenge for suppliers. "The Wall Street Journal" reports Arconic expects to lose $400 million in sales and could but jobs in 2020. The "Journal" says 600 major MAX suppliers are weighing their ability to bear higher costs during the suspension.

Suppliers and investors hope to hear an update on Boeing's plans when Boeing reports earnings tomorrow.

JARRETT: Well, the new John Bolton revelations could change the president's impeachment trial. Here's what the late-night comics said while you were sleeping.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, NBC "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": It's pretty wild. Bolton used to work for Trump and now his book could bring him down. Today, Trump was faced with the two things he hates the most, disloyalty and reading.

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, CBS "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN": Bolton claims Trump did, in fact, withhold aid from Ukraine unless they were willing to dig up dirt on his opponents. These allegations are the most disturbing thing to come from John Bolton's lips since his mustache.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL "THE DAILY SHOW": So, I don't know how Senate Republicans can justify not hearing from Bolton now. Like there's no reason. Imagine an eyewitness to a murder wanted to testify and the judge just refused.

You know, just like, your honor, I saw this man and I saw the crime firsthand. He'd be like no spoilers, no spoilers. I want to see how it ends.


ROMANS: Our Jake Tapper said it wasn't the elephant in the room, it was the big white mustache in the room was how they were going to handle the John Bolton revelations. Jake Tapper made another funny.

All right, 59 minutes past the hour. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Mr. Bolton's book is further evidence that a large number of people who are quote "in the loop" on this scheme.

DERSHOWITZ: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power.

STARR: Like war, impeachment is hell.

SCHUMER: We think witnesses who are not eyewitness to what happened shouldn't be part of this.

PAM BONDI, TRUMP LEGAL DEFENSE TEAM: Hunter Biden's activities created a conflict of interest for Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These guys are attacking me and my family. Well, guess what? I don't hold grudges because presidents can't hold grudges.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.