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EARLY START

Today & Tomorrow: Senators Ask Questions; Viral Outbreak: 200 Americans Evacuated from Wuhan; 50 U.S. Troops with Brain Injuries from Iran Attack; Biden Team's Overture to Klobuchar. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 29, 2020 - 04:30   ET

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


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[04:30:48]

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Mitch McConnell doesn't have the votes to block witnesses yet. What it means for the next phase of the Senate impeachment trial.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds of Americans on their way home from the epicenter of the coronavirus in China. The number of cases in Mainland China exceeds the deadly SARS outbreak.

JARRETT: A big jump in American troops who suffered brain injuries in the attack by Iran. Why the Pentagon expects the number to go even higher.

ROMANS: And the surprising overture in Iowa. Why is the Biden campaign looking for an alliance with Amy Klobuchar?

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

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

Just days ago, Republicans were confident they had the votes to avoid witnesses at the trial to impeach and remove President Trump. Now, not so much. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling Republican senators he does not yet have the votes to block witnesses. The GOP weathering the latest storm involving revelations from John Bolton's draft book manuscript.

ROMANS: One idea kicked around by Republican Senators James Lankford and Lindsey Graham would let senators look at Bolton's information in a secure location to see if it's worth having Bolton testify.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Recommending to the House or to the White House, turn it over, put it in one of the SCIFs here so we can go through it, even ones going the classification process, we can read all of it, and see it -- see for ourselves if there's anything significant there. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Remember, Republicans actually complained about House Democrats holding impeachment interviews in a secure facility.

The National Security Council is reviewing Bolton's book for classified information. Not clear if they're open to sharing it. Democrats CNN spoke with rebuffed the idea.

JARRETT: With the Senate vote on witnesses looming later this week, polls showing the public at least wants to hear more. Three out of four saying witnesses should be allowed to testify. Even among Republicans. More say yes than no.

And the White House could get some help from across the aisle. CNN has learned some Democratic senators from states that Trump won haven't ruled out voting to acquit him. That raises the possibility of bipartisan opposition to Trump's removal as he gears up for re- election.

With a look ahead at what lies ahead, Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill for us.

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MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Laura.

Now, a critical day ahead in the Senate impeachment trial as we get into the member questions. Senators will ask questions on both sides, expected to go about eight hours today, and then tomorrow also an additional eight hours. But behind the scenes, the debate will continue within the Senate Republican conference about whether to bring forward witnesses. Now in order to get the quick resolution to this trial that Mitch McConnell wants, that the White House wants, they will have to defeat that motion. And that means they will have to ensure that there are not four Republicans who will break ranks and join with 47 Democrats to move ahead with witnesses.

And behind the scenes, Mitch McConnell yesterday made the case to his colleagues that it didn't make sense to go forward on witnesses because it could lead to an endless parade of witnesses, with no obvious way out. And while he doesn't have the votes locked down yet, Republicans emerged confident that they'll ultimately get their members in line. If Republican leaders succeed in defeating this motion to call for witnesses, to subpoena witnesses and subpoena documents, that essentially could lead to the end of the trial within days. And the president presumably could be acquitted by the time of the State of the Union next week.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Manu for us, thank you. The number of confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus in mainland China

has now exceeded that of SARS. Officials say there have been nearly 6,000 cases at more than 30 percent in a day. That includes 132 deaths so far.

About 200 Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China, are in the air right now, including U.S. diplomats and their families. They will land at a military base near Riverside, California, instead of a civilian airport as first was planned.

While those Americans leave China, others are preparing to go there. Our David Culver is there. He joins us live from Beijing with more on that.

And also the -- the president of China taking a personal responsibility here, making some pretty big promises about controlling this.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, that was a remarkable moment because he is essentially coming out, President Xi Jinping, and saying that he personally will oversee the deployment and coordination of this containment effort. That's very significant, especially to be so public.

[04:35:01]

But he also met with the head of the World Health Organization, and you mentioned the Americans who would be coming here. Well, they would be likely part of the CDC, according to the health and human services secretary. They do expect that those scientists would be allowed to partake in a trip to Beijing to meet alongside with Chinese scientists and WHO scientists to try to figure out if they can determine how easily transmittable this disease is, as well as what type of quarantine efforts would be the most effective. So, that's what they're hoping to gain from this. And it could happen in just a matter of days.

Meantime, you mentioned those Americans who are headed back to the U.S. most of the 240 on board, U.S. diplomats and their family members. Important distinction here, they were evacuated versus allowing the other citizens who are not diplomats to apply for a seat on the plane.

Naturally, a lot of folks were interested. There were not enough seats, so they had a select number leaving many more behind who are still trying to get out of Wuhan and the province as a whole, Christine. But once the Americans get back, they're going to be in quarantine for up to 14 days.

ROMANS: All right. David Culver for us in Beijing, thanks so much for that.

You know, the coronavirus is a big, new uncertainty for global companies. Maybe are now banning -- many are now banning travel to China as the disease spreads. Facebook told its staff to suspend nonessential travel to mainland China in line with guidance from the CDC. It also told employees who had recently returned from China to work from home for an undetermined period of time. Don't go into the office.

Ford taking more drastic steps, banning travel to, from, and inside China. The airline industry also reacting to the outbreak. New this morning, British Airways has suspended all flights to and from mainland China after Britain warned against all but essential travel. United Airlines announced plans to temporarily suspend some flights between its U.S. hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, 24 roundtrip flights will be suspended from February 1st through 8th.

Starbucks taking precautions, closing more than half of its Chinese stores. China is one of Starbucks' leading growth markets. It's not clear how the closures long term will affect business.

JARRETT: Well, there could be trouble brewing in Iowa for Joe Biden. The former vice president's campaign confirms a "New York Times" report that says it's reaching out to Senator Amy Klobuchar's campaign to discuss a possible alliance. The plan would involve a pledge to help each other in precincts where one does not have enough support in next week's caucuses.

ROMANS: Klobuchar flew to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for a rally between impeachment proceedings and she was quick to dismiss the idea of teaming up with anyone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: If defeating President Trump is the most important thing, in precincts that you may not be viable in, what would you urge your support force do?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not even getting to that point. I want to be viable in every precinct.

ZELENY: You want to be, of course. That's a lot of precincts out there. Would you urge them to follow their own instinct? Would you urge to leave?

KLOBUCHAR: No, we are not urging them to do anything that I know. I'm just urging people to show up and support me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Bottom line, Klobuchar not directing her people to do anything. It's far more a sign of recognition on Biden's part that he needs help in some parts of the state to challenge Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.

JARRETT: There's been a sharp jump in the member of American troops diagnosed with brain injuries from the Iranian attack on U.S. bases in Iraq this month. Remember last week president Trump called them headaches and downplayed their severity.

More now from Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

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BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Laura, the Pentagon now acknowledging it has 16 additional cases of U.S. troops reporting traumatic brain injury and concussion. Those troops now diagnosed with that. That brings the total of troops injured up to 50. Now, 30 of them have been returned to duty in Iraq. So, that is really good news.

But a total of 50 troops injured at the hands of Iran when it launched those ballistic missiles against the Al Asad Airbase in Iraq back on January 8th, that set off this massive blast wave from the thousands of pounds of explosives causing the traumatic brain injury, the concussion symptoms. And in fact, the Pentagon is very much anticipating there could be even additional injuries. They've been assessing about 200 troops that were in the immediate blast area.

So they are very prepared to see additional cases come forwards in the next several days, and they very much want troops if they are experiencing symptoms to report them -- Christine, Laura.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Barbara Starr. Thank you for that.

The remains of two U.S. service members have been recovered from the wreckage of a military aircraft that crashed in Afghanistan on Monday. The victims' names are being withheld until next of kin have been notified.

Now, Pentagon officials tell CNN U.S. forces destroyed the remnants of this aircraft and disabled sensitive equipment at the crash site. Reports also indicate there was a distress call from the crew indicating some type of problem. We have a lot of questions about this the last couple of days. We knew there was a crash in Taliban- controlled territory.

[04:40:03]

We knew it was a military aircraft. Now we know there are --

JARRETT: Two U.S. fatalities.

ROMASN: Two U.S. service members.

JARRETT: Yes.

Well, the NPR reporter who clashed with Mike Pompeo last week speaking out after her colleague was banished from the secretary of state's next trip.

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JARRETT: The helicopter in the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other victims did not have critical safety instruments installed. According to the NTSB, the chopper did not have a terrain warning system. The chopper missed clearing a mountain by only 20 to 30 feet. The pilot said he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer.

Christina Mauser was also killed in that crash. She was an assistant girls basketball coach in Corona del Mar, California. Her husband, Matt, spoke to CNN about how the kids are coping.

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MATT MAUSER, HUSBAND OF HELICOPTER CRASH VICTIM CHRISTINA MAUSER: My little one, her birthday's next week.

[04:45:02]

That's a hard part. She's going to be 4. So, her birthday's on the 4th. I'm trying to navigate that.

And she's kind of -- doesn't understand. She does know, I'd walk in and she would call for mom, where's mom. I want mom. Mommy, mommy.

And now I walk in, and she doesn't call for her. So it's bittersweet because I want her to still call for her mom. But it's hard to put her down when she's calling for mom.

So I think she gets it. She knows we're grieving. She says, don't cry.

And then my son is a little more quiet. He has outbursts. He's very sensitive. So I try to do physical activities with him. I let him hit a pillow. I kind of let him get it out.

I hold him, and I hug him and kiss him, and I tell him, mom loves you, and I love you. I give him a hug for mom and I give him a hug from me and I move on.

My daughter is, she's 11, and her friends are really important. So, that's nice because she played on Kobe's smaller team, the mamba -- the little mambas. So she knows the whole -- she knows everybody, as well. And my -- Kobe absolutely loved my daughter.

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ROMANS: CNN has learned from FAA records that the company operating that helicopter, Island Express, was certified only for visual flight rules. That requires pilots to stay clear of clouds. Kobe Bryant's pilot did request special permission to fly.

CNN has reached out to Island Express for comment.

JARRETT: National Public Radio reporter Mary Louise Kelly with a fierce defense of the first amendment after a clash with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Kelly writing in a "New York Times" op-ed, quote, there is a reason it matters that people in positions of power be held to account. The stakes are too high for their impulses and decisions not to be examined in as thoughtful and rigorous an interview as possible.

Kelly calls that both a privilege and a responsibility. She says Secretary of State Pompeo shouted and swore at her after an interview where she questioned him.

ROMANS: Pompeo claims Kelly lied about the questions she would ask. Emails appear to refute Pompeo's claim. President Trump has his secretary's back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That reporter couldn't have done too good a job on you yesterday. I think you did a good job on her actually.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Wow. The laughter in the room.

The State Department has yet to explain or defend the removal of a different NPR reporter from Pompeo's travel pool for an upcoming trip. The State Department correspondents association says it looks like retaliation. NPR has not been told whether it's a one off or a full- blown ban --

JARRETT: You know, when this happened to our Jim Acosta, he actually had to get credentials from a foreign government to be able to follow the president and do his job, so it would be interesting to see whether NPR follows suit there.

ROMANS: Free press is the oxygen of democracy.

A record quarter for Apple after the iPhone makes a comeback. CNN Business has the details, next.

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[04:52:33]

JARRETT: Mississippi's governor shutting down a violent unit of a state prison where nine inmates have died in just the past month. Governor Tate Reeves says they're looking to close unit 29 of the Mississippi state penitentiary. Three prisoners were found hanging in their cells in just the last week. A lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of more than two dozen inmates citing inhumane conditions.

ROMANS: Fotis Dulos accused of killing his wife may have tried to take his own life. The 52-year-old was found unresponsive after carbon monoxide poisoning and is being treated. He's in critical condition. Dulos was charged this month with the kidnapping and murder of his wife Jennifer. She vanished back in may after dropping their five children off at school.

JARRETT: Kansas lawmakers are making a bipartisan effort to make sexual battery of a spouse illegal. Incredibly somehow, it's not against the law in the state right now. The existing law defines sexual battery as touching a victim who is not the spouse. Kansas' House Judiciary Committee justice voted to advance a bill that amends the law to remove that exception. Last year the identical bill did not pass in committee.

ROMANS: The Food and Drug Administration is warning the makers of Purell to stop claiming the product can prevent disease like MRSA, norovirus, and Ebola. The warning comes as the U.S. braces for one of its worst flu seasons in decades and the world contends with a coronavirus outbreak that's killed more than 100 in China.

GOJO Industries, the parent company of Purell, has removed some claims from its website since receiving the letter from the FDA recently.

JARRETT: Chipotle has agreed to pay $1.3 million fine for more than 13,000 child labor violations in Massachusetts. The state attorney general's office says the chain hired teenagers under 18 without proper work permits and kept them on the job late into the night and for too many hours per day in a week. The abuses were uncovered between 2015 and 2019. The company said it's committed to ensuring that its restaurants are in full compliance with all laws and regulations.

A Tennessee man facing a simple marijuana position charge decided to make a point to the judge. And here's how -- by smoking a joint in court. Thirty-year-old Spencer Boston was expressing his views on legalizing pot to Judge Haywood Berry, when he reached into his pocket, lit up, and started puffing.

[04:55:08]

As he was being escorted out of the courtroom, he shouted, "The people deserve better." Everyone burst out laughing. Spencer, however, maybe not so much. He's now in jail charged with disorderly conduct and contempt of court.

ROMANS: All right. You've come a long way, Barbie. The new line will be the most diverse ever. They include one with no hair and one with skin condition Vitiligo. Mattel wants to show beauty and fashion through the new additions through the fashionistas line. Last year, it introduced a Barbie with a prosthetic leg and another with a wheelchair.

JARRETT: OK, a must-see moment on "Antiques Roadshow". David, an air veteran in Fargo, North Dakota, was trying to find out the value of his Rolex watch. He bought it back in 1974 for $346.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A watch like this at auction is worth about $400,000.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: It gets even better, though. David's unworn Oyster Cosmograph was in such pristine condition, an appraiser told him it's likely to fetch up to $700,000. David says he purchased the Rolex because he heard it was good for scuba diving. After he took it home, he decided it was too nice to submerge in salt water.

ROMANS: What a great investment --

JARRETT: The immediate tip-over reaction --

ROMANS: It's just a pure reaction. What a great investment. I hope I have something in my attic or in a box that's worth something. I doubt it.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning, and take a look at markets around the world. Pretty much a mixed performance here. Europe is opening a little bit higher. Hong Kong stocks fell. Investors returned from a long holiday. Markets in mainland China remain closed and will reopen next Monday.

On Wall Street, futures now leaning higher. I would call this really no direction. Stocks rebounded Tuesday after fears about the coronavirus had sparked that sharp sell-off. The Dow clawed some of it back, up 187 points, snapping a five-day losing streak. The S&P 500 finished up 1 percent. The Nasdaq up 1.4 percent.

OK. Couple of big investors -- investor events, Boeing earnings and the Fed's rate decision. Investors are waiting for clues to the 737 MAX after Boeing halted production. And the Fed is likely to decide to keep interest rates steady. President Trump once again called for the central bank to lower rates saying it should, quote, get smart.

Apple posted record earnings for the first quarter of 2020 on the back of an iPhone comeback. IPhone sales grew 8 percent to $56 billion in the quarter. A strong turnaround for a product that was in a serious slump. Sales had fallen in each of the previous four quarters. Apple also had huge growth in its services segment which includes Apple TV Plus, Apple Music. That grew 17 percent to just about $13 billion. Overall, Apple posted a quarterly revenue of nearly $92 billion. It earned $22.2 billion in net income, the biggest quarterly profit for any American company in history.

First, there was the chicken sandwich war for lunch, then breakfast, McDonald's is entering the ring. McDonald's selling its Chicken McGriddles and McChicken Biscuit sandwiches for a limited time, hoping to cash in on America's appetite for chicken sandwiches while upping its game in the competitive breakfast market.

McDonald's calls itself the leader in breakfast, but the space is competitive. Wendy's, White Castle, Chick-fil-A all have chicken on their breakfast menus. Though the national test is running for a limited time. Restaurants can keep the sandwiches on the menu for longer.

JARRETT: Breakfast sandwiches are always a good idea.

ROMANS: I know -- I'm now hungry.

JARRETT: Of course. Well, thanks so much to our international viewers for joining us. Have

a great rest of your day.

For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.

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JARRETT: Mitch McConnell doesn't have the votes to block witnesses yet. What it means for the next phase of the Senate impeachment trial.

ROMANS: Hundreds of Americans on their way home from the epicenter of the coronavirus in China. The number of cases in mainland China now exceeds the deadly SARS outbreak.

JARRETT: A big jump in American troops who suffered brain injuries in the attack by Iran. Why the Pentagon expects the number to go even higher.

ROMANS: And the surprising overture in Iowa. Why is the Biden campaign looking for an alliance with Amy Klobuchar. Cue the caucuses. The horse trading begins.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett, it's Wednesday, January 29th, 5:00 a.m. in the East. Just five days until the Iowa caucuses.

Just days ago, Republicans were confident they had the votes to avoid witnesses at the trial to impeach and remove President Trump. But now, not so much. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling Republican senators he does not yet have the votes to block witnesses. The GOP weathering the latest storm involving revelations from John Bolton's draft book manuscript.

ROMANS: One idea being kicked around by Republican Senators James Lankford and Lindsey Graham would let senators look at Bolton's information in a secure location to see if it's worth having Bolton testify.

END