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EARLY START

Day One Begins Questioning from Senators on Impeachment; Republicans Keeping Pressure on Biden; Americans Rushing to Get Out of China to Escape Coronavirus; Brexit Finally Happening. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 30, 2020 - 04:30   ET

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


[04:31:09]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Astonishing claims by the president's lawyers. How they played with moderates one day before a critical vote on witnesses in the impeachment trial.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Foreign governments rushing their citizens out of China to contain the coronavirus. Hear from one American student trying to get out of Shanghai.

ROMANS: And Kobe Bryant's widow breaks her silence. Her emotional tribute to the late NBA legend.

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.

Today will be day two of questions for senators in the trial to impeach and remove President Trump. If the 93 questions on day one were any indication, many senators still waiting for answers. One of Tuesday's more remarkable moments came when Trump lawyer Alan Dershowitz rolled out let's call it a novel legal argument, that before an election, the president's personal interests and the national interests are the same thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, TRUMP ATTORNEY: Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. And mostly you're right. Your election is in the public interest. And if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: It's worth saying that that argument envisions almost unchallenged presidential power. Remember the president is accused of trying to bully Ukraine into announcing political investigations in exchange for military aid Ukraine needs to fend off Russia.

Another noteworthy moment, the president's legal team argued information from a foreigner is not foreign interference if that information is credible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK PHILBIN, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I think Congress has specified specific ways in which foreigners cannot be involved in elections. Foreigners can't vote in elections. There are restrictions on foreign contributions to campaign.

Mere information is not something that would violate the campaign finance laws, and if there is credible information, credible information of wrongdoing by someone who is running for a public office, it's not campaign interference for credible information about wrongdoing to be brought to light.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: But here's the thing, there is no credible evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden, and that was brought to light even though the president tried to solicit it.

We're inching closer to a make-or-break moment in this trial, a vote on new witnesses. With that in mind maybe the most important question yesterday came from two moderates still on the fence.

Phil Mattingly is on Capitol Hill.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine and Laura, it was a long day but it was one that actually had and served a very real purpose for senators on both sides of the aisle, for the House managers and for the president's lawyers. An opportunity, the first opportunity for the senators themselves to ask questions of both sides.

Now, the Chief Justice John Roberts was the one actually asking the questions but senators from both sides, rotating taken back and forth, Republican to Democrat, throughout the course of Wednesday, asked the questions that have been dragging their thought process throughout this process.

And one of the most interesting by far out of dozens upon dozens of questions was a question from Senator Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, two moderate Republicans who have made clear they are considering voting yes with Democrats to move forward on considering subpoenas and for witnesses and documents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: Before Vice President Biden formally entered the 2020 presidential race in April of 2019, did President Trump ever mention Joe or Hunter Biden in connection with corruption in Ukraine to former Ukrainian President Poroshenko or other Ukrainian officials, President Trump's cabinet members or top aides or others?

PHILBIN: I think it's important at the outset to frame the answer saying I'm limited to what's in the record and what's in the record is determined by what the House of Representatives sought.

[04:35:08]

So I can't point to something in the record that shows President Trump at an earlier time mentioning specifically something related to Joe or Hunter Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: It's those answers that really underscored why Democrats during and after the proceedings made clear they believed that the question and answer piece, at least the first part of it on Wednesday, underscored the need for witnesses and for documents. I'm told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is right on the brink of having the votes to defeat that motion to move forward to consider witnesses and documents.

Obviously, this is one day after McConnell said that he didn't have the votes yet, but he's been working hard behind the scenes, private meetings with Murkowski, working with all of his Republican colleagues.

And I should note, if you listen very closely to the White House counsel's arguments throughout the course of Wednesday, they repeatedly made the point that moving forward on witnesses and documents would be problematic because it would make the trial significantly longer, because it would set potential precedent issues that Republicans may come to regret later, a lot of the same arguments McConnell has been making behind closed doors, I'm told.

That said, they still have another full day of questions and answers. Friday, there will be a four-hour debate from both sides on whether or not to move the witnesses and documents. And then there will be a vote. And if that vote goes down, I'm told right now, McConnell plans to move very quickly to try to have a final vote to acquit the president of all charges -- guys.

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

The Iowa caucuses are on Monday. It's still a very close race for the Democratic nomination. Republicans trying to keep the pressure on Joe Biden. It started with Iowa Senator Jodi Ernst earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): I'm really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters, those Democratic caucus goers. Will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That got a lot of attention. Ernst, an impeachment juror, suggesting the trial could help bring down Joe Biden. Essentially that was the president's goal in the first place. That's why he's being impeached. Now other Republicans nowhere near Iowa are targeting Biden's campaign there.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is on the trail in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Laura and Christine, with the Iowa caucuses less than a week away Joe Biden continues his push back of President Trump and Republicans who keep raising him during the impeachment trial.

Here in Iowa he called out the state senator Joni Ernst for her recent comments about Biden and the Iowa caucuses and then also Florida Senator Rick Scott who was airing an ad here against Biden, an anti- Biden ad in the state. Take a listen to what Biden had to tell voters here in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The senator from Florida sitting in Washington decided to start running negative ads just a couple of days before the Iowa caucus. Now what do you think about that? It seems pretty simple to me. They're trying to smear me to stop me. They know if I'm the nominee, I'm going to beat Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: Now this comes as the Iowa caucuses are just four days away and the race here remains highly fluent. A new poll by Monmouth University found that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are in the top tier of contenders. They're later followed by Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, and nearly a majority of voters have firmly made up their minds about who they're going to caucus for, showing just how fluid and how much could change in the coming days -- Laura and Christine.

JARRETT: Arlette, thanks so much.

Well, the White House is setting up a coronavirus task force to deal with the potential threat to the United States. President Trump claiming he recently spoke to Chinese President Xi about containing the virus. But that may not be true. The White House confirms the two leaders haven't talked since December.

Nearly 200 Americans flown out of China will stay at a military base in Southern California for at least three days to be monitored. Officials will not set up a blanket quarantine for evacuees from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. The number of cases in mainland China now tops 7,000, more than doubling since Monday. The virus has killed more than 170 people.

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

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Laura. Yes, the World Health Organization we know is convening an emergency meeting today. It's then they could change the assessment of this from a high risk to a global emergency. The reason that matters is because that could change international attention on the coronavirus. It also could help with funding. Meantime, we talk about the epicenter of this, the city of Wuhan. We

know obviously the lockdown includes that plus some 14 other cities. It's about 60 million people altogether. And life within that lockdown is no doubt very difficult and challenging for many people. But it expands beyond that for folks who are even in Shanghai, for example. They're experiencing what is an eerily strange emptiness that they say is happening within the city, that's only bustling. 24 million people. It's a metropolis.

[04:40:10]

We spoke with one American college student. She's studying abroad there and she is determined to get out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNA DAVIDSON, U.S. COLLEGE STUDENT STUDYING IN CHINA: What's so stressful is even though we're leaving I still don't feel like we're in the clear yet because it's -- I mean, what if we catch it in the taxi or at the airport, on the way home, on the plane? We still need to be very careful. It's not over yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CULVER: And she's surrounded by fear as she's been planning her exit from Shanghai, Laura. She's actually going to be flying to Africa. She tells me she doesn't know anybody there. It was a seat that was available. Her friends are going to Hawaii, to London, just anywhere they could get on an aircraft and get out of mainland China.

JARRETT: You can really sense her vulnerability there. You know, just worrying about even in the taxi how she's going to be safe.

David, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, 41 minutes past the hour this morning. With the team and the city still grieving over Kobe Bryant's death, the L.A. Lakers returned to the court Wednesday practicing for the first time since Kobe, his daughter and seven others perished in a helicopter crash.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel talks about breaking the tragic news to his players.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK VOGEL, LOS ANGELES LAKERS COACH: Some of them had heard -- you know, have seen the reports, some have not. So it's just a daunting task of just grabbing these guys one-on-one. We've become a family in a very short time and, you know, it's something you talk about in the NBA with your team. But this group in particular has really grown to love each other very rapidly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The Lakers will host Portland tomorrow night at the Staples Center in what should be an emotional night.

Also we are hearing from Vanessa Bryant for the first time since her husband and daughter died. Kobe's widow posting a lengthy and heartfelt message on Instagram. It says in part, "My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who have shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all of the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe, the amazing father of our children, and my sweet -- my beautiful sweet Gianna, a loving, thoughtful and wonderful daughter, an amazing sister to Natalia, Bianca and Capri.

"We're also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday and we share in their grief intimately. There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives, I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon. I'm not sure what our lives hold beyond today and it's impossible to imagine life without them but we wake up each day trying to keep pushing because Kobe and our baby girl Gigi is shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless and that to say immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. I have them here with us forever."

JARRETT: You know, it's so hard to grieve when, you know, the person you lost is a public figure and you're trying to privately be strong for your children.

ROMANS: Other families as grieving. And there are family members who are public figures but, you know, there's a mother gone, there's a couple gone.

JARRETT: Yes. Everyone on that plane was a parent or child.

ROMANS: There's a pilot gone. That's right.

JARRETT: We'll be right back.

[04:45:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady despite renewed pressure from President Trump to make deeper cuts. Policy makers unanimously agreed to keep rates between 1.5 percent and 1.75 percent as they pointed to continued signs of a strong economy.

Fed chair Jerome Powell said this about the global picture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: There were grounds for what I would call cautious optimism about the outlook now for the global economy that we would point to the support of financial conditions, the easing of trade tensions, the lower odds of a hard Brexit. The high tech manufacturing industry does appear to be rebounding well in Asia including in China.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The Fed is also keeping a close eye on the coronavirus outbreak. Powell called it a very serious issue that would like cause some disruption in China and elsewhere, adding that the Fed is very carefully monitoring the situation.

JARRETT: Take a look at newly installed panels of the border wall knocked over by the wind. They landed on top of some trees on the Mexican side of the border near Calexico, California. A Border Protection agent tells CNN a new concrete foundation that was just poured hadn't cured when the winds kicked up there. CBP officials are working with the Mexican government on a plan to repair the panels.

ROMANS: A bizarre twist in the disappearance of a one-week-old baby in Florida. The newborn Andrew Caballeiro has been missing from his Miami home since Tuesday. Authorities suspect Andrew was taken by his father Ernesto Caballeiro. The father was found dead Wednesday in the woods near his van hundreds of miles away. Now authorities are looking for a woman who might have been with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF CHRIS NOCCO, PASCO COUNTY: I sit here and pray to God that that is true and that she has the baby. And if that woman is out there, if there's anybody, if that is true fact and that woman is out there, please come forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: And there's more. Three women were found dead in the baby's house from gunshot wounds. Miami-Dade Police have explained the relationship between Caballeiro and the women.

JARRETT: Some important health news overnight. For the first time in almost three decades drug overdose deaths in the U.S. have declined. According to the Centers for Disease Control, they fell from more than 70,000 in 2017 to 67,000 in 2018. That's a 4.1 percent drop. However the rates of deaths involving synthetic opioids jumped 10 percent. The states with the highest rates of drug overdose deaths are West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Hampshire.

[04:50:04]

Also life expectancy in the USA increased slightly for the first time in four years. That's because of declines in the number of fatal drug overdose. And 6 of the 10 leading causes of death. Another note, nearly 700 women in the United States die each year due to pregnancy or childbirth. The maternal death rate is three times higher among black women than for white or Hispanic women.

ROMANS: And it jumps for women over the age of 40. That maternal death rate information is so important because now they're saying they really want to understand what's happening and the despair.

JARRETT: Yes. And people don't realize it.

ROMANS: To figure out how to fix it. That's right.

JARRETT: In the United States.

ROMANS: 60 percent of those deaths are a no-cost fix. It's something very simple usually in the process that gets missed.

All right, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? So what would Beyonce say about Popeye's new clothing line? CNN Business has more next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:55:26]

JARRETT: Just one more day before Brexit becomes a reality. The E.U. parliament voting overwhelmingly to back Britain's Brexit exit plan. The European Council must now give final approval today to set the wheels in motion for a Friday departure.

Nina Dos Santos live in Brussels with the latest for us.

So, Nina, this is really happening.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Yes, it is, four years of debate. Many political scouts have been cost to unravel this 47-long year relationship that the U.K. has had with the European Union. And finally yesterday evening in a really emotional session of the European parliament which is the democratically elected body of the E.U., members of the European parliament overwhelmingly voted this Brexit legislation suit.

When it was signed off by the president of the European parliament, there was this spontaneous gathering of hands and MPs decided to sing that famous Scottish farewell song which is Aude Lang Syne. And what we also saw, though, was members of the Euro skeptic faction in the U.K. the Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage, also being unceremoniously turfed out before all that happened because they had broken the rules and finally decided to brandish the union flag of the U.K. to wave good-bye to the telecameras.

And we also saw members of the European parliament, British members who are pro-European, burst into tears, hug each other. Overwhelmingly there was a sense of sadness. For some people, there was a sense of relief. And the real question here on is, where do things go from here? There was one final administrative hurdle that this has to clear, it has to be rubber stamped as you mentioned by the heads of state, which is the European Council, that body in the E.U. That's largely they're going to through to. And then by midnight on Friday, Brussels time, not U.K. time, gives you an idea who's calling the shots now, Brexit will finally have happened -- Laura.

JARRETT: It's finally here. Nina, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, 57 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on CNN Business this Thursday morning, global markets moving lower here. Asian markets fell again as the number of coronavirus cases went up. And there's new uncertainty for the global economy.

On Wall Street futures right now looks like they're leaning downhill, a triple digit decline if this holds. Stock markets mostly higher Wednesday. The Dow closed up about 12 points, the Nasdaq ended the day higher, the S&P 500, though, closed lower, a pretty mixed performance.

The government releases GDP figures at 8:30 a.m. today. 4th quarter GDP likely right around 2 percent. Economists have been lowering their forecasts recently. We're also going to get a look at growth for the full year of 2019. So far President Trump's promises of super charged growth have been elusive but 2 percent is just fine.

Tesla posted a strong fourth quarter on the back of record deliveries. Deliveries climbed 23 percent while revenues rose 2 percent to just over $7 billion. Tesla said the growth is because of a cheaper version of the Model 3 and some price changes. Tesla has some big goals for 2020. Plans to deliver more than 500,000 vehicles around the world. That goal relies a lot on its new Shanghai assembly plant. It also plans to start delivering the Model Y later this quarter.

Popeye's has mastered the chicken sandwich. Now they're getting into the clothing business with a line called "That Look from Popeye's". Now do you notice anything familiar? It looks an awful lot like Beyonce's Ivy Park. The bargain hunting Queen B fans can look at. Popeye's enthusiasts can now buy a selection of jackets, shirts, hat, hoodies. As of this morning Popeye's line is almost completely sold out.

Do you think the -- do you think it's a cut --

JARRETT: Yes, I'm not sure Beyonce fans are going to be OK with this. I don't know, they're pretty defensive of her. Well --

ROMANS: All right, we shall see.

JARRETT: Well, the president's lawyer claimed there's no difference between personal and national interests if someone is up for election. While you were sleeping Stephen Colbert roasted Alan Dershowitz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE-NIGHT HOST: Logical turd Dershowitz just pinched out in the Senate well there. It's hard to find the largest corn kernel of logical fallacy. So what would make a quid pro quo illegal, Alan Dershowitz?

DERSHOWITZ: The only thing that would make a quid pro quo unlawful is if the quo were in some way illegal.

COLBERT: So the only way it would be illegal is if it's illegal. Your logic is like a snake eating its own tail or a head eating its own ass because I'm pretty sure you pulled that argument right out of the old Dershy highway.

[05:00:00]