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DNC Takes Over Vote Counting Operation in Iowa Caucus, GOP Senators Acquit Trump Except Mitt Romney; Cruise Ships Quarantined Off Japan, Hong Kong. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired February 6, 2020 - 04:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, new results from Iowa. Essentially a tie between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. State Democrats are hoping for a final result today.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): There's no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the president would never have done what he did.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Is there a cost to turning on President Trump? Mitt Romney bracing for fallout after voting to convict the president in his impeachment trial. The president speaks publicly later today.

JARRETT: And remembering a legend of the big screen. Actor Kirk Douglas has died at the age of 103.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Good morning. It is Thursday, February 6th. It is 4:00 a.m. exactly in New York.

Breaking overnight, a dead heat in Iowa. The latest results from Monday's caucus show Pete Buttigieg in front of Bernie Sanders by one- tenth of a percent in the state delegate race with 97 percent of the vote counted now. That is a statistical tie. Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar round out the top five.

Iowa's Democratic Party chairman Troy Price tells state officials the full results are expected by this morning.

JARRETT: The counting now in its fourth day after technical issues with a mobile app led to a complete meltdown on caucus night, and the issues persist. After releasing a batch of results Wednesday, Iowa Democrats had to issue a minor correction, further clouding the already delayed numbers. Now the National Democratic Party is stepping in. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is still on the ground in Des Moines.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, the count is still going on here in Iowa, but the story here about the first Iowa caucuses is how did this go so wrong. So much finger- pointing already, starting between the Democratic National Committee and the Iowa Democratic Party. I am told that the DNC is essentially taking over this counting operation and has been making phone calls individually to those precinct chairs trying to get the information.

So, ask yourselves what has happened in the last day or so. I am told that they are trying to recreate, find that paper trail of all of those preference cards, and going through them and compiling them with the overall spreadsheets. So, what they are doing is trying to verify all of these specific numbers.

Much to be dissected here. The candidates have all moved to New Hampshire but still, the eyes are on waiting for that final vote here. And Pete Buttigieg, who people thought was sort of flatlining before the Iowa caucuses, certainly pulling off an upset over Bernie Sanders, who was promising a big turnout and a big victory. That is perhaps the key takeaway.

Why didn't more Democrats come out and participate in this first-in- the-nation caucus? The level of voters looks to be around the same as 2016, not the level of the record-setting in 2008 when Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses. For now, though, the Buttigieg campaign will certainly take this narrow, almost victory -- Laura and Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Jeff Zeleny.

A full field of 2020 Democratic contenders is blanketing New Hampshire ahead of the state's primary Tuesday. Last night, four of the top candidates were on stage for a series of CNN town halls. After admitting he took a gut punch in Iowa, former vice president Joe Biden is looking forward.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's put this in perspective. There are a total of, what, 44 delegates who are going to come out of that and it looks like it's going to break down somewhere between seven and 15 among the top four of us.

I expected to do better and I expected that our organization would perform better, but the fact is I'm happy to be here in New Hampshire.


JARRETT: Biden also trying to slow Bernie Sanders' momentum. The former VP says he worries about a Democratic socialist label being pinned on the broader Democratic Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: But if Senator Sanders is the nominee for the party, every Democrat in America, up and down the ballot in blue states, red states, purple states, it's easy -- and easy districts and competitive ones, every Democrat will have to carry the label Senator Sanders has chose for himself.


ROMANS: Elizabeth Warren is making an electability argument with New Hampshire voters. She's rejecting any suggestion a male nominee would have a better chance of beating President Trump.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 1960, a lot of folks said, not sure we can do a Catholic because nobody's ever done a Catholic before. We've never had a Catholic president before, or in 2008, a lot of folks said, we can't have an African-American nominee because we've never had an African-American president before.

But our party is better than that and we proved that our country is better than that. 2020, we can and should have a woman for president.


ROMANS: Tonight, round two a CNN town hall event. The final Democratic presidential town halls before the New Hampshire primary. A special live event resumes tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

JARRETT: President Trump will speak publicly today after being acquitted by the Senate of abuse of power and obstructing Congress.


This ugly chapter in American history is now over, but the fallout is just beginning.


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: Two-thirds of the senators present, not having found him guilty of the charges contained therein. It is, therefore, ordered and adjudged that the said Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby, acquitted of the charges in said articles.


JARRETT: The Senate acquittal did not have the full backing of the GOP like the White House was hoping for. Senator Mitt Romney became the first senator to vote to convict the president in their own party.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Romney. Mr. Romney, guilty.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Breaking from President Trump is a huge risk for any Republican. Before the vote, Romney explained his decision in a dramatic speech on the Senate floor.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.


ROMANS: Romney said he knew there would be backlash, oh, and it came quickly. The president tweeted out a video calling Romney slippery among other things. President Trump's son Don Jr. is calling on the Republican Party to expel him.

JARRETT: And even though the impeachment saga may have ended, neither side is willing to let it go. Republican senators are requesting Hunter Biden's travel records. And Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler says it's likely the House will subpoena former National Security adviser John Bolton.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, the Trump administration barring New York residents from registering or renewing their memberships in so-called Trusted Traveler Programs such as global entry that allow travelers to speed through airport lines.

The sweeping move by Homeland Security comes in response to New York state's Green Light Law, which allows undocumented immigrants to get driver's license but prevents federal agencies from gaining access to the state's DMV databases.

The acting DHS chief said access is needed to vet applicants for these frequent traveler programs. Important to note this does not affect the TSA precheck program, which means the change punishes New York but limits issues for federally controlled TSA.

JARRETT: Breaking overnight, an American citizen abducted in Afghanistan. A U.S. official tells CNN, the individual was working as a contractor in Eastern Afghanistan at the time of the kidnapping. Efforts to track and locate the person are ongoing. A State Department spokesman would not comment on when the case -- when contacted by CNN.

ROMANS: All right, why does Bernie Madoff say he should be let out of prison?


[04:12:26] JARRETT: Hollywood has lost one of its true screen legend. Actor Kirk Douglas died Wednesday at the age of 103.

For decades, Douglas was one of the biggest stars on the planet. He made nearly 100 movies. Perhaps his most memorable role as the one he said he was most proud of was that of a rebellious Roman slave in the 1960s "Spartacus."

ROMANS: Off-screen, Douglas led an open revolt against Hollywood's infamous black list. He was nominated for Academy Awards three times in his career. He received an honorary Oscar in 1996, the same year he suffered a stroke.

His son, actor Michael Douglas, posting this tribute to his father on social media. "To the world he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years. A humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to. But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter, he was simply Dad. I am so proud to be your son."

Kirk Douglas leaves behind a big family including his wife Anne. They married in 1954.

JARRETT: The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into conditions at four Mississippi prisons after at least a dozen inmates have died. DOJ says it will focus on whether prison officials have done enough to protect prisoners from one another and whether there's appropriate mental health care to prevent against suicides. One of the prisons under investigation, the State Penitentiary in Parchman, has reported nine inmate deaths in just over a month.

ROMANS: Bernie Madoff making a plea from behind bars. The 81-year-old convict says he is dying and he's asking a federal judge for a compassionate early release from prison. Madoff is currently serving 150 years for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history. In a court filing, Madoff says chronic kidney failure has progressed to the end stage and he has less than 18 months to live.

JARRETT: The family of a missing 11-year-old boy in Colorado is making a desperate plea for help. Gannon Stauch's parents say he left his home in Colorado Springs on January 27th and never came back.


LANDEN HOTT, MOTHER OF MISSING BOY: I'm afraid that I will never hear his voice. That I will never him run and say, Mommy, and that I'll never hear those corny jokes that he'd always tell every single day. He has to tell me a joke.

If you have anything that's credible, if you're afraid, don't worry about -- imagine my son how afraid he is. Imagine how afraid Gannon is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Police say evidence was found in a neighbor's security camera but they're keeping the details under wraps calling the discovery the break they needed in the investigation.


Barnes and Noble nixing plans to put people of color on classic book covers. The company wanted to commemorate Black History Month at its flagship New York store but canceled its Diverse Editions Program because of a backlash on social media. Barnes and Noble and Penguin Random House planned to release special editions of 12 classic novels including "Romeo and Juliet," "Moby Dick" and "Alice in the Wonderland." The idea was slammed online with one critic referring to it as literary blackface.

JARRETT: Police in Connecticut are looking for a man who stole more than $17,000 worth of merchandise from a gas station on his first day as an employee. The owner says he recently hired the man to work overnights. While watching his first shift from a mobile app on his phone the owner quickly realized his new employee had vanished. He says the worker also stole his own file, so he doesn't even know the employee's name.

ROMANS: All right. A traffic stop in northwest Florida turned into a narcotics bust when police noticed what appeared to be a bag full of drugs in the car. Their first clue, the bag was labeled "bag full of drugs." Inside the bag methamphetamine, GHB, cocaine, Fentanyl, Ecstasy. A Facebook post from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff notes, "Do not traffic your illegal narcotics in bags labeled 'bag full of drugs,' our canines can read."

JARRETT: Well, moments ago in Kazakhstan NASA astronaut Christina Koch returning to earth after 328 days in space. Koch was part of the first all-female spacewalk and has broken the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. She launched to the International Space Station on March 14th for what was expected to be a six-month mission. Her stay was extended to collect more data on the effects of long duration space flights.

ROMANS: That's cool.

JARRETT: It's very cool.

ROMANS: That's quite a work trip.


ROMANS: More than 7,000 people in floating quarantine in China, concerns of coronavirus outbreak on two cruise ships. CNN live in Japan next.



JARRETT: Two more flights bound for the U.S. will depart today from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. The city has been on lockdown for two weeks now. Meantime two cruise ships are quarantined in Asia because of virus fears stranding more than 7,000 people.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Yokohama, Japan, where one of the ships is returning to port.

Paula, what can you tell us about these floating petri dishes out there?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, the one behind me has more than 2600 passengers on it still and more than 1,000 crew. They will be staying on that ship we're being told for the next 14 days. That's the incubation period or at least the most incubation period that is believed by doctors, at this point.

Now, we did speak to some of those stuck onboard, some Americans as more than 400 Americans onboard at this point. Some were philosophical about it, saying it's an extra two weeks holiday, clearly not what they wanted but they're happy they're healthy. But we did speak to one couple from Long Island in New York. They're on their honeymoon and they say that all they want at this point is to get off this ship.

They say they're concerned because there were 10 people who were tested positive for the coronavirus yesterday. Another 10 tested positive today. They have been taken off the ship, but this couple says they're very worried that they're left on what they believed to be a contaminated ship. They are asking the U.S. embassy, they say, and the U.S. president to take them to another quarantined area. They are happy to be quarantined but they believe that that ship is -- has been contaminated at this point.

Now a very similar situation, although not quite so bad, but off Hong Kong. There is another cruise ship where there's 5600 people that are just waiting and being quarantined at that point. A number of people have been tested but all those tests have come back negative at this point. So certainly this situation here is not a good situation. There is more food, more water, more medical supplies being taken onboard to try and cover this extended period.

But many of those as they were coming into dock earlier today came out onto their balconies. They have rooms with small balcony, some of them. That's all they're allowed to be at this point. And they were desperately waving at media, obviously wanting some kind of outside contact than just the confines of the four walls they've been having.

JARRETT: I just can't even imagine you go on your honeymoon on this ship and then next thing you know you're stuck there.

Paula, thank you.

ROMANS: Two major economic bellwethers are feeling the effects of the coronavirus, shipping and autos. Shipping companies that carry goods from China to the rest of the world say they are reducing the number of ships at sea as measures to contain the virus squeeze demand for their services and threaten to disrupt the global supply chain. Goods are stranded as ships idle in floating quarantine zones.

The auto industry is also taking a big hit here. Hyundai has suspended production at its plants in South Korea because of a disruption to the parts supply. General Motors is working with its Chinese partners to make sure its supply chain is not disrupted. GM has a large manufacturing plant in Wuhan. Of course Wuhan is ground zero for this outbreak.

More big consumer brands are also becoming nervous about the outbreak's impact on their businesses. Nike, Adidas, Versace and others have warned investors sales could take a hit. And Qualcomm, the world's biggest maker of smartphone chips, warns that uncertainty about the virus could hit the smartphone industry. Nearly half of Qualcomm's revenue last year came from China.

JARRETT: Three people were killed when a passenger plane skidded off the runway and broke into pieces after landing at an airport in Istanbul Wednesday.


Video shows the plane going off the runway and catching fire. Turkish officials say 183 people were onboard the Pegasus Airlines flight and many suffered injuries. Dozens of first responders worked to rescue passengers from the wreckage. It appears the accident occurred in bad weather. An investigation is under way.

ROMANS: All right, breaking overnight, all tied up. New results from Iowa show a dead heat at the top. When results will be final and what it means heading to New Hampshire.