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EARLY START

Iowa Democratic Party Pushes Back Against Recanvassing of Votes; Trump Goes on a Rampage after Acquittal; American on Cruise Ship Diagnosed with Coronavirus; China Probes Death of Coronavirus Whistleblower. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 7, 2020 - 04:30   ET

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


[04:30:47]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: 2020 Democrats swarmed New Hampshire ahead of Tuesday's primary. Results finally in from Iowa. What they mean for the upcoming states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REBECCA FRASURE, CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER DIAGNOSED WITH CORONAVIRUS: I'm trying not to freak out with all of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: First on CNN, an American trapped on a quarantined cruise ship diagnosed with coronavirus. What's next for her and thousands of others on that ship.

ROMANS: And a deadly weather system surges through the Southeast. Hundreds of thousands in the dark. What today holds in store.

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

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

Just four days to the New Hampshire primary and candidates are finally looking forward. They can do that because four days after Iowa we finally have the results. With 100 percent of precincts reporting Pete Buttigieg holds a razor thin lead of 0.10 percent over Bernie Sanders. That's in the state delegate count, the yardstick used to determine a winner. Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar rounding out the top five.

ROMANS: Sanders still has reason to celebrate edging Buttigieg in the popular vote. Bottom line Buttigieg and Sanders are heading to New Hampshire effectively tied. This was the reaction from Buttigieg live at a CNN town hall hearing he held onto that slim lead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN TOWN HALL: What is your reaction? PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's fantastic

news to hear that we won. That win for us in Iowa is fantastic, but I also know that we're in New Hampshire now and we've got to look ahead. New Hampshire is a state that has never been told what to do.

CUOMO: Right.

BUTTIGIEG: And we've got to earn every vote and earn a win on Tuesday night right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Sanders also had a CNN town hall. He has faced repeated questions whether he did enough to help the 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton. Last night he tried to put similar worries about 2020 to bed.

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SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No matter who wins the nomination, needless to say, I hope it's me, but no matter who wins the nomination, we're all going to work together to defeat Donald Trump. That, I think, you could take to the bank.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Amy Klobuchar with a surprisingly strong showing in Iowa. She's sharing the moderate lane with Buttigieg and Biden. But in her CNN town hall, she told a voter she's not going anywhere.

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AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every single time, I have exceeded expectations. We came very close in terms of the number of people that turned out to Vice President Biden. Look at the numbers yourself. So, we actually left Iowa with a lot of enthusiasm.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: There will be seven candidates on stage tonight for the final Democratic debate before the first primary in New Hampshire. An especially big night for Joe Biden, who's trying to overcome a weaker- than-expected showing in Iowa. He was actually back home in Delaware Thursday with advisers plotting a reset. ROMANS: The campaign is trying to look past the Iowa debacle but

proving hard to do. A CNN analysis shows a variety of errors in the count reported by the state's Democratic Party. Iowa Democratic officials also now say President Trump's supporters made matters worse. They say prank callers intentionally flooded the phone hotline used for reporting results when the app failed. Now the National Democratic Party wants to step in to straighten out the vote counting errors, but state officials are pushing back.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more from Des Moines.

JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, four days after the Iowa caucuses, still counting the votes here in Des Moines. Interesting developments here going on inside the Democratic Party. Iowa Democratic leaders, I'm told, were blindsided by Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, calling for a recanvass. As it turns out, he does not have the authority to do that. A recanvass has to be requested by a candidate or a campaign.

So what, you ask, is a recanvass? Essentially, it's going through the numbers. It is, you know, essentially, reconciling the numbers on those spreadsheets that we saw with the numbers that were called into the state party.

Would that change things, unclear. But the reason for it is this, so many inconsistencies in the numbers. That's not necessarily uncommon in close elections. Elections are run by people, always human error. But the difference about this, of course, is the satellite caucuses, which Bernie Sanders pushed for four years ago. That allows people to come in and vote early on Monday night.

[04:35:10]

So, as we head into today, the last day of the week, a couple of questions. A, will the Buttigieg campaign or the Sanders campaign come forward before the noon deadline and request a recanvass? The Iowa Democratic Party said look, we are not going to do it unless they do.

One thing that's clear from this, Democratic voters in Iowa sent a very mixed signal, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. That means as this primary goes on down the road, two very different candidates as the party reconciles who the strongest one is to take on President Trump -- Laura and Christine.

JARRETT: Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much for that.

Well, emboldened and not afraid to show it. President Trump took a venomous victory lap to celebrate his acquittal in the impeachment trial. It all started at the yearly National Prayer Breakfast with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looking on.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong, nor do I like people who say I pray for you when they know that that's not so.

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JARRETT: Yes. That's the prayer breakfast. You might recall Speaker Pelosi has repeatedly told reporters she prays for the president and Mitt Romney said it was his faith that drove him to vote to convict the president.

ROMANS: He also said at that event he didn't agree with the central premise of the prayer which was love your neighbor, love your enemy, which a teaching of Jesus Christ. The president of the United States rejecting the central premise of Christianity at the prayer breakfast. Remarkable. Later at the White House, the president heaped praise on everyone in

the room and made this curious remark about his legal team.

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TRUMP: Right at the beginning, they said, sir, you have nothing to worry about. All of the facts are on your side. I said, you don't understand, that doesn't matter. That doesn't matter. And that was really true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: It didn't take long before the president turned the heat up a notch going scorched-earth on his opponents in the White House.

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TRUMP: We first went through Russia, Russia, Russia. It was all bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops. It was leakers and liars. Say hello to the people of Utah and tell them I'm sorry about Mitt Romney. I'm sorry, OK?

And if I didn't fire James Comey, we would have never found this stuff because when I fired that sleazebag all hell broke out.

Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person. Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person. She doesn't pray, she may pray, but she prays for the opposite, but I doubt she prays at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: The president is scheduled to get back to governing today. He will be in Charlotte for the North Carolina Opportunity Now summit. It's designed to facilitate investments in low-income areas.

ROMANS: A key witness in President Trump's impeachment hearings is leaving his post at the National Security Council in the coming weeks. A source tells CNN, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman is expected to return to the Defense Department.

Vindman was originally asked to work at the White House for two years, which would take him into July. No official word on whether his departure from the NSC was voluntary, but sources were telling CNN, as far back as November, Trump aides were exploring moving witnesses including Vindman out of their White House posts.

JARRETT: Breaking overnight, an alarming example of just how quickly the coronavirus can spread in close quarters. A quarantined cruise ship docked off the coast of Japan reporting 41 additional cases on Friday. That brings the total to 61, and it's only going to get worse the longer people are trapped to that ship.

CNN was the first TV network to speak with one of the 11 Americans on that ship diagnosed with the virus.

Matt Rivers live from Yokohama, Japan. Matt, how are folks getting medical treatment who are quarantined on

that ship?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, one by one the people that are diagnosed with coronavirus are being taken off by medical personnel to local hospitals here in Japan. There's 3700 or so people on that ship behind me, many of whom are staying in small cabins without windows and yet they're only allowed to leave their rooms for up to about an hour a day, not allowed to have any communication with each other as testing continues.

Just under 300 people have been tested for the coronavirus so far and of that, as you mentioned, 61 cases have been confirmed, of that a number of Americans. There was 428 Americans on this cruise ship, and a number of them have been diagnosed with the coronavirus including a woman that we spoke to earlier today who was actually filming when nurses came to her door and told her that she had a positive diagnosis.

[04:40:09]

A pretty remarkable piece of video. Here's what she had to tell us.

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FRASURE: Kind of disbelief and shock, a little bit -- a little bit scared. And it's hard to know what the future holds since I don't really feel sick right now. Like, is it going to get worse? I'm trying not to freak out with all of this, and so take it in stride and yes, see what goes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIVERS: Remarkably stoic there. Now it was just yesterday there were 20 confirmed cases. Today an additional 41. What does tomorrow hold? Well, we're not sure, but cruise ships, you know, these are like petri dishes. These people are in close contact with one another so it would not be a surprise, Laura, if the number of confirmed cases goes up.

JARRETT: Yes, absolutely, with so many people on that ship.

Matt Rivers, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Two flights carrying Americans out of Wuhan, China are en route now to the U.S. this morning. One stopping over in Vancouver before heading to the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, near San Diego. The other will land first at Travis Air Force Base in California, then head to Lackland in San Antonio, Texas, and then on to Omaha, Nebraska.

Meantime, China's top anti-corruption agency is sending a team of investigators to Wuhan. This after the death of a doctor who warned of the coronavirus outbreak months ago but was silenced by his government, chastised for spreading false rumors, although he was just trying to help save people.

CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing with the latest. Just a tragic case of young and apparently healthy but taken by this virus.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right, Christine. This extraordinary outpouring of grief and anger we have seen in the past few hours is such a rare occasion when you see millions of people across the nation, across the political spectrum, I have seen police officers, former officials as well as dissidents and activists all sharing the same sentiment and reaction to this tragedy by posting pictures of Dr. Li and mourning his passing.

Now as you mentioned this young doctor at least initially was trying only to warn his college friends about this outbreak as he told my colleagues last week. But instead of recognizing him the authorities silenced him. And now in the minds of many people across the nation silencing him and other whistleblowers really not only means the authorities lost precious time to contain the virus but also putting people like him in direct danger of this virus. That's how he contracted this virus on the front line of his profession and died soon after that.

Now of course people are asking hard questions, who and what really killed Dr. Li and demanding government accountability and also greater freedom of speech as government censors here now try to delete posts and images of his passing.

Now in a late twist, Christine, we have just seen another report of another group of five medical workers in another province getting detained by police for filming and disclosing information of what was going on in their hospital and in this outbreak. So history already seems to be repeating itself -- Christine.

ROMANS: Absolutely, Steven, and in a big health crisis and an international health crisis credibility from health -- you know, from the government is incredibly important here, and that's a big problem.

Steven, thank you so much.

JARRETT: Just 34 years old.

ROMANS: Yes.

JARRETT: I mean, it's just -- it's so sad.

All right, coming up next a big change for how Uber does business.

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ROMANS: Uber has spent billions looking for growth around the world. Its CEO now admits it needs to change its approach and stop leading money, saying, "We recognize that the era of growth at all costs is over." Uber reported loss over a billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2019, partly because of stock-based compensation. In total Uber lost a staggering $8.5 billion last year.

Despite the loss Uber executives told analysts they expect Uber to achieve profitability excluding certain costs by the end of this year. Previously Uber said it expected to be in that position by 2021. Uber has struggled to win over investors who are concerned about its history of steep losses and its ability to make money. The stock is up 5 percent after hours after raising its profitability goal.

JARRETT: Breaking news overnight, a Russian passenger plane forced to make an emergency landing at a Russian operated air base in Syria after it was targeted by Syria's missile defense system. The Airbus 320 had 172 passengers onboard. It was en route from Tehran to Damascus, and may have been fired on because of airstrikes hours earlier near the Syrian capital. This latest near-miss comes just weeks after the Iranians shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet. Iran backs Syria's Assad regime.

ROMANS: Australia finally getting some desperately needed rain.

Heavy downpours in New South Wales cutting back the number of wildfires in the state by nearly a third in a single day. This is huge relief for firefighters. There were 62 bush fires burning Wednesday night before the rains came. Now there are only 42 -- only 17 not contained here. Some areas saw four to six inches of rain in 24 hours, and there's more in the forecast for southeast Australia.

One self-driving car company has received the all-clear for its cars on the streets. CNN Business has the details next.

[04:50:00]

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ROMANS: Nearly 150,000 customers in the dark as deadly weather hits the southeast. In St. Petersburg, Florida, high winds brought down a crane in the middle of the interstate. The storm is now killing three people.

In North Carolina a man died after his vehicle hydroplaned and landed in a creek. A similar accident killed a man in Tennessee. And in western Alabama a tornado touched down killing one person and injuring another.

JARRETT: In Georgia, look on the right side of your screen there, that's a tree toppling on to a car speeding down a busy highway. Amazingly police say no one was seriously hurt. More than 100 million Americans are still under winter weather alerts. Flood watches and wind advisories this morning.

Here's meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

[04:55:00]

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Laura and Christine. Well, it certainly has been an active past couple of days in terms of flooding and severe weather across the southeast. Nearly two dozen tornados reported but there have been 175 reports of severe wind damage from Mississippi through Georgia into the Carolinas. And guess what? We're not out of the woods just yet, folks. We have another 12 hours of impactful weather along the eastern third of the country.

Eight million Americans under a flood watch. We still over 30 million with some sort of winter weather advisory. And 70 million Americans are under a wind advisory or warning as we speak. It's all thanks to this storm system that will march eastward through the course of the day today, but we have a full-fledged snowstorm taking place across northern New England right through the spine of the Appalachians.

But by tonight I think we'll start to clear things out and we'll keep this fortunately along the major east coast cities and all rain events. So certainly no snowfall piling up into D.C. and New York. With temperatures in the upper 50s and lower 60s but look at the cold shot of air settling in for the Big Apple this weekend. Back to you.

JARRETT: Derek, thanks for that.

Bullying may mean the end of fitness testing in California schools. Right now the state requires students in grades five, seven and nine to take a test that includes a one-mile run, curl ups, pushups, and a measure of body mass index. But Governor Gavin Newsom is concerned about the effects of the test, especially about the BMI test since it requires students to identify as male or female.

ROMANS: A tragic and bizarre turn of events in Massachusetts. A man trying to save his neighbor from a pit bull attack accidently killed him with a cross bow. According to police the man heard screams for help coming from the neighbor's apartment. He took his cross bow and shot at one of the pit bulls. Investigators say the bow hit one of the dogs, went through the door and fatally struck the neighbor who was trying to barricade himself inside. Police are calling it an accidental death and no charges are expected to be filed.

JARRETT: Disney CEO Bob Iger is apologizing to a California elementary school that was charged $250 for showing the "Lion King" at a fundraising event. We first told you about this story the other day. The Emerson Elementary School in Berkeley was fined hundreds of dollars by a movie licensing company for illegally screening the film during the parents' night out last fall. On Thursday Iger tweeted Disney's apology and said he will personally donate to the PTA's fundraising initiative.

ROMANS: That was --

JARRETT: Call that one company.

ROMANS: That was the right call, Bob Iger.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. First take a look at markets all around the world. A mixed performance I would call this. Maybe even European shares leaning a little bit lower but not very much. On Wall Street ahead of the jobs report Dow futures down a bit as well.

Stocks closed slightly higher Thursday, but those gains were enough for all three major averages to hit record highs. The Dow closed up 89 points, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq also with small gains. The streaming wars gaining another contender. Viacom CBS is set to

unveil a new streaming service when it reports its fourth quarter earnings on February 28th. It will be built on its current platform CBS All Access and include programming from Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV. Viacom CBS joining a rapidly expanding streaming market. NBC Universal and Warner Media, CNN's parent company, will release their services later this year. Viacom CBS had no comment on its plans.

Houston, get ready to have your groceries delivered without a person in the car. The Department of Transportation says Nuro, a Silicon Valley startup, can now launch up to 5,000 of its R2 autonomous cars over the next two years. The R2 has no steering wheel, no pedals, no side mirrors and then the sides have large compartments to hold the deliveries. Unlike most self-driving companies Nuro is focused on carrying goods rather than people.

Nuro said the R2 will start delivering pizza and groceries in Houston this year. It has partnerships with Wal-Mart and Dominos.

And a lot of people keep saying, would you get in a --

JARRETT: Yes.

ROMANS: -- a self-driving company. This company is -- no, we're not asking you to get in a self-driving car, we're asking you to use it for these things in your life that take up time.

JARRETT: Yes. It seems a little crazy. We're actually here. This is -- we're here.

ROMANS: We're here. It's here.

JARRETT: Well, thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great weekend. For our U.S. viewers EARLY START continues right now.

ROMANS: 2020 Democrats swarmed New Hampshire ahead of Tuesday's primary. Results finally in from Iowa. What they mean for the upcoming states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRASURE: I'm trying not to freak out with all of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: First on CNN, an American trapped on a quarantined cruise ship diagnosed with the coronavirus. What's next for her and thousands of others on that ship.

ROMANS: And a deadly weather system surges through the Southeast. Hundreds of thousands in the dark. What today holds in store.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans. JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Friday, February 7th and 5:00

a.m. in the East.

And just four days to the New Hampshire primary and candidates are finally looking forward. They can do that because four days after Iowa we finally have the results --

[05:00:00]