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Trump Learns Different Lesson Post-Acquittal; Coronavirus Deaths in China Top 1,300; Bloomberg Gets 4 New African-American Endorsements. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired February 13, 2020 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Allies are safe, rivals in jeopardy. The president's post-acquittal blitz rocking the backbone of American justice, and new fallout appears imminent.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The highest one-day death toll from coronavirus in the Chinese province at the heart of the outbreak. Why the spike and what it means for containment efforts?

ROMANS: And facing scrutiny from the black communities, the much- needed support for Michael Bloomberg. We'll tell you who's supporting his 2020 bid.

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

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Thursday, February 13th, 4:00 a.m. in the East.

It is now day eight of the president's post-impeachment Trump unbound tour. What's in store today? Who knows. What's clear is the president is defending tipping the scales of justice to protect his friends, and he's punishing rivals without fear of consequences. Yesterday the president publicly praised the Justice Department for overruling sentencing recommendations for longtime confidant Rogers Stone. Critics say it was the president's own late-night tweet that set the about-face in motion.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank -- if you look at what happened, I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing, and I didn't speak to them, by the way, just so you understand. They saw the horribleness of a nine-year sentence for doing nothing.


ROMANS: A reminder Stone was convicted on seven counts by a jury of his peers. President Trump intervening is not new. He has bullied judges. He has stepped in to help Navy SEALs accused of war crimes. Then there's the long list of things in just the last week since his acquittal. His behavior leaves Republicans who voted to clear him publicly indifferent and Democrats incredulous.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I've got real concerns about overzealous prosecution more than anything else. If I thought he'd done something that had changed the outcome inappropriately, I'd be the first to say.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): The president has First Amendment rights, too.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you really believe that the president did not -- his view of this did not influence the Justice Department in any way?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I don't have any reason not to believe that.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): It's pretty clear the president of the United States did learn a lesson. The lesson he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He can abuse his office. He'll never, ever be held accountable by this Senate.

RAJU: Do you think there's any lessons that he learned from being impeached?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I don't know which actions you're referring to. I've made very clear that I don't think anyone should be retaliated against.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, he did learn a lesson. What he learned is that he can do anything. We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. He essentially has a get-out-of-jail-free card from Republicans.


JARRETT: So does the president think he learned anything?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What lessons did you learn from impeachment?

TRUMP: That the Democrats are crooked. They've got a lot of crooked things going. That they're vicious. That they shouldn't have brought impeachment.


JARRETT: At the president's side through all of this, Attorney General Bill Barr. Since the Russia investigation Barr's critics have pointed to how he flexes his muscle in politically sensitive investigations, but it's now fraying relationships with frontline career prosecutors. That included the four who walked off the job in the Stone case this week.

ROMANS: People familiar with the situation say other federal prosecutors have discussed resigning in the coming days. And "The New York Times" reports prosecutors across the United States who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals said this week that they've already been wary of working on any case that might catch Mr. Trump's attention and the Stone episode only deepened their concern.

Attorney General Barr is scheduled to testify to the House Judiciary Committee at the end of March.

JARRETT: Marie Yovanovitch is refusing to stay silent. The retired ambassador to the Ukraine is warning about the degradation of the State Department in her first public remarks since leaving the diplomatic service. She spokes at Georgetown University and warned the Department of State is being hollowed out.


MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: The department is in trouble. Senior leaders lack policy vision, moral clarity and leadership skills. Officers are increasingly wondering whether it is safe to express concerns about policy even behind closed doors.

One of the things that has sustained me is the support of all of you. You know, when you go through some things --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diplomatic understatement. Yes.

YOVANOVITCH: Is that what it was?


JARRETT: Those words a reference of course to what the president said awaited Yovanovitch in his call with Ukraine's president last July.


ROMANS: All right, breaking overnight, the largest single-day spike in deaths from coronavirus so far happening in the Chinese province at the heart of the outbreak. Officials in Hubei announcing an additional 242 deaths and almost 15,000 more cases of novel coronavirus in just one day. That is almost 10 times the number of cases the previous day and it shows just how difficult it has been for scientists to grasp the extent and severity of this outbreak.

CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing.

Why the increase, Steven, do they think in the cases?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Christine, officials here are explaining the surge in the numbers as a result of their changing methodology in counting the total case numbers. They're now including both test confirmed cases as well as patients who have been clinically diagnosed but who may not have been tested or they're testing results coming back negative. So this change at least somewhat addresses a major concern of many people, that is the government here underreporting the case numbers. Now another major change here we are seeing is a political shakeup.

The most senior officials both in the province of Hubei and provincial capital of Wuhan sacked, replaced by trusted proteges of Chinese president Xi Jinping. Not entirely surprising giving the scathing criticism these sacked officials have been receiving over their mishandling of this outbreak.

But what hasn't changed, though, is the grim reality on the ground. We have been talking to people trapped in Wuhan and surrounding areas for over two weeks now. They continue to paint a very desperate and helpless picture for us. Many very sick, extremely weak but still unable to get tested or treated, and officials there are also acknowledging they're still facing a severe shortage in medical supplies, personnel and facilities.

So until unless these issues get resolved the picture at the epicenter unlikely to change anytime soon -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Steven for us in Beijing, thank you so much for that.

JARRETT: Meanwhile here in the U.S. the CDC is redoing parts of the coronavirus test kits sent to labs across the country after some produced inconclusive results. Officials say the kits were sent to speed up the testing process but flaws were discovered in the process of verifying that the kits worked. Meantime a second novel coronavirus case has been confirmed among a group of Americans who are evacuated from Wuhan, China and under quarantine at a military base near San Diego. It's the 14th confirmed case of the virus in the U.S. and the eighth in California.

ROMANS: All right. How much of America is struggling to keep up with health care payments?



JARRETT: Four much needed endorsements from black officials in the last 24 hours alone for Mike Bloomberg. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he will back the former New York City mayor. Representatives Gregory Meeks of New York, Lucy McBath of Georgia, and Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands also threw their support around Bloomberg yesterday.

Bloomberg has faced days of scrutiny over some audio from 2015 defending his controversial stop and frisk policy in very stark terms.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that's true. Why do we do it? Because that's where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of kids' hands is to throw them up against the way and frisk them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Bloomberg was asked about those comments yesterday in Tennessee.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you say what you said in that 2015 speech?

BLOOMBERG: I don't think those words reflect what -- how I led the most diverse city in the nation, and I apologized for the practice and the pain that it caused.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But why did you say it?

BLOOMBERG: It was five years ago, and, you know, it's just not the way that I think.


ROMANS: The Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders is looking to expand his base ahead of Super Tuesday. He's making campaign stops in North Carolina, Texas and Colorado. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar looking to build on the momentum they picked up in New Hampshire by adding staff and advertising in Nevada.

JARRETT: The head of the Iowa Democratic Party resigning more than a week after the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses descended into chaos. State party chairman Troy Price apologizing in a statement, quote, "The fact is that Democrats deserve better than what happened on caucus night." Price taking responsibility for failures last Monday when faulty technology and arcane rules made it impossible for the party to release results overnight. Counts were released days later.

ROMANS: All right. The cost of health care a key issue in the 2020 election. As costs rise families are trying to keep up. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2018 14 percent of Americans struggled to pay medical bills. That's down from almost 20 percent in 2011 but the number isn't dropping like it used to. The study said struggling to pay those bills could have serious financial consequences such as having problems with paying for food, clothing or housing, and filing for bankruptcy.

Health insurance or a lack thereof also affects how people keep up. And some groups like women, children and African-Americans are more likely to struggle than others. Among people over 65 those jointly enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid were more likely to struggle than people with private insurance. The president's budget unveiled this week could -- includes some steep cuts to Medicaid and other safety net programs.

JARRETT: All right, coming up next, charges filed against an Uber driver who took passengers on a vengeful ride.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Two Ohio State football players kicked off the team after they were charged with felony rape and kidnapping. Twenty-one-year-old defensive backs Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint were arrested early Wednesday morning. Both were due to be seniors next season. According to court documents, one of the players told his alleged victim to say on video the acts were consensual. Ohio State coach Ryan Day saying Riep and Wint, quote, "did not live up to our standards and my expectations."

JARRETT: The father of a former Sarah Lawrence College student pleading not guilty in connection with charges he extorted and abused several of his daughter's classmates, forcing at least one into prostitution. Federal prosecutors in New York say 60-year-old Lawrence Ray moved into on-campus housing with his daughter and her roommates back in 2010. Officials say Ray used physical, psychological, and sexual abuse to make his victims confess to invented wrongdoing.

Prosecutors say over nearly a decade, Ray coerced and extorted nearly $1 million from five different victims. Among other things, Ray pressured them to open credit cards and drain their parents' savings.


ROMANS: Day four of the search for a missing 6-year-old South Carolina girl and still no sign of her. More than 250 officers and investigators are looking for Faye Marie Swetlik. She was last seen playing in her front yard after school. Authorities in the city of Cayce are looking for two vehicles that were in the neighborhood around the time Faye was last seen. The FBI has joined the search for the missing first grader.

JARRETT: The nation's largest teachers' unions are calling for an end to active shooter drills because they may be traumatizing to students. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are partnering with a coalition of gun violence groups to publicly condemn active shooter drills in schools. About 95 percent of schools conducted drills on lockdown procedures during the 2015, 2016 school year.

ROMANS: I have a fourth grader who's had nightmares after the have those drills.

JARRETT: Yes. It's scary.


Honda is recalling 241,000 Odyssey Minivans. There's a wiring problem that could cause a fire. The recall covers the EXL Touring and Elite Minivans from 2018 through 2020. Honda says it has three reports of fires with no injuries. The company plans to notify owners of the recall by mail by mid-March.

JARRETT: An Atlanta firefighter suspended without pay for two days for trying to rescue a 95-year-old from her burning home. Atlanta Fire Rescue says Captain Daniel Dreyer entered the building without his crew members against department policy. According to the Atlanta Firefighters Union Dreyer was dressed and ready before the rest of his crew so he went in. Despite his best efforts, he was not able to save the woman. Captain Dreyer and the union are now appealing.

ROMANS: Five terrifying hours for an Iowa father, Eugene Kopp of Davenport whose phone rang as he was driving, thought he heard his daughter crying on the other end.


EUGENE KOPP, PAID RANSOM IN HOSTAGE SCAM: Then he says, we're not a policeman or EMT. We're drug dealers and your daughter caught us dealing drugs. If you want her back it's going to cost you.


ROMANS: Afraid his daughter would be hurt he followed every order. The kidnappers kept him on the phone nonstop, making him drive around to wire all the money he had, $900. Finally after hanging up he went to his daughter's house, there she was safe and sound. This was all a phone scam. No I.D. yet on the pranksters.





JARRETT: An Uber driver in Richmond, Virginia, charged with abducting two passengers. Police say 38-year-old Olufemi Olomola was charged -- was chasing a vehicle that rear-ended his car. His passengers, John Murray and his wife Tameka, were still in the backseat and they livestreamed the chase. Tameka called it the scariest experience of her life.

ROMANS: All right. The happiest place on earth just got a little more expensive. The cost of a one-day ticket to Disneyland will tap $200 during peak times, typically weekends and major holidays. A one-day hopper ticket allowing guests to visit both Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure Park. That'll be about between $159 and $209.

Disney says the new pricing structure designed to spread attendance more evenly throughout the year. Disney unveiled its Star Wars Galaxy's Edge attraction at the California Park last year. Avengers Campus is scheduled to launch this summer.

JARRETT: Well, two mice fighting over crumbs may not sound like wildlife. Try telling that to photographer Sam Rowley. His image capturing two mice fighting over crumbs on a London subway platform has won a prestigious award for wildlife photography from London's Natural History Museum. "Station Squabble" was picked from more than 48,000 images. Rowley said he spent five nights lying on the ground to capture that moment. They're so tiny.

ROMANS: I know but they're so kind of gross. All right. Actress Christina Koch is loving life on earth after her

return from a record spaceflight. Koch spent 11 months aboard the International Space Station before landing back on earth last week. That's the longest any woman has ever been in space.


CHRISTINA KOCH, NASA ASTRONAUT: Any record that you set that my biggest hope is it's exceeded as soon as possible. That means we're pushing the boundaries, more people are living up to their dreams and their potential. Do what scares you. Do the things that might feel like they're just out of your reach. They're intriguing you, they're drawing you in, but you don't for sure if you can do it. Go after that thing.


ROMANS: Koch says readapting to gravity has not been a big problem and she's relishing family life playing with her dog, eating her favorite foods, going to the beach. She says it's just fun to interact with people again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I shrunk the kids. And the Thompson kids, too. They're about this big. Threw them out with the trash.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're in the backyard.


JARRETT: Guess who's back? Actor Rick Moranis who starred in the comedy classic "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and its two sequels is coming back after a 24-year hiatus from Hollywood. Moranis is set to appear in the new film "Shrunk," a reboot of the movie franchise.


Moranis was in a string of film hits in the '80s and '90s including "Parenthood," "Space Balls" and "Ghost Busters." He took a two-decade break from movies to raise his children after his wife died.

ROMANS: "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," that's a classic.

JARRETT: Well, the president's post-acquittal rampage rocking the justice system and stoking a culture of fear among his rivals. The question today, who's next?