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EARLY START

Trump's Impeachment Lesson: Allies Safe, Rivals Beware; Trump Abruptly Pulls Ex-U.S. Attorney's Treasury Nomination; Largest Single- Day Spike in Coronavirus Deaths. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 13, 2020 - 04:30   ET

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


[04:30:07]

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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, 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?

JARRETT: 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 back to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour here in New York. And 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 is punishing rivals without fear of consequences. Yesterday the president publicly praised Attorney General Bill Barr for overruling sentencing recommendations for longtime confidant Rogers Stone. The about-face coming only hours of the president's all but demanding the result on Twitter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Let's remember, Stone was convicted on all seven counts by a jury of his peers. President Trump intervening is not new. He's bullied judges, He has stepped in to help Navy SEAL 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So does the president think he learned anything?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: 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 now it's fraying relationships with frontline prosecutors. That includes four who walked off the Stone case this week.

JARRETT: 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 U.S. who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals said this week they have already been -- they're already 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.

And overnight, CNN confirmed the president's decision to abruptly withdraw a high level nomination was directly tied to the nominee's role overseeing politically charged cases that angered the president.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Christine, we're learning more about the withdrawal of this nomination for a former U.S. attorney for a top job at Treasury. It was withdrawn so abruptly it was just two days before she was scheduled to have her confirmation hearing which would have been today actually.

This is Jessie Liu. She used to head the U.S. Attorney's Office here in Washington. She stepped down from that position after she had been nominated to this top job at Treasury. Of course the White House and the president made the decision to withdraw it on Tuesday night, and we are now being told that it's directly linked to the job she used to have.

She ran the office that of course oversaw the prosecution of Roger Stone but also is an office that inherited several other major cases stemming from the Mueller probe including that of the former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, a case that has languished, and several others related to this.

And we are being told by sources that the White House did not like the way she handled those cases when she was running that office. Though, of course, people are raising questions about just how much leeway she had to really do more of what it was that the White House wanted with these positions.

Now the White House has been discussing it, saying they weren't pleased with that, though of course they knew about that before they nominated her to this job but it seems that things came to a head when these prosecutors who have now resigned from the case recommended that Roger Stone go to prison for his crimes for seven to nine years.

[04:35:16]

Now she has been pulled from this job. We should note that she stepped down in an unusual way from that position as running the U.S. Attorney's Office when she got nominated for this job, and now it is being run by a close associate of the Attorney General Bill Barr. That's Tim Shay who is now going to be the one overseeing this case when Roger Stone gets sentenced next week.

JARRETT: Kaitlan, thanks so much for that.

Meantime, Marie Yovanovitch is refusing to stay silent. The retired ambassador to 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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 --

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Diplomatic understatement. Yes.

YOVANOVITCH: Is that what it was?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: That phrase "going through some things" a reference of course to what the president said awaited Yovanovitch in his call with Ukraine's president last July.

ROMANS: 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 a single 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 live in Beijing. And Steven, do we know why the jump?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Christine, officials here are describing the surge in the numbers as a result of their changing methodology in tabulating total case numbers. They're now including both test confirmed cases as well as clinically diagnosed patients whose test results may have come back negative.

Now this change at least somewhat addresses a major concern of many people that is the government here underreporting numbers from the epicenter. Another change we are seeing in the province is a political shakeup with the most senior officials both in the province and the provincial capital of Wuhan sacked and replaced by proteges of Chinese president Xi Jinping. Not entirely surprising, though, given the scathing criticism these sacked officials have been receiving over their mishandling of this outbreak.

But what hasn't changed at the epicenter is this grim reality. We continue to hear from people trapped in Wuhan and surrounding areas for over two weeks now. They tell us many of them very weak, extremely sick, displaying full-blown symptoms of this virus but still unable to get tested or treated. Even local officials acknowledging they're still facing a severe shortage of medical supplies, personnel and facilities. So unless these issues get resolved, the picture there unlikely to change any time soon -- Christine.

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

JARRETT: 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 while verifying that the kits worked. Meantime a second novel coronavirus case has been confirmed among a group of Americans who were 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.

Well, have you checked your 401(k) recently?

ROMANS: Every 10 minutes.

JARRETT: Brand new numbers this morning. Are you better than the average investor? Find out next.

[04:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Are you saving more than the average investor? New data from Fidelity shows record high average 401(k) balances. The average account now holds $112,000, up 7 percent in the fourth quarter, up 17 percent from 2018. And Fidelity says many workers are saving more. Look at this. 33 percent of workers with 401(k)s upped their contribution rates last year.

Now investors are true beneficiaries of a 10-yearlong stock market rally, of course. Just over half of Americans hold stock, millions more don't. But a low jobless rate and a solid stock market in an election year, many things are advantaged Trump at this point. Look at this. A new Gallup poll found 61 percent of Americans say they are better off than they were three years ago and 62 percent give Trump credit for improvement in the economy.

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

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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: All right. Bloomberg was asked about those remarks yesterday in Tennessee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

[04:45:08]

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders 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, saying, "The fact is that Democrats deserve better than what happened on caucus night." Price taking responsibility for failures when faulty technology and arcane rules made it impossible for the party to release results overnight. Counts were released days later.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:50:33]

JARRETT: 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."

ROMANS: 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 of them into prostitution. Federal prosecutors in New York say 60-year-old Lawrence Ray moved into on-campus housing with his daughter and her roommates 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.

JARRETT: 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.

ROMANS: The nation's largest teachers' union 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.

JARRETT: A secretary in New Jersey charged with embezzling over $561,000 from the church where she volunteered. Forty-three-year-old Tihesha Smith Joseph oversaw finances and electronic bank accounts for St. Paul Baptist Church in Florence Township. Prosecutors say she used the stolen money to pay for her car, loans, rent, credit card expenses, cable bills and even her wedding venue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. Hey, yo. Oh, my god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

JARRETT: A Michigan man says he's feeling blessed after a steel beam came crashing through his windshield on I-96 and missed his chest by just inches. Forty-nine-year-old Johnnie Lowe was driving his box truck to Lansing last week to pick up some auto parts when the beam slip off a truck in front of him and flew straight at him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNNIE LEW, TRUCK DRIVER: When it bounced off the concrete I see it was steel and I knew this was going down. And I braced myself and went like that and then --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: The steering wheel stopped the beam from impaling Johnnie. He says he feels very lucky and plans to buy a lottery ticket soon. ROMANS: All right, satellite images show a giant iceberg breaking off

a glacier in Antarctica. The iceberg was almost as big as Atlanta and quickly broke into several pieces. Pine Island glacier is one of the fastest shrinking glaciers in Antarctica and it's closely monitored by scientists. They say the images are both beautiful and terrifying.

JARRETT: Sorry to tell you the coldest air of the season with dangerous wind chills this morning. Some parts of the country could feel like 45 below zero. More now from meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine and Laura. We have the coldest air of the season settling in across the northern plays today. Now, the East Coast we have a wintertime storm system impacting the region, but along the major East Coast cities, New York, D.C., as well as Boston, were going to be mild enough to keep this all rain. You have to travel further to the north across upstate New York and into Vermont and New Hampshire to see any formidable snow out of this system.

[04:55:01]

Now you can see the southeast continues to get battered with wet weather. We have flash flood watches in effect from Mississippi, through Alabama, Tennessee into West Virginia. Now, the colder side of the system producing some snowfall. Could be some slick spots this morning from Chicago to Cleveland, Cincinnati, as well as again northern New England. But this system is going to quickly depart this evening across the East Coast. We'll be left with generally clear conditions as we head into Friday.

And look at this cold air across the northern plains and parts of the Great Lakes. We're talking well below freezing. You factor in the wind chill values, and it is just downright frigid for those locations. Cooling off a bit for New York City where you can see the milder weather settling in for early parts of next week.

Back to you.

JARRETT: All right, Derek. Thanks so much.

Well, the happiest place on earth just got 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.

ROMANS: All right. two mice fighting over crumbs may not sound like wildlife. Try telling that to photographer Sam Rowley. Look at this, 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 at London's underground station to capture that moment.

JARRETT: Sure, your little one is adorable, but is he or she Gerber baby cute? For the 10th straight year the company has launched a national search for the next Gerber spokes baby. Parents can submit photos and videos for a chance to serve as Gerber's baby ambassador for 2020. They can't be older than 4. The deadline is February 21st.

ROMANS: Who could be a good Gerber baby? We have so many Gerber babies now.

JARRETT: I'm going to put James to work.

ROMANS: I'm telling you. There's so many CNN --

JARRETT: He needs to earn his keep.

ROMANS: CNN Gerber babies, I need to, like, put them all together.

All right. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning, taking a look at global markets right now, leaning lower here on Wall Street. Futures look like they're also leaning down, but this is pull back from a record day for all three major averages. The Dow finished up 275 points beating the most recent record from February 6th. The third straight record setting close for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

Mostly this was -- here's the why. The why is, it was all of these coronavirus sectors bounced back. Think travel and tourism, the oil sector, airlines, all the things that have been beaten down on corona worries roared back and that took the overall market back.

WhatsApp has hit a milestone, topping $2 billion active users globally. WhatsApp touts its end-to-end encryption technology but that technology has drawn backlash across the world for security reasons. India's government has called for regulations that give it access to encrypted data. And in October Attorney General Bill Barr asked Facebook to delay its plans to encrypt messages on the app citing that information relating to terrorism and sex trafficking can be spread across encrypted messaging apps.

Still, WhatsApp leader strongly defends the technology telling "The Wall Street Journal" its popularity highlights why the company needs to fight for its users to use encrypted channels.

JARRETT: Well, the best in show was poodle perfection or was it? While you were sleeping late-night hosts had a go at the Westminster dog show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE-NIGHT HOST: Let's have a look at Siba. This is -- I don't know about you but this is easily one of the scariest things I've ever seen in my life. I mean, I'm going to have nightmares about Siba all night tonight.

JAMES CORDEN, LATE-NIGHT HOST: Here is the dog that Daniel lost to, Siba, the standard poodle, and I'm sorry, this is bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Siba looks like she would send a waiter over to my table during brunch to tell me and my friends to quiet down.

STEPHEN COLBERT, LATE-NIGHT HOST: I'm not surprised that she won. I mean look at that grooming. I am telling you if he is serious about his run Tom Steyer ought to steal her look.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Well, it's definitely a look.

ROMANS: The whole concept has always eluded me.

JARRETT: Of the dog show?

ROMANS: Yes. I'm like a mutt person, you know. So it's like --

JARRETT: Yes.

ROMANS: -- the whole thing is a little -- but I appreciate it if you love it.

JARRETT: Yes, well, maybe see if your dog can get in.

ROMANS: No way.

JARRETT: Thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers EARLY START continues right now.

Allies are safe, rivals in jeopardy. The president's post-acquittal blitz rocking the backbone of the American justice system, and now new fall-out appears imminent.

ROMANS: The highest one-day death toll from the coronavirus in the Chinese province at the heart of the outbreak.

END