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EARLY START

Trump's Impeachment Lesson: Intervene At All Costs; Record One- Day Death Toll From Coronavirus; Black Leader Backing Bloomberg; LeBron's I Promise School Students Receive Free Tuition. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 13, 2020 - 05:00   ET

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


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

[05:00:05]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The highest one day death toll from the coronavirus in which 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 community. Some much needed support for Michael Bloomberg. We'll tell you who's supporting his 2020 bid.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Thursday, February 13th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East, and my mom's birthday.

All right, it is now day eight of the president's post-impeachment Trump unbound tour. What's in store today? Who knows?

What's clear, 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 Attorney General Bill Barr for overruling sentencing recommendations for long time confidant Roger Stone. The about-face coming only hours after the president 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 9-year sentence for doing nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: A reminder, Stone was convicted on all seven counts by a jury of his peers. President Trump intervening is not new. He's bullied judges, he's

stepped in to help Navy SEALs accused of war crimes. and 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)

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 front line prosecutors, that includes four -- four who walked off the Stone case this week.

JARRETT: People familiar with this 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 they have 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.

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 spoke 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 State 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. It -- you know, when you go through some things --

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a diplomatic understatement.

YOVANOVITCH: Is that what it was?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:08:44]

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

CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing.

Steven, what accounts for this jump, this spike we're seeing? STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Laura, the authorities here

are describing the surge in the numbers as a result of their changing methodology and how they tabulate the total case numbers in Hubei.

Now, they're including both test confirmed cases, as well as people clinically diagnosed but their test results have come back negative. So this change at least somewhat addresses a major concern of many people that is officials there are underreporting the case numbers.

And another change we are seeing in the province of Hubei is a major political shakeup, now the most senior officials both in the province and provincial capital of Wuhan sacked and replaced with proteges of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Not entirely surprising given the scathing criticism these people have received over their mishandling of this crisis.

[05:10:06]

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 describe this desperate and helpless picture, many of them sick and extremely weak displaying full-blown symptoms of the virus but still unable to get tested or treated. And even officials there are acknowledging they continue to face a severe shortage of medical supplies, personnel and facilities.

So until these problems are solved the picture there, Laura, unlikely to change.

JARRETT: Steven, thanks so much.

ROMANS: 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, but flaws were discovered while verifying 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., the eighth in California.

JARRETT: Make it four much-needed endorsements from black officials 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, Lucy McBath of Georgia, and Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands also threw their support behind Bloomberg yesterday.

Bloomberg has faced days of scrutiny over a 2015 audio defending his controversial stop-and-frisk policy in some very frank 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 the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So Bloomberg was asked about those remarks yesterday in Tennessee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: 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.

REPORTER: 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 front-runner 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 momentum they picked up in New Hampshire by adding staff and advertising in Nevada.

JARRETT: All right, nearly 200 students in LeBron James' promise school I Promise School Network were told they were going on a tour of Kent State University, but there was quite a surprise waiting for them after they arrived. Coy Wire has this morning's "Bleacher Report", up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:17:22]

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 this: The fact is that Democrats deserved 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.

ROMANS: All right. An NHL player is recovering in the hospital after being revived by a defibrillator during a game on Tuesday night.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

What happened?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine.

Veteran St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is doing well, undergoing tests to determine what exactly happened during his cardiac episode. It was a frightening scene Tuesday when he collapsed on the bench in the first period. His teammates frantically waving for help. Paramedics rushing in, using that lifesaving defibrillator to revive Bouwmeester as both teams watched in horror. His father happened to be at the game and was by his side. Bouwmeester regained consciousness and was rushed to the hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX PIETRANGELO, ST. LOUIS BLUES CAPTAIN: It happened so fast, I mean, felt like it was an eternity for us, but we just really reacted as fast as we could. Everybody seemed like they wanted to help and do something. It's not easy to see anybody go through it let alone your close friend/teammate that you spend every day with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Tuesday's Blues-Ducks game remains postponed until a later time, unspecified date. The Blues play the Golden Knights in Las Vegas tonight.

Now, the NFL they have lifted the indefinite suspension given to Browns Myles Garrett. He was suspended last November for swinging and hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph on the head with a helmet. The 23-year-old missed the last six games of the season.

In a statement, Brown general manager Andrew Barry said we know he's grateful to be reinstated, eager to put the past behind him and continue to grow as a leader.

LeBron James earned all state honors as a receiver catching TD passes in high school, but he was the quarterback dropping dimes against the Nugget last night. Both before the game and warm-ups and during the game, this three quarter court pass to JaVale McGee showing why he leads the assist. LeBron, monster game, 32 points, 12 rebounds to go with his 14 assists. It's his 12th triple-double of the season, tying him with Luka Doncic for most in the NBA. He lifts his Lakers to an overtime win, over the second best team in the West in Denver, 120- 116.

[05:20:01]

Finally, meet LeBron's first class at his I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Now, 11th graders were told to open an envelope during a class trip to Kent State University, it was under their chairs. All 193 students would learn they'd be receiving full scholarships to Kent State University.

The kids erupting in cheers. Their parents were watching from a live feed in a separate room. They started bursting into tears.

And, Christine, they were told they have proven over the past several years to show the grit, determination and hunger to succeed, so that is why they were being given this gift.

We can't speak enough what LeBron is doing for those kids in Akron. ROMANS: Yes, the gift of education, the most valuable equalizer out

there, right? Education, I love that story.

Coy --

WIRE: Absolutely.

ROMANS: -- thank you so much.

Laura, what's coming up next?

JARRETT: He just changed the trajectory of their lives.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

JARRETT: It's amazing.

All right. Coming up, 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?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:25:51]

ROMANS: The health care costs a key issue in the 2020 election. As costs rise, families are trying to keep up. A new study from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found in 2018, 14 percent -- 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. After Obamacare this number was dropping, dropping, dropping and now it is not.

It could have serious financial consequences. The study concluded such as having problems for paying for food, clothing or housing and filing for bankruptcy. Health insurance or a lack thereof also affects how people keep up. Women, children, African-Americans more likely to struggle with health care costs than others.

Among people over 65, those jointly enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid were more likely to struggle than people with private coverage. The president's budget this week include deep cuts to Medicaid and other safety net programs.

JARRETT: 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.

ROMANS: An Atlanta firefighter tried to save a 95-year-old woman from her burning home and he was suspended for it. Atlanta fire rescue says Captain Daniel Dwyer entered the building without his crew members. That is against department policy.

Now, according to the Atlanta Firefighters Union, Dwyer was dressed and ready before anybody else, so he went in. Despite his best efforts, he was not able to save the woman. Captain Dwyer and the union are appealing.

JARRETT: Astronaut Christina Koch is loving life on earth after her return from a record spaceflight. Koch spent 11 months onboard the International Space Station before landing back on earth last week. That's the longest any woman has ever been in space.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINA KOCH, NASA ASTRONAUT: Any record that you set, that my biggest hope 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 know for sure you can do it. Go after that thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: 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 and going to the beach.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Classic, classic, right? Actor Rick Moranis who starred in a comedy "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and its two sequels. It's coming back after a 24-year hiatus from Hollywood.

Moranis is set to appear in the new film, "Shrunk", a reboot from the franchise. Moranis was in a string of hit films in the '80s and '90s. Remember "Parenthood", "Spaceballs", "Ghostbusters". He took a two decade break from movies to raise his children after his wife died.

EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

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

JARRETT: The highest one day death toll from the 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 community, the much needed support for Michael Bloomberg. We'll tell you who's supporting his 2020 bid now.

Good morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. 29 minutes past the hour here in New York.

It's now day 8 of the president's post-impeachment Trump unbound warpath. What's in store today? Who knows?

What's clear the president is defending tipping the scales of justice to protect his friends, he's punishing rivals without fear of consequences. Yesterday, the president publicly praised Attorney General Bill Barr for overruling sentencing recommendations for his long time confidant Roger Stone.

The about-face coming only hours after the president all but demanding that result on Twitter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: 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.

END