Return to Transcripts main page


Americans with Coronavirus Evacuated from Japan; Bloomberg On Verge of Qualifying for Nevada Debate; Boy Scouts of America Files for Bankruptcy; Ryan Newman in Serious Condition After Crash; Facebook CEO Asks for More Regulation. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 18, 2020 - 04:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. is amassing forces to keep coronavirus from spreading on American soil. Hope is riding on a special facility in Nebraska.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Mike Bloomberg could be on the debate stage for the first time tomorrow if polls this morning go his way.

JARRETT: The Boy Scouts of America filing for bankruptcy over sexual abuse allegations dating back decades.

ROMANS: And a fiery end to the Daytona 500 leaves a popular NASCAR driver in the hospital.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. At 30 minutes past the hour here in New York.

The U.S. trying desperately to contain the coronavirus. Fourteen Americans who tested positive for the virus were among hundreds of citizens evacuated from cruise ship off Japan and put on flights to Texas and California with the other evacuees. Some of those patients, along with their spouses, are now in isolation at the University of Nebraska medical center. That's the state's largest hospital.

ROMANS: Its special bio-containment unit is a state of the art facility that's treated Ebola, SARAS, monkeypox, and multidrug resistant tuberculosis, over nearly 15 years. Now, other countries making plans to get their citizens off the floating Petri dish and out of Japan.

CNN's Matt Rivers, live in Tokyo.

You know, they're getting off that ship and they are now facing new quarantines and new procedures in their home countries. What can you tell us?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT. That's exactly right. Before we talk about that, though, Christine, within the last minute,

quite literally, the Japanese health ministry confirmed, to CNN, an additional 88 people on board that ship have, once again, tested positive for the coronavirus. That's in the top three in terms of the biggest day-to-day increases.

Yesterday, it was 99 new cases. Today, it's 88. That brings the total number of cases on board that ship to 544, well over 10 percent of the total amount of people, total amount of passengers that were on that ship.

But in terms of the disembarkation process, that is going forward. According to the health ministry, starting on the 19th -- that would be tomorrow -- every single person on board this ship is being tested for the virus in different stages. The testing procedure will be done by the end of the day today. But it takes a couple days to get the results.

So, if you were a person that got tested today and the test comes back negative, the earliest you are getting off this ship is on the 21st. But, clearly, people are still testing positive. This number could continue to go up.

This, as other countries have followed the United States' lead. The U.S. being the first country to evacuate its citizens. Now, we know the Canadians, the Australians, and the Italians, among others, are planning to do so in the coming days, as well.

But all eyes are going to be on this disembarkation process, which begins tomorrow, will last several days as hundreds of people remain in local hospitals here in Tokyo receiving treatment. This ordeal, guys, just goes on and on and on.

ROMANS: It sure does. Unbelievable. Thanks for that breaking news. 88 more people testing positive on that ship. Nice to see you, Matt.

JARRETT: The novel coronavirus has now killed almost 1,900 people and there are more than 73,000 cases confirmed worldwide. Most of them are in mainland China where 780 million remain on some sort of lockdown. And the hospital director in the epicenter of Wuhan has now died.

CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing.

What more can you tell us, Steven?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Laura, this latest death, a 51-year neurosurgeon really illustrates the danger medical workers continue to face on the front lines. With many of them overwhelmed and under protected.

Remember, just over a week ago, we talked about this young doctor who died after contracting this very virus he was trying to sound an early alarm about. But instead, he was silenced by local authorities. Speaking of government response, over the weekend, we learned from state media that Chinese president Xi Jinping actually chaired a top leadership meeting on this versus as early as January 7th. Two weeks before he first publicly spoke about it. Really calling into question how early Mr. Xi knew about this virus and what he did or did not do.

But all politics aside, though, officials across the nation are taking no chances. That is why the epicenter in Hubei province, they are taking increasingly draconian lockdown measures, requiring millions of local residents to stay home around the clock, 24/7, with their food being delivered by local officials. That is also why the Chinese central bank is now deep cleaning and destroying its cash out of concerns how long this virus can actually live on contaminated surfaces.

And with schools closed nationwide, millions of school children were also logging online to take classes remotely.

And, Laura, let me tell you as a parent, it's almost impossible to force a 3-year-old to sit-down and focus and learn by watching educational videos -- Laura.



Tough job for parents, no question, Steven. Thanks so much for all your reporting.

ROMANS: All right. Michael Bloomberg is son the verge of qualifying for tomorrow night's Democratic debate in Nevada even though he is not participating in the state's caucuses. Several polls due to be released this morning could put Bloomberg over the top. One of them comes out next hour.

CNN has learned the former New York City mayor has been preparing for the debate. Something he's never done on a national level. We are already getting a sense of his opponents' strategy. They want an inspection of Bloomberg's record and say he shouldn't be able to buy the election.

JARRETT: The gloves are clearly off between Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders. A digital ad from the Bloomberg camp highlights the hostility of some Bernie supporters and their attacks on Democratic rivals. And it's backed up with a Bloomberg tweet claiming that type of energy is not going to beat Trump. Those attacks coming after Sanders said about -- said this about the multibillionaire.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will not create the energy and excitement we need to defeat Donald Trump if that candidate pursued, advocated for, and enacted racist policies like stop-and-frisk.



ROMANS: It was a day-long exchange of attacks between the two camps. Bloomberg's campaign manager charging Sanders staff with using the same tactics employed by President Trump. His statement went out with the subject line Bernie's new bro, Donald Trump.

Two hours later, Sanders tweeted an image of Bloomberg and Trump, together, on a golf course.

JARRETT: The Vermont senator also releasing two new ads in Nevada. One has Nevada-first theme, with the focus on the climate crisis. The other touts how Sanders will stand up to corruption. The Sanders camp is also opening new campaign offices in North Carolina, a few days after Bloomberg beat him to the punch.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know that you can see very many presidential candidates here in Winston, Salem. They're spending all their time in South Carolina but I think the vote is in North Carolina. It deserves just as much attention.


ROMANS: Right now, the shadow of the Iowa caucus debacle hanging over Nevada. Trained volunteers say they are still unclear about exactly how the process will work. Now, the issue for some precinct captains is how tens of thousands of early votes will fold into what's happening, face to face, inside the caucus room.

Nevada Democratic Party source tells CNN it's just a matter of plugging numbers into a shared spreadsheet. And there is a paper trail if a backup is needed.

JARRETT: The counter-programmer in chief following Democrats out west. President Trump begins a four-day Western campaign swing today. He finishes a rally Friday night in Nevada just before the Democrat's caucus. It's the third straight state where the president is rallying ahead of the Democrat's vote.

Stay with CNN tonight and Thursday night for a series of town halls with the leading Democrats from Las Vegas. Tonight, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. Thursday, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. That starts tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, Boy Scouts of America filing for bankruptcy. The organization faces a wave of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. The Chapter 11 filing will allow the Boy Scouts to continue operations while reorganizing its finances and handling the hundreds of abuse claims. It also provides a limited amount of time for any new victims to come forward, before being barred indefinitely from seeking financial compensation. Boy Scouts marked its 110th anniversary this month.


ANNOUNCER: To the inside. Here comes Hamlin up the outside! Crash into the wall. Into the air. Goes Newman.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: A fiery crash in the final lap of the Daytona 500. Ryan Newman, hit from behind, then hitting a wall. Could see there and going airborne. His car flipped over several times before skidding across the finish line in fourth place. Newman is hospitalized with -- in serious condition with non-life threatening injuries.

President Trump praying for Newman in a tweet. He was at the race Sunday before rain postponed it. As for the race, Denny Hamlin very narrowly taking the checkered flag for his third Daytona 500 win.

ROMANS: All right. Once again, John Bolton speaks. Once again, he doesn't say much at all.



ROMANS: All right. Mark Zuckerberg has asked for more regulation of big tech. He is about to get what he wants in Europe. During a trip to Munich, Zuckerberg said he wants governments to provide more rules on data use, privacy and content.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Even if I'm not going to agree with every regulation in the near term, I do think it's going to be the thing that helps create trust and better governance of the Internet and will benefit everyone, including us over the long term.


ROMANS: On Monday, Facebook released a paper outlining how it wants to be regulated, saying it does not support laws that will hold platforms liable for content posted by users. Increased regulation looks inevitable in Europe. This week, leaders will start a debate about new rules that will govern data and artificial intelligence.

The big question for tech companies is, how far are European leaders willing to go? The E.U. has been far more aggressive than the U.S. confronting Silicon Valley over competition issues and imposing data- protection rules that have set a new global standard.

JARRETT: An independent organization of federal judges, now calling an emergency meeting about the Justice Department's intervention in politically sensitive cases. According to "USA Today," the head of the federal judge's association said the group could not wait until its spring conference to respond to the ongoing controversy at DOJ.

Attorney General Bill Barr overruled career prosecutors' initial sentencing recommendation for longtime Trump ally Roger Stone last week after the president blasted it on Twitter, causing all four prosecutors to quit the case.


Meanwhile, more than 2,000 former prosecutors and justice officials are calling on the attorney general to resign. And today, a notable hearing on the federal docket. The judge overseeing Stone's case, who Trump also targeted, has called for a scheduling conference call with attorneys. It's the first time Judge Amy Berman Jackson made comment or seek an explanation on the DOJ's sudden reversal, changing Stone's sentencing recommendation.

Last week, the chief judge of the federal district court in D.C., said judges would not be swayed by public criticism or pressure. Stone's attorneys have made a second request for a new trial. Sentencing is set for this Thursday, pending the outcome of today's proceedings.

ROMANS: John Bolton, once again, finds a way to speak up without revealing much at all. The former national security advisor making his first public comments since President Trump's impeachment saga. He declined to corroborate any of the details from the inquiry or divulge other details from his highly-anticipated book.

The book is currently under review by the White House. Bolton said he hopes it's not suppressed. Remember last month, "The New York Times" reported Bolton's unpublished manuscript alleges Trump directed him to help with his pressure in Ukraine.

JARRETT: But Bolton suggests the Ukraine matter is just the start. He says for all the focus on Ukraine and impeachment trial, to me, there are portions of the manuscript that deal with Ukraine. I view that as the sprinkles on an ice cream sundae in terms of the book.

This is an effort to write history. I did the best I can. We'll see ha happens with the censorship. Asked whether Trump's July 2019 call with Ukraine's president was perfect, Bolton tease, you'll love chapter 14.

Bolton has said he would testify if subpoenaed, something House Democrats have not ruled out yet.

ROMANS: All right. You had one job, but this building in Dallas did not come down as planned.


JARRETT: All right. Welcome back. A bill to ban assault weapons, defeated in the Virginia Senate, despite Democratic control. In a rare win for gun rights groups in the state, four Democrats join Republicans to kill the measure in committee.

High-capacity magazines would have been outlawed as well. Democrats won control of Virginia's legislature on the promise of sweeping gun control after a shooter killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building last May.

ROMANS: A violent holiday weekend in Chicago. Twenty-five people were shot, 11 of them minors, three died, all of them adults. The carnage coming nine months into the administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who made gun violence a top priority in her campaign. Note that Chicago's homicide rate did decrease for the third straight year in 2019. JARRETT: Plymouth Rock has been vandalized. Someone painted red

graffiti on the iconic landmark where according to legend, the first pilgrims landed in Massachusetts in 1620. They also spray-painted the pilgrim maiden statute and the national monument to the forefathers. The town of Plymouth has been preparing a 400th anniversary celebration of the pilgrims' arrival on the Mayflower. Police are asking for help finding those vandals.

ROMANS: In just a few hours, the fate of disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein will be in the hands of a New York jury. The jurors are expected to begin deliberations today after hearing four weeks of witness testimony. The 67-year-old Weinstein charged with five sex crimes involving two women. The charges include rape, sexual criminal act, predatory sexual assault. Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

JARRETT: Hollywood sex therapist Amie Harwick found dead in her Hollywood hills home. An ex-boyfriend, 41-year-old Garrett Pursehouse has been arrested and charged with her murder. The former Playboy model was engaged to comedian Drew Carey in 2018 but the couple split a year later. Nevertheless, tapings of Carey's "Price is Right" show have been cancelled for the week by CBS because of her death.

Carey calling Harwick a positive force in the world, a tireless and unapologetic champion for women and passionate about her work as a therapist. I am overcome with grief.

ROMANS: Brazen thieves going the extra mile in a smash and grab robbery in Littleton, Colorado. Surveillance video shows them ramming a minivan right through the front entrance of a sports bar and restaurant. Two people in hoodies then seen going straight for the ATM and cash registers.


ALEX WOODS, RESTAURANT OWNER: It appears that they do know that there may have been some money in that register. I have four registers and that register was the only one that had money.


ROMANS: The minivan was later determined to be stolen. Fire officials say a full inspection of the building is needed to determine if it's safe before that restaurant can reopen.

JARRETT: An emergency search for a 62-year-old blind man missing in icy cold weather ends happily with an assist from a police drone. Richard Doty's brother called police in Enfield, Connecticut, after not hearing from him for a day and a half. Police sent up their drone and found Doty in just a half an hour. He was hundred yards into the woods from his home and down an embankment where he spent the night in 9-degree weather. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation. His condition was not immediately known.

ROMANS: Hundreds of homes and businesses flooded in Jackson, Mississippi. The Pearl River cresting at 36.7 feet, the third highest level on record.


Officials say at least 1,000 homes are damaged, four injuries reported. Could take several days for the water to recede, and there's more rain in the forecast. With up to 2 inches expected in the -- in a very short time today, a flash flood watch is in effect for central Mississippi.

JARRETT: A 6-year-old California girl saved from a mountain lion attack when one of the adults in her group punched that lion in the ribs. The girl, her parents, and several other adults and children had been hiking in a Santa Clara County park Sunday morning. Officials say the girl is recovering from minor injuries. The park is closed while rangers search for the mountain lion.

ROMANS: All right. The implosion of an 11-story high rise in Dallas seemed to go without a hitch. But then when the dust cleared, the center of the building refused to come down. The part left standing has been dubbed the leaning tower of Dallas. The demolition company says these things sometimes happen with older buildings. It says the remaining structure poses no threat.

JARRETT: Just didn't want to go down.

Well, random acts of kindness not only help others. It turns out they are also good for the giver's health. Research shows feel-good chemicals flood our system when we do something generous. Sort of a helper's high.

For example, volunteering has been shown to reduce stress and depression. And studies suggest engaging in giving activities can also reduce the risk for cognitive impairment and help us live longer.

ROMANS: So does playing with dogs. Dogs make everyone live longer.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning, taking a look at global markets, pretty much mixed performance. Narrowly lower. Tokyo down 1.4 percent. Hong Kong also down here.

Look, U.S. markets set to reopen after the president's day holiday and looks like it could be a soft opening. You know, investors are watching still how the coronavirus is affecting global business. I think about 20 percent of the S&P 500 companies have all come out and said in some way, shape, or form coronavirus will slow their sales or their hurt their business in some way. Also, watching to see how Walmart did in the fourth quarter, with six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was a disappointing holiday season for U.S. retailers.

Investors look to Walmart for signs that consumer spending stayed strong heading into 2020.

Some relief for America's largest milk producer, Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to buy a substantial part of Dean Foods. Dean filed for bankruptcy in November, blaming its struggles on the accelerated decline in the conventional, white milk category. Volatile prices, the trade war, more plant-based alternatives have not helped the dairy sector. The deal still needs to be approved by the Department of Justice.

The world's richest person is throwing his weight behind the fight against climate change. On Monday, Jeff Bezos launched the Bezos earth fund and said he will give it $10 billion to start. The new fund will back design tickets, scientists, activists, and those working to mitigate the impact of climate change. Bezos has been under pressure from his own employees to do more to protect the environment, many of them joining a walkout last year. The group that organized that walkout applauded Bezos to address underlying causes of fossil fuel consumption.

JARRETT: A stray dog was definitely game and showed some good ball skill after running on to the field there during a professional soccer match in Turkey. Players try to get the ball from him, finally, throwing it off the field for the intruder dog to fetch. He did. And then he came right back for more.

One of the players finally picked up the persistent and promising pup and took him away from the field. Anyone who has a dog knows that you can't throw something and then expect them not to go get it.

ROMANS: That's cute.

JARRETT: Thanks to our international viewers for joining us this morning. Have a great rest of your day.

For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.


JARRETT: Mike Bloomberg could be on the debate stage for the first time tomorrow if polls this morning go his way. New numbers out any moment.

ROMANS: The U.S. is amassing forces to keep coronavirus from spreading on American soil. Hope is riding on a special facility in Nebraska.

JARRETT: The Boy Scouts of America filing for bankruptcy over sexual abuse allegations dating back decades.

ROMANS: And a fiery end to the Daytona 500 leaves a popular NASCAR driver in the hospital.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Tuesday, February 18th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Michael Bloomberg is on the verge of qualifying for tomorrow's night Democratic debate in Nevada, even though he's not even participating in the state's caucuses. Several polls due to be released this morning could put Bloomberg over the top. One of them comes out any time now. CNN has learned former New York City mayor has been preparing for the

debate, something he has never done on a national level. We're already getting a sense of the opponents' strategy here. They want an inspection of Bloomberg's record and say he shouldn't be able to buy the election.