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EARLY START

Bloomberg Qualifies for Nevada Debate; Containing Coronavirus in the U.S.; Boy Scouts of America Files for Bankruptcy; Fiery Dayton Wreck Sends Driver to Hospital. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 18, 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: 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.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, 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.

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.

[05:00:15]

ROMANS: The gloves are off between Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders. A digital ad from the Bloomberg camp highlights the hostilities of some Bernie supporters and their attacks on rival Democrats. And it's backed up with a Bloomberg tweet claiming that type of energy is not going to beat Trump. That word energy, playing off something Sanders said about that multibillionaire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: It was a day-long exchange of back and forth attacks between the two camps. Bloomberg's campaign manager charging Sanders' staff with using the same tactics employed by the president. His statement went out with the subject line, Bernie's new bro, Donald Trump. Two hours later Sanders tweeted out this image of Bloomberg and Trump together on a golf course in different times.

ROMANS: The Vermont senator also releasing two new ads in Nevada. One has a Nevada first theme with a focus on 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Right now, the shadow of the Iowa caucus debacle is still hanging over Nevada. Trained volunteers say they're still unclear about how exactly this process will work. Remember it is coming this weekend, and 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. A Nevada source tells CNN it's just a matter of plugging the number and do a shared spreadsheet and those paper trail is a back up is needed.

ROMANS: The counter-programmer-in-chief following the Democrats out West. President Trump begins a four-day Western campaign swing today. He finishes with a rally Friday night in Nevada just before the Democrats' caucus. It's the third straight state where the president is rallying ahead of the Democrats' 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 Eastern, only on CNN.

JARRETT: The U.S. is trying desperately to contain the coronavirus. Fourteen Americans who tested positive for the virus were among hundreds of citizens evacuated from a 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: It's a special bio-containment unit is a state-of-the-art facility that has treated Ebola, SARS, monkeypox and multidrug resistant tuberculosis over nearly 15 years now . And with even more cases being reported on the ship other countries are making plans to get their citizens off the floating Petri dish and out of Japan.

CNN'S Matt Rivers live for us in Tokyo.

It wasn't long ago you said they have found more cases that they have found on that ship. Tell us.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, more than last half an hour or so, Christine, we found 88 new confirmed cases onboard that ship according to Japan's Ministry of Health. That bumps the total number of cases to 544. That is more cases than a number of different Chinese cities outside of Hubei Province which is the center of that outbreak. It's kind of remarkable when you think about it like that.

And as a result, you know, you're getting lots of countries that are going to evacuate their citizens following it U.S. lead. More on that in a moment. But in terms of the disembarkation process, that's going to begin tomorrow here in Japan. The people who are onboard that ship who have tested negative for the coronavirus will be able to start that process of getting off the ship and coming onto land here in Japan for the first time in weeks. That process will play out over the next couple of days likely ending on the 21st or 22nd.

Meanwhile, we know that countries like Canada, Australia and Italy are following the lead of the United States. The U.S., of course, already evacuating its citizens. We know that those countries are following the lead and doing the same thing over the coming days, and it just leads to the point that some of these countries do not trust the fact that Japan's quarantine process onboard that ship worked because when these countries bring their citizens back home, they're going to have to undergo further quarantine just like what's happening in the United States.

[05:05:03]

Speaking of quarantine, a little bit of good news. Some of the first groups of Americans that were evacuated out of Wuhan, the city where this all started, the coronavirus outbreak center, those people set -- some of them set to be released from quarantine in the U.S. today, others released on Thursday. That is the kind of thing all the people onboard this ship here in Tokyo, in Yokohama harbor are looking forward to.

ROMANS: Absolutely. All right. Matt Rivers for us in Tokyo -- thanks, Matt.

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

Concerns are mounting about how long the virus may survive on surfaces. China's central bank has started destroying cash which changes multiple hands multiple times a day. Now almost 200 million kids across China are back to school without going. They did it over the Internet in some parts of the country. So many kids are watching that the program ground to a halt.

ROMANS: All right. Remember when apple posted that record breaking quarter on the back of iPhone's come back, now Apple is warning investors its revenue will be hit if coronavirus limits how many phones it can make and sell in China. Much of Apple's manufacturing operations are based right there in China. Apple said Monday work is starting to resume around the country but we are experiencing a slower to normal return to conditions than we had anticipated.

Now, Apple temporarily locations all of its stores in China because of the outbreak. While stores are gradually opening, those locations have reduced hours and foot traffic is very low, but Apple expects the disruption to be temporary. IPhone sales ended the year on a high, up nearly 8 percent to $56 billion in the fourth quarter.

JARRETT: All right. We also got some breaking news here. I think we've got a new poll out from NPR, and look at that. Mike Bloomberg at 19 percent, essentially leapfrogging over several of the other Democratic contenders. Bernie Sanders, of course, still in there lead there at 31 percent.

But the news, Michael Bloomberg at 19 percent. That means he will meet a qualifying range to be on that debate stage tomorrow night.

ROMANS: Fascinating. All right. Look at those numbers. We'll talk about those again in a minute.

JARRETT: Absolutely.

All right. Well, still ahead, an independent group of federal judges calling on emergency meeting about intervention by the attorney general in politically sensitive cases.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:11:54]

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight the 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.

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 Judges 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 long time 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 docket. The federal judge overseeing Stone's case who Trump also targeted on twitter has called for a scheduling conference call with attorneys. It's the first time Judge Amy Berman Jackson may comment or seek an explanation on the DOJ's sudden request to change Stone's sentencing recommendation.

Just 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 attorney meanwhile had asked for a second request for a new trial. Sentencing is set for this Thursday pending the outcome of today's proceedings.

ROMANS: All right. Thirteen minutes past the hour.

For those of you just joining us, Mike Bloomberg has qualified for the debate stage tomorrow night in Las Vegas. A strong showing in the national poll, leapfrogging over other moderate Democrats, but they're all chasing Bernie Sanders. More in a moment.

Plus --

JARRETT: The best baseball player in baseball is ripping the Houston Astros over their cheating scandal. Carolyn Manno with this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:18:26]

ROMANS: 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 joined Republicans to defeat the measure in committee. High capacity magazines would have been outlawed as well. Democrats won control of Virginia's legislator on the promise of sweeping gun reform after a shooter killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building last May.

JARRETT: A very violent holiday weekend in Chicago. Twenty-five people were shot, 11 of them minors. Three of them 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.

ROMANS: Plymouth Rock has been vandalized. Someone painted red graffiti on the iconic landmark where, according to legend, the Pilgrims first landed in Massachusetts in 1620. They also spray- pointed on the pilgrim national statue in the national monument to the forefathers. The town of Plymouth has been preparing a 400th anniversary celebration of the Plymouth's arrival on the Mayflower. Police are asking for public in the help of finding the vandals.

JARRETT: Some 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 entrance of a sports bar and restaurant. Two people in hoodies are then seen going straight for the ATM and the cash registers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX WOODS, RESTAURANT OWNER: It appears that they do know that there may have been some money in that register.

[05:20:02]

I have four registers, and that register was the only one that had money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: OK, so that wasn't enough, the burglars backed a pickup truck into the ATM and went for the cash. The minivan was later determined to be stolen. Fire officials say a full inspection of the building is needed to be determined if it's safe before the restaurant can reopen.

ROMANS: All right. NASCAR driver Ryan Newman is in serious condition after a terrifying crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500.

Carolyn Manno is here with this morning's "Bleacher Report".

How's he doing?

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning.

Well, this is a really difficult story to report this morning. A lot of people saw this crash and this is day that has a lot of significance for NASCAR fans. Some relief this morning. It was 19 years ago today that the sport lost Dale Earnhardt Sr. at Daytona. And while Ryan Newman is in serious condition right now, doctors at a local hospital have indicated his injuries are not life-threatening.

The fiery crash happened about a football field from the finish line with Newman leading the race. He lost control after being bumped from behind, went head first into the wall and then flipped in the air. And the last hit on the driver's side is the one particularly difficult to watch.

The car giving up all its structural integrity, it was an impact that sent Newman's car skidding on its roof across the finish line in fourth place. It took emergency crews several minutes to get Newman out of the car and a lot of drivers including the eventual winner expressing a lot of concern for the 42-year-old NASCAR veteran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNY HAMLIN, 2020 DAYTONA 500 WINNER: That's kind of the worst case scenario you could possibly have. You know, hopefully, we're praying for the best. And we know Ryan's a tough guy and so, we're going to hope he comes out of this good.

RYAN BLANEY, FINISHED IN 2ND PLACE: I don't want to say those things, I feel really bad about it, just -- man, that's a close one but I hope Ryan's all right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANNO: President Trump tweeted he was praying for Ryan Newman, a man he described as a great and brave NASCAR driver. Trump was the grand marshal at the race on Sunday before it was postponed by rain. The severity of this crash certainly dampening any celebration of the sport's most important race, but it was a photo finish for Denny Hamlin over Ryan Blaney, in the second closest finish in Daytona 500 history. This is Hamlin's third win in his five years. He's one of just four drivers to win the race in back-to-back years.

Meantime in college basketball, chippy game between Prairie View and Jackstone State ending in an ugly brawl. Check this out, a shove in the handshake line of all places to Jackson State's Dontelius Ross triggering a huge fight which quickly escalated all over the court between the two division rivals. Two teams eventually restrained by teammates and coaches.

And Angels superstar Mike Trout is the latest player to criticize Major League Baseball's handling of the cheating scandal that has rocked the league. Trout calling the intricate sign stealing that was used by Houston during the 2017 championship, sad for baseball, said he thinks more should have been done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE TROUT, LOS ANGELES ANGELS OUTFIELDER: It's tough. You know, they cheated and I don't agree with the punishments. You know, the players not getting anything. There's a player-driven thing. It sucks, too, because, you know, a guy's career has been affected, a lot of people, you know, lost jobs. It's -- it was tough.

Me going up to the plate knowing what was coming? It would be fun up there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANNO: Question now is how much retaliation we're going to see on the field this year. Odds makers have early prop bets in the works for how many Astros players are going to be hit by pitches this season. So, we could certainly continue to see this bleed into 2020, it's been a big story so far.

And everybody in the NASCAR community still very much thinking about Ryan Newman to hear the injuries were nonlife threatening around 10:00 last night was a very, very big relief.

ROMANS: What a crash. I hope he's got a long road ahead of him that he and his family can bounce back. All right, thank you so much. Nice to see you, Carolyn.

JARRETT: Good to see you as always.

All right. Coming up next, Mike Bloomberg secures his spot on the debate stage in Las Vegas. How the other candidates confront this surge that we're seeing from the New York City mayor.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[0528:53]

JARRETT: All right, welcome back.

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 is charged with five sex crimes involving two women. The charges include rape, sexual criminal act and predatory sexual assault. Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

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

Carey put out a statement calling Harwick a positive force in the world, a tireless and an unapologetic champion for women and a passionate about her work as a therapist. I'm overcome with grief.

EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

ROMANS: Mike Bloomberg will be on the debate stage tomorrow in Nevada, giving other Democrats the chance they need to slow his climb in national polls.

END