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Bernie Sanders' Commanding Nevada Win Puts Him Firmly in the Lead; Biden Argues Sanders Would Hurt Democrats' Down-Ballot; Coronavirus Fears Tank Global Markets. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 24, 2020 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Well, thanks so much for our international viewers for joining us, have a great rest of your day. For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.

Bernie Sanders is starting to run away from the Democratic field, hell bent on a revolution. Is the moderate resistance out of time?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: The president obsessed with the so-called deep state. He wants snakes found and fired. New details on who's helping and how?

JARRETT: And it's going to be an ugly day on Wall Street. Futures way down, markets worldwide plummet as the coronavirus cases expand well beyond China. Good morning everyone and welcome to EARLY START, I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. You have 3 percent moves, those are -- those are --


ROMANS: Ugly. It is Monday, February 24th, 5:00 a.m. in the east, but we begin with the Democratic race. Candidates not named Bernie Sanders are running very short on time. With the South Carolina primary coming on Saturday, Sanders is close to racking up a lead that would be very hard to beat. It's full steam ahead for the Vermont senator after a convincing win in the Nevada caucuses, expanding his map to Super Tuesday states. Sanders was in Austin, Texas, last night.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I've been hearing, you know, the establishment is getting a little bit nervous about our campaign. And you know what? When they see, if the cameras turn on this crowd and our friends at Wall Street and the drug companies see this kind of crowd, you're going to really get them nervous.


JARRETT: But a third of all delegates are up for grabs a week from tomorrow. Most of the splintered field here is focusing on South Carolina looking for momentum boost after mostly ignoring Sanders at last week's debate, expecting to be a prime target at the next one tomorrow night.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am here to make the case for a politics that aims higher than just replacing one form of divisiveness with another, but rather unifies this country before it is too late.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Courage these days is not standing by yourself in the corner, throwing a punch in the boxing ring. Courage is whether or not you're willing to stand next to someone you don't always agree with for the betterment of this country.


ROMANS: A new South Carolina poll shows Joe Biden still in the lead, but the race is all about margins now and Biden's lead is narrowing. One important dynamic to watch here, Tom Steyer who will be on stage at tomorrow's debate, Biden is blaming him and his big money ad-buys for Biden's slide in South Carolina. Biden is also arguing Sanders at the top of the ticket could cost Democrats nationwide. Our Jeff Zeleny is on the campaign trail in Charleston, South Carolina.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, now the South Carolina primary only five days away. Bernie Sanders still the clear frontrunner in the Democratic nominating contest, Joe Biden trying to make a stand here in South Carolina. Campaigning here on Sunday, making the case that the African-American electorate here, some 60 percent of the Democratic electorate, African-American that he believes they own this election in his words, and they will make their judgment. That's exactly the case he's trying to make.

But look, there's worry across the Democratic establishment, particularly after the Nevada results over the weekend, is Bernie Sanders simply too strong to stop? We asked Joe Biden about whether Sanders would be detrimental to Democrats down ballot.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not just can you beat Donald Trump, can you bring along, can you keep a Democratic House of Representatives in the United States Congress, and can you bring along a Democratic Senate? Can you help people up and down the line? And I think I'm better prepared to do that than Senator Sanders is.


ZELENY: So Biden clearly trying to make this a two person race with Bernie Sanders, but that is simply not the case. There are so many others in his lane as well. Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, even Tom Steyer here in South Carolina making big investments. So the question for Joe Biden, can he revive his candidacy, can he show that he is the strongest candidate to take on President Trump?

Now, after South Carolina, only three days before Super Tuesday next week. That's why so much is on the line here. More than anyone for Joe Biden, five days left, the most important ones in his political career. Christine and Laura?

ROMANS: All right, Jeff, thanks for that. Ahead of the South Carolina primaries, CNN will host town hall events with all the leading candidates. A two night event starts tonight with Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer, that's tonight at 9:00 Eastern only on CNN.

JARRETT: The president stepping up efforts to weed out government officials he views as disloyal. Aides tell "Axios" the president has crossed a psychological line involving the so-called deep state ever since his Senate acquittal. They say he feels his government from justice to state to the Defense Department to Homeland Security is filled with snakes, that he wants fired and replaced.


ROMANS: CNN reported last week, President Trump's new personnel chief made it clear his office will be on the lookout for staffers across the administration who are seen as disloyal. Now 12 sources tell "Axios", the president and top allies over the past 18 months compiled lists of untrustworthy officials to oust and loyalists to replace them. A well-connected network of conservative activists has been quietly developing never-Trump and pro-Trump lists, and is sending memos to the president to shape his views.

Members of this network include Jenny Thomas; the wife of Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, CNN has reached out for comment, but has not heard back.

JARRETT: "Axios" reports one recent memo involved Jessie Liu, remember she was nominated for a top job at Treasury only to have the president withdraw that nomination right before her confirmation hearing. She led the U.S. Attorney's office in D.C. that was overseeing the Roger Stone case. And the memo about Liu contained 14 sections making the case for why she was unfit for the job. Neither Liu or the White House have responded to requests for comment.

ROMANS: All right, one Supreme Court Justice says some of her counterparts are biased towards the president.



ROMANS: All right, stock markets around the world are tumbling this morning as coronavirus, the outbreak spreads beyond China, in particular South Korea and Italy. Hong Kong closed down nearly 2 percent. South Korean stocks had their worst day in more than a year, down almost 4 percent. The bad mood is extending to Wall Street. Dow futures down right now more than 2.5 percent, that would be about a 700-point decline at the opening bell.

Now, the White House is expected to ask Congress for emergency funds to battle the virus as fears of a larger outbreak in the U.S. grow. There are now 25 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., 14 Americans who tested positive return to the U.S. this week after spending weeks quarantined on the Diamond Princess docked in Japan.

Now, the amount of funding has not yet been set, but the request could be sent to Capitol Hill today. A spokesperson for Health and Human Services said the CDC has already notified Congress it plans to spend up to $66 million from its Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund to react to the outbreak.

JARRETT: The U.S. Intelligence community's top election security official may have overstated the assessment of Russian interference in the 2020 election. Three National Security officials are now disputing what that official, Shelby Pierson shared with members of the House Intel Committee. Pierson telling them Russia is interfering in order to help President Trump get re-elected.

But one senior National Security official told CNN a more reasonable interpretation of the intelligence is not that they have a preference, it's more that they understand the president is someone they can work with.

ROMANS: One intelligence official called Pierson's characterization misleading, and a National Security official said Pierson failed to provide, quote, "nuance". Trump's own National Security adviser pointing to news from last week that Senator Bernie Sanders said his campaign was briefed about Russian efforts to help his presidential run.


ROBERT O'BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What I've heard is that Russia would like Bernie Sanders to win the Democrat nomination. They'd probably like him to be president understandably because he wants to spend money on social programs and probably would have to take it out of the military, so that would make sense.


JARRETT: U.S. Intel assessments show that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the aim of helping Trump as President Trump has advanced Russian interests by undermining NATO, reducing U.S. influence in the Middle East and of course squeezing Ukraine. So it's possible that Russia is looking to boost Trump's candidacy. But three National Security officials say the Intel community doesn't have the evidence to make that assessment yet.

ROMANS: All right, breaking news. India rolling out the red carpet for President Trump. Prime Minister Narendra Modi embracing the president during the optics heavy visit which kicked off with an elaborate namaste Trump rally in the world's largest cricket stadium. CNN's Sam Kiley has been there covering this for us. Hundred thousand people in that stadium behind you, looks like many have gone home now. SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and they

started to drift away just as Donald Trump was halfway through his speech, not least because of course, it wasn't translated. So many of them couldn't understand what he was saying, but this is all really about what they look like together, the optics of this bromance both from Mr. Trump's point of view in terms of his own campaigning back home, and also for Mr. Modi in terms of his reputation which has been tarnished somewhat recently following allegations from the opposition, he's been introducing anti-Muslim legislation.

But Donald Trump was very fulsome in his praise for Mr. Modi, crediting him with making good on the Indian dream. This is how he put it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is all the difference in the world between a nation that seeks power through coercion, intimidation and aggression, and a nation that rises by setting its people free and unleashing them to chase their dreams. And that is India.


KILEY: Now, on top of that, Mr. Modi said that this whole rally was called Namaste, Trump explaining to Mr. Trump that greeting means bowing to the individual but also to the divinity within the individual. And what politician could resist that, Christine?


ROMANS: Indeed, all right, Sam Kiley for us in India this morning, thank you, Sam.

JARRETT: Well, a scathing and rare dissent from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She says her conservative colleagues on the bench are too eager to side with the Trump administration. Sotomayor was responding to the court's recent order, allowing the controversial public charge rule to take effect. That rule makes it more difficult for immigrants to obtain legal status if they've used public benefits like food stamps or housing vouchers.

Sotomayor also took issue with the government for repeatedly asking the Supreme Court to allow controversial policies on an emergency basis. She says the court's recent behavior has benefitted one litigant over all others, a clear reference to President Trump. The government has argued in the past that emergency requests have become necessary because lower courts are issuing overly broad injunctions covering states that weren't originally involved in the cases.

The Supreme Court is in the midst of a historic term as it considers issues like abortion, LGBTQ rights, the Second Amendment, immigration and President Trump's efforts to shield his own financial records.

ROMANS: All right, he's been called a rat for blowing the lid off the Houston Astros cheating scandal. So how did the fans react to Mike Fiers in his first Spring start? Carolyn Manno has this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT" next.



ROMANS: All right, the Lakers and the Celtics had another thrilling chapter to their storied rivalry.

JARRETT: Carolyn Manno is here and has more in this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT" --

ROMANS: Good morning!

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Hey, good morning, happy Monday, it is arguably the greatest rivalry in NBA history. For mine money, it is. It does not get better, a combined 33 championships between the two, and it's been a while since they faced off as playoff contenders, that is exactly what we got yesterday between the Lakers and Celtics.

If you need proof, just look at who was there, one of the greatest Celtics of all time, Bill Russell honoring one of the greatest Lakers. Russell wearing Kobe Bryant's number 24 jersey. LeBron James still relatively new to this storied match-up, but he certainly made his mark in this game when it mattered. Down by one with 30 seconds left, James making a 15-foot fade away to give L.A. a late lead, but the team never relinquished.

LeBron finishing with 29 points as the Lakers avenge their worst loss of the season in Boston last month. After the game, LeBron discussed the significance of the matchup.


LEBRON JAMES, FORWARD, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: At the end of the day, we all go out and we're going to battle, we're going to test each other, going to cuss each other out while we embattle, but at the end of the day when you respect your opponent and you give all that you can, the respect is mutual. And to see Bill Russell giving respect to Kobe, I mean, we would do exactly the same on this side.


MANNO: Thousands of people are going to pack the Staples Center later this afternoon to honor Kobe and his daughter Gianna at a celebration of life memorial service as well. Meantime, the Milwaukee Bucks didn't play yesterday, but they still set a record, Giannis and company, the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season, thanks to the Wizards loss to the Bulls.

The Bucks are the fastest team to wrap up a post-season berth, they are 48-8 through 56 games on pace for a third (INAUDIBLE) season in NBA history. And after blowing the whistle on the Astros cheating scandal, Oakland's pitcher Mike Fiers welcome back to the mound with a warm reception in his first Spring training appearance. The -- people praising criticism after having Houston sign- stealing scheme.


MIKE FIERS, PITCHER, OAKLAND A'S: Everyone's going to have a comment, but I said, not worried about that. I'm worried about playing baseball and pitching for this team.


MANNO: And for the golfers out there this morning, there's a clinic impacting under pressure, courtesy of 86-year-old Mary Ann Wakefield during Saturday night's old Miss Alabama game. She's putting for a chance to win a brand new car. Had to drain it from 94 feet and she buried it. No way.

ROMANS: Go full-length of the floor.

MANNO: Amazing --

ROMANS: A brand new car for Miss Mary Ann --

MANNO: Oh --

ROMANS: How great is that?

MANNO: I love it! She's 86 years old -- she's 86 years young --

ROMANS: I'll say --

MANNO: Steps up, no practice swings. Look at her stance, she's just in the zone --

ROMANS: She is --

JARRETT: Well-done.

MANNO: She means business. The match is coming up and if anybody needs any tips, any of the pros out there, I think they should call miss Mary Ann because, are you kidding me, the way that she just stands up and swings it, I can't watch it enough.

ROMANS: I love it.

MANNO: It can, it went viral --

ROMANS: Love it --

MANNO: And her daughter on social media says, you know, she's not only a grandmother, she's a great grandmother --


MANNO: And she really needed a new car.

ROMANS: I needed that story today, so good --

JARRETT: It was great.

ROMANS: Thank you so much, Carolyn Manno --

JARRETT: Carolyn, good to see you --

MANNO: Thanks.

JARRETT: Thanks. All right, Democrats are on the verge of giving Bernie Sanders momentum to outrun the field. Can anyone slow his push to control the party he's never joined, but may be chosen to lead.


SANDERS: And that means no more --




ROMANS: A happy ending to the search for a northern California couple in their 70s who went hiking on Valentine's Day and then hadn't been heard from since. Rescue teams Saturday found 77-year-old Carol Kiparsky and 72-year-old Ian Irwin in an area of dense forest. They say the two suffered from hypothermia, but they stayed alive by drinking puddle water.

Hundreds of people along with helicopters and K-9 teams had been involved in the search. The couple is now recovering in the hospital. EARLY START continues right now.

Bernie Sanders beginning to run away from the Democratic field. Hell bent on a revolution is the moderate resistance out of time?

JARRETT: The president is obsessed with the so-called deep state. He wants snakes found and fired. New details on who's helping and how?

ROMANS: And it's going to be an ugly day on Wall Street, futures way down. Markets worldwide plummet as coronavirus cases expand well beyond China. Big moves in European markets right now down sharply. Good morning everyone, this is EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans --

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett, 29 minutes past the hour here in New York. Well, Democratic candidates not named Bernie Sanders are running short on time. It's full steam ahead for the Vermont senator after a convincing win in the Nevada caucuses. He's expanding his map to Super Tuesday states. Sanders was in Austin, Texas, last night.


SANDERS: Now, I've been hearing, you know, the establishment.