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EARLY START

Democrats Eye Sanders at Debate Tonight; Wall Street Looking to Rebound; After Spectacle, Trump and Modi Get to Business; Harvey Weinstein: Convicted Rapist. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired February 25, 2020 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:20]

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats back on stage tonight in South Carolina. With Super Tuesday fast approaching, it is the final chance to slow Bernie Sanders growing momentum.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Wall Street looking to rebound after the worst day in two years. How are global markets handling coronavirus concerns overnight?

ROMANS: And the man at the root of the #metoo movement convicted of sex crime. What the future holds for convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Tuesday, February 25th. It is 4:00 a.m. here in New York, 2:30 p.m. in New Delhi where the president is on a state visit. More on that in a meet.

But, first, Democrats are bracing a high stakes debate, a critical showdown tonight in South Carolina. Expect a much tighter focus on Bernie Sanders now the undisputed front-runner in this race. A new Marist poll shows Sanders within striking distance of Joe Biden in South Carolina, just the latest evidence of Sanders growing momentum.

ROMANS: The Vermont senator has been working to broaden his coalition, a lesson his campaign learned from his 2016 losses. South Carolina where majority of Democratic voters are black will put that to the test on Saturday as well as the delegate rich and very diverse Super Tuesday states of California and Texas.

Other Democrats face mounting urgency to blunt Sanders' momentum ahead on Super Tuesday when he could amass a delegate lead hard to overcome.

JARRETT: So far, Sanders rivals haven't drilled down on his record at all. That's a break. President Trump, his super PAC and surrogates won't give Sanders if, in fact, he is the nominee. So, expect plenty of recalibrating tonight by Democrats who mostly left Sanders alone at last week's debate. They're focused their fire on Bloomberg last time who isn't even on the ballot in South Carolina.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more from the campaign trail in Charleston, South Carolina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, it's debate night number 10. But when Bernie Sanders takes the stage tonight in Charleston, South Carolina, he is facing an entirely different moment. Yes, he's been in the spotlight before, he's never been at the center of the stage before, but he has never been the clear and convincing commanding front-runner.

After winning the Nevada caucuses over the weekend and, of course, New Hampshire and that very strong showing in Iowa, it is Bernie Sanders race to lose at this point. That is why candidates are already stepping up their attacks and their criticisms. They are sounding the alarm about the potential electoral risk of electing a Democratic socialist. Aides to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg saying they're going to make this campaign, this debate all about Bernie Sanders.

Well, of course, they are because Mayor Bloomberg, of course, had a very disappointing first week in Las Vegas. So, he, of course, will be judged on the stage tonight.

But this is the last best opportunity for these Democratic rivals to raise questions about senator Sanders. The next week of this campaign, the South Carolina primary on Saturday held three days later by the Super Tuesday contest in 14 states where 30 percent of the delegates are picked, that is going to set the mark for this campaign. How Sanders does in the next week is going to be critical for him. But it all starts at that debate here tonight in South Carolina where he will be defending himself.

As you know, he is a very good debater, has had a consistent performance. But now the moment is different, he's never walked in like this much of a front-runner -- Christine and Laura.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Jeff, thank you for that.

All right, global stock markets are trying to stabilize after yesterday's ugly, ugly sell-off. You can see mixed performance really in Asian markets. They are closed now. European shares have opened ever so slightly higher. I would not call that very convincing. I would call that honestly treading water after a terrible day yesterday on Wall Street.

Right now, looking at futures up about half a percent. Look, investors fled stocks yesterday and ran to the safety of gold and bonds. The Dow closed more than 1,000 points lower, its worst day in two years. That is so rare to see such a big move. It is now negative for the year.

On a percentage basis, the sell-off isn't as dramatic as other drops in the Dow's history. But still it was only the third time in history, the average closed down more than 9,000 points. The S&P 500, that's the broadest gauge of the stock market tumbled 3.4 percent. That's the biggest decline since February 2018. It is now lower for the year.

And the Nasdaq lost almost 4 percent. As stocks fell, President Trump projected optimism from India tweeting: The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA, stock markets starting to look very good to me.

[04:05:05]

Quite rare for a president to remark about the stock market in such a way especially on a day when the Dow is down a thousand points. Markets are coming to grips with the reality the virus could slam global growth. Ships are sitting in ports, shipments are idled, good are in floating quarantines. There are now outbreaks in Italy and South Korea. That means four of the 12 largest economies in the world have coronavirus outbreaks.

Meanwhile, the White House asked Congress $1.25 billion in emergency funding to combat the outbreak.

JARRETT: Well, little less pomp and more circumstance on the second and final day of President Trump's visit to India. He and India's prime minister discussing security and trade. And the president will hold a news conference later this morning. No doubt he will discuss the economy.

CNN's Sam Kiley live in New Delhi for us.

Sam, what else are you expecting to hear today?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Although I think we've heard of breakthrough moments in terms of trade, in particular with the announcement coming from Donald Trump that India's ordered up $3 billion worth of equipment, notably Apache and other helicopters. Apache, of course, being the United States powerful attack helicopter, so that is really as far as anybody's anticipating it's going to go in terms of significant trade breakthroughs.

But he's also signaled a shift in terms of strategic emphasis, talking about the Quad, which is a group -- an unofficial group largely of India, the United States, Japan and Australia taking more and more interest and responsibility for stability in the Indo-Pacific Region. That is something I think is going to play very strongly in diplomatic terms with the Indians who were keen to get closer with the United States and with the Americans, of course, keen to get closer to India in the face of the fractious relationship at least on trade they have with China.

But all of this has been really about burnishing the popular reputations of Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, and, of course, Donald Trump in an election year. A lot of the cost, though, on that take and in India with the death of seven people yesterday here in the capital Delhi, one of them, a policeman allegedly shot we understand according to medical sources here during demonstrations against recent legislation passed here, which his critics say is deeply anti-Muslim -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Sam Kiley, thank you so much for laying all that out.

Meanwhile, President Trump wants two left leaning Supreme Court justice to recuse themselves from all cases involving he and his administration. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has accused her conservative colleagues on the bench being too eager to side with the Trump administration, and the president firing back in a series of tweets calling on Sotomayor and also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse themselves as a matter of, quote, fairness.

ROMANS: The president did not question the impartiality of Justice Clarence Thomas. CNN has confirmed Thomas' wife Ginni, a conservative activist, is helping the president identify disloyal members of his administration so they can be removed. The Supreme Court is in the midst of historic term as it considers issues like abortion, immigration and President Trump's efforts to shield his financial records.

One of the most powerful men in Hollywood history could be spending the rest of his life behind bars. Harvey Weinstein convicted on two counts in his sex crimes trial. The jury accepted the prosecution's argument that women could be raped by Weinstein and still maintain a warm relationship with him out of fear of his power and influence. Weinstein was supposed to be at Rikers Island this morning.

Instead, he was hospitalized with chest pains, heart palpitations and high blood pressure.

JARRETT: His convictions come more than two years after accusations against him helped ignite the #metoo movement.

Many of those women came forward at great risk to their careers. Silence breakers and advocacy group that includes Weinstein's accusers call the verdict, quote, just a drop in a wave of justice to come for predators and survivors everywhere.

Erica Hill has more for us now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Laura, Harvey Weinstein, once one of the most powerful men in Hollywood is now a convicted rapist. On Monday, a jury found him guilty on two counts, committing a criminal sex act and third degree rape. Now, those charges stem from allegations from Miriam Haley and Jessica Mann. Haley testified Weinstein forced her into a sex act in 2006, while Mann told the court he raped here in 2013 during an abusive relationship.

The 67-year-old was acquitted on more serious charges of predatory sexual assault against both women and first degree rape against Mann. Immediately taking into custody, Weinstein is facing between five and 25 years in prison on a charge of a criminal sex act and up to 4 years for the rape charge. At least 100 women have now come forward with allegations of behavior from Weinstein that ranges from unwanted sexual advances to rape.

[04:10:05]

He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

Much of that, of course, coming in the wake of reporting in "The New Yorker" and "The New York Times" in 2017 that detail some of these allegations.

His attorney tells CNN they do plan to appeal. Meantime, the district attorney here in Manhattan, Cy Vance, called the women who came forward to testify heroic and courageous. His sentencing is scheduled for March 11th.

However, there are separate criminal charges which he is also now facing in Los Angeles. Those charges where he's accused of raping one woman and assaulting another in 2013, the charges were announced on the very same day his trial started -- Laura and Christine -- here in New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Erica Hill, thank you so much for that.

OK. The coronavirus has sickened people now in 36 countries, so why is this not a pandemic? CNN is live in Beijing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:15:08]

ROMANS: Experts warned the novel coronavirus outbreak maybe approaching pandemic levels. The World Health Organization team has landed in Italy. Now, they were greeted by empty streets in Milan. At least 229 people have been infected in northern Italy. Seven have died.

Now, in South Korea government buildings are being disinfected as the virus spreads. More than 970 cases are now confirmed, up from 31 a week ago and at least 10 people have died. The U.S. and South Korea now considering scaling back joint military exercises.

Iran is on the front line of the outbreak in the Middle East with 61 cases and 12 deaths.

So, why is the coronavirus not officially labeled a pandemic yet?

CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing -- Steven.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Christine, it may just be semantics given the alarming and fast growing cases you mentioned outside of China.

But according to the WHO's director general, they're now calling this a pandemic yet based on the geographical spread of this virus, the severity of disease it causes and its social impact. But, interestingly, as they were making that assessment on Monday they actually had a team who just returned from Wuhan, the epicenter of this global outbreak and held a press conference here in Beijing on Monday night.

Now, the head of that team showered the Chinese government with praise, saying the Chinese containment effort so far is the most ambitious, aggressive and agile in history and has worked. And he said the sharp decline of number of cases in Wuhan and the rest of China are real based on their observation and assessment. But he dodged the question from reporters whether the initial alleged cover-up by the government here and the censorship of information could have led to the problem to begin with.

And I asked him, what about the rest of the world where governments simply cannot lock down millions of people? He said, look, that's the last resort even here in China. You have to start with the basics, reminding people to wash hands more frequently. Then when you have a case you jump on these cases super fast, isolate these cases and close contacts and not letting people wander around to create new chains of transmission.

If that doesn't work then you phase it up by taking more drastic actions like the Chinese have done -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Steven Jiang, thank you so much for that for us from Beijing this morning.

JARRETT: All right. Well, plenty of tears and cheers in a very emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:21:57]

JARRETT: All right, welcome back.

A final public fair well to Laker legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.

Nearly a month after helicopter crash that killed the father and daughter along with 7 others, the Staples Center in Los Angeles was packed with family, friends, and fans. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VANESSA BRYANT, WIFE OF KOBE BRYANT: He isn't going to be able to walk our girls down the aisle or spin me around in the dance floor while singing "PYT" to me, but I want everyone to what an amazing person and father he was, the kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes.

Gianna would have been an amazing mommy. She was very maternal ever since she was really little. Gigi would have most likely become the best player in the WNBA. She would have made a huge difference.

God knew they couldn't be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi, and I got Noni, BB, and Coco. We're still the best team.

MICHAEL JORDAN, NBA LEGEND: He was just trying to be a better person. Now he's got me and I have to look at another crying meme for the next -- I told my wife I wasn't going to do this because I didn't want to see that for the next three or four years.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, FORMER TEAMMATE OF KOBE BRYANT: He said, Shaq, Kobe's not passing the ball, I said I'll talk to him. I said, Kobe there's no "I" in team and Kobe said, I know but there's an m-e in that mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED). So I went back and told Rick and Big Shot Bob, just get the rebound he's not passing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Great story from Shaq there. Well, CNN has also learned that Kobe Bryant's widow Vanessa is suing the helicopter company for that crash. The suit alleges in part that the pilot failed to safely operate the aircraft.

ROMANS: It was such an amazing celebration of life for those two, and, you know, I'm just so impressed that Vanessa Bryant was able to represent her family so beautifully and so well and so strong.

[04:25:05]

JARRETT: Yes, yes.

ROMANS: I mean, she seems strong in her grief --

JARRETT: Still grieving, yes.

ROMANS: -- which is -- all right. Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

Democrats upping the ante for a one-week stretch that could determine who faces President Trump in the fall.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JARRETT: Democrats back on stage tonight in South Carolina. With Super Tuesday fast approaching, it is the final chance to slow Bernie Sanders' growing momentum.

ROMANS: Wall Street looking to rebound after the worst day in two years. How are markets handling coronavirus concerns overnight?

JARRETT: And man that the root of the #metoo movement convicted of sex crimes.

END