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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Stock Tumble For Second Straight Day; Rodger Stone Judge: Donald Trump Attacks Are Intimidation; Democrats Brawl In Final Debate Before Super Tuesday; CDC: Not "If" Coronavirus Will Spread In U.S. But "When"; Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Reaches $1.6 Billion Settlement. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired February 26, 2020 - 03:00   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST, EARLY START: A revitalized field of Democrats putting the pressure on Bernie Sanders. Did they do anything to slow him down ahead of Super Tuesday?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN HOST, EARLY START: And it's not if, when. The CDC says Coronavirus will spread in the United States. The President appears to be fudging facts on a health crisis in an election year. Good morning and welcome to a very early "Early Start." I'm Laura Jarrett.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Wednesday February 26th. It is 3:00 am in the east. Let's begin with last night wild free flow of the last night at the final Democratic debate before Super Tuesday.

Six candidates all tried to blunt the momentum of front runner Bernie Sanders. In Charleston three days before South Carolina's primary candidates took aim at each over socialism, electability, race and the issue you did not see coming a week ago, Cuba.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump thinks it would be better if he is President, I do not think so. Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be President of United States and that's why Russia is helping you get elected so you lose to him.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I dug in, I did the work and then Bernie's team trashed me for it.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You think the last four years has been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Progressive is getting things done and that's what we got done.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've been hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight. I wonder why.

WARREN: I don't care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has, the core of the Democratic Party will never trust him. At least I didn't have a boss who said to me, kill it the way that Mayor Bloomberg alleged to have said--

BLOOMBERG: I've never have said that.

WARREN: --you've said to one of his pregnant employees.

BLOOMBERG: I never said that and for the record if she was a teacher in New York City she would have never had that problem. We treated our teachers the right way.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Instead of just reviewing everything from the past, let's talk about where we're going to go forward.

WARREN: No, the math does not add up.

BUTTIGIEG: I think we were talking about math and it doesn't take two hours to do the math.

SANDERS: Let's talk about math.

BUTTIGIEG: So here's the math. It adds up to four more years of Donald Trump. Kevin McCarthy is Speaker of the House and the inability to get the Senate into Democratic hands. The time has come for us to stop acting like the Presidency is the only office that matters.

BIDEN: Bernie, in fact hasn't past much of anything. I'm not out of time, he spoke over time and I'm going to talk. There is the deal.

TOM STEYER (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have worked for racial justice completely and that is an absolute unfair statement--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you Mr. Steyer.

KLOBUCHAR: All I know if we spend the next four months tearing our party apart we're going to watch Donald Trump spend the next four years tearing our country apart.

BLOOMBERG: The debt is at $20 trillion going up to 21. We just cannot afford some of the stuff people are talking about. Bernie will lose to Donald Trump and Donald Trump and the House and the Senate and some of the Statehouses will all go red and then gerrymandering and appointing judges for the next 20 to 30 years we're going to live with this catastrophe.

SANDERS: Mayor Bloomberg has a strong and solid and enthusiastic base of support. Problem is they're all billionaires.

BLOOMBERG: You read about the virus what's really happening here is the President fired the pandemic specialists in this country two years ago. So there's nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. SANDERS: Cuba made progress on education. Yes, I think, really?

BUTTIGIEG: I'm not looking forward to a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950s and Bernie Sanders with nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960s.

SANDERS: This conception and you're hearing it here tonight is what the idea some talking about are radical. They're not in one form or another they exist in countries all over the world.

BIDEN: China prevents North Korea from launching missile to take them down, and if we don't - why am I stopping? No one else stops.


BIDEN: That is my Catholic school training.


JARRETT: oh, right. Well, let's start--

ROMANS: Why was he stopping?

JARRETT: --why is he stopping. Let's talk to CNN Politics Senior Writer Zack Wolf and find out. Good morning, Zack.

ROMANS: How are you Zack?


JARRETT: So Bloomberg - I mean obviously Bernie Sanders is the front- runner in this race. Last time Bloomberg took the heat. Last night it was all eyes on Sanders. Did anyone lay a glove on him?

WOLF: I think - yes, I think because we're paying attention in a new way to his policy proposals which a lot of Democrats might not disagree with necessarily.


WOLF: They just don't understand exactly how you're going to pay for them. I think to the extent that we're taking another look at the things that he's been saying for decades about leftist leaders.

ROMANS: And he's been consistent. His entire career he's been consistent. There's a lot to mine there.

WOLF: Absolutely. And the thing about Bernie Sanders I think that sets him apart besides his policies from the rest of the field is his authenticity. He's been saying this stuff since he was the Democratic Socialist Mayor of Burlington Vermont in the 1980s, and that's where a lot of these quotes are coming from.

So it's easy for him to defend these things because not going to change how he talks about leftist leaders, about the Cuban revolutionaries. It is just not going to happen.

ROMANS: A week ago we never would have thought that Cuba was going to be a topic in the tenth Democratic Debate, but he keeps doubling down there. To be fair he's asked again and again and this is what his wife Jane Sanders told our CNN yesterday. Told you guys keep asking him. This is why he is keeps talking about Cuba.

But how far-out of the mainstream of the Democratic Party does it put him and at one point Laura and I were remarking that it sounded like he was arguing with the voters about this, the people in the room.

WOLF: Yes the booers. I think there's some question as to who exactly those booers were there and who they were supporting, were they plans? Leaving that aside because who knows, I think this is the kind of thing that doesn't motivate Democrats so much as it does Republican, support for leftist leaders, things like that.

It sort of will have some real, you know, problems for him in a General Election in Florida and maybe in a primary but definitely in a General Election and in states where it's important. But it's not so much I think a motivating thing for Democrats.

They are not the party that gets out and votes based on opposition to communism that they vote more on health care. And that's something that Sanders is bringing to the table and has legitimately brought to the table for decades now.

JARRETT: Zack, did Biden do enough to set himself apart from everyone else? He really needs a win. They're in South Carolina. He was obviously speaking to voters there, speaking to all voters of course as Super Tuesday is just days away. But he has staked everything on this state. He needs to do well. The margins are thin. Look at that. Just 27-23 Bernie Sanders is right on his tail. Did he do enough last night?

WOLF: Well, I mean you said Super Tuesday is days after South Carolina. Super Tuesday is now. People are voting in California and in Texas, and a lot of these candidates who have put so much in South Carolina aren't on the air like Michael Bloomberg or Bernie Sanders in the Super Tuesday states.

They're not campaigning there on TV in the way they might need to. So even if Joe Biden has a commanding victory in South Carolina I'm wondering if it's almost too late for him to make an impact in the Super Tuesday states.

ROMANS: You know, it's interesting, Zack, because one of our producers said the winner last night was whoever you want it to be meaning everybody was sharp elbowed and there were good comments and good exchanges by just about everybody on that stage.

WOLF: Yes. The thing I would like to say is there were some punches landed if we're going to get into the, you know, language of turning this into a sporting event, which, you know, frustrates me sometimes but here we are anyway. If we're going to get into that language Bernie Sanders took some last night, and I think the question is are Democrats going to sort of look at these unearthed things that he's been saying for the last 30 years or start to do the math on his policy proposals or look at the feasibility of passing any of these things?

Is it going to affect how the people in the middle of the party vote? Are they going to start to coalesce around somebody else? This is the moment because if he keeps winning or coming in second in all of these states he's going to be the nominee. This is the moment I think where Democrats have to sort of say you know; it's him or someone else.

JARRETT: All right, Zack, we will see you very soon. Thanks so much for getting up with us.

ROMANS: Thanks Zack.

WOLF: It sounds good.

ROMANS: CNN's Presidential Town Halls in South Carolina resume tonight. Bloomberg, Biden, Klobuchar and Warren answer questions live from Charleston that starts at 7:00 pm eastern only on CNN.

JARRETT: All right, still ahead is the President risking public health with his sunny outlook on the Coronavirus?



ROMANS: All right, the money question today. Can markets stabilize after two historic days of declines? A strong stock market and a healthy economy are central to the President's re-election message. He projected optimism ahead of Tuesday's opening bell.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I see the futures are up today, up fairly substantially. But that's a very serious thing but we think we're in very good shape in the United States.


ROMANS: He could not have been more wrong. Markets plummeted for the second day in a row as Coronavirus fears rattled investors. Look at this the DOW fell another 879 points more than 3 percent again adding to Monday's huge losses. That makes this the worst two-day point drop in American history.

The DOW is now down more than 8 percent from its most recent high, putting it close to what we call a correction. The DOW would need to fall a total of 10 percent to officially be in a correction.

The S&P 500, the NASDAQ also fell. What does these mean dollars and cents, about $1.7 trillion wiped off the S&P's value in just two days. Still, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow doubled down on the U.S. response.



LARY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We have contained this. We have contained this I won't say airtight but pretty close to airtight.


ROMANS: Markets and investors around the world disagree Coronavirus still weighing on global markets. Overnight losses again in Asia, European shares opened just recently. They are done down again as well. On Wall Street let's take a look what's happening there.

Futures however look like they're trying to bounce. We've seen this before. Yesterday attempts to bounce vaporized two very hard down days. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Bargain Hunters try to figure out if may be there's an overreaction here but clearly markets hitting highs last week and now really reevaluating whether they can trust the administration and its optimism about the Coronavirus and whether the U.S. is ready.

JARRETT: Well, this is the issue of credibility, and it looks like the President is choosing happy talk over facts about the Coronavirus. Remember just yesterday when the President said this.


TRUMP: We're fortunate so far, and we think it's going to remain that way. I think it's a problem that's going to go away.


JARRETT: All right, optimism is one thing. Turns out his own government disagrees. One of the top officials at the Centers for Disease Control warned it is not a question of, if but when novel Coronavirus will spread in this country. Other crucial unknown - when, how many Americans will have severe illness?

ROMANS: Publicly the President is projecting optimism but sources are telling CNN that privately he is frustrated by some of the ways his administration is handling the outbreak. On Capitol Hill even some Republicans raising concerns about the lack of alarm.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): You're supposed to keep us safe and the American people deserve some straight answers on the Coronavirus.


KENNEDY: That's all I have Madam Chair.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Contrast to the administration's low-key response. San Francisco has declared a state of emergency. As of now there are at least 57 Coronavirus cases in the U.S.

JARRETT: But breaking overnight a U.S. soldier in South Korea testing positive for the virus. He is the first American service member to become infected. Let's get the latest from Paula Hancock's live from Cam Humphreys Head Quarters of the U.S. the military in South Korea. Paula, I mean the military there closed quarters this has to be concerning.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, yes. You can imagine the closed quarters, the barracks that they're staying in. This is something that the military is very keen to contain as soon as possible.

So this individual was a 23-year-old male. He was from a base in the southeast of the country just about 12 miles away from Daigu now that is a key city that you'll hear a lot about. That is where the majority of these cases are popping up at this point.

He actually traveled as well to one of the U.S. bases in Daigu at south which is just about a mile away from a religious group which has also been the focal point of many of these cases. More than half of the cases linked to that one particular religious group.

He then went back to a separate camp. So what is happening now he was brought here to Camp Humphreys by ambulance? He's been put in isolation, in low pressured isolation to be treated, but what the military is do doing is trying to back pedal, trying to track where he went? Who he met? Trying to contain this and see which contacts he spoke to.

Now also we do know from three U.S. officials that there is strong consideration that we are expecting military drills to be scaled back. These are military drills between the U.S. and South Korean militaries that are upcoming and very important we hear from U.S. officials often for the readiness of the armies.

But both sides are saying that they simply don't think that they have the capability at this time to be able to carry out those kinds of military drills. Now, we know the commander of this base here has just been talking about the situation.

He said that only mission essential personnel from tomorrow, from Thursday will be allowed on here and only mission central personal allowed to Daigu, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Paula Hancocks thank you so much for that. Another extraordinary back and forth between President Trump and the Judge in Roger Stone's criminal case. Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the attacks from the President and commentary from conservative media are part of a campaign of intimidation and harassment of jurors.

And these comments happening in real time as the President continued tweeting about the case, the jury and that judge. That jury was back in court yesterday to testify about the integrity of their guilty verdict. Stone has asked for a re-trial and it has now emerged wide. Stone believes the jury for a moment wasn't truthful when she said she didn't remember social media post critical of the President Judge Jackson didn't make a decision on a new trial but did reject the concern that the jury was--


ROMANS: It is so interesting because when you look at the legal system you know you want jurors to be able to feel as though they are sort of anonymous, that they are part of a group of your peers deciding on this.

So you don't want jurors sort of, you know, spotlighted and fearful. On the other hand, a defendant deserves to have an impartial jury.

JARRETT: Sure, it's part of why she closed the courtroom so that you wouldn't see the jurors. She said not to Tweet at them.

ROMANS: Fascinating. All right, a changing of the guard. Why Bob Iger is leaving his post at the top of Disney.



ROMANS: All right, big news in the world of business. One of the most well-known CEOs of a generation is leaving. Bob Iger is going out on top. Disney's CEO is transitioning effective immediately. He becomes Executive Chairman and Head of the company's Creative Endeavors. He is set to stay on through the length of his contract through 2021.

Now, Iger took over for Michael Eisner in 2005. He oversaw the acquisition, huge deal of Marvel Studios, Pixar, Lucas Film all of which are shattering box office records. Iger says with the successful launch of streaming service Disney Plus. This is an optimal time for change. Iger says he will work closely to transition Disney's new CEO Bob Chapek.

He runs the parks division. Until yesterday he was Chairman of Disney Parks and resource division. This was an earthquake I have to say in the business world.

JARRETT: And it seemed to come out of nowhere.

ROAMNS: That's what I hinted. On a day when you had a Democratic debate and two big down days in the stock market suddenly what would have been the top business story for a week. What here are the risks he has taken and the shareholder value he has added over the past years is really unmatched. He is consistently considered the best CEO of his generation.

And it's interesting, I've asked him before, there are a lot of whispers about whether he'd want to run for President or be involved in politics. And I asked him would you ever run for office, and he says I have the best job in the world running Disney and now he's stepping down.

So this is very energetic, talented, intelligent leader. I'm going to be very interested to see what retirement looks like for Bob Iger.

JARRETT: Well, and he probably sees how nasty politics can be a not a lot of southern hospitality on the debate stage in Charleston last night. Democrats faced a ticking clock as they try to slow Bernie Sanders ahead of Super Tuesday.