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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Trump Sues Jan. 6 Committee to Keep White House Records Secret; Trump Testifies About 2015 Alleged Assault at Trump Tower; Some Dems Warning Against Manchin Dominance Over Climate Debate. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 19, 2021 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. It is Tuesday, October 19th, 5:00 a.m. in New York.

Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to have you back.

I'm Laura Jarrett. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

And we begin this morning with President Trump escalating -- former President Trump, I should say, escalating his fight against the January 6 committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He is now taking lawmakers and the National Archives to court. He's suing to keep his White House records secret by claiming executive privilege, even though he's no longer in office.

The man who is in office, President Biden, is standing by his decision not to assert privilege here. In a new statement overnight, markedly more blunt in tone, the White House now says Trump abused the office of the presidency and attempted to subvert the peaceful transfer of power, adding here, the constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.

ROMANS: As Trump heads to court, one of his former aides appears headed that direction as well. Later today, the committee is expected to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying their subpoena, setting up what could be a legal battle ahead.

CNN's Ryan Nobles starts us off this morning in Washington.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Laura and Christine, there's no doubt that Tuesday night is a big night for the select committee. This is where they will hold their business meeting where they will formally vote out a resolution to refer to the Department of Justice a criminal contempt complaint against Steve Bannon. This is a signal from this committee they are taking very seriously

their attempts to get people to cooperate with their investigation. And they actually did run into somewhat of a hurdle on that front on Monday. That's because the former President, Donald Trump, filed a lawsuit against the committee and the national archives seeking to prevent them from getting hold of the tranche of documents that were collected during the Trump administration that the National Archives now has possession of.

Now, the former president said in this lawsuit that the committee cannot have this information because it is protected under executive privilege, and the separation of powers, and also suggested that the committee doesn't have rights to it because it's not for a specific legislative purpose. These are both things that the committee would argue against, and they also were not surprised that the former president took this step.

This is what Zoe Lofgren, a member of the committee said yesterday.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): The former president, we know, is someone who likes to sue a lot. He's engaged in frivolous lawsuits throughout his life. The president -- former president would try and hide things from the committee in this important work is very disappointing.

NOBLES: Nevertheless, this does trigger a court battle, one that could take some time. And that could be in the favor of the former president because the select committee really doesn't have that much time. They really need to have their investigation wrapped up by the midterm elections next year. However, they do feel that they are in a good position to win this court case, especially because the current president, Joe Biden, has said that he does not plan to support any executive privilege claims from the former president. At least on a case-by-case basis, he's going to be more inclined to rule in favor of the select committee -- Laura and Christine.


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

It is time for three questions in three minutes this morning. Let's bring in former defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu.

Nice to see you. Thank you for getting up early with us.

What exactly is Trump's strategy here? Just delay things as long as possible?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That is his strategy, delay things as long as possible. It's kind of wrapped in this fiction of trying to protect the constitution and asserting executive privilege. But there is very poor legal merit to it particularly the way it is being articulated by his lawyers I think it's a very weak case, but it's certainly a delay.

JARRETT: So, Shan, Congress has one question here. They're going to get to the bottom of the who, the where, the what, the why of what happened, what precipitated the insurrection. The Justice Department has another goal here, to prosecute the people who participated in that mob.

And lawyers at DOJ, they were making interesting arguments in court in these cases. In one court paper, they wrote this, Shan: The risk of future violence is fueled by a segment of the population that seems intent on lionizing the January 6 rioters and treating them as political prisoners, heroes, or martyrs, instead of what they are: criminals, many of whom committed extremely seriously crimes of violence and all of whom attacked Democratic values all of us should share.


Prosecutors seem to be talking about Trump and other lawmakers who have been buying into these conspiracy theories.

WU: They certainly do. And I think it's interesting that a prosecutor would kind of enter into that communications war to push back on that lie on lionization. They attempt to prove culpability. But here, there are aware that there's a bigger atmospheric issue. It is wise for them to address that so there is less chance of the public taking on this idea that these are political trials, which they absolutely are not.

JARRETT: Well, they are making that argument in part because defense lawyers are trying to say it was one day, let's move on. Prosecutors are saying, no, the threat is still here. The threat is still active.

ROMANS: You know, the January 6 committee is expected to move forward today in referring Steve Bannon for criminal attempt. Does he have any footing for defying that House subpoena?

WU: He does not. Not only does he have not legal footing, but his lawyers or him haven't even put -- haven't really teed it up properly yet. He wants to rely on an invocation of executive privilege. He doesn't really have that. It's not his to invoke.

And not only that, it's sort of a basic concept of law when you have a subpoena, you have to show up. He could show up and then start to say, these particular questions I won't answer them based on his asserted privilege, which he doesn't have. But to simply not even show up, that's problematic. And that's sort of a non-starter for him.

JARRETT: Yeah, it will be interesting to see what DOJ does with this. It seems like their hands are basically forced here. They always have the option of not prosecuting him.

WU: That's right.

JARRETT: So, we will see how -- we will see how this plays out. Thank you so much for your expertise as always, Shan Wu, former federal prosecutor. Thank you.

WU: Sure thing. Good to see you.

JARRETT: So, we move from a legal battle in Washington to another in New York as the former president was questioned under oath for 4 1/2 hours on Monday. He sat for a deposition in a lawsuit filed by human rights protesters who say they were assaulted by Trump security detail during a demonstration. You can see there outside Trump Tower back in 2015.

Trump calls the claims baseless. We get more on all of this from CNN's Kara Scannell.


KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Former President Donald Trump answered questions under oath for four hours on Monday. The videotaped deposition was several years in the making. And part of a lawsuit brought by men alleging they were assaulted by Trump's then head of security during a demonstration outside of Trump Tower in 2015.

Here's how plaintiffs lawyer Benjamin Dictor described the deposition.

BENJAMIN DICTOR, LAWYER FOR PROTESTORS SUING DONALD TRUMP: I can say he answered the questions. Whether or not it was satisfactory we'll leave up to a jury in this matter. He put his right hand in the air and he took an oath to tell the truth. It's the first time that's happened, well, since before he was elected president. And that's a really meaningful thing. I've examined frankly a lot more challenging bosses over the years than Donald Trump, but he came in and I would say that he was everything you would expect Mr. Trump to be, based on his interactions with the press and with attorneys in other matters.

SCANNELL: Late Monday, Trump issued a statement saying after years of litigation, I was pleased to have had the opportunity to tell my side of this ridiculous story, just one more example of baseless harassment of your favorite president. Dictor said he believes they have ample evidence to win the lawsuit. They call it a victory for the rule of law. Saying the legal process still works, the judicial system still works. No one is above the law -- Laura and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Kara Scannell, thank you for that.

It's a shortage economy. They struggled with a shortage of material and a shortage of qualified workers on top of the aftermath of hurricane Ida that battered the Gulf Coast in the end of August. Production fell last month. Product in August also revised down.

Economists were hoping for a slight increase. Nearly half of the drop last month was because of Hurricane Ida.

The semiconductor shortage is hampering auto production. That is not expected to get better until next year. But it comes as cities say even though data was worse than expected, it doesn't mean factories are inactive.

At the same time, Amazon plans to hire 150,000 workers for the holidays. Holiday jobs have an average starting pay of 18 bucks an hour. And look at this, Laura. A sign-up bonus of 3 grand. Other chains including Walmart and target are hiring temporary permanent workers at storehouses to meet demand from holiday workers.

JARRETT: Anything to get those gifts to consumers, right?

ROMANS: Yeah, the $3,000 hiring bonus I think is pretty interesting. You've seen this war for talent. Money could lure people off the sidelines.

JARRETT: We'll see if others follow suit on that, for sure.

All right. Still ahead, no climate funding, no votes. That's a new hard line from Senate Democrats on the president's infrastructure plan.


We'll break down what this all means for the Biden agenda, next.


ROMANS: This morning, a new wrinkle in the debate over President Biden's sweeping economic plan could soon force a major split among Democrats and tank the entire bill. A group of Senate Democrats now pushing back hard against Senator Joe Manchin and his effort to cut $150 billion from the president's plan, key money that would incentivize power plants to address climate change.

Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut are now even threatening to withhold their votes entirely if climate funding falls too low.


CNN's Jasmine Wright is live for us this morning in Washington.

So nice to see you, Jasmine.

You know, it seems like some Democrats led by Bernie Sanders are fed up with Joe Manchin's outsized control over this party's agenda.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christine, there is high anxiety as Senator Dick Durbin told reporters yesterday. It stems from the fact that lawmakers and the White House really want be to see these negotiations come to an end. They want to see these Senate holdouts, Senator Manchin, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona really come to the table and agree on the president's sweeping economic agenda.

And lawmakers see President Biden as kind of the conduit, the person that can bring that kind of closure to the table, can bring them in, because at the end of the day, Christine, this is President Biden's agenda, right? And it is his administration and his legacy that is on the line if this sweeping social safety net and expansion and bipartisan package do not get passed.

So really this week, the fight over his agenda is crystallized in kind of this rift between Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Manchin, but on Manchin's climate stance. You said he pushed back reportedly on the president's clean energy program, really the cornerstone climate policy of the president's agenda.

So, Senator Sanders took out an op-ed in Manchin's West Virginia hometown paper urging folks to come to the table and commit to a deal on the president's agenda and surprise to no one, that did not really go over well with Senator Manchin. So here is his response to our own Manu Raju about the op-ed.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Anyone thinks they know West Virginia and what we've done and continue to do for this country and that's all I want to make sure they're respected properly.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He said you're holding up the Biden agenda.

MANCHIN: No, no, there are 52 senators and there are two that want to work something out possible in a reasonable way. That's all.


WRIGHT: So last night Senator Sanders and Senator Manchin had a show of good faith. They had a meeting and photo op at the Capitol. Really showing they are both kind of in it to try to move this thing forward.

And for the president, officials say he is working behind the scenes this week. They said on his private schedule he has blocks of congressional time all meant for him to be engaging, really deliberately with Congress, trying to get this thing to come to a close, trying to get his agenda passed before that real kind of follow of markers at the end of the month -- Christine.

ROMANS: Jasmine, so nice to see you. Thank you for that.

This programming note, folks. CNN exclusive, President Joe Biden takes questions from the American people. Anderson Cooper will moderate. A CNN presidential town hall with Joe begins Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

JARRETT: Don't miss that.

This morning, as tributes continue to pour in for General Colin Powell, we're learning how this former secretary of state opened up about his health in an interview last July. He spoke with journalist Bob Woodward in what is believed to be his last interview. Powell died early Monday after suffering complications from COVID-19. In his discussion with Woodward, Powell acknowledged fighting two deadly diseases, but he had no time for sympathy.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, you see, I've get to go to the hospital about two or three times a week. I've got multiple myeloma cancer and I've got Parkinson's disease. But otherwise, I'm fine.

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR: Oh, no, I'm so sorry.

POWELL: Don't feel sorry for me. I'm 85 years old. Got to have something.

WOODWARD: Well, you've --

POWELL: And I haven't lost a day of life fighting these two diseases.

WOODWARD: Well, that's great. You've never lost a day of life. I mean, think of the activist, general, former secretary of state, now oracle, right?




JARRETT: Powell's wife Alma also tested positive for COVID and went to Walter Reed with her husband. Her symptoms were mild and was sent home. Though she and her husband had been vaccinated against COVID, but General Powell's myeloma made it more vulnerable to serious complications.

ROMANS: People with suppressive drugs and where it is down to zero, this is why all the virus in the society is not good. It is not good. And it's people who aren't vaccinated who really are putting people who are doing the right thing, but suffer from these other chronic illnesses, putting them at risk. It's unfortunate.

JARRETT: OK, coming up, the head football coach from Washington state fired for refusing to get vaccinated. Your "Bleacher Report" is next.


ROMANS: All right. The Tennessee Titans stopped the Buffalo Bills at the goal line. The final seconds of the Monday night football thriller.

Andy Scholes was up late and has this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was, Christine. And, you know, this was an awesome game. We had seven lead changes, tying a record for a Monday night football game.

The Titans Derrick Henry just having another monster game. Second quarter, Henry busting through the middle, breaks free. He was blocked at 21.8 miles per hour on this run. Keep in mind he's 250 pounds, 76- yard touchdown.

Henry, 143 yards, three touchdowns in the game. This is coming down to the final seconds. Bills have the ball 4th and 1, three yard line. Instead of kick being the game tying field goal, go for the first down, 22 seconds left.


As you see, Josh Allen didn't get it. Kind of lost his footing there and was stopped. Titans hold on to win 34-31.

To baseball, another day, another grand slam for the Boston Red Sox. Bottom of the second, bases loaded for Carl Schwarber. He unloads on that pitch, made it 6-0. Red Sox hit two grand slams in game two. And after this one, first team ever to hit three grand slams in a postseason series, this after hitting three grand slams all season long. Fenway was rocking. Boston wins 12-3. Take a 2-1 lead in that series.

Game four coming up later tonight after 8:00 Eastern. That was game three, Braves and Dodger series. That's at 5:00 on our sister channel TBS.

All right. In college football, Washington State firing head coach Nick Rolovich and four assistants after they refused to comply with the state's COVID mandate. Yesterday was the deadline for thousands of state employees to be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.

Back in July, Rolovich posted on social media that he elected not to receive the COVID vaccine-19 vaccine reasons which will remain private.

And, finally, San Jose Shark star Evander Kane has been suspended 21 games by NHL for violating protocols, according to sports and ESPN, unnamed sources, Kane was being investigated for using a fake vaccine card. Kane will not receive any pay while he's suspended.

He released a statement apologizing to his teammates and fans, saying, I made mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for it. I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future.

All right. And, Laura, big sports night, the NBA season tips off tonight. The two weeks in sports where you have the NBA, NHL, baseball playoffs and the NFL all going at once. Not enough TVs to watch it all.

JARRETT: Not enough TV, not enough sports.

ROMAS: Just what Laura always wanted.

JARRETT: It may not be me, but someone in my household.

Andy, thank you. Appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: All right. The FDA is said to approve mix and match boosters as early as this week. What it means in the fight against COVID next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)