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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

January 6 Panel Unveils Text Messages From Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News Hosts; Manchin Signals Major Changes Needed To Back Biden's Spending Plan; Concern How Destitute Kentuckians Will Rebuild From Tornadoes. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 14, 2021 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, it's Tuesday, right? This is Tuesday. Good morning, everybody.


ROMANS: This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. It's about 31 minutes past the hour here in New York and it's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

After months of investigation in the Capitol riot probe, the January 6 Committee voted unanimously to hold Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for defying the panel's subpoena. The full House could vote today -- could decide later today whether to send the referral on to the Justice Department.

ROMANS: Last night, members read out the frantic text messages Meadows received from lawmakers sheltering inside the Capitol during the riot, as well as messages from Donald Trump Jr., Fox News personalities, and White House officials. They all begged Meadows to get the president to tell his supporters to go home.

JARRETT: President Biden plans to visit Kentucky tomorrow to see the widespread tornado devastation. The weekend outbreak of twisters left at least 88 people dead in five states. Over 100 people in Kentucky alone still unaccounted for this morning.

ROMANS: Starting tomorrow, all of California will be under an indoor mask mandate. The new policy will cover residents in counties that don't already require masks for indoor public settings. Health officials say California has seen a 47 percent increase in COVID cases since Thanksgiving.

JARRETT: The Air Force has removed 27 active-duty service members for refusing to get the COVID vaccine. Last week, the Air Force said any service members refusing to obey the vaccine order would face disciplinary actions, including discharge without separation pay.

ROMANS: Hundreds of sex abuse survivors have reached a $380 million settlement with USA Gymnastics and the Olympic Committee. Several star gymnasts had accused USA Gymnastics of turning a blind eye to Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor who is now serving decades of prison time for abusing hundreds of girls for decades.

JARRETT: No U.S. military personnel will be punished for the August drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians; seven of those victims, children. Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin made recommendations to improve procedures but that did not include holding accountable those who made what the Pentagon called a mistake.

All right, it's now time for three questions in three minutes. Let's bring in CNN political analyst Margaret Talev, managing editor at Axios. Good morning, Margaret.

ROMANS: Good morning.

JARRETT: So great to see you. So --


JARRETT: Good morning.

So, for months, we've seen different personalities on another cable news station whitewashing the January sixth insurrection. We now learn that behind the scenes they were actually sending all of these breathless text messages to Mark Meadows, Trump's former chief of staff.

Just take a look at this.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST, THE LAURA INGRAHAM SHOW: I have never seen Trump rally attendees wearing helmets -- black helmets, brown helmets, black backpacks. The uniforms that you saw in some of the crowd shots.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST, THE SEAN HANNITY SHOW: Everyone knew going in today that this crowd was going to be massive. They knew there were hundreds of thousands of people that came to town. We also knew that there's always bad actors that will infiltrate large crowds.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST, FOX & FRIENDS: The FBI will infiltrate groups, whether it's the mob or al Qaeda, and they'll try to be one of them and unwind the plot before it takes place.


JARRETT: We know what that means. And the text on the -- on the side panel there were small but it basically shows this has all been B.S. all along. We know that Laura Ingraham is saying things like this is going to ruin Trump's legacy, not that this is so bad for the nation, police officers are getting hurt -- this is going to ruin Trump's legacy.

ROMANS: I know. It is also fair we shouldn't say cable news anymore when we're talking about certain players. It's not --

JARRETT: There --

ROMANS: There's no news. It's --

JARRETT: Propaganda.


JARRETT: There was a question baked in there somewhere for you, Margaret, I promise.

TALEV: Look, to watch the hearing last night and to watch Liz Cheney read these texts into the record, the texts obviously speak for themselves. They paint a very different picture than the ones that the former president and his allies have been trying to convey for most of the past year. And they show that his own family and some of his closest advisers and supporters on -- in entertainment programs and on -- in the media understood that it was a very different picture and apparently were quite alarmed by what was happening and the fact that he would do more to stop it.

What I'm really struck by is if you watched Mark Meadows on Fox News last night none of that was discussed. He wasn't even asked about those matters and Sean Hannity, who was interviewing him, didn't acknowledge his own role in it.

So I just think if you were an American -- one of millions of Americans who is getting their news from a conservative news channel, you may not actually know what these texts say and have a full picture of what's happening.

ROMANS: And there are hours of that news channel that are entertainment -- you know, propaganda entertainment; not news.

JARRETT: I worry even if they did know it wouldn't make any difference.

ROMANS: You know, we also learned last night that an unnamed lawmaker apologized to Meadows for failing to stop the vote count, writing this. "We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states."

These messages are damning for Meadows but they're also potentially bad news for other sitting members of Congress.

TALEV: Yes, that's right. And I think -- you know, don't forget Mark Meadows was, himself, a member of Congress --


TALEV: -- who during his time in Congress would absolutely have pushed back against any potential witness who didn't want to cooperate in a hearing.

I think the revelations in the report Sunday night and in the -- in the remarks before the vote last night certainly give us a much fuller picture of the documents that Meadows did turn over to the committee before he stopped cooperating. What they don't do is show us what he may not have turned over. And the committee itself has said they are concerned that they may not have a full picture of what was in personal e-mails, personal cellphone texts -- unencrypted systems that Meadows used and whether that was turned over to the National Archives.

But I think already what has been turned over gives a much fuller picture of the former chief of staff working in concert with sitting members of Congress and working in concert with the former president and state legislatures to try to coordinate a very systematic pushback to the election results -- efforts to try to block that certification of the legitimately elected president, Joe Biden. And being -- and having a lot of contact with folks who would end up storming the Capitol on January the sixth.

JARRETT: So, Margaret, then what's the committee's next move here? The messages are bad but even if DOJ indicts Meadows, like they did Steve Bannon, that's about punishment. It's not about getting more information.

TALEV: Yes, that's right. I do think that the committee has made a point of talking about how many dozens or hundreds of people already have cooperated. It does seem that they have a number of texts or e- mail communications -- other communications that they'll be piecing together to try to have an understanding of do they have a half of a conversation and not the other half.


TALEV: But ultimately, they're facing two challenges -- what will people willfully turn over and how much time do they have? And it's that time question that they know is a clock that they're racing against.

ROMANS: We know that Meadows did not talk about those text messages on Fox, but he did on Newsmax and he said that it's --

JARRETT: They're being weaponized.

ROMANS: Yes, weaponized -- pieced together -- cherrypicked and pieced together to paint a negative picture of the president.

JARRETT: So, then, give us the full picture.

ROMANS: So, let's look at the full picture, right?

All right, Margaret Talev, CNN political analyst. Nice to see you. Thanks for coming on.

JARRETT: Thanks so much. All right. The Senate's most pivotal swing vote, Sen. Joe Manchin, is now signaling that major changes will be needed for him to support President Biden's sweeping social safety net expansion. Accommodating Manchin's demands could deliver a fatal blow, though, to Democrat leaders' hopes of getting this bill passed in the Senate before Christmas.


CNN's Jasmine Wright is live in Washington with more on this. Jasmine, good morning. So, what is -- what is Manchin's goal here? What's driving this?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well look, he is deeply, deeply concerned about a couple of different things, including the size and the scope of this bill. So, President Biden, in a really highly anticipated call yesterday -- he spoke to Manchin and productive and constructive -- those were the two words that Manchin's spokesperson and then Biden's spokesperson told reporters afterwards, really describing the call.

Now, I don't know, Laura, if that sounds to you like two men who are on a precipice of making a deal but still, this call came at an essential time. Remember, we are just days away from that deadline you just mentioned from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wanting to pass this larger $1.9 trillion social safety expansion package by Christmas.

And with Manchin both publicly voicing his concerns over things like the effect that it will have on inflation, on energy producers -- of course, all things relating, really, to the size of this really massive, massive bill -- those odds are decreasing.

Now, the White House press secretary, when previewing the call -- remember, this is their second call that they've had in about a week. We've learned of another call they had late last week. But White House secretary, when describing the call -- she said that she wouldn't view it as a negotiating table but so it was just two people who have been in the public light for a long time coming together for a conversation.

Take a listen.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is going to speak -- looks forward to speaking directly with Sen. Manchin about -- and making the case for why the president feels this legislation should move -- should move forward. He feels that they have always operated -- their conversations have always operated in good faith and he expects this to be -- to follow that same -- that same approach.


WRIGHT: So, there was Psaki talking about the approach. Now, the president, hours earlier, really declined to tell reporters

what his message to Sen. Manchin is. He said that he would keep that private but he would discuss it more at a later time as they kind of barrel towards this deadline.

But -- so after the call, both Biden officials and Manchin officials say that the pair have decided to come back together to talk in a few days -- in the coming days, rather, and try to make some movement on President Biden's very big bill. But again, still, they are under this really harsh deadline just days away with the odds decreasing every day -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Jasmine. Thank you for staying on top of it.

ROMANS: OK, COVID outbreaks in the NFL and the NBA. Details, next.

JARRETT: And incredible stories of survival emerging from the deadly Kentucky tornadoes, next.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You flew from this spot right here --


LAVANDERA: -- to that rubble over there.




JARRETT: The death toll from the series of tornadoes that ravaged the heartland this weekend keeps rising. In Kentucky, it's now up to 74 people. Governor Andy Beshear says an additional 109 residents remain unaccounted for. Officials say at least 14 people were killed in four other states.

Amid all the devastation, the wrecked homes, the wrecked businesses, and ruined lives, harrowing tales of survival are emerging, like this astonishing story a woman told CNN's Ed Lavandera.


GLISSON: In a millisecond, we were no longer in the bed or in our house. We were on the ground all the way over there somewhere.

LAVANDERA: Like on the other side of those cars?

GLISSON: Like, over this rubble on the ground in mud with absolutely nothing near us.

LAVANDERA: So you flew from this spot right here --

GLISSON: All the way over --

LAVANDERA: -- to that rubble over there. So this is the area.


LAVANDERA: I mean, you're probably close to 200 feet away.

GLISSON: I think being on the mattress saved us because, for the most part of flying through the air, we weren't just flying through the air. We were on the bed.

LAVANDERA: That's one of the most unbelievable things I've ever heard anybody surviving.

GLISSON: It's insane. I can't believe that me and my kids are OK. I can't believe that there's no broken bones on my children.


JARRETT: Ed has more now from the town of Dawson Springs.


LAVANDERA (on camera): Christine and Laura, the mayor here in Dawson Springs, Kentucky says 75 percent of this city has been decimated by the tornado that ripped through here Friday night. Thirteen people in Hopkins County, where Dawson Springs is located, were killed in the storm -- most of those people from the very neighborhood that we are reporting from. In fact, the last victim we know about was pulled from the rubble of this apartment complex you see behind me.

And the great concern right now is just how long it is going to take to rebuild. And for many of the residents here -- hundreds of residents who live below the poverty line -- how will they be able to rebuild or what are they going to do next? The mayor here says that about a third of this city is below the poverty line. And so, there's real questions as to whether or not the federal aid and insurance money, if they even have insurance. How much is that really going to be able to help them in rebuilding their lives?

So now, several days after this storm's passing and everybody coming to terms with what has happened here, the reality of what the future is going to look like is becoming a much starker question -- Christine and Laura.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that, Ed.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning and take a look at Tuesday markets around the world. You can see Asian shares closed lower. Europe has opened for the day very narrowly mixed. And on Wall Street, stock index futures leaning down just a little bit here.

Stocks closed lower on Monday. Tech stocks took the biggest hit. The Nasdaq fell 1.4 percent. The Dow and the S&P 500 both closed about one percent lower. Still, halfway through December, the S&P is up 24 percent so far this year.

Inflation, though, issue number one. Consumer prices, as you know, for just about everything are rising the fastest in years. We're going to get a read on prices for producers in a couple of hours to add to that picture.


The Fed, of course, is the official inflation fighter, making this week's two-day policy meeting of the Fed critical. The central bank has started reducing its emergency COVID support. It's cutting bond purchases by $15 billion a month. The Fed chief, Jerome Powell, widely expected to accelerate that pace and give us some hints about next year when the Fed will actually shift gears and start raising interest rates.

Critical aid for low-income families could end this week unless Congress acts. Parents will receive their last monthly payment of the expanded child tax credit Wednesday unless lawmakers extend it for another year. Eligible families have received about $300 for each child since July as part of the Democrats' $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last year. Democrats -- Democratic leaders want to extend the payments as part of the Build Back Better plan, but that plan faces opposition from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin over its $2 trillion cost.


Clip from "Vegas Vacation."


ROMANS: That scene from "Vegas Vacation" shot at the Mirage Hotel & Casino. MGM Resorts is now selling the mirage to Hard Rock International for just over $1 billion. The legendary Mirage name may not stay. Both the name and brand will be licensed to Hard Rock royalty-free for up to three years while it rebrands.

All right, despite being down four starters due to COVID-19 protocols, the Rams knock the Cardinals out of the top spot in the NFC Playoff race.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report.


So, NFL teams -- they test their vaccinated players and staff once a week. Most do it on Mondays. And yesterday there were 37 positive COVID-19 test results across the league. It was the highest number among players since the pandemic began.

Rams quarterback Jalen Ramsey and tight end Tyler Higbee -- they were added to the COVID list yesterday and were not available to play last night against the Cardinals.

Picking up the game in the third quarter, tied at 13. Matthew Stafford, a little play action, going to go deep. He hits Van Jefferson for the 52-yard touchdown. Stafford had three touchdown passes in the game. Van's dad Shawn, receivers coach for Arizona, externally wasn't very happy at all that his son scored.

The Cardinals were trying to tie the game in the final seconds after getting an onside kick, but the offense was confused. Kyler Murray gets sacked by Aaron Donald to end the game. Rams win 30 to 23.

All right, the NBA, meanwhile, has postponed the Chicago Bulls' next two games amid a COVID outbreak within the organization. Ten players and additional staff members are now in the league's health and safety protocols. This is the first time the NBA has postponed games this season.

The NHL also dealing with an outbreak within the Calgary Flames. The league postponing at least their next three games after six players and one staff member entered the NHL's COVID protocols over a 24-hour period. The NHL made the announcement, warning of a likelihood of additional positive cases coming in the coming days.

All right, on the court, Warriors' superstar Steph Curry now just two 3-pointers away from breaking Ray Allen's all-time NBA record. He finished five for 15 from beyond the arc against the Pacers last night. He finished with 26 points in the game as Golden State rallied late for the 102-100 win.

After the game, Curry spoke about what it's like being so close to history.


STEPH CURRY, GUARD, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: I'm enjoying the moment. You know, you're knocking on the doorstep -- it's pretty surreal but it's also kind of just let it -- let it happen.


SCHOLES: Yes, and Curry likely to break the record tonight on the NBA's grandest stage, Madison Square Garden, against the New York Knicks. You can watch that game at 7:30 eastern on our sister channel TNT.

Reggie Miller, who is third on the list, is going to be calling the game. Ray Allen, who Curry is going to pass, expected to be in attendance.

And Christine, the get-in price now for that game in Madison Square Garden going for about 500 bucks. So hey, you know, just take your boys. It'll be a nice night for you.

ROMANS: Uh, no. I'll watch that one on T.V.

Thanks a lot. Nice to see you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right. ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" is next with the overnight details on those text messages that reframed the January 6 investigation.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, December 14th. I'm John Berman. Brianna is off today. Chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins here with me in New York.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Happy to be here. Glad you're back from Kentucky.

BERMAN: Yes, I was -- look, there is so much need down there and we're going to focus on that need throughout the show. But there is other major news this morning as well.

Overnight, text messages revealed that reframed the January sixth investigation. Text messages to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows from Donald Trump Jr., from Fox entertainers, from Trump administration officials -- even from lawmakers that all privately and, for a time, unsuccessfully beg to do something to stop the violence as the attack unfolded at the Capitol.

So there's plenty of focus about people speaking out of both sides of their mouths on T.V. about this. And while that is plenty salacious --