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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Senator Mitt Romney Calls for "New Generation of Leaders"; Team Biden Plots Long-Game Strategy as Dems Fear Trump Win; House Republicans Wrestle with Key Decision on Impeachment Inquiry; Kim Jong Un Continues Russia Visit After Vladimir Putin Meeting; Hurricane & Tropical Storm Watches Issued for New England. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 05:00   ET




Out with the old, in with the new. One of the Senate's best known boomers says he is stepping aside to make way for a new generation.

Plus, plotting the way forward on impeachment. Republicans meet today to talk about what a Biden inquiry is going to look like.

And, the final countdown to a possible autoworkers strike. Union leaders revealing there's strike strategy if they don't get a deal before midnight.


HUNT: Good day to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It is Thursday, September 14th.

And we start with an aging politician who is by his own admission getting out before he gets too old. And, no, it is, of course, not Joe Biden who's 80, or Donald Trump who is 77. It is 76-year-old Senator Mitt Romney, a man that many see as one of the last true Republican statesmen left in Washington, and he will not run again.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): The times we're living in really demand the next generation to step up and express their point of view and make decisions that will shape American politics over the coming century. And just having a bunch of guys, baby boomers, around in the post-war era, we're not the ones to make decisions for tomorrow.

Oh, I think it would be a great thing if President Biden and former President Trump would stand aside and let their party pick someone for the next generation. President Trump -- excuse me, President Biden when he was running said that he was a transitional figure to the next generation. Well, time to transition.


HUNT: The elder statesman is calling for a youth movement as Washington grapples with a generational malaise it seems.

The latest CNN polling shows that roughly three quarters of Americans say they are seriously concerned about President Biden's ability to serve out another full term. Sixty-six percent is seriously -- 68 percent, excuse me, are seriously concerned about his ability to understand the next generation's concerns.

And we have new reporting this morning from inside the Biden camp about how they are dealing with the malaise surrounding their candidate.

CNN's Isaac Dovere joins me now.

Isaac, good morning. Thank you so much for getting up early.

I know many of us have late nights for work or other reasons, so we really appreciate you being here to break down this reporting that you have. What have you learned here? I know you've been talking to a lot of Biden insiders as well as what learning voters are saying.

ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Look, there is no question where people are for the most part in this point. It's not just the CNN poll. We've gotten in the story, focus groups that are showing that voters, even core Democratic voters are saying, I'm just not really into Joe Biden, and one of the ones that I quote, they say, I'm indifferent, but, you know, I like him more than the other person.

And that sort of sense that people are not really enthused about Joe Biden but do feel like as an alternative to Trump, as the contrast to Trump, it's very appealing. It's something that lot of Democrats and within the Biden campaign they are really ready to lean into over the course of the next year and a half. But it is not going to be something that we see starting right away. The actual, full throated campaign from the Biden folks won't be coming until next spring still.

HUNT: Yeah. You know, I've been hearing that from my sources, too. And I've also been hearing nerves among Democrats about this idea that they're going to wait until March. Why do they think that that's smart?

DOVERE: Well, look, it's important to note that the Biden campaign is not just on vacation until March or April. They are doing a lot now. In the story, I get into what they are doing to try to get ready.

A big part of this, they see that the presidential campaign ahead is going to be as they say unlike anything any campaign has ever been. It has been eight years and changing our politics and technology the way that people respond to information since we had a presidential campaign in the non-COVID days, a lot is different. And they are spending this time getting ready, doing a lot of experimenting, testing, a lot of seeing what they can do to see how they actually move people's opinions, and try to get Republicans who may have drifted back toward Trump since 2020 or to get Democrats excited about Biden, whether there is anything do about that and how they go about this.

Looking at the race ahead as one that will almost certainly be a very close one once again.

HUNT: Yeah, and you have some very interesting reporting in here about their fears that they could lose to Donald Trump which, of course, would be, you know, undermining his entire -- the reason why he got back into the arena.


He has always long said it was to defeat Donald Trump.

Edward-Isaac Dovere, thank you very much for coming on with us this morning.

DOVERE: Thank you.

HUNT: We really appreciate you getting up early for us.

And for the first time, President Biden publicly addressing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's call for an impeachment inquiry without a floor vote or any actual hard evidence of misconduct so far. The president told supporters, quote, the best I can tell, they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government.

Speaker McCarthy is trying to placate hard line Republicans who also want to slash spending with a government shutdown looming at the end of the month.

CNN's Annie Grayer joins me now.

Annie, I'm so grateful to have you up early. Especially, I know it's been a long week on the Hill whenever they come back into session after a long recess.

But we know the three committee chairmen will lead an impeachment inquiry. They're going to brief the conference this morning.

What is the conversation going on right now about how to move forward?

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, good morning, Kasie. There are a lot of different ideas being floated around. And that is because Republicans know at this point, they do not have the votes to move forward with an impeachment of Joe Biden. So, all conversations are around how to get the conference to that point.

As you mentioned, the committee chairs who are leading the impeachment inquiry effort are going to be briefing the full Republican conference this morning, in just a few hours to try to get members up to speed about the evidence that they have uncovered so far and answer any questions that members might have. Those chairmen briefed Senate Republicans yesterday because a number of them have also raised concerns about the impeachment effort.

And on top of that, Kasie, there's also a lot of questions going on about strategy. Now that the inquiry has started, what should the next steps be? There's a big conversation around time line, how long should this inquiry last, should they wrap it up in a week and quickly move on trying to get the articles moving or should they take their time and use it to try to get these reluctant members on board?

There's also a big conversation going on around subpoenas. Part of the argument Republicans made to launch an inquiry was they said this is going to give them enhanced subpoena power. Now that they have it, what are they going to do with it? Some say, send the subpoena to Hunter Biden today. Others know that Hunter Biden, the president's son, is under criminal investigation and any House subpoena will likely be tied up in court and not necessarily useful to their investigation.

So, Kasie, these are just some of the conversations that are going on in the conference right now.

HUNT: All right. Annie Grayer, thank you very much for getting up early for us. We really -- we really appreciate it. And I know the reasons that you lay layout for why this is contentious is that there are real risks for Republicans in moving forward with this politically. Thanks again, Annie. I really appreciate it.

And a new era of Russian/North Korea cooperation with Cold War overtones. We're going to have details ahead.

Plus, coastal New England on alert as Hurricane Lee moves north.

Plus, later in the show, Congressman Jake Auchincloss from Massachusetts joins us.



HUNT: Welcome back.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un in Russia for a second straight day. State media says Kim is touring key military sites observing Moscow's Pacific fleet and visiting a university in Vladivostok. This after his rare summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. North Korean state media says Putin has accepted an invitation from Kim to visit Pyongyang.

CNN's Steven Jiang joins me live from Beijing.

Steven, thank you so much for being us. I realize it's 5:00 here in the East Coast. I believe it's 5:00 in Beijing. So we appreciate you being here at your time in the afternoon.

But let's talk about there are very real fears here of a major weapons deal as the two become allies here. What can you tell us about what's transpired over the last 24 hours?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Yeah, Kasie, I think the term "role reversal" would be quite fitting because remember the last time that Pyongyang fought a war, during the 1950s Korean War, it was the Russians, the Soviets that were providing them with weaponry. And now, of course, the tables have been turned. This once largely symbolic relationship has become substantive because

Putin's top priority now is grinding out in this war in Ukraine and North Korea has exactly what he needs desperately, that is tens of millions of artillery shells and rockets designed for Soviet era weapons.

North Koreans, of course, they could use Russian technology to advance their own weapons program, not to mention seeking a new source for food and fuel. Because remember, for decades, it's China that has been propping up that regime in Pyongyang providing them with economic lifeline. So I think that Kim definitely could use some more options from his perspective to lessen the dependence in Russia, has now become this natural choice.

But we haven't heard much detail about this potential deal .We may never will because both sides have incentives to keep it secret, especially for Russia as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, that has signed up to all these sweeping sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program. But one thing I think both Pyongyang and Moscow see eye to eye, is whatever they do, whatever they say, they are trying not to cross China because they will increasingly need Beijing's support on the international stage as both of their own regimes become more and more isolated from the West -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Our Beijing bureau chief, Steven Jiang, thank you very much for being with us this morning. We really appreciate it.

And let's bring in CNN's Max Foster live in London to help us understand all this a little bit better.

Max Fos -- Max, it's always lovely to see you.


The video coming out of this, the smiles, the handshakes, Putin and Kim, they first greeted other Wednesday, the handshake lasted, it was, I guess, our producers say the hand shake was 40 seconds long. Feels like forever. And then there was that extravagant state dinner, they ate crab dumplings, duck salad, Putin seems to be elevating Kim on the world, like, really trying to show, hey, you are -- I don't know that he consider him equal, but, I mean, the optics here are stunning. What do you make of it?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, the point here, isn't it, is that Russia and North Korea want us to run these pictures. They brought the cameras in and they are performing in front of the cameras. We are running them because they are fascinating, editorially justified as well.

So then, we have to look into why they want us to show these pictures. And it is -- if you look at the flags behind the state dinner, this is Kim Jong-un and Putin on the world stage, as global states people. That's how they are promoting themselves right now, and it's also a sign of defiance that they won't be cowed by this pariah status that the West has imposed on them. They're going to carry on regardless. Really interesting as well that we heard that Kim has invited Putin to Pyongyang. Putin has agreed to that. So we're going to see the whole thing all over again. And also, you got to remember, it was Donald Trump that started all of this when we saw that meeting between Kim and Trump at the border. And it was really Donald Trump that put Kim on the world stage and so whether he will use that in the upcoming presidential campaign.

HUNT: Well, yeah, I mean, the optics of a potential Putin visit to Pyongyang seem astonishing. I mean, this is not -- this is not inside the norm typically of how these things unfold.

FOSTER: It will be fascinating and we don't know quite know how it's going to look, but it does show that President Putin really needs Pyongyang. But it also has something to make of the fact that, you know, Putin needs Kim Jong-un for some reason. That is what we're trying to figure out.

It's not just arms. Of course, arms are really important in Ukraine, but he also wants these pictures to be promoted around the world of their meeting. And if him meeting in Pyongyang say something to the world, we're going to try and figure out what that is, and it may just be defiance against the West. It may also be that they want to sort of work very closely with North Korea and China increasingly in the future.

HUNT: Yeah. No, it's critical when you're talking about nuclear technology, all very, very risky. Max Foster, thank you very much for being with us, sir. I really appreciate it.

All right. The deadline in Detroit now just hours away. New information this morning on what a possible autoworkers strike could look like.

Also, just hours from now, another live hearing in Fulton County, Georgia, in the election case. We're going to break down the details for you.



HUNT: Welcome back.

We're going to get to some quick hits across America now.

A federal judge in Texas has ruled DACA unlawful. It's a major blow to the Biden administration. That's the program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The order does not impact current beneficiaries.

Defense lawyers are set to call witnesses this morning after House managers rested in the impeachment trial of suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Accusations against him include bribery and corruption. And a federal judge has blocked part of the New Mexico governor's

temporary ban on open and concealed carry guns in public. This is after gun advocacy groups filed a lawsuit.

Hurricane and storm watches meanwhile have been issued in New England. Let's get straight to meteorologist, the weatherman Derek Van Dam.

Derek, it's wonderful to see you this morning.

Although there are a lot of people in the Northeast that are bracing for impact, what are they -- what should they be ready to expect?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. Well, I mean, look, tropical storm force conditions along much of the New England coastline, perhaps even hurricane conditions. I'll show you the details in just one moment. But if you recall yesterday at this time, we talked about this ballooning storm and it continues to grow.

The cloud field now stretching over 850 miles from end to end. That's like the same distance traveling between Miami to our nation's capital. And this thing is moving at a clip to the north at 9 miles per hour. So it is on the northerly trajectory.

Now, this is very important and the reason I talk about the size of this storm is because the winds are going to be felt well outside of the center. So what we've done, we've overlaid the official forecast track with the tropical storm force wind expected.

And you can see the impacts here are stretching out at least 300 miles from the center. So we could easily experience tropical storm-force winds into Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Boston, Portland, certainly into the higher elevations of up east Maine and then into Nova Scotia.

Here are the latest watches and warnings. On the warnings at the moment, that's because we still have a few days before landfall from the system, but there's the watches. They include much of eastern Maine and tropical storm watches include much of the peninsula or at least Massachusetts, eastern Massachusetts and into portions of southwestern Maine.

The official forecast track calls for a weakening storm. But remember, because the wind field is growing in size, the impacts will be felt well outside of this cone, that's what we were trying to show you earlier, and concerns here with a lot of rain, already very wet summer for this area, this could easily bring down trees, take out power quite significantly.

Now, you can see also the storm surge forecast when the winds start to wrap in behind the storm, right there Cape Cod, that area, easily could see a 2 to 4 foot storm surge threat and this will be a big wave maker.


So rip currents, a major threat across the entire eastern seaboard today -- Kasie. HUNT: All right. Derek Van Dam, weatherman, thank you very much for

being with us this morning. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.

And President Biden commenting for the first time on the House speaker's impeachment inquiry.

Plus, we'll speak to Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss. That's coming up next.


HUNT: Good morning. Thank you so much for being up early with us here. I'm Kasie Hunt.

The big story at the bottom of the hour. Later this morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and key GOP leaders will meet behind closed doors to go through the Biden impeachment inquiry with conference members. President Biden responding for the first time last night, saying, quote, they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government.

United Autoworkers' president announcing a targeted strike plan if a new deal can't be reached with the Big Three, GM, Ford, and Stellantis, that's the Chrysler parent company. Details won't be revealed until just before the contract expires at midnight.