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Trump's Sweeping New York Times Interview; Romney Mulls Potential Secretary of State Job; Chattanooga Grieves School Bush Crash Victims; Iraq Ramps Up War on ISIS; Russia Accuses Rebels of Chemical Warfare. Aired 4:30-5a ET
Aired November 23, 2016 - 04:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Big names in the mix of President-elect Trump's cabinets. Who will be the next one announced and when?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And the president-elect pulls back how Trump seems to be softening his stance on climate change and Hillary Clinton.
ROMANS: Could Hillary Clinton have grounds for a recount? A curious pattern discovered in three key states won by Donald Trump.
Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.
SANCHEZ: Always good to be here, Christine. I'm Boris Sanchez. We are 30 minutes past the hour.
We're starting with an update that's expected this morning from the Trump transition team. They're scheduled to hold a conference call with reporters today. We'll also hear from the president-elect himself. He's set to release a Thanksgiving video message from Mar-A- Lago where he's spending the rest of the holiday week.
Trump flew down to Florida after a wide-ranging, on the record sit- down with "The New York Times" reporters, editors and columnists. Among the news-making highlights, Trump backed off his promise to prosecute Hillary Clinton. This as sources tell CNN that Mitt Romney is thinking hard about taking the job of secretary of state if Trump should offer it to him.
Let's bring in CNN's Jim Acosta for all the latest.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Christine, CNN has learned that Mitt Romney is seriously considering the possibility of joining Donald Trump's transition team as secretary of state. A source familiar with the transition discussion says it's likely the 2012 Republican nominee will be consulting with his family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The decision to select Romney would send a message that Trump is open to moderating the situation. Trump himself seemed to reveal he is open to toning down his positions
in a wide-ranging interview with "The New York Times." The President- elect told "The Times" he is leaning against urging the prosecution of Hillary Clinton, something he vowed to do during the campaign. And his top advisers say it's a signal Trump is ready to move on.
RUDY GIULIANI (D), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Look, there's tradition in American politics that after you win an election, you sort of put things behind you, and if that's a decision he reached, it's perfectly consistent with sort of historical pattern of things come up. We say a lot of things. Even some bad things might happen and you can sort of put it behind you in order to unite the nation.
ACOSTA: As for the prospect of Romney joining the Trump administration, a source tells CNN a decision is not expected until next week -- Boris and Christine.
SANCHEZ: All right. Thanks, Jim.
A lot to mull over.
ROMANS: Oh my gosh, right.
All right. Trump's 75-minute with "The New York Times" yesterday was not televised or live-streamed. Instead, "Times" reporters blasted the remarks live on Twitter, 140 characters at a time.
In many cases, Trump's statements came in in contrast to remarks that he made on the campaign trail on whether climate change is manmade. Trump said, "I think there is some connectivity. Some something. It depends on how much."
On conflict in the Middle East, he said, "I would love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians. That would be such a great achievement." He was a bit fuzzy on how exactly how to do that, but he did suggest his Jewish 35-year-old son-in-law Jared Kushner could help.
SANCHEZ: And something on the headlines that white supremacist movement known as the alt-right celebrating his election, Trump disavowed them and added, "That's not a group I want to energize. And if they are energized, I want to look and find out why."
On his campaign CEO, a newly appointed top adviser Steve Bannon, Trump said, if I thought he was racists or alt-right, I wouldn't even think about hiring him." Keep in mind, though, Bannon is the former head of Breitbart News, a site that Bannon himself called the platform for the alt-right.
And finally Trump swept aside any questions of conflicts of interest with his far-flung business empire. He said, quote, "The law is totally on my side. The president can't have a conflict of interest."
ROMANS: Interesting. Now, the Trump Foundation admitted violating IRS rules by improperly giving money to someone close to the organization. That's according to a recent federal income tax filing obtained by CNN a nonprofit watchdog Guide Star. On the return, a foundation checked the yes box when asked did the foundation transfer any income or assets to a disqualified person or make any other available for the benefit of a use of a disqualified person.
Now, disqualified person is IRS speak for someone with significant influence over the activities of the organization, or someone related to those people. The filing did not disclose who that person was. The Trump team did not respond to our request for comment. Tax (INAUDIBLE) of the foundation will have to explain the payouts and possibly payout penalty.
Donald Trump, the president-elect, is making history in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average cracks above 19,000, and closes above there for the first time ever on Tuesday. The Dow now up 9 percent this year, extending a 3 percent rally.
Boris, it's up almost 700 percent since Donald Trump was elected. Records now on the S&P 500 and Russell 2000. Russell 2000 is small cap stockings.
So, all four of those averages moving higher together. That hasn't happened since 1999. This is a look at things right now, looking bright again, stock markets in Europe have just opened.
[04:35:02] They are mixed in Asia. And the U.S. stock market is closed tomorrow for Thanksgiving.
SANCHEZ: Unexpected by almost any measure.
ROMANS: Absolutely. People kept saying that Donald Trump if you took him at his word, his policies for trade administration, had could be disastrous for the global economy. It looks as though global investors are not taking him at his word and they think the governing president-elect is going to be more market-friendly than the campaigning Donald Trump.
SANCHEZ: All right. So far, so gad.
One appointment that's getting some attention here, potential appointment, I should say, President-elect Trump tweeting that he's seriously considering Dr. Ben Carson for secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The former rivals met at Trump Tower on Tuesday. Dr. Carson's spokesperson tells CNN the retired neurosurgeon is honored by Trump's insistence that he'd take a cabinet post and that he's going to spend the Thanksgiving holiday thinking it over. We're also told Dr. Carson made it clear that he would actually prefer to advise Trump from outside the administration.
ROMANS: All right. Michelle Rhee said she will not be pursuing the role of education secretary in the Trump administration. The former chancellor of Washington, D.C.'s public schools met with the president-elect last weekend, despite heavy criticism from the education community. On Tuesday, she tweeted, "I have appreciated the opportunity to share my thoughts on education with the president-elect of the United States. Our job as Americans is to want him to succeed."
SANCHEZ: Jared Kushner revealing that he played a pivotal role in the stunning election for his father-in-law by setting up a sophisticated secret data operation. Kushner tells "Forbes" magazine he called some friends from Silicon Valley and they helped him develop a social media micro-targeting strategy that involved a 100-person team at a data hub in San Antonio, working to unify fund-raising, messaging and voter targeting to get the most out of the lean marketing budget.
ROMANS: Do you remember all of that handwringing of how Donald Trump is not spending enough on television advertisements, Donald Trump is spending too much time on big rallies on social media, not on traditional ways of influence voters.
SANCHEZ: He got the last laugh.
ROMANS: He got the last laugh, for sure.
All right. A group of top computer scientist are urging Hillary Clinton to demand a recount. The computer experts say they have found evidence that vote totals in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been hacked. Now, they say Clinton performed 7 percent worse in counties that use electronic voting than in counties using paper ballots and scanners.
Scientists have not told Clinton campaign officials they have not found evidence that proves hacking, but they say this is a pattern that needs to be investigated. Clinton would have to take all three states to change the results of the election. The deadline to file for a recount in Wisconsin is Friday.
SANCHEZ: We've been following this heart wrenching story out of Tennessee. Five kids killed in a school bus crash. There are new questions this morning about the man who is behind the wheel. Should he have been driving that bus?
[04:41:56] ROMANS: Grief and anger gripping the city of Chattanooga. Tears were flowing last night at a vigil for five young children killed in a gruesome bus crash. Mourners paying tribute releasing dozens of balloons in the sky.
SANCHEZ: Yes, neighbors and friends trying to make sense of this unimaginable tragedy.
We get more now from CNN's Martin Savidge.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Boris. Good morning, Christine. Investigators will once be sifting through the wreckage of the school
bus but also going over the crash site itself trying to determine not just what happened, but also why it happened. A lot of the focus of their investigation is on the bus driver, that's 24-year-old Johnthony Walker. It turns out he only had this commercial driver's license since April and he was involved apparently in a bus car crash as recently as September. He's continuing to cooperate with authorities.
And then another facet here. And that is the treatment of those children still injured. There are six said to be in critical condition. The focus there is on trying to heal what are very severe spinal cord as well as possible head injuries.
There were a lot of children when they came in, one of the things that was unexpected was the fact that they were so young, they had no way to identify them. And many of these children couldn't say who their parents were, couldn't say where they live, didn't know even know their telephone numbers.
How did they reunite them? Parents came in with photographs. Most of them carry them as we all do, on their cell phones. And that worked very, very well. They were able to find out what children they had at the E.R. and match them up with the photographs the parents have.
That's one very poignant moment when they realize that there were parents showing up with photographs that children were not back in the E.R. -- Boris and Christine.
SANCHEZ: Just unimaginable tragedy there in Tennessee.
A Kansas City water park will be tearing down a slide linked to the death of a young boy. Caleb Schwab suffered a fatal neck injury while riding a water slide back in August. Authorities say they found the 10-year-old dead at the bottom of the slide. Officials at the Schlitterbahn Water Park say the Verruckt, billed as the world's tallest water slide water, will be demolished and replaced once the investigation into Caleb's death is complete.
ROMANS: Overnight, police in Michigan arrested a suspect in connection with the shooting of a Wayne State University police officer. Officials say Officer Collin Rose was shot in the head while stopping a man on a bicycle just off campus. The officers now out of surgery, listed in critical but stable condition. Officials say he faces, quote, "a tough road to climb."
SANCHEZ: The fight against ISIS entering a new phase in and around Mosul. Shia-led units are launching a fresh military operation west of that area, trying to fully surround Tal Afar, a major hub for ISIS.
CNN's Phil Black has more on how the operation fits into the larger efforts to bring down the terror group -- Phil.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine, Boris.
Iraqi forces are continuing a slow but difficult advance through the neighborhoods of eastern Mosul. Every day, they are taking new ground, but then they're having to fight to clear and hold it. And it seems they're paying a price.
Iraqi officials won't reveal the casualty figures while the operation is still under way.
[04:45:01] But the reports we're hearing from inside the city and surrounding hospitals indicate those casualties are high. The waves of suicide car bombs, the narrow streets, the commitment of the ISIS fighters who are resisting themselves fiercely, it's all making progress very slow and difficult.
Now, there is also important fighting taking place west of the city, in the region between Mosul and the Syrian border, that's where paramilitary groups are working to clear ground. But also cut Mosul off from that ISIS controlled territory across the border in Syria.
There's paramilitary groups and now working to surround the city of Tal Afar. They are backed up by the Iraqi air force, which says it killed 10 ISIS fighters in recent airstrikes. And we're told these paramilitary groups are now getting ready to move into the city of Tal Afar.
This is potentially a real concern. The population of Tal Afar, its remaining population is around 50,000. All of the Sunni Muslims, the paramilitary groups are predominantly Shia, and they have a terrible reputation for inflicting terrible retribution against Sunnis that are thought to have collaborated with ISIS.
So, the real concern now is that Tal Afar could become the scene of the terrible bloodletting this country has become so famous for. What happens there could define the credibility of the entire military operation against ISIS in northern Iraq.
Christine, Boris, back to you.
SANCHEZ: Phil, thank you for that.
President Obama has reduced the sentences of 79 more federal prisoners. That now marks his 1,000th commutation, a milestone for his record-setting efforts to reduce harsh sentences. The president says he hopes to bring the existing sentences of inmates more in line with current, shorter sentencing nonviolent drug crimes.
ROMANS: All right. The post-election rally in the stock market is making history. What Dow 19,000 means for your money, next.
[04:51:07] SANCHEZ: The crisis in Aleppo is growing more dire by the hour. The rebel-held city reduced to rubble by the heaviest Syrian regime strikes since 2011. Over 300 people have been killed since last week. And 275,000 civilians are trapped without access to medical care. Both sides are now actually accusing each other of using chemical weapons.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is tracking developments live from Amman, Jordan.
Good morning to you, Jomana.
Now these accusations of both sides using chemical weapons, certainly not a surprise, but what do we know about the rebels using these?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, these are allegations that are coming from the Syrian regime and their allies, the Russians. Over the past couple of weeks, we've heard these claims, they're saying that the rebels have used chlorine gas and they've used white phosphorous in their attacks on civilians areas that are under regime control in western Aleppo.
We do know from the United Nations and observers that western Aleppo has come under bombardment by rebel forces this month, where 60 people were killed, including women and children. But these allegations, the Russians say they have fragments of these shells they say that contain traces of these chemicals. And that they've asked the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons to investigate, and to look into the so-called evidence that they have.
Last night, we heard from the OPCW saying they have received this request from the Russians and they're asking them to deliver this evidence to either to The Hague where the headquarters of OPCW are to Damascus because of the security situation around Aleppo.
But at the same time, we're seeing videos or claims of gas attacks in eastern Aleppo. These are by, you know, videos that have come out from activists. We've heard this from medical staff on the ground. They say there's been several cases over the past week, including last night where these barrel bombs, infused with what they claim to be chlorine gas dropped by the regime. They say in one incident, allegedly a family of six has been killed.
Now, we're not on the ground. It is very difficult to verify these claims. But at the end of the day, it is the civilians who are caught n the middle of this conflict who seemed to be the victims who are continuing here, while we're just hearing these allegations from both sides, Boris.
SANCHEZ: And many of them saying they have nowhere to go, not trusting that the humanitarian corridors that may provide an avenue to escape are safe?
KARADSHEH: Absolutely. That is one of the biggest issues. As you're talking about a population of about 275,000 people in eastern Aleppo, understand siege since July by the regime and their allied forces. Now, why they can't leave, some say they don't have anywhere else to go, Aleppo is their home. And then again, some saying, as you mentioned they do not trust the
regime when it comes to leaving but there also reports that possibly rebel groups and these are groups, we have not verify because it's so dangerous on the ground and we do not have access to Aleppo, that they say it's the rebel groups who are also stopping civilians from leaving.
Very difficult to know what is going on in the ground. At the end of the day, 275,000 people who are facing this onslaught and military crisis of food running out and also critical supplies in eastern Aleppo about to run out.
SANCHEZ: Yes, unbelievable seeing those images, children caught in the middle of that.
Jomana Karadsheh reporting live from Jordan -- thank you.
ROMANS: All right. North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory has filed papers demanding a recount, claiming widespread election fraud.
Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper is ahead in the state's unofficial vote count by more than 6,000 votes. He's already declared victory and started calling himself governor-elect.
[04:55:02] State law does allow for recounts in states closer than 10,000 votes, but Cooper's campaign manager says that McCrory's last- ditch effort offers no path to victory.
SANCHEZ: The Presidential Medal of Honor at the White House came to a complete standstill yesterday. That's because some of the honorees took part in a mannequin challenge before the ceremony got started.
Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, Bruce Springsteen, Bill Gates, Diana Ross and Michael Jordan, all turning into presidential mannequins for -- mannequins of freedom, I should say, for a few second. Ross's daughter Tracy posted that video on Twitter.
Some more lighthearted news.
President Obama getting set to carry out a classic White House tradition on thanksgiving. One final time, his final turkey pardon. One of two birds named Tater and Tot, both were born the same day in July. There can be no accusations of ageism. Fortunately, neither will end up on your Thanksgiving table. Both birds will be sent to their new home at Virginia Tech where their minor celebrity status will get them tended to for life.
ROMANS: One of the odder White House traditions, no question.
From turkeys to bulls. Let's get a check on CNN money stream.
Was that cheesy or good?
SANCHEZ: I thought that was good. ROMANS: All right. Donald Trump making history in the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 19,000 for the first time ever on Tuesday. It is a psychological level, but the gains here are for real folks. The Dow is up 9 percent this year, up 3 percent since Trump was elected. That's about 700 points of a Trump rally there in the Dow.
The NASDAQ, the S&P 500, record highs there. The Russell 2000, that's small cap stocks, record high there. And it looks again today for more gains. U.S. stock futures are up again. Stock markets in Europe are up slightly in early trading. They just opened an hour or so. Shanghai closing mixed overnight. Asia closing mixed overnight.
Millions of workers are about to get a raise thanks to new overtime rules pass by the White House. Not anymore. At least that's on hold. A federal judge in Texas suspended that rule from going into effect. It's a major blow to a really important goal of the Obama administration to raise wages for working Americans. Ruling finds the Obama administration overreached its legal authority by raising the overtime limits so significantly.
Here's what would have happened on December 1st. The salary threshold was set to increase from $450 per week to $914 or about $23,600 a year to nearly $47,500. The Labor Department said it would protect overtime for 2.4 million workers. The injunction is temporary until the judge comes out with a final decision on this new rule.
Get ready for crowded highways if you're traveling for Thanksgiving. AAA forecasts 54 million Americans will take the road trip of 50 miles or more. The highest totals since 2007.
One of the big reasons for the increase, low gas prices. Eleven states have prices below $2 a gallon. The national average, $2.13, down 9 cents over the past month. Prices were lower this time last year, that's when that crude oil crash began.
SANCHEZ: Certainly good news for travelers. A lot of people finding their home right now
ROMANS: You get more business news, check out the new CNN Money stream app. Its' business news personalized, the stories, videos, tweets and topics you want, all in one feed. Download it now at the App Store or Google Play.
SANCHEZ: Get to work on that.
ROMANS: Go, go!
You're taking three days to do that!
SANCHEZ: EARLY START continues right now.
ROMANS: The Trump transition team keeps America in suspense. Who will be next to land a cabinet position? SANCHEZ: Plus, curious comments on conflicts of interest. Why the
president-elect says the laws are on his side.
ROMANS: A strange trend uncovered in three battleground states. Why some computer scientists say Hillary Clinton could demand a recount.
Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START this Thanksgiving Eve. I'm Christine Romans.
SANCHEZ: Always a pleasure to be here, Christine. I'm Boris Sanchez. It's Wednesday, November3rd, 5:00 a.m. in the East Coast.
We start with the update we're expecting on the latest we're expecting from the Trump transition team when they hold a conference call with reporters. We're also set to hear from the president-elect himself. He's set to release a Thanksgiving video message from Mar-A-Lago where he's spending the rest of the holiday week.
Trump flew down to Florida after a wide ranging on-the-record sit-down with "New York Times" reporters, editors, and columnist. Among the news-making highlights, Trump backing off his promise to prosecute Hillary Clinton. This as sources tell CNN that Mitt Romney is thinking hard about taking the job of secretary of state if Trump, of course, were to offer it to him.
Let's bring in CNN's Jim Acosta for all the latest.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Boris and Christine, CNN has learned that Mitt Romney is seriously considering the possibility of joining Donald Trump's transition team as secretary of state. A source familiar with the transition discussion says it's likely the 2012 Republican nominee will be consulting with his family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The decision to select Romney would send a message that Trump is open to moderating the situation.
Trump himself seemed to reveal he is open to toning down his positions in a wide-ranging interview with "The New York Times." The President- elect told "The Times" he is leaning against urging the prosecution of Hillary Clinton, something he vowed to do during the campaign.