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Oakland Officials Will Hold Update on Warehouse Fire Investigation; Army Corps Decides to Reroute Proposed Pipeline; Trump Targets China on Twitter; Italian Prime Minister Will Resign Following Referendum Loss. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 5, 2016 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:15] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: A criminal investigation now being launched into the deadly warehouse fire in Oakland, the death toll climbing with dozens still missing.

The Dakota Access oil pipeline is being rerouted. Protesters celebrating a big win against the federal government, but with Trump taking office, will it be short-lived?

And the president-elect launching another tweet storm. This time, he is targeting China. And he is not missing his word.

Good morning. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik. John and Christine are off this morning.

In just a few hours, officials in Oakland, California, will hold a news conference with an update on our investigation into the huge blaze in the converted warehouse that killed at least 33 people during a dance party. Criminal investigators are on the scene looking for signs of arson or criminal negligence. At least eight victims have now been identified. And officials say they expect the death toll to rise.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has the latest from Oakland.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Officials here saying it is too early to determine what the cause of fire. But what they have said is that they have gone through the building. They have broken it up into quadrants. And they're saying that they have found victims in all four quadrants of this building. There is no one place that the victims were found. They're also saying that some of the people who lost their lives were juveniles, 17-year-olds, some young adults in their early 20s, and some 30-plus. They're also saying that their in touch with embassies who were people who were from other countries, that also lost their lives in the fire.

At this point, they have reached out to some of the families, but they're still working to identify some of the people who died here. That's because they're saying some people, it is evident who they are, they had their ID on them, they can match with fingerprints. But for others, where there is nothing there to identify them, they are having to get some source of DNA. So they are asking family members, if you think you lost someone here, to preserve a toothbrush or hair brush and put it into a paper bag -- a clean paper bag, and hold on to it, so they can get to them. But, at this point, they are saying they would not be surprised if they actually do expect that the number of people who died here in the Oakland fire will increase.

KOSIK: All right. Thanks, Stephanie, for that.

Overnight, fireworks lighting up the night sky over North Dakota, thousands of protesters celebrating a federal government decision to reroute a proposed oil pipeline that was set to be built under the Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. Members of the tribe and their supporters fear a leak there could cause devastating environmental damage. Those protesters say they are still worried that the incoming Trump administration could reverse their victory.

CNN's Sara Sidner is at the protest site. She has the latest.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Celebrations, tears of joy, chanting, and drumming. That's the initial reaction when folks here found out that the army corps of engineers was going to stop this pipeline by asking the Dakota Access Pipeline to be rerouted, rerouted away from the thing that is called the flash point here, rerouted and kept from going underneath the Missouri River. It is a very big victory for the Standing Rock Sioux and all of the people who have been here many months trying to stop this pipeline from potentially going under the water and one day leaking. However, what we have also heard from the tribe is they are concerned this may not be permanent, depending on which administration is in place and worried about Donald Trump's role in all of this when he takes the presidency.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to stay here. Everybody here needs to stay here until we know exactly the legal ramifications of what took place today. As far as, you know, into the future, there is no guarantee that this is going to stand. If president-elect Trump could override what just happened today on January 20th and grant that easement, then we are in for a world of hurt. Nothing has changed for us.


SIDNER: We are hearing that from other members of the tribe that even though this is truly a victory and people feel relief, there is also worry about what happens next. Right now, this camp is filling up. No one seems to be leaving.

KOSIK: All right, Sara. Thank you. And the corporations building the Dakota Access Pipeline say that the federal government decision changes nothing. Overnight, the companies released the statement calling the decision quote purely political and saying they fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around the Lake Oahe.

A man arrested after wielding an assault rifle at a Washington pizza restaurant says he was investigating a fake news story. A 28-year-old Edgar Madison Welch telling police he was conducting his own probe of pizza gate. That's a defunct conspiracy that claimed Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta were involved in a child sex operations at the Comet Pingpong Restaurant. Overnight, the restaurant's owner issued a statement denouncing the false accusations and praising the swift response of police and his employees for keeping his customers safe.

Just a short time ago, we got our reaction from China to last night's new provocative tweet storm from Donald Trump just two days after his controversial phone call upending decades of diplomacy with China. Trump tweeted this, did China ask us if it was OK to devalue currency making it hard for our companies to compete and heavily tax our products into their country? The U.S. doesn't tax them or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so. And moments ago, China responded very diplomatically.

Joining us now live from Beijing is CNN's Alexandra Field. So what was China's reaction?

[04:06:20] ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alison, officials in Beijing were used to hearing tough talk on the subject of China from candidate Trump when he was on the campaign trail. They may not have expected it to hear from president-elect Donald Trump on Twitter, but that is exactly what they got. These twits that echoed some of the rhetoric that he had shared while campaigning, this tough line against Beijing. He tweeted it out, but it has met with somewhat tempered response from the ministry of foreign affairs. A spokesperson from the ministry was asked about the twits, asks for a response from China. The response was to reaffirm the importance of upholding the bilateral relationship to focus on the important economic and trade ties between the two countries. The spokesperson went on to say that China would not speculate on what is motivating the actions of president-elect or his team.

They also went on to say that China doesn't comment on the character or the style or the personality of foreign politician politicians. They respond to policy. That is the big question. What will the Trump policy toward China be? Is the twit an indication of that? Does it suggest that the long-standing policies between the U.S. and China will change under the Trump administration? Well, that is yet to be seen.

But state news has weighed in on the issue. In an op-ed, one of those op-eds was pinned (ph) after that phone call with Taiwan's president, that up-ended so many decades of protocol. The Global Times writes China should understand Trump has two faces. On one hand, he is bluffing. And on the other, he had no plan to overturn international relationships, and will focus on U.S. internal affairs to make America great again. That is certainly the hope from Beijing. They are hoping that some of the tough talk from the campaign trail was exactly that. Just talk, that appealed to the base. They are hoping that that phone call with the president of Taiwan does not signal more significant changes to this longstanding relationship. Alison.

KOSIK: Something tells me this could be just the beginning of the drama. All right. CNN's Alexandra Field, thank you so much.

Donald Trump is taking unique approach to zeroing in on a new Secretary of State. Instead of narrowing the field of candidates, he is expanding it. Trump insiders tell CNN, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani are still under consideration and David Petraeus also remains a top contender. But now, Jon Hunstman, the former governor of Utah, is reportedly in the mix. And the president-elect's top aides say the search is getting wider.

We get more now from CNN's Ryan Nobles.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We had originally thought we were to learn pretty soon who the next Secretary of State will be, but it appears that president-elect Trump is expanding the field. Listen to what his senior advisor Kellyanne Conway said about the search this weekend.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISOR: It is very fortunate to have interests among a series of men and women who also need to understand that the first responsibility as Secretary of State would implement and adhere to the president-elect's America First foreign policy and be loyal to his view of the world.


NOBLES: Now, among the names that Trump is considering is the former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, who is also a former candidate for president and was the ambassador to China in the Obama administration. Huntsman not necessarily considered the front-runner, but one of a number of names that the president-elect is considering.

And the president-elect also making some news about one of his signature policy proposals when he takes over as president. And that is how he will handle companies that attempt to move jobs overseas. In a series of tweets, Trump laid out his economic policy agenda for companies here in the United States, promising to reduce taxes and regulations on these companies, but also bound to penalize companies that move jobs out of the United States, including a 35 percent tariff on goods coming into the United States for these companies. Of course, this is not something the president-elect can just do on his own. He will need congressional support. But it will be a key issue to look for in the incoming Trump administration.

[04:10:27] KOSIK: All right. Ryan, thank you very much.

Donald Trump is stacking his cabinet with members of the rich business elite. And they could be in for a huge tax break. There is an incentive that is already built into the tax code for nominees who join the administration and leave lucrative private sector jobs. This is known as Section 1043. And what it does is that it allows the picks to defer paying capital gains tax on any sale, as long as they reinvest the money in certain types of holdings within a certain time. Those have to be government approved like U.S. treasuries or highly diversified mutual funds. Now, this could be a huge perk for commerce secretary nominee, Wilbur Ross, who with is worth billions, and treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, who is a former Goldman Sachs partner, and until last week, sat on the board of a multibillion dollar financial company. They will likely vote, have to divest millions of dollars in order to avoid conflict of interest.

Political upheaval on the world stage, two prime ministers stepping down including the leader of Italy. Is this the final nail in the coffin for the E.U.?


[04:15:45] KOSIK: OK. This just in to CNN. A federal judge has ordered officials in Michigan to begin a process of a statewide recount of ballots cast during the presidential election. This beginning today at noon, this order issued by a U.S. district judge just a short time ago, in favor of the request by the green party Jill Stein. About 4.8 million ballots cast for president in Michigan last month. Stein is escalating her fight for the recount in Pennsylvania. This after announcing she would abandon it. Stein plans to file a federal lawsuit today demanding a statewide recount despite the $1 million fee being imposed by election officials. Stein says the people deserve answers, claiming barriers to verifying the vote are so outrageous, that seeking relief in federal court is the only way forward.

Austria has a new president. Former green party leader Alexander Van der Bellen defeating far-right candidate Norbert Hofer. Hofer campaigned in the anti-immigration Austria first platform. The race was very closely watched across urine Europe on the heels of the Britain's exit from the E.U. and Donald Trump's victory. Germany's vice chancellor calling the outcome a clear victory for good sense.

Approaching set back for the establishment in Italy, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi confirming he will resign today, after suffering a resounding defeat in a referendum Sunday. Renzi's plan to reform Italy's constitution and revive its economy rejected by almost 60 percent of the voters.

All right. Let's go live to Milan and bring in CNN's Nina Dos Santos. You know, this certainly coming as a shock to some, but not others, who aren't so shocked about most people voting -- voting on it.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, 60 percent of the people eligible to vote voted no. So it certainly won't come as a shock to them. And even the 40 percent who opted to back Matteo Renzi and these plans, constitutional reforms, will not be shocked either, if you speak to them as well. The turnout was really quite significant here, Alison. We are talking about a turnout of over 70 percent. I have covered a couple of general elections here into Italy, throughout the course of my career, and that is the kind of turnout that many politicians wish for throughout the course of a general election. So it gives you an idea of how passionate people were about this constitutional reform, and voting it down.

But remember, this is about much, much more than that. It is about Matteo Renzi himself and what he has and hasn't done to try and shore up the economy and the financial system in this part of Europe. And that brings me to the building behind me, which is the Italian Stock Exchange. Shares in this building have been down 25 percent so far this year, and continue to suffer in the run-up to this referendum, as nerves got heightened. When it comes to the banking shares, they are down by 50 percent, some of them in excess of 80 percent. The real fear here is that what this is going to do is usher in an era of political uncertainty, economics inertia for Italy as it tries desperately to find a new government between and when the next elections occur in 2018. And all the while, we have a full-blown banking crisis, which people have to sort out, an economy that is going nowhere fast while the debts continue to mount up. Alison.

KOSIK: And we will see what kind of reverberations there are around the world. I'm talking about the stock markets. I know that U.S. markets are mixed at the moment. All right. Nina Dos Santos, thank you very much.

And New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key is resigning after eight years on the job. His announcement shocking the nation. He won a third term in 2014 and is widely regarded as one of the New Zealand's most popular leaders ever. He said the decision not to seek re- election was a hard one, but the need to spend more time with his wife and two children was a major factor.

A terrifying landing for air passengers in San Antonio, the pilot declaring an in-flight emergency because of issues with his landing gear. How it all turned out, next on EARLY START.


[04:24:20] KOSIK: The death toll from the Tennessee wildfire is rising to 14. Authorities confirming an 81-year-old woman died fleeing the fire. She got into a car crash after suffering a medical event. The Gatlinburg area absolutely devastated by the fires, at least 134 people injured and almost 1,700 structures have been damaged or destroyed.

A scare for passengers aboard a sky west plane was forced to make an emergency landing at San Antonio International Airport, where his landing gear collapsed. The plane took off from Houston and was headed to Mexico when the pilot reported an in-flight emergency, 55 people were evacuated from the aircraft. No serious injuries were reported.

Soaking rains hitting the gulf coast with the blast of extreme cold air waiting in the wings. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the forecast.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good seeing you, Alison. The weather pattern really coming together for additional rainfall across the southeast. That is wonderful news. But unfortunately, some more severe weather to be had over the next couple of days as well. And predominantly, for this afternoon, places like New Orleans, Mobile, Panama City, Montgomery, be on alert here for some storms with the potential for some damaging winds, generally over 55 miles or so per hour. And of course, some isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out as well. The damage has already been done as far as rainfall is concerned. And the amount of rainfall is on portions of East Texas. In fact, working its way on Galveston, an excess of 7 inches have already fallen in the past two days. Flood watch remain and affects across the area that is already fully saturated. And storms not done just yet. You notice they migrate off to the north and east. And if they do again, some scattered thunderstorms and severe weather potentially across the panhandle into Alabama and some of that moisture eventually works across portions of New England as we go on late this morning. So we will get some light snow showers across New England. Temperatures warm up nicely into the upper 40s around New York, 55 in Washington. The big change in the forecast, Alison, is in that four-day. Look what happens in Chicago, the 20s. The New York City, you will eventually drop down the 30s later in the week.

KOSIK: All right. Pedram, thank you.

Tom Brady is now the winningest quarterback in the history of the NFL after leading the New England Patriots to a 26-10 victory over Los Angeles Rams yesterday. It was career win number 201, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning on the all-time list. Afterwards, Brady told reporters this. I have been very fortunate to be on a lot of great teams. Congratulations to him.

The death toll rising in Oakland. At least 33 people killed in that deadly warehouse fire. Investigations are now under way, including a criminal probe.

And Donald Trump of on another Twitter tirade. This time, he is targeting China. Details ahead on EARLY START.