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Oakland Fire Tragedy; Dakota Access Pipeline To Be Rerouted; Trump's New Swipes At China; Trump Widens Secretary of State Search. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 5, 2016 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:25] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: The death toll climbs in Oakland where criminal investigators are now looking into what caused a warehouse to go up in flames.

Protesters in North Dakota celebrate victory but the battle over a proposed pipeline may not be over just yet.

And President-elect Trump slams China on Twitter. This morning, China responds.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik. It's 30 minutes past the hour and we are expecting new information on that deadly blaze in Oakland, California, coming in in just a few hours, when officials will be holding a news conference to update their investigation into the huge warehouse fire that killed at least 33 people who were there to attend an electronic 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's too early to determine what caused this fire, but what they have said is as they've gone through the building they've broken it up into quadrants and they're saying they have found victims in all four of the quadrants of this building. There's no one place that the victims were found.

They're also saying that some of the people that lost their lives were juveniles, 17-year-olds, some young adults in their early twenties and some 30-plus. They're also saying that they're in touch with embassies for 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's evident who they are if they had their I.D. on them, they can match if with fingerprints. But for others, where there's nothing there to identify them, they're

having to get some source of DNA. So they're asking family members if you think you lost someone here to preserve a toothbrush or to preserve a hair brush and put into a paper bag -- a clean paper bag -- and hold onto it so that they can get to them.

But at this point, they're saying they would not be surprised if they actually do expect that the number of people who died here in this Oakland fire will increase.


KOSIK: All right, Stephanie Elam, thank you. 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 Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. Members of the Sioux 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 and has the latest.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Celebrations, tears of joy, chanting, and drumming. That's what was the initial reaction when the 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 has caused the flashpoint 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 for 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 that they are concerned that 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.

[05:35:05] CHASE IRON EYES, STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBAL MEMBER: 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's 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're in for a world of hurt. Nothing has changed for us.

SIDNER: We're hearing that from other members of the tribe that even though 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: OK, Sara, thank you. And the corporation building the Dakota access pipeline say the federal government decision changes nothing. Overnight, the company has released a statement calling the decision "purely political" and saying they "fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe."

Just a short time ago we got our first 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 their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going 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 from Beijing is CNN's Alexandra Field. So, China was diplomatic but what did China say?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, they didn't tweet back @realDonaldTrump. They didn't even issue an immediate official response in response to those tweets. But the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was, of course, asked about the tweets today and responded and said by reaffirming the importance of maintaining a bilateral relationship between the U.S. and China and underscoring what he was calling the mutual economic and trade benefits that the two countries enjoy as a result of that relationship.

He did go on to say that China is not in the habit of speculating on what has motivated the actions of President-elect Donald Trump or his transition team. He also went on to say that China doesn't comment on the personalities or the styles of foreign politicians. Instead, he said that China comments on policy, which begs the question, what is the policy and will the China-U.S. policy change significantly under the Trump administration?

There was that phone call with Taiwan's president that broke with decades of diplomatic protocol, which was met with concern here in Beijing. These tweets only adding to that concern. We know that Trump took a hard line in terms of rhetoric against Beijing on the campaign trail. The question here in China now is whether this is just tough talk that appeals to President-elect Donald Trump's base or if it's a signal of real change to come when he takes office in January, Alisyn.

KOSIK: All right. Donald Trump certainly let us know loud and clear he would take aim at China and he is certainly doing just that. CNN's Alexandra Field, thanks so much.

Donald Trump is taking a unique approach to zeroing in on a new secretary of state. Instead of narrowing the field of candidates, he's expanding it. Trump insiders tell CNN Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani -- that they are still under consideration, and David Petraeus is also a top contender. But now, Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah -- he is reportedly in the mix and the president- elect's top aides say the search is widening. We get more from -- we get more now from CNN's Ryan Nobles. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We had originally thought that we were going 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 adviser Kellyanne Conway said about the search this weekend.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, TRUMP ADVISER: He's very fortunate to have interest among serious men and women who -- all of whom need to understand that their first responsibility as secretary of state would be to 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. He was also a former candidate for president and was the ambassador to China in the Obama administration. Huntsman not necessarily considered the frontrunner, 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's how he's going to 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 vowing to penalize companies that attempt to move jobs out of the United States, including a 35 percent tariff on goods coming into the United States for these companies.

[05:40:05] Of course, this isn't something that the president-elect can just do on this own. He will need congressional support, but it will be a key issue to look for in the incoming Trump administration.


KOSIK: OK, Ryan, thank you. And we are another week closer to Inauguration Day but, it seems, not much closer to knowing what kind of president Donald Trump will be, or are we? Let's ask "CNN POLITICS" reporter Eugene Scott. He joins us live from Washington. Good morning, Eugene.


KOSIK: So we watched Donald Trump kind of cause an uproar starting Friday. First, with a phone call from the president of Taiwan and then over the weekend tweeting about the call and tweeting about China's policies. The phone call obviously flying in the face of longstanding U.S. policy where Taiwan is not recognized as its own country -- not recognized by China as its own country, not recognized by the U.S.

I want you to listen to Mike Pence. He went on "Meet The Press" to push back on the criticism that Trump is getting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKE PENCE (R), VICE-PRESIDENT ELECT: I think the conversation that happened this week with the president of Taiwan was a courtesy call. It's one of more than 50 telephone calls that the president-elect has taken from and made to world leaders. President-elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from the democratically-elected president of Taiwan and it becomes something of a thing in the media. I think -- I think most Americans and, frankly, most leaders around the world know this for what it was.


KOSIK: So what do you think, Eugene? Was this phone call a rookie mistake or more of a calculated move?

SCOTT: Well, we will see very soon, won't we? I mean, I think as much as it was a surprise to voters to see the president-elect break from protocol, it wasn't a surprise to voters, especially supporters of his, to see him make a move that frustrated the Chinese government. He has been very vocal and very critical of China, related to trade policy, since the earliest days of his campaign and so there's some thought that this could be a move to make the deals that he's promised to make that he hopes will benefit U.S. voters.

KOSIK: Exactly. You know, this could be one of those things where he, you know -- clearly, he's a disrupter and this could be just along the lines of what he was campaigning for.

SCOTT: Yes, very much so.

KOSIK: Let's move on to something lighter. This caught my eye. I know that Donald Trump went to a party on Long Island but apparently he caught "Saturday Night Live" as well over the weekend. He tweeted this. He said, "Just tried watching Saturday Night Live -- unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse. Sad."

Let's watch a bit of the program.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, NBC "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Kellyanne, I just retweeted the best tweet. I mean, wow, what a great, smart tweet.

KENAN THOMPSON, CAST MEMBER, NBC "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Mr. Trump, we're in a security briefing.

BALDWIN: I know, but this could not wait. It was from a young man named Seth. He's 16, he's in high school, and I really did retweet him, seriously. This is real.



KOSIK: By the way, Alec Baldwin tweeting back to Donald Trump, saying "Release your tax returns and I'll stop. Ha."

I don't know. You know, I don't know. How are his base voters viewing the fact that Donald Trump continues to tweet about SNL? He's in office.

SCOTT: Well, I will say I think it's important for us to remember just about a year ago Donald Trump was hosting "Saturday Night Live" so it's fascinating to see where this relationship has gone over the last 12 or so months. I think Donald Trump's criticizing "Saturday Night Live" with his base just reinforces many of their major complaints that people in entertainment in major cities on the coast do not get them and their values.

But if you -- if you pay attention more to the sketches, they weren't really criticizing those people -- those base supporters -- they were criticizing Donald Trump and the things he chooses to prioritize. And so, as the clipped showed, I mean, security briefings are something that have not been as high of a priority for Donald Trump as they have been for previous president-elects and whether or not his campaign makes a change to that remains to be seen. But it certainly won't be based, I don't believe, off of criticism from "Saturday Night Live".

KOSIK: All right, Eugene, I meant to say almost in office. It feels like he's already in office with him --


KOSIK: -- making headlines every other day. All right, Eugene Scott, thanks so much.

SCOTT: Thank you.

KOSIK: Sunday night football -- the Seattle Seahawks cruising to a big victory over the Carolina Panthers, but it comes with a steep price. Hines Ward with this morning's Bleacher Report coming up next.


[05:48:50] KOSIK: The college football playoff selection committee has spoken and the final four matchups are set. Hines Ward has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. How's it looking? Good morning.

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, Alison. Yes, you're going to have controversy anytime you have a committee and this year's playoff field is no different. No-brainer, number one. You've got Alabama who remains undefeated. The Crimson Tide, they put a beatdown on Florida to win their third straight SEC championship. They are taking on number four Washington in the Peach Bowl on New Year's Eve.

Then you have the two-three matchup between the Clemson Tigers and last year's champions Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, where the Buckeyes' only loss this season was to the Big Ten champions Penn State, who were left out. So the winners of the semi-finals will play January 9th in Tampa for all the marbles. Now, how about them Cowboys? They are the first team to clinch a spot in the NFL playoffs. They beat the Vikings on Thursday to get in position, then Washington lost yesterday to seal the deal. Now, Dallas is riding an 11-game winning streak behind rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. They could lock up the division title with a win over the Giants in primetime next Sunday.

[05:50:02] Now here is something you don't see very often, a healthy Cam Newton sit. Now, Cam had to sit out the opening series because he didn't wear a tie on the team flight. So Derek Anderson got to start and on the first play of the game he throws an interception. Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, he left the game early after breaking a leg and he later tweeted that he's think about retiring after the injury. Now despite his loss, Seattle did go out and have a blowout, 40-7.

And finally, it's raining teddy bears in Hershey, Pennsylvania last night. The Hershey Bears held their annual teddy bear toss. Fans -- they threw nearly 21,000 stuffed animals on the ice after the team's first goal and that's a record. But the bears, they will be donated to local charities to give to children in the time of the holidays. They're getting into the holiday spirit. What a great story. You've got bears --

KOSIK: Absolutely.

WARD: -- getting thrown all over the place.

KOSIK: That looked like so much fun. Who doesn't love a teddy bear, right?

WARD: Exactly.

KOSIK: All right, Hines Ward, thank you. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". Chris Cuomo joining us now. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": All right, good morning to you. Investigators are on scene out in that warehouse in Oakland. This situation is getting worse and worse. Right now, at least 33 have lost their lives but dozens are still missing, and most of the building on your screen has not been searched. Why? Well, it was a very intricate inside. Everything that was on the roof and above is now laying on the bottom.

It was a hot fire so everyone who was caught in there is feared to have really been incinerated. That's why they're asking family members who are looking for people to collect DNA samples. Toothbrushes -- things they may have used -- so they have some way to track what remains they find.

It is a really bad situation and they still have no idea why it happened. So we're going to talk to people involved with the investigation and also one woman who's hoping for answers. She's one of many who are waiting for information about friends. So that's what we're going to do. We're also going to take on this conspiracy theory that's floating around. What people call fake news but, Alison, everybody in their real lives has called B.S. We're going to take one of these theories that police say may have led to lockdown in a Washington, D.C. neighborhood. Somebody acting on something that wasn't true.

KOSIK: Yes, that was a little bit crazy. All right, Chris, we'll be watching. Thanks.

The world's biggest oil producer is reaching a deal to cut production. That, in an effort to push prices higher. Will that trickle down to U.S. drivers? We're going to get an early start on your money, next.


[05:56:50] KOSIK: Let's get an early start on your money. Dow futures have turned around and are pointing higher this morning despite the voting in Italy and Austria that originally had investors on edge. We do, however, see global markets dropping. Despite the solid jobs reports on Friday, the U.S. stock market finished the week mixed. The Dow managed to tick slightly higher for the week and that extends a four-week win streak. The S&P 500 lost one percent last week and the Nasdaq was the big loser, dropping 2.7 percent.

Two big corporate stories we're keeping an eye on this week. The CEO's of AT&T and Time Warner will appear before a Senate Anti-Trust subcommittee on Wednesday and they're going to be talking about their $85 billion megamerger. Both have said the deal is a natural path forward but President-elect Donald Trump says it would put too much power in the hands of too few. Time Warner is the parent -- the parent company of CNN and CNN MONEY.

Gas prices already starting to tick a little higher following OPEC's agreement to cut production last week. Crude jumping 12 percent on that news but gas prices -- luckily, they aren't rising as quickly. The national average for a gallon of regular sitting at $2.18. That's up five cents over the past week but it is 14 cents higher than prices this time last year. Let's hope they stay low.

And that's it for EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik. Tales of desperation and anguish emerging from the scene of a deadly warehouse fire in Oakland. "NEW DAY" starts now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was just all this black smoke and I, like, couldn't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the most deadly fire in Oakland's history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reality, I think for all of us, is beginning to set in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fire was just getting too hot, the smoke was just getting too bad and I wasn't able to get him out. JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: If there was an expressway to cause a diplomatic uproar with China, this would be the way to do it.

PENCE: This was a moment of courtesy, not a discussion about policy.

CONWAY: The secretary of state is an incredibly important position to fill. That list is expanding.

PENCE: It's his right to make false statements. It's his right to express his opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did a fake news story trigger a real-life confrontation?


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, December 5th, 6:00 in the East. Right now, at least 33 people have lost their lives but dozens are still missing in that massive warehouse party fire in Oakland, California. We have to expect this already high number to increase. Only 30 percent of that massive building has been searched.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Criminal investigators are searching the scene for the cause of the fire and family and friends of those still missing are enduring an agonizing wait for answers. This is the deadliest building fire in the U.S. in more than a decade. CNN's Stephanie Elam is live at the scene in Oakland with the very latest. How is it going there, Stephanie?

ELAM: It is painstakingly slow work here, Alisyn, as they are trying to get further inside the building. The say they've dissected the building into four different quadrants and they've found victims in all four of those sections.


ELAM: Officials launching a criminal investigation team and an arson task force to inspect the deadly fire that engulfed this Oakland warehouse hosting a party over the weekend.

ANNEKA HIATT, FRIENDS MISSING AFTER FIRE: It just doesn't seem that that's a fire that's survivable.