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The Trump Transition: A Day of Meetings, an Evening of Cheers; Change in Climate; Biden 2020?; Security Tight Across Los Angeles Rail System; Warehouse Fire a Criminal Act?; Judge Declares Mistrial in Michael Slager Murder Case; Aleppo on the Verge of Falling. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 6, 2016 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:20] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Suspense builds as President- elect Trump searches for his secretary of state. A Texas oil man makes the trip to Trump Tower today.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Who saw this coming? Former Vice President Al Gore talking about his surprise meeting with the president-elect.

BERMAN: And never say never. For Joe Biden. The vice president suggests maybe, possibly, he could run for president in 2020. Is he actually serious?

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

And just when you think you have president-elect's cabinet short list all memorized, he adds more names. Today, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson pays Trump Tower a visit. Tillerson is said to be under consideration for secretary of state. Also, in Trump's day book, a sit down with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. Then, this evening, Trump flies off to the next stop on his "thank you" tour, Fayetteville, North Carolina. This follows big announcements and meetings Monday.

For the latest, let's bring in CNN's Sunlen Serfaty.



Well, President-elect Donald Trump making some big decisions in terms of his cabinet, formally nominating Dr. Ben Carson, his former rival, as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. But as he moves to make some key decisions on these big cabinet posts, others seem to be taking almost a step back.

Late last week, we knew according to sources that Donald Trump had really settled on the potential for four finalists for this big secretary of state job. But now, we know according to sources that Donald Trump is looking for more candidates, really expanding his search for secretary of state, now looking at people like former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson who will be here today at Trump Tower who will be here today at Trump Tower, meeting one on one with Donald Trump.

Also, Senator Joe Manchin, Democratic senator from West Virginia who has told our sources on Capitol Hill that he is indeed looking to potentially schedule a meeting with Donald Trump at some point this week.

Now, Donald Trump also holding a very intriguing meeting on Monday here at Trump Tower with former Vice President Al Gore. We know according to Gore that he was just supposed to sit down with his Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, to talk about climate change. But that meeting afterwards got expanded to include President-elect Trump.

Here's Al Gore after that meeting.

AL GORE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The bulk of that time was with Donald Trump. I found it an extremely interesting conversation and to be continued. And I'm just going to leave it at that.

SERFATY: So, that certainly an intriguing "stay tuned" comment there from Al Gore. But Gore later on saying this was truly a shared attempt to find common ground. Of course, the two have not always seen eye to eye over climate change -- John and Alison.


BERMAN: All right. Thanks, Sunlen.

Donald Trump's meeting with Senate Democrats has party leaders concerned. Senior Democrats in the Senate are leaning on Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, worry that if Donald Trump picks one or both for his cabinet, they could increase the Republican domination of the Senate. The Democrats would lose two members if they took those jobs.

Senator Manchin is not ruling out a job in the Trump administration, telling CNN that he has to make sure he is doing the best he can for his state. But he says no specifics have been discussed so far with the Trump team.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: It was a very encouraging talk. We talked about my state of West Virginia and the country as a whole. And it was a productive cause -- I mean, productive talk, and I was pretty appreciative of that.

REPORTER: Would you take Department of Energy if offered?

MANCHIN: Well, basically, we haven't talked about anything on those, you know? There will be, I'm sure later date is going to be, maybe later this week or some time, a time when we might meet. But right now, that's not done.


KOSIK: In addition to North Carolina, you're going to see Donald Trump make two more stops on the "thank you' tour of these battleground states. So, this week alone, on Thursday evening, he's going to be at the Iowa event center in Des Moines. And on Friday, Trump will thank Michigan at the DataPlex Arena in Grand Rapids.

BERMAN: Just in to CNN, the president of Iran says his country will reject any demand by President-elect Donald Trump to renegotiate the nuclear deal between Iran and Western nations. President-elect Trump has called the Iran deal one of the worst agreements ever made and vowed to renegotiate it. But overnight, Iran state news agency reported that President Hassan Rouhani is insisting, quote, "the Iranian nation will never allow a U.S. administration to tear away the nuclear deal."

KOSIK: The story may have been bogus, but the bullets were not. A judge has ordered a 28-year-old North Carolina man held without bond for firing an assault rifle inside a Washington, D.C. pizzeria.

[04:35:02] Edgar Welch told police he was there to self-investigate a widely debunked conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton operating a child sex-trafficking ring.

CNN's Pamela Brown has more.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, John and Anderson.

The suspect who walked into Comet Ping Pong in D.C. armed with three guns appeared in court and for now, he will remain behind bars. But what took him there is bizarre. According to the criminal complaint, he told officers he went to the pizza restaurant, all the way from North Carolina to self-investigate something he read online. That there was a sex ring tied to the Clintons and John Podesta, the campaign chairman operating out of this restaurant.

This was a completely baseless claim. There was no truth to it. The owner of the restaurant has consistently denied it consistently.

But for the suspect, he clearly believed it may be true. He told police he went to make sure that there were no child sex slaves at the restaurant. He said he brought his weapons with him in order to protect the victims.

He was arrested after a confrontation he had with one of the employees. Officials say that he brandished his weapon and pointed it at an employee and then fired off three rounds.

No one was injured, but clearly, this is something that shook up a lot of the people in the restaurant, including families. I spoke to one witness who was there with his three daughters and wife. He said they quickly shuffled out and he says the incident shows fake news stories can have real life consequences.

But that did not stop people online from continuing to spread this conspiracy theory. In fact, a person tied to the Trump transition team tweeted out, Michael Flynn Jr., tweeted, "Until pizza-gate proven to be false, it will remain a story. The left seems to forget Podesta e-mails and the many coincidences tied to it." Michael Flynn Jr. is the son of Trump's national security advisor, Michael Flynn, General Michael Flynn. And he does have a transition email address as well.

We reached out to the Trump transition team about this, but so far no comment -- John and Alison.


BERMAN: All right. Pamela Brown, thanks so much.

So, Joe Biden may not be riding off into the sunset. The outgoing vice president was on Capitol Hill Monday. And as he left the Senate, he was asked about his plans for what he would do after leaving office in January. Listen to this.


REPORTER: You're going to run again?



REPORTER: For what?

BIDEN: For president.


BIDEN: You know, so -- what the hell, man. Anyway --

REPORTER: We're going to run with that, sir, you know. You dropped that.

BIDEN: That's OK. That's OK. No, but I enjoyed every minute of my time here in the Senate.

REPORTER: Just to be clear -- were you kidding about running for president in 2020?

BIDEN: I'm just -- I'm not committing not to run. I'm not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago.


BERMAN: That was a long pause before that answer, wasn't there?

All right. Joe Biden will turn 78 shortly after the 2020 election. He would be the oldest sitting president ever if he ran and won. KOSIK: Here is a question for you. Is it possible for President-

elect Donald Trump to tax U.S. companies that move jobs to Mexico? The short answer is yes. But tariffs are generally used for products, not companies.

So, Trump could ask Congress to do it or if he wants to avoid Congress, he'd have to go through four steps. First, announce an investigation into the company for dumping its cheaper products into U.S. markets. Second, the Department of Commerce would have to investigate. Trump's secretary of commerce pick, Wilbur Ross, would likely approve. And then, the International Trade Commission would have to prove that the company is causing harm by dumping its goods on U.S. shores. That's actually never happened to a specific company.

Now, if Trump did get that approval, he could then slap the company with a tariff on all goods coming into the U.S. So, the bottom line here, slapping tariffs on companies is possible, but it's kind of difficult thing to do. Easy to talk about. But when you get into it, there are a lot of steps.

BERMAN: All right. The FBI is taking no chances with the terror threat in Los Angeles. Where it came from and what it means for commuters, coming up.


[04:43:36] BERMAN: Heightened security in Los Angeles this morning after authorities received a tip about a possible bombing plot targeting the Universal City train station. The FBI tells us the information came from the tip line operated by an unidentified foreign government. The threat is considered specific and imminent. Commuters in Los Angeles are being told to expect an increase presence of uniformed police this morning, as well as K-9 units scouring the rail systems for explosives.

KOSIK: Investigators are sifting through the wreckage of the Oakland building fire that killed at least 36 people. Officials are still trying to determine the cause the warehouse turned art space to go up in flames. While prosecutors say it is too early to speculate on any criminal charges. They do promise to leave no stone unturned.

We get more now from CNN's Dan Simon in Oakland.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Alison, it is a mind boggling number of victims. Many have been identified, but some will require scientific methods for identification. I want to show you what it looks like a block away. You can see this makeshift memorial where many people have come by to pay respects to those who died. As you can imagine though, there are still so many questions of how this fire started, and why people wanted to live in the warehouse. This is what the mayor had to say about the investigation.

LIBBY SCHAAF, MAYOR OF OAKLAND: The permitted use of that building was as a warehouse. It was not a legally permitted as either a living space, a residence or an event space.

[04:45:06] SIMON: Still no theory about a cause. But investigators think they know where the fire started. So, hopefully, that will lead to clues.

As for the residents, one person told me that she viewed this community almost like a church, a way for people to come together to draw inspiration from one another for their art projects. Of course, that's going to be a big part of the investigation. Why people were living in that warehouse. But, of course, the main focus is on the victims and possible recovery of additional bodies -- John and Alison.


BERMAN: All right. Thanks, Dan.

The owner of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando has abandoned plans to sell the property, which was, of course, the scene of the mass shooting back in June that left 49 people dead. The owner was set to sell the club to the city so it could be turned it into a memorial for the victims. On Monday, she announced a change of plans saying she will work with the community and victim's families to transform the space into, quote, "a sanctuary of hope."

KOSIK: Prosecutors in South Carolina are promising to retry former police officer Michael Slager for the murder of Walter Scott. After the judge declared a mistrial on Monday. The jury unable to come to a unanimous decision after deliberating for 22 hours over four days.

Let's get more now from CNN's Nick Valencia in Charleston.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Alison, after more than five weeks of trials, days of deliberation, it was on Monday afternoon that the jurors handed a note to the judge saying that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether or not to convict Officer Michael Slager of first-degree murder. For those in support of the Scott family, this was a little bit of a surprise. However, some expected a mistrial. On Friday, we got indication there was one lone juror who said under good conscience, he could not convict Slager of first-degree murder.

Today, on Monday I should say, we learned that a majority of the jurors were still undecided. There was enough reasonable doubt cast by the Slager's defense in the case of the state for the jury pool to be deadlocked. It was the makeup of the jury pool that was considered some to be -- they took exception with this. Eleven of the jurors were white. Six of them white men. Five of them white women. One of them, African-American, actually the foreman in this jury pool.

It was on Monday afternoon, at a press conference, that the Scott family did not, choosing instead to take a religious tone, to focus instead of being optimistic that in a retrial sometime later next year, that they could get a conviction against Slager.

ANTHONY SCOTT, BROTHER OF WALTER SCOTT: Absolutely. Justice hasn't been served yet. But we have more chances. We're coming back.

VALENCIA: We should also mention, Michael Slager is scheduled to face federal civil rights charges some time in early 2017 -- John and Alison.


KOSIK: OK, Nick Valencia, thank you.

A Pennsylvania judge ruling Bill Cosby's own words can be used against him at his criminal sex assault trial. In a deposition testimony from 2005 civil case, Cosby admits to having extramarital affairs and giving women drugs without their consent to have sex with them. The 79-year-old comedian is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand back in 2004. His trial is set to begin in June. Dozens of other women have publicly accused Cosby of some form of sexual misconduct.

BERMAN: A month after Election Day, the race for governor in North Carolina is finally over. Incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory conceded the race to his Democratic challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper. McCrory had claimed voter fraud existed and he demanded a recount, but now says it's time to celebrate the democratic process and is pledging to make it a smooth transition. The Cooper campaign will hold a long-delayed victory rally tonight in Raleigh.

KOSIK: So, Amazon has mastered online shopping, but it is not resting there. And now, it's making a move into the grocery aisle. We're going to tell you one feature that sets it apart from other stores when we get a check on CNN Money Stream, next.


[04:53:14] BERMAN: Syrian government forces are on the verge of recapturing Aleppo with Russian troops playing a more visible role than ever fighting right alongside the Syrian soldiers. Russians are launching an aid campaign to win over the civilian population.

We want to bring in Jill Dougherty live from Moscow. Jill is an expert on Russia, researcher with the International Center for Defense and Security.

The Russians seemingly do no part to hide their role now in Syria, Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, RESEARCHER, INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR DEFENSE & SECURITY: No, they're not. But that said, it's really the Syrian forces that are carrying out most of this. And the Russians have made it clear, they're not doing the bombing. It's the Syrian army, of course, helped by the Russians.

But, John, you know, you have the very, very difficult situation right now, because you have the people in eastern Aleppo, essentially stuck there trying to get out and on the diplomatic level, essentially, it's kind of a draw. The Russians and the Chinese just vetoed this truce that would last for seven days that one hand could be very good for the people in Aleppo. However, the Russians are saying we vetoed it because, you know what, it's just going to give the terrorist, the rebels the chance to regroup and fight again.

So, they continue to say, let's keep the discussions between John Kerry, secretary of state, and Mr. Lavrov, the foreign minister, going. But the United States says those discussions really aren't going anywhere and you are just playing us along. So, it is really just almost a loop and in the meantime, people are dying on the ground, including some Russians who are working in a field hospital trying to help the people of Aleppo.

[04:55:01] BERMAN: Of course, looming over this all, Jill, a question of what happens in seven weeks, whatever policy exists now between the United States and Russia in that area could just go up in smoke on January 20th when Donald Trump is inaugurated.

DOUGHERTY: That is true. And then also, you know, there is the other theory. In fact, we were just asking the spokesperson for President Putin about this.

There's another theory that maybe the Kremlin does want to play this out. Not come to some type of resolution until Donald Trump is president, because they do feel, the Russians do feel, if there is any deal to be done with the United States, it's probably over Syria. It could be over kind of a joint action to fight terrorism. They don't know exactly whether Donald Trump will follow through on that. That that is the hope.

So, that's one of the theories. In the meantime, it is a desperate situation in Aleppo.

BERMAN: For thousands of people caught right in the middle. Jill Dougherty, always great to talk to you. Thanks so much.

KOSIK: OK. Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream.

Looks like caution from investors this morning. Dow futures are just slightly lower. Stock markets in Europe trading mixed. And overnight shares in Asia gained. Oil is slipping a bit, but still above $51 a barrel. So, it looks like investors are waiting on some economic data coming in here in the U.S. and they're still weighing the economic impact and the political impact of Italian referendum vote in Europe.

Banks and tech stocks helped push the Dow to a record high on Monday. It is the 19th time this year that the average closed at an all-time high. The S&P 500, not far behind. One solid rally there will get it to that record as well. And the NASDAQ is still about 1.5 percent away from its closing high.

The biggest gainer on the Dow this year is Caterpillar. That's the manufacturer of heavy materials. It's up -- and equipment. It's up 38 percent, much of that since the election, driven by hopes that Donald Trump will spend big on infrastructure. UnitedHealthcare also up more than 30 percent, but it's fallen recently. Shares of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase, they're also having a great year, up 26 percent each. Amazon has gone after bookstores. The retail chain and electronic

shops will now is taking on grocery stores with a twist. Amazon Go is a new app tied to a physical grocery store. So, what happens here is customers check in at the entrance with the app and they grab whatever items they want. Amazon claims it can track the items through computer programs and deep learning technology. What are those?

Well, when shoppers are done, they just walk out. Their bill is paid through the app. Now, the stores won't have many employees which keep costs lower than traditional grocery stores.

The first store is in Seattle. So, if you are eager to go see it, go to Seattle and visit it. That's where Amazon has its headquarters. For now, it's open only to Amazon employees. The public gets to shop there early next year.

That sounds like an awesome way to go grocery shop. I hate the lines.

BERMAN: Deep learning practices? What are they probing you? I mean, like --

KOSIK: I don't know. They're clearly watching you as you wander around the store.

BERMAN: All right. EARLY START continues right now.


BERMAN: President-elect Trump widens his search for secretary of state again. Could the CEO of ExxonMobil now be the frontrunner for the State Department?

KOSIK: The death toll rising in Oakland. Now, investigators want to know if this city's deadliest fire in over a century was caused by a criminal act.

BERMAN: A mistrial in the case of the former South Carolina police officer fatally shot an unarmed African-American man in the back. Why prosecutors say Michael Slager is not off the hook just yet.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Tuesday, December 6th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And just when you think you have President-elect Trump's cabinet list all down, (AUDIO GAP) names today. Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson will be going to Trump Tower for a visit. Tillerson is said to be under consideration for secretary of state. Also in Trump's datebook, a sit down with radio host Laura Ingraham. Then, this evening, Trump flies off on the next thank you tour in Fayetteville, North Carolina. This all follows some big announcement and meetings on Monday.

For the latest on all this, let's bring in CNN's Sunlen Serfaty.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SERFATY: Good morning, John and Alison.

Well, President-elect Donald Trump making some big decisions in terms of his cabinet, formally nominating Dr. Ben Carson, his former rival, as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. But as he moves to make some key decisions on these big cabinet posts, others seem to be taking almost a step back.

Late last week, we knew according to sources that Donald Trump had really settled on the potential for four finalists for this big secretary of state job.