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Trump Introduces His Picks for Defense Secretary; Spokesman: Trump Sold All His Stocks; Obama's Advice to Trump; Eastern Aleppo on the Verge of Falling. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 7, 2016 - 04:30   ET




[04:30:30] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, if he didn't get that waiver, there would be a lot of angry people. Such a popular choice.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The president-elect of the United States warning Congress that he wants that waiver needed for his nominee to run the Defense Department or there will be angry people he says.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Plans for the new Air Force One jet, up in the air, after the president-elect says the price tag doesn't fly with him.

HOWELL: The current president of the United States, his last national security address as commander-in-chief, messages seemingly meant for Donald Trump without ever mentioning him by name.

Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm George Howell.

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

And President-elect Donald Trump is warning Congress about blocking his pick for secretary of state at a "Thank You" rally in the battleground state of North Carolina. Trump introduced his nominee for defense secretary, and he noted that retired General James Mattis, he's going to need a special waiver to take office and almost dared Congress not to give it to him.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has the latest from North Carolina.



President-elect Donald Trump holding his second "Thank You" rally here in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he brought a much different tone that we've seen. He was much more retrained, and much more disciplined, quite different from that first "Thank You" rally he had last week where that rally almost divulged into an airing of grievances.

This rally all about staying on message apparently for President-elect Donald Trump where he pushed a heavy national security message for the military community, only a few miles away from Fort Bragg where he formally rolled out his nominee for secretary of defense.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm proud to announce today my intention to nominate General James "Mad Dog" Mattis as the next secretary of defense for the United States of America.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: I look forward to being the civilian leader as long as Congress gives me the waiver and the Senate votes to consent.

TRUMP: He'll get that waiver, right? He'll get that waiver. Ooh, if he didn't get that waiver, there will be a lot of angry people.

SERFATY: And both General Mattis and Donald Trump, they're alluding to his legal battle that they have ahead in Congress that Mattis needs a special waiver from Congress in order to be considered for this job. The fact that Mattis has only retired from the military for three years and there is a statute on the books that requires officers in uniform to be out of uniform for seven years. So, Trump sending a little bit of a warning chime, a threat to Congress, you better get this passed through.

Now, meantime, Donald Trump will take to the road tomorrow to Des Moines, Iowa. And he held another one of these "Thank You" rallies on Friday in Michigan -- George and Alison.


KOSIK: OK, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you.

Now, Republican are using a short-term spending bill to try to speed up the Mattis nomination. They're adding language to the stop gap funding measure that imposes time limits on the debate over where to grant that special waiver Mattis needs to become defense secretary. They want him cleared to take over the Pentagon when President-elect Trump is inaugurated. The federal government, though, runs out of money at midnight Friday. The House votes on spending bill Thursday.

HOWELL: The Boeing Company responding to Donald Trump's tweet slamming the price for new Air Force One jumbo jets saying that it came out of left field. Trump's tweet that costs are out of control, more than $4 billion, and demanding cancel the order. Boeing officials say they have no idea where that $4 billion figure came from. They say the Pentagon hasn't decided yet on what bells and whistles it wants, nor has decided even on whether to buy two or to buy three. The aircraft maker says it can lower costs, but only if the Pentagon eases the specifications that it requires. KOSIK: Donald Trump used to own stock in Boeing but he actually sold

that position, along with the rest of his stock portfolio. Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller, he told reporters yesterday that Trump dumped all of his stock holdings in June. A financial disclosure submitted in May showed holdings in about 100 other companies, once again including Boeing, Apple, Microsoft, GE and Pepsi. In total, the shares amounted to $10 million, just a tiny fraction of Trump's billion dollar network.

But verifying whether Trump actually sold the stocks, that's going to be difficult because he's not required to file another disclosure until May of 2018.

[04:35:08] But Trump has repeatedly warned of a stock market bubble. Now, if he did cash out means he missed some big gains because the S&P 500 is up about 4 percent since he was elected and 5.5 percent since he allegedly ditched the stocks in June.

HOWELL: The vice president-elect Mike Pence is laying out his plan for the first 100 days of the Trump administration. The first order of business will be to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, as it's known. Pence called that priority number one and says that Congress will hit the ground running once Donald Trump takes the oath of office.


MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: The first 100 days, I was visiting Capitol Hill the other day and I told my former colleagues there to buckle up. Vacation's over. We're going to work.

We're going to start out by repealing Obamacare, starting the process of replacing it with free market solutions. And right out of the box, you're going to see our president-elect get out that pen and repeal every single unconstitutional executive order that Barack Obama signed into law.


HOWELL: Pence is also pledging to simplify the tax code and to cut taxes before the arrival of spring.

KOSIK: Pence and the rest of the Trump team are now trying to distance themselves from the son of retired General Michael Flynn. Flynn is Trump's pick for national security adviser. But CNN has learned the transition team requested security clearance for the general's son, Michael G. Flynn, even though he's been pushing false conspiracy theories online like pizza-gate.

I want you to listen to the vice president-elect deflect Jake Tapper's questions about that request.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: You must be aware that the transition team put in for security clearance for Michael G. Flynn, the son of Lt. General Flynn?

PENCE: Well, I'm aware in talking to General Flynn that his son was helping the scheduling, Jake.

TAPPER: No, but you put in for a security clearance for him.

PENCE: He's helping his dad arrange for meetings and provide meetings, but that's no longer the case.

TAPPER: But do you need security clearance to do scheduling?

PENCE: I think that's the appropriate decision, for us to move forward, avoid any further distraction.


KOSIK: And Tapper asked Pence several more times about the security clearance request for General Flynn's son. Each time Pence refused to acknowledge the request was even made.

HOWELL: The current president of the United States, Barack Obama, is checking off an important box on this to-do list, giving his final national security address, speaking to troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. The White House said the speech was planned before Donald Trump won last month. And that the address wasn't meant as a message for the president-elect, but there were times when Mr. Obama sounded like he was speaking to an audience of one.

White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski has more now from Tampa.



Right. This was a broad defense. An explanation of President Obama's policies against terrorism and our national security over the last eight years. But it also searches as almost a warning to the next administration that you need to be extremely careful with these intricate complexities of national security, otherwise, you could make problems worse.

And when you think about it, this is how this administration continues to communicate with the next one. The president continuing to hit the same point and set up these contrasts between his policies and some of the things that Donald Trump has said. For example, the president's continued attempts to close Gitmo, calling it a blot on our national honor. His opposition to enhance interrogation techniques or torture, saying that adherence to the rule of law is not a weakness but in fact is our greatest national strength.

Also on the Muslim issue, arguably, the most controversial part of Donald Trump's campaign platform. Listen.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States of America is not a country that imposes religious tests as a price for freedom. We're a country that was founded so people could practice their faiths as they choose. The United States of America is not a place where some citizens have to withstand greater scrutiny or carry a special I.D. card or prove that they're not an enemy from within. We're a country that has bled and struggled and sacrificed against that kind of discrimination and arbitrary rule, here in our own country and around the world.

KOSINSKI: This was not the fiery President Obama that we saw in on the campaign trail, but this was the lawyerly President Obama, making the careful case for why he believes his policies are the ones to carry forward and looking long term. It can almost be summed up in one sentence that you use, that he takes the fight to terrorists, not through invasion but through a network of partnerships -- George and Alison.


[04:40:00] KOSIK: OK. Michelle Kosinski, thank you.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Thousands of veterans and a few remaining survivors will attend a ceremony there later this morning. On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced he will visit the site of the attack in late December with President Obama, making him the first Japanese leader to do so since the end of World War II.

Speaking to reporters, Abe implied the gesture is a way of mirroring the commitment shown by Obama to Japan-U.S. relations when he visited Hiroshima in May.

HOWELL: It is a moment of history.

KOSIK: It is.

HOWELL: The President-elect Donald Trump taking credit for bringing a $50 billion investment and 50,000 new jobs in the United States. But here's the question, was that deal already in the works before Donald Trump was elected? We'll examine it.


[04:45:03] HOWELL: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm George Howell.

Donald Trump is taking credit for a $50 billion investment in the U.S. by the Japanese tech conglomerate. The president-elect making an appearance in Trump Tower with the CEO of SoftBank. The Japanese internet and telecommunications giant plans to invest heavily in U.S. startups creating 50,000 jobs. And Trump is insisting the deal only happened because he won the election. So, that is the question.

Let's bring in Andrew Stevens live in Hong Kong following this story.

Andrew, again, that's the question, can we determine with any certainty whether Trump indeed did have a hand in this or was this already in the works? ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The short answer is, we don't

know, George. That is what Donald Trump is claiming that without his election success that Masayoshi Son of SoftBank wouldn't have made this $50 billion investment plan to create 50,000 jobs in the U.S.

What we do know the money is going to come from a $100 million investment fund which is call the Softbank vision fund. This was actually announced back in October before the election, obviously. Now that fund is being set up with $25 billion. That's what's being reported, $25 billion of SoftBank money, $45 billion interestingly of Saudi Arabian government money, the balance coming from other investors.

So, we know there was this fund in process. We know this fund was being set up to invest in Internet companies, in tech companies, in startups around the world, not just the U.S., but the U.S. obviously would be a big target purely because of Silicon Valley, if nothing else. So it looks like it was probably going there anyway.

So, for Donald Trump to say it's all about him at this stage, we can only take his word for that. But certainly, it's going to be quite a challenge to create 50,000 jobs in the mix four years. That's what they're talking about, four years to invest his money to make those jobs. Startups, notoriously, sort of labor unintensive, George, as you know. So, to get that 50,000 is going to require a lot of very, very interesting investments.

STEVENS: Also interesting to point out that a major portion of that money coming from Saudi Arabia, as you indicate, a country that Donald Trump has been critical of. Many times.

Andrew Stevens live for us in Hong Kong -- thank you for the reporting.

KOSIK: A jury in the Dylann Roof trial is expected to be seated today in South Carolina, followed by opening statements. It comes after a federal judge denied a defense request to delay the start of the trial because of a mistrial in the murder case against former South Carolina cop Michael Slager. Roof is charged with killing nine people at a black church in Charleston last year.

STEVENS: The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, his final year in office. It is shaping up to be a long one. According to a new Quinnipiac poll, just 19 percent of New Jersey voters approve of the job that he's doing. Seventy-seven percent disapprove. That is the lowest approval rating for any governor in more than 20 years.

The poll also found that nearly half, 48 percent, believe that Chris Christie personally ordered the bridge gate traffic jam. And 56 percent say his involvement in the scandal should be investigated further.

KOSIK: CEOs of some big companies are thrilled with Donald Trump but there's one important business move they won't be making when he takes office. I'll tell you what that is when get a check on CNN Money Stream. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:52:50] KOSIK: The Syrian government forces are closer than ever to retaking Aleppo. More than 70 percent of the last rebel stronghold eastern Aleppo has been captured. The Assad regime helped by Russian forces is now using massive fire power to kill or displace thousands. The onslaught is so extreme that parts of Aleppo have been raised to the ground.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is tracking developments live from Amman, Jordan.

You know, it is true, we follow the battles and the bullets flying, but it's those personal stories that really hit home. I know that you spoke of one earlier, about how one desperate resident saying that death is much better than fleeing to those regime areas.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alison, the civilians in eastern Aleppo are absolutely terrified of what might be coming, what they are going through, right now, as you mentioned. You know, communication to eastern Aleppo is very limited. We try and reach civilians who remain there to try and understand what they are going through. What their top choices are right now and how they are surviving.

And it's been really difficult to reach them in the past week or so. As you mentioned, we are seeing this rapid advance by the Syrian regime forces and their allied troops on the ground, this ground offensive moving into eastern Aleppo, capturing neighborhood after neighborhood. It's really moving faster than many people had anticipated. As you mentioned, now, the estimates are they control about 75 percent of Eastern Aleppo.

Now, what happens next to the civilians, to the rebels, now, there have been talks of whether we're going to see the rebels reach an agreement of sorts that was on the table in the past for them to withdraw from Aleppo and move to a different part of the country. Or if they are going to fight until the end, and, of course, the biggest question here is the civilians. We've seen thousands displaced over the past week or so. In the fighting some regime areas, but as you mentioned, some of these people that we have spoken to, Alison, say that death is much better than going to regime areas.

[04:55:01] They are absolutely terrified of what they fear will be regime retribution.

KOSIK: Is there any indication that the rebels would actually surrender?

KARADSHEH: You know, a couple of months back, when we saw more of these offensives taking place in Aleppo. We have spoken to opposition figures, to some of rebel figures, and asked them. At that time, I remember one person telling us that they would not give up Aleppo. They will fight until the end, because if they lose Aleppo, they say that this is the end of the Syrian revolution. So, if the regime does gain control of all of Aleppo, which seems to be something they're moving towards right now this would be their biggest victory so far in the civilian war. Of course, we have to wait to see if the rebels will accept any deals on the table to withdraw. But they have been, their defenses have been collapsing. It doesn't seem like they have much choice at this point, Alison.

KOSIK: All right. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, thanks so much.

HOWELL: The head of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says that the thousands of people who gathered together to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline should go home as soon as the weather permits. On Sunday, the army corps of engineers denied a permit that would have allowed the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River.

The tribal chairman, Dave Archambault, says the next stage would focus on legal battles. In a statement, the chairman thanked the demonstrators and asked them to leave the land as they found it.

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

The Dow's record run is barreling into December. Futures are higher at the moment after yet another record high yesterday. Stock markets in Europe are enjoying solid gains and shares in Asia rose overnight.

Two stock winners yesterday, Sprint and T-Mobile, both wireless carriers getting more than 1 percent after Trump's tweet about Japan's SoftBank investing in the U.S. SoftBank owns a large stake in Sprint. That stock is up almost 33 percent over the past month.

A Senate committee holding a hearing today on the $85 billion mega merger between AT&T and Time Warner.

Lawmakers will hear from Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes. Time Warner is the parent company of CNN. AT&T chief Randall Stephenson will appear and he will say the deal will disrupt the current cable TV structure.

Also making an appearance, billionaire tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban. He's going to be testifying on Capitol Hill. He's been a vocal supporter of the merger.

A new survey finds American CEOs are happy with the business environment Donald Trump is creating. They say reduced regulations will help their business grow. A survey of executives by the Business Roundtable finds 67 percent expect sales to increase over the next six months. That's up from last quarter. And 35 percent expect to hire more workers during the first half of next year. That's also a significant rise.

But business leaders are still hesitant about spending money. The percentage expected to increase capital spending is dropping. The CEO of heavy equipment maker Caterpillar says an increase there will follow economic growth.

You know, a lot of the spending from these businesses really originates from confidence. We're starting to see confidence -- definitely a lot of confidence in the market after you see the Dow hit record high after record high.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

EARLY START continues right now.


KOSIK: Donald Trump introducing General James Mattis as his pick for defense secretary. The president-elect almost daring his critics to try to mound a challenge.


OBAMA: In fact, people and nations do not make good decisions when they are driven by fear.


HOWELL: A word of advice from the president of the United States Barack Obama to his successor about fighting terrorism.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm George Howell.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It is Wednesday, December 7th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And President-elect Donald Trump is warning Congress against blocking his pick for secretary of defense. At a "Thank You" rally in the battleground state of North Carolina, Trump introduced his nominee for defense secretary. He noted that retired General James Mattis is going to be needing a special waiver to take office and Trump almost dared Congress not to give it to him.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has the latest from North Carolina.


SERFATY: Good morning, George and Alison.

President-elect Donald Trump holding his second "Thank You" rally here in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he brought a much different tone that we've seen. He was much more retrained, and much more disciplined, quite different from that first "Thank You" rally he had last week where that rally almost divulged into an airing of grievances.

This rally all about staying on message apparently for President-elect Donald Trump where he pushed a heavy national security message for the military community, only a few miles away from Fort Bragg where he formally rolled out his nominee for secretary of defense.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm proud to announce today my intention to nominate General James "Mad Dog" Mattis as the next secretary of defense for the United States of America.