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Trump's Thank You Tour; Trump Tech Summit Today in New York; Aleppo in Ruins; Radio Announcer Fired for Leaking Game Plans. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 14, 2016 - 05:00   ET



[05:00:06] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The Donald Trump "thank you" tour making a stop in the state of Wisconsin, praising former adversary Paul Ryan, and preparing for battle to defend his pick for secretary of state.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The big tech titans sitting down with the president-elect today. Among them, a CEO who has publicly feuded with Trump in the past.

HOWELL: And the final chapter in the battle for Aleppo, empty busses waiting to evacuate many, many displaced people as activists on the ground report new shelling. It's a heartbreaking story. We'll have details for you.

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

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning again, George. I'm Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, December 14th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Good morning, everyone. This is what happened overnight. President- elect Donald Trump hit the next stop on his "thank you" tour of the battleground that helped him win this election. He turned a rally in Wisconsin into a love fest, praising one-time adversary Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, complimenting Trump right back.

But it wasn't all kumbaya. The president-elect waited for his next nominee, ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson. He will face a battle in the Senate confirmation over his ties to the Russian president.

CNN's Jim Acosta has the latest from Wisconsin.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: George and Christine, Donald Trump has taken yet another victory lap here at the rally here in Wisconsin. He defended his choice for secretary of state, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson. Trump praised Tillerson's contacts around the world, but he did not mention Tillerson's past ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump also looked back at the election victory and thanked his biggest

supporters here in the state of Wisconsin, including House Speaker Paul Ryan who he praised in an unusual way.

Here's more of what he had to say.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Speaker Paul Ryan, I've really come to -- oh, no, I've come to appreciate him. Speaker Paul Ryan. Where is the speaker? Where is he? He has been -- I'll tell you, he has been terrific. You know honestly, he's like a fine wine. Every day goes by, I get to appreciate his genius more and more.

Now, the other goes against me, I'm not going to say that, OK? He's a great guy.

And we have some amazing things in store. And we're going to work on taxes. We're going to work on Obamacare. We're going to work on things. And he's going to lead the way. So, thank you.

ACOSTA: Even though it's been more than a month since elected president, Trump could not resist taking one last shot at Hillary Clinton, asking the crowd here in Wisconsin whether anybody remembers her name -- George and Christine.


HOWELL: Jim Acosta, thank you.

Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana is Donald Trump's pick for interior secretary. He is a 55-year-old ex-Navy SEAL who received two Bronze Stars for combat missions in Iraq. He's faced criticism from environmental and conservation groups since he joined the House in 2015. If he is confirmed, Zinke would directly oversee the EPA. That's an agency that he has criticized for imposing too many restrictions on industry.

ROMANS: Rick Perry is Donald Trump's nominee to head the Energy Department, an agency the former Texas governor once vowed to abolish. Perry has long been an ally of big oil. He has questioned the science linking greenhouse gas emissions to climate change.

While still a candidate during the primaries, he referred to Trump as a, quote, "cancer on conservatism and a barking carnival act.

HOWELL: High profile Trump supporter Katrina Pierson is seeking a job in the administration. Pierson has been a fierce for the president- elect in the cable news. Sources tell CNN that she met with Trump on Tuesday, possibly to discuss becoming a White House press secretary.

ROMANS: All right. On the agenda today, the president-elect meets with some top tech names at Trump Tower. Among the Silicon Valley leaders sitting down with Mr. Trump, Apple's CEO Tim Cook. Larry Page, he's the head of the Google holding company, Alphabet. Also in attendance will be Amazon's chief executive, Jeff Bezos. His combative relationship with Trump should -- could cast a shadow on today's meeting. I want to talk about the tech summit with our Samuel Burke. He is

joining us live this morning from London.

And, you know, as you know, some of these tech titans have been either dismissive of the candidacy of Donald Trump, critical of his positions on immigration and a lot of other things. Some of them outright hostile towards him and Donald Trump has been hostile back. But Peter Thiel is sort of the emissary, the go-between here. He is a contrarian, big billionaire investor in the Silicon Valley who's long been saying, look, we need to get along here.

What do you expect is going to happen?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, it felt like nearly all of Silicon Valley was against Donald Trump during the campaign. Peter Thiel really being one of the few exceptions, and he's really the middleman here, this link between Donald Trump and the tech titans that are going to be at this meeting today.

But getting back to Jeff Bezos, that's the biggest elephant in the room in terms of person-to-person relationship.

[05:05:03] Just remember that Bezos said at one point, that Trump's rhetoric was taking the United States, eroding democracy around its edges.

And take a look back at some of these tweets that Donald Trump fired off about a year ago aimed at Jeff Bezos, who's, of course, not only the head of Amazon, but as well of "The Washington Post." Trump tweeting in December of 2015, "the @WashingtonPost loses money, a deduction, and gives owner @JeffBezos power to screw public on low taxation of Amazon. Big tax shelter."

But the tone changed right after the election. Look at this, Jeff Bezos tweet right after Trump's big win. "Congratulations to @RealDonaldTrump, I for one give him my most open mind and wish him great success in his service to the country."

So, it's interesting to see, we've been reporting all morning how it seems like the relationship between Trump and Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, changed. Perry called him a cancer on the party at one point, and now, he's appointed him to a position, or at least nominated him. So, it's very interesting to see how Trump's relationships can change very quickly.

ROMANS: Interesting that they talked to each other some of these messages back and forth via Twitter. But the Twitter founder will not be at this meeting. It's going to be fascinating. We know you're following, of course.

Thank you so much, Samuel.

HOWELL: Donald Trump is now getting the intelligence daily briefing three times a week. This is according to Trump's spokesman, Sean Spicer. We're also told the president-elect is getting daily briefings by his pick for national security adviser, that would be the man here, Michael Flynn. Flynn is attending these daily briefings ever day. Trump has taken some criticism for previously only attending one daily briefing a week.

ROMANS: All right. So much to talk about in the Trump transition.

I want to bring in this morning, CNN politics digital managing editor, Zachary Wolf, from Washington.

Good morning.


ROMANS: Let's start with Rex Tillerson, the top diplomat, the top emissary on climate change, on the Middle East, on just about on everything. Someone who has spent his career at ExxonMobil working around the world, doing his own sort of, you know, foreign diplomacy, on behalf of shareholders of an energy giant. Now, he would be working on behalf of American citizens.

Listen last night how Mr. Trump tried to really sell what he sees as the assets of this candidate.


TRUMP: Rex will be a fierce advocate for interests around the world and has the insight and talent necessary to help reverse years of foreign policy blunders and disasters. Very excited about Rex. You know, Rex is friendly with many in the leaders of the world that we don't get along with. And some people don't like to. They don't want him to be friendly.


ROMANS: So, Team Trump sees Rex Tillerson's ties with Vladimir Putin, by the way, as an advantage. They say he knows how he thinks. He has said no to Vladimir Putin before. And will be able to negotiate and make deals with Putin that nobody else can.

Is this going to be a hard sell on the confirmation process?

WOLF: It is going to be a hard sale on the confirmation process. You know, I think they're going to be skeptical on pickings but you've seen Republicans, you know, people like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, people who have a deep distrust of Vladimir Putin and who have seen these reports the video of Putin and Tillerson. And know that the deals that he's made with Russia. And they just -- they can't, I think in their DNA think that, wow, this is where we're going.

But I'm sure because they have a Republican president they'll have an open mind. McCain said he would. You can expect there will be extremely tough confirmation hearings, even as Republicans who really don't like Putin ask Tillerson these tough questions. It's going to be something to watch.

HOWELL: Zach, let's talk about Trump's cabinet. These are people, you know, during the campaign, he stressed to voters that he was really in it for the little guy. But when you look at the people he's putting into these positions, they are incredibly wealthy big pocket people. Look at this here, you know, $5.1 billion for the education secretary. Health and human services there, $13 billion.

These are very wealthy people. So --

ROMANS: Looks like a boardroom, not a cabinet.

HOWELL: Yes, yes. So there's a question, will this play well with the people who decide Donald Trump is the person who would really speak for them?

And then, Zach, I want to you listen to this. So, Donald Trump was talking about these appointees and said they have incredibly high IQs, possibly the highest IQs of people who ever had the appointments. Let's listen.


TRUMP: And I believe we're in the process of putting together one of the great cabinets. Certainly a contact with the highest IQ that anybody has ever -- I mean, these are seriously great people.


[05:10:01] HOWELL: All right. Now, there's been no scientific -- there's no study, no data to support that claim. But here's the question, look these are wealthy people. Donald Trump said he's getting the best of the best. Will that play well with people who decided that Donald Trump was their man to speak for them?

WOLF: Well, these are -- I mean, you know, sure, why not? These are people who picked Donald Trump.

ROMANS: Right.

WOLF: You know, a billionaire who -- there was evidence of, you know, a lot of stuff that he did to benefit himself over people. They picked him because they thought he was going to be good for the country. I think there's this nationalist spirit running around right now in certain places and places that used to support Democrats.

So, I don't know necessarily picking that rich people is going to be seen as a knock. You know, there are things that are helpful with the cabinet. It's the least diverse -- we did some numbers yesterday, the least diverse since 1989. That could be a problem in communities already that feel disenfranchise by Donald Trump. But in sort of his core of people, the people who handed him the election, that blue wall in that Rust Belt states, I'm not sure appointing them will be the best.

HOWELL: Again, he said he's looking for the best, the brightest. It will be a matter of waiting to see, you know, if by putting these people in these positions the success plays out the way he said it would.

WOLF: Right.

ROMANS: All right. Zach Wolf, thanks so much. Nice to see you.

HOWELL: Thanks, Zach.

ROMANS: We'll talk to you in a few minutes. Thanks, Zach.

All right. Another big thing happening today. Get ready for higher interest rates on the big ticket items you buy. The Federal Reserve wraps up its two-day policy meeting this afternoon. And this is what we expect, the Fed will end this year with a rate hike, the same way it did in 2015.

Remember, it did a little rate hike and then it stopped. It stopped because it didn't take the economy was ready for more rate hikes. Now, things have changed. The economy is rolling. Unemployment is down to 4.6 percent, 180,000 new jobs being added each month this year on average. GDP in third quarter, strongest in 2 1/2 years.

And prices are starting to rise. They're still below the Fed's 2 percent target. But you're starting to get inflation, which is a by- product of a stronger economy. Inflation starting to come in here. We're going to get fresh consumer price index readings on Thursday.

Now, higher rates from the Fed, this is what it means for you. Borrowing costs are going up. This is not, you know, out in the atmosphere, guys. This is not a business headline that doesn't matter to you. This hits millions of Americans.

If you take out a new mortgage or a home equity line of credit or if you have an adjustable rate mortgage, you will pay more to borrow money. Car loans are likely to get more expensive. If you run a balance on your credit card, you could see higher rates there as well, adjustable rate mortgages. You get the picture.

If you're a saver, you know, one of the big knocks on these low interest rates, is that savers have been screwed over the past few years. Now, if you're a saver, you're going to get a little more return on those cash investments.

HOWELL: You know, the Fed has been under pressure to do this for some time. During the election, that wasn't quite the time. Now, they're making a move.

ROMANS: Some of us have argued that the fed is behind the curve. It was too cautious on the economy and there was his strength on the economy all along, that the Fed was not leaving itself enough room. If something happened in the future to be able to adjust policy.

So, it looks like it's going to happen. The big question will be: how much more after this that the Fed says could be as important as what the Fed does today.

HOWELL: And will the legislature, will they actually do things as well that would support the economy? We're also following a story of families that are caught up in carnage

agency the end near for the battle of Aleppo, can plan for a cease- fire and evacuations take hold? We have a live report, ahead.


HOWELL: Following the crisis in Syria. Eastern Aleppo may be back in the hands of government forces but a new setback is unfolding for the many, many people who have been displaced this morning. Russia is boasting of a newly hammered out cease-fire and evacuation plan. But that agreement has yet to take effect on the ground. In fact, several buses stationed and ready to go to take the civilians to get the much needed medical care that they need, those buses have yet to take a single passenger.

And now comes a claim that multiple activists in Eastern Aleppo, they say that there are new attacks on rebel-held neighborhoods.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is following the story live in neighboring Amman, Jordan, joining us live this hour.

Jomana, is it fair to say that the fighting has ended in Aleppo?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the battle, clearly, for Aleppo does seem to have ended. That is based on the sweeping gains we've seen the regime and their allies make over the past few days. The rebels and civilians who are left in there, George, no one knows really how many there are. There are estimates it's tens of thousands, have been pushed into a very small enclave of what is left of eastern Aleppo where they are staying.

Now, it's a matter of how is this going to end. That was the question. Are the rebels going to try to make a last stand or is there going to be some agreement?

And as we saw yesterday, an agreement was reached. This was brokered by Turkey mainly, and, of course, it was between the Russian and the opposition. But it does seem that we're seeing some delays in this implementation of this agreement.

Over the past couple of hours, we're hearing from activists and residents of eastern Aleppo, they're saying there has been heavy bombardment and intense artillery shelling in several neighborhoods. That is the first violation of this cease-fire that began late yesterday, and delayed also in the evacuations of civilians, George.

HOWELL: Jomana Karadsheh following the story for us in Amman, Jordan. Jomana, thank you. We'll stay in touch.

ROMANS: All right. Eighteen minutes past the hour.

Actor Alan Thicke has died. The former "Growing Pain" star suffered a fatal heart attack while playing hockey with his 19-year-old son Carter in Los Angeles. His singer/songwriter Robin Thicke remembering his dad "as the greatest man I've ever met". Alan Thicke was just 69 years old. HOWELL: President Obama signing a bill into law to combat drug

addiction and combat cancer. The 21st Century Cures Act boosts founding by $4 billion for cancer research, for drug addiction recovery and for mental health services. Mr. Obama highlighted the work of Vice President Joe Biden who led the push for a moon shot effort to cure cancer. This, of course, following the death of his son Beau last year.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those of you who are docs know that -- how many times does the patient come to you to say, doc, I don't expect you to make me whole again. But just give me another month so he I walk her down the aisle. Just give me -- just give me another six weeks because it's my first grandchild. People aren't asking for the impossible.


HOWELL: Biden says that bill will inject new urgency into the fight against cancer. And will give millions of Americans battling cancer renewed hope. Christine, the president also pointing out that the president, you know, acknowledged the fact that he lost his mother to cancer.

ROMANS: Yes, every family is touched by cancer. So, it's a story that matters to everyone.

[05:20:01] All right. First, there was WikiLeaks, and now Wakey- Leaks, a radio announcer for Wake Forest fired for allegedly giving confidential information to the school's opponents. Oh, my.

Andy Scholes with this morning's "Bleacher Report." That's next.


HOWELL: Welcome back.

So, here's a story you don't hear in sports very often. Wake Forest says they have found a mole within their program. This is the person who apparently was providing opponents with their game plan.


Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.


Yes. This story is unbelievable. Wake Forest said that their radio announcer who is a former player and assistant coach for the Demon Deacons provided or attempted to provide confident game preparations to opponents several times starting back in 2014. The man's name is Tommy Elrod. He's been fired and banned from Wake Forest athletics. Elrod had unlimited access to the program. Wake Forest started an

investigation after equipment manager found play sheets inside Louisville's stadium before their game with the Cardinals. The head coach Dave Clawson released a statement saying that its incomprehensible that Elrod betrayed his alma mater the way he did.

All right. Warriors at Pelicans last night, Steph Curry doing Steph Curry things in this one. Check out the turn around jumper right now. And then gives Pelicans assistant coach Darren Erman a high five.

Now, Erman used to be a Warrior assistant coach. Those two know each other. Curry would score 30 on this one as the Warriors beat the Pelicans, 113-109.

[05:25:01] Turner Sports legend Craig Sager was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame last night in New York. Sager continues to battle leukemia. He could not attend the ceremony so turner President David Levy accepted the honor in his behalf.


DAVID LEVY, TURNER BROADCASTING PRESIDENT: Craig's an inspiration to so many people and he continues to courageously battle cancer. To me, a determination, grace and the will to live Craig has displayed during his battle with cancer will ultimately be his lasting impact.


SCHOLES: All right. Finally, the NFL announcing on Tuesday for the first time ever they will play four games in London next season. Here are the matchups. The Ravens are going to take on the Jags. The Saints are going to play the Dolphins. The Browns who may still be looking for a win will play the Vikings. And then the Cardinals are taking on the Rams.

And, guys, this week, got a lot of NFL television. "Thursday Night Football", you got Seahawks and the Rams. And then you got Saturday night game between the Jets and Dolphins. So, you got Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. Only three days we're missing NFL football.

ROMANS: Yes, lots of football to watch.

All right. Thanks so much, Andy. Nice to see you.

SCHOLES: All right.

HOWELL: All right. The president-elect on Paul Ryan's home turf had something to say about the speaker of the House. We'll have that story next on EARLY START.



TRUMP: We are going to make America great again. (END VIDEO CLIP)