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Trump 'Thank You' Tour Goes To Wisconsin; Rep. Zinke Tapped For Interior Secretary, Rick Perry For Energy Secretary; Trump Tech Summit Today In New York; Aleppo Evacuation Plan On Hold. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 14, 2016 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We are going to make America great again.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Trump takes the stage in Wisconsin, praising Paul Ryan and defending his pick for Secretary of State.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Silicon Valley comes to Trump Tower. Top tech names meet the president-elect.

ROMANS: And a declining moment in Syria's war, the fall of Aleppo. This morning, activists say a ceasefire called to evacuate the last of the rebels has now been shattered. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

HOWELL: And good morning, I'm George Howell. Thirty minutes past the hour and overnight, Donald Trump in the state of Wisconsin, all part of his 'thank you' tour in these battleground states that helped him to win the election.

(Video playing) The president-elect on stage with one-time adversary, the Speaker of the House, right there, Paul Ryan. The rally in Wisconsin turning into sort of lovefest, really, on stage with Trump praising Ryan and Ryan complimenting Trump right back. The president- elect set the stage, also, to defend his pick for Secretary of State. That's the ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, who may face an uphill battle for Senate confirmation. CNN's Jim Acosta has the very latest from Wisconsin.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: George and Christine, Donald Trump has taken yet another victory lap at a 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 to his 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.

TRUMP: Speaker Paul Ryan -- I've really come to --

AUDIENCE: (Booing)

TRUMP: 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. And, you know, honestly, he's like a fine wine. Every day goes by I get to appreciate his genius more and more. Now, if he ever goes against meI'm not going to say that, OK? He's a great guy and we have some amazing things in store. 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 he was 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.


ROMANS: All right, Jim Acosta. Thanks, Jim. Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana is Donald Trump's pick for Interior Secretary. He is a 55-year-old ex-Navy SEAL. He's received two bronze stars for combat missions in Iraq. He's faced some criticism from environmental conservation groups since he joined the House in 2015. If he's confirmed, Zinke would directly oversee the EPA. That's an agency he has criticized for imposing too many restrictions on industry.

HOWELL: Rick Perry is Donald Trump's nominee to head the Energy Department. That's an agency that the former Texas governor once vowed to abolish. Perry has been a long ally of big oil and has questioned the science linking greenhouse gases -- gas emissions to climate change. While still a candidate during the primaries, Perry referred to Trump as a cancer on conservatism and a barking carnival act but now, again, the two are allies.

ROMANS: High-profile Trump supporter Katrina Pierson seeking a job in the new administration. She's a fierce advocate for the president- elect on the cable news networks. Sources tell CNN she met with Trump on Tuesday, possibly to discuss becoming the White House press secretary. Pierson once famously told a CNN audience President Obama was to blame for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. President Obama took office seven years after that invasion.

HOWELL: A little later today the president-elect will meet with top tech executives here in New York at Trump Tower and among them Apple CEO Tim Cook and Larry Page, who is the head the Google holding company Alphabet. Mr. Trump will also be sitting down with Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. His combative relationship with Trump could cast a shadow on today's meeting.

To talk more about this let's bring in CNN's Samuel Burke, live in London this morning. Samuel, good morning. Look, these could be some really awkward moments, especially with Bezos. SAMUEL BURKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George. Yes, it felt like at times, all of Silicon Valley was against Donald Trump the candidate or, at least, most ofSilicon Valley. But really, the most contentious relationship was this back and forth between Bezos and Trump.

Let me just remind you of some of the tweets that were sent between these two. Bezos, at one point, saying that Trump's rhetoric was "eroding democracy around its edges in the United States." And then, Donald Trump shooting off a tweet just about a year ago where he basically said that Bezos was screwing over the country with his attacks -- basically, evasion was what he was saying -- or using the tax loopholes very well. "The Washington Post loses money, a deduction, and gives @jeffbezos power to screw public," his words "on low taxation of Amazon. Big tax shelter."

[05:35:13] But the tone has changed since Donald Trump won. Right after the election was finished Bezos sent out this tweet saying, "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 will interesting to see if like things appear to be with Rick Perry, there can be some relationships repaired there.

HOWELL: Well, as long as they stay off Twitter and avoid the Twitter war, sure Sam. So, OK, in terms of policy, what would be at the top of the agenda with meetings like this?

BURKE: We have been told that jobs and the economy will be at the very top of the agenda. Interesting to note that sources say that Trump is looking for ways for Silicon Valley to help make the U.S. government more efficient though, oftentimes, tech companies make things efficient by getting rid of jobs for human beings and giving them to computers.

Though one thing that I've noted that's very interesting is that we don't see that hacking is on the top of the list and that's, of course, something that these tech companies face every single day. And given the accusations that are coming from the intelligence community in the United States, as well from the White House, it will be interesting to see who mentions that first, if anybody does.

HOWELL: Samuel Burke live for us in London. Samuel, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Donald Trump is now getting the president's daily intelligence briefing three times a week. That's according to Trump spokesman Sean Spicer. We are also told the president-elect is getting daily briefings by his pick for National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn is attending the daily briefings daily. Trump has taken some criticism for previously attending only one daily briefing a week.

HOWELL: All right, a lot to talk about. Let's bring in now CNN POLITICS digital managing editor Zach Wolf, live in Washington this morning.

ROMANS: Hey, Zach. HOWELL: Zach, good to have you with us. Let's start by talking about Rex Tillerson. So look, there is concern among many on both sides of the aisle about his relationship with Russia, specifically with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Donald Trump is saying look, this is a businessman who has relationships around the world. He's touting that as an asset. A businessman who can get things done. He talked about that just a bit in Wisconsin. Let's take a listen and we can talk about it on the other side.


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


HOWELL: So, Donald Trump there defending his pick, Zach, but the question now, will it be difficult for him to get that confirmation?

ZACHARY WOLF, MANAGING EDITOR, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL: Well look, if you're in charge of Exxon you're essentially in charge of your own little nation state there. I mean, they have dealings throughout the world, as you said, and he has to interact with world leaders. In some ways that makes him extremely qualified, but he's also done business -- gotten things from Russia, given things to Russia. I think that that will be very difficult.

There are a lot of senators -- in particular, people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham -- who have spent the latter part of their careers raising alarm bells about Russia and Vladimir Putin, so those elements will certainly make it hard. They've already said -- some members from both parties -- that they would -- that they're very concerned about this but they're going to keep an open mind. Expect some really good confirmation hearings.

ROMANS: You know, I would say like the traditional business -- pro- business Republicans have been happy with this pick, quite frankly. They say it shows the business mind of Donald Trump is really changing how things are going to get done. But it's interesting to me because, I mean, look at his cabinet. It also looks more like -- I mean, it looks a board, you know. Donald Trump is chairman of the board rather than maybe a cabinet when you look at some of the business savvy here and the money.

Is this -- you know, Donald Trump says that he wants winner and he judges winners by how much they win in this economy. It's sort of interesting that he's using these people who have really managed to climb to the very top to represent people who feel like they're stuck in the middle.

WOLF: Well, I mean, you have to remember those people stuck in the middle or maybe falling out of the middle in some of the Rust Belt states --

ROMANS: Right.

WOLF: -- that really swung the election towards Donald Trump, they picked him.

ROMANS: Right.

WOLF: They picked the person who said I'm going to make America great again. I'm going to give you what I have. And, Donald Trump -- his message was I'm going to do for you, America, what I've been doing for myself. I'm going to make -- you know, he didn't say I'm going to say I'm going to make everybody rich, but I'm going to do for you what I've been doing for myself. And choosing rich people to be in his cabinet really is an extension of that, I think.

HOWELL: Also, Zach, very quickly here though, but picking people who seem very opposed to many of the agencies that they will be overseeing -- you know, critics have argued it's like letting Dracula guard the blood bank.

[05:40:06] WOLF: Well, specifically with Rick Perry, he wanted to get rid of three agencies. He couldn't remember the Department of Energy in that debate a couple of years ago. It torpedoed his own presidential campaign. Now he's going to head the agency he forgot he wanted to get rid of, which is an incredible irony and very, very interesting. But, you know, a lot of Democrats and progressives are going to view this as sort of an undoing of government, at least, at this point --

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

WOLF: -- and we'll just have to see what -- you know, the proof will be in the pudding. What exactly are they going to do to regulations? Are they going to run wild? And what role are Democrats going to play in standing up to it?

ROMANS: He promised the status quo would be gone. That's how come he was elected.

WOLF: Right.

ROMANS: And now, people are like wait, this isn't the status quo. The status quo is gone because Donald Trump said won the election, he wanted to do it differently, and he is. All right, Zach, nice to see you.

HOWELL: Thanks, Zach.

ROMANS: Thank you so much. Nice to see you so bright and early this morning in Washington.

WOLF: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, it is Fed decision day and all signs point to a rate hike. The Federal Reserve wrapping up its last meeting of the year. The economy is ready and the Fed is likely ready to act. That's what we think's going to happen. It means borrowing costs are going up for both consumers and businesses.

Check out this chart. It shows you the Fed funds rate going all the way back 30 years. You see where it flatlines there? That's in the middle of the recession when the Fed basically put interest rates at zero to save the economy from falling off a cliff. Rates still pretty low. We may never see these low rates again. So, yes, a rate hike is going to make things more expensive, like mortgages, but we're expecting a gradual rise back to levels not seen for decades.

(Video playing) There's also some irony in today's decision. Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that the Fed Chief, Janet Yellen -- right there -- she was keeping rates low to preserve President Obama's economic legacy but, all along, the Fed had been begging Congress and the White House to do something to boost economic growth so they didn't have to keep rates so low. They finally both may be getting what they want from a Trump administration and a Republican Congress.

It's sort of the irony, I think, for next year is business-minded folks think that Donald Trump's policies, if he gets them through, will heat up the economy. The Fed's job is to keep the economy from overheating so I think you'll see a lot of discussion about interest rates and how quickly they will move higher next year.

HOWELL: All right. So look, there have been plans to get many of these civilians out of war-torn Aleppo but those plans have hit a snag. More now on the battle's final chapter as EARLY START continues.


[05:46:10] ROMANS: All right. (Video playing) Russia says Eastern Aleppo is back in the hands of government sources. The challenge now is to protect and evacuate the remaining civilians. Now, Russia is boasting of a newly hammered out ceasefire and evacuation plan but that agreement has yet to bear out. Buses stationed and ready to take injured civilians to medical care -- you can see them there -- they are empty. They have yet to take a single passenger.

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

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is live in Amman, Jordan. She has been following all of these developments and monitoring what's happening on the ground here. And the concern here among people who support the insurgency against the regime is that these are the final moments of the rebel action. What are you hearing?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these were supposed to be the final moments in this battle for Aleppo. As we heard yesterday, this Turkey-mediated deal between the Russians and the opposition fighters that would see the rebel fighters being evacuated out of Aleppo and also the evacuation of civilians who wanted to leave, this was supposed to begin -- the implementation of this was supposed to begin today but we're seeing delays.

In the past couple of hours we are hearing from activists and residents in Eastern Aleppo who are describing intense shelling and bombardment of these neighborhoods where the rebels and the civilians still are. They're reporting some civilian casualties, injuries as a result of this artillery shelling. We're also hearing from the Syrian regime. According to state media, they're accusing the rebels of also launching artillery strikes against neighborhoods that are controlled by the regime, saying that there are people who have been killed and wounded as a result of this.

We've also seen the delay of these evacuations that were meant to begin about five and one-half hours ago. That has not happened yet. We've heard from the Turkish foreign minister who is accusing the Syrian regime and some forces, as he said, of trying to break the ceasefire. A very complex situation. So many different parties involved on the ground in trying to implement this very fragile deal, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, we'll let you get back to working the phones and reporting on that for us. Thank you so much. Jomana Karadsheh for us in Jordan.

HOWELL: All right, now time to take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". Mr. Chris Cuomo is on deck live for us. Chris, good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning, sunshine.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": All right, my good friends. We're going to take some time on the Aleppo story that you were just covering because as if it being a humanitarian catastrophe were not enough, there are also very big geopolitical and strategic issues on the line. What happens next if Syria does complete its control of Eastern Aleppo?

What does that mean for the United States? The president-elect seems to have a very different posture towards Syria. What is the future for those people there? What does it mean in terms of the profile for terror in that part of the world? So we'll take that all on.

Also, the president-elect did take his thank you show on the road again, this time to Wisconsin, standing by his controversial pick to lead the State Department. Why controversial? We're going to talk about that today.

And there's another beat on the Russian hacks that many believe certainly happened -- and everybody believes that in the intel community -- but also there's this idea about whether or not they had an impact on the U.S. election and how that is playing into Tillerson's selection and his potential nomination. We'll take that all on for you this morning.

ROMANS: All right.

CUOMO: And, Christine, you're going to come -- ROMANS: I am.

CUOMO: -- and help us understand why there'd be a rate hike with the stock market going so well. Some people think those two things go together. You'll tell us why they do.

[05:50:02] ROMANS: You know I love to talk about money with you. I do.

CUOMO: Not your own, though. I use two coats of paint.

ROMANS: That's true. He knows I'm so cheap. He knows how cheap I am. That's why I'm qualified to talk about money because I am cheap. All right, thank you, Chris.

HOWELL: Chris, thanks.

ROMANS: Talk to you soon. It is Fed decision day, as Chris said. You can expect a rate hike. I will be talking about it with him in a couple of minutes. Millions of Americans are going to pay more for big purchases. This is one of those business stories that really matters. Some of you are going to save money, some of you are going to spend more. I'm going to break out the winners and the losers in the higher interest rate gain.


[05:54:10] HOWELL: Welcome back. Breaking overnight, the president of the Philippines has just admitted that he used to personally kill suspected criminals. During a speech to businessmen late last night, President Rodrigo Duterte said that when he was the mayor of Davao City he drove around on a big motorcycle and, in his words, looking for trouble to set an example for hesitant police officers. In the Filipino language of Tagalog, Duterte added, "I was really looking for an encounter so that I could kill."


RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT, THE PHILIPPINES: But in Davao I used to do it personally, just to show to the guys that if I can do it, why can't you?


HOWELL: The Obama administration has expressed strong concern about human rights under Duterte's populous authoritarian government. He has publicly encouraged civilians to kill drug addicts and said that he won't prosecute police who execute offenders without due process. Also important to point out that the president-elect has offered his support, in a way, to President Duterte's war against drugs.

[05:55:15] ROMANS: He encouraged civilians to kill drug addicts, too? That's -- he's encouraged civilians. Wow, all right. Fifty- five minutes past the hour. Actor Alan Thicke has died. The former "GROWING PAINS" star suffering a fatal heart attack while playing hockey with his 19-year-old son Carter in Los Angeles. Another son, singer Robin Thicke, remembering his dad as the greatest man I ever met. Alan Thicke was 69 years old. We certainly send our condolences to his family.

HOWELL: The governor of Ohio, John Kasich, has signed a bill into law that outlaws abortions in his state after 20 weeks. He also vetoed a proposed heartbeat bill that would have prohibited abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks in the pregnancy. Kasich said that he doesn't support the measure -- didn't -- because he feared a lengthy and costly court battle.

ROMANS: All right, 56 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream. Stock futures are -- they're not moving because they're waiting, and they're waiting for this, the Federal Reserve. A very big decision on interest rates. What will the Feds say about the next interest rate hike and how much will it hike rates today? Two big questions.

The Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P 500 -- record highs yesterday, folks. Records, records. Stock markets in Europe right now -- they've been open a couple of hours -- they're lower. Shares in Asia, they are closed now for their day. They were mixed. Oil is down after a report showed a surprise jump in oil stockpiles here in the U.S.

Look, this could be an historic day for the stock market. We're waiting on the Fed but, I mean, look at the Dow here. It is less than 100 points away from 20,000 -- Dow 20K. Remember Dow 10K, Dow 11K, Dow 12K -- Dow 20K. This is a big rise from earlier this year when the average was just below 16,000. After the election it hit 19,000 for the very first time and, now, just 14 trading days later the Dow is nearing another milestone.

Let me just be clear about this. It hit 19,000 like two and one-half weeks ago. Now it's hitting 20,000? This is a psychological number, of course, but market experts did not predict we would get here this fast. That is a Trump rally, folks.

The Federal Reserve will almost certainly interest rates this afternoon -- more on that. Who benefits from a rise in interest rates? Who pays more? The big winners are savers, senior citizens who need interest on their savings, plus people nearing retirement who've moved a lot of money to cash. Also, banks. They can now charge customers and businesses more for taking out loans.

The biggest losers -- you know, home buyers are going to pay more. Right now, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the U.S. is 4.2 percent, so here we did the math for you. A $250,000 loan, principal and interest payment every month is $1,223. If rates go up one- quarter point to 4.5 percent that's $45 more per payment. Over the life of the loan it's $16,000 more. So higher interest rates matter. Credit card debt, new car loans, all that stuff will rise but it's a sign of a strong economy so check it out. I'm going to talk about it with Chris Cuomo next hour.

That's EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The president-elect praising a rival that he once ripped on the campaign stage. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


TRUMP: We're in the process of putting together one of the great cabinets.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: I want to thank Donald Trump for helping Wisconsin put a Republican back in the White House.

TRUMP: Speaker Paul Ryan -- honestly, he's like a fine wine.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You know, I have an open mind.

TRUMP: Rex is friendly with many of the leaders in the world that we don't get along with and some people don't like that.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: The Secretary of State has to fight for things like a free press, human rights, democracy, that frankly aren't always at the top of the list for an international oil and gas company.

TRUMP: People are looking at this resume and, honestly, they've never seen a resume like this before.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, December 14th, 6:00 in the East. Up first, the Trump victory tour rolls on into Wisconsin. The president-elect praises his former adversary, Paul Ryan, comparing the House Speaker to a fine wine.

CUOMO: Trump also defending his pick for the all-important State Department, Rex Tillerson, a man whose biggest strengths to Trump are his biggest weaknesses to many in Congress. And what happened to loyalty? Trump said it was his first consideration but many loyalists have been frozen out. Why? Just 37 days until the inauguration. Let's get going with Sunlen Serfaty in Washington -- Sunlen.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Chris. Well, there really has been a firestorm of criticism from Democrats and those within Donald Trump's own party slamming his pick for Secretary of State. So the president-elect is now responding by using these campaign-style rallies to push publicly for his nominee, bracing for the battle ahead.


TRUMP: A great diplomat, a strong man, a tough man.

SERFATY: In Wisconsin, Donald Trump defending his choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

TRUMP: Rex will be a fierce advocate.