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Trump Meets with Captains of Tech Industry; Aleppo Evacuations; Dylann Roof Murder Trial. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 15, 2016 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:08] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump meeting with the top tech CEOs in the country discussing presumably the nation's business. So why were his kids and son-in-law at table?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Rebels in eastern Aleppo announcing a new cease-fire. The evacuation of civilians and the wounded set to get under way. But have we seen the last of the deadly airstrikes?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik, sitting in for Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Thursday, December 15th. It's 4:00 a.m. in the East.

And this morning, there are questions about just who is at the table when it comes to President-elect Donald Trump both literally and figuratively. The president-elect called together the nation's tech leaders, many of whom opposed him in the election. Sources tell CNN the meeting focused on jobs, on China, where many tech products are actually made, and also on immigration.

But the bigger story maybe who else was at the table. Them, you saw them. Trump's three adult children and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Some may be running the family business. Some may work in the White House.

Where are the lines? Well, you know what? It's unclear. And the president-elect postponed a news conference that had been scheduled for today to explain those very divisions.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has the latest.



Well, look, there's no secret President-elect Donald Trump and Silicon Valley didn't exactly get along over the course of the campaign, the primary, the general election. A lot of the individuals have showed up in Trump Tower for his big tech summit weren't just opposed to certain policy issues, they were opposed to him all together. They didn't hide it. Some of them raised and donated money for his opponent. The president-elect welcoming them to Trump Tower is kind of the

latest of a series of individuals coming to pay homage, if you will, but also recognize that if they want to move forward business-wise, they need the president-elect in his team.

But the president-elect willing to let them, their business is doing well and he thinks he's the reason why. Take a listen.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm here to help people do well. You are doing well right now and I'm very honored by the bounce. They are all talking about the bounce. So, right now, everybody in the room has to like me at least a little bit. We're going to try to have that bounce continue. And perhaps even more importantly, we want you to keep going with the incredible innovation. There's nobody like you in the world.

MATTINGLY: Now, guys, one of the most interesting things of the meeting wasn't discussed or even the policies that both sides agree or disagree. It's actually who was in the room and not just on the tech titans side, but also from the Trump side of things.

If you took a look when the camera sprayed around the room, you saw Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, you saw Eric Trump, you saw Don Jr. Now, look, it's no secret that the Trump children are very close to their father, are very close advisers to their father.

But here's what's changed over the course of the last couple of days -- the president-elect announced on Twitter that he would be handing the reins to the Trump Organization to Don Jr. and Eric. And yet, they are still in the meetings. It is not just the tech summit. They are also helping to vet candidates for secretary of state and secretary of interior.

This is the issue that is raising a lot of concerns both sides of the aisle, but also from people inside the Trump operation. They are very wary of what this could mean going forward and recognize that there needs to be some kind of a separation. The details of the separation is being worked on. The details obviously delayed until at least the New Year as to what that might actually be.

But every time you see something like this, you recognize that this is an issue that the Trump team isn't exactly running away from. The president-elect seems to be welcoming it. Whether it is meetings in last couple weeks with foreign leaders or it's meeting with cabinet officials, or whether it's the tech summit on Wednesday night, it's one thing is clear, they don't believe this is as big an issue as everybody else, and that could only spell problems in the future -- John and Alison.


KOSIK: All right. Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.

The Republican Party spokesman says worries over Trump family conflict of interest are not a problem. RNC communications director Sean Spicer says that conflicts of interest only arise, quote, "when you are sneaky or shady about it." Spicer says Trump has been clear from the start about his children's roles in his campaign and in his business. Spicer suggests the voters knew exactly what they were getting.


SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: Every one of those people listed on the transition team web site. They're all been named, the senior part of it. So, this is a totally transparent process. The people he trusted, he's made it very clear how he values the input of his family. He put their names on the transition committee.

But he has been unbelievably transparent in the role his family will play in this. I think from day one, not just recently, since going back to that debate in August of last year, he was very clear of the role that his family was going to play in the campaign and the government and in his business.


KOSIK: And the Trump transition source says that Spicer is now actually a leading candidate for White House press secretary.

BERMAN: We got more details on the incoming first family.

[04:05:02] Ivanka Trump is likely will handle some of the duties that have been assumed by the first lady in many administrations, most administrations. A source tells CNN that with Melania Trump spending much of her time in New York with her 10-year-old son Baron, that Ivanka Trump will likely assume the role of hostess. This is something that actually some first daughters or daughters-in-law have done historically over the 200 or some-odd years of the United States.

Ivanka Trump will also likely advise her father on the range of issues from family leave to climate change and office of the first family is now in the works for the East Wing where the current office of the first lady is located.

KOSIK: This morning, the White House is arguing that President-elect Trump was, quote, "obviously aware" that Russia was interfering in the election with the aim of helping Trump win as the CIA believes. Press secretary Josh Earnest telling reporters that the clearest evidence is Trump's off-the-cuff remark over the summer urging Moscow to locate and publish missing e-mails from Hillary Clinton's private server.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is ample evidence that is known long before the election and in most cases, long before October, everything from the Republican nominee himself calling on Russia to hack his opponent. It might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded based on whatever facts or sources he was -- he had available to him that Russia was involved.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: New questions are being raised about Donald Trump's incoming national security advisor. Military inquiry back in 2010 found that then-Army General Michael Flynn, quote, "inappropriately shared information with foreign military officers and/or officials in Afghanistan." The summary of the inquiry obtained by CNN said the army decided not to discipline Flynn who was head of the coalition intelligence in Afghanistan. Investigators concluded the breach was accidental and that there was no damage to national security.

KOSIK: Mitt Romney's niece is Donald Trump's pick to head up the Republican National Committee. Ronna Romney McDaniel, the current chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party still has to be approved by voting RNC members. She's not expected to face any opposition. The president-elect calls Romney McDaniel a highly effective leader whose efforts helped him win Michigan in November.

BERMAN: Later today, Labor Secretary Tom Perez is expected to announce a bid to become the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Perez was a loyal surrogate for Hillary Clinton during the campaign. He, of course, has worked in and closely with the Obama administration for years. He is seen as the most serious challenger to Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who has already been endorsed by, you know, Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders and also some members and leaders of key labor unions.

KOSIK: A federal judge is ordering President-elect Trump to sit for a deposition in early January in his ongoing dispute with celebrity chef Jose Andres. The questioning will take place in New York and could last up to seven hours. Trump sued him for breach of contract after the chef backed out of plans for a restaurant in the president-elect's luxury hotel in Washington. Andres claims he canceled the deal after Trump made disparaging remarks about Mexicans.

BERMAN: The president-elect will visit Hersey, Pennsylvania, tonight. He will hold a rally there at 7:00 as part of his thank you tour. Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be there as well. Obviously, the Trump win in Pennsylvania helped hip break through the so-called blue wall, those states that Democrats have held for decades.

KOSIK: OK. So, the Federal Reserve made borrowing money more expensive. They actually made it official. The rates have been going up in anticipation of the formal announcement. Janet Yellen and company deciding to raise rates by a quarter of a point yesterday. It's now at a range of .50 percent to .75 percent. You can expect three rate hikes next year.

Despite the 3.2 percent growth in the third quarter of the year, the Fed sees GDP increasing at 2.1 percent rate next year. So, that's half of the 4 percent growth Donald Trump has promised. He says it could be higher than that.

So let's talk about the rate hike means for you. Mortgage rates are already rising. Overnight, the nationwide average for a 30-year fixed mortgage jumped to 4.27 percent. That will move higher in the coming days. For some comparison here, just a month ago, it was at 4.02 percent. And earlier this year, it plunged to near historic lows to 3.34 percent.

So, expect rates on home equity loans, car loans and credit cards to increase as well. Savers, though, they're in winners in this. They're going to benefit from slightly higher interest rates on their deposit. So, the interesting thing is the banks are no rush to raise deposit rates.

BERMAN: You know, a lot of mortgage rates, things are going up, creeping up overtime though and it will have an impact.


BERMAN: All right. A new cease-fire declared in Aleppo. The last one ended with air strikes and bloodshed. Will evacuations finally begin for the 50,000 people trapped inside?

[04:10:01] We have a live report ahead. Stay with us.


KOSIK: Rebel forces in eastern Aleppo announcing a cease-fire agreement has been reached and evacuations are under way, even though some evacuees are being fired on. Earlier this week, a cease-fire brokered by Turkey with Russia collapsed in a wave of deadly air strikes. Syria's second largest city now in ruins. An estimated 50,000 residents trapped without food, without water or medicine.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is tracking the latest developments and she joins us live.

So, there is supposed to be a cease-fire, though we are getting reports saying that an evacuation convoy was fired on.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alison, this is such a fast-moving situation, very complex situation on the ground. And it looked like these evacuations were imminent. It looked like they were just about to happen.

What we do know from several sources on the ground that activists, one of the last doctors in Eastern Aleppo and the White Helmets, that's the rescue group in Eastern Aleppo, they say that the first convoy carrying the wounded from the besieged neighborhoods had gotten clearance to move. They say they got the clearance from the other side.

Now, as they started approaching this crossing point, this regime area, they say that snipers opened fire on the convoy. They retreated. This happened a couple of times. And they were given clearance again to move and they were shot at again. They say that at least one person from their convoy was killed and four others were wounded.

They are blaming this on the regime forces and the other militias allied with the regime on the ground. We have not heard from the Russians yet. We have not heard from the Syrian regime or the other militias. But what we have heard Syrian state news agency saying that all the preparations were done. Everything was finalized ready for evacuation of what they described as terrorists and their family members from these besieged neighborhoods.

[04:15:04] According to the activists that we've spoken to, this operation right now is paused. They say it is still scheduled to take place, but for now, this convoy has retreated back into the besieged neighborhoods, Alison.

KOSIK: Just amazing. These civilians trying to flee to safe. They can't even catch a break.

All right. Jomana Karadsheh, thanks so much.

BERMAN: All right. New satellite images reveal that Chinese has installed weapons in all seven artificial islands it built in the contested waters of the South China Sea. Anti-aircraft guns and weapons that guard against cruise missiles have been detected. China has already constructed military length landing strips on three of the islands. This morning, a statement from Beijing claims that China has indisputably sovereignty over the islands, insisting the construction is mainly for civilian use.

KOSIK: Another security breach at Yahoo and this one is big. The Internet giant confirming that more than 1 billion user accounts have been hacked. This security breach may be one of the largest ever and it comes less than three months after Yahoo admitted data from 500 million accounts had been stolen.

CNN Money's Samuel Burke joins us live now from London with the latest.

So, help me understand. So, when did this even bigger hack happen?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Alison, let's pause on the 1 billion number. That indeed makes this the likely the largest hack in the history of the internet. And what's even more mind-boggling to your point, this likely happened in 2013 and nobody seemed to realize until just now.

So, let me put up a list on the screen of information believed to be stolen as part of this hack: names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, passwords, as well as dates of birth. What the breach does not include is credit card data or bank account information. And if you are breathing a sigh of relief that it's not your credit card numbers, actually it would be safer if it were reverse, because remember, you can change your credit card number. You can't change your date of birth, you're likely not going to change your name. And the hackers will use that to get into other accounts.

So, what can you do if you are a Yahoo user? You want to change password immediately. Turn on two factor authentication. That allows you to receive a code to your phone. So, that way, even if somebody has your phone, your password rather, they can't get into your account. So, I always tell my mom and dad to do that to keep them safe, and I suggest that everybody does that, especially under these circumstances. KOSIK: OK, that's good advice, Samuel. So, let's talk business here

because Verizon, you know, looking to buy Yahoo for up to $4 billion. It's already gotten a discount on the deal because of it coming out about the other 500 million people being hacked. But now that more have been hacked in the year before that, what about another discount for Verizon?

BURKE: Alison, it just seems like everything that could happen is trying to stop this deal. But it does appear to be going on.

Let me read you what Verizon said in a statement when this second revelation came out yesterday. Verizon saying, "As we said all along, we will continue to evaluate the situation as Yahoo continues its investigation. We will review the impact of this new development before reaching any final conclusions."

You've got to think that they're going to take a haircut and get a better deal on this offer. But at the end of the day, this is the whole reason that Verizon is buying Yahoo because they have so many accounts.

Keep in mind, though, when we say 1 billion. That is accounts. Some people like me have multiple Yahoo accounts. So, accounts, not 1 billion people thankfully.

KOSIK: But the question is, is Verizon ready to take on the headache with Yahoo at the moment?

All right. Samuel Burke, thanks so much.

BERMAN: All right. He openly chuckled about slaughtering nine parishioners inside a Charleston church. Now, the jury is set to hear closing statements in the Dylann Roof's murder trial. A jury could get the case by the end of the day. Details next.


[04:22:40] BERMAN: Closing arguments are scheduled to begin in a matter of hours in the Dylann Roof murder trial. The man confessed to shooting and killing nine parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. He even laughed openly about committing that crime. Roof faces 33 criminal counts and a possible death sentence with the jury expected to get the case as early as this afternoon.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Nick Valencia.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Alison, this case is more than a year in the making. And if Dylann Roof had his way, there would be no trial at all. Roof actually tried to plead guilty to the federal hate crime charges, but only on the condition that the death penalty removed from the table. Prosecutors were unwilling to budge. So, they went forward with the case and over the last week, they painted Dylann Roof as a cold blooded, calculated killer who meticulously planned this attack. They read out loud from his manifesto. They also showed his web site,

the Last Rhodesian, which appears to show adoration and admiration towards white supremacy and hatred towards blacks.

They also highlighted a sheet found in his room which investigators believed was fashioned to imitate or replicate a Ku Klux Klan hood. It goes without saying that this has been an emotionally draining week for the court.

The first witness called to the stand was Felicia Sanders, the survivor of the attack who had that take a break from her gut- wrenching testimony. On that very same, that Wednesday, opening arguments, Dylann Roof's own mother passed out, having a heart attack in court. She had to be rushed to the local hospital by ambulance.

There's been a lot of drama surrounding this case, including Dylann Roof's defense. Up until two Sundays ago, Dylann Roof said that he wanted to represent himself not just in the guilty phase but in the penalty phase. He has done an about face, now asking for representation during the guilt phase. He is expected to represent himself during the penalty phase.

He is not just facing this federal hate crime death penalty case, but also a state death penalty case that's expected to be tried some time early next year.

We expect closing arguments some time later this morning -- John, Alison.


KOSIK: All right. Nick Valencia, thank you.

Heart stopping video out of China. Firefighters rushed to save a man who is on the verge of jumping off a high-rise. Look at this. You can see a man in hysterics on top of that -- on that roof there. And the firefighter slowly creeps behind him and grabs him. The man dangled from the 30-story building before firefighters and others are thankfully able to pull him to safety.

[04:25:08] BERMAN: A series of avalanches have closed a busy highway in Oregon's Cascade Mountains. Emergency crews working to clear the road, but at last check, Highway 20 is still closed. Authorities say the first avalanche was about 150 feet wide. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

KOSIK: It was a handshake and hug some nine months in the making. James McGraw, a Donald Trump supporter, came face-to-face in court Wednesday with Rakeem Jones, a Trump supporter he was charged with sucker punching at a North Carolina really back in March. The assault went viral and prosecutors charged with leading Trump inciting a riot. In the end, they did. But with the cameras against focused on the two men, McGraw offered Jones an apology.


JAMES MCGRAW, TRUMP SUPPORTER: We called it a political mass today and you and me will heal our country.


KOSIK: McGraw pleaded no contest to assault and disorderly conduct. He was given a suspended 30-day jail sentence and suspended -- a year of unsupervised probation.

BERMAN: There's progress. Hard to make that handshake.

All right. Donald Trump discussing China and jobs with U.S. titans of technology. So, why were the president-elect's kids also in the meeting? Is this an example of one of the conflicts of interest? Stay with us.