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First Family & Titan of Tech; Aleppo Evacuations; Big New Yahoo Hack; Dylann Roof Murder Trial. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 15, 2016 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:20] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: The first family and the titans of tech. Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump join the president-elect as he hosts heads of Amazon, Apple and Facebook.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Escape from Aleppo, at least the desperate attempt to get. A new cease-fire declared to let the citizens and some rebels try to get out of that city alive.

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

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

And Silicon Valley invades Trump Tower for a high powered meeting with the president-elect, and even with all the big-time CEOs in the room, the story is about who else was sitting at the table. Sources tell CNN the meeting focused on jobs, focused on China, where many American tech products are actually made, and it focused on immigration. Trump's three adult children and son-in-law sitting right in the middle of it all, further raising stakes on potential conflicts of interest in the West Wing.

Here with the latest is CNN's Phil Mattingly at Trump Tower.



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.


BERMAN: All right. Phil Mattingly, thanks so much.

Now, the Republican Party spokesperson says that worries over Trump family conflicts of interests 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 role in the campaign and business. Spicer suggests the voters knew what they were getting.


SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: Every one of those people listed on the transition team website. 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.


BERMAN: A Trump transition source says that Spicer is now actually a leading candidate for White House press secretary.

ROMANS: New details on the incoming first family.

Ivanka Trump is likely to handle some of the duties typically undertaken by the first lady. A source telling CNN that with Melania Trump spending much of her time in New York with 10-year-old son Baron, Trump's daughter is poised to play the part of Washington hostess.

[04:35:06] This is something has been done before with some other presidents, James Buchanan, Grover Cleveland, they've used their sister and their niece as stand-ins. So, keep that in mind. She will also likely advise her father on a range of issues from family leave to climate change. An office of the first family is already in the works for the East Wing, where the current office of the first lady is located.

BERMAN: This morning, the White House is arguing that President-elect Trump was, quote, "obviously aware" that Russia was interfering in the election and that was to his benefit. Press Secretary Josh Earnest reports that the clearest evidence was Trump's remarks 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.


KOSIK: New doubts are being raised about Donald Trump's incoming national security advisor. A military inquiry back in 2010 found that then-Army General Michael Flynn, quote, "inappropriately shared classified intelligence 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.

BERMAN: 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. But, really, 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.

KOSIK: 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 and he's worked closely with the Obama administration for over seven years. He is the first serious challenger to Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison who has already been endorsed by Senators Elizabeth Warren, and Chuck Schumer, and several key labor unions.

BERMAN: A federal judge has ordered President-elect Trump to sit for a deposition in early January. This is part of the ongoing dispute with celebrity chef Jose Andres. The questioning will take place in New York and could last up to seven hours. Trump sued Andres 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 that he canceled the deal after Trump made disparaging remarks about Mexicans.

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 was key to his election success, breaking down the so-called "blue wall", a phrase that Ron Brownstein coined, describing many of the states that Democrats have won election after election until this year.

KOSIK: All right. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen hiking interest rates yesterday and offering this message to her soon-to-be boss, Donald Trump.


JANET YELLEN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRWOMAN: I'm not going to offer the incoming president advice about how to conduct himself in policy. I'm a strong believer in the independence of the Fed.


KOSIK: Yellen says the Fed has been in touch with the Trump transition team and that she intends to stay put, to serve out her four-year term ending in February of 2018. However, Donald Trump was harshly critical of Yellen during the campaign. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: This Janet Yellen of the Fed, the Fed is doing political. The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.

Janet Yellen should have raised the rates. She is not doing it because the Obama administration and the president doesn't want her to.

I think she is very political. And to a certain extent, I think she should be ashamed of herself.


KOSIK: Congress gives the Fed the power to act independently. It does not need approval from anyone in government, including the president, to make policy moves. But there is a lot of skepticism on Wall Street that, you know, some of the thinking that the Fed makes, even privately, could be inspired by what's going on in the political world.

BERMAN: All right.

A new truce. A cease-fire declared in Syria. Will it last long enough to let civilians escape Aleppo? We have a live report ahead.


[04:43:35] BERMAN: We have breaking developments in Syria. Rebel forces in eastern Aleppo have announced a new cease-fire agreement has been reached. Civilian evacuations can begin, have already begun.

Earlier this week, a cease-fire brokered with Turkey and Russia collapsed in a wave of deadly airstrikes. Aleppo now largely in ruins. An estimated 50,000 people still trapped inside without food, water, medicine.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh tracking the latest developments for us. She joins us live.

Jomana, the big question is, are people getting out? Are they being shot at?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a few hours ago, John, it looked like these evacuations were finally about to begin. But then we had this dangerous development, a setback as it is described. The first convoy carrying wounded people and their families, as it was trying to move, according to activists that we've been speaking to, a doctor on the ground and also the rescue groups, the White Helmets.

They say that this convoy was moving from these besieged neighborhoods. They moved out. They were heading towards these crossing points, the regime controlled area, and they came under fire they say by regime allied forces. They came under sniper fire.

They retreated a couple of times after they took fire and then they say they got the clearance that they already had to move, but still, they were shot at again and they say at least one person was killed and four others were wounded. [04:45:01] Now, we have not heard from the Syrian regime in response

to these allegations. We have not heard from their allies, the Russians, or the other militia groups on the ground. But we did hear from the Syrian government through state media, saying that all preparations were finalized for these evacuations. What they described as terrorists and the besieged neighborhoods.

Now, what we understand is that this convoy had to pull back into the besieged neighborhoods. They are waiting to move out again. So, it has been paused. No cancellation. It is a very fragile agreement and a very fast-moving situation on the ground.

BERMAN: Fast-moving. Hopefully fast moving out of Aleppo for so many. Thousands trapped inside.

Jomana Karadsheh, thanks so much.

KOSIK: New satellite images reveal China has installed weapon systems on all seven artificial waters it built on the contested waters of the South China Sea. Anti-aircraft guns and weapons that guard against cruise missiles. China has already constructed military length landing strips on three of the islands. The ministry of foreign affairs in Beijing has not responded to CNN's request for comment.

BERMAN: A new security breach at Yahoo and this one is big. Yahoo confirms that more than 1 billion user accounts have been hacked. The security breached may be one of the largest ever. And it comes pretty much after Yahoo admitted data from 500 million accounts had been stolen. So, true, just gargantuan breaches.

CNN Money's Samuel Burke live from London with the dirty details.

This is a mess, Samuel.


What's absolutely insane about this cyber security experts say is that this hack happened in 2013 and nobody at Yahoo noticed until just now. So, let me put a list up on the screen of what type of the information was believed to have been stolen in this hack. Number one, names, e- mail addresses, phone numbers, passwords, and dates of birth. What wasn't taken? Credit card data and bank account information.

But if you are breathing a sigh of release, you would like it be reverse, because you can change your credit card information, but you cannot change your date of birth, you're probably not going to change your name. And what hackers will do is use that information to get into other more valuable accounts.

So, what can you do? Well, change your password, of course. But if you use two factor authentication, that's when these companies send a text message to your phone with a code every time you log it, it's annoying, but this will keep you safe even if they have your passwords. Now, a lot of people have a question mark over Verizon's $4.8 billion offer to buy Yahoo. Verizon says they're going to keep on evaluating the situation. But

keep this number in mind, John. One group estimates that a hack costs a company $220 per record stolen. Multiply that by a billion and you have way more than the $5 billion deal for Yahoo.

BERMAN: Yes, that may be at a discount if this goes through.

BURKE: A big one.

BERMAN: If Verizon still wants it all.

Samuel Burke, thanks so much.

KOSIK: You're wondering if Verizon really wants to take on this headache.

BERMAN: Why would you have -- if you are just getting your Yahoo account hacked or stolen, why would you have it? And that's why Verizon bought it.

KOSIK: Absolutely.

All right. The Dow falling short of hitting a major milestone yesterday. So, will the index make history today? We're going to show you the chance of Dow 20,000, next.


[04:52:11] KOSIK: Closing arguments are scheduled to begin in a matter of hours in the Dylann Roof murder trial. Roof confessed to shooting and killing nine parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. He's even laughed openly about committing the crime. Roof faces 33 criminal counts and a possible death sentence with the jury expected to get the case as early as this afternoon.

More now 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.


BERMAN: All right. Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

Heart-stopping video out of China. Firefighters rush to save a man who was on the verge of jumping off a high-rise here. The man over there, he is in hysterics, apparently on the rooftop. A firefighter creeps in behind him and then grabs him.

You see that happen right there. Firefighters and others were able to rush in and help pull the man to safety. Amazing. Amazing video. Good work by the firefighters.

KOSIK: A busy highway in Oregon's Cascade Mountains has been closed by a series of avalanches.

[04:55:01] Look at this. You can see emergency crews there working hard to clear the roadway.

At last check, highway 20 is still closed. That's tough. Authorities say the first avalanche was 150 feet wide. Fortunately, no one was hurt. I see a lot of stuck cars.

BERMAN: All right. More than 40 million people under windchill advisories this morning with bitter cold temperatures and wintry weather.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is here with the latest.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alison and John, good morning to you both. Look at these wind chills this morning, down to about minus 20 to almost minus 30 degrees. And we are talking about places such as Chicago getting to such numbers this morning. All of it bottled up right across the northern tier of the country and 1,500 miles stretch of land. That is how large of an area we're covering, where 30 below wind chills possible this morning.

And, of course, with all of this going over the warmer Great Lakes, we're getting plenty of energy transfer and plenty of heavy snow showers in places, in particular around, say, Syracuse from Friday night into Saturday, Buffalo, Erie. Some of these areas could see 1 1/2 to almost two feet of fresh snow in the next couple days, with blustery winds, you will have blowing snow around. Visibility, of course, in these areas is going to be greatly reduced as well.

And the temps as big as a roller coaster as you'll see ever. Chicago, high of eight today, warming up all the way to 27. Another front comes in, dropping it back down to minus four. And look at New York City, high temperatures from the 20s, climbing all the way up into the 60s. Again, the first blast of arctic air moves through, the second one drops down and eventually moves though Sunday, eventually to Monday for the Northeast.

Look at this ride here, guys, from 61 back down again to 34 next week.


KOSIK: All right. Pedram Javaheri, thanks. Brrr.

Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning.

Dow futures are point higher this morning. Investors get used to the idea of higher interest rates following the Fed decision yesterday. Stock markets in Europe are up slightly. Shares in Asia finished mostly lower overnight. We're watching oil steadying around $51 a barrel.

We're also watching shares of Yahoo this morning. The stock is down almost 3 percent in pre-market trading. This follows this disclosure of the huge hack back in 2013 that they recently became aware of. Wall street will be watching to see what the latest means for Verizon's purchase of Yahoo. Yahoo stock is up 23 percent because of anticipation of that deal.

The Dow is still in striking distance of 20,000 mark. The average fell yesterday after the Federal Reserve's decision to hike interest rates. But the loss wasn't huge. The Dow will need to gain, though, 208 points to get to 20,000 and talk about anticipation. The hats have been printed on Wall Street, Dow 20,000. But it has been a great year for the Dow, jumping 13.5 percent just this year.

BERMAN: The hats will be more valuable if it doesn't get there, seriously. I would be like its keepsakes.

KOSIK: Yes, although I have the Dow 18,000. I don't even know where that --


KOSIK: All right. People are rushing to sign up for Obamacare despite the President-elect Donald Trump's vow to repeal it as soon as he gets into office next month. Four million people have signed up on the federal exchange, plus hundreds of thousands more on state exchanges. That tally accounts for more than 1 million new enrollees and 2.9 million who are renewing their coverage.

If you need health insurance, beginning January 1st, today is the deadline to sign up. If you have coverage through the exchange last year, the advice is shop around if you are able. Some premiums are going up and coverage options are changing. But sometime, shopping around is not an option. A lot of counties across the country only have one insurance company.

BERMAN: Shop for your one choice.


BERMAN: All right. You can check out the new CNN Money Stream app. It's business news personalized. The stories, videos, tweets and topics you want, all in one feed. Download it on the app store or on Google play.

And EARLY START continues right now.


KOSIK: Donald Trump meeting with the top tech CEOs of the country, discussing presumably, the nation's business. Why is it that his kids and son-in-law were also sitting at the table?

BERMAN: Rebels in eastern Aleppo, they have announced a new cease- fire. The evacuations and civilians and the wounded set to get under way perhaps, but will the deadly airstrikes and attacks continue?

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

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It is Thursday, December 15th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And Silicon Valley invades Trump Tower for a high powered meeting with the president-elect. And even with all the big time CEOs in the room, the story everyone is talking about this morning is, who else was sitting at the table?

Sources tell CNN the meeting focused on jobs, it focused on China where many American tech products are actually made. And it focused on immigration. Trump's three adult children and his son-in-law were sitting right in the middle of it all, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest in the West Wing.

CNN's Phil Mattingly with the latest from Trump Tower.


MATTINGLY: Hey, John and Alison.

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.