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Obama Vows Retaliation for Russian Hacking; Clinton Campaign Chairman Blasts FBI; Reports: Aleppo Evacuation Suspended; Dylann Roof Convicted in Charleston Church Massacre. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 16, 2016 - 04:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Brand new this morning, President Obama with a message to Vladimir Putin. Obama promising the U.S. will retaliate for Russia's attempts to influence the election.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton and her campaign chair both issuing their own scathing assessments. John Podesta out with an op- ed criticizing the FBI over their handling of the hacking.

ROMANS: "Reuters" reporting evacuations stopped in Aleppo. Thousands of people still trapped now inside this war-torn city. We've got the latest on the fragile peace agreement and what apparently here reports from "Reuters" and others saying the evacuations have stopped.

[04:30:02] We're going to look into that.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

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

And new this morning, President Obama vowing to take action in response to Russian hacking of the U.S. election. In an interview with NPR, the president saying he is directly confronted Vladimir Putin, warning the Russian president of a potential U.S. response.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action. And we will. At a time and a place of our own choosing.


KOSIK: President Obama was not specific about what kind of form U.S. response would take or when that could happen. But he did say some of it may be explicit and publicized. Some of it may not be.

This as the U.S. official confirming to CNN that U.S. intelligence agencies believed Putin ordered the cyber attacks.

For the latest on that, let's get to chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's been the belief of the U.S. intelligence community since they called Russia out for this a month before the election, that this hacking operation would have required the senior most Russian officials approval. On the way Russia works, it's a top heavy system. That means Vladimir Putin.

Since then, their confidence has increased and we've been learning today why that is the case. And that's because of the sophisticated hacking tools, cyber weapons really, that were used in this attack, really the most sophisticated which will require Vladimir Putin to okay the use of those tools.

That in addition to other intelligence and human sources leading to that conclusion today that Vladimir Putin ordered this attack on the U.S. democratic system. And the word they are using is it continued unabated since the election on party institutions, party organizations, including but not limited to the Democrats. We understand that there was another attempted phishing attack as it's known. It's basically where you click on a link and it takes -- it allows malware to get into your computer, which is the origin on the hack on the DNC more than a year, failed attack on the Clinton campaign since then.

This has been expected in the U.S. intelligence community. Part of the reason being, it worked, right? They interrupted. They interfered with the U.S. election system whether or not they wanted Donald Trump to win. It's been successful for them here, western democracies in Europe, Eastern Europe and, frankly, they expect it to continue.


ROMANS: All right. As Jim mentioned, an unsuccessful phishing attack on the Hillary Clinton campaign. Overnight for the first time, she has spoken out about the Russian election hacking at a closed door thank you party meeting for top campaign donors. She called it an attack on the national security and democracy.

She said the cyber attacks stem from a grudge Vladimir Putin holds against her dating back to her criticism of the Russian president when she was secretary of state. This is a response to her standing up for democracy and standing up for democracy, standing up for the United States, questioning some of the things that happened in the election and now this is the result.

KOSIK: All right. The Russian cyber attacks requiring a scathing rebuke of the FBI from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. In an op-ed in "The Washington Post", Podesta suggests there was a double standard in the FBI's urgency, investigating Clinton's private email server because its response to Russian hacking.

In his op-ed, he writes this, "Comparing the FBI's massive response to the overblown e-mail scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI."

Podesta was a direct target of hacking during the campaign. His emails were leaked and used as ammunition against Clinton.

ROMANS: All right. The White House is taking a more aggressive stance toward Donald Trump, alarmed by the president-elect's dismissal of U.S. intelligence on Russian election meddling. This week, Trump called CIA warnings ridiculous and he hasn't eased up.

Thursday, he tweeted this, "If Russia or some other entity was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?"

That claim actually is false. The administration first publicly accused Russia of hacking back in early October, a month before the election. Privately, President Obama met with Putin in September, reportedly warning him to stop the hacking or face the consequences.

KOSIK: The issue now increasing friction between the Obama administration and the incoming Trump team. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest insisted it was obvious Trump knew Russia was meddling in the election.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Just a fact. You all have it on tape, that the Republican nominee for president was encouraging Russia to hack his opponent because he believed it would help him campaign.

[04:35:03] I recognize that the defense from the Trump campaign that he was joking. I don't think anybody at the White House thinks it's funny.


KOSIK: Now, last night, Trump lashed at the White House spokesman during a thank you rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty was there and she has the latest.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Alison. A transition official tells CNN that Donald Trump is concerned about the intelligence community's findings that Russia engaged in hacking during the election. He made absolutely no mention of this issue here at his rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

He did seem to however, wade a bit into this personal rift that's growing between the incoming administration of his and the White House right now, hours after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest from the White House podium told reporters that Donald Trump had to have known about the Russian hacks. Well, Donald Trump attacked Josh Earnest by name here.

Here's what he had to say.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Although the foolish guy, Josh Earnest. I don't know if he is talking to President Obama. Having the right press secretary is so important because he is so bad the way he delivers a message.

He can deliver a positive message and it sounds bad. He could say, ladies and gentlemen, today, we have totally defeated ISIS and it would not sound good, OK? All right? I have a feeling they won't be saying it, but I know we will be saying it.

SERFATY: And the president-elect will be back on the road today. He will be heading to Orlando, Florida, for the next stop of his "thank you" tour -- Christine and Alison.


KOSIK: OK, Sunlen Serfaty, thank you.

And President-elect Trump has picked a campaign advisor aligned with Israel's far right as an ambassador to that country. In a statement announcing the nomination of David Friedman, the Trump transition makes reference to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Such a move would break with decades of U.S. policy based on the fact that Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capital. Friedman has said in the past, he does not believe Israeli settlement activity is illegal, a stance that also runs counter to longstanding U.S. policy.

ROMANS: All right. It is 37 minutes past the hour. It is a Friday morning. Let's get an early start on your money, folks.

The Dow will make another push to 20,000. Since the election, the average is up 1,500 points or 8.2 percent. If that continues today, it would be the biggest post-election rally in history. The closest was Bill Clinton's election victory in 1996 and the five weeks following that, the Dow jumped 5.2 percent.

But get this, his first year in office, the Dow soared 22 percent.

An interesting development, another market could keep the Dow, though, on the down low. The U.S. dollar sitting at a 14-year high. Check this out, one dollar is now worth almost one euro. Parity is what they call it.

Experts now expect parity between these two currencies next year. Great for travelers. Guys, this is the time to take the trip to London. Bad for businesses. Actually, euro is Paris, not London. But I think it's a good time to take a little trip to London, too.

KOSIK: Me as well.

ROMANS: U.S. goods now more expensive overseas. That hurts corporate profits. As for global stock markets, the Dow is up just slightly right now.

Stocks in Europe are mixed. Shares in Asia finishing the week mostly higher. Oil is holding steady around $51 a barrel.

We are watching those currency moves. It's been just fascinating how strong the dollar is. Great for travelers. But again, it starts to crimp exports. United States exports value. That hurts corporate profits. So, we'll see how it all plays out.

KOSIK: All right. Facebook saying beginning today it will slap warning labels on fake news. The social network saying that users will still be able to post anything you want on your feeds, but Facebook says stories known to be false apparently aiming to trick readers will appear with a red label that says disputed by third party fact checkers. Facebook has been an intense criticism for fake news stories posted in users' feeds during the election campaign.

ROMANS: Can you alert Facebook and say this is not true? Facebook has to go and investigate it.

KOSIK: You know, I was reading, though. A lot of people who read these fake news stories, they want to believe it. They feel good reading them.

ROMANS: Sometimes when you say this is false. That just inspires it.

KOSIK: Tend to make it go viral.

ROMANS: Right.

All right. The latest installment in the "Star War" saga opens at movie theaters around the world today. The heroes of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", you know, they faced a daunting challenge. It is not defeating Darth Vader, they've got to beat a lot of bad buzz from critics and they have to do so with the handicap of a storyline that does not involve directly the Skywalker family saga. Like the characters in the film, it is a safe bet "Rogue One" will triumph in the end.

It is expected to take, get this, more than $250 million worldwide this weekend. The biggest question in my house is do you watch this weekend or you wait until after Christmas, you know?

[04:40:03] KOSIK: I say buy the seats online, so you don't have to --

ROMANS: My little tiny people in my family don't care about bad reviews.

KOSIK: All right. Syrian state TV is reporting evacuations have been halted in Aleppo. So, it's looking like a tentative truce is in jeopardy with thousands of people trapped inside the city. We're going to tell you the latest coming up next.


ROMANS: Breaking news at this hour: "Reuters" and AFP both reporting the evacuation of civilians out of Aleppo has stopped. It has been suspended. The news agency quoting sources saying rebels breached ceasefire agreement with the Syrian regime.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, monitoring the situation. She joins us live with the very latest.

Jomana, what can you tell us?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, a very fast moving and developing situation there on the ground. These latest reports coming in from Syrian state TV.

They are saying the evacuations have been suspended for now and the claims here, they're saying reports accusing the rebels of attacking that crossing point, that main crossing point where people who are brought out of the besieged eastern neighborhoods are brought to this crossing point to the west into the government held territory. They say the rebels who they say is terrorist groups have attacked these crossings by opening fire and also by shelling.

[04:45:00] They also list a number of reasons for the breakdown in the agreement. They accuse the rebels they say of trying to smuggle out captives who they are holding in addition to trying to take out heavy weaponry out with them which is not part of the deal. Now, we cannot verify these claims. This is coming from Syrian state TV. And we have not yet heard from the other side, from the opposition here for their version of what is going on, on the ground.

There was a lot of concern, Christine, that we were going to be seeing something like this. We heard this from aid officials and from people on the ground in eastern Aleppo, a lot of concern because of so many groups involved in the deal.

ROMANS: All right. So interesting. How many refugees have escaped before this suspension I guess of the evacuations? How many have gotten out? What is their situation right now?

KARADSHEH: Well, the last we heard was we were getting different figures from the Syrian regime, from the Russians and also from Turkey. The estimates were anywhere between 6,000 to 9,000 people. Turkish officials put it at about 8,000 people who were taken out in five convoys and they said the sixth convoy was on the move. It is unclear if that sixth convoy was what was suspended or if it had managed to move out.

The people who were being taken out of eastern Aleppo was a combination, Christine, of civilians, the wounded who are in need of medical attention, as well as rebel fighters. They were going to be taken out to the countryside of Aleppo province and from there, they have the choice of going to neighboring province of Idlib that is under control mostly of these rebel groups, including the al Qaeda affiliate group, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or to the Turkish border. We're going to have to wait and see what happens with these evacuations if they're going to resume or if we're saying this total breakdown of this very fragile agreement, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Jomana, thank you for that in Jordan for us, following the developments. Thank you.

KOSIK: All right. Meantime, for those who were able to evacuate eastern Aleppo, Turkey is lending a hand to help exhausted civilians fleeing there. The country is transporting truck loads of humanitarian aid and medicine to those who need it.

For more on that side of it, let's go to CNN's Muhammad Lila. He is live for us on the Turkish/Syrian border.

So, Muhammad, I know the people who were able to flee Aleppo, they're sick and they're wounded.

MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. Alison, I'm standing at the border crossings. Just on the other side of that gate is Syrian territory. We have seeing a steady stream of ambulances crossing this border and picking up victims and rushing them back to hospitals on the Turkish side. We understand that some of these people are the critically wounded who have been evacuated from Aleppo, from the besieged that lasted for several weeks that are now being brought for treatment inside Turkish hospitals.

We've also seen a row of about 50 or 75 18-wheeler trucks, flatbed trucks that are loaded with humanitarian supplies. It's a very slow trickle to get supplies into Syria. We have been told speaking with one of the coordinators here that only eight trucks filled with supplies are going to be crossing the border into Syria today.

Now, this is where it gets a little bit complicated. Turkey has announced it's going to set up a refugee camp that will house 80,000 people. Most of those people will be people who are evacuated from Aleppo. They are not setting that refugee camp up inside Turkey. They're doing it inside Syrian territory.

And as Jomana just mentioned a little while earlier, the place that they are considering setting it up has a presence of al Qaeda. It has a presence of other militant groups. And, in fact, Russia has been striking some of those areas in that province in Idlib.

So, it's actually unclear how soon this refugee camp can be set up and whether people will want to move there, given how volatile that region is in the first place. I mean, come on, if you were evacuated from Aleppo where you were bombed every day, the last thing you want to do is go to another area, even if it's a refugee camp, that could be bombed once again.

KOSIK: Yes. It really is a sick irony when you think about it. They are trying to flee to safety and what they're fleeing to could ultimately kill them.

All right. Muhammad Lila, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-nine minutes past the hour. If you haven't noticed, Dolly Parton is everywhere right now. She's raising money for the Smokey Mountains for those fires, she's on tour, she's got a new album. She is a verified business mogul. Fifty years into her career and she is a business mogul. Stand by for some MBA-style advice from this tiny titan.

KOSIK: I like how you're saying tiny titan.


[04:53:11] ROMANS: A South Carolina jury has convicted Dylann Roof on all charges in the shooting deaths of nine people inside Emanuel AME church. Jurors will decide next month if the 22-year-old should be sentenced to death.

CNN's Nick Valencia has more outside the courthouse in Charleston.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Christine, it came as no surprise to those in the courtroom, Dylann Roof guilty of all charges in the murder of nine people in June of 2015 at the historically black Emanuel AME church.

As the verdict was read out loud, Roof stood silently. His right hand noticeably fidgeting, his ears turning as the guilty verdicts were read one count after the hour. Jurors unanimously deciding that Dylann Roof was guilty in the murders of those nine people.

There was little emotion shown by the defendant. The most emotion came from the family members of the victims. Some bowing heads, seemingly in prayer. Others wiping their brow and others wiping the tears from their eyes.

Thursday, it was quite emotional. The emotion punctuated by an image of the bloody bodies of those worshippers lying down on the floor of that bible study. Dylann Roof accused of shooting those victims 77 times in all. The prosecution in their closing arguments saying that Dylann Roof should be held accountable for every single one of those shots.

For the defense's part, they said they hope the jurors took into consideration that their client might be delusional and that there was something skewed about his perception in reality. The next part of this sentence, of this trial I should say is the penalty phase. That's expected to pick up on January 3rd -- Alison, Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Nick Valencia in Charleston, thank you, Nick.

Hundreds of protesters at the North Carolina state capitol building Thursday after Republicans made an unprecedented move to strip the new Democratic governor of some of his power.

Governor-elect Roy Cooper now vowing to fight the Republican power grab in court. This comes after that bitter governor's race that saw incumbent Pat McCrory wait through weeks of vote counting before conceding he had narrowly lost. [04:55:11] KOSIK: Longtime Turner Sports broadcaster Craig Sager has died after a long battle with leukemia. The iconic sideline reporter, he's loved across the NBA by players and by fans and colleagues. He was best known for his warm personality, his professionalism and, of course, his colorful and at times fluorescent wardrobe. Sager died just days after he was inducted into the sports broadcasting Hall of Fame. He leaves behind his wife and five children. Sager was 65 years old.

You know, it's interesting to hear the legacy will be carried on now he is gone. All of these people in the sports world coming out and talking about what joy they brought to his lives. He continued working many months after his illness took a turn for the worse.

ROMANS: Our best to his family here as they cope.

All right. Fifty-six minutes past the hour.

Little treat for you. Dolly Parton, she seems like she's everywhere. Fifty years into the music business.

She was just on "The Voice" singing with Miley Cyrus. She ran a telethon. Brought in $9 million for the victims of the wildfires in Tennessee, a fire that came dangerously close to the theme park she owns, Dollywood.

New album, pure and simple, wrapping up her biggest tour in decades. And on that tour, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dolly Parton. You may see rhyme stones and sequence, I see a business mogul. Listen.


ROMANS: When you were starting, did you think, look, if I am going to last and if I'm going to make sure that the music business doesn't take advantage of me, I have to be in control of my image, my sound, my business, every angle of it?

DOLLY PARTON, SINGER & MUSIC MOGUL: You said it when you said the business. It is called the music business. My dad told me that when I let home. He said don't let people steal your money. You pay attention to your things.

So, as soon as I could, I started my own publishing company, got my own record label now. I think it is important if you can as soon as you can to keep all of your goods close to home where you can control it and know what is happening.

My dad had 12 children. He just managed everything. In fact, that's where I like to think I get my business sense. He was a great barter, he was a horse trader as they say.


PARTON: Street smart, horse smart. ROMANS: I bet along the way, people said no to you. I bet you have been sitting across the table from a fat cat executive who said, no, we're not going to do it that way. And you had to really hold your ground.

PARTON: Oh, yes. I can do that. Like I said, I am an easy going. People say, do you ever lose your temper? Well, I lose it, but I use it sometimes.


ROMANS: Yes, I mean, that's one of her -- sort of I call her the Dolly MBA. The MBA in Dolly, you know, use your temper. Hire good people who you trust and let them do what they do well.

If you want to see more in the business advice from Dolly Parton, anybody in business should listen to this, you can check it out at CNN Money.

KOSIK: She doesn't just sing. She doesn't just perform. She's had a lot of fire and passion in that little lady. I love her.

ROMANS: She is a titan. She's a mogul. And she has made a lot of choices and done deals that people around her said, no, no, and she knew she wanted to do it, and she did it surrounded herself by people who would get it done. And you know, she wouldn't confirm or deny her net worth, but it's big.

KOSIK: She's certainly inspiring.

All right. EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: President Obama is saying the U.S. will take action against Russia after high level politicians, likely including Putin himself, meddled in the U.S. election.

KOSIK: Hillary Clinton and her campaign chair both weighing in. John Podesta issuing a scathing criticism of the FBI over their handling of the hacking.

ROMANS: Fast moving developments in Aleppo right now. Syrian state TV reporting evacuations are suspended in Aleppo. Another truce broken. Thousands of people stuck inside the war-torn city.

Good morning, everyone, this Friday morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Friday, December 16th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And new this morning, President Obama vowing to take action in response to Russian hacking of the U.S. election. In an interview with NPR, the president said he is directly confronted Vladimir Putin warning the Russian president of a potential U.S. response. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections that we need to take action. And we will. At a time and a place of our own choosing.


KOSIK: And President Obama wasn't specific about what kind of form a U.S. response might take or when something like that would happen. But he did say some of it may be explicit and publicized. And some of it may not be.