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Actress Carrie Fisher Dies At 60; Security Scare at Trump Tower Triggers Twitter War; Kerry to Outline Middle East Peace Plan; Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 28, 2016 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:10] HARRISON FORD AS HANS SOLO: I think you just can't bear to let a gorgeous guy like me out of your sight.

CARRIE FISHER AS PRINCESS LEIA: I don't know where you get your delusions, laser brain.


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Remembering Carrie Fisher. The actress who brought the iconic Princess Leia to life in "Star Wars" has died. We'll tell you what Fisher's famous co-stars are saying about the late actress.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Security at Trump Tower now in the spotlight after a Twitter brawl that didn't even involve the president-elect. Mr. Trump did make one big splash with the new national security appointment. We'll explain.

JOHNS: And Secretary of State John Kerry getting ready to lay out a road map for Middle East peace days after refusing U.N. protection for Israelis. And this morning, the Israelis appear to be bowing at least partly to pressure on the settlement issue. We're live in Jerusalem.

And good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Joe Johns.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's Wednesday, December 28th, it's 4:00 a.m. in the East. And John and Christine are off.

For the second time this week, the entertainment world is mourning the loss of an iconic and beloved figure. Actress Carrie Fisher has died at the age of 60. Her death coming just days after she suffered a cardiac event on a flight from London to Los Angeles. Fisher is best known as "Star Wars" Princess Leia. But her legacy certainly goes well beyond the big screen. Tributes are pouring in from her fans and fellow members of the "Star Wars" universe.

CNN's Paul Vercammen has more on Carrie Fisher's life and career.


FISHER: I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carrie Fisher best known as Princess Leia in "Star Wars" has died. Fisher had a heart attack Friday during the final 15 minutes of a flight from London to Los Angeles. According to TMZ, Fisher was on a ventilator the entire time she was hospitalized, never regaining consciousness.

She is seen here in audition tape with soon to be co-star Harrison Ford.

FISHER: When R2 has been safely delivered to my forces.

VERCAMMEN: Critics pointed to strong chemistry between Fisher and Ford, and with good reason. Fisher recently revealed that she and Ford were off-scene lovers.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TV HOST: Forty years, is that right?

FISHER: Forty years I thought I'd wait.

DEGENERES: OK. So, you reveal that you were having an affair with Harrison Ford.

FISHER: I was.

DEGENERES: Well, you say it.

FISHER: Yes, I did.

DEGENERES: All right. So, how did that stay a secret for 40 years? How --

FISHER: I was good at that, wasn't I?

VERCAMMEN: Fisher was born in Beverly Hills. Mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, father, singer Eddie Fisher.

FISHER: I was primarily brought up by my mother, but I saw my father.

VERCAMMEN: Fisher pokes fun at the absurdities of showbiz life in all manner of self-medication, including taking pills to control her emotions.

FISHER: Any mood stabilizer is a weight gainer. So, whether you feel better but then you're fat. So, what you gain is a loss. It's not a good situation.

VERCAMMEN: Fisher spoke about being bipolar and often turned pain into humor, also writing "Wishful Drinking" and "Shockaholic."

Fisher was briefly married to singer Paul Simon of the 1980s. Years later, she gave birth to a daughter Billie Catherine from her relationship with agent Brian Lourd.

She debuted in the acclaimed film "Shampoo". In between the "Star Wars" movies, Fisher landed many roles in soap dish. FISHER: I think we found our waiter.

VERCAMMEN: And as Meg Ryan's wise cracking friend in "When Harry Met Sally."

FISHER: Someone is staring at you in personal growth.

VERCAMMEN: But nothing could, would or perhaps loom large on screen than Fisher in "Star Wars."

FISHER: Transported you. It was extraordinary filmmaking.

LARRY KING, FORMER CNN HOST: Do you like the princess?

FISHER: I have her over sometimes. She's a little bitchy, you know.

KING: Yes.

VERCAMMEN: Carrie Fisher was 60.


JOHNS: Carrie Fisher's "Star Wars" family remembering her as a force to be reckoned with. Harrison Ford, among those paying tribute, saying, "Carrie was one of a kind, brilliant, original, funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life bravely. And we'll all miss her."

Mark Hamill says this, "It's downright hard-breaking. She was our princess and the actress who played her blurred into one gorgeous, fiercely independent and ferociously funny, take charge woman who took our collective breath away. She played such a crucial role in my professional and personal life. And both would have been far emptier without her."

And this from "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, "She was extremely smart, talented actress, writer and comedienne with a very colorful personality that everybody loved. In Star Wars, she was our great and powerful princess -- feisty, wise and full of hope in a role that was more difficult than most people might think. She will be missed by all."

KOSIK: All right. Turning now to the Trump transition. Twenty-three days until he takes the oath of office. A security scare at New York's Trump Tower triggering the latest Twitter war.

[04:05:05] But the president-elect, he was actually on the sidelines for this one. A suspicious package which turned out to be a bag of children's toys prompted police to evacuate the lobby. The incident triggering a back-and-forth between Trump's team over the New York City mayor's office over the millions of dollars currently being spent to protect Trump Tower.

Incoming White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, tweeting this, "Back to work here at Trump Tower after a false alarm. Thanks, NYPD." Well, that led to Eric Phillips, the spokesperson for New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio responding this way, "No problem. We'll send you the bill."

JOHNS: And it was downhill from there with Trump social media director Dan Scavino weighing in. "Eric Phillips, you are an embarrassment to the New York City Mayor's office and the amazing NYPD." Phillips shot back linking an article about House Republicans short-changing the Big Apple on security funding for Trump Tower. And tweeting, "That's not very nice, Dan, but about that bill, work with us on it, will you?"

It cost the city $500,000 a day to protect Trump and the tower. Bill de Blasio, the mayor, asked for $35 million for security until the inauguration. House Republicans offered $7 million.

KOSIK: Now, Trump missed all of the excitement, he's actually in Florida for the holidays. He's now getting back to business for building his administration, announcing his choice for homeland security adviser.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more from Palm Beach.



Donald Trump beginning yet another work day here on his vacation at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Aides told me that he's going to be holding meetings throughout the day today, still rounding out his cabinet and his West Wing Advisers.

Now, he did name a very critical position to his team yesterday, Thomas Bossert. He's a former adviser to the George W. Bush administration, is now going to be the chief of homeland security, counterterrorism and cyber threats in a new Trump administration. He's going to have a similar role domestically to what retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has for foreign threats and international affairs. That's a key position in the West Wing.

Now, there are two cabinet positions also remaining and CNN has learned that those could come as early as this week. They are Veterans Affairs and the Agriculture Department, both cabinet positions, could be named as early as today or before the end of the week, I'm told -- Joe and Alison.


JOHNS: Meantime, President-elect Donald Trump continuing his Twitter war against President Obama. This time, he slammed the president's unsuccessful campaigning on behalf of fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump tweeted, "President Obama campaigned hard and personally in the very important swing states and lost. The voters wanted to make America great again."

His words came just hours before President Obama appeared to take his own swipe at Trump while speaking at Pearl Harbor, never mentioning his name. The president urged Americans to fight against hate in the country and come together as one.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is here that we remember that even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different.


KOSIK: And President Obama's comments there coming at an historic ceremony alongside Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The two leaders confirming the alliance between the two countries. President Obama making it clear that U.S. and Japan will back one another in good times and bad. And like Mr. Obama when he visited Hiroshima seven months ago, Abe did not apologize for the Pearl Harbor attack. But he did offer condolences for the victims.


SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all of the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place. And also to the souls of the countless innocent people who became victims of the war.


KOSIK: And the prime minister calling the Pearl Harbor tribute a symbol of reconciliation.

JOHNS: The Obama administration is reportedly considering economic sanctions against Russia for its apparent hack in the U.S. election. That according to "The Washington Post." The paper also reporting diplomatic censure is on the table. And an announcement on the punishment could come as early as next week.

Meantime, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina expressing outrage. He's calling on President-elect Trump for refusing to listen to lawmakers who believe Russia had its hand in the election.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I would say that 99 of us believe the Russians did this, and we're going to do something about it. And we're going to put sanctions together that hit Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election.


[04:10:09] JOHNS: Graham is scheduled to join a bipartisan group of senators on a trip to Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia, and Montenegro to meet with officials about the Russian threat.

KOSIK: Breaking overnight, Turkey and Russia have agreed to draft a cease-fire plan for all of Syria. Turkish state media is reporting it's hope the deal will be implemented by midnight local time. That's less than 13 hours from now. The deal would allow the Assad regime and opposition parties begin negotiations for permanent peace.

One potentially stumbling block, reports from Turkey also say terrorist organizations will be excluded from the cease-fire. Generally, during the civil war, that's how the Assad regime has been referred to rebel fighters who've been demanding that he'd step aside. So, it's really unclear if these rebel groups including those recently forced from Aleppo are really on board with this deal.

Breaking overnight, Israel responding to global pressure settlements. It comes just hours before the secretary of state will be laying out a Mideast peace plan. The question is, can it handcuff the next administration? We're live in Jerusalem, next.


JOHNS: Breaking overnight, Jerusalem's city council cancelling a vote of construction of new housing units in East Jerusalem after a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It comes just hours before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech outlining the Obama administration's vision for peace in the Middle East.

CNN's Oren Liebermann following the breaking developments live in Jerusalem -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe, two different perspectives here, one is the city of Jerusalem's perspective. A spokesman or, rather, a city councilmember said they got a request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel this vote just hours before Secretary of State John Kerry's speech in just a few hours here.

[04:15:06] For them, for the city, that is, this is simply a municipal issue. For them, they say Jerusalem needs to continue to grow and will continue building there. But they say they don't want to get into a political controversy, so they decided not to vote on this just before John Kerry's speech. For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, perhaps it's a bit of goodwill or what else Secretary of State John Kerry might do or the international community, that is to say, the U.N. might do following Kerry's speech.

A spokesman for Kerry gave a preview of why they think it's important for Kerry to outline the peace in the final days of the Obama administration.


MARK TONER, DEPUTY STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: This is a piece he's worked on for many, many years. I think, you know, he feelings it's his duty and his waning weeks and days as secretary of state, to lay out what he believes is a way toward a peaceful two-state solution in the Middle East.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LIEBERMANN: So, what is it that Netanyahu is afraid of right now in the Israeli government? Kerry is expected to lay out his parameters, which is to say his ideas on how to achieve a two-state solution. That can then be used at an international peace conference next month to lay out what could be another Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That is what Israel is trying to avoid. Joe, although the prime minister's office has been quiet, a number of the ministers have already started firing off almost preemptive strikes to Kerry's speech and they don't have exactly have nice things to say about the expectations there.

JOHNS: A lot of subtext there. Thanks so much for that, Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem.

KOSIK: Time for an early start on your money. We're learning that Chinese hackers made more than $4 million by infiltrating the email servers of several New York law firms. Prosecutors unsealed insider trading and hacking charges against three Chinese suspects, allegedly involved in the scheme.

So, here's what we know so far. The hackers scoured e-mails of law firm partners to discover stocks that were likely to soar because they were targeted in merger deals. The defendants then purchased shares of the companies, allegedly scoring over $4 million in illegal profits. One of the individuals was arrested Sunday in Hong Kong, facing extradition to the U.S. But the other two defendants were hit with 13 count indictments and they remain at large.

JOHNS: New England bracing for another round of heavy snow later this week. Let's get to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

Good morning.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John and Alison, good morning to you both on this 52nd and final Wednesday of 2016.

Look at the northern tier of the country, temperatures are generally below freezing across this region, and should support snow showers across portions of Wisconsin and to Minnesota, and, of course, the Great Lakes themselves. About 3 percent ice coverage, which is rather low, of course, for this time of year.

But you take a look, we do have changes in the pattern here with winter weather advisories around western New York. And also, winter storm watches that are in place across parts of much of northern New England over the next couple of days as a result of this storm system that is slated to come in late tonight and to early tomorrow morning. Snow showers begin around sunrise through parts of the New England and continue through much of Thursday before the disturbance scoots off here.

But it should produce plenty of snow showers. In fact, the best estimations at this point, around portions of Vermont, and New Hampshire even parts of Maine. That's up to 1 1/2, maybe 2 feet in the highest elevations of fresh snowfall in the forecast through Friday. Notice the major metro cities just a little too warm there. So, we'll translate that into rain showers, temperatures even on New Year's Eve, as only as low as about 36 degrees, which will be much colder and high back up to 38 for New Year's Day -- guys.


KOSIK: All right. Pedram, thanks very much.

JOHNS: Living under a state of emergency for over a year, France is beefing up security ahead of major New Year's Eve celebrations. We're live in Paris with more on celebrations coming up, next.


[04:22:23] KOSIK: Authorities in Paris are on high alert for the holiday. Security there was tight even before we learned the man who attacked a Christmas market in Berlin last week managed to travel through the French city, to Milan following that attack. The French have been living understand a state of emergency for over a year now but security is now being stepped up even more ahead of this weekend's New Year's celebrations.

CNN's Melissa Bell is live in Paris with more.

Melissa, what's the latest?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in just a few days a time, Alison, on this, Champs-Elysees, that you can see, just below me, there will be hundred us of thousands of people. Of course, this presents a massive headache for authorities who have been on high alert for the last 18 months or so. How to protect such a large crowd of people and yet allow these sort of gatherings that are so traditional and so appreciated by people ever year.

Increased security, of course, is one thing: 91,000 policemen on the streets of Paris over this holiday period. Helped by a further 10,000 military personnel. They'll be helping in short security. Of course, France's state of emergency has been extended. It will now last, Alison, until July of next year, which means by then it will have been in place for 20 months.

Now, there are those who are very critical about it, who say this is an exceptional set of measures that essentially suspend the citizens' human and civic rights. And that is an exceptional measure that in a sense has become an exceptional, an extraordinary measure that's become all too ordinary and they object to the fact that it's been extended once again. All the more so, because it simply hasn't prevented the recent attacks we've seen.

I'm thinking, for instance, of the last big attack here in France which was back in July. I remember on Bastille Day, a lorry was driven into a crowd of people in Nice, killing 84 people, and that heightened since of security here and didn't prevent Anis Amri from hitting that Christmas market in Berlin last weekend and then crossing the French border twice. There are those who wonder whether the security measures that have been put in place are actually adequate to deal with the new threat that France and other Europeans are facing, Alison.

KOSIK: Melissa, you mentioned the state of emergency in effect until July? Is there a reason why it's until July? And what's the expectation that it could go beyond that month?

BELL: For now, everything is possible because by the time this is reconsidered, Alison, we will have a new government. The reason that this extension was agreed, was asked for by the French government, they're entering an electoral period next spring. The French will elect their new president.

[04:25:02] There is every likelihood, according to the polls, that the government will change from socialist to right -- either marginally right wing with the Republican Party or far right. The National Fund is looking poised to benefit really from what we've seen as growing anxiety here in France, faced with the proposed terror threat, but also this growing frustration with the way Europe has handled its migration crisis.

We will be looking at either government. It will be up to them to decide whether or not to extend the state of emergency. Already, though, it will be in place for 20 months and that is something that is being increasingly criticized here in France.

KOSIK: All right. CNN's Melissa Bell, live from Paris, thanks very much.

JOHNS: Russia now doing a flip-flop on allegations of widespread doping during the Olympics. For the first time ever, high-level officials admitting to "The New York Times" the country carried out a far-reaching doping operation. The acting director general of Russia's national anti-doping agency telling the paper it was an institutional conspiracy. But top government officials were not involved. Members of the Federal Security Service say lab directors tampered with urine samples and provided a cocktail of performance- enhancing drugs.

Still, just last week, President Vladimir Putin denied allegations of the state-sponsored doping regime.

KOSIK: All right. The force is darken this morning. Friends and fans are remembering Carrie Fisher's iconic appearances on the big screen and her brave battles off of it. We have more on her legacy when EARLY START continues.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?

FISHER: Somebody has to save our skins! (END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: She brought Princess Leia to life in "Star Wars" and fought her personal demons on a very public stage. This morning, we're remembering Carrie Fisher who passed away at just 60 years old. We have reaction ahead.

JOHNS: Political opponents kicking up dust after a security scare at Trump Tower.