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Carrie Fisher: 1956-2016; Security Scare at Trump Tower Triggers Twitter War; Kerry to Outline Middle East Peace Plan; Bills Fire Head Coach Rex Ryan. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 28, 2016 - 05:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And there's Michigan with just over a 7 cent increase, and Nebraska having an increase as well.

[05:00:04] Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana and Florida, they're going to see very small hikes of less than a penny a gallon. But, you know, every bit help.

JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: So the lesson is, don't drive in Pennsylvania.

KOSIK: You know what's interesting, as we see gas prices creep up they're still historically low.

JOHNS: Right, yes. Not too bad.

KOSIK: Enjoy it while it lasts.

JOHNS: Exactly.

All right. EARLY START continues right now.


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.


KOSIK: Remembering Carrie Fisher. The actress who brought the iconic Princess Leia to life in "Star Wars" has died. We're going to tell you what Fisher's famous co-stars are saying about the late actress.

JOHNS: 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 a new national security appointment. We'll explain.

KOSIK: And Secretary of State John Kerry getting ready to lay out a road map for Mideast 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.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

JOHNS: And I'm Joe Johns. It's Wednesday, December 28, it's 5:00 a.m. in the East. Christine and John 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, of course, is best known as "Star Wars'" Princess Leia but her legacy goes well beyond the big screen. Tributes 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 legacy.


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 entertainment 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.


KOSIK: I love how sassy she was. Carrie Fisher's "Star Wars" family also remembering her as a force to be reckoned with.

Harrison Ford among those paying tribute, saying this, "Carrie was one of a kind, brilliant, original, funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life bravely. We will all miss her."

Mark Hamill saying this, "This is downright heartbreaking, 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 a role in my personal life and both would have been far emptier without her."

And this from "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, "She was extremely smart, a talented actress, writer and comedienne with a very colorful personality that everyone loved.

[05:05:03] 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."

JOHNS: Turning now to the Trump transition. Twenty-three days until he takes the oath of office. And there was a security scare at New York's Trump Tower triggering the latest Twitter war but the president-elect this time was on the sidelines.

A suspicious package turned out to be a bag of children's toys prompting police to evacuate the lobby. You see there. The incident triggering a back and forth between Trump's team and the New York City mayor's office over the millions of dollars being spent to protect Trump Tower.

Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeting, "Back to work here at Trump Tower after a false alarm. Thanks, NYPD." That led Eric Philips, spokesperson for New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio to respond, "No problem, we'll send you the bill."

KOSIK: And it was downhill from there with Trump's social media director Dan Scavino weighing in with this tweet, "Eric Philips, you are an embarrassment to the mayor's office and the amazing NYPD. Well then Phillips shot back, linking an article about House Republicans shortchanging the Big Apple on security funding for Trump Tower, tweeting this, "That's not very nice, Dan. But about that bill, work on it with us."

It actually costs the city half a million dollars a day to protect Trump and Trump Tower. Mayor de Blasio asked for $35 million to pay for that security until the inauguration. House Republicans offered $7 million.

So, let's dig a little deeper into this Twitter war and bring in CNN politics reporter Eugene Scott.

And you're here. Good morning.


KOSIK: You know what's interesting, we thought it was only Trump that took to Twitter for spats out in the open. No way, you know, these folks really got into it and so publicly, too.

SCOTT: That was actually one of my first thoughts as well. We often say that leadership starts at the top. And very much so, I think his team has followed its approach in terms of handling very serious issues, be they domestic or international on social media. We'll see if that continues in the administration.

KOSIK: But it is interesting to see the transparency because there is sort of, what is a love/hate relationship between de Blasio and Trump but many will say they're actually very much a like. De Blasio obviously not a huge Trump supporter here and not happy that his funding was dramatically cut short than what they really wanted.

SCOTT: Yes, this is going to be expensive. I mean, we have reported that repeatedly especially with Melania and Baron remaining in New York City, at least for the first six months of the pregnancy. How this will get soft if it will get soft remains to be seen, but yesterday was a quite a concern for everyone.

KOSIK: And we got more back and forth now between President Obama and President-elect Trump. And one example of that, of course, is Donald Trump essentially taking some shot at the president, pointing out that he supported Hillary Clinton and Hillary Clinton lost. You there see one of the tweets, talking about the swing states.

And then President Obama seemingly responds in a very subtle way to some of the other Donald Trump stuff. Listen to this from Pearl Harbor and Hawaii.


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.


JOHNS: The tug of tribalism, demonizing those who are different. Why this back and forth, seemingly, between the president and Donald Trump, subtle or otherwise?

SCOTT: Well, what I would say, is while that may definitely have appeared to be a jab at Donald Trump he also could be speaking to people on the left, tribalism isn't unique to people on the right. Both sides and maybe more than two sides go their ways in defending what they stood for and attacking the other side, and perhaps he's saying that we all need to come together just like he and the prime minister just did at that moment. But we don't know exactly.

KOSIK: All right. Switching gears, the Obama administration reportedly considering economic sanctions against Russia. Of course, Donald Trump not on board with this, not believing that Russia had a hand in influencing the U.S. election. Senator Lindsey Graham outraged by this.

I want you to listen to what he has to say.


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. We're going to put sanctions together that hit Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election. And they're doing it all over the world, not just in the United States.


[05:10:02] KOSIK: Eugene, walk me through how this plays out. Trump doesn't believe Russia had a hand in it. And you got the entire Senate thinking the opposite.

SCOTT: To me, this looks like the latest civil war in the Republican Party. We have seen some senators say that they do believe Russia was involved in the election based on intelligence, yet, we have not seen Donald Trump and his top aides affirm that view as well. It will be really interesting to see how they move forward with this.

We remember that President Barack Obama has called for some examination or investigation into their involvement in this selection while he still remains in office. Where it will go after he leaves is unclear, especially with this type of disagreement happening within the party.

JOHNS: And they're also talking about sanctions, including what's being called diplomatic something or other -- so, diplomatic censure, I think.

SCOTT: Sure.

JOHNS: What does that mean? Are they talking about kicking out an ambassador or two from the Russian embassy or is there something more to it than that?

SCOTT: What they have been given details as far as what they want to happen regarding sanctions but it's very clear that if any punishment needs to happen, they want it to be monetary and they want it to be business-related. But I'm sure Lindsey Graham who has been active in the last week regarding the United Nations and Russia will give more details as his ideas continue to form.

KOSIK: OK. Eugene Scott, thanks so much for coming into this one. You're going to be back in a few minutes.

SCOTT: I will.

KOSIK: All right. See in a bit.

SCOTT: See you soon.

KOSIK: Breaking overnight, Israel responding to global pressure on settlements. This coming hours before the secretary of state is going to be laying out of Mideast peace plans. But could it handcuff the next administration? We are live in Jerusalem, next.


JOHNS: We have some news breaking overnight to tell you about. 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 Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech outlining the Obama administration's vision for peace in the Middle East.

[05:15:05] CNN's Oren Liebermann following the breaking developments live in Jerusalem -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESONDENT: Joe, we've learned from a Jerusalem city council member that it was Netanyahu's request, that convinced them or urged them to cancel his vote on construction in east Jerusalem settlements.

Two different perspectives here. For the city, it simply a municipal need. A city needs to grow, Jerusalem needs to build housing. But a city council member tells us they didn't want to turn this into a political controversy, especially hours before Secretary of State Kerry's speech. So, they'll simply hold off for now.

As for Prime Minister Ben Bernanke why did they give that or make that request. It's a little more difficult to understand. Perhaps he's trying to build a bit of goodwill before Kerry's speech or perhaps he's concerned what Kerry or the international community might do next, if Israel doesn't abide at least for a bit by this U.N. Security Council resolution.

Here's what a spokesman for Kerry had to say about what this speech might entail.


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


LIEBERMANN: What could be the concern here? Israel's concern is that other nations at the Security Council, at the U.N., might seize upon what Kerry says as to how to handle the most difficult issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and turn that into another Security Council resolution. That would be another blow to Israel.

Joe, just a bit of history here, it was Clinton back in 2000 when he was on his way out that he gave his own vision on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and how to solve the issues. That's now known as the Clinton parameters. Perhaps Kerry's speech will come to be known as the Kerry parameters.

JOHNS: All right. Thanks so much for that, Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem.

KOSIK: OK, time for an early start on your money.

We've just learned that Chinese hackers made more than $4 million by infiltrating the e-mail servers of New York law firms. Prosecutors unsealed insider trading and hacking charges against three suspects allegedly involved in the scheme.

All right. So, here's what we know so far on this. 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 defendant then purchased shares of these companies allegedly scoring over $4 million in illegal profits.

Now, one of the individuals was arrested Sunday in Hong Kong and faces extradition to the U.S. But the other defendants, they were hit with 13 count indictments, they remain at large.

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


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 48 for New Year's Day -- guys.


KOSIK: All right. Pedram, thanks very much.

JOHNS: Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan is out, fired a week before the NFL season ends with his team out of the playoffs again. Andy Scholes with this morning's "Bleacher Report," coming up next.


[05:22:38] JOHNS: OK. We are three days away from the college football playoffs. And Clemson is not holding back when talking about their matchup with Ohio State.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Andy --

KOSIK: Good morning, Andy.

JOHNS: -- what do you got?


The last thing the coach wants is to give their opponent material ahead of the game. Dabo Swinney not thrilled that one of his players did just that. Clemson safety Jadar Johnson was asked a question about Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett. And Johnson was non- impressed from what he's seen from Barrett on tape.


JADAR JOHNSON, CLEMSON SAFETY: We've played better quarterbacks. I'm not taking anything away from him. I don't think that he's a bad player. He's definitely a good player. But, you know, he just doesn't stand out as one of the best quarterbacks we've played this year, you know, as a defense.


SCHOLES: All right. Barrett will get his chance to impress Johnson in person on Saturday. Clemson and Ohio State playing in a night game on New Year's Eve. Alabama and Washington getting things started at 3:00 Eastern in the Peach Bowl.

All right. After a tumultuous couple of weeks, Minnesota ending their season on a positive note. The team has threatened to boycott the holiday bowl because ten of their teammates were suspended after a sexual assault investigation that boycott lasted 36 hours. Last night on the field, third quarter, Minnesota getting a little lost, the ball tipped by Washington State right there right into the arms of Shannon Brooks for a touchdown. Golden Gophers wins this by a final 17-12.

All right. You can add Buffalo Bills in the market for a new head coach. The team firing Rex Ryan yesterday after a disappointing 7-8 season thus far. The Bills also firing Rex's twin brother Rob who was on the team's staff. Ryan with 15-16 in 31 games in his two years in Buffalo.

All right. Finally, this is 10-year-old Austin Decker. He's battling a severe heart condition. He's a huge Auburn football fan. His elementary teacher posted his pic of Austin saying his prognosis isn't good and his Christmas wish was to meet Auburn legend Cam Newton.


CAM NEWTON, AUBURN: How are you doing? You doing all right? Are you doing good?


[05:25:00] SCHOLES: Such a cool man. Cam Newton surprising Austin right there. According to report, Austin is going to have a procedure later on today, and we are, of course, all pulling for him.

KOSIK: That breaks your heart.

JOHNS: Just amazing. Wow, what a picture.


JOHNS: Really good to see that.

Can we go back to Ohio State and Clemson? There's room for trash talk there between those two schools. Little known fact is that it was a Clemson game between Ohio State that ended the career of the most legendary coach Woody Hayes when he punched a player. So, the history goes far and wide between these two teams.

SCHOLES: Thanks for a little education this morning.


JOHNS: Columbus, Ohio, you know, high school football kid, I know.

SCHOLES: All right.

JOHNS: All right. Great.

KOSIK: Thanks, Andy.

JOHNS: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: Have a good one.

KOSIK: The force is darkened this morning. Friends and fans are remembering Carrie Fisher's iconic appears on the big screen and her brave battles off of it. More on her legacy coming up when EARLY START returns.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?

CARRIE FISHER AS PRINCESS LEIA: Somebody has to save our skins!


JOHNS: 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 just 60 years old. We have reaction coming up ahead.

KOSIK: Political opponents kicking up the dust over a security scare at Trump Tower. Why a fight over finances led an aide to the mayor of New York City to go after two Trump advisers? That's ahead.

JOHNS: And Secretary of State John Kerry will deliver the administration's vision of peace of the Middle East today. And ahead of that speech, a major pivot from the Israelis on settlement following a direct order from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Details ahead from Jerusalem.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Joe Johns.