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U.S. Retaliates Against Russia; Team Trump Pushes Back Against Russian Sanctions; Ceasefire Begins Across War-Torn Syria; New Year's Eve Security. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 30, 2016 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] ALISON KOSIK, CNN HOST: -- and security being stepped up at the crossroads of the world. Less than 48 hours until the big ball drops. How are authorities keeping Times Square a safe zone? We're going to tell you what new steps are being taken. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik. Good morning.

JOE JOHNS, CNN HOST: And I'm Joe Johns. We're right at 30 minutes past the hour. Christine and John are off. Breaking news right now, Russia, just moments ago, coming out with a new set of retaliatory measures against the U.S. a day after the White House issued unprecedented sanctions against Moscow for the computer hack surrounding the presidential election. We'll have more on the specific sanctions from Russia in a moment.

The White House is backing up its own sanctions with a new report from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, laying out unclassified technical details explaining how federal investigators linked Russian intelligence agencies to the hack of the DNC and the Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Earlier, before Russia came out with the response it just announced, it launched a few early salvos including this insult via Twitter from the Russian Embassy in London. "President Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, including the American people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless administration." There you can see a picture of a cute duck or lame duck or a duckling.

But now, Moscow coming forward with new measures against the U.S. For the latest from Moscow let's bring in CNN's Matthew Chance. Good morning, Matthew. What's the news?

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Joe, good morning to you, as well. That's right, as well as the venom that's been poured on the Obama administration by the Russian Foreign Ministry and various other officials, and that's included this quote from the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. "The Obama administration is a group of vindictive, unimaginative foreign policy failures," she said.

There's also now been some concrete measures that have been announced by the Foreign Ministry in response to the expulsion of 35 diplomats of Russia in the United States. Sergey Lavrov, who's the Russian foreign minister, just appeared on Russian television and he said that in response to this he's recommending to the Kremlin the 31 U.S. diplomats from the embassy here in -- the U.S. Embassy here in Moscow -- should be expelled and another four diplomats from the U.S. Consulate in Saint Petersburg is going to be -- are going to be expelled as well.

That's the recommendation he's made, obviously, bringing to 35 -- an exact tit for tat response to the 35 Russian diplomats being expelled from the United States.And it's kind of what the Russians said they were going to do in the first place. They said there would be reciprocal measures, in this case, applied to the sanctions that the U.S. Obama administration imposed.

But the final decision, and the Kremlin have made this very clear, rests with Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Putin, they say, is in no hurry to make a final decision. But with this latest announcement from the Russian Foreign Ministry, it seems a decision may soon be taken to expel these 35 U.S. diplomats from their -- from their jobs -- from the embassies and consulates here in Russia.

JOHNS: So the way this works is Lavrov makes a recommendation and it's up to Putin to decide whether or not to act on expelling these 35 individuals, right?

CHANCE: Yes, I think so, yes. I mean, it's just like in the United States in that sense in that this is the decision taken by the president of the country. Now, there was a suggestion earlier, Joe, that Putin may hold back and he may wait to make a decision and not make any response because he knows very well that in a few weeks from now Donald Trump is going to be in the White House.

Trump much more sympathetic to the Kremlin point of view, of course, and it's someone the Kremlin believe they can do a deal with. But with this recommendation from the Foreign Ministry it seems that there will be some kind of tit for tat response -- 35 diplomats from the United States expelled as well.

There's one other thing. It's just a small thing, which is that the Russians have announced that they will be closing down the U.S. Embassy Dacha, which is the Russian word for a country house, outside of Moscow. It's sort of like a summer residence where the U.S. Embassy often has cultural events. That will be -- that will be closed down as well, as part of the countermeasures imposed by the Kremlin.

JOHNS: So they're closing down the Dacha and we also got reports yesterday of the closure of the Anglo-American School in Russia. Are there any other measures that are to be expected from Russia in response to what the United States has done?

CHANCE: Yes, on the Anglo-American School, that's now been denied. That was -- that was something that was briefed on -- CNN was briefed on that at Washington, that the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Kremlin have now denied there's going to be any action taken against the Anglo-American School, so that's a relief to obviously lots of the parents and the children -- the expatriate families here in Russia that attend that.

In terms of what else there's going to be, look, I mean, I expect there are plans underway in the Kremlin and in the Foreign Ministry to take other measures as well. But again, we're in a kind of unusual situation because normally the Kremlin would respond very strongly to this kind of action from the United States. But again, they're very aware of the fact that in three weeks from now the situation in Washington is going to change dramatically -- or could change dramatically and so I suspect we may see a limited response to the latest sanctions.

[05:35:15] JOHNS: Matthew Chance in Moscow, thanks so much for that reporting.

KOSIK: OK. As we go down the line of what these sanctions include -- what President Obama has imposed, the U.S. sanctions include two Russian hackers who've been on the FBI's most-wanted list for years. Evgeniy Bogachev and Aleksey Belan are both wanted for large-scale theft of money and personal identifying information. Both men are fugitives, their whereabouts unknown.

Now, the U.S. sanctions aren't drawing just a retaliation from Russia but, also, the condemnation from the president-elect. Donald Trump, again, downplaying the election hack but he's got a new twist here. In his latest statement he said, "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things. Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people" -- in the interest of that --"I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."

A top Trump aide is dismissing the sanctions as toothless and aimed at limiting the president -- the president-elect's options as much as at punishing Russia. Take a listen to Kellyanne Conway on CNN.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISER: These retaliations -- these sanctions put forward by President Obama and his administration, some of them seem largely symbolic. Even those who are sympathetic to President Obama on most issues are saying that part of the reason he did this today was to "box in" President-elect Trump. That would be very unfortunate if that were the motivating -- if politics were the motivating factor here, but we can't help but think that that's often true.


JOHNS: Helping us break it all down now, political analyst and best- selling author Ellis Henican. His recent work, appropriately enough, includes "How To Catch A Russian Spy". Good morning again, Ellis.


KOSIK: Good morning.

HENICAN: Hey, Alison.

JOHNS: So you've heard what Russia's doing. It sounds very much tit for tat with what the United States has announced, at least as far as diplomatic expulsions. Any surprises? Can you sort of analyze the back game?

HENICAN: Well, tit for tat -- and Matthew was exactly right. In Moscow, so far that's what we've gotten. But don't forget there's one other log to put on the fire which is that Barack Obama has promised further covert actions from the United States.

KOSIK: And this is just what we know.

HENICAN: Right, and we don't know what that is. We don't know how big it is and, in fact, we may never know. Steps may be taken that the American people will never be informed about.

KOSIK: So then we can see Russia take actions, in turn, when they figure out what's going on.

HENICAN: Well, that's the spy versus spy dynamic that we saw over the Cold War and you're absolutely right. We may be getting a little taste of it right now.

JOHNS: On the other hand, nothing has happened yet because as we heard from Matthew Chance, Lavrov has made this recommendation to Putin and it's up to him to decide whether to act on it. In the chess game, perhaps he just sits and waits to see what Donald Trump does when he gets into office.

HENICAN: That's -- exactly -- just stick with your chess analysis. You know, they have that little hourglass sometimes they use in chess?


HENICAN: This one has 21 days left in it, OK, and that changes everything. If you're Vladimir Putin you're obviously -- you feel kind of proud of yourself. The result that you sought seems to have occurred. There's a president who's much more sympathetic to your viewpoint and he's showing up in three weeks.

KOSIK: However, you know, many are saying listen, President-elect Trump, who's been sympathetic to the Russians, we can say -- Kellyanne Conway saying look, this is boxing him in about -- in regards to being able to reverse these sanctions. If you listen to Lisa Monaco, Obama's Homeland Security adviser, on "THE LEAD" yesterday. Listen to what she said.


LISA MONACO, OBAMA HOMELAND SECURITY & COUNTERTERRORISMADVISER: The reversal of sanctions, such as what you've described, would be highly unusual. Indeed, the sanctions usually remain in place until the activity and the reasons for them being imposed in the first place has been removed.


KOSIK: Another Obama administration official saying it would be inadvisable for Donald Trump to reverse these sanctions. Is he getting boxed in or does he have some wiggle room here?

HENICAN: Well, you know, it's up to him. These are executive orders, so far. Congress has not yet taken any steps although Lindsey Graham and others are suggesting that maybe Congress should. But so far, these are actions of the president. The newpresident has every power to reverse them if he chooses to, but as you say, the politics could get a little dicey.

JOHNS: Take the long view for me, will you, just a moment here. President Obama's response to Russian interference in the election -- is it proportional? Is it the right response or is it too little, as someone on Capitol Hill suggested? But, I mean, would President Kennedy have come out with a response like this? Lyndon Johnson, even Ronald Reagan? Interference with an American election?

[05:40:00] HENICAN: Well, Joe, you're right. And, as you know, a lot of Democrats are making exactly the same argument. Boy, this sure would have been better to have happened three months ago and maybe twice or three times as strong. But, you know, compared to what we're getting in this next administration this may be about as tough as it gets.

KOSIK: Well shall see. All right. Ellis Henican --

HENICAN: Fascinating maneuvers.

KOSIK: Absolutely. It's just like the novel that you wrote -- the book that you wrote. Thanks, Ellis Henican.

HENICAN: Good to see you guys.

KOSIK: We appreciate it.

JOHNS: After five years of war a new ceasefire in effect in Syria this morning. Can the Assad regime and the rebel groups build any real hope for peace? More live from the Middle East coming up.


JOHNS: A new ceasefire now underway in Syria. It's part of a deal brokered by Turkey and Russia, including a return to peace talks after more than five months of war. What's the latest on the ground in Syria? CNN's Ian Lee monitoring the situation from Istanbul. He joins us live with more. Ian, good morning.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Right now, we've been talking to people on the ground inside Syria and it seems to be quiet so far. There have been some reports of scattered clashes. We are getting live images -- or images -- out of Aleppo today. As you can see, it is gloomy, it is cold, but more importantly, it is calm in that area.

[05:45:00] And this ceasefire is three parts. First, to stop the fighting between the different groups. On one side you have Turkey and their allies. On the other side you have Russia, the Syrian government, and their allies. The second stage is to create a dialogue so that if there are any violations that they can be resolved. The third step is in a month from now, in Kazakhstan, to hold peace negotiations where they can hash out an end to this Civil War that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Now, both sides have said that it is quite fragile. Most noticeable, though, are the factions that are not involved in this ceasefire. You have ISIS, you have Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which is the al Qaeda affiliate here in Syria, as well as the YPG. Now, these -- they are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces which are backed by the United States.

JOHNS: Ian, we're now getting some more input from President Assad about the American transfer of power. He is saying he's optimistic about a Trump presidency. What more do you know?

LEE: That's right. There is this optimism about a Trump presidency. The Syrian president talking about this saying, essentially, that when Trump comes in, Russia will be able to work together. That the two working together will form a front which will be positive for people around the world, especially countries like Syria which are fighting. Also, Trump has expressed an intent to have warmer relations with the Russian government, something that President Bashar al-Assad will most likely enjoy.

Also, the Obama administration has taken a very hard line toward the Syrian regime, saying Assad must go. We haven't heard that same tough rhetoric from Trump so, likely, things will change on January 20th when Trump becomes president.

JOHNS: Thanks for that, Ian, in Istanbul.

KOSIK: The United Kingdom now criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry for his comments on Israel this week. A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was not appropriate to go after the political composition of a democratically elected government of an ally. May's office goes on to say while it considers the construction of settlements illegal, they are far from the only problem in the conflict with Palestinians.

Kerry, on Wednesday, went after Israel's government as the most right- wing in that nation's history and portrayed the settlements as the biggest obstacle standing in the way of peace.

JOHNS: France is raising its so-called terror tax to help support victims. Citizens will pay almost $1.70 more on their property insurance policies. That's a spike of almost 40 percent. The cash goes directly to a fund set up for victims of terror attacks that have, and could still, hit the country. More than 200 people have died in France in attacks over the last 20 months.

KOSIK: Security is being stepped up in a big way ahead of the big New Year's Eve festivities in Times Square. The new steps being taken to protect the millions ringing in 2017, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:51:15] JOHNS: Breaking just moments ago, Russia announcing measures against the U.S. following sanctions leveled by the White House over the election hacking. Moscow plans to expel dozens of American diplomats. More details on "NEW DAY" at the top of the hour.

The New York Police Department ramping up security in Times Square for New Year's Eve. At least two million people are expected to pack the crossroads of the world and authorities say they're pulling out all the stops in order to keep revelers safe. CNN's Brynn Gingras has a preview of what to expect.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe and Alison, two million people are expected to ring in the new year here in Times Square on New Year's Eve, and you can imagine it basically takes an army to protect the city against any possible threats. Now, no credible threats against the New Year's Eve ball drop event at this point according to the NYPD, but every precaution is being taken -- is taking place.

We're told by the NYPD they start actually preparing for this once the ball dropped earlier this year and its multi-layer level of security. Two things to note, though, that we haven't seen in previous years at this particular event and that is 65 sand trucks and 100 barrier trucks which are basically departmentvehicles. They are going to form a perimeter around this Time Square area and that is in direct response to the truck-style attacks that we saw in both Nice and in Berlin.

We also know just within the last few weeks authorities with the NYPD have been visiting truck rental centers. They've been visiting parking garages. They've been talking to hotel owners just to make sure keeping every precaution for the security, again, that's going to attract millions as they ring in this new year -- Joe and Alison.


KOSIK: OK, Brynn Gingras, thanks so much. Everybody wants to know what's the weather going to be like standing out there at Times Square? Well, we're hearing that mild temperatures will be in effect for the festivities in Times Square. But it's going to be snowy, white new year for many in New England. Let's get to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Good morning.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Joe and Alison, good morning, guys. Yes, plenty of snow around parts of New England and look at the uniformity in the temperatures this morning. How about a trio of 31's from say places like Chicago, Detroit, out towards Buffalo. A couple of 20's from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis. A trio of 14's -- you work your way out towards the Northeast. Burlington on to Boston, a few 35's. Again, shows you very little disparity in the air mass.

It is into the teens around the Upper Midwest, into the 30's and conducive of heavy snow showers. This is an area we've had not only blizzard conditions at times but also having an avalanche threat in places. And the heavy snowfall really staying confined to the northern portion of New England. You work your way down toward the major metro areas of Boston, New York, Philly, it is a different story. It's all rain, fortunately, for the higher populations. But notice this, up to two feet has come down in just 12 hours across portions of New England.

There goes the center of circulation in the storm system. Still some lake-enhanced snow showers left in place but, again, should see some additional heavy snow throughout the early morning commute across portions of Maine. But it's around Mt. Washington in the eastern area there, we do have the avalanche threat currently in place. And a blustery Friday shaping up for us and potentially a blustery Saturday night. But it looks like the rains will hold off and the temperature should be mild, at least relatively speaking, for the Northeast for Saturday night -- guys.


JOHNS: Thanks for that, Pedram. A South Carolina judge ordering Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to undergo a second competency evaluation before his sentencing. It comes a day after Roof, who will represent himself in the trial's penalty phase, said he would give an opening statement but not call witnesses or submit any evidence. The competency hearing is set for Monday. Roof faces the death penalty for killing nine black parishioners at a Charleston church last year.

[05:55:00] KOSIK: North Charleston police officer Michael Slager facing a retrial in March in the murder of Walter Scott. This trial was declared earlier this month after jurors said they were unable to come to a unanimous decision. Slager is accused of gunning down Scott who was unarmed during a traffic stop last April. (Video playing) Video of the incident appears to show the moment Slager killed Scott as he ran away. That footage has garnered national attention.

JOHNS: Two thousand sixteen was the deadliest year for police officers nationwide since 2011. A report by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund finds 135 officers were killed in 2016. Some died in traffic accidents but nearly half were shot to death. That's a 56 percent increase in shooting deaths over the previous year. Of the 64 officers shot and killed in the line of duty, 21 were killed in ambush attacks.

And, a mother-daughter funeral is reportedly being planned for Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. "ABC NEWS" reporting that Todd Fisher, Reynold's son and Fisher's brother, says a joint funeral is in the works where the two screen legends will be honored side-by-side, he say. At the moment there's no set date or location for a memorial service. The 84-year-old Reynolds died Wednesday, one day after Fisher passed away at the age of 60.

KOSIK: OK, let's get an early start on your money. Global stocks are mixed this morning as markets enter the last trading day of 2016. So before you ask, I'm going to tell you the Dow probably not going to be hitting that elusive 20,000 mark today. But U.S. futures are higher after closing a bit lower yesterday. Now, analysts do expect another day of light trading ahead of that

three-day holiday weekend that we're in store for but if you look at 2016, stocks have really enjoyed a great run. Markets wound up recovering from one of the worst-ever starts to the year to hit a series of record highs throughout the year. The Dow, the Nasdaq, and the S&P 500, they're all on track for solid annual gains with the Dow up nearly 14 percent this year.

Run-DMC is bringing Amazon and Walmart to court. Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of the iconic rap group filing a $50 million lawsuit against the retailers on Thursday for selling products that use the group's name without permission. The lawsuit alleges the retailers have profited from, and harmed, the Run-DMC brand which has reportedly generated more than $100 million since 1980's.


KOSIK: Who knew?

JOHNS: Yes, really.

KOSIK: And speaking of Amazon, it may have some -- it may someday have floating warehouses. That's according to a patent filed by the company. The airborne fulfillment centers would use blimps at 45,000 feet -- let's use our imagination here -- so that store products can send out delivery drones to fulfill orders in minutes. Now, possibly, there are regulatory issues with us but put those aside because the system is probably still years away, even if it will be built and developed at all. But can you imagine --

JOHNS: I know.

KOSIK: -- how crowded the skies will be?

JOHNS: I can't imagine it.

KOSIK: All right. Thanks for being --

JOHNS: That's stuff's amazing.

KOSIK: Thanks so much for being with us all week. I'm Alison Kosik and I want to wish you an early happy and healthy new year.

JOHNS: Me, too. I'm Joe Johns. Have a very happy new year. Russia fires back at the U.S. after the Obama administration levels sanctions for the election hacking. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. I'm Don Lemon, along with Poppy Harlow.

We're going to begin with some breaking news right now. Russia responding just moments ago to U.S. actions over alleged hacking of the presidential election. Russia's foreign minister recommending that the Kremlin expel dozens of American diplomats in retaliation to U.S. sanctions announced by the Obama administration.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: The escalating Cold War-like confrontation with Moscow, right now, coming just three weeks before President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated. We have every angle covered for you this morning with the global resources of CNN. Let's begin with our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance, live in Moscow with the breaking details, literally breaking at this moment. Russia just announcing what they will do strike back at the United States. What does it entail?

CHANCE: Yes, the Russians always said that they would respond in-kind to the expulsion of the 35 Russian diplomats from the United States and the other measures. They've started that process now with the Russian foreign minister appearing on national television announcing what sanctions Russia is going to take in response to those U.S. measures, and it's exactly the same. It's tit for tat.

They're saying that 31 U.S. diplomats based at the embassy -- the Russian -- the U.S. Embassy here in Moscow are going to be expelled. That's their recommendation, at least, to the Kremlin. And another four diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Saint Petersburg, a city in Russia, that are also going to be expelled as well. That comes after the 31 Russian diplomats in Washington and four diplomats at the Russian consulate in San Francisco were expelled by the Obama administration.

We don't know if there's going to be any further measures but, certainly, these measures are just a recommendation at this point, it seems.