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Forensic Search; Diplomats Back in Russia; Absence on New Year's Day; A Warning To South Korea; Leaving the Choir. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 2, 2017 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN HOST: A forensic search right now for the gunman behind the deadly shooting rampage in Istanbul.

We're learning more about the people who lost their lives while celebrating the New Year.

Thirty five Russian diplomats are back on Russian soil after the U.S. since impacting following hacking allegations against the Kremlin.

And a noticeable absence on New Year's Day. Queen Elizabeth was too ill to carry out a decades' long tradition.

We'll have a live report about her condition.

Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is 3 a.m. on the second day of the year here as they like to say this time found somewhere.

This is CNN Newsroom. Thanks for joining us.

Well, the outlaw of the Kurdistan Worker's Party or PKK said they were not behind the attack on a night club in Istanbul. A massive manhunt continues in Turkey for the shooter that killed at least 39 people, young people celebrating the New Year. Most of those killed were foreign nationals.

The gunman has not been identified. This security footage appears to show him shooting his way into the club. So far there is no claim of responsibility.

Ian Lee has been on the story from the start. He joins me now on the phone from Istanbul with the latest on that manhunt and reaction around Turkey to yet another deadly, ugly terrorist attack.

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Natalie. We've just this morning seeing --we're seeing people come to the site of the attack at the Reina nightclub, they're leaving flowers, offering their condolences.

This is an attack that has really struck the conutry as previous attacks have to, it raises questions about security (Inaudible). There is that massive nationwide manhunt looking for the perpetrator of this attack, questions about was he acting alone, did he have help. These are things that the government is looking into right now. But we are able to at least narrow it down a bit to list of suspects with the PKK coming out and saying that they had no part on this. There is the executive board member speaking to a pro-PKK newspaper saying no Kurdish forces have anything to do with this attack. "The Kurdish freedom fight is also the fight for -- democrat -- democratization of Turkey. That's why we won't target innocent and civilian people. No Kurdish forces would target civilians."

And so, right now, that would lead one of the main perpetrators possibly of tis attack being ISIS. ISIS have carried out a number of attack here in Turkey and although they haven't claimed responsibility, it does bear the hallmarks of their style.

ALLEN: Yes. And, Ian, of course, 39 people are gone now. Now there is now like, 69 I believe are wounded. What is this doing to the psyche and the resilience of the people there?

LEE: Well, when we -- after this attack happened we heard immediately from the prime minister and the president vowing that this country would standup against terror. But Turkey has been ravage by terrorist attacks over the past year and a half with dozens and dozens of people who have been killed.

The night of New Year's Eve usually a night when a lot of people go out to celebrate...

ALLEN: All right. Ian, thank you so much. We got lost our connection with him.

But we're learning more about the nightclub victims. Some of them at least 27 of the 39 people killed were foreign nationals including from the top left here. A film producer from India, a 19-year-old woman from Israel, a dual Belgian-Turkish citizen who was 23 years old. And a woman and man from Lebanon. At least 11 Turks were also killed including the young man you see on the lower right.

There was one American among the 69 people wounded. The U.S. has identified him as William Jacob Raak.

[03:05:06] We turn to other news now in the U.S. cautioning North Korea after leader Kim Jong-un claimed the country is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The State Department issued a statement reminding Pyongyang of U.N. resolutions banning those test and calling on the country to quote, "refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric that threaten peace and stability."

CNN's Saima Mohsin joins us now from Seoul, South Korea with more. What are North Korea's nuclear capabilities, Saima?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's important to check between the rhetoric and the reality, isn't it, Natalie. Well, we do know, of course that they have nuclear capabilities. The fifth and largest nuclear test carried out under Kim Jong-un in September 2016, not long ago at all two nuclear test last year alone. Of course, there was a response for sanctions but that doesn't seem to be stopping him. We do also know that the majority of their successful missile test, Natalie, and there were a number of those separately from the nuclear test last year are short to medium range.

Experts believe that the long-range missile has the majority of them were unsuccessful which is good news if we're looking at whether or not they have the capabilities of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile.

However, in February 2016, they did launch a satellite, now experts tell us that that means that they could have then the technology to launch a long-range missile, that is farther afield to reach other countries, perhaps even as an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The name explains itself really even unto another continent. So, that is the concern that they do have that technology. But do they have the technology to reduce the nuclear warhead and attach it to it. Well, Kim Jong-un says he does. Natalie?

ALLEN: Well, is there any indication of when there might be a test?

MOHSIN: Well, a lot of what is the same that it could be as early as within the next few months. We do know from a very high level diplomatic defection, the highest level in history in fact, the former deputy ambassador to North Korea's embassy in London speaking here in Seoul, just a few days ago, just before Kim Jong-un's New Year's Day address saying that Kim Jong-un is carefully calculating his move right now. It's like a game of chess.

He believes that Kim Jong-un plans to really proceed and progress as fast as possible with his nuclear development program. By the end of 2017, according to Thae Yong Ho, and Kim Jong-un is timing this to be in line with President Donald Trump moving into the White House and the presidential election here in South Korea, which is due to take place sometime this year in 2017.

But there is on the flip side, Natalie, I know I said that a lot of watches are saying that it may happen within the next few months. Right now the political situation in South Korea really works in Kim Jong-un's favor.

He is not a fan of the conservative government here so he wants to see them out, so he may lay low and stay quiet for the time being until the presidential election here. Natalie?

ALLEN: All right. Saima Mohsin there for us in Seoul. Thank you, Saima.

Indonesian police have detained the captain of the ferry that caught fire near Jakarta killing at least 23 people. This comes amid allegations that he was the first to jump ship. The boat reportedly caught fire because of a short circuit and power generator.

Hundreds of people were heading to an island in north Jakarta at the time rescue workers save most of the passengers. Here is how one survivor described the chaos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thick smoke suddenly emerged, blanketing the cabin, all passengers panicked and ran up to the deck to throw floats in a water. In a split second, the fire became bigger. It was coming from where the fuel is stored.


ALLEN: Authorities say 17 people are still missing. We want to turn pack to the Istanbul attack at the nightclub. For more about it Al- Monitor columnist Mustafa Akyol joins me now from Istanbul. He's the author "Islam Without Extremes, A Muslim Case for Liberty."

And I know we talked the yesterday, Mustafa, the people in Turkey were still hoping that 2017 would be different. And to start the New Year like this, are there any lead, are there any more information or from the video are investigators able to see who possibly carried this out?

MUSTAFA AKYOL, COLUMNIST, AL-MONITOR: Indeed it was horrible way to begin with the New Year in Turkey. As for the attack, no. I mean, we know there was just one gunman who just walk into the club. He shot the police at the gate then just fired like, walk many bullets and then killed 40 people and injured more.

[03:10:12] And just he left. Because there was just one police, he killed that and he killed the police and he killed so many people and he walked out. The camera show his face but it' a very vague photo, so it's really hard to identify. So nobody claimed the attack either. So, it's totally anonymous terror attack.

However, the common feeling in Turkey that this is the work of ISIS. It's a typical ISIS crime and an ISIS terror attack and Turkey has been fighting ISIS in Syria so it can be retaliation against that.

It's a secular target in night life which again according to those sick ideology of ISIS can be targeted. All of this makes it. Many people think in Turkey that this is probably other terrorist attack by this notorious group.

ALLEN: Right. This continues to happen in part, is it because Turkey continues to fight inside Syria to push ISIS back. In fact, Turkey has had gained on one town that would prohibit ISIS that kind of the route they take. So, as long as Turkey is in Syria, it seems ISIS will try to retaliate in this heinous way, is that right?

AKYOL: That is probably the case. I think Turkey is -- Turkey has troops inside Syria and is fighting against both ISIS and Kurdish rebels that Turkey considers terrorist in collaboration with Russia lately.

So that is probably one major reason why we had this attack and retaliation against Turkey. And actually if you look at ISIS propaganda over the past three years, that they began condemning the Turkish government the Turkish republic as a apostate regime. There were a narratives about conquering Istanbul, you know, with but

they're really just army and all of that kind of narrative. So, in that sense it's not a big surprise. But this also touched the nerves in Turkey between -- in terms of the risk between the more secular and the religious side of society, New Year's Eve was protested by some Islamic groups.

That is not connected to this attack, obviously, but a lot of people also see that, actually our lifestyle. They could be people think that our lifestyle was demonized and then came this attack.

So, it's a very sensitive attack and what Turkey needs to be -- it's united as leaders are saying. But for that we need also clear that we need more respect for all views and lifestyles and the position and the basic rules of liberal democracy.

ALLEN: Absolutely, we're seeing live video from outside the club, you can see it's got heavy security there, a tarp covering the front and it's just so -- it's so surreal that this happened like right near a police precinct, right, do you know if the police were able to respond?


AKYOL: Yes, this is -- sure. This is (Inaudible) a part of Istanbul. And just actually two minutes away there's a police station. But apparently, the police didn't hear this right away because it is -- I mean, the sound of the bullet it's really hard to go there from -- and so a driver called the police. The police arrived very quickly, actually.

But still seven minutes was enough for a shooter to kill so many people and vanish. Some people jumped into the seats to save themselves. Because this big bar is just next to the water. I mean, it is, it's a horrific incident.

And some people are saying they should have more protection at the gate too. There were just one young policeman; he was the first victim of this incident. Maybe there should have been more security at the gate. So that's one discussion right now.

But in any case it is something that you cannot foresee very easily. Some was a huge city with 14 million people, thousands of bars and restaurants, malls, stores, and everything. And ISIS is apparently willing to hit them when it can.

ALLEN: Right. And you can't put a protective shield up everywhere and these attackers are just such cowards. They're going in there to slow people down.

AKYOL: Indeed. And I think the real side of this discussion is reported. ISIS is apparently acting in the name of Islam, a very distorted interpretation of Islam.

It was very good that Turkey's top cleric, Mehmet Gormez said right after the crime, that the attack on this venue, this nightclub is like an attack on a mosque, the people there are innocent victims. So it was important to I think hear that from a top cleric.

And I think that's what we need against ISIS. This is a group that uses a very distorted psychopathic interpretation of Islam to kill people. And the more we have Islamic religion voices condemning their crimes the more (Inaudible) those religion is missing.

ALLEN: Well, at least thank you so much for your comment, Mustafa Akyol. Thank you. We hope there are better days ahead for Turkey.


[03:15:02] AKYOL: Thank you.

ALLEN: But the U.S. sends more than two dozen Russian diplomats packing the hacking controversy and Donald Trump promised to reveal new details about it. We'll have that coming up here on CNN Newsroom.


KATE RILEY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN world sport headlines.

Things are heating up in the English Premier League at the moment. Everyone is chasing Chelsea who have been strong this season, including Arsenal who host Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The Emirates witnessed an athlete reach the goal, thanks to Olivier Giroud, he's back UEFA is perhaps the contender for goal of the season. The Gunners lead was in double by Alex Iwobi 2-nil end in north London.

Now also an action on Sunday, Tottenham they were visiting Watford but now on their last four games. And two last away games though, they scored four times as well. Harry Kane scored twice and so did the team's other big star, Dele Alli they were on fire. But they could have caused more damage, but both were up before the end because their next game is of huge importance.

And we head to the NBA where James Harden of the Houston Rockets ended his 2016 in historic fashion on Saturday. The 27-year-old scored a career high 53 points with 16 rebounds and 17 assist. He's the first person in league's history to have 50 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a game. Harden monstrous night lead the Rockets passed the New York Knicks 129 to 122.

And that's a look at all your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley.

ALLEN: France's president is in Iraq this hour visiting French troops. The presidential palace says Francois Hollande will also salute Iraqi forces who are battling ISIS in Mosul. The palace says Mr. Hollande will recognize the progress made since his visit to Baghdad in 2014.

Thirty five Russian diplomats and their families are back in Russia now. U.S. President Barack Obama expelled them and imposed sanctions on Russia for the hacking of political groups during the presidential campaign.

U.S. Intelligence officials say Moscow was behind the hacking but Russia denies it. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not taking any action yet, instead waiting to see what will happen when President- elect Donald Trump takes office.

Trump, meantime, is not fully on board with the intelligence community's conclusion, the hacking will be the focus of a briefing he's set to receive, as well as congressional committee hearing later this week.

[03:20:05] Ryan Nobles has more on the week ahead.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President-elect Donald Trump will have a busy start to the new year, this week will be filled with meeting at the Trump Tower, including high level intelligence briefing where the president-elect is expected to learn more about the alleged Russian hack of U.S. interest.

Now, Trump continues to downplay the significance of the intelligence community's conclusion, but the Russian government is behind the hack. This despites statements from members of Congress both republican and democrat who have been briefed on the matter and described the evidence is overwhelming.

During Trump's post-New Year's Eve gathering at his Mar-a-Lago estate the president-elect told reporters that he remain skeptical of their overall assessment.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want them to be sure because it's a pretty serious charge, and I want them to be sure. And if you look at weapons of mass destruction, that was a disaster and they were wrong.

And so I want them to be sure. I think it's unfair if they don't know. And I know a lot about hacking and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So, it could be somebody else and I also know things that other people don't know. And so, they cannot be sure of this situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like what do you know that other people don't know?

TRUMP: You'll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.


NOBLES: Now in addition to Trump's private intelligence briefing, we could learn more about this alleged hack during a highly anticipated hearing of the Senate armed services committee.

Republican John McCain who has much different view than the president- elect of the alleged hack called for the briefing.

Meanwhile, Trump has three weeks to go to round out his staff before taking office, a few major cabinet positions are still open, including the secretary Veterans Affair and the secretary of agriculture.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.

ALLEN: A top aid says Donald Trump will repeal a lot of President Barack Obama executive actions on his first day in office. It's not clear which policy the president-elect will change, but Trump has been critical of Mr. Obama's move on immigration, energy regulations and foreign policy.

After Trump takes office, republicans will start putting in motion, an agenda to scrap President Barack Obama's greatest legacy but it's going to be a long fought battle on Capitol Hill.

CNN's Manu Raju has that.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: For the first time in nearly a dozen years republicans will control all of Washington. And they're plotting an ambitious agenda on Capitol Hill. A sweeping rewrite of the tax code, new infrastructure projects, a ninth Supreme Court justice. And their top goal, a repeal of President Barack Obama's signature legacy item, Obamacare.


MITCH MCCONNELL, U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The Obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item up in the New Year.


RAJU: But republican leaders privately acknowledge it won't be easy, especially repealing the health care law without a clear plan to replace it, and in the aftermath for ensuring enrolment numbers for Obamacare.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What happens to the 20 million people with health insurance, are you going to just kick them off and suddenly they don't have health insurance?


RAJU: The republicans will immediately try to pass a budget, a process that will allow them to repeal much of Obamacare, including subsidies to buy health insurance and an expansion of Medicaid, all on a party line vote in the Senate.

But some key aspects of the law cannot be repealed through the budget process, including prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to those of pre-existing conditions, and the mandate requiring people to purchase health insurance.

Conservatives determine to scrap the law are already warning of a revolt. If President-elect Donald Trump accepts anything short of a full repeal.


RAJU: If he pursues just amending Obamacare, how would you respond?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to agree with that.


RAJU: The process to replace Obamacare will be even tougher, because republicans will need to overcome a Senate filibuster, meaning they'll need a support of at least eight democrats to enact a new health care law.

But the new Senate democratic leader, Chuck Schumer is already warning that his party won't help the GOP replace the law.


CHUCK SCHUMER, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Just repealing Obamacare, or even though they have nothing to put in its place and saying they'll do it sometime down the road, we'll call it huge calamity, from one end of America to the other they don't know what to do, they're like the dog that caught the bus.


RAJU: To ensure people don't lose their coverage, GOP leaders say Congress will effectively delay the repeal from taking effect until legislation is approved to replace the law. A process that could take years.


PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There needs to be a reasonable transition period so that people don't have the rug pulled out from under them.


RAJU: But that approach is only bound to cause tension with top conservatives who want immediate action.

[03:25:04] JIM JORDAN, OHIO STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Look, I think health care will be better and cost less when Obamacare is gone. So why would we want to take three years to get rid of it.


RAJU: Now republican officials tell me that rather than a comprehensive Obamacare replacement, they're looking at passing here for smaller health care bills that they hope can win some democratic support. And aside from that, there's a huge fight blooming over reforming the tax code for corporations and individuals and that issue is expected to dominate action on the Hill.

Adding to that though, a slew of major confirmation fight, including Trumps' pick for the Supreme Court and you can see that Trump's agenda could be filled with huge accomplishments, or it can get bogged down quickly in Capitol grid lock.

Manu Raju, CNN, Washington.

ALLEN: Queen Elizabeth skips a holiday tradition, again, due to a lingering cold. We'll have the latest on a monarch's health, coming up.

Plus, why a member of the same choir is not only refusing to sing for Donald Trump. He's quitting the group altogether.


ALLEN: You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories this hour.

The outlaw Kurdistan Worker's party or PKK says it isn't behind an attack on that nightclub in Istanbul. A manhunt continues in Turkey for an unknown shooter who killed 39 people shortly after they welcomed the New Year, many of the dead were foreigners.

The U.S. is urging North Korea to refrain from provocative action after leader Kim Jong-un claims the country is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

[03:30:00] He referred to North Korea as a nuclear and military power and said it will continue strengthening its nuclear capabilities.

Thirty five Russian diplomats and their families are back in Moscow. Russian state media reports the plane carrying them landed Sunday.

U.S. President Barack Obama expelled the diplomats and imposed sanctions on Russia in retaliation for the hacking of U.S. political groups. Russia denies the accusations.

Queen Elizabeth has missed a second holiday service due to a heavy and lingering cold. The 90-year-old monarch decided to skip the annual New Year's church service on Sunday after missing the Christmas service a week before.

Phil Black has the latest on the queen's health.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A nasty persistent cold, but nothing to worry about. That's what we're being told about the queen's health after she missed the traditional New Year's Day church service. Others royalties did attend, including Prince Philip, her husband.

He was also struck down by a cold around the same time, but he appears to have bounce back, while the queen, is still recovering after almost two weeks indoors, out of site, the same cold, of course, forced her to miss the Christmas Day church service.

These absences are not insignificant. She is the head the titular head at least of the church of England something she takes very seriously, so we can only assume she has been feeling terrible. But her adviser of Buckingham Palace are going out of their way to

tell journalists that the 90-year-old monarch is doing OK, stressing that she is still in resident at the Sandringham Estate, she hasn't been moved for medical or any other reason.

And they say she's up and about, and I stress, she's working and still receiving the documents, the briefing papers that she has to stay on top of as part of her official roles as Britain's head of state.

Now they're doing this to ensure there isn't unnecessary speculation or perhaps exaggerated concern about the queen's health. They want everyone to know that it's just an awful cold, but she's battling through it.

Phil Black, CNN, London.

ALLEN: I'm joined now by royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams, he's live in London. Thanks for joining us, Richard. And that last line from Charles Black, you know, it just shows you she's one tough queen, isn't she. What do you make of though, her missing both Christmas and New Year's.

RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: She was undoubtedly been very grieved to do so. It is unprecedented. She is a deeply religious person and she takes these church services, I mean, obviously something that are deeply personal to her, religion is something that's been with her all of her life and of course, she's supreme governor of the Church of England.

But it appears that she's just had a particularly awful cold because the princess royal, her daughter, mentioned two journalists yesterday, that she was recovering. She was better. And we know as we've just heard she's been up about on attending to papers and she appears to participated to family festivities.

So, it would appear that although one is naturally concerned, any personal advance age who is unwell there isn't a call for any particular worry.

ALLEN: We certainly hope not. Do you think this was her call or do we know if it was her doctor's call to make sure her condition doesn't worsen?

FITZWILLIAMS: Well, it would obviously seem that she's receiving all the attention that's necessary. I mean, what is coming out of this obviously, queen at 90, it is a very advance age. What we're seeing put in place and this has happened actually for some time, is that there are various intentions to lessen her workload and spread it a bit.

I would add the queen is a tremendously robust person, it's extraordinary marvelous health she's shown. And indeed, the last time three years ago, she's postponed a trip to Rome. But apart from that, you know, she actually increased her numbers of engagements, last year I think it was 385 up to 337. That was extraordinary. And what we are seeing, no long full flights. We're seeing lifts

upstairs. We're seeing changes gradually introduced where, for example, she's spending more time at the Winslow and taking it more in a more balance way.

But as you see, Prince Philip at 95 he had a heavy cold. He's been back on form. I do think that it is just a matter of getting rid of what is lingering and these measures are just precautionary that we've seen. In fact, we haven't seen the queen for some time and that she missed these services.

[03:35:00] ALLEN: Right. It makes sense. As you say she's 90 years old, and for the -- and has increased her workload, wow! Most people retire, you know, quite earlier than that.

So, yes, so we hope we'll see her early on in 2017 as she recovered. Is there any more...


FITZWILLIAMS: She certainly -- she said she won't retire. One thing the queen will not do and that is abdicate. She has made enough to serve throughout her life. She's done so magnificently and that is what we must expect.

ALLEN: Yes. Yes, she's a remarkable. So, no slowing down, we don't think, in 2017, that would be a quite busy.

FITZWILLIAMS: I suspect that, as I mentioned, things will be spread around to make what she does easier. For example, investitures, which means standing for an hour, we won't see her do as many as those others members of the royal family. Possibly Prince William and Kate relocating to Kensington Palace more possibly from George going to a London school so they'll be able to take on more royal engagements.

Expect changes of that sort. But expect the queen to be, I hope, most sincerely and expect on totally excellent form. Remember, that chances are she's got, for example, a estate visit to prepare for, probably from Donald Trump.

ALLEN: All right. That will take some preparation, I'm sure. Thank you so much for your comments. We're glad that you are able to tell us she's slowly on demand. Richard Fitzwilliams for us from London. Thank you, Richard.


ALLEN: Well, with than three weeks left in his term, U.S. President Barack Obama took to Twitter Sunday to reflect on his legacy. He wrote, "From realizing marriage equality, to removing barriers to opportunity, we've made history in our work to reaffirm that all are created equal."

He continued, "It's been a privilege as my life to serve as your president. I look forward to standing with you as a citizen. Happy New Year, everybody." And now the president is supposedly heading back from Hawaii to spend

up his last few days in the White House after his vacation.

Donald Trump's inauguration is less than three weeks away. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has signed on to perform. But the attention is now on one member who not only refused to sing for Trump, she quit.

Jean Casarez has her story.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Marching bands from around the country are going to Washington for Donald Trump's inaugural festivities. Forty organizations will be in the parade, 8,000 participants.

But a new controversy surrounding those performers, Jan Chamberlin, a four-year member of Utah's Tabernacle choir has state Trump handily has written a lengthy public Facebook posting that she is quitting the choir because he's agreed to sing for the president-elect.

"It is with a sad and heavy heart that I submit my resignation to you and to choir, I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look at myself in the mirror again with self-respect. I also know looking from the outside in, it will appear that choir is endorsing tyranny and fascism by singing for this man."

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir says the performance is voluntary. And the choir's participation continues its long tradition of performing for U.S. presidents of both parties at inauguration and in other settings.

Late Friday, Chamberlin responded to criticism.


JAN CHAMBERLIN, MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR MEMBER: And I value that in our country we have the freedom of speech under the First Amendment, for me, this is not a political issue. For me this is a moral issue where I'm concerned about our freedom being in danger.


CASAREZ: This coming just days after it was announced the legendary New York City Rockets will be performing at the inauguration. In an interview with, one Rockets spoke out about the decision. "The majority of us said no immediately, then there's the percentage that said, yes, for whatever reason."

The dancer's union ultimately deciding that participation in the inauguration will be voluntary. Madison Square Garden which employs the dancers adding, "We had more Rockets request to participate than we have slots available."


BORIS EPSHTEYN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It's not about the big names. It's about the American people and that's what will be represented all over this inaugural. And that we've gotten such an outpouring of support of positive -- positivity from all over this country. It's been truly humbling.


CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.

ALLEN: This will continue right after this.


ALLEN: As a new year begins many people will remember 2016 as a year of so much terrorism across the globe. Attacks claimed by ISIS in Brussels last March killed dozens of people, including the wife and mother of one U.S. family. Her husband and children recently spoke with CNN's Barbara Starr about the massacre that changed their life forever.


KIANNI MARTINEZ, BRUSSELS ATTACK SURVIVOR: I'm pushing through it every day. It's difficult to go through the pain, but you have to look forward.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: For 18-year-old Kianni Martinez, her brother and sisters, there is other devastation beyond the pain of burns, shrapnel and broken bones.

Their mother Gail was killed all four children and their father Air Force Lieutenant Kato Martinez were among the Americans critically wounded in the March ISIS suicide bomber attack on the Brussels airport.

Lieutenant Colonel Martinez was just back from Afghanistan. They've been waiting to check in for a flight to go on vacation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Local media are reporting an exchange of gunfire and they were reporting that this was a bomb blast.


STARR: Thirty five people were killed, 300 wounded when ISIS attackers detonated bombs hidden in suit cases at the airport departure area.

In their first interview ever the family wants the world to know what ISIS took from them went Gail died that day.


STARR: Tell me about your mom, what do you want people to know about her?

MARTINEZ: I live every day because of her. I live every day for her. And to remember her. And to honor her.

STARR: Kianni says her mother was everything to the family. This young teenager is unflinching.

MARTINEZ: I think it's important for me to talk about this at 18 where you are suppose going to college, becoming independent.

[03:45:09] I mean, being prepared for everything by your parents and then trying to learn for yourself what the real world is like. The real world slapped me in the face on March 22. And I'm not going to forget that.

STARR: Kianni was supposed to be in college right now.

MARTINEZ: When I heard the news that I was awarded and Air Force ROTC scholarship. The first person I told was mama. And she was so proud.

STARR: Lieutenant Colonel Martinez now raising four children on his own (Inaudible) his wife and he's recovering from his own injuries. Photos of happier times with Gail in Europe while Lieutenant Colonel Martinez held the NATO job.

KATO MARTINEZ, SURVIVOR: I later learned I took most of the shrapnel, if not all the shrapnel, because my son took the secondary wave, and he got the burn, the flame. I didn't lose consciousness. I was blasted forward, and I knew I was bleeding because I felt blood coming from ear.

STARR: Martinez instantly feared the worst.

K. MARTINEZ: My first instinct is to look for my children and for my wife. I couldn't find my son or my two youngest. "I heard screaming and I found Kianni. The fact that she was screaming, I knew that she was alive, she was coherent. And I went to look for her mom. I said, "I'll be right back." I went to look for her mom.

I knew I was bleeding out and my body was going to shock so I close my eyes and welcomed it and figure I join my wife and my three kids. But I was sleeping away I heard a little girl call out to me, "daddy, don't you go, don't you leave me."

And just when I thought, you know, I was enveloped by darkness and ready to go to sleep, I heard her voice and decided to come back.

STARR: Then the unimaginable. Gail, the love of his life was gone.

K. MARTINEZ: The story I got from one of the first responders regarding my baby, the youngest one, was that they found her in Gail's arms. When they got to her, they told her, "We got the baby now. She's going to be OK." And that's when they looked up -- she looked up to them, smiled and closed her eyes for the last time.

STARR: Lieutenant Colonel Martinez would not learn the rest of his family survived until he woke up in a Belgian hospital. Initially he could not be moved out of bed to even see them. Military buddies came to the hospital to make sure the children were never alone. K. MARTINEZ: They did shifts around the clock, making sure that my

children were taken care of and there was always a friendly face there.

STARR: Now they are home in Texas, trying to move forward. The family is slowly getting through its days. The two youngest, seven-year-old, Kailani and her nine-year-old sister Noelani recovering from their injuries, now tiny master chefs in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then while we're waiting for the rest so we can put it on top smooth it down to stay in it (Inaudible).

STARR: At physical therapy, 13-year-old Kimo loosen his burn scar tissue, that covers his lower body so he can play sports again. This American military family grief stricken but honoring their mother killed by a terrorist, by recovering and regaining the lives they know she wanted for them.

K. MARTINEZ: I see you're in the faces of these children. I see you're in this house. I see you're in the people that come to help us. I see you in all the things that are done for us to support us, to help us. All the good thing that happen.

STARR: It's more than just physical therapy to climb this wall. For the Martinez family, total determination to get to the mountain top and ring that bell.

Barbara Starr, CNN, San Antonio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

[03:50:00] ALLEN: Of course, that beautiful story there, it was ISIS that was behind the attack that took that family's mother and wife. We have breaking news just in that ISIS is now claiming responsibility for the New Year's nightclub attack in Istanbul.

Let's go our Ian Lee who is there for us. All signs were pointing to them and now it seems, they said, they were behind it, Ian.

LEE: That's right, Natalie. This at all bear the hallmarks of an ISIS attack. And now we're hearing from them via Twitter statement saying that this was an operation carried out by one of their soldiers to attack one of the most popular nightclubs while Christians were celebrating their holiday.

It's important to note that many of these people who are killed and injured in this attack weren't in fact Christians, they were Muslims, people who were out celebrating the New Year.

It also goes on to say that the government of Turkey should know that the blood of Muslims who get killed by Turkish claims and artillery will set a fire inside the country. So, it seems like ISIS is saying they carried out this attack because of Turkey's, of all meant that Turkey's war against ISIS neighboring Syria.

ALLEN: All right. Ian Lee for us there with that breaking news. Thank you, Ian.

And we'll be right back here with more news.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The first Monday of 2017. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri with CNN weather watch.

And watching some disturbed weather across portions of the southeastern United States very stagnant pattern over the past couple of days. It has produced a lot of rain showers across an expansive area that has really the most drought impact region of the United States at this hour.

And you notice the flood watches and warnings had been issued some of these areas from New Orleans out there towards portions of Alabama onto western Florida. You could see some severe weather roll in over the next several hours.

So we see the potential for this storm is to begin migrate off to the northern east. And the rainfall could once again be very heavy.

It's really impressive to see these regions go upward of two months without a single drop of rainfall and now get rain almost every single day over the past several days to week or so.

To the north it is all transitioning into a cold threat, so winter storms in place with snow showers coming in. And it looks like across parts of the western U.S. a lot of the snowfall across the higher elevations, this is always excellent news as I often talk about how much of that Sierra snow melt translates into the drinking water for folks in California about 30 to 40 percent of it. So it's always good news there.

But the mild there gradually begins to lift, we get another round of wintery weather shifting farther to the south. It could even include parts to the south to a potential there to makes and meet. A little bit of wintery weather later into the week.

But 18 in Atlanta some thunderstorms, 6 in New York City. Some showers in the forecast.

[03:55:10] ALLEN: Singer Mariah Carey had her snafu during a performance. It happened before but she probably better to move on. But technical difficulties appeared to throw her off in the middle of New Year's Eve show in New York square -- New York Times Square.

But then just kept going but the pop star apparently couldn't hear the track, at one point she called out for help and ask the audience to sing. Carey later tweeted, "Blank happens. Have a happy and healthy New Year everybody. Here is to making more headlines in 2017."

Well, Los Angeles welcomed the New Year with some mountainside mischief. A prank targeted the city's most famous landmark, the Hollywood giant. Police say a man seen in security footage, apparently put up tarp to change the O's into E's and there you have it, it's 'Hollyweed.'

Californians voted in November to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Crews have since taken down the tarps and the signage Hollywood, once again.

Thanks for joining us, I'm Natalie Allen. Early Start is next here for viewers here in the United States. For everyone else, I'll be right back with more news.