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Trump Casts New Doubt on Russia Hacking; Manhunt for Turkish Nightclub Attacker; Queen Misses New Year's Church Service; North Korea Renews Long-Range Missile Threat; Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 2, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:11] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama defending his legacy as Donald Trump's team vows to repeal many of his key policies.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Trump saying he knows things other people don't. The president-elect questioning intelligence reports that the Russian government meddled in the election. What does he know and what will he say?

BERMAN: And a manhunt currently under way. The man responsible for killing at least 39 people and injuring dozens of others in Istanbul still on the loose and the breaking news ISIS just claimed responsibility.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: Happy New Year, everybody.

BERMAN: Happy New Year.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, John. I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, January 2nd, it is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

This morning President-elect Donald Trump is back in New York City following two weeks in Florid for the holidays. Just 18 days, 18 days left until Mr. Trump's inauguration. His White House spokesman making clear his administration plans to get off to a fast start.

Sean Spicer telling ABC that the new president will undo big chunks of his predecessor's work.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY-DESIGNATE: On day one, he's going to sign a series of executive order to do two things. One is to repeal a lot of the regulations and actions that have been taken by this administration over the last eight years that have hampered both economic growth and job creation.

And then, secondly, do the same on a forward-thinking thing. He's going to start implementing things. He's going to bring a new brand to Washington. He's going to institute a lobbying ban, five years. It's very forward-thinking.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Sean Spicer not specifying which executive actions and regulations Trump will repeal. Something Mr. Trump was vocal about this weekend of President Obama's sanctions against Russia imposed in response to Moscow's hacking of U.S. elections. The president-elect stepping out right before his New Year's party at Mar-a-Lago to claim that he knows, quote, he knows things other people don't know about the hacking.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has the latest from Mar-a-Lago.

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

Now Trump continues to downplay the significance of the intelligence community's conclusion that the Russian government is behind the hack. This, despite statements from members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, who've been briefed on the matter and described the evidence as overwhelming.

During his posh New Year's Eve gathering at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump told reporters that he remains skeptical of their overall assessment.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Well, 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 the weapons of mass destruction that was a disaster and they were off, 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 the situation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: 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 a much different view than the president-elect of the alleged hack, called for the briefing.

Meanwhile, Trump has just three weeks to go to round out his staff and there's a few major Cabinet positions still open, including the secretary of Veterans Affairs and the secretary of Agriculture -- John and Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, two key posts to fill yet. Overnight 35 Russian diplomats expelled by the United States landed in

Moscow. That's according to the Russian media. The administration ordered the diplomats and their families to leave in retaliation for Russia's cyber meddling in the election.

BERMAN: Tomorrow the nation's 115th Congress will gavel into session with Republicans firmly in control. Republican leaders are vowing they will get to work almost immediately to roll back Obamacare.

Democrats are trying to figure out a way to fight back, including the nation's current senior Democrat. President Obama will visit Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a rare joint meeting with Democrats from both the House and the Senate to try to create protections for his signature health plan. Donald Trump was asked about these meetings over the weekend.


TRUMP: Well, he's president until January 20th. And then after that, it's our turn. So we'll see what happens. I mean, he's got to protect what he wants to do and perhaps you can say his legacy. But you know, if you look at Obamacare where you have, in many cases, over 100 percent increases, it's unaffordable. It doesn't work. Bill Clinton said it. Maybe he shouldn't have said it during the campaign. But he said it. It is unaffordable. It doesn't work. And it's been crazy.


ROMANS: Obamacare doesn't just touch those in the exchange, all Americans have felt the effects of the Affordable Care Act. So what would dismantling it mean for you?

[04:05:06] First off experts expect 59 million Americans would be uninsured by 2019. That's 30 million more than right now. Why? Well, fewer people may enroll after the Obama tax credits that help pay for insurance premiums disappear, which also means that tax bump for many low and middle class households.

But even those with work-based insurance could see a rising cost. Right now the average family pays $4400 less due to lower health costs. Seniors on Medicare pay $700 less. Obamacare also introduced cost-saving measures that Americans enjoy such as free preventative care, prescription discounts for seniors and protecting those with preexisting condition.

The Republicans have promised to keep that last measure in place. The preexisting conditions. But with no detailed replacement plan yet. Advocates worry consumers won't have the same protections as before.

BERMAN: President Obama will spend much of the next few weeks trying to frame his legacy. He issued a series of tweets touting job growth, access to health care, move towards green energy, fewer troops overseas and the legalization of same-sex marriage.

President Obama concluded this tweet storm by writing, "It's been the privilege of my life to serve as your president. I look forward to standing with you as a citizen. Happy New Year, everybody."

ROMANS: With the inauguration fast approaching, battle lines are already being drawn in Congress before the session even begins. In the Senate, confirmation fights are quickly shaping up. Democrats complaining the president-elect's nominees have not submitted materials that they have asked for including more financial information. Senate Democrats say the nominees should not get hearings until the paperwork is in.

Progressives especially targeting attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. They say he has omitted years of media interviews, speeches and more from the tens of thousands of pages he has submitted for confirmation. They are calling for Sessions' January 10th hearing be delayed.

In the House, Republicans are set to condemn the Obama administration's handling of a U.N. vote on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. House Democrats are set to fight a Republican-packed rue change, fining members who break rules of decorum like those against streaming live video of protests on the House floor which Democrats did last year.

BERMAN: Breaking news. This morning ISIS has just claimed responsibility for the terror attack on an Istanbul nightclub. That attack killed at least 39 people. It injured nearly 70 more including one American identified overnight by the State Department as William Jacob Raak.

An international manhunt is underway this morning for the unidentified attacker. CNN's Ian Lee live in Istanbul with the latest.

Ian, let's start with this new claim of responsibility.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And we just got this a few minutes ago. ISIS tweeting this out. And let me just give you, from what -- from what it says. It says that the attack was carried out by one of their soldiers against a popular nightclub while Christians were celebrating their holiday. And it's important to note that many of the people who were killed and injured in this nightclub were Muslims celebrating the new year.

They also said that the apostate government of Turkey should know that the blood of Muslims who get killed by Turkish planes and artillery will be set afire inside their country. Now this is a reference to Turkey's ongoing battle against ISIS in neighboring Syria. And recently, Turkey has been on the offensive against ISIS in the city of al-Baab. But we cannot independently verify this claim nor has ISIS given any of the details about the individual who carried it out. Meanwhile, there is this massive manhunt going on right now. The prime minister confident that they will catch him saying there's strong coordination between the security services.

BERMAN: Thirty-nine people dead, Ian, in this attack. As you said, still no identity of the attacker. What is the latest on the manhunt?

LEE: Right now, Turkish police and authorities have been fairly tightlipped about what they're doing. But presumably now with this information, ISIS saying that they carried it out. Authorities are going to be looking for anyone who could have helped him as well as trying to find him. Now this attacker changed clothes after the attack and slipped away into the chaos. It's been over 36 hours and like other attacks we've seen in Europe, it's likely that this gunman is going to try to make his way into Syria to escape Turkey. That is something that authorities are going to be looking for.

Also they're going to try to identify the nationality. Was this a Turk or was this someone else from another country who carried out this attack?

BERMAN: All right. Ian Lee, so many questions still this morning and that country reeling from this attack. Thanks so much, Ian Lee, in Istanbul.

ROMANS: All right. Just about 10 minutes past the hour now. Queen Elizabeth sick at home. Missing her second holiday church service in a row. We're going to go live outside of Buckingham Palace with all of the details.


[04:13:07] BERMAN: This morning new health concerns for Queen Elizabeth. She did not attend the traditional New Year's church service. She cited a heavy cold which had also forced her to miss Christmas mass. Now despite her absence, a royal source tells CNN the 90-year-old queen is up and working.

CNN's Phil Black live outside Buckingham Palace with the very latest. Good morning, Phil.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning, John. We can only assume that the Queen is still feeling pretty awful from what is consistently described as a heavy lingering cold, which is she is recovering we are told. But of course there have been concerns ever since Christmas or as you say, she mentioned the Christmas church service. You mentioned the New Year church service again, missed that just yesterday.

And so it's pretty extraordinary for the Queen to miss these sorts of events because she takes her role as the effective head of the Church of England so seriously. These are significant absences. But the palace behind us, her advisers, are really going out of their way to tell journalists and thus the wider public, that the Queen, the 90- year-old monarch, is doing OK. That she is up and about. That she is, they say, working. That means she is still receiving the documents, the briefing papers that she receives from government and must stay on top of as part of her official role as the head of state.

So by all accounts, her absences from church have simply been a precaution really. And it is probably fair to say that Britain's winter weather is no place for anyone with a cold. Let alone a 90- year-old whose health has been knocked around for a couple of weeks now -- John. BERMAN: Phil, how is the Duke of Edinburgh? Because we think he had

the same cold as well. And how about the other members of the royal family? Are they stepping in to assume some of the ceremonial roles that Queen nearly -- normally takes care of?

BLACK: So we saw Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen's husband. He did attend church yesterday.

[04:15:03] And you're right, he fell ill with a cold around the same time. He appears to have bounced back very quickly. He was at the Christmas church service. He was at the church service again marking the new year.

Now this time for the Queen at Sandringham Estate, over the Christmas holiday period, it's traditionally personal time. So that's usually what she gets up to. She gets to spend time with her family, explore the huge spectacular grounds of that estate near Norfolk in England. And so we believe that that's what she is still doing, but she's pretty much confined indoors. She hasn't got to go out and about. So there's not a lot of other royal business, not a lot of other appearances to be made at this time. But we'll get a sense of the Queen's health going forward. She is due to appear publicly at next week's church service near Sandringham Estate. And we understand she is going to be in residence at the estate all the way through January.

And another point that her advisers stress, again indicating that she's doing OK, is the fact that she is still there. She hasn't been moved away for medical care or for any other reason at this stage -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Phil Black for us outside Buckingham Palace. Thanks so much, Phil.

ROMANS: All right. 16 minutes past the hour. 2016 was the deadliest year in Chicago in nearly two decades according to the Chicago Police Department. There were 762 murders last year, the most in the city since 1977. The city also saw a surge in gun violence numbering more than 3500 shooting incidents, more than 4300 victims. Police investigated 27 shooting incidents, a dozen of which were fatal just in the last week of December. 2015 was Chicago's second bloodiest year since 1997 with 480 murders.

BERMAN: The hunt is on for the vandal caught on surveillance video lending a little "high" comedy to the iconic Hollywood sign. It was altered to read, "Hollyweed." Police say the culprit used tarps to change the O's in the sign to E's. This happened between the hours of midnight and 2:00 a.m. Authorities have since changed the sign back to its original form.

ROMANS: Well, I have almost nothing to say about that. That is cool.

BERMAN: Well, on the subject of almost nothing to say about that.


ROMANS: Yes. Mariah Carey blaming a malfunctioning ear pierce for that onstage meltdown during a performance on New Year's Eve.


MARIAH CAREY, SINGER: All right. We didn't have a check of this song. So we'll just say it went to number one. And that's what it is. OK. Feels like --


ROMANS: You can hear Carey say that they didn't have a sound check with that song as she struggles to make it through her '90s hit "Emotions." Representatives for the singer telling Billboard the production set her up to fail.

CNN has reached out to Dick Clark Productions for a response.

You know, it is unclear. I mean, yesterday, there was some reporting from the "New York Times", you know, culture editor that the technical people said no, everything was technically OK. There was some other kind of meltdown. But clearly a live performance on New Year's Eve, you know.

BERMAN: Boy, it was live performance. I mean, clearly it wasn't that live because the whole thing was sort of lip-synched or there was a background track anyway. So let's just stipulate right there. Some of it was ever going to be live and she didn't even do that part flawlessly. But if the technical people messed up, they messed up, who knows what happened? All I know is that a lot of people were watching. They didn't get the performance they deserved.

ROMANS: She is mostly -- she tweeted I think after happy new year to everybody and, you know, good health to everyone.

BERMAN: Certainly a lot of people are talking about it. A lot of people are talking about Mariah Carey this morning.

ROMANS: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right. Kim Jong-un says North Korea is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile. The details of the country's growing nuclear capabilities. That's next.


[04:22:14] BERMAN: This morning, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is putting the world on notice. He claims Pyongyang is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

CNN's Saima Mohsin live in Seoul with the very latest.

First of all, you know, he's made these claims before, Saima. Do we believe this one to be true? And if so, what are the implications?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a huge concern, of course, John. And we really need to separate the rhetoric from reality to know where we are heading with this claim. Very hard of course to independently confirm it. We have to rely on North Korea watchers and defectors who can give us some insight into their nuclear capabilities.

What we do know, of course, is that North Korea does have nuclear weapons. Two nuclear tests conducted in 2016. A lot of them, the fifth and largest, as you know, in September which led yet to sanctions. But that doesn't seem to be stopping Kim Jong-un, as he mentioned in his New Year's Day address.

Now the fear of whether he really does have an intercontinental ballistic missile and is progressing towards testing that is the fact that back in February 2016, they launched a satellite in North Korea. Now a lot of experts are telling us that that means that that could be a template to having a long-range missile. The next steps of course is having a miniaturize nuclear warhead to attach to that. But Kim Jong-un is saying that he's pushing forward.

Now just a few days ago, John, a high-level diplomatic defector, the former deputy ambassador to North Korea's embassy in London said here in Seoul where he escaped to in the summer that Kim Jong-un is progressing with his nuclear ambitions. He wants to progress by the end of 2017 and he wants to time that, John, when President-elect Donald Trump will be in the White House, in Washington, D.C.

There will after an election here in South Korea a new president in Seoul. And now he believes that -- Kim Jong-un, that is, believes that those two new administrations' hands will be tied and they won't be able to take action against North Korea -- John.

BERMAN: And we have heard that President Obama has spoken to President-elect Trump about concerns over North Korea. This is something the two men have discussed.

All right. Saima Mohsin, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Two Dakota Pipeline protesters making their voices heard at the Minnesota Vikings game. You can see they hang up a banner with #noDAPL. It also hung from what appeared to be a repelling gear alongside their banner. The protesters were eventually arrested after officers got them to the ground. The Vikings home stadium is named U.S. Bank Stadium. Protesters claim the financial institution has financial links to the controversial project. U.S. Bank declined to comment.

BERMAN: The new year begins with a severe storm threat along the Gulf Coast with heavy rain expected.

[04:25:03] Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us with the latest -- Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John and Christine, good Monday morning to you both.


JAVAHERI: Guys. ROMANS: All right. Pedram, thank you so much for that.

All right. With his inauguration only 18 short days away, Donald Trump focused on repealing some of President Obama's key policies and questioning the Russian government's involvement in hacking Democrats during the election. We got more on that next.


ROMANS: Donald Trump's team getting ready to repeal a lot of President Obama's signature policies as Obama moves to protect his legacy.

BERMAN: The president-elect promises to reveal information he has that he says others don't about the Russian government meddling into the U.S. election. The president-elect insists there could have been another culprit.

ROMANS: The suspect responsible for killing at least 39 people in Istanbul still on the loose. And the breaking news this morning, ISIS now claiming responsibility for that terror attack.

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

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Nice to see you. 30 minutes past the hour right now. This morning President-elect Donald Trump --