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Trump Targets U.S. Intel; Dueling Obamacare Meetings at Capitol; House GOP Reverses on Ethics Office; 5 ISIS Members Detained in Istanbul Attack. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 4, 2017 - 04:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The big reveal from President-elect Trump on ice.

[04:30:01] He's not saying what he knows about the election hack, despite a pledge to do so, and he's blaming the intelligence agencies for this delay. More ahead.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The state of Obamacare at stake on Capitol Hill today. President Obama meets with Democrats trying to save it. Vice President-elect Mike Pence meets with Republicans trying to take it apart. And, in fact, they have already begun.

ROMANS: And a dramatic, dramatic first day for the 115th Congress. Hours after voting to strip the independence of their ethics watchdog, why did House Republicans reverse course? We have from Washington.

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

Good morning. Christine morning.

BERMAN: Good Romans.

I'm John Romans. It is 30 minutes after the hour.

A new so-called controversy this so-called morning over so-called hacking, or you could just call it hacking. But President-elect Trump won't. Not Russian hacking, not yet at least. Remarks that Donald Trump promised by today about Russian hacking during the election, including information Mr. Trump said only he knew will apparently not happen today.

A transition official tells CNN that the president-elect is likely to be briefed toward the end of the week on the intelligence community's final report on Russian hacking. Overnight, the president-elect wrote, "The, quote, 'intelligence' briefing on so-called Russian hacking was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange." Hmm.

ROMANS: Donald Trump's version is getting push back from U.S. officials, though. They say there was no delay briefing the president-elect on Russian hacking, that director of national intelligence, James Clapper, was never even scheduled to be in New York for the top-level briefing until Friday.

Now, one U.S. official suggests Mr. Trump may be, quote, "confusing" his presidential daily briefing with the final intelligence review on Russian hacking that was ordered by President Obama. Officials say not even Obama has seen the final report just yet.

It was worth noting that last night's tweet was the third story about this in four days from Trump and his team. After first saying Trump had intel only he knew that he needed to wait for a final report to make a judgment.

BERMAN: It's clear, though, by using those quotation marks the way that he did, he's continuing to sow doubt --

ROMANS: Absolutely, absolutely.

BERMAN: -- in these reports that the Russians were involved in the hacking. And that explains why he's not telling us more today about this.

This morning on Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans, they hold dueling meetings with very special guests on the future of Obamacare. President Obama is set to meet behind closed doors with House and Senate Democrats at 9:00 to strategize for ways to protect the Affordable Care Act.

At the same time, Vice President-elect Mike Pence will meet with House Republicans to discuss plans for repealing Obamacare. Already, Senate Republicans taking official step toward repeal. A budget resolution filed Tuesday puts the wheels in motion towards overturning key provisions. What is still unclear is how soon a repeal will go into effect and what it will be replaced with.

ROMANS: All right. High drama on Capitol Hill, as a brand new Congress is sworn in, you know, just 12 or so hours after Republicans voted behind closed doors to gut the House independent ethics watchdog. Those same Republicans decided it was not worth a big fight on day one.

Maybe that had something to do with the highly critical attention on the move. Maybe it was that tweet from the soon-to-be occupant of the Oval Office.

CNN's Manu Raju has the latest on the drama from Capitol Hill.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, John and Christine.

The 115th Congress convening yesterday with a lot of pomp and circumstance. Members who were reelected and elected for the first time getting sworn into office, getting ready for a very, very aggressive agenda, one in which the House Republican and Senate Republican leadership want to try to implement Donald Trump's vision of repealing Obamacare, replacing Obamacare, overhauling the tax code, trying to get rid of major regulations and, of course, confirming Donald Trump's cabinet and also a ninth Supreme Court justice.

Now, that doesn't mean there wasn't controversy yesterday. In fact, there was a significant amount of controversy after House Republicans try to move forward with a rules package that would have gutted a key ethics watchdog, that actually polices members of Congress. A lot of members do not like the way it has conducted itself over the last eight years.

So, they voted to try to kill it essentially. And it got a lot of pushback. Angry voters called their lawmakers offices, demanded they do not vote for this when it became public. And then Donald Trump tweeted, said that he did not think that this was a good idea on the first day of the new Congress.

Immediately afterwards, House Speaker Paul Ryan convening an emergency meeting to get rid of that proposal as part of a broader rules package. And the members agreed, relenting, agreeing on a rules reform package. Now, that bill, that measure also angered Democrats however because it would fine Democratic members who staged protests or sit-ins on the House floor without permission.

[04:35:03] So, a lot of controversy on the first day of the new Congress. It's just a sign of things to come as they deal with things like Obamacare and tax reform -- John and Christine.


BERMAN: All right. Manu, thanks so much.

Chuck Schumer, the newly minted Senate Democratic leader, is declaring that he's ready to take on Donald Trump. Overnight, Senator Schumer promised he's prepared to block a Trump Supreme Court nominee who is not, quote, "mainstream". Supreme Court nomination or confirmation really requires 60 votes to get through the Senate.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We are not going to settle on a Supreme Court nominee. If they don't appoint someone who is really good, we're going to oppose them tooth and nail. It's hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we could support. So, you're right.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And so, you would do your best to keep the seat open?

SCHUMER: Absolutely.


BERMAN: Remember, Republicans did that with President Obama's last Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, keeping the Supreme Court at eight. It will be interesting to see how long or how hard Democrats are willing to fight on that.

Earlier, Senator Schumer gave his first floor speech as minority leader. He declared that Democrats will hold President Trump accountable for his campaign promise to, quote, "truly make America great."


SCHUMER: What we will always do is hold the president-elect and his Republican colleagues in Congress accountable. Accountable to the working people, to whom the president-elect promised so much. Accountable to the people of all colors and creeds and sexual orientations in this country, for whom he is president. Accountable to the millions of Americans who voted for him. With all due respect, America cannot afford a Twitter presidency.


BERMAN: Among the promises that Senator Schumer said Democrats will hold Trump to, pushing for a big infrastructure package.

ROMANS: All right. Three of Donald Trump's top cabinet picks will be meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill today, including ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, the president-elect's pick for secretary of state. Tillerson has just agreed to relinquish control of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in Exxon stock he owns or will be paid, putting it all in a blind trust if he's confirmed. So, selling the stocks, so you don't have exposure to Exxon anymore and putting it in something else, managed independently.

Also on the Hill, General James Mattis, Trump's nominee for defense secretary. Mattis needs a special waiver from lawmakers before he can head to the Pentagon.

And attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions, one of Trump's more controversial picks because of his record on race relations. He's already running into a bit of opposition. More than a dozen members of the NAACP staging this sit-in at the Alabama senator's office last night. The president of the NAACP, Cornell Brooks was arrested and handcuffed by police. Brooks is calling on Sessions to withdraw his name from the selection process.

BERMAN: Bill and Hillary Clinton both will attend Donald Trump's inauguration later this month. Also attending, former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura. George H.W. Bush will not be there because of health issues. Former President Jimmy Carter has also confirmed he will be on hand.

It is always good to see the former presidents and often former opponents at these inaugurations. A peaceful transition of power in the United States. It's a truly remarkable thing.

ROMANS: All right. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to make free tuition a reality at his state's public colleges. The governor making that announcement at a community college in New York. He was joined by free tuition champion, Senator Bernie Sanders. Cuomo says college degrees are important for the U.S. to compete globally but also calls on the rest of the country to follow his lead.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success. And the way this society said we're going to pay for high school, because you need high school, this society should say, we're going to pay for college because you need college to be successful.


ROMANS: With the anchor around you of student debt.

The plan covers students whose families make 125 grand or less. They will be able to attend two or four-year state schools. Students would still be on the hook for additional fees. You still have to pay for room and board. The whole thing is not free. But we're talking tuition here.

A recent study finds nearly two-thirds of New York's college grads walk away with some degree of debt. And the governor says that is not fair. It's not fair to be a society that requires higher skills.

These are two or four-year schools, too. We're not talking all accountants. We're talking all different jobs to prepare you in the ladder for life.

BERMAN: It's hard. I mean, it takes 10, 15 years to work off your student debt a lot of the time and it holds back and that kind --

ROMANS: But if it's not students, somebody's got to pay for it. So, that's the issue. Who's going to pay for it?

BERMAN: All right. The CIA chief is making his case to those who question the U.S. intelligence on alleged hacking. That's next.


[04:43:41] ROMANS: Russia, once again, denying allegation it hacked the U.S. election, even though the White House says it is now 100 percent certain, box of the digital fingerprint the hackers left behind. A spokesman for the Kremlin insisting his country could not possibly be involved. A bipartisan group of senators here in the U.S. prepares to unveil new sanctions against the Russians.

Let's get the latest from CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen live for us this morning in Moscow.

Good morning, Fred.


And remember, one of the things that seemed evidence of all of this, is that they apparently tracked back his hacking to a Cyrillic language keyboard and they believe that that means that Russian government was behind all of this. Well, I spoke yesterday with a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin and he was very dismissive about the whole thing. He said, look, a Cyrillic language keyboard can be used all over the world and he said he once again strongly denies what he calls official Russia which is obviously all of the government and military agencies here in this country could in any way, shape and form be involved in all of this.

It's interesting to see how big all of this is playing out here in Russia. It's obviously all over the media. Especially some of the doubts being sown by folks who are in Donald Trump's transition team and, of course, by the president-elect himself.

[04:45:01] And one of the things that's really out there is the fact that Trump keeps referring to the fact that the U.S. intelligence community got the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq wrong, as he said. Well, the CIA Director John Brennan was on PBS last night. And he said that claim kind of doesn't check out anymore, because so much has changed in the intelligence community.

Let's listen to what he had to say.


JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: In the aftermath of that, there was a total review of the review process and the analytic process and assessments that are done with the intelligence community. With a number of steps that were taken to make sure that we're going to be as accurate as possible. And so, it's been light years since that Iraq WMD report has been done. And there has been tremendous, I think, further development of our analytical capabilities as well as our intelligence collection capabilities.


PLEITGEN: So, certainly, a lot has happened since then. I mean, it's been 13 years since that Iraq intelligence came out. Nevertheless, right now, it's interesting to see also the mood here in Moscow, as they're gearing up for the inauguration of President-elect Trump, many of them saying that the Russians right now really are in sort of a watch and wait-type of mode.

I spoke yesterday to one of Vladimir Putin's main advisors, a former advisor, he said that Vladimir Putin does value Donald Trump. That he believes the two men have a very similar style in dealing with issues. But that right now, the Russians are waiting to see whether or not some of the positive rhetoric that they feel they're getting from the president-elect will actually translate into policies once he's in office, Christine.

ROMANS: It's just a remarkable set of circumstances. No question.

All right. Thank you so much for that, Fred Pleitgen in Moscow.

BERMAN: A five-day old cease-fire in Syria is already crumbling this morning. Government forces are now launching attacks against rebel groups in and around Damascus. That has the rebels trying to pull out of peace talks. Turkey's foreign minister is already saying those planned talks could fail if the cease-fire does not hold. And there's a widening water crisis for 4 million people in Damascus.

Acute water shortage caused by attacks on nearby springs that searches 70 percent of the city's population.

ROMANS: All right. The Facebook CEO Nark Zuckerberg famous for sticking to his ambitious plans for the New Year. What does he have in store for 2017? Hint, it has to do with running shoes and a lot of other stuff, too. We'll get a check on CNN Money Stream, next.


[04:50:32] BERMAN: Breaking overnight: authorities have identified the shooter in the New Year's attack at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people. This as the state news agency reports five members of ISIS have been detained in connection with the attack.

The Turkish parliament is moving to extend emergency rule in Turkey by another three months. It was first imposed by the government after a failed military coup last summer.

CNN's Ian Lee is live in Istanbul with the latest.

Ian, where's the progress on this manhunt?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing from the foreign ministry, John, that they say they know who he is, although they haven't released that information or details of his nationality, if he isn't Turkish. We also have that cell phone video where he's showing him doing a selfie at a market.

I can tell you, I look off to my right and I can see where he was filming that video. I was shopping in that market, not too long ago. Just shows how these men are just moving about Turkey.

But also we're hearing 21 people now total have been detained in connection with this. They're being interrogated to find out what role, if any, they played in this attack.

Now, those five ISIS members they were detained in Izmir. This is the third largest city in Turkey. They also are going to be interrogated.

But it's been four days now since this happened, but police haven't been able to catch him. The fact that he is an ISIS operative he might be able to slip away into Syria.

But we're about to hear from the Turkish president. He is supposed to talk in about 20 minutes from now. He also spoke with President Obama just yesterday. They talked about security, coordination. Obama expressed his sympathy for two attacks that happened recently in Turkey, including that deadly nightclub shooting.

But they did say, the Turks, that there is a crisis of confidence between United States and Turkey right now. The two countries really not seeing eye to eye on a lot of things, especially when it comes to Syria and the Kurds in Syria.

BERMAN: All right. Ian Lee for us in Istanbul tracking this manhunt there -- thanks so much, Ian.

ROMANS: All right. This will be Megyn Kelly's final week at FOX News. She's joining NBC News where she will host a daily daytime news show and a Sunday news program. Sources tell FOX was prepared to offer Kelly $20 million if not more to stay. But she insists her top priority is spending more time with her children.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I'm very grateful to NBC for this opportunity and I'm deeply thankful to FOX News for the wonderful time I've had here. I've grown up here and been given every chance a young reporter could ever ask for.


ROMANS: So, no word of a possible replacement for Kelly at FOX. It's not clear when she will start her new NBC job. Her FOX contract expires in July. The way the contracts work, she could be forced to send the next six months on the sidelines.

BERMAN: You know, interesting that she wants to plan for her new show or shows. So, there will be a natural gap there. The fact that FOX is keeping her on the air this week shows the amount of respect they have for her and they want to leave on good terms.

Good terms is 20 million plus a year, too. Those are good terms, just saying.

All right. Convicted church shooter Dylann Roof is set to represent himself in the sentencing phase of his trial that begins in just a few hours. The judge declared Roof mentally competent to act as his own attorney. He is expected to make an opening statement but not call any witnesses. The 22-year-old was convicted last month of fatally shooting nine people in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The jury must choose between life in prison or the death penalty.

ROMANS: All right. U.S. Customs officials say it was a computer software update, not hackers that crashed the system on Monday. They say changes made to software used to process travelers caused the outage that shut down the agency's systems for about four hours, just at the very moment many holiday travelers were returning to the U.S. The agency says despite the technology's disruption, customs agents used alternative procedures to screen travelers, at the same time, we're told, maintaining the highest levels of security.

BERMAN: Bitter cold air moving across the U.S. for a chance for snowfall in the southeast. Let's get to meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John and Christine, watching a forecast very carefully across the large area of the eastern half of the country because we're getting a couple shots of cold air. [04:55:01] One of it certainly could be arctic in nature. So, we're

talking about wind chills even at this hour this morning, into the minus 20 to minus 30 range. Afternoon highs will struggle to get out of the single digits in Minneapolis. Chicago into the teens, Cincinnati around the freezing marks. New York is not too bad, right around 50 or so degrees.

But things get very interesting the next couple of days at all the arctic air wants to move off towards the east. So, you see the air go down upper 20s by the afternoon. Even Atlanta could struggle to get out of the 30s come Saturday afternoon. That's where it gets interesting, because once the storm system begins developing across the Gulf of Mexico, the cold air will set up shop as well.

So, certainly, some snow showers possible late Friday night into early Saturday morning around parts of the southeast. The storm system could eventually work its way out towards the Northeast and bring in that quick shot of snow around Sunday to New York and Philly.

But notice the model discrepancy between the American and European models, the ones that we like to use most frequently. The American model brings tremendous amount of snowfall across northern Georgia that would include Atlanta. While the European one keeps it in the mountains and excludes it and moves it off to the Carolinas.

So, we'll follow this into the next couple of days -- guys.


ROMANS: All right. Pedram Javaheri, thank you.

OK, that's weather. This is money, CNN Money Stream.

The stock market enjoying a nice start to 2017. Dow futures are pointing higher again this morning. The Dow starting the year with a 120-point gain. Stock markets in Europe, they are mixed. Shares in Asia closed high letter. We're watching oil prices. They are up about 52 bucks a barrel.

Tesla is down more than 2 percent in premarket trading after the company missed its delivery forecast for 2016. The stock has struggled over the past year, even as Tesla has ramped up production. It delivered about 50,000 cars in 2015. Delivered more than 76,000 to customers last year. But that was short of its goal of 80,000.

The electric carmaker blamed its transition to new autopilot hardware. It rules that update to all models after a fatal accident in October involving a driver using autopilot.

The Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg known for many things, among them keeping his new year's resolution, John Berman. Last year, he created an artificial intelligence system for his home voiced by Morgan Freeman. He also ran 365 miles. Before that, he read two books a month and learned Mandarin.

BERMAN: They are very short books. ROMANS: In a Facebook post yesterday, Zuckerberg writes, "My personal challenge for 2017 is to have visited and met people in every state in the U.S. by the end of the year."

BERMAN: That's expensive. Can he afford that?

ROMANS: I think he can get a personal loan maybe. I'm not sure.

"I've spent significant time in many states already. So, I'll need to travel to about 30 states this year to complete this challenge."

BERMAN: You have to talk to people. You can't just stand in the four corners and --


BERMAN: Why don't you talk to people in one of the corners?

ROMANS: Oh my gosh. Zip it, lock it, put it in your pocket.

Zuckerberg says technology and globalization have created many benefits, but have also led to a major division among Americans. He wants to better understand how people feel, John Berman, and that means listening.

BERMAN: If you stand on the four corners and you put four people right there, you can do four states at once.

ROMANS: That doesn't count. I think he wants to have meaningful conversations with people.

BERMAN: Meaningful. That's a hard resolution to keep.

EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS: The next commander-in-chief, mocking the intelligence agency to keep the country safe. He's blaming them for delaying his planned announcement about what he knows about the Russian hack.

BERMAN: Obamacare meeting showdown on Capitol Hill. The current president, the almost vice president in nearly the same place at nearly the same time, arguing different sides of the same issue.

ROMANS: And the 115th Congress off to a raucous start. What a day for everybody covering Capitol Hill. Why did House Republicans scrap a plan to undermine the ethics watchdog that oversees them? Quick reversal. What we were talking about 24 hours.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: Nice to see you this morning. I'm John Berman. It is Wednesday, January 4th. It's nearly 5:00 a.m. in the East.

A new so-called controversy this morning over so-called hacking, or you could just call it hacking. But President-elect Trump won't, not Russian hacking, not yet at least. Remarks that Donald Trump promised by today about Russian hacking during the election, including information Mr. Trump said only he knew will apparently not happen today. A transition official tells CNN the president-elect is likely to be briefed toward the end of the week on the intelligence community's final report on Russian hacking.

Overnight, the president-elect wrote, "The 'intelligence' briefing on so-called 'Russian hacking' was delayed until Friday. Perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange."

Look at all of the quotation marks there. You know, "intelligence" in quotation marks. "Russian hacking" in quotation marks. Clearly continuing to try to sow doubt.

ROMANS: Donald Trump's version is getting pushed back, though, from U.S. officials. They say there was no delay briefing the president- elect on Russian hacking, no delay. The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was never even scheduled to be in New York for the top level until Friday.