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President-Elect Fractures GOP; Obamacare Battle Heats Up; Video Shows Group Beating Man with Special Needs. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 5, 2017 - 04:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Nice to see you. I'm Christine Romans. It is 29, almost 30 minutes past the hour.

Let's begin with Donald Trump this morning, targeting the U.S. intelligence community and widening the divide between his own party.

[04:35:05] The president-elect continues to express skepticism about Russia's interference in the presidential election and now, he seems to be siding with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over his own intelligence team. Trump tweeting this, "Julian Assange said a 14- year-old could hack John Podesta. Why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info."

Trump has repeatedly dismissed claims pointing to the Russians for the hack in the release of John Podesta e-mails.

BERMAN: So, all this comes just hours before a highly anticipated hearing. The Senate Armed Services Committee, concerning foreign cyber threats to the U.S. A comprehensive review of Russia's meddling in the U.S. election is expected to be released to the public on Monday.

And this morning, we are learning about the president-elect's plans to perhaps overall the intelligence system.

CNN's Sara Murray gives us the latest.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, John and Christine.

Donald Trump going to battle not just with U.S. intelligence agencies but also with some leaders of his won party. That as he takes to Twitter once again to suggest that he doesn't believe U.S. intelligence agencies assessment that Russia attempted to meddle in the U.S. election. Instead suggesting he may be more likely to believe Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who insists that none of his information about Hillary Clinton's campaign came from the Russian government. But just because Donald Trump says that he's not inclined to believe the intelligence agencies doesn't mean all members of his party are following suit.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: I have a lot more faith in our intelligence officers serving around the world, very smart and experienced analysts that we have here in the nation's capital than I do on people like Julian Assange.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This was done by the Russians and I hope by Friday, President-elect Trump will come to that realization and ignore Mr. Assange. Not only should he ignore Julian Assange, he should condemn him for what he's done to our country, putting our soldiers at risk, putting our foreign policy at risk. Julian Assange is no friend of America and he's no friend of democracy.

MURRAY: Now, we heard a number of other Republican officials echo Lindsey Graham's concerns about Russia's attempts to meddle in the U.S. election and also about Julian Assange's credibility. Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says Donald Trump's concern is not with the raw intelligence gathered, but rather the conclusion that Russia attempted to interfere in the U.S. election. He says that is what Trump will ask intelligence officials about when he meets with them in New York on Friday.

Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: Donald Trump is also determined to limit the power of the director of national intelligence. Michael Flynn believes the DNI gets in the way of the agencies it represents. Worth noting, Flynn has clashed in the past with current National Intelligence Director James Clapper who was also scheduled to give Trump a highly anticipated briefing on Russia tomorrow. President-elect is also considering expanding the CIA's human spying abilities. He thinks the agency is too reliant on electronic spying.

BERMAN: The Republicans are moving forward with their longstanding promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with House and Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill. He said the Affordable Care Act will be dismantled through a series of executive actions and legislation, even though as of now, there is no concrete plan to replace it.


GOV. MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: Obamacare has failed. All the promises of Obamacare have shown to be false and broken promises. And the American people want us to start over, to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the kind of reforms that will give the American people more choices when it comes to health insurance. Releasing the power of the free market is the pathway toward expanding access and affordability of health care and the American people know it.


BERMAN: President Obama also made a rare appearance on Capitol Hill urging Democrats not to help Republicans with the new health care law.

Let's get some details on this from CNN's Manu Raju.


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

The fight over Obamacare really began in earnest on day two of the new Congress. And Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, came to Capitol, met with House and Senate Republicans, and they discussed how to move forward on the repeal of Obamacare and the replacement. Although not many details on what would be in that replacement, other than the fact that Donald Trump as president will move on executive actions and Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, assuming he is confirmed, will move on things administratively as well.

Now, on the Democratic side, they are digging in. They're saying, "We will not work with Republicans on a replacement if the Obamacare plan is ultimately repealed."

President Obama himself making that case yesterday to Democrats in a closed-door session, saying, we will not, quote, "rescue Republicans if they replace the plan", even saying -- suggesting that what Republicans are doing is, quote, "Trumpcare."

[04:35:02] He thought that it would pay a political price if Republicans do repeal the law, saying that the town halls will be outrageous. There will be storms of protesters and activists expressing their concerns at these Republicans districts and states.

If they move forward with this, this is all the beginning of the very long debate here that will dominate the next two years on Capitol Hill -- John and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Manu Raju, thanks for that.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says when it comes to Obamacare, Republicans are like the dog who caught the bus. They don't know what to do next. Schumer is warning the GOP, a Republican repeal of Obamacare without a plan to replace it would instantly devastate rural hospitals and leave millions of Americans vulnerable.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The Republican plan to cut health care would not make America great again. It would make America sick again and lead to chaos instead of affordable care. Republicans would create chaos in the health system because they are stuck between a rock and hard place and have no idea what to put in place of the Affordable Care Act. They had five years when they talked about repeal. There still isn't a plan to replace it on the table because they don't have one.


BERMAN: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is firing back at Schumer for threatening to block President-elect Trump's pick for the vacancy on the Supreme Court. McConnell claims any attempt by Democrats to obstruct the president will draw the wrath of voters.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Senator Schumer said in the second Bush administration that they would not confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the last 18 months of President Bush 43's tenure. Apparently, there's yet a new standard now which is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I think that's something the American people simply will not tolerate and we'll be looking forward to receiving a nomination and moving forward on it.


ROMANS: Republicans won't be moving forward with the infrastructure package in the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency. That breaks the promise made repeatedly by the president-elect last year. The chairman of the House Transportation Committee says Republicans will first have to focus on figuring out how to pay for the $1 trillion plan.

BERMAN: China is slamming President-elect Trump for his obsession with Twitter. An editorial by China's state-run news agency criticizes Trump's Twitter diplomacy, calling it undesirable. The editorial also blasts Mr. Trump's recent negative tweets about the United Nations and China and accuses the president-elect of treating diplomacy like a child's game.

The state of California is gearing up for a legal battle with a President Trump. Legislative leaders announced they have hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to advise them apparently when they need to challenge policies or when they believe they should challenge policies from the Trump administration on issues including immigration, civil rights and climate change. What they say they're doing is they're going to try to keep a President Trump from undoing moves that they believe in. Holder, who served under President Obama as attorney general, says he is honored to be asked.

ROMANS: One word from the fund-raiser advisor and friend of President Obama for the man about to take office and try to gut the Obama legacy. Real estate mogul Don Peebles fresh off a close door meeting with Donald Trump says he is encouraged by the tone that Donald Trump has already changed for business. It is encouraged by the discussion and promises that Donald Trump is making about what he will do for mobility for women and for minorities and for millennials.

I asked Don Peebles if behind closed doors if president-elect is the same man you read on Twitter or see on TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DON PEEBLES, FOUNDER & CEO OF THE PEEBLES CORPORATION: No. Very warm. Very kind. Complementary. A good listener. And he's very receptive to different ideas.

Our discussion was more him asking and listening. And we talked about a number of issues. One of the things we talked about which is important to me is equal access to economic opportunity for minorities and women and he was very receptive to that. He expressed a deep commitment to it.

ROMANS: So, he agrees with you?

PEEBLES: Yes, and is prepared to take some bold steps which we'll see early on his administration.

ROMANS: Is he going to help working people?

PEEBLES: Yes. He, you know, being a real estate developer is an interesting profession because it doesn't require a very strong specific skill set. It requires an understanding of very broad issues. But you assemble these experts who are best in their fields and you think they're the best in their field and then you give them the autonomy and produce a building that is successful hopefully.

I think he will run the country that way. And the number one thing about building buildings and building them well is getting good value for your money.

ROMANS: Right.

PEEBLES: So, I think we'll see a much more efficient government that's going to be able to do more with the money they have.


[04:40:00] ROMANS: He said that behind closed doors, you know, Donald Trump listened to his concerns about upward mobility for minorities, about equal access, entrepreneurial opportunities for women and minorities. He said Donald Trump said I'm going to work on it and I've got plans and things are going to be happening soon.

BERMAN: That is interesting. A lot of people had long relationships, you know, positive and negative with Donald Trump. And a lot of the ones who've had negative business relationships with Donald Trump actually come back and work with him later on, too.

ROMANS: He said that he is a Ronald Reagan type. He knows how to use the media for this -- you know, to get the message out. The behind closed doors, he is kind of a different person and is working with -- you know, a big team of successful people to try to bring that to the American economy. So, it is interesting. I'll have more of that interview later in the program.

BERMAN: Successful outside government, sometimes it doesn't necessarily translate. But we will see, 15 days before inauguration. All right. Disturbing video from Chicago. This was all aired on

Facebook live. Four people abusing a bound man with mental challenges. I'll tell you what they told him as they tortured him. That's next.


ROMANS: All right. Chicago police have now arrested four people over a very disturbing offensive torture video broadcast on Facebook live. This is a 30-minute video. It shows a group kicking, punching and cutting a man with special needs. All the while people in the group shouting anti-Trump and anti-white slurs.

[04:45:04] We want to warn you, this video is pretty difficult to watch.

Here is CNN's Rosa Flores.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Christine, Chicago police say that they believe that this victim was targeted because he has mental health challenges. Now, they do say that the victim knew at least one of the offenders and at least initially, the offenders and the victims were together willingly.

But that changed. You will see why in this video, but I do have to warn you that it is very disturbing.


FLORES: Now, you'll see in the video the victim is white, that the offenders are black. There's a lot of anti-Trump language going back and forth. So, the obvious question is, is racially motivated? Is this a hate crime?

And the answer is we don't know. Police don't know. They are investigating that. They tell us that they don't have a motive in this particular case.

But they are working on it. They say they don't know a lot of details. For example, they don't exactly know how much time the victim spent with the offenders. They believe it was between 24 to 48 hours. They're still investigating that.

But at this point, they do four offenders in custody.

REPORTER: Can you give us your reaction to seeing this video and what happened on this?

EDDIE JOHNSON, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Have you seen the video? It is sickening. It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that.

You know, so I have been a cop for 28 years. I have seen things that you shouldn't see in the lifetime. But it still amazes me. You still see things that you just shouldn't.

So, I'm not going to say it shocked me, but it was sickening.

FLORES: As for the victim, they are not going into the extent of his injuries. But they do tell us that he is highly traumatized -- John and Christine.


BERMAN: That's just awful.

All right. The nuclear threat from North Korea. How South Korea is taking action. Officials in Seoul setting up a special brigade to target Kim Jong-un in the event of war. Its sole purpose will be to remove or paralyze North Korea's leader and his regime. The brigade was originally planned for 2019, but South Korean military officials are speeding things up because they expect further provocation from the North this year.

ROMANS: Belgium prosecutors revealing suspect Anis Amri's likely movements after he orchestrated the deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. Police say surveillance video shows Amri traveled from Germany to Brussels where he spotted at a train station two days later. It's believed he then traveled in France to Italy where he was gunned down by authorities in a shootout in Milan just four days after fleeing Berlin.

The details come as a Tunisian man is detained for allegedly helping Amri carry out the attack.

BERMAN: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he supports a pardon for convicted Israeli soldier Elor Azaria. Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter by an Israeli court for shooting a wounded 21- year-old Palestinian suspect in the head while he was lying on a road. The case has divided Israelis. The sentencing had been scheduled for Sunday.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-eight minutes past the hour.

If you were worth hundreds of millions of dollars --

BERMAN: This is a serious hypothetical --

ROMANS: -- and just scored a top cabinet nomination --

BERMAN: -- that is beyond hypothetical now --

ROMANS: -- would you still do your own grocery shopping?

BERMAN: I would do grocery. All those other things aside, I would still grocery shop.

ROMANS: We'll show you the big name caught stocking up in aisle ten. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:51:55] BERMAN: The sentencing phase continues in the trial of convicted Charleston shooter Dylann Roof. Day one featured gut- wrenching testimony and an odd statement from Roof that drew sobs and groans from victims' families. Prosecutors offered up a stunning revelation of their own.

CNN's Martin Savidge was inside the courtroom in Charleston, South Carolina.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Good morning, Christine.

What a remarkable first day of the penalty phase of the Dylann Roof trial this was. I mean, keep in mind here what exactly transpired. First and foremost, you have a convicted mass murderer, a self confessed racist, who now is acting as his own attorney and defense, standing up and talking directly to the same 12 jurors that had convicted him.

While listening to all of this were at least a number of survivors and many of the victims' families. You have the prosecution that is up there basically saying Dylann Roof deserves the death penalty if anybody deserves the death penalty. And they outlined over and over how the circumstances of the killings that he carried out were worse than in any other kind of killing that had recently taken place.

It was also brought out that Dylann Roof six weeks after being captured continued to write about these crimes. And if you thought that he had any "come to Jesus" moment? No.

According to the prosecution, he wrote, "I do not regret what I did. I'm not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed."

And then the most dramatic moment of all, Dylann Roof himself standing up in the courtroom, walking towards those jurors. And what did he say? He didn't ask for mercy, didn't express any remorse.

He simply said essentially, "I'm not crazy. Anything you may have heard regarding my mental state of mind, you should disregard. I have no mental illness." And then he sat down.

After that came the first of what will be a long list of witness testimonies, much of it heartbreaking and gut-wrenching.

That was just day one -- John and Christine.


ROMANS: Difficult story for everyone. Thank you for that, Martin.

In Arizona, a police officer caught on camera punching a female suspect in the face has resigned. Flagstaff Officer Jeff Bonar was criticized by independent investigators and would have been terminated if he did not step down, that's according to chief of police. Bonar went to Marissa Morris's home in November to serve an eviction notice before that altercation.

BERMAN: Traffic and weather. Service is back to normal in the Long Island railroad this morning after a derailment during the morning rush Wednesday injured more than 100 passengers. The train plowed through a metal bumper and jumped the tracks as it was pulling into the Atlantic terminal in Brooklyn.

Officials suggest it was a case of human error, ruling out terrorism. Federal investigators say it will take several days to determine exactly what went wrong.

ROMANS: All right. Millions of people in the southeast, sorry, you have to brace for some extreme cold here and possibility of snow this weekend.

[04:55:01] Let's get the forecast from meteorologist Derek Van Dam.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right, John and Christine. Temperatures taking a nose dive from the Plain States through the Great Lakes and the New England coastline through the course of the weekend.

Check out the temperature in Chicago. Today, 14, Tomorrow, 13 degrees. And New England, you're not spared from the cold weather either. Look at New York City, 33 today. We cool in the upper 20s by the weekend.

If you want to ride a real roller coaster. You check out the four-day forecast in Orlando, Florida, 70 on Saturday, 54 degrees as we end off the weekend.

The goes the cold air, frigid temperatures across New England through the Great Lakes. By the way, you factor in the wind hills across the Plains, it will feels like 20 to 40 below.

Now, our next major winter weather-maker we're monitoring is across the Deep South. Florida, Georgia border. That is where we have the potential for a winter storm this upcoming weekend. Starting late Friday and ending on Saturday, wintry mix with the potential of significant snowfall for many locations, including metro Atlanta. We'll continue to monitor the situation closely.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that, Derek.

Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. Dow 20,000 watch is back on. Dow just about 58 little tiny points away following two solid weeks of gains. Some of the optimism coming from the Federal Reserve. Minutes from

the last meeting show the policymakers discussed the Trump's economic proposals and a possible path to quicker interest rate hikes.

Basically futures are flat right now. Stock markets in Europe and Asia, they are mixed. Oil is down slightly. That's not a resounding performance in any stretch of imagination.

OK. There's a big sale at Macy's today.


ROMANS: It's stock. A 10 percent discount on all of its shares in pre-marketing trading. Macy's had a tough year, struggling against fashion competitors like H&M and Macy's holiday sales were weak. So, Macy's will layoff 10,000 employees. It will close 68 stores this year. That brings it down to 660 stores in the U.S.

Retail experts, they say, it might have to cut even deeper for a serious turn around. I mean, it's cutting this deeply and the stock is down 10 percent. Sometimes they cut jobs and stock soars.

BERMAN: No, I was going to say. Doesn't the market usually like consolidation?

ROMANS: It means the market is saying maybe there's more you have to do. And also, look at the environment. Fellow department store chain Kohl's also posted weak sales results. That stock is tanking pre- market as well.

Look, if you are not a department store, sales were good. People spent money. Holiday sales were good. Not good at department stores. So, that is a real business model issue.

And, finally, if you raked in $25 million last year.

BERMAN: I mean, when?

ROMANS: Just scored a job as the top diplomat and strike a deal with your old employer to cash out $230 million of stock, would you do your own grocery shopping? Apparently, for secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, the answer is yes.

Twitter user Sanho Tree snapped this picture of the former ExxonMobil CEO at a Washington, D.C. are grocery store. This is what he tweeted, "Yup. That's Rex Tillerson in my local Safeway, shopping like a plebeian. His security guy is 20 paces behind him."

So, Tillerson is in the canned goods and pasta aisle. He got a basket filled with raisin brand, a milk and baby carrot.

BERMAN: This is great reporting, by the way.

ROMANS: I know, I know. I love this.

This is citizen reporting. Citizen journalism. Ironically, locals call this store, John, the Soviet Safeway because it's got long lines and bad selection. That's what the neighbor say.

Tillerson is known for his close to Russia.

BERMAN: That was a joke. That last thing was a joke, before you tweet us in anger. That last thing is a joke.

ROMANS: It is a funny picture that people are really talking about.

BERMAN: The baby carrots are no joke, by the way, and I think there does need to be a lot more reporting on that.

ROMANS: Baby carrots in the basket.

BERMAN: Right? If that doesn't come up in the confirmation hearing, then you will know the whole story.

EARLY START continues right now.


BERMAN: All right. New this morning, a divide emerging between the president-elect and Senate Republicans, that over Trump's support of Julian Assange over U.S. intelligence. Now, Donald Trump may be looking to reshape the entire intelligence apparatus.

ROMANS: Republicans and Democrats digging in for a battle to define the nation's health care system. The GOP beginning the process of repealing Obamacare, but with no replacement. We'll tell you how President Obama tried to rally Democrats.

BERMAN: And video just awful to see. Mentally challenged man in Chicago bound and tortured on Facebook live. We'll tell you what his captors were saying during the assault. That's ahead.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Nice to see you all this morning. It is Thursday, January 5th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And let's start with Donald Trump taking on the entire U.S. intelligence community and widening the divide within his own party. The president-elect continuing to express skepticism about Russia's interference in the presidential election. And now, he seems to be siding with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over his own intelligence team.

Trump tweeting this, "Julian Assange said a 14-year-old could hack John Podesta. Why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info."