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Sen. Cory Booker Vs. Sen. Jeff Sessions; Nepotism Controversy Over Kushner Appointment; National Security Hearings On Capitol Hill; Clemson Upsets Alabama For National Title. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 10, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The final second.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. Berman tells me that was a really great game.

BERMAN: You were up all night watching it.

ROMANS: No, I sleep at night.

BERMAN: She is so tired this morning. She was like woo, that college football game. I'm John Berman. Thirty minutes past the hour right now. Breaking overnight, this is about to get contentious if it wasn't already. Word that New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker will take the pretty unprecedented step of testifying against the confirmation of another sitting senator. Booker has been added to the witness list for the confirmation hearing for Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is up to be attorney general. Those hearings begin today.

Senator Booker says he is concerned about Sessions, especially what he calls his failure to defend the civil rights of women, minorities, and LGBT Americans. In a statement, Sen. Booker says "I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague, but the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience. The attorney general is responsible for ensuring the fair administration of justice and based on his record, I lack confidence that Sen. Sessions can honor this duty."

Also set to testify against Sessions is civil rights icon, Georgia Congressman John Lewis. Sessions is getting new support from some Republicans, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice is from Alabama, like Jeff Sessions, and wrote a letter praising the senator as a friend and a man "committed to justice, as well as law and order".

ROMANS: All right, and then there's this. Donald Trump's appointment of his own son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to a senior White House post, it's also getting some scrutiny this morning. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are asking the Justice Department and the Office of Government Ethics to review his appointment as senior adviser to the president. They say it may violate conflict of interest and anti- nepotism laws.

He's attempting to answer the conflict of interest concerns by resigning from all of his other jobs, transferring assets, including the "New York Observer" to a family trust, and he says he'll work in the White House for no pay. As for the nepotism question, Kushner's lawyer argues that the president-elect has sweeping authority to pick the advisers he chooses. They also make this point that the White House is not an agency. The anti-nepotism rules were meant to keep, you know, family members out of agencies, but this would be an adviser role in the White House -- different story.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to address his own potential conflicts at a news conference tomorrow. Speaking to reporters Monday, Trump previewed his stance on divesting from his business ventures.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: All if can say is it's very simple, very easy. Sure, I'm ready. I've been ready for a while. It will be very, very easy to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Have you already started that process?

TRUMP: Yes, very much so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: What have you been doing to do that?

TRUMP: A lot, but it's really a very simple process.


ROMANS: There's a lot to do, but a simple process already begun. We can't wait to hear more about that. We're going to have full coverage of the president-elect's news conference. This is his first in about six months. That's starting tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

BERMAN: Also beginning today, confirmation hearings for a lot of Donald Trump's nominees. Would-be Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, that begins today. This is the confirmation hearing for would-be Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. That has been postponed until next week. The hearing had been set for tomorrow.

The official reason for the delay is to accommodate the Senate's schedule. That's what they say but Senate Democrats have been pushing for a postponement so a federal ethics watchdog can finish its review of Betsy DeVos' background in investment. She's a very wealthy woman. Democrats say they are concerned about potential conflicts of interest that DeVos might have.

ROMANS: All right. New questions being raised this morning about Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson. His confirmation hearings start tomorrow. Federal filings show that during his time of CEO of ExxonMobil the oil giant did business with Iran, Syria, and Sudan through a foreign subsidiary. Now, at the time, those countries were under U.S. sanctions as state sponsors of terror.

Now, the SEC documents were unearthed by the liberal American Bridge Super PAC and they were shared first with "USA Today". ExxonMobil says the deals were legal because a subsidiary was based in Europe and the transactions did not involve U.S. employees.

At tomorrow's hearing Tillerson will also certainly be questioned about his business ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker says he does not think Tillerson's views on Russia will be a problem.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don't get the sense his views on Russia are out of the mainstream at all. So, look, obviously on both sides of the aisle people are going to ask that question when he's here.


BERMAN: All right. You think there's a lot going on, on Capitol Hill? But wait, there's more. Senior intelligence officials, including the heads of the CIA, FBI, and NSA, they will testify in open session about Russian hacking activities. And, the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a full hearing on focusing on civilian control of the U.S. Armed Forces. Two of Donald Trump's cabinet nominees, James Mattis and John Kelly -- they were recently retired generals. For the latest, let's bring in national security reporter Ryan Browne live in Washington. Ryan, you know, these are important discussions to have.

RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: That's right, and this is the first time the leaders of the intelligence community will be facing questions from Capitol Hill and the senators there after releasing Friday's report which said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his intelligence services to, you know, conduct those cyberattacks to wage a disinformation campaign and launch fake news in a bid to undermine the U.S. electoral system and damage Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

[05:35:17] And that the Russian officials had expressed a preference for President-elect Donald Trump.So we can expect a lot of questions there on Russia's involvement and a bipartisan group of senators are already moving to ratchet up sanctions against Moscow.

Meanwhile, in the Senate Armed Services Committee, there's going to be hearing on civilian control of the military, an issue that given Gen. Mattis' fact that he has not been out of uniform for the requisite seven years is an issue of contention. While Mattis is probably going to be confirmed this just gives some senators an opportunity to express their concerns about the fact that he hasn't been out of uniform and that a waiver will have to be applied in this case -- John.

BERMAN: That's right. Again, you know, an important discussion to have but probably will not get in the way of Mattis being confirmed to be Secretary of Defense. Ryan Browne, thanks so much for being with us.

ROMANS: All right. Democratic Congressman William Lacy Clay, of Missouri, plans to file a police report against Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of Florida -- of California, rather -- for removing a controversial painting from the walls of the Capitol. Now, critics complained this was anti-police -- this painting.

The artist of this piece is a high school student in Congressman Clay's district. He depicted some of the officers as pigs. This was a contest-winning painting and it earned a spot on the Capitol wall. Now, Congressman Hunter personally unscrewed it from the wall and delivered it back to Congressman Clay's office on Friday.

All right, crucial Senate hearings everywhere you look. Helping us sort it all out, political analyst and best-selling author Ellis Henican. Good morning.


ROMANS: There's so much going on. There is so much going on it's like really exciting, quite frankly. There are all these confirmation hearings. We hear now that Jared Kushner is going to have this role as a senior adviser to the president-elect. But let's start with confirmation hearings and Jeff Sessions -- Sen. Jeff Sessions and as Cory Booker, overnight in kind of a surprise to many, saying that he will testify against his Senate colleague -- wow.

HENICAN: Right. It would be a dramatic personal moment. Senators do not like to talk this way about other senators and when it happens there'll be a lot of emotion attached to it. I don't think it's going to derail Jeff Sessions, though.

BERMAN: No. Probably, Donald Trump will get his full slate of nominees.

HENICAN: One hundred percent?

BERMAN: There's no 100 percent --

HENICAN: There could be a couple of --

BERMAN: -- and it will be a dramatic week.


BERMAN: So let me ask you this -- let me ask you this because Democrats don't have the votes to block any of them, so what will they do? What is important to the Democrats in these hearings?

HENICAN: Well, here's the thing to remember in confirmation hearings, right? It's only partly about deciding whether the person gets the job. It's also, maybe even more importantly, about how the person performs in the job once they get there. You want to pin them down on issues. You want to narrow their options going forward. You want to -- you know, if you accuse someone of something and then you hope that when they'll come to office actually maybe they'll try to make -- convince you that they really aren't that way. So a lot of this stuff really echoes well into the Trump administration.

ROMANS: It's so interesting -- how the Democrats react is interesting to me because, you know, you see Cory Booker standing up and maybe this is, you know, trying to rise above sort of --

HENICAN: Partly.

ROMANS: -- the math of Republicans who feel -- they lost, you know --


ROMANS: -- and they lost big. So what is going to be the leadership going forward and what is going to be the role of the Democrats going forward, you know? Are they going to sit back and accept the winner? I mean, when you look at the worldview of Rex Tillerson and the worldview of Betsy DeVos it's very different from the mainstream Democratic viewpoint.

HENICAN: Well, most Democratsunderstand that Donald Trump won. I mean, accept it to that extent. But exactly how that oppositions get formed, I think is still a subject of great debate inside the Democratic Party, right?

ROMANS: Right.

HENICAN: Do you want to follow the Mitch McConnell approach that says let's just fight him on every single thing he tries to do -- make sure he doesn't accomplish anything. Or do you try and say well, listen, as long as he's doing stuff we kind of like, if it isn't so bad maybe we can find some room for agreement.

BERMAN: You know, Bernie Sanders talked about this last night.

HENICAN: Exactly.

BERMAN: He was doing a town hall with Chris Cuomo discussing on how he thinks we should treat Republicans going forward. Listen to what Bernie Sanders said.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Media always likes to jump two months in advance. Let's play it one day at a time. I don't want to repeat the point but I do think that the Republicans treated President Obama shamefully and outrageously. And then to expect suddenly that oh, we're going to do the right thing? Well, maybe, maybe not -- we'll see.


HENICAN: As with Joe Biden a couple of weeks ago, there are some Dems this morning who are looking at that and thinking oh, what might have been.

BERMAN: Can I ask you about Jared Kushner --


BERMAN: -- going to the White House being employed as the senior adviser, you know. Does it violate the anti-nepotism law? It's unclear, you know. Jamie Gorelick, Democratic lawyer --


BERMAN: -- representing him, says she thinks it does not. She does think there are other arguments to be made there but she doesn't think, you know -- she thinks he'll get it, ultimately. We will see. My question to you is reading the papers this morning you see Democrats like Bill de Blasio actually praising Jared Kushner. There are people on the left -- part of the spectrum who say, you know, look, Jared Kushner's a guy we can work with inside the White House.

[05:40:04] HENICAN: Yes. The bar is a little different than it might be under other circumstances. Listen, John, it's always dicey when you bring the kids to work, right, and when you expect them to do something once they get there, and so there's going to be some natural discomfort about this. But, I've got to tell you, I feel the same way. I mean, compared to some of the people whose names are floating around, you know, Kushner doesn't -- he doesn't seem that terrible.

ROMANS: When you look at his role in the Trump campaign, he was a steady hand and --

HENICAN: There's a reason for that.

ROMANS: -- when you read the -- you read the press release from the transition team, they talk about his adaptability.


ROMANS: His keen intellect. His ability to work with everybody but also see the long game, you know. I mean, he -- I think that they really think he's someone who has a great political mind.

HENICAN: And I think someone like Rex Tillerson is benefitting from some of the same analysis, you know.

ROMANS: Right.

HENICAN: You may not like his views on Russia. Maybe he's conflicted on these state sponsors of terrorism. But, you know, compared to some of the others he's someone you can do some biz with.

ROMANS: I'm also interested to see what he says about climate change. Rex Tillerson and his -- in his Secretary of State confirmation hearings because he started to position the company away from being an outright denier of climate change.


ROMANS: So it will be interesting to see what -- how he comes up on that.


BERMAN: America gets to meet him tomorrow.

ROMANS: All right.

BERMAN: It will be interesting.

ROMANS: We'll meet him tomorrow.

BERMAN: Thanks, Ellis Henican.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Ellis Henican. Some of the biggest names in Washington met for more than two hours last night over Italian food and taxes. House Speaker Paul Ryan hosting a group of powerful Trump team members -- Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, Steve Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon. That is a who's who of the power players in D.C. now, folks. That is where the decisions are going to get made.

This group focused on taxes but also infrastructure, Obamacare. No word yet on timing or the order they may try to push through new bills through Congress. This is the first step in merging two plans. The tax plan Trump proposed on the campaign trail and the Republican plan called "A Better Way". There are differences between the two, from income and business tax rates to deductions and credits.

But I'm telling you right now, that is the most important thing today for corporate American. They are watching what that group of people with Paul Ryan and his team and the House Ways and Means Committee do with something called the border adjustment tax. That would change how imports and exports are taxed. Trump has threatened tariffs instead, which he says will protect U.S. manufacturers.

Paul Ryan and others who support this border repayment tax think that it could be a better way to disincentivize companies from putting jobs overseas but, eventually, not raise prices on American consumers. It's a lot of, you know, really inside nitty gritty tax stuff. But that over Italian food, two and one-half hours last night, with all those guys --


ROMANS: The key players sitting down.

BERMAN: Tax reform may be something they find more common ground on than health care, going forward.

ROMANS: Maybe.

BERMAN: It will be interesting to see. It may be easier for them to hammer that out. All right, David stares down Goliath. Clemson and Alabama down to the final second -- not seconds -- second -- in the college football national championship game. Coy Wire live with the highlights -- and there were a bunch of highlights -- in the Bleacher Report, next.


[05:46:35] BERMAN: All right. The Clemson Tigers last night, the rematch from last year but this time with a different outcome. They upset Alabama and are now the college football national title holders. ROMANS: I am told it was a great game from John Berman, who stays up all night to watch sports. Coy Wire is live in Tampa, Florida. He's covering it all for us in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine, and that a boy, John. Way to stay up to watch that game. It was an instant all-time classic. There were four lead changes in the final quarter. Trick plays in the last four minutes of the game were the most exciting of any four minutes of football that I've ever seen.

With about two minutes to go, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts -- he's just 18 years old -- takes off and takes the lead back from Clemson. It's 31-28. Bama, smelling another title but Clemson's Deshaun Watson picks Bama's defense apart and finishes it off with this game-winning touchdown toss to Hunter Renfrow. One second to go and head coach Dabo Swinney would lead Clemson to its first national title in 35 years. Clemson wins 35-31 and Alabama's 26-game win streak falls with the tide.

You were playing out of your mind in the final drives. How were you feeling?

DESHAUN WATSON, CLEMSON QUARTERBACK: I felt great. Moments like this is what I'm built for so, you know, I just wanted to go out with a bang and do it with no regrets, and what's what we did.

WIRE: What does this say about the character of the men on this team to come back and get revenge against me?

HUNTER RENFROW, CLEMSON WIDE RECEIVER: Yes, yes. We were down basically the whole game and we lost last year, so just the resiliency is unbelievable.

WIRE: Awesome energy, guys. Now, the other big sports story overnight, where is New York Knicks star Derrick Rose? He was absent in last night's game, a loss to the Pelicans at Madison Square Garden, for reasons still unknown. According to ESPN, the team had become concerned and Rose eventually told the Knicks that he had a family situation and he went home to Chicago. But still a lot of questions about where exactly he is and why he was a no-show to last night's game. We will keep our eye on that story for you as the morning continues.

But guys, here in Tampa it was a great one. Alabama was 97-0 when leading by double digits heading into the fourth quarter. But the Clemson Tigers -- the mighty Tigers found a way to get 'er done and gave us one heck of a game.

BERMAN: He scored 21 points on Alabama in the fourth quarter. Now, that's ridiculous. That's just amazing. All right, Coy, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Now let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". Alisyn Camerota, who also stayed up late last night to watch that game. Hi, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": I actually was watching Chris' town hall with Bernie Sanders.


BERMAN: You watch that live, you watch the game on tape.

CAMEROTA: That's what I did, exactly. Look at all the room I have in the studio this morning because Chris is in Washington, D.C., still, to recap the Bernie Sanders town hall which was at times fiery, always interesting. So, we're going to be talking about -- previewing for you, President Obama's farewell speech. We're going to have on his top adviser and friend, Valerie Jarrett to help us.

We're also going to have John Avlon, our friend here on "NEW DAY", of course, who has just written this new book out today called "Washington's Farewell". And in it, he talks about the uncanny similarities and parallels between what was happening when Washington gave his farewell and today. He also sees uncanny parallels between George Washington and Donald Trump, so he will explain all of that.

Christiane Amanpour will be here also to give us the international perspective on Russia and North Korea.

BERMAN: I'm about two-thirds of the way through John's book so don't give away the ending. I'm still waiting to see if Washington actually leaves.

[05:50:04] CAMEROTA: Got it, got it. No spoilers.

BERMAN: All right, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer planning to leave that company but her departure depends on one very big deal going through. We're going to get a check on CNN Money Stream next.


BERMAN: Hundreds of law enforcement officers are blanketing Orlando searching for the gunman who shot and killed an officer outside a Walmart. The suspect fled, fired shots at a pursuing officer, carjacked a different car, and eventually sprinted away. Later in the day, a deputy sheriff was also killed when he crashed his motorcycle looking for the gunman. Really, just an awful day in Orlando. Let's get the very latest from CNN's Ryan Young.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Orlando there's an all-out manhunt for Markeith Loyd. Sixty thousand dollars is being offered by the police departments in this area to catch the man. Now, if you look behind me, there's a mobile command center that officers have been using throughout the day. They believe to have him pinned into a certain neighborhood but so far they have not been able to find this man.

The officer who was shot and killed, Master Sergeant Debra Clayton. She was told by someone at a Walmart that they believed they saw Markeith Loyd, and when she approached less than two minutes later she was shot in the chest. She was able to return fire but police believe she was not able to hit Markeith Loyd before he was able to get away. Other officers responded to the area. He took shots at them, as well.

Now, Markeith Loyd has been on the run for more than 30 days. Police believe he shot his ex-girlfriend who was pregnant at the time. She died, but for 30 days they have not been able to find him.

JOHN MINA, ORLANDO POLICE CHIEF: Markeith Loyd needs to turn himself in, not tonight, not tomorrow. He needs to call and turn himself in now so we can bring this to a peaceful resolution.

JERRY DEMINGS, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF: We're not going anywhere. If we don't have this individual by nightfall, we're not going anywhere. We're going to stay at it until we find him.

[05:55:00] YOUNG: And Master Sergeant Debra Clayton is a woman that so many people in this community apparently love. In fact, she had a child in college, she was recently married, and so many people talk about her good works throughout the community. She even helped get 200 kids to get their first job this summer. Officers here tell us they will work hard to find the man who they believe killed her in cold blood. Reporting in Orlando, Ryan Young, CNN.


ROMANS: All right, Ryan. Thank you for that. The Iraq war veteran who allegedly opened fire inside Ft. Lauderdale's airport has been appointed a federal public defender. He told a judge he has no job and only $5 or $10 in the bank. Esteban Santiago has been ordered held until a detention hearing scheduled for next week. He said yes when the judge asked him if he understood the charges against him and the possibility he could face the death penalty.

BERMAN: Fifteen Jewish community centers in several states had to be evacuated on Monday after receiving bomb threats. The centers were located in New Jersey, Maryland, Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee. No explosives were found in any of the facilities. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says it is aware of the threats and is prepared to assist local police if asked.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream. Dow futures turning slightly higher due, in part, to the falling U.S. dollar ahead of Donald Trump's big news conference tomorrow. Investors want to hear more on this plans for spending and tax reform. In London, the FTSE 100 near a record high. Other global stock markets are mixed. There was some strong Chinese manufacturing data and oil is up slightly.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer planning to end her tumultuous run with that company. A SEC filing shows Mayer will step down from Yahoo's board of directors but only if its sale to Verizon goes through. That deal is on shaky ground after two huge hacks were revealed late last year. If it happens, it would end Mayer's four-year tenure leading Yahoo during which she struggled to turn Yahoo around. A lot of other people struggled to turn it around before her. Last year, Verizon agreed to buy Yahoo's internet properties for $4.8 billion but reports say the company is now asking for deep discounts following news of those hacks.

All right. The company that makes some of America's favorite candy is making a big move into pets and doggie day care. Mars, the maker of M&M's, Snickers, Milky Way, and Twixt is buying a company called VCA. Oh, it's just a little deal worth $9 billion.

BERMAN: Nine billion dollars?

ROMANS: Yes. You know, pet care is a huge market. Now, this gives Mars a network of 800 small animal hospitals over the U.S. and Canada. It offers lab services for pets in all 50 states. Mars already has a solid pet care presence. Did you know it already owns these brand? Pedigree, Whiskas, and Sheba. It runs Banfield animal hospitals. When is team Berman getting a dog?

BERMAN: I would say never. I would say -- I would say if I want to continue having a wife we will not have a dog.


BERMAN: I think -- yes.

ROMANS: I see, I see.

BERMAN: That's sort of the issue. Let me ask, what is the synergy? What's -- like what is a candy --

ROMANS: I don't know.

BERMAN: -- company doing in pet food stuff?

ROMANS: Like pets, candy is just only happiness.

BERMAN: I didn't even realize that Mars was a conglomerate like that.

ROMANS: Only happiness.

BERMAN: I didn't realize they'd branched out.

ROMANS: Check out the new CNN Money Stream app. It is business news personalized. The stories, videos, tweets, and topics you want all in one feed. Download it now on the App Store or on Google Play. I am pro-Berman dog but I guess it's just me and your kids.

BERMAN: There will not be --

ROMANS: We're alone.

BERMAN: There will not be a dog. There will be -- there will be candy, though. Thankfully, we will be, you know, purchasing some part of the Mars empire.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "NEW DAY" starts oh, in about five seconds.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump's having his son-in-law to be a senior adviser to the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Although conflict of interest isn't applied to the president-elect, it certainly applies to senior adviser Jared Kushner.

TRUMP: They are the absolute highest level.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: President Obama's nominees met all the standards. Trump's nominees have not.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Those were false charges and distortions of anything that I did.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: There's no smoking gun between these hacking activities and the election results.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am terrified that the Republicans will repeal the Affordable Care Act.

SANDERS: We damn well are not going to see it repealed and have no replacement.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The concentrated interactions and experience that you have here, I don't expect you can duplicate anyplace else.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, January 10th, 6:00 here in Washington, D.C.

In just hours we're going to have confirmation hearings for President- elect Donald Trump's cabinet picks. First up, nominees for attorney general and Homeland Security chief. Alisyn, to you in New York.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. Also, Mr. Trump's choice for senior White house adviser, his son -- his son-in-law Jared Kushner, is raising some questions. How will he get around nepotism laws? All of this as President Obama delivers his farewell address to the nation tonight. We are 10 days until Inauguration Day so let's begin our coverage with CNN's Jason Carroll. He is live at Trump Tower in New York. Good morning, Jason.