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Cabinet Nominees Contradict Trump; Comey Talked to Trump; VP Biden Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom; EPA: Fiat Chrysler Cheated on Emissions. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 13, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:34] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Trump cabinet. Are they on the same page as the president-elect? Giving a very different message on some important policies from what we are hearing from President- elect Donald Trump.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The intelligence report that Russia had compromising information on Mr. Trump was shared directly with the president-elect. We have details on the FBI director's talk with Trump.

BERMAN: A heart felt sendoff for Vice President Joe Biden. President Obama confirms the rarest of recognitions. We will show you this emotional moment.

ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. Very nice to see you this morning. We're looking at 31 minutes past the hour right now.

ROMANS: All right. No more confirmation hearings today on Friday the 13th. But the hearings are over, over the first four days of the week had enough very unusual moments to last a month, mainly because over and over again, the president-elect's nominees contradicted the man they hoped will be their boss. Earlier in the week, it was Mr. Trump's nominees for homeland security and secretary of state who seemed to veer off script.

Then, yesterday, defense nominee, General James Mattis, told senators the U.S. must honor the Iran nuclear deal. A deal Trump has vowed to shred.

And Trump's nominee to head the CIA, Mike Pompeo, vowed he would absolutely not return to the use of extreme torture interrogation tactics on terror suspects, versus Trump who has said he wants to bring back waterboarding and, quote, "much worse". Both nominees took a tougher line on Russia than Mr. Trump has so far done.

National security reporter Ryan Browne joins us now this morning with the latest on all of these hearings. No more hearings today but enough news for a lifetime almost in the

past couple of weeks.


And, you know, as you mentioned, I mean, one of the more interesting things that came out of this week's hearings was how often the Trump's top picks for the most important national security posts in the cabinet, how often they actually disagreed with policies and Trump talked about repeatedly on the campaign trail. Now, starting with General Mattis, you know, Trump disparaged the NATO alliance, calling it possibly obsolete. Mattis told the Senate yesterday that he wanted the strongest possible relationship with NATO. He also, as you said, talked about the Iran deal with a little more nuance on that. He called it an imperfect arrangement but said that the U.S. had to kind of keep with it for the time being.

And he also on Israel, Trump's pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mattis said he recognizes that Tel Aviv is the capital for Israel for now and he said he would stick with that policy until it is changed.

And then moving on to Mike Pompeo, the congressman from Kansas, he again on torture, on waterboarding, on enhanced interrogation, he struck a different note. He would not pursue as it director of the CIA. Both of them, as you mentioned, struck a much tougher line on Russia and much, much tougher line on whether or not Russia was responsible for the cyber attacks around the U.S. elections.


JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY NOMINEE: Russia, to quote the chairman's opening statement, has chosen to be a strategic competitor. They're adversary in key areas. I'm all for engagement, but we also have to recognize reality and what Russia is up to. And there's a decreasing number of areas where we can engage cooperatively.

The most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we deal with, with Mr. Putin, and we recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance.

REP. MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: It's pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement and efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy. As we continue to develop the facts, I will relay those, not only to the president, but the team around him, and to you all, so that we all can have a robust discussion about how to take on what is an enormous threat from cyber.

This is very real. It is growing. It is not new in that sense. But this was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership in Russia.


BROWNE: The testimony on the heels of two other cabinet picks. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, nominee for that position, clashed with Trump a little bit on the issue of Trans Pacific Partnership, free trade deal with Asia, and on climate change.

And General John Kelly, Trump's pick for homeland security, also clashed a little bit on targeting and surveillance of Muslim- Americans, torture and the border wall. You know, this may help get them confirmed, but could create problems with the policy differences with the president-elect.

ROMANS: Yes, team of rivals or potential, you know, team of discord. Who knows?

All right. Ryan, nice to see you there bright and early for us in D.C.

[04:35:01] Talk to you soon.

BROWNE: Indeed.

BERMAN: All right. New information this morning on the intelligence summary containing unverified claims that Russia may have compromising information on President-elect Trump. New reporting which directly contradicts statements from the Trump team.

CNN has learned the summary was not just handed to president-elect Donald Trump as part of the documents. Multiple U.S. officials tell CNN that FBI Director James Comey personally briefed the president- elect on the intelligence. Not only that, but Vice President Biden now confirms that he and President Obama were also briefed on the same information.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Evan Perez in Washington.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, FBI Director James Comey and President-elect Donald Trump had a brief one and one conversation last Friday's intelligence briefing. Multiple U.S. officials briefed on the matter tell CNN that it is during that pull aside that Comey briefed the president-elect on the two-page synopsis of unverified Russian claims that have comprising personal and financial information on the president-elect.

Four of the nation's top intelligence chiefs briefed Mr. Trump on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. And they decided Comey would be the one who would handle the sensitive discussion with Mr. Trump. The discussion was described as cordial to us.

The FBI declined to comment on this account. And reporters also heard Thursday from Vice President Joe Biden. That he and President Obama were briefed on the unproven allegations about Mr. Trump.

Biden said that he read the 35-page opposition research document that was put together by a former British intelligence operative. Republican and Democratic political opponents of President-elect Donald Trump had hired the operative to put together the dossier -- John and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. Evan Perez in Washington, thank you, Evan.

Breaking overnight, FBI Director Comey reacting to news the Justice Department internal watchdog has launched a probe into how the FBI handled its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mails server. Comey has been sharply criticized for announcing two weeks before the election that the FBI had discovered e-mails, possibly relevant to the e-mail probe. Some Democrats think that decision cost Clinton the election.

Last night, he responded to the announcement of the watchdog's review with a statement. He said this, "I'm grateful to the Department of Justice's inspector general for taking on this review. I hope very much he is able to share his conclusions and observations with the public because everyone will benefit from thoughtful evaluation and transparency regarding this matter."

BERMAN: The House votes this afternoon on a budget resolution that would launch the dismantling of Obamacare. Actually, the Senate first launched that dismantling. House Speaker Paul Ryan laid out his vision for repealing the Affordable Care Act at a CNN town hall last night.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We want to do this at the same time and in some cases, in the same bill.


RYAN: So, we want to advance repealing this law with its replacement at the same time. I don't have a date, but that's something we're working on right now and it's going to take us a little bit of time. But we're working on this as fast as possible.

TAPPER: The first 100 days?

RYAN: Yes, oh, yes. It's something -- definitely is a plan within the first 100 days to get moving on this legislation.


BERMAN: House Speaker Paul Ryan dabbed with Jake Tapper, which may be a headline from this town meeting, in addition about Obamacare.

Many Republicans on the fence about the vote in the House. There are some concerns about the cost of repealing the Affordable Care Act and also, the fact that there is no one single plan yet to replace it. A straight repeal would affect coverage for millions of Americans and give tax cuts to the rich who are paying for some provisions with two surcharges.

ROMANS: I missed dab. I will have to go back and find that.

All right. There is no detail plan to replace Obamacare yet. Past Republican proposals show us what it might look like.

Here's a cheat sheet on three of the biggest differences. First, cost. Obamacare subsidizes premiums based on income. Lower incomes equal higher subsidies. But the GOP favors reimbursing enrollees with tax credits based on their age. So, younger people would get less.

Second, the sick. One of the cornerstones of the Obamacare is protecting those with pre-existing conditions. Many people say this is what makes Obamacare Obamacare. This is why they did this, this plan.

The GOP plan will likely protect them as well, but only if they maintained continuous coverage. That would force the sick and uninsured to look for plans in state high risk pools which have a troubled history until they were disbanded after Obamacare.

Finally, Medicaid. Obamacare expanded free coverage to all adults below a certain income threshold. The Republicans want fixed grants given to the states to cover this group and it's something that some health care advocates say could disproportionately really hurt the poor.

BERMAN: I mean, the way the Republicans choose to replace is going to be key. It will need to be voted on and by most accounts, it will need 60 votes in the Senate to pass. So, it's not a certainty it will get through.

ROMANS: There are some Republicans concerned about repealing immediately without replacement means that rich are getting a tax cut essentially because of those surcharges, right?

[04:40:03] Because some of the burden of Obamacare has been put on the highest earning Americans, and that could be potentially poor optics for President Trump and for the House Republicans.

BERMAN: All right. And 20 minutes until the hour.

News that's raising a lot of eyebrows from the House Oversight Committee. The committee chair, Republican Chaffetz of Utah, has summoned the head of the Government Ethics Office who's been very critical of how President-elect Trump is distancing or not distancing himself from his business empire. On Wednesday, ethics chief Walter Shaub slammed President-elect Trump's plan to hand his business over to his sons. He called it meaningless.

Some ethics leaders see the move from Chaffetz as a threat to pull funding from the ethics office unless it lays off Donald Trump.

Effectively immediately, Cubans will no longer be granted automatic residency if they make it on the U.S. soil. President Obama is ending the so-called wet foot-dry foot policy, which allowed any Cuban to reach the United States mainland to stay, but return any who were picked up at sea. The Cuban government welcomes the change, saying the entire region will benefit by discouraging human trafficking and dangerous journeys on rickety boats and rafts.

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

If you missed the heartfelt surprise sendoff Joe Biden got from President Obama, it is a moment worth watching. We're going to bring it to you, next.


ROMANS: This is some surprise.

[04:45:00] President Obama pulled a fast one on his friend and vice president, Joe Biden, at the White House ceremony Thursday. Mr. Obama had a special honor for Biden in gratitude for the eight years of service, really a lifetime of service. As you can imagine, it was fight quite an emotional moment for Mr. Biden.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self regard and to live life fully. As one of his longtime colleagues in the Senate who happened to be a Republican once said, if you can't admire Joe Biden as a person, you've got a problem. He is as good a man as God ever created.

So, Joe, for your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I'd like to ask the military aide to join us on stage. For the final time as president, I am pleased to award our nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


And for the first and only time in my presidency, I will bestow this medal with an additional level of veneration, an honor my three most recent successors reserved for only three others, Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan and General Colin Powell.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction to my brother, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, this honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it's a reflection of the extent and generosity of your spirit. I don't deserve this, but I know it came from the president's heart. There's a Talmudic saying that says what comes from the heart enters the heart.

Mr. President, you have creeped into our heart, you and your whole family, including mom. And you occupy it. It's an amazing thing that happened.

I knew how smart you were. I knew how honorable you were. I knew how decent you were from the couple years you worked in the Senate. I knew what you were capable of.

But I never fully expected that you occupy the Bidens' heart, from Hunter and Ashley, my sister, and all of us, all of us. And, Mr. President, I -- I -- I'm indebted to you. I'm indebted to your friendship. I'm indebted to your family.

And as -- I'll tell you on a humorous note, we're having lunches and mostly whatever in our minds. We talk about family an awful lot. And about six months in, the president looked at me, he said, you know, Joe, you know what surprised me? How we've become such good friends.


[04:50:02] I said, surprised you?


But that is candid Obama. And it's real.

Mr. President, you know as long as there's breath in me, I'll be there for you. My whole family will be. And I know, I know it is reciprocal.

I want to thank you all so very, very, very much. All of you.



ROMANS: The look on his face when the president said Pope John Paul II. This is a man who has devoted his entire life to public service. A young senator, after a family tragedy, all the way until now.

He's lived his life in the public. He was -- you know, I was watching this with my 10-year-old. I was trying to explain somebody in politics since he was a young man. Spent his life in public service. My son said he has been helping people this whole time? Yes, that's what politics is supposed to be, helping people.

BERMAN: That's what it supposed to be. And I think too often we forget people who run for office, they put themselves on the line for us. And some do it for a lifetime.

Joe Biden was elected before he was 30. He has spent his life serving the American people. You will hear that from Democrats and Republicans alike.

I felt the same way when Speaker John Boehner left. Also with tears some time ago. You need to put politics aside and say thank you to the people who do this.

One of the things you pointed out. Joseph Biden, you know, the vice president represents perseverance and encourage in the face of adversity and tragedy that most of us just cannot imagine.

ROMANS: And grace and honesty, you know? I mean, the whole country mourned when his son died of brain cancer. It was a hard moment for him. I know for him and his family and he we were all there with him.

I will say one thing, the president -- aides to the president say this was a complete surprise. It was President Obama's idea. Even Joe Biden quipped, he fired his chief of staff. He said you are not supposed to keep this stuff like us.

BERMAN: He turned his back to the crowd because he wanted to compose himself. I feel for the guy. No one likes a surprise like that.

ROMANS: Very pure moment right there in politics, folks.

All right. Another big automakers accused of cheating on emissions. We're going to show the incredible drop in its stock price when he get a check on CNN Money Stream, next.


[04:55:41] ROMANS: A Baltimore mother and three children hospitalized this morning after a tragic house fire that claimed the lives of ten people, including six children between the ages of 9 months and 11 years old. Officials say the fire raced through their three story home early Thursday morning. The top story eventually collapsing on the ones below. Neighbors ran to the scene and to tried in vain to help.


ROBERT SPENCER, NEIGHBOR: I ran down the step. Got my jacket and was running across the street. I said, I'm going to -- my daughter tried to attack me, you know, saying, daddy, you can't go over there because it is too much. They said, daddy, please stay back.

REPORTER: Mr. Spencer, how helpless did you feel?

SPENCER: How helpless could I -- I'm not a hero. I'm not nothing. I didn't save nobody.


ROMANS: The children's mother, Katie Malone, is a long time aide to Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings. She is in critical condition and we wish all of the people affected the very best here.

BERMAN: Just awful story. Chicago's unarmed aviation police officers will no longer be dispatched for any disturbance calls in unsecured parts of O'Hare and Midway airports. The new policy became effective immediately in the wake of last weeks' deadly Ft. Lauderdale shooting.

In an email obtained by CNN, aviation officers will continue to be assigned to secure areas beyond TSA check points. Chicago is the only city with airports patrolled by unarmed officers who had been instructed to run and hide in the event of an active shooter.

A heartfelt letter of advice to Malia and Sasha Obama from the twin daughters of former President George W. Bush. Barbara and Jenna Bush Hager visited the Obama girls back in 2008 to help them acclimate to life in the White House. Now, they've penned an open letter to the first daughters published in "TIME" magazine.

It reads in part, "We've watched you grow with girls to impressive young women with grace and ease. And through it all, you had each other, just like we did. You have so much to look forward to. You will be writing the story of your lives beyond the shadow of your famous parents. Yet, you will always carry with you the experiences of the past eight years."

The Bush daughters also urged Sasha and Malia to never forget the people they met at the White House and urged them, with little tongue in cheek, John, to, quote, "enjoy college as most of the world knows we did."

BERMAN: They gave advice to the Obama girls when they came into the White House and now, they're giving advice to them as they leave.

ROMANS: Yes. It was the Bush daughters who gave the tour to the Obama girls.

All right. We'll get a check on CNN Money Stream right now.

Global markets higher ahead of earnings reports from three big U.S. banks. We will hear from J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank o America. It unofficially kicks off earnings season later this morning. We get a sense of how much money companies are making and the global headwinds or tailwinds might be.

U.S. stock futures pointing higher. Stocks in Europe rising. Shares in Asia mixed overnight.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, says Fiat Chrysler cheated on emissions tests. Regulators claimed the automaker put software on 100,000 diesel SUVs and trucks that could have altered results of emissions tests. Those vehicles include the last three model years of Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram model.

Fiat Chrysler says the software on its engines is an allowable way to meet emissions rules. It is not there to cheat on emissions tests, but to improve engine performance. That is the view of the company.

The EPA says no. The software was never disclosed, which makes it a violation of the Clean Air Act even if Fiat Chrysler was not cheating on emissions.

Investors spooked. Shares of Fiat Chrysler down 18 percent, John, before it was halted in trading by the New York Stock Exchange. It then recovers somewhat but lost 10 percent on the day.

Amazon extending an olive branch to President-elect Donald Trump. The company will create 100,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next year and a half. Amazon says they are full time, full benefit positions, much of its current and future workforce is made up of employees working warehouse jobs and answering phones.

Analysts say Amazon would have added jobs regardless of who won the election. But the messaging from corporate executives has changed. And now announcements like this, they seem to play to the current political environment.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer says, quote, "The president-elect was pleased to play a role in that decision by Amazon." In 2011, the company added 30,000 employees. Last year, it had 180,000 employees. That tally is expected to jump to 280,000 by mid-2018.