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Alternative Facts for Trump Team; Trump's Rocky First Weekend; Lawsuit Targets Trump; Trump To Renegotiate NAFTA; Trump's Global Reach; Syrian Peace Talks Under Way In Kazakhstan; Samsung Finds Source Of Fire; Countdown To Super Bowl LI. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 23, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:15] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A pretty stunning admission from the new White House. One of the president's key aides says they are using their own set of facts to make their own set of points.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The first lawsuit is set to be filed against the new president and targets the money he makes from overseas related to his remaining business ties.

BERMAN: And Super Bowl LI. Wow, a couple of good teams going to the big game. We will show you the highlights of these impressive victories.

ROMANS: He is tired, but happy today.

BERMAN: I am so tired. The game went to go after 9:00. I can barely sleep. Welcome back to EARLY Start. Everyone, I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes of past the hour.

One of President Trump top adviser is taking heat this morning, seriously for defending White House spokesman false claims calling them alternative facts. It started with a tweet from the New York Times reporter showing that the crowds at the Trump's inauguration appeared smaller than those at Obama's in 2009. A source acknowledge the situation tells CNN President Trump was outraged at the comparison and sent White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer out to refute the story and what turned in a bizarre news conference.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way in one particular tweet to minimize the enormous support that it gathered on the national mall. This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period, both in person and around the globe.


ROMANS: White House Counsel Kellyanne Conway was asked about the discrepancy of a crowd size and other false claims Spicer made by NBC's Chuck Todd. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS SHOW HOST: You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House Press Secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood. Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House Press office on day one.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Don't be so overly dramatic about it Chuck. You are saying it is a falsehood and they are giving Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary gave alternative facts to that, but the point really is...

TODD: What do you mean? Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods.


ROMANS: Sean Spicer is set to give his first official White House Press briefing at 1:30 this afternoon and we were told, right? That he will take questions from the press corps.

BERMAN: He did not take questions on Saturday, when he made that statement.

Overnight, more news from Kellyanne Conway, she walked back remarks she made earlier about the president's tax returns. On Sunday morning, Conway said President Trump will never release his tax documents. That is what she seems to say. Conway told ABC News that the issue is quote, litigated all through the election and she said people didn't care, but overnight, Kellyanne Conway revised that returning to the campaign's earlier position that the president is under audit and has been advised by counsel and lawyers not to release returns, it didn't exactly make clear if he would release them once the audit is finished. And of course, as we said all along, being under audit does not prevent you legally from releasing your tax returns, should you choose to do so.

ROMANS: All right it won't be long until the first lawsuit is filed against President Trump. In the next few hours, the group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington or CREW is filing suit claiming the president began violating conflicts of interest laws the moment he was sworn in. CREW argues that every time Mr. Trump's business, President Trump business accepts payment from a foreign government settling a hotel bill or building lease, for example, it violates a part of the constitution called the emolument clause. CREW says, as long as the president has a stake in the Trump organization.

The American people have no way of knowing whether his oval office decisions are actually motivated by personal profit. The White House is not responding to the suit yet. The president said he will not sell, but will put the business in a trust run by his sons. One of those sons, Eric Trump, tells the New York Times the lawsuit is quote, surely harassment for political gain. And frankly I find it very sad.

BERMAN: Critical confirmation votes later today for two of the president's top cabinet picks, this afternoon. Senators will begin debate on the nomination of Mike Pompeo, congressman to be the next CIA director. Democrats are down to raise questions about the congressman and his support for surveillance and data collection on Americans by 9:00 p.m. tonight. Congressman Pompeo is expected to be confirmed. Growing support for Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson as well. His nomination is set for a vote this afternoon in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A couple of senators had been holdout Republicans, John McCain and Lindsey Graham. They now say that they will support the nomination of the former ExxonMobil CEO. Giving them the votes they need when the issue comes to the full senate, of course. People still don't know where Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida will vote, how will he vote, that is the interesting one's to watch today. However, Tillerson looks like he is going to get in and this has the Trump administration turning up the heat on Congress to push through more of the president's nominees and more quickly, but Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer has other ideas.


[04:35:18] CHUCK SCHUMER, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: This cabinet is unusually unique and a lot different than others. We call it the swamp cabinet billionaires and bankers. And they are all going to get many of them, the controversial ones and there are eight or nine of those, are going to get will get very, very thorough discussions on the floor.


BERMAN: Only two of President Trump's cabinet picks have been confirmed so far. General James Mattis is the Defense Secretary now and General John Kelly is now the Secretary of Homeland Security.

ROMANS: All right, all of this to caps a rocky first weekend in office for President Trump. He started on Saturday with a visit to CIA headquarters in Virginia, giving remarks to focus on at least as much on score political points as they did in intelligence.


DONALD TRUMP, THE 45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.



And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. I get up this morning. I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field. I said wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out. The field was -- it looked like 1 million or 1.5 million people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: All right, those words spoken in front of the wall of stars,

honoring CIA officers killed in the line of duty, drew a furious response from recently departed CIA Director John Brennan.

BERMAN: Brenann's spokesman for those statements that said the former director is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump's despicable display of self aggrandizement in front of the CIA Memorial Wall of agencies heroes. The statement say, Trump should be ashamed of himself, back at the White House. The president will get back on policy message today. He is starting with a central promise of his campaign, looking to renegotiate NAFTA, The North American Free Trade Agreement. He has meetings set with leaders of Canada and Mexico. And this morning, the president is scheduled to sign some executive orders ahead of a big meeting with congressional leaders, by partisan meeting with congressional leaders at the White House. Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny has the latest.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, President Trump starting his first full week as president with the full list of items on his desk. He is going to potentially look at executive actions, executive orders ranging from immigration to trade and to other matters. He is also keeping a close eye on Capitol Hill where he is going to try and start to enacting his agenda, but tonight at White House, he is going to invite over Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leaders of congress to start building those relationships and start talking about how indeed he will try to repeal and replace health care and other matters like tax reform and other things. He is trying to build his relationships. And there is certainly a different tone on Sunday from Donald Trump at the White House than he took earlier in weekend, when he is expressing so many grievances. Listen to what he said on the East Room on Sunday.


TRUMP: As I said in my Inaugural address. This is not about party. This is not about ideology. This is about our country. It is about serving the American people. We will prove worthy of this moment in history and I think it may very well be a great moment in history. So, be proud. Be very proud.



ZELENY: President Trump saying we will prove worthy of this moment. And that is certainly is the feeling and the aspiration and goal here at the White House heading into the first full week. He is also going to Philadelphia later in the week to meet with Republican congressional leaders who are having a retreat there. So, this first full week as Donald Trump takes power in Washington as Republicans controls the house, the senate and the White House for the first time in ten years. We certainly be filled with challenges for them without question, but it a reminder for Democrats that they are indeed in the wilderness. They will need to work with him if they want to stay relevant, John and Christine. ROMANS: All right, our Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

Thanks Jeff. Let's go check on your money right now. President Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, is the worst deal in trade history. When he meets with leaders of Mexico and Canada this week, how exactly will he will vey, try to revamp it? One major promise is tariffs on imports, including a 35 percent border tax on companies that manufacture Mexico. Mr. Trump blames chief imports for killing U.S. manufacturing jobs, but trade experts warn stiff tariffs would risk jobs on both sides of the border. An estimated 6 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico. 6 million American jobs today depend on the trade of Mexico. While both Canada and Mexico said they are open to modernizing NAFTA, Mexico said it would retaliate if hit with a border tax. But the president may face opposition close in the majority of the Republican supports free trade and a senate bill introduced Friday will require Trump to get congressional approval to withdraw from any trade deals.

[04:40:22] BERMAN: Organizers say the men turnout for women's marches across the country is just a start of a progressive renewal. Protests were a lot bigger than expected with more than 1 million people marching several cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and the main event which is in Washington which was so crowded that participant could not even march through the city, just gathered for the most part, because it was too crowded to move. There were other marches around the world as well. No official comment from the White House during the marches. But the president seemed to be of two minds when he woke up on Sunday. He wrote on twitter, watched protests yesterday, but was under the impression that we just had an election. Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt, caused badly, he may be referring to Madonna who said some pretty controversial things from that stage in Washington.

At a couple hours later, the president softened his tone. He wrote peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.

ROMANS: That is typically the response you get from the White House when there are protests against their policies. Policies that made the White House hold dear.

BERMAN: The question for the marchers now is can they turn that into action? Can they turn the huge turnout to something more than just a march? That is something we will wait and see.

ROMANS: All right, President Trump taking his first dip into diplomat waters. Critical meetings with two key allies in the works, we will tell you who and what is on the agenda.


[04:45:35] BERMAN: A week of firsts for the president, including his first visit with a foreign leader. British Prime Minister Theresa May will come to the White House on Friday. May swept off some of the hill on the Brexit movement. The Prime Minister say, she want to build on the quote, special relationship between Unites States and the United Kingdom, focusing on trade and the importance of NATO. I want to go live to London and bring in CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. Nic thanks so much for being with us. This is a big meeting, really for both President Trump and Prime Minister May. The Prime Minister has a lot of things to take care of with the Brexit and President Trump looking to establish new relationships.

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. There are a lot of people in Britain talking about Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher era, that special relationship there. Will it be the same with Donald Trump and Theresa May? Perhaps the British Prime Minister brings a European understanding and some concerns. And certainly Theresa May will meet with Donald Trump and not sharing his views. Yes, they are both very strong on (inaudible). Yes, they both want to get rid of ISIS. But Theresa May is concern about Donald Trump's view on NATO. He said it is obsolete that country although nations don't pay their wages.

Theresa May is expected, she spoke yesterday with the head of NATO saying that when she comes to Washington, she will talk about the importance of NATO and the nations paying their way more fully. But what she really wants to secure here is some commitment and strong understanding from President Trump that she can, Britain can have an improved trade deal with the United States, because when it leaves the European Union, there may be a loss of trade there. But what she said to European leaders here just last week was that no deal is better than a bad deal with the European Union as Britain leaves. Potentially, Britain could set itself up as a tax haven.

She needs sort of steal at her back, if you will, when she goes those talks, that kind of rhetoric up with a strong conversation, positive conversation with President Trump might just be what she needs, Christine and John.

BERMAN: Theresa May, may look to the United States for leverage in her dealings with the European Union. That is for sure. Nic Robertson, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump also invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House next month. The two leaders spoke by phone on Sunday. Mr. Trump called the conversation quote, very nice. The new administration restating its commitment to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but officials say, it won't be happening anytime soon. For the latest CNN Ian Lee, Live in Jerusalem for us, good morning.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. Israeli is the talk of the town here. You have Israeli newspapers talking about their conversation and the potential move of the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We also have the mayor of Jerusalem tweeting out potus announcement sends a clear message, Jerusalem is Israel's indivisible capital. We are here to help bring the U.S. embassy home. So, a lot of enthusiasm here in Israel and Jerusalem, but pump the brakes a bit, we are hearing from the White House press secretary saying that they are only in the beginning stages of even discussing the subject and also the Palestinians very much against this. We heard earlier from the chief negotiator of the Palestinians (inaudible) saying that if this move goes forward, they could revoke their acknowledgment of Israel as well as any deals that they have. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was also in Jordan talking to King Abdullah. King Abdullah saying he is going to rally regional and international support against the U.S. bringing the U.S. embassy here. They say that it should be determined through negotiations. Well U.S. Presidents in the past have also said that, they are going to move the embassy before. None of them have done it yet. We will see if Donald Trump will be able to do that, but we will see after he gets a lay of the land.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much, Ian Lee for us this morning in Jerusalem.

Syrian peace talks under way this morning in Kazakhstan without a U.S. delegation there to participate. The talks hammered out by Russia and Iran which back the Syrian government and Turkey which supports the rebels. The United States was invited to send a delegation, but declined due to President Trump's inauguration and quote, the immediate demands of the transition. The U.S. ambassador of Kazakhstan will be present as an observer. The last round of talks between the opposition I the government will provoke by the U.N. were suspended in early 2016.

[04:50:12] BERMAN: Remember those smoking Samsung phones? Well the company said finally knows what caused the flames. We are going to check on CNN money stream next.


BERMAN: Patriots are going to the ship. Super Bowl 51 is set. They make the ninth appearance. This time against the Atlanta Falcons who will be there for the second time. Tom Brady, he was just awesome last night. He looked great. He was good at football. He threw for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Patriots crushed the Pittsburg Steelers 36-17. Brady is seeking his record fifth super bowl ring. Look at that pass to Chris Hogan. Very, very nice, of course Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season. Roger Goodell who was taunted by the faithful, now the Patriots unfortunately have to face a team that looks unstoppable. The Atlanta Falcons crushed the Green Bay Packers 44-21. It wasn't even that close. Matt Ryan looked amazing. Julio Jones. I don't know how you defend him, if you can defend him. Ryan threw for 4 touchdown passes and he ran for a fifth. Atlanta is going to the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years. That game will be February 5th in Houston.

ROMANS: All right. A terrifying 48 hours across the south. At least 18 people now confirmed dead after tornadoes ripped across Mississippi, across Southern Alabama and Georgia. Just really terrifying 48 hours. Florida Panhandle not spared either. Trees were knocked down near Adel, Georgia with mobile homes completely thorn apart. Authorities say four people died in that state. This tornado hit just outside Albany, Georgia. Governor deal issued a state of emergency for seven counties for the next week.


[04:55:13] TRUMP: I just spoke with Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia. Great state, great people, Florida affected, Alabama affected by the tornadoes. We just expressed our sincere condolences for the lives taken. Tornadoes were vicious and powerful and strong. They suffered greatly. So we will be helping out the state of Georgia.


ROMANS: This follows a fatal tornado that struck in southern Mississippi on Saturday. The twister packed winds up to 165 miles per hour and frankly that system is also -- system with all that energy now moving up the coast. We will have a big nor'easter on the east coast, the mid-Atlantic. Is there any relief in sight for the devastated southeast? We have meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us for the latest.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John and Christine, what a start to 2017. When you think about what is the current so far, 94 reports of tornadoes since the 1st of January. Of course, this the quietest time of year. 36 is what typically you would expect, but as more than 260 percent of what is considered normal than this time of year. You look at the numbers of tornadoes and what occurred and what they caused. We know that fatality number is the most impressive of what has occurred in the past several weeks across United States. Sadly, the number of fatalities now reaching 22, you compare that to just last year over a down was 17, that number 17 was the least number of fatalities from tornadoes in over 30 years across United States. And of course a couple of years ago, the Alabama and also the southeastern United States tornado operates that took with it a tremendous amount of lives, there are 500 lives were lost across that region in 2011.

The storm system itself is on the move on the Mid-Atlantic States. Heavy rainfall in store, potentially getting some very strong winds in store across parts of the northeast as well as the storm system parts in the northeast by later on this week. In fact high winds warnings and advisories in place for 20 million people. Get offshore, we are talking about winds up to 80 miles an hour across some of the major metro cities. Don't be surprised if it gusts up to 60 miles an hour and of course temperatures in the 40s. It is very cold outside today, guys.

BERMAN: A tough couple days headed this way. All right, the baseball world in mourning after the shocking death of Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura, such a sad, sad story, the hard throwing 25 year old, right hand was killed in a one vehicle car crash in the Dominican Republic, early Sunday morning. The jeep is found on its side, but its windshield cave in. His body was discovered on the side of the road. The royal's flag across the city, in Kansas City is flying at half staff this morning. There was another player killed in the crash, as well, Andy Marte, a former major League. He played in Korea the last couple years. And of course the death of Jose Fernandez, a lot of young players dying in just awful, awful preventable accidents, you would think.

ROMANS: Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

All right, let's get an Early Start in your money in the Global markets, mostly lower. Investors in the U.S. waiting for President Trump first week in office and what he does, Wall Street was optimistic Friday. The markets closed higher after the president's -- the new president inauguration speech. Also this week, a slew of big name earnings, we are going to hear from AT&T, Microsoft, Starbucks, Ford and McDonald's. Friday we will see how healthy the U.S. economy was during President Obama last few months with a reading of fourth quarter GDP. Right now we look at U.S. stock features. They are down a little bit.

Samsung now knows the cause of the galaxy note 7 fires. Are you ready, apparently, bad batteries. The company blames poorly design and manufactured batteries for overheating the phone. The announcement Monday is a result of a month long investigation. We are told something like 700 investigators and 200,000 phones. Samsung initially blamed, one of its battery suppliers, but a recall did not stop the reports of fires. The company eventually had to kill the product entirely, very rare to just kill your item. The ordeal was a disaster for Samsung, wiped out billions of dollars of profits around the world.

More bad news for Yahoo, the company is facing a government probe over the state of breaches that is according to the Wall Street Journal. The SCC investigating whether the company to big hacks should have been reported sooner. Did Yahoo sit on this information? It announces last year that 500 million users were compromised in 2014. Still did not explain why it waited two years to make the news public. We will see if the news impacts earnings which come out today after the market close.

BERMAN: All right. EARLY START continues right now.

An interesting first weekend for the Trump administration, claims about the crowds at the inauguration becoming a battle over what is fact and what is alternative fact.

ROMANS: And it did not take long for the first lawsuit to be brought against the new commander in chief. New legal action coming this morning over President Trump, still remaining business ties.

BERMAN: This is going to be a good one. Super Bowl 51, the match-up is set. Two phenomenal quarterbacks make it to the big game.

ROMANS: Going on the next play-offs?

BERMAN: I am actually going -- I am doing a special for CNN down there.