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New Travel Ban Expected This Week; National Security Appointment; White House Speaks on Jewish Center Threats; Death of Russia's Ambassador to U.N. Sparks Turmoil. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired February 21, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:31:18] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: The White House is trying to ensure its new travel ban can withstand the legal push back. We have details on what we'll see in Trump's new executive order.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: A new national security adviser is now in place, H.R. McMaster. So, what are the reviews for this outspoken lieutenant general?

CABRERA: And federal authorities are stepping in after a new round of bomb threats at Jewish centers. What the White House is saying now after the president's earlier answers on anti-Semitism.

Welcome back to EARLY START on a Tuesday. I'm Ana Cabrera.

SANCHEZ: Pleasure to be here with you, Ana.

I'm Boris Sanchez. We're about 31 minutes past the hour.

And we start this morning with the Trump White House putting the finishing touches on the new version of the president's travel ban. We are learning about how this travel ban is crafted to try to withstand some of the legal challenges that sank the first one.

Here are some of the key differences previewed by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and some other sources. We now know the new executive order will be aimed at travelers from those seven Muslim majority countries, but now will include a phase-in period to avoid the kind of chaos that left people stranded in airports all across the country last time around. It's also expected this order will give some greater notice of travel restrictions from the countries in question, probably to address concerns overdue process for those holding visas.

The new executive order also will not affect green card holders and a source says the new order will likely address religious discrimination issues by taking a section that gave priority to religious minorities, or non-Muslims in those seven countries.

CABRERA: One critical issue that remains unsettled however is how this new order will deal with Syrian refugees, who were banned indefinitely under that first travel ban. It's worth noting here, the new executive order was written by the White House counsel's office with an eye to head off or evade any legal problems, much different from the first version which was drafted in secret by senior White House aides Steve Bannon, Steven Miller and the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

This new order is expected to come down tomorrow perhaps at the earliest, but we could see guidelines from homeland security to enforcement agencies released later this morning.

SANCHEZ: No matter what the provisions are, the president will have a new national security adviser to help him navigate the rollout. Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster has been tapped to fill the opening created when Michael Flynn was forced out. McMaster has been serving as the head of the Army Capabilities Integration Center in Virginia. He has a PhD in history. He's author of the book the Vietnam War.

He is also known not only for his intellect but also for his willingness to speak out on military issues. The president's pick earned him praise from an array of Republican foreign policy leaders in Washington, including Senator John McCain who is obviously a Trump critic and even some Democrats.

We get more now from CNN's Sara Murray at the White House.



President Trump capped off a weekend in Mar-a-Lago by scurrying to fill the open position of national security adviser, naming Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster for the job.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: General H.R. McMaster will become the national security adviser, the man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience. I watched and read a lot over the last few days. He is highly respected by everybody in the military and we're very honored to have him.

LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I'd just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue serving our nation. I'm grateful to you for that opportunity. And I look forward to joining the national security team and doing everything I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people.

[04:35:02] Thank you very much, sir.

TRUMP: You're going to do a great job.

MURRAY: Trump's pick of McMaster came just a week after he fired his first national security adviser Michael Flynn for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about conversations with the Russian ambassador. Now, I'm told by the senior administration official that President Trump really respected McMaster's combat duty, as well as his intellectual drive. President Trump will turn the page and focus on other matters today,

though. He is expected to visit the African-American History Museum.

Back to you, guys.


CABRERA: Thank you. Sara.

The FBI and the Justice Department are investigating a new series of bomb threats directed against Jewish community centers across the country. The JCCs reported 11 bomb threats on Monday alone, bringing the total to 69 threats in 27 states just over the last six weeks. Most of them on just four dates. Fortunately so far, no bombs have been found.

Also yesterday, more than 100 headstones were found vandalized in the cemetery in Missouri. This is not clear yet if perhaps there is any link to those bomb threats.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the White House is condemning the bomb threats after President Trump twice last week danced around questions of anti- Semitism. A White House statement says, "Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The president made it clear the actions are unacceptable."

The statement doesn't actually mention Jews, though. Something the White House was criticized for. You will recall after the statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

But Ivanka Trump who converted to Orthodox Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner tweeted this out, quote, "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship and religious centers. #JCC"

Controversial Breitbart news editor Milo Yiannopoulos is set to address the fallout over comments he made about pedophilia. A pair of video clips surfaced on Sunday where Yiannopoulos appears to condone sexual relationships between younger boys and older men and then he seems to even laugh off his own experience with the Catholic priest.

The backlash as you might imagine was swift. The Conservative Political Action Conference rescinded its invitation to speak for him this week and Simon and Shuster canceled the publication of his forthcoming book, which was number one on Yiannopoulos tells CNN the videos were deceptively edited, saying, quote, "I not support pedophilia, period."

CABRERA: President Trump is set to meet face-to-face with one of his fiercest critics from the campaign trail, Ohio Governor John Kasich. Now, sources familiar with the plan tells CNN the former rivals are scheduled to meet on Friday. An administration official described this upcoming meeting as long overdue. Kasich has not held back his criticism of Trump certainly especially on foreign policy issues. He even boycotted the Republican National Convention hosted in his

home state. He wrote in John McCain on Election Day. Sources say this is a meeting scheduled. Things could still change.

Uber is hiring former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help the company investigate allegations of sexism. Holder is currently a partner at a law firm Covington and Burling. Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber's board, will also be part of this investigation.

Uber's CEO says, quote, "They will conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the workplace environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly."

Fowler is a former engineer. She wrote in a blog post this past Sunday making allegations of blatant and systemic sexism at the company. She says a supervisor propositioned her for sex and the company's human resources department ignored multiple complaints about inappropriate behavior.

Uber says it launched an urgent investigation immediately after she posted her story.

SANCHEZ: Well, it's been an interesting and tense to say the least few months for U.S. and Russia relations. And now hope for the countries to find common ground at the United Nations was dealt a major blow with the unexpected death of Moscow's ambassador to the U.N. We're live in Russia with more on what this means going forward.


[04:43:28] SANCHEZ: The sudden death of Russian ambassador to the U.N. opening a door not only to grieve but also potentially turmoil.

So, what does this mean for relations between the United States and Russia? Where does this unexpected turn of events leave diplomacy between the two nations?

CNN's Clare Sebastian is live in Moscow this morning with the very latest.

Clare, the ambassador was someone who was a dogged supporter of Russian policy abroad, in Ukraine and in Syria. But he was also considered something of a bridge builder.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. He was despite disagreeing with colleagues at the U.N. on Russian policy, he was extremely well-respected. We have seen, you know, an outpouring of condolence here in Moscow to his death. It certainly came as a shock to many.

President Putin was said to be very upset at the news. According to his press secretary that he greatly valued Vitaly Churkin's professionalism and diplomatic talent.

We've just seen Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov laying flowers and leaving a note in the book of condolences that's been opened here at the foreign ministry.

But as I said, you know, he was respected by his colleagues, even the ones he clashed with the most. I think it's very telling the response from Samantha Power. He tweeted, "Devastated by the passing of Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin's. Diplomatic maestro and deeply caring man who did all he could to bridge U.S./Russia differences."

You will remember, in December, there was a particularly harsh exchange between the two of them, over Russian actions in Syria. Samantha Power asking Vitaly Churkin, have you no shame over this?

[04:45:02] And him telling here to stop pretending to be Mother Teresa, that U.S. should look to its own actions in Syria.

So, I think the fact that he was able to have these heated exchanges and yet still garnered respect from his colleagues to show the level of kind of experience and the heavyweight nature of this man, whose career in diplomacy spanned more than three decades. He began in the Soviet Union, and I think there will be a lot of scrutiny on who is set to replace him at the U.N. given especially that this is a very, kind of uncertain time as to how the Russia/U.S. relationship will develop.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Clare, certainly a crucial question moving forward. Who will be the next ambassador to the United Nations from Russia? Thank you so much.

CABRERA: Investigators trying to determine what caused a deadly small plane crash in Australia. The scene is just horrific here. Officials say all five people on board were killed. The pilot was Australian, four passengers were American, including a 70-year-old man from Texas.

This is the crash site. A raging fire, thick black smoke filling the air. That building is a shopping center. The plane slammed into it after taking off from the airport in Melbourne. Stores fortunately were not open at the time. Five people killed in that crash.

OK. If you think your morning commute is bad? That's the joy, though, for us of going to work at 2:00 morning.


CABRERA: Not a problem.

But it can also be worse unless you live in Bangkok. That's the city now labeled as having the worst rush hour traffic in the world. We're going to go through some more of those rankings next, including talking about which ones in the U.S. made the list.


[04:51:07] SANCHEZ: Swedes are reacting to Trump's last night in Sweden gaffe with a mix of sharp wit and humor, along with some anger and confusion. We, of course, know that no terror incidents took place in that country over the past week. But what's the reality in Sweden in terms of refugees and crime?

Let's bring in CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson live from Stockholm.

Ivan, Donald Trump apparently got that "last night in Sweden" claim from a filmmaker that was on FOX News last week who has made some very controversial statement was the relationship with crime and refugees inn that country. He even goes as far as to say that country's government is trying to suppress information about crimes that refugees and immigrants have committed.

What does the data actually say?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's run you through it. First, let's listen to the Swedish prime minister who said he was surprised by the U.S. president's comments. Take a listen.


STEFAN LOFVEN, PRIME MINISTER OF SWEDEN: Yes, we have opportunities. We have challenges. We are working with them every day. I think also we must all take responsibility for using facts correctly and for verify any information that we spread.


WATSON: Let's look at some government facts now. Between 2012 and 2015, Sweden granted asylum to 100,000 people. Most of those people were coming from war-torn countries. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan.

Now, the crime rate between 2012 and 2015 -- it is important to note, there is no correlation with immigration and crime. Authorities are not suggesting that. The crime grew 7 percent from 2012 to 2015. According to the U.S. State Department, 4 percent of the growth in crime from 2014 to 2015 was computer related fraud.

Now graphic three. We've got sexual offenses in Sweden dropped from 2014 to 2015. However, during the same four-year period, Islamophobic crimes jumped quite substantially, almost doubled between 2012 and 2015. This is a country that does have crime, it does have challenges, it has had a difficult time absorbing in the population of 10 million, about 100,000 people in a four-year period.

But it is not a conflict zone. Not a war zone. This is not a country in deep, deep crisis -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Ivan Watson reporting from Sweden -- thank you so much, Ivan.

CABRERA: Many questions now being raised about security at New York's JFK Airport after what officials are calling a possible security incident. Here's what happened, according to the TSA, 11 people walked through the security checkpoint and three of them actually set off the detector without a single agent present to stop them or perform further screenings. Officials say the passengers' carry-on bags were screened, however.

The TSA says it is confident the breach did not pose a threat to the aviation transportation system. But the agency is reviewing what happened and says it will retrain and discipline employees as it sees fit.

SANCHEZ: An incredibly emotional story out of California where police chief pouring out anger and grief after one of his officers was gunned down in a shootout for the suspected gang member. Authorities say 26- year-old man was driving a stolen car when he suddenly opened fire during a traffic stop.

Officer Keith Boyer was shot and killed. He was 27 years old. Another officer that was shot is expected to survive.

The police chief there, Jeff Piper, was overcome with emotion.


CHIEF JEFF PIPER, WHITTIER POLICE DEPARTMENT: You know, it is hard for me to hold back -- my tears because all of us have been grieving since 10:00 this morning.

[04:55:09] I didn't think I had any tears left.

But everybody needs to know what the officers are dealing with on a daily basis, you have no idea how it changed in the last four years. People don't want to follow rules. People don't care about other people and it's tragic. This is a senseless, senseless tragedy that did not need to be.


SANCHEZ: The suspect was wounded in the shootout with police. They say he is expected to survive. They say he is linked to a shooting in Los Angeles on Sunday and he is believed to have been released on parole within the past two weeks.

CABRERA: Let's take you to Colorado now where parts of the state are under a red-flag warning starting at 11:00 this morning until later this evening. And this is why. You can see just how dry it is there, the wind whipping these fires across the grass. They're hoping to gain control of some of the out of control grass fires that have already sparked.

Unseasonably dry and windy conditions, though, are only expected to get worse today. So, fire officials are worried about new fires popping up, on top of at least four that sparked yesterday. Hundreds of acres have been scorched so far, since these fires first broke out on Sunday.

It is just a tinder box right now in Colorado. I just came from there. We have seen 60s and 70s. It is nice to be out in that kind of weather, but we definitely need some moisture.

SANCHEZ: We usually see snow around this time of year. It melts away and comes back, but typically a lot more moisture on the ground.

CABRERA: Right. Mountains have been hit with -- the ski resorts are getting some good snow, but not the metro area.

Let's get more now on the winter heat wave that's affecting not only Colorado but other parts of our country.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has more.



Conditions across parts of the country, a lot of the heat, of course, and dry air out of the intermountain west beginning now to expanding on towards parts of the plains. We're talking 30 percent to 35 percent of people above average for this time of year. Of course, in the heart of February, you should be somewhere around 31 in Minneapolis, closer to mid and low 60s there. Green Bay at 30 degrees, which is normal, gets up to almost 60 degrees.

And call Duran Duran by Thursday, we're talking the '80s coming back across parts of Oklahoma City, 82 degrees there. Dallas makes it to the 80s by tomorrow afternoon and even parts of areas of eastern New Mexico there well into the 80s over the next couple of days.

But notice this, some 30 record high temperatures possible today. That number could go up to around 50 record high potentials there come Wednesday afternoon. And, of course, all of these numbers, when you were talking mid-70s for this time of year in places like Kansas and Nebraska and Colorado, those are mid to late May-like temperatures.

And we know a different story taking place around the West. In California, San Francisco, almost an entire year's worth of rainfall come down in the first 51 days of 2017, same story out of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, additional storms slated here for later today into tomorrow as well with heavy rainfall -- guys.


CABRERA: Thanks, Pedram. Good to see you.

Let's get an early start now on your money.

The record run for the stock market set to continue this morning. Stock futures are pointing higher after all three major averages closed last week at record highs. The market was closed yesterday for Presidents' Day. Stock markets in Europe and Asia are trading mix this morning.

One stock to watch -- Walmart shares are dropping in pre-market trading ahead of the company's quarterly earnings report. Two things investors are focusing on, whether it's grocery business had improved and how online sales are competing with Amazon. Walmart started a shipping war of sorts with Amazon earlier this year when it began offering free two-day shipping on orders over $35. And then earlier this month, Amazon countered quietly lowering its

minimum for free shipping to $35 as well. That was down from $49. And it applies to shoppers without Amazon Prime. That membership is $99 a year.

Now, if you are dreading the traffic on your way to work this morning, at least you don't have it as bad as people in this city. Bangkok, Thailand, has the worst traffic in the world according to a new list from GPS manufacturer TomTom. It's Bangkok's second straight year on top of the rankings and researchers say, unfortunately or fortunately, for cities like Bangkok, they are victims of their own success, as growing economy and surging populations translate to more commuters and traffic.

Mexico City and Jakarta, Indonesia, have the same problems there. They are both in the top five, along with the Romanian city of Bucharest and Moscow.

The only U.S. city, Boris, in the top 15, Los Angeles, the only one.

SANCHEZ: I'm going to go ahead and call this fake news. Have you ever driven through Atlanta? It's like sitting in a parking lot sometimes.

CABRERA: Oh, you can say the same about Denver and I-25.

SANCHEZ: That's true.

CABRERA: Everybody has their woes.

SANCHEZ: EARLY START continues right now.


CABRERA: New details emerging this morning on the president's new travel ban. What the White House is doing this time to survive any legal pushback.