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Trump Ending Protection for Haitians; White House: We Need Moore's Vote; Turkey Day for Trump; Feds Sue to Block AT&T-Time Warner Deal; Trump Names North Korea State Sponsor of Terrorism. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired November 21, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:01] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Haitians who came to the U.S. after the deadly earthquake in 2010 now have 19 months to leave the United States. The administration is ending protected status, despite concerns Haiti can't handle an influx of tens of thousands of people.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House may not want Roy Moore, but they need him in the Senate. How does that square with leading Republicans who have promised to expel Moore if he wins?

ROMANS: And a day of epic proportions at the White House -- two turkeys, one pardon. The president gets to wield his presidential power, controversy-free.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Also a fascinating interview between Don Lemon and LaVar Ball --

ROMANS: Oh, my gosh.

BRIGGS: I mean, excuse me, Chris Cuomo, filling in for Don Lemon, but it was 20 minutes of a wild ride. We'll give you the highlights.

ROMANS: I know. Off the rails and entertaining.

It is Tuesday, November 21st. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East.

BRIGGS: We start with some immigration action. Haitians who took refuge in the United States after a devastating earthquake in 2010 now have to be out of the U.S. by July of 2019. The Trump administration announcing it's ending Haiti's coverage under TPS. That's the temporary protected status. That has allowed nearly 60,000 Haitians to live in the U.S. since the 2010 quake.

The change part of a wider administration effort to tighten immigration to the U.S.

ROMANS: The TPS program is meant to shield immigrants fleeing disaster or conflict zones to shield them from deportation. The decision comes after the Homeland Security Department determined the extraordinary conditions created by the earthquake no longer exist. But critics of the decision aren't buying that, including Republican

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida who tweeted: I traveled to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. I can personally attest that Haiti is not prepared to take back nearly 60,000 TPS recipients under these harsh and difficult conditions.

BRIGGS: Democratic Party chairman Tom Perez also blasting the move, saying Donald Trump's cruelty knows no mounds, and adding: I'm disgusted at the president's heartlessness with this decision. Trump is tearing families apart and turning his back on the values that have made our country great.

ROMANS: New overnight, President Trump overruled in his bid to target sanctuary cities. A federal judge permanently blocking the president's executive order that would have slashed funding to cities that limit their cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities. Judge William Orec rejecting the administration's argument that the order impacts only a small pot of money.

BRIGGS: The judge used comments by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the president himself as evidence the order was intended to target a wide array of federal funding. The judge's ruling affects lawsuits brought by two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara. San Francisco's city attorney calling the decision a victory for the American people and the rule of law.

The Department of Justice blasting the ruling, accusing the court of exceeding its authority and promising to take action.

ROMANS: The White House won't come right out and say it wants Roy Moore to be the next senator from Alabama, but two top officials making it pretty clear that if it means having Moore's vote for the tax bill and other Trump agenda items, they'll take him.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says the president is leaving it up to Alabama voters to sort through the sexual allegations Moore faces, but she admitted the Republican "R" next to Moore's name is a factor.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Obviously, the president wants people both in the House and the Senate that support his agenda.


BRIGGS: That remark came after spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway made it clear the White House does not want to lose a seat to the Democrats, no matter what.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don't be fooled. He'll be a vote against tax cuts. He's weak on crime, weak on borders. He's strong on raising your taxes. He's terrible for property owners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, vote Roy Moore?

CONWAY: And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal, which is why he is not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.


CONWAY: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.


BRIGGS: So, yes, she's saying vote Roy Moore.

That is a pretty stark reversal from Conway's position just four days earlier.


CONWAY: Incontrovertible principle is that there is no Senate seat that's worth more than a child.


ROMANS: The president himself still keeping uncharacteristically quiet.


REPORTER: Your thoughts on Roy Moore, Mr. President? Do you believe his accusers? Do you believe Roy Moore's accusers, Mr. President?



ROMANS: The White House offering one more straddle, saying President Trump is not all in behind Roy Moore, as shown by fact that he has not campaigned in Alabama on Moore's behalf.

BRIGGS: Two new major media figures facing sexual harassment allegations this morning. Eight women telling "The Washington Post" longtime television host Charlie Rose made unwanted sexual advances, including groping, making lewd phone calls and walking around naked in their presence.

[04:05:06] All the women were employees or aspired to work for Charlie Rose on "The Charlie Rose Show" from the late 1990s to as recently as 2011.

ROMANS: Rose apologizing, saying: I'm greatly embarrassed. I have behaved insensitively at times and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate. I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken. Rose now suspended by CBS, with PBS and Bloomberg immediately pulling

distribution of "The Charlie Rose Show."

BRIGGS: Also suspended, Glenn Thrush, one of the top reporters at "The New York Times." The story published by the policy Website details alleged sexual misconduct involving younger female journalists. Three women, including the article's author, Laura McGann, accused Thrush of unwanted groping and kissing and what McGann called hazy sexual encounters under the influence of alcohol.

ROMANS: In an e-mail to CNN, Thrush apologizes and says he is starting out-patient treatment for alcoholism.

He is also pushing back on some of these allegations, saying, my recollection of my interactions with Laura differs greatly from hers. The encounter was consensual, brief, and ended by me. She was an editor above me at the time and I did not disparage her to colleagues at "Politico" as she claims.

BRIGGS: Also, the first claim against Al Franken of sexual misconduct since he took office. Lindsay Menz says the senator touched her inappropriately in 2010, telling CNN he grabbed her back side while taking a photo at the Minnesota state fair. Franken tells CNN he does not remember taking the photo with Menz and feels badly that she felt disrespected.

ROMANS: A reckoning. I feel like there is a reckoning in so many industries, really.

BRIGGS: Every industry, yes.

ROMANS: Walking around naked in front of your colleagues is never appropriate, walking around naked in front of people who you are working with --

BRIGGS: It's insensitive. It's far more.

ROMANS: It's just inappropriate. It is inappropriate. And the kind of pressure that puts on young people in an industry who are looking up to people who are established --


ROMANS: -- it's -- the patterns are just so troubling and disturbing.

And the women I know -- the women I know in all of these industries, you know, there's just been this flood of this and that and these little interactions that taken over time just show a feeling of women on the defensive.

BRIGGS: And another report that CNN has not yet confirmed about a longtime Democratic congressman who you may hear more about later today. So, we're far from through this.

ROMANS: All right. Seven minutes past the hour this morning. The FCC plans to roll back the rules protecting an open Internet, a move that could alter the way you use the Web. This week, the FCC is expected to unveil a full repeal of net neutrality. That's according to "Politico".

Net neutrality is an Obama-era rule designed to keep the Internet fair. It requires Internet service providers treat all web traffic equally. In other words, companies can't speed up or slow down traffic to specific sites, can't give preference or charge higher fees.

FCC chair Ajit Pai, appointed by President Trump, is against net neutrality. He says it puts burdensome regulations on Internet providers, stifling investment. Critics say it could lead to a power grab by a handful of companies, which could mean higher costs and slower speeds for you.

And tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook all oppose rolling back net neutrality. The FCC began the process of reversing net neutrality in May. It is set to vote on the changes in December.

Another example of something that is an Obama-era rule being rolled back quickly by this administration.

BRIGGS: And no shortage of those.

All right. Ahead, how hard is it to say thank you?


LAVAR BALL, FATHER OF LIANGELO BALL: Are you going to say thank you to me? Are you going to say thank you to me?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: At the end of this interview, I will thank you, I guarantee you.

BALL: No, are you going to say thank you now? Are you going to thank me now? Are you going to thank me now?

CUOMO: Not yet. You haven't earned it yet.


BRIGGS: More of that. The LaVar Ball interview on CNN that went off the rails at times and really came back to them either. We'll show you what LaVar said.


[04:13:17] BRIGGS: All right. And here it is, LaVar Ball in a verbal tug-of-war with CNN's Chris Cuomo in an interview that lasted 23 head- spinning minutes. Ball refused to thank President Trump for getting his son and two UCLA basketball teammates out of jail after their arrest for shoplifting in China.

ROMANS: Ball had minimized the president's role over the weekend, to which the president responded by tweeting that Ball was very ungrateful and he should have left them -- the players -- in jail. Ball telling CNN he is still not convinced the president helped bring the young men home.


BALL: If he said he helped, that's good for his mind.

CUOMO: What do you mean good for his mind?

BALL: But why even got to say it? If you help, you shouldn't have to say anything. If you helped, you should haven't to -- if I helped someone, I don't walk around saying, you know, I helped you now. Come on now, you give me some love. I helped you! Come on, for real?

I would have said thank you if he would have put them on his plane and took them home. Then I would have said, thank you, Mr. Trump, for taking my boys out of China and bringing them back to the U.S. There's a lot of room on that plane. Did he help the boys get out? I don't know.

CUOMO: Why do you doubt it?

BALL: I don't know. If I was going to thank somebody, I'd probably thank President Xi.


ROMANS: The interview did end on a festive note with Mr. Ball telling Chris to wish Mr. Trump a happy Thanksgiving.

BRIGGS: Oh, man, look, LaVar ball wins. This is what he wanted. He couldn't buy this exposure, right?

ROMANS: I didn't know him before this, but he is a provocateur --

BRIGGS: But wait, that's the point. The point is you didn't know him before this.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: Many millions of Americans didn't know him before this. Now they do.

ROMANS: He was a provocateur in basketball land, right?

BRIGGS: Yes, sports fans knew him, but the president elevated LaVar to a level he never could have otherwise.

[04:15:02] Meanwhile, a huge legal struggle on the horizon after the Justice Department files suit to block AT&T's proposed takeover of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. The federal lawsuit marks an unusual challenge to the $85 billion deal. The Justice Department argues the merger violates antitrust law because AT&T would use its control of Time Warner programming to harm competition.

ROMANS: AT&T swiftly pushed back, calling the suit a radical and inexplicable departure from years of antitrust core precedent. AT&T says it will fight in court. For more, let's turn to CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.



The morning papers are calling this an antitrust case for the ages, one that was not at all expected this time a year ago when AT&T and Time Warner first agreed to this $85 billion deal. But since then, the Trump administration has decided to take a hard line against this kind of media mega merger. It's a surprise to AT&T, but the company says it is ready to fight it out in court. In fact, it's been preparing for this for a while, just in case.

But normally what happens in a deal like this, a deal that combines a distributor like AT&T with a content owner like Time Warner, normally, there's conditions applied to the deal to ensure that everyone's treated fairly, that a company like AT&T can't use its market power to challenge or punish rivals like Verizon or Comcast. In this case, the U.S. Justice Department says that's not enough. Just having behavioral conditions is not enough. It believes AT&T has to go further and sell off parts of Time Warner or parts of its own company in order to satisfy the government's concerns.

That's what this fight is all about, but there's also a cloud of suspicion hanging over the deal. Many people inside AT&T and Time Warner and, frankly, some people on Capitol Hill, some Democratic lawmakers, wonder if President Trump's animosity towards CNN is part of the factor here, is part of the story here. That perhaps Trump or his aides have improperly influenced the Department of Justice.

Now, the DOJ has denied that. White House officials have also denied that, but it could end up being a big part of the court case. AT&T may try to seek evidence of whether the White House was in touch with the DOJ about this deal -- Christine, Dave.


BRIGGS: All right. Brian, thanks. You have not heard the last of this.

Meanwhile, a huge gas fire in Orion Township, 40 miles north of Detroit, has finally burned itself out. A spokesman for Consumers Energy says a 22-inch-diameter steel transmission line ruptured last night. The cause is unknown. Some residents in the area were forced to evacuate, but everyone is being allowed back home with no interruption in service.

ROMANS: All right. North Korea back on the state sponsors of terror list. New sanctions expected today. How is Pyongyang responding? We're live in Seoul.


[04:22:21] BRIGGS: The Trump administration expected to announce new sanctions today against North Korea after the president put the Kim Jong-un regime back on the short list of nations labeled as state sponsors of terrorism.


TRUMP: It should have happened a long time ago. It should have happened years ago. In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil.


BRIGGS: North Korea was removed from the list by President George W. Bush in 2008, but Pyongyang has dramatically escalated its nuclear program since then.

So, how is the move being received in the region?

CNN's Anna Coren live in Seoul, South Korea, for us.

Good morning, Anna.


It's certainly welcome news here where I am in South Korea as well as Japan. They say Donald Trump's decision to place North Korea back on that list as a state sponsor of terrorism is a positive move, increasing that diplomatic and economic pressure in the hope of getting North Korea back to the negotiating table, and ultimately, denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

China, however, Christine, not so enthusiastic. We heard from the foreign ministry a short time ago which said, quote, this was a highly complex and sensitive situation, calling on all parties to ease tensions and come back to the negotiating table.

It's important to remember that it comes just days after China sent a special envoy to Pyongyang at the insistence of Donald Trump to restart the conversation about the concerns over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. And the concern now is that whatever progress was made over those few days may have been eroded by that announcement.

Now, it's been two months since North Korea last fired a ballistic missile test, and that is a long time, considering that the frequency of tests that we saw up to that last launch on the 15th of September, and we certainly heard from South Korea's spy agency, which believes that North Korea is ready to test a ballistic missile as well as a nuclear test. And the feeling now, Christine, is that this announcement has fast-tracked that, and that we could perhaps see a test before Christmas, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Anna Coren for us in Seoul. Certainly keep an eye on that. Thank you so much.

BRIGGS: President Trump set to wield his pardon power without controversy this time. At a Rose Garden ceremony today, the president will grant clemency to two hand-picked turkeys named Drumstick and Wishbone.

[04:25:04] This White House video shows the free birds -- free bird, anyone? No? All right. Arriving in the nation's capital Monday. Skynyrd fan.

They spent the night at a luxury Washington, D.C. hotel, not a Trump hotel, relaxing before the big day.

ROMANS: A little big bird background: both share a June birthday. Drumstick has a slight height and weight advantage. After the ceremony, they will join last year's turkeys, Tater and Tot at Virginia Tech's gobblers rest exhibit.

BRIGGS: Always a fun tradition.

ROMANS: Tradition that is pointless but interesting.

BRIGGS: Pointless.

ROMANS: Pointless but interesting. We do it anyway.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, 50,000 Haitians who came to the U.S. after the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti are being told to leave. Why the White House is ending their protected status, next on EARLY START.