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Swift Reaction to Steinle Verdict; Corker's Tax Concerns; Roy Moore Versus Jimmy Kimmel; Tiger Woods Impressive in Return to Golf. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 1, 2017 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A career criminal, a repeat offender deported five times in the country illegally. He has been found not guilty in the killing of a California woman. It's the criminal case that propelled Donald Trump's political rise. He is steaming and critics of a sanctuary cities demanding justice.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: While senators and the Senate will continue to debate the bill tonight, but the next roll call vote will be at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Republicans are poised to advance the tax plan, but, first, the party has to satisfy some concerns of the key senator and one the president has squared off with before.


[05:00:05] JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST OF JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: So if you are challenging me to a fight, here's what we'll do. Let's find a place to do it. I'll wear a Girl Scout uniform so you're going to have something to get excited about.


ROMANS: You think Roy Moore has bigger things than to fight with Jimmy Kimmel. But that's what Moore did and there you can see. Kimmel is fighting back.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. We'll also have the latest on Rexit. Is Rex Tillerson on his way out as secretary of state?

It's Friday, December 1st, if you can believe it or not, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

We start, though, with the stunning verdict in the California murder case against the seven times convicted, five times deported undocumented immigrant. He was charged in the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle, the case Donald Trump used to propel his political rise.

A San Francisco jury finding Jose Garcia Zarate not guilty of murder.

ROMANS: Prosecutors had argued he shot Steinle intentionally as she walked on the city's waterfront with her father. But Garcia Zarate's lawyer said the gun went off accidentally and the bullet ricocheted off the ground before hitting Steinle.

BRIGGS: San Francisco had released him from custody before the shooting, instead of handing him over to federal immigration agents. Candidate Donald Trump decried San Francisco and other sanctuary cities, which limit cooperation with immigration authorities. Critics of sanctuary laws say Steinle would be alive if not for extra protection for undocumented immigrants.

BRIGGS: Sanctuary city proponents argue that immigrants are more likely to cooperate with local authorities if they don't fear it will lead to deportation. Garcia Zarate's public defender gave this warning to critics of the verdict, including in Washington.


MATT GONZALEZ, ATTORNEY FOR JOSE GARCIA ZARATE: There are a number of people that have commented on this case in the last couple of years, the attorney general of the United States, the president and vice president of the United States. Let me just remind them that they are themselves under investigation by special prosecutor in Washington, D.C., and they may, themselves, soon avail themselves of the presumption of innocence and beyond a reasonable doubt standard. And so, I would ask them to reflect on that before they comment or disparage the result in this case.


BRIGGS: President Trump took three hours to reflect, then tweeted this -- rather restrained -- a disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case. No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration.

CNN's Dan Simon covered the trial, and he has more now from San Francisco.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, this is really the case that made the term sanctuary city part of the American vocabulary. Before this happened, nobody had really ever heard the term and they had no idea what a sanctuary city was.

That all changed on July 1st, 2015. That's when 32-year-old Kate Steinle was taking a stroll off Pier 14 with her father. Pier 14 is being a popular tourist spot in San Francisco.

She's enjoying the views in San Francisco. And then in all of a sudden, a shot rings out.

About an hour after, police had their suspect in custody: 45-year-old Jose Ines Garcia Zarate. He's an undocumented immigrant. He had been deported to Mexico five times and he would have been a sixth time but San Francisco, a sanctuary city, does not comply with the federal immigration detention rules and therefore let him go.

The defense said this was nothing but an accident. They said that the gun was found under Garcia Zarate's seat, that it was wrapped in some cloth and when he examined this object, the gun just went off. They also said that this gun, a 40-caliber pistol, a Sig Sauer, has a history of accidental discharges and the jury found enough here to declare reasonable doubt.

He was found guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He'll be deported back to Mexico. And keep in mind, he has already come into the country several times. So, some might make the argument that he might attempt to come back to the United States once again -- Christine and Dave.


BRIGGS: Dan Simon, thanks.

Swift reaction to the jury's verdict with conservatives blaming San Francisco's sanctuary city status for the outcome.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions releasing this statement: I urge the leaders of the nation's communities to reflect on the outcome of this case and consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement officers.

ROMANS: Prosecutors calling the verdict disappointing. The Steinle family, as you might imagine, expressing disgust. This statement from Kate Steinle's brother, Brad: The system failed Kate from the state. Why would the verdict be any different? It is failure after failure. The culmination of events is an epic fail.

Kate's father Jim said he was saddened and shocked, adding: justice was rendered but it was not served.

BRIGGS: Your heart breaks for the Steinle family. No doubt.

Senate Republicans trying to pass a tax bill can see the finish line but they can also the huge high hurdles remaining before a hoped-for final vote later today.

[05:05:04] Their top concern is the deficit. There was bad news for the GOP on that front. A new report from the nonpartisan congressional scorekeeper for taxes, the Senate bill estimated to cost more than twice as much as it generates in revenue.

ROMANS: That was a problem for one of the president's loudest Republican critics in the Senate, Bob Corker. He has promised not to let the tax bill drive up the deficit so he's fighting for some big changes. Corker's stance leading to a testy huddle on the Senate floor.

Now, some Republican lawmakers are furious at his tactics. One aide telling CNN he didn't need to be done publicly. BRIGGS: All right. Joining us now, political economist Greg

Valliere. He's the chief strategist at Horizon Investments.

ROMANS: Hi, Greg.

BRIGGS: Good to see you, Greg.


BRIGGS: Deficit hawks are an endangered species suddenly in the Republican Party, unless they're retiring from the Senate.

This concern over the deficit, though, is it a speed bump or is it more of a road block?

VALLIERE: Well, I think it's a speed bump. I would make the analogy earlier in the week, guys, it looked like a runaway locomotive.


VALLIERE: Now, it's looking more like a commuter train. You know, they'll stop and start. There might be some delays. But I still think that train is headed toward the advertised destination, which is getting a bill. It just might take a little longer.

But more importantly, I think the final bill will have to be watered down. I think some of the corporate tax cuts will be reduced. And that raises the threat that Donald Trump might not like this bill.

ROMANS: Well, what also raises the threat that Donald Trump might not like this bill is that if the tax bill doesn't help the people that voted for Trump. What you're seeing right now is this tax bill which to me look us like corporate tax relief, does this corporate tax relief help the people who voted for Trump?

VALLIERE: No. But don't confuse me with the facts, right? I think a lot of Trump supporters adamantly say it's fake news. This is a great thing. We want to the tax cut. They refuse to acknowledge all these studies that show they won't be helped.

So it's a pretty tough sell. I think Trump supporters will hang in there and, of course, people who want corporate tax cuts are going to see a tremendous victory.


BRIGGS: Not one to swallow that type of news, John McCain is on board with this tax plan, as is Susan Collins. What do you think brought them on board?

VALLIERE: Well, I think all along, they -- and you could throw Rand Paul into that group, too. I think everybody in this town feels we should have tax reform, especially on the way we tax our companies internationally.

The issue of tax cuts, though, you could say with unemployment with 4.1 and economy growing at 2.5 to 3 percent, do we really need to have a trillion dollar loss with a tax cut when maybe that medicine would be better off delayed until we really, really need it.

ROMANS: Well, it's interesting too. I mean, the president keeps talking about, as he's selling this, the $4 trillion at least that's sitting overseas, corporations having bank accounts overseas that's going to come back. And he says it's going to create jobs and it's going to raise wages.

When we talk to company executives and when you listen to them on their conference calls for their earnings, they say they're going to give the money to shareholders and they're going to do buybacks. In fact, some companies with money overseas, they've issued debt against that, already spent that money already. They haven't been just sitting there, you know, untouched. They've been using it.

VALLIERE: Well, also, Christine, you could say that companies are sitting on a big pile of cash now and they're not spending it. What makes anyone think when they get more cash, they're going to wind up spending it on new hiring and plant and equipment, things like that. It remains to be seen how constructively this money will be used. But it's a great story for the drug and tech companies, no question.

BRIGGS: Nonetheless, handicap it for us. Do you think this thing, 80 percent, 90 percent gets through?

VALLIERE: Yes, I'd say 80 percent, Dave. I think that's still likely. We could have a rocky weekend. We still got to probably go through a House Senate Conference Committee.


VALLIERE: But all of the momentum is clearly in favor of getting it done.

ROMANS: If you had to wager on the state and local tax deductions, what happens there?

VALLIERE: It will get a haircut but it won't be totally eliminated. The House and Senate conference committee is going to split the difference on everything. But again, the final version of this bill may not please Donald Trump because it won't give businesses much as he would like.

ROMANS: All right. Defeat is not an option.

BRIGGS: Got to find some revenue. Yes.

ROMANS: We keep hearing, defeat is not an option, they keep saying. So, they're going to do something.

All right. Greg, come back in half an hour talk more about the state of play. Thank you.


ROMANS: All right. Palace intrigue on the menu for President Trump's lunch with Rex Tillerson today.

Reports, leaks, balloons of a tentative White House plan to replace the sex of state, swirling around Washington. Now CNN learning that to replace the secretary of state swirling around Washington. Now, CNN learning the plan was leaked in an effort to express President Trump's displeasure with Tillerson and to publicly shame him. The administration seriously considering replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a source familiar with the situation says, quote, the clock is ticking.

[05:10:06] BRIGGS: Our friend Josh Rogin is reporting in "The Washington Post" that Pompeo has been informally preparing for this for sometime, reaching out to potential job candidates and looking into how the State Department can be reorganized.

But the president's chief of staff, John Kelly, who some feels behind this entire plan, tells State Department staffers the reports about Tillerson being replaced are not true.

Publicly, the White House insists everything is status quo.





BRIGGS: How's that for an endorsement?

ROMANS: Rex is here.

Tentative plans to replace Pompeo at the CIA with Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas could pose a problem for the president. It would put another Senate seat in 2018, at a time when Republicans have a razor-thin majority. If Cotton gets the job, Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson would select a replacement and under state law someone else would most likely have to run in the fall.

BRIGGS: "The New York Times" reporting this morning, President Trump pressed top Republicans over the summer to end the Russia investigation. A highly unusual intervention said to include the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is overseeing one investigation.

According to a half a dozen lawmakers and aides, the president told Intel Chairman Richard Burr he was eager toe see an end to the probe that has overshadowed much of his first year in office. Burr tells "The Times" he informed the president when the committee has spoken to everyone it needs to, they'll finish.

ROMANS: The chairman insists he did not feel pressured by Mr. Trump. The report also says the president urge the Senators Mitch McConnell and Roy Blunt who's on the Intel Committee, to end the Russian investigation swiftly. A White House spokesman telling CNN at no point has the president attempted to apply undue influence on committee members.

All right. Eleven minutes past the hour.

One the more bizarre Twitter fights I've ever seen. Roy Moore challenging jimmy Kimmel to face him man to man.


KIMMEL: If it's me -- maybe if you went man to man instead of man to little girl, you wouldn't be in this situation. Allegedly.


ROMANS: What led up to that and how it's playing in Alabama, next.


[05:16:23] ROMANS: Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers being treated for stress this morning still hospitalized as calls for his resignation mount. House leaders from both parties, Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, calling on Conyers to step down over multiple allegations now of sexual misconduct.

One of his accusers spoke out yesterday.


MARION BROWN, ACCUSED REP. CONYERS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT: Nothing that he did -- it was sexual harassment violating, violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business, and then propositioning me to, you know, for sex. And he's just violated my body.


ROMANS: Responding to Leader Pelosi's call to step down, Conyers' attorney says she, quote, sure has hell won't be the one telling the congressman to leave.

BRIGGS: The Senate Ethics Committee opening up a preliminary investigation into the allegations against Democratic Senator Al Franken. Among the numerous sexual misconduct claims faced by the Minnesota Democrat, a new incident shared by a woman who came forward Thursday. That's 41-one-year-old army vet Stephanie Kemplin, telling CNN Franken cupped her breasts during a photo op in Kuwait.

ROMANS: Several other women have alleged Franken groped them. Franken spokesperson responded to the Kemplin accusation, reiterating the point that the senator takes thousands of photos and has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct.

With a big election less than two weeks away now, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore taking time out for a Twitter war with Jimmy Kimmel. The spat started when Kimmel sent one of his writers to an Alabama church where Moore was speaking on Wednesday night.

Moore issuing this challenge to Kimmel on Twitter: If you want to mock our Christian values, come down here to Alabama and do it man to man.

BRIGGS: Kimmel firing back. Quote: Sounds great, Roy. Let me know when you get Christian values and I'll be there.

And later adding: OK, Roy, but I'm leaving my daughters at home. P.S. Wear that cute little leather vest.

Kimmel elaborating on his late night talk show.


KIMMEL: I think you're actually going to like this, Roy.

I'm going to come down to Gadsden, Alabama, with a team of high school cheerleaders. OK? We'll meet you at the mall. Don't worry --

Maybe when you say come down to Alabama and we'll do it man to man, maybe that means you're challenging me to a fight which is kind of what it sounds like. And if you are, I accept, by the way. I accept that invitation.

Whoever wins the fight will give all the money we charge for the tickets to charity. My charity will be the women who came forward to say you molested them, OK?


BRIGGS: Kimmel has become an increasingly political voice this year, as you know. But one week from today, the president will sort of campaign for Roy Moore. He'll be in Pensacola, Florida, which is in the Mobile, Alabama television market. So that's his way of really campaigning, supporting Roy Moore without standing on the stage with him or being in Alabama. I think 15 percent to 20 percent of the Alabama population can see that.

ROMANS: Interesting.


ROMANS: All right. Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons apologizing. He's stepping down from his companies in the wake of another accusation of harassment, and sexual assault. Screenwriter Jenny Lumet detailing in a "Hollywood Reporter" column a 1991 encounter where she says Simmons forced her to have sex with him and it's a really compelling read. It just shows how this experience has tainted her life since then.

BRIGGS: Just brutal.

[05:20:01] Also, Thursday, HBO announced it's dropping Simmons from an upcoming stand-up series he produced with a network, which is a sister company of CNN. Simmons has denied all allegations.

He's back. Tiger Woods, sure looked like the old Tiger in his return to competitive golf. Andy Scholes has the first pump.

ROMANS: There it is. Here it comes. Whoa!

BRIGGS: In this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.


BRIGGS: After ten long months away from the game, Tiger Woods back and showing some flashes of his old self.

ROMANS: Yes. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

[05:25:00] Hey, Andy.


You know, it was just one round, but, man, it's hard not to get excited watching Tiger out there playing well, because, you know, it hasn't happened much over the past three years. Tiger competing at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. And on his fourth hole he sinks this one from 15 feet out from the birdie and gives the vintage Tiger fist pump.

Tiger shooting a three under 69 for the day and is three shots off the lead heading into today's second round. Tiger said after that round, he was very thankful to be back out there.

All right. Dallas Cowboys looking to right the ship against the Redskins on Thursday night football. Quarterback Dak Prescott getting hit on the hand causing nervous moments for Cowboys fans but ended up being OK, and the hook up with Dez Bryant in the fourth quarter for this touchdown right here. Great catch by Dez, and that was his 72nd touchdown catch, breaking the all-time Cowboy's record. Dallas ruled in this one, 38-14, snapped their three-game losing streak.

LeBron and the Cavs meanwhile keeping their streak alive. Cleveland winning its 10-straight last night, beating the Hawks 121-114. Earlier this week, the Akron school board approved LeBron's plan to open a school in his home town.

I caught up with LeBron before yesterday's game and he said opening this school is his greatest accomplishment.


LEBRON JAMES, CAVALIERS FORWARD: Championship, MVP, I may have points, rebound and assist, that stuff is whatever. But, you know, for me to be able to open up a school and give back to my inner city for so many kids, I know because I was those kids. It's crazy, to be honest. I got a school that's opening up, a real school like -- that's going to look after these kids every single day like a real school. I might be an assistant principal one day, you know? So, you know, make sure my kids are doing what they're supposed to be doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: Assistant principal LeBron, guys. That would be a pretty cool thing. And, you know, he was so genuine when I was talking to him about how rewarding it is for him to be able to open up a school in his hometown because he said he was those kids one day and to give them hope they can get out of their situations that they're in is just so rewarding for him.

BRIGGS: That's fantastic. It's called the I Promise School? Is that right?

SCHOLES: That is right.

BRIGGS: What a great legacy? The king is --

ROMANS: Awesome.

BRIGGS: It's incredible.

Thank you, my friend.

SCHOLES: Have a good one, guys.

ROMANS: What a cool principal he would be, right?

BRIGGS: Yes, he would.

BRIGGS: Seven convictions, five deportations, a long criminal history, and a not guilty verdict in the case that helped launch Donald Trump's political career. President is angry, sanctuary cities are back under the microscope.

ROMANS: And it could be an historic day in the Senate, a rewrite of the tax code expected to come up for vote, but could Senator Bob Corker take it down over the deficit? That's next on EARLY START.