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Bannon Headlines Roy Moore Rally; U.S. to Recognize Jerusalem as Capital of Israel; California Wildfires Trigger State of Emergency; IOC Bans Russia from 2018 Winter Olympics. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 6, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:29:26] ] STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Let the folks in Alabama decide for Alabama.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon on the attack in Alabama as President Trump doubles down on his endorsement of Roy Moore.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the president hours away now from making a significant announcement naming Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite warnings of potential violence.

BRIGGS: State of emergency in California as authorities say the fires are out of control. Fifty thousand acres of Ventura County, hooped the 101 Freeway.

[04:30:01] A terrifying scene there on the West Coast. We get to that story shortly.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, everyone, this morning. I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore starts the home stretch of his campaign today. The final six days and he begins with a boost now from Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist headlining a campaign event just a day after the president himself endorsed Moore. Moore has been accused of sexual assault and improper behavior involving teenage girls.

BRIGGS: At last night's event, Bannon slammed several establishment Republicans including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and, of course, Senator Jeff Flake who earlier tweeted out this photo of a $100 check, his donation to Moore's Democratic opponent Doug Jones, "country over party" on the lower left there.

The White House meantime standing by the president's endorsement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We've said that the allegations are concerning. And if true, he should step aside, but we don't have a way to validate that and that's something for the people of Alabama to decide which we've also said and we maintain that. And ultimately, it will come down to the people of Alabama to make that decision.


BRIGGS: CNN's Gary Tuchman covered the rally and has more from Fair Hope, Alabama.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, "Sweet Home Alabama", the song, is now playing as this rally has come to an end, this Roy Moore rally that was held in a barn here in southern Alabama. It's a barn that's used as an event space and it was quite an event, a lot of attacks.

It was a Roy Moore rally but the reason so many people showed up was to hear Steve Bannon introduce him. And Steve Bannon went into attack mode. He attacked Democrats. He attacked members of the news media.

But then he really went off on people he called establishment Republicans, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, Arizona U.S. Senator Jeff Flake. But he really reserved his ire for Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate.

Mitt Romney had tweeted the other day: Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate would be a stain on the GOP and the nation. And listen to what Bannon said.

BANNON: You ran for commander-in-chief. You had five sons, not one day of service in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have 7,000 dead and 52,000 casualties. And where were the Romneys during these wars? Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in a pinky finger than your entire family has in his whole DNA.

TUCHMAN: We should tell you, many people in the state, particularly Roy Moore supporters, have said this election should be left up to Alabamians. And that's true. It's only Alabamians who will be waiting. But it was Steve Bannon, a non-Alabamian, who really got the headlines here today.

And he also got a tweet from Doug Jones, the Democrat who's running against Roy Moore. Doug Jones said after this event was over: we don't need an outside agitator like Steve Bannon carpet bagging in Alabama -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right. It just gets more interesting. Six days outs.

In a matter of hours, President Trump will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and he will order the State Department to start the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv. The decision stirring up controversy in the Middle East. The U.S. would become the only nation in the world with its embassy there, you know, breaking from the international community. U.S. allies in the region warning the move will undermine stability and sabotage the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

BRIGGS: Calls for protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank prompting this word of caution from the American consulate in Jerusalem. Quote, United States citizens should avoid areas where crowds have gathered.

President Trump plans to sign a waiver delaying the embassy move for another six months. This entire process expected to take several years to complete.

Let's go live to CNN's Ian Lee live in Jerusalem.

Ian, good morning to you.

A statement from the Turkish government this morning says this move would plunge the region and the world into a fire with no end in sight. Why is it so controversial?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, we're really moving into uncharted waters here, because the status of Jerusalem was supposed to be determined through a negotiated peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians. And when you look at Jerusalem as a city, it has so much significance for the -- for the Jewish people, it is home to the holiest of sites.

For Muslims, it is home to the third holiest site, and that's why you're seeing a lot of Muslim leaders around the world speaking out against this, like President Erdogan, and you've had other regional leaders warn president Trump not to go forward because of how unpredictable it could be for their countries moving forward. There could be a lot of instability, protests in other countries.

U.S. diplomatic missions have increased security in other countries because of the potential backlash.

[04:35:01] Now, right now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking at a forum. We've heard Israeli officials praising this decision, saying it's a long time coming. But on the other side, you have essentially the international community who's warning the president, don't make this decision because of the potential consequences and that decision is expected to be made later today, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. We expect to hear from the president today.

Ian Lee live for us in Jerusalem, thank you, sir.

ROMANS: All right. Significant new developments in the Russia investigation. In just hours, Donald Trump Jr. faces the House Intelligence Committee for a closed door interview. He's sure to be questioned about his contacts with Russians during the campaign season. BRIGGS: Meantime, more charges expected to be filed against former

Trump campaign aide Rick Gates. Gates' attorney confirming federal prosecutors have warned him superseding indictments may be imminent. The special prosecutor has already charged Gates and former campaign manager Paul Manafort with 12 offenses related to money laundering and foreign lobbying violations.

Manafort's bail now in jeopardy after it was revealed he was ghost- writing an op-ed about Ukraine last month with a Russian who has ties to the Kremlin's intelligence service. Manafort's lawyers expected to respond to the op-ed allegation tomorrow.

ROMANS: Advisors to Mike Pence, the vice president, increasingly anxious about his exposure in this widening Russia investigation. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut wants Pence to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Blumenthal wants to hear what Pence knew at the time about then-campaign adviser Michael Flynn's conversation with Russian officials.

BRIGGS: Seven people close to the vice president tell CNN Pence was unaware Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador about sanctions despite the fact he was the head of the transition team.

But unsealed court findings or court findings and new details about President Trump's own knowledge, Flynn lied to the FBI, all indicate that a wide circle of advisors were aware Flynn raised the sanctions issue with the ambassador.

Now, sources say many in Pence's circle are worried he'll eventually be called for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. Pence's team pushing back on that idea, a spokesman saying nothing could be further from the truth. The vice president is focused on pushing the largest tax cut in American history.

In just two days, the U.S. government faces a potential shutdown. Now, Republicans racing to find a path forward. GOP leaders negotiating with the conservative House Freedom Caucus trying to convince them to pass a two-week bill which would fund the government through December 22nd. It would also force them to later accept another short term bill.

ROMANS: That includes immigration policy and Obamacare stabilization process. But several senators balking at the idea of a December 30 spending bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he refers a December 22nd deal, while top Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi say they have rescheduled their meeting with President Trump to discuss spending negotiations tomorrow. They will meet tomorrow.

American CEOs are feeling about those corporate tax cuts. But that doesn't mean a hiring boom. That's been a core promise of the tax bill. Corporate tax cuts would translate into higher pay and more jobs. However, fewer than half of American CEOs plan to ramp up hiring in the next six months. That's according to a survey from the Business Roundtable, a powerful lobbying group composed of CEOs from top companies. As for worker pay, JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon, the chair of that group, says overhauling the tax system will make the U.S. more competitive and that should help workers eventually and then Dimon cautioned it may take some time for wages to actually rise.

CEO optimism may not be better jobs for Main Street, but it will be great news for Wall Street. Investors are betting companies will use their spare cash to ramp up buybacks and bolster dividends.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, firefighters in southern California battling four raging infernos. Thousands of acres already destroyed and 27,000 residents forced to flee. We'll have the latest, next.


[04:43:35] BRIGGS: Four raging wildfires triggering a state of emergency. In Ventura County, over 50,000 acres burned with over 150 structures destroyed, 27,000 residents forced to evacuate homes. Three other fires igniting on Tuesday, one in Los Angeles county torching over 11,000 acres in just hours. Another in San Bernardino County injuring three people. And near Santa Clarita, 5,000 acres destroyed.

The fires even shutting down two television productions, "West World" and "SWAT".

We get more now from CNN's Sara Sidner in Ventura County.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, NASA has put out an incredible picture that if you zoom, you can see at least four different fires burning. And the biggest one is here in Ventura County.

This is the remnants of one of the homes that has been destroyed by the fire and if you look over to my left, you will see that that entire hill had fire coming across it. All it takes are strong winds to blow the embers from that on to a structure like a home and the home goes up very quickly. We've watched it happen time and again.

There are at least 150 homes that have been destroyed in this fire alone, and we're talking about three other major fires that are also burning. But this one so far, we're talking about tens of thousands of acres that have already been burned.

[04:45:01] And it has been very hard throughout the day for firefighters to get it contained because of the winds that have been blowing through very strong winds that at some point some of the winds were upwards of 70 miles per hour.

Imagine that and the fact that it is so dry here and very, very difficult for them to get these flames under control. So far, there are no fatalities and that is the good news, but for the families who have not yet seen their homes, who have not been able to get back into the neighborhoods, this is devastating -- Christine, Dave. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: It certainly is and it's still happening. You know, I mean, it is still accelerating here because you've got these warm dry Santa Ana winds, making it much harder to fight the California wildfires.

The East Coast meanwhile is bracing for plunging temperatures. Let's get a wrap here from meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Dave and Christine, this pattern that we're seeing shape up here, the most impressive we've seen in some time, easily the most impressive Santa Ana event of the year. But notice this high pressure, another one beginning to build off the northwest. This is forcing the steering currents in the atmosphere to essentially take every single storm up and over anywhere near the Western United States and this could persist for the next 10 or more days and across southern California, the fire level now a scale of one to three, a two or a critical, expected to go into extreme category which would be the three come Thursday morning across this region.

The amount of land consumed roughly the size of the city of Seattle. Of course, all of this happening in just about a day's worth of work and we know about 20 million people dealing with the high wind threat that could exceed up to 60 miles per hour. So, definitely the weather situation not going to be helping out across that region.

How about these temps? Look at this. The southern U.S. into the 40s, Houston among the coldest temps they've seen in quite some time. It was 47 degrees. It was 76 yesterday down across parts of Texas.

In Montgomery and places like Atlanta, a 30 degree drop in temperatures in the past 24 hours and guess what? It gets colder still going into the next couple of days here. The coldest air potentially coming in on Saturday and Sunday for highs in the Northeast into the 30s -- guys.


BRIGGS: Pedram, thanks.

Meanwhile it is a case that could have huge implications for President Trump. A New York judge considering whether to allow a lawsuit against him to proceed. Former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos is suing the president for defamation after he denied allegations that he sexually assaulted her repeatedly calling her and other accusers liars, seeking fame in the final days of the campaign. Zervos said the president kissed her without her consent, touched her breast and pressed his genitals against her in encounters in New York and California in 2007.

CNN's Athena Jones with more.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

Attorneys for Zervos argue that then-candidate Trump's statements denying her allegations and repeatedly accusing her of lying and of seeking fame by making the allegations against him constitute defamation. They point to a series of statements he made on the campaign trail and on Twitter, including a retweet tat contained a photograph of Zervos and say those statements caused Zervos emotional and financial harm.

They want a retraction of, quote, any and all defamatory statements and/or an apology from the president and they want damages to be paid determined by the court.

Now, attorneys for the president say this case is politically motivated and that Trump's statements about the allegations against him were protected speech under the First Amendment because they expressed, quote, political opinion. They also argued Zervos can't sue the president in state court under the supremacy clause of the constitution and they say if the judge allows the case to go forward it should only begin after the Trump presidency. Something Zervos' attorneys say would be hurtful to their client.

I spoke briefly with one of her attorneys Gloria Allred after the hearing. Watch.

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Summer is certainly a role model of courage to have filed a lawsuit which is now proceeding against the sitting president of the United States. And we think that truth matters.

JONES: Now, we'll be watching closely for the judge's ruling in this case. If this case is allowed to go forward, it would have significant ramifications for the president. You would have a sitting president forced to answer these charges in an ongoing court case and he could potentially be called to testify.

It's also possible that other aspects of the president's sexual history and past conduct would be deemed relevant and so we could hear from some of Trump's other accusers -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Athena Jones, a fascinating case, thank you. We know you'll be watching it for us.

The Justice Department is considering a ban on bump stocks. That's the attachment that makes semiautomatic rifles fire like automatic weapons. They were used by the gunmen in the Las Vegas massacre. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol and Explosives exploring whether the device violates an existing rule prohibiting the position of firearm parts that convert weapons into machine guns. Investigators say 12 bump stocks were found in the hotel room of the Las Vegas shooter.

[04:50:04] All right. The Trump administration scrapping another Obama era rule and this one could force workers to pool tips. Details on CNN "Money Stream", next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: All right. The International Olympic Committee banning Russia from competing at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. The IOC citing what it calls a, quote, systematic manipulation of the anti-doping rules. It will however allow athletes who can prove they are clean to compete under the neutral Olympic flag.

So, how is the punishment playing out in Russia?

CNN's Claire Sebastian joins us live from Moscow.

[04:55:01] It's quite a rebuke.


In the last half hour, we've just got the first official response from the Kremlin. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov saying they are going to look at this. They're going to analyze it and they're going to exclude any emotion, he said.

Now, this is interesting because in the past, throughout this doping scandal the Kremlin has been very quick to come out and dismiss all allegations or rebuke as you say against them and this is a more sober, perhaps less defensive stance. The sense perhaps that these blanket dismissals just haven't worked for them in the past and they're really going to have to start working with the international sporting authorities to work through this.

But having said that, we did get an international flare up of kind of anger and dismay from others in political circles here in Moscow. The foreign ministry saying they are trying to basically discredit all of our ways of life, our way of life, our culture, our history and now our sport. The foreign ministry spokeswoman saying we will survive though. We have another prominent senator coming out this morning, saying this is just a political provocation.

So, really, that's how people have interpreted this in Russia all along. It has very little to do with sport or doping, and this is simply the West trying to contain Russia. The big question, though, Christine, going forward is, will Russia appeal this? Will its athletes go and compete under a neutral flag? And that is something we do not know for certain.

ROMANS: All right. Claire Sebastian for us this morning in Moscow -- thank you for that, Claire.

BRIGGS: Olympics just 64 days away.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court hearing arguments in a First Amendment case involving a Colorado baker who refused to create a custom wedding cake for a same sex couple. The owner of Masterpiece Bakery, Jack Phillips, says gay marriage violates his religious believes. Colorado Civil Rights Commission found in favor of the couple citing the state's anti-discrimination law. On Tuesday, the high court wrestled with whether ordering Phillips to

customize gay wedding cake violates his free speech right to artistic expression. It is the first gay rights case before the courts since the 2015 ruling that cleared the way for same sex marriage.

ROMANS: All right. Colin Kaepernick shed his role last night to bask in a notable honor. Music superstar Beyonce presenting Kaepernick with the 2017 "Sports Illustrated" Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. That honor the given to a sports figure who uses sports as a figure to change the world. Kaepernick has drawn praise and a lot of criticism since he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

In his acceptance speech, he said his platform is the people.


COLIN KAEPERNICK, RECIPIENT OF MUHAMMAD ALI LEGACY AWARD: I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people, because if it were not for my love for the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today.


ROMANS: Kaepernick left the San Francisco 49ers in March, has not been signed by another team since. He says with or without the NFL platform, he will continue to work for social good.

Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning. Global stock markets lower after losses in Wall Street. All three major market averages closed lower. The S&P 500 logging its first three-day losing streaks since August.

You can blame tech stocks, folks. Tech has been the best-performing sector this year. But now, it has fallen about 4 percent over the past week. Investors are instead buying up bank retail and other stocks that should benefit the most from corporate tax cuts.

The Trump administration is scrapping another Obama era rule and it could force workers to share tips. The practice of pooling tips was banned in 2011, but a new rule change will allow employers to ask workers to pool tip their money and then share it with colleagues who don't earn gratuities. The Labor Department says it helps workers who don't directly interact with consumers or customers.

But workers rights groups, excuse me, say it gives too much control over workers' money and could mean lower pay for those that work in restaurants, hotels and bars.

UPS says it is behind schedule after last week's online shopping spree. Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history. Americans spent a record $6.6 billion so UPS warns a small percentage of packages may be a day or two late. The company says it should be back on track by tomorrow.

UPS will deliver 750 million packages this holiday season and promises most will arrive on time.

What are we going to do with all those boxes in my basement? All the shopping online, I have too many boxes.

BRIGGS: Most of us are a day or two behind so we share their pain. My promise is the same thing to my family members. A day or two late may be.

EARLY START continues right now with the latest on the California wildfires and the Senate race in Alabama.



BANNON: Let the folks in Alabama decide for Alabama.


BRIGGS: Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon on the attack in Alabama as President Trump doubles down on his endorsement of Roy Moore.