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White House Stands Behind Roy Moore; U.S. to Recognize Jerusalem as Capital of Israel; California Wildfires Trigger State of Emergency; Russia Banned from 2018 Winter Olympics Over Doping. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 6, 2017 - 05:00   ET



STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Let the folks in Alabama decide for Alabama.


[05:00:01] 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: President Trump hours away 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.

Good morning and thank you for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Yes, good morning, everybody. I'm Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, December 6th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East. It is in 2:00 a.m. in California.

We'll get to those fires in a moment but let's begin in Alabama where the Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore starts the home stretch of his campaign today. The final six days with a boost 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 improprieties involving teenage girls.

BRIGGS: At last night's event, Bannon slammed several establishment Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Jeff Flake who earlier tweeted out this photo. $100 check, his donation to Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, "country over party" in 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. He 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. Six more days of this. 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 there from Tel Aviv. The controversial decision stirring up tensions in the Middle East

giving America's endorsement to Israeli control in the divided city. The U.S. would become the only nation in the world with its embassy there. U.S. allies in the region warning the move would undermine stability and sabotage the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Even the Pope urging all parties to respect, quote, the status quo.

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 because the entire process is expected to take several years to complete.

Let's go live to CNN's Ian Lee live in Jerusalem. And, Ian, why is this such a controversial move at this time?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, it all boils down to Jerusalem. Jerusalem has such great significance for Israelis, for the Palestinians. For the Jewish people, it is home to their holiest site. For Muslims, it is home to the third holiest site.

And that's why you're seeing a lot of condemnation as well as warnings from not just Arab countries but Muslim countries as well about the potential for this to spark violence in and around the region.

You know, also we're hearing from key allies saying that this would be detrimental to the peace process as well.

[05:05:02] If President Trump, his administration has come out and said this will have no effect on the peace process, but when it comes to the peace process, it takes two to tango, and when one of the partners doesn't want to dance, you don't have a peace process and that's what we've heard from the Palestinians. Several Palestinian leaders have said that if this move goes forward, that the peace process is essentially dead and the United States loses its seat at the table.

What the international community has agreed upon is that the status of Jerusalem would be determined through negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. As far as the Israelis go, they have welcomed this. They said it's been a long time coming that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

BRIGGS: Expect to hear from the president at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Ian Lee, live for us -- thank you, sir.

ROMANS: Let's bring in CNN politics digital director Zach Wolf live in Washington.

Good morning. And, you know, we're expecting that announcement today. The pope, a lot of American allies, players in the Middle East all saying not a good idea. Keep the status quo.

Is this the president, you know, making good on a campaign promise? Other presidents have promised to do this and never followed through.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Yes, and you know, and he certainly doesn't see stirring the pot and that's what it is. Stirring the pot in the Middle East as a barrier to making good on this promise to, you know, conservatives and, you know, religious voters that he made over the course of the campaign.

So, you know, it's -- but I think it's a piece with campaign promises that he made about international deals. He's happy to pull out of those. A lot of presidents would see, you know, seven decades of U.S. policy as something to follow behind and Trump sees it as a challenge almost.

BRIGGS: International community united in speaking out against this move, but H.R. McMaster said otherwise regarding the peace process Sunday on Fox News.


LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I'm not sure what decision he'll make. We've given him options. There are options involving the move of an embassy at some point in the future, which I think could be used to gain momentum toward a peace agreement. And a solution that works both for Israelis and for Palestinians.


BRIGGS: Gain momentum toward the peace process. Is that an opinion shared anywhere?

WOLF: Certainly not in the Arab world and, you know, you mentioned the pope, the number of people counseling against this move I think is much larger than the number of people counseling in favor of it. But you know, the Trump hopes he can get some, you know, sort of take something away and create some sort of movement on the peace process. That seems a little bit like an excuse in search of some -- in search of his ability to fulfill this promise to me.

ROMANS: Let's talk about Alabama. Six days to go until that election and Jeff Flake -- Jeff Flake, a Republican in Arizona on Twitter put up this check. He showed this check there. You can see he gave Doug Jones for U.S. Senate $100, and Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist was a headliner in Alabama last night in support of Roy Moore. And this is what he had to say about Jeff Flake, attacking Jeff Flake.


BANNON: Let's talk about Jeff Flake. Did he sign a check today $100 to Jones? Right? What did he say, put country ahead of party? Come on, brother. If you're going to write a check, write a check, right? Don't give the man $100.


ROMANS: What do you make of this? Yes, what do you make of this? I mean, he got great applause yesterday. He of course is not from Alabama and he was criticizing people from the outside getting in this race.

WOLF: Yes, I mean, you know, the sort of symbolic nature of $100 check from Jeff Flake, you don't hear very often about Republicans, even Republicans on the outs with their president writing checks to Democrats. So, that was kind of the point of what Jeff Flake did, and Bannon sort of undercutting it, saying it's only $100.

The RNC, by the way, if we want to know about the Republican transition back in favor of Roy Moore is going back into Alabama with something like $50,000, so they're spending a lot more money on the Republican side than Jeff Flake is on the Democratic side.

ROMANS: I think $100 is $100.

BRIGGS: Right. I think the vast majority of Americans, $100, political donations, an awful lot of money, Mr. Populist ought to remember that.

But the larger narrative here is the unity that President Trump talked about. Unity like people have never seen before in the Republican Party. He said that sitting beside Jeff Flake who just wrote $100 check to a Democrat in Alabama against the candidate the president is favoring.

[05:10:04] "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board on this Roy Moore says a GOP victory in Alabama may be more costly than a defeat. OK, there might be unity on tax cuts. Is there unity on anything else in the party?

WOLF: No, and you know, this kind of hyperbole is nothing new from President Trump. He would say that sitting next to Jeff Flake is truly incredible given the things that Jeff Flake has said about him, that they would even put Jeff Flake next to him at the White House is something of a troll, I think. I'm assuming that Jeff Flake didn't intentionally go sit next to him but I'm happy to be corrected if that did happen.

But Trump likes to put, you know, either empty seats or political opponents --

BRIGGS: Props.

WOLF: Props, right, next to him so Jeff Flake has answered with a prop of his own, $100 is $100, don't get me wrong. But it's not going to turn the tide.

ROMANS: Quickly, I want to look at this Quinnipiac GOP tax plan poll that shows not a lot of support for the tax plan that's rolling its way very quickly through here. Remind folks that this is going to touch every corner of the American economy. If you are a student, if you are a teacher, if you are a home owner, if you are renter, if you are anybody in America, this is going to affect you.

And it's not very popular here. They've got a hard sell, but they don't have to sell it to the public. They're moving it forward even though the public doesn't like what they're seeing so far.

WOLF: Yes, and they're trying to bring these two bills together. We don't really know what's going to be in this final bill. So, that's going to be the question and they're still going to change a lot of stuff.

ROMANS: They sure will.

BRIGGS: They'll have to run on it in 2018.

ROMANS: Yes. All right. Firefighters in Southern California battling four raging infernos, thousands of acres already destroyed, 27,000 residents forced to plea. We'll have the latest, next.


ROMANS: All right. A state of emergency in California. Four raging wildfires there in Ventura County. Over 50,000 acres have now burned. More than 150 structures destroyed, 27,000 residents forced to evacuate their homes, all these folks are on the move right now.

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. These fires even shutting down two television productions, "West World" and "SWAT". It's just not safe for them to film.

We get more 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.


ROMANS: All right. Sara Sidner, thank you for that. The pictures just really tell that story.

BRIGGS: Our best to the thousands of firefighters fighting that fire out there.

Meanwhile, Russia banned from the Winter Games in South Korea. But some Russian athletes may still get to compete. Coy Wire explains in this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.


[05:22:44] BRIGGS: "Sports Illustrated" honoring quarterback Colin Kaepernick, out of work quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his work on social justice with help from a special guest.

ROMANS: Oh, yes, a very important special guest.

Coy Wire has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

Last night in New York, "Sports Illustrated" Sports Person of the Year show, Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback received a prize named after one of his idols from music superstar Beyonce.


BEYONCE, MUSIC SUPERSTAR: I'm so proud and humbled to present the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award to Colin Kaepernick.


COLIN KAEPERNICK, QUARTERBACK: I accept this award knowing that the legacy of Muhammad Ali is that of a champion of the people, and one who was affectionately known as the people's champ. I accept this award not for myself but on behalf of the people. If it were not for the love of the people I would not have protested, and if it was not from support from the people, I would not be on the stage today.

With or without the NFL's platform, I will continue to work for the people, because my platform is the people.


WIRE: All right. Moving on.

In the most wide-ranging punishment ever given by the International Olympic Committee, Russia has been banned from the Olympics in South Korea. The committee determined that Russian athletes benefited from a systematic manipulation of anti-doping rule. More than 20 Russians have lost medals from the 2014 Winter Games.

The Russians who can prove that they are clean will be allowed to compete in South Korea this time around. They will wear a uniform that says Olympic athlete from Russia and the Olympic anthem will be played at any medal ceremonies for Russian athletes.

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier remains in a Cincinnati hospital recovering from a spinal contusion after this scary hit on Monday night. Doctors say he will go under additional testing returning to Pittsburgh.

Coach Mike Tomlin says he's making progress.


MIKE TOMLIN, STEELERS HEAD COACH: Ryan is a trooper. Had an opportunity to spend some time with him and he's in really good spirits. Tough guy. He's got great support from family and loved ones there.


WIRE: Ryan tweeted from the hospital last night: thank you for the prayers.

[05:25:02] Your support is uplifting to me and my family.

Kids in need of some holiday love were brought to tears yesterday by NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and his Thunder teammates. Steven Adams there wearing the big bear cat. This was in Oklahoma City.

The team made it a very merry early Christmas for the kids. They had the time of their lives going down the aisles at a Target shopping store, getting anything they wanted from the guys and Steven there had to wear that hat because the blue Santa hat wouldn't fit his head. He's about 7 feet tall, 250 pounds, but hey, who says that Santa has to wear red, huh? Looked pretty good.

BRIGGS: Thunder fans need a few wins though, buddy. They are in last place in the division, 11-12, man.

WIRE: Hoping those holiday dreams come true.

ROMANS: All right.

BRIGGS: That's what's on their wish list. Thank you, Coy.

ROMANS: Thank you, Coy. Nice to see you.

President Trump standing by his full support of Roy Moore. Go get 'em, Roy. The president's endorsement causing some headaches for the Republican Party.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me.