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Election Day In Alabama; How Trump Benefits From The Tax Bill; Southern California Wildfires; NYC Terror Suspect Talking To Police. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 12, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:28] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It is Election Day in Alabama to decide a critical Senate race. Can Roy Moore overcome accusations of sexual misconduct to keep the seat in Republican hands? CNN has team coverage this morning from Alabama.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And calls growing for Congress to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against the president. The White House points out the claims came before Trump was president. Will that be enough to quiet critics?

It's a huge day for the president and the Republican Party, as well.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. A big Election Day in Alabama.


ROMANS: Thirty-one minutes past the hour.

Let's start with the arrival of that Election Day. Polls open in fewer than four hours.

Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones making their final pitch to voters in one of the tightest and most anticipated Senate races in recent memory.

Moore introduced at his final rally by his wife Kayla, and despite his past controversial statements about blacks, Muslims, gays, and Jews, she tried to make the case that her husband is no bigot.


KAYLA MOORE, WIFE OF ROY MOORE: Fake news would tell you that we don't care for Jews. I tell you all this because I've seen it. Also, I just want to set the record straight while they're here. One of our attorneys is a Jew.


BRIGGS: Today's election has consequences for the GOP, to say the least. If Moore loses, Republicans barely maintain and control the Senate. If he wins, it's certainly a significant feather in the president's cap but the sexual misconduct allegations against Moore could burden the party down the road.

Our coverage begins with CNN's Kaitlin Collins in Midland City, Alabama.


KAITLIN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Christine and Dave.

After being introduced by his wife Kayla, Roy Moore took the stage and attempted to downplay those multiple sexual assault allegations made against him.

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: If you don't believe in my character, don't vote for me. We're up to the neck in people that don't want change in Washington, D.C. They want to keep it the same, keep their power, keep their prestige, and keep their position, and we've got to change that.

COLLINS: We saw some of Roy Moore's biggest surrogates return in an attempt to rally support for the embattled candidate just hours before the voters head to the polls here in Alabama.

We heard from Sheriff David Clarke, Congressman Louie Gohmert, and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon who, at one point, seemed to take a shot at President Trump's daughter, Ivanka.

Ivanka, as you know, after those numerous sexual assault allegations were first made against Roy Moore said there was a special place in hell for people who prey on children. Now, Steve Bannon seemed to respond to that comment when he told the Roy Moore supporters this.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: As soon as they get that tax cut you watch what happens. There's a special place in hell for Republicans who should know better.

COLLINS: The senior Republican senator from Alabama, Sen. Richard Shelby, said he simply could not bring himself to vote for Roy Moore in light of these allegations. But with the support of President Trump, the Moore campaign seems to be feeling more confident than ever -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Kaitlin in her home state of Alabama.

Moore's Democratic opponent Doug Jones making his final pitch to voters at a campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, and he had some star support from Alabama native and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. Barkley is a longtime Republican who in recent years has moved away from his party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: At some point, we've got to stop looking like idiots to the nation. At some point -- I mean, listen, I love Alabama but at some point, we've got to draw a line in the sand so we just -- we're not a bunch of damn idiots. And people are looking at us like they're actually thinking about voting for this guy.


BRIGGS: Jones also getting support from former President Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden in the final days of the campaign, both recording robocalls for the Democratic Senate candidate.

We get more from CNN's Alex Marquardt in Alabama.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

Well, in his final campaign rally before this special election on Tuesday, Doug Jones implored his supporters to get out and vote. The reason so many Democrats here in Alabama and across the country are so excited about this race is that it is their best chance to send a Democrat to the Senate in a quarter century.

[05:35:09] Doug Jones said in his speech to supporters that this is the most significant election our state has seen in a long time, and he framed it as being on the right side of history -- that Alabama should be on the right side of history -- and that's a reference to this moment that we are living through in our country. That this is part of the "me too" movement which Roy Moore has featured in so prominently.

Now, Jones also took to task the Moore supporters including the president, though he was not mentioned by name, who have essentially said that they would rather see an accused child molester go to the Senate than a Democrat.

DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: We have heard so many people that have decided well, you know what, I'm not going to worry about the fact that Roy Moore's been kicked out of office twice. I'm not going to worry about the fact that he -- that he took money from a charity. And you know what, I believe those women in Etowah County but you know what, my party is more important.

I'm going to tell you, folks, it is time, and I think we're going to see it tomorrow, that the majority of the people of Alabama say that it is time that we put our decency, our state before a political party.

MARQUARDT: Now, both the Moore and Jones campaigns have said that they are feeling confident ahead of this election. The Jones campaign, particularly in the wake of this barnstorming across the state, knocking on doors and rallying people and getting people fired up, do think that people will turn out to vote for them. I was speaking with a senior campaign official. He says that their internal polling is showing that they are slightly ahead of the Roy Moore campaign but they are taking nothing for granted -- again, imploring their supporters to get out and vote -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: All right, Alex Marquardt. Thank you for that.

Let's bring in Hugo Gurdon, editorial director of the "Washington Examiner." Nice to see you again in person this morning.

This is Roy Moore -- what a -- what a race. This is a race that just, you know, has been so fascinating from the very beginning with so many turns.


ROMANS: Let's listen -- let's listen to, I guess, some of the controversial history of Roy Moore before these accusations from these women.


MOORE: I think it was great a time when families were united. Even though we had slavery, they cared for one another.

We have kids driving by shooting each other -- that they don't even know each other. They're acting like animals because we've taught them they come from animals.

BILL PRESS, TALK RADIO HOST, LIBERAL POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, AUTHOR: Do you think that homosexual -- homosexuality or homosexual conduct should be illegal today? That's a yes or no question.

MOORE: Homosexual conduct --

PRESS: Should be?

MOORE: -- should be illegal.

PRESS: It should be illegal?



ROMANS: We could go on and on but this is somebody who has had extreme views within -- outside the Republican Party for some time. He could be the next senator from Alabama.

HUGO GURDON, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: He could be the next senator from Alabama and that's why a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill said that he should have dropped out ages ago. But the president is all in, supporting him. He wants to make sure that the Republicans still have 52 votes up there. Those sort of incendiary comments are going to come back again, and again, and again to haunt the Republicans. They're going to have a terribly tough time if Roy Moore pulls this out. It's a very close race but if he's there, it's going to be really damaging for the Republicans.

BRIGGS: No doubt, every Republican up for election in 2018 would have to weigh in on Roy Moore --

GURDON: Right.

BRIGGS: -- his past, his controversial statements, and these child molestation allegations.

You mention the president being all in, though. The robocall, campaigning, tweeting for Roy Moore.

What does today mean for him and his influence?

GURDON: Well, if he loses -- if Roy Moore loses this election with the president all in, it's going to show that President Trump, despite his own popularity amongst these voters, doesn't have anything like the pull that he hoped he did. He didn't back Roy Moore in the primary, he backed the incumbent. He's now gone all in for Roy Moore.

If he loses and the Republicans lose Alabama for the first time in 20 years, this is going to give huge encouragement to the Democrats going into the midterms of 2018, and huge encouragement for Democrats to challenge President Trump in 2020.

BRIGGS: Yes. A win would bolster his base and his influence perhaps, but what about this Steve Bannon war on incumbent Senate Republicans? If he wins --

GURDON: Right.

BRIGGS: -- it could strengthen that war and jeopardize the Senate majority.

GURDON: It actually -- and that's the lead story this morning in the "Washington Examiner." We have -- you know, if Roy Moore wins, that strengthens Bannon and it will encourage him to back candidates perhaps of the Roy Moore sort in other places, and this will be a great worry to Capitol Hill Republicans.

If he loses, it's going to take the steam out of the Bannon campaign to challenge incumbents and he's talked about challenging every incumbent Republican, except for Ted Cruz.

BRIGGS: Right.

[05:40:00] GURDON: If he loses here I think that a lot of the donor money will disappear and it'll be much harder for Bannon to take on the incumbents. And it will be pretty much of a relief to the Republicans up on Capitol Hill. ROMANS: There is a good example in recent history of someone with accusers of sexual misconduct winning their election, and that is the President of the United States. Yesterday, those accusers were calling for a congressional investigation of the president's behavior. They were in New York City.

Let's listen to Rachel Crooks talk about what they would like to see.


RACHEL CROOKS, TRUMP ACCUSER: I want to believe that as Americans we can put aside our political inclinations and admit that some things, in fact, do transcend politics. That we will hold Mr. Trump to the same standard as Harvey Weinstein and the other men who were held accountable for their reprehensible behavior.


ROMANS: As you can imagine -- to the press briefing yesterday, Sarah Sanders, the president's spokeswoman, was asked about this. Here's her response.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations, and this took place long before he was elected to be president. And the people of this country had a decisive election, supported President Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process.


ROMANS: Asked, and answered, and move on. Will we move on?

GURDON: We won't move on. It's true that an election of somebody is a sort of disinfectant. Everybody knew what President Trump was alleged to have done and the treatment -- his treatment of women and yet, he obviously won the election.

But it doesn't mean that those offensives that he committed, or allegedly committed, have gone away. This will continue to be a problem for him.

And the Democrats are not going to let it go away. I mean, they will continue to ask.

It's very interesting that the women who say that they were mistreated by President Trump have now got a sort of second wind in their sails. I mean, they --


GURDON: -- made their -- they brought their allegations forward during the campaign and then they didn't last. They sort of died away. President Trump won the election. But the recent spate of sexual harassment allegations --


GURDON: -- starting with Harvey Weinstein and going on for at least a couple of months have reenergized that.

BRIGGS: And, 56 Democratic lawmakers calling for Congress to investigate these allegations. Two of the most prominent Democratic senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, calling for the president to step down.

Are they getting too far ahead of the story, knowing that's never going to happen? Do they risk harming their credibility in the long run?

GURDON: I don't think they do. You're right that it's never going to happen and they know it's never going to happen. There's a certain amount of political grandstanding to this.

But if you're a presidential candidate or you're contemplating a run, you don't want to be behind on this issue. You know that you're going to be attacking the -- President Trump for allegations of sexual harassment, for a war against women as the Democrats have alleged for the last three election cycles, I think.

So to be seen out in front and leading that charge now, three years before -- you know, we're only 12 months away before people will -- that, you know, as soon as the midterms are over, Kirsten Gillibrand and others will step forward and say I'm, you know, considering a run for the presidency. They want to be looking like leaders from now on.

BRIGGS: Clear to see their message for 2018, even before we get to 2020.

Hugo Gurdon from the "Washington Examiner." Thank you for being here, sir. Come back and see us.

ROMANS: Nice to see you. Come back soon.

GURDON: Thanks very much. Nice to see you.

ROMANS: All right, terror in New York. The city, once again, in a targeted terror attack. We've got more on the attacker's motive and background, next.


[05:48:04] ROMANS: It is go time for taxes, reform that will be felt in every corner of this economy.

The House and the Senate reconciling their two very different bills and whatever the outcome, the president declares it will cost him a fortune. Now, he's keeping his tax returns secret to it's impossible to know how the plan affects him. But key elements of both proposals help the president, help his family, and help his businesses, like tax cuts for pass-throughs. Trump owns hundreds of pass-through businesses. That's when a company's profits pass to the owner and are taxed at the individual rate. For someone like Trump, that means a top rate of 39.6 percent.

The House bill lowers the pass-through rate to 25 percent, while the Senate bill -- the Senate bill reduces taxable income, essentially lowering the tax rate. Either way, that's a nice tax cut for the president.

Now, let's talk about the goodies for the Trump family business in real estate. Both plans lower the tax on income from real estate investment trust, a tool the Trumps and the Kushners use. The Senate version allows bigger deductions on commercial property. The House plan won't cap interest deductions on the industry.

And finally, both plans keep a tax break for golf course owners. That benefits the Trump Organization which, of course, owns multiple courses.

Now, let's talk about the alternative minimum tax. The House bill repealed it, the Senate bill keeps it, but fewer people will have to pay it.

How will that help the president? Well, two pages of his 2005 tax return leaked in March, as you know -- you can see line 45. He paid $31 million because of the AMT. Without it, he would have -- he would have only owed $5 million.

Now, finally, the estate tax. It currently taxes inheritance on estates of $5 million or like, like the president's. The House bill repeals it, the Senate bill doubles that amount, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. So one of the things I don't understand and most Americans don't is this carried interest loophole. He chose to rally against it as a candidate, saying it's because hedge fund managers are getting away with murder.

[05:50:02] How does it impact commercial real estate?

ROMANS: He spent a lot of time on the campaign trail saying that that carried interest loophole was something that just benefitted the very rich and it was silly, it was wrong, and he was going to get rid of it right away. It's not in either of these proposals. It stays and it does affect and can benefit commercial real estate as well.

So that is commercial real estate, hedge funds, private equity. Those are the folks who benefit the most from this lower tax on those earnings.

BRIGGS: So it will not cost the president a fortune. It may make him a fortune. I bet we don't see those taxes.

Christine, thank you.

The suspect behind New York City's second terror attack in seven weeks is pledging his allegiance to ISIS.

Here's what we know about 27-year-old Akayed Ullah. Law enforcement sources say he's a Brooklyn resident from Bangladesh. He came to the U.S. in 2011.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security confirms Ullah benefited from extended family chain migration where immigrants are admitted to the U.S. based on family connections. The White House quick to say President Trump's immigration plan would have kept him out of the country.

The five people injured in yesterday's explosion have all been treated and released.

The suspect still at Bellevue Hospital with serious injuries.

We get more now from CNN's Brynn Gingras.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, we're learning a little bit more about that bomb that was detonated by 27- year-old Akayed Ullah, according to law enforcement sources.

The source tells CNN that that bomb was 12 inches long; it was a pipe. Inside that pipe was a black power, a battery, some wiring, as well as some nuts, and bolts, and screws. And also we're learning that Ullah had at least two devices on him at the time that he was taken down right here at Port Authority.

Now, many sources have said that had this bomb gone off the way he had planned it would have done some major, major damage, especially happening during the morning rush hour on Monday morning here in New York City.

Now, as far as his motivations, much of what we're learning we're getting from Ullah, himself. According to a law enforcement source, he said two things. One, that part of his motivation was the recent Israeli actions happening in Gaza, and the second was that he had pledged his allegiance to ISIS.

Now, authorities are going to take that information and they're going to move forward with the investigation, trying to contact any family members and also look at his social media accounts to sort of further exactly how long he may have been inspired and what -- how much he was planning, and those sort of questions that they're trying to answer.

One other thing we learned is that he constructed this bomb about a week ago. And, again, now it's all about continuing on this investigation -- Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Brynn. Thank you so much for that.

All right. If you feel like you're paying a lot in baggage fees -- BRIGGS: I do.

ROMANS: -- you are. You're doling out record cash. We'll tell you why in "CNN Money Stream," next.


[05:56:21] BRIGGS: The largest of the Southern California wildfires, the Thomas fire, is now the fifth-largest wildfire in state history. Officials say it's only about 20 percent contained after burning more than 230,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The 101 Highway closed on and off for a week now with flames burning all the way to the coast. More than 93,000 people remain evacuated. Some 7,000 firefighters battling the Thomas fire in extremely dry conditions.

We're seeing some dramatic images, including this one, a Christmas tree standing alone in the front yard of an evacuated home in Carpinteria, with flames burning all around it.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets mostly higher today. Energy and tech stocks launched the S&P 500 and the Dow to record highs.

A two-day meeting of the Federal Reserve begins today. The Central Bank is expected to raise interest rates, the third hike of the year.

Comcast is dropping its bid for 21st Century Fox, clearing the path for Disney. Fox is in talks to sell off its entertainment assets, leaving it to focus on news and sports. The sale includes its movie studios and T.V. channels, and its stake in streaming service Hulu.

So far, Disney has been Fox's main suitor with reports that a deal could be announced this week. Disney's initial interest prompted Comcast and other potential buyers to reach out to Fox.

Siri may get a new ear for music. Apple is buying Shazam, the music recognition app that lets users identify songs on a smartphone.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. TechCrunch, though, who first reported the purchase, puts the price tag around $400 million.

Apple told CNN Shazam is a natural fit for its Apple music service. It will help users discover new songs.

Oh, and the baggage fees. If you feel like you're paying more in baggage fees, you are. Fliers paid a record $1.2 billion last quarter. That's up 10 percent from the prior year.

One reason for the spike, the growing popularity of the basic economy fare. The tickets are cheaper -- cheaper than standard economy, but you can only bring a small bag onboard, like a purse. That forces passengers to check bigger bags for a fee, of course. That is the revenue model, folks. It is here to stay. The A la carte --


ROMANS: -- fee revenue model is here.

BRIGGS: And the transparency regarding that --

ROMANS: Is not here.

BRIGGS: -- gone.

ROMANS: That's right. They rolled back some Department of Transportation rules on that --

BRIGGS: Yes, where we can go.

ROMANS: -- last week.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" has you covered on Election Day in Alabama. We'll see you tomorrow.


MOORE: It's difficult to drain the swamp when you're up to your neck in alligators.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: To think you can elect Roy Moore without getting the baggage of Roy Moore is pretty naive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to give Judge Roy Moore a high-tech lynching.

JONES: It's time that we put our decency before political party.

CROOKS: I ask that Congress investigate Mr. Trump's history of sexual misconduct.

BANNON: I thought we litigated that. Didn't the American people already vote on that one?

The White House's preferred excuse is that this has all been asked and answered, but it really hasn't been.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: This was an attempted terrorist attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect had pledged allegiance to ISIS.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK: We're not going to allow them to disrupt us. That's exactly what they want.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, December 12th, 6:00 here in New York.

Here's our "Starting Line."

The bitter Alabama Senate race is now in the hands of voters. Two hours from now polls open in that state. Will they elect accused child molester Roy Moore, who President Trump has endorsed, or his challenger Doug Jones, who hopes to become the first Alabama Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in 25 years?

The final pitch from both campaigns adding to the unpredictability of this race.