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Trump Blasts the FBI & Media in Tweetstorm; GOP Warnings; Frigid Week to New Year's; Russian Opposition Calls for Election Boycott. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 26, 2017 - 04:30   ET


[04:31:49] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's holiday Twitter rage directed at the FBI. He targeted the deputy director has hostility over the special counsel's Russia probe is amplified.


SEN. JEFF FLAKES (R), ARIZONA: By and large, we're appealing to older white men and they're just limited number of them.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Two of the outgoing Republican lawmakers lamenting the direction of the Republican Party. Hear what their warnings are for the president and GOP.

BRIGGS: And Santa's gift for much of the country, you're welcome -- frigid final week of 2017. The coldest air of the season and icy conditions that already sent one plane spinning off the taxiway. Welcome back to EARLY START on boxing day. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning, Alison Kosik. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

And President Trump ready to tackle what remains of 2017 as the Christmas holiday comes to a close, just last evening tweeting this: It's back to work in order to make America great again which is happening faster than anyone anticipated. As the year rapidly comes to a close, the president's latest tweet storms giving us a peek into what we can expect in 2018.

BRIGGS: Goody. Over the holiday weekend, the president railed against the FBI amid growing conservative efforts to discredit the official counsel's Russia probe. He also slammed the media, complaining he's not getting enough credit for his accomplishments and touted recent stock market gains the GOP tax bill, a rallying cry Republicans will certainly need as they head toward midterm elections.

We get more now from CNN's Sara Murray at the president's Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida.


SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave, it was a quiet Christmas Day for President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump. They spent the day ensconced at their Mar-a-Lago resort, but they fit in plenty of activities on Christmas Eve. They made calls to children who are tracking Santa. The president delivered a message to troops deployed abroad via video conference, and then the two went to a Christmas Eve service at the church that they were married at.

But, of course, this would not be the president without a Twitter tirade here and there. And on that, he certainly delivered over the weekend. He took aim at the FBI, he took aim at the media and he aired one of his deepest grief advances of 2017, the notion that he is just not getting enough credit for his accomplishments in his first year in office, particularly when it comes to the economy.

As we head into this week, the White House insists this will be more of a working holiday now that the Christmas festivities are done. But they gave very little indication of how the president will be spending this week. We'll keep you posted.

Back to you, guys.


KOSIK: All right. Sara, thanks very much.

And the president's tweets getting most attention, targeting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Mr. Trump taking aim at McCabe's wife. Jill McCabe accepted campaign cash from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe's political action committee when she ran for Virginia senate. To be clear here, these donations all occurred before McCabe took over as deputy director of the FBI and before he would have had any oversight into the Clinton e-mail investigation.

BRIGGS: Now, the president also noted McCabe's pending retirement which emerged last week. Two sources tell CNN McCabe told senior FBI officials months ago he was planning on retiring in the coming months.

[04:35:06] Several sources familiar with the situation say McCabe is not being forced out. McCabe sat down for two extensive interviews last week with House committees Russian collusion and the Clinton email investigation.

KOSIK: Former President George W. Bush's ethic's chief calling out the president on Twitter for his anti-FBI tweet saying this from Richard Painter, using Twitter on Christmas Eve to intimidate a witness in a criminal investigation is not a very Christian way to celebrate the holiday but it does make Mr. Mueller's job easier and that's a nice thing to do. Merry Christmas.

BRIGGS: Several Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley have called for McCabe's removal. Democrats argued the GOP criticisms of McCabe and the FBI are meant to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller as the Russia investigation intensifies.

KOSIK: Two outgoing Republican lawmakers with the harshest estimate of the president, and the Republican Party. Arizona Senate Jeff Flake and Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent warning of Trump's negative influence on the GOP. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLAKE: Look at some of the audiences cheering for Republicans sometimes. You look out there and you say those are the spasms of a dying party, when you look at the lack of diversity sometimes. Anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy. If we continue to go down that path just to drill down on the base, then I think you'll have a lot of people realize there's no future for them in this party. I know a lot of them.

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Certainly the president has been a factor. You know, I've often said this administration at times has taken the fun out of dysfunction. You know, I expect a certain amount of dysfunction in government and sometimes you can laugh at it, but it's not so funny anymore. Now, this test has changed. The issue is loyalty to the man, to the president. And for some, loyalty is not enough. You have to be angry and aggrieved.


BRIGGS: Flake said if Trump finishes his term and seeks reelection he'll face an independent challenge of possibly a Republican challenge. Flake did not rule out himself running in 2020, though, he added that's not in his plans right now.

KOSIK: Meantime, the biggest newspaper in Utah with a harsh Christmas editorial for seven-term Senator Orrin Hatch. After backing Hatch's last run, "The Salt Lake Tribune" says Hatch should call it a career. The paper cites what it calls his utter lack of integrity. That rises from his unquenchable thirst for power. Hatch did promise that 2012 would be his final campaign, but he started putting together a 2018 run.

BRIGGS: Now, the paper says Hatch is part of the dismantling of two national monuments and his role as Senate finance chairman helping pass GOP tax overhaul are enough. Quote: Over the years, Hatch stared down a generation or two of highly qualified political leaders who were fully qualified to take his place. That's not only not fair to all of those who were passed over, it is basically a theft from the Utah electorate. If it would be good for Utah if Hatch having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career. If he doesn't, the voters should end it for him.

KOSIK: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, touting the rule the U.S. played in negotiating a budget cut for the United Nations. The deal cutting $285 million for the next year. That's out of a budget over $5 billion and another $8 billion spent on peacekeeping. The U.S. mission to the United Nations says the new cuts reduce the U.N.'s bloated management, bolster support for U.S. priorities and instill more discipline and accountability.

BRIGGS: One of the Trump administration's goals has been to reduce the amount of contributions, the U.S. makes to the U.N. According to "PolitiFact", right now, United States provides almost a quarter of the organization's budget. The president recently suggested the U.S. would cut off foreign aid to nations that voted against his move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

KOSIK: All right. Let's switch gears. The president spent part of Christmas taking credit for declaring an end to a supposed war on Christmas. He said this on Twitter. People are proud to be saying merry Christmas again. I am proud to have led the charge against the assault of our cherished and beautiful phrase merry Christmas.

BRIGGS: Also extending Christmas wishes and holiday trolling. President Obama tweeted this family photo. At this point, Mr. Obama's Christmas tweet far more popular than President Trump's. Right now, it has one million likes and 217,000 retweets, while the president's Christmas video has 168,000 likes and 43,000 retweets.

KOSIK: The Secret Service now interviewing a Los Angeles psychologist who says he sent the manure-filled package found at Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's home in Bel-Air. He says the manure filled box was a political protest against the recently passed Republican tax bill. Investigators say it was left in a neighbor's driveway Saturday and prompted a response from the LAPD's bomb squad.

[04:40:04] Mnuchin was not at home in Los Angeles home at the time.

I'm hoping that those bomb squad guys and gals wore gloves on this certain call.


BRIGGS: You're right about that.

All right. Ahead, a Christmas scare for some JetBlue passengers, their flight doing a 180 spin after touching down in Boston. Now, conditions get even more icy and dangerous for the last week of the year. Your forecast is next.


BRIGGS: Quite a scare but no serious harm when a JetBlue flight slid off the taxi way of Boston's Logan Airport. Officials say flight 50 from Savannah, Georgia, skidded on ice after it landed around 7:15 Monday night. The plane spun around and ended up facing the opposite direction.


[04:45:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were straight and, all of a sudden, started fish tailing and, yes, it started getting rough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once I realized we were going off the runway, I was like, uh-oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden, we started sliding and then we started spinning and spinning, and spinning and ended up in a snow bank.


KOSIK: How nauseous just thinking about it.

All right. Firefighters helped passengers off the plane. They were bussed to the terminal. Authorities say, luckily, no one was injured. And this happened after snow forced the airport to close its runways for a short period Monday morning.

BRIGGS: Wintry weather going to leave quite a mark this week. We'll see the coldest air of the season in the plains, and amid those dangerous wind-chills moving east for New Year's Eve. We're talking 8 degrees for the ball drop here in New York.

Here's meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Dave and Alison, watching what's going on right now across the northern tier of the country because minus 20 to minus 45, the name of the game for some 16 million people across this region where wind-chill warnings and wind-chill advisories in place. Canada is an open up its doors and arctic blast here in store. And we get multiple rounds of cold air here and we're not just talking about any sort of cold. We're talking dangerous wind-chills where it is almost 40 below zero in places like International Falls this morning. It is considerably warmer but still dangerously cold in Minneapolis at minus 24 this morning.

Look at the afternoon hour temperatures here. We're talking six below in Fargo. In Minot, we have saying, why not in Minot? Minus four for an afternoon high temperature is a good reason not to be outdoors, at least. And you take a look, it remains that cold and again, we get one shot from Friday into Saturday and another one comes in Saturday potentially scooting off towards the east coast by Sunday night into Monday morning.

So, the trend looks like this for New York City dropping down into the lower 20's. Look at the overnight low temps going in from Sunday into Monday, into the single digits. So, certainly watching this carefully for some very cold air moving its way across the region -- guys.


KOSIK: All right, Pedram. Thanks very much.

If you're up early I wonder if you're going to work or returning those gifts. According to Shopper Track, today is expected to be this fourth busiest shopping day of the year for traditional retailers. One reason: returns. According to the National Retail Foundation, about $63 billion worth of holiday merchandise was returned in 2015. They also found that one out of every three gift recipients returned at least one item. So the question is what happens to all those items after you hand them back in?

It's the question that stumped retailers hurting at their margins. Certain items might get rerouted to dollar stores. Others bundled together and sold at auctions. Some retailers may only be getting 15 to 30 cents on a dollar for their return. This comes amid long-term troubles for the retail industry.

So, you look at what Moody's says dozens of retailers including J. Crew, Claire's and Sears all at risk of defaulting or seeking bankruptcy precautions in 2018. So, if you received a gift card in your stocking, you may want to think about spending it quickly. That's because if a company goes bankrupt, you could be left with just a piece of plastic.

BRIGGS: All right. The California highway patrol mourning the loss of a patrol officer who's killed when a suspected drunk driver slammed into his patrol car. Authorities say 33-year-old Andrew Camilleri, a married father of three, was in the vehicle's passenger seat parked in the shoulder of Interstate 880 in Hayward at the time of the crash. The other officer in the vehicle treated for minor injuries. The 22- year-old suspect suffered serious injuries, remains in the hospital. Officials say he may have been also under the influence of marijuana.

KOSIK: More than 50 years after her role in the sound of music, actress Heather Menzies-Urich has lost her battle with brain cancer.


KOSIK: Menzies-Urich played Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 classic. Her son says she was diagnosed with cancer about a month ago and her health declined rapidly. Urich is survived by three children and eight grandchildren. She was 68 years old.

BRIGGS: Were you a "Sound of Music" fan?

KOSIK: I was and my dad walked around the house singing that song, so I know it pretty well.

BRIGGS: My wife too. So, I've heard that many, many times. It's classic stuff.

KOSIK: Absolutely. All right. Apple facing some bad news coming into 2018. We're going to get a check on CNN "Money Stream" next.


[04:53:16] BRIGGS: Four-fifty-three Eastern Time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's would-be opponent in the upcoming presidential election being told he cannot run. Opposition activist Alexey Navalny now calling for boycott of the election in response.

CNN'S Fred Pleitgen live for us in Moscow.

Good morning, Fred.


And Navalny also says he's going to appeal that decision, but it really doesn't look as though he's going to win that appeal. The election commission saying that because he was convicted of embezzlement in his past, he simply isn't eligible to run for the election. Now, Navalny says that that entire charge of embezzlement was brought up for political reasons by people who are close to Vladimir Putin and that Vladimir Putin is simply afraid to have Navalny run against him. Navalny says he believed he would beat Putin in a free and fair election.

Now, this is something that I think is going to play a bill role here in Russian politics over the next couple of months. Of course, in the run-up to that March 18th election that's going to happen here in Russia where Vladimir Putin is running for a fourth term in office. He says he'll bring stability or keep stability here in Russia but, of course, there are people like Navalny who want changes, who are very disappointed by this decision by the election commission, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Fred Pleitgen, live for us, 12:54 p.m. there in Moscow. Thanks.

KOSIK: Two paintings by Renaissance master Raphael unearthed at the Vatican after 500 years. The paintings are the last known works from Raphael before he died in 1520.

So, how were they found?

CNN's Delia Gallagher takes you inside the Vatican Museum.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 500-year- old mystery at the Vatican has just been solved. The Renaissance painter Raphael who painted these famous frescos in three rooms at the Vatican began work on another room before his death. But those paintings had never been found until now.

(on camera): So, coming from the three rooms that Raphael painted, we're now in the Hall of Constantine. This room was used for lavish banquets by Renaissance popes and right now, they're cleaning and restoring its frescoed walls and they've made a once in a lifetime discovery.

(voice-over): Two paintings by the master Raphael, depicting the female figures justice and friendship. Raphael planned to paint the whole wall in oil, instead of the traditional fresco technique, but died before he could finish. And the figures were lost amidst the fresco paintings done after him.

One of the Vatican's chief restorers Fabio Piacentini explains the thrill of their rediscovery.

FABIO PIACENTINI, VATICAN CHIEF RESTORER (through translator): It's an amazing feeling, knowing these were probably the last things he painted. You almost feel the real presence of the maestro.

GALLAGHER: A first clue to the existence of these paintings is found in this book from the 15th century written by a historian who said Raphael had begun to paint two figures in a new experiment with oil. But for centuries, they remained unidentified in the Vatican, until

they began cleaning these walls. To the expert eye, it was clear that these two figures were not like the others.

PIACENTINI (through translator): The way the paint brush moves, even the subtlety of the point of the brushes used to create this (INAUDIBLE).

GALLAGHER: He says that clues that this is a genuine Raphael are seen in the confidence of the brush work, the unusual shades of color and the fact that there are no signs on these two figures of a preparatory drawing underneath.

This infrared photo confirmed to the restorers that these two figures were not like the rest, the oil paintings clearly showing through in this advanced technology.

For the head of the Vatican museum, Barbara Jatta, the discovery is a major one. Restoring them will take until the year at least 2022.

DR. BARBARA JATTA, DIRECTOR, VATICAN MUSEUMS: Probably one of the most important projects that never done in the last decade in -- apart from the Sistine Chapel, done in the Vatican Museums.

GALLAGHER: With so much history and artwork here, could there be yet other major discoveries?

JATTA: This is the beautiful thing of different projects. So, we are still working on that. We are still searching. I mean, we're searching. That's the good point of the research. It never ends.

GALLAGHER: Delia Gallagher, CNN, Vatican City.


KOSIK: Delia, thanks very much.

Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Markets were closed yesterday for Christmas but today begins the last trading week of 2017. Last week, the Dow closed down 28 points with the S&P and Nasdaq also dropping slightly as well. The Dow has had a spectacular year so far, up almost 25 percent for the year. Of the S&P's 11 main sectors, six are up more than 10 percent, and only energy and telecoms are down for the year. Only four more trading days left in the year. Get your stock buying in.

Bit coin had a rough and tumble weekend after weeks of exponential growth. The cryptocurrency finally hitting a huge bump after highs of almost 20,000 this past week. Prices dropped as low as 11,000 and now back to around 15,000. That was the worst four-day fall for bitcoins since 2015. As of now, it's down over 25 percent for the week. The turmoil coming in the middle of several financial authorities raising red flags about the risk of investing and digital money. As of now, few traditional retailers accept bitcoin payment. Apple beginning the week with a few bits of coal in their stocking. One analyst lowering his projection for iPhone X sales by nearly 10 million. That could be in part due to the high prices and lack of new features of the new phone.

This coming in the middle of a class action lawsuit filed against Apple for being accused of slowing down their iPhones on purpose. Something we all suspected. The suits were filed in Chicago federal court after Apple disclosed last week that software updates deliberately slowed down iPhones in order to maintain their batteries.

People are saying, are you kidding me, Apple? You're close to becoming the first $1 trillion company in the U.S. and you're doing this sneaky little thing.

BRIGGS: What are we going to do about it? Go buy the new phone?

KOSIK: I guess there's always Samsung.

BRIGGS: Of course, we are. We're going to go buy the new phone.

KOSIK: We're going to go buy the new phone.

BRIGGS: I'm just wondering if they're breaking our screens on purpose too.


BRIGGS: Because, I mean, everyone you know has just shattered iPhone screen.

KOSIK: They broke mine his year. I know, right?

BRIGGS: Right.

All right. EARLY START continues right now.