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Roy Moore Files Complaint in Special Election; Trump Falsely Touts Record; Tillerson: Americans Should Be Proud; 40 Killed in Kabul Bombings. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 28, 2017 - 04:30   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Roy Moore with an 11th hour lawsuit to block results of Alabama's special election.

[04:30:01] The result is supposed to be certified today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump, big pat on the back for himself but his claim of passing more legislation than any president since Truman doesn't exactly add up.

KOSIK: And secretary of state says changes at the State Department are showing results. We're going to tell you what he said about the North Korea threat and potential of working with Russia.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik. Good morning.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Good morning to you. Four-thirty Eastern Time.

We start with, yes, two weeks later still talking Roy Moore. Roy Moore's campaign filing a complain overnight to delay today's plan certification of the special election results in Alabama. In a late night filing, Moore's campaign, quote, three so-called election integrity experts who believe voter fraud occurred. The campaign also says Moore took a polygraph test, proving allegations of sexual misconduct that derailed his campaign are false.

KOSIK: Moore lost the race to Democrat Doug Jones earlier this month. Moore, though, has refused to concede. The Alabama secretary of state is scheduled to certify today unless the new court filing forces a delay. Jones is expected to be seated early next year, narrowing the Republicans' advantage in the Senate to just 51 to 49.

BRIGGS: President Trump touting his legislative record but he might be giving himself a bit too much credit. In a surprise visit to a West Palm Beach firehouse, the president claimed he has signed the most legislation of any president. But that claim doesn't quite pass the fact check. KOSIK: The president also getting back on the golf course, not that

we can prove it because a giant truck wounds up blocking reporters from capturing his 87th day at this golf course since taking office.

We get the latest now from CNN's Sara Murray in West Palm Beach, Florida.



Wednesday was another quiet one for President Trump on his vacation to Mar-a-Lago here in Florida, but he did make one surprise stop, visiting a local fire house to greet firefighters and tout his legislative achievements.

TRUMP: We have signed more legislation than anybody and broke the record of Harry Truman, and it was saying, if we get this big tax cut, that's the legislation of all legislations. It's the biggest there is. But it included ANWR as you know, and it included the repeal of the individual mandate, which is a disaster. That's where you have the privilege of paying a lot of money so you don't have to buy health insurance, the most unpopular thing, which most people thought should have been unconstitutional.

MURRAY: President Trump obviously riding this wave of victory after shepherding through a sweeping overhaul of the tax system. But as for the notion that he's been more productive in the White House than previous occupants, that one doesn't hold up to fact checks. In fact, President Trump has signed fewer bills in his first year in office than any administration dating back to Eisenhower.

Now, before he stopped at the firehouse, President Trump engaged in of his favorite activities on vacation, hitting the links and while CNN has been able to get pictures of him on the golf course in previous days, on Wednesday, it was a little bit tougher, a big white box truck suddenly appeared to block the shot, unclear who commissioned it, but not any pedestrian can just park there and we know that this is the White House that seems particularly sensitive for whatever reason about images of President Trump on the golf course.

Back to you, guys.


BRIGGS: Thank you, Sara. Whatever reason might be the particular swing we caught on camera the prior day. But meanwhile, the president trying to bolster his claims by setting his rollback of regulations.


TRUMP: So, a lot of the regulations were avoided. And now we can go back to work and do the job. In the case of builders and in case farmers and so many others, they can now go back to doing their jobs. We have the all-time record for stopping ridiculous regulations and we're very proud of that.


BRIGGS: Now back to that mysterious truck blocking the president's golf swing from the cameras. The spokesperson from the Secret Service said the agency had nothing to do with it. Palm Beach sheriff's office also denying responsibility.

KOSIK: OK. The IRS responding to the lines of people rushing to prepay their 2018 property taxes. Homeowners are trying to take advantage of a federal deduction on state and local taxes before it's scaled back under the new tax law.

Now, the IRS is saying you can prepay, but, the payment may not be tax deductible. The agency released a statement saying, quote: state or local law determines whether and when a property tax is assessed, which is generally when the taxpayer becomes liable for the property tax imposed.

OK. So, this clarification, if you want to call it, that led to questions about whether local governments may have to refund millions of dollars to taxpayers, while some counties have long allowed for prepayment, others are scrambling to figure this out, and they want to ensure those who want to prepay can do so, even if the jurisdiction can't necessarily guarantee the prepayment will be deductible.

[04:35:01] The confusion comes as both the IRS and taxpayers are trying to figure out what the biggest tax overhaul in three decades means to their bottom line.

BRIGGS: The brother of former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleading for a pardon from the president. Joseph Flynn replied to one of President Trump's tweets yesterday with this: About time you pardoned General Flynn who has taken the biggest fall for all of you given the illegitimacy of this confessed crime in the wake of all this corruption.

He then deleted the post shortly thereafter.

KOSIK: Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with the former Russian ambassador during the transition. Flynn's brother is organizing a legal defense fund. About two weeks ago, President Trump told reporters he doesn't want to talk about pardons yet, adding, we'll see what happens.

BRIGGS: Republican Congressman Francis Rooney walking back from remarks very critical of the FBI and the Justice Department.


REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FLORIDA: I'm very concerned that the DOJ and the FBI, whether you want to call it deep state or what, are kind of off the rails. I don't want to discredit them. I'd just -- I would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Rooney's remarks echoing the sentiments of several other Republican Trump allies, ratcheting up the criticism of the FBI and Justice Department as the special counsel's investigation moves forward.

KOSIK: Rooney now saying he shouldn't have used the word purge but maintains the FBI should oust anyone who is politically compromised.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Are you sure you want to be throwing a word like purge around?

ROONEY: Well, it might be a pretty strong word. I'm not maybe the most nuanced political person in the world coming from a career in business. But I'm pretty frustrated. As an American citizen, I'm nervous and discontent that people would have those kinds of lack of impartiality.


KOSIK: All right. On that point, Rooney is referring to the FBI agent who was removed from the special counsel's team after it was found out he sent anti-Trump texts during the campaign.

BRIGGS: Well, now, Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass, a member of the House Judiciary Committee tells CNN she found Rooney's comments frightening.


REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: I want to sit down and talk to him about the McCarthy era because I'm not sure if he remembers the Cold War. He's old enough to have. But, you know, the type of purges he's talking about harkens back to the Cold War when there was a purge by McCarthy to find communists that were hidden in the federal government. It sows distrust in our institutions and I think it's irresponsible and maybe he needs a history lessen.


BRIGGS: Bass said it's very sad Rooney and Republicans are, quote, laying the foundation for there to be mistrust in the process.

KOSIK: Steve Bannon cutting ties with the far right activist challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan for his House seat. The move comes after Paul Nehlen posted a number of controversial tweets. One revealing he's reading a book about Jewish culture widely considered to be anti-Semitic. Another tweet he used the hashtag it's OK to be white.

"Breitbart" has supported Nehlen in the past, but now, one of the advisers says he's, quote, dead to us. Paul Ryan beat Nehlen in a landslide 84 to 16 percent in 2016.

BRIGGS: A new poll on America's most admired person likely to aggravate President Trump this morning, maybe not as much as last year. Seventeen percent of those polled name President Obama compared to 14 percent how named President Trump. The good news for President Trump, the gap narrows from seven points last year to three this year. When it comes to the most admired woman, Hillary Clinton remains the top spot for the 16th year running. Michele Obama comes in at second place at seven percent.

The highest ranking Republican woman though, Condoleezza Rice and Nikki Haley, both receiving 1 percent of the vote. Many feel Nikki Haley after all this could be the first female president. That suggests maybe it's a possibility down the road.

KOSIK: Maybe it is.

OK, here's a twist for you. Russia accusing the U.S. of interfering with its elections. Yes, you heard that right. Now the secretary of state with a revealing op-ed this morning discussing Russia and North Korea. We're live in Moscow.


[04:42:55] KOSIK: Welcome back.

Americans are ending 2017 feeling upbeat about the economy that is. Consumer confidence is close to a 17-year high. It dipped a bit in December but analysts say expectations are at historically strong levels. That means the feeling-good feeling could continue into next year.

Key factors have been fueling this confidence, the stronger job market, stock market rally, tax reform and regulatory rollbacks. Unemployment is at 4.1 percent, that's at 17-year low. Also lots of job openings. Consumer spending is also up, showing Americans are feeling better about the economy and that could fuel even more growth since consumer spending accounts for the lion's share of economic activity.

BRIGGS: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Americans should be encouraged by the progress the State Department has made in pushing for global peace and stability, especially when it comes to North Korea. In a "New York Times" op-ed, he defends President Trump for abandoning what he calls the failed policy of strategic patience. He says the U.S. and allies have cut off 90 percent of Pyongyang's export revenue, much of which goes to fund the illegal weapons.

KOSIK: Here's more of what Tillerson writes. He says: we hope that this international isolation will pressure the regime into serious negotiations on the abandonment of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. A door to dialogue remained open, but we have made it clear that the regime must earn its way back to the negotiating table. Until denuclearization occurs, the pressure will continue.

Tillerson also says China should do more by putting more economic pressure on Pyongyang.

BRIGGS: Also in his op-ed, Tillerson says of Russia, quote, there are no illusions about the regime and adding they're meddling in our elections and others. He says the relationship is poor but need to work together where mutual intersect.

It comes, though, as Russia accuses the United States of -- wait for it -- meddling in its upcoming election.

Let's get to CNN's Fred Pleitgen live in Moscow with the latest.

Good morning, Fred.


Yes, there have been a couple of statements from the Kremlin and Russian foreign ministry, accusing foreign powers are trying to meddle in Russia's elections, specifically of the United States.

[04:45:07] Vladimir Putin said it earlier this year, and then now the foreign ministry is saying the same thing, saying a comment made by the State Department where the U.S. said it was concerned that some of the candidates trying to run in the upcoming election are being barred from doing so. Well, they say that's meddling in Russia's election. The State Department, for its part, says that was an absolutely normal statement, not a change in tone in any way from what the State Department has been saying in any case.

So, it's quite interesting to hear what the Russians are saying about that. At the same time, you have those statements by Secretary of State Tillerson in that "New York Times" op-ed where he's saying one of the areas where perhaps there could be cooperation could be in Syria, and Secretary of State Tillerson also saying he believes that the end of a process of negotiation, he believes we could see the end of the Assad regime in Syria.

Well, we actually managed to get in touch with the Kremlin since the last time we spoke about half an hour or so, and the spokesman for Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, tells us he doesn't believe there is any cooperation between the U.S. and Russia at this point in time. He doesn't -- he thinks it would be a good idea if there was but there simply is nothing.

And to take that even further, the Russian military is now accusing the U.S. of training former ISIS fighters in order to destabilize the situation in Syria. All this happening at a base al-Tanf which is in the southeast of Syria. The U.S. says it does have forces there, yes, it is training some folks there, but the U.S. says it's doing that to ensure ISIS can't return to some of those areas it was ousted from earlier in the year.

BRIGGS: Fred Pleitgen live for us in Moscow, thanks.

KOSIK: As for North Korea, the Trump administration is planning to take a quieter tone to avoid antagonizing the rogue regime. A senior administration official telling CNN they plan to be more quiet and discreet about joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan. They're hoping this will help U.S. diplomats in ongoing talks to defuse the crisis.

CNN's Barbara Starr has more from the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. intelligence community, the U.S. military keeping a very sharp eye as always on North Korea. There are preliminary signs CNN has been told that the North again is moving equipment around.

Is it aimed at another upcoming ballistic missile test? Are the North Koreans preparing to launch a satellite on top of a rocket? Too early to say, we simply don't know.

Now, this comes at a very sensitive time. The Olympics in South Korea are coming up in the next several weeks. And the U.S. military is saying it will keep a more quiet view. It will not be talking so much about any upcoming training or exercises because of the sensitivities in the region.

Typically, the Pentagon talks about it, it wants North Korea to know that this is training that it is routine business, that these are not upcoming military operations. But the sensitivities in the region right now, the effort to get a diplomatic solution, is leading the Pentagon to pull back publicly on its own discussion about exercises. But now, it will be up to President Trump to decide whether he is going to take that line or he may once again engage in very aggressive public rhetoric about the North.


BRIGGS: Barbara, thanks.

And breaking news overnight: 40 people have been killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, 30 others were injured. The attack targeted a cultural center in Afghanistan's capital, according to Afghan officials. The initial bombing was followed by two more explosions, Taliban denies it is responsibility.

KOSIK: The head of Apple earning an eye popping salary. We got that number when CNN "Money Stream" is next.


[04:52:44] BRIGGS: Four-fifty-two Eastern Time. "Vanity Fair" fending off some criticism after posting a video mocking Hillary Clinton. In the video, the editors the Website Hive suggests New Year's resolutions for Clinton.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take more photos in the woods. How else are you going to meet unsuspecting hikers?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take up a new hobby in the New Year. Volunteer work, knitting, improv comedy, literally anything that will keep you from running again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To finally put away your James Comey voodoo doll. Now, we all know you think that James Comey caused you the election, hey, he might have, but did a handful of other things. It's a year later and time to move on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, cheers to you, Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, cheers to you, Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, cheers to you, Hillary Clinton.


BRIGGS: The magazine released a statement saying the video was an attempt at humor and missed the mark. It caused outrage online, though, including actress Patricia Arquette who tweeted in part, stop telling women what the blank they should do or can do. That was one of thousands of angry tweets throughout the afternoon.

KOSIK: A detention hearing set today for a former U.S. marine who authorities say was planning a terror attack in San Francisco over the holiday season. A court document revealing Everitt Aaron Jameson spoke with an undercover FBI employee about carrying out a terror attack at Pier 39. Jameson is charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. A spokesman for the local FBI office making it clear there are no known credible threats in the Bay Area.

BRIGGS: Four Ohio teenagers charged with murder after a sand bag they allegedly dropped from an overpass killed a passenger in a car. Authorities say the suspects threw sand bags and other objects onto the southbound lanes of Interstate 75 earlier this month. One of the bags hit Marquis Byrd on the head, as he was riding by in a car. The 22-year-old from Michigan later died. All four boys denied the charges against them.

KOSIK: Switching gears to the brutal cold. Nearly 18 million people in the Northeast under what's called a wind chill alert. I'll definitely say yes to that. And there won't be much relief to the bitter cold through the New Year.

Let's get to meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Good morning.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Alison and Dave.

On this cold Thursday, check out International Falls' record low temperature on Wednesday morning, 37 degrees Fahrenheit below freezing. That surpasses a record set back in 1924. International Falls, of course, a notoriously cold spot in the U.S. But when you start breaking record lows by five degrees, you know it's cold.

That's not the only location that saw record breaking low temperatures. In fact, we had over 30 record lows tied or broken across the Midwest and Eastern U.S. as we head on Wednesday morning. Now, again, on Thursday, we're waking up to a very cold day over the eastern U.S., but this is not the coldest air we'll experience as we head into New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

We have yet another arctic blast of air coming in from Canada. Now, factor in the winds, wind chills feeling well below freezing. That's why the National Weather Service has issued wind chill warnings and advisories from New York right through Maine. In fact, over 18 million Americans impacted by that. Here's the temperatures for the afternoon, barely making it out of the teens for the Big Apple, 27 in D.C.

Back to you.


BRIGGS: Yikes. Derek, a normal day expected at Disneyland after an outage left some visitors stranded during the busy holiday season. Transformer issue knocked out power to the part of the park around 11:00 yesterday morning. The outage lasted five hours affecting a dozen attractions.

One man says he was on the "it's a small world" ride when the outage happened. The lights went out, but he says that famous song played the entire 25 minutes he was stuck on the ride and will likely be stuck in his head all of 2018.

KOSIK: I sang is last half hour. Now it's your turn.

BRIGGS: I do not do that to our viewers. Good for you. But you're welcome, viewers.

All right. Ahead one of the more hilarious football plays you'll ever see near the first half of the Foster Farms Bowl between Purdue and Arizona. Yes, the Foster Farms Bowl. The Boilermakers made use of 5'7" running back D.J. Knox. He actually hid behind the much taller offensive lineman who really couldn't see him.

Out of nowhere, he gets the ball, runs for 30 yards and you can see it there. There you can see just how impossible it would be to see the young man. It worked for them. They hold on for the 38-35 win. You got to use trickery wherever you can on these bowl games.

KOSIK: All right. Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Stock closing up slightly yesterday with the Dow getting even closer to the 25,000 milestone. This morning, we are seeing futures up.

Well, the U.S. stocks enjoyed a first class into record territory in 2017, they weren't alone. If you take a look around the globe, Argentina's Merval index surged 73 percent this year, hitting a record high the day after Christmas. Nigeria All-Share Index saw a 43 percent rally in 2007, and Hong Kong's index charged ahead by nearly 36 percent. Oh, yes, it looks like someone can afford the iPhone X and then some.

A regulatory filing shows Apple CEO Tim Cook finished the year with a jaw-dropping $102 million for fiscal 2017. That pay package accounts to a whopping 74 percent increase from last year.

The huge pay day was partly driven by Apple's better than expected sales and major gains Apple has made in the stock market. Cook can take credit for Apple's stock jumping 39 percent this year. The filing also shows Cook also racked up there $100,000 by using private airplanes and that's after the Apple board insisted that this year, that he take them for security reasons.

With holiday facing a 22-year low in ticket sales, the so-called Spotify of movie tickets is gaining hoards of subscribers. Movie Pass allows you to see unlimited movies in theaters for just $9.99 a month. After dropping all you can see price in August from $35, more than 1 million subscribers signed up in just four months. Critics like theater owners say, though, the price is too low, say the business model is unsustainable.

You beg to differ. You have one of those, right?

BRIGGS: I don't have a pass but I would sign up in a second for that.

KOSIK: What's great about the pass is that movies you wouldn't otherwise see because you think they stink, you're like, you know what? I'll go, I've already paid the all you can eat price.

BRIGGS: I saw my first movie yesterday, "Star Wars."

KOSIK: Wow, and what do you think?

BRIGGS: Pretty good. Pretty good. Pretty solid.

KOSIK: That's part of the reason why people aren't going to movie theaters because there's no draw.

BRIGGS: I think it's more of a reflection of the movies. "The Post" looks great. "The Darkest Hour" looks great. I'm seeing three if I have that pass.

All right. EARLY START continues now you with Roy Moore, yes, Roy Moore still hanging on in Alabama or trying to.


KOSIK: Roy Moore with an 11th hour lawsuit to block results of Alabama's special election. The result is supposed to be certified today.