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Stock Futures Up; Nunes Reasserts Role; Nunes Blocks Subpoenas; Paycheck Bump; Families Killed in Plane Crash; National Championship Matchup. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired January 2, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Last year?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: At least this morning we will see a continuation of that big run.


ROMANS: You know, the Dow was up 25 percent last year, Poppy, so a very big run there. The S&P 500 had its best year in about four years. And futures this morning are pointing higher. You could see a triple- digit move in the Dow Jones Industrial average.

This is really a continuing euphoria from that big corporate tax cut and a strengthening economy to start the New Year. So there's the numbers right now. The Dow opens officially at 9:30 Eastern Time, in just a few moments. We will bring that to you in just a few minutes.

HARLOW: Thanks, Romans.


HARLOW: A new year but an old persistent problem for the president. The Russia investigation hangs over the White House as Special Counsel Bob Mueller continues his work.

Also, the Republican Party is seeing growing signs of a rift within the party over just how much it behooves lawmakers to attack Mueller.

My political panel is back with me now.

[09:35:01] Nice to have you all back.

Matt, let me just begin with you on, you know, this "Washington Post" reporting. It came out over the weekend, but it's having sort of this ripple effect. You've got Nunes seeming to step up his attacks on Mueller, as we've seen. And you've got what seems to be a growing divide within the Republican Party about whether they really think it's a smart move for them around the midterms and just in general to attack someone with so many credentials, like Mueller. How do you see it?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, in a way this is a microcosm of the split among the Republican Party, the pre-existing cleavage within the Republican Party. And here I think it's manifesting with -- you have people who are skeptical of Donald Trump to begin with, people who want to preserve the institution of the FBI and their integrity. And on the other hand, some Republicans who want to circle the wagons and defend this president.

Now, I would say, you know, as we've discussed here, and we don't' have to re-litigate it, but I do -- I do think that there are some -- there's reason to belief or some arguments that the FBI did not always handle these investigations prudently or appropriately. And I think it's perfectly fine to look into that.

My concern is, what is the motive here of Devin Nunes? Is this a sincere effort to look into the bureau, into the investigation, or is this an attempt at obfuscation and to counter attack against the president's enemies? I'm afraid it kind of looks too much like the latter.

HARLOW: Well, and, Molly, to that point, I mean Trey Gowdy, you know, sits on oversight, a very outspoken voice on that committee, he is warning against sort of going too far here. "The Washington Post" says that he's -- he said, Gowdy, his, quote, heart would be broken if Nunes went so far as to follow through on reported plans to issue sort of a corruption expose about the FBI. Like saying there's an inherent risk in attacking the law enforcement community and the FBI too much on this. Do you agree?

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, sure. I mean I do think that -- and this is something that you hear from a lot of Republicans, privately and now increasingly publicly, is that they are worried about these institutions being undermined. That this campaign -- that what began, I think, as a personal campaign to delegitimize the investigation specifically if it got too close to the president, it has now become a much more sweeping, as Matt was saying, an attack on institutions, attack on the institution of the FBI, the institution of the Justice Department and an attack on law enforcement, which gets into much more questionable territory than just questioning what's happening in this particular investigation.

But it's all of a piece with, I think, you're going to see the more nervous Trump gets or the more he feels that this investigation might be getting close to him, which, you know, we should be clear, it hasn't so far. It hasn't touched him personally. But if he starts to feel that way, I think we can expect him to lash out. That's sort of his M.O. is that when he is attacked, he, as he said, he hits back. And he's going to hit back indiscriminately at whoever he feels is persecuting him.

HARLOW: So, Alex, I mean, Devin Nunes is powerful in terms of the committee, right, in terms of the Intelligence Committee. He really doesn't have power over the Mueller probe, which is separate. But he does have power. And case in point, as "The Washington Post" reports, is his ability to essentially veto Democrats, like Adam Schiff and other Democrats who wanted to bring Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, the president's son, Donald Trump Junior, back in for repeated questioning. That's not going to happen because of Nunes' power. ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's right. And it is, Poppy, I think why any renewed effort by Devin Nunes to disrupt or redirect the activities of the committee away from investigating the core Russia issues potentially involving the president, we ought to see that as an extension of the status quo, not as some sort of wildcard that may stop us from getting the answers that we would have gotten otherwise. Devin Nunez has done a pretty good job of redirecting the resources and attention to that committee elsewhere the entire year, which is why we're -- we've been waiting on Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee to really get to the bottom of Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, not the House Committee.

I will say, Poppy, that just as a political matter, what Devin Nunes and folks like him are doing in going after Mueller is effectively rejecting the one political silver lining in the Mueller probe for their more vulnerable Republican colleagues, which is the ability to say, these issues involving Russia, these issues involving the president's advisers, this is all the purview of the special counsel and we don't want to talk about it.

HARLOW: Right.

BURNS: We're going to talk about other things. We're going to talk about taxes, or infrastructure, immigration. When folks in the House on the right flank of the Republican conference decide to go after Mueller, go after the FBI, it puts it back on the agenda for a whole lot of people in the party who really don't want to be talking about it.


Matt Lewis, two really important threads overseas that tied directly back home, and that's Iran and Pakistan. Two new developments in just the past few minutes on these fronts.

[09:40:05] The spokesperson for Iran's foreign minister has just come out and essentially said, mind your own business, President Trump. That Trump should focus on U.S. issues. And on top of that, we've now learned that Pakistan is going to be holding an emergency meeting about what the president tweeted, which was condemning Pakistan and the actions of the United States, which is withholding, at least for now, this $255 million in promised foreign aid.

LEWIS: Wow. Yes, we do live in interesting times. Very dangerous times. I would say these are very different situations in the case of Pakistan.


LEWIS: We never know what Donald Trump is thinking, if there's a method to the madness. Is this just crazy Twitter diplomacy that I think is counterproductive, or is he doing some sort of three dimensional chess negotiation. I hope the later, but I fear the former. In terms of Iran, so far I think he has played it just right. He needs to be prudent, not get too far out over his skis. But I think it's important that America is a beacon of hope and that we show that moral authority that we support people in the streets. I don't have a -- you know, I don't know how long he can sort of walk that line, but so far so good.

HARLOW: Thank you all. Matt, appreciate it. Molly and Alex, have a good one.

All right, so a new year may bring a lot of changes. It will bring a lot of changes. Could one of them be more money in your pocket? Wages going up in a lot of places. We're going to tell you where. Christine Romans is on it, next.


[09:45:20] HARLOW: A new year and for many of you out there, maybe a new wage. Workers in 18 states in about 20 cities, counties, are going to see a good paycheck change. Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with us.

I love hearing this. And this actually has nothing to do with the federal government.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Nope. Nope. The federal government has not raised the $7.25 minimum wage in years. These is the power of mayors and city councils and state houses, frankly. These are people who went to the ballot box with a referendum to raise the minimum wage, and they're doing it. And really they're doing it phasing it in, in a lot of states.

So these are the, you know, 20 -- 18 states that are raising minimum wage as of January 1st from New York, to Maine, to Arizona, to California. And there will be other bumps up as well. For example, Mountain View, California, Sunnyvale, some of these really expensive towns in Silicon Valley, those cities have voted to raise their minimum wages so people there will see the wage increase a little bit.

Let me give you an example of how they're phasing this in, because employers don't like to see a -- suddenly a $13, $14 minimum wage, right? It needs to be -- it needs to be phased in so that companies can -- can handle it.

In Washington state, for example, lost year the minimum wage went up to 11 and then this year it's another 50 cents. And then by the year 2020, it will be $13.50 an hour. In New York, we're on our way here in New York State to $15 an hour for fast-food workers.

The fight for $15 was sort of what advocates were saying is a living wage that is just reasonable and rational. But, quite frankly, some of these companies and businesses are saying, slow down, let's phase it in so everyone knows how to deal with it and can deal with it slowly.

HARLOW: And you've got some really interesting cities where the unemployment rate is far below the national unemployment rate. ROMANS: Right.

HARLOW: Minneapolis, just because, you know, I'm proud of where I'm from --

ROMANS: Right.

HARLOW: It's 2.3 percent unemployment.


HARLOW: That's remarkable. Why -- is there a trend in some of these cities?

ROMANS: Some of these metro areas that have a very diverse base of employers -- so, Minnesota, Minneapolis, for example, is eds (ph) and meds (ph), just like Iowa City, you've got big hospitals. It's got big education systems.

HARLOW: Yes. She's from Iowa, folks.

ROMANS: I -- right. Very low unemployment rates. And it's interesting, Minneapolis is going to rise its minimum wage, the city, twice this year.


ROMANS: The state raising the minimum wage. But in the case of some of these very, very low unemployment rate towns, it's supply and demand that's taking over now. I mean companies, especially for skilled workers in a lot of different construction, machinery, manufacturing, information technology, they are having to raise wages to find workers.


ROMANS: And this could be, in many of those industries, this could be the year of the job hop, where you have the -- you have in Fort Meyers, Florida, in Minneapolis, in some of these other towns with a very low 3 percent or under unemployment rate. So this could be your year to shop around for a raise --


ROMANS: And then go back to your boss and say, look, I've got two offers.

HARLOW: Didn't you write a book on that or something? Read Romans' book on how to ask for that raise.

Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: Do appreciate it. All right, we're learning more about the Americans who lost their lives in this plane crash on New Year's Day in Costa Rica, 10 of them, a total of nine members from two different families, as well as their 33-year-old tour guide, Amanda Geissler.

Our Athena Jones joins me now with more.

So this is the first time we're learning their names, we're seeing the pictures. This is ten Americans. What do we know?


Well, any death, of course, is a tragedy, but to see this kind of loss of life so close to the holidays or around the holiday season is particularly heartbreaking.

You mentioned those two families that were on that flight, also killed along with their travel guide and two Costa Rican pilots. There was Mitchell and Leslie Weiss from Clearwater, Florida, with their children, Hannah and Ari. Both Mitchell and Leslie were doctors. Mitchell was a vascular interventional radiologist and his wife Leslie was a pediatrician and a neo-natal hospitalist.

Their synagogue has put out a statement saying this is a tragic event for their family, for our congregation and synagogue community, as well as for the Pennelis (ph) community, which is where they lived. They will be sorely missed.

We also have a family of five from the New York suburb of Scarsdale. That's Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their three sons, Zachary, William, and Matthew. Their synagogue also putting out a -- their temple putting out a statement saying that this tragedy hits our community very hard. Saying they were cherished members also of their country club there in Scarsdale. One of the Steinberg's neighbors, Lisa Flicker (ph), said it's so devastating because they are great people and the kids are great and I feel like they are the family you look to emulate.

As you mentioned, also killed was 33-year-ol 33-year-old Amanda Geissler, who was a travel guide, who led families on tours of Costa Rica. Her family putting out a statement talking about her love of the outdoors and setting goals and crushing them.

But very, very sad to learn about these victims here, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. And do we have any update on the investigation, Athena, at this point in terms of -- I know there were high winds. I know there were some delays to the plane before it had these families on it. Anything else?

[09:50:14] JONES: Well, that's right. That's what we know so far, Poppy. This investigation is just getting underway. We know Costa Rican authorities were focused on recovering the bodies on Sunday after the crash and the investigation was to launch yesterday, on Monday. We also know that the National Transportation Safety Board is tweeting

that they are assisting Costa Rica with the investigation of the crash of this plane, a Cessna C-208B. So we'll learn more as that develops.


HARLOW: OK. Athena, thank you for bringing us the stories of those families, the pictures. It's important we remember them.

We'll be right back.


HARLOW: College football's National Championship matchup is set after a wild night of bowl games that I didn't watch one of. Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

I was asleep, my friend. What happened?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you were being a good girl.

Well, I want to make a lot of people in the Atlanta area very happy right now. Go Dogs. For the first time in 37 years, the University of Georgia, they're going to play for a National Championship. They have Bama on Monday. Now UGA punched their ticket in one of the greatest Rose Bowl games ever. The Bulldogs battling Oklahoma and their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield. He was battling the flu, but he's still out there looking like Drew Brees 2.0. He put up a ton of points.

[09:55:04] This was the highest scoring Rose Bowl ever. Sooners were up by 17 in the first half, but Georgia kept attacking.

They used the wild dog formation. Nick Chubb, game-tying touchdown with a minute to go. So in overtime for the first time in Rose Bowl history, UGA's Lorenzo Carter blocks Oklahoma's field goal attempt. So that means that on the next drive, with any points, UGA's going to win. And, sure enough, senior running back Sony Mitchel, 27 yards to the house and into Athens and UGA football lore forevermore. They advance to the title game with an epic 54-48 comeback win.

Now, in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama's punishing defensive performance helped them get revenge against the defending champs, Clemson. Look at 300 plus pound Tide defender Da'Ron Payne. Playing a big man's dream game. Not only did he get that interception, coach even designed an offensive play for him, a pass, which he catches, taps the toes, stays inbounds. And, my goodness, the Tide were jaw-droppingly ferocious and vicious on defense. They -- unpredictable on offense. Look out, UGA, head coach Nick Saban now leads the Tide to their sixth national title game in the past nine seasons.

Poppy, it's going to be awesome.

HARLOW: It's going to be awesome. I'm happy for my friends in Atlanta. I really, really am.

WIRE: A lot of red and black around here today.

HARLOW: Oh, indeed.

Coy, thank you. We appreciate it.

Still ahead for us, a lot. The president tweets, the world reacts. We are on top of all of the fast-moving developments.