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Trump Faces Global Crises; Busy Agenda on Tap for Congress; Winter Punch. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 2, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:13] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House with a foreign focus as 2018 begins, expanding anti-government protests in Iran and a twist potential detente (ph) between North and South Korea.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president is ready to tackle an ambitious agenda as 2018 gets under way, no shortage of domestic issues with another showdown looming over government funding.

BRIGGS: There is one thing with bipartisan agreement. It is freezing outside and it's going to stay that way through the weekend:

EARLY START's coverage of all our top stories around the world begins right now. We got the six-box going as we start 2018.

ROMANS: Right, we're ready for 2018.

BRIGGS: Happy New Year, everyone. Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018, 4:00 a.m. exactly in the East. It is 12:30 p.m. in Tehran, 5:30 p.m. in Pyongyang.

The president, President Trump, is back in Washington this morning, leaving 75 degree weather for about 3 degrees with the wind chill, and he faces a full and challenging agenda. In January alone, what to do about DREAMers, infrastructure, entitlements and keeping the government funded.

Top of the agenda, four weeks from today, President Trump gives his first official State of the Union.

BRIGGS: Forty-four weeks from today, the midterm election that will hang over most, if not all political decisions you'll see this year. At his annual New Year's Eve bash at Mar-a-Lago, the president made this prediction for the year ahead.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a great 2018. It's going to be something, very, very special. It's all kicking in. Everybody's going to love what's happening with our country because we're taking this big beautiful ship and we're slowly turning it around. I'd like to do it faster.


ROMANS: Before he can get to work on domestic issues, President Trump facing some international crises right now. Topping the list: growing antigovernment protests in Iran, which had been going on for nearly a week now. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urging national unity, but rebuffing President Trump, saying an American president who once called Iranians terrorists has no right to sympathize with them now.

BRIGGS: Rouhani's statement, a reaction to President Trump tweeting that, quote, great Iranian people have been repressed for many years, adding, time for change.

The White House approach being closely watched because when protests erupted in this Iran in 2009, President Obama responded cautiously to say the least. He was concerned about blowback to aggressive intervention by the U.S., which Iran calls, quote, the Great Satan.

ROMANS: At the time, the Obama approach was seen as foreign policy realism. But now, even some Obama era national security officials believe President Trump is striking the right tone.


DENNIS ROSS, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: In retrospect, I think we made a mistake. I think that we should have -- we should have made it clear that, in fact, the world was watching.


ROMANS: Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh monitoring the protests this morning.

And, of course, the protests in 2009 and today different with maybe different goals and different level of organization. Nick, state TV reports nine more killed overnight, bringing the death toll to 21. What's the latest? Any sign of this slowing down?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, and what more I think is to be concerned about now is while we've seen hundreds of arrests, we're also hearing more strident language from the security forces of Iran. As you say, back in 2009, what took many lives in repressing protests then. That was a protest that had a leader. This is leaderless. It's predominantly the youth. A lot of it seems to be focused around economic and political problems as well.

But, yes, nearly doubling of the debt toll. In a statement from the ministry of intelligence saying that those protesting over the subject of, quote, resolute and targeted operations very soon. Now, that may have been the reason why we see the death toll rise. I should point out, the most of those nine deaths occurred in one particular area.

Many concerns, though, exactly how the enormous split really in Iran's government between the moderate President Rouhani who just recently won a sizable electoral victory and the hard-liners who were behind so much of Iran's strident foreign policy across the Middle East, how they somehow find common ground to deal with these protesters who I say don't have a figurehead, don't have a person to negotiate terms with.

We've seen violence on the street, certainly. We've seen videos of police stations on fire. And I think there are deep concerns now, while President Rouhani has openly said there's some legitimacy to the concerns of the protesters and they have to be heard. At the same time, too, we know in the past that Iran's hardliners have put people on the streets, have put the republican guard out there to try and repress protests very quickly.

Indeed, all eyes on the next 24, 48 hours. Exactly what the outside world says, they're being blamed for fomenting by hardliners.

[04:05:02] But more importantly, too, how do they simply calm the anger on the streets.

Back to you.

ROMANS: Absolutely. All right. Critical 24, 48 hours. We know you'll be watching it for us.

Nick Paton Walsh in London, thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Another big issue confronting President Trump is the nuclear threat from North Korea. Even as he threatened the U.S. again, Kim Jong-un extending an olive branch to South Korea. And it appears Seoul is ready to talk with Pyongyang.

Let's go live to Seoul and bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks.

Paula, good morning to you.

The Olympics looming overall this, just over 37 days away. Good morning to you. What's the latest?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, certainly from a South Korean point of view, they are hoping that the Olympics is going to be the key to get back to some kind of negotiation between North and South Korea.

We had a very surprising New Year's Day speech from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Monday saying effectively that he wanted to talk to South Korea. He wanted the two sides to sit down and try and alleviate the tensions on their own without outside pressure. But he has the same defiant message when it comes to the United States, saying that he is able to hit any part of mainland United States with nuclear weapons but won't be using those weapons unless there was aggression shown towards him.

So, two very different messages we're hearing now. But what South Korea has done is they are now bending over backwards to make this overture work. They suggested next January 9th, next Tuesday, to sit down and have high level talks with North Korea. The officials here are saying it has to be that quickly. It has to be high level, because there's only a month to go before the Olympics start and they would like North Korea to be part of this. The South Korean President Moon Jae-in is welcoming this, saying if

they are part of the Olympics maybe we can talk further and try and move towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Many experts, though, are saying be cautious, be cynical. This has been promised in the past. North Korea has offered the olive branch in the past and made agreements in the past and not necessarily kept to them -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Paula Hancocks live for us tonight in Seoul, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. The Trump administration refusing to release $255 million in military aid to Pakistan, accusing its government of failing to adequately confront terror networks. The White House first threatened to withhold the funds in August, demanding Pakistan do more to combat terrorism. In October, the president said he believed Pakistan had started to respect the U.S. again.

BRIGGS: The first tweet of 2018 from President Trump accusing Pakistan of giving the U.S. nothing but lies and deceit. Pakistani officials summoning U.S. Ambassador David Hale to largely complained about the president's remarks. Pakistan's defense minister accusing the U.S. of giving his country nothing but invective and mistrust over the last 15 years.

ROMANS: All right. Back in Washington, talks on critical issues resume this week. Tomorrow, Democratic and Republican leaders meet with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Sources tell us the main topic of conversation will be government funding and preventing a federal shutdown.

BRIGGS: The agenda is long and there will be a greater need than ever to find common ground once Alabama's new Democratic senator, Doug Jones, is sworn in tomorrow. That will narrow the Republicans' majority to one, 51-49.

From Washington, Suzanne Malveaux has more.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Good morning, Christine and Dave. Happy New Year.

Everyone's got the New Year's resolutions, but for President Trump and the Republican Congress, the first order of business is to make sure that they are the same ones. Trump is all about pushing an infrastructure package at least $200 billion worth of projects over 10 years with the hopes of adding $800 billion from state and local funding.

Now, according to Trump's top legislative aide, the president is going to sit down with his team, hash out the details and present it to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan at Camp David this coming weekend. We are told that the president will provide the principles of the plan and allow members of Congress to actually craft the legislation. Well, the first problem, however, of course, is getting the Republicans united over this.

House Republicans led by Ryan have their sights on entitlement reform, going after cuts to welfare, food stamps and overhauling Medicare.

McConnell has made it clear that the Senate has no appetite for that, and he has noted that with Republican the one-seat on majority on the Senate side, they've got to go after things they can work with Democrats on, like a broad agreement on government spending and bipartisan legislation overhauling immigration, and what to do with the young undocumented immigrants when DACA expires in March -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you, Suzanne.

All systems back up and running this morning after the computers at Customs and Border Protection went down for two hours. The outage forcing holiday travelers arriving from overseas to stand in long passport control lines at airports across the U.S. CBP officials say they had access to national security related databases during the system outage. There's no indication the disruption was malicious in nature.

But that's why you spent two hours at JFK last night trying to get in on New Year's Day.

[04:10:04] BRIGGS: Not the way you want to start 2018.

Some big names in entertainment rolling out a wide ranging plan to fight sexual harassment. The group's called "Time's Up" that's unveiled in "The New York Times" story on Monday actually started to form shortly after the first round of allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein went public in the fall. Now, more than 1,000 women want to use their high profile to help women in all fields.

ROMANS: They say, we want all survivors of sexual harassment everywhere to be heard, to be believed and to know that accountability is possible. Among the early donors to "Time's Up's" $13 million legal fund, Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg.

BRIGGS: How about a few more men join Spielberg in that group.

All right. Ahead, when we talk about high temperatures this week, it's a relative term at best. How long will the deep freeze last? The chilly details, next.


BRIGGS: Temperatures are climbing up to a balmy 25 degrees here in New York today. The cold snap won't go quietly, though. Twenty-five degrees actually on the warmer side of what we'll see through the weekend.

Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joining us live from the CNN weather center.

Good morning to you, Ivan.

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Breaking out the shorts in New York City this afternoon I think with 25 degrees.

BRIGGS: Oh, yes.

CABRERA: Incredible stuff here, Dave and Christine, good morning as well.

We are -- in fact, I haven't seen something like this in quite some time. We now have wind chill advisories that's stretched from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. You can drive the entire wave from the Arrowhead, Minnesota, all the way to Brownsville, and you will not leave the wind chill advisory. That's incredible. Of course, further north you go, the colder it is as far as the numbers.

We're checking in this morning in Minneapolis at minus 24. It's minus 23 is what it feels like right when you walk outside this morning, minus seven in Boston, and there's New York. Oh, you're above zero. That's an improvement just in the last couple of hours.

[04:15:00] But the wind will vary. And so, the wind chills will continue to be below zero throughout much of the morning. And across the south, this is also a big story.

Of course, Atlanta single digit wind chill values right now. It feels as cold as 20 in Tallahassee. Doing a little bit better but still 37 in Orlando. As you know, in Florida, it will freeze with that kind of number.

As far as the high temperatures today, not factoring the wind. We're only going to be in the teens and 20s across the Northeast, and staying in the 30s as far south as places like Georgia.

Oh, how about snow on the way? The track is to be determined here. But right now, it looks like we'll get some kind of snow between Wednesday and Thursday, depending on where this thing moves, right?

When we're talking about this coastal low, the potential for some significant accumulation is there. The European model, the one we look at a lot, showing about 2 to 4 inches. So, again, we're kind of going back and forth. Just keep checking back with us. This may be a disruptive storm.

This will be disruptive as well. The temperatures will continue quite cold. And notice New York, 20s and then drop into the mid-teens and the reason for that as we check on the maps, we have another arctic air mass on the way, and that is going to be diving in over the next few days.

And that is really not going to go any place any time soon. We're going to continue to see these waves of very cold air and moving across the Northeast and into the mid-Atlantic. When I see you in the next half hour, we're going to be talking about why this is happening and continuing to happen in just a few minutes -- guys.

BRIGGS: Ivan, thanks. Hearing a lot of people say it's too cold to ski. Which you know, I mean, there's some hard-core skiers that want nothing to do with the mountains right now.

CABRERA: Too cold to breathe, too, in some parts.

BRIGGS: You got that right. We'll check with you in a bit. Thanks.


ROMANS: All right. Millions of American workers are ringing in 2018 with a pay raise. As of January 1, 18 states and 20 cities boosted their minimum wages and some hikes are part of a multi-year process to move closer to $15 an hour. That's what advocates call a living wage.

For example, in New York state, fast food pay rose to $11.75 an hour with plans to hit $15 an hour for the year 2021 for the restaurant workers. In Washington, 2018's increase is one of several designed to reach $13.50 by the year 2020.

Now, not every state is aiming tore $15 an hour and some remain pretty close to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That minimum wage has not been raised, the federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009.

A higher wage is at the center of a hot political debate. Advocates say $7.25 is simply insufficient. Critics argue that higher minimum wages, well, they will kill jobs. So far, early studies on the effects have shown mixed results.

But a minimum wage hike is critical for many workers. Overall wage growth is sluggish, has been for years, it's the one weak spot in an otherwise very strong labor market.

Dave, you know, the stock market has had double digit gains for year after year now. So, half of America, the investor class is enjoying a pay raise through their stocks, but workers really have not. So, the states have been -- you know, people in states have been passing these referendums, 18 more states.

BRIGGS: Republicans argue this tax cut plan will lead to some wage growth. We shall see.

Some great college football last night for those of you sleep deprived. Georgia and Alabama will meet Monday night in Atlanta for college national championship. The Bulldogs, though, Georgia, epic comeback, to beat Oklahoma on the Rose Bowl last night.

This was maybe the greatest game of all time. The Sooners led by 17 late in the first half before Georgia roared back to tie the score early in the fourth. Here you see Oklahoma take the lead again on a scoop and score touchdown. Georgia would rally with the game-tying touchdown with a minute left to send the game to overtime.

We go to the second overtime after Georgia blocked an Oklahoma field goal attempt. And Sony Michel was just phenomenal in this game, 27 yards for the score. He had three touchdowns. They rushed for 300- plus yards; 54-48, the final score. Georgia victorious.

The Sugar Bowl, a lot less exciting, though Alabama just crushed Clemson, 24-6, to reach the title game for the sixth time in 11 years under Coach Nick Saban. That is hard to imagine.

But that first game, that is the one game you'll be hearing talked about at the water coolers all around the office this morning.

ROMANS: And there's that team in central Florida undefeated.

BRIGGS: UCF, Scott Frost, the coach there, undefeated, perfect on a year.

ROMANS: It was very good game, too.

BRIGGS: They beat Auburn.

All right. A YouTube star forced to apologize after posting a gruesome video from Japan. The stunt prompting widespread outrage. Chances are you don't know who Logan Paul is, but I guarantee your kids do. The story you need to hear, next.


[04:23:03] BRIGGS: An emotional candlelight vigil for a fallen Colorado sheriff's deputy. Twenty-nine-year-old Zackari Parrish killed Sunday morning when a gunman opened fire on officers at an apartment complex. Parrish's widow appearing with her two daughters overwhelmed by the support she's receiving from her community and the country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will do everything in my power, Zack Parrish, to honor you. And I will raise these girls to love you. It means so much to hear your stories and to hear about Zack, because that's what I'm clinging on to right now. I want to hear about him and I want to soak it in.



We have now learned that the shooter who was killed by police took a tactical rifle class over the summer. The owner of the company said he seemed proud of his military service. There's nothing alarming about his demeanor. But that does not fit the description others have of him.

CNN's Scott McLean with more from Highlands Ranch, Colorado.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Christine, Matthew Riehl enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2003. He also served as a national guardsman and was deployed to Iraq in 2009 on a security mission. He was honorably discharged in 2012.

We are also learning the 37-year-old was once a lawyer licensed in Wyoming. In fact, he was on the dean's list at the University of Wyoming Law School where he graduated in 2010. He passed the Wyoming bar the next year, though five years later, he quit the bar. It is not exactly clear why.

It also not clear why in December, Riehl posted a rambling YouTube video claiming to be a candidate for the libertarian party, something the party denied to "The Denver Post". In that same video, he also criticized the Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock.

MATTHEW RIEHL, ALLEGED GUNMAN: You know he's going to flub big time next election?

[04:25:02] Spurlock. He's a clown, and so is his whole crew.

MCLEAN: The sheriff's office declined to comment on the video, but were aware of Riehl, though he said he did not have a criminal record.

In early December, Riehl complained in a Facebook post about being pulled over by a law enforcement officer in suburban Denver. Separately, the University of Wyoming noticed some of Riehl's posts about the law school were, quote, outrageous, vulgar and alarming -- so alarming the school sent his photo to students and faculty asking them to call police if they saw him on campus -- Dave, Christine.


BRIGGS: Scott McLean there for us -- thanks.

Well, you may not know who Logan Paul is, but the chances are your kids do. The YouTube star who has more than 15 million viewers being forced to apologize after he posted a disturbing video called "we found a dead body in Japan's suicide forest". It showed a body hanging from a tree in what appeared to be a suicide.

ROMANS: Paul, who is incredibly popular on YouTube, posted an apology on Twitter saying he had been, quote, misguided by shock and awe. In the video, Paul and his entourage described the body before Paul laughs uncomfortably and says, it was all going to be a joke, why does it become so real?

The video sparked very real outrage on the Internet. Commenters who viewed it more than 6 million times before it was taken down calling it sickening and disgusting.

BRIGGS: Hundreds of Californians lining up Monday to buy legal recreational marijuana. Those lines forming well before the newly licensed stores even open. Buddies in San Jose, a medical marijuana facility, was granted the first license to also sell recreational pot and the joint was jumping.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're expecting business I would say conservatively about 30 percent bump in sales just overnight. Looking around this room, more like 50 percent to 60 percent.


BRIGGS: California is the sixth state to allow sales of recreational marijuana, in your language, some estimate between a $5 billion and $7 billion business.


All right. A big domestic agenda facing the president in 2018. Happy New Year. Before he can tackle all that, flare-ups with Iran, North Korea and Pakistan demand his attention. Live reports on those top stories, next.