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Trump Approach To Iran Under Scrutiny; Busy Agenda on Tap for Congress; Winter Punch; Plane Crash Kills 10 Americans in Costa Rica. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 2, 2018 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:30] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House with a foreign focus as 2018 dawns. Expanding anti-government protests in Iran and in a twist, potential talks next week between North and South Korea.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president ready to tackle an ambitious agenda as 2018 gets underway. No shortage of domestic issues with another government shutdown looming over funding.

ROMANS: And one thing with bipartisan agreement, it is cold. Very cold. And it's going to stay very cold, at least through the weekend.

More of EARLY START's worldwide coverage begins right now.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

Happy New Year.

BRIGGS: Happy New Year to you. Good to have you back.

ROMANS: Took the week off and now ready to like --

BRIGGS: You point out, you ready?

ROMANS: I'm ready.

BRIGGS: Are you ready for the president and you go from 75 degrees, Palm Beach to zero.

ROMANS: That's something, right? Seventy-five to zero --

BRIGGS: Minus 3 I think with the wind chill in D.C.

Good morning, everybody.

Let's start with the president back in D.C. where it is frigid this morning, facing a full and challenging agenda. In January alone, what to do about DREAMers, infrastructure, entitlements, children's health care and keeping the government funded topped the agenda. Four weeks from today, President Trump gives his first official State of the Union. ROMANS: Forty-four weeks from today, the midterm elections that will

hang over many of the political decisions you will 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.


BRIGGS: Before he can get to work on domestic issues, though, President Trump facing some international crises. And topping that list: the antigovernment protests in Iran, which had been going on for nearly a week. 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.

ROMANS: Rouhani's statement, a reaction to President Trump tweeting this: The 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 Iran in 2009, President Obama responded cautiously. He was concerned about blowback to aggressive intervention by the U.S., which, of course, the U.S. -- Iran calls the United States the Great Satan.

BRIGGS: 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.


BRIGGS: Senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh monitoring the protest for us this morning.

Nick, good morning to you. State TV reports nine more killed overnight. That brings the death toll to 21. Any sign of this slowing down?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No sign at this point. No. We're in very critical 24, 48 hours here, as you just said. The death toll nearly doubling. But importantly, to the rhetoric from, for example, the ministry of

intelligence, part of that broader hard line security force element of the Iranian government backed in the past has stepped in much more forcefully to put down protests like this. Their rhetoric is toughening, saying that those behind will be subject to, quote, resolute and targeted operations very soon.

Now, balancing that out, because, remember, Iran's government is always torn between the moderates, in this case, under President Hassan Rouhani, and the hard-liners who are often behind much of its extended reach now certainly, in foreign policy across the Middle East, that balance being trod carefully. The spokesman for President Rouhani in the last hour or so saying how this is all from, quote, inside the family of Iran, trying to keep away external influence. There are other officials blaming the Saudi Arabian government, the U.S. and the U.K. for trying to foment these protests, but also saying there's a difference between protesting and rioting.

So, I think the fear now is we've seen this across the country, perhaps slightly more targeted, many concerned more violent now that elements of protests. The concern now in the 24, 48 hours ahead, do we see the more usual response of the hardliners in Iran by repressing these protests very vehemently. What does that do in terms of international response, and does that bring more people out on the streets.

[04:35:02] Remember here, we're lacking a clear leader to these protests. They started it seems organically from some elements of economic and political discontent. The question is, how do you stop that if there's no one key figurehead you can negotiate calming down with.

Back to you.

BRIGGS: All right. It's great point there. Nick Paton Walsh, live for us this morning. Thanks.

ROMANS: Another big issue confronting President Trump is the nuclear threat from North Korea. Even has he threatened the U.S. again, Kim Jong-un extended 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.

And the offer on behalf of North Koreans, is this seen as a move to drive a wedge between two allies, the U.S. and South Korea?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, that's certainly one way that it's being taken by some experts. On the other side, is it the fact this time last year, we had some North Korean officials seeing if they could have some kind of new relationship with then the new Trump administration. That clearly has not happened. There have been very bad relations between the U.S. and North Korea in the last year.

So, maybe North Korea is now looking to South Korea to see if they can alleviate the tensions. That is what Kim Jong-un said in that speech.

There will be caution though. There will be cynicism. North Korea has promised a lot in the past, has signed on to deals in the past, and has not followed through on those promises.

So, what we're hearing from the South Korean side, though, is a willingness to talk. They have said that January 9, next Tuesday, is when they suggest they should have high level talks. They've saying it should be at the DMZ at Panmunjom, which is the village which is in North and South Korea along the border, and they say it has to be soon, it has to be high level so that they can talk about the Olympics, which is only a month away.

So, you've heard the North Korean leader say potentially he's willing to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics. That is exactly what South Korea wants and South Korean President Moon Jae-in has welcomed this. As we know, he has been long wanting dialogue and engagement with North Korea, even though he has gone on with the U.S. line of more pressure and more sanctions -- Christine.

ROMANS: Certainly, a tricky and dangerous situation as the New Year dawns. Thank you so much for that, Paula.

BRIGGS: The Trump administration refusing to release $255 million in military aid to Pakistan, accusing its government of failing to adequately confront terrorist 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 was starting to respect the U.S. again.

ROMANS: But the first tweet of 2018 from President Trump accuses Pakistan of giving the U.S. nothing but, quote, lies and deceit. Pakistani officials then summoned the U.S. ambassador, David Hale, to lodge a complaint about the president's remarks. Pakistan's defense minister accuses the U.S. of giving his country nothing but invective and mistrust over the last 15 years.

BRIGGS: 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 telling the main topic of discussion will be government funding and preventing a federal shutdown.

ROMANS: There's the list here. 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 Republican's majority to one vote, 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.


BRIGGS: Suzanne, thanks.

All systems back up and running this morning after the computers in Customs and Border Protection went down for two hours. The outage forcing holiday travelers arriving from overseas to stand in long, long passport lines at airports across the U.S.

[04:40:02] JFK, San Francisco, Dallas Forth Worth and Denver Airports among the hardest hit.

CBP officials say they had access to national security-related databases during the system outage and there's no indication the disruption was malicious.

ROMANS: Some big names in entertainment rolling out a wide ranging plan to fight sexual harassment. The group's called "Time's Up" was 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 in entertainment, 1,000, want to use their high profile to help women in all fields.

BRIGGS: They say, quote: 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 the group's $13 million legal fund, Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg.

ROMANS: Yes, the issue here is being able to really get to manufacturing, to retail, to food, you know, to restaurants, to areas where maybe there isn't the glamorous high profile of Hollywood, you know?

BRIGGS: Yes. Like you heard about this Ford factor as well.

ROMANS: Oh, "The New York Times" story.

BRIGGS: A lot of industries need uncovering here.

ROMANS: Forty-one minutes past the hour.

When we talk about high temperatures this week, it is relative. Highs this week will be relative. How long will the deep freeze last? That's next.


[04:45:06] BRIGGS: Temperatures are climbing a bit, up to 24 degrees here in New York. This cold snap, though, won't go quietly. Twenty- five is actually on the warm side of things you'll see through the weekend.

Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joining us live from the CNN Weather Center.

Good morning to you. A lot of pipes freezing out here in the Northeast. Good morning.

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they are. In Nevada, 25 is the warmest temperature we're going to have, you know you're in trouble.

We have another arctic blast coming in at the end of the week, one for the weekend, and then for one next week, though let's start with where we are this morning. Temperatures as far the wind chill, anywhere from 25 to 40 below zero is the way it feels right now across the North. And those wind chills continue and extend all the way into the Gulf Coast, where folks are bundling up, feeling like about single digits right now if you wake up in places like Atlanta, even further south, New Orleans, getting on the team as well.

We also have to talk about moisture here because we have something just set up this morning from the National Weather Service. They now have posted winter storm watches. Wait until you see where they are. This area of low pressure will get in east of Florida and heads up to the north.

It could be impacting with the northeast the mid Atlantic as early as Wednesday into Thursday. Keep that in mind, we're thinking several inches of accumulation. If this gets a little bit closer than what we're thinking here, we could be adding some more to the mix here.

But this is the winner storm watch now. I haven't seen this in quite some time. Winter storm watches posted for North Florida because of this, extending all the way across the Southeast, the beaches in South Carolina under winter storm watch at this hour. And the reason for that is a wintry mix.

Before you break out the shovels around the coast, we're talking about the potential for sleet and a little snow mixing in. And some icing on the roadways here. This is, in effect, as we head through the next 24 to 48 hours. We're going to watch that very closely for you as we check in on temperatures for the next few days. That's also, of course, the big story.

And we continue to plummet as far as the numbers. Folks have been asking, what is going on? Why do we have all these air blast here?

And basically, the reason for that as we check in quickly, arctic oscillation, two phases. We get negative phase and a positive phase. Where we are right now is the negative. You want the positive that's where the strong ring of winds keep the temperatures and cold air in the North Pole.

Right now, that's not the case. We're in a negative phase. That's why we have all this cold air to plummet all the way down across the deep south and as I mentioned, guys, another round coming in for the weekend and even into the middle part of next week.

ROMANS: Brutal.

BRIGGS: Awesome.

CABRERA: Just what you want to hear.

ROMANS: Awesome.

BRIGGS: Thank you, Ivan.

ROMANS: It's cold.

It's hot for the stock market. It's New Year for the stock market, guys. Today marks the first trading day of 2018. Only time will tell if this year will match the stellar gains of 2017. The Dow raised 25 percent higher last year, hitting multiple milestones for its strongest rise since 2013.

2017 was also the best year in the last four years for the Nasdaq and S&P 500. The broader S&P 500 up about 19 percent. That representing probably what's in your 401k, that's the bigger mix of stocks than the 30 in the Dow.

Last year's rally was the result of two things: strong economic growth and huge corporate profits fuelled by the business tax cuts President Trump just signed into law. That was a corporate America billions of dollars. So, experts are cautiously optimistic stocks will continue the hot streak.

Let's put it in perspective, though. This bull market is not new. It is the second oldest and second strongest in history. And the S&P 500 has seen multiple years of double digit growth.

Plus, millions of Americans don't benefit from this current boom. Just about 19 percent own stocks directly. Roughly half participate through an employee sponsored 401k. BRIGGS: All right. Let's talk some football. Georgia and Alabama

will meet Monday night in Atlanta for the college football national championship. As for the Bulldogs, an epic comeback to beat Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.

The Sooners led by 17 late in the first half before Georgia came back to tie the score early in the fourth, only to have OU take the lead again here on the fumble recovery. Scoop and score touchdown, but Georgia would rally with a game tying touchdown with a minute left to send this epic game into overtime. One of the greatest we've ever seen.

Double OT after Georgia blocked a OU field goal. Sony Michel raced 27 yards for a touchdown. Dogs win a wild one, 54-48. They rushed for more than 300 yards on the Sooner's Michel, three scores.

The Sugar Bowl, a lot less exciting. Alabama crushing Clemson 24-6 to reach a title game for the sixth time in 11 years under the Coach Nick Saban. Saban got a little more than he bargained for here on the fourth quarter though. He got bowled over by his own QB, Jalen Hurts. So they crushed Saban, but Saban crushed Clemson in return.

He didn't look happy about that at all. You think he'd laugh it all. Not Nick. He doesn't do that.

ROMANS: All right. Google just launched its latest offense in its ongoing feud with Amazon. It could already be affecting your devices at home.

[04:50:02] Details on CNN "Money Stream" next.


ROMANS: 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.


BRIGGS: That's brutal.

We've 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 last year, in the University of Wyoming where the shooter attended law school had to alert the campus after he made alarming social media posts.

ROMANS: Friends and family are remembering the victims of the New Year's Eve plane crash in Coast Rica that killed 12 people, including 10 Americans. We've learned the family of our, including two doctors from Clearwater, Florida, are among those 10 killed. Drs. Mitchell and Leslie Weiss with their kids, Hannah and Ari (ph).

BRIGGS: Also lost, Amanda Geissler. Her sister says she was working on a personal vacation travel leader in Costa Rica. A family of five, the Steinbergs from New York, also perished. Funeral preparations are being made as the search for answers intensifies.

[04:55:01] CNN's Jean Casarez has more.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, authorities are saying that the investigation will continue today as to the cause of this horrific crash. The timeline of this is interesting, because on New Year's Eve, the plane took off at 12:10 in the afternoon, 10 passengers aboard, all Americans, and within 10 minutes, there were reports that the plane had crashed.

Nature Air was the airline. And it was really a utility plane, sometimes taking cargo, sometimes taking passengers. But whether this is important or not, we don't know. But, Christine and Dave, the plane earlier that day was diverted on an earlier flight to another airport because of high winds.

A New York family, the Steinberg family, Bruce, Irene and their three sons were on board that plane. Their rabbi tells CNN they were very active in their temple doing so much charity work in the New York region -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: Just a tragedy.

All right. You may not know who Logan Paul is, chances are your kids do. The YouTube star is 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.

BRIGGS: Paul who has more than 15 million subscribers on YouTube posted an apology on Twitter Monday, 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 did it become so real?

The video sparked very real outrage on the Internet. Commentators who viewed it more than 6 million times in 24 hours before it was pulled calling it sickening and disgusting.

Parents, learn more about what your kids are watching on line this year. Elsewhere, 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. The joint was jumping.


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.

ROMANS: All right. Let's check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

Global stocks and U.S. futures mixed on the very first trading day of 2018. Wall Street ended the year lower but overall, wow, 2017 was really a stellar year for stocks. The Dow raised up 25 percent, hitting milestone after milestone for the strongest rise since 2013.

2017 was also the best in the last four for the Nasdaq and S&P 500. Last year' rally was a result of strong economic growth, big corporate profits fuelled by the business tax cuts President Trump just signed into law.

Goldman Sachs handing out millions of dollars worth of stock awards early to save money on their taxes. The new tax bill caps how much companies can deduct on what they pay executives. So, 10 Goldman executives including the CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, were given $94 million in stock awards last week. They were meant to be delivered in January. That will save the bank an estimated $140 million on the tax bill next year, a source familiar with the matter told CNN Money.

Goldman is not alone. Netflix also changed its executive compensation plan for 2018.

Google just launched its latest offensive in its on going feud with Amazon. Google removed its YouTube app from Amazon's FireTV four days earlier than planned. It's part of an increasingly ugly battle between Google and Amazon. For years, Amazon has refused to let Google Chromecast users access Amazon Prime.

So, Google pulled YouTube out of Amazon's Echo in September, and now, the Fire TV. Now, Amazon Fire now directs customers to use YouTube in a web browser instead.

BRIGGS: Wow, that is clash of the ultimate titans of the corporate world.

ROMANS: Battles of the big guys.

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START continues right now with the massive agenda the president returns to in D.C.


ROMANS: The White House with a foreign focus as 2018 begins, expanding anti-government protests in Iran and in a twist, potential talks between -- next week, between North and South Korea.

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

ROMANS: And one thing with bipartisan agreements, it is cold, very cold. And it's going to stay that way at least through the weekend.

EARLY START's coverage begins right now. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

The president coming up from Mar-a-Lago where it's like 75 --

BRIGGS: Yes, 75.

ROMANS: Three degrees or something in D.C.

BRIGGS: That's a wicked change of pace there. If you saw those shots of Niagara Falls there, just spectacular.