Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Faces Global Crises; Busy Agenda on Tap for Congress; Winter Punch; Plane Crash Kills 10 Americans in Costa Rica. Aired 5:30-6am ET

Aired January 2, 2018 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:04] DAVID BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House with a foreign focus as 2018 begins expanding anti-government protests in Iran in a potential twist -- talks next week between North and South Korea ahead of the Olympics.

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

BRIGGS: And one thing has some bipartisan agreement, it is cold frigid outside, going to stay that way at least through the weekend. More of EARLY START's worldwide coverage begins --


BRIGGS: -- right now. It is frigid. We're live around the globe, though, as we heat up news wise. Welcome back to EARLY START.

ROMANS: Time to be back at work.

BRIGGS: Yes, it is. Back to work and we don't mean golfing.

ROMANS: That's all right. I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour. President Trump is back in Washington this morning, facing a full and challenging agenda. In January alone, what to do about DREAMERs, infrastructure, entitlements and keeping the government funded, all topped the agenda. Four weeks from today, just four short weeks from today, the president gives his first official State of the Union address.

BRIGGS: Forty-four weeks from today, the midterm elections that will hang over many, if not all, of the political decisions you'll see this year. At this annual New Year's Eve bash in 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. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Slowly turning it around. Before he can get to work on a host of domestic issues, President Trump is facing some international crises, the anti-American protest in Iran, which have been going on for nearly a week now, the biggest protest in almost a decade. 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, "The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years." Adding, "time for a change." The White House approach being closely watched. When protests erupted in 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 the Great Satan.

BRIGGS: At the time, the Obama approach was seen as foreign policy realism. But today, 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 protests this morning. And Nick, state TV reports nine more killed overnight, bringing the death toll now to 21. We know there are hundreds have been detained. Any sign of this cooling off?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, and we already observed a key moment here where the death toll appears to be rising, almost doubling as you said, simply overnight. Although much of that related to one instance, it seemed, on a police station that went to blaze in an area called Isfahan. But at the same time, to the possibility that we may see a tougher reaction from Iran security forces.

You know, so far, competitively, have been quite measured, certainly if you compare their actions to 2009, the post-electoral protest then. The question really being, will this continue to grow in scope and size? There are suggestions perhaps it's ebbing but the violence is certainly continuing. And the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani, very keen to give a message that says, look, we understand protesters, the economic and political basis of some of your grievances, certainly the economic ones, but at the same time, too, just in the last hour or so, the spokesman for President Rouhani saying that there's a difference between protests and riots.

We're also hearing from the ministry of intelligence of Iran suggestion that there will be resolute and targeted operations very soon against those certainly running and behind the protests here. That was a warning issued last night's facts that you may perhaps read into that, the death toll rising overnight. Hard to read into this, exactly where it goes next, they say a crucial period. This wasn't really expected at all, frankly, and this kind of scale, it caught many off guard. The question now really is can they comment without violence on the streets expanding and growing. Back to you.

ROMANS: And clearly, a lot of young people very disappointed in economic prospects and that seems to be driving it, an almost a leaderless kind of movement on the streets. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

BRIGG: All right, another crucial issue globally, confronting President, of course, the nuclear threat from North Korea. Even as 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.

[05:35:04] Let's go live to Seoul and bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks. Paula, good morning to you. We are now just over a month away from the Olympic. How does that loom over everything in the region at this point?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, I think what South Korea was hoping at this point is that can be the catalyst for actually getting back to some kind of talks with North Korea. You heard Kim Jong-un in his New Year's Day speech saying that he would be willing to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics which starts just next month. And South Korea has now suggested a date to start high-level talks, January 9th, they're suggesting, which is next Tuesday, to have high-level talks within North Korean delegation at the DMZ at Panmunjom, this border village, half in North Korea, half in South Korea.

Now, we haven't had a response from the North Koreans at this sight, but certainly South Korea is bending over backwards saying, if they can't do that date, then South Korea could do another date. The president here is welcoming the fact that they might want to be part of the Olympics saying they could also talk about the nuclear issues as they go hand in hand when they talk with the North Koreans.

China is welcoming this as well saying this afternoon from the foreign ministry, it is a good thing that decides (ph) the North are going to talk. But of course, it's a very different message that North Korea was giving to the United States saying, that they are able to hit all mainland United States cities with a nuclear weapon saying that they won't do that because unless there is aggression against them. But two very different messages here, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, so much to talk about with our next guest. Thanks so much from live report.

ROMANS: Yes. Joining us this morning, yes, welcome to the New Year, Philip Wegmann, he's a commentary writer for "The Washington Examiner". So let's stay on the international challenges here for this president as he comes back from Mar-a-Lago. There's a statement from Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that really struck us.

On Sunday, he was speaking with ABC News and he really was very stark in his warning about where we are with North Korea.


MICHAEL MULLEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We're actually closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we've ever been and I just don't see how -- I don't see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point.


ROMANS: And then there's this, there's Senator Lindsey Graham on CVS Face The Nation talking about the challenges here that read us in 2018 with Iran and with North Korea and just how -- just what a tinder box this is, listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The Iranians are watching us in North Korea. North Korea is watching us in Iran. Now, the Iranians are watching the way he engages with North Korea and vice versa, so we've got a chance here to deliver some fatal blows to really bad actors in 2018. But if we blink, God help us all.


ROMANS: The he in that statement is the president. The president comes back, we've seen him tweeting about North Korea was being traded (ph) by Iran, but in terms of foreign policy, his strategy here, what do we know? What challenges confront him?

PHILIP WEGMANN, COMMENTARY WRITER, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, immediately what we're seeing specifically on Iran is that President Trump has really -- while he's -- his foreign policy is still merging in comparison to President Obama's realism in the region. For instance, where Obama was mostly silent during the Korean revolution in 2009, President Trump has been very vocal. Where Obama was slow to condemn human rights abuses, President Trump has been very aggressive. And where President Obama, you know, tried to deescalate the situation by removing the United States from the equation, President Trump has inserted us into that conflict ongoing.

So, I would expect going forward, President Trump to do with the exact inverse of everything Obama did in 2009.

BRIGGS: Yes, Lindsey Graham added, though, you can't just tweet here, you have to lay out a plan and that will be interesting in the days ahead, if the president can form a wide-ranging foreign policy on the region. But let's turn back to domestic issues because the president gets back to D.C. and there are a boatload of issues facing this president.

January 19th, they've got to fund the government, they've got DACA, they've got children's healthcare, they've got the border wall, everything is facing Congress right now. Can this president -- I don't want to say pivot or triangulate but can he legislate in a bipartisan manner to get agreements on some of these hot button issues?

WEGMANN: Well, that's certainly one of the hopes of the administration. I think that specifically on DACA, that's going to be one of the most important issues, you know, as Congress tries to continue to fund the government. We only have three weeks until government funding expires.

President Trump, he's demanding funding for his wall and also some reforms to immigration policy as it is, Democrats clearly want a permanent fix and this is so important because this is the issue that brought Republican base voters out to the polls.

[05:40:01] And while, yes, they were able to get Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and yes, they were able to get tax reform to the finish line, they don't want to do anything to diminish those achievements because they don't want to give that base voter any reason not to show up to the polls in November. So I think these fights are definitely going to flavor the coming midterms.

ROMANS: I think that the -- it's got to be -- the immigration is going to be the biggest food fight here near term, don't you think?

BRIGGS: It looms over everything.

ROMANS: I mean, the President wants funding to build a wall, he wants a physical wall funding. The Democrats want the DACA, I mean, will the Democrats really agree to something like that, Phil?

WEGMANN: Well, right now, I mean, we see that the -- both sides are going to sit down in the coming days to figure out where the battle lines are. But, you know, it's a true cliche to say that both camps are on a collision course. Something has to give. But what's so interesting now is that the arithmetic seems to favor Democrats. Obviously, the margins in the senator are very tight, Republicans only have 51 senators now.

And so, they're going to have to come to the negotiation table with Democrats, something's got to give here.

BRIGGS: Here's what Lindsey Graham said about the pending DACA deadline.


GRAHAM: There is a deal to be had. The DREAMers can have the life they dreamed of if the Democrats and Republicans can give. We need the wall. Not a complete 2200-mile wall. We need border security. Marry that up with the DREAM Act. There's a deal to be had on immigration and I want to do it in January. I don't want to wait until March.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Now, to be clear, it's not evident that Republicans in Congress want that wall, but the president does. Is there something Democrats can give that satisfies the president (ph) based on that without getting a physical wall that Lindsey Graham talked about but satisfies both parties?

WEGMANN: That's right. Our border with Mexico is 2200 miles. I don't think that the funding is --

BRIGGS: Right.

WEGMANN: -- going to request it so far, it's going to give us more than, you know, 50 or 60 miles of wall. So, really it seems like it's going to be more of a photo op than anything else that is going to satisfy President Trump's, you know, promise to his base. That said, already though, immigration has been much tougher down on the southern border, and we've seen, you know, a drop in border crossing so far.

So, I think if President Trump can get a wall whether he calls it a wall or not and, you know, the legislation, you know, whatever it takes for Democrats to be able to stomach that compromise, I think that that will be enough for him, you know, to give that to his base and then look at overall reforms moving forward.

ROMANS: All right, Philip Wegmann, nice to see you this morning. Commentary writer --

WEGMANN: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: -- for the "The Washington Examiner". Happy New Year.

WEGMANN: Happy New Year.

ROMANS: All right. When we talk about high temperatures this week, it is relative at best. How long will the deep freeze last? That's next.


[05:46:24] ROMANS: All right, it's a New Year for the stock market. Today marks the first trading day of 2018. Only time will tell if this year will match the stellar gains of 2017. Let's look at those gains. The Dow raised 25% higher last year, multiple milestones for the strongest rise since 2013. 2017 was also the best year in the last four for the Nasdaq and the S&P 500, the broader S&P 500. This is probably what more reflects the stocks near 401k, not the 30 in the Dow but the 500 in the S&P, that was up 19%.

Last year's rally was the result of a couple things, strong economic growth and huge corporate profits fueled by the business tax cuts President Trump just signed into law. Those tax cuts will save corporate America billions of dollars, so experts are cautiously optimistic stocks will continue their hot streak. But remember, this bull market is not new. This is the S&P 500 over the past, you know, five or six years. This is now the second oldest and second strongest in history. 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% own stocks directly but half participate through an employee-sponsored 401K. So, about half the country benefiting from the stock market rally. The rest of you benefit from wages, and wages have been really sticky. We do know that 18 states are going to raise wages this week.

BRIGGS: It's interesting, though, you hear a lot of people say, well, the stock market's up but then you hear --

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: -- the follow up, why are you in this stock market.

ROMANS: Right, and they're going to say no.

BRIGGS: And they're going to say no. All right, well, 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 country. JFK, San Francisco, Dallas Fort 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 is no indication the disruption was malicious in nature, but a wicked way to start 2018 for travelers. Temperatures are climbing up to a balmy 25 degrees here in New York today. This cold snap won't go quietly, 25 is actually on the warmer side of things we'll see through the weekend.

Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera joining us from the CNN weather center in warm, well, sort of comparatively warm Atlanta. Good morning, Ivan.

IVAN CABRERA, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning. Yes, David, yes, if we're talking about single-digit temperatures right now, that's the way it feels like outside, that's what we'll be greeting be. The car will probably start a little bit slower for not just folks across the southeast but you work your way up and look at these windshields anywhere from 19 below in Green Bay, 25 below in Chicago, one of the warmest temperature on the map is six. Congratulations, Tulsa (ph), now you got problems.

Winter advisers (ph) have been talking about the extent from Canada all the way to Mexico and will continue to be that way right through the mid-morning hours, five in Atlanta is what it feels like right now. But even down to the I-10 Corridor, I understand it has a 21 and a little bit further to the north. We'll continue to see very cold temperatures.

We may crack 40 degrees across Southern Alabama today. We're not going to get through in Atlanta. We're going to have temperatures in the teens ((ph),) 90% of the United States yesterday did not reach 32. So we stayed below freezing, quite something. And this is something. Again, you can go many, many years without seeing a winter storm watch. Winter storm watch in Florida is posted right now for freezing rain

potential and a wintry mixed in. We could have some light snow which could accumulate, can you imagine that, across Charleston in the next 24 to 48 hours. We'll watch that closely. Not going to be a huge deal but it will be because it could be snowing on the beach the next couple of days. That's something. There's that area of low pressure that will be responsible. You get moist, you get cold air, regardless of where you are and you're going to get some frozen freeze up (ph) and that's what we have in the map here heading into the next few days as we check the temperatures. They'll remain very cold into the 20s.

[05:50:07] In fact, let's talk about New York City specifically as we check into the next seven days. I'll leave with you that because it is going to be mighty cold and as we've been talking about, one, two, three, the air masses continue as far as the temperatures plunging, we'll be well below zero, once again, with the wind chills this weekend, and again, to the middle part of next week. Guys.

ROMANS: Crazy. It is so cold. I could figure (ph) that those kids in Des Moines and in the Midwest, every Midwest in, you know, they're getting ready to go back to school after the holiday and, I mean --

BRIGGS: Cancel school, I wonder.

ROMANS: -- that's so cold.


ROMANS: I don't see any cancellations yet but, you know, they're pretty hardy in the Midwest.

BRIGGS: They are, they are a hardy. So 31 below.

ROMANS: Ivan Cabrera, thank you.

BRIGGS: Thanks, Ivan.

CABRERA: You're welcome.

ROMANS: All right, Google just launched its latest offensive (ph) in its ongoing feud with Amazon, it could already be affecting your devices at home. Details on CNN "MONEYSTREAM" next.


ROMANS: You may not know who Logan Paul is, but chances are your kids do. The YouTube star with more than 15 million viewers 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, as we mentioned, 15 million YouTube subscribers, posted an apology on Twitter saying he'd been "misguided by shock and awe". The video sparked very real outrage on the internet. It was viewed more than six million times in 24 hours before it was pulled, commentators call it sickening and disgusting. ROMANS: All right, an emotional farewell at a candlelight vigil for a

fallen Colorado sheriff's deputy, 29-year-old Zackari Parrish killed Sunday morning when a gunman opened fire on officers at an apartment complex. Parish's widow appearing with her two young daughters overwhelmed by the support she's receiving from her community and the country.


[05:55:03] GRACE PARRISH, WIDOW OF SLAIN OFFICER: Will do everything in my power, Zach 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 Zach because that's what I'm clinging on to right now. So, I want to hear about him and I want to soak it in.


BRIGGS: Boy, that is difficult to hear. We've now learned the shooter who was killed by police took a tactical rifle class over the summer. The owner of that company says he seemed proud of his military service and there was nothing alarming about his demeanor. But last year, 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 remembering the victims of the New Year's Even plane crash in Costa Rica that killed 12 people including 10 Americans. We've learned a family of four, including two doctors from Clearwater, Florida, were among those 10 killed. Drs. Mitchell and Leslie Weiss with their kids, Hannah and Ari.

BRIGGS: Also lost Amanda Geissler, her sister says she was working as a personal vacation travel leader in Costa Rica. A family of five, Bruce, Irene, Zachary, William and Matthew Steinberg from New York also perished. Search for answer is just beginning with CNN affiliate Teletica reports high winds earlier in the day forced the plane to divert. It's unclear if winds played a role in this crash.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're expecting business, I would say, conservatively about a 30% bump in sales just overnight. It looks -- looking around this room, more like 50% to 60%.


ROMANS: California is the sixth state to allow sales of recreational marijuana.

Now, let's go to check on CNN "MONEYSTREAM" this morning. Global stocks and U.S. features mixed on the very first trading day of 2018. Wall Street ended the year lower but who cares how it ended because 2017 was stellar for stocks. The Dow up 25% last year, milestone after milestone for the strongest year since 2013, it was also the best year in the last four for the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

Last year's rally was the result of strong economic growth, huge corporate profits fueled by the business tax cuts President Trump just signed into law.

Goldman Sachs is handing out stock awards early to save money on their 2018 taxes. That new tax bill caps how much companies can deduct what they pay executives. So, 10 Goldman executives including CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, were given $94 million in stock awards last week. They were meant to be delivered in January. A source tells CNN that'll save the bake $140 million next year.

Netflix also changed its executive compensation plan for 2018. All right, big food fight of the titans here. Google just launched its latest offensive in its ongoing feud with Amazon. Google removed its YouTube app from Amazon's Fire TV four days earlier than planned, part of an increasingly ugly battle between Google and Amazon for years. Amazon has refused to let Google Chromecast users access Amazon Prime. Google pulled YouTube out of Amazon's Echo in September and now the Fire TV. Amazon Fire now directs customers to use YouTube in a web browser instead.

Battle of the tech giants but I guess it's in your living room, right?

BRIGGS: Isn't there enough room, enough money being made by both (ph) that we can, I don't know.

ROMANS: Can we just all get along?

BRIGGS: Can't we? It's 2018. Let's resolve to get those two together.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Iran supreme leader blaming enemies for the anti-government protest there. We'll be watching the president's Twitter account this morning. "NEW DAY" has it all coming for you right now.