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New England Bracing for Nor'easter; Fusion GPS Fights Back; Thomas Debut in Cleveland; Safest Year for Commercial Airplane Travel. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 3, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Powerful winter storm. What does that mean? How much snow and where's it going to be. We have the answers, ahead.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The deep freeze in the eastern U.S. is about to get even worse. Hard to believe, especially for New England. People there are bracing for now a powerful nor'easter.

CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray is at the CNN Center with more.

What does it look like, Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And, Alisyn, this comes on the heels of record-breaking temperatures as winter has a firm grip across the country.


GRAY (voice over): One-third of the United States gripped by dangerous subzero temperatures. More than 100 million Americans under wind chill advisories. The deep freeze killing at least 11 people, including a 27-year-old woman in Wisconsin who wandered from a New Year's Eve celebration with her friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks to just be a very tragic accident.

GRAY: In Texas, where four people have died of exposure, the Red Cross setting up additional warming centers across Houston.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're offering a place for people that need it to get out of the weather.

GRAY: In the Midwest, the wind chill colder than on the surface of Mars. Waterways across the country, from rivers, to lakes, to waterfalls, frozen solid. Even Niagara Falls surrounded by sheets of ice.

The wintery mix wreaking havoc on roadways, including a massive 75-car pileup on Interstate 90 near Buffalo, New York. In Massachusetts, firefighters struggle to go work in the bitter cold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water freezes on our equipment, on our air packs, on our masks.

GRAY: The punishing chill even hitting as far south as Alabama and Florida.

[06:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extra blankets, heaters, whatever it takes.

GRAY: Officials preparing shelters and warning residents to stay indoors as they brace for ice and snow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't have a reason to be out, don't be out.


GRAY: And that's good advice because we're already seeing icing conditions across portions of north Florida and Georgia. And it's going to turn into snow by the time it gets to the Carolinas and then possibly blizzard conditions for portions of New England.

So as this develops, it is going to get stronger with time. We're going to see snowfall all along the coast. New York, Boston, Portland. Hurricane force winds possible. And the snow fall accumulation in Philly, one to two inches. New York City expected 3-6 inches. Boston could see up to a foot of snow.

And the big problem with this system, Chris, is that if we see power outages, like we many times do with nor'easters, temperatures are going to be in the teens and single digits by Friday and Saturday. So you're going to have to find a way to keep warm.

CUOMO: It's getting colder. J. Gray, already fighting the cold. Newborn baby at home.

GRAY: Yes.

CUOMO: Welcome to our life as parents. It will end in about five years.

GRAY: I'm here.

CUOMO: Thank you for the information.

GRAY: I believe it.

CUOMO: We'll check back with you later.

All right, so the firm behind the infamous Donald Trump dossier is defending its research and accusing Republicans of conducting fake Russia investigations. What do they mean? What do they want? Next.


CUOMO: The co-founders of Fusion GPS, that's the firm that paid for the dossier on candidate Trump, with a new op-ed in "The New York Times." All right, they're pushing back on Republican criticism of this dossier, saying it wasn't what prompted the investigation into Trump and his colleagues.

Let's bring back John Avlon and Chris Cillizza and let's get right to it. What's the first part we want to highlight?

CAMEROTA: OK. So listen to this. This is why I think this is so important, guys, because, as you know, there are all sorts of Republican, you know, lawmakers who have come on our show, namely Jim Jordan, so say that he has a hunch that it was the dossier that he believes was the trigger to go to the FISA court to get the warrant to then wiretap, you know, some people on the Trump campaign. So -- Carter Page.

[06:40:24] So this shows that the timeline doesn't work. So the two guys, just to remind everybody, by the way, of Fusion GPS, these were -- these are the guys who were paid and they were former "Wall Street Journal" journalists, OK. So here's what they say now in "The New York Times."

We don't believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling. As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, in other words, they were interviewed. They spoke to them. Our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports that the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp. As we know from "The New York Times" this weekend it's George Papadopoulos. He was the one who was speaking, drunkenly, in April to an Australian diplomat who then had the same information that the dossier had. These two things dovetailed, John, and that is how the launch of the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. And among other things it means that there are two concurrent FBI investigations at least into the leading candidates, but only one of which was made public at the time.

But the timeline, as you say, is what's key here. And in this op-ed, what the heads of Fusion GPS are saying is, look, release our 21 hours of testimony. Make that public. Because we've been transparent about who paid us. First it was a Republican organization. Then it was a Democratic campaign. And that we've sent Chris Steele out into the field and he came back with information that stunned us about the degree of attempts to influence the campaign and possible compromise of the campaigns (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: Right. So here's how they put it. Here's how they put it. Let's put up the next excerpt from the op-ed.

We told Congress that from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, and from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering. Likewise, those deals don't seem to interest Congress.

Chris Cillizza.

AVLON: Yes. CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I mean, look, it is their view, obviously, and we should take it as such. But let's remember, as they note in that op-ed, they have testified under oath for 21 hours, in front of Congress, and they're calling on Congress to release those transcripts. So it's not just people saying things in an op-ed.

AVLON: Right.

CILLIZZA: This -- that's important.

Number two, look, I think the origin of this investigation is very important for both sides. Republicans are heavily invested in the idea, all the way certainly led by Donald Trump, and to the idea that this dossier, which was secretly funded, we is true, secretly funded, we did not know this at the time, funded by the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign is the reason --

AVLON: But first a Republican conservative organization.

CILLIZZA: And -- correct. And first --

AVLON: That's important.


Was the reason that this Russia investigation began. We -- they're the only people saying that, however. Multiple intelligence officials, multiple intelligence agencies have said the FBI -- and they write this in the op-ed. The FBI already had information about this potential Russia ties, Russian interference in the election.

AVLON: Right.

CILLIZZA: That -- the dossier confirmed in part and that's why it was taken so seriously.

So the origin of the investigation matters. It seems to me pinning it on this dossier is inaccurate based on what we know.

AVLON: Sure.

CILLIZZA: It does not mean it will stop from Republicans pursuing (ph) it.

CUOMO: But you also know it's inaccurate based on process because, you know, one of the -- one of the difficult points for Jordan and for the people on the right to deal with on this particular salvo is, they had to get the warrants from a judge. They had to make a prooffer (ph).

AVLON: Correct.


CAMEROTA: At the (INAUDIBLE). CUOMO: Just saying, here, read this dossier and skip the stuff about the hotel room, it's not going to be enough. They had to make a show. There's a judge.

Now people will say, oh, it's a rubber stamp. That is -- it's not a rubber stamp. Yes, they usually get the warrants because they usually have good reason for wanting the warrants. So that's part of it also.

CAMEROTA: They had to cohobate it. It's such a great point.


CUOMO: True.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Quickly, Chris.

CILLIZZA: I was just going to add, the other thing is, I know that the genesis of the investigation, the origin matters. But we now have two Trump aides having pled guilty to lying to the FBI, including Mike Flynn --


CILLIZZA: The national security adviser, and two others who are facing multiple charges. I mean this is not a Democrat say, Republicans say at this point.

CUOMO: Correct.

AVLON: Correct.

CILLIZZA: This is a criminal proceeding.

AVLON: That's right. And, look, the other reason this matters is it -- in the op-ed they're saying, not only release our testimony, that's significant because it's under oath, but they're also saying, we've asked the committee to take a look at, for example, the Deutsch Bank funding and the sources of that.


AVLON: It's about larger questions of why does President Trump refuse to criticize Vladimir Putin? Is there a history there that maybe predated his presidency?


CILLIZZA: Certainly and possibly the campaign. Follow the money. So these things fundamentally matter.

[06:45:03] CAMEROTA: There is so much in this op-ed that we didn't know. And I think it's really helpful that these two, you know, research (ph) now, Fusion GPS research people, former journalists, are spelling it out.

One last thing that I want to read to everybody. In terms of what Chris Steele found out when he went to Russia, OK,

here it is. What came back shocked us. Mr. Steele's sources in Russia, who were not paid.

AVLON: Right.

CAMEROTA: OK, we did not know that. Who were not paid reported on an extensive and now confirmed effort by the Kremlin to help elect Mr. Trump president. Mr. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the FBI.

So, yes, Christopher Steele was a hired hand who then reported what he found to the FBI. This is all really helpful information, John.

AVLON: It's vitally important as well. Take a look at those sentences. If they don't give you chills, you're not paying attention or you're being a partisan. And there's an attempt to dismiss all this information as some kind of, you know --

CAMEROTA: Witch hunt.

AVLON: Discredited -- witch hunt, discredited dossier. Not true. Some things have been proven. Some things have not. Some things have been discredited. But this -- and we wanted -- we should see that testimony. Let's release the testimony and look at it all because this is about our country. It's about our election. And it's going to resonate enormously through American history, as well as politics today.

CUOMO: Well, also, Chris, you also have to take a look at how they rebut. It's one thing to say, yes, he didn't pay his sources in Russia but he was getting played by people who wanted to be opportunistic. Maybe, maybe not. We don't know. You have to give a little of validation to Steele. He was a trained intelligence operative.


CUOMO: But then you have to look at the other levels that I think are way more pernicious. They're wicked. They're dangerous. The idea of the president of the United States saying the Department of Justice --


CUOMO: Is part of a deep state conspiracy against him.


CUOMO: Now, in the last segment I said, this is his style. Some like it. Some don't. This isn't about style. This is about irresponsibility. This is about putting yourself before everybody else. Donald Trump believes it's good for him to blame the Department of Justice. But it has to be bad for the rest of us, Chris.


CILLIZZA: OK. So every past president has done everything they can to build up the American people's faith in their institutions, particularly in their government. OK.


CILLIZZA: That goes double when it comes to law enforcement because it's so critical that we believe that you get -- you get a fair shake. If you commit a crime, it -- you get penalized for it. If you don't, you don't. This president is undermining it. And let me remind people --


CILLIZZA: This is the Trump Justice Department. Eric Holder is not the attorney general.



CILLIZZA: Jeff sessions is.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thank you.

CILLIZZA: Donald Trump put these folks there to undermine his own people is -- I mean it's remarkable.

CAMEROTA: OK. On that note, thank you, Chris Cillizza, John Avlon, very much.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, LeBron James has a new wingman. They were on the court together last night for the first time this season. How did it go? The "Bleacher Report," next.


[06:51:40] CUOMO: Oh, it was a big night. Two-time NBA all-star Isaiah Thomas gets a hero's welcome for his long-awaited debut in Cleveland. Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

This was good to see no matter which team you like.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it, Chris. Isaiah Thomas debut welcome there in Cleveland, kind of like when we welcomed Chris Cuomo back after a nice holiday break. Good to see you, Chris.

This "Bleacher Report" presented by the new 2018 Ford F-150. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the (INAUDIBLE) number 3, Isaiah Thomas!


WIRE: There it was, after an emotional departure from the Celtics, shipped away from Boston as part of this season's biggest blockbuster trade, and missing the first 36 games of this season with a hip injury, Isaiah Thomas comes to Cleveland for the first time with 17 points in just 19 minutes of play. NBA fans finally caught a glimpse just how good LeBron James' new super team may be.

Just 36 days until the winter Olympics in Pyongchang and imagine a lifelong dream coming true and being able to say, dad, I made it.




WIRE: That is Bobby Butler of the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals, called his father over during practice to let him know he'll be representing the USA's hockey team in South Korea. Bobby was coached by his father in high school. So now this father/son journey continues on to one of the greatest stages in sports.

CAMEROTA: That's beautiful, Coy, thank you very much.

WIRE: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: So 2017 was the safest year on record for commercial airline passengers. Is President Trump to thank for that? He claims he is. That's next.


[06:56:00] CAMEROTA: It is safer than ever to fly. Listen to this stat. No U.S. airline has experienced a fatality since 2009. President Trump is taking credit for this. He tweets that there were no commercial aviation deaths last year. The best and safest on record. And it was his very strict aviation policies that were responsible.

Let's find out if that's true. Joining us now is former FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, Peggy Gilligan.

Peggy, thank you so much for being here.

This is remarkable. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, it's not just in the U.S. Last year was the safest year for airplane travel since airplane travel became popular. And it was worldwide. No person died in a commercial passenger jet crash anywhere in the world in 2017. To what do you attribute that?

PEGGY GILLIGAN, FORMER FAA ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATION FOR AVIATION SAFETY: Well, Alisyn, it think aviation safety has always been a team sport really. Over the last 20 years here in the United States, everyone involved in aviation, from aircraft manufacturers, to the airline operators, to those folks who work in the industry, aviation labor representatives and the government, both the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA and the Department of Defense have been working to try to understand how can we continue to reduce the risk in aviation. And I think the statistics you just quoted show how successful that team has been.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, you all have cracked the code. I mean you've cracked the code. It's just remarkable.

So can the president take credit for this?

GILLIGAN: Well, I think actions in any given year really aren't responsible for all that we've been able to accomplished over the long haul. But certainly it's important that we have strong leadership. At the Federal Aviation Administration we've had an administration over the last five years, Michael Huerta, who has shown that leadership. The secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao, who previously served as the deputy secretary in transportation, has a strong commitment to aviation safety and transportation safety generally. That leadership is certainly part of why we were so successful.

CAMEROTA: But has the president, President Trump, who's been in office for a year, done anything in particular?

GILLIGAN: Well, I think, again, we're seeing that the payoff is long, hard steps all along the way. There wasn't a particular accomplishment this year.


GILLIGAN: It is the payoff and kind of staying the path, if you will --


GILLIGAN: Letting this industry work together with the aviation regulators --

CAMEROTA: Understood.

GILLIGAN: To make sure that we're maintaining this record.

CAMEROTA: From before -- that predated his administration, a couple of things he has not done that I want to run by you in terms of if you think that these will have any sort of effect, the FAA administrator that you talked about, Michael Huerta, he expires -- his term expires this coming weekend. And President Trump has yet to nominate any pick to replace him. Do we need an FAA administrator? Is this important?

GILLIGAN: Well, of course we need an FAA administrator. But in the meantime, there is a deputy --

CAMEROTA: So are you concerned that the president hasn't nominated anybody?

GILLIGAN: In the meantime, there's a deputy administrator who will step in and add -- and maintain that leadership. But there are a number of career senior executives at the FAA who have been there for a long time and are really the ones who keep the aviation safety machine moving forward.

CAMEROTA: So you think it will still be as safe, even if there isn't an FAA administrator in place?

GILLIGAN: I think the system is extremely robust. And I think the airlines and the aircraft manufacturers, along with the FAA, will all maintain this momentum. Aviation safety is something that we've all been committed to for our entire careers. And, again, I think you're seeing that commitment pay off.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. Whatever you've done is working.

Peggy Gilligan, thank you. It is truly a success story. Thank you very much for being here with us.

GILLIGAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.

[07:00:03] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: A line of communication back open between North and South Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are skeptical of Kim Jong-un's sincerity in having talks.