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The Damage Has Been Done; North and South Korea Long Awaited Meeting; Women Flag Raised in Golden Globes; White House Reacts to Michael Wolff's Book; Disaster at Sea off Shanghai; British Parliament Returns From Break; Flooding Inside JFK Terminal Four. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 8, 2018 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Expressing regret. Donald Trump's former adviser distances himself from controversial comments attributed to him about the U.S. president and his family.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Face-to-face as North and South Korea get set for talks, there are hopes it would lead to more dialogue.

HOWELL: And a room full of winners. Oprah Winfrey brings Hollywood to its feet with a rousing message at the Golden Globes.

CHURCH: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and of course all around the world. We are live in Atlanta. I'm rosemary church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell from CNN's world headquarters. Newsroom starts right now.

The tell-all book "Fire and Fury" paints a scathing picture of the Trump White House. The White House is pushing back. But there are no signs the fallout from this book are letting up.

CHURCH: Yes. Some of the most explosive quotes from "Fire and Fury" are attributed to Steve Bannon, President Trump's former chief strategist. But now Bannon says he regrets not responding sooner to what's in the book. He says he still believes in the president and his agenda, and that he never bad-mouthed Donald Trump, Jr. as the author suggests.

HOWELL: When the book came out Friday, this despite legal threats from the president's personal attorneys, the president responded furiously on Twitter calling it a fake book written by a totally discredited author.

CHURCH: Now all of, this though, may be too little too late. We are told President Trump is drawing a line in the sand, calling allies and friends, making it clear they must choose between him and Bannon.

HOWELL: Our Boris Sanchez picks it up from here.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has now been five full days since when we first got those excerpts from "Fire and Fury" that were explosive and drew into question not only the president's mental fitness for office, but also his relationship with his former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Today Steve Bannon putting out a statement for the first time directly in response to those quotations of his in that book, specifically taking exception to a portion where he describes a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian nationals at Trump Tower back in June of 2016 as treasonous and unpatriotic.

Bannon saying that those comment were not directed toward Donald Trump, Jr. who he calls a patriot, but rather toward former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Here's that specific section. He writes, quote, "My comments were aimed at Pall Manafort, a seasoned campaign professional with experience and knowledge of how the Russians operate. He should have known they are duplicitous, cunning and not our friends. To reiterate, those comments were not aimed at Don Jr."

Of course, we should point out a trail of e-mails shows that it was Donald Trump Jr. who brokered that meeting with Russian nationals and who then looped in not only Paul Manafort but also the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner. And in a later e-mail he said that he loved the idea of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton that was being offered to the Trump campaign by these Russian nationals.

The most fascinating part of this statement though, is the portion in which Steve Bannon tries to put himself once again in the president's good graces by saying that Donald Trump was the only candidate that could have defeated Hillary Clinton and then going a step further and touting his own abilities as a messenger for the president, saying that he has taken the America first message as far as Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Steve Bannon here is in a bit of a predicament because over the past few days we have seen not only Trump surrogates going after him, but also the president himself, calling him a sloppy Steve.

And earlier today CNN was actually able to confirm that the president has been making calls in recent days to friends and allies, telling them that they either support Steve Bannon or they support the president.

So it seems as though Steve Bannon feels his influence shrinking and potentially is trying to salvage his political career by reaching out to the president in this way.

Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House.

HOWELL: All right, Boris, thanks. Now we heard from the president's senior policy adviser who appeared on CNN's Sunday to defend his boss.

CHURCH: In his conversation with Jake tapper Stephen Miller called Bannon's comments grotesque. He also had some choice words for the book and its author.


STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR: The book is best understood as a book of poorly written fiction. And I also will say that the author is a garbage author of a garbage a book.


HOWELL: A lot to talk about here. And to do so, let's bring in Leslie Vinjamuri. Leslie, a professor of international relations at SOAS University of London, live this hour in our London bureau. Always a pleasure to have you, Leslie, with us.


HOWELL: Let's go back to this situation with Steve Bannon. He has offered not an apology, but offered regret about a single point from this book that point about Don Trump, Jr. But with the president reportedly calling his friends and allies, telling them to pick between him or Steve Bannon, does Bannon's olive branch of regret even matter at this point in your mind?

[03:05:08] VINJAMURI: Well, it's very difficult to know. As we know with the president, he does change his mind actually about people and about situations. So it's difficult to know. And of course he has had a very long and very interesting relationship with Steve Bannon.

I think Bannon's position is perhaps not surprising. Because remember, Bannon is very committed to his views on the U.S., on the future of the U.S. and U.S. Foreign policy. And I think for Bannon, whether he could influence the president and the United States in the course of direction of U.S. policy, whether that's within or without, outside of the White House, both of those things are very important to him.

So his admittedly delayed statement I think is pitched at being sure that he can remain a very serious voice and have important influence over the public debate and over the White House and more specifically over Donald Trump. How that will turn out is very difficult to know. As you can see, he is at risk now of losing a lot of his backers.

But he understands that the, you know, attacking the president's son is no small thing. And he uses that word patriotic clearly as a response to what he was quoted saying earlier, which is that the behavior was treasonous. So I think it's not surprising given Bannon's very clear desire to really push forward is a very nationalist agenda. And to do that now from outside the White House.

HOWELL: OK. So Bannon now has a new nickname called sloppy Steve. Here is the question though, with his statement of regret, returning hat in hand to the president. Is he accepted again do you think by this president?

VINJAMURI: Well, again, I don't think that we can anticipate what Trump will feel or say or do in the next, you know, day or days when it comes to Steve Bannon. Certainly the last day or two suggests that this is a very major rift. But you know, there have been people that we thought were on the way

out of the White House that have remained in place. You know, there were rumors of Tillerson going or rumors of Jeff Sessions going. Many things changed. Of course the relationship between Steve Bannon and Donald Trump is very much different.

But it's always been, you know, that Bannon was in the White House, it was a very contentious White House. There were a lot of feuds. The president was I'm sure managing those. So I think it's difficult to anticipate which way this will go, despite the optics, which is that it looks like it's a very deep fracture in the relationship right now.

HOWELL: All right, Leslie, this book "Fire and Fury," it is having an impact. Just listen here to a republican lawmaker who has already announced his retirement, important to point that out, but speaking out now about his impressions from this book and its portrayal of the president. Listen.


CHARLIE DENT, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Bottom line is the issues raised in that book do raise concerns for most of us. Because clearly the whole idea of impulse control, lack of focus -- and we've heard this before. The book more or less just confirms what many of us had been hearing.


HOWELL: The question do, you take the book seriously or literally? That was a question back from the campaign. Michael Wolff has insisted he is uncovering the things that people say behind closed doors and that it's pervasive throughout the administration.

Also important to point out, that his techniques questionable with some regards, attribution, things of that nature. But overall this narrative that he paints, can the Trump White House easily dismiss it?

VINJAMURI: Well, I do think that, you know, it seems to be -- it's widely known that Michael Wolff plays fast and loose, not only with making his -- those he is interviewing aware that they're actually being interviewed. But he also plays fast and loose with the facts.

So I think in terms of any specific incident, one has to be wary. The thing that we can also see, though, is that people who have very seriously covered this White House throughout the entire presidency, who covered the campaign, who were very credible are saying, and I think for all of us who followed the Trump White House, that the general picture that's being painted is one that is not surprising actually to most people.

So it's almost surprising that so many people are interested in the book given that everything that we hear and everything that we have read so far. And I've read a good portion of it, but not all of it yet. It isn't so far from what we've already taken to be true about the dysfunctionality of the White House. But again, the specific details in much of the book, one can't be sure of. HOWELL: Always good to get the insider view. Leslie Vinjamuri, live

with us in our London bureau, thank you. We'll stay in touch.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

CHURCH: To a very different topic now on Sunday night. The Golden Globes reminded the world of the power of women. The show honored the best in TV and film, but it seemed like the trophies took a back seat to politics this year.

Host Seth Meyers set the tone in his opening monologue mentioning the sexual harassment scandals that have plagued Hollywood recently.


[03:10:04] SETH MEYERS, HOST, GOLDEN GLOBES: They tried to get a woman to host this show. They really did. They say hey, how would you like to come and be judged by some of the most powerful people in Hollywood. And women were, well, where is it? They said it's at a hotel, and long story short, I'm your host tonight.


HOWELL: All right. Actor Sterling K. Brown made history on Sunday night. He became the first African-American to win best actor in the TV drama for his role in "This is Us." During his speech he talked about benefitting from color-blind casting.


STERLING BROWN, ACTOR: What I appreciate so much about this thing is that I'm being seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am. And it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me or dismiss anybody who looks like me.


CHURCH: But it was Oprah Winfrey who brought the crowd to their feet. She became the first black woman to be awarded the Cecil B. Demille award for lifetime achievement. And during her heartfelt speech, she addressed the sexual harassment plaguing the industry.


OPRAH WINFREY, WINNER, CECIL B. DEMILLE AWARD: Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. A new day is on the horizon! When nobody ever has to say me too again.


HOWELL: Those words heard around the world when she said...


CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. HOWELL: ... before the show even started celebrities were making

statements. They dressed in all black. To draw attention to sexual harassment and to gender inequality, and to show support for the hash tag Me Too movement.

CHURCH: Actress Michelle Williams brought the founder as her guest. They caught up with Stephanie Elam on the red carpet.


TARANA BURKE, FOUNDER, ME TOO: It's humbling, but it's also empowering, right. This is such a bold statement for women who work in Hollywood to make in solidarity with women across the world. And you know, a person like me, I stand and I represent survivors. And so I know that so many women on this carpet are survivors. And so it just really makes me feel wonderful.



MICHELLE WILLIAMS, ACTRESS: It's amazing to see the women come up to her though, with like, tears in their eyes. Because Tarana is really among the first. I mean, she started the Me Too movement. Because she was among the first to say like, I see you and you're not alone anymore.

ELAM: So you think, I'm going ask you both this. Do you think this is a true changing moment, a real turning point here in Hollywood in this post-Harvey Weinstein days?

WILLIAMS: I don't think it's just a change in Hollywood. I think it's a change the worldwide change...


WILLIAMS: ... that we want to hand to all of our daughters.

BURKE: Yes, I agree. I think that the media pays a lot of attention to Hollywood because it's Hollywood. But these are people; these are women who are survivors just like the women survivors who I represent in communities all across the country. And I do think that this is a moment that is going to be lasting. We've never seen anything like this in our lifetimes. And I think that this is not just a footnote. It's going to be the start of something major.


CHURCH: For more I'm joined by Rebecca Sun. She is a senior reporter at the Hollywood Reporter. Good to have you with us. So some impressive wins at the Golden Globe, but Oprah Winfrey stole the show with an inspiring speech on sexual harassment and freedom of the press that has some suggesting she run for president in 2020. What's being said about her speech and its impact?

REBECCA SUN, SENIOR REPORTER, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Yes, and you know, Oprah Winfrey's speech was hands-down the highlight of the night. And Oprah 2020, Oprah for president means are already trending on Twitter. I mean, I think that she really covered pretty much everything. You know, as you said, she addressed Me Too. She addressed time's up, saying that, you know, the time is up where women have to say me too, where sexual harassment and sexual misconduct are hopefully going to become things of the past.

She also talked about intersectionality and talked about the significance of being the first black woman to receive this award. She remembered seeing Sydney Poitier when become the first black man to win a Golden Globe back in '63.

She talked about Recy Taylor. That's really important. Recy was a young black woman who in 1944 was gang raped by six white men, and two grand juries failed to bring indictments against them, which means that they were never charged even they admitted they had done it. And she died ten days ago.

Oprah Winfrey really gave Recy Taylor that platform and really moved the entire room to tears. And I would imagine a lot of people at home as well.

CHURCH: Yes, incredible. And the Golden Globes were the first major awards show to go to air since the harassment and sexual misconduct allegations shook Hollywood to its core. And we saw significant projects win big, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Lady Bird, Big Little Lies, the Handmaid's tale and others, all with women at the center. What stood out and what will everyone be talking about in the hours ahead, do you think?

[03:14:59] SUN: Yes. That is what was really interesting, is that you saw all of the really major awards on both the film and television side happened to be really female centric projects, you know. In an earlier era they would have been called women's pictures. But now they're being honored in a general sense.

You know, Lady Bird was directed by Greta Gerwig in her directorial debut. She was snubbed for the best director win. But the fact that her film won best comedy was huge. You now, the Handmaid's Tale and Big Little Lies, again, were projects that starred and were produced by women.

What was interesting to me was Three Billboards winning best drama. That race wasn't a sure thing. Some people thought it would have gone to the shape of water. some people thought the post. But it looks like they were positioning Three Billboards as a sort of female centric movie with Frances McDormand's performance, a really tough mother grieving the brutal death of her daughter as right at the helm.

CHURCH: And of course, many articles written in the wake of the Golden Globes award say this was more about a cultural correction than an awards night. Was that the sense you got? And could this signal some significant shift in Hollywood and ultimately society? And of course, Seth Meyers, did he get that balance right?

SUN: You know, it was a really, really tricky challenge to be able to address, properly address this climate of something so serious, something that really goes beyond Hollywood with all of the traditional work of an awards show.

You saw a little bit of that awkwardness coming out of Oprah Winfrey's speech right into the best director category, which Natalie Portman went off prompter, went to note was all men. That was an amazing moment, an unscripted moment that turned out to be another highlight of the awards show.

I thought Seth Meyers did a good job. I thought he really disappeared after his monologue which set the tone and was, you know, he went right for it. He was very direct. He name checked and called out Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen. These were guys who were revered at the Golden Globes in the past. And now are persona non grata.

CHURCH: All right, Rebecca Sun, always great to talk with you. I Appreciate it.

SUN: Thanks.

HOWELL: All right. Still ahead, one of the U.S. president's top advisers comes to CNN to defend his boss from the bombshell new book.

CHURCH: And it got tense. The details coming your way in just a moment.


HOWELL: Welcome back. On Tuesday, North and South Korea will meet face the face for the first time in more than two years. This meeting considered a breakthrough for these two countries. And there are hopes it will open the doors to broader cooperation.

CHURCH: Though the U.S. won't be there, President Trump says he would be open to talking directly with the North Korean leader. But the American ambassador to the U.N. Says that does not mean the U.S. is softening against Kim Jong-un's nuclear threats.


NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I'm dealing with the diplomats on the ground. I'm dealing with all of the actors in this situation. It is a serious situation, and he can't sit there and imply that he is going to destroy the United States without us reminding him of the facts and the reality, that if you go there, it's not us that's going to be destroyed, it's you.


CHURCH: So let's get more on Tuesday's talks. We turn to CNN's Will Ripley live for us this hour in Seoul, South Korea. And Will, of course, you have reported extensively from North Korea. Just how significant could these talks prove to be? How much is it achievable? WILL RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, if you think

about the fact that there is -- could likely be a North Korean delegation coming here to South Korea to march alongside South Korean athletes on a world stage, that is a significant achievement in itself.

Of course, the hope is that beyond the Olympics, that these talks could can lead to more conversations about bigger issue, divided families on the Korean peninsula, for one example, and of course, the biggest issue North Korea's nuclear program.

But we have history as an example that talks in the past have looked promising at the beginning only to break down and tensions to re- escalate once again. And don't forget, the United States and South Korea are still going to continue with joint military exercises that usually gets some kind of military response from the north that will happen after the Olympics.

So the focus right now, a peaceful Pyeongchang Winter Games. And that's what they're going to be discussing beginning tomorrow morning, 10 a.m. local time in an area that is rich in history and considered one of the most tense and potentially dangerous flash points on earth.


RIPLEY: The Korean demilitarized zone, a place where two worlds collide, dictatorship and democracy staring each other down.

CHAD O'CARROLL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, KOREA RISK GROUP: It's a very, very big reminder of what's at stake on the peninsula.

RIPLEY: The first official talks in two years between North and South Korea will be held in Panmunjom, the so-called truce village straddling the 38th parallel, the tense dividing line between two neighbors still technically at war.

Delegations from both sides of the DMZ will be sitting a stone's throw away from the path a North Korean soldier took in November in a dramatic defection, shot five times running South. The talks will take place in peace house, one of three buildings in the truce village, built specifically for discussions like this. Two in the South, one in the North.

O'CARROLL: Sometimes the two Koreas have disagreements over which side the talks should be on.

RIPLEY: This time they're on the south side. North Korean officials will likely pass through the same blue huts I first visited in 2015, the year the last round of marathon talks took place, lasting some 44 hours, nearly two days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In favor of armed intervention...

RIPLEY: To understand the DMZ we need to go back to the end of World War II. The Soviets and Americans divided Korea just like they did Germany. Most historians say the communist north tried to get it all by invading the south. The north says it was the other way around.

Technically, the war never ended. An armistice agreement put both Koreas back on their side of the dividing line, a standoff nearly 65 years and counting.

Today, North Korea is facing its toughest sanctions ever over leader Kim Jong-un's rapidly advancing nuclear program.

O'CARROLL: For the North Koreans, the motivations to take part in these talks is undoubtedly due to the pressure that is building up on the country.

RIPLEY: Pressure that only stands to increase in 2018 unless both sides find a diplomatic path, a path that begins here in Panmunjom, a painful reminder of the region's violent pass tense present, and uncertain future.


[03:24:57] RIPLEY: Incidentally, today is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's birthday. He is believed to be in his early to mid-30s although his exact birth year has never been publicly confirmed. And it was just a couple of years ago I was in Pyongyang on his birthday week when he ordered a nuclear test.

George and Rosemary, this year it's peace talks. And many around the region and around the world are hoping that this will be a sign of things to come for 2018. Diplomacy as opposed to military escalation like what we saw last year.

CHURCH: Let's certainly hope for that. And Will, U.S. President Donald Trump is taking credit for the talks taking place. Did he have a role to play in pushing North Korea to this point? And now of course Mr. Trump is pushing for talks with the North Korean leader himself. Could we see that happen?

RIPLEY: Well, as far as the role President Trump played, his administration has been a driving force in these sanctions that have really stepped up the pressure on North Korea. And the sanctions are being enforced by what we can at least see on the surface, which means North Korea is not able to import things like oil.

It's been drastically cut. And North Korea is also not able to sell a lot of the things that it uses to bring in revenue. And so, in the medium to long-term, that could bode serious problems for the North Korean economy. And the fact that they came to get -- came to these talks so quickly, within about a week or so, they -- from the time the offer was made to the time the talks happened does indicate that the North Koreans are certainly keen to sit down and have conversations starting with the Olympics.

President Trump's tweets, on the other hand, which have included insults of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, those certainly would not be viewed as productive because there are a lot of North Korean officials who have told me that they're not necessarily sure that the DPRK feels they could negotiate with the Trump administration given that kind of disrespectful fiery rhetoric and mixed messaging. But a lot of the experts do believe the sanctions would be one reason why North Korea is wanting the talk now.

CHURCH: All right. Will Ripley, we'll be watching to see what comes of those talks, joining us live from Seoul in South Korea where it is nearly 5.30 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on CNN Newsroom, one of the U.S. president's top advisers appeared here on CNN. Ahead, you'll hear some of his, rather, frank comments in the interview, defending his boss.

CHURCH: Plus, a winter storm had already grounded flights. Now frustrated passengers are dealing with soggy luggage. The misery gross at JFK airport. We'll take a look at it. Back in a moment.



[03:30:00] CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN "Newsroom." I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you. This hour, the former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon says that he regrets not speaking out sooner to refute some comments in a new book about the Trump administration. "Fire and Fury" quotes Steve Bannon as being highly critical of President Trump and his family. A top Trump advisor, Stephen Miller called Bannon's comments in the book grotesque.

CHURCH: The leaders of North and South Korea are sending envoys to meet face to face Tuesday. They will discuss North Korea's desire to compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics and how to improve relations between the two countries. It's the first time they have had direct contact in more than two years.

HOWELL: At the 75th Annual Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey brought the crowd to its feet Sunday. She was honored with a lifetime achievement award. During her heartfelt speech, she addressed sexual harassment against women in the entertainment industry and beyond. Many celebrities wore black to draw attention to the issue.

CHURCH: Shanghai's Maritime Bureau says there is a continuing risk of explosion and sinking of an oil tanker that collided with a freighter off China's east coast Saturday night. Meanwhile, the search and rescue mission is ongoing for 31 missing tanker crew members. The country's Ministry of Transport says one body has been recovered so far. The tanker was carrying 136,000 tons of oil when the accident happened.

CNN's Matt Rivers joins us now from Beijing with more on this. So Matt, what are you learning about this situation and what happened exactly the circumstances leading up to this?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, not sure -- no word on the cause yet in terms of how these two ships managed to collide Saturday night. This was an Iranian oil tanker and a Chinese grain ship colliding. Of course, the immediate concern was for those missing crew members, 32 crew members from that Iranian oil tanker were missing with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in China confirming that one body has been found so far.

The immediate concern is going to be the search operations for those 31 sailors, those crewmen that still are missing at this point. A difficult task given that there is a fire on board that tanker that sprang a lot of smoke up into the air. These are very cold waters where these two ships collided and so the rescuers certainly have a very difficult mission ahead of them trying to find those missing crewmen.

If that's the immediate concern though, the flip side of that will be the potential environmental impact. I mentioned that fire on board the Iranian tanker. We're not sure the status of that fire at this point but what Chinese officials have said is there is a concern that as a result of that fire there could be an explosion and as a result of the explosion the tanker itself could sink.

We know that some of the oil on board has already leaked into the surrounding waters. We're not sure how much at this point, but of course if there is an explosion and the subsequent sinking of that vessel, that could make that environmental situation even more treacherous. That's compounded by the fact that the kind of oil that is on board the ship is an ultra light crude oil.

And that is the kind of oil that is colorless. It's not the kind of heavy crude oil that you would think of with your more traditional oil spill out in seas like this and it makes containing that kind of a spill that much more difficult. We're not there yet. As far as we know, there hasn't been an explosion on board. The ship is still floating at this point. But that is the concern for officials moving forward the remaining crew that are missing and the potential environmental catastrophe that could occur.

CHURCH: Yes. Certainly a challenge lying ahead there as people work to try to find those men on board the tanker. CNN's Matt Rivers bringing us up to date on the situation. We'll keep eye on the story of course.

HOWELL: Returning now to the United States, a closer look at the fallout from that new book, "Fire and Fury." It paints a very unflattering portrayal of the Trump administration.

CHURCH: Yes. Former chief strategist

[03:35:00] Steve Bannon is quoted extensively and his comments did not sit well with President Trump. Mr. Trump's senior policy adviser spoke with CNN's Jake Tapper about the book and baron, and it didn't exactly go well. Here's a look.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So President Trump and the White House have been calling the Russia investigation a witch hunt and a nothing burger, but obviously in this new Michael Wolff book "Fire and Fury," Bannon offered a different take on the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and these other officials including a Russian lawyer.

He called it treasonous and unpatriotic, and he said that quote, the chance the Don, Jr. did not walk these (INAUDIBLE) up to his father's office on the 26th floor is zero. Did President Trump meet with any of the so-called (INAUDIBLE) who were in that Trump Tower meeting?

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR FOR POLICY: Steve Bannon's eloquence in that description notwithstanding, it's tragic and unfortunate that Steve would make these grotesque comments, so out of touch with reality and obviously so vindictive and the whole White House staff is deeply disappointed in his comments, which were grotesque. And with respect to the Trump Tower meeting that he's talking about, he wasn't even there when this went down.

So he's not really a remotely credible source on any of it. It reads like an angry vindictive person spouting off to a highly discredible author. The book is best understood as a work of very poorly written fiction and I also would say that the author is a garbage author of a garbage book.

TAPPER: You were at the campaign during that Trump Tower meeting I believe, right, in the summer of 2016. Just to answer the question because you were there and Steve Bannon was not, did any of those of people from that meeting with President Trump as Bannon says, the chance that he didn't -- that Don, Jr. didn't walk (INAUDIBLE) up to his father's office on the 26th floor as zero? Can you just settle that for us? Did President Trump meet with any of the people?

MILLER: I have no knowledge of anything to do with that meeting.


MILLER: But what I can tell you unequivocally is that the allegations and insinuations in this book, which are a pure work of fiction, are nothing but a pile of trash through and through. Sticking though to your comment about he was also the president's chief strategist, so one of the other tragedies of this grotesque work of fiction is its portrayal of the president.

The reality is the president is a political genius who won against a field of 17 incredibly talented people who took down the Bush dynasty, who took down the Clinton dynasty, who took down the entire media complex with its 90 percent negative coverage. He took down billions of dollars in special interests donations and he did all to the people and through his strategy and his vision and his insight and his experience.

TAPPER: So, let's talk about this. According to the "New York Times" Special Counsel Robert Mueller has in possession an early draft of a letter that you helped write in May 2017, detailing reasons to fire FBI director James Comey. According to the newspaper, the first line of the letter mentions the Russia investigation. Did you write a letter outlining reasons to fire Comey and list the Russia investigation? Is that true?

MILLER: Here's the problem with what you're saying, the final draft of the letter, the one that was --

TAPPER: I'm not talking about that one. I'm talking about the one that Comey has that mentions Russia.

MILLER: If you want to have an answer to your question and not get hysterical then I'll answer it. The final draft of the letter has the same line about the fact that there is a Trump-Russia investigation that this has nothing to do with.

TAPPER: So was this moved from the top to the bottom?

MILLER: No. No. Look at the letter. It's the beginning. The investigation is referencing the beginning of the final letter that was released to point out about the fact but notwithstanding having been informed that there's no investigation, that the move that is happening is completely unrelated to that. It was a disclaimer. It appeared in the final version of the letter that was made public --

TAPPER: The reason and the White House --

MILLER: No, the reason why I want to talk about --

TAPPER: The president and the White House --

MILLER: Jake, the reason why I want to talk about the president's experiences, what I've seen with him traveling to meet dozens of foreign leaders with his incredible work and major --

TAPPER: OK, you're not answering the questions. I understand --

MILLER: No, you have 24 hours a day of (INAUDIBLE) material --

TAPPER: Stephen you're being --

MILLER: You're not going to give three minutes for the American people --

TAPPER: I get it.

MILLER: -- the real experience of Donald Trump.

TAPPER: There's one viewer that you care about right now. And you're being obsequious to being (INAUDIBLE) in order to please him. OK.

MILLER: No. You know who I care about?

TAPPER: And I think I've wasted -- I think I've wasted enough of my viewers' time. Thank you, Stephen.


HOWELL: Well the president was watching it and responded on twitter. CHURCH: Yes. Mr. Trump seems not to be a fan of Jake Tapper, no

surprise there. This is what he tweeted, Jake Tapper of fake news CNN just got destroyed in his interview with Stephen Miller of the Trump administration. Watch the hatred and unfairness of this CNN flunky. As Jake pointed out,

[03:40:00] that was for just one viewer and that viewer was certainly watching.

HOWELL: CNN "Newsroom" pushes on. The U.K.'s parliament gets back to work after New Year's break.

CHURCH: A look at the challenges facing Prime Minister Theresa May. That is still to come. Please stay with us.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well in London, the British parliament is getting back to work after the New Year's break.

HOWELL: The Prime Minister Theresa May has a frantic schedule ahead. She's facing a health service crisis and also has to tackle the ongoing Brexit negotiations. And today, she is set to reshuffle her cabinet. For more, let' bring in Bianca Nobilo to join us live from Number 10. It's good to have you with us this hour. Let's talk about this. First of all what prompted this reshuffle and what sort of changes are expected from it?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN PRODUCER: A reshuffle was expected after the election in June last year, but of course the election didn't go the way that the prime minister was hoping. She had called it to increase her mandate for Brexit, was expecting this huge majority, that didn't happen. In fact, her majority was reduced. She ended up in a hung parliament so she was in no position to be able to move members of the cabinet around. That's when it was intended. So she wasn't in the position to reshuffle all of last year.

Then she had a couple members of the cabinet drop out through scandals and most recently, her closest political ally and first secretary of stat, which is de facto deputy prime minister Damien Green was asked to leave by the prime minister late last year after the fallout of an investigation into him having pornography on his office computer.

[03:45:00] The investigation was about 10 years ago, but allegations resurfaced and he was asked to leave. So that is what has prompted this reshuffle today after the recess, after the parliamentary break. Parliament's back today and the prime minister is going to be moving around her cabinet.

HOWELL: Talk about a frantic schedule. A lot to do, I mean, the health service crisis, Brexit, the prime minister has a great deal on her plate. By reshuffling the pack, will that provide her any relief?

NOBILO: The tricky thing about a reshuffle is that it does create generally more disgruntled MP's than happy ones because it leaves many MP's that may have been hopeful about a promotion, disappointed and only one person rate (ph) to that position in cabinet. She's likely to leave the key players in her team such as the Brexit secretary David Davis, the foreign secretary Boris Johnson, the home secretary Amber Rudd in place.

That's what we're hearing and the MP's will be very surprised that she was to move any of them. But she might bring in some fresh blood, some potential future leaders for the coming years after she is no longer leader of the Conservative Party. There seems to be quite dirt (ph) within the Tory Party of future leadership potential.

So many people are keeping an eye on that, but asked whether or not it can help her, what did dogs do? Is it certainly projects would a sense of confidence because she wouldn't be able to reshuffle the cabinet at all if she was as weak a position as he was last year. However, we should be careful about overstating that strength because she certainly not in a particularly authoritative position yet, George.

HOWELL: All right, so Brexit top of mind, certainly among lawmakers. I want to talk about this reporting from the "Daily Telegraph" that the prime minister will appoint a cabinet minister for no deal Brexit in this reshuffle. How is that being perceived as people hear that possible news?

NOBILO: There have been many rumors swirling about the Brexit department in the run up to this expected reshuffle. There was talk of creating a Brexit super department, perhaps combining the business department with the Brexit department because of the heavy focus on the economy and future business links with Brexit.

However, obviously none of that can be substantiated at this time. It is very normal to have those sorts of rumors circulating prior to a re-shuffle. One of the names is being mentioned of course in all of this is Boris Johnson and whether or not it might be possible that he moves over to a role which is more involved with Brexit, but purely speculation at this point. We'll have to wait a see but we're expecting to hear news about this reshuffle in the coming hours, George.

HOWELL: Bianca Nobilo, live for us just outside Number 10. Thank you for the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.

CHURCH: Well, German leader Angela Merkel is desperately launching another bit to build a new ruling coalition in her country, and the poor Germany out of its worst political crisis in years. The reputation and perhaps her political future are on the line as talks begin in Berlin between her conservative block and the social Democrats.

HOWELL: Keeping in mind, Merkel's party was weakened in last September's general election and after poor showing. As a result, she needs to cobble together now the support of other parties. It's a govern and pass legislation

CHURCH: Well take a short break here. It's frustrating enough to have winter storms delay your travel plans but for some travelers, this weekend it became a further nightmare. The situation of New York's JFK International Airport, that's next.

HOWELL: Plus, a look at the weather ahead. We'll see if the U.S. east coast finally gets a break from the cold, the bitter, bitter, cold, bone chilling weather. Stay with us.


HOWELL: We've been talking about the cold weather in the United States only adding insult to injury for folks at New York's JFK airport.

CHURCH: Yes, they have dealt with a winter storm, flights delayed and cancelled, luggage piling up and to top it all off, parts of the airport were flooded from a water main break. CNN's Polo Sandoval has the very latest.

POLO SANDOVAL: It certainly was an inconvenient weekend for passengers at New York's JFK's International Airport. First the aftermath of Thursday's wicked winter weather leading to what authorities here at JFK have described as a cascading series of issues including a backlog of flights and stranded passengers. And then on Sunday, an actual cascade of water inside terminal four, all of this caused by a pipe that burst that flooded in the arrivals wing or at least a portion of the arrivals wing within terminal four.

It prompted the shutdown of some international flights that are arriving here in the terminal. Authorities now trying to get to the bottom of what caused it.


RICK COTTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY: We will thoroughly investigate why this pipe burst. We will thoroughly investigate why it was not adequately protected. And we will examine carefully the contingency plans that were in place in order to recover for this event and we will determine the accountability and responsibility for the failure that did occur this afternoon.


SANDOVAL: The international flights later resuming just before 8:00 p.m. on Sunday night. And this comes after officials here at JFK have been struggling to try to fully recover. They have been dealing with a series of issues here, everything from frozen equipment breakdowns to baggage handling complications, even staff shortages as well. But now officials hoping that with this new day potentially slightly warmer temperatures will be an opportunity for some of the operations here at the one of the world's busiest airports to be back to normal. Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

HOWELL: All right Polo, thank you. So right now, two weather extremes at work on opposite sides of our planet. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri follows it all, Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, a big story of course across the eastern U.S. is the severe cold and often the perspective is down across Australia. Wait until you see the observations across that region, but 5, 10, 15 degrees across this region of northeast is what it feels like (INAUDIBLE). A light breeze across over the region and of course New York City at JFK we had a 5 degree temperature on Sunday morning that broke a record, six from 2014. Remember the polar vortex event that was three years ago yesterday that it took place.

It brought temperatures across much of the eastern U.S. into the single digits but upwards of almost 40 records were set across the eastern U.S> on Sunday. A big time cold and the longevity of it really was the most impressive but notice what's historic, make you weather advisories. We're talking about 80 million people underneath us so roughly one in every four people in the country going to be impacted by this, but Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati work its way towards the Washington metro (ph) area. You could see a glazing of ice here, but all of this going to impact more airlines across this region of course road travel going to be hazardous as well. And accumulations of ice here

[03:55:00] generally speaking -- see the pink contour that's less than a quarter of an inch of ice and that typically is just a transportation issue. Any time you get up above a half inch or so, that brings trees down, brings power lines down. Exceed a half an inch, we're talking about widespread extensive damage to properties as well. So at least on a minimal end of ice accumulations, this is what you expect, but of course the airport is going to really have a tough time with that over the next 24 hours.

But talking about heat, the opposite end of the story, where is the hottest place on earth? Well we know typically this time of year that's in Australia, but not so typically does that happen in Sydney. How about the hottest temperature in almost eight decades in Sydney -- it's in celsius, 47.3 celsius, Which is about 117.

In the eastern suburbs (INAUDIBLE) -- is the western suburbs of Sydney there. The average temperature though, for this time of year sits at 26 celsius. So we're talking almost about 80 degrees or 78, 79 degrees Fahrenheit and it's on the (INAUDIBLE) Fahrenheit. But we give up a little bit here, we get some slightly cooler temperatures by later in the week and then it builds right back in place across this region so once again, in Celsius here you'll notice the temp has climbed from the middle 20s all the way up to almost the middle 30s there. So, heat, big time across portions of Australia, and in Sydney of all places do not necessarily just (INAUDIBLE).

CHURCH: The horrible temperatures there. All right, Pedram -- and such extremes as well -- thanks so much.

HOWELL: Thanks so much Pedram.

CHURCH: And thanks to all of you for your company in this hour in CNN "Newsroom." I'm Rosemary Church.

HOWEL: And I'm George Howell. It's a pleasure to be with you. "Early Start" is next for viewers here in the United States and for viewers around the world, the news continues with our colleague Max Foster on deck live in London.