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President, Aides Defend His Mental Health; President Trump Says He's "A Very Stable Genius"; Oprah With Powerful Message At Golden Globes; Book Sparks Chatter On Trump's Fitness; International Arrivals Resume At JFK; Trump: Sure, I Would Talk To Kim Jong-Un; North Korea Accepts The South's Plan For Talks; Tax Law Will Spark Wall Street Buyout Bonanza. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 8, 2018 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- use like being less attentive in class, not getting enough sleep, higher risk of depression and suicide. Shareholders want Apple to add more sophisticated parental controls to limit the time kids can spend on devices.

It reminds me of a meeting I was in with a bunch of tech executives, right. I said in my house, we're waiting until 8th grade before a smart phone. These executives looked at me like I was holding my children back from society by not letting grade schoolers have --

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: My sixth greater has an iPhone, does yours?


BRIGGS: No iPhones -- a major problem --

ROMANS: We live in the 19th Century in my house.

BRIGGS: All right. "EARLY START" continues right now with the question will Oprah run for president in 2020?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reality is that the president is a political genius.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is completely capable of working alongside of us.


ROMANS: The president's backers defending his fitness to serve, but did the president's own tweets hurt his cause?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For too long women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: A new day is on the horizon. Oprah Winfrey's powerful message. Is a political run in her future?

ROMANS: There's a lot of buzz last night about that speech of Oprah.

BRIGGS: There sure was. It would be a fascinating contrast, but no clue yet if that happens. Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. After a very intriguing Golden Globes. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday morning, January 8th. It's 5 a.m. in the east. We have reports this hour from Washington. A water main break at JFK Airport. Peace talks in the Korean Peninsula and the college football title game in Atlanta. We're going to get you caught up to speed on everything you need to know this morning.

Let's begin with politics, though. Top aides to President Trump and the president himself forced to defend the president's mental state this weekend. The release of a book full of unflattering anecdotes sparking and uncomfortable interview and a series of bizarre tweets.

Many of those anecdotes came from former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. On CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller slashed Bannon as an angry, vindictive person. He slashed Michael Wolff's book as poorly written garbage.


STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISER: One of the other tragedies of this grotesque work of fiction is its portrayal of the president, and the reality is the president is a political genius. All these so called political geniuses in Washington, whether it about the big lobbying firms or --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The only person who's called himself a genius in the last week is the president.

MILLER: Which happens to be a true statement. A self-made a billionaire who revolutionized reality tv --

TAPPER: And I'm sure he's watching and he's happy that you said that but --

MILLER: Jake, you can be condescending.


TAPPER: I'm trying to get to the issue --

MILLER: The president's tweets absolutely reaffirm the plain-spoken truth.


BRIGGS: He needs a nickname. Here are the tweets Miller was talking about. On Saturday morning, the president slammed Democrats for, quote, "taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook." He touted his own, quote, "mental stability and being like really smart." Capped off a list of his achievements saying, "I think that would qualify as not smart but genius, and a very stable genius at that, #stablegenius.

ROMANS: Stable genius, and then the president went before the cameras with his cabinet behind him, the show of solidarity among Republicans, and defended his mental state.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I went to the best colleges -- or college. I went to a -- I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people. Went to television and for ten years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard. Ran for president one time and won.


ROMANS: It is worth noting that as a private citizen, Trump questioned President Obama's sanity back in 2014. He questioned the president's sanity for allowing planes to fly to the U.S. from countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

BRIGGS: While you were sleeping the 75th Golden Globe Awards, many actresses and attendees wearing black on the red carpet to show support for women who have suffered abuse. The ceremony itself focusing less on awards and more on empowering women. This was the first major award show since Hollywood really began addressing sexual harassment in the fall.

ROMANS: Some of the most powerful words from Oprah Winfrey. She accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award with a message to young girls watching at home.


OPRAH WINFREY, RECIPIENT OF THE CECIL B. DEMILLE AWARD: I value the press more than ever before. As we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this. What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.

[05:05:10] And I'm especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men, but their time is up.

So, I want all the girls watching here now to know that a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say me too again.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, has a lot of people wondering this morning if Oprah's speech could be the start of a political run. After the Globes, her partner told the "Los Angeles Times" a White House run would be, quote, "up to the people," but, quote, "she would absolutely do it."

BRIGGS: In October of last year, Winfrey told CBS "This Morning" host, Gale King, there would be no running for office of any kind for me. Of course, time will tell. As for the awards, it was a big night for female driven films and television shows. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" won tv series musical or comedy. "The Handmaid's Tale" named best drama series.

ROMANS: That's streaming on Hulu so the new ways of getting -- on the film side, "Lady Bird" won for best musical or comedy while "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" won for best dramatic film. Also, Sterling K. Brown became the first African-American to win the Golden Globe for best actor in a tv drama for "This Is Us." He is amazing.

And Aziz Ansari also terrific. He is now the first Asian to win the award for best actor in a tv comedy for "Master of None." His acceptance speech was so great. All of these fantastic people around me allow us to make a great show. He was really great.

BRIGGS: And Sterling K. Brown part of the CNN Heroes ceremony. Let's bring in Siraj Hashmi, a commentary writer and editor at the "Washington Examiner." Good morning to you.

If you don't follow him on Twitter, he was live tweeting the heck out of the Golden Globe Awards last night including what that "L.A. Times" reporter heard from Steadman about would Oprah Winfrey run for president.

You also tweeted the president from years back saying Oprah will end up doing just fine with her network. She knows how to win. Interesting tweet from -- there's always a tweet for that with this president. Will Oprah Winfrey run for president? Will that be the conversation as we move forward?

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER AND EDITOR, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": That will be the conversation at least this week. I can't say a that's going to continue considering how the new cycle changes so drastically. Also, you have to wonder what would Oprah Winfrey's policy platforms be other than probably giving everyone free health care. Other than you get health care, everyone gets health care.

ROMANS: Or a new car. I take it with a little bit of grain of salt because for liberals in particular it's a little bit of wishful thinking. I mean, you've heard them talk about Mark Cubin, Mark Zuckerberg, Bob Iger, Kid Rock for Senate, The Rock for president, Caitlin Gener like every couple of weeks, there's a name out there. Donald Trump, the reality show star could be president, maybe x could be president.

HASHMI: Yes. I mean, that's the thing. We're trying to combat President Trump with any other tv star, actor, reality series star just to combat his personality on the campaign trail. You have to think of these Teflon figures. I mean, he's been dubbed Teflon Don for a reason.

Everything that comes after him bounces off. Oprah Winfrey might be the only counter to President Trump that we can think of in 2020, but then again, you know, a lot of people argue that Oprah Winfrey is already queen of America so why should she demote herself to president of the United States.

BRIGGS: I can't imagine she wants to get involved in the political conversation in this country, but we shall see. The conversation in politics it's not about Oprah is about the stability and fitness of the president for office because of this "Fire and Fury" book.

Here's what Michael Wolff said about the 25th Amendment actually being discussed by people in this administration, Wolff said this on Sunday.


MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "FIRE AND FURY": If I left out anything, it's probably stuff that was even more damning. It's that bad.

[05:10:05] This is -- you know, I think not an exaggeration and not unreasonable. It's not unreasonable to say this is 25th Amendment kind of stuff. This is --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) in the west wing to you?

WOLFF: All the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They would bring the 25th Amendment?

WOLFF: Yes. Actually, they would say we're not -- in the -- either sort of in the mid period, we're not at a 25th Amendment level yet or they would --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's alarming.

WOLFF: This is alarming in every way and then this went on. OK. This is a little 25th Amendment so it is a concept that's alive every day in the White House.


BRIGGS: Now, let's remind everyone that Wolff could have done himself a lot of favors by doing some fact checking. There are errors throughout this book that would have been easily checked with a phone call or two.

ROMANS: His methods -- journalists have questioned his method -- you know, I think they said he is to journalism as Donald Trump is to business.

BRIGGS: That is a perfect assessment, but when you talk with 200 interviews with add administration officials, some of which are on tape, how damaging is a statement like that one?

HASHMI: I mean, look at the fact that it's in the Trump White House, President Trump is known for being a liar, and probably excessively compulsive pathological liar that he surrounds himself with liars, and the fact of the matter is that a lot of individuals within the White House.

Whether they side with President Trump or they side with the establishment, or they're not politically affiliated at all, they probably are trying to elevate their own platform and probably stir the pot a little bit considering the fact that the Trump White House is so chaotic right now and they want to continue that notion and narrative going forward.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the image that the White House and Republicans try to project this weekend where they were at Camp David for this Republican retreat, talking about their agenda, and you see the president walk out on the stage and behind him, all the leading lights of the Republican Party and his cabinet.

And then there emerges according to the "Washington Post" within 24 hours, this question the president says he wants a federally driven infrastructure bill. Gary Cohn gave a presentation according to the '"Post" about how there would $200 billion in new federal spending. That would trigger a trillion in private spending.

There seems to be a bit of a rift on infrastructure. Where are we on the Republican agenda? Why haven't they been able to take tax cuts and move that into the next -- success into the next thing on the list?

HASHMI: I mean, right now, the central discussion has been on DACA and securing funding for the border wall and border security. We are looking at $18 billion at least for the border wall and an additional $10 million for just border security.

Infrastructure will probably come first if not looking at (inaudible). I mean, The Republican Congress is so all over the place at this moment, they are trying to get so many things done at once.

It's kind of difficult to say what exactly they're trying to pinpoint and what they want to bring up first considering the fact that they have spent a lot of political capital on not only the Obamacare repeal efforts, which they did multiple times, but also the GOP tax cuts, which they hope to see a lot of results in February.

Considering the fact that that's when a lot of guidance from federal agency, particularly the Treasury Department will be issuing that.

BRIGGS: Considering the state of the economy, you would imagine that Republican-led Congress was hoping the president would focus on the economic message and not personal slate. Does this help them in their agenda moving forward? We'll talk about that. Siraj Hashmi from the "Washington Examiner," thank you.

You got to clearly focus on the economic message if you're Republican. ROMANS: The president was tweeting --

BRIGGS: Not personal slate --

ROMANS: You're right. It was cold outside, flooded inside, part of JFK Airport brought to a standstill by a water main break. More next.



ROMANS: International arrivals have resumed at Terminal 4 of New York's JFK Airport. A water main break on Sunday afternoon making a bad situation there even worse. Water poured into the arrivals and customs inspections areas of the terminal. Bags left behind by passengers dealing with days of weather delays ended up soaking in that water.

BRIGGS: The inundation forcing a partial evacuation of the terminal. Power was cut off as a safety precaution. The situation as you might imagine left passengers furious.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am so angry words can't even express how I feel right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone video this because we need answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we were in h the plane for a good 20 hours. They took us out once, took us out once to eat, and then back in the plane.


ROMANS: So, the weather is set to warm up this week, but don't break out the short sleeves just yet. (Inaudible) Pedram Javaheri live in the CNN Weather Center. I mean, I'm looking at just in my zipcode. It looks like it's going to be a 50 degree swing this week for me.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Just like that, I know. It's going to be a little misleading too because it's short lived and we're going right back to where we started. We have to enjoy the warming trend that is instore.

But here's what we're watching right now about 80 million people that are underneath winter weather advisories impacts the cross portion of the Midwest, towards the Ohio Valley, down towards parts of the Southeast, and the main concern really for the Southern tier of this region. That's all ice.

For the Northern tier, it's a mix of snow and ice across this region. You see the disturbance beginning to push right through. Cleveland could see some delays and disruptions. Same story out of Cincinnati. Morning commute could be impacted. But really, the accumulation amounts are typically 2 to 4 inches may some of those lake effects favorable regions around Syracuse (inaudible). A little more than that, but the ice accumulation is going to be the most hazardous when it comes to travel across these regions.

From Huntsville, Alabama, Lexington, Kentucky, Cincinnati on into Cleveland, less than a quarter of an inch is what we are watching. Of course, the temps have been brutally cold, 5 on Sunday morning at JFK.

It broke the polar vortex event that was four years ago in 2014 when it was 6 degrees. Puts it in perspective of how cold we're talking and the longevity of this as well. In fact, look at the record low stretch down in the Carolinas where Columbia, South Carolina had almost a week below 20 degrees.

Look at the warming trend gets us back into the 60's across the South. New York City up to 50 degrees and just like that, the bottom drops out from Sunday into Monday. We get arctic air and return to low 30's for highs potentially as early as Sunday. So, I know, starts off, warms up, goes right back down to January.

ROMANS: It's 75 and sunny in L.A. They say suckers.

BRIGGS: We'll take a 50 on the horizon.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks.

[05:20:00] BRIGGS: All right. President Trump will be on tonight in Atlanta when Alabama and Georgia, two SEC teams face off for the college football national championship. Alabama rolled over defending Clemson in the semifinals in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia beat up on Oklahoma.

And a double overtime thriller in the Rose Bowl, Bulldogs have not played for the national title since 1983. Alabama playing in the third straight national title game. Sixth in the last nine seasons.

ROMANS: All right. It's 20 minutes past the hour. North and South Korea diplomatic talks tomorrow less than a week after the president bragged about the size of his nuclear button. His U.N. ambassador is defending it.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Something that makes people nervous, but if we didn't do it, we would be in a more dangerous --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that tweet is a good idea?

HALEY: I think he always has to keep Kim on his toes.



PRESIDENT TRUMP: Without my rhetoric and without my tough stance and such is the stance. This is what has to be done if it has to be done. That they wouldn't be talking about Olympics, they wouldn't be talking right now.


BRIGGS: That's President Trump saying he is willing to talk on the phone to Kim Jong-un even after saying some rather inflammatory things about the North Korean dictator. Diplomatic discussions between North and South Korea set to resume tomorrow. First time in more than two years. Now North Korean state media trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul.

For the latest, let's bring in CNN's Will Ripley live for us from Seoul. Good morning to you, Will. What do we know about these conversations set to resume tomorrow?

[05:25:04] WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really extraordinary. We're going to see something on the Korean Peninsula we haven't seen in more than two years. A group of North Korean officials will walk across the military demarcation line that separates the North and the South, and they'll sit down for these talks with their counterparts in South Korea.

The first talks of this kind since December of 2015. On the agenda at least for starters, the Olympics, getting North Korean delegation here for the Pyeongchang Winter games. Obviously, the advantage for that for North Korea is that their athletes can compete after actually missing a key deadline last year.

But from the South Korean perspective, they think by having the North as a participant, there's less of a likelihood of something provocative like a missile launch that could frighten spectators and interrupt the Winter Olympics. Obviously, extraordinarily important for this country and for the whole world.

North Korean state media over the weekend criticizing President Trump and saying that these talks are between the two Koreas, that outside interference would only be a distraction, clearly an attempt to try to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul even though President Moon and President Trump did speak last week.

And President Moon praised President Trump and the pressure that he's been putting on North Korea saying that that was part of the reason why Pyongyang has decided to give the green light for these discussions.

And the hope is that this initial round of talks will lead to bigger talks down the road. Of course, the biggest issue facing the international community, North Korea's nuclear program. But the two sides really couldn't be farther apart on the nuclear issue.

North Korea says they're only going to grow their arsenal. U.S. and its allies say they must give up their nuclear weapons and they'll never accept a nuclear North Korea. So, it's really unclear if it these talks are going to lead to a diplomatic breakthrough or if it will just go back to the previous tensions that really escalated in the last year -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Both sides clearly want a clean Olympics. Will Ripley live for us in Seoul. Thanks.

ROMANS: The bonanza companies have been waiting for, for years is finally here. New tax law will create a $450 billion boom for Wall Street. That's in addition to the big cut in their corporate tax rate. This is separate.

We're talking about mountains of money sitting overseas, Apple, Google, Microsoft alone hold a combined $460 billion in cash stashed abroad to avoid a high U.S. corporate tax rates. New law will not only lower that rate but give the U.S. companies a one-time tax break to bring $1.2 trillion back home.

Now some of that money will reward workers with better jobs and wages. You've seen some of those bonuses the companies have been handing out, but the bulk of that money will reward shareholders. Analysts tell us $450 billion will be spent on stock buy-backs.

And there is precedent during the last U.S. tax holiday back in 2004, 80 percent of the profits returned went to investors. That's $450 billion just from foreign profits. It does not include buy-backs inspired by slashing the corporate rate from 35 to 21 percent.

And the looming buyout bonanza is fueling Wall Street's rally. U.S. stocks hit another round of records Friday matching the strongest first week in more than a decade.

All right, Oprah Winfrey this morning raising political prospects with a message for the ages last night, for young women at the Golden Globes.


OPRAH WINFREY, ACCEPTED CECIL B. DEMILLE AWARD: A new day is on the horizontal.


BRIGGS: And the president's tweet was like really smart. How his own words adding to critics' questions about his fitness for office.