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EARLY START

Immigration Deal or Government Shutdown?; Talks Between North & South Korea Begin; Alabama Beats Georgia in Epic Championship Game. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 9, 2018 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:00:14] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: It's a mess. That's how one negotiator describes talks about Dreamers and immigration. Bipartisan talks today at the White House of a government shutdown looming next week.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking overnight, North and South Korea with their first talks in two years. We're live at the DMZ.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touchdown. Alabama wins!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: And an instant classic in the college football national championship game. It was a bold move by Nick Saban who helped bring the title back to Bama. Overtime thriller. Just ended really a short time ago. Most of you have not seen the thrilling conclusion. We had to sleep through it.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans.

It is Tuesday, January 9. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East. Nice to see you all this morning. It is 6:00 p.m. in the Korean DMZ. We'll go there in a moment.

But let's talk about immigration because it tops a critical agenda at the White House today, as lawmakers tried to avoid a looming government shutdown. The president will meet with lawmakers from both parties. They are focused on DACA, the Dreamer program protecting undocumented immigrations brought here, who were brought here as children.

BRIGGS: If Republicans and Democrats cannot agree, the federal government could shut down at the end of next week.

The president has assigned his chief of staff, John Kelly, to guide the immigration proposals through Congress. Rare for a chief of staff to get such a specific assignment. Sources tell us Kelly got the job because immigration is the most important issue for Trump's base.

ROMANS: There is not much time left and the talks still have a long way to go. One person directly involved says, quote, it's a mess.

For the latest, we turn to CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She's on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

A big meeting over at the White House today, a bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers will head over to the White House to meet with President Trump to find a way forward on DACA and the big deadline to get its government spending bill passed by January 19th.

Lawmakers are at a real impasse here for DACA, which has been entangled into the negotiations over the spending bill. Democrats say they won't agree to any spending bill that doesn't address DACA and extend those protections for Dreamers. Then you have President Trump pushing very hard, insisting that any deal must fund the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that he wants to build.

He spoke about this when huddled with Republican leaders at Camp David. Here's President Trump this weekend.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want the wall. The wall's going to happen or we're not going to have DACA. We want DACA to happen. We all -- everybody -- I think I can speak for everybody. We all want DACA to happen but we also great security for our country. So important.

SERFATY: Of course, building that wall and making Mexico pay for that was one of candidate Donald Trump's biggest campaign promises but for now, President Trump is calling for U.S. taxpayers to potentially foot the bill, requesting from Congress $18 billion over the next 10 years to potentially to build that wall -- Dave and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: All right. Some breaking news overnight. North and South Carolina face-to-face. The first high level talks in more than two years began over night with the leaders of both countries able to listen in in real-time. Some progress already announced on military matters, and the Olympics. The U.S., of course, merely a bystander to these talks.

For the latest, let's go to CNN's Paula Hancocks live for us near Panmunjom, at the entrance to the demilitarized zone.

Paula, what do we know about these talks?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, there's been some pretty fast agreements in the first three hours, North Korea agreed that they would send a high-level delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics here in South Carolina. They said they would send athletes. They would send a press corps. They would send visiting groups and a cheering squad. So, that was all very welcomed by the South Korea. This is the main

thing South Korea wanted out of these talks. But also South Carolina was pushing for more. They're saying that they want to discuss military talks.

They want to make sure that in the future, there's no room for miscalculation, which could lead to a conflict. They also said that they want red cross talks, to talk about separated families, families who haven't seen each other on either side of the border since 1953, since the Korean War. It's very important things for the South Korea side.

And also, one interesting thing we're hearing from the foreign ministry, is that South Korea could temporarily lift some of the sanctions against North Korean if that means it's easier for the North Koreans to come to the Olympics. Now, we don't have details on that.

Potentially, it could mean maybe someone within the delegation is under sanction. So, he couldn't travel. Potentially, it means that a cruise ship that South Korea is thinking of sending to North Korea to go pick up the delegation and bring them down, sanctions mean that any ship that is being in to North Korea cannot dock in South Korea.

[04:05:07] So, these kind of technicalities being ironed out at the moment -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. A lot of details still to work out, Paula Hancocks live for us near the DMZ, thanks.

ROMANS: President Trump's lawyers are preparing for a request for special counsel Robert Mueller to interview the president directly. They're hoping to limit the scope of the questioning. According to sources, so far, there have been no substantive talks about a potential interview. Trump's attorneys are studying how past administrations have handled similar requests.

BRIGGS: They want to determine whether Mr. Trump needs to testify under oath, whether he can provide written answers and whether the testimony should be recorded.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb says his team is cooperating fully with the investigation to bring it to a swift conclusion. No comment from the Mueller team.

ROMANS: The White House in a surprise move has renominated former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland to become the ambassador to Singapore, despite warnings from Democrats they are unlikely to support her because of questions about her previous congressional testimony. McFarland testified she was not aware of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It appears to contradict Flynn's account in his plea agreement.

BRIGGS: The White House struggling to silence all the talk about President Trump's mental fitness. CNN has learned the president continues to fume privately over Steve Bannon, despite his former chief strategist's semi-apology on Sunday. The source close to Mr. Trump considers it too little too late.

ROMANS: Now, the president we are told is frustrated by the cooperation his other top aides apparently gave to "Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, "FIRE AND FURY: INSIDE THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE": Bannon told people to cooperate. Sean Spicer told people to cooperate. Kellyanne Conway told people to cooperate. Hope Hicks --

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, then why are they saying it's fake?

WOLFF: Because they're liars. This is -- what are you talking about? This is Donald Trump. This is what he does. Day after day after day after day, incident after incident after incident, he doesn't tell the truth, because he doesn't know what the truth is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Wolff also says Bannon is not being truthful when he claims he was no the referring to Don Jr. when he called a meeting at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer treasonous.

BRIGGS: All right. Well, they're still celebrating on the Alabama campus after a thrilling victory in college football's national championship; 26-23 the overtime score, as Alabama beats their SEC rivals. They were trailing 13-0 at the half. Alabama actually replaced their starting quarterback Jalen Hurts with a freshman from Hawaii, Tua Tagovailoa. He led the Crimson back, tying the game at 20 with a TD pass.

Bama had a chance to win the game in regulation but their kicker shanked this 36-yard field goal. Game goes to overtime.

Bulldogs strike first with a 51-yard field goal and that means Alabama must score and they did in dramatic fashion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fires to the end zone. Touchdown! Alabama wins!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Forty-one-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith. Tide wins 26-23.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK SABAN, ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE FOOTBALL COACH: We showed resiliency to overcome hard and make some great plays. We needed a spark on offense. Tua certainly gave us that and did a really good job.

TUA TAGVAILOA, ALABAMA BACKUP QUARTERBACK: I don't know how coach even found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama, you know? So, I just thank God he found me, and, you know, we're here right now. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Thank God and thank Marcus Mariota.

What's an epic title comeback without a marriage proposal though. Bama's offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman popping the question to his girlfriend after the game, looks like she said yes.

Doesn't it, Romans?

ROMANS: I think that's a yes.

BRIGGS: I think that's a yes. That's a lot of pressure on national television.

Alabama's fifth national championship under head coach Nick Saban. President Trump, of course, was at the game, including for the national anthem. He stood hand over heart, singing along to parts of the anthem. Twitter had other thoughts on that.

He left at half time, missing most of the excitement, unfortunately, landing back at the White House around midnight. No clue if he saw the end of this thrilling game. And, yes, you can weigh in if you like on the national anthem.

Twitter has certainly voiced eloquently its opinion.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump -- I will not weigh in on that.

BRIGGS: OK, fine.

ROMANS: President Trump, I think perfect analogy -- he promised to help coal country and now regulators he appointed are rejecting his proposal to prop up the industry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:13:49] BRIGGS: More than 200,000 citizens of El Salvador could lose their legal status in the U.S. in the next 18 months. The Trump administration says temporary protected status for a quarter million covered by this program will end by next September. Officials say it will give them time to find other legal means of staying in the U.S. or face deportation.

ROMANS: The president of El Salvador taking a more optimistic view, calling it an 18-month grace period, allowing Congress to find a long term fix.

CNN's Tal Kopan has more from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Thanks, Dave and Christine.

The decision yesterday by the Trump administration was widely expected but that by no means lessens the blow to many of these groups that had hoped that perhaps there would be deal reached. What happens is there is a category of protections called temporary protective status that is extended to nationals of countries that have suffered disasters -- in this case, a natural disaster, a series of earthquakes in 2001. But it can also apply to epidemics and war, and there are more than 250,000 nationals of El Salvador that the Department of Homeland Security says are covered by this temporary protective status in the U.S.

They all must have lived in the U.S. since 2001. They've been working.

[04:15:00] Many of them have had U.S. citizen children.

The decision yesterday extends for 18 months, a window for those individuals to make the decision now. Can they find another way to stay in the U.S.? Will they be able to do so in time? Do they separate their families or do they take everyone back home? Or do they continue to live in the shadows in the U.S.?

The issue is also now punted to Congress to a certain extent. You know, the Department of Homeland Security says, if lawmakers are upset about this decision and there's bipartisan outrage on both sides of the aisle, that Congress should be the one to take action here.

So, certainly, this is not perhaps the end of the saga with temporary protective status, but this is a major decision that it's going to have shockwaves for hundreds of thousands of individuals going forward -- Dave and Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Tal Kopan, thanks for that.

You know, people from El Salvador who lived here in this country, they send back $4 billion or $5 billion a year in a $27 billion economy. That is why the president of the El Salvador is so concerned. That's a huge economic lifeline that comes from here.

BRIGGS: Sure.

ROMANS: And half of the Salvadorans with temporary protective status, according to this one study here, have been here for 20 years and a third of them have a mortgage --

BRIGGS: She used the key word. Temporary. It was temporary. That was the program was designed.

Everyone knew President Trump would make this move. That's part of the reason his base elected him.

ROMANS: Temporary, in name only, and now, he's enacting.

BRIGGS: All right. We shall see.

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner extending an invitation to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to meet and discuss marijuana. It comes after Sessions' decision last week to rescind an Obama era policy that held back federal prosecutors from pursuing cases in states that have legalized marijuana.

The move is likely to pit federal law enforcement against local officials in eight states and Washington, D.C. where pot is legal. Gardner says no meeting with Sessions has been scheduled yet. The Colorado Republican plans to meet with fellow lawmakers this week to discuss ways to protect the states rights concerning marijuana.

ROMANS: President Trump promised to help coal country, but federal regulators rejected his administration's plan to prop up the struggling industry. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, including four Trump appointees, voted unanimously against subsidizing coal and nuclear power plant. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the plan was necessary to bolster the nation's electricity grid.

But the commission disagreed. He said he didn't provide enough evidence and that the plan unfairly limited competition. That's because Perry's proposal favored plans to store a 90-day fuel supply on site like coal. The rise of cleaner energy has hurt the coal industry. But critics say, helping coal would hurt consumers.

Thanks to a competitive power market, electricity prices are near historic lows. The plan would have cost Americans up to $4 billion more a year, while helping really only a handful of coal companies like Murray Energy. Murray Energy told CNN the rule would have insured coal plans can supply electricity during severe weather, like this recent cold spell. However, most power outages are actually caused by downed lines, not a short fuel supply.

Fascinating. Fascinating development there.

BRIGGS: It is indeed. Probably haven't heard the last of it either.

Speculation around a possible 2020 run by Oprah Winfrey drawing mixed reactions, and maybe surprise who's singing Oprah's praises and who's not.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:22:42] ROMANS: Will she? Won't she? So many questions swirling around Oprah Winfrey after her rousing Golden Globe speech triggered talk of a 2020 presidential run.

BRIGGS: We're seeing some interesting reactions already including this from lukewarm response from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, quote: I think one of the arguments for her is 45. I think one of the arguments against Oprah is 45, meaning President Trump.

Pelosi continues: If we are going into a place where they are devaluing experience in terms of substance and legislative acumen and stuff like that, you might as well have somebody who knows what they don't know and would get the best possible people there.

ROMANS: Oprah's speech getting a warmer reception from Ivanka Trump, of all people. She says: Just saw Oprah's empowering and inspiring speech at last night's Golden Globe. Let's all come together women and men and say, time's up, united. Some vicious responses on line to that Ivanka Trump tweet, given

allegations against Ivanka's father.

For more on what Oprah is thinking, here's CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORESPONDENT: Hey, Christine and Dave.

Oprah Winfrey has no official comments about all this 2020 chatter. She's pretty much the only one staying silent. Even the Trump White House responded to this idea and said they would welcome the challenge from Winfrey or anyone else.

It's been a really interesting 24 hours to see all the reactions to Winfrey's Golden Globes speech. It's almost as if her speech, which almost sounded like a campaign stump speech, was a trial balloon of sorts, floated up in front of 20 million people.

Here's what we know for sure. I've been told by two of her close friends that some of her friends are urging her to run for president, that they want her to take on Trump in 2020.

According to these two friends, she is actively thinking about the idea. She hasn't decided she will run, nor has she ruled it out. She is definitely taking this possibility seriously. That's partly, I'm told, because she's horrified by some of Trump's actions as president.

But she also finds that energizing, motivating. In that way, she's a bit like many of the other women that are choosing to run for office. We've all seen the stories about a record number of women, mostly Democrats deciding to run for office for the first time this year.

Now, of course, any talk about 2020, kind of, sort of, has to wait until the midterm elections.

[04:25:04] This time next year, we're going to see candidates flocking to Iowa, New Hampshire, trying to get in on the Democratic primaries.

So, this is a ways away but it's already the talk of the political and the media universes, which goes to show how powerful Oprah Winfrey is -- Christine, Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Brian Stelter, it's going to be a fantastically intriguing 2020.

Meanwhile, NBC has a tweet sent out during the Golden Globes touting an Oprah presidency was not meant to be a political statement. During the ceremony, the network posted a picture of Winfrey with the words: nothing but respect for our future president.

A media backlash online. Donald Trump Jr. citing it as an example of media bias against his father.

ROMANS: Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said this tweet puts every reporter at NBC in a bad spot. Foolish thing for them to do, but at least now they are open about their bias.

NBC says that the tweet was sent by a third party agency during the broadcast in reference to a joke by Seth Meyers, the tweet has since been deleted. Stupid, stupid mistake.

BRIGGS: All eyes on your tweets, a third party would be in control of them in one of the biggest nights of the year for the network?

ROMANS: I would say perhaps tonight, and from now, it will not be third party in it.

BRIGGS: Yes. Ari Fleischer got it right, the reporters at NBC will be in the hard spot at the White House.

ROMANS: All right. The president says no wall, no DREAMers. Democrats say, no DACA, no government funding. And that's where we are, the immigration battle playing out at the White House today with a shutdown, government shutdown looming next week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)