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Bannon Headlines Roy Moore Rally; U.S. To Recognize Jerusalem As Capital Of Israel; Wildfires Continue To Rage Across Southern California; IOC Bans Russia From 2018 Winter Games. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 6, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:33] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Let the folks in Alabama decide for Alabama.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon on the attack in Alabama, as President Trump doubles down on his endorsement of Roy Moore.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump hours away from making a significant announcement naming Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite warnings of potential violence.

ROMANS: And a state of emergency in California as authorities say fires there are growing out of control.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Thirty-one minutes past the hour.

We'll get to those California fires shortly, but we start in Alabama where Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore starts the homestretch of his campaign today, the final six days, with a boost from Steve Bannon. The former White House chief strategist headlining a campaign event just a day after the president, himself, endorsed Moore.

Moore has been accused of sexual assault and improprieties involving several teenage girls.

ROMANS: At last night's event Bannon slammed several establishment Republicans including majority leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Jeff Flake. Jeff Flake, who earlier tweeted out a photo of a $100 check -- his donation to Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.

The White House, meantime, standing by the president's endorsement.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We've said that the allegations are concerning and, if true, he should step aside, but we don't have a way to validate that

And that's something for the people of Alabama to decide, which we've also said and we maintain that. And ultimately, it will come down to the people of Alabama to make that decision.


ROMANS: CNN's Gary Tuchman covered that rally and has more for us this morning from Fairhope, Alabama.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, "Sweet Home Alabama," the song, is now playing as this rally has come to an end -- this Roy Moore rally that was held in a barn here in southern Alabama. It's a barn that's used as an event space and it was quite an event -- a lot of attacks.

It was a Roy Moore rally but the reason so many people showed up was to hear Steve Bannon introduce him, and Steve Bannon went into attack mode. He attacked Democrats, he attacked members of the news media. But then, he really went off on people he called establishment Republicans -- Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader; Arizona U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.

But he really reserved his ire for Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate. Mitt Romney had tweeted the other day, "Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate would be a stain on the GOP and the nation."

And listen what Bannon said.

BANNON: You ran for commander in chief. You had five sons -- not one day of service in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have 7,000 dead and 52,000 casualties and where were the Romney's during those wars?

Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinkie finger than your entire family has in his whole DNA.

TUCHMAN: We should tell you many people in the state, particularly Roy Moore supporters, have said this election should be left up to Alabamians. That's true. It's only Alabamians who will voting.

But it was Steve Bannon, a non-Alabamian, who really got the headlines here today.

And he also got a tweet from Doug Jones, the Democratic who's running against Roy Moore. Doug Jones said after this event was over, "We don't need an outside agitator, like Steve Bannon, carpetbagging in Alabama."

Christine and Dave.


BRIGGS: That was one heck of a speech there. Gary Tuchman, thank you. In a matter of hours, President Trump will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and he will order the State Department to start the process of moving the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The controversial decision stirring up tensions in the Middle East, giving Americans endorsement to Israeli control of the divided city. The U.S. would become the only nation in the world with its embassy there.

U.S. allies in the region warning the move will undermine stability and sabotage the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Even the Pope urging all parties to quote, "respect the status quo."

ROMANS: There are calls for protests in Jerusalem in the West Bank and that is prompting this word of caution from the American Consulate in Jerusalem. United States citizens should avoid areas where crowds have gathered.

President Trump plans to sign a waiver delaying the embassy move for another six months. The entire process, we're told, expected to take several years to complete but it is a symbolism that is getting all the headlines today.

Let's go to CNN's Ian Lee live in Jerusalem -- Ian.

IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Christine, we're watching this deadline as it comes, seeing what the reaction is going to be here in Jerusalem, as well in the West Bank and Gaza. So far, it's remained calm.

[05:35:03] But regional allies -- like you said, you have Jordan, you have Egypt, you have Saudi Arabia warning against this because of the potential instability and chaos that it could create. Protests not only here but also in those countries as well.

And when you look at Jerusalem the reason why it's so contentious is because for the Jewish people it is home to their holiest site. For Muslims, it's home to the third-holiest sites. And when Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, the belief of the international community is that the final status of Jerusalem will be determined through a negotiated process -- a plan that the United States had previously signed onto, as well as the international community.

And so with this break in the status quo, that is what has so many people here angry.

And the Palestinians -- we've talked to a number of Palestinian leaders and they say that if this does go through then it essentially will kill the peace process because they won't feel that the Americans need a seat at the table. And that's something at the President Trump has been pushing for -- the ultimate deal. Well, this move could kill the ultimate deal -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Ian Lee for us in Jerusalem this morning. We know you will be watching every development today. Thank you, sir.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's talk the politics of all this with "CNN POLITICS" digital director Zach Wolf live in Washington this morning. Good to see you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning.


BRIGGS: So, somewhat similar to the Paris Climate deal in that we are bucking the entire international community, so such a controversial move. Why right now for this president?

WOLF: Well, I think that he was coming up on the six-month requirement where he was going to have to make a decision. He had already deferred once so it was -- it was an inflection point legally in the U.S. for him to do this.

He's -- you know, if you read some of the reports he might defer it another six months but -- in moving the embassy -- but recognize the capital.

Is this a way to kick-start peace negotiations? Maybe, but it seems like it would also sort of poison the well a little bit. The idea of stirring the pot in the Middle East to get something going there, I'm not sure that's going to work, especially with all of the people -- the actors in the region warning against this.

But it does fulfill a campaign promise and that's really important to President Trump.

ROMANS: Look, bucking the international community is not something that he sees as a negative, quite frankly, or his viewers see as a negative. And bucking the establishment Republicans of his own party not something he sees as a negative and that his core supporters see as a negative.

And that's what he's doing in Alabama. I mean, he's put his party, really, on the defensive about how to respond to the Roy Moore situation.

Jeff Flake -- you saw that check that Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona -- $100 check he gave to a Democrat.

And you saw Steve Bannon hopping a flight to Alabama to rage against people from the outside coming to Alabama, telling them what to do.

Six more days of this, Zach. Six more days of the Roy Moore right.

WOLF: Yes, and this is really -- it's six more days of the Roy Moore fight but if Moore is able to get even more momentum and win this race it's really going to be something that Republicans are going to be dealing with for some time because he is going to be sort of an iconoclastic person in the Senate and he's going to go in there guns blazing for lack of a better term. And it would totally kind of upend sort of the moral high ground for Republicans in that body. And that's why you see people like Mitt Romney being so strongly against Roy Moore. People like Jeff Flake who have sort of been raising alarm bells about the future of the party.

BRIGGS: You mention Romney. Wholly ironic to hear Steve Bannon hit Romney and his kids for their lack of military service, failing to mention that grizzled war veteran Donald Trump and his kids who used their weapons to shoot big game in Africa. People cannot let that crap pass, but that's small stuff.

Let's talk about the larger feud in the party that the president says is unity like a lot of people have said they've never seen before.

You've covered the Republican Party for an awfully long time. Excluding this tax debate which looks like it's on track --


BRIGGS: -- is there unity in the Republican Party?

WOLF: Absolutely not. Witness Romney -- Willard Mitt -- and Jeff Flake. We've kind of been talking about it.

There was that strange photo op yesterday of Flake sitting next to Trump shortly before Flake sent that -- sent that check, essentially thumbing Trump in the eye. Yes, that's a strange photo op. And you -- you've got to think that Trump wanted Flake there and not the other way around.

ROMANS: And, Joni Ernst -- Sen. Joni Ernst from Iowa who has worked very hard -- tirelessly, really -- on sexual assault in the military issues. So it's --

BRIGGS: And is not comfortable with the NAFTA renegotiations and what that would do to her state.

[05:40:01] ROMANS: Because of -- for American farmers.

So really interesting the line --

BRIGGS: Yes, optics.

ROMANS: -- that these senators have to walk and the optics for this -- for this president.

So let's talk about taxes because this is where they are unified. They want to rush this tax bill through.


ROMANS: I think it was Sen. Angus King yesterday who said the faster they go through, the worse they usually tend to be, and it is going -- it is going quickly here.

The approval -- the Quinnipiac poll shows just what, 29 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove. And a lot of the analysis of late has been about how middle-class people -- their tax cuts will be temporary. How high tax states -- those people are really going to get hit by the state and local tax deduction going away.

And how this really is corporate tax relief. This is for Wall Street, this isn't for Main Street. But still, they're going to pass this thing.

WOLF: They're going to try. I mean, they still have to bring the House and the Senate bill together. There's a lot of questions that remain.

What are they going to do with the mortgage tax deduction? What are they going to do with state and local taxes? These are kind of really important details because when they try to start doing a thing in one direction and going toward the House bill, that costs money and they have to find money to sort of bring it back in line so they can pass it through the Senate with these budget reconciliation rules.

So it's not a done deal. They certainly have a lot of momentum, though.

ROMANS: But they're breaking promises right and left. I mean, you look at all the promises that were made about how this was going to be big tax cut for the middle-class, how it wouldn't add to the deficit. I mean, you go right down the list.

At "CNNMONEY" we have a great video showing just one after another, the broken promises on tax reform. I think that's why you're seeing those poll numbers so low there.

BRIGGS: It could be an interesting conference -- or, the president calls it a mixer. Right, Zach? They take this thing to conference.

All right. Zach Wolf, we'll see you next week. Thank you.

WOLF: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Ahead, firefighters in Southern California battling four raging infernos at this hour. Thousands of acres already destroyed, 27,000 residents forced to flee. We'll have the latest for you, next.


[05:46:18] ROMANS: All right, a fire emergency in California. Four raging wildfires now there triggering a state of emergency.

In Ventura County, over 50,000 acres burned, more than 1,000 firefighters on the line. Six shelters now open to house some of the 27,000 residents who have been forced to evacuate their homes.

Three other fires igniting on Tuesday, one in Los Angeles County. That one torching over 11,000 acres in just hours. Another in San Bernardino County injuring three people. And near Santa Clarita, 5,000 acres destroyed there.

The fires even shutting down two television productions, "WESTWORLD" and "S.W.A.T."

We get more from CNN's Sara Sidner in Ventura County.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, NASA has put out an incredible picture that if you zoom in you can see at least four different fires burning, and the biggest one is here in Ventura County.

This is the remnants of one of the homes that has been destroyed by the fire. And if you look over to my left you will see that that entire hill had fire coming across it.

All it takes are strong winds to blow the embers from that onto a structure like a home, and the home goes up very quickly. We've watched it happen time and again. There are at least 150 homes that hae been destroyed in this fire alone.

And we're talking about three other major fires that are also burning but this one, so far, the biggest. We're talking about tens of thousands of acres that have already been burned.

And it has been very hard throughout the day for firefighters to get it contained because of the winds that have been blowing through -- very strong winds. At one point, some of the winds were upwards of 70 miles per hour. Imagine that and the fact that it is so dry here and very, very difiicult for them to get these flames under control.

So far, there are no fatalities and that is the good news.

But for the families who have not yet seen their homes, who have not been able to get back into the neighborhoods, this is devastating -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: All right, Sara Sidner. Thank you for that, Sara.

BRIGGS: All right. Time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Alisyn Camerota joining us. Good morning, Alisyn.

ROMANS: Morning.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, guys. I'm in my poinsietta red --


CAMEROTA: -- as you can see, which I'll be wearing throughout December. Great to see you guys.

Let me tell you, we have an incredible show coming up for you.

We have Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. She's going to be on talking about all of the policy decisions that are happening or are not happenign inside the White House, including President Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. How did that come about and what's going on inside White House.

And then, we also have Maggie Haberman who has just broken a story about the president's decision to endorse Roy Moore. Who did he talk to about that? Whose counsel is he keeping? Why did he do that? Maggie has all of her new reporting.

ROMANS: Interesting.

CAMEROTA: So we'll bring you all that when Chris and I see you in 11 minutes.

BRIGGS: And you'll also have Republican Sen. Kennedy who equated the tax drama with herpes, so that could be an interesting and colorful conversation.

CAMEROTA: And, good morning, everyone.


BRIGGS: You're welcome for that. All right, Ali, we'll see you in a little bit.

ROMANS: I prefer to focus on the beautiful red dress and not that idea.

BRIGGS: I said colorful.

ROMANS: I know, you're right, OK. Forty-nine minutes past the hour.

The Trump adminsitration scrapping another Obama-era rule. It could force workers to pool tips, putting more power in the hands of the employer, not the employee. Details on "CNN Money Stream," next.


[05:54:09] BRIGGS: The International Olympic Committee banning russia from competing at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. The IOC citing what it calls a quote, "systemic manipulation of the anti- doping rules." It will, however, allow Russian athletes who can prove they're clean to compete under the neutral Olympic flag.

So how is this punishment playing in russia? Let's ask CNN's Clare Sebastian joining us live from Moscow. We do have some reaction this morning. Good morning, Clare.


So, anger and dismay for some politicians but thismorning, kind of a sober calm from the Kremlin. The first comments from the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. And then after an hour or so he said the situation is serious and requires close analysis. And he said we must keep emotion out of this.