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Trump Targets FBI; Mueller Bashing Goes Mainstream; GOP Warnings; South Korea To Create North Korea Nuke Team; Frigid Week To New Year's Day. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 26, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:38] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The president's holiday Twitter rage directed at the FBI. He targeted the deputy director as hostility over the special counsel's Russia probe is amplified.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: By and large, we're appealing to older, white men and there are just a, you know, limited number of them.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Two outgoing Republican lawmakers lamenting the direction of the Republican Party. Hear their warnings for the president and the GOP.

BRIGGS: And, Santa's gift for much of the country is a frigid final week of 2017. The coldest air of the season and icy conditions that already sent one plane spinning off the taxiway and has Alison Kosik shaking in her high heels this morning.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

You'll be in Times Square --

KOSIK: I will be.

BRIGGS: -- for New Year's Eve.

KOSIK: I hear it's going to be eight degrees when that ball drops.

BRIGGS: Bring a big parka --

KOSIK: I know.

BRIGGS: -- some hat, gloves, mittens -- whatever you've got to do, my friend.

KOSIK: Handwarmers.

BRIGGS: I'll be at home, warm and toasty.

KOSIK: Thank you.

Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

President Trump ready to tackle what remains of 2017 as the Christmas holiday comes to a close.

Just last evening the president tweeted this. "It's back to work in order to make America great again, which is happening faster than anyone anticipated."

So as the year rapidly comes to a close, the president's latest tweetstorms giving us a peek at what 2018 has to offer.

BRIGGS: Over the holiday weekend the president railed against the FBI, but growing concerted efforts to discredit the special counsel's Russia probe. He also slammed the media, complaining he's not getting enough credit for his accomplishments and touted recent stock market gains and the GOP tax bill. A big win for the president and a rallying cry Republican will need as they head toward midterm elections.

KOSIK: The president's tweets getting the most attention, targeting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Mr. Trump taking aim at the McCabe's wife.

When Jill McCabe ran for Virginia State Senate, she accepted campaign cash from a political action committee for Virginia governor and Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe. To be clear, though, these donations all occurred before McCabe took over as deputy director of the FBI and before he would have had any oversight into the Clinton e-mail investigation.

BRIGGS: The president also noted McCabe's pending retirement which emerged last week. Two sources telling CNN McCabe told senior FBI officials months ago he was planning on retiring in the coming months. Several sources familiar with the situation say McCabe is not being forced out.

McCabe sat down for two extensive interviews last week with House committees examining Russian collusion and the Clinton e-mail investigation.

KOSIK: Former President George W. Bush's ethics chief calling out the president on Twitter for his anti-FBI tweets.

Richard Painter saying this. "Using Twitter on Christmas Eve to intimidate a witness in a criminal investigation is not a very Christian way to celebrate the holiday. But it does make Mr. Mueller's job easier and that's a nice thing to do. Merry Christmas!"

BRIGGS: Several Republicans, including Senate judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley, have called for McCabe's removal. Democrats argue the GOP criticisms of McCabe and the FBI are meant to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller as his Russia investigation intensifies.

KOSIK: All right. Let's bring back Siraj Hashmi. He's the commentary writer and editor at the "Washington Examiner." Welcome back. SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER AND EDITOR, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Thank you for having me, Alison. And just to add to your misery, I'm going to be sitting in a sauna during New Year's Eve.


BRIGGS: That's quite a visual, my friend.

KOSIK: Oh, that hurts.

HASHMI: Fully clothed. I'm going to be bundled up. I'll be bundled up in that sauna.

BRIGGS: Appreciate that, all right.

KOSIK: OK. Let's talk a little bit about this sort of Twitter rampage -- this Twitter rage that the president went on since December 23rd, really just digging into Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

I want to talk about the sort of bullying aspect -- the intimidation aspect that Richard Painter talked about on his Twitter feed.

One thing to keep in mind. You know, oftentimes, these tweets from the president are used as the official statement of the White House.

In fact, when the travel ban went into effect -- or when the Supreme Court had to decide on the travel ban --

BRIGGS: The appeals, yes.

KOSIK: -- those tweets were used in the justice's sort of psyche when they were coming to --

BRIGGS: Their official White House statements.

[05:35:01] KOSIK: Thank you. Their official White House statements.

What do you think about whether or not these are just tweets or are these really tactics to intimidate the investigation?

HASHMI: I'd say it's a little bit of both. Not so much the witness intimidation but I think what President Trump is doing is pulling at anything or any thread that can undermine the FBI and saying that this entire investigation on him is a political witch-hunt.

So he's pulling at the political threads by going after Andrew McCabe's wife, saying that she accepted money from Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic Party while she ran for the Virginia State Senate.

These are things right now that are undermining the investigation and make it look like the FBI is only after him for political reasons.

BRIGGS: Now, there are some former White House attorneys who call this witness intimidation.

But I want to talk about what happened under the radar on Sunday on these Sunday shows. Two retiring Republican congressmen with some harsh criticism of this president.

Nothing new that we're hearing Jeff Flake, the retiring senator from Arizona, criticize the president. But, Charlie Dent, I think, with some really interesting pointed comments about the future of this party.

Here are both on Sunday.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: When you look at some of the audiences cheering for Republicans, sometimes you look out there and you say those are the spasms of a dying party. When you look at the lack of diversity sometimes, anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy.

If we continue to go down that path just to drill down on the base, then I think you'll have a lot of people realize there's no future for them in this party. I know a lot of them.

REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Certainly the president, you know, has been a factor. You know, I've often said that this administration, at times, has taken the fun out of dysfunction. You know, I expect a certain amount of dysfunction in government, and sometimes you can laugh at it, but it's not so funny anymore.

Now the litmus test has changed. The issue is loyalty, you know, to the man -- to the president. And for some, you know, loyalty's not enough. You have to be angry and aggrieved.


BRIGGS: All right, let's talk about that litmus test.

How dangerous is it for the Republican Party to have a loyalty test on a man who's favorability ratings are in the mid to low thirties?

HASHMI: I mean, this is the folly of also the Democratic Party.

I mean, what you saw in the 2016 election was a litmus test between whether you were in favor with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. And for a lot of those Bernie Sanders supporters they didn't jump behind Hillary Clinton because she was not progressive enough. So eventually, they either did not vote or they voted for Donald Trump.

That might be the downfall for the Republican Party at this time, is that because of loyalty to the president may not be so strong right now that would be where Republicans will probably lose in 2018 and in elections going forward.

BRIGGS: And with this, a midterm, that really means you stay home, right? You probably doing jump ship in a midterm whereas you could --

HASHMI: Right.

BRIGGS: -- in 2020. But yes, it's that turnout factor that we'll watch there.

HASHMI: Right, and you have to look at the fact that Democrats are more invigorated right now --

BRIGGS: No question.

HASHMI: -- to oppose the Republican Party --

BRIGGS: Right.

HASHMI: -- and the fact that they hate Donald Trump so much.


KOSIK: All right, let's bring out the crystal ball and look at the legislative agenda for 2018. It's stacking up.

You've got this spending bill averting a shutdown in January, Dreamers. You've got children's health issues on the table.

What do you see happening in 2018?

HASHMI: Well, I would say they're not going to shut down the government because that's going to be used as the political football in 2018. If the Democrats are going to be at fault it might -- you know, lower turnout in the 2018 midterms.

However, what I will say is this, that they are probably going to come together at least to help CHIP, infrastructure, and entitlement reform. Those are going to be the three key areas that there's going to be some bipartisanship.

Whether they reauthorize DACA or whether they do something on Dreamers, that's going to be a big question mark. And I think that with President Trump saying he has a little bit of sympathy for Dreamers, I think you probably will see more Republicans come on board and that might hurt his base just a little bit.

BRIGGS: That's going to be a contentious deal, I think --


BRIGGS: -- getting that government funding.

But aren't you happy you can say Merry Christmas again? I mean, look --

HASHMI: That's true, I'm so happy. And, Happy Kwanzaa, guys. Today's the first day of Kwanzaa.

BRIGGS: That's right. I figured it's Boxing Day --

KOSIK: It's Boxing Day.

BRIGGS: It's the beginning of Kwanzaa through the first.

HASHMI: Boxing Day, exactly.



BRIGGS: Happy Kwanzaa, my friend. Good to see you.

KOSIK: Good to see you.

HASHMI: Thank you for --

BRIGGS: Hiraj Hashmi from the "Washington Examiner."

KOSIK: Hiraj, thanks.

HASHMI: -- having me.

KOSIK: Meantime, the biggest newspaper in Utah with a harsh Christmas editorial for seven-term Sen. Orrin Hatch. After backing Hatch's last run, "The Salt Lake Tribune" says Hatch should just call it a career. The paper cites what it calls it utter "lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power."

Hatch did promise that 2012 would be his final campaign but he's begun putting together a 2018 run.

BRIGGS: Now the paper saying Hatch's partly dismantling of the two national monuments in his role as Senate finance chairman and helping pass the GOP tax overhaul are enough.

Quote, "Over the years, Hatch stared down a generation or two of highly qualified political leaders who were fully qualified to take his place. That's not only not fair to all of those who were passed over, it is basically a theft from the Utah electorate.

[05:40:08] It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career. If he doesn't, the voters should end it for him."

He is 83 years old. Some expect Mitt Romney to run if Hatch does not.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin says Russia is ready to act as mediator on North Korea if Pyongyang and Washington are willing to talk. A spokesman for President Putin says Moscow would facilitate a de- escalation of tensions regarding North Korea.

KOSIK: Also overnight, South Korea announcing it will create a team to take on North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile programs. The move comes amid calls for South Korea to establish a group that exclusively handles North Korea affairs. The bureau will be made of four divisions, including the newly-launched North Korean deterrents division.

BRIGGS: It will also include a policy division, an arms control division, and a missile and space division.

It comes as North Korea slams a new round of tough U.N. sanctions as an act of war.

We get more now from CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Alison, Dave, North Korea is calling it an act of war that these new U.N. sanctions are being levied against it.

They are some of the toughest sanctions, trying to close any loopholes, ban North Korea from being able to export fuel, gasoline, industrial equipment -- ban them as much as possible. Even put a lid on North Korea sending workers outside the country to earn wages. That money, of course, coming back into the regime's pocket.

So they're trying to close all the efforts that they can as much as possible within humanitarian reason for North Korea to earn any cash that it could put towards its nuclear and missile weapons program.

The idea would be, of course, that this would encourage Kim Jong Un to give up that program -- to move towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which is what the U.S. wants.

But look, at this point there is no indication that Kim has any intention of doing that. Of course, just testing one of the longest- range missiles in recent weeks, looking for more weapons testing efforts in 2018.

And it does appear that we're headed in 2018 the very same way 2017 unfolded. North Korea being one of the most significant national security challenges for any U.S. president -- Alison, Dave.


BRIGGS: Indeed, a dire situation there. Barbara Starr, thanks.

Ahead, a Christmas scare for some JetBlue passengers. Their flight doing a 180 after it touched down in Boston.

And now conditions will get even more dangerous for the last week of the year. The forecast, next.


[05:46:38] BRIGGS: A bit of a scare but no serious harm when a JetBlue flight slid of the taxiway at Boston's Logan Airport. Officials say flight 50 from Savannah, Georgia skidded on ice after it landed around 7:15 Monday night. The plane spun around until it ended up facing the opposite direction.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were straight and then all of a sudden it started fishtailing and yes, it started getting rough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once I realized we were going off the runway I was like uh-oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the sudden we started sliding and then we started spinning, and spinning, and spinning, and ended up in a snowbank.


KOSIK: Firefighters helped passengers off the plane and they were bused to the terminal. Authorities say, thankfully, no one was injured.

Now, this happened after snow forced the airport to close its runways for a short period Monday morning.

BRIGGS: Wintry weather going to leave a quite a mark this week. We'll see the coldest air of the season in the Plains and those dangerous wind chills moving east for New Year's Eve. We're talking nine degrees for the ball drop in Times Square.

Here's meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Dave and Alison, watching what's going on right now across the northern tier of the country because minus 20 to minus 45 the name of the game for some 16 million people across this region where windchill warnings, windchill advisories are in place.

Canada has opened up its doors. An arctic blast here in store and we get multiple rounds of cold air. And we're not just talking about any sort of cold here, we're talking dangerous windchills in spots where it almost 40 below zero in places like International Falls this morning. It is considerably warmer but still dangerously cold in Minneapolis at minus 24 this morning.

Look at the afternoon hour temperatures here. We're talking six below in Fargo. In Minot, we have a saying, "Why not in Minot." Minus four for an afternoon high temperature is really a good reason not be outdoors, at least.

When you take a look, it remains that cold and, again, we get one shot from Friday into Saturday and another comes in Saturday, potentially scooting off toward the east coast by Sunday night into Monday morning.

So the trend looks like this for New York City, dropping down into the lower twenties. Look at the overnight low temps going in from Sunday into Monday. Into the single digits so certainly watching this very carefully for some very cold air moving its way across that region -- guys.


KOSIK: OK, Pedram. Thanks very much. According to ShopperTrak, today is expected to be the fourth-busiest shopping day of the year for traditional retailers. One reason, returns. That may be why you're up early this morning watching us as you're getting ready to take those returns back.

The National Retail Federation says about $63 billion worth of holiday merchandise was returned in 2015. They also found that one out of every three gift recipients returned at least one item.

The question is, what happens to all those things you give back? That's a question that's actually stumped retailers hurting at their margins. Certain items may get rerouted to dollar stores; others get bundled together and sold at auction. Some retailers may only be getting 15 to 30 cents on the dollar for their returns.

This coming as we're seeing lots of troubles in the retail industry. According to Moody's, dozens of retailers including J. Crew, Claire's, and Sears -- they're all at risk of defaulting or seeking bankruptcy precautions in 2018.

Oh, one note here. So, if you received a gift card in your stocking you may want to think about spending it quickly. That's because if a company goes bankrupt you could be left with just a piece of plastic.

BRIGGS: A lot of gift cards at the Briggs house this year.

KOSIK: Oh, yes.

BRIGGS: All right, did the --

[05:50:00] KOSIK: Go shopping quick.


Did the refs giftwrap the holiday win for the Warriors in the NBA finals rematch against the Cavs?

KOSIK: Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning.

BRIGGS: Hey, man.


You know, it's the only match up that's really mattered in the NBA the past three seasons -- Cavs, Warriors. I'll tell you what, social media was going off about the match up between LeBron and Kevin Durant at the end of this game.

Under two minutes to go, LeBron here on the drive. Going to lose the ball out of bounds. It could have easily been a reaching foul on Durant but no call. Then under 30 seconds left, LeBron driving again, loses this ball and again, no foul called on Durant.

Warriors win 99-92.

Now, after the game, LeBron and Durant -- well, they had different opinions about what happened on those questionable plays.


LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Obviously, the overturn one, he fouled me twice, but like whatever. What are you going to do about it?

KEVIN DURANT, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: Well, it's probably the same play a bunch of those dudes on Twitter probably arguing about at 24 Hour Fitness that that wasn't a foul. So, they've been in that position before but just not on Christmas at the Oracle Arena. So keep that s*** on Twitter.


SCHOLES: All right. It was an emotional Christmas day on the gridiron for one Houston Texans players after winning his battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry playing in his first-ever NFL game. He was the team captain and got a huge ovation from the crowd.

And this game also featured, arguably, the greatest catch of the year. DeAndre Hopkins going up here, tipping the ball to himself and still finding a way to get both of his feet inbounds. Just an unbelievable catch.

Unfortunately for the Texans, that was their only highlight in this game. Steelers win 34 to six and clinch a bye in the first round for playoffs.

All right. The Eagles clinching the top seed in the NFC with a sloppy win over the Raiders last night. And the final play of the game, it's going to go down as one some Fantasy Football players never forget. It was the Fantasy Football finals for many this past weekend.

This was the final play of the game. The Eagles scoring a meaningless touchdown off a fumble as time expired. They also didn't kick the extra point which would have covered the 10-point spread.

But, Dave, I guarantee you there are many people around this country that were up by five with three seconds left in the final game of the weekend --

BRIGGS: No question.

SCHOLES: -- and that Eagles defensive touchdown cost them their Fantasy Football championship. I can only imagine the rage that went through some people as they scored that touchdown.

BRIGGS: You're talking about thousands of dollars. Yes, you're absolutely right about that. I didn't think about this turn that that would take in the finals.

SCHOLES: They could have easily just fallen on the ball and it would have been over, but oh, man.

BRIGGS: Thousands.

SCHOLES: I feel so bad for some people that lost that way.

BRIGGS: I think DeAndre Hopkins made the greatest catch of my lifetime.

SCHOLES: Better than that Odell Beckham catch from a few years ago?

BRIGGS: I think it's better. I think it's better.

SCHOLES: It's up there.

BRIGGS: We'll debate that on Twitter and Kevin Durant will tell us to leave it on Twitter, as well.

All right, Andy Scholes. Thank you, my friend.

SCHOLES: Have a good one.

KOSIK: OK. Apple's facing some bad news coming into 2018. We're going to get a check on "CNN Money Stream," next.


[05:56:45] BRIGGS: United Airlines has apologized to a passenger who claims the airline gave away her first-class seat to a Texas congresswoman.

An airline spokesman says their internal system -- so, Jean-Marie Simon canceled her Houston to Washington flight last week after a weather delay but Simon denies she ever canceled. She ended up on the flight in coach only to see Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee in what had been her first-class seat.

United says Jackson Lee's upgrade was not because she's a member of Congress.

KOSIK: All right, let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Markets, they were closed yesterday for the holiday but we are beginning the last trading week of 2017. Last week, we saw the Dow close down 28 points. The S&P and Nasdaq also dropped slightly.

We have watched the Dow have a spectacular year so far, up nearly 25 percent for 2017. Of the S&P's 11 main sectors, six are up more than 10 percent and only energy and telecoms are down for the year.

After weeks of exponential growth, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin finally hitting a big bump. After highs of nearly $20,000 this past week, prices dropped as low as $11,000. They're now back to around $15,000.

But it was the worst four-day fall for Bitcoin that we've seen since 2015. Bitcoin is now down over 25 percent for the week.

The turmoil comes in the midst of several financial authorities raising red flags about the risk of investing in digital money. As of now, few traditional retailers actually accept Bitcoin as payment.

Apple's beginning the week with a few bits of coal in their stocking. One analyst is actually lowering his projections for the iPhone X -- talking about its sales -- by nearly $10 million. That could be, in part, due to the high prices of the phone, the lack of new features.

This coming in the midst of a class-action lawsuit that was filed against Apple. Apple's being accused of slowing down their iPhones on purpose. The suits were filed in Chicago Federal Court after Apple disclosed last week that software updates deliberately slow down iPhones in order to maintain their batteries.

A lot of people saying wait a minute. They're being slowed so we go ahead and buy a new iPhone.


KOSIK: Kind of lousy for a company that's getting close to being the first $1 trillion company in the U.S.

BRIGGS: Where are we going to go?

KOSIK: Sneaky, sneaky.

BRIGGS: We are addicted to Apple. We will run right back to them.

KOSIK: Sneaky, sneaky Apple.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were straight and then all of a sudden it started fishtailing.

BRIGGS: A JetBlue flight skidding off the taxiway in Boston after hitting a patch of ice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We started sliding, and then we started spinning and ended up in a snowbank.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Merry Christmas. We say Christmas again, very proudly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump is touting his accomplishments and he says he deserves more credit than he's getting.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: You are seeing a man who said one thing during the campaign and his actions are very, very different.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are someone that voted for Donald Trump you're pretty happy with how the year ended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's critically important that we respect the independence of the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's making the point that we need to make sure there's no bias.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a coordinated campaign to muddy up the investigation.

FLAKE: Some of the audience is cheering for Republicans and those are the spasms of a dying party.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, December 26th, 6:00 here in New York.

Chris is off and Bill Weir joins me.