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EARLY START

Ice Cold New Year's Eve; Common Ground on Infrastructure?; Russia Pushes for U.S.-North Korea Negotiations. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:35] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Five feet of snow and climbing. Parts of the North and East getting socked with winter weather, as the cold front bring single digits for New Year's revelers.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And the White House is ready to roll out framework of an infrastructure plan. Can the president get Democrats on board for what's historically been a bipartisan issue?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik, sitting in for Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Good morning to you.

KOSIK: Good morning.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Wednesday, December 27th. It is 4:00 a.m. in Erie, Pennsylvania, where it is snowed in. It's also noon in Moscow, 9:00 a.m. in London.

We'll get to the president's tweets shortly enough, but we start with weather outside. It's indeed frightful. Snowfall records being shattered as temperatures dip and a winter blast invading much of the north and east.

Check this out. Time lapse video of record breaking snowfall in Erie, Pennsylvania. From what you can see there, people got over five feet of snow since Christmas Day alone and it's not over yet.

KOSIK: I love that video. Some people try to make the best of it. This man here, you see him, broke out his skis to get around his neighborhood. Even had -- even some dogs had a hard time getting around. At least they don't have to shovel. They get to play in it.

BRIGGS: The snow part of a broader system heading east for New Year's. Temperatures for the ball drop in Times Square will feel like single digits for those that get to enjoy it like Alison Kosik.

Let's get to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, who's live in the weather center.

Good to see you, my friend. Is Erie, Pennsylvania, out of the woods just yet?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Gosh, I think a little more snow left. I think at least a foot and you think about a foot of snow being a little bit more snow left and that's what they're looking at across this region, Alison and Dave, and I want to show you exactly how this is played out, because we're talking about a pretty widespread coverage of snow, right, going from 25 inches in a few spots, just a few miles down the road up to almost 63 inches coming down.

And another way to show this and how it all played out is looking at it as such. When you talk about 62 or more inches, you're talking about 5'2" of snowfall. I'm about 5'10". So, you pile up that amount of snow, you're bringing it very close there.

In fact, I think Alison Kosik, this would be right around your height, the amount of snow that came down. So, it kind of talks about how much snow we're talking about to cover, a CNN anchor for you in a matter of few hours.

But again, the concentration right there across the lakes. We have energy transfer taking place. We have cold arctic air going over a relatively warm body of water, where the winds line up just right here. You get very narrow bands of tremendous snowfall and the winds lined up for a matter of three straight days across this region and will continue to do so towards the afternoon hours.

So, Jamestown, Erie, once again, five, maybe 10 inches of snowfall in a few spots. A couple of areas could get closer to a foot. But that is what is left of this. But frankly, I don't think it's going to go anywhere anytime soon, but look, just to the north and the west, parts of 20 states, home to 50 million people under wind-chill advisories right now as cold as 45 degrees below zero.

In fact, this morning, we had a wind-chill down to about 41 below zero. At this point, it's warmed up a little bit in Duluth to minus 35. What it feels like outside, work your way towards Chicago, 17 below. In places such as Sioux Falls looking at 14 below. Bismarck, minus 34.

And, of course, when you talk such temperatures, if there was school this week, there would absolutely be closures in some of these spots because these are not temps you want kids outside waiting for the bus. Thirty below takes about 10 minutes of exposure time to cause permanent damage to your skin. All of that cold air is going to eventually want to shift to the East. It gets towards the northeast come Sunday night into Monday morning and we get a little bit of a warm-up the next two days.

So, don't be misled by looking like it wants to warm up, because it goes right back down on Sunday. We'll leave you with this and we'll talk about it more in further detail. How about single digit temps possible. That's without the wind. As the ball drops in New York City, you could see temperatures below zero. So, wear at least four layers, I think.

BRIGGS: At least four layers. That was some brilliant produced hit there.

How tall are you? KOSIK: I am five foot, half inch. So, yes, that wall of snow.

BRIGGS: All right. I'm 6'2". We've got a ways to go. We might look even here.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIGGS: Pedram, thanks so much.

KOSIK: Thanks, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Thanks, guys. Yes.

KOSIK: President Trump and the White House are hoping to unveil the frame work of an infrastructure plan by next month. The hope is to have it be a part of -- a major part of the president's first State of the Union Address on January 30th.

[04:05:06] Now, the plan will propose spending at least $200 billion on infrastructure over the next decade, with the hopes of spurring an additional $800 billion in state and local funding despite strapped state and local budgets.

BRIGGS: Already, some Democrats and business groups saying $200 billion is too low, but a White House official says the figures were a floor, not a ceiling. As part of the plan, the White House will also propose simplifying the federal permitting process, hoping to reduce the time it takes to get projects done.

KOSIK: The president is set to travel around the country pushing his infrastructure agenda. It has historically proven to be an area with bipartisan agreement. White House officials have suggested few politicians would oppose a plan to fix crumbling roads, bridges and other projects.

BRIGGS: President Trump trying to keep a low profile while vacationing at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Still, couldn't resist a brief Twitter rant, slamming that now infamous dossier helping fuel aspects of the Russia investigation. But not everything in that tweet checks outs entirely.

KOSIK: CNN also exclusively catching the president hitting the links at one of his golf courses. It's more common theme that you'd speak.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is traveling with the president and has the latest from Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Dave, good morning from West Palm Beach, Florida, where the president is spending his holiday week and there were no public events on the president's schedule on Tuesday, so the only way we really know what he was thinking about is by looking at his Twitter feed and the president did have a lot to say about a number of topics, including the investigation by Robert Mueller and the special counsel. This is what the president tweeted. He said quote, wow, Fox and

Friends, talking about a show on Fox, the dossier is bogus. FBI, DNC- funded dossier, FBI cannot after all this time verify claims in dossier of Russia, Trump collusion, FBI tainted, and they used this crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump campaign.

This tweet, another example of the president attempting to discredit Robert Mueller and his investigation. The tweet not exactly accurate. While the FBI did use portions of the dossier which they did confirm were actually accurate, it is by no means the basis of that investigation.

We only saw the president very briefly on Tuesday, and that's when our cameras exclusively caught him on the golf course. He was at Trump International Golf Course for about five hours on Tuesday. This was the president's 110th trip to one of his Trump-owned properties since he was inaugurated. That is one third of his presidency -- Alison and Dave.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Hey, back to work, Ryan Nobles. That's what it is.

Meanwhile, efforts by the president and his allies to discredit Robert Mueller, the topic of an editorial in "The USA Today". The paper asking why the efforts to slow the investigation is ramping if the president is actually innocent. The paper concludes, quote, imagine if that's true, if the Russia story is truly fake news and a witch hunt as the president and his minions insist, why would they sling mud at the very people and institutions that would place their valuable imprimatur on such a conclusion? Why, you have to wonder, are they so worried about what Mueller's investigation might reveal?

KOSIK: The Mueller probe has come under scrutiny since it was revealed the member of his team, Peter Strzok, exchanged anti-Trump text during the campaign. Strzok was removed from the Russia probe over the summer.

BRIGGS: Elsewhere, the tie-breaker to settle a Virginia house race that will determine balance of power in the bellwether state delayed now, at least until next week. Lawyers representing Democratic candidate Shelly Simons filed a motion asking three circuit court judges to reconsider their decision to allow a controversial ballot to be counted as a vote for her Republican rival David Yancey, a decision to count the controversial ballot made the race a tie, a day after a recount panel had declared a one-vote victory for the Democrat Simons.

KOSIK: The chairman of the Virginia board of elections says the tie breaker will be delayed to let the legal process play out. If the tie breaker eventually goes forward, it will then be a lock draw and that means the two candidates names will be put into film canisters and the first name drawn from the bowl will be declared the winner.

BRIGGS: That is democracy at work, folks. Meanwhile, the U.S. government sanctioning two senior figures linked

to North Korea missile program, all part of an ongoing effort to pressure Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile development. Meantime, in a call with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russia's foreign minister pushing for a past path toward negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.

Let' bring in CNN's Fred Pleitgen live from Moscow this morning.

Fred, good morning to you. A touch of irony any time you see Russia rushing to the -- to broker peace between two nations, isn't it?

[04:10:01] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, certainly, there is a touch of irony, but I do think the Russians also have, Dave, a vested interest in not allowing this conflict to spiral out of control. At the same time, of course, it is highly questionable whether or not the U.S. would actually trust the Russians to mediate in a conflict between themselves and the North Koreans.

It was interesting because there were several things that came out of this call yesterday between Secretary of State Tillerson and Sergey Lavrov. Both men apparently agreed that what the North Koreans were doing was against the U.N. Security Council, especially that ballistic missile program, but, of course, also, miniaturizing nukes as well.

So, they certainly did see eye to eye on certain things, but then there was a lot of Russian criticism of the United States, saying the U.S. had to, quote, get away from the language of sanctions and back to the language of negotiations and the Russians again saying that they were willing to mediate in a conflict between U.S. and North Korea, something that Sergey Lavrov interestingly has said two days in a row now. So, it really seems to be the Russians, trying to insert themselves into the situation.

But, again, will the U.S. really rely on Russia to be a broker between Pyongyang and the United States. They certainly have some leverage with the North Koreans, but whether or not this will actually happen is really something that's questionable, Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Fred Pleitgen, live for us in Moscow, thank you, sir.

KOSIK: The Library of Congress says it will no longer archive every tweet after preserving every single tweet since 2010. Who knew that they did this? The library says beginning January 1st, it will only acquire tweets on quote, a very selective basis. The library says it began archiving tweets to preserve a record of knowledge and creativity.

BRIGGS: But Twitter and the way it's used have obviously evolved with the volume of tweets, increasing dramatically. The library doesn't say how many tweets it has, but by 2013, it already amassed 170 billion at a rate of half a billion tweets per day.

KOSIK: I wonder how many of those are the presidents. BRIGGS: Far too many this past year and far too many characters now

that it's doubled. Do you like that? I can't stand the doubling of the characters.

KOSIK: Oh, no, no, I like it. We get to pontificate even more.

BRIGGS: Shortened fefe (ph). Not just more.

KOSIK: And when we get on TV, everyone gets to say nasty things even longer. I'm kidding, of course.

All right. A flight from L.A. to Japan spends eight hours in the air only to return to California. What happened and the epic Twitter takedown from one celebrity on board.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:15:34] BRIGGS: Four-fifteen Eastern Time.

A round trip flight to nowhere. After more than eight hours in the air, passengers in a Los Angeles to Tokyo flight landed right back where they started. And model Chrissy Teigen, one of the 226 passengers on board, made sure everyone knew about it. All Nippon Airways Flight 175 flew for four hours before making made an abrupt U- turn because of an unauthorized passenger was on board.

The airline says when the cabin crew notified the pilot, the plane turned around as part of airline security procedure.

KOSIK: OK, so Chrissy Teigen traveling with husband John Legend clearly not pleased. On Twitter, she went crazy, first confusion. After all this, I will have spent eight hours on a flight to nowhere like we were all just having a great time up here flying in the sky, watching Grand Torino, time to go home now. I actually enjoyed reading this sort of play by play. She's actually seemed to be having fun with it.

Then amusement, she showed. Don't know why I'm not more upset. The pleasure I get out of this story is worth more to me than a direct flight to Tokyo.

BRIGGS: Amusement turning to frustration. Then, quote, won't be able to sleep until I know how this person figured out they were on the wrong flight. Then no one would share information about the mystery passenger.

Teigen added: No one will spill anything, I wish I had more for you, guys. I wish could be your Snowden for finishing, quits whatever my job is to devote my life to this likely very simple mistake.

KOSIK: All right. So, All Nippon put all the passengers in a hotel and is rebooking them on flights this morning. Still though, no explanation how the passenger got on the wrong flight. One possibility is the passenger was ticketed under what's called a code share agreement. That's where one airline puts its name on a flight operated by another airline and sells tickets. Last night's All Nippon flight was also coded as a United flight.

Well, Chrissy, we did enjoy your blogging.

Retailers found a nice present under the Christmas tree this year. Strong holiday sales. Americans spent at a record pace this holiday shopping season and that's good news for retailers after a difficult year overall. Sales jumped almost 5 percent between November 1st and Christmas Eve, compared to the same time period last year.

MasterCard spending poll says it's the biggest percentage gain since 2011 when the economy was coming still back from the Great Recession. The profitable shopping season has given a lift to traditional retailers. Shares of Macy's are up 33 percent since before Thanksgiving. Gap is up 20 percent. Target is up 15 percent.

This comes as the retail industry in general has had a really tough time. Just this year, store-closing announcements more than tripled to about 7,000, which is a record. There have been 662 bankruptcy filings in the retail sector so far this year, according to bankruptcydata.com. That's up 30 percent from the same period last year.

BRIGGS: It was a Christmas Eve to remember for the Travis family in North Carolina. The husband and wife on their way to meet each other, both saved people in separate incidents. Crystal Travis and her daughter were driving when they saw flames through the roof of a home. They jumped out to help the family and just in time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRYSTAL TRAVIS, HELPED SAVE FAMILY ON CHRISTMAS EVE: All of a sudden, like the propane tank on the porch explodes. So, like, it shakes the ground and you can feel it really fast and really chaotic and just really glad that they were able to make it out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Wow, that family is OK and Crystal Travis had no idea at the same time her husband, Roger was helping a baby 20 miles away. Roger Travis is an EMT and he saw CPR being performed in front of a mall and he stepped in to revive the infant.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER TRAVIS: We did get a pulse back from the child. The child was crying. God put us at the right time at the right moment for the people that needed us the most.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: Amazing. And what could be called an understatement, the Travis family called it, quote, the craziest day ever.

BRIGGS: It did it was.

A Utah officer saved an 8-year-old who had fallen into a pond on Christmas, a frozen pond. The boy was with a friend when his dog ran off. He chased it on to the frozen pond and fell through the ice. A neighbor tried unsuccessfully to save him. Then, Sergeant Aaron Thompson showed up, pulling the boy up from five feet under the surface.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:20:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just started using my hands and my fists just pounding on the ice, to break the ice, to get out to where he was. I couldn't touch the bottom, but I could the reeds brushing against my feet. So I knew that I had a real good chance if I stayed in that search area.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: After the rescue, Officer Thompson showed signs of hyperthermia but he was back at work yesterday. The boy is being treated at the hospital. No word on his condition. We hope he's going to be OK.

BRIGGS: A possible meteor citing across the United States last night after people across the country reported seeing a flying object in the sky. This video is captured by a group in Maine. The American Meteorological Society says it's investigating reports of fire balls seen in a dozen states, stretching from Maine to Florida, all the way west to California.

CNN has reached out to NORAD and NASA to get more information. So far, we haven't heard back.

Maybe Santa making a late flight. Who knows?

KOSIK: Could be.

BRIGGS: Yes, he actually delivers.

KOSIK: Prince Harry on the air with former President Obama. What Obama told the BBC's royal guest or guest host, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Prince Harry's guest stint as editor of BBC 4's Today program happening today. He interviewed his father Prince Charles and former President Barack Obama, who slammed social media for, quote, corroding civil discourse.

[04:25:03] Amen.

CNN's Anna Stewart is live in London with the highlights.

Good morning to you, Anna. What did these two talk about?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it was a fantastic interview. Lots of lovely light moments but the most important thing was this is the first interview President Obama has done since leaving office. And the top line that came out of it was all about social media. He

was cautioning about the use of social media by people in positions of power.

Now, take a listen to this sound byte from the interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: One of the dangers of the Internet is people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases. The question I think really has to do with, how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views but doesn't lead to a balkanization of our society, but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: So, there you have it. You know, the key message there, think before you speak, think before you tweet.

You know, Dave, there was some really lovely light moments from President Obama here. He said that he doesn't miss the early wakeup. He does miss the motorcade when it comes to traffic.

BRIGGS: He doesn't miss the early wakeup. Amen to that. We know how that feels.

Did Obama turn the tables and get the prince to dish on Meghan Markle and the upcoming wedding or no?

STEWART: No, and, unfortunately, this is actually done in September. So, it's done before the engagement. But, you know, he did say how important Michelle Obama had been to him as president. So, you could suggest that maybe you know, you need someone strong by your side going forward.

BRIGGS: Seems like a great rapport between the two. Thanks so much.

KOSIK: All right. Is infrastructure the area where Democrats and Republicans can find some common ground? The White House says yes. A framework is coming next month. We shall see.

BRIGGS: And get out the jackets, the gloves, whatever you've got. Bitter cold air gripping the North and East, already dumping five feet of snow in western Pennsylvania. Is more in store? We'll have the answer.