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Winter Blast Invades the North and East; White House Set to Unveil Infrastructure Plan Next Month; Russia Pushes for U.S.-North Korea Negotiations; James Harrison Signs With Patriots. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 05:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, five feet of snow and climbing. Parts of the North and East getting socked with winter weather as a cold front brings single digits for New Year's revelers.

[05:00:04] ALISON KOSIK, CNN AHCHOR: And the White House getting ready to roll out the framework of an infrastructure plan. Can the president get Democrats on board on what has already historically been a bipartisan issue?

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

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. And if I'm a betting man, bipartisanship, that is a stretch in this climate.

It's Wednesday, December 27th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East, 1:00 p.m. in Moscow, 10:00 a.m. in London. We'll get to those shortly. But we start with the weather.

Outside is indeed frightful. Snowfall records being shattered as temperatures dip in a winter blast, invading much of the north and east.

Check out some cool time lapse video of this record breaking snowfall in Erie, Pennsylvania. People there got over 5 feet of snow since Christmas day and it is not over yet.

KOSIK: Yes, but there are a lot of people trying to make the best of it. This man broke out his skis to get around his neighborhood. Even some dogs are having a hard time getting around in this, but they get to kind of play in it.

BRIGGS: Twenty-one Pennsylvania National Guard troops have been put on active duty to help with medical and law enforcement emergencies. The snow, part of a broader system heading east for New Year's Eve. Temps for the ball drop in Times Square will feel like single digits.

Let's check in with CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri live in our weather center.

Pedram, good morning to you. Now, the school kids unfortunately were already out of school (INAUDIBLE) any bonus time off in Pennsylvania. PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. You know, this was so expensive, Dave, that they had to issue a snow emergency rather rare, set up there to essentially not allow motorists to be on the roads past 6:00 p.m. across some of these communities, and, of course, they have to be able to clear the roads out for the emergency vehicles to be able to make their way through if necessary.

But, look at the numbers, we're talking 40, 50, 60 inches of snowfall. And once you begin to bring that down on the ground in a matter of a couple of days, not only do you set state records for the state of Pennsylvania, but that amount of snow, the official three-day total is about five feet, two inches or 1.1 Alison Kosiks. That's how much snow it is.

It comes up right around, I'm 5'10", so it comes a few inches shy of my height here. But it really shows you snow we're talking in a matter of few hours. In fact, most of that came down actually going from Christmas Day to the day after Christmas and climatologically speaking, not only do we shatter the record, but look at this, 97 inches have fallen in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The average for this time of year comes in at 22 inches of snowfall, 67 was the previous record. So, shattering the all-time record of the amount of snowfall across that region. But here we go with the arctic air. We get a couple of shots of arctic air. That one round of it comes in.

Of course, we've had lake effect snow take place as the Canadian air goes over a warm body of water in the Great Lakes. That energy transfer that takes place allows additional snow to come down here in the form of lake effect snow. At least 10 inches and maybe 12 inches in a few spots. But we have an area to whom about 50 million people here who have wind-chill advisories as cold as 35 below zero.

These are dangerous enough in a matter of 20 to 30 minutes you'll have permanent damage to your skin. In fact, look at this, in Duluth, in Minnesota, 39 below zero what it feels like. Even in Chicago, minus 18 at this hour. The wind-chill and the pattern continues to stretch really for much of this region, minus 11 in Detroit. In Pittsburg, it feels like zero and that's the start of it.

You talk about protect the three P's of these temperatures, the pets, the pipes, the plants. This is serious stuff when it gets this cold. And, of course, we're talking that it's going to be a multiday event.

Look at this, in New York City, you think it's cold now. It moderates a little bit come Friday and Saturday and then the bottom drops out going into 2018. Low temperatures potentially into the high single digits when the ball drops. Winds around 10 miles an hour. That translates to a minus wind-chill at midnight in New York City. So hang in there, guys.

BRIGGS: Pets, pipes and plants. Kosik pipes are going to struggle that night. She will be in Times Square.

KOSIK: I'm going to be out there freezing my bottom off. BRIGGS: Pipes.

KOSIK: My pipes off.

BRIGGS: Thank you, my friend. Appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thanks, guys.

KOSIK: All right. President Trump and the White House are hoping to unveil the framework of an infrastructure plan by next month. The hope is to have it be a major part of the president's first State of the Union Address on January 30th. The plan will propose spending at least $200 billion on infrastructure over the next decade with hopes of spurring an additional $800 billion in state and local funding despite state and local budgets that are already strapped.

BRIGGS: Already some Democrats and business groups saying $200 billion is too low, but White House officials say it's more of a floor than a ceiling. As part of the plan, the White House will 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 is historically proven to be an area that you see bipartisan agreement. White House officials have suggested few politicians would oppose a plan to fix crumbling roads and bridges among other projects.

[05:05:05] BRIGGS: Let's talk about all this Erin Delmore, making her EARLY START debut. She's a senior political correspondent for

How do you like the ultra early mornings?

ERIN DELMORE, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BUSTLE.COM: I like it. I feel like I could get used to this.

BRIGGS: OK, be careful what you wish for.

DELMORE: Right. Right around this time of year too.

BRIGGS: The possibility of bipartisanship, a historically unpopular president, Democrats who he has targeted the entire year on Twitter you're telling me bipartisanship, I can't even get in my mouth, is possible in this environment?

DELMORE: It sounds like the stakes are way too high, doesn't it? And remember, Republicans are going to need 60 votes so get an infrastructure bill through. They can't teed around that 50, like they've been doing in the past year.

BRIGGS: And they've only got 51.

DELMORE: Exactly now with the Alabama Senate election decided they have a slimmer margin than usual. There's no room for error here. But think about this plan, it would be easier for voters to swallow

than some of these divisive issues like we've seen, like tax reform and health care reform. It's not as high stakes as repealing Obamacare was and it's not quite as complicated as tax reform. President Trump was joking about this and saying, oh, I'll save the easy one for last. It's not going to be easy and it's going to be hard to get Democrats to come to the table. They feel like they've been shut out all year.

BRIGGS: I mean, it's not going to be easy because there's a lot of money involved, because after tax reform, there's not as much money to go around and you're going to see these members of Congress looking for state and local budgets to handle more of the payments to improve infrastructure. But there's less will for counties to do that because you're seeing a lot of taxes, a lot of homeowners unable to deduct what they used to deduct.

So where is the revenue coming from for this ginormous infrastructure bill?

DELMORE: Most indications show that it's going to be a smaller package than President Trump promised on the campaign trail when he stood up and said a trillion dollars for an infrastructure push. That money has not come to the table. It's not in the draft plans the way that it looked during the campaign.

But the other thing is that Democrats and a lot of local, state and county officials have to figure out how they're going to be spending their money especially now that tax reform has gone through. If Republicans look forward, if they look to cut social services, basically programs that help lower income families in their states, they're going to have less to put up toward infrastructure to make that big push.

BRIGGS: What happened to deficit hawks and the Republican Party of $200 billion, on top of a trillion and a half is nothing. But health care is obviously pivotal as well and the president will hunker down with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan up at Camp David when he gets back.

What is the path forward on Obamacare, on the future of health care, and will Democrats help in that regard or is it you break it, you buy it?

DELMORE: It depends on who you ask. Now, there are going to be two Republicans that want to bring health care to the table in the midyear. You're looking at Susan Collins and Lamar Alexander, both of which has pushed legislation that would shore up Obamacare.

Now, is that in the interest of the Trump administration? They're touting this individual mandate repeal as a total repeal of the law. It isn't, but it's a crippling blow to the law and President Trump has said in the past that he doesn't have an interest in shoring up Obamacare. He said let it fail.

But the bottom line is if people see their premiums go up, if they see their coverage go down, Republicans own this issue now, so it might be in the interest of the White House and Republicans in Congress to make it work.

BRIGGS: Susan Collins got a guarantee on that, right, did she not?

DELMORE: But that ball got kicked down the field. She was told if she voted yes on tax reform, the Senate would take up her bill to stabilize Obamacare markets and then she came out and said at the very end of December, we can move this to the New Year. So, she's lost the leverage here, but she does have a promise from Mitch McConnell that exactly will happen.

BRIGGS: OK. So, it is a holiday week. Let's talk about golfing. Let's talk about the president golfing and the president in the past on Twitter getting on President Obama's case for golfing too much. What say you?

DELMORE: This was a favorite attack line of President Trump, along with President Obama being born in Kenya. These were his two major thrusts during most of the Obama years, but we're seeing now that President Trump also loves to golf. He especially loves to golf at his own properties and he has spent a very large number, a third of his time according to CNN's own reporting at his own resorts and you see the Bedminster is popular this summer, Mar-a-Lago in the winter.

President Trump ran as an outsider. He made his name on the family business. And he made that fortune that way. It's no surprise he would favor these properties.

But when you look at the cost associated with sending Secret Service or if you look at some of the people he interacts with, the fact they can buy their way into his resorts, all those raise important questions.

BRIGGS: Eighty-six days at a Trump golf property, but the White House won't say he's golfing because 86 days on the golf course would sound like an extraordinary amount of golf for anyone in this country, let alone the president of the United States.

DELMORE: The brightest light you can shine on this is that he needs good relationships with members of Congress to get his agenda through. If you can create that good relationship on the golf course, we see this all the time. We see this in business, we see it in politics, but it's a large number of days.

[05:10:01] BRIGGS: Well, he once tweeted that about Obama that he should play with Democrats. That would be one thing we'd like to see, how about President Trump play golf with Democrats in 2018?


BRIGGS: New Year's resolution, Mr. President. Golf with Democrats.

DELMORE: So many Democrats, yes, in tough reelection fights. They're in swing states. They are people you could get on board in infrastructure push.

BRIGGS: You interviewed Schumer. Does he golf? DELMORE: I'm not sure.

BRIGGS: I'm not sure he's a golfer. We want to talk about that conversation we have with Schumer in about 30 minutes.

Erin Delmore from, thanks.

KOSIK: We'll see you in a bit.

DELMORE: Sounds good.

BRIGGS: All right. The tie breaker to settle a Virginia House race that would determine balance of power in the bellwether state delayed now until at least next week. Lawyers representing Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds taking the matter to court. They want the circuit court judges to reconsider their decision to allow a controversial ballot to be counted as a vote for Simonds' Republican rival, David Yancey. The decision to count the controversial ballot made the race a tie. A day after the recount panel had declared a one-vote victory for the Democrat Simonds.

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 the names will be put into canisters and the first name drawn from the bowl will be declared the winner.

BRIGGS: That is democracy, folks.

The U.S. government sanctioning two senior figures linked to North Korea's 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 fast path toward negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.

So, let's bring in CNN's Fred Pleitgen live in Moscow with the latest.

Good morning, Fred.

REDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. Yes, it really looks like the Russians are trying to somewhat insert themselves into this whole situation that's been going on between the North Koreans and the Trump administration.

The Russians really doing two things. On the one hand, they say that they're willing to step in and be a mediator between the U.S. and Pyongyang, which in itself is quite interesting, because the Russians do have economic relations with the North Koreans, they have a common border with the North Koreans and they do hold some sway in Pyongyang and especially, they don't want that situation to get out of control either.

But on the flip side of that, they did lace all that with some heavy criticism of the U.S., saying that some of the rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration was not helpful in this situation and saying apparently in this call between Secretary of State Tillerson and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the U.S. needed to move away from, quote, the language of sanctions back to the language of negotiations. Again, the Russians say, look, they're all in, they're willing to play a mediating role, but, of course, the big question in all of that is, is the U.S. willing to trust the Russians to play such a role after all the things we've heard since the election last year, Dave?

BRIGGS: All right. Fred Pleitgen live for us in Moscow, 1:12 p.m. there -- thanks, Fred.

KOSIK: OK, a flight from L.A. to Japan spending eight hours in the air, only to return to California. What happened? And the epic Twitter takedown from one celebrity who was on board.


[05:16:24] BRIGGS: All right. Welcome back, 5:16 Eastern Time.

After more than eight hours in the air, passengers in the Los Angeles to Tokyo flight landed right back where they started and model Christy Teigen, one of the 226 passengers on board made sure everyone, her 9.2 million followers and frankly the rest of Twitter know about it.

All Nippon Airways Flight 175 flew for four hours before making an abrupt U-turn because 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: Chrissy Teigen, traveling with husband John Legend, not pleased. Here's some of her live tweets when this was happening.

First, there was 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.

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

BRIGGS: Amusement turned to frustration. Won't be able to sleep until I know how this person figured out they were on the wrong flight. Then when no one would share information about the mystery passenger, Teigen added, no one will spill anything. Wish I had more for you guys. Wish I could be your Snowden.

All Nippon put the passengers in a hotel and re-booked them on a flight this morning.

KOSIK: Still no explanation how the passenger got on the wrong flight. One possibility is the passenger was ticketed under 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. And before we go, there's an update. I checked her Twitter feed,

Chrissy Teigen 29 minutes ago said taking off. Please don't be the same menu, please don't be the same menu. There you have it.

BRIGGS: Celebrities and their issues.

KOSIK: All right. Retailers found a nice present under the Christmas tree this year. Strong holiday sales, America spent at a record pace this holiday 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 still coming back from the Great Recession. The profitable shopping season has given a lift to traditional retailers. Shares at Macy's up 33 percent since before Thanksgiving. Gap up 20 percent. Target up 15 percent.

This comes as the retail industry in general has had a really tough time. In 2007, store closing announcements more than tripled to about 7,000 which is a record. There have been 662 bankruptcy filings in a retail sector so far this year. That's according to and that's up 30 percent from the same period last year.

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


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.


KOSIK: OK. So that family is OK and Crystal Travis had no idea at the same time -- follow me here -- her husband, Roger, was 20 miles away helping a baby.

[05:20:03] Roger Travis is an EMT. And he saw CPR being performed in front of a mall. And he stepped in to revive the infant.


ROGER TRAVIS, EMT: 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.


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

BRIGGS: A possible meteor sighting across the United States last night after people across the country reported seeing a flying object in the sky. This video was captured by a group in Maine. The American Meteorological Society says it's investigating reports of fireballs seen over one dozen states stretching from Maine to Florida all the way west to California. CNN has reached out to NORAD and NASA to get information. So far, we have not heard back.

Ahead, one of the Patriots biggest rivals about to suit up for New England. Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report" and just how old he is in comparison to Tom Brady. That's next.


BRIGGS: Football fans, they saw this coming after being cut by the Steelers. Linebacker James Harrison finds a new home with their AFC rival the Patriots who they could see in the championship.

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

Good morning, Andy.


You know, this is a typical Bill Belichick move, signing a player that was cut by a team that his Patriots may potentially play in the playoffs could give some good intel.

[05:25:05] This move just has to hurt for Pittsburgh fans. Harrison a five-time pro bowler, and former defensive player of the year, a big time fan favorite even though he's only playing five games this year and this is twisting the knife in the heart of Steelers fans.

Harrison posting a selfie with Tom Brady, saying, finally, a teammate that is older than me. Harrison is 39 years old. Brady, a year older, he's 40. Now, despite his age, Harrison stays in stellar shape. He reported by spends nearly $300,000 a year on his fitness and is always posting videos of him lifting just crazy amounts of weight.

All right. In the NBA last night, Suns, Grizzlies tied at 97 with 0.6 seconds on the clock. They inbound the ball throwing it right at the hoop and Tyson Chandler slams it home for the win. That looks like offensive goaltending, right? Did you know, you can't goal tend a ball that isn't going to count. So, since the ball was coming from out of bounds, you can slam it home no matter where it is above the rim.

Suns' star Devin Booker said he thought Coach Jay Triano was crazy when they made them go over that play in practice.

All right. What's one way to fool a big LeBron James fan? How about make them think they're getting a Steph Curry jersey for Christmas.






SCHOLES: Oh, I love how his sadness went to pure joy when he saw he was getting a LeBron jersey. His little sister was yelling yes, yes, yes because she wanted the Curry jersey. And I love how he was trying to rub it in that he was getting a Curry jersey and not a LeBron jersey.

They must have one great sibling rivalry in that household.

BRIGGS: Scholes, you know I grew up in Denver, a life long Bronco fan and my son wanted a Travis Kelce Chiefs jersey. I said no. And his grandma got him a Chiefs jersey. And I said, no.

SCHOLES: What did you do wrong that he was a Chiefs fan?

BRIGGS: He's not. You know, kids these days, they like players, they don't like teams.

SCHOLES: Very true.

BRIGGS: And Kelce is awesome, but you can't wear a Chiefs jersey in a Broncos house. But I love that kid's reaction.

SCHOLES: I think my kids wear only Houston sports stuff all the time.

BRIGGS: See? Good discipline. I like that. Scholes, thank you, my friend.

KOSIK: Thanks.

SCHOLES: Have a good one.

KOSIK: So, is infrastructure the area where Democrats and Republicans with find common ground? The White House says yes. A framework coming next month.

BRIGGS: Get out your jackets, your gloves, your hats, whatever you got to get through this bitter cold and five feet of snow in parts of Pennsylvania. Are they in store for more? We'll tell you next.