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EARLY START

Moore Taking Alabama Loss to Court; Trump Falsely Touts Record; Tillerson: Americans Should Be Proud; Vince Carter Turns Back the Clock. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 28, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:02] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Roy Moore with an 11th hour lawsuit to block results of Alabama's special election. The result is supposed to be certified today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump with the big pat on the back for himself, but his claim of passing more legislation than any president since Trump doesn't exactly add up.

KOSIK: And the secretary of state says changes at the State Department are showing results. We're going to tell you what he said about the North Korea threat and potential of working with Russia.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's Thursday, December 28th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

You might not believe it's December 28th because it was December 12th that Roy Moore officially lost, and yet, he's still hanging on.

Roy Moore's campaign filing a complaint overnight to delay today's planned certification of the special election results in Alabama. In a late night filing, Moore's campaign, quote, three so-called election integrity experts who believe voter fraud occurred. The campaign also says Moore took a polygraph test, proving allegations of sexual misconduct that derailed his campaign are false.

KOSIK: You remember that Moore lost the race to Democrat Doug Jones earlier this month. But Moore has refused to concede. The Alabama secretary of state is scheduled to certify the election results today unless the new court filing forces a delay. Jones is expected to be seated early next year, narrowing the Republicans' advantage in the Senate to just 51 to 49.

BRIGGS: President Trump touting his legislative record but he might be giving himself a bit too much credit. In a surprise visit to a West Palm Beach firehouse, President Trump claimed he has signed the most legislation of any president. That claim doesn't exactly pass the fact check.

KOSIK: The president also got back on the golf course. Not that we can prove it because a giant white box truck blocked reporters from capturing his 87th day at one of his courses since taking office.

We get the latest from CNN's Sara Murray in West Palm Beach, Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison and Dave.

Wednesday was another quiet one for President Trump on his vacation to Mar-a-Lago here in Florida, but he did make one surprise stop, visiting a local fire house to greet firefighters and tout his legislative achievements.

TRUMP: We have signed more legislation than anybody and broke the record of Harry Truman, and it was saying, if we get this big tax cut, that's the legislation of all legislations. It's the biggest there is. But it included ANWR as you know, and it included the repeal of the individual mandate, which is a disaster. That's where you have the privilege of paying a lot of money so you don't have to buy health insurance, the most unpopular thing, which most people thought should have been unconstitutional.

MURRAY: President Trump obviously riding this wave of victory after shepherding through a sweeping overhaul of the tax system. But as for the notion that he's been more productive in the White House than previous occupants, that one doesn't hold up to fact checks. In fact, President Trump has signed fewer bills in his first year in office than any administration dating back to Eisenhower.

Now, before he stopped at the firehouse, President Trump engaged in of his favorite activities on vacation, hitting the links and while CNN has been able to get pictures of him on the golf course in previous days, on Wednesday, it was a little bit tougher, a big white box truck suddenly appeared to block the shot, unclear who commissioned it, but not any pedestrian can just park there and we know that this is the White House that seems particularly sensitive for whatever reason about images of President Trump on the golf course.

Back to you, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Sara Murray, thanks.

A spokesperson for the Secret Service and Palm Beach sheriff's office both deny having anything to do with that white truck. As for the president's claim of passing the most legislation, he's trying to bolster that claim by setting his roll back of regulations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: So, a lot of the regulations were avoided. And now we can go back to work and do the job. In the case of builders and in case farmers and so many others, they can now go back to doing their jobs. We have the all-time record for stopping ridiculous regulations and we're very proud of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: All right. Let's talk more about this. Let's bring in Salena Zito. She is the CNN contributor and national political reporter for "The Washington Examiner" and columnist for "The New York Post."

Good morning. Thanks for waking up early.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.

KOSIK: Let's talk more about this and get this straight about what the facts are here. So, it is true that the president has signed more bills in his first 100 days, 100 days, than any president since Truman, but, as far as his first year in office, he is -- is he messing up the language? I mean and but as he's doing this, I think what he's doing here is taking the shine off the Apple, taking it off his real legislative accomplishments like tax reform.

ZITO: Right. I mean, the president has always had this tendency towards hyperbole, right?

[05:05:04] And tends to exaggerate about his accomplishments or what he's done or going to do. I think it's unnecessary twofold. First of all, if you're a true conservative, or even a populist, the last thing you want is more government, more laws. It's sort of the thing that Republicans and independents sort of rail against.

So, there's no need to brag about accomplishing more laws, or legislation. You know, that can go out the window. That's not important to his voters.

And the other thing is, is that he does have a lot of things he should sort of be proud of that the people that put him into office can point to and say, look, he did what we asked him to do, especially in terms of rolling back legislation -- rolling back regulation, right?

KOSIK: Yes.

ZITO: That's really, really important, especially to a lot of those Midwest voters.

(CROSSTALK)

KOSIK: Contradicting himself.

ZITO: Yes, exactly. It's an unnecessary error. He doesn't need to do that. There's a lot of conservatives reluctantly and (INAUDIBLE) depending

on where you fell and how you felt about Trump, who are pretty pleased with what he's done, in particular on the Supreme Court justice, on the appointment of people to the courts, and on rolling back legislation.

BRIGGS: Just a great point on your first point. Typical conservatives, Republicans want less legislation.

ZITO: Right.

BRIGGS: Very interesting point. But also, he touted the stock market gains and tax bill for good reason. The question I have is with the stock market approaching $25,000, unemployment at a 17-year low, growth over 3 percent, the economy is roaring, how is this president historically unpopular?

ZITO: He's unpopular because he sort of sheds the norms and the protocols of the president, right? He's unlike any other president we have ever had.

Just on paper, if you take a look at him. He's never held office before. He's never run for anything before. So he comes in with that.

And he is disruptive by nature. That is who he is. And that was the mood of the electorate that put him into office.

So, you know, that is -- you know, that is sort of who he is, and that's the kind of -- he should embrace who he is, quite frankly. It's what made him -- that put him into office. But when he does things that he contradicts sort of the things he said he was going to do with then his behavior, he should embrace who he is and perhaps he could see his approval numbers jump up. Rather than trying to pretend he's, just like the other presidents.

KOSIK: All right. Let's switch gears for a moment.

Congressman Francis Rooney making headlines yesterday with something he said on CNN. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FLORIDA: I don't want to discredit. I would like to see the directors purge it and say, look, we've got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here. Those are the people that I want the American people to see and know the good works being done, not these people who are kind of a deep state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: OK. So, clearly, that was on MSNBC, but yesterday on CNN, he walked back the word purge on CNN. The question I have for you is, you know, FBI agents, intelligence agents, you know, they all have political views. But aren't they capable of doing their jobs without bias? ZITO: Yes. Absolutely. I think what -- obviously purge was a

terrible thing to say. It's great that he walked it back. I think what Congressman Rooney is expressing is sort of a frustration about the few handful that have been found out to be probably should not have been on the front lines of where they were in terms of looking at -- what was going on with the president.

You know, we've had our problems in this country but I don't think we addressed enough frequently enough, in that we have a big distrust with institutions and expertise. I don't think that's a healthy thing. And Rooney was sort of reflecting that, and, you know, it's sort of like when we were kids, right? And one kid did something wrong and the whole class got in trouble.

This is the sort of thing that happens when someone in government, there's a handful here in the FBI, or at the V.A., that caused all sorts of problems, and everyone sort of follows under the blanket of mistrust. I think that's something we need to address in this country because it's not good to distrust your institutions and your expertise so much.

[05:10:07] BRIGGS: Yes, it is a dangerous precedent we are setting.

I got to finish with some levity. You said earlier that the president should embrace who he is. So, what's up with the white truck blocking his golf swing? Is that just a coincidence or what do you think is behind all that?

ZITO: That is not a coincidence, that's sort of a metaphor of 2017 as far as I'm concerned. That was like the most 2017 thing ever. Like, oh, OK. Well, that's a great way to end the year.

(LAUGHTER)

ZITO: There's nothing else to say. The fight between all presidents and all members of press throughout our entire existence have always had this tug of war. It's after this president, it's very much like the reality show he came from. There's like the drama, stagery.

BRIGGS: Embrace it though. Guy shoots in the 70's I'm told. Fantastic golfer. Maybe hit a golf ball towards the cameras. I don't know.

Salena, thanks. We'll see you in about 30 minutes.

All right. Ahead, Russia accusing the United States of interfering with its election. Yes, you heard that right. Now, the secretary of state with the revealing op-ed this morning in "The New York Times," of all places, discussing Russia and North Korea. We're live in Moscow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says Americans should be encouraged by the progress the State Department has made in pushing for global peace and stability, especially when it comes to North Korea. In a "New York Times" op-ed, he defends President Trump for abandoning what he calls the failed policy of strategic patience.

KOSIK: Tillerson goes on to write: We hope that this international isolation will pressure the regime into serious negotiations on the abandonment of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. A door to dialogue remains open but we have made it clear that the regime must earn its way back to the negotiating table.

[05:15:06] Until denuclearization occurs, the pressure will continue.

BRIGGS: Tillerson adds: China should do more by putting more economic pressure on Pyongyang. CNN is now being told the administration is planning to take a quieter tone to avoid antagonizing the rogue regime. Senior administration officials telling CNN they plan to be more discreet about joint military exercises with South Korea and Japan, hoping this will help U.S. diplomats in ongoing talks to defuse the crisis.

Tillerson says of Russia, There are no illusions about the regime and their meddling in our election and others. He says the relationship is poor but the nations need to work together where mutual interests intersect.

It comes as Russia accuses the U.S. of -- wait for it -- meddling in its upcoming election.

We get the latest from CNN's Fred Pleitgen live in Moscow with the latest.

Good morning, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave.

Yes, all this comes amid a lot of criticisms of the Russians of the U.S. But the one thing that you're referring to was these are comments made by the spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova. She made them yesterday on her own Facebook page, which she often uses to make similar comments. And she was referring to something that the State Department said a few days earlier in reference to the fact there are candidates for the upcoming election here in Russia who are barred from running.

Now, the U.S. says it is concerned about that, and the Russians perceive that to be meddling in the upcoming election. They said it was absolutely clear that that was what's going on. The State Department for its part said, look, this is the same statement we've been making throughout the years about this. They believe that it is a troubling thing when the candidates are not allowed to run in the general election and the presidential election here in this country.

But again, it comes amid a barrage of criticism from the Russians. And one of the things that Secretary of State Tillerson said or wrote in his op-ed is he said that he believes that there could be cooperation with the Russians in Syria, he believes that that could lead to them having to leave power. Now, of course, the Russians have indicated that they have no such interest. And today, we managed to get in touch with the Kremlin. They said they don't believe that there is any cooperation currently between the U.S. and Russia on the topic of Syria.

So, as you can see, a lot of criticism there coming from the Russians, whether or not there is going to be closer cooperation as the secretary of state would like seems very difficult at this point -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Tillerson also points out some disagreement over the Ukraine situation as well.

Fred Pleitgen, live for us in Moscow, thank you.

BRIGGS: The IRS responding to the lines of people rushing to prepay their 2018 property taxes. Homeowners are trying to take advantage of a federal deduction on state and local taxes before it's scaled back under the new tax law. The IRS says you can prepay but the payment may not be tax deductible.

So, the agency releasing this statement yesterday, saying, quote, state or local law determines when the property tax is assessed, which is generally when the taxpayer become liable for the property tax imposed. So the clarification, if it you want to call it that, led to questions about whether local governments may have to refund millions to taxpayers while some counties have long allowed for prepayment. Others are scrambling to ensure that those who want to prepay can do so, even if the jurisdiction can't necessarily guarantee the prepayment would be deductible.

So, all this confusion coming as both the IRS and taxpayers are trying to determine what the biggest tax overhaul in three decades means to their bottom lines. But those lines you're seeing lining up outside these municipalities and these town halls, people are taking the risk. They're saying, you know what, I've got these extra few thousand, I'm going to go ahead and give it a shot.

BRIGGS: But it could be a tax free loan to the government depending on if you had it accessed.

KOSIK: Right.

BRIGGS: They have to have accessed this year and paid for two days.

KOSIK: That's why it's called the rich --

(CROSSTALK)

BRIGGS: Yes, indeed.

All right. Ahead: LeBron James comes to town and this turns back the clock, 40-year-old Vince Carter. Andy Scholes has the latest in "The Bleacher Report", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIGGS: Several members of the Pittsburgh Steelers blasting their former teammate James Harrison for joining their rivals, the Patriots.

KOSIK: Oh, it's getting dirty.

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

Good morning.

BRIGGS: Hey, man.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, guys. You know, I hope the Steelers and Patriots play in the championship game because James Harrison is really taking this rivalry to another level after being released by the Steelers.

Harrison joining the Patriots on Tuesday. Harrison, been a fan favorite for Pittsburgh for years, winning two Super Bowls, going to five pro bowls. Joining the rival Patriots really hurts Pittsburgh fans. Harrison can now give the Patriots vital info on how the Steelers do things. And Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey, well, he thinks Harrison has ruined his Steelers legacy by forcing his way to the Patriots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAURKICE POUNCEY, PITTSBURGH STEELERS CENTER: Well, he erased himself. He erased his own legacy here. Let's be serious. If you didn't want to be here come out and say it. Don't make it look like the team -- like it's the team's fault or organization. You think the team or organization want to get ride of James Harrison, let's be serious. Come on now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right. Let's do a little throwback Thursday for the NBA. Vince Carter turning back the clock last night at 40 years old. Carter, the oldest player in the NBA but still able to take down the LeBron and the Cavs, scoring a season high, 24 points. First time ever a player that old has scored more than 20 points off the bench in NBA history. Cavs lose second in a row, 109-95.

All right. Iowa beating Boston College, 27-20 in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. And get this, it was so cold and the field was so frozen that Boston College players couldn't wear their normal cleats, they were slipping and sliding all over the field. So, midgame, many of them changing out and into basketball sneakers. Despite the change, Iowa still beat Boston College, 27-20.

All right. Finally, in the always entertaining Foster Farms Bowl in California, Purdue with the ball before the half. And check out what they did. They were in that kneel down formation, but if you watch it again, they hand the ball off to 5'7" running back D.J. Knox, he ended up going 30 yards before they tackle him. They get a field goal out of that and end up winning the game with a great catch with under two minutes to go.

[05:25:00] Great grab. Purdue, 38-35 over Arizona. And, guys, four more bowl games today if you wanted to watch,

including the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl.

Bowl names are getting out of hand.

BRIGGS: They are getting out of hand.

But today we get into some top 25.

SCHOLES: Alamo Bowl, you got a good match up, yes. Some good ones today.

BRIGGS: So, they start to count. All right. Andy, thank you, my friend.

Great to see 40-year-old Vince Carter still doing it. Love it.

KOSIK: So, the special election, what, it was at least a few weeks ago?

BRIGGS: December 12th, folks, 15 days ago.

KOSIK: There you go.

But Roy Moore still not conceding the Alabama Senate race. He's taking the issue to court, alleging voter fraud hours before the race was supposed to be certified.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: Roy Moore with an 11th hour lawsuit trying to block results of Alabama's special election. The result is supposed to be certified today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: President Trump's big pat on the back for himself, but his claim of passing more legislation than any president since Truman doesn't exactly add up.

KOSIK: And the secretary of state said changes in the State Department are showing results. We're going to tell you what he said about the North Korea and the potential of working with Russia.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik. Good morning.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Doesn't look like Rex Tillerson is ready to go.

KOSIK: Not after that op-ed.