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Severe Weather Threatens Holiday Travel; NYT: Trump Knew About Whistleblower Complaint; New Warning from "Anonymous"; Chemical Plant Explosion in Texas; Stephen F. Austin Stuns Duke with OT Buzzer- Beater. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 27, 2019 - 05:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight, we learned parts of Interstate 5, that's a link between Oregon and California, parts of Interstate 5 has been shut down due to whiteout conditions.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: And parts of Colorado buried under 3 feet of snow, stranding more than 1,100 passengers at Denver International Airport on Monday night.

In the mountains west of Denver, a rock slide during the snowstorm adding to the misery, temporarily closing westbound Interstate 70.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We put this fence out because we were worried about some minor instability might be coming out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't anticipate this.


ROMANS: Yes, in Nebraska, plow crews and homeowners with shovels trying to stay ahead of the following snow. I-70 closed in western Kansas.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation says it has 800 plows trucks and 1,800 workers ready to go.


JED FALGREN, MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: We also -- we do have some times where we're expecting over an inch an hour of snowfall. And that coupled with some very high winds is going to make it a bit of a challenge in terms of visibility.


PHILLIP: And the Chicago area is under a high wind warning today. Expect the powerful winds to wreak havoc with air travel throughout one of the country's biggest hubs. In total, about 21 million people from the West Coast to the Great Lakes are now under some kind of winter weather advisory.

Meteorologist Karen Maginnis has the latest.


KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Christine and Abby, this could be the Thanksgiving that is memorable for perhaps the wrong reason, with back-to-back storm systems, one across the Midwest, the other for the West Coast, it's going to be getting stronger, and really producing really dire traveling conditions for travelers.

All right, this weather report is brought to you by Ninja Foodi, the grew that sears, sizzles, and air fry crisps.

The wind is going to be problematic, not just for Detroit, Chicago and Indianapolis, and St. Louis, but even for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Might see some of the wind gusts outside the parameters there. We'll keep you updated on that.

And for the airports, problematic, because of volume, but mostly because of the weather. New York, along that I-95 corridor, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, out in San Francisco. Wow.

They've already shut down some interstates. And some portions of the central U.S. in Nebraska. Also right around Ashland to the south along Interstate 5.

So we'll keep you updated on that.

Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: All right, Karen.

Everyone be careful out there.

New developments in the impeachment probe have President Trump on shakier ground this morning. According to "The New York Times," the president already knew about the whistle-blower complaint that ignited this inquiry before he decided to release that military aid back to Ukraine in September. Now this would suggest that among officials factored into the decision to unfreeze that aide and help Ukrainians fend off the Russians. Lawyers from the White House briefed the president, told him they were trying to figure out whether they were obligated to turn the complaint over to Congress.

PHILLIP: CNN has learned the first official move to with hold aid came the evening of July 25th call, the same day President Trump and the Ukrainian president had that controversial call that spawned the whistleblower complaint. The official who initial put the money on hold was Mark Sandy, in the Office of Management and Budget. A transcript of his closed door testimony was just released and he says he told his boss withholding aid may violate federal law.

That was days before his boss who was a Trump appointee took over responsibility for the Ukraine money. According to the testimony, two people left their job at the budget office at least partly because of this Ukraine mess.

PHILLIP: The House Judiciary Committee has now announced a new impeachment hearing. There's one difference this time. President Trump and his lawyers have been cordially invited to attend.

More now from Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.



Now, the House Judiciary Committee is moving forward, opening up the new phase of the impeachment proceedings in the House, when they'll have a hearing, testimony from experts who will weigh in on the constitutionality of impeachment and whether the president's conduct meets the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors. This expert panel of witnesses expected to have a discussion about the facts that were found as part of the two-month investigation that the House Intelligence Committee and two other committees found in looking into the president's handling of the Ukraine policy and whether or not he abused his office, violated a law in withholding key military aid for Ukraine, as well as a key meeting of the Ukrainian president had sought with president Trump, in exchange for investigations.

All of that will be discussed in the series of hearings the Judiciary Committee will have starting on Wednesday. Expect to report first to come out from the House Intelligence Committee, detailing the findings. Then next Wednesday will be that hearing. Before there will actually be votes on articles of impeachment in the House Judiciary Committee.

That could probably take place in the second week of December and maybe even spill into the third week of December. By the third week of December, probably will be the week to watch, in which the full House will have the opportunity to vote on articles of impeachment against the president.


Democrats are moving full-speed ahead. At the moment, they're discussing the size and scope of the articles of impeachment, how many articles to include, whether it's abuse of power, whether it's bribery, whether it's obstruction of Congress or even obstruction of justice.

This announcement by the House Judiciary, significant, because it signals a new phase of the impeachment probe is coming and is coming soon.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right, Manu. Thank you so much for that.

We have breaking news. At least three people injured after a powerful explosion at a chemical plant in Port Natchez, Texas. That's east of Houston. Witnesses say the blast shook homes and shattered windows more than 40 miles away. There's now a mandatory evacuation for everyone within a half mile of the plant.

Police told a local CNN affiliate everyone else should shelter in place. As often happens when things like this happened, officials are likely assessing what chemicals right now are being released into the air.

PHILLIP: Double trouble for home insurance. It's becoming unaffordable and unavailable in the neediest area. Is the climate crisis to blame?



ROMANS: New insight this morning from the anonymous Trump insider whose book and op-ed document troubling inner workings of the White House. During a question-and-answer session on Reddit, he or she announced plans to unmask eventually. The person says, quote, I'm not afraid to use my own name to express concern about the current occupant of the Oval Office, adding President Trump will hear from me in my own name before the 2020 election.

PHILLIP: And so far, Anonymous has only been identified as a senior official in the Trump administration. Reddit did not verify the person's identity but the book agent confirmed to CNN's Josh Campbell that, in fact, it was Anonymous during the Q&A.

The author does admit being wrong about one thing. My original argument, he says, has been thoroughly debunked. In "The New York Times" op-ed, I suggested that the steady state of top officials in the administration could ameliorate Donald Trump's lapses in judgment. I was dead wrong. No one can thwart his attracting to wrongdoing.

The White House has referred the anonymous author as, quote, a gutless coward.

ROMANS: All right. The 2020 election ad wars are hearting up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie fights for the average Joe. That's the thing I like about him the most.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next president is going to face enormous challenges of picking up the pieces of American foreign policy.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Enact a green new deal and lead the global effort to save our planet.


ROMANS: Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren rolling out new campaign ads in Iowa. They know a lot of eyeballs will be watching television over the Thanksgiving holiday. Sanders is focusing on farmers, Biden on foreign policy and Warren on the climate crisis.

PHILLIP: The Massachusetts senator is standing by her call for wealth tax to pursue her agenda and pay for it. Here's what she told "The Des Moines Register" editorial board.


WARREN: We can't simply say, debt, therefore, we can't do anything. When I'm out there arguing for universal child care or for housing, I'm going to show first how to pay for it. When I'm arguing for a Green New Deal, I'm going to show you exactly how I'm going to pay for this.


PHILLIP: Warren's ultra millionaire tax charges 2 percent on every dollar on net worth of $50 million. Households with assets over $1 billion could face a 6 percent tax.

ROMANS: Climate change is making home insurance unavailable or unaffordable in areas at greatest risk for natural disasters. In data first compiled by "Axios", payouts for 2017 and 2018 combined, $219 billion, the highest ever for a two-year period.

Data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioner shows every state showed annual premiums rise between 2007 and 2016. States in Tornado Alley saw the biggest jump. Oklahoma saw premiums jump 78 percent over the decade, an extra 821 buck as year.

Insurers are also limiting coverage in states deemed too risky like Florida because of hurricanes. Homeowners there have seen insurance cost rise in areas considered more at risk by insurers. And in California, because of wildfires, insurers are pulling back from high risk areas, leaving homeowners scrambling. Merced Property and Casualty in California filed for bankruptcy last year after it was unable to pay on millions of claims after the devastating Camp Fire there.

PHILLIP: A stunning loss for the top ranked Duke Blue Devils, snapping a streak that lasted 19 years. Carolyn Manno is here with the "Bleacher Report", next.



PHILLIP: It turns out a slow-moving blob that forced a lockdown of the White House and the Capitol on Tuesday may have been a flock of birds. Initial assessments indicated an unauthorized aircraft entering restricted airspace. Military jets were scrambled. Defense officials tell CNN, though, it's still not known exactly what

triggered the event. But three possible causes are being analyzed, birds, an atmospheric anomaly, or a drone.

ROMANS: A patient at a southern New Jersey hospital was accidentally given a kidney intended for someone else. Both patients at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital were on the transplant list, have the same name, and are around the same age. Hospitals say mistakes of this magnitude are rare and additional verification would have prevented this error.

The patient who was supposed to get the kidney did receive one six days later.


The hospital says both patients are doing well and it has taken steps to prevent a repeat.

PHILLIP: That's crazy.

ROMANS: It is. It really is.

PHILLIP: And in sports, last night featured maybe one of the most stunning losses in Duke basketball history.

Carolyn Manno --

ROMANS: Carolyn Manno is here.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Happy holidays to you.

You know, Cameron Indoor Stadium, as you both know, is a notorious difficult destination for any team. You've got NBA caliber talent, you've got a legendary head coach, crazy fans.

But a small school did the unthinkable thanks to the shot of a lifetime from a family who lost nearly everything this summer. Duke facing Stephen F. Austin. Have you heard of this school? You might know Nathan Bain's name now.

The fifth-year senior racing the length of the court to bet the clock in Duke in overtime, the biggest win in school history. Yes, an unlikely hero with an unlikely story. Bain is from the Bahamas, and he's been through a lot after his family saw their island nearly destroyed by hurricane Dorian this summer.


NATHAN BAIN, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN SR. FORWARD: I'm trying not to get emotional. My family lost a whole lot this year. Never cry on TV. My family lost a whole lot this year and I'm just playing this game for them, you know? I'm playing the game for my family, my family back home in the Bahamas. I just want to make my country proud.


MANNO: It's great, right?

It's rivalry week in college football. By the way, to you guys, regular season wrapping up. The latest football rankings released on Tuesday night. A surprise at the top, Ohio State jumping over LSU for the top spot.

This is just a second time ion rankings history that a number one team dropped out of the top spot despite winning the previous. Both times happened this year. Clemson and Georgia remain inside the coveted top four spots. It's going to be an interesting race to see who makes the playoffs.

And an unlikely assist in a key champions league win for Tottenham. So, they were trailing in the second half. Look at this ball boy. A very quick heads up play here, quick throw in that would set up Harry Cain for the Spurs' equalizer.

A big congratulations from a job well done from Tottenham's new manager, Jose Mourinho, a former ball boy himself, who says, hey, thank you very much. That was big.

Fun moment there, but, you know, I just love the first story that we did, you guys. How great is that on Thanksgiving. There was a GoFundMe page set up for his family, too. So many families impacted in the Bahamas, so it was nice to see him being the hero. It was great.

ROMANS: I know. I love it, I love it.

Thanks so much, Carolyn.

All right. Fifty-five million people traveling for the holiday. A pair of miserable storms in the way.

PHILLIP: And why was it that President Trump let military aid resume to Ukraine? A new report says he knew a whistle-blower complaint had been filed.



ROMANS: Another hurdle for Boeing as they try to get the 737 MAX jet back into air. The FAA has stripped Boeing of the right to sign off its own jets before they return to service. The FAA will inspect and sign off on each and every plane. The jet has been grounded following two crashes that killed 346 people.

Boeing is in a crunch here. Its finances are stressed by the months- long grounding and it's scrambling to find space to hold dozens of MAX jets they're churning out every month.

PHILLIP: More people are dying young in the U.S. than any country despite the U.S. spending more on health care per person. A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows death rates are climbing among young and middle-aged adults.

For a half century in American life, expectancy grew nearly 10 years to age 79, by 2014, but then it reversed, creeping down to 78.6 years in 2017. The study blames increasing suicides, drug overdose, alcoholism and epidemic obesity, and it says the problem is focused on four Ohio Valley states and northern New England.

ROMANS: New York City wants no part of FedEx's packaged delivery robots. The company's same day delivery both called Roxo was spotted in the city last week. Lawyers for the New York City Department of Transportation delivered a cease-and-desist letter to FedEx, warning the robots were violating traffic laws.

Mayor Bill de Blasio filing on, saying if we see any of these bots, we'll send them packing. FedEx says the bot was in the city for special event. The company has tested the delivery both in four U.S. markets, which don't include New York.

EARLY START continues right now.


PHILLIP: Thanksgiving travelers on alert. Back-to-back storms unleashing snow, torrential rain, and intense winds coast to coast.

ROMANS: What did the president know and when did he know it. A damaging report says he knew about the whistle-blower complaint before allowing military aid to Ukraine.

PHILLIP: New insights from the official known as anonymous. They will reveal themselves before the 2020 election and a surprising admission about their own op-ed.

ROMANS: And breaking overnight a powerful explosion at a chemical plant in Texas. Windows blown out, the blast heard for miles lighting up the night sky.

Good morning, everyone. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

PHILLIP: And I'm Abby Phillips.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

PHILLIP: It's 30 past the hour.

And not one but two powerful storms are threatening holiday travel from coast to coast. AAA predicts more than 55 million travelers will be taking to the roads and skies for Thanksgiving.