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Major Storms Threaten Holiday Travel; President Trump Knew About Whistleblower Complained Before He Released Ukraine Aid; U.K. Chief Rabbi's Scathing Rebuke Of Labour Party. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 27, 2019 - 05:30   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: -- from coast to coast. AAA predicts more than 55 million travelers will be taking to the roads and skies for Thanksgiving.

And west of Spokane, Washington, a 60-plus car pileup on an icy highway following a snowstorm. The State Patrol says at least six people were injured, though none of them seriously.

Overnight, we learned part of Interstate 5, a key link from Oregon to California, has been shut down due to whiteout conditions.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Parts of Colorado buried under three feet of snow, stranding more than 1,100 passengers at Denver International Airport on Monday night.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We put this fence out because we were concerned about some minor instability might be coming out. Didn't anticipate this.


PHILLIP: And in Nebraska, plow crews and homeowners with shovels trying to stay ahead of the falling snow. The state is advising motorists not to travel at all in the snow. I-70 is closed in parts of western Kansas.

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


JED FALGREN, MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: We also -- we do have some time but 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.


ROMANS: The Chicago area under a high wind warning today. Expect the powerful winds to play havoc with air travel through 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 going across the Midwest. The other for the west coast is 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 grill that sears, sizzles, and air fry crisps.

The wind is going to be problematic not just for Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, 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 the 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 five.

So we'll keep you updated on that. Back to you guys.


ROMANS: All right, Karen. Thank you for that.

PHILLIP: Did the president release military aid to Ukraine because he found out about the whistleblower complaint?



ROMANS: 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 whistleblower complaint that ignited this inquiry before he decided to release military aid back to Ukraine in September. That would suggest that alarm among officials at least factored into the decision to unfreeze that aid to help Ukraine fend off the Russians. Lawyers from the White House briefed the president and told him they were trying to figure out whether they were obligated to turn the complaint over to Congress.

PHILLIP: And CNN has learned that the first official to move to withhold aid came from the evening of July 25th. That's the same day Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president had that controversial call that spawned the whistleblower complaint.

The official who initially 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 yesterday and he told -- he told his boss that withholding the aid may actually violate federal law.

According to the testimony, two people left their jobs at the budget office, at least in part, because of this Ukraine mess.

ROMANS: And the House Judiciary Committee has now announced its first impeachment hearing for next week but there's one big difference this time. President Trump and his lawyers have been cordially invited to attend.

Let's bring in CNN POLITICS senior writer Zach Wolf, live for us in Washington. Good morning, Zach.


ROMANS: So nice to see you.

PHILLIPS: Hey, Zach.

WOLF: You, too.

ROMANS: It is Thanksgiving eve and on the front page of "The New York Times" today a story that maybe is not something the president's going to be giving thanks for. And it shows, sort of, this timeline and what had been going on when the president finally decided to unfreeze that aid. There were questions there about the legality and the timing of withholding that military -- that military aid.

What do we know?

WOLF: Well, we had already known that the president -- that the aid was released, essentially, just after the Congress found out about the whistleblower report, so it was already kind of fishy. But now, if this "New York Times" report is correct, we know that President Trump actually knew about the whistleblower long before, which makes it that much more, kind of, suspect.

And it really attacks this main Republican defense of President Trump is that well, the aid ultimately was released so nothing wrong happened. But if the aid was released after everybody found out about the whistleblower at the White House and on Capitol Hill it kind of makes it -- you know, it totally takes that argument away.

ROMANS: Right. WOLF: It makes it seem as though the only reason the aid was ever released was because essentially, as Democrats say, they got caught.

PHILLIP: And, Zach, you know, the president has been saying that he said no quid pro quo in that phone call with Gordon Sondland, which we now know was after he was told about this whistleblower complaint.


So, for Republicans, do you think this will move the needle any? I mean, are we getting any closer to folks being able to say that this was what it seems to be, which was that the president released the aid because he knew that there was a complaint about it?

WOLF: I think we've been very close to everybody being able to say this is exactly what it seems for quite a while, and I think it's going to do absolutely nothing to move the needle for Republicans on Capitol Hill. It seems like people are set in stone with how they view this chain of events.

ROMANS: Right.

WOLF: And they're either -- they're either going to be willing to overlook it or they don't care. But really, it does not seem like anybody is having their minds changed right now.

ROMANS: And meantime, if you look at -- at least at the ad buys in Iowa, the frontrunners in the Democratic Party are not talking about impeachment. They're each trying to cast their own, sort of, message here to the Iowans -- to Iowans and the American people over Thanksgiving.

Let's get a little sampling here.

WOLF: All right.


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 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: So, Iowans eating their turkey and watching football will also see Bernie Sanders talking about farmers, Joe Biden on foreign policy, climate change for Elizabeth Warren. They're trying to proceed with the arguments that they are -- the non-impeachment arguments over the weekend. WOLF: Yes, this actually makes a lot of sense to me. They all essentially agree, I think, on impeachment, so it's not going to differentiate them --

ROMANS: Right.

WOLF: -- from each other. They want to make arguments that maybe resound a little bit more -- you know, the kitchen table sort of arguments.

And also, Democrats are moving very quickly with impeachment. I think they're doing that because generally, as a party they want to get this done so they can talk about this other stuff.

PHILLIP: And, Zach -- I mean, it sounds like this is a pretty wide- open race. These arguments are so diverse from these top candidates.

WOLF: Right. You have Biden who is making this very commander in chief -- it almost feels in that ad like he's already in the general election, which puts the cart before the horse for him. But the idea of the Green New Deal --


WOLF: -- compared to -- then you have Mike Bloomberg jumping in there with his many millions of dollars and just turning into a punching bag for the Elizabeth Warrens and Bernie Sanders of the world.

I have no idea who is going to win this race and nobody does, and that's what makes it so interesting.


ROMANS: There will be some really interesting Thanksgiving dinner table conversations in Iowa, in particular. I mean, the checks are going out --


ROMANS: -- for the bailout. You've got a farm bailout.

PHILLIP: That's a big issue there.

ROMANS: Farm bailout that's bigger now than the auto bailout. Think about that.

PHILLIP: We've got a long way to go.

ROMANS: Still talking about the trade war. It will be interesting.

All right, nice to see you, Zach Wolf.

PHILLIP: Thanks, Zach.

WOLF: Thanks. PHILLIP: And new insights this morning from the anonymous Trump insider whose book and op-ed document trouble in the inner workings of the White House. During a question and answer session on Reddit, he or she announced plans to unmask himself eventually.

The person says, quote, "I am 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."

ROMANS: So far, anonymous has only been identified as a senior official in the administration. Reddit did not verify the person's identity but the book agent confirmed to CNN's Josh Campbell it was, in fact, anonymous doing that Reddit Q&A.

The author admits being wrong about one important thing. "My original argument 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 attraction to wrongdoing."

The White House has referred to anonymous as a, quote, "gutless coward."

PHILLIP: And we have breaking news.

At least three people were injured in a powerful explosion early this morning at a chemical plant in Port Neches, Texas. That's just east of Houston. And witnesses say the blast shook homes and shattered windows more than 40 miles away.

Live pictures here from Texas. You see a lot of smoke still billowing.

A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for everyone within half a mile of the plant, along with a wider shelter-in-place order for the rest of the community.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: Britain's chief rabbi wading into the U.K. election, launching a blistering attack on the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

In a commentary for "The Times," of London, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis writes anti-Semitism is a poison inside the party. He raises deep worries about Britain's moral compass if Labour wins next month's elections. And, Mirvis calls Corbyn's assertion that his party is confronting anti-Semitism in its ranks, quote, "a mendacious fiction."

Let's go live to London and CNN's Phil Black. Phil, has there been any reaction from Corbyn? PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, indeed, there has -- and this is after more than three years of serious criticism against Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, the potential prime minister and his party for first, allowing anti-Semitism to spread within the party -- among the party membership. And the other criticism from the Jewish community is that the party simply hasn't done enough to wipe it out.

For all of those years, Jeremy Corbyn has said we're dealing with this, we're taking it seriously.

But now, as you touched on, the chief rabbi has given his verdict and it is damning -- damning because of the timing. We're in the middle of a general election campaign and also because of what he says. He argues that Jeremy Corbyn is not fit to be prime minister.

Here is a direct quote. He says, "It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison -- sanctioned from the top -- has taken root in the Labour Party."


Now, this statement has received support from other faith leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said that it is a sign of the insecurity. The fact that this statement was made is a sign of the insecurity the Jewish people now feel today.

Jeremy Corbyn, for his part, has been desperately trying to push back on this latest wave of criticism. Here's a little of what he was saying.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: There is no place whatsoever for anti-Semitism in any shape or form or in any place whatsoever in modern Britain. And under a Labour government, it will not be tolerated in any form whatsoever.


BLACK: So, in a later interview, Corbyn was asked four times if he'd like to apologize for the Labour Party's handling of anti-Semitism and he ignored that question four times.

It's all politically damaging, there is no doubt, because the Labour Party and Corbyn are well behind in the polls, consistently so, through this campaign. And the country votes on its new government and prime minister in just over two weeks.

ROMANS: All right, thanks so much for that. Phil Black for us in London this morning.

PHILLIP: Developing overnight, new evacuations ordered in Santa Barbara County where the Cave Fire continues to burn. Officials say a strong storm is increasing the risk of debris flow in and below the burn area.

The fire began Monday in the Los Padres National Forest and has grown to more than 4,300 acres. It is 10 percent contained. Thousands have already been forced to flee.

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. They have the same name and they're around the same age.

Hospital officials 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 the hospital has taken steps to prevent a repeat.

PHILLIP: A Colorado couple faces animal cruelty charges for dragging a horse behind a truck. We want to warn you this video is difficult to watch -- it's awful.

John and Amber Saldate actually tied the animal to the back of a pickup to drag it off their ranch. Amber was actually calling the horse names as it tried to resist.

Officials have seized the horse and the Saldates will face a judge in January.

ROMANS: It's just hard to understand how anyone could think that was OK.

Not what you want to hear before Thanksgiving. More E. coli cases linked to romaine lettuce. According to the CDC, 67 people have now been sickened in 19 states, with 27 new cases reported in the last few days. The outbreak is connected to lettuce harvested in Salinas, California.

Stores and restaurants nationwide are being urged to stop selling the lettuce.

PHILLIP: And there's another hurdle for Boeing as it tries to get the 737 Max jet back in the air. The FAA has stripped Boeing of the right to sign off on its jets before they return to service. The FAA will have to sign off on every single plane. And the jet has been grounded following crashes that killed 346 people.

Boeing is in a crunch right now. Its finances are stressed by the monthslong grounding and it's scrambling to find places to hold the dozens of 737 Max jets it's churning out every month.

ROMANS: Syracuse University beefing up security in the wake of several racist incidents on campus earlier this month.

That includes the immediate deployment of 19 new residential community service officers. School officials also plan to install new security cameras in stairwells, elevators, exterior locations, and common spaces. Public safety officers will have longer shifts while classes are in session.

The school chancellor says he hopes to have these changes in place by the time students return from Thanksgiving break next week.

Let's get a check on "CNN Business" this Wednesday morning.

Taking a look at markets around the world, leaning a little bit higher here. A little bit of optimism. A lot of trade talk turning around the markets.

Taking a look at U.S. futures right now, U.S. futures are also leaning a little bit higher here. Stocks finished slightly higher Tuesday, the second record close in a row. The Dow up 54 points; the S&P and the Nasdaq also higher.

President Trump suggested U.S.-China trade talks are in the final throes after a call between Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin, trade representative Robert Lighthizer, and Liu He. That is China's commerce ministry -- has said that the two countries reached a consensus on how to resolve key concerns.

The trade war, though, taking a toll on global auto sales. With only a month left in the year, sales are on track for a four percent drop -- the biggest decline since 2008.

Not good news for manufacturing. American factory activity slowed for the third month in a row in October as the effects of the U.S.-China trade war took their toll. Things aren't much better around the world. It's possible that global manufacturing could rebound next year. That depends on a deal with China.


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

For half a century, American life expectancy grew by nearly 10 years to age 79 by the year 2014. But then, it reversed, creeping down to 78.6 years in 2017.

The study blames increasing suicides, drug overdoses, alcoholism, and an epidemic of obesity. And it says the problem is focused on four Ohio Valley states and northern New England.

ROMANS: All right.

New York City wants no part of FedEx's package delivery robots. The company's same-day delivery bot called Roxo spotted in New York City last week.

Lawyers for the city Department of Transportation delivered a cease and desist letter to FedEx warning the robots were violating multiple traffic laws. Mayor Bill de Blasio piling on with a tweet saying, "If we see any of

these bots we'll send them packing."

FedEx says the bot was in the city for a special event.

PHILLIP: An elite climber is recovering after a bad fall on the famous El Capitan peak in Yosemite National Park. Emily Harrington was trying to scale a route on the granite monolith when she fell down the rock face. She was rescued by a number of fellow climbers.

Remarkably, she suffered only cuts and bruises. Harrington posted a message on Instagram, sharing photos of her injuries and she says she's extremely grateful.


ANNOUNCER: Loose -- Kensmil's got it. They've got a time out -- they don't use it. And, yes! The Lumberjacks have done it.


ROMANS: It's the upset of the year in college basketball. The top- ranked Duke Blue Devils losing to Stephen F. Austin 85-83 on a last- second bucket in overtime. The replay showing the shot definitely beat the clock.

The loss snaps Duke's 150-game non-conference home winning streak at Cameron Indoor -- the streak dating back to 2000.

PHILLIP: A group of New Yorkers serving up a full Thanksgiving dinner on the subway. Video of the mobile Friendsgiving this past weekend went viral. The train was decked out with tables filled with Thanksgiving staples and riders were served food as the train made its scheduled stops.

The people behind it say it's been in the works for months.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did they say to you?

JODELL LEWIS, HELPED ORGANIZE "SUBWAY THANKSGIVING": Thank you. For the most part, thank you. And that mac and cheese is on point.


PHILLIP: How about that for a commute, huh?

ROMANS: The mac and cheese.

PHILLIP: The groups say going forward they plan to make this an annual Thanksgiving tradition.

ROMANS: All right.

While keeping the time-honored tradition of pardoning the national turkey, President Trump couldn't help but get in a dig at his impeachment nemesis.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bread and Butter have been specially raised by the Jacksons to remain calm under any condition, which will be very important because they've already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff's basement on Thursday.


ROMANS: And while you were sleeping, Stephen Colbert took that opening and ran with it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up next, continuing coverage of the impeachment hearings.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): If you would please rise and raise your right hand, I will begin by searing you in.

TURKEY: (Raising hand).

SCHIFF: Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?

TURKEY (Gobbling): I do.

SCHIFF: You are now recognized for your opening statement.

TURKEY (Gobbling): I can say unequivocally, President Trump offered me a pardon in exchange for dirt on Joe Biden.


TURKEY (Gobbling): Yes. He sent me this photo as a warning. (Photo of President Trump eating Kentucky Fried Chicken).


ROMANS: Oh, that's good.

PHILLIP: How many more Americans do you think would have watched if they'd seen that?

ROMANS: Yes, exactly.

All right, thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

PHILLIP: And I'm Abby Phillip. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These freezing temperatures, they are expected to last throughout the week. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have blankets, we have food, and we have food to share with others. I always have a full tank of gas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounded like it was going to be a pretty major storm so we thought we'd better get here early.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump found out about the whistleblower and the fact it was going to become public. He knew what he did was wrong, so he released the aid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so much for no quid pro quo. So much for I want nothing. He only said that after he got caught.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adam Schiff and the Democrats have attacked a very successful president.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Essentially, what it shows is consciousness of guilt.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.


BERMAN: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: It's a winter wonderland.

BERMAN: A little hint of what our lead story is. It is Wednesday, November 27th, 6:00 in New York.

So, this morning, a wing and a prayer might be the best recipe for millions of Americans who are traveling for Thanksgiving because a pair of powerful storms is serving up a heaping side of trouble -- congealed trouble, which is the worst kind.