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Will Thanksgiving Day Balloons Fly?; NYT: Giuliani Pursued Business With Ukraine; NYT: FBI Did Not Spy on Trump Campaign; Trump Signs Bill Backing Hong Kong Protesters; Anthony Davis Scores 41 in Return to New Orleans. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 28, 2019 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: This Thanksgiving morning, millions waiting and hoping for the Macy's parade balloons. Will the forecast, though, derail those plans?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: He said he had no business ties to Ukraine. But a new report says Rudy Giuliani pursued big business there while hunting for dirt on the Bidens.

ROMANS: A major finding that badly undercuts the president's conspiracy theory. A watchdog finds zero evidence the FBI tried to spy on the president's 2016 campaign.

PHILLIP: And a holiday surprise for the president, signing a bill in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. But could it derail trade talks?

Good morning and welcome to a special edition of EARLY START. I'm Abby Phillip. Happy Thanksgiving.

ROMANS: Good morning and happy Thanksgiving to you. I'm Christine Romans.

It's Thursday, November 28. It is 5:00 a.m.

PHILLIP: I love that.

ROMANS: Just for you. It is 5:00 in the East.

All right. The balloons are ready. But will they fly? Kids love them. But admit it, you do, too.

The giant balloons that have been flying in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade for generations, 3 million people on the streets, tens of millions at home, eagerly awaiting them and the floats and the marching bands. Did I mention the balloons? They fly only if the weather cooperates.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live this morning on the parade route.

Miguel, I know if it's too windy, these are not going to go up.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I would have said there's no way on earth these balloons would go up the way the wind was howling at home this morning. But right now, it is calm, cool and collected here along the parade route. There's the Tom Turkey all ready to go here at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

And one of the new big balloons, Astronaut Snoopy that you can see right there, that is also ready to go.

They are now trying to figure out, they'll make that call very close to parade time, 23 miles per hour gusts up to 34. They want to avoid a situation like in 1997, when a woman was critically injured along the parade route when a gust up to 40 miles per hour hit.

Part of the problem is, that wind is blowing from the west. As they go down, they're fine behind the buildings, when they go into the intersections, those balloons can take a life of their own. Some of them are as long as 60 feet or so. So, they have their work cut out for them.

There's going to be tons of volunteers to keep the balloons down. The bands, the cheerleaders, 1,200 cheerleaders and 1,000 clowns. So, it's not just about balloons. We have clowns, as well.

Speaking of clowns, back to you. Oh, that was rough. Sorry.

ROMANS: A thousand clowns and one Miguel Marquez. All right. Thanks, Miguel. Thanks so much. We'll talk to you soon.


PHILLIP: We're keeping our fingers crossed for the good weather today.

That's the fun part. But less fun, especially for the holiday travelers, the two huge weather system that scrambled holiday travel, with downpours, wind and snow. Nearly 300,000 homes and businesses were without power on Wednesday. One system, a bomb cyclone, hammering the west with rain on the coast and heavy snow in the mountains.


ROMANS: Dash cam footage showing a Utah trooper leaping for his life when a vehicle crashes into his patrol car in snowy weather. Oh my goodness!

Further east, another major storm has Minneapolis officials declaring a snow emergency. More than a foot has fallen in parts of Michigan and Wisconsin. And storms rolled through the northeast last night. In Louisville, Kentucky, skies are clear, but the winds so fierce, it snapped a local radio tower in half.

With the forecast, meteorologist, Derek Van Dam.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Happy Thanksgiving, Abby and Christine.

I think our animations here describe it best. I mean, you've got a turkey blowing in the wind for the Northeast. You've got a turkey holding an umbrella across the nation's interior, and a shivering turkey across the Intermountain West.

Well, that means we got snow in the mountains and we got rain in the lower elevations and very windy conditions along the East Coast. By the way, that could impact your traveling plans, along the I-95 corridor, and perhaps at some of the major East Coast airports, from D.C. to Philadelphia and New York, as well as Boston.

No problems across Chicago. But look at Los Angeles today, maybe some major delays for you, as another storm system moves in. There's the mountain snow. There's the valley rainfall. It could become heavy at times from Phoenix into L.A.

Look at the advisories and warnings in place for much of the western two-thirds of the country. Temperatures will feel very winter-like. You can see from Chicago, all the way to Cleveland. Milder weather, though, for your holiday across the East Coast.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Derek, I loved those -- I loved those graphics. Very, very clever.

You know, it brings me to the annual question.


How do you handle politics at the dinner table? You know, I grew up --

PHILLIP: Especially this year.

ROMANS: I know. And I was taught, you keep your elbows off the table. And you keep your politics off the table.

But then again, people do want to talk about what's going on around the world. They want to talk about, maybe, about impeachment.

So, we want to ask you. What are your rules for politics at the dinner table at Thanksgiving? How do you survive, you know, your crazy Uncle Al and --

PHILLIP: Yes, you have your fingers crossed. ROMANS: Yes, do you have rules at your house?

PHILLIP: I try to avoid it. This is what I do. You can talk to each other about politics. I'll talk about the weather.

ROMANS: All right. So, tweet us @earlystart. We want to know what your rules. How will you survive politics at the dinner table on Thanksgiving? Tweet us.

PHILLIP: Meantime, things are going from bad to worse for Rudy Giuliani. "The New York Times" reports the president's personal attorney privately pursued hundreds of thousands of dollars of business from Ukrainian officials, at the same time he was digging up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden. That contradicts what Giuliani himself said last week.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: I have no financial interest in the Ukraine. I'm not going to financially profit from anything that I know of in the Ukraine. Let me make clear --

HOST: Yes, real quickly.

GIULIANI: I have no business interests in the Ukraine.


ROMANS: One proposal signed by Giuliani involved the Ukrainian ministry of justice. Another deal had Giuliani respecting former Ukraine prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko. He's the same prosecutors House investigators found work with Giuliani to advance an investigation into the Bidens.

Giuliani's apparent self-dealing is now under intense scrutiny, President Trump is looking to distance himself.

Kaitlan Collins is traveling with the president in West Palm Beach.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Abby and Christine, it sounds a lot like what the president used to say about Michael Cohen is now saying about Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney, praising him in a new interview but saying he did not direct Giuliani to go to Ukraine and seek out investigations on his behalf. Not only contradicting what the president said in the past but also what his aides said.

You'll remember in that July transcript of the call that the president ordered the White House to release, he urges the Ukrainian leader not once, twice, but three times, to speak to Giuliani, talking about these investigations, talking about that debunked theory about Ukraine interfering in the election instead of Russia. The president is now telling Bill O'Reilly in a new interview that no, he wasn't the one who told Giuliani to do his dealings in Ukraine.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you have to ask that to Rudy. But Rudy, I don't even know -- I know he was going to go to Ukraine and I think he canceled a trip. But, you know, Rudy has other clients other than me.

COLLINS: Of course, that goes against what the president said in that July phone call with the Ukrainian leader, but also against what Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, testified, when he said the president instructed aides to work with Giuliani when it came to Ukraine, even though they didn't want to include him.

And, of course, Abby and Christine, this has a lot of parallels what the president said about Michael Cohen and those hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, when at first, he pleaded ignorance. He said he didn't know not only where that money came from but why Michael Cohen made those payments. Of course, now, Michael Cohen is serving three years in prison and we did learn about the president's involvement in all of that.


ROMANS: All right. Kaitlan, happy Thanksgiving and thank you for that.

All right. The plot thickens on U.S.-China relations. Asian markets slid Thursday, after the president, President Trump, signed the Hong Kong Human Rights Decency Act, siding with pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and potentially complicating trade talks.

This sanctions Chinese officials for cracking down on those protesters. And it requires the U.S. to confirm Hong Kong's special freedoms are being maintained by Beijing. Otherwise, the U.S. could withdraw the city's special status. That would be a huge blow to its important international economy.

The Hong Kong government blasted the bill, said it was unnecessary and unwarranted. China's Ministry of Finance -- Foreign Affairs, rather, saying the U.S. such plainly bullying behavior is firmly opposed by the Chinese government and Chinese people. The Chinese government calling the American government a bully.

All this is happening as the U.S. and China are working to end a damaging trade war, or at least stop the escalation. The Chinese have summoned the U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, to protest the bill. Branstad is the former governor of Iowa, by the way. So, he is very aware of how people at home are feeling the effects of this trade war. We'll have a live report from Hong Kong in the next half hour.

PHILLIPS: And just days after being fired as Navy secretary, Richard Spencer with some pointed words for the president about what it means to be in the military, coming up.


[05:14:09] ROMANS: Welcome back. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

The president and his allies have been claiming for years the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign. Now, that has been debunked.

According to "The New York Times," an investigation by the Justice Department's inspector general found no evidence the FBI tried to put undercover agents or informants inside that campaign, and President Obama did not order a wiretap on Mr. Trump's phones.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to release his report December 9 and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee two days later. A separate probe by John Durham is also ongoing. He's the federal prosecutor appointed by the attorney general, to conduct a broad review of intelligence-gathering in the Russia probe. Still no timeline for that report.

PHILLIP: Shocking and unprecedented. Those were the harsh words for ousted Richard Spencer for President Trump.


He is slamming the president's intervention in a war crimes case. Spencer says it was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniformed set of rules and practices.

Here was the president's take on those rules and practices at a rally in Florida on Tuesday.


TRUMP: I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state. People can sit there in air conditioned offices and complain. But you know what? It doesn't matter to me whatsoever.


PHILLIP: Spencer's op-ed comes days after he was fired by Defense Secretary Mark Esper. He was ousted for going outside the chain of command and proposing a secret agreement with the White House. The deal was meant to resolve a standoff between the Pentagon and the White House over Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.

ROMANS: All right. Fifteen minutes past the hour.

Anthony Davis making history in his return to New Orleans, as a member of the Lakers. Coy Wire has this morning's "Bleacher Report" Thanksgiving edition, next.



ROMANS: Four UPS employees arrested in a drug smuggling bust in Arizona. Police in Tucson say traffickers used the UPS workers to smuggle drugs to other parts of the country. They helped import and traffic drugs and counterfeit vaping oils in a scheme that dates back a decade. More than 50,000 counterfeit THC vape pens are were seized in the bust. The UPS workers face money laundering and drug charges.

PHILLIP: And it may be Thanksgiving but there was not a lot of goodwill in a couple of NBA arenas last night.

ROMANS: That's right.

PHILLIP: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

So much drama.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you.

I like all of the graphics around us, making me hungry.


WIRE: I'm sure fans in Boston and New Orleans will be full of hugs and warm fuzzies like we would with our families today for Thanksgiving. But last night, Celtics fans were wicked to Kyrie Irving. His face was photoshopped into a cowardly lion poster when the Nets showed up. Lucky for him, he didn't make the trip because of an injury.

Now, as for Lakers star, Anthony Davis, listen to this.


ANNOUNCRER: Number 3, Anthony Davis.



WIRE: Boy, they served him a platter of green bean casserole with his return to New Orleans. He spent his first seven seasons there. And fans, they don't forget how he left. He sat out last season. He demanded to be traded.

But Davis gets the last laugh. He sets the record for a player facing his former team for the first time, 41 points. He had the same- sealing deal, as well, New Orleans a chance to tie it at the end. But Davis said no way, his Lakers won, 114-110.

Now, it would not be Thanksgiving Day without the overstuffed relatives plumped off on the couch watching football all day. It will be fun watching Christine's Bears beat the Lions. The best match-up, though, perhaps NFC East leading Cowboys hosting the 8-3 Buffalo Bills.

The Cowboys are winning. But they haven't beaten a team with a winning record all season. After losing to the Patriots last week, team owner Jerry Jones was critical of head coach Jason Garrett.

And he told me yesterday that he's OK to make a change if he has to.


JERRY JONES, COWBOYS OWNER: I am a Jason Garrett man. I'm known for that. On the other hand, I want to win the football games just as he and everybody else does. So, anything that I'm frustrated about should be interpreted as a way to get a little better edge and maybe do something about it.


WIRE: All right. Update for you, the remarkable story of Nathan Bain keeps getting better and better. The Stephen F. Austin senior made that overtime game-winning shot against number one Duke on Tuesday. It gave his school the biggest upset ever.

Remember, afterwards, he was emotional, telling the world that the win was for his family. Back home in the Bahamas, they lost everything in hurricane Dorian. Well, since then, a GoFundMe started in his name has raised more than $108,000.

People are good, aren't they? Nathan will be on NEW DAY in the 8:00 Eastern Hour. So, tune in to hear his story even more.

All right. We're going to end with positive vibes before your turkey and pumpkin pie. Get your tissues, Christine Romans.

Staff Sergeant Ivan Thomas surprising his 12-year-old son at the 76ers game last night, returning home just in time for Thanksgiving, right? Well, Staff Sergeant Thomas who've been deployed in South Korea for the past 18 months. And he says he wanted to get home in time today because Thanksgiving is his son's favorite holiday.

He also said, Christine and Abby, he wants to retire from active duty now to spend more time with his family. So, we hope that can happen for you. We thank you for your service.


ROMANS: We really do. And, you know, it occurred to me that this is -- for the folks who are in Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, this is the 19th year that we've been at war they've been away for Thanksgiving.

PHILLIP: It's incredible. I never get tired of seeing those homecomings, ever.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Coy.

WIRE: Happy Thanksgiving.

PHILLIP: Well, he came back from a hike, but his wedding ring wasn't on his finger. Wait until you hear how he got it back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: A Massachusetts man has something extra to be thankful for today. Last week, the gold band on Bill Giguere's finger for three years fell off. Where? While he was hiking snow-covered Mt. Hancock in New Hampshire.

Bill --