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Two Big Storms Snarl Thanksgiving Travel; President Trump Signs Hong Kong Human Rights Act; Former President Jimmy Carter Home From Hospital. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 28, 2019 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: 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 Mount Hancock in New Hampshire. Bill posted a desperate plea for help on a Facebook group of fellow hikers and it worked.


BILL GIGUERE, LOST WEDDING BAND WHILE HIKING: I had a little bit of hope. I knew it was kind of a longshot but I thought if anyone's going to find it, it's some of these crazy hikers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shows up and he pulls out a metal detector.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Found the ring.




ROMANS: No way. All right, the band is now back on Bill's finger. He says it will probably sit out the next hike. That was good luck for him.

EARLY START continues right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: This Thanksgiving morning, millions are waiting and hoping for the Macy's parade balloons, but will the forecast derail those plans?

ROMANS: 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. PHILLIP: A major finding that badly undercuts the president's conspiracy theory. A watchdog finds no evidence the FBI tried to spy on his 2016 campaign.

ROMANS: And a holiday surprise from the president. He signs a bill in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. What does it mean for trade talks?

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

PHILLIP: And I'm Abby Phillip. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

(Turkey running across screen)

ROMANS: Gobble, gobble.

PHILLIP: Already.

ROMANS: Happy Thanksgiving. Look at our little guy. Is that Bread or Butter?


ROMANS: It was Butter who was pardoned. Well, whatever -- it's one of them.

PHILLIP: I can't remember who was pardoned but I think they're both alive.

The balloons are ready but will they fly? Kids love them but admit it, you do, too -- the giant balloons that have been flying at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for generations.

Three million people on the streets and tens of millions at home eagerly awaiting them, and the floats, and the marching bands. And did I mention the balloons? But they will fly only if the weather cooperates.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live this morning on the parade route. Miguel, it's windy this morning but how's it looking right now?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is breezy. It was howling earlier today and it is now just breezy. So as long as that wind stays below 23 miles per hour and those gusts stay below 34 miles per hour the balloons should go. Right now, fingers crossed -- we're looking OK.

Tom Turkey is all lined up, as always. And this is one of the new balloons. This is the 40th version of Snoopy -- Astronaut Snoopy, this time, that's going to be in the parade today. That's one of the big balloons.

There's a SpongeBob balloon. Smokey the Bear is back as well.

So hopefully, all those balloons will go. They will make that call literally moments before the parade steps off at 9:00 a.m. eastern time.

They want to avoid what happened in 1997. A woman was critically injured when one of the balloons blew in an intersection and hit a street light, bringing debris down and almost killing her. She was in a coma for about a month. That is one of the problems.

As you go down Broadway here, it's not bad here behind the buildings when you're protected. But as you go through intersections you sometimes get a big gust of wind and that's what they are looking for.

Last year I was here. It was not only extremely cold but it was also windy, and they had them almost down to the ground.

So hopefully, they will go this year. Right now it is looking pretty good.

Happy Thanksgiving. Back to you guys. And I have to do my turkey call for you guys since you've been doing that silly thing all morning.

PHILLIP: Yes, yes.

MARQUEZ: (Doing turkey call).

PHILLIP: Yes, I love it.

MARQUEZ: Back to you.

ROMANS: You know, the talents --

MARQUEZ: That was terrible.

ROMANS -- the talents of Miguel Marquez -- I'm always surprised.

PHILLIPS: It's pretty amazing.

ROMANS: His reporting toolkit is really excellent. I mean, you never know when you're going to need these kinds of skills.


PHILLIP: Happy Thanksgiving.

ROMANS: Happy Thanksgiving, Miguel.

PHILLIP: Stay warm out there.

ROMANS: All right, that's the fun part. Less fun -- less fun, the two huge weather systems that scrambled holiday travel with downpours, wind, and snow. Nearly 300,000 U.S. homes and businesses were without power Wednesday.

One system, a bomb cyclone, hammering the west with rain on the coast and heavy snow in the mountains.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a crash to the scene. Can you drive?

(Car crash)


PHILLIP: Dashcam footage showing a Utah trooper leaping for his life when a vehicle crashes into the patrol car in snowy weather.

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 the storms rolled through the northeast last night.

In Louisville, Kentucky, skies are clear but the winds are 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 described 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've got snow in the mountains, and we've 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 or perhaps at some of the major east coast airports from D.C. all the way 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 winter weather advisories and workings 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. Thanks for that, Derek.

Protesters in Hong Kong celebrating in the streets today. A pro- American rally there after President Trump signed a bill supporting the protest movement. He signed despite the potential for backlash from Beijing that could derail delicate ongoing trade talks.

CNN's Will Ripley live in Hong Kong for us. And, Will, we know that the -- one of the Chinese Ministry said this was the American's bullying the Chinese.


ROMANS: What's been the response?

RIPLEY: Well, I'll tell you what -- the streets of Hong Kong, in about 30 minutes from now Christine, are going to look like one of President Trump's campaign rallies. You'll see American flags, lots of people praising President Trump for signing this bill into law.

Of course, if he didn't sign it he would have basically gone against almost everybody in the House and Senate because it passed unanimously in the Senate and almost unanimously in the House. He did wait one week.

And, of course, after the announcement that the bill was signed into law, he put out that statement kind of trying to tread carefully with his supposed friend Chinese President Xi Jinping because there is the concern that there could be a real backlash here.

So let me just break down what this bill does. It authorizes sanctions, basically, on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who may be involved in human rights abuses. This would potentially be police officials, the government, itself.

It also requires the State Department -- and this is key here -- to review Hong Kong's special trade status. One thing that makes Hong Kong so important to China is that it has this special trade status and if that were to be taken away it could have drastic economic consequences for this territory and also for the mainland as a whole. And, frankly, for the United States as well.

Now remember, just less than a week ago on Sunday, pro-democracy candidates scored a landslide victory in district council elections. So this is actually the second major boom, if you will, for the protest movement in less than a week.

And now, China's Foreign Ministry accusing the U.S., as you mentioned, of bullying behavior, disregarding the facts, and publicly supporting violent criminals. The Chinese government also summoned a U.S. envoy to China, Ambassador Terry Branstad, just days after they basically warned him that the U.S. needs to stay out of this situation.

So we really need to watch, Christine, how Beijing and Washington's disagreement could affect these very sensitive trade negotiations.

ROMANS: You know, and it was the president himself, on Friday, in a T.V. interview when he was on the phone -- he said if it weren't for the trade deal, the Chinese would have gone into Hong Kong and obliterated it in 14 minutes. That's what he said. Now, that's kind of Trumpian hyperbole. But is there any suggestion or any idea there that if it weren't for the trade deal the -- Chinese appeal -- they would be in there -- would have quelled this protest?

RIPLEY: Frankly, no. I mean, anybody who lives in this city knows that ridiculous because remember five years ago when the Umbrella Movement protest shut down the heart of the city for extended -- like, several months, the People's Liberation Army was just a few blocks down the road and they didn't move in --

ROMANS: Right.

RIPLEY: -- in that situation either, and there were a lot of people saying that they would. So that is President Trump being President Trump.

However, there is a lot of gratitude here in Hong Kong for the president --


RIPLEY: -- and for the United States for basically siding with the protest movement, which obviously infuriates Beijing.

But remember, this is a city that held this election. Ninety percent of the vote when to pro-democracy candidates, so it does give you a sense -- highest voter turnout ever. People on the streets, they're not mad at the protesters, they're mad at the police and the government.

ROMANS: All right, Will Ripley. We're so glad you're there in Hong Kong reporting on that for us. Thank you.

Thirty-eight minutes past the hour.

Things 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 in business from Ukrainian officials at the same time he was trying to dig up dirt there on Joe and Hunter Biden.

Now, that contradicts what Giuliani said last week.


RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: 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 --


GIULIANI: -- I have no business interests in the Ukraine.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: One proposal signed by Giuliani involved the Ukrainian minister of justice, and another deal had Giuliani representing former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko. He's the same prosecutor House investigators found working with Giuliani to advance an investigation into the Bidens.

ROMANS: All right, 39 minutes past the hour.

More good news for the president on the economy. The last quarter -- third quarter -- stronger than we thought. We'll tell you why.



PHILLIP: The president and his allies have claimed for years that the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign and now that's being 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 personnel inside the campaign. And, President Obama did not order a wiretap on Mr. Trump's phones.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to release his report on December ninth and testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee two days later.

A separate probe by former federal prosecutor John Durham is also ongoing. He was appointed by the attorney general to conduct a broad review of intelligence in Russia -- in the Russia probe.

ROMANS: All right, the American economy entered the fourth quarter on more solid footing than previously thought.

Revised GDP estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the economy grew by 2.1 percent in the third quarter. And you can see that's slightly more than the initial ready of 1.9 percent and it is just above the two percent growth rate in the second quarter. But when you look at that bar chart you can see that growth has slowed down since the start of the year.


Manufacturing in the U.S. has been hit hard by the U.S.-China trade war, and the positive effects from President Trump's 2017 tax cuts have tapered off.

Now, consumer spending has kept the economy going. Holiday shopping is expected to be strong again this year before the next round of tariffs on Chinese goods kicks in next month.

Analysts, though, have become more concerned that weakness in manufacturing could spill into other sectors and eventually weigh on spending.

PHILLIP: The Trump administration is slashing its contribution to NATO. The move comes just a week before the president attends a summit in London to mark the 70th anniversary of the transatlantic alliance.

The U.S. has been providing 22 percent of NATO's direct funding and U.S. Defense officials tell CNN the payments are now being cut to about 16 percent, which brings them in line with Germany's. The other members of NATO are expected to make up the shortfall.

ROMANS: The White House was prepared to separate as many as 26,000 families at the border under the administration's zero tolerance policy. That's far more than the 3,000 families actually separated last summer.

According to a report from the watchdog at Homeland Security, there are so many widespread errors in the system the data can't be tracked properly. Instead, Customs and Border Protection adopted various ad hoc methods to track separations.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: Former President Jimmy Carter is home from the hospital more than two weeks after a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain. The Carter Center says he and his wife look forward to Thanksgiving at home where Carter will continue to recover.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

Elizabeth, Jimmy Carter is 95 years old, the longest any president has ever lived. What does his recovery look like, and are experts hopeful he can recover at 95?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so let's talk a little bit about what happened and why he was in the hospital. So, as you said, a procedure to relieve pressure from his brain.

The reason why his blood had accumulated -- it was forming pressure against his brain because he'd taken a fall -- a really quite dramatic fall. In pictures, you can see that he has a black and blue eye, he's wearing a bandage.

And then before that, he had taken another fall shortly before that. And then in May, six months before that, he had taken another fall. So, three falls in a period of six months, including two operations -- one on his head and one on his hip, which he broke. You know, that's a lot in a period of six months for someone who is 95 years old.

So the first thing they need to figure out is why did he have all those falls? Do they need to tweak his medications? What's going on there?

The second thing would be rehab, which would include physical therapy and occupational therapy. ROMANS: He's so active.


ROMANS: Maybe so much --

COHEN: You know, he's a --

ROMANS: -- so he's not in a rocking chair --


ROMANS: -- like a typical 95-year-old.

COHEN: Correct.

ROMANS: He's out there.

PHILLIP: But he keeps bouncing back. I mean, he's been coming back after all of these medical challenges.

I mean, are we at a point now maybe where he has to change his habits or are doctors hopeful he can go back to normal?

COHEN: Yes. I've spoken to geriatricians who don't treat him, but geriatricians who treat people this age all the time, and they actually felt quite hopeful that he could get back if not to where he was before then certainly pretty close.

And they said the reason is -- they said don't look at the age. That's just a number. Look at what he was able to do before he had these falls.

He -- as you noted, Abby, he was traveling, he was at Habitat for Humanity hammering wood.


COHEN: He was amazing, right? He was walking, he was going places. He would use a cane sometimes. But it's what people were able to do before the fall that matters and he was able to do -- to do quite a bit.

ROMANS: Certainly a role model for keeping active --


ROMANS: -- in -- you know, he's -- I wouldn't even -- I wouldn't even call him retired. He's not even retired.

COHEN: No, he's not retired -- he's not retired. He said I will stop when I have to but I won't stop until I have to.

And it's interesting. He also said that he is at ease and comfortable with death, so you can see that he's thinking about the end but he is not there yet. ROMANS: Yes.

PHILLIP: Well, we're hoping for a full recovery for him.

COHEN: Yes, yes.

ROMANS: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning. Happy Thanksgiving.

PHILLIP: Happy Thanksgiving.

COHEN: You, too.

PHILLIP: A Texas chemical plant has been burning for more than 24 hours now following a series of explosions that rocked the plant in Port Neches, Texas near Houston. A mandatory evacuation remains in a four-mile radius around the TPC chemical plant.

The explosions caused extensive damage in the city and remarkably, just three plant workers were injured.

Officials don't know how long the fire will keep burning and emergency response teams are working to prevent the blaze from spreading. The EPA is also providing air monitoring in the area.

ROMANS: A Marine deserter accused of murder has been captured three weeks later at the scene of the alleged crime.

Twenty-two-year-old Michael Alexander Brown was arrested yesterday morning at his mother's home in Franklin County, Virginia. Police say he killed his mother's boyfriend in that same home on November ninth and has been on the run ever since.

Brown deserted his post at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in October. He's charged with second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. Motive remains unclear.

PHILLIP: The number of births and abortions in the U.S. continues to decline. According to the CDC, the birth rate in 2018 was the lowest in more than three decades. It's the fourth year in a row that births have declined. Meantime, abortions have hit an all-time low.

The declines in births and abortions over the past several years have been pegged to fewer millennials having children than previous generations, and fewer teen pregnancies as well.

ROMANS: All right, remember the woman seen in this video spinning out of control in a gurney as she was airlifted off a mountain in Arizona? The 74-year-old woman has now filed a $2 million claim against the City of Phoenix. The woman says she feared for her life.


The claim accuses the city of failing to reasonably and safely prepare and execute the Metro helicopter rescue.

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

As major retailers and malls fight for shoppers they fact a tricky Thanksgiving question. Do you stay open or do you close?

The National Retail Federation estimates 165 million people will shop over the five-day stretch. And there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, so there's pressure for retailers to start sales early.

In the past, critics have targeted stores, like Macy's, that started Black Friday deals on Thursday, arguing employees should be able to stay home. Why are you open on Thanksgiving?

But over the years, that pressure has faded. Workers' rights groups have shifted their focus to bigger issues like minimum wage and better benefits.

Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Macy's all are open today.


AMAZON'S ALEXA: I'm playing a single hand in what looks like a losing game.


ROMANS: Alexa is getting emotional. Amazon announced a new upgrade that will allow the voice-command bot to respond with an excited or disappointed tone.

Amazon said the new feature could be used for tasks like mimicking a news anchor reporting the headlines. Trying to outsource our jobs.

PHILLIP: I don't know how I feel about that.

ROMANS: I don't know. Abby doesn't like this.

Right now, the feature is limited to developers. A release date for the public hasn't been determined yet.

PHILLIP: And earlier in the show we asked whether politics or other delicate topics would be discussed at your Thanksgiving table. One of our colleagues had some thoughts about that.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Hi, I'm Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. You may know me from your parent's T.V. when you go home to do laundry.

I'm used to moderating presidential debates and political roundtables, but there is nothing more combative than the Thanksgiving dinner table. So I'm here to share my Thanksgiving dinner moderating tips.

The loudest person in the family should be seated next to the quietest person in the family, and that's the garden gnome in the back yard. If your family is fighting about whether to serve roasted turkey or fried turkey, just go ahead and serve them Wild Turkey.

Do not let family leave the table without saying excuse me or freedom of the press is the cornerstone of our democracy.

Can't decide who has to clean up after Thanksgiving dinner? Do the smart thing -- just move.

Happy Thanksgiving.


ROMANS: I was joking earlier that, you know, I have this saying, keep your elbows off the table, keep your politics off the table. But a lot of people do like to talk about politics at Thanksgiving.

We asked your thoughts.

Sam Gipson said, "Anything goes at our Thanksgiving table. Bring on the crazy uncles, politics, and religion!"

PHILLIP: OK, Flush75 says, "How to avoid holiday politics? Easy, just skip Thanksgiving."

ROMANS: Oh, that's extreme.

Yankee 58 has even something more extreme, "Eat alone."

PHILLIP: I do like this one from Amanda. "Those who mention politics will have to eat at the kids' table."

ROMANS: Although the kids will kick them out. The kids will kick them out.

PHILLIP: Yes, you get to keep the kids while you're at it.

ROMANS: And then, Lois says this. "We are a politically divided family. Politics is forbidden from holiday to birthdays. Family time is over and beyond any politics. Family first, politics a far second."

Our Zach Wolf actually has an impeachment tracker so that you can be well-read up on where we are in impeachment in case --

PHILLIP: You've got to make sure you know.

ROMANS: -- you need to, like, confront conspiracy theories at dinner.

PHILLIP: Know all the witnesses, the order in which they testified.


PHILLIP: You have to be ready for -- with all the facts at your Thanksgiving table.

ROMANS: I have learned the best thing to say is well, what do you think about that and then turn it to football.

PHILLIP: I just nod and smile, nod and smile.

ROMANS: I know.

All right, thanks for joining us, everybody. Happy Thanksgiving.

PHILLIP: Happy Thanksgiving.

ROMANS: Oh, there the balloons are -- yay. Will they fly today?

PHILLIP: Oh, yes.

ROMANS: We will find out at 9:00 a.m. eastern.

I'm Christine Romans.

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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A million people from all over the world come out to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. Which character are you most excited to see, and why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CHILD: Snoopy because he's just majestic.

VAN DAM: We are tracking a number of storms across the U.S. Really incredible how it's impacting the east coast.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": The president signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to see the United States coming out full- throated in support of these democratic protests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill serves as the latest reminder that the U.S. is the biggest (INAUDIBLE) behind the chaos in Hong Kong.


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

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, November 28th. It's 6:00 here in New York.

Alisyn is off. Erica Hill is with me this morning. Happy Thanksgiving.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Thanksgiving.

BERMAN: Oh, look -- there's a turkey.

HILL: I'm thankful for an amazing graphics department. How about you? BERMAN: Yes, I'm thankful for that, too.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: Can I just say I saw you on T.V. in Washington yesterday. You were in Washington as of 5:00 p.m. yesterday.

HILL: Yes, and you were on T.V. here as of what, 9:00 p.m., so --

BERMAN: But I didn't have to get on a train.

HILL: Well, yes.

BERMAN: You're a trooper.

HILL: You know, to sit next to you, John Berman, it's worth it. I am thankful for trains that work and for this chair. There you go.

BERMAN: All right. Well, great to have you here.

There is a big issue here in New York City today having to do with the parade. Will the balloons fly?