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EARLY START

Ugly Post-Holiday Weather; White House To Skip Impeachment Hearing; President Trump Heads To NATO Amid Fracture; CNN Business China Trade Deal Stalled; Senator John Kennedy Embraces Ukraine Conspiracy Again; Shelley Morrison Dies; Terrorist Set Free And Wreak Havoc. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired December 2, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A post-holiday travel nightmare for millions. No escaping an ugly day coast-to-coast.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House will not have anyone participate as the judiciary committee takes control of the impeachment probe.

ROMANS: The president heads to the U.K. today. And NATO summit awaits, as signs of a fracture emerge in the 70-year-old alliance. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is Early Start. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: Hi, there.

ROMANS: Hi, welcome back.

BRIGGS: How are you? Thank you. I'm Dave Briggs. Monday December 2nd, 4:00 a.m. in New York and bot it feels like December outside. Millions of travelers still trying to get home from the holiday this morning. They face an ugly day from coast-to-coast, on one of the busiest travel days of the year. More than 50 million people, under winter weather alert, stretching from Oregon to Maine. Heavy fog led to a 25- vehicle pileup on Interstate 68 in Garrett County, Maryland. New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo placed the National Guard on stand-by to deal with weather problems.

ROMANS: More than 800 flights were delayed in the U.S. on Sunday. The weather cause a plane to slide off a runway after landing in Buffalo, New York. Blizzard-like conditions creating havoc in the Great Lakes area with heavy snow for the Dakota, to Michigan in the West. A strong storm system bringing feet of snow to the mountains. Wind gusts of 45 to 60 miles per hour, could lead to downed trees and power lines. Let's bring in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri live for us in the CNN Weather Center. Hi, there.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Christine, you know, a pretty impressive storms system here and considering how slow it is moving. It is going to stick with us for at least another 24 or so hours. It kind a gradually lingers off of the eastern seaboard. And of course, the system itself, center right across the eastern Great Lakes right now. But the disruptions is widespread to its east. Because you notice, several thousand flights already impacted in the past 24 or so hours. And you kind a take a look to what is happening here. The temperatures across the major metro cities, just a little too warm to support significant snow at least in a way of accumulations, but at least, 50 million people as you kind of talk about here, have been impacted as far as winter weather alerts are in place in parts of at least, 20 states impacted by this, as well.

So, it is a pretty wide-reaching storm system. And notice in Boston, as little as about 2.8 inches of snow has come down. But that led to upwards of 500 flights being disrupted. So, it speaks, of course, how busy a holiday travel weekend it is. And even as much a couple of inches beats the major disruptions.

But the storm system, slowly on the move, as it pushes off towards the eastern coastline. We think by later on tonight, into the early morning hours of Tuesday, it finally exits off towards the east. We could see some snow showers linger into Boston as it departs off towards the east. But kind of picking shoes at a gradual progression of the storm, because -- again, we are being just a little too warm, we'll expect a kind of a slushy, wet snow, which frankly, the most disruptive of snow here. So, that will lead to additional disruptions, but you notice those high temperatures, middle 40's out of Washington, around 40 degrees out of New York and Boston, as well.

So, just a little too warm to support significant snow for the big cities. But work your way farther inland. That's where the big snow is in place. And of course, there's a lot of wind to be had as well, with this storm. So, we'll expect some power outages, as well, throughout much of today. Dave.

BRIGGS: All right, Pedram, thank you, my friend.

Meanwhile, in D.C., the House impeachment inquiry moves from investigation to prosecution this week. But President Trump and his lawyers will not be a part of it. At least for now. The White House says neither will take part in the first judiciary committee hearing Wednesday. White House counsel Pat Cipollone writing quote, we cannot be fairly expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the judiciary committee will for the president a fair process. Cipollone accusing Democrats of deliberately scheduling the hearing while the president will be at NATO meeting in London.

ROMANS: The White House still faces a Friday deadline to decide whether to participate in future hearings. At least one Republican on the judiciary panel thinks the White House should be there.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it would be to the president's advantage to have his attorneys there. That is his right. And in fact, yes, it would be to the president's advantage to have him testify now. But of course, he has to weigh that against the enormous, catastrophic damage that would do to the doctrine of executive privilege.

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ROMANS: The House Intelligence Committee is expected to let members review its impeachment report today. The vote on whether to approve the report is set for tomorrow. President Trump is accused of abusing his power by attempting to coerce Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.

BRIGGS: Later this morning, the president will distance himself from the impeachment drama swirling in Washington as he and first lady Melania head to London to attend the 70th anniversary with NATO.

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Trump's trip happening as his relationship with NATO leaders continues to show signs of strain. Nic Robertson live for us in London with what to expect. Nick, good morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Another state dinner for President Trump with the queen and with the other NATO leaders. That's one of the things on the agenda here that will be on Tuesday evening. But of course, President Trump comes into these NATO meeting with a reputation of the president who demands 2 percent of GDP spent on defense of all NATO members, something they've signed up to. President Trump wants it sooner rather than later.

And spectacularly successful is how the White House is framing the president's efforts on that front. So perhaps, the president is coming to us in a good mood. We've heard from the White House, we've heard from NATO secretary general, as well, saying that over the past five years, since 2016, that NATO spend has gone up $130 billion. That's something that should make the president happy. That the three countries in 2016 have met that 2 percent minimum spend.

Now, there are nine countries above that threshold. So this is all good news for President Trump, issues on the agenda, China, the used of space, as well as a place for defense. China, 5g telecoms in particular. Turkey will be on the agenda. Note that President Macron also mentioning that he thinks that NATO is (inaudible) come up. And of course, the very fact that President Trump takes this view on the spending of NATO. Do you believe inside NATO, as the French do, that President Trump is a sign of things to come for the United States? Or do you believe as the British do, that President Trump demands are an aberration in something that will change? The future of NATO will be discuss on the 70th anniversary. Tensions though best kept indoors if you will, within the NATO leaders meeting. Why? Because it is President Putin and Russia who will be gleefully rubbing his hand if big dissension breaks out.

BRIGGS: Once, again. All right, Nic Robertson, live for us with an interesting couple of days ahead. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. To the trade war drama now. President Trump's trade deal with China might be in trouble, thanks to legislation designed to help Hong Kong. Last week, both D.C. and Beijing hinted a phase one deal was close. But now, Axios reports, talks have stalled after Trump signed a bill supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Now, China did denounce the law as illegal interference in its domestic politics with optimism for a deal was already waning. No high-level talks around the calendar. Chinese state media now says, it wants all tariffs removed. Do not just once plan for December 15. Those tariff are an escalation neither side, once that tariff (inaudible) coming up in just 14 days includes iPhone, video games, toys, products popular during the holiday season.

A Chinese deal is not the only trump trade deal on hold. It's been exactly one year since the administration agreed to a revised NAFTA. But that deal still needs approval from Congress. Earlier this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say, it may not happen this year. The hold up, sources say, is over labor standards. However, a signed deal will give President Trump a much-needed victory on the hill during the heated impeachment inquiry.

BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, the first retaliation from China, after President Trump signed a law backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. China has suspended its U.S. military warships from entering Hong Kong. Sanctions will also be levied on American NGO's observing and reporting on the social unrest. China says the United States quote, severely breached basic norms by intervening in China's internal affairs. Mew law could lead to sanctions on Chinese officials for cracking down on protestors.

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy can't seem to make up his mind on the subject of Ukraine. Last week, the Democrat-turned-Republican was firmly behind the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. Then, he walked it back, and admitted he was wrong in an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo. Sunday on Meet the Press he flip-flopped again.

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SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. Russia was very aggressive and they're much more sophisticated. But the fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that the President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: You've done exactly what the Russian operation is trying to get American politicians to do. Are you at all concerned that you've been duped?

KENNEDY: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: The White House's former top Russia expert, Fiona Hill, told Congress, the theory that Ukraine intervened -- interfered in our election is quote a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services.

ROMANS: All right, Hollywood and fans of Will and Grace, remembering actress Shelley Morrison. [04:10:05]

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm free from that evil witch. I hope you rot and I hope it hurts.

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ROMANS: The veteran comedian's career spanned 50 years including regular part on the Flying Nun as Sister Sixto. Morrison died Sunday from a heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 83. She was best known as Rosario, the no-nonsense maid on Will and Grace. Megan Mullally's character Karen love and sparred with Rosario. She tweeted last night, my heart is heavy. Putting Shelley, her beloved husband Walter and her children in the light. Thank you for your friendship and partnership Shelley. You accomplished wonderful things in this world. You will be missed.

BRIGGS: She was fantastic. Ahead, a young man and woman killed in a terror attack at London Bridge. Now, anger is growing over a basic question. Why was a terrorist set free just eight years after plotting to blow up the London stock exchange?

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[04:15:00]

ROMANS: Two victims who were killed in Friday's terrorist attack on the London Bridge have now been identified. The 23-year-old Saskia Jones and 25-year-old Jack Merritt were both former Cambridge University students. Merritt once held a legal research course at a prison that brought inmates and students together. The suspect who killed him was stopped by bystanders and killed by police. He was convicted in 2012 of plotting to blow up the London stock exchange, but was released from prison last year. And that is sparking controversy in the U.K., about how to deal with violent criminals, a debate that comes one week before a critical general election. Nina Dos Santos, live at Guildhall Yard in London were a vigil for the victims will be held this morning, Nina.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Christine. Well, we are about one mile away from the building where this all unfolded next to London Bridge on the banks of the (inaudible). It's half a mile away from the London Stock Exchange, which is the initial landmark of Usman Khan, his perpetrator were wielded a knife and was eventually neutralized by the city of London police, had originally been part of a plot to try and blow up back before 2010.

As I was saying, the City of London, very much the part of the City, that is feeling this strongly. But of course, the rest of the country is asking itself, how could this happen? How could somebody who is serving time in jail at one point for very serious offenses, had been serving only half of the 16-year sentence and eventually be let out? Well, this all goes back to a change of the law, between the time when the labor government, over the last decade had ended and that the conservatives took over in 2010. And that means that this has become a political hot potato that is dominated the Sunday political talk shows in the run-up to the election. Listen to how Boris Johnson responded to the weekend's events following Jeremy Corbyn.

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BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I think it's repulsive, that individuals as dangerous as this man should be allowed out after serving only eight years. And that's why we are going to change the law.

JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: I think there has to be an examination of how our prison services work, and crucially, what happens to one released from prison.

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DOS SANTOS: Also one of the things that Usman Khan's lawyer has been saying to me over the weekend when I interviewed him with, look, it's not just the time that they are spending these kind of offenders are spending outside jail, when they released on license, so technically serving part of their sentences in the community, Christine and Dave that is important. It is also the fact that they need rehabilitation whilst in jail. And this lawyer said, that Usman Khan repeatedly requested those services and did not obtain them.

Either way though, the tragic irony of all of this is that two promising young graduates who believed in giving people a second chance lost their lives. It may end up being that their legacy is used to try and push for longer sentences for criminals like these. Back to you.

ROMANS: Wow. All right, Nina Dos Santos for us in London. Thank you, Nina.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead here, Christmas ornaments sold on Amazon, featuring Auschwitz.

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[04:20:00]

BRIGGS: Breaking news. Three people killed in a small plane crash in San Antonio. The single-engine plane took off from Sugarland when it developed engine trouble. The pilot crashed on a street while trying to make an emergency landing at San Antoni international airport. No buildings or homes were damaged.

ROMANS: One person has been detained but not charged in connection with the shooting of 10 people, early Sunday morning on the edge of the French quarter in New Orleans. It happened on crowded canal street. Police admit they're still looking for answers.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fortunately, there were so many people out here, we are unable to determine who was actually firing these shots at that time.

There was pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop and that went on for like a -- series of 10 seconds nonstop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Two of victims are in critical condition. The FBI is working on the case with New Orleans police.

BRIGGS: Amazon has removed Christmas ornaments and bottle openers featuring a Nazi concentration camp from it's site. On Sunday, the Auschwitz memorial and museum called on Amazon to remove them in a tweet describing the ornament's quote, disturbing, disrespectful and in appropriate. One of them was in even the shape of the star Jews war on uniforms at death camps. Hours after the request to remove them, Amazon obliged.

ROMANS: The world's first cell phone detection cameras are being rolled out in Sydney, Australia. They can catch drivers using cellphones behind the wheel. Some of them are fixed, others are mounted on mobile trailers. The high definition cameras use artificial intelligence to review images and detect illegal use of cell phones. Images are then verified by authorized personnel and securely stored. A trial earlier in the year caught over $100,000 drivers illegally using the phone behind the wheel.

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(MUSIC PLAYING)

All I want for Christmas is you

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BRIGGS: Mariah Carey's All I want for Christmas is you, voted the most annoying holiday song ever in the United Kingdom. But Mariah doesn't mind, because, it's happens to be the highest charting holiday song in 60 years. And since it released in 1994, Carey has earned more than $60 million in royalties off of it.

ROMANS: I love that song.

BRINKLEY: Me, too. Big fan.

ROMANS: What's wrong with the U.K.? Why wouldn't they like that song?

SNL star, Pete Davidson is reportedly making fans sign a $1 million nondisclosure agreement before letting them into his shows. According to reports in social media post, signers cannot give interviews, opinions, or critiques about the show in any form. Davidson has faced controversy in the past over comments he made on staged that later leaked. No comment from the comedian.

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[04:25:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five runs, three passes. A little trickery here.

And more trickery, to Watson, touchdown.

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BRIGGS: Well, that one, Deshaun Watson, throwing three touchdown passes and catching one there on the option in the Houston Texans' 28/22 win over Tom Brady in the Patriots last night. The win ended an eight-game losing streak for the Texans against the Pats who are now tied with the Ravens, the best record in the AFC at 10 and 2.

ROMANS: The White House is all decked out for the holidays. First Lady Melania Trump tweeting out a video dubbed, the spirit of America. It's a simple white color scheme. One ornament made of scrabble pieces spells out be best. Mrs. Trump says, she is excited for everyone to experience the beauty of the Christmas season.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, nearly 50 million people nationwide under a winter weather alert. Treacherous weather delaying thousands of flights, following the holiday.