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EARLY START

Murkowski Calls Out McConnell; Post-Holiday Snow; Does Intermittent Fasting Extend Life?; Benjamin Netanyahu Faces Party Leadership Challenge; Christmas Passes with No Sign of North Korea's "Gift" to U.S.; Clippers Top Lakers in Battle For Los Angeles. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 26, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: We all gorged on Christmas. Now, research suggests if you ate quickly, it could help you live longer.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. And I'm Abby Phillip.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.

PHILLIP: Good morning.

KOSIK: I'm Alison Kosik. It's Thursday, December 26th. Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas.

[05:00:01]

It's 5:00 a.m. in New York. We got 39 days to the Iowa caucuses.

It's just one senator, but it's the first crack in the GOP, ahead of President Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski telling an Anchorage TV station, she was disturbed when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the verdict was a done deal. Senators are sworn to be impartial jurors. But McConnell has publicly said there was zero chance that the president would be removed from office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this, to the extent that we can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Here's how Senator Murkowski responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): In fairness, when I heard that, I was disturbed. To me, it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense. Anyway we move forward, I think it's going to be important that, at a minimum, the process that the Senate uses is one that is fair and full.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that the president is more likely to be removed from office. It will take 20 Republican senators for that to happen. But only four Republicans are needed to force changes to the trial process by calling witnesses or demanding documents, as the Democrats want.

KOSIK: Murkowski is one of several senators to watch, though. She is among a group of senators that are critical of the president, or retiring or moderates facing a tough re-election. Republican sources say Senator McConnell is open to going to the floor without Chuck Schumer's support on the ground rules for the trial. His preference is to cut a deal with the Democratic leader.

PHILLIP: The Republican consensus appears to be that opening statements should come first before any decision is made on any documents and witnesses. Republicans also want the articles of impeachment to be delivered from the House first. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been holding them until she receives assurances there will be a fair trial in the Senate.

KOSIK: President Trump is leaning into the holiday spirit with an eye on politics. The Trump re-election campaign has launched its snowflakevictory.com website with the goal of arming president supporters to win the argument with liberal friends, relatives and snowflakes they encounter during the holidays. The president also spent part of Christmas railing against the impeachment and calling Nancy Pelosi crazy. That's quite a contrast to his holiday message to the nation.

CNN's Boris Sanchez traveling with the president has more from West Palm Beach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Abby and Alison, President Trump with a message of unity this Christmas. The president calling for Americans to look for deeper understanding and respect. The president saying that Americans should exemplify the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Here's more of what he said alongside the first lady, Melania.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: The president and I want to wish each and every American a very merry Christmas.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At this sacred time of year, Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and rejoice in his love for every person.

SANCHEZ: So, quite an interesting message coming from President Trump on Christmas Day. Notably, this is coming one day after the president went on a rant about impeachment, blasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

TRUMP: She hates the Republican Party. She hates all of the people that voted for me and the Republican Party.

SANCHEZ: Now, we should point out that President Trump was asked about Nancy Pelosi as she returned from church to a Christmas Eve dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Reporters asked if the president prayed for the House speaker. This coming after the president criticized and mocked Pelosi for saying that she prays for the president for his health and for his success. The president refusing to answer the question, except, Abby and Alison, he said, we're going to have a great year.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: Boris, thank you.

A mixed bag for the post-Christmas forecast. Much warmer in the East and snow outside of Los Angeles. Interstate 5 was closed overnight at the Grapevine Pass to help vehicles that were stuck. And travel delays are expected out West. That same system could be a big snowmaker in the central U.S.

Here's meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, guys.

Travel weather across the country here today, looking pretty good across parts of the South. Temps running 15 to some areas, up to 30 degrees above average, around the Midwest. Chicago temperatures, about 30 degrees above average.

But across the Southwest, that's where the active weather is in place. In fact, winter weather advisories across parts of Southern California down to as low as 2,500 feet. That's where you'll begin to see some snowfall mixed in, and in some cases, as much as half a foot of accumulation is possible in the higher elevations of southern California.

[05:05:04]

But notice this, get up towards areas of the Midwest and winter weather advisories in place. And all this moisture eventually ends up across that region by later in a week and this weekend, if you're waiting to travel back, say, on Friday and to Saturday, could be a mess across portions of the Dakotas and the Upper West, and certainly in the intermountain west as well.

But 60 degrees, that is what we're aiming for in Chicago this afternoon, an average closer to 30 degrees. Down in the South, also on the milder side. But looking ahead into early next week and, of course, into New Year's Eve, big-time cold air across parts of the Midwest, Los Angeles, you're out of the woods. Enjoying temps generally into the 60s, going into next week, generally dry weather across the board -- guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSIK: All right. Thanks, Pedram.

PHILLIP: Another big promise ahead of another big vote for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What Netanyahu says why and -- why, next, from Jerusalem.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIP: It's a pivotal day for Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli prime minister is facing a major challenge within his own Likud Party, his first serious leadership challenge in over a decade. Ahead of the vote, he is promising supporters that he can convince President Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all of the settlements in the West Bank.

Netanyahu was rushed off of the stage at a campaign event last night after a rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel. It's almost identical to what happened just before the elections in September.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live in Jerusalem.

Oren, Netanyahu is also in the middle of this big corruption scandal. But is there really a possibility that he could lose this challenge?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Abby, it appears there is a possibility. Though, at this point, it looks like a very small possibility. Certainly, though, having to be rushed off of the stage at a campaign event in Ashkelon last night did not look good, especially one day before this vote.

[05:10:02]

And that maybe the smallest of Netanyahu's challenges. As you pointed out, he faces criminal indictment on charges of bribery and fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption investigations. And on top of that, he has failed to form a government twice, following elections in April and September.

Still, he remains the favorite, according to political analysts, expected to win the leadership race for the party he's led for more than a decade. His challenger, 53-year-old Gideon Sa'ar, a hard line right-wing, former minister of education, who promises to succeed where Netanyahu has failed, to break Israel's political deadlock and to lead Likud to a political victory in the election and to lead the country. All of that being said, Netanyahu is still the favorite here.

But perhaps here, winning isn't enough. He's won the last few races but in a big way, 70 percent, 80 percent of the vote for the leadership contests. And that's the number he's looking for again. It shows he's in control of his own Likud Party and it shows he's in control of the right wing.

If this is a close race, in the range of 60 to 40, or 55 to 45, it may well signal that Netanyahu's what has been a loyal base is beginning to move in a different direction. That could very much damage Netanyahu heading into the election in March. Of course, Abby, if Netanyahu loses, if Gideon Sa'ar pulls this off

and becomes leadership of the Likud, it may well signal the end of Netanyahu's leadership of the country.

PHILLIP: Yes. For those of us here in the U.S., it feels like Netanyahu has been fighting for his political life for some time.

Oren, we'll be back with you for more updates.

KOSIK: OK. You know this -- you can relate to this. It happened to us at some point. You open a gift that doesn't fit or it's just not what you wanted. The National Retail Federation found that 55 percent of shoppers will return or exchange unwanted gifts after receiving them.

So, here's what you need to know to make returns a little easier. Don't remove the packaging, especially if you're returning electronics. You may get hit with a restocking fee if packaging isn't intact. Keep your gift receipts.

Some stores won't let you return a gift without one. Others could give you a store credit. You want to check return policies in-store and online. Many retailers extend their deadlines until late January, during the holidays. So, it gives you a little extra time there.

Last, make sure you have your ID with you. Some stores use computerized return authorization systems to detect abuse.

UPS has named January 2nd as the biggest return day of the year. So, the advice, you may want to wait until next weekend to head to the mall and see big crowds.

PHILLIP: So, if you're like me and you ate too much on Christmas Day, here's a little advice for getting back on track for the New Year. It turns out abstaining from food for 16 to 18 hours a day could be key to living longer. A review of past studies in "The New England Journal of Medicine" suggests intermittent fasting, which is when you limit your eating to six to eight hours a day, can reduce blood pressure and help with weight loss.

The report functions as a road map of sorts for treating obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The obvious catch for most Americans is, the norm is three meals a day, plus snacks. So, physicians are less inclined to use fasting as a solution for a broad range of health conditions.

KOSIK: OK, and you said you've done this before?

PHILLIP: I have done it.

KOSIK: The trick I learned is some of the 18 hours are when you're sleeping.

PHILLIP: Get eight hours of sleep.

KOSIK: That's impossible. PHILLIP: And skip breakfast, eat lunch and you're good.

KOSIK: I can't. I'm too hungry already.

The stars were out for last night's Clippers game Clipper/Lakers game in L.A., and one of them got up and close with a player. Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:17:13]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. We'll see what he sends me. Maybe it's a present where he sends me a beautiful vase, as opposed to a missile test.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: So, no, it's probably not going to be a vase, but or any other beautiful present for that matter. But the North Korean leader is threatening the U.S. now with a Christmas gift. It has passed that deadline, and there's no surprise from Pyongyang yet.

So, the world waits as North Korea ramps up its warning signs.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul.

Paula, is this more bluster from the Korean regime? And is it a sign also that these talks really have stalled?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Abby, this wasn't the only deadly the North Korean have given them. They have said there was going to be a Christmas gift, although one source with knowledge of North Korean thinking told CNN they didn't believe it would be an ICBM test or a nuclear test over the Christmas period. They thought the likelihood of that was quite low.

But we've also heard from North Korea that they had a end of -- an end-of-year deadline where if the U.S. doesn't change its attitude, doesn't give concessions, then they would take a new path. So, or it will choose a new path. So, we are waiting for that New Year's address from Kim Jong-un, where, clearly, he will clearly give more indication of what the next year will hold for his policy.

We also know that there has been increased activity at some sites around North Korea. That Trump administration officials telling CNN they believe there are preparations for an engine test or some kind of component of the missile program. So, that's expected, as well. And now, China is involving itself in this once again. Wang Yi, the foreign minister of China, saying that the U.S. has to take concrete steps to try and solve this. Also saying to state-run media that the legitimate concerns of North Korea have not been taken seriously or addressed by the U.S. -- Abby.

PHILLIP: Thanks, Paula.

KOSIK: The battle for Los Angeles once again going the Clippers' way. They beat the Lakers in the much-anticipated Christmas Day showdown.

PHILLIP: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report" -- Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.

You know, the NBA always has a great slate of games on Christmas Day. And no question, the main event this year, was the Lakers taking on the Clippers. This, of course, was the new premiere rivalry in the league.

And a funny moment at the end of the first half in this game. Anthony Davis, going to get the steal, takes a last-second shot. It's no good. He lands in the lap of Kevin Hart. And LeBron runs over and sits on Kevin Hart. They had a nice laugh there.

The Lakers in a great mood into the third quarter as they built the 15-point lead. But Kawhi Leonard, leading the Clippers back here, going to knock down the three, tied the game with 5:15 to go. Kawhi, game high with 35 points.

[05:20:00]

And Patrick Beverley making the play of the game. Lakers down three, five seconds left, Beverley, knocks the ball out of LeBron's hands. And upon review, it's rolled off of LeBron. Clippers make more free throws to win the battle of L.A., 111-106.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAWHI LEONARD, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS FORWARD: It does nothing. I mean, it's one game out of the season. Whoever wins this game is not going to win the L.A. championship or anything. So, you know, both teams got their eyes on the biggest prize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right. And LeBron aggravating a groin injury during this game. ESPN reporting that he could miss some time to allow it to heal.

All right. The Warriors meanwhile pulling off a Christmas miracle against the Rockets. It wasn't quite a miracle, but it was the largest upset on Christmas Day in the past 30 years. Golden State were 11-point underdogs to Houston. But they held James Harden and the normally high powered Rockets off to just 36 points in the second half. The Warriors giving their fans a nice Christmas present with 116-104 win.

Philly fans also have a merry Christmas. They got to watch their Sixers put a beat-down on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Joel Embiid, 31 points and 11 rebounds with just 28 minutes of play. The 76ers tied a franchise record with 21 threes. It also sets a Christmas Day record. This game never closed after a big Sixers run in the second quarter. Philly would go on to win 121-109.

Finally, Dallas Cowboys' lineman La'el Collins, pulling out all of the stops for his mom this Christmas, surprising her with her dream house.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOYETTA COLLINS, LA'EL COLLINS' MOTHER: I am truly blessed. I told my God, not my will, but your will to be done in this situation, you know. And he made a way.

LA'EL COLLINS, DALLAS COWBOYS: I mean, this was always a dream. Always a dream, to be able to make that happen. Nothing even compares.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Yes, Collins got a five-year $50 million extension from the Cowboys before the season. The house in their hometown of Baton Rouge.

And, guys, you know, awesome, awesome Christmas present. Great surprise. Good luck topping that.

KOSIK: I was literally going to say. She's going to be, like, where is my car and my vacation?

PHILLIP: You have to spoil your mom on Christmas.

KOSIK: Absolutely.

Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

KOSIK: It is just one senator, but would Lisa Murkowski's criticism be an ominous sign for Republicans ahead of the impeachment trial?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:25:34]

KOSIK: Welcome back.

Another blow for embattled Boeing. In the last two weeks alone, Boeing has forced out its CEO and decided to halt production on the 737 MAX. Now, we've learned Boeing has been asking thousands of passengers if they're too afraid to fly on the 737 MAX, after two deadly crashes. The results are not reassuring.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Abby and Alison. Yes, Boeing has been doing damage control behind the scenes after these two horrific crashes involving their 737 MAX jets. Now, according to documents obtained by "The New York Times," Boeing has been surveying thousands of customers since May, about whether they would feel fine flying on the MAX once it's back in service.

Earlier this month, 40 percent of passengers told the company they would not be willing to fly on the MAX and that's unchanged from October. What these documents obtained from "The New York Times" reveal is the uphill battle Boeing knows it has with passengers as the company tries to regain their trust.

Boeing is also reaching out to the airlines, according to "The New York Times." Last week, they held 30-minute conference calls with major airlines outlining how they could respond to passengers who may have concerns about flying on the MAX again. For example, if a passenger realizes they're on a MAX at the gate, Boeing is suggesting that agents rebook them on a different flight or have the pilot come out to speak to them personally.

We reached out to Boeing on this. And here's what they had to say. Quote: We routinely engage with our airlines customers communications teams to seek their feedback and brief them on our latest plans. Each airline is different in their needs, so we provide a wide range of documents and assistance that they can choose to use or tailor as they see fit -- Abby and Alison.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: Thanks, Vanessa.

An intense search in southeastern Texas for a man who police say showed up at a party for his ex-girlfriend Carolee Dawn Taylor on Christmas eve and he shot her to death. They identified the suspect as a 52-year-old Albert Benjamin Simon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ED GONZALEZ, HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF: He forced his way inside, grabbed her, ended up shooting her multiple times as she was pronounced deceased here at the scene. Left in a Jeep Cherokee and he's believed to be armed still.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Deputies recovered a gun at the scene but Simon is believed to be armed and dangerous, because they believe another weapon was involved in the shooting.

KOSIK: Two women say they were sexually assaulted on separate Frontier Airlines flight in 2018 and airline personnel failed to report. In a federal suit filed in Colorado, the women alleged flight attendants did not request law enforcement to meet the plane upon landing and did not get help with getting identities of the alleged attackers. Frontier Airlines in a statement saying they could not comment on the

specific claims. Sexual assault aboard passenger flights is a growing concern. According to the FBI, the number of reported cases increased at an alarming rate in 2018.

PHILLIP: An Indiana boy with autism who was turned away by Santa has Christmas come to him, thanks to a local fire department. Tyler Burkhart's mom says he was rejected by a previous santa and elf over the weekend because they feared the kids would be allergic to his service dog. Tyler's mom says he was upset but his Christmas turned out to be memorable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALYSSA BURKHART, TYLER'S MOTHER: We had a very, just, crushed child. Beyond happiness, I can't even tell you how excited and just happy this makes us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: I would say that's a great way to make up for it.

Tyler was able to tour the fire truck and wear the gear. The highlight for him, though, was being able to spray the hose down the street. Naturally, Santa gave Tyler a toy fire truck as a gift.

KOSIK: Glad there was a happy ending there.

PHILLIP: Yes, absolutely.

And EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

KOSIK: The first crack for the GOP. Why one moderate senator is calling out Mitch McConnell over impeachment.

PHILLIP: It's mild now. But snow is on the way. Whose trip home from the holidays could get messy?

KOSIK: Oh, I'm guilty of it. We all gorged for Christmas.

END