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GOP Senator Offers First Public Criticism Of Impeachment Strategy; Benjamin Netanyahu Faces Party Leadership Challenge; Intermittent Fasting Might Help You Live Longer. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 26, 2019 - 05:30   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Whose trip home from the holidays could get messy?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Ooh, I'm guilty of it -- we all gorge for Christmas. Now new research suggests if you ate quickly it could help you live longer.

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

PHILLIP: And I'm Abby Phillip. It is 30 minutes past the hour here in the east.

It is just one senator, but it's the first crack in the GOP ahead of the president's impeachment trial in the Senate. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski telling an Anchorage T.V. 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 the president would be removed from office.


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.


KOSIK: And here's how Sen. Murkowski responds.


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. Any way 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) KOSIK: All right, this doesn't necessarily mean 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, like calling witnesses or demanding documents as Democrats want.

PHILLIP: Murkowski is one of several senators to watch in this process. She's among the group that has either been critical of the president or retiring or are moderates who are facing tough reelection bids.

Republican sources do say, however, that Sen. McConnell is open to going to the floor without Chuck Schumer's support on the ground rules for a trial. His preference is to cut a deal with the Democratic leader.

KOSIK: The Republican consensus appears to be that opening statements should come first before any decisions are made on 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 that there will be a fair trial in the Senate.

PHILLIP: President Trump is leaning into the holiday spirit but with an eye on politics. The Trump reelection campaign has launched its Web site with the goal of arming the president's supporters to quote, "win arguments with liberal friends, relatives, and snowflakes that they encounter during the holidays."

KOSIK: The president also spent part of Christmas railing against impeachment and crazy -- that was his word -- crazy Nancy Pelosi. That's quite a contrast though to his holiday message to the nation. He and the first lady called for a culture of deeper understanding and respect, traits that exemplify the teachings of Christ.

PHILLIP: It is 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 stuck vehicles. Traffic delays are expected -- or travel delays are expected out west. And that same system could be a snowmaker in the central U.S.

Here is meteorologist Pedram Javaheri with more.



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

But it is 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 a half a foot of accumulation is possible there in the higher elevations of Southern California.

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

But, 60 degrees -- that is what we're aiming for in Chicago this afternoon. The 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.


KOSIK: OK, Pedram. Thanks so much.

Baby Yoda is everywhere except under the Christmas tree. CNN Business has details on the hot new toy for next year.



KOSIK: It would take 20 Republican senators to remove President Trump from office -- we now know that's not happening -- but it only takes four to force significant changes in how the trial proceeds. And one of them, Lisa Murkowski, is publicly shaming the majority leader for openly siding with the White House, calling it disturbing.

PHILLIP: And here to discuss is Josh Rogin, a CNN political analyst and a columnist for "The Washington Post."

Josh, is --

KOSIK: Good morning, Josh.

PHILLIP: Good morning.


PHILLIP: This morning, Susan Collins -- or Lisa Murkowski, this week, made these statements and when she speaks people tend to listen. But if you listen closely to what she had to say, she said she wants to see a full and fair trial. The question is what does that look like?

In addition to her criticism of McConnell, here's what she had to say about what the Democrats did in the House -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MURKOWSKI: Did they build the case that I think they should have if they were going to really work to build solid articles? I don't think that they did.

I am not a fan of what the House did and how they did it. I think they tripped over themselves to get to shortcuts -- to get this to the Senate before the end of the year. And now they're realizing that maybe they didn't get everything that they needed.



PHILLIP: So, given that Murkowski tends to stand her ground when she does speak up, what do you think this means, Josh, for what she might push for for a Senate trial next month?

ROGIN: Right. Well, good on you for pointing out that Sen. Murkowski is both-sidings this issue, right. She's trying to have her cake and eat it too by criticizing everybody. And in fairness, everybody deserves a little criticism. By why everyone is focused on the fact that she's criticizing her own leadership is because it's so rare these days for Republican senators to break from Senate GOP leadership on the impeachment.

But what she's pointing out is a criticism that I think a lot of common-sense people have, which is that when the defense is giving instructions to the jurors -- well, that's a conflict of interest. That seems pretty clear -- it seems like a corrupted process. And what she's calling for is for the Senate to have some distance from the person they're putting on trial, the President of the United States, which seems logical.

But to your question directly, she doesn't say what she's going to do about it because it's not clear that she's going to do anything about it, really. And, you know, calling this disturbing is a very long way from actually breaking with her leadership and voting with the president, right.

She's in cycle. She's up for reelection so she's got to seem reasonable for that general election competition but first, she's got to get through her primary. And while there may be a risk in over- supporting the president, there is definitely a risk in turning on the president. It's political suicide for her and I predict that she just won't do that.

KOSIK: Which is probably why we're seeing her straddle both sides of the fence here.

ROGIN: Right.

KOSIK: But what's the likelihood here that she could take other Republicans along? You know, Republicans who have --

ROGIN: Slim to none. KOSIK: Well, but look, they've had their own risks. They've been critical of the president, they're retiring, they're moderates facing tough elections here. They've got these issues, too, right?

ROGIN: Sure. I mean, listen, I've talked to a lot of senators and lawmakers about this. It seems like people are looking at Mitt Romney to be the person who goes first if anyone's going to sort of jump over that ledge -- the political suicide that would come. I mean, because he's already taken flak from the president so many times before.

But I can't see any scenario where four Republicans break ranks, join to vote with the Democrats -- to vote for rules that are going to make the president's impeachment much, much tougher on the president. I don't see the political space for that at all.

But it is interesting because in this time and space where Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer think they have some leverage, it's about messaging. It's about public pressure, it's about political pressure, media pressure, and she is contributing to that and that could have some effect on the thinking of Mitch McConnell.

But to be honest, if you just listen to what Mitch McConnell says, he is pretty brazen that he is going to make sure there's no space between him and White House. And, you know, in the end, I think that's what we're going to have, right or wrong.

PHILLIP: And, you know, there have been some bigger implications for this whole Ukraine scandal. It's not just what we're seeing in Congress but the impact on the Foreign Service community and the United States government.

"The Washington Post" has a big story this weekend quoting 20 current and former officials, and they say this. "The jarring developments over the past three months have also exposed the extent to which the national security establishment and the values that have traditionally guided American foreign policy are facing an extraordinary trial of their own under President Trump."

Now, I mean, we saw some of this play out literally during the trial. But, Josh, what is the impact long-term on the U.S. Foreign Service in the face of all these threats from the president, themselves, and with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo? He doesn't seem to be willing to defend them.

ROGIN: Yes. Well, kudos to my new side colleagues, Greg and Greg over there, who really did us a service by taking a step back, right. We look at this Ukraine scandal and we're like oh, what does it mean for us? What does it mean for Washington and for Congress and Trump?

But the implications, not just for the U.S. Foreign Service but for the U.S.-Ukraine relationship and for U.S. credibility and foreign policy writ large, are huge, OK. We have a role in the world. And we have all these relationships and this is just a -- not only like a chaos and a disaster but -- and an embarrassment, but it calls into question whether or not U.S. foreign policy is functioning on a basic level and we have real interest in countries like Ukraine.

And if you're in Ukraine, who are you supposed to listen to? Rudy Giuliani is still going there. He's still running his separate foreign policy. He's doing it even today and that's hugely confusing and it sends mixed diplomatic signals, mixed messages.

And if you're a Foreign Service officer, what are you supposed to do with that? That's not your job is to solve the problems between the president's lawyer and the Secretary of State.

And, Sec. Pompeo is eyeing the door, right. He's not going to be there for much longer and he's trying to find his exit. What he will leave behind is a broken foreign policy, a broken State Department, and a broken Foreign Service.

And until the president tells his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to stop mucking around in American diplomacy, I don't see any way that it gets any better.


KOSIK: Yes, but we're seeing pressure on these ambassadors all across the board. We're reporting one story about the ambassador to Zambia as well. So this is --

ROGIN: Yes, there's no respect for the professionals and politics has overtaken foreign policy. It's hugely consequential and hugely damaging.

KOSIK: All right, CNN political analyst Josh Rogin. Thanks so much for getting up early for us today.

ROGIN: Any time.

KOSIK: Happy holidays.

ROGIN: Same to you.

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

Netanyahu was rushed off 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 for us in Jerusalem. Good morning, Oren.

So do you think with this vote that there is any real possibility that Netanyahu could lose this challenge?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a possibility but it certainly appears to be, at least, a very, very slim one, and that's despite all of the challenges that Netanyahu faces.

First, being rushed off stage as a rocket was incoming towards the city he was in yesterday, not exactly a good look especially since it's the second time. And that may be the smallest of the issues.

He faces criminal indictment on charges of bribery, and fraud, and breach of trust in three separate corruption investigations. Meanwhile, he's failed to form a government twice after elections in April and September. And yet, he is still considered by political analysts here to be the front runner and perhaps by a very wide margin.

He's up against a rival from within his own Likud party, Gideon Sa'ar, a 53-year-old hardline, right-wing, foreign minister of education who has promised he would succeed where Netanyahu has failed. He would break Israel's political deadlock, he says, and lead the Likud to victory in the elections, which has eluded them over the course of the past 10 or 11 months. And yet, despite that, Netanyahu remains the favorite.

But perhaps here, winning isn't enough. Netanyahu wants to win and win big. In the previous Likud leadership races he's walked away with something like 75 or 80 percent of the vote. And that's the number he's looking for now to cement leadership of his own party and show the country that he remains in charge of the Likud and in charge of Israel's right wing.

If this is a close race -- if this is something like 60-40 or 55-45, that indicates that Netanyahu's base may be moving in a different direction and that would signal weakness ahead of the March election. And that, perhaps, is what Sa'ar is looking for.

Of course, there is the possibility -- slim though it may seem -- that Gideon Sa'ar pulls this one off, becomes the head of the Likud and replaces Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And that could well signal the end of Netanyahu's time as the leader of Israel -- Alison.

KOSIK: Yes, this is going to be a vote and outcome that we're going to be watching alongside you. CNN's Oren Liebermann, thanks so much.

PHILLIP: If you're like me and you ate too much on Christmas day, here is a little advice for getting back on track in the new year. It turns out that abstaining from food for 16 to 18 hours a day could be the key to living longer.

A review of past studies in "The New England Journal of Medicine" suggests that intermittent fasting, when you limit your eating to just six or eight hours a day, can reduce blood pressure and help with weight loss. The report functions as a roadmap of sorts for treating obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

The obvious catch is for most Americans, the norm is three meals a day, plus snacks. So physicians are a little less inclined to use fasting as a solution to a broad range of health conditions.

We will be right back. Stick with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KOSIK: Welcome back.

Women are supporting women when it comes to college sports. "The New York Times" reports former female athletes are donating millions to support their alma maters.

The NCAA says participation in women's college sports is at an all- time high. Over 10,000 women's teams are competing in championship sports, yet marketing and sponsorships for female teams isn't as strong as the men.

A report from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education shows donations to U.S. colleges and universities hit a record $46.7 billion in 2018. Indiana, Queens, and Drake University saw huge donations from women this year.

"The New York Times" notes women are controlling more wealth than ever in the U.S. and they are using that wealth to better their favorite causes with sports coming out on top.

PHILLIP: New video shows sheer chaos when a crane collapses onto a cargo vessel off of Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. Emergency teams are now trying to contain a 600-gallon oil spill.

Conservation crews are scrambling to protect some of the most unique ecosystems on earth. The area is home to many species that can't be found anywhere else on the planet.

KOSIK: Horrific details in a fatal Christmas day stabbing of a mother in front of her kids in Philadelphia. Police say her six children, ranging in ages from eight to 16, witnessed most of the accident -- the incident.

They say a 33-year-old man stabbed the woman inside their home, chased her outside, and continued the attack. The man, believed to be the woman's current or former husband, was standing over her when police arrived.


SCOTT SMALL, CHIEF INSPECTOR, PHILADELPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: For this to happen early on Christmas morning on a day that should be a family day, a peaceful day, it just makes it that much more hard to conceive.


KOSIK: CNN affiliate WPDI says the woman's 14-year-old son had multiple stab wounds to his thigh. The suspect was taken into custody.

PHILLIP: The suspect in a fatal stabbing of two men in Nashville is in police custody this morning. Charges against Michael Mosley include two counts of criminal homicide.

Police say the two victims, 22-year-old Clayton Beathard and 21-year- old Paul Trapeni were stabbed during a fight on Saturday outside of a Nashville bar. Beathard is the younger brother of San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard.

KOSIK: Two women claim they were sexually assaulted on separate Frontier Airlines flights in 2018 and airline personnel failed to report it.

In a federal suit filed in Colorado, the women allege flight attendants did not request law enforcement to meet the plane upon landing and did not help them with getting identities of the alleged attackers. Frontier Airlines, in a statement, says they cannot comment on the specific claims.


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

PHILLIP: Anti-Semitism rears its ugly head once again. The NYPD is investigating at least three possible hate-crime attacks on Jewish people in just the last 72 hours.

In one of them, a man from Miami is accused of punching and kicking a 65-year-old Manhattan man on Monday. The 28-year-old suspect is also accused of yelling "F you, Jew" at the victim.

KOSIK: For the first time, the Christmas tree overlooking much of Poway, California is honoring Hanukkah. It's designed like a Hanukkah candle to honor the community for coming together after the deadly white supremacist attack at a synagogue there back in April.

Its designer contacted the synagogue's now-retired rabbi to get his blessing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he -- and it's like oh, have I got a deal for. I've got a tree of light for you.


KOSIK: The tree got all new bulbs with a darker blue at the bottom, a lighter blue in the middle, and white near the top to resemble the flame. Very pretty.

PHILLIP: A police officer in Australia turns lifesaver and it's all captured on video. The footage shows a couple rushing into the police station in Perth on Christmas Eve desperate for help. Their 8-month- old baby was choking on food and wasn't breathing.

Enter Sgt. Jason Lee. He grabbed the infant, patting the baby on the back until the food dislodged. Afterward, he showed the parents what to do when an infant is choking.

And 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 other kids would be allergic to his service dog.

Tyler's mom says he was upset but his Christmas turned out to be memorable.


ALYSSA BURKHART, TYLER'S MOTHER: The damage had already been done at that point and we had a very -- just crushed child. Beyond happiness. I cannot even tell you how just excited and just happy this makes us.


PHILLIP: It's a great way to make up for it for Tyler and his puppy. The highlight for Tyler was spraying the hose down the street. And naturally, Santa gave Tyler a toy fire truck as a Christmas gift.

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

We're looking at stocks pointing to a positive open after their Christmas break. Stocks finished mixed on Tuesday's shortened trading day. The Dow fell 36 points. Looking at the Nasdaq, it hit another record high for the ninth session in a row, marking its longest winning streak in more than two years.

With six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, retailers pulled out all the stops to drive sales and it looks like it paid off. A report from MasterCard shows online sales hit a record this holiday season, making up 14.6 percent of total retail sales. Overall holiday sales increased 3.4 percent.

President Trump cheered the news taking to Twitter, saying it was the biggest number in U.S. history. But here's the thing. MasterCard says last year was actually slightly better, also under President -- also under President Obama -- President Trump, actually.

Everyone has fallen in love with Baby Yoda but no one found the cute character under their Christmas trees this year. Disney has stuffed Baby Yoda shoppers can now preorder but it won't be delivered until March.

Disney held back on merchandising to prevent spoilers in the Mandalorian, but Disney lost about $2.7 million in holiday sales by waiting to market Baby Yoda. But I think the idea here was to --


KOSIK: -- create excitement and the heck with the money.

PHILLIP: Something tells me they'll make up for it next year, right?

KOSIK: I think you're right.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik. Have a great day.

PHILLIP: And I'm Abby Phillip. Have a great day. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


MURKOWSKI: I heard what leader McConnell had said and I was disturbed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lisa Murkowski has some problems with what Mitch McConnell said. Where she comes down on this may be the ultimate question.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats are hoping that at least four Republican senators will break ranks to compel witness testimony.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're in a very good position. Ultimately, that decision's going to be made by Mitch McConnell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the concern for Mitch McConnell. I think it probably will have an effect on how McConnell and the leadership goes forward.

TRUMP: They treated us very unfairly. They didn't give us anything. Now they want everything.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.