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12 Killed in Kazakhstan Plane Crash; Plains, Midwest Brace for Major Winter Storm; Breaking the Impeachment Logjam; Ugly Ending Mars Quick Lane Bowl. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 27, 2019 - 05:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thanks to our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your day.

For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, a dozen people killed when a plane goes down after takeoff from Kazakhstan. Miraculously, there are survivors. A live report moments away.

PHILLIP: Snow and rain moving fast, and the West has already been pummeled. The Plains and the Midwest preparing for a very ugly weekend.

KOSIK: The president wants answers but Senate leaders are no closer on an impeachment trial. The latest on efforts to break the logjam.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

Good morning.

PHILLIP: And I'm Abby Phillip. Good morning to you. Happy Friday. It is Friday, December 27th, 5:00 a.m. in New York, and 38 days to the Iowa caucuses.

Breaking news overnight, twelve people killed in a plane crash in Kazakhstan. Ninety-three passengers and five crew members were onboard the Bek Air flight that just went down just after takeoff.

CNN's Nathan Hodge is live in Moscow.

Nathan, it's incredible that there have been what seems to be so many survivors. What do we know about what happened to this flight?

NATHAN HODGE, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, Abby, a catastrophic scene that could have been far, far worse. The Bek Air Fokker 100 took off in an early morning flight in Almaty Airport in Kazakhstan, headed for Nur-Sultan, the country's capital, but lost altitude shortly after takeoff and crashed on the ground, hit a concrete wall and crashed into a two-story building.

We've seen some frightening scenes on the ground, as first responders arrived on the scene to pull survivors from the wreckage.

Authorities did revise down the initial death toll from 15 to 12. And first responders have taken dozens to local hospitals for first aid and immediate treatment. Some of those people are being treated for quite severe injuries. The president of Kazakhstan has declared that Saturday will be a day of national mourning, over the accident. But really, what's remarkable, and aviation analysts and experts who have looked at this noted, the plane did break apart. Parts of the fuselage on the ground are broken.

But the fuel load of the plane did not catch on fire. Potentially, that could have been a much, much worse plane disaster.

So, certainly, we'll be watching for the latest developments -- Abby.

PHILLIP: Thanks so much for that. Nathan Hodge in Moscow.

KOSIK: Also breaking overnight, the Coast Guard is searching for seven people on a missing tour helicopter off the Hawaiian coast. Two minors are among the missing. The owner of the helicopter company reaching out to officials in Honolulu, 40 minutes after the chopper was due to return from a tour of the Napali coast. One pilot and six passengers were onboard. Weather conditions are said to be challenging.

We'll have more on this story, as the information becomes available.

PHILLIP: China, Russia and Iran, will hold joint naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman beginning today. The Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman are among the leading trade routes. The gulf is where two oil tankers were attacked in June and the U.S. blamed Iran for that. It is also just a short distance from the Strait of Hormuz, a major site of contention between Iran and the West over the passage of oil tankers.

The military drills come after the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and as it faces geopolitical threats from Russia and China at the end of a key cold war missile treaty.

KOSIK: Christmas is in the rear-view. But for millions, the trip home could be complicated by rain and snow. Lots of it. A major winter storm that brought heavy snow in southern California, that is rolling towards the Plains and Upper Midwest. The snow brought traffic to a standstill on Thursday, check out those picture on Interstate 5 over Grapevine Pass. That's northeast of Los Angeles. The stuck vehicles, forcing the freeway to close.

PHILLIP: That same system sparking a tornado in Ventura Harbor, California, that brought down trees and flooded roads. As the storm moves east, it's expected to intensify over the Central Plains. Winter storm watches are in place and more than a foot of snow could call in some states through Monday.

Here's meteorologist Derek Van Dam with the forecast for you.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Abby and Alison.

Here's the storm system that caused all of the havoc across Southern California. I want you to see the slew of colors that stretch from southern California, all the way through the northern Great Plains.


This is all thanks to the storm system's evolution over the next few days. We have winter storm warnings and watches across the plains, in anticipation of this system moving eastward. And move east, it will, because you can see how it's going to tap into some Gulf of Mexico moisture, and it's going to bring warm air ahead of it. That will bring rainfall on the eastern one-third of the country.

But in the back side of the system, where you saw the storm watches, that's where we have a potential to see a foot of snowfall the Northern Plains and across portions of Minnesota, as well. You can see the snow accumulation over the next four days could really pile up in excess of 12 to 18 inches in some locations.

Now, look at the warm air building ahead of the system, will remain in the 50s for the weekend across Chicago, all the way to New York City.

Back to you.


PHILLIP: They've been a hazard in the sky for years. And now, a new proposal would allow authorities to track down drone owners.


PHILLIP: Freshly impeached by the House and eager for his Senate trial to begin, President Trump is spending the holidays in intense intermission, filled with tweets as lawmakers argue over the next step. And it appears the state of play really has not changed. There are no signs of break in to the Christmas impasse over how and when his impeachment trial will unfold.

More from CNN's Phil Mattingly who's in Washington with the latest.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Abby, the week coming to a close and no answer on when the articles of impeachment passed by the U.S. House will actually be sent to the Senate for them to be considered. Don't expect any firm answers anytime soon.

The United States Senate isn't coming back into session until January 3rd. Lawmakers not expected for votes until January 6th.


The expectation is sometime in the week of the 6th. The articles of impeachment will make their way over and the Senate will start the trial process, related to impeachment.

Still, they are at an impasse when it comes to negotiations as to whether or not a bipartisan structure for that trial can be in place. Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, making clear, he wants witnesses and documents to be subpoenaed as part of any bipartisan agreement between he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McConnell making clear, he will not budge on that. He wants the start of the trial to be the presentation from the defense from the Democratic House managers. And then if people want witnesses, they can vote on those witnesses.

One thing to remember, as you've seen one senator, Lisa Murkowski, come out and raise concerns about how McConnell has acted with the White House in all this. At this point in time, there's no indication the votes will be there to remove President Trump at any point during this trial process. The bigger question now, raised by Murkowski, is whether or not there are enough Republicans to join with Democrats to actually subpoena witnesses, to subpoena those documents.

Always remember, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a pretty good control over his Republican Conference. Right now, the vast majority of those members are aligned with him. And that means decisions will have to be made here in a week or two -- guys.


KOSIK: Phil Mattingly, thank you.

President Trump is reportedly on the hunt for his next secretary of state. Mike Pompeo says he isn't running for the Senate, despite signs of interest. Our colleague Josh Rogin at "The Washington Post," says the president is sounding out officials and lawmakers for possible replacements. The person most mentioned, national security adviser Robert O'Brien. He is considered competent, polished and works well with all factions of the administration.

PHILLIP: The other main contender is Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. But national security officials are concerned about Mnuchin's dovish positions on China and that could undermine his fitness to lead U.S. diplomacy. The president has asked about the ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell. The German government has complained about Grenell's aggressive style but that actually might be a selling point for President Trump.

KOSIK: Other names often mentioned, State Department envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegen, and prominent Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton.

So, the question is, would Pompeo actually leave? Here's what the president and secretary of state have said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If he thought there was a chance of losing that seat, I think he would do that and he would win in a landslide because they love him in Kansas.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: As long as President Trump will have me as secretary of state, I'm going to continue to do this important work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's told he's sure you'd win if you run. Are you sure you'd win if you run?

POMPEO: It's a tough race everywhere you go.


PHILLIP: But there is a deadline looming. Pompeo has to decide before June, when the filing for that race is. And he is mulling a run for president in 2024. Mitch McConnell has argued that the Senate would be a perfect launching pad for such a run and it's worth noting that Pompeo has implicated -- has been implicated in this Ukraine scandal. He was on the Zelensky call back in July.

And Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified that Pompeo was in the loop about demanding a Biden investigation in exchange for military aid.

KOSIK: A historic day on Wall Street. The Nasdaq logging its tenth record in a row, finishing above 9000 for the first time ever. The average is now up a whopping 36 percent this year, putting it on track for its best year since 2013.

And the Nasdaq wasn't the only index to have a good day. The Dow logged another record high, closing up 106 points. President Trump likes to use the stock market as his personal score card. And stocks have been resilient all year.

Data from Bespoke Investment Group shows the S&P 500 has had a return of 50 percent during Trump's first three years in office, outpacing past presidents since 1928. The gains come, though, despite uncertainty about the U.S./China trade war. Investors will be watching how the phase one trade deal affects stocks in the New Year.

PHILLIP: It was an ugly end to a college football game after a quarterback loses his cool and comes up swinging. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report", up next.



PHILLIP: Breaking overnight, a tragedy at Los Angeles International Airport. Authorities say a 10-year-old girl died after suffering cardiac arrest on Thursday night. The girl's delta flight from LAX to Seattle returned to Los Angeles because of the medical issue. And paramedics tried desperately to save her life, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Police believe there was no foul play and the girl's name has not been released.

ROMANS: Police in Brazil are investigating an attack on a comedy group after their film that Jesus is gay debuted on Netflix. The comedy group Porta dos Fundos says Molotov cocktails were thrown at their production house in Rio de Janeiro. Authorities say a video of a group claiming responsibility is being investigated.

The film, "The First Temptation of Christ," has sparked outrage in Brazil, home to the world's biggest Catholic population. More than 2 million people have signed a petition to have the film removed. There's been no comment from Netflix.

PHILLIP: Bowl season kicks into high gear this weekend. And there was a wild finish to the Quick Lane Bowl last night.

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

KOSIK: Good morning, Andy.


You know, we've got the two big playoff games taking center stage tomorrow. If you missed the Quick Lane Bowl last night, you missed a great game. Pitt was down 30-27, to eastern Michigan. With under a minute to go. Kenny Pickett going for the end zone. And watch him an incredible one handed grab for the touchdown.

Take another look. Pitts takes the lead. On the ensuing possession, eastern Michigan quarterback, Mike Glass, rolling out. Throws the incomplete. Something was said to him.

And he's going to throw a punch at one of the defensive players. And then, while swinging at another one, is going to hit an official on accident there. Glass, a senior, ejected from the game. Pitt would win this one, 31-30. And afterwards, the eastern Michigan head coach said that Glass was

sorry for what happened.



CHRIS CREIGHTON, EASTERN MICHIGAN HEAD COACH: Absolutely zero excuse for what happened. And he knows it. He is in tears in the locker room begging me to talk to the team before I could say a word.

So, he made a mistake and he is truly sorry for it. I'm ultimately responsible for it.


SCHOLES: And Glass took to social media afterwards to express his regret, posting in a tweet, I let God and my family down.

All right. In the NBA, Mavs superstar Luke Doncic making his return to action last night on TNT. Luka, out a couple of weeks with an injured ankle, picked up right where he left off, for 24 points, go along with ten rebounds and eight assists. Luka scored to put the Mavs up 17 with four minutes left.

Easy win, right? Not quite. The Spurs would score the final 13 points of the game, making Dallas fans a little nervous. But the Mavs would hold on 102-98.

All right. Seventeen-year-old Corey Groves, a life-long Lakers fan who lives in Canada, and Corey was diagnosed with stage-four sarcoma cancer about six months ago. He's gone through 12 rounds of chemotherapy. He's been told he has less than a year to live. This type of cancer has a 15 percent survival rate.

And Corey's wish has been to meet LeBron James. Well, on Christmas Day, Corey got to do just that. He traveled to L.A. and got to meet LeBron before he took the floor to take on the Clippers.

Awesome moment for him. Good to see it happen, guys. We wish him the best.

KOSIK: It's one of those bittersweet moments.

Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

PHILLIP: And breaking overnight, a deadly plane crash, a dozen killed when a passenger jet goes down shortly after takeoff in Kazakhstan. And the desperate search for seven people, including two children, after a tour helicopter fails to return from a trip off of the Hawaiian coast.



KOSIK: Authorities have released a teenager in connection with the stabbing death of Barnard College freshman Tessa Majors. A source tells CNN charges against him and another teen who was released are still possible. The 14-year-old was found in the Bronx after a two- week search. A 13-year-old boy arrested a day after the stabbing faces second-degree murder and other charges.

Majors was walking in a park near the Barnard campus when she was attacked. This happened earlier this month.

PHILLIP: The FAA now wants to start tracking virtually all drone locations. Under its plan, drones weighing half a pound or more would be required to incorporate tracking technology, allowing authorities to track down and identify the operator. All registered drones would be required to carry a remote ID system that broadcasts over the Internet in 36 months. The proposed legislation would be open for 60 days of comment before becoming law.

KOSIK: People in Indianapolis are banding together to help more than 200 neighbors displaced by a Christmas Day fire. The blaze consuming the Francis Drake Hotel as temperatures dipped into the low 30s. People who lived in this building, which is used for low-income housing, face an uncertain future. But officials say the response has been so overwhelming, they had to stop accepting donations of diapers, socks, mittens, blankets and other essentials.


UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I decided to give it away because I was so excited to play it.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I lived in Minnesota a long time. And I've never seen anything like this. This made me have more hope in my city.


KOSIK: The fire which burned almost 36 hours, it destroyed the building. The cause is still under investigation.

PHILLIP: And a Michigan woman is enjoying the secret Santa gift of a lifetime from Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates. The woman named Shelby, receiving an 81-pound package through an annual gift exchange on Reddit gifts. Inside was the original man you scrip of "The Great Gatsby," signed by Gates, books, toys for her cat and Harry Potter and Twin Peaks memorabilia.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I logged into my tracking page and I saw that the package weighed 81 pounds. Wheeled the big, giant box in the FedEx location. And everyone was delighted to get a peek inside.


PHILLIP: The billionaire has actually participated in this gift exchange since 2013, but for Shelby, it isn't an uplifting way and a really tough year for her. Her mother died unexpectedly ten days before her wedding in April. Shelby said the most personal gift from Gates was a donation in her mother's memory to the American Heart Association.

KOSIK: OK, he's been impeached. And now, President Trump is spending the holiday week tweeting his grievances over another super urgent matter.


MACAULAY CULKIN, HOME ALONE 2: Excuse me. Where is the lobby?

TRUMP: Down the hall and to the left.


KOSIK: That's the scene from a classic holiday movie, "Home Alone 2", it was edited out in Canada. Trump supporters and conservative media quickly took note of this. Just the other day, the president was asked about his cameo by troops overseas. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is "Home Alone 2" your favorite holiday movie?

TRUMP: Well, I'm in "Home Alone 2."


TRUMP: A lot of people mention it every year, especially around Christmas.

I was a little younger, to put it mildly. And it was an honor to do it. And it turned out to be a very big hit, obviously. It's a big Christmas hit, one of the biggest.


PHILLIP: Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, fired off a tweet calling his father's omission from the beloved holiday film, pathetic. And the president himself with a reference to Canadian Justin Trudeau, tweeting: I guess Justin doesn't much like my making him pay up on NATO or trade. Then, adding, the movie will never be the same. Just kidding.

Mr. Trump may have been joking about Trudeau. Either way, Canada's public broadcaster insists it was about time constraints not politics. The CBC says it cut multiple scenes from "Home Alone 2," that totaled eight minutes in all.

So, they actually cut the Trump cameo in 2014 as well but that before he launched his presidential campaign. So, President Trump, it wasn't just about you. It was about time.

EARLY START continues now.