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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Unveils Winter Plan As Omicron Spreads Around U.S.; Germany Declares Lockdown For Unvaccinated Residents; Blinken: Plan In The Works For Biden And Putin To Discuss Ukraine. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 03, 2021 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Laura Jarrett and it is 30 minutes past the hour, and it is time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

Alec Baldwin tells ABC News he cocked the hammer of the gun that killed "Rust" cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and then released it. But Baldwin insisted in an emotional interview that he never actually pulled the trigger of that gun. He says he still wants answers on how a live round wound up on the set of the film.

ROMANS: Investigators say two of Ethan Crumbley's teachers reported concerns over his behavior in the days before that 15-year-old went on a shooting spree at his Michigan high school, killing four of his classmates. Crumbley underwent a counseling session with school officials and his parents were called in for a meeting the morning of the attack.

JARRETT: A government shutdown averted for now. Congress passing a stopgap bill to extend funding through mid-February. Party leaders first had to broker a deal to overcome Republican brinksmanship -- an effort to block federal vaccine mandates. The bill passed the Senate by a 69-28 margin.

ROMANS: A group of Trump lawyers ordered to pay up by a federal judge. The lawyers, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, must collectively pay more than $175,000 in fees stemming from their bogus election fraud lawsuit. The judge says they engaged in litigation practices that were abusive and sanctionable.

JARRETT: Fourteen people have been arrested in connection with a series of smash-and-grab thefts in Los Angeles. Officials say the suspects worked in a group targeting high-end clothing stores. They were involved in nearly a dozen incidents over a 10-day period in November.

ROMANS: The Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, resigning after admitting to a quote "ambiguous relationship" with a woman nearly a decade ago. The Vatican says he offered to resign following a report their relationship had been intimate. Aupetit denies anything actually happened with the woman.

JARRETT: As Omicron makes its way around the United States -- confirmed cases are now in five states -- President Biden announced his COVID winter strategy highlighting measures like expanding free at-home testing for Americans, the importance of booster shots, and --


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm announcing today that all inbound international travelers must test within one day of departure regardless of their vaccination status or nationality.


JARRETT: Starting Monday at midnight, stricter testing for travelers coming into the U.S., as you heard there from the president.

For more on all of this let's bring in White House reporter Jasmine Wright, live in Washington, D.C. Jasmine, good morning.

So, ramping up the testing for travelers is the most immediate change that's going to be felt, but it's just one piece of this larger strategy that the president has outlined. So, what's the response been on the ground to this winter plan?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Laura. Well, I think the medical community has largely really rallied around these steps, cheering on the president.

But the fact of the matter is that Americans are really tired of the pandemic. They're tired of pandemic procedures, pandemic restrictions -- enforcements, rather, and the White House knows that. But -- so, the bottom line for this president is that he is doing these moves and trying to keep the Americans safe. That is his main goal.

So that most immediate effect -- the travel restrictions on incoming passengers where they have to test negative exactly 24 hours or less, then coming into the U.S. -- that's going to be the most immediate step that the president takes.

But he announced a whole full approach that really kind of relies on increasing vaccinations in the country -- something that has been a bit elusive to him as there's still a conglomerate of Americans who just will not get those shots -- really, evading his administration's efforts.

But take a listen to the president as he described, really, the goal for his plan.


BIDEN: It's a plan that I think should unite us. I know COVID-19 has been very divisive in this country. It's become a political issue, which is a sad, sad commentary. It should be, but it has been.

Now, as we move into the winter and face the challenges of this new variant, this is a moment we can put the divisiveness behind us, I hope. This is a moment when we can do what we haven't been able to do enough of through this whole pandemic -- get the nation to come together.



WRIGHT: So, that goal from the president -- getting the nation together, as he said -- it has been difficult -- potentially, more difficult than what White House officials thought it would be coming into this administration. But one thing that these -- the president's moves really focus on is he's trying to prevent a winter surge, or at least deal with it and prepare the country for it ahead of time.

And so, also in those remarks, President Biden repeated one of those promises that he made earlier this week that there will be no shutdowns or lockdowns for now. But this is a president really trying to get ahead of any potential surge -- trying to keep the American people safe -- Laura.

JARRETT: Jasmine Wright live in Washington, D.C. for us. Thank you.

ROMANS: To Germany now where it's imposing a nationwide lockdown on the unvaccinated. And government leaders are planning to make vaccinations mandatory in the next few months.

Under these new guidelines, unvaccinated people will be banned from all but the most essential businesses, like supermarkets and pharmacies.

Frederik Pleitgen joins us live from Berlin with the latest. How is this going over there, Fred?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes -- I mean, it certainly comes in a very difficult situation. You can really tell, Christine, that the German public but also German politics has clearly lost their patience with people who are refusing to get vaccinated. Germany still has very low vaccination rates.

And just looking today, again, I was just checking out the numbers and the daily new infections have gone up again and they're really high. They had about 75,000 new infections in the span of 24 hours. And just to put that into perspective, that would be around 300,000 to 350,000 new infections according to the population of the U.S. So, that's a lot of people who are getting infected with COVID.

And you're absolutely right. The German government -- the outgoing government and the incoming government, which will be in power next week -- they are essentially locking unvaccinated people out of public life. And it's obviously those businesses that they're not going to be able to enter but also, for instance, theaters, movie theaters, indoor sports facilities as well. And, of course, things like restaurants. So, really, things are going to become pretty tough for folks who are unvaccinated.

At the same time, you have a big drive here to try and get more people vaccinated. The German government says it wants to administer around 30 million shots by the end of this year. That would be around the same as 120 million shots in the United States in the span of a single month.

And then you have that debate, which is really quite divisive here in this country, about mandatory vaccinations. The German government is saying what they want to do is they want to try and put a proposal together but they do want the German Parliament to vote on that. Because they say this is a measure that would really, of course, be something that would clamp down on a lot of personal freedoms that people have.

But they also say so few people have gotten vaccinated here in Germany that they believe it is something that certainly is a very real possibility and that could come into force, guys, around February of next year, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Fred Pleitgen for us. Thanks, Fred.

JARRETT: With tensions between the U.S. and Russia on the rise, plans are in the works for a one-on-one conversation between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Thursday in Stockholm to discuss growing concerns that Russia is about to invade Ukraine.

Matthew Chance is tracking all the latest developments. He joins us live from Kiev this morning. Matthew, what more are you learning about this?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in dramatic diplomatic meetings taking place over the course of the past 24 hours but not real diplomatic breakthrough.

What we have seen, though, is Russia and the United States set out their diplomatic wares as it were. Russia making it clear that what it wants, perhaps to stop this saber-rattling near the border of eastern Ukraine, is for there to be a legal agreement discussed and agreed with the United States who would prevent NATO -- the United States and its NATO allies from expanding the Western military alliance further eastward towards the border of Russia.

This is something they've been talking about for some time but they have been reiterating it over the past couple of days and weeks as a red line for Russia. The United States have not reacted positively to that possibility as yet. In fact, Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, saying that there will be dire consequences for Russia if it was to engage in further military aggressive action, including, of course, an invasion.

But there has been this talk, as you mentioned, of this diplomatic kind of dance coming to some kind of a head with a summit -- a virtual summit being proposed and being agreed now between President Biden and President Putin of Russia. We don't know when that's going to be yet. A date has not been formally set. But the Kremlin is saying we should be prepared for that virtual summit to take place over the coming days.

JARRETT: All right, Matthew Chance live in Ukraine for us this morning. Thank you.


ROMANS: All right. President Biden expressing hope for the future Thursday during the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one. Merry Christmas.


ROMANS: The first couple counted down the clock to light the tree on the ellipse near the White House. President Biden described the evergreen tree as a symbol of life and abundance amid the darkest and coldest days of winter.


BIDEN: It's a bright beacon of hope that reminds us of the promise we find in scripture of finding light in darkness, which is also a very American thing to do. Perhaps the most American of things -- to find light. And it's important to continue traditions like this one to remember that simple truth today.


ROMANS: President Biden also expressed gratitude for the sacrifices made by America's service members and their families, and said that his heart goes out to those who lost loved ones during this pandemic.

JARRETT: Lovely.

Well, just ahead, the NFL cracks down on three players for breaking COVID rules.

ROMANS: And a military flyover now under investigation. Was that too close for comfort?




Military flyover at Nashville's Nissan Stadium during a game between the Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints.


JARRETT: That dramatically low flyover at a Tennessee Titans game last month now prompting the U.S. military and the FAA to review the spectacle and determine if the pilots broke any regulations. You can see here the four choppers flew as low as the height of the stadium's upper deck there.

Military officials tell CNN they expect the investigation to be over quickly. If flight rules were violated, the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division will decide on further action.

ROMANS: Surveillance video capturing the wild moment an SUV crashed into a fountain in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania on Thursday. The vehicle -- you can see it speeding into the intersection before going airborne and landing inside the fountain on Memorial Square -- wow.

The driver was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the crash is being investigated as a possible DUI.

JARRETT: Hundreds of wild spiders and insects -- I already itch --

ROMANS: I can't look.

JARRETT: -- seized in Colombia. Authorities are calling it a foiled attempt to smuggle the bugs to Europe. At least 232 tarantulas, 67 cockroaches, nine spider eggs, and a scorpion with -- get this -- seven of its young were confiscated at the Eldorado airport. The bugs were hidden in plastic containers in a suitcase.

Two German citizens were detained and will be prosecuted for this. They claim they were taking the bugs to Germany for academic purposes.

ROMANS: Can you imagine --

JARRETT: That will haunt me all day.

ROMANS: -- if they got loose on the plane? Can you imagine? Oh my gosh. I hate snakes and those bugs.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world to end what has been a wild trading week, Asia closed mixed, Europe has opened lower, and stock index futures leaning down just a little bit here.

Look, this is a week now of yo-yo stock markets. Yesterday was a rally -- that was a rally after two down days. But this has been a week, honestly, that has just been completely volatile over here.

Fast-forward for me there and I can show you what we're expecting today in terms of the Dow. The Dow closed 617 points higher yesterday. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also ended the day higher.

Economic gut check on the labor market out in just a few hours. A key jobs report expected to show 550,000 jobs were added back in November. Five point eight million jobs have been added this year -- 5.8 million this year. But considering the 22 million lost at the start of the pandemic we're still in a bit of a hole.

That report is out at 8:30 a.m. We will break that on "NEW DAY."

Now to the price at the pump. OPEC Plus, the powerful oil cartel, stays the course, agreeing to add 400,000 extra barrels of oil to world supply in January. This is a really closely watched move from capitals around the world. Demand is surging for oil.

The U.S. and its allies had asked OPEC Plus to release even more. When the cartel did not, the U.S. and other nations released millions of barrels from their own strategic reserves to try to cool off gas prices.

In a statement, OPEC Plus said it is ready to make immediate adjustments if required. The group's next meeting, January fourth.

A look at gas prices in the U.S. right now -- $3.37 for a gallon of regular, down from last month but up sharply from last year.

The biggest factor in oil this week, actually, is the new variant -- the Omicron variant and concerns it could close factories and hamper travel around the world. Of course, that would depress the economy and that would lower gas prices.

All right. Where have all the PlayStations gone? Gamers -- they're going all out to try to get their hands on the latest video game consoles -- hard to come by this holiday season. Supply chain issues have affected many industries and hit the gaming industry particularly hard. There's also a global shortage of computer chips. Of course, chips go in all of those consoles.

More than a year after they launched the Sony PlayStation, the Microsoft Xbox still difficult to find. Nintendo's latest, which debuted in October -- that's even harder to find on store shelves and online.

Analysts predict supply chain issues will vex gamers well into next year and possibly into 2023.

My quest for an Xbox One last year added years to my life.

JARRETT: It feels like a supply shortage that your household would actually care about.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly. I am in that age group.

JARRETT: All right, to sports now.

Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown is among three NFL players suspended for misrepresenting COVID-19 vaccination status.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. All right, Andy, what happened here?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Laura. So, the NFL -- they opened an investigation into Antonio Brown two

weeks ago after the "Tampa Bay Times" reported that Brown's former personal chef said that Brown obtained a fake vaccination card before training camp.


And after investigating, the NFL found that Brown and two other Bucs players, cornerback Mike Edwards and now-free agent John Franklin misrepresented their vaccine status. And as a result, the league suspending them three games without pay. The NFL says all three players waived their right to appeal the suspensions.

Brown's attorney released a statement saying that his client is vaccinated and continues to support vaccinations.

All right, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy and a number of assistant coaches, meanwhile, not on the sidelines for last night's game in New Orleans due to the COVID protocol.

Dallas trying to snap a two-game skid against the Saints. Fourth quarter, Taysom Hill, playing for the Saints -- his pass picked off by defensive end Carlos Watkins. And the 300-pounder rumbling in for 29 yards for the pick-six.

The Cowboys picked off and held four times in this game. They would win 27-17 to improve to 8-4 on the seasons. The Saints, meanwhile, have lost five in a row.

All right, in the NBA, LeBron James will be back in action tonight just two days after being placed in the league's COVID protocols. LeBron testing negative twice in a 24-hour period. It turns out it was a false-positive that put LeBron in the COVID protocols causing him to miss Tuesday's game in Sacramento.

The Lakers -- they take on the Clippers tonight.

The Suns, meanwhile, not only have the best record in the NBA, they're on the longest winning streak in franchise history. They beat the Pistons 114-103 last night for the 18th-straight win. Phoenix hasn't lost since October 27th. They'll try to make it 19 in a row tonight against Steph Curry and the Warriors in San Francisco.

And we had history last night in the NBA with the Grizzlies crushing the Thunder 152-79. Yes, I said 152 to 79. The 73-point win the largest margin of victory ever in an NBA game. The previous record was 68 set by the Cavs against the Heat in 1991.

Memphis led by 36 at the half. At one point, they were actually up 78 points before letting off the gas. Nine Memphis players scoring in double-digits. The Grizzlies did this, also, without their superstar Ja Morant who is out with an injury.

All right. And finally, Brian Kelly's been in Baton Rouge just a couple of days and apparently, he's already developed a southern accent. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN KELLY, LSU FOOTBALL COACH: It's a great night to be a Tiger. I'm here with my family and we are so excited to be in the great state of Louisiana. But more importantly, to be with you great fans and to be part of what is going to be an incredible ride here at Louisiana State University.


SCHOLES: So, I don't know, guys. Maybe if you eat Cajun food for like 48 straight hours the southern accent just starts to develop. And Brian Kelly, you know -- he's been coaching up north his whole life but that was fascinating that he had that southern accent.

JARRETT: He was trying to fit in? I don't know.

ROMANS: Whatever it takes.

JARRETT: Maybe don't -- maybe don't fake it.

ROMANS: All right, Andy Scholes. Nice to see you.

JARRETT: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: All right.

Actor Eddie Mekka has died. He was a fan favorite on the classic 70s T.V. sitcom "LAVERNE & SHIRLEY," playing Shirley Feeney's love interest, the Big Ragu.


EDDIE MEKKA, ACTOR, "LAVERNE & SHIRLEY": You going to start with this prince charming on the white horse bit? It's bad enough that I'm taking horseback riding lessons. Me, the Big Ragu.


ROMANS: Me, the Big Ragu.

Cindy Williams, who played Shirley, remembering her former co-star as a world-class talent who could do it all.

Eddie Mekka was 69.

JARRETT: Singer Dua Lipa levitating to number one on the year-end Billboard Hot 100 chart with the biggest song in the world this year.


DUA LIPA, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Singing "Levitating."

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: "Levitating" had a record-breaking run this year in terms of streaming, radio airplay, and sales data. It's only the third song to be crowned the year's top hit without spending a single week at number one. It only peaked at number two. Lipa called her song's top year-end status absolutely surreal.

All of these top year-end charts just make me feel old and dated, I've got to say.

ROMANS: All right, you are not old or dated, I promise.

Thanks --

JARRETT: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. Have a great weekend, everyone. "NEW DAY" is next.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Friday, December third, and I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.

I have nothing to hide. Those are the words from actor Alec Baldwin in a raw and emotional first interview since the deadly shooting on the set of his film "Rust."

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The tragedy took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Baldwin tells ABC News that at first, he had no idea she was even shot. He recalled the moment when the gun went off.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: She was someone who was loved by everyone who worked with and liked by everyone who worked with, and admired. (Crying)