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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Widespread Devastation and Death After Tornadoes; Biden Approves Disaster Declaration for Kentucky; Israeli Prime Minister Meets with UAE's Crown Prince; Jan. 6 Panel Recommends House Find Meadows in Contempt. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 13, 2021 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning everyone. This is Early Start. I'm Laura Jarrett. Christine is off.

It's about 32 minutes past the hour here in New York. And returned back now to our top stories. And the search for survivors after a series of tornadoes tore through the Midwest and South this weekend causing widespread devastation. More than 100 people fear dead as of this morning. They include eight people killed in a candle factory in Kentucky. Another eight people are missing from that factory.

In Illinois, six people were killed when a tornado slice through an Amazon warehouse. In Kentucky, Samantha Burns (ph) hunker down with her young daughter as a tornado swept through.


SAMANTHA BURNS (ph): I just hold her close her eyes and she started counting. So, she's like, oh, like hide-and-seek mom? So, we just counted until we didn't feel any more pressure anymore waiting.

JARRETT: Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear also choking back the tears as he spoke to reporters.


ANDY BESHEAR, KENTUCKY GOVERNOR: I wish I understood while we've gotten hit with a pandemic, historic ice storm, flooding, and now the worst tornado in our history all in a span of 19 months. What I do know is that in Kentucky, we're good people and we care about one another. That's why people were out in the storm helping their neighbors or people they don't know. That's why other counties you can look on people's shirts are here and we're here immediately trying to help. It's why we open 13 shelters but only have six open anymore because we take each other into our homes. We're going to grieve together. We're going to dig out and clean up together and we will rebuild and move forward together.


JARRETT: In Dawson Springs, Kentucky, 13 people are confirmed dead. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Dawson Springs with more.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, two days after the tornadoes ripped through this part of Western Kentucky here in Hopkins County in the town of Dawson Springs, search and rescue operations have continued. Another victim was pulled from the rubble on Sunday.


The death toll here continues to go up. And emergency officials are still trying to locate all of the people listed on the missing persons list. Their hope it right now is that a lot of that is problems with communication and that perhaps these aren't necessarily victims, but people just they haven't been able to locate their whereabouts just yet. So, they continue to do all of that work. And that's why they remain in a search and rescue operation throughout this area.

Emergency management officials tell us that two-thirds of the city of nearly 3000 people was decimated by the tornadoes and everywhere you look in those areas, it is a field of debris. It does not, you know, very rarely do you see like structures that just seem to have toppled over. It really feels like it's the epicenter of an explosive, explosion site. It is just simply stunning what people are having to go through and they have literally been going through all of these shreds of debris, looking for whatever belongings they can salvage at this point. That is what many residents here have spent the day doing. Laura?

JARRETT: Ed, thank you for that.

As all this is happening, President Biden has approved a disaster declaration for Kentucky to get federal aid to people dealing with the aftermath of these tornadoes.

Later today, the Secretary of Homeland Security who's been on the ground seeing the devastation for himself will brief the President on the situation. CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House with more on that.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden plans to travel to Kentucky to see firsthand the devastation wrought by those deadly tornadoes in the region over the weekend. The President told reporters he plans to see Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, who he has spoken to multiple times since those tornadoes struck. The White House has not outlined a timeline for a presidential visit. But Biden says he does not want to travel to the region until it reaches the moments where a presidential visit would not strain resources that are going towards rescue and recovery missions that are underway.

On Sunday, top White House officials did travel to the region including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to see firsthand the devastation and talk about the federal efforts that are underway. Take a listen to what Mayorkas had to say in Kentucky.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I want to make it perfectly clear that we are here physically today. But we will be here tomorrow, and the days, weeks, and months ahead until the recovery is complete. In a time like this, it is a time to come together. And that is indeed what we have done. Federal, State and local personnel of all walks in response to the needs of the people.

SAENZ: President Biden on Monday will receive a briefing on federal response efforts from Mayorkas and his Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall, the President and top officials have tried to make clear that they will act swiftly and deploying federal resources to these states that have been impacted. Of course, a presidential response to any natural disaster is always a key test for this White House. And Biden insists that the federal government will be there throughout the recovery efforts. Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.


JARRETT: Arlette, thank you for that report.

Today history made in the Middle East. Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli prime minister to make an official visit to the United Arab Emirates. The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince received Bennett overnight at his private palace. This meeting comes more than a year after the two nations normalize their relations as tensions with Iran began to escalate. CNN's Hadas Gold joins me live from Jerusalem. Hadas, good morning. What is the Israeli Prime Minister hoping to accomplish with this visit?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, just the symbolism of this visit is so important because keep in mind just a couple years ago, Israelis weren't even allowed into the UAE. They weren't even allowed to step foot into the country. Now, you have the Israeli Prime Minister wearing a keeper getting an Honor Guard welcome when he lands in Abu Dhabi being received by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at his private palace with handshakes and smiles, sitting in a room surrounded by other Emirati officials. The two are even having lunch together.

Now, their meeting has -- I believe either just wrapped or will be wrapping soon. And Naftali Bennett will soon be heading back to Israel. So, beyond the symbolism of this meeting is to of course strengthen the relationship between the two leaders. Bennett said before he took off, they will especially be working to strengthen economic and security relations. UAE state media saying that to discussed how did they can boost bilateral cooperation, means to further develop and various investment economic, trade, agriculture, food security, energy, technology, health.


One thing you didn't hear in any of those statements is the word Iran. But without a doubt, Iran was likely on the agenda. And that's because Iran is a shared concern for these two countries, likely one of the subjects that really brought them together that helped them, bring them to the table to sign those historic normalization agreements, those Abraham accords at the White House in 2020.

Now, for Israel, they see Iran, especially a nuclear Iran as an existential threat. And they've been increasing the rhetoric recently saying that Israel will be ready to strike militarily to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. If those diplomatic talks in Vienna around a possible return to a nuclear deal fail, for the Emiratis, they've actually been starting to warm the relations up back again, with Iran.

In fact, an Emirati official was in Tehran, just last week for the first time in five years meeting with the Iranian president. So, Israeli media is reporting that Naftali Bennett likely discussed with the Crown Prince, what they say is Israeli intelligence about around that would affect the Emiratis perhaps as an attempt to try to pull the Emiratis back away from that sort of warming relationship with Iran. Laura.

JARRETT: Hadas, thank you for your reporting. As always.

Well, new revelations about Donald Trump's Former Chief of Staff, what he did, and what he sent in the days before the January 6 insurrection? And the big moment from last night's CNN All-Star Tribune, CNN Heroes.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The 2021 CNN Hero of the Year is --




JARRETT: Welcome back, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack is on the verge of taking a major step. Another one, this time against the top official in the Trump White House. Late Sunday, the panel issued a resolution recommending the full House find Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress, the former White House Chief of Staff stopped cooperating with investigators and has actually sued the Committee to block subpoenas for his phone records. CNN's Whitney Wild is on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. She's been following it all. Whitney, what more can you tell us about this?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, this resolution that the House Select Committee has put out that outlines in 51 pages a lot of detail about what they think Mark Meadows did, and why they think it's so important to question him. For example, Laura, there's an email in which he, according to the House Select Committee said, that the National Guard would be on standby to protect pro-Trump people, that email came on January 5.

We know later that the National Guard was significantly -- it was a significant time gap between when the National Guard was requested and when it actually ended up making its way over to the Capitol. So, there are -- continued to be a lot of questions about how that -- those decisions were made, and specifically about the timeline from request to actually activation. So, that's just one thing.

As we look at this 51-page resolution, Laura, there are other significant moments in here such as this PowerPoint that was floating around Capitol Hill, Mark Meadows attorney, this is according to The New York Times, apparently got this PowerPoint that outlined ways in which members of Congress could overturn the election. It was basically a step-by-step guide to overturning the election.

Mark Meadows attorney says that he received this PowerPoint memo. He didn't write it. He wasn't involved in sending it around. However, the committee is laying out its case against Mark Meadows here. And in addition, this resolution also points out, Laura, that he has supplied 1000s and 1000s of documents to the House Select Committee that are not privileged and yet is continuing to claim that because of this executive privilege assertion from the president that, by the way, has not been formally asserted to the committee, but only to basically his allies, that he is not able to supply any information and testimony to the House Select Committee, the House Select Committee saying, well, you've already given us all these documents, why can't we ask you about these?

So, the real, you know, from a transparency perspective, the real benefit of this resolution is that we are getting much more detail about what the House Select Committee thinks Mark Meadows date and what they know and which is important as we tried to get more clarity on how this all happened, especially when it comes to what was going on in the White House leading up to the riot, Laura.

JARRETT: It paints quite a robust picture here. It's chock full of interesting details, you just wonder whether they'll actually get the testimony to sort of fill out the larger narrative here. But Whitney, I know you're sitting on top of it, so thank you. I appreciate that.

So, that's the investigation into the Capitol insurrection. Another House panel is investigating the Trump administration's response to the pandemic and it's also having trouble getting documents. Former White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro says his old boss told him not to comply with congressional subpoenas, so he's not giving them any information.

Navarro also advise Trump on the pandemic response. He warned the White House in January of 2020 that the coronavirus could become a full-blown pandemic. Of course, it did. Navarro still has until Wednesday to sit for a deposition.

Well, Anne Rice, author of the breakout bestseller Interview with a Vampire has died.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take, Louis, end her suffering, end yours.


(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: Interview was Rice's first book and her biggest hit followed up with 12 more in the Vampire Chronicles Series. It was turned into a successful film, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. As you can see there back in 1994. Rice's son Christopher, also a writer, says she died from complications following a stroke. Rice was 80 years old.

Well, peloton is route -- rebooting, I should say, the reboot of Mr. Big at least according to their latest commercial.


CHRIS NOTH: To new beginnings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To new beginnings, you look great.

NOTH: I feel great. Should we take another ride? Life is too short not to.


JARRETT: OK, big spoiler alert here for Sex in the City fans, if you haven't seen and just like that on HBO Max yet, Mr. Big was killed off in the very first episode after riding a Peloton bike shocking many Sex in the City fans. His new ad released from Peloton after the premiere last Thursday, apparently trying to reclaim that narrative. Mr. Big may not be in the new series, but he will remain in the Peloton Ad.

Tom Brady leads the Buccaneers to overtime win against the bills and says another NFL record along the way. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Good morning, Laura. So, this is Tom Brady's 22nd season. At this point, you know he's kind of running out of records to break. He already owned the marks for touchdown, passing attempts and passing yards and yesterday he passed Drew Brees' record for completions with this past to Mike Evans in the second quarter that takes us total to 7143.

His accomplishment, though, nearly overshadowed by a furious bills comeback. Buffalo racing a 17 points fourth quarter deficit to force overtime. But Brady would deliver the extra period here. He's going to find Breshad Perriman. And Perriman is going to take 58 yards for the game winning touchdown including the playoffs. That was the 700 TV pass for Brady and his career. Look out, that's a bucks equipment guy right over to get that ball. Brady's parents celebrating his Tampa wins 33 to 27.

All right, the Denver Broncos meanwhile, paying tribute to former wide receiver Demaryius Thomas during yesterday's game against the Lions. Thomas is found dead in his home on Thursday. He was just 33 years old. The team holding a moment of silence before kickoff and taking the field with number 88 stickers on their helmets. The Broncos lined up for their first play with 10 men, leaving Thomas's position open before taking the delay of game. The Lions decline that penalty. Justin Simmons one of just 10 current Broncos who was teammates with Thomas making a diving interception in the fourth quarter. Then, he runs over to leave the ball on the ADA that was painted on the sidelines. Denver winning an emotional game 38 to 10 over the Lions.

All right, Sunday night football featuring the Packers hopefully to bears at Lambeau, the old rivals combining for six touchdown passes in the second quarter. Five of them were 38 yards or longer. The 45 points was the most ever in a quarter and the Packers bears rivalries. The second half though it was all Packers. Aaron Rodgers throwing for 341 yards and four touchdowns as Green Bay wins 45 to 30. They're now 10, 3 and a perfect six, you know, at home this season.

All right, finally half, the Chicago Bulls roster and now the NBA's health and safety protocols after a massive COVID outbreak nine players are sidelined because of the virus including all-star Zach LaVine. Under NBA rules teams must be able to dress eight eligible players in order to play a game. The Bulls next game is tomorrow night against Detroit. Right now, they have nine players who could play in that game. They can use a hardship exemption to sign more players, if needed.

All right, Laura, I wanted to go back to that bucks equipment guy real quick. I wanted to give props to him. Because you remember earlier in the season Mike Evans gave away Brady 600 touchdown pass. You could tell the staff was on it. They were going to make sure the no way that ball was getting away and they were getting it. So that they didn't have to give away, you know, bitcoins inside jerseys and whatnot to get that ball back.


SCHOLES: Great, awesome by him.

JARRETT: Yes. All right, Andy, thank you so much, my friend. I appreciate it.

SCHOLES: Finally, for you this morning, a woman who tries to bring beauty and hope to those with the least, one a different kind of recognition last night.



COOPER: The 2021 CNN Hero of the Year is--


COOPER: Shirley Raines.



JARRETT: Raines runs a nonprofit that provides food, clothing, and hair and makeup services on LA's Skid Row, an effort she started after the loss of her young child. It was a great event, so nice to be there in person.

Thanks so much for joining me on this Monday. I'm Laura Jarrett. Christine is back tomorrow. New Day is next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, it is Monday, December 13. I'm John Berman on the ground in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Kaitlan Collins is with me this morning in New York. And we do begin with destruction and devastation from at least 50 tornadoes that ripped through eight states, smashing communities and leaving dozens dead with victims as young as three and five years old.

I'm standing right by what was an auto body lash shop that is simply pushed over to the ground here. More than 1000 homes in Kentucky destroyed behind the autobody glass shop as a postal office which you'll see as the lights come up here. The roof there is just gone. And that's what it looks like in Mayfield as you go block to block in their destruction like that across the State of Kentucky and across the region.