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EARLY START

Source: Gen. Flynn Offered National Security Advisor Job; Trump to Meet Romney; Trump's Tour Plans; Trump Spins Ford Factory News. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 18, 2016 - 04:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:30:58] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Trump picks his national security advisor. A retired army man with combat experience and a combative reputation.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump set to meet with one of his toughest critics, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

HOWELL: And the president-elect planning to hit the road yet again, get ready for the "Thank America" tour coming soon. Donald Trump known to draw big crowds, so can he do it again?

Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm George Howell.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

New this morning, President-elect Donald Trump offered the job of national security advisor to General Michael Flynn. That's according to a Trump transition official. Flynn was a fierce Trump supporter during the campaign, but he would come to the White House with some history. Among other things, he was fired as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, officials say, because of his combative management style.

Transition activity moving forward this morning at Trump Tower. Trump has a two-hour meeting to review choices for key administration jobs. After that, he'll spend the weekend at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. He is set to sit down with 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney to talk about a role for him, Mitt Romney who warned the Trump presidency could lead to trickle racism.

For the latest, let's turn to CNN's Sara Murray.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, George and Christine.

Donald Trump making it official, extending an offer to General Michael Flynn, asking him to be his national security adviser in the White House. Now, our sources aren't telling us whether Flynn has accepted that position. But in many ways, it's a natural fit. Flynn has been at Donald Trump's side throughout the campaign and also throughout this transition process as Trump works to build a government.

Now, while Flynn may seem like a logical pick, Donald Trump is having many other meetings that are raising eyebrows. He spent Thursday meeting with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, someone who's been very critical of him in the past, but someone sources say he is considering for secretary of state.

As for this weekend, he'll be meeting with Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney was perhaps one of the earliest and fiercest critics of Donald Trump. But sources say that they are expected to discuss the secretary of state job.

Now, whether Trump will actually go with one of these past rivals and name them to a cabinet position is still to be seen. He may just stick with safe picks like Flynn.

Back to you, guys.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Sara Murray, thank you.

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is another staunch ally with whom Trump has been discussing cabinet jobs. A transition official tells CNN that Sessions is a leading contender for attorney general. The former Alabama attorney general was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Trump. Back in the 1980s, Sessions was accused of having made racially tinge remarks during his time as U.S. attorney for Alabama, allegations that he strongly denies.

ROMANS: Sources familiar with the process say former Texas Governor Rick Perry has been in touch with the Trump transition team about the role of energy secretary. The Energy Department is the department Perry could not remember during that infamous 2011 Republican debate when listing the three he would eliminate as president. Like many other cabinet contenders, sources say Perry is under consideration for multiple positions.

HOWELL: Newt Gingrich, he was a staunch ally, he will not be holding a cabinet post in the Trump administration. The former House speaker and presidential candidate says he it's not physically doable. Instead, Gingrich plans to focus on strategic planning for Trump without holding an official role. Gingrich's name had been mentioned for health and human services secretary and secretary of state.

ROMANS: All right. We have some new details this morning about the Trump team's demotion of Chris Christie. A senior Trump adviser tells CNN the New Jersey governor met with the president-elect's staff last Thursday to review his transition memo for the first time. Because Christie's plan, this is according to the transition team, involved hiring of lobbyists and Washington insiders, it was rejected. Christie was replaced with Vice President-elect Pence.

Here is Christie discussing his future during a speech in Atlantic City on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[04:35:02] GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I have no reason to believe as we stand here today that I will do anything other than serve out my full term as governor and turn the keys of the office over to whoever you select in November of 2017 to replace me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Christie says after his term as governor, he is not sure if he will pursue another position in public service or enter the private sector.

HOWELL: And the president-elect is planning to take another tour around America. Trump's staff calling it a "Thank America" tour. Rallies are planned around the country right now. This multicity event will begin in the next couple weeks and it will focus on several of the critical swing states that Trump turned from blue to red.

The question, Christine, is -- will he have enough time to do that? The transition of the president, I mean, there's a lot involved.

ROMANS: They say it could happen after Thanksgiving. And, originally, they called it -- they billed it as a victory tour. Kellyanne Conway recast it as a "Thank You, America" tour. Not a victory. A "Thank You, America" tour. So, interesting the messaging on that one.

President-elect Donald Trump taking credit for stopping Ford from moving the plant from Kentucky to Mexico. A plant that Ford was never planning to move to Mexico. He tweeted this, quote, "Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. No Mexico."

Fourteen minutes later, quote, "I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great state in Kentucky for their confidence in me."

But here are the facts: last year, Ford signed a legally binding contract with the United Auto Workers Union, that contract included seven hundred million dollars of investments in that plant, that Louisville, Kentucky plant. It would build new Escape models there and it would keep the employment near the current level of 4,700 workers there. So, no jobs moving from there.

What Trump may be referring was that Ford was planning to shift production of the smaller volume Lincoln MKC from Kentucky to another factory to make room as production of the Escape increased in Louisville. Now, Mexico is one possible location for that Lincoln MKC. That move would not have any job cuts, no job cuts in the United States because of that. Now, Ford says that model, a small scale model, will stay at the Kentucky plant.

HOWELL: A federal judge today in San Diego will hear arguments from Trump's attorneys to delay a civil fraud trial involving Trump University. That case is scheduled to go to trial in ten days, but Donald Trump wants it delayed until after his inauguration. His attorneys argue that preparations for the White House are critical and all consuming right now. The class action suit by former students alleges Trump University misled them and was nothing more than a scam.

ROMANS: All right. Nancy Pelosi facing a challenge to her leadership of the House Democratic caucus this morning. Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan announcing that he wants to lead House Democrats to a comeback after their thrashing in last week's election.

Senior political reporter Manu Raju has the very latest from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, George and Christine.

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan throwing his hat in the ring, mounting an uphill challenge against Nancy Pelosi who's had control over the caucus for years and years and has deep loyalty, also having raised millions of dollars for her colleagues.

But there is a lot of angst among House Democrats about whether or not Nancy Pelosi knows the right way forward in order to get her party back into the majority. Now, yesterday, I had a chance to speak with Mr. Ryan, who said that reelecting Nancy Pelosi after another bad night for Democrats may not be the best idea.

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: You know, we're at the lowest number of state and federal officials since reconstruction. We have the lowest number in our caucus since 1929. And we've lost over 60 seats since 2010. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and you keep getting the same results. So, time to move on, I think.

RAJU: Now, the leadership elections are not until November 30th. At that point, House Democrats go behind closed doors and cast a secret ballot to determine whether or not Nancy Pelosi or Tim Ryan will be the next leader of the House Democrats. And while the betting is on Nancy Pelosi, the Pelosi people know that there is considerable concern about the future direction of their party and they are pulling out all the stops, making sure they have enough support.

Pelosi telling reporters yesterday that actually she has 2/3 support of the entire Democratic Caucus and that she knows how to bring the party back to the majority -- George and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Manu Raju, thank you.

The current president of the United States is meeting with European leaders this morning and he is also warning about a dangerous global shift. CNN is live in Berlin next.

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[04:44:06] HOWELL: Welcome back to EARLY START.

President Barack Obama is making one final attempt this morning to tighten transatlantic alliances before he leaves office. The president in Berlin, meeting with leaders of Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the U.K. And with so much uncertainty about Donald Trump, President Obama is warning his closest allies about a shift in the global order that could lead to a, quote, "meaner, harsher or more troubled world."

CNN's Michelle Kosinski is traveling with the president and joins live this hour in Berlin.

Michelle, good morning.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, George.

Yes, not a lot of optimism being voiced here. I mean, the best that German Chancellor Angela Merkel could say is she is keeping an open mind about the incoming administration. I mean, these are close allies. President Obama has called Merkel his closest ally on the world stage, his closest partner in dealing with the tough problems that the world has been facing.

[04:45:04] So, for her to say at best that she is keeping an open mind speaks volumes.

The president -- this isn't the trip that President Obama really expected to be making. So, he can't offer that much in the way of clarity or reassurance in terms of what the next administration's policies will be or how he'll change things because he just doesn't know. When you look at the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, how the coalition is organized in the fight against ISIS, the U.S. relationship with Russia. He doesn't know the answers to that. You can just imagine how some of these conversations are going behind closed doors.

Publicly, though, what they are emphasizing the ties among the nations are strong. They will remain strong. They'll weather whatever comes up and that, you know, these nations will continue to work on the strategies for as long as possible. And despite, you know, what's going to change along the sidelines or within the U.S.

President Obama also seems to be offering warnings, saying that you can't trust just simplistic attacks or crude nationalism. That you really have to stick to the core democratic values -- free speech, freedom of religion and working together internationally.

Back to you, guys.

HOWELL: Michelle Kosinski traveling with the president live in Berlin -- Michelle, thank you for the reporting.

ROMANS: All right. Hillary Clinton's VP pick Tim Kaine says he will not run for president or vice president in 2020. Instead, the Virginia senator plans to run for re-election in 2018, calling his work in Congress, quote, "My highest and best use." Kaine told reporters that the election loss hit him hard, but he's been gratified by the kindness he's been show by colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

HOWELL: All right. More than a week after the election, voters in North Carolina still don't know who the next governor will be. The incumbent governor, Republican Pat McCrory, falls short of his Democratic challenger Roy Cooper by some 5,000 votes. State election officials are expected to certify all the ballots by today. Cooper says he is confident his victory will be confirmed, but Governor McCrory is challenging votes in more than of North Carolina's counties, alleging voter fraud.

Donald Trump holding his first face-to-face meet a world leader, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sat down with the president-elect at Trump Tower Thursday. The two were said to have a very candid discussion. They're saying he believes the U.S. and Japan can maintain a relationship of trust with Trump as president.

Let's bring in CNN's Andrew Stevens. He is live in Hong Kong this morning.

And, Andrew, we know that transition team members told Japanese officials, don't take everything that president-elect said on the campaign trail literally. So, how is this big meeting seen as going?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly from the optics side, Christine, it seems to have gone quite well. The Japanese prime minister, as you say, saying he thinks he is now convinced that he is -- Donald Trump is someone he can do business with, that he can trust -- build a trusting relationship with. That is all that was expected to come from this meeting.

As you say, this is still the president-elect. And it was never going to be a substantive discussion on the big issues Donald Trump raised on the campaign trail. For Japan, they are enormous issues, whether or not the U.S. keeps its troops. It's got some 50,000 troops in Japan. Whether it keeps those troops there because Donald Trump had been threatening to remove them unless Japan paid for more upkeep. Whether the nuclear agreement stays in place, Donald Trump suggesting that Japan and South Korea could look at developing their own nuclear deterrence in North Korea.

Now, Donald Trump has since walked back those statements. But it's still enough to raise concerns in Tokyo.

And also, Christine, talking about trade as well, Donald Trump's signature opposition into international trade deals, the Trans Pacific Partnership is a very big one currently on the table. So, all Abe really could hope for in the absence of substantive discussions is to be able to sit down with the president-elect and to establish some rapport and hope that leads to an understanding and an agreement which basically enhances what they have which is the alliance between the U.S. and Japan. For Japan, it is so incredibly important for the alliance in place.

From that stem the prosperity of Japan and the military security of Japan.

ROMANS: Well, from the perspective of the United States, too. I mean, this has been a long standing relationship, and it is seen as a pivot, or a blunt against growing power from China. You know, it's never a bilateral situation when you talk about the United States and Japan.

[04:50:05] No question.

All right. Andrew Stevens, thank you so much. Nice to see you, Andrew.

A big clean energy merger getting approval from shareholders this morning. What it means for the future of electric power when we get a check on CNN Money Stream.

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HOWELL: Welcome back.

The Minnesota police officer charged with the fatal shooting of Philando Castile will make his first court appearance today. Officer Jeronimo Yanez is charged with second degree manslaughter and two other felony counts. He fatally shot Castile after a traffic stop in July. The aftermath of the shooting was live streamed in a video by Castile's girlfriend. People saw it as it happened.

Officer Yanez faces up to ten years in prison on the manslaughter charge if convicted.

ROMANS: Crews working around the of wildfire burning out of control in the mountains of North Carolina.

[04:55:03] According to the governor, they've already caused $12 million in damage. The state is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of anyone responsible for starting the fires.

HOWELL: And in the Rockies, the season's first measurable snow, it is leading to problems. Multiple crashes, you see these wet slippery roads there in Colorado. The state patrol reporting at least two people were killed. Blowing snow forced several stretches of Interstate 70 to shut down because of vehicle pileups.

ROMANS: All right. With the Thanksgiving holiday coming, so is the change in season.

Let's get more on that from meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Still tracking the major winter storm, George and Christine. It continues to track across the Northern Plains and into the Upper Great Lakes. Look at the snowfall at the back side of the system and also pay attention to the temperature contrast behind the cold front and in front of it. We are talking about nearly 20 to 25 degrees of separation between these two systems.

Something is certainly brewing, and here it is -- kind of the overall perspective. We haven area of low pressure that's ushering in cold air behind it, and then above average temperatures in front of it.

Look at this -- we also have blizzard warnings in effect for parts of South Dakota and western sections of Minnesota. Look out for winter storm warnings for the extreme northern sections of the state as well. This cold front marches eastward, cooling temperatures as it does so.

Look at this, it's also going to reach the East Coast of the U.S. come the second half of the weekend and into the early parts of next week. You see those temperatures tumble in Chicago, New York, D.C., Boston and Atlanta. Enjoy.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Derek, thanks for that.

From weather to money, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream.

Dow futures down slightly, S&P is set to open lower, too. Just a small tiny gain away from an all-time high. Same with the NASDAQ. The strong dollar helping to push down stock markets in Europe. Shares in Asia finishing mixed.

The Federal Reserve gave stocks a boost Thursday. Fed Chief Janet Yellen told lawmakers on Capitol Hill it will raise rates, quote, "relatively soon." The last rate hike came last December. The next Fed meeting wraps December 14th. The market increasingly thinks the Fed will raise rates at that meeting. There's a 90 percent chance now.

Elon Musk just got his wish for creating a clean energy empire. Shareholders voted to approve Tesla's plan to buy Solar City. That paves the way for Musk to bring his two sustainable energy businesses together. In June, Tesla reached a deal to Solar City for $2.6 billion. Musk says amazing stuff is coming to help people power both their homes and their car. Solar City was founded and is run by two of Musk's cousins.

Tesla stock popped ahead of the vote, gaining 2.5 percent. It is u in pre-market trade right now. Tesla shares have been dropping, though, over the past few months.

Check out the CNN Money Stream app, it's business news personalized, the stories, videos, tweets, topics you want all in one feed. Download it now on the App Store or Google Play.

HOWELL: If you don't have it, you got to get it. (LAUGHTER)

HOWELL: EARLY START continues right now.

(MUSIC)

HOWELL: The president-elect's pick for national security advisor. A retired army man with combat experience and a combative reputation.

ROMANS: A surprise from the Trump transition team. Harsh Trump critic Mitt Romney, he plans to meet with the president-elect this weekend.

HOWELL: And President-elect Trump taking credit for keeping a Ford plant from moving to Mexico. But a closer look reveals he actually didn't have anything to do with that.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm George Howell.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, it is November 18th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And new this morning, President-elect Donald Trump has offered the job of national security advisor to General Michael Flynn. That's according to a Trump transition official.

Flynn was a fierce Trump supporter during the campaign, but he would come to the White House with a history. Among other things, he was fired as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, officials say, because of his combative management style.

Transition activity moving forward this morning at Trump Tower. Trump has a two-hour meeting to review top choices for key administration jobs. After that, he'll spend the weekend at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. And get this -- he will sit down with 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney who said a Trump presidency could lead to trickle down racism. Mitt Romney who called Donald Trump a con man, a phony, and a fraud.

For the latest, let's turn to CNN's Sara Murray.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Good morning, George and Christine.

Donald Trump making it official, extending an offer to General Michael Flynn, asking him to be his national security adviser in the White House. Now, our sources aren't telling us whether Flynn has accepted that position. But in many ways, it's a natural fit. Flynn has been at Donald Trump's side throughout the campaign and also throughout this transition process as Trump works to build a government.

Now, while Flynn may seem like a logical pick, Donald Trump is having many other meetings that are raising eyebrows. He spent Thursday meeting with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, someone who's been very critical of him in the past, but someone sources say he is considering for secretary of state.