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EARLY START

33 Now Confirmed Dead in Oakland Fire; Dakota Access Pipeline to be Re-routed; Trump's New Swipes at China; Huntsman Added to State Department Search; Italy's Prime Minister Stepping Down; Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 5, 2016 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And officials say they expect the death toll to rise.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has the latest from Oakland.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Officials here saying it's too early to determine what the cause of fire. But what they have said is that they've gone through the building, they've broken it up into quadrants. And they're saying they have found victims in all four of the quadrants of this building. There is no one place that the victims were found.

They're also saying that some of the people that lost their lives were juveniles, 17-year-olds, some young adults in their early 20s, and some 30-plus. They're also saying that they're in touch with embassies for people who were from other countries that also lost their lives in the fire.

At this point, they have reached out to some of the families, but they're still working to identify some of the people who died here. That's because they're saying some people, it's evident who they are. If they had their ID on them they can match with fingerprints. But for others where there is nothing there to identify them, they are having to get some source of DNA. So they're asking family members, if you think you lost someone here, to preserve a toothbrush or to preserve a hair brush and put it into a paper bag, a clean paper bag, and hold on to it, so that they can get to them.

But, at this point, they are saying they would not be surprised if they actually do expect that the number of people who died here in the Oakland fire will increase.

KOSIK: OK. Stephanie, thank you.

Overnight fireworks lighting up the night sky over North Dakota. Thousands of protesters celebrating a federal government decision to reroute a proposed oil pipeline that was set to be built under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. Now members of the Sioux tribe and their supporters fear a leak there could cause devastating environmental damage. Those protesters say they are still worried that the incoming Trump administration could reverse their victory.

CNN's Sara Sidner is at the protest site and has the latest. SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Celebrations, tears of joy, chanting,

and drumming. That's what -- was the initial reaction when folks here found out that the Army Corps of Engineers was going to stop this pipeline by asking the Dakota Access Pipeline to be rerouted, rerouted away from the thing that is called the flash point here, rerouted and kept from going underneath the Missouri River.

It is a very big victory for the Standing Rock Sioux and all of the people who have been here for many months trying to stop this pipeline from potentially going under the water and one day leaking. However, what we have also heard from the tribe is that they are concerned that this may not be permanent, depending on which administration is in place and worried about Donald Trump's role in all of this when he takes the presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHASE IRON EYES, STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBAL MEMBER: We need to stay here. Everybody here needs to stay here until we know exactly the legal ramifications of what took place today. As far as, you know, into the future, there is no guarantee that this is going to stand. If President-elect Trump could override what just happened today on January 20th and grant that easement, then we are in for a world of hurt. Nothing has changed for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: We are hearing that from other members of the tribe that even though this is truly a victory and people feel relief, there is also worry about what happens next. Right now, this camp is filling up. No one seems to be leaving.

KOSIK: OK. Sara, thank you.

And the corporations building the Dakota Access Pipeline say that the federal government's decision actually changes nothing. Overnight the companies released a statement calling the decision, quote, "purely political," and they say fully expect -- that they fully to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around the Lake Oahe.

A man arrested after wielding an assault rifle in a Washington pizza restaurant says he was investigating a fake news story. 28-year-old Edgar Madison Welch telling police he was conducting his own probe of pizzagate. That's a debunk conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman John Podesta were involved in a child sex operations at the Comet Pingpong Restaurant.

Overnight, the restaurant's owner issued a statement denouncing the false accusations and praising the swift response of police and his employees for keeping his customers safe.

Just a short time ago, we got our first reaction from China to last night's new provocative tweet storm from Donald Trump just two days after his controversial phone call upending decades of diplomacy in China. Trump tweeted this, "Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency making it hard for our companies to compete, heavily tax our products going into their country? The U.S. doesn't tax them, or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so." And moments ago, China responded very diplomatically.

Joining us now from Beijing is CNN's Alexandra Field.

So China's response is what? And are you getting any indication that there could be some sort of retaliation down the line?

[05:05:11] ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, not at this point, Alison. We don't know what President-elect Donald Trump intended to illicit by writing those tweets in taking on Beijing on his Twitter account. But at this point a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that China won't speculate on what has motivated Mr. Trump's actions or his transition team's actions.

The tweets themselves did not trigger an immediate response from officials here in Beijing. Instead they only discussed the matters of the tweets when asked about them during this briefing that was held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What they underscored during that briefing was what they feel is the importance of upholding the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and China. They talked a lot about the close economic and trade relationship between the two countries.

And then that spokesperson went on to say that China doesn't really comment on the style or personalities of foreign politician. They comment only on policy. The question now is what is the policy that we will see under a Trump administration? How will the longstanding U.S.-China policy shift under a Trump administration? There have been these signs. There have been these signals.

The tough rhetoric that he took toward Beijing on the campaign trail and also these tweets, they are now being parsed in state media here. This comes from an op-ed in the "Global Times" here in China. It says, "China should understand Trump has two faces. On the one hand, he is bluffing and unpredictable, and on the other, he has no plan to overturn international relationships and will focus on U.S. internal affairs, to, quote, 'Make America great again.'"

So at this point, the way that China is receiving these actions, that protocol-breaking phone call with Taiwan's president, these tweets here is simply to say this is the president-elect, it's talk, it isn't policy at this point, Alison.

KOSIK: But he has certainly rattling nerves in China. All right, CNN's Alexandra Field, thanks so much.

And Donald Trump is taking a unique approach to zeroing in on a new secretary of State. Instead of narrowing the field of candidates, he is expanding it. Trump telling -- Trump insiders telling CNN that Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani are still under consideration, and David Petraeus also remains a top contender. But now Jon Hunstman, the former governor of Utah, he's reportedly in the mix as well. And the president-elect's top aides say the search is widening. Let's get more now from CNN's Ryan Nobles.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We had originally thought that we were going to learn pretty soon who the next secretary of State will be, but it appears that President-elect Trump is expanding the field. Listen to what his senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said about the search this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: It's very fortunate to have interests among a series of men and women who all whom need to understand that their first responsibility as secretary of State would be to implement and adhere to the president-elect's America first foreign policy and be loyal to his view of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Now among the names that Trump is considering is the former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, who is also a former candidate for president and was the ambassador to China in the Obama administration. Huntsman not necessarily considered the frontrunner, but one of a number of names that the president-elect is considering.

And the president-elect also making some news about one of his signature policy proposals when he takes over as president. And that's how he's going to handle companies that attempt to move jobs overseas. In a series of tweets, Trump laid out his economic policy agenda for companies here in the United States, promising to reduce taxes and regulations on these companies, but also bound to penalize companies that move jobs out of the United States, including a 35 percent tariff on goods coming into the United States for these companies.

Of course, this is not something the president-elect can just do on his own. He will need congressional support. But it will be a key issue to look for in the incoming Trump administration.

KOSIK: All right. Ryan, thank you.

And we are another week closer to inauguration day. But it seems not much closer to knowing what kind of president Donald Trump will be or are we?

Let's ask CNN Politics reporter Eugene Scott. He is joining us live from Washington.

Thanks for getting up so early with us.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Thank you.

KOSIK: So definitely a busy news weekend it was. We did see, you know, Donald Trump, you know, putting China right smack dab in the center of the conversation, first of all with that conversation that he had with the president of Taiwan and then tweeting about it afterwards. Insulting China not once, but twice. And then you saw Mike Pence going on "Meet the Press" and defending

Donald Trump's actions. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE-PRESIDENT ELECT: I think the conversation that happened this week with the president of Taiwan was a courtesy call. It's one of more than 50 telephone calls that the president-elect has taken from and made to world leaders.

[05:10:08] President-elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from the democratically elected president of Taiwan and it becomes something of a thing in the media. I think most Americans and frankly most leaders around the world know this for what it was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: So what do you think, Eugene? Are we making too much of these conversation that the president-elect is having with world leaders?

SCOTT: I think what we can do a better job is explaining to viewers why this was so unconventional and nontraditional and why it would be a problem if in fact it would be. But I think what's very interesting is this shouldn't be that big of a surprise. The affect that this could have on the U.S.' relationship with China considering how much Trump has criticized China throughout his campaign.

He's made it very clear that he has a problem with the economic situation the Chinese have put America and American voters and companies in. And I wouldn't be shocked if he is using this conversation as a bit of a bargaining point that he will -- hopefully resurface in trying to make deals with China.

KOSIK: But here's the thing. We shouldn't really be that surprised about what's happening with Donald Trump and China at the moment because he alluded to this -- more than alluded on the campaign trail. You know, trade was a huge issue for him and China specifically. He is making good on his campaign promises.

SCOTT: No, that's what it much seems like. And I mean, I think we've seen even more of that, you know, recently within the last 24 hours when he reemphasized some of his problems with China and trade on Twitter.

KOSIK: All right. Let's move on to his choice for secretary of State. That list is getting longer with the addition of Jon Huntsman, which many may not know the background. Jon Huntsman I think is a cousin three times or twice removed from Mitt Romney. And apparently the two are rivals. So putting Jon Huntsman on the list kind of interesting.

SCOTT: Yes. I think it seems very strategic. First, it seems to be a surprise even though the former governor ran for president himself in 2012. He's kind of known for being not as conservative as many of the other people considered like Giuliani and Gingrich, and I know his name is no longer in the mix. But I think to the point we were talking about earlier, people forget Huntsman was the ambassador to China. And so I mean, he's very knowledgeable about many of the issues specifically related to trade between China and the U.S. and that's something that's very important and will be very useful to Donald Trump.

KOSIK: All right. Eugene Scott, thanks for your perspective. We're going to bring you back in about 20 minutes to talk to you more.

SCOTT: Great. Thank you.

KOSIK: A political upheaval on the world stage. Two prime ministers stepping down including the leader of Italy. Is this the final nail in the coffin for the EU?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:17:01] KOSIK: Welcome back. Austria has a new president. Former Green Party leader Alexander Van der Bellen defeating far-right candidate Norbert Hofer. Hofer campaigned on an anti-immigration, Austria first platform. The race was very closely watched across Europe on the heels of Britain's exit from the EU and Donald Trump's victory. Germany's vice chancellor calling the outcome a clear victory for good sense.

A crushing setback for the establishment in Italy. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi confirming he will resign today after suffering a resounding defeat in a referendum Sunday. Renzi's plan to reform Italy's constitution and revive the economy was rejected by nearly -- by nearly 60 percent of voters there.

Let's go live to Milan and bring in CNN's Nina Dos Santos.

You know, it's interesting to see this referendum that Renzi pushed initially and then kind of backfired -- you know, ending with him resigning.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The only thing that seems to be certain around here is uncertainty itself across Europe. That's the voice that you're hearing on the streets of Milan this morning, Alison. Yes, you're right. Referendum, dangerous things for these politicians to call. David Cameron fell on his sword after calling one in the United Kingdom and the UK voted for a surprise Brexit and now Italy has voted down these plans that were designed to try and stream line the political system and end the economic gridlock that has plagued Italy for so many years.

There's quite a bit of uncertainty here across the financial capital of Italy here in Milan. I'm standing outside the stock exchange where shares are down around about 1 percent to 2 percent. A lot of investors saying that's not quite the heavy fall they're expecting originally because some of these news was priced in.

Across the rest of Europe, well, people are managing despite markets starting in negative territory. To shrug things off, the FTSE is up, the CAC over in Paris is up, and the euro did hit a 20-month low against the U.S. dollar. But that's coming up a little bit as well. Further afield, though, we do have a country that has big questions to

ask itself. How is it going to solve its banking crisis, its economic crisis, and who will lead it from here as Renzi prepares to resign this afternoon?

KOSIK: So with Renzi resigning, what happens next as far as the political future in Italy?

DOS SANTOS: Right. So Renzi will be handing in his resignation at 2:00 p.m. local time to the president. The president can decide whether he wants to accept his resignation or send Renzi back to re- jig his Cabinet to try and hold things together for another few months so that they can the budget through and various other reforms that they need before calling a general election in 2018.

Another option is snap elections. And that could propel populist movements like the Five Star Movement led by the comedian Beppe Grillo right to the forefront of politics. He's demanded a vote within a week or so.

[05:20:02] And then another option is to have a caretaker government or perhaps even a technocratic government to people who aren't politicians to hold things together until those elections come in a year and a half, Alison.

KOSIK: So much uncertainty economically, politically for Italy. Thanks so much for breaking it down for us, Nina Dos Santos, live from Milan.

A terrifying landing for air passengers in San Antonio. The pilot declaring an in-flight emergency because of issues with his landing gear. That is next on EARLY START.

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KOSIK: The death toll from these Tennessee wildfire is rising to 14.

[05:25:01] Authorities confirming an 81-year-old woman died fleeing the fire. She got into a car crash after suffering a medical event.

The Gatlinburg area absolutely devastated by the fires. At least 134 people were injured and almost 1700 structures have been damaged or destroyed.

A scare for passengers aboard a Sky West plane. It was forced to make an emergency landing at San Antonio International Airport, where his landing gear collapsed. The plane took off from Houston and was headed to Mexico when the pilot reported an in-flight emergency. 55 people were evacuated from the aircraft. Luckily no serious injuries were reported.

Soaking rains heading the Gulf Coast with a blast have extreme cold air waiting in the wings. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the forecast.

Good morning. PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good seeing you, Alison.

(WEATHER REPORT)

KOSIK: OK, Pedram. Thank you.

A devastating fire in Oakland killing at least 33 in that deadly warehouse fire. Investigations are now under way, including a criminal probe.

And Donald Trump off on another Twitter tirade. This time he is targeting China. Details ahead on EARLY START.

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