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EARLY START

Trump Casts New Doubt on Russia Hacking; Manhunt for Turkish Nightclub Attacker; Queen Misses New Year's Church Service; North Korea Renews Long-Range Missile Threat. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 2, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Regarding Russian hacking. Will he keep the Obama administration new sanctions in place? Well, this might depend on his secret information.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has the latest from Washington.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, President-elect Donald Trump will have a busy start to the new year. This week will be filled with meetings at Trump Tower, including a high-level intelligence briefing where the president-elect is expected to learn more about the alleged Russian hack of U.S. interests.

Now Trump continues to downplay the significance of the intelligence community's conclusion that the Russian government is behind the hack. This, despite statements from members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, who've been briefed on the matter and described the evidence as overwhelming.

During his posh New Year's Eve gathering at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump told reporters that he remains skeptical of their overall assessment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Well, I just want them to be sure because it's a pretty serious charge and I want them to be sure. And if you look at the weapons of mass destruction that was a disaster and they were off, and so I want them to be sure. I think it's unfair if they don't know and I know a lot about hacking and hacking is a very hard thing to prove, so it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don't know and so they cannot be sure of the situation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you know that other people don't know?

TRUMP: You'll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: Now in addition to Trump's private intelligence briefing, we could learn more about this alleged hack during a highly anticipated hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Republican John McCain, who has a much different view than the president-elect of the alleged hack, called for the briefing. Meanwhile, Trump has just three weeks to go to round out his staff and

there's a few major Cabinet positions still open, including the secretary of Veterans Affairs and the secretary of Agriculture -- John and Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Ryan Nobles, thanks for that.

Now overnight 35 Russian diplomats expelled by the United States landed back in Mexico, that's according -- Moscow, rather. That's according to Russian state media. The administration ordered the diplomats and their families to leave in retaliation for Russia's cyber meddling in the election.

Has nothing to do with Mexico.

BERMAN: Like the detour there. It's nice this time of year.

ROMANS: And it's the first day of the week.

BERMAN: Go to the beach on the way back to Moscow.

All right. Tomorrow the nation's 115th Congress will gavel into session with Republicans firmly in control. Republican leaders are vowing they're going to get to work almost immediately trying to roll back Obamacare.

Democrats are trying to figure out a way to fight back. One of those Democrats is the nation's current senior Democrat, President Obama. He's going to go to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a rare joint meeting with Democrats from both the House and the Senate. They want to try to do what they can and create some protections for his signature health plan.

Donald Trump was asked about these meetings over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, he's president until January 20th. And then after that, it's our turn. So we'll see what happens. I mean, he's got to protect what he wants to do and perhaps you can say his legacy. But you know, if you look at Obamacare where you have, in many cases, over 100 percent increases, it's unaffordable. It doesn't work. Bill Clinton said it. Maybe he shouldn't have said it during the campaign. But he said it. It is unaffordable. It doesn't work. And it's been crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So what does repeal mean? Obamacare doesn't just touch those on the exchanges. All Americans have felt the effects of the Afford Care Act. It's remade the landscape of health care delivery in this country. So what would dismantling it mean for you?

First off experts expect 59 million Americans would be uninsured by 2019. They would have no health insurance. That's 30 million more people than right now. Why? Well, fewer people may enroll after the Obama tax credits that help pay for insurance premiums will disappear, which also means that tax bump for many low and middle income households. But even those with work-based insurance could see a rise in cost. Right now the average family pays $4,400 less due to lower health costs. Seniors on Medicare pay $700 less.

Obamacare also introduced cost-saving measures that all Americans have access to, free preventative care, prescription discounts for seniors, and key here, protecting those with preexisting conditions.

Now the Republicans have promised to keep that last measure in place. But with no detailed replacement plan just yet advocates worry consumers won't have the same protections as before. But that preexisting conditions, some people in health care -- health care economists tell me that that is actually sort of the cornerstone of Obamacare. So if you repeal Obamacare, but then you replace it with something that essentially keeps kids 26 and under on your health insurance, you know, has -- you know, you can't ban somebody for preexisting conditions. It's still kind of Obamacare.

BERMAN: No. They're going to have to replace with something else. We have yet to see exactly what they will do. We will as of January 20th see what Republicans and president -- then President Trump will do.

Joining us to break down everything going on right now in the world of politics, CNN Politics reporter Eugene Scott. He's live in Denver this morning.

ROMANS: Whoa.

[05:05:01] BERMAN: Eugene, from Denver, Mountain Time.

ROMANS: That's early.

BERMAN: For Eugene Scott this morning.

Eugene, I think sort of the biggest story as we head into this week is Donald Trump telling us that he has a secret. That he knows something we don't when it comes to the alleged Russian hacking into the U.S. election. President Obama just issued those list of sanctions kicking out some Russian diplomats or spies here in the United States.

Sean Spicer who will be press secretary, he was asked about all of this on the Sunday shows this weekend. Let's listen to what Sean said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN KARL, HOST, ABC "THIS WEEK": Does he accept that Russia was behind this?

SPICER: Look, I think like I said, he has to have the briefing from the intelligence community next week.

KARL: But still not there yet. SPICER: It's not a question of not there yet, Jonathan, it's a

question of getting the information. Everyone in the media wants to jump forward and make a conclusion based off other sourced information. You know, anonymous sources that are coming out of the intelligence community. He's going to do this right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So clearly the Obama administration and President Obama thinks that something went on here and President-elect Donald Trump isn't willing to say so yet.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: That is true. And as Mr. Spicer said, it's a question of getting the information. The problem is that the president-elect has been criticized repeatedly for taking such a long time to get the information as he has noted he is going to have national security briefing later this week that many of his critics said he should have made himself available to have weeks ago.

And so what he knows or claims to know that no one else knows is in question for many people who have seen this issue or approached it differently from him because the thought has been that he hasn't been in the position in situations to get the information that he needs to be able to assess this situation accurately.

ROMANS: Well, he has shown, you know, distrust for the very people who are going to be advising him on what to do about this. And that's a point that Adam Schiff, Democrat from California, made yesterday also on ABC. Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: He needs to stop talking this way. If he's going to have any credibility as president, he needs to stop talking this way. He needs to stop denigrating the intelligence community. He's going to rely on them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: I mean, you can question intelligence. I mean, there have been intelligence failures quite frankly over the past 10 years. Very notable intelligence failures. But does Donald Trump need to change his tack or is there a sign that he is changing his tack in listening to and accepting some of the recommendations of these folks?

SCOTT: Well, there have been intelligence failures as there have been in any type of government organization where you're dealing with human beings. But the challenge that Donald Trump has as he mentioned this past weekend as he references the failures with Iraq, he doesn't acknowledge the fact that the information that he is being presented regarding Russia is not from those same people. And he is causing some people to doubt -- many of his allies to doubt people's professionalism when the reality is we're talking about a completely different group of individuals and intelligence.

BERMAN: The other fascinating thing we're seeing right now, Washington is what will be an 18-day battle. It will go beyond that by a week or two over President Obama's legacy. What he wants to do on the way out and what President-elect Trump wants to do on the way in. You have President Obama going to Capitol Hill and meet with Senate and House Democratic leaders on Wednesday to strategize some way to protect or preserve Obamacare.

But I'm not sure how much they can actually do, Eugene, if the Republican-led Congress is intent on beginning the process of repealing it.

SCOTT: Right. And we know that Mitch McConnell has been very vocal in supporting Trump's desire to see Obamacare repealed as quickly as possible. But in addition to the president, the current president, we know that Nancy Pelosi is meeting with the Democrats I believe today hoping to figure out an approach and solution to making sure that the current president's legacy remains in place to some degree.

I will say something that the incoming president's administration is paying a lot of attention to -- what has been pushback from supporters who do want to see Obamacare dismantled, but are still very concerned about how they will remain insured with an alternative.

ROMANS: You know, just going back to this you will find out Tuesday or Wednesday whatever the secret is that Donald Trump has about what he knows that other people don't know. You know, that's what the president-elect said. We've heard before, he has said, you know, I'm going to tell you on December 15th how I'm going to pull myself out of my business. And then he backed away from giving more details. What do we know about this Tuesday or Wednesday finally learning what the president-elect knows that we don't know.

SCOTT: Well, we don't know a lot about those plans. In fact, in addition to what you just shared, there is some doubt amongst some that it will even happen based on past statements made by the president-elect including that he would give a press conference to reporters after his election. And so at this point no additional information has been given which has led some people to believe not only if he actually knows as much as he says he does, but if this information will even be disseminated.

[05:10:07] BERMAN: Eugene Scott, nice to see you in Denver this morning. We'll get you out on the slopes as quickly as we can.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Thanks, Eugene.

Breaking news. This morning ISIS has just claimed responsibility for the terror attack on an Istanbul nightclub. A terror attack that killed at least 39 people. It injured nearly 70 more including one American identified overnight by the State Department as William Jacob Raak. An international manhunt underway this morning for the unidentified attacker.

CNN's Ian Lee is live in Istanbul with the very latest. This is an interesting turn we've seen here where you've got an

attacker on the loose. Not someone who went in. Almost -- it almost provides terror after the initial terror attack. Where are they looking for this person?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is really quite different from previous attacks we've seen in Turkey where most of the times, there's just the bombing go off, a suicide attack, and thus the perpetrator is dead. And so this is a bit terrifying for Turks right now that this man is on the loose. 36 hours since this attack has happened. Also we're not hearing from the police in sort of name identity. They haven't released a photo of the perpetrator, which means either they're keeping that close because they hope that they don't want to reveal anything to the assailant or worse they just don't know.

The best idea that we have at this time is coming from that CCTV video of the man committing the crime the night it happened. But right now there is a large nationwide manhunt taking place. We are hearing from the prime minister saying that he hopes it will be done quickly. They will get him. There's a large coordination with all the security services. Right now he is public enemy number one. But with him being an ISIS operative, if in fact, he is, if ISIS did carry this out, and we can't independently verify that, there is a chance that he might try to slip into Syria. So there is a bit of a ticking clock in trying to find him then.

ROMANS: We have seen ISIS claim responsibility for its soldiers when there really has been, you know, the piggy backing on something that is politically advantageous to them in their view. What can you tell me about this club in particular, Ian? I mean, this was a very popular club with Westerners, with a very multicultural backgrounds, you know, an affluent group.

LEE: That's right. And that's probably what made it such a large target. In the ISIS statement they made a reference to that -- to this club in particular saying this is where people were going to celebrate the Christian new year, although a lot of the victims were Muslim. But this is a club where you get a lot of actors, movie stars, singers, athletes as well as the well-to-do come here. It is a symbol of cosmopolitan Istanbul, which made it such a large target. And the police knew that leading up.

According to the owner of the club, he said that there were police patrols and increased checkpoints. The Coast Guard has stepped up patrols in the area as well, leading up to the new year's celebration. Across the city there was also increased police checkpoint. They were waiting -- they were ready for something, although this gunman slipped into this club and killed 39 people, injured about 70. And was able to slip away into the chaos.

ROMANS: All right. Ian Lee, keep us up to speed on any developments in the manhunt. Thanks for that, Ian Lee in Istanbul this morning.

ROMANS: All right. Queen Elizabeth sick at home. She missed her second holiday church service in a row. We are live outside Buckingham Palace with all the details. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:16:50] ROMANS: Welcome back. This morning new health concerns for Queen Elizabeth. She did not attend the traditional New Year's church service, citing a heavy cold which had also forced her to miss Christmas mass. Despite her absence a royal source told CNN the 90- year-old queen is up and working.

CNN's Phil Black live outside Buckingham Palace with the very latest. And of course, the age of the monarch is what causes people so much concern when she's been down with the flu for so long or with a cold for so long.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Absolutely, Christine. Certainly the feeling. But Buckingham Palace wants everyone to know that it is just a cold and she is recovering. We can only assume that it is really significant nasty cold because it is stopping the Queen from doing things that she normally takes very seriously. And that is getting to church over the holiday period. She missed that on Christmas Day. That pretty much never happens. She missed out again yesterday on New Year's Day. Again incredibly rare.

So Buckingham Palace is going out of its way to make people aware of the fact that they say the 90-year-old monarch is just dealing with a nasty, persistent, lingering cold. There has been a bit of speculation online about the Queen's health through social media and so forth. And so the palace appears to be trying to get out ahead of that and letting people know that she is up and about, she is moving and they say she is working.

She is still receiving the red boxes that she gets from government full of documents and briefing papers that she has to stay on top of in her role as the official British head of state. So it appears to be largely just precautionary. The British winter weather is pretty chilly. It's no place for anyone with a cold. So the Queen has been staying indoors on her Sandringham Estate. Her next public appearance, scheduled public appearance will be next week's church service. So we'll be looking ahead to that to see just how her recovery is progressing -- Christine.

ROMANS: We certainly wish her well. All right, Phil Black for us in front of Buckingham Palace. Thank you, Phil.

BERMAN: All right. Changing gears here. 2016 was the deadliest year in Chicago in nearly two decades. That's according to the Chicago Police Department. They said there were 762 murders last year, the most in the city since 1997. The city also saw a surge in gun violence numbering more than 3500 shooting incidents and more than 4300 victims. Police investigated 27 shooting incidents, a dozen of which were fatal in just the last week of December. 2015 was Chicago's second bloodiest year since 1997 with 480 murders.

ROMANS: All right. The hunt is on for a vandal caught on surveillance video lending a little high comedy to the iconic Hollywood sign. It was altered to read "Hollyweed." Police say the prankster used tarps to change the O's in the sign to E's. This happened between the hours of midnight and 2:00 a.m. Authorities have since changed the sign back to its original form.

BERMAN: I think this is about Dandelions or something or --

ROMANS: I love how our writers used the verb altered for me and had to explain to me the use of that. Get it, altered?

BERMAN: They had to explain -- they had to explain it to you?

ROMANS: They had to put it in quotations so I would get it.

BERMAN: They had to explain it to you. That's your story. You're sticking to it.

ROMANS: I'm sorry. I'm a little slow today. Sorry, guys.

[05:20:02] BERMAN: Mariah Carey along those lines is blaming a malfunctioning ear piece for what happened on stage on New Year's Eve.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIAH CAREY, SINGER: All right. We didn't have a check of this song. So we'll just say it went to number one. And that's what it is. OK. Feels like --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now you can hear Mariah Carey saying that they did not have a sound check for that song. This song Christine Romans tells me was her '90s hit "Emotions".

ROMANS: As in you've got me feeling it.

BERMAN: Nicely done. You remember the words. That makes one person who remembers the words apparently. A representative for Mariah Carey told Billboard that production set her up to fail. Now CNN has reached out to Dick Clark Productions for a response.

I think that you're going to see a lot of this on TV today. A lot of people talking about this because this is the holiday. And I know that we're all supposed to have an opinion on this somehow.

ROMANS: What is the John Berman opinion?

BERMAN: I don't -- I can't make myself care about it other than to sort of shake my head.

ROMANS: Everyone is talking about so you've got to care.

BERMAN: I can't -- it's, you know, God bless Mariah Carey for all she's given us over the years.

ROMANS: All right. 21 minutes past the hour. A serious turn here. Kim Jong-un saying North Korea is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile. The country's growing nuclear ambitions next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:25:03] ROMANS: 25 minutes past the hour. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ushering in the new year the way he knows best with some extra loud saber rattling. Kim took to the airwaves Sunday and put the world on notice. He says Pyongyang is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

What makes this threat different from previous threats and how does this play in Washington and with North Korea's neighbors in South Korea? We post those questions to CNN's Saima Mohsin. She is live in Seoul with the very latest for us -- Saima.

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, well, the United States has called on North Korea to refrain from any provocations but that will not stop Kim Jong-un. He took this New Year's Day address to put, as you say, everyone on standby for an impending intercontinental ballistic missile test which basically means anything above and over 5,500 kilometers. Huge concerns about this threat.

Now how close is North Korea really to conducting that kind of test? Well, we know they have nuclear warheads. We know that they conducted two nuclear tests last year alone. The fifth and largest in September.

Now crucially, Christine, experts are pointing to the fact that North Korea conducted a long range -- sorry, launch a satellite which seemed to be a template for a long-range missile test back in February 2016. Now other than that, we know that North Korea has successfully tested short and mid-range missiles, but not long-range. The majority of those have failed. Could that have been a template for a future on CBM test? Well, the concern is that Kim Jong-un plans to do that possibly once and after President Donald Trump is in the White House when a new administration's hands will be tied -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Saima Mohsin, thank you so much for that, for us this morning in Seoul.

Another start to the year and some saber rattling from the North Korean leader.

BERMAN: President-elect Donald Trump. What is his secret information on the alleged Russian hacking? He says he will tell us this week. What form will that take? Will he hold a news conference? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)