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President Obama Lands in Athens; Transition Team in Turmoil?; Trump Critics Outraged Over Some Cabinet Picks; Putin and Trump Speak by Telephone; Obama Urges Country to Give Trump a Chance; Aired 4:30- 5a ET

Aired November 17, 2016 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:02] ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour. So nice to see you today.

HOWELL: Could be here.

ROMANS: And I want to make a small correction here. You know, obviously Nikki Haley, the South Carolina Governor was not up for reelection, eight days ago. That was a mistake in our copy. Just want to let the -- that is our top story today but she was not up for reelection. She is the sitting South Carolina Governor.

HOWELL: Right. And a lot to talk about regarding Nikki Haley.

This morning, Donald Trump is considering her for the role of secretary of state despite their stormy history. That is the word at least from the transition source. Haley is said to meet with the president-elect later today at Trump tower. She spent most of the primary season slamming Donald Trump and backing Marco Rubio. That is until Donald Trump won the Republican nomination and Haley reluctantly said that she would vote for him.

In the meantime, the transition team is putting some teeth into Trump's promise to "Drain the swamp." That is the catch phrase that they used during the campaign, announcing overnight that any registered lobbyist would have to un-register before they could be vetted for a senior job. They would also be banned from lobbying for five years after leaving government service. CNN' Sara Murray has the latest for us on the transition.

MURRAY: Good morning, Christine and George.

Donald Trump spent Wednesday ensconced in Trump Tower taking visit from his top aides and also from his family members. But above all that was happening, some of his top staffers were pushing back on the notion that his transition was in disarray. They're particularly hitting back hard at the idea that Jared Kushner is shaking up some of the transition staffers and ousting others as a way of getting revenge for the fact that Chris Christie put his father in jail.

In fact, they're saying that Donald Trump was taking a look at some the staffers in the transition, his top aides were in saying these weren't necessarily the kind of people that they wanted running their government, that they wanted to get the lobbyists out and that others they felt simply weren't doing their job. Now they're insisting that things are calm, that they're organized and that different agencies in Washington, D.C. will see landing teams to get the work of a Donald Trump administration started in the coming days. But not all of Donald Trump's visitors were necessarily admirers. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a liberal Democrat stopped by with a warning.


DE BLASIO: I tried to express to him how much fear there is, how much fear there is in communities all over this city. A whole range of people in the biggest city in the country who are fearful about this current dynamic and how we need to see things that will give people more insurance that all New Yorkers and all Americans will be respected.


MURRAY: Yet another reminder that in Donald Trump's top staff is working around the clock to staff a government. Trump himself may have some work to do to continue to unite the country. Back to you guys

ROMANS: All right. Sara, thank you.

Later today, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe becomes the first world leader to meet with President-elect Trump. Abe says he is eager to build trust with Trump to safeguard the decades old alliance between the two countries.

During the campaign, Trump argued the U.S. should withdraw its military from Japan and South Korea. He said those two countries should be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons to protect themselves from North Korea. But top aides to Abe said the members of the transition team have told them not to take all of Trump's remarks literally.

HOWELL: A top Republican official claims that President-elect Trump is committed to making sure his conflicts of interests are all cleared up by the time he assumes office. Trump has talked about setting up a blind trust and then turning that over to his children, the business over to his children. But critics say that the president-elect is not addressing obvious conflicts. Something the RNC's chief strategist insists will be cleaned up.


SPICER: Everybody is well aware of Donald Trump's successes and holdings. This is part of why he was elected. I think people have looked at him as a successful businessman. And I think they were going to have a great presidency that he will do whatever it takes to make sure that all of those conflicts of interests are resolved properly and legally and that the assets are handed down and the company is run by the kids as he mentioned.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: Legal experts tell CNN if Trump transfers his assets to his children and puts them in charge of his corporation, that does not meet the definition of a blind trust. And Christine, that's the thing, you know. So the definition of a blind trust to me.

ROMANS: It's blind.

HOWELL: It's blind. So, you know, theoretically Donald Trump ...


ROMANS: ... you don't know what to -- right.

HOWELL: ... he talked to his children every day. So I mean that doesn't quite fit.

ROMANS: Yeah. And there's, you know, look, other people who have been very rich who have run for president have put all of their assets into an entity managed by someone else and you don't maybe even know what all of the assets are in there. Donald Trump knows what's the assets are.

HOWELL: Right. Right.

ROMANS: And he knows that there are there -- he knows the laws and the, you know, the news events that can influence, you know, his own family's profit. That by definition is not a blind trust.

HOWELL: No. Yeah.

ROMANS: All right. Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be in Capitol Hill today meeting with congressional leaders including top Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan as well as House and Senate Democratic leaders.

Wednesday, Pence had lunch with his outgoing predecessor, Joe Biden. Biden joked he'd make himself available to Pence as senior staff to help smooth the transition.

[04:35:06] HOWELL: New remarks overnight from Hillary Clinton. Her first public speech since she conceded to Donald Trump last week. Clinton spoke at a gala for the children's Defense Fund, the organization where she started her legal work. Her legal career in the early '70s.

The former presidential candidate admitted that it wasn't the easiest thing for her to come to the event but she urged her supporters to stay strong in the face of the Trump administration. CNN's Joe Johns was there and has the very latest for us.

JOHNS: Christine and George, Hillary Clinton going back to her roots with a speech before the children's Defense Fund in Washington, D.C. The first speech she has given since concession speech at the New Yorker Hotel after that crushing defeat by Donald Trump. She did not mention the president-elect by name. It was intended to be an encouragement for her supporters to stay the course in public life. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I know this isn't easy. I know that over the past week, a lot of people have asked themselves, whether America is the country we thought it was. The divisions laid bare by the selection run deep. So please, listen to me when I say this. America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country. Fight for our values and never, ever give up.


JOHNS: Secretary Clinton agreed to make this appearance before the election. The children's Defense Fund happens to be the first group Bill Clinton spoke to after he was elected president. Christine and George.

ROMANS: All right. Joe, thank you.

A group of Donald Trump supporters calling for a boycott of Pepsi products over something that never happened. Some twitter users are circulating a bogus quote from Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi claiming she said Trump fans should take their business elsewhere.

That's made up. It comes from site designed to trick people including TruthFeed and Gateway Pundit, it's not true. Those sites publishing this fake quote encouraging readers then to stop buying Pepsi. So boycotting a company over something the CEO never said. Gateway Pundit also incorrectly claimed Pepsi stock plunged 5 percent because of the fake comment Nooyi never said about Trump supporters that Pepsi does not want their business.

She congratulated the president-elect in his victory in the "New York Times" conference last week but condemned the ugly rhetoric of the campaign and discuss the impact of the election on her impact on her employees. But George, it is a whole new world when night is -- night and day are not night and day and the sky is not blue and up is not down, you know, when ...

HOWELL: Yeah. These are all ...

ROMANS: ... the fake stuff spreads. It's just, it's crazy.

HOWELL: Is that old saying, you know, never let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?

ROMANS: Right.

HOWELL: So when you -- you can just make it up. I mean it's ad for ...

ROMANS: Pepsi drinkers, you can drink your Pepsi.

HOWELL: It's bad for business. It's bad for Democracy. You really have to dig in and know the source of where you're getting the news.

Still ahead here, President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet in a matter of hours and surely Donald Trump will part of the conversation. We go live to Berlin next.


[04:42:15] ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to "Early Start" everybody.

You know, President Obama is in Berlin this morning preparing to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an ally he calls his closest international partner. Obama and Merkel faced many challenges together over the past eight years, of things that are global, financial crisis, climate change, a lot of things there.

HOWELL: A lot.

ROMANS: Europe's problems after the financial crisis. But with Donald Trump about to assume office, the legacy they forged is on the line. Let's go live to Berlin and bring in CNN's Atika Shubert. Good morning, Atika.

SHUBERT: Good morning, Christine.

In many ways, President Obama as you say is meeting with his closest ally but it's also the strongest leader in Europe too as you point out defend that legacy. In many ways, Merkel is the anti-Trump. A strong woman leader. She's been in power for more than ten years here in Germany. But one who is very pragmatic, cautious, predictable, she chooses her words very carefully.

And when she sent out a congratulations message to Donald Trump, she offered to work with him on the basis of shared values, specifically saying the right to human dignity regardless of religion, place of origin, sexual orientation or political belief. And this was a carefully worded statement on her behalf.

So when she meets with President Obama today, she'll be looking at all the ways they can try and save the things they've worked on together whether it's trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership, climate change agreements which Donald Trump now says he wants to throw out because he believes climate change is a hoax, or whether it's what to do about NATO. President-elect Donald Trump had said he wants the U.S. to take a back seat. So what does that mean for Germany? All of these will be discussed.

So it will be a one-on-one meeting today. A dinner later tonight and then sort of a mini summit with other EU leaders tomorrow morning and there's a lot on the agenda, Christine.

ROMANS: I would say so. A really critical time for both countries. Thank you so much, Atika Shubert in Berlin.

HOWELL: The House Speaker Paul Ryan is pressing the pause button on the controversial spending vote. Ryan reminding his Republican colleagues, the country just completed what he calls a "drain the swamp election." Saying that the last thing he wants to see is billion of dollars of pet project attached to various spending proposals. Banning the ear marks says the practice is often called has been a third rail in Congress for years. That measure is expected to be taken up next spring.

ROMANS: Two familiar faces will lead their parties in the senate during the Trump administration. Republicans reelecting Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader with Democrat capping New York's Chuck Schumer as Minority Leader. Schumer appointing Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and conservative Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia to the rings of leadership to help with the post mortem on last week's disastrous election results for Democratic Party.

[04:45:00] HOWELL: Twenty one men and women, including Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks will receive the nation's highest civilian honor at the White House next week. Michael Jordan and Bill Gates also headlining the list of presidential medal freedom awards. The winners of the honor for significant contributions to the national interests of the U.S. for world peace. Among other recipients, actor Robert de Niro and Robert Redford. Talkshow host Ellen Degeneres, legendary baseball broadcaster Vin Scully and NBA Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

ROMANS: Meantime, a legendary musician Bob Dylan has decided not to accept his Nobel Prize in person. He told the Nobel committee he feels very honored to win the Nobel Prize in literature, but has pre- existing commitments. The committee calls it unusual, but not unprecedented for winners to skip to the trip to Stockholm to accept the honor. If Dylan wants to receive the award though, he will have to deliver a lecture in Stockholm by early next June.

HOWELL: Also I want to tell you about a special honor for CNN friend and colleague, HLN Sports Correspondent Hines Ward has been named as a semifinalist for the pro football hall of fame class of 2017.

ROMANS: All right.

HOWELL: That's right. And the former wide receiver played 14 seasons with Pittsburgh Steelers and ended his career with 86 touchdowns and 1,000 receptions. He was the Super Bowl MVP and a five-time pro bowler. The inductees will be announced on the eve of the Super Bowl.

ROMANS: And now he's an MVP broadcaster here at CNN.

HOWELL: Way to go Hines. That's right.

ROMANS: Way to go. Really nice to hear that. Thanks so much.

All right, the stock market has been in rally mode since Donald Trump won the election. But another metric, just hit a 13-year high. What it means for your money and what it is, that's next.


[04:50:53] HOWELL: Welcome back. It is a dire and deadly scene in war-torn Aleppo. At least 87 people, including children killed as the Syrian army launches a series of air strikes for a second day. The bombings hit hospitals, a blood bank and targeted schools, activists and also medical staff.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is following the story live in Amman, Jordan this hour. Jomana, thanks for being with us. The Syrian government all it says that they are targeting terrorists in the country, but at a hospital, at a blood bank and at a school?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN REPORTER: Well, George, after that lull of pause for three weeks almost in air strikes on Eastern Aleppo. It seems this nightmare for the residence of the besiege Eastern Aleppo resumed again on Tuesday with this heavy bombardment we have seen.

Since according to activists and residents that we have spoken to in Eastern Aleppo, they say that war planes have been dropping these highly explosive munitions. Helicopters dropping these indiscriminate barrel bombs and also really intense artillery shelling that we are also hearing that is on going today according activist and residence of the city.

As you mentioned at least 87 people were killed just in one day, on Wednesday in this renewed bombardment of Eastern Aleppo and rebel-held parts of the countryside. That included children too. In one neighborhood, George, we were told that the focus of the air strikes was on an area where five medical facilities were located. And as you know, these are the last of the medical facilities still operating in Eastern Aleppo. They included children's hospital and a blood bank.

The Syrian government for it part saying this is a preliminary operation into Eastern Aleppo. They say there will also be a ground push on several fronts to tighten the siege of Eastern Aleppo. And that siege is really taking its toll right now. According to the United Nation and people we have spoken to in Eastern Aleppo, they are running out of food. The 250 000 or more residence of Eastern Aleppo are not only facing this military campaign, they are also facing that real possibility right now of mass starvation, George.

HOWELL: Jomana, let's talk about the people that are still there. I mean we're seeing these images, they're heartbreaking. And the people who are there, just a few days ago many received the text message telling them to leave before the bombardment would continue. But many people are concerned. They don't trust the government to leave. Explain that feeling among people who are still trapped in this hell.

KARADSHEH: Actually George on Sunday and Monday we spoke to people, residents of Eastern Aleppo. These are ordinary citizens. People who have been trapped in what has become this giant kill box, as it's been described besieged Eastern Aleppo. And we asked them, you've received this text message presumably from the regime warning you of this military operation. This imminent assault in Eastern Alleppo, do you want to get out?

Some people say that never before have they thought of leaving their homes, but now they really have been thinking about it, but they do not trust the regime. Its Russian allies. They told that. So they really, really, really have using these so called humanitarian quarters to leave. They don't think they will be granted safe passage, George. HOWELL: Jomana Karadsheh live for us in Amman, Jordan following the developments in Aleppo. Jomana, thank you for the report.

ROMANS: All right. Back here in the U.S. a story that really gripped people. A Minnesota police officer faces three criminal charges, including manslaughter and the shooting death of Philando Castile during a traffic stop back in July. Prosecutors say no reasonable officer would have used deadly force under of these circumstances.

You will recall this tragic incident unfolded as live on the internet in the video posted by Castile's girlfriend. Streamed by his girlfriend becoming a FlashPoint in the national debate over racial profiling and police use of force. We get more this morning from CNN's Rosa Flores.

FLORES: Well George and Christine the criminal complaint revealing the final words that Philando Castile uttered that night.

[04:55:07] According to that complaint, they were "I wasn't reaching for it," meaning his gun. The officer, Officer Jeronimo Yanez faces three different counts, second degree manslaughter in the death of Philando Castile and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.

Now according to those court records, Yanez, the officer stopped Castile because of a failed tail light and because he fit the description of a robbery suspect. Now according to that complaint, Castile told Yanez he had a gun. After that Yanez interrupted Castile twice and fired his weapon seven times.

Now one of those gun shots at the arm wrest between Castile and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds. Another one of those shot punctured the driver's seat hitting the back seat next to that little girl. Now Castile's mother is still grappling with the death of her son, but she said that she is pleased with the charges that have been filed.

CASTILE: I'm just glad that we have come to this chapter and this is the beginning to a different chapter. And we all hope and pray that the right thing is done in this issue.

FLORES: Officer Yanez is expected to turn himself in and he is expected to face the judge on Friday. George, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. 56 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream.

Stocks feature is holding on to slim real slim gains this morning. As the price policy move out of Japan and a rising U.S. dollar are pushing global markets higher.

The DOW seven-day winning streak is over ending with 54 point drop Wednesday. Even with that dip, the gains over the past week and a half are simply stunning. The DOW has jumped 5.4 percent, nearly 1,000 points since the election. The big surge last Monday came as it looked like Hillary Clinton would win the election. Then despite an overnight freak out, the gains rolled on as Trump proclaimed victory. Some say the stock market has come too far too fast though. Other metrics are also resetting ahead of the Trump administration. The U.S. dollar hits its highest level in 30 years due to hope that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates, and more quickly under a Trump presidency. The Fed was prepared to hike rates at its meeting next month even before the election. Now experts say higher interest rates and more government spending are a great combination for the value of the dollar. The down side is it makes goods more expensive overseas.

Shares of Target jumping more than 6 percent yesterday making it the best performer on the day on the S&P 500. It is had a rocky year but traffic at its stores are picking up. Targets expect that to continue into the holidays. Shoppers want discounts and low prices where the big draw, especially back to school deals. So were apple products and kids' clothing. Target is still struggling with its foray into the grocery items.

Rival Walmart will report earnings for the opening bell. It has spent billions paying employees more money, gave everybody a raise, right. And that has actually helped its own result over the past two quarters.

Check out the new CNN Money Stream app. Its business news personalized with stories in companies you want to follow, all in one feed, download it now on the app store or GooglePlay. Do you have it?

HOWELL: I've got it.


HOWELL: Be sure to get it. "Early Start" continues right now.

ROMANS: A surprising new candidate emerges as a potential Trump cabinet pick. She used to be a Trump critic.

HOWELL: Foreign affairs today at the Trump Tower. For the first time a world leader meets with the new president-elect in person.

CLINTON: I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election. I am, too. More than I can ever express.

ROMANS: Hillary Clinton gives her first public speech since her concession address last week.

Good morning. Welcome to "Early Start. I'm Christine Romans

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. It is Thursday, November 17th. 5:00 a.m. in the east.

And new this morning, Donald Trump is considering the Governor of South Carolina for the role of secretary of state despite their stormy history. That is the word from the transition source. Nikki Haley is set to meet with the president-elect later today at Trump Tower. She spent most of the primary season slamming Donald Trump and backing Marco Rubio. That is until Trump won the Republican nomination and Haley reluctantly said that she would vote for him.

In the meantime, the transition team it is putting some new teeth into Trump's promise to drain the swamp as the statement goes. Announcing overnight that, any registered lobbyist would have to un-register before they could be vetted for a senior job. They would also be banned from lobbying for five years after leaving government service. CNN's Sara Murray has the very latest on the Trump transition.

MURRAY: Good morning, Christine and George.

Donald Trump spent Wednesday ensconced in Trump Tower taking visits from his top aides and also form his family members. But with all of that was happening and some top staffers were pushing back on the notion that his transition was in disarray. They're particularly hitting back hard at the idea that Jared Kushner is shaking up some of the transition ...