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EARLY START

Truck Crashes Into Berlin Christmas Market Killing 12;Russian Ambassador To Turkey Assassinated; Russia, Turkey & Iran Strategize Over Syria. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 20, 2016 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:32:25] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: A terror investigation underway in Berlin after a truck plows into a crowd killing at least 12 people.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Six people now being questioned after the brazen assassination of a Russian ambassador in Turkey. Developments on both of these stories in just the last few minutes, folks.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUEZ: And I'm Miguel Marquez. It is 32 minutes past the hour. Good to see you this morning. And this morning authorities in Berlin are questioning a man suspected of driving a large tractor-trailer truck through a crowded Christmas market turning a festive holiday shopping arcade into a scene of mayhem and carnage.

Twelve people dead, at least 48 others injured by the truck which witnesses say barreled through the market at up to 40 miles per hour. German intelligence just saying moments ago the suspect was a refugee from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region who had just arrived in Germany a short time ago. Also minutes ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel telling the nation the government is assuming that this was, in fact, a terror attack.

For the very latest let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen for us in Berlin. Fred, I take it no surprise that this is likely a terror attack but what is the sense of security there in Berlin among the people?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Miguel, they're absolutely concerned about the situation. There's a lot of people today who've opted to keep their children out of school after this happened because obviously there is a lot of fear among people about terror attacks.

And, you know, one of the things that was going on before Christmas, Miguel, was that the German authorities were saying that first of all, they were fearing that there could be a terror attack during Christmastime but also that it could happen specifically at Christmas markets, and that's one of the reasons why security was actually beefed up at a lot of Christmas markets around Germany.

But, obviously, it was something like this very big tractor-trailer truck plowing through this market. It was probably impossible to hold that truck up. And, you know, some of the eyewitness accounts that we've been getting from people have been absolutely horrifying, saying that the truck barreled through this Christmas market.

Obviously, people trying to run away but the problem was that obviously there was very little space between these market stalls here on that market and, therefore, there really wasn't any place for many people to escape. There were harrowing accounts of people being trapped underneath the truck as it was still going and then it literally came to a stop only about 20 to 30 yards from where I am standing right now.

[05:35:00] And now, of course, you have this situation where Angela Merkel has come out and said that it could very well be someone from the community of refugees. Obviously, Germany taking in a lot of people in 2015 and early 2016. That certainly is something that is going to be a big political discussion point here in this country in the next coming days moving forward, I suppose.

Intelligence sources also telling us they believe this man is from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. That he came to Germany on December 31st, 2015 through Passau, which is really one of the main border crossings where a lot of the asylum seekers and refugees came across when that wave of refugees came through Germany in 2015 and 2016. So certainly there's a lot of political concern now but also, quite frankly, a lot of safety concerns here among the population not just in Berlin but, of course, in other cities in Germany as well, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Those Christmas markets, such a fun, beautiful packed affair in Germany and across Europe at this time of the year. Frederik Pleitgen for us in Berlin. Thank you very, very much.

ROMANS: All right, to our other top story. A team of Russian investigators is due to arrive today in Turkey to help probe the assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey. I want to warn you here about his video. What you're about to see is very graphic. (Video playing) The shooting was captured on video at this art gallery. A gunman shooting (sic) "do not forget Aleppo, God is great, Allahu Akbar."

He shot and killed the ambassador, Andrei Karlov, who was speaking at an art gallery in the capital of Ankara. Russia, through the eyes of the Turks, where the embassy sponsored an exhibit there. The Russian ambassador was speaking. The shooter is identified as a 22-year-old police officer. He was killed by Turkish police shortly after this. That's according to reports from a number of media organizations including Reuters.

And in just the last hour, Turkish authorities say they have detained six people in connection with the assassination -- detained them. I think his mother, his father, his sister, a roommate. In a separate incident hours later a man fired a shotgun into the air outside the U.S. Embassy. He yelled, "I swear to God, don't play with us."

CNN's Nic Robertson joins us live from Ankara with the very latest on this. Certainly, diplomatic circles are in shock this morning that this could happen and this video just painting this terrible, shocking picture of that. All three police officers just standing there listening to him for several minutes before shooting him in cold blood. What is the latest there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, a cold- blooded assassination and the big question for a lot of people is how come the gunman, even if he was a policeman, without others there could get so close to the Russian ambassador at a time when tensions in the country have been high over the situation in Aleppo?

Of course, Turkey and Russia held together to negotiate the ceasefire there to allow civilians out but they were essentially on opposite sides of the civil war, so there have been tensions on the street. Angered Russians here outside the Russian consulate in Istanbul in the past week. So how could the Russian ambassador be in this position and be so exposed?

Right now, however, we understand that Andrei Karlov -- the ambassador's body is now in the process of being repatriated. It is on its way to the airport. The Russian investigative team is here already. We understand there are 18 of them. Some of them may come and visit the premises behind me where the art exhibit was on where the ambassador was giving a speech just less than 24 hours ago behind me here.

So that investigation has begun. Those detentions of family members have happened but no details from authorities yet that have given them any concrete conclusions about what motivated this man. However, both Russia and Turkey saying this will not divide them at this time when they've been sort of going through a (INAUDIBLE) rebuilding a dialogue between the two countries, and both saying that they will do -- they will complete this investigation together and find out who was behind it.

But, of course, from the Russian perspective, very troubling. There were protests on the streets here because they all know, like everyone else, protests on the streets in Turkey, even outside the Russian consulate, don't happen without the knowledge and assent, albeit tacit perhaps, with the government here -- Christine.

ROMANS: Certainly a tinderbox. Thank you so much for that in Ankara, Nic Robertson. Keep us up to speed if there are any developments -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Now, for Russia's reaction to the assassination of its ambassador let's turn to Matthew Chance. He is live in Moscow for us this morning. Good morning, Matthew. What is the sense there? Is this likely to tie these countries closer together or tear apart what little progress they had made in repairing their relationship?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think some of that will depend, Miguel, on the outcome of the joint investigation that's underway. If it is found to have been some kind of conspiracy which the Turkish state had a hand in then, obviously, that would cause serious damage. [05:40:04] But, you know, if this had happened a year ago we'd be

sitting here today talking about a cataclysm in relations between these two countries. Just after Turkey had shot down a Russian warplane relations were at low ebb. But since then they've gone to great lengths to rebuild that relationship. Putin and Erdogan, these two very headstrong leaders, have become friends again. They're kind of allies again now in a sense, at least politically if not militarily, in Syria.

And, in fact, the Turkish foreign minister is in town in Moscow today along with his Iranian counterpart to talk about peace in Syria. And so, they've built bridges. Putin says that this despicable act, as he called it, was meant to undermine that process of normalizing the relationship. Both he and Erdogan, the Turkish president, have said that's not going to happen.

There's been a bit of news which I can bring to you, as well, from the Kremlin. We spoke to them this morning about Donald Trump's tweet saying in light of the terrorist attacks in Berlin and in Zurich where there was a mosque attack, and in Ankara as well -- "The civilized world must change its thinking." This is what the Kremlin said -- Putin's spokesman said in response. "Trump's statement echoes what Putin has been saying for the past 16 or 17 years about the need for a joint fight against this common thread. Not a single country can fight it on their own."

And so, the Kremlin sort of underlining how similar their thinking is to Donald Trump in the days now before he becomes -- before he's sworn in as president. And the Kremlin hopes that they can build on that common attitude towards Islamic terrorism in the future.

MARQUEZ: Fast-moving events. Matthew Chance for us in Moscow. Thank you very much.

ROMANS: All right. Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen, she says this is the best job market in a decade and she is bullish about job prospects for young people. In a commencement speech yesterday she told graduates they should be optimistic about scoring a good job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET YELLEN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRWOMAN: First, after years of a slow economic recovery you are entering the strongest job market in nearly a decade. The second reason for optimism is that you have already done the one thing that research shows is most important to a successful and stable working life, earning the degrees you will receive today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: She says grads earn a lot more -- earn a lot more over their careers. She said research shows they might even live longer and lead happier lives. They'll also probably get some paid time off. A separate report shows many won't take advantage of it. This is really surprising, Miguel. Fifty-two percent of Americans will not use all their vacation days this year and that number is even higher for millennials. Like, the very people that Janet Yellen was just talking to. The excuses? Some blame too much work, others say they enjoy their work. That's you, I know.

MARQUEZ: Yes.

ROMANS: Some report they can't afford a vacation or fear they might lose their jobs. Fifty-two percent of people leave days on the table.

MARQUEZ: That's crazy. Don't leave days on the table.

ROMANS: You're leaving three days on the table.

MARQUEZ: Maybe two. They are sick days, though. A Monday night showdown with big playoff implications. Are the defending NFC champs still in the hunt? Hines Ward with this morning's Bleacher Report coming up in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:55] ROMANS: All right. A Washington tight end lost his cool and a team lost a game on "Monday Night Football".

MARQUEZ: Yikes. Hines Ward has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning.

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, guys. Yes, Washington still is in the playoff hunt taking on Carolina on Monday night and in the third quarter things got a little testy out there. Jordan Reed gets into with Kurt Coleman. The two square off and it is on. Reed throws a punch at Coleman into his face mask. Flags come out, Reed was ejected, and a frustrating night overall for the Washington Redskins.

But I never understood this, guys. I didn't understand why guys want to punch people in the face when they're wearing helmets. Luckily, he didn't break his hand. Carolina, they go on to win 26-15.

Ezekiel Elliott, his touchdown celebration is paying off in a big way for the Salvation Army. Donations are up 61 percent since Sunday night but now the NFL says that they will not fine Ezekiel Elliott for that celebration. But also, Zeke will be making a donation of $21,000 -- and get this -- because he wears the number 21. The Cowboys have had a 20-year partnership with the Salvation Army so kudos to Zeke. I'm impressed with him both on and off the field.

And finally, Bulls' star Dwyane Wade gave a huge surprise to a Chicago family. Gave them a home makeover -- extreme home makeover. Just redid their whole apartment. He got them new furniture, he gave a holiday gift, and even hooked them up with tickets for tomorrow night's game. Now, he's serious about using his first season with the Bulls to help his hometown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DWYANE WADE, CHICAGO BULLS: I would donate money to the city of Chicago to try to help certain communities. I know I would do that. But as I do my job, others have to do theirs. And, you know, as I said, obviously we put responsibility on our youth but they're following the adults as well. They're following what's going on in their communities. They're doing what they see so we have to do a better job. Others have to do a better job of leading and if they don't do it then the things that I'm trying to do becomes pointless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: Guys, I love seeing other athletes giving back during the holidays. It's such an inspiration to us all, so kudos to Dwyane Wade for doing his thing in Chicago.

ROMANS: I mean, he really seems to think that being a role model is empty unless you're helping other people -- inspiring other people to be role models in their lives, too.

MARQUEZ: A very sensible point of view. I want to know how he did it, though. How he got the family out of there, redid the apartment, and then got them in there. Very impressive.

WARD: They've got the inside scoop.

ROMANS: Yes. All right, Hines. Thank you so much.

MARQUEZ: Thank you.

WARD: All right, guys.

MARQUEZ: Now let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY". The lovely and talented Alisyn Camerota joins us now. Hello, good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Good morning. The feeling is mutual about both of you. Thank you for that.

ROMANS: Lovely and talented.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

ROMANS: Or talented and lovely.

CAMEROTA: Either one. Either one works for me. So, good morning, you guys. We have a big show for you this morning on "NEW DAY" because we have some breaking developments on exactly who was behind that truck attack that we saw yesterday at the Christmas market in Berlin. So we have our correspondents spread out on the ground with all of the breaking details in each of these terror attacks that we saw across Europe and the Middle East yesterday, as well as what all this means for the United States.

[05:50:15] And then, at the end of "NEW DAY" this morning we have a very poignant story. It's about this woman who's been winning "Jeopardy" this week. She's been on a five-day winning streak. She's been racking up her total prize money and what makes this particularly poignant is that she passed away weeks ago. So we are going to exclusively be speaking to her boyfriend about how this all came to pass and what she planned to do with her money. So Chris and I will bring you all of that.

MARQUEZ: A fascinating story.

CAMEROTA: It is. I mean, it's --

MARQUEZ: It's a really good one.

CAMEROTA: -- really inspiring.

ROMANS: I love how the folks -- Alex Trebek and the folks kept it a secret so that she could win and move forward.

MARQUEZ: And the decision to air it, even. It's just -- that's a rough one.

ROMANS: Yes, OK. Alisyn, thanks.

MARQUEZ: Alisyn, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Donald Trump adding another billionaire to his administration. This time, Secretary of the Army. We'll show you the unique resume that makes Vincent Viola a top pick for Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARQUEZ: Just a short time ago the Kremlin said the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey will not hurt efforts to get a Syrian peace deal done. The foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey, and Iran meet in Moscow today to discuss strategies on potentially ending the Syrian crisis. Turkey's foreign minister saying just moments ago 37,500 civilians have been evacuated from the war zone in Aleppo and all evacuations are expected to be finishedtomorrow.

CNN's Muhammad Lila is live on the Turkish-Syrian border for us. Muhammad, bring us up to date. This shooting in Ankara, the refugees moving out seemingly successful there. How are these two events sort of being received?

[05:55:06] MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miguel, immediately in the aftermath of the assassination yesterday there was a lot of concern that there would be a spillover effect in Syria because the gunman, before shooting the ambassador, came out and yelled "do not forget Aleppo, do not forget Syria." So there was a concern that these two events would be very intricately linked.

But we do know now some of those numbers that you mentioned -- the Turkish foreign ministry says 37,000 or so people have been evacuated from Eastern Aleppo and it's a good sign that they're saying that by tomorrow all of the evacuations will be completed. These are a lot of people who need medical care, who have nothing but the clothes on their back. But what it also means is that the Assad government in Syria will

officially be in control of the entire city of Aleppo. Now, that city was a major flashpoint for so many of the battles that have been going on for the last several years, but once the evacuations are done it will mean Syria's leader has control of all of Syria's main cities and that could set the stage for some sort of ceasefire moving forward -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Muhammad Lila for us on the Turkish-Syrian border. Thank you very much.

ROMANS: All right, it's 56 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. Investors cautiously pushing stocks higher right now. Dow futures are ticking higher. The DAX in Frankfurt is wavering a bit but now slightly higher. We're seeing gains in London and Paris. Shares in Asia are closed now. They finished mostly down.

Despite a recent decent gain yesterday we're still waiting on the Dow to hit 20,000. You know, it's a psychological milestone but my goodness, it was only a few days ago, it seems like, it was at 19,000 and it would cap a really big year of gains for stocks. The first two months of 2016 -- remember, they were the worst start to the year ever for the three major averages. Oil was crashing, investors were freaking out about China and Brexit, and then everything turned around.

Anticipation of the Fed raising interest rates, a strengthening U.S. economy, and finally Donald Trump's election victory pushed the market to record highs. One final hurdle to go, Dow 20,000. It's 117 points away so, you know, spitting distance is what we call it.

Donald Trump adding another billionaire to his administration. Vincent Viola is Trump's pick for Secretary of the Army. He is worth $1.8 billion. He is another billionaire on the cabinet. He has deep Army roots. He is a West Point grad. He was an officer in the 101st Airborne Division.

He may be best known for his work on Wall Street. He went on to a very successful career on Wall Street. He was a trader and he was the chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the exchange that trades oil futures and options. More recently, he founded the high frequency trading firm Virtu Financial. He also owns the Florida Panthers franchise in the NHL. That's right, a pretty diverse background.

MARQUEZ: Is there anything he doesn't do?

ROMANS: Military background -- he has made an incredible amount of wealth and worked on Wall Street. Check out the new CNN Money Stream app. It is business news personalized. It's the stories, the videos you want all in one feed.

MARQUEZ: I want them.

ROMANS: Download it now on the App Store or Google Play. I'm Christine Romans. That's EARLY START for today.

MARQUEZ: And I'm Miguel Marquez. Good to see you today.

ROMANS: You, too.

MARQUEZ: Fast moving developments in the attacks in Berlin and Ankara. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truck came barreling through and nobody knew what was happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had (INAUDIBLE). Christmas lights were being torn down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Berlin police have one man in custody. The second man was found dead on the passenger seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: German authorities are investigating this as a terrorist attack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It didn't, no. It didn't feel like it was an accident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The shocking assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The attacker, quite clearly, says we must remember Aleppo. We must remember Syria.

MARQUEZ: The gunman identified as a 22-year-old Turkish police officer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the rise of ISIS and the catastrophe in Syria we are going to see attacks like this all throughout the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, December 20th, 6:00 in the East. We do have breaking developments on the attacks in Europe and the Middle East. Officials in Berlin tell CNN the suspect accused of deliberately driving through a crowd at a Christmas market is a recent refugee from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. At least 12 people were killed, dozens more injured.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now, there was another attack earlier Monday in Turkey. A gunman there shooting and killing Russia's ambassador to Turkey, invoking the horrors of the humanitarian crisis in Syria. And in the past 48 hours there have also been attacks in Switzerland and Yemen. Leaders around the world now promising strength in the battle to end terrorism. The question is how?

We have complete coverage this morning starting with CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen live in Berlin -- Fred.

PLEITGEN: Yes, Chris, there's a lot of concern here in Berlin after, at 8:00 p.m. last night, this massive tractor-trailer truck plowed through one of the biggest Christmas markets in the western part of the city.