Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Berlin Attack: Manhunt On For Driver; Turkey Blames U.S.-Based Cleric For Assassination; Trump Tackles Terror During Transition; Celebrating Craig Sager. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 21, 2016 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: ISIS is now claiming that it, ISIS, was the inspiration. Let's get the very latest on the investigation and the manhunt. We turn to CNN's Max Foster live in Berlin this morning. And, Max, when we learned yesterday that someone was in custody -- someone who was a recent refugee from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, it seemed like this thing was closed up, but not anymore. They couldn't tie that man to any forensic evidence inside of the truck and now there is a killer on the loose.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is and some very quick developments happening in the last few minutes, Christine.

And some -- a piece of evidence -- some sort of I.D. in the truck seems to have led to the next step of the investigation and several local media now naming a young Tunisian in his early twenties outside Berlin as the main suspect now. We don't know whether or not he's been arrested or whether or not he is, indeed, the person that the police have got their eye on. But we know that local journalists who have very strong sources within the police all agreeing on this. They are identifying a young Tunisianman.

Also, the search has gone nationwide so you can assume it's not happening here in Berlin. So it's a very fast-moving investigation. If they are sure that they've got the right man then it would explain why we haven't seen a massive police presence that we've seen in Paris, for example, in previous attacks and also why the police have been so tight-lipped overnight because they really haven't let anything out whatsoever.

They haven't really even responded to the claim by ISIS that the attacker was one of its soldiers. They haven't offered any I.D. really on who this soldier is either.So we're expecting to hear from the police. We're obviously trying to speak to them --

ROMANS: Right.

FOSTER: -- as I speak to you, in the next few minutes or so, but it does seem as though this investigation is moving very quickly, indeed.

ROMANS: So that's a really important development, Max, so let's just stay on that for a moment here because there was a manhunt underway. There were no indications they knew who did this but you're saying that local media with strong sourcing is suggesting that they may know who did this -- they may know who did this. FOSTER: Yes, a young Tunisian man. It doesn't suggest either, though -- either, that it's an asylum seeker but perhaps was having conversations with the immigration authorities, but from Tunisia we understand it, very clear. Our sources -- we've spoken to a couple of journalists who are very clear on this as well so we'll have to firm that up for ourselves, but that's certainly the conversation here on the ground in Berlin.

ROMANS: So, Max, you go firm that up for us. We know you have a lot of phone calls to make and a lot of work to so thank you so much and come back as soon as you have something else. I know you're on it for us. Thanks, Max.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Now, tension is rising between the United States and Turkey over claims the U.S. bears some of the blame for the assassination of Russia's ambassador to Turkey.

Secretary of State John Kerry calling Turkey's foreign minister following the murder to offer his condolences. The foreign minister telling Kerry his country believes the U.S. Muslim-based -- Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen was behind the attack by a Turkish police officer. Gulen is the reclusive Turkish opposition figure who lives in rural Pennsylvania. Turkey also claims he was behind the failed coup attempt in July and has been trying to, without success, get the U.S. to extradite him.

Kerry's spokesman says the secretary raised concern on his call with Turkey's foreign minister about rhetoric, blaming the U.S. for the Russian ambassador's assassination. The spokesman called those claims absolutely ridiculous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: With respect to American involvement/support, tacit or otherwise, for this unspeakable assassination yesterday because of the presence of Mr. Gulen here in the United States. And it is a -- it's a ludicrous claim, absolutely false.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Now, we're getting reaction to those claims this morning. Let's bring in CNN's Matthew Chance. He is live for us in Moscow. Matthew, the Russians seem to be lowering that rhetoric now. Is that right?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. I mean, we spoke to the Kremlin a few minutes ago actually and put them -- put this to them, this suggestion that has been made by the Turks that it was Gulen that was responsible for this or ordered it, and also these implications that have been made -- these allegations that have been made that the United States in some way orchestrated this attack.

You know, that's something they've distanced themselves from. The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, saying look, we're not going to make any allegations. We're not going to jump to any conclusions until the results of our investigation -- our joint investigation with Turkey is finished. Russia's, of course, sent a team of investigators, forensics experts, and others to work with their Turkish counterparts to try and find out the circumstances around this incredibly public assassination of one of its senior officials.

[05:35:04] We've seen those images, of course, of Ambassador Karlov being gunned down as he was making a speech at that photographic exhibition in Ankara. But not just how the breach of security happened but who, if anyone -- which group, if any group, was behind this 22-year-old off-duty riot policeman who carried out that assassination on camera, effectively. And so when that investigation is completed then I think we'll probably hear a lot more from the Kremlin on the issue.

MARQUEZ: All right. Matthew Chance for us in Moscow. Thank you very much.

ROMANS: It's so remarkable to me how long the gunman was behind him in those pictures.

MARQUEZ: He just stands there behind him.

ROMANS: And what's remarkable to me is the AP photographer's poise in just continuing to roll as --

MARQUEZ: I saw that interview. That guy clearly had been around the block a couple of times.

ROMANS: I mean --

MARQUEZ: I mean, just poised in that situation -- incredible.

ROMANS: So interesting. All right. So how often is Donald Trump being brief on security situations? The frequency of those high-level briefings back in the spotlight following those attacks around the world. The president-elect also working to fill remaining top jobs in his administration. CNN senior Washington reporter Jeff Zeleny is at Trump's estate in Palm Beach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Miguel, Donald Trump is beginning another day of vacation here in Palm Beach, Florida. It is a working vacation, though. He is meeting with business leaders and others as he puts together his cabinet and gets ready for his administration, which now will start 30 days from today.

He still has two members of his cabinet yet to fill. The Veterans Administration secretary, as well as the Agriculture Secretary. Other key posts in the White House as well. White House press secretary and some other advisers could come this week.

Now, Donald Trump is hosting a series of meetings here in Mar-a-Lago, his resort here in Palm Beach, including Carlos Slim, that Mexican billionaire that Donald Trump railed against during the campaign. Well, he invited him here to a dinner over the weekend. Now, Donald Trump confirmed that in a tweet yesterday calling him a great man, clearly a sign that things will be different in some respects when Donald Trump becomes president, taking a softer tone in some areas, not in others.

One key question, though, is Donald Trump receiving his daily intelligence briefing? He has said before that he does not need to receive it every day. He does not need to see the same information every day. Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, is receiving one but in the wake of these attacks in Germany his advisers would not answer our questions whether he received one directly yesterday or simply received information from his transition team. That is something we'll be asking again today as Donald Trump begins another day here in Palm Beach, Miguel and Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Jeff. Thank you. Terror attacks already putting Donald Trump on the spot. He's not even in the White House yet. Joining us to discuss how the president-elect is facing these early challenges and all the brand new details this morning in politics, CNN Politics reporter Eugene Scott. Nice to see you this morning.

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, guys.

MARQUEZ: Good morning.

ROMANS: Let's talk a little bit about the terror attacks because yesterday Kellyanne Conway was on FOX and she talked about extreme vetting and how Donald Trump does have positions and policies that will prevent these sorts of things from happening in the United States -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: He has talked about combining with other allies to try to stop and to put some teeth in the policies. Everything's on the table in terms of what that means. But also, his extreme vetting program is very attractive to many Americans because we simply don't have one now. You have countries that harbor, train, and export terrorists -- most definitely radical Islamic terrorists -- that are not vetted. And you remember, of course, Jenna, that ISIS said that they would just mingle -- mix and mingle in with the Syrian refugees. They promised to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Is it as simple as that, though? Is it as simple as extreme vetting? I mean, in some of these cases --

MARQUEZ: They vet these refugees coming in here very heavily.

ROMANS: And the other issue here --

MARQUEZ: Years, it takes, to get in here. ROMANS: When you talk to national security experts they point out that the problems you have in Europe -- you don't really have those problems to the same degree in the United States, right?

SCOTT: That is very true and we have seen some criticism of Donald Trump over the past few days that his response to terrorism issues globally seems not to differentiate the fact that things are different in different places.

Something that the Trump campaign hasn't really communicated -- one, is their deep knowledge of the existing vetting process. What the flaws are in that and how they will change that. They often just say they're going to make it better but they haven't highlighted what's wrong with things as they are, which many people in that community will tell you are far more detailed than the critics have let on.

MARQUEZ: Yes. I've spoken to many refugees over the years and they talk about just how much information they needed, not just about them --

SCOTT: Over years.

MARQUEZ: -- but about their -- over years.

SCOTT: Yes.

MARQUEZ: And it takes years for them to get from Syria to Jordan through the vetting, and then here. Even on an expedited basis it is very, very difficult so it's very unclear what she's talking about in that situation.

ROMANS: Let's talk about some of the headlines from this morning. Democrats are pushing for Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State --

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: -- to release his tax returns.

SCOTT: Right.

MARQUEZ: That again.

ROMANS: He's a really rich guy.

SCOTT: Yes. Well, that's really important because there's so much criticism already and concern about Tillerson given his relationship with Putin and Russian ties. So, he's a successful businessman. He has this international involvement that people really want to know more about, and people need to know more about. And it's really interesting that we haven't seen more forthcoming response to this given that there already have been concerns about just his nomination, period.

[05:40:20] ROMANS: This cabinet is so rich. We had a great video that we put online that showed that this -- how rich George Bush's cabinet is, is like one-tenth of the net worth of just the Commerce secretary.

SCOTT: I remember --

ROMANS: What do you think of that?

SCOTT: I remember seeing the video and they have people whose net worth was like $26 million. Yes, I'm at the bottom. That was like, wow.

MARQUEZ: Speaking of vetting, I take it the Tillerson nomination hearings are probably going to be some of the most significant and questioning when it comes to his dealings with Russia, his accounts around the world, both personal and the work he did with ExxonMobil. This is going to be a very intense session.

SCOTT: Especially right now, given everything that's happening --

ROMANS: Right.

SCOTT: -- with Russia. Climate change, as well, regarding Exxon's involvement, and business dealings. And it's looking like it will not be so much of a partisan issue as well. People on both sides are very concerned.

ROMANS: Tell us about this new story "CNN MONEY" -- on cnn.com this morning about the Trump team pushing for State Department informationabout how much money or resources the United States gives to other countries on climate change.

SCOTT: Right. There's been some criticism of the Trump transition team making more inquiries into the State Department's programs related to climate change internationally. As you recall, there was some concern about their interest and employees at the Energy Department working on climate change issues. This has been an area that Trump's team has been criticized for since before they were elected -- not having a deep commitment to climate change issues and some concern that progress that the U.S. and the world has made internationally on the issue could be scaled back.

MARQUEZ: So they're asking those questions, causing concern in agencies about well, what are you going to do with his information?

SCOTT: Right. Just -- they want to know what you want to know and why, and so it's not really clear right now and the Trump team is saying we're just asking questions.

ROMANS: Meantime, the president -- President Obama using the last moments of his presidency to implement new protections, you know --

SCOTT: Sure.

ROMANS: -- in the Atlantic --

MARQUEZ: Drilling in the Arctic, yes.

ROMANS: -- and drilling in the Arctic and the like, so -- SCOTT: Right. This has been a hallmark issue of his that he's hoping the Trump team will continue. As of right now it's not clear that they will.

MARQUEZ: I'm -- here's my prediction. They'll be a lawsuit.

ROMANS: Just one?

SCOTT: All right.

MARQUEZ: Yes.

ROMANS: Just one?

MARQUEZ: Well, at least one.

SCOTT: We've got a few right now.

ROMANS: All right. Eugene, nice to see you this morning. Thank you.

MARQUEZ: Thank you very much.

ROMANS: All right. Outgoing Treasury Secretary Jack Lew cautioning the incoming administration. Lew says Donald Trump's ambitious tax cut plans could blow up the deficit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: I suspect the environment in Washington won't be focused so much on the fiscal gap for the next few months. But it's really important that we keep our eye on that because if you open a big fiscal gap, the only way to close it is to cut spending or to raise taxes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The president-elect has vowed to cut taxes significantly for individuals and businesses. He wants to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. During the campaign he said he would pay for it by cutting wasteful spending and then boosting economic growth. All of that without touching the most expensive parts of the federal budget, social security and Medicare. It will be interesting times.

MARQUEZ: That is going to be a hocus pocus trick.

ROMANS: It will be interesting times.

MARQUEZ: A celebration of life for the late NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager. Even the pastor got in on the tribute with his wardrobe. More of the inspiring tribute when Hines Ward joins us in this morning's Bleacher Report. See you in a second, Hines, thanks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:47:30] MARQUEZ: Welcome back to EARLY START. The longtime Turner Sports broadcaster Craig Sager was celebrated during a memorial service.

ROMANS: That's right. Hines Ward has more in this morning's Bleacher Report.

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning, guys. Yes, legendary NBA sideline reporter lost his lengthy battle with cancer last week at the age of 65. A memorial service was held near Atlanta yesterday. The pastor wore one of Sager's trademark flashy jackets and TNT's "INSIDE THE NBA" host Ernie Johnson delivered a touching tribute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERNIE JOHNSON, HOST, TNT "INSIDE THE NBA": Amid the tears and all the memories we cherish now we say farewell to our friend Sages and make this humble vow. There's no way to gauge the days we have, no way to know how long. But know this, Craig, we'll do our best to live 'em Sager strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: Now, reporters across the league were dressed in Sager-inspired outfits last night on the sidelines, so what a tribute. Craig Sager, you will be missed, I know, from the players and fans and people who aren't involved in even basketball. We'll miss you there, buddy.

Now, Pro Bowl roster last night came out which was unveiled. Raiders, they led all teams with seven players, led by MVP candidate quarterback Derek Carr. The Falcons topped the NFC teams with six players. The Cowboys, they have five including rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. Now, the Pro Bowl will be in Orlando, Florida the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

And finally, dancing warrior's mom is back. Last month, the super fan went viral after dancing in a Christmas sweater. She was rocking it. Well, yesterday she got a chance to show off her new moves on the court with the dance team.

MARQUEZ: Love her.

WARD: You got to love her there. She is rocking it. Now, her name is Robin Schreiber. She's got to be one of the coolest moms on the planet right now. Everybody's asking for her photograph, selfies, autographs, and everything. Her husband says that she has serious skills so kudos to her. Look there, she's rocking it.

ROMANS: All right.

MARQUEZ: The best -- the best bit about that video was all the people -- the first one, was all the people around her watching her do this --

ROMANS: Oh, my God.

MARQUEZ: -- while she's in the stands. It was magical.

ROMANS: Sign her up for "DANCING WITH THE STARS".

WARD: Yes, sign her up for "DANCING WITH THE STARS".

ROMANS: Hines Ward, thank you very much.

MARQUEZ: Thank you.

WARD: I like it, I like it.

ROMANS: All right. We have some breaking news to bring to you right now. We can report to you that German police now are searching for a Tunisian suspect in that horrible, horrible attack on the Christmas market in Berlin. This is a man born in 1992. They say they found his identity papers inside the cab of the truck. That's a German security official telling CNN so that is just now in to you. It looks like they are looking for a suspect. They know who their man is.

[05:50:17] MARQUEZ: And clearly, once they have this they can then put that picture out there.

ROMANS: That's right.

MARQUEZ: They have INTERPOL. They can get the word out across Europe very quickly and, hopefully, take him into custody. We have Chris Cuomo with "NEW DAY" who I assume is going to be following this very, very closely today, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Yes. What we're trying to figure out is why they're looking for him. Do they believe that this is the man who had been driving the truck? Do they believe there's somewhat of a different type of association? So we're on that with the latest from the scene, and we're also going to talk about how they got to this point.

The problem with rushing to judgment here and in Turkey, where they're still trying to figure out what the exact motivations were and any connections or organization that was connected to that. Now, in Germany, you do have ISIS having stepped forward to say that was an ISIS-inspired event, but do they know that? We're going to be talking to some of the best counterterrorism people in the business about what the evidence is. What the implications are in this attack.

Also, we're going to be talking about these conflicts of interest that keep popping their head up around the president-elect and his family. This time, it's more about the family and a potential charity event that was forced out of the planning of the inauguration. Why? There was some kind of paying for time with the president involved. We have the details for you on "NEW DAY".

ROMANS: Interesting. All right, Chris. We know you'll continue to follow the manhunt in Berlin for us so thank you so much for that.

MARQUEZ: Thank you, Chris.

ROMANS: All right, to kind of a less important but ubiquitous issue here, holiday shopping. Have you finished? MARQUEZ: Yes.

ROMANS: Have you started? Regardless of what's left to buy on your list --

MARQUEZ: Not there.

ROMANS: -- there's a surprising number of options still available this year. That's right. I'm going to show you the best options. Miguel Marquez, get out your checkbook, get out your credit card.

MARQUEZ: I've already bought for you. It's a giant gift. It's -- I need a forklift to get it into your office.

ROMANS: You gave me a week of your company.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:55:15] MARQUEZ: (Video playing) A deadly plane crash caught on video in eastern Colombia. The cargo plane can be seen tilting to one side and veering off the runway just three minutes after it attempted to take off. We'll show you another angle here that is just frightening and shocking. It skims along the road. Five crew members were killed. The flight technician was sent to the hospital with unknown injuries. At this point it is unclear what caused that crash.

Singer-songwriter James Taylor canceling his upcoming concert in Manila in protest. In a statement, Taylor said his music isn't particularly political but he said he felt he had to take a stand against deeply concerning and unacceptable reports, as he calls them, of summary executions of suspected drug offenders without trial in the Philippines. Taylor's concert was to take place in February.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this Wednesday. The quest for 20,000 might finally end today. Dow futures hold on to some gains this morning but the average just needs 26 points to get to 20K. Stock markets in Europe and Asia are mostly lower right now. Some big economic reports due over the next three days. Existing home sales data -- I bet we get that this morning. A fresh look at GDP, that comes tomorrow. Solid numbers there could give the Dow the fuel it needs.

All right, the Grinch stole Christmas this year for thousands of Americans who were given pink slips right before the holidays. That horrible timing that so many companies do. General Motors will lay off 1,300 workers at their Detroit plant. Two thousand more were already slated to lose their jobs. Now, GM is saying it will -- it will try to find them spots at other plants if possible. That's no guarantee.

Boeing told employees this week layoffs are coming next year. It didn't give a number. Xerox and Cat issuing similar statements that pink slips are coming there. GoPro is cutting 200 employees. That's about 15 percent of its workforce.

All right. So if you have procrastinated finishing or even starting your holiday shopping you're running out of time, but you still have options.

MARQUEZ: Who, me?

ROMANS: If you're ordering online there are still a ton of deals. Target has 10 percent off electronics. If you order by 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time today the delivery is free by the 23rd. The deadline at Best Buy, 11:30 a.m. today. That's for free two-day shipping. Amazon Prime members can even wait until tomorrow afternoon to place your orders. I've got to tell you, double-check when ordering. Some may not make it in time but a lot of these big retailers are still trying to get your business.

The award for most dedicated retail chain goes to Kohl's. Most of those stores have been open around the clock this week. They haven't even closed. They won't close until 6:00 p.m. Christmas Eve. Wal- Mart stores also closing at 6:00 on Christmas Eve. All right.

MARQUEZ: Wow.

ROMANS: Get working.

MARQUEZ: I'm getting nervous. You're actually -- you're finally making me nervous.

ROMANS: If you can't pay for it by the end of January, don't buy it. That's EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

MARQUEZ: I'm Miguel Marquez. There are breaking developments this hour in the Berlin truck attack. "NEW DAY" starts now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A massive manhunt underway across Germany.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ISIS is making this claim that they've inspired this attack but they've offered no evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's prudent to treat this as a plausible terrorist attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: German police spent 24 hours interrogating the wrong man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever carried out this attack is at large, armed and dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Explosions rocking a fireworks market north of Mexico City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The horrifying scene, nearly three dozen people killed. That death toll could continue to rise.

MARQUEZ: Investigators are trying to determine what went wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, December 21st, 6:00 in the East, and there is breaking news in that deadly truck massacre. Police honing in on a suspect who may be behind the murder of 12 people and dozens of injuries at a holiday market in Berlin.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The search resumes after forensic tests failed to link that initial suspect yesterday to the truck. ISIS now says it inspired this attack. We have all the developments covered for you this morning beginning with CNN's international correspondent Hala Gorani. She is live in Berlin for us -- Hala.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have some significant new information according to German security officials who have spoken to CNN. We understand that German police are now searching for a specific individual born in 1992, a Tunisian, in relation to this truck attack. The attack, of course, that happened on Monday evening in that market behind me.

We don't have any information about whether this means the police believe the man was the driver of the truck that plowed into the Christmas market killing 13 people or whether he's just loosely connected in some other way to the attack. This is information we hope to get a little bit later.