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Congressmen Face New Allegations; Heightened Security For Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; Facebook Set To Release New Transparency Tool. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 23, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:20] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A Texas congressman admits he used bad judgment before a nude photo was released. Now, a woman says Joe Barton warned he would report her to Capitol police, but was he just trying to keep her from breaking the law?


MELANIE SLOAN, ACCUSES REP. JOHN CONYERS OF HARRASSMENT AND VERBAL ABUSE: He called me out at a meeting with a bunch of domestic violence advocates and started screaming at me at the top of his lungs. He fired me numerous times only to keep me.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, more accusations of harassment and verbal abuse against Congressman John Conyers. Now, calls for him to step down are coming from his own party.

ROMANS: And hundreds of thousands are set to shiver through a chilly morning in Manhattan for the annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

That's right, markets are closed. We're still working and you'll all be eating.

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

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez. A pleasure, as always, to be here with you, Christine.

ROMANS: So nice to be here.

SANCHEZ: Happy Thanksgiving.

We have plenty of news to get to this morning, some of it cringeworthy.

Capitol police are looking into a salacious he said-she said between a Texas congressman and a woman with whom he admits to having a consensual relationship. The story came hours after an explicit photo of Republican Joe Barton circulated online.

A report last night in "The Washington Post" revealed that Barton had previously feared the leak of explicit photos he had taken of himself after a woman that Barton says he had a relationship with shared those photos with other women.

ROMANS: The woman, who was not named by the "Post," had secretly recorded a 2015 phone call with Barton in which the Congressman warned the woman not to use this material in a way that would hurt his career. He also said he would notify police if the woman did not stop sharing these images. She says she felt threatened by that.

SANCHEZ: Yes. There's not a federal law prohibiting the sharing of explicit material of adults without permission -- so-called revenge porn -- but there is a state law against it in Texas.

The woman who spoke to the "Post" said she had not intended for those materials to be used against Barton. So the question now is did Barton threaten the woman or did she threaten him with revenge porn? Now the audio recording, as reported by "The Washington Post," is yet to be released.

ROMANS: But in a statement first obtained by "The Dallas Morning News," Barton says this.

"When I ended that relationship she threatened to publicly share my private photographs and intimate correspondence. In retaliation, I offered to take the matter to the Capitol Hill police to open an investigation. Today, the Capitol Police reached out to me and offered to launch an investigation, and I have accepted."

SANCHEZ: Now, Barton earlier apologized to his suburban Dallas district on Wednesday after that anonymous tweet posted a nude photo of him. A spokeswoman for the Republican tells CNN that he did not release the image himself and does not know who did.

He says, "While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women. Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended.

I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I'm sorry I let my constituents down."

SANCHEZ: Now we should be clear. At no point was Barton accused of sexual harassment or assault. Barton's spokeswoman says the Congressman is not resigning.

ROMANS: All right. New allegations of harassment this morning against Rep. John Conyers. Former Conyers staffer Melanie Sloan says the Michigan congressman repeatedly harassed and verbally abused her in the 1990s. "The Washington Post" was first to report Sloan's accusations.

SANCHEZ: She says that she doesn't think Conyers harassed her sexually, only that he routinely yelled and berated her. Sloan says she complained at the time to Congressional leadership about his treatment of her but that nothing was done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SLOAN: I went to my supervisors. I was becoming increasingly upset about what was going on in the office and I was having a very hard time. It was emotionally very debilitating.


ROMANS: Conyers attorney, Arnold Reed, says he is not sure why this is a story because Sloan admits Conyers quote "didn't harass her from a sexual perspective."

Now Conyers is facing calls to resign from within his own party.

Sunlen Serfaty has the latest from Capitol Hill.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Boris.

Well, Congressman Conyers is facing some new pressure over the allegations of sexual misconduct and it's coming from members now of his own party.

Congresswoman Kathleen Rice becoming the first to call for his resignation saying in a statement, quote, "Representative John Conyers should resign. I've reviewed the allegations against him and they're as credible as they are repulsive."

And an attorney for Conyers tells CNN that he's taking the allegations very seriously but does not plan on resigning, adding, quote "If everybody that was facing allegations (in quotes), including the president, members of the House and Senate resigned we'd have a lot of unemployed people walking around."

Christine and Boris --


[05:35:02] SANCHEZ: All right, Sunlen. Thank you for that.

ROMANS: All right.

SANCHEZ: Let's bring in Jason Russell. He's the contributors editor for the "Washington Examiner." He's joining us live from Detroit.

Jason, thank you so much for --

ROMANS: Good morning.

SANCHEZ: -- coming back, and Happy Thanksgiving as well. I like your tie, by the way. I think that --


SANCHEZ: I think we're matching, too.

Let's get to the serious news of the day. You've got Melanie Sloan coming out and saying that Rep. Conyers didn't sexually harass her but he was mean to her.

ROMANS: Harassed -- yes.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Listen to what she said on CNN last night.


SLOAN: I was organizing a field hearing for him in New York and he brought his toddler son and then forced me to be behind the stage babysitting his son.

During the entire hearing he hauled me out of a meeting with a bunch of domestic violence advocates and started screaming at me at the top of his lungs.

He once started yelling at me for not wearing stockings and I responded but you're not wearing socks. And there was, of course, also the time where I walked into office and he was in a shirt and underwear.


SANCHEZ: Now, Jason, in responding to Sloan's story, Conyers' attorney said that there isn't a story here because she even says that she doesn't believe that he was inappropriate with her in a sexual way.

Do you think there is a story here? Is this kind of troubling for a congressman to behave this way?

JASON RUSSELL, CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, yes, it's still absolutely a story. It's absolutely conduct that's very unbecoming of a member of Congress. Generally, not what constituents want to see from their representative in Washington.

At the same time, you know, Sloan said herself that this isn't sexual but this is borderline, right? It's not good activity if there -- she's basically coming out and saying if there are others who did experience sexual harassment or people who are yelled out or harassed, whether sexually or not, she's basically encouraging them to come out and tell their story as well.

So, you know, she's clearly not the only in this. Obviously, there was the report over the weekend about several people who had settled sexual harassment claims against Conyers. So this could just be the tip of the iceberg or this could be the end.

ROMANS: Yes, we should be clear.

RUSSELL: We'll have to see if it comes to that.

ROMANS: The Sloan -- Melanie Sloan accusation is not alone. It's not -- it comes against a backdrop of other accusations here.

I'm wondering, Jason, what you think about where we are in these halls of power with this reckoning. This reckoning about bad behavior, sexual misbehavior. I mean, every day there's a new headline and a new accusation.

RUSSELL: Yes, and part of it is oh, you know, all these members of Congress are fallible just like us. But you want your members of Congress to be held to a higher standard, right? So it's clear that there's a pretty big cultural issue in Congress when it comes to the conduct that you're supposed to hold when you're in that office.

So again, this could be the tip of the iceberg and this could be a widespread thing with other members of Congress, or this could just be -- I assume this is not just a few people.

But when it comes to Joe Barton, to possibly Roy Moore getting elected to the Senate, this -- and Al Franken, as well -- this is not just a few members of Congress. This is -- seems pretty widespread.

SANCHEZ: You mention Rep. Joe Barton. I wanted to ask you back that because you could really see this one of two ways.

For one, the woman is making the case that he threatened her with taking her to Capitol police. On the other hand, you could say that he's defending himself --

ROMANS: Right.

SANCHEZ: -- warning her not to publish these intimate photographs. It's not a pretty picture either way.

RUSSELL: Yes, I think it's actually pretty fascinating, at least legally.

Certainly, it's almost positive, right, that Joe Barton was saying that to intimidate her. But still, he's got a case to make that this was probably a form of revenge porn. Again, not a federal law but -- so I don't know why he referred it to the Capitol Hill police. But, you know, it is against the law in Texas.

So we'll see what plays out there. I think it's going to be really interesting to see if there's a case brought there or if --

ROMANS: Right.

RUSSELL: -- Barton just wants to settle this and get this out of the public eye.

ROMANS: You know, why does a consensual relationship then suddenly burst into the public scene. Well, there was this nude picture of him that anonymously circulated so obviously people were asking a lot of questions.

And when you're talking about values voters -- how is this going to play with values voters, Jason, when you have such a messy personal life of someone who is a Republican -- a conservative Republican?

RUSSELL: Yes, and he's been elected to that seat in Congress 17 times so he's well-liked in that district. You know, he has been divorced twice so he hasn't been the most family values kind of member of Congress and his constituents have let that go by.

But still, when it comes to extramarital affairs, and the nude selfies and videos, and things like that, that's a different level.

So we'll if his constituents -- how they feel about that when they vote on him next year in 2018.

SANCHEZ: Because we now officially in the holiday season, Jason, I wanted to go back in time and play a clip from last year. President Trump talking about his Thanksgiving prayer for the nation. Listen to this.

[05:40:08] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's my prayer that on this Thanksgiving we begin to heal our divisions and move forward as one country strengthened by shared purpose and very, very common resolve.

In declaring this national holiday, President Lincoln called upon Americans to speak with one voice and one heart. That's just what we have to do.


SANCHEZ: To speak with one voice and one heart. Do you think that applies to some of his tweets about people within his own party, about athletes, athlete's fathers, entertainers? Is he taking his own advice following in the footsteps of the man he quoted, Abe Lincoln?

RUSSELL: Yes. I mean, I think obviously what he said was a noble goal but that hasn't played out in reality. I mean, there's basically teleprompter Trump and then he says what's on the screen and what's put in front of him. And then there's Twitter Trump where even Trump's staunchest supporters are frustrated often by his use of Twitter.

So, obviously, it's something that he shoots from the hip and he speaks from his heart, but obviously he's generally being unifying when it comes to his use of tweets. When it comes to tweeting about LaVar Ball, tweeting about China and South -- North Korea.

And even when it comes to Roy Moore, his comments there aren't very unifying there. You know, condemning the things that Roy Moore is accused of doing is a pretty simple thing to do but alas, President Trump hasn't come out and done that as much as he could.

ROMANS: All right, Jason Russell. So nice to see you this morning. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thank for getting up early. We are thankful for you for getting up early for us this morning. Thank you, sir.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Jason.

RUSSELL: Thank you. SANCHEZ: Well, do not expect Thanksgiving love between these two players, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Tempers boiling over between former teammates turned rivals.

Coy Wire breaks it down in this morning's "Bleacher Report," next.


[05:46:40] ROMANS: All right.

This morning, hundreds of thousands of people will brave the elements to see the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person here in New York City. About 3.5 million more will catch the festivities on television.

The parade packed with floats and its signature giant balloons will kick off at 9:00 a.m. eastern under heightened security. It begins on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and winds its way along Central Park, down south, before finishing up right in front of Macy's Herald Square.

SANCHEZ: Now, security always a concern but especially so because of recent events. The increased police presence coming just weeks after that deadly truck attack killed eight people on a bike path in Lower Manhattan.

We're going to see some sand-filled sanitation trucks that are going to prevent vehicles from getting anywhere near the crowd or the parade route today.

Well, there's going to be some great sports on T.V. today -- some football. But there was a --

ROMANS: Sports on Thanksgiving? I had no idea.

SANCHEZ: There was a match-up that you could not take your eyes off last night.

Former teammates Russell Westbrook --


SANCHEZ: -- and Kevin Durant went face-to-face in the latest Warriors versus Thunder match-up.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Coy.

ROMANS: Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Happy Thanksgiving.

I had to stay up and watch this one, Boris. Don't you just love Thanksgiving, though? You get to see your friends and there's a lot of love, but sometimes you have to see that one person who was kind of jerk to you in the past. Well, that was the case in Oklahoma City last night. Defending

champion Warriors and former MVP Kevin Durant returning to play in front of the fans who used to love them.

And to face former teammate and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, who let Durant know they're not buddies like they used to be. Durant gets in Westbrook's face and then on his face. Look at the two bumping foreheads.

Westbrook, in this game, could not be stopped. Season high 34 points.

Russ and OK -- not the Euro step, though. He's like -- did you see that? Did you see how I did that? OKC wins 108 to 91.

And Durant says there's no beef between him and Westbrook.


KEVIN DURANT, FORWARD, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: The story is about the game. We lost. They kick our (expletive).

They played a great game. We should give them credit for how they play and we should be better.

It's not about who's in each other's faces. That stuff is not real so please don't believe it. All the fans, they lied to you all.

It's about basketball and they played a great game, and we didn't.


WIRE: Oh, we don't believe you.

The Celtics, the hottest team in basketball and their 16-game winning streak put on the line against the Heat in Miami last night and they got burned.

Boston was down by 14 halfway through the fourth quarter. They did rally to cut the deficit to one, but Dion Waiters dropped the three- pointer and put the nasty dunk on the end of it.

They end up beating the Celtics 104 to 98. My goodness, what a game.

All right, Happy Thanksgiving. It's time for some food, family, and football, of course.

First helping, 12:30 eastern. Leaders of the NFC North, the Vikings taking on their six-game win streak to Detroit.

Second helping at 4:30. Chargers going to the Dallas Cowboys who are playing in their 50th Thanksgiving game.

Dessert served up at 8:30 eastern. Washington hosting their first- ever Thanksgiving game as the New York Giants come to town on their one-game win streak. Look out. And finally, some shoppers in Charlotte got a huge surprise when they spotted Hornets star Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the grocery store. This guy's heart's even bigger than his six foot-seven frame. Twenty- four years old paying it all forward, buying all of their Thanksgiving groceries.

[05:50:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



KIDD-GILCHRIST: So I play for the Charlotte Hornets and it's the holidays and I'm just treating people to their groceries today. And I just wanted to -- I don't to pay for your groceries for the holidays and stuff like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to pay for my groceries?





WIRE: I mean, does that smile not warm your heart? That wasn't all guys. You saw there -- he was getting ready -- he was taking the bags and putting in the people's cars for them and everything.

And the thing I love about this, he did this on his own. This was not a team function that he had to do. It was something he wanted to do.

I wish you guys a very happy Thanksgiving and I hope you have the wide angle lens tomorrow because I'm going to eat a whole bunch of food.

ROMANS: I'll ask them for a --

SANCHEZ: We'll be right there with you, Coy.

ROMANS: Indulge, indulge. You have our permission. All right, thanks, Coy.

Did you see Russian propaganda on Facebook during the 2016 election? The social media site is about to let you know what you liked, what you followed that was actually propaganda from the Russians.

"CNN Money Stream," next.


[05:55:33] SANCHEZ: You're not only preparing for a lot of food today, this Thanksgiving, you're also preparing for some heated conversations.

ROMANS: That's right.

SANCHEZ: Thanksgiving and politics don't always co-exist well and a few of the late-night hosts try to make that point.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, CBS "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": President Trump has returned to Mar-a-Lago so I know what the White House staff is thankful for this year.

Mar-a-Lago members are apparently looking forward to seeing the president at the Thanksgiving buffet line. Just imagine it. A plump, overcooked turkey waiting in line for Thanksgiving dinner.

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, CBS, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN": According to a new study -- I believe we saw this -- families with different political beliefs spend less time together at Thanksgiving.

No (expletive). We needed a study for that? I've lived here two years. I mean, I could have told you that in a heartbeat.

Fifty percent of the people polled said politics is ruining Thanksgiving, while the other 50 percent said no, you're ruining Thanksgiving.

A majority of Americans plan to completely avoid talking politics at Thanksgiving this year. That is, until your brother takes a knee while your uncle says grace.


ROMANS: Now that is funny. Taking the knee while we say grace.

All right, let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning, folks.

Most people spend Thanksgiving with friends and families but surveys from the last few years tell us about one in five people work on Thanksgiving Day. Recently, it included -- everyone raise their hands around here.

Recently, it's included more retail employees but that may be changing this year. says that at least 75 well-known retailers are expected to be closed today, including H&M, Costco, Home Depot, TJ Maxx, and The Container Store -- closed so those workers will get to spend today with their families.

But there should be plenty of work for them over the next few months -- for the next month, rather. According to Career Builder, about half of retailers plan on hiring seasonal workers. Sixty-six percent plan on paying them more than $10 an hour, a significant jump from the last two years.

The National Retail Federation predicts holiday retail sales will increase again this year -- $680 billion that Americans will spend between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- $680 billion. The rise of E-commerce has forced many brick and mortar stores out of

business. Twenty seventeen has been a record year of store closings. The overall estimate includes online shoppers and the forecast looks to be strong.

Apparently, Americans have money and they will be spending it.

Facebook will be issuing a new feature before the end of the year. This one will tell you if you liked or followed Russian propaganda.

Now, after originally keeping tight-lipped or even being defiant about Russia's influence on its platform, Facebook now admits that close 150 million of you have been exposed to content created by the Internet Research Agency. That sounds good but it's a Russian government- linked troll farm.

If you liked these posts you will not be notified automatically. You need to use the tool. You won't be able to learn if you simply saw the contents in a newsfeed from a friend liking it.

Still, a California Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, called Facebook's move a very positive step.

I certainly would like to know what was on my feed that other people liked that may have been Russian propaganda --

SANCHEZ: It's so --

ROMANS: -- so I'm going to try it out.

SANCHEZ: It's so difficult to tell the difference and it's so important to have that kind of transparency, especially because 2018 is on the horizon.

ROMANS: Right, and remember, all of these were masked to look like, you know, some stay-at-home mom in the Midwest --


ROMANS: -- who was posting about something, and that's not who it was.


ROMANS: All right, nice to see you. Happy Thanksgiving.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, and you.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez in for Dave Briggs.

We turn it over to our friends Erica Hill and Chris Cuomo. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Capitol police are looking into a salacious he said-she said.

SANCHEZ: A Texas congressman admits he used bad judgments before a nude photo of his was leaked. Now, a woman says Joe Barton warned he would report her to Capitol police.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: We're starting a conversation on sexual assault, violence. I think we're awakening people's consciousness.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump airing his grievances in a series of tweets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's waging these controversial, divisive cultural wars, which he feels as if he can win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you're the commander in chief. Stop this kind of absolute foolishness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The balloons being inflated, ready for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: This is a magical atmosphere.


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, happy Thanksgiving.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is a special holiday edition of NEW DAY. It is, of course, Thursday, November 23rd, 6:00 here in New York.

Alisyn is off. She's all about the turkey.

Erica Hill, thank you for making the time to be here with us.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: This is great.

Hey, let's take a look at the parade route, shall we?