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Michael Flynn's Lawyers Stop Talking with Trump's Lawyers; Interview with Representative Mike Quigley; Senator Al Franken Issues New Apology Amid Groping Allegations; At least 235 Killed in Egypt Terror Attack; Trump Tweets About NFL, Quick Golf Time and Middle East Mess; Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired November 24, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:11] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour on a Friday. Thanks for joining us. I'm Ana Cabrera, in today for John and Poppy.
If lawyers for Michael Flynn are no longer talking to lawyers for President Trump and sources say they're not, does that mean they are talking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about President Trump?
People who know aren't saying but as a top Trump campaign aide and briefly National Security adviser Flynn could add a lot to Mueller's investigation and he could potentially in return get something as well.
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is in Washington, and Shimon, what are you learning about this latest move by Flynn's team?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, Ana, so we're told that Wednesday Flynn's lawyers called President Trump's lawyers and said he could no longer share information with them, perhaps signaling he may be negotiating a plea deal or more significantly that he's cooperating with the special counsel investigation.
Now people we've talked to weren't ready to draw that conclusion and they say this was expected as the investigation has been focused on Michael Flynn.
Let me read to you part of a statement from President Trump's lawyer who said that no one, quote, "No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about General Flynn cooperating against the president." Jay Sekulow who is President Trump's attorney said to us in a statement.
Now Flynn is facing a number of legal issues in the special counsel probe, including his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey and contacts with Russia. Remember, it was the former attorney general Sally Yates who way back in January, early on in the administration, went to the White House alarmed at Flynn's communications with the Russian ambassador, saying he was compromised because he ultimately lied about that conversation to the vice president and then ultimately led to his firing.
And also, Ana, his son, Michael Flynn Jr., we're told has been swept up in this investigation of the lobbying work that they were doing on behalf of Michael Flynn's firm and this has really caused them some concern and could be what is behind now these possible negotiations.
CABRERA: A lot of layers to it all.
Shimon Prokupecz, thanks for peeling back some of that onion.
And joining us now Democratic Representative Mike Quigley, he's a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, you obviously are a part of the committee doing one of the investigations in Congress into Russia interference as well. What do you make of Flynn's team no longer sharing information with President Trump's legal team?
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes. As a 10-year criminal defense attorney I can tell you it's not uncommon for defense attorney teams to share information. Obviously if one of those teams decides to cooperate and to enter into plea negotiations, that's going to end because of the obvious conflict of interest.
There is absolutely no way to know for sure that that's what's happening in this case. It's an indication that it might be and we'll leave it to Mr. Mueller's team to take it forward.
CABRERA: Given you are on the House Intel Committee, do you think there's enough evidence against Flynn that he could be pleading guilty?
QUIGLEY: Well, he certainly has a lot of exposure for failing to disclose, failing to register, making false statements so obviously he's concerned for all these reasons. I harken back to what, a year and a half ago, at the convention in Cleveland, I think it was General Flynn who led the cheers, "lock her up, lock her up," referring to Mrs. Clinton and at the same time he and President Trump said anybody who seeks immunity must be guilty.
Well, I don't believe that, but we're aware of his efforts to seek immunity. So if anything we're learning this morning is that karma can be very difficult.
CABRERA: And it wasn't just Flynn being close to the campaign but he was actually the National Security adviser for the president for a short time. If he is charged, and this is a direct connection to the administration, is that significant?
QUIGLEY: Well, obviously, if he's charged it's the most significant event so far in this investigation and Mr. Mueller's efforts. It's clear that the general led the transition team efforts in connection with Russia and that was his focus. He's no longer a member of the Trump administration because it was believed that he misled particularly the vice president about his meetings with the Russian ambassador, failing to disclose that he allegedly talked to the Russian ambassador about Russian sanctions. Obviously it was very serious then and it's very serious for the administration now.
CABRERA: You know, your Republican colleagues have made note that this information continues to get leaked. Is that a concern of yours? [10:05:04] QUIGLEY: I don't think anyone wants an investigation by
leaks. It's obviously there are leaks coming from the White House, from the House and Senate investigations, to a lesser extent probably the Mueller investigation. They need to stop but the fact that leaks are happening sometimes get a sense from my Republican colleagues that they think that the leaks are more important than the fact that the Russian government successfully hacked into our democratic process to sow discord.
So they're both very, very important. We need to end the leaks. We need to know exactly what the Russians did, who helped them, if anyone, and how to prevent it in the future.
CABRERA: And as you search for those answers, your committee has a hearing in the coming week with Erik Prince, the former chief of security contractor Blackwater, believed to have played a role in trying to set up a secret backchannel between the Trump campaign and Russians. What questions do you want to ask him?
QUIGLEY: Yes. I have strict instructions as we talk about leaks, not to talk about who we're having coming forward. Obviously he would be one for a variety of reasons that we want to know what exactly -- what communications took place, who was involved, what was involved between the Russian government and their cutouts, and intermediaries and direct contacts with the Trump associate world.
CABRERA: Real quick, want to ask you about this information in a new "Vanity Fair" article because again you have insight into the intelligence world, but they're questioning the president's ability to handle classified information as it pertains to sharing information with the Russians. Now it's been widely reported that the president shared information with a couple of senior Russian officials in that Oval Office meeting after he became president, but "Vanity Fair" is reporting that even before he took office the CIA actually warned Israeli intel officials saying that they had come to believe Putin has leverage over Trump.
How damaging is this to intel gathering and cooperation?
QUIGLEY: Clearly the administration, even before it took office, did not understand how important the intelligence community was. They were attacking them. And they clearly didn't understand how important preserving intelligence and sharing it with our allies in a protected basis was and even is today.
The fact is, that the president of the United States says something, he's not breaking any rules. Obviously he's the one that can decide what gets out there. It's no longer classified. But, obviously, sharing this information at the wrong time makes our allies less willing to share extraordinarily sensitive information with us and makes us less safe.
CABRERA: Democratic Representative Mike Quigley, good to see you. Thank you for joining us.
QUIGLEY: Any time. Thank you. CABRERA: Meanwhile President Trump is back on the golf course this
morning. But not before taking a swing at the NFL, among others.
CNN's Joe Johns is live at West Palm Beach, Florida, near the president's Mar-a-Lago resort.
Joe, what is the president saying this morning?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's talking about Turkey and not the Thanksgiving kind. He's talking about the country. In fact, he said he had a call this morning with President Erdogan of Turkey.
Let me just read the tweet to you. "Will be speaking to President Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it done," he writes. "But what a mistake in lives and dollars, $6 trillion, to be there in the first place."
Of course, a lot of issues with Turkey and Erdogan including the fact that Erdogan and the leaders of Russia and Iran met just a couple of days ago to talk about the bloodshed in Syria and how to stop it. There are many pitfalls there as we all know including what to do with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as well as what to do about the competing factions inside Syria and how to bring them all together.
So there's one other tweet here from the president this morning, he writes, "After Turkey call I will be heading over to Trump National Golf Club," where he is now, "Jupiter, to play golf quickly with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson, and back to Mar-a-Lago for talks on bringing even more jobs and companies back to the USA."
Now, Tiger Woods apparently has a house up there in Jupiter and our understanding is that Dustin Johnson did, too, until just a couple of years ago. It is a popular resort about 25 minutes up the road from Mar-a-Lago and Donald Trump owns that, too -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Thank you, Joe Johns, again traveling with the president in Florida for us.
Meantime as Congress members prepare to return from their Thanksgiving recess, Democratic Senator Al Franken has issued a new apology amid the allegations of inappropriate touching saying he, quote, "crossed a line for some women," and vowing to regain the trust of his constituents.
[10:10:13] Let's head to Washington, Sunlen Serfaty is joining us with more details -- Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, this is another apologetic statement from Senator Al Franken, but this one striking something or attempting to strike something of a more big picture, writ large look, more of a tone of talking about -- that he's had time to reflect on this. Clearly these allegations have caused him to look at his behavior and he really wanted that reflect in his tone it seems. He's talking about what he's learned from the allegations, how he
believes his behavior affected women, but also, offering something of an explanation for how his conduct was perceived. He says, quote, "I am a warm person, I hug people, but then goes on to say, I've learned from recent stories that in some of these encounters I crossed a line for some women. I feel terribly that I've made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry and let me say again to Minnesotans that I am sorry for putting them through this and I am committed to regaining their trust."
And aside from a few statements like this issued over the past week, we really have not heard anything at all publicly from Senator Al Franken. Of course all of that will change come Monday when Congress is back here in Washington, like you said.
He and every other member of the Senate is going to be faced, Ana, with these questions about his political future, about these allegations of misconduct, and that's something that he's going to have to face head on. I do think we can read a lot into the statement that he issued yesterday on Thanksgiving, the fact that he's trying to say look, I've learned from them, the message here very clear, he wants to move on. The big question, though, is will that be enough?
CABRERA: I know you'll be on the Hill trying to track him down for those answers.
Sunlen Serfaty, thank you.
Some breaking news. We want to warn you what you're about to see is pretty graphic. At least 235 people are dead after a terrorist attack in Egypt. More than a hundred others are hurt. This attack comes as midday prayers were about to start at a mosque in the Sinai Peninsula.
I want to get straight to CNN's Ian Lee who spent nine years in Egypt and was in this region just last year.
Ian, do we know now who is behind this attack?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, no one has claimed responsibility yet, but we do know this is the deadliest attack to take place in the Sinai Peninsula. Now we're getting more details about how this took place. Like you said, when worshipers were going to the mosque for their midday prayers that's when two explosives, at least two, blew up and when people tried to flee the mosque militants started firing on those people.
We're also hearing that the militants set up ambushes for the ambulances that were coming, responding to this attack. The military has been tight lipped about what they're doing right now. They're in charge of this region and they haven't said if they're going after the militants, but this all bears the hallmark of an ISIS attack.
ISIS has been operating in the northern part of Sinai for at least five years. They carried out attacks almost on a daily basis. Now President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has convened an emergency session of his Security Council to discuss this latest attack. Those people who are injured were taken to local hospitals as well as Cairo to be treated.
CABRERA: Ian, why attack a mosque?
LEE: That's a good question because a lot of people are wondering why would, if it was ISIS, they would go after a mosque. And that's because this mosque was the center for Sufi Muslims. Now Sufis are people who practice a more tolerant form of Islam, a mystical form of Islam, which is at odds with ISIS and their puritanical form of Islam. There are hard lined.
The two groups have been at odds for quite some time. ISIS has threatened them before, said they're going to carry out attacks. Now the military, again, has control over this region. They've been fighting the militants. One big question is, why wasn't there any security at this mosque with it being such a target because ISIS has threatened it before? That's questions that we're going to be looking into. But we don't know if it was ISIS. But again this does bear all the hallmarks of an ISIS attack.
CABRERA: All right. Ian Lee, thank you for the update. Again, more than 200 people now dead in this terrorist attack.
Well, it has been months since North Korea fired off a missile, but today state media says, quote, "It's a fire with anti-U.S. feelings." How U.S. troops are training if called to action.
And Republicans in the race against the clock to deliver on the president's tax cuts for Christmas promise, but do you know what's in this GOP plan? We're going to break it down.
[10:15:00] And it's Black Friday. Some stores bustling but others? They like ghost towns. What changed?
CABRERA: Welcome back. New Trump tweets, Russia developments, a new statement from Senator Franken. So much to discuss. Let's bring in our panel, CNN political commentators Maria Cardona, also a Democratic strategist, and Paris Dennard who served in the George W. Bush White House.
First, let's talk about the president's comments today on Twitter, back to hitting the NFL. In case you need a refresher he writes, "Can you believe that the disrespect for our country, our flag, our anthem continues without penalty to the players? The commissioner has lost control of the hemorrhaging league. Players are the boss."
So, Paris, first out of the gate after Thanksgiving, a fight. Why is he doing this?
[10:20:02] PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, I don't think this is a fight. I think this is the president continuing to engage in a dialogue the country wants to have and needs to have. It's about patriotism, it's about respect for the flag and it's about what we should do with respect to the NFL's declining ratings and viewership. And look, the NFL commissioner is up for renewal for his contract and the contract extension.
CABRERA: Why does he care about the NFL ratings?
DENNARD: Well, again, I don't think the president cares about the NFL ratings so much as he cares about what the players are doing. The NFL is a national past time associated with baseball for this country. We love football, we love the NFL, we love the Super Bowl, we love to watch it, especially on Sunday nights and Mondays and we -- and we watch it, and we want to see our players be respectful to the national anthem and respectful for the flag.
And so like I was saying, Jerry Jones and others, owners were talking about the issue of -- Goodell's contract extension. And so this is a very present issue. This is a very timely issue. And when you look at families going around the Thanksgiving table and watching football, we want the players to be respectful and the president is just raising this issue about being respectful to the flag, being respectful to our national anthem and showing some pride and respect for our country and for those who have served to protect us to have the freedoms that that flag represents.
CABRERA: OK. OK. So I'm still not quite following this sense that it's really an important discussion for the president to be having regarding the NFL.
DENNARD: This is an important conversation the nation to have.
CABRERA: But you know what? But you know what he's not commenting on is Roy Moore specifically. There is a new ad from that Senate candidate in Alabama today who, as we know, has been facing a lot of heat following allegations of sexual abuse involving minors. Let's watch the new ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roy Moore is a man of character. He knows what it means to serve.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely believe the establishment is trying to stop Roy Moore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Judge Roy Moore will bring a flashlight of accountability to Washington, D.C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: OK. So, obviously, a lot of women who are coming to the table in that ad for Roy Moore -- Maria.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. I mean it's a strategy that he is desperate for because he clearly has seen his numbers tank in this election and the allegations have been incredibly hurtful to him. He's had Republicans after Republicans turn their back on him. The latest polls show that the Democratic opponent is ahead of him.
We'll see what happens there. But it is a smart thing for him to actually have women out there talking on his behalf. I don't know that it will work. I know that this is an issue that Republicans are desperate to put behind them.
The Republican establishment, Republicans understand that for long term for the party, if Roy Moore gets elected to the Senate with allegations of pedophilia, it is awful for the Republican Party, it is awful for the long term growth of the Republican Party, especially trying to get women and others where they need to grow.
And so I think that moving forward, the fact that Roy Moore is still there, and he is holding strong, you know, many Republicans are wishing that something would happen so that he would either get out of the race or the govern would do something to change -- call another special election.
Clearly that's not going to happen so he's either going to get elected and possibly be pushed out of the Senate, which would be historic, or he's going to fail. And I think in either of those cases it bodes very, very badly for the Republican Party and for Donald Trump.
CABRERA: I'm going to give you a chance to respond, Paris. Go ahead.
DENNARD: Sure. Two points. Number one, President Trump does not need to engage in this because this is something that the Alabama voters need to decide and furthermore the president was for Luther Strange from the beginning whom he campaigned for in person, on Twitter, and in public. And so the president made his intention known from the very beginning that he was supporting Luther Strange.
Point two, Maria knows full well that the Democrats can't sit back and wash their hands of this issue and say this is just a Republican problem. They have their own issues in the Senate. They have with two members. They have their own issues in the House with a member. And so this is not a partisan or Republican issue as it relates to what the damage could be from the allegation to a sitting member of Congress in the House or the Senate.
The Democrats have their own history and own problems that are present that they need to focus on, not to even go into the fact that when you look at fundraising and the momentum and energy is on the Republican side. So I don't think that we should say that this is just a Republican issue or Republican problem.
CABRERA: I mean that point about fundraising, Maria --
CARDONA: It's pretty serious when you have a Senate --
CABRERA: It is a fact that Republicans are doing better when it comes to fundraising but that aside, let me ask about Senator Franken because he, too, has issued a new statement this weekend following the allegations he's facing about misconduct. He is accused -- the newest is that he's accused of apparently grabbing somebody's back end during a photo shoot when he was in the Senate already. This is in 2010. And here's what he wrote. We'll put it up there but we had Sunlen read it for you earlier. So our viewers in case they missed it can read it.
[10:25:02] Maria, I know you have seen this. Do you think it was smart for him to issue the new statement? Is it helpful?
CARDONA: Well, I do because I think what it demonstrates is that he is taking responsibility for his actions. He is trying to tell his constituents that he is sorry, he is heartfelt about it, he is going to go back and really reflect on his behavior and all of that is great, and I agree with Paris that this issue of sexual allegations is not a partisan issue, that is very true, and both parties and the whole country is coming to a reckoning with that.
But I also have to say that it is very different, the kinds of allegations that are coming out against Al Franken, and he's going to have to face the music for that. There's no question about that. And I'm glad he is doing that and I'm glad that he's taking responsibility for it. Versus Roy Moore, who has woman after woman after woman coming out and accusing him of sexually predatory behavior, two of them under age, which is called pedophilia, and it is a criminal act, and these alleged acts are something that he completely continues to ignore.
And so there are two very different situations. One is taking responsibility for his actions, he's going to face the music, and one is pretending that none of this ever happened. And so I think that's a big difference here and moving forward, the Republican Party really does have another big reckoning coming. Because even those Republicans who are now against Roy Moore because they don't want a pedophile in the Senate are the same Republicans who look the other way not even over a year ago when they let a sexual predator into the Oval Office and his name is Donald Trump.
CABRERA: You, guys, we've got to leave it there. Paris Dennard --
DENNARD: I thought she was going to say Bill Clinton. That was -- OK. I was confused. OK.
CABRERA: All right. Guys, thank you both.
CABRERA: OK. Forget the Black Friday morning lines. Now if you want good deals get to the store the evening before or shop from the comfort of your home.
Up next, how retailers are now scrambling to try to get customers inside their stores.