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EARLY START

Flynn's Lawyers Cutting Ties with Trump Legal Team; Trump Praises Troops, Himself in Thanksgiving Message; Black Friday Shopping Under Way. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 24, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:16] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Former national security adviser Michael Flynn's lawyers say they will no longer share information with President Trump's legal teams. A source telling CNN this might mean he's preparing to plead guilty.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump makes a surprise visit to the troops for Thanksgiving where he praises his own leadership.

SANCHEZ: And bargain hunters -- today is your day. Black Friday shopping already under way. Why retailers are counting on you to splurge.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Boris Sanchez. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

ROMANS: I know. I certainly did. I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, November 24th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the east.

Signs this morning that former national security adviser Michael Flynn may be preparing to plead guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. A source telling CNN that General Flynn's lawyers have told other defense attorneys in the ongoing Russia probe, including President Trump's lawyers, that they are no longer able to share information.

SANCHEZ: Now, the source says this could mean Flynn is preparing to plead guilty. It was "The New York Times" that first reported the change, nothing that it could be an indication that Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or potentially negotiating a deal.

ROMANS: Lawyers on Trump's legal team say that's not necessarily the case and that the change is not entirely unexpected. This comes just weeks after CNN reported Flynn was worried about the possible legal exposure faced by his son, Michael Flynn Jr.

SANCHEZ: Witnesses interviewed by Mueller's team have told us that investigators have asked about Flynn and his son's business dealings, including their firm's reporting of income gain from work done overseas. People acting as agents for foreign entities are legally required to disclose those relationships of which Flynn is accused of having done.

ROMANS: All right. President Trump learning of all this at Mar-a- Lago where he's celebrating Thanksgiving. The president has a packed schedule ahead next week with the fate of the Republican tax plan in the hands of lawmakers. But on the holiday, he took time to thank the troops and praise himself.

Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny filed this report from West Palm Beach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Boris, President Trump spent Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago resort starting by speaking with members of the military stationed all over the world. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force and Marine in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places as well. The president delivered a message thanking them for their service as most commanders-in-chief have done.

He also then went on to visit a Coast Guard station not far from his resort. He talked about the good work the Coast Guard has done throughout the hurricane season in this country and in Puerto Rico. Then he also gave some praise to himself for the condition of the country.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told them, our country is doing great. You folks are fighting so hard and working so hard. And it's nice that you're working for something that's really starting to work. We've cut back so much on regulation and all the waste and all the abuse.

And the stock market on Friday hit the all-time high. The highest it's ever been, your whole long life, it's higher than it's every been. And that means your 401(k)s and all of the things that you have, you know, whether it's -- even if you're in the military. You have a country that's really starting to turn.

ZELENY: The president also taking time for a few hours on the golf course at his golf club here in West Palm Beach, also having dinner at Mar-a-Lago with his family. Now, today is the last week day of his time here at Mar-a-Lago. He will be talking with his advisers and others as he prepares for a big week ahead next week, of course, that big vote in the Senate on the tax plan, so many other things on the agenda in December. But the president will also be enjoying a little bit more time of this respite before returning to Washington on Sunday -- Christine and Boris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: All right. Jeff, thanks for that.

Senator Al Franken is offering a new apology in response to the most recent accusation of sexual harassment that he faces. The Minnesota Democrat was seeking forgiveness after a woman said that he grabbed her rear while taking this photo with her at the Minnesota state fair in 2010. It's the first claim of improper touching that happened after Franken took office.

ROMANS: The senator saying in a statement, I've met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I'm a warm person. I've learned from recent stories at some of these encounters. I crossed a line for some women and I know that any number is too many. Some people have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate and I respect their feelings about that.

Franken has already apologized to a radio anchor who says he forcibly kissed her. You can see that picture there, appeared to grope her in 2006 when he was a comedian.

SANCHEZ: All right. Joining us this morning to discuss the day's news, for the first time, "Washington Examiner" commentary writer, Becket Adams.

[05:05:03] Becket, welcome to EARLY START. We hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

BECKET ADAMS, COMMENTARY WRITER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Thanks so much for having me.

SANCHEZ: Well, first and foremost, we have to ask about this news coming about the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, should we read into the fact that his legal team is no longer sharing information with Donald Trump's legal team?

ADAMS: I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that we don't know exactly where this is going. Like you mentioned earlier, this could be an indication he might plead guilty. This could be an indication he's working with Mueller's team. Unfortunately at this moment, we don't know exactly what it means.

All we do know it means is that Flynn is not in the clear, obviously, in that he has been in the sort of precarious situation since actually being a member of the transition team. He is actually the reason that we're even looking at this investigation because of what he told Mike Pence about his conversations and then the payments he took from Turkey. Right now we don't know him breaking off from the White House signals anything worse for him. We do know that he's not any closer to being in the clear about anything.

So, at this moment, it's one of those things where we need to hold fire and see where it goes from here. But the indications aren't -- they don't look good. I think that's the best we can say right now.

SANCHEZ: They don't look good and not only that, it's also another distraction for this White House that has to answer for a lot of things that have nothing to do with the agenda at hand, right?

ADAMS: Right. Flynn was supposed to be one of the top guys coming in. He was someone that Trump leaned on a lot during the election, and since then, Flynn has been this headache that that has grown to this painful, searing migraine, basically.

At this point, I don't think the White House shakes him. They don't shake anything they have done and Flynn Jr. has been drawn into this. And right now, I don't know what the White House does to kind of -- you know, what painkiller can take to get rid of this.

ROMANS: Meanwhile, the president is using Thanksgiving Day to really tout his own leadership and his own successes. When you heard him yesterday, he was talking about a stock market that had a record high, unemployment at 17-year low. Once again, in true to form, he takes credit for all of that, even though all of this began -- this it is the eighth year I think of the rally here for stocks.

Is there a risk that this president, he talks about a country that has started to turn, he talks about people's 401(k)s, is there a risk that people -- the very people who voted for him, half of Americans don't have a 401(k), the people who voted for him don't feel this, they were in the same situation as they were at the end of the Obama administration and he starts to lose that message?

ADAMS: I think the people who might not feel what he's talking about, I don't know if they're going to necessarily blame him for it. That's something that we're going to be seeing I think not just this year, we're going to be seeing it next year and through a lot of his administration, that people who are feeling the economic pinch aren't necessarily going to blame him for it, because one thing he's really good at is distancing himself for blame for a lot of things.

We see that the way legislation doesn't exactly move the way he wants in the White House -- pardon me, in Congress. He's very quick to assign blame where things go. He's very quick as we saw in his Thanksgiving message to claim victory where he believes it is.

So, Trump, watching his message yesterday, he's really good at working a room. For a lot of us, if we're not there with him, sometimes it seems silly, it seems crass. A good example is when he was doing paper towel tossing in Puerto Rico.

ROMANS: Right.

ADAMS: It looked terrible over here, but everyone who was in that room will tell you that people were laughing, it was kind of funny. He jokingly picked up a can of chicken soup and going to pretend to do it, and people were, oh, no.

So, he's really good at working a room. It's a good example, I can bring up -- the Howard Dean scream. Everyone there said it was totally normal, for us, the way we heard it on television, it didn't come across well.

So, likewise, his message, yes, the thing he does, he's a businessman, he's all about branding, he's all about his image. He's all about marketing. He's going to take credit for the stock market.

If people aren't feeling it, I don't think his most hardcore supporters are going to blame him for it. They're going to say there's something wrong. Congress isn't doing something.

ROMANS: Right.

ADAMS: These lawmakers aren't doing it, et cetera. SANCHEZ: Yes, that Howard Dean scream echoes in eternity on YouTube. Such a cringe-worthy moment.

But I want to get to something that the president said yesterday when he was talking to the troops, specifically him taking a swipe at the previous administration and then taking credit for military successes against ISIS. Listen to this sound byte.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The fight against ISIS, it's coming our way. It's coming our way. A big, big difference. They say we've made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the previous administration. And that's because I'm letting you do your job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: So, the president not only talking about tax reform but the stock market, the shortcomings, from his perspective, of the previous administration, Obamacare. Why include all of that in message to troops on Thanksgiving?

ADAMS: It's as simple as Trump is touting all his successes as a businessman. This goes back to the way he's operated for years.

[05:10:01] You go into a boardroom. You don't just say hey, here's one business deal, you kind of talk about it. You basically list up all of your credentials, all of your bona fides.

This is everything I'm doing. Look at what I'm doing for the world. Look at what I'm doing for you.

So, it is a cheerleading speech for the troops, which we would expect from the president on Thanksgiving Day. He's not going to go in, thins are rough. There's a Russian investigation, my polling is horrible. Why would you even do that?

The whole point is the sort of rah, rah, rah. So, he's just going off this litany of things that is claiming victory for or claiming responsibility, or he's saying -- taking a victory lap are things he can't necessarily claim victory, but he's going to do it anyway, again, because this is an old-school businessman and this is part of the marketing technique he does.

ROMANS: Becket Adams, so nice to meet you. Thanks for coming on board so early this morning. We'll talk to you in about a half an hour. Thanks.

ADAMS: Thanks so much for having me.

SANCHEZ: A bit of sad news to pass along. The U.S. Navy is ending its search for three sailors who went missing after their Navy transport plane crash in a water off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. A total of 11 crew and passengers were headed from Japan to the aircraft carrier of the USS Ronald Reagan, when the plane went down in the Philippine Sea on Tuesday. Eight people were, fortunately, rescued and are in good condition aboard the carrier.

The Navy right now is withholding the names of the three sailors missing until their family members can be notified. Officials say the cause of the crash is still being investigated.

ROMANS: The suspect in the fatal shooting of a Texas state trooper is now in custody. Authorities say the Texas Department of Safety officer, 41-year-old Damon Allen was killed during a highway traffic stop on Thanksgiving. They say he was returning to his patrol vehicle when the suspect fired at him multiple times with a rifle. The alleged gunman identified as 32-year-old Dabrett Black, fled the scene. He was later captured in Waller County near Houston.

SANCHEZ: Staying in Texas, a woman there is being charged with mailing homemade explosives to the state's governor and to then President Obama. A third package was sent to the Social Security Administration. Forty-six-year-old Julia Poff is now facing a total of six federal charges. She entered a plea of not guilty on Tuesday.

Listen to this, according to court documents, she was upset because she applied for essential security benefits and had been denied. The package sent to President Obama was detected by security screening but the court documents say that Texas Governor Greg Abbott actually opened his package, though it failed to explode because he didn't open it as it was designed to be opened.

ROMANS: How fortunate.

And officials say a suspect fleeing police in Oakland County, Michigan, deliberately ran over and skilled a sheriff's deputy. Officer Eric Overall has just deployed tire spikes to end the chase and was on the side of the road when the suspect swerved to him hit. The 22-year-old suspect was arrested at the scene. The 50-year-old slain officer was a 22-year veteran of the force. Nearly 150 people turned out for a vigil last night, which his widow called amazing.

SANCHEZ: And breaking overnight: South Africa's Supreme Court has more than doubled the murder sentence of Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius to 13 years, 5 months. The prosecution appealed the earlier sentence of six years as being too lenient. Pistorius' lawyers say that he has the option of appealing this new sentence, though they haven't decided whether to do so or not yet. Pistorius, you might recall, shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in his home on Valentine's Day 2013. Throughout all of this, he has maintained that he mistook her for an intruder.

ROMANS: All right. Thirteen minutes past the hour.

It's Black Friday. Time to shop. Retailers are ready to take your cash, but this year, for the first time, more shoppers maybe trying to score deals at home. We're on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:17:51] SANCHEZ: Black Friday is upon us. One of the busiest shopping days in the year and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, though it seems to get earlier and earlier every year.

ROMANS: Right.

SANCHEZ: Many shoppers started hitting the stores on Thanksgiving Day to avoid the Black Friday frenzy. And this could be the biggest shopping season for some American retailers. Christine is going to explain that in just a second.

But, first, we want to go to CNN's Polo Sandoval who's live outside a Target store in Jersey City.

Polo, I'm glad to see you in one piece, but it doesn't look like that are that many people out there.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's amazing, too, Boris. I mean, this idea of Black Friday, this tradition has certainly evolved over time, right? I mean, this morning those massive crowds aren't outside the store.

A couple reasons for that. Many crowds came yesterday, so some from tees to teddy bears, some of those door-busting deals, many customers came yesterday, because as you mentioned, some of those steals got earlier and earlier. Used to be midnight Black Friday, that quickly became Thanksgiving evening so that's several reasons why we aren't seeing the massive crowds we're accustomed to seeing outside America's major retailers.

Other reason, there are many other people who are choosing to go online rather than stand in line. Many of these major deals that are being offered by some of major retailers, including Target, you can find online. So, there are many people would rather stay at home, do it from their couch instead of braving the cold and crowds, and taking advantage of some of those steals. So, that's another reason why.

And as you're about to hear in a few moments of some of the numbers, retailers are preparing for that, they are expecting for more people to simply do their shopping online rather than in stores, but at this point, retailers are saying they will take anything they can get. They certainly want to take advantage or at least benefit from high consumer confidence. Many people are looking forward to spending to this holiday season here.

But really, again, anywhere you put it, anywhere you put it, there certainly is a tradition of Black Friday but it certainly has changed over years, Boris.

SANCHEZ: One tradition I'm going to miss is seeing those viral videos of people fighting in stores over TVs and that kind of thing.

ROMANS: I know. There's nothing like saying thanks with consumerism and, you know, knocking out your fellow American.

SANCHEZ: Polo Sandoval, thank you for that.

[05:20:00] ROMANS: Thanks, Polo. You know, this Black Friday could be the last for some of America's retailers. Shoppers are expected to spend more than ever this holiday season, but the question is where. Fifty-nine percent of shoppers will choose to shop online this year. That's the first time spending more online than at the store. That's according to the National Retail Federation.

Look, more likely to go on your phone than go to a big box store like Target or Walmart and brave the crowds. Nearly 7,000 store closures have already been announced in 2017. In companies like Toys "R" Us, Payless and RadioShack, have all filed for bankruptcy. This retail apocalypse is happening despite a strong economy. Online shopping is speeding up change in the industry.

One bad holiday season could be enough to close a store that would have survived in the past. Looks like we're gong to spend more, $967 per person over the holiday shopping season. That's up about $3 from last year. But again, more than half of that will be online this year.

SANCHEZ: And you gave me an interesting stat earlier that a ton of people that spent money on Black Friday last year still haven't paid for their purchases.

ROMANS: This is really important. About 16 percent of people who spent money last year during the holiday shopping season are still paying it off on their credit card. That's the worst investment you can possibly make. I'm telling you.

So, when you go out there and when you're getting these e-mails, just remember, if you can't pay it off by January, then you've just become a total sucker to retail machine. That's right.

SANCHEZ: One holiday tradition that's not going anywhere any time soon --

ROMANS: Football.

SANCHEZ: Thanksgiving football. NFL fans feasting on some great games yesterday. Coy Wire will join us next. He's got details in the "Bleacher Report".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:26:03] SANCHEZ: Thanksgiving means more than just delicious food and painful arguments with your family. It also means football.

ROMANS: Yes. Coy Wire has more on the Turkey Day triple header in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Football is always better to talk about than politics.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I agree with you. Good morning to you.

In the late game, let's start with that, Giants travel to division rival Washington who are hosting their first ever Thanksgiving Day game. Now, check out these young New York fans. They're dressed up like giants' head coach Ben McAdoo and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Hopefully they we want to bed early because the game was tied with just about three minutes to go, and Washington Kirk Cousins hits Josh Dotson for the score, winning this one 20-10. The Giants fall to 2-9.

Philip Rivers and L.A. Chargers carved up the Cowboys in Dallas. Rivers threw three touchdowns in this one. Check this one out. My goodness, to Tyrell Williams. L.A.'s defense wanted in on some fun, too. Desmond Kenny picks off Dak Prescott.

Look at the afterburners. Look how fast this guy is. That was a 90- yarder for the touchdown, 28-6 was the final. The Cowboys have lost three straight by 20 or more. Here's owner Jerry Jones after the game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY JONES, DALLAS COWBOYS OWNER: We got some things that -- we're not playing good, we're not a good team right now. We can be a good team. I don't even want to talk about anything positive, but there are things, if you want to look at them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: All right. Let's talk about the Vikings/Lions game. Before that one, fans saw another type of sax.

Saxophonist Mike Philips left fans in awe during the anthem.

Vikings quarterback Case Keenum with a touchdown run. And Vikings left the fans in awe with this celebration, sitting down for a Thanksgiving feast, everyone was eating, getting some. Vikings win 30-23. They are now 9-2.

Now for the other type of sacks in this game, Griffin sacks Stafford. He reveals his undershirt reading, I just had a baby boy, what should I name him?

So, he and his wife Tiffany welcomed their third child but he hasn't met his son yet. During pregame warm-up he was watching the birth on the Facetime. He says his wife is healthy, baby is healthy, too. They just don't know the name yet so tweet us, @boris_sanchez, @christineromans and @earlystart, what should he name his son? Let's help the guy out.

SANCHEZ: That's one way to do that.

ROMANS: I love that. Congratulations to him and his wife.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Coy. Always great seeing you.

WIRE: You're welcome.

ROMANS: I like how he says, he just had a baby. I think she just had a baby. All right.

SANCHEZ: Lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn cutting off ties with Donald Trump's legal team. What that could mean for special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. We'll break it down, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)