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EARLY START

Flynn No Longer Sharing Info With Trump Lawyers; Trump Celebrates Thanksgiving In Florida; Black Friday 2017. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 24, 2017 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:33:43] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Lawyers for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn say they won't share information with President Trump's legal team. A source telling CNN that it could mean Flynn is ready to plead guilty in the Russia probe.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, President Trump giving thanks to the troops and to himself for improving the economy and the country.

ROMANS: And, on your mark, get set, go. Get ready shoppers, it's Black Friday. Why retailers hope you are ready to spend.

And it will be interesting this year. We're expecting more online sales than in the brick and mortar stores for the first time in history. Interesting, right? We shop with this.

SANCHEZ: It certainly lessens the probability of a fight in the middle of the store --

ROMANS: That's right.

SANCHEZ: -- which is a good thing, though less entertaining.

ROMANS: All those horrible -- those horrible local news stories.

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

SANCHEZ: And, I'm Boris Sanchez in for Dave Briggs. We are 34 minutes past the hour.

And this morning we're looking at signs 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 Gen. Flynn's lawyers have told other defense attorneys in the ongoing Russia probe, including President Trump's attorneys, that they are no longer able to share information with them.

ROMANS: Now, the source says this could mean Flynn is preparing to plead guilty. "The New York Times" first reported the change, noting it could be an indication Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal.

[05:35:05] SANCHEZ: Now, lawyers on the Trump legal team say that doesn't necessarily mean that the change was unexpected. This comes just weeks after CNN reported that Flynn was worried about the possible legal exposure faced by his son, Michael Flynn, Jr.

ROMANS: Witnesses interviewed by Mueller's team have told us that investigators have asked about Flynn and his son's business dealings. That includes their firm's reporting of income gained from work done for overseas clients. People acting as agents for foreign entities, of course, are legally required to disclose those relationships.

SANCHEZ: President Trump is learning about all of this while at Mar- a-Lago where he's celebrating Thanksgiving. Now, 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 to praise himself.

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENEY, 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 Marines 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: But I told them our country is doing great. And you folks are fighting so hard and working so hard, and it's nice to be 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, ever in your whole long life. The highest it's ever been.

And that means your 401(k)s and your -- 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 a dinner at Mar-a-Lago with his family.

Now today is the last weekday of his time here at Mar-a-Lago. He will be talking with his advisers and others are 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 of time of

this respite here before returning to Washington on Sunday. Christine and Boris --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Jeff Zeleny in West Palm Beach.

Senator Al Franken offering a new apology in response to the most recent accusation of sexual harassment he faces.

The Minnesota Democrat seeking forgiveness after a woman said he grabbed her rear while taking a photo with her at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Now, this is the first claim of improper touching that happened after Franken took office.

SANCHEZ: Now, the senator saying in a statement, quote, "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 hug people.

I've learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters I crossed a line for some women and I know that any number is too many. Some women 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 that he forcibly kissed and groped her in 2006 when he was a comedian during a USO tour overseas.

ROMANS: All right.

Joining us this morning the very first time, "Washington Examiner" commentary writer Becket Adams. Welcome to EARLY START.

Nice to see you this day after Thanksgiving. I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday. We worked but we are still thankful for everything.

BECKET ADAMS, COMMENTARY WRITER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Hi.

ROMANS: Let's talk a little bit about this latest Michael Flynn development -- this latest headline. It is a new development, a wrinkle, a headline in the Russia investigation.

What do you think -- where do you think that brings us now?

ADAMS: Well, there are a couple of options that we have right now. Him going to Mueller's team could signal a) he might be ready to plead guilty, b) that he might be willing to cut some sort of deal that doesn't even necessarily include pleading guilty. That he's now working with them -- i.e., he's flipped.

Or, c) it doesn't mean anything. It just means that out of normal propriety's sake he has broken off contact with Trump so there's no distraction or conflict of interest if they are entering into any sort of conversation with prosecution. Now, not to say that there's quite prosecution yet.

This could either fizzle out into nothing, this could turn into -- because if they're entering into any sort of conversation under ordinary guidelines you have to break off the sort of agreement that they had with the Trump team. So what they have there, which doesn't necessarily break client privilege -- attorney-client privilege, in order for him to talk to prosecution they're going to have to break that off. I mean, this happens a lot in a lot of these negotiations.

[05:40:00] So right now, I feel like we're kind of trying to read the tea leaves, like what does this mean, without having enough information to go on. So, my suggestion to a lot of people is kind of just hold fire and see where this goes.

But as, you know -- a lot of people have suggested earlier this doesn't look good for Flynn. None of this has looked good for Flynn from the beginning. He seems to be extremely conflicted and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered regarding what he knows, when he knew it, and who he's been working with.

SANCHEZ: Becket, we can't understate, though, the potential significance of any information that Michael Flynn might have about alleged collusion-cooperation between Russia and the Trump campaign. He was there for much of the campaign. He was there in the early, chaotic days of the administration.

We also know that he had contact that he was apparently forgetful about with Sergey Kislyak. So he could have a huge impact in this investigation.

ADAMS: Right. He's a cornerstone of the Trump campaign. He was a big guy in the transition. If anything happened -- if any collusion that has been alleged happened, he was there involved in some aspect, if not heading it.

So yes, he's an important name. He's been the reason that there is even an investigation being headed by Mueller is because of Flynn. It's because of his conversations, his supposedly forgetting about his conversations, his stretching the truth to Vice President Mike Pence, and the fact that Trump then later lobbied former FBI chief James Comey to maybe walk away from it.

Flynn is the cornerstone here. He's the linchpin. He's an extremely important person.

So him going now to Mueller's team and cutting off communication with Trump's people, that does suggest something very big. Unfortunately, though, at this time -- I keep stressing this --

ROMANS: Right.

ADAMS: -- we just don't have a lot to go on.

ROMANS: You're right. Let the investigation play out.

The president, meanwhile, on Thanksgiving Day he says that this is a country that has started to turn and he talks about the economy. He takes credit for this new mood in America -- listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're doing well at home. The economy is doing really great.

When you come back you're going to see with the jobs and companies coming back into our country, and the stock market just hit a record high. Unemployment is the lowest it's been in 17 years.

So you're fighting for something real. You're fighting for something good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So a victory lap for the president on the economy and the like which, you know, he has done that before. That's very true to form.

But, you know, this economy -- I mean, the fact checkers will tell you, like me, that the economy was already improving even before he came -- he came to office here.

Is there a risk, do you think, that he's taking credit for your 401(k) doing great when a lot of the people who voted for him may not be feeling this?

ADAMS: Yes, this is a prerogative a lot of presidents. They take credit for stuff for which they had nothing to do with. And also, the inverse of that is true. They get blamed for a lot of --

ROMANS: True.

ADAMS: -- things in the economy that they had nothing to do with.

Something -- the classic is the president is getting blamed for gas prices. The gas -- the fluctuation of gas prices has nothing to do --

ROMANS: Right.

ADAMS: -- with who's actually in the Oval Office.

Likewise, you know, taking credit for the S&P exploding and the stock market being better than ever in your long lifetime, as he claims.

ROMANS: Well, but I'll say that most presidents don't do that. This is the first president I've ever heard who took credit for the S&P 500 because if it turns, you know, will he own the blame, you know? I mean, it can't go on forever.

ADAMS: Oh, of course, not. He'll blame somebody else.

No. But at the same time, you can make the argument that if there's this sort of confidence and people are investing --

ROMANS: True.

ADAMS: -- and people are confident because of the president, you can try to make the argument. But if it tanks --

ROMANS: The animal spirit. The animal spirit.

ADAMS: Right. And if it tanks, he will --

ROMANS: Right.

ADAMS: -- walk away from it as fast as possible. You know he will.

SANCHEZ: All right, we have to leave it there. Becket, thank you so much for the time. A pleasure to have you this morning --

ROMANS: Yes, nice to meet you.

SANCHEZ: -- on EARLY START.

ROMANS: Thanks very much.

ADAMS: Thanks for having me. Happy Black Friday.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly.

SANCHEZ: The same to you. Be safe out there.

ROMANS: American consumers -- yay.

SANCHEZ: Some news to bring you from Africa this morning. Less than an hour ago, Zimbabwe gained its first new leader in 37 years. Emmerson Mnangagwa sworn in as interim president, succeeding Zimbabwe's founding President Robert Mugabe.

This comes a day after Mugabe and his wife were granted immunity, allowing them to remain in the country.

You might recall seeing the pictures on Tuesday when Mugabe resigned. There was dancing and cheering in the streets.

Critics say that the African independence here have stayed in office far too long and became a corrupt dictator who then ruined a once promising economy. Mnangagwa was Mugabe's right-hand man and he's known as a cunning political operator.

Elections for a permanent successor are expected to take place next year.

Well, it is Black Friday --

ROMANS: It sure is.

SANCHEZ: -- and retailers are ready for you to splurge. Why some are depending on you to go out and shop. That's just ahead.

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[05:49:06] SANCHEZ: Black Friday is upon us. One of the busiest shopping days of the year and the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. Many shoppers, though, started hitting the stores on Thanksgiving Day to avoid the frenzy inside the stores.

This could really be a make or break holiday shopping season for some of America's biggest retailers. Christine will explain that in just a moment.

But first, let's go to CNN's Polo Sandoval. He's inside a Target store in Jersey City.

Polo, I hope you've got your hands on a big-screen T.V. and you didn't get in any wrestling matches with anybody out there.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I got one for me, Boris, and I got one for you, too, as well.

SANCHEZ: Oh.

SANDOVAL: And if anybody else is interested please let me know.

We are expecting to see some of those crowds in about 10 minutes or so. You'll see some of the people walking up and down these aisles when the doors open.

Here's the thing, though. These crowds may not be as large as what we've seen in years past. A couple of reasons for that.

These stores, like Target and other major retailers, have opened up their doors before Black Friday. Before, it used to be like midnight's on Black Friday. That's quickly moved up to 6:00 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, so many of the people who took advantage of these store-buster deals, they did so yesterday.

[05:50:12] Another reason why, many of the people may simply be going online to make their purchases rather than come in, buy these big T.V.s, buy the teddy bears, buy the electronics -- all those big, hot items like game systems, as well. People are choosing to buy them online.

In fact, the American Retail Federation now saying that -- or estimating that about 59 percent of shoppers will be going online to make their purchases, so that's important. That's going to be the first time that American shoppers are choosing to go online rather than stand in line to make their purchases.

But nonetheless, if you ask people, for many, it's still about tradition. It's still about coming out to these stores, coming out to some of these retailers and getting some of those hot items the day after Thanksgiving as well -- guys.

SANCHEZ: All right, Polo Sandoval. Thank you so much for that. Good luck out there today. Hopefully, you come back in one piece.

ROMANS: All right, 50 minutes past the hour.

Investigators have discovered a troubling new clue in the search for that missing Argentine Navy submarine. The Argentine Navy has confirmed a noise detected near the last known location of the ARA San Juan is consistent with an explosion.

Meantime, underwater monitoring by a nuclear test ban treaty organization also detected an unusual noise from the same spot on the day the sub vanished. The Argentine Navy says that does not necessarily mean there was an explosion. An official described the noise as an unusual short, violent, non-nuclear event.

With time running out, the search for the crew and its -- the sub and its 44 crew members goes on.

All right. Tesla is almost finished building the world's largest battery in Australia. Find out why they could end up giving it away for free on "CNN Money Stream," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILIP KRIM, CO-FOUNDER, CASPER: The conversation between the five co-founders started around sleep.

And when we looked at the way people were buying mattresses it was still a very antiquated experience where you go to the store in every corner. You walk in in your street clothes, you're expected to lay on a mattress under fluorescent lights and then know what how you'll sleep? It just seemed very perverse to us.

And so we said how could we do it better and differently and that's where we came up with the idea of letting people try it in their home and actually sleeping on the product before they were committed to it. We made the delivery experience seamless and easy and around your schedule.

And we built the business directly to our consumers so we could tell them what they need to know about buying mattress. People thought we were crazy. How could you make a mattress brand cool? How could you create a single mattress that creates universal comfort and a great night of sleep?

So there were a lot of points that we got aggressively ridiculed about. And we were told no when we were raising money for the idea by dozens and dozens and dozens of folks. We never thought so many people would kind of see what we were doing and then follow us, but they have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[05:57:47] They're all good dogs, but only one can be named "Best in Show" and yesterday, the top dog was Newton, a Brussels Griffon. Here he is crushing the competition, beating out six other dogs in the finals at the National Dog Show in Pennsylvania. A cute little guy.

ROMANS: He sure is. I'm sure he's very happy with his -- with his victory.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning. Global stocks are mixed today. U.S. markets were closed yesterday for Thanksgiving. They're open only a half-day today so this is a short trading week.

U.S. stocks have had a banner year. The Dow, the Nasdaq, the S&P 500 all up double-digit percentages although markets have seen a few stumbles recently, related to tax reform because of fear that tax cuts won't pass by the end of the year. So, Wall Street is waiting for more details when Congress returns from break this week.

Elon Musk is helping solve the energy crisis down under. Tesla has finished installing the world's largest lithium ion battery in the state of South Australia.

Musk had promised to deliver the battery within 100 days of signing a contract with the government or it would be free. The battery will need to be operational by early December to meet that deadline.

It will store power generated by a wind farm and then release the energy during increased demand. The battery should help with the state's frequent power outages.

About 300,000 more people have signed up for Obamacare in the first few weeks of this open enrollment period compared to last year. This despite the Trump administration's efforts to shrink sign-ups. It is still early in the 2018 enrollment period though, and people who need health care the most often sign up early.

The Trump administration cut the enrollment period in half this year, down to just 45 days from 90. This means weekly sign-ups would need to double to match previous years.

We're watching that closely because what's happening health care is critical here, politically and also practically for some many Americans.

SANCHEZ: Definitely.

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

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawyers for Michael Flynn have informed Mr. Trump's legal team that they are no longer about to discuss the special counsel's investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That could mean Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're getting very close here to a potential showdown between the Trump administration and the special counsel's office.

SANCHEZ: Embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore is now going on the offensive.

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA, SENATE CANDIDATE: I don't know them, I've never known them. This was a complete shock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unclear exactly whether or not his campaign is planning to pursue legal action.