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Reports Indicate Michael Flynn's Legal Team No Longer Consulting with President Trump's Legal Team; Terrorist Attack Hits Egypt; Senator Franken Apologizes Again Amid Groping Allegations. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired November 24, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We are following a lot of news. So let's get to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fired national security adviser Michael Flynn's defense team is no longer sharing information with the president's legal team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Flynn cutting a deal with special counsel, Bob Mueller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're getting very close here to a potential showdown between the Trump administration and the special counsel's office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Embattled Senate candidate, Roy Moore, is now going on the offensive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been here a little bit more than 24 hours now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This black Friday could be the last for some of America's retailers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe we'll see people go out and shop well into this holiday season.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to this special holiday edition of NEW DAY. It is Friday, November 24th, now 8:00 in the east. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill is here. Thank you for being here. We wish you all good digestion.
Up first, something that could be a very interesting development in the Russia investigation. Sources tell CNN that lawyers for fired national security adviser General Michael Flynn are no longer sharing information with President Trump's legal team. Why? Well, this could be an indication that Flynn is negotiating with special counsel, Bob Mueller. If so, sharing information no longer appropriate.
HILL: As that's playing out, embattled Democratic Senator Al Franken is offering another apology amid groping allegations. This comes, of course, as there are also growing questions about whether Congress will tackle the issue of these settlements we've learned about, those settlements being paid out with $17 million, your tax dollars. We'll have more on that.
Plus, we are following breaking news from overseas. A deadly terror attack at an Egyptian mosque during morning prayers. We know at least 85 people have been killed. Dozens more hurt. We're going to bring you a live report in just a few moments.
We have all of this covered. We begin right now with CNN's Joe Johns who is live in Palm Beach, Florida, with our top story. Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, as far as the investigation goes, it means there could be more charges on the way. Of course, a variety of possibilities here. None of them is very clear. What we do know is that the president's legal team now has changed its relationship with the legal team of Michael Flynn. The White House, of course, framing this by saying it doesn't necessarily mean the president's former national security adviser has now turned against Mr. Trump.
JOHNS: A source telling CNN that fired national security adviser Michael Flynn's defense team is no longer sharing information with the president's legal team, a sign that Flynn could be preparing to plead guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Mr. Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow disputes that in a statement to CNN. "No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about General Flynn cooperating against the president."
But the "New York Times," which first reported the story, detailed that the president's lawyers believe Flynn is discussing a deal with Mueller, pointing to the significant criminal exposure that Flynn and his son are facing. The new revelations coming just weeks after CNN reported Flynn was concerned about his son's potential legal exposure in the investigation.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.
JOHNS: Flynn is one of the most prominent Trump associates under scrutiny over his long-established ties to Russia. Flynn seen here sitting here with Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2015 at an event in Moscow. During the presidential transition Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
MIKE PENCE, (R) VICE PRESIDENT: The conversations that took place at that time were not in any way related to new U.S. sanctions against Russia.
JOHNS: We now know that four days after President Trump was sworn in the FBI interviewed Flynn about his calls with Kislyak. Acting attorney general Sally Yates even warned the White House that Flynn was vulnerable to potential blackmail by Russia. But Trump continued defending Flynn.
TRUMP: This man has served for many years. He's a general. He's -- in my opinion, a very good person. I believe that it would be very unfair to hear from somebody who we don't even know and immediately run out and fire a general.
JOHNS: The president eventually forcing Flynn to resign. It was later revealed that President Trump had been pressuring FBI director, James Comey, to back off investigating Flynn before firing him too. Flynn also coming under intense scrutiny for failing to disclose payments he received from Russian entities.
[08:05:02] The White House reportedly bracing for charges against Flynn after three other Trump associates were recently indicted. But "The Times" notes the White House insists that neither Mr. Flynn nor other former aides have incriminating information to provide about Mr. Trump.
JOHNS: And the president is tweeting this morning, back on one of his favorite subjects. That would be the National Football League and the continuing players' protest. The president tweeting, "Can you believe 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." The president also tweeted that he will be having a telephone call today with the president of Turkey, Mr. Erdogan, to talk about the Middle East peace process, and apparently Syria. Also the president indicating that he intends to play golf today with a couple very famous golfers, Dustin Johnson, as well as Tiger Woods. I'm sorry. Back to you.
CUOMO: What's going on, Joe? What's so interesting on your phone?
JOHNS: I'm watching the tweets. I'm trying to -- and my phone, quite frankly, has frozen right now.
HILL: Can't keep up with all of the tweets.
CUOMO: If it's frozen, no need to stare at it, Joe.
JOHNS: Yes. CUOMO: Are you back?
JOHNS: All right, yes. Dustin Johnson, Tiger Woods. There we go.
CUOMO: All right, see you later, pal.
CUOMO: Joining us now is "New York Times" White House correspondent and CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. Maggi was part of the team that broke the story on Flynn last night. And thank you, as always, for the effort of coming in, especially the day after Thanksgiving.
So president tweeting about the NFL, works for him. Talking about Flynn, not so much. The implications of this reported separation of information-sharing between counsel.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. So there are the known unknowns and then there's what we do know. We do know that Flynn's lawyer has let the president's lawyers know and other lawyers that know he is not going to be -- they are not going to be able to continue having joint discussions about this case.
When that happens, it is usually because there is some conversation going on, often there is some conversation going on between one party's lawyers and prosecutors. In this case, it would appear that there is a discussion going on at minimum. Whether that means a plea deal, whether that means cooperating in some form, we don't know.
But we do know that Michael Flynn is said to have been extremely concerned less for himself than for his son, who I believe has some level of exposure, is said to have some level of exposure, in this case. We are a ways away from knowing precisely what it means. But it is the clearest indication so far that there is some level of cooperation going on between the fired NSA and Robert Mueller's office.
HILL: And, of course, we're hearing on all of this from Jay Sekulow, this is not a big deal, nothing to see here.
HABERMAN: I don't mean to be rude, but Jay Sekulow also insisted the president had no role in drafting his son's statement about Air Force One in response to our story, which was a report that we had first, which was accurate. So I understand he's doing what he has to do for his client. But that is neither here nor there.
HILL: How much concern, just based on your reporting, based on the people that you talk to, how much concern do you think there is in that White House now among senior advisers and among those insiders?
HABERMAN: Look, I think you have a range of reactions among people. Those who are more concerned for themselves for whatever reason, I think are probably going to be a little worried about the possibility of somebody speaking or cooperating. And as we know, and you know this much better than I do, it's not like prosecutors are just, you know, open the door for business. You have to have something you can provide to them. It isn't just, let's have a conversation.
So if that is what is happening, that could be significant. Exactly who we're talking about, whether it goes to the president, I think those are the open questions. I do know that the president has been very concerned in his conversations with a lot of people, going back months now, that Flynn might be up for doing this. Whether that is just the president's known sort of level of -- I don't want to see paranoia, but his sort of desire to control what's going on around him or whether it's indicative of something more, we don't know. But it's obviously not a good thing.
HILL: When you say up for doing this, you mean up for doing a plea deal?
HABERMAN: Up for doing a plea deal, cooperating, providing some information. Remember, the president had said to a bunch of people and this dribbled out in a series of reports that he wanted Flynn to know that he regretted firing him. One adviser had told me that part of that was in the president's mind, you know, sort of a message to Flynn. You know, you're a good guy. I still like you, because the president always believes he can keep people in the fold in some way. He spent a lot of time reaching out to people like Reince Priebus, he's reached out to Steve Bannon. He's reached out to a lot of people once they leave because he likes to think he's keeping the door open. I think the stakes are very different this time.
[08:10:00] CUOMO: When he was talking to Comey and no small irony, that's why there is a special counsel because of what he did with Comey, because what he said about Flynn in that process about Comey, he was very positive about Flynn.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CUOMO: Your take on this? You and I both know people who were in this kind of am bit of discussion around the president who have been pushed away or at least kept at arms' length. Not Flynn. It's not just the counsels who were talking. But he doesn't tweet about Flynn.
HABERMAN: No, that's right.
CUOMO: He leaves it alone. Why?
HABERMAN: Again, I think it goes back to his level of concern and whether that level of concern is just sort of a sense of anxiety generally or whether it's more specific. You know, if it actually involves something, I don't know. But we do know that for all of the talk about how the president, you know, he's out of control, has no impulse control -- he actually is pretty careful on certain issues. He often -- if you go back and read all of the old cases and lawsuits involving this president where he has given depositions, he's pretty clear on where the truth is, despite the fact he will sometimes tweet things he knows are not true. I think that he has been told there are certain areas he has to lay off. I think his lawyers have made that very clear to him. And I think Flynn is one of them.
CUOMO: Let me ask -- HABERMAN: I could be wrong. That's just my understanding.
CUOMO: Hasn't happened yet, but there is always a first, Maggie.
CUOMO: Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, very different dispositions outwardly.
CUOMO: Donald Trump Jr. is openly provocative. That's one thing, if we want to put up his tweet -- I don't know if we have it. Or his Instagram account. Donald Trump Jr., "More nothing burgers from the media and others desperately trying to create a false narrative. Keep coming at me, guys." If he's talking to us, fine. But is there any concern that he needs to shut up if -- any reference made to the feds who are looking into this?
HABERMAN: Right. He said "guys," which as we know, to your point, could be anybody. There has always been a concern among some of the president's advisers, even going back to the campaign before we were in this situation, or they were in this situation, about Donald Trump Jr.'s level of openness and his level of sort of here's everything. Lay it all out. It is, as you say, very stylistically at minimum different than what Jared Kushner does.
Whether it's materially important or not, we don't know yet. We do know that he has taken a stand a couple times saying here's all my WikiLeaks messages. Here are my e-mail exchanges with somebody who was trying to set up a meeting related to Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton. It is a potentially risky strategy certainly from a PR perspective. It leaves some people scratching their heads. It isn't keeping with who he is and how he has always done this. And I think for him it brings some level of comfort of, look, I've shown you everything.
And what we had heard, or what I had heard around the time that "The Times" first reported on that meeting that Donald Trump Jr. had at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer, that he had been arguing when they were figuring out a statement for him for more disclosure, not less. So it's not really a surprise.
HILL: Is there a concern, not just about the openness, but also his legitimate understanding of how this can come back to bite him?
HABERMAN: I think that there has been a concern throughout in terms of whether does Donald Trump Jr., frankly, whether it was Jared Kushner, whether it was the president in certain cases, you are dealing with people who have never been involved in government or the political system. And that was fine to say that a year ago when this was all, you know, a neophyte campaign and people who had just won and were coming in and learning. But now it's a year in and presumably lawyers have been saying to them, here are the guard rails and here's what you need to be careful about. And in some cases they blow by them. And I'm not speaking specifically about anybody here but just collectively. In some cases they continue to blow by them, and I think there is sometimes some anxiety for those advising about that.
CUOMO: Very interesting development. You know, again, we don't know what it means.
HABERMAN: We don't know what it means. We don't.
CUOMO: But it is some type of movement that's going on.
HABERMAN: It's a change. And that's all we can report on right now.
HILL: Maggie, good to see you. Thank you.
HABERMAN: Thank you.
HILL: We do want to keep you posted on this breaking news from the Middle East. This terror attack we've been following happening at a mosque in Egypt during morning prayers. Egyptian state media reporting at least 85 people are dead. Dozens more hurt. CNN Ian Lee spent nine years in Egypt and he joins us now with more on these breaking details in the attack. What more do we know about it at this point?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erica, this is one of the deadliest attacks to happen in the Sinai Peninsula. And this attack happened right when worshippers were going to the mosque for Friday prayers. We know at least two explosions occurred, and people who left the mosque were fired upon by these militants. We do not know if these militants have been captured or what their status is at the time.
But we don't know who it is. But this is an area where militants who pledged allegiance to ISIS have been fighting the military, have been carrying out attacks for years.
[08:15:01] And this latest incident bears all the hall marks of an ISIS attack. We know the people who have been injured have been taken to local area hospitals. Some of them have also been taken to Cairo. But this is going to be great concern for President Abdel Fattah al- Sisi, who is converging a meeting to discuss this latest attack -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much for the reporting, my friend.
Embattled Alabama Senate nominee, Roy Moore, is digging in his heels. He calls this the toughest spiritual and political battle of his life. We're going to discuss the state of play in his Senate race right now. Are these sexual improprieties really going to make a difference? Next.
CUOMO: Senator Al Franken issuing another apology as he faces more allegations of groping.
In a statement, Senator Franken says in part, 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. I feel terribly that I've made some women feel badly and I am so sorry and I want to make sure that never happens again.
Joining us now is CNN political commentator, Ben Ferguson and Ana Navarro.
I am thankful for both of you. I hope your days were with family and enjoyed.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They were. Good to be with you.
NAVARRO: Chris, I'm in Miami, where I want to tell you, I have been partying and eating with Don Lemon, who should be very thankful to you for pulling double duty.
[08:20:05] CUOMO: Well, you sound a little banged up, Ana. So I'm going to give the first word to Ben here and give you a chance to kind of ride into the conversation and get in your rhythm.
So, Ben, new allegations here. The state of play of a little bit of a gotcha game here. Al Franken seems to be -- has a bull's eye on him, because of that, because he looms large, because he's a Democrat. Is that what you see going on here?
FERGUSON: I don't. I think -- look, there's two things here that I hope that most of us can agree on. And that's that Al Franken and a guy named Roy Moore in Alabama, neither of them should be in the U.S. Senate.
I don't think either of them have the character that you need to be in the Senate. I think these allegations against both of them have nothing to do with politics. I think they have everything to do with their character as a person.
And so, I hope that both sides look at this and realize, when you have allegations like this, we don't need to look at it as a voting roster of who is going to be on my team or against me. We need to look at it as simply an issue of right and wrong.
CUOMO: But how that -- but what I'm saying is --
FERGUSON: And Al Franken --
CUOMO: How do you put them in the same conversation? One guy --
FERGUSON: Because they're both --
CUOMO: -- is, you know, accused of predatory behavior involving young women. Two of them would have qualified as crimes. How does this stuff with Franken -- that is obviously wrong, obviously, it's a character contest going on. But why do you put them in the same conversation, except for political expedience? FERGUSON: It's not for that. It's for the fact that I think that we
should have a high standard of the type of individual that is serving in the U.S. Senate. And I think we dropped this bar so low because of politics.
I'm not excusing or equating Al Franken's groping picture with what Roy Moore is accused of here. That's not my point at all this morning. This is the part about politics. And I think most people hate us, especially those that have been either sexually assaulted or sexually abused because they get frustrated with the semantics of this.
My point is simple. We need to raise the bar to a level to where what Al Franken has done is inappropriate -- clearly where I think the accusations are coming against Roy Moore. I think we have to demand better of our elected officials or those running for office than where we are right now, saying, well, you did something worse than this guy did.
That doesn't help victims out. That doesn't help the accusers out when they do that. That's the part about politics honestly I hate.
CUOMO: Did you call for Trump to step down when the accusations came out about him earlier in the campaign?
FERGUSON: Donald Trump's accusations came out -- and let's be clear. Because I did it on this show. And we were talking about him grabbing. And I said that was inappropriate and completely irresponsible and wrong. And I would not defend it.
Now, again, I go back to the point. We -- that's where you say the political question, Chris, right there. That's my problem with all of this. We have to stop going back politics. Going, OK, you attacked Franken, so now what about this quote by a Republican. Well, hold on, what about this quote from a Democrat.
That doesn't help anyone here. And I think it's -- the point now in 2017, where we should clearly say we're going to raise the bar from this point forward and stop playing politics of I gotcha with your guy on the right or your guy on the left.
CUOMO: Well, that would be nice.
Ana, how do you see it?
NAVARRO: Look, I think there has to be some level of consistency. First of all, there's a spectrum of actions, right? There's a spectrum of acts. You cannot equate a picture where somebody put their hand on somebody's, you know, rear end with pedophilia.
One thing is inappropriate. There are things that are grossly inappropriate. And then there's things that are criminal. And they're not the same thing. They're all bad things.
And they should not be done. And certainly women have had to endure so much of this throughout the decades. But we can't say them all in the same breath.
The other thing I'm seeing is, we're just beginning to scratch at the surface of this. This is endless, and more and more women are coming out. More names are coming out in Congress.
You know, you've got John Conyers. You've got Joe Barton in Texas. You've got Al Franken. Soon -- I think there's going to be nothing but women left in Congress, which might not be a bad thing.
I think, look, we are in a watershed moment in America. This is precedent-setting. This is going to change the culture. This is going to put the fear of god in a lot of people that have gotten away with behaving in a way that they should not have done.
And I think it's going to change America. It's going to change the culture. As far as Roy Moore, the difference between Roy Moore and Al Franken is that one is up to Al Franken. What he does right now, right, and his colleagues in the Senate. The other is up to the people of Alabama and what they vote for.
I have seen some incredibly effective powerful Doug Jones ads coming out, using, for example, Ivanka Trump's words against Roy Moore, using the pictures of the slew of women that have come out, the slew of young girls when they were very young girls that have come out. They're very, very powerful ads.
[08:25:01] I think that the people of Alabama are going to have to look deep into their conscience and their hearts and figure out whether they stand with the abuser or the abused.
CUOMO: If Roy Moore wins, what happens, Ben?
FERGUSON: I'm not sure he'll ever actually be a U.S. senator. And I think that's one of the X-factors. I've talked to a lot of voters in Alabama who have said they're not voting for Roy Moore. They're voting on keeping their Senate seat conservative.
Many of those voters don't believe he would ever even be able to take this seat in the Senate, because they would block him in some capacity. That's what a lot of voters believe in Alabama. But they also believe this seat is bigger than Roy Moore. Many of them said, look, I can't stand what Roy Moore has done, but I'm not going to give away my voice in Congress for six years in a capacity in a U.S. Senate seat where we're not going to be represented by the party that clearly represents us as a people in Alabama.
And, look, I just don't know how I could walk into a voting booth -- and this is what goes back to what Ana said a moment ago. I don't know how you could walk in there with a clear conscience push a button for Roy Moore.
Roy Moore messed over the voters, clearly in Alabama, messed over conservatives in the primary. That's on him. But to sit there and I'm going hit a button for this guy, knowing what we know about him, I couldn't hit that button.
I may not vote, but, you know, for the other guy, but I couldn't hit that button for Roy Moore. I just couldn't do it.
CUOMO: Ana, Ben, thank you very much, especially the day after Thanksgiving.
NAVARRO: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: And, Ana, you really sound like you went toe-to-toe with Don Lemon. And let me tell you, that is never easy.
NAVARRO: I know he's in bed. I'm going straight back to bed after this.
CUOMO: All right.
NAVARRO: See you next week, Chris Cuomo!
CUOMO: Appreciate it. Lots of fluids.
HILL: Yes, lots of fluids, maybe a Bloody Mary.
Just ahead, how has Cuba changed one year after Fidel Castro's death? How are relations between Cuba and the U.S. affecting things, especially with the changes under President Trump? A live report from Havana, next.