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Clash over CFPB Director Position; Trump Claims He Turned Down "Time" Magazine's Person of the Year Pick; Flynn Attorneys Stop Sharing Information with White House; Funeral Late Today for Border Patrol Agent; Can Doug Jones Flip Seat in Deep-Red Alabama; Navy Identifies 3 Sailors Killed Aboard Transport Plane; Flynn Attorneys Stop Sharing Information with White House. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired November 25, 2017 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:01] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

A big question looming over Washington today, who's in charge of a top consumer watchdog agency? President Trump named White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, as interim chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after its director stepped down. But that set up a political and legal clash because the outgoing director chose somebody else.

In a tweet, Senator Elizabeth Warren who helped create the consumer agency, said this: "The Dodd/Frank Act is clear, if there is a CFPB director agency, the deputy director becomes acting director. Donald Trump can't override that."

The White House is now defending the move, calling it routine, and arguing they have the law on their side.

Let's get the very latest now with CNN's Boris Sanchez in Washington.

So, Boris, we're hearing now for the first time from the possible new acting director. We're talking Mulvaney, right?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. We actually got a statement a few moments ago from Mick Mulvaney currently director of the OMB. A lot of people were interested in hearing from him, in part, because he has been so critical of this CFPB. It was an agency that was created back after the financial meltdown in order to -- designed to protect consumers from predatory financial institutions.

Here's a bit of what Mulvaney has said in the past.


MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: It's a wonderful example of how a bureaucracy will function if it has no accountability to anybody. It turns up being a joke. That's what the CFPB really has been in a sick, sad kind of way. You've got an institution that has tremendous authority over what you all do for a living, over your businesses, over your members. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And now here's the statement that we got just a short while ago from Mick Mulvaney. He says, quote, "I believe Americans deserve a CFPB that seeks to protect them while ensuring free and fair markets for all consumers. Financial services are the engine of American democratic capitalism and we need to let it work. I look forward to working with the expert personnel within the agency to identify how the bureau can transition to become more effective in its mission will becoming accountable to the taxpayer."

A source close to the OMB director telling CNN it is not likely he's going to be the permanent pick to lead this agency. We are told that he loves his job as director of the Office of Management and Budget. And that he didn't really envision himself leading this agency.

Obviously, there's a controversy on who Donald Trump picked. But there's also this legal dispute as to whether or not the president has the authority to appoint him. The White House is saying this is a decision that the president can make, citing the Vacancies Act of 1998, which gives the president broad authority on these kinds of appointments. But you're hearing from critics, like Senator Warren, who was one of the architects of this agency, that within the structure of the CFPB, there's a statute that states, if the director is unable or unavailable to follow along with their duties, then the deputy director would do that. And that's what it appears that Director Richard Cordray was doing when he submitted his resignation. So that's where the legal dispute is headed. The White House has said they hope this doesn't wind up in court, but if it does, they're prepared -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez in Washington, thank you.

All right, President Trump claims he is giving "Time" magazine a hard pass on being their infamous Person of the Year. In a tweet, the president says, "'Time' magazine called to say that I was probably going to be named Man, Person of the Year, like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway."

Well, now the publication is calling out the president's incorrect statement.

CNN's senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, joining me right now.

Brian, this is ugly and kind of embarrassing, right?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: Well, for which side, for which person, Fredricka?


STELTER: This is definitely one of those controversies that gets people talking because people are wondering where the truth is. You know, Trump's detractors look at this and say it's another example of the president's narcissism that he cares at all about "Time" magazine's Person of the Year and he says he doesn't want to be Person of the Year because he's not been promised a spot. I think the president's fans say he deserves a spot on the cover. It's about 10 days before "Time" magazine actually names a Person of the Year. Certainly, President Trump would be on anyone's short list for that nomination.

It's technically not an honor, Fredricka. In the past, we have seen some of the world's worst sort of dictators and figures also named Person of the Year. It is a representation of who had the most impact for good or for bad during the year.

So here's what "Time" magazine says actually is going on. It says the president is wrong when he tweeted that he was offered it and it would probably be it. Quote, "the president is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year. 'Time' does not comment on our choice until publication which is December 6." They're trying to avoid this little controversy that's come about.

But it raises the question whether there was a quid pro quo. Did "Time" say you can be on the cover but only if you give us an interview? Certainly "Time" would call up and say, you know what time of year it is, we'd love to speak to the president. And he says he doesn't want to be it.

[13:05:43] WHITFIELD: Yes, but, you know, I guess it's that called part, because "Time" is saying we wouldn't have called you and the president would say they called. That's strange.

OK, so we know the president, too, is rather obsessed with the whole "Time" magazine Person of the Year, being named it. Last year, he was named it. We know there's been some controversy over kind of the fake "Time" magazine covers that he's on, you know, that he's had properties throughout. So is this kind of, you know, revisiting that, that obsession that the president seems to have?

STELTER: Yes, some things don't change, whether you're a businessman or the president of the United States. Donald Trump cared a lot about this magazine before he was president, and still does. We can show you some tweets from the past that make this point really well. Almost every year since 2012, President Trump has tweeted about the "Time" Person of the Year nomination. He was critical of the magazine in 2015 for choosing German Chancellor Angela Merkel over him. Now, remember, he's saying this year "Time" is saying, we'll put you on the cover, but only if you give us an interview and a photo shoot. It's worth pointing out Merkel did not give an interview, did not give a photo shoot, and she was still Person of the Year.

But I think the bigger picture point, Fredricka, is President Trump is very reluctant to give interviews to any outlet he's not friendly with. He speaks to FOX News. He speaks to some local broadcasts he believes are pro-Trump. He actually doesn't give interviews anymore to the "Time" magazines or the CNNs or the CBSs or the NBCs of the world. That started six months ago when Mueller was appointed special counsel. Seems to me maybe President Trump's trying to avoid giving "Time" magazine an interview and that could be part of what's going on here.

WHITFIELD: Interesting.

All right, Brian Stelter, thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: We're going to talk about that a little bit and we're also going to talk about the controversial naming of interim directors.

Karoun Demirjian, a CNN political analyst and a congressional reporter for "The Washington Post" with me. Also back with me, Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst.

Good to see you both.


WHITFIELD: Julian, we'll talk about the "Time" magazine debacle, if you will, in a minute. But first, let's talk about the president's potentially picking a fight now with Congress and the courts over this appointment of this CFPB, it is something that a lot of folks have to get used to. They may know about the agency, broadly, but they perhaps were not familiar with the name, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Apparently, the director stepping out and appointing the deputy. Then the president saying instead I want my OMB director to fill that spot. Why would the president do this, knowing that it's going to lead to a fight with Congress or the courts?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICIAL ANALYST: Well, I think he did it with a lot of intention. Meaning this is a bureau that the administration does not like. This was set up in 2010 to help middle-class consumers, to protect them from fraud. I think already by creating this kind of conflict and uncertainty, he undermines the ability of this body to do its work. Then eventually he'll fill this spot with someone like Mulvaney who is opposed to the mission of the bureau. In both cases, I think this is an effort to dismantle a key part of Obama's legacy and a central part of the Dodd/Frank legislation.

WHITFIELD: Karoun, the White House says it is within its rights, and has solid legal footing to do this, pointing to the federal Vacancies Act. But many legal scholars say the Dodd/Frank law really overrides the Vacancies Act. Is the president, you know, headed for a real potential struggle in all of this?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It just depends on how you interpret the letter of the law which is the argument they're having right now. Ostensibly, if Dodd/Frank came after the federal Vacancies Act and specified the order of success for the director, then that would be the last word of Congress and that would be what seems to govern. Of course, there's this question about does the unavailability of the director mean in that moment because he's indisposed or in general because he's left the agency. This is the fundamental dispute. As long as they keep fundamentally debating that, you're going to have this uncertainty surrounding it. What you're having play out here is a microcosm of the fight you would

have in Congress if the president were to appoint another director that would have to be approved, which is there are people who want to keep health of the CFPB going and there are people who want to dismantle it. Cordray appointing his chief of staff would be continuing his leadership, basically, in the style he's been doing, which Republicans don't like that much. Having somebody like Mulvaney come in undercuts that.

Also remember even if Mulvaney is there on an interim basis, the president has to still nominate somebody to send to Congress for their approval, and this administration has not been very quick about doing that. So by putting somebody in like Mulvaney or somebody else that does not really want to see the CFPB succeed, you can create a very long pause on what the agency is about, what it is able to do --


[13:11:02] WHITFIELD: But he could potentially be interim for a very long time, right --



WHITFIELD: -- long enough to dismantle, if that's the goal, as you were mentioning, Julian.


ZELIZER: This is a pattern the administration has been following on many government programs where there's not a lot of hope of dismantling the programs altogether, including ACA, so the other strategy that they use is you staff those programs with people who are not sympathetic to running them well. And I think that's exactly what's going on here. And this is a long tradition. We saw this with Reagan. We saw this with Bush. And I think Trump has been doing this very aggressively. And that's exactly what he's doing now.

WHITFIELD: Julian, you talked about this president wanting to chip away at the Obama legacy. This would be another way which he could do that. So many have described it being sort of an obsession of the president, to do away with Obama-era things.

Speaking of obsessions, how about the "Time" magazine? It's been clear that President Trump has kind of been obsessed with being on the cover of "Time" magazine. And now you have this controversy with the president tweeting out that they called him and then "Time" magazine coming out and saying we don't do it that way.

So, Julian, this doesn't look good for the president. Why would he do this?

ZELIZER: Well, his supporters love it, whenever he picks a fight.

WHITFIELD: Love the part where he says, they called, and come to find out they say we don't usually do that?

ZELIZER: I think when he picks a fight with any major institution, there's an element that's very appealing for his supporters. And so in that way, it's an issue that is a winning issue for him. On the other hand, it does get to this fundamental trust question with the president. I think for much of the country, even though this is not the biggest story of the day, it touches on something very important, how credible is the president when he says something. And the fact that you have a debate like this suggests that for many people in the country, they don't necessarily believe what he tweets or what he says.


DEMIRJIAN: Yes, it also is just kind of another example of the president kind of casting himself front and center of the other things going on. When we discuss Trump and "Time" magazine and -- you know, the little bit of a smile on her face, we're not talking about tax reform, a number of other things that are going to be facing the president the second that he gets -- that Congress gets back to D.C. and everybody recovers from Thanksgiving break next week. And, you know, we've seen this with various things that the president has taken to on Twitter, whether it's, you know, football players taking a knee or various other aspects of things going on in society that the president wants to opine about that are not really part of his job necessarily. And this is kind of in line with those -- with those things that seem to catch his fancy and be more about him than about what his office is doing right now.

WHITFIELD: Well, that's interesting. But ahead of, you know, that potential tax vote in the Senate, you know, trust, credibility, all that stuff on the line, isn't that also on the line when any of these lawmakers say they want to vote for something that, you know, is very important particularly to this president, calling it a potential Christmas gift?

All right, Julian and Karoun, thank you so much.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.

[13:14:20] WHITFIELD: Still ahead, Michael Flynn's lawyers, they are no longer sharing information with President Trump's legal counsel. Could this mean that Flynn is preparing to cut a deal with the special counsel? And, if so, what would that mean for the Russia investigation?


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The White House still dealing with new developments in the Russia investigation. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's lawyers are cutting off communications with President Trump's legal team. It comes just weeks after CNN reported Flynn was increasingly concerned about the potential legal exposure of his son in this investigation. Joining me now, CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.

So, Shimon, is the perception on Capitol Hill that this is possibly a precursor to a deal between Flynn and the special counsel's office?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: There's all sorts of talk in Washington as to what this means. There are some on Capitol Hill saying that something is going on, something has changed. But no matter which way some of these people are looking at it, they believe he's in a lot of trouble.

Keep in mind, there could be a couple of things going on here. As to specifically why his lawyer has decided to cut the president's lawyers off and no locker share information is not entirely clear. There are a couple of narratives playing out. Michael Flynn could be working on a plea deal where he would plead guilty to a charge the government wants to admit to and then maybe begin to cooperate and provide information. It could also be he's pleading guilty and negotiating a plea without cooperating and just wants to distance himself from anything that could potentially jeopardize a deal that may be coming for him with the special counsel. So there's all sorts of scenarios.

Nonetheless, it is significant because, for months, these lawyers have been sharing information, and now, all of a sudden, something has happened, and they no longer are. It is a significant deal. And it definitely, definitely changes the strategy that Michael Flynn's defense has been working with here. It remains to be seen. Maybe in the next few weeks, we'll get a better idea exactly of why this happened. But right now, we don't know exactly and there are all these different scenarios.

[13:20:44] WHITFIELD: Shimon Prokupecz, in Washington, thank you.

All right, funeral services are being held later today for Border Patrol agent, Rogelio Martinez. He died under mysterious circumstances. Federal investigators are now investigating the incident that left Martinez dead and his partner injured. Authorities are offering up to $45,000 for information as to what may have happened. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other law enforcement officials will be attending the service in El Paso today.

CNN correspondent, Scott McLean, is in El Paso, outside of the church, and joining me now.

Are authorities any closer to figure out what happened?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, the FBI, who is leading this investigation, frankly, they don't have a whole heck of a lot to go on. Neither of these agents were wearing body cameras. They don't have video, dash-cam video on their cars. This happened really out in the middle of nowhere, 12 miles from the closest small town that was nearby. And it would have been pitch dark, almost midnight when this took place. It's not even clear there's a radio transcription of a call for help from either of these border agents who attended this incident. But the one person that investigators know was a witness to at least

part of this, that second agent who survived, he says he doesn't remember anything. This is according to his local union representative, Lee Smith, who spoke to me after meeting with the second unnamed agent yesterday. He said that the last thing that he remembers is going into work. After that, he remembers, or he says he remembers absolutely nothing. He said that he is walking on his own though with the help of a cane. He does have visible stitches and a bruise on the back of his head. And he said that this agent looks to be in -- visibly in pain, even just sitting down and talking.

Authorities, they can't even agree on what to talk -- or what to call this. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, he's calling it a murder. The Border Patrol Union, they're calling it an ambush. The FBI, again, leading this investigation, will only say that it is a possible assault.

Meanwhile, Fredricka, Agent Rogelio Martinez, his funeral will be held today. The program reads "End of Watch." He will be laid to rest by his family and also his law enforcement family just a couple of hours from now. This road will be lined for the funeral procession by more than 50 Border Patrol honor guard, who will be here. You mentioned Jeff Sessions will be here. The acting chief of the Border Patrol will be here as well. That is the official delegation.

But I should point out as well that there are also some of Martinez's former colleagues from the other end of the state at a station where he used to work. They've come here on their own time, on their own expense to pay their respects. And you can imagine there will be plenty of other people who knew him from El Paso who will be here as well -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Scott McLean, in El Paso, thank you so much.

In GOP-dominated Alabama, can Democrat Doug Jones really convince skeptical GOP voters to cross the aisle? Next, a closer look at the candidate and how young Republicans are weighing in on his opponent, Roy Moore.


[13:28:22] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. In a little over two weeks, Alabama voters will decide whether to send Republican Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate. Monday is the last day for Alabamians to register to vote in that special election. Moore has seen some of his support erode in the polls, but he's, again, firing back against sexual assault allegations.


ANNOUNCER: Five state campaigns, 40 years of honorable service, Roy Moore has been intensely scrutinized and not a hint of scandal. But four weeks before the election, false allegations, a scheme by Democrats and the Republican establishment to protect their big government trough.

We know a vote for Roy Moore means conservative judges, tax cuts and rebuilding the military.

Roy Moore, right choice.


WHITFIELD: Kaylee Hartung has been following the race closely, and joins me now.

Kaylee, really a couple weeks away, right? Are these campaign ads, does anyone believe they might influence voters?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right now, I think Alabama voters just have a bit of fatigue. Today may be a respite from it all. Because today, Alabama's not divided by Democrats and Republicans, it's Roll Tide or War Eagle, the Iron Bowl, one of college football's greatest rivalries. And many are hoping they can escape the mess of this political campaign just before the final stretch of an already white-hot race.


HARTUNG (voice-over): The name dominating national headlines for more than two weeks. We know Roy Moore is running for the U.S. Senate and his campaign is in trouble.

ANNOUNCER: They were girls when Roy Moore immorally pursued them. Now they are women, witnesses to us all of his disturbing conduct.

HARTUNG: But what about the other guy, the challenger to the man accused of being a sexual predator?

[13:30:00] RICHARD DUNN, BIRMINGHAM RADIO HOST: What we're getting nationally is oh, Alabamians would vote for a pedophile over a liberal Democrat. And --


DOUG JONES, (D), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE (voice-over): In this circumstance, yes.

DUNN: OK, well, you're just saying it flat-out then?

JONES: Yes, absolutely.

(on camera): I feel like my record speaks for itself.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the red state of Alabama, where Republicans have held every statewide office for the last 25 years, the blue label of Democrat is drowning out Doug Jones' name to some, even while his opponent is drowning in scandal.

JONES (voice-over): We're staying in our lane as best we can. Obviously, to some extent, it's a distraction.

HARTUNG: Born and raised in Alabama, the 63-year-old first-time candidate is a longtime attorney, a federal prosecutor who's best known for successfully putting domestic terrorist, Eric Rudolph, and Ku Klux Klan members, who bombed a Birmingham church in 1963, behind bars.

JONES: I'll work across party lines to create jobs and get wages up.

HARTUNG: In the state that elected President Trump by 28 points, victory for Jones requires him swaying some Republicans on the issues. So he's trying to appeal to more conservative voters. Focusing on what he calls kitchen-table issues, jobs, the economy, health care. He says he would vote to raise the federal minimum wage and he supports the Affordable Care Act.

But for many in Alabama, it comes down to one issue, Jones' pro- choice, believing it an intensely personal choice and supporting the state's current abortion laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I wouldn't vote for the baby killer for hell or high water. I don't believe in murdering children.

HARTUNG: Strong rhetoric like that can be heard on the conservative talk air waves. But in print, a different statement. The editorial boards of the state's top newspapers writing, "Stand for decency, reject Roy Moore." This front page above the fold editorial denouncing Moore and endorsing Jones.

ROY MOORE, (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I believe in the Second Amendment.


HARTUNG: Alabama voters are skeptical of outside influences on this race. But their choice on December 12th is crucial to the balance of power in Washington.


HARTUNG: Doug Jones' campaign believes they can win only if they put together an unusually delicate coalition. As "The Washington Post" said today, that means getting the support of the Democratic base, particularly among African-Americans. They will need them to come out in record numbers. And also Republicans, those who are just too disgusted by Roy Moore to vote for him, an obvious opportunity there with women. Fred, you know turnout in special elections always a challenge.


All right, thanks so much, Kaylee. Appreciate it.

The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on its tax reform plan this week. So don't miss the CNN debate, "The Fight Over Tax Reform." Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Maria Cantwell and Tim Scott discussing the fate of reform and how much you should pay in taxes every year. That's Tuesday night, 9:00 p.m. eastern, only on CNN.

And we'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:37:37] WHITFIELD: We're following breaking news. The Navy has identified the three sailors killed when their plane crashed off the coast of Japan Wednesday. This comes after the military notified their families that the extensive search and rescue efforts ended.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joining me now with details on this -- Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, the U.S. Navy had been holding off on releasing the identities of these three men until they could notify families. Today, releasing both the names and the faces of those men that were now presumed dead by the Navy: Lieutenant Steven Combs from Florida you see there, Airman Matthew Chialastri from Louisiana, and Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso also from Florida. They were among 11 crew and passengers on board the Navy transport plane that crashed as it approached an air carrier on Wednesday. Eight of the occupants on that cargo aircraft were rescued by both U.S. officials and Japanese officials that had been searching after that collision.

Now, the commanding officer releasing a statement after this incident. I want to read a portion of that, Fred, if I could. It reads, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the sailors. Their service and sacrifice will be lasting in Seventh Fleet, and we will continue to stand the watch for them, as they did bravely for all of us." This coming from Vice Admiral Phil Sawyer, the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

As for a potential cause here, the investigation, Fred, is still ongoing, but the Japanese defense minister has said that engine trouble could potentially be to blame. But again, that investigation still ongoing right now.

[13:39:17] WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Now that we have learned that Michael Flynn's lawyers have stopped talking with the president's lawyers about the Russia investigation, there is growing speculation that the former national security adviser is playing "Let's Make a Deal" with the Special Investigator Robert Mueller's team. Such a move could have major political and legal ramifications.

Joining me right now to discuss the possible legal impacts of Flynn, potentially Flynn flipping, Avery Friedman, civil rights attorney and law professor in Cleveland, and Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor, joining us from Las Vegas.

Good to see you all. Happy Thanksgiving weekend.


WHITFIELD: All right, so Richard, to you first, you know what are the chances that you believe, you know, Flynn's lawyers are cooperating with the Mueller team because they may be trying to, you know, cut a deal, especially after what, six months ago, Flynn said, you know, we have an interesting story, if only he would be granted immunity, but now potentially could there be some real deal making in the works?

[13:44:59] HERMAN: Well, admittedly, Fred, it's all conjecture right now because we don't know. But based upon my experience in complex multidefendant federal prosecutions, this behavior, by Flynn and his attorneys, would indicate to me that, either, one, they already have a deal and he's been cooperating for months or, two, they're looking to make a deal, and so they want to make Mueller and his team happy and they want to send a signal that they are with the government now, they're not helping Trump or Trump's people.

This is very serious, Fred, because this was the first three-star retired general to align himself with Trump. He was there during the campaign. He was there during the transition. He was there for 24 days after the -- after Trump was inaugurated, you know. And here he was. Remember visions of him standing on the stage, rah, rah, rah, lock her up, lock her up. Ain't that a bitch, because she might get locked up now.


HERMAN: He has -- the government has slam-dunk prosecutions against him for financial foreign disclosure violations, Fred. It's open and shut. They have him criminally. They can get him, slam dunk. It's his son, that's who he's going to look to protect here.


HERMAN: And that's why he's going to make a deal. And we'll see what information he's going to give up.

WHITFIELD: Avery, let's keep it clean. So now what about talk about immunity. Is that something that would still be on the table, if he were cooperating, even though months ago that was not something that the Mueller team would entertain? Is it ever too late to be granted immunity?

FRIEDMAN: It's never too late. I don't think we're going to see immunity. The deal here is going to be, what extent he's going to be behind bars in my judgement. And I'm also in agreement. The real provocative crime here, beyond failing to register, failing to disclose, making false statements, is this question of so-called extra judicial rendition, which in layman's terms means a possible kidnap in conjunction with Turkey and getting their hands on a cleric, the Turkish cleric, who's holed up in the Poconos right now. So when you look at the four major felonies and you couple it with that, and the fear of impacting Junior, Michael Flynn Jr, there are very, very good reasons that Michael Flynn has got to do a deal. Whether it's going to result in jail time is a completely separate issue. I have very little doubt we're going to be looking for a deal. And he's going to be talk about what is going on in the White House.

HERMAN: That's right.


Because, Richard, the primary focus was to be about, you know, Russia, its influence, et cetera, on the U.S. elections, how complicit the Trump campaign was but now underscoring the whole turkey connection, the cleric, I mean, it has been broadened out considerably.


HERMAN: OK, that's a side show for the Mueller investigation and that is problematic and there may be criminal violations with that. But what Mueller is focusing on with Flynn is Flynn's meeting with Ambassador Kislyak with Jared Kushner --

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

HERMAN: -- where the issue of sanctions was discussed. Because if there was a quid pro quo, Fred, and if Flynn testifies that Trump told him, you tell the Russians, if they help us win the election, I will ease up the sanctions, that's what Mueller wants here for the collusion. That's why they're doing that.


HERMAN: We'll see how far Flynn goes. Because, listen, it could go anywhere for him. With getting his son off the hook. And him getting, you know, a few years in prison, ten years in prison or no time in prison. It depends upon substantial assistance.

FRIEDMAN: That will never happen.


WHITFIELD: And to help get off the hook, you know, to borrow your language, it really does mean leading to a bigger name, right?

FRIEDMAN: Yes. Well, sure.


HERMAN: He has to give up -- he's to give up Jared Kushner. That's who he's going to give up.


FRIEDMAN: We don't know that. We don't know that.

HERMAN: Jared Kushner.

(CROSSTALK) HERMAN: But that meeting --


HERMAN: We don't know anything, Avery --

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

HERMAN: -- but it's conjecture here based on the facts and meeting with Kislyak and the failure to turn over documents and failure to comply with subpoenas --

FRIEDMAN: Wait a minute, failure to turn over something is not a crime --


HERMAN: They're hiding something here. It's going to come out. Flynn's going to tie it together for Mueller.


HERMAN: This is very serious for Trump.

FRIEDMAN: I think that December meeting, that December meeting with Sergey Kislyak, the ambassador, is going to be critical, because why on earth would Michael Flynn, after meeting with the FBI, lie about that?

So the bottom line, with all the other times, failure to register, failure to disclose compensation, I mean, this is serious. And whether he's motivated to save his son or not, I think, is part of the motivation to say, hey, look, I don't know how much time I have to do, but limit it. I will turn somebody over. I will flip. I think that's exactly what we will see.

[13:50:08] WHITFIELD: So is the White House sweating right now?


FRIEDMAN: Got to be.




HERMAN: Big time, Fred. I don't care what Sekulow says. He is wrong. He is there to make Trump feel good. This is very, very serious. Because Flynn also --


HERMAN: -- in addition to collusion, has information concerning obstruction. That's the number-one count they're going to get Trump on, I believe.


HERMAN: And Flynn was right there in the middle of that, Fred. I'm telling you, he is going to give a treasure trove of information to Mueller.


HERMAN: It's dangerous for Trump.

FRIEDMAN: We will see.

HERMAN: Very dangerous.

WHITFIELD: We will see.

Thank you so much. Avery Friedman, Richard Herman --


WHITFIELD: -- always great to see you.


WHITFIELD: I am grateful to see you this Thanksgiving holiday.

HERMAN: Great to see you, Fred.


WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much.

Still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

But first, in this week's new episode of "PARTS UNKNOWN," the heel of the boot draws Anthony Bourdain back in time as he visits the largely untouched landscapes and colorful locals of southern Italy.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN (voice-over): Despite its uncanny beauty, sunny Italy's Palou (ph) and Basilicata (ph) regions are some of the least populated, least visited, least known parts of the country.

A mix of sea, hills, valleys and rich earth. The food here is Italian but completely its own.

(on camera): Little garlic, parsley, some kind of fish, Fu main (ph), pasta. That's it. Oh. Incredible.

I've never been to this part of Italy before. Lot of blue here, light browns and ochres and white. I don't know. You look at this place, it demands a big space. As I walk around I'm always humming with these stores. For a few dollars more, once upon a time. (END VIDEO CLIP)


[13:57:08] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Imagine this, you're on a busy highway and it looks like a plane is about to crash and hit you. That's what happened to one off-duty firefighter in California.

CNN's Stephanie Elam tells us how the firefighter jumped into action going "Beyond the Call of Duty."



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is 9:30 a.m., the Friday before the Fourth of July, in Orange County, California. John Meffert is driving southbound near John Wayne Airport on the 405, one of America's busiest highways at the start of a big get away weekend.

MEFFERT: My first glimpse is, wow, that plane is low.

ELAM: A twin engine Cessna is trying to return to the airport.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lost my right engine.

MEFFERT: My second glimpse is I think this plane is going to hit me. All I see is a white-flash haze. The wing came across the front of my car. I had one big scrape all across the front with one dent.

ELAM: But Meffert, who happens to be a captain with the Avalon Fire Department, isn't thinking about that. He immediately starts to run toward the plane, which crashed on the highway and is in flames, feet from the runway.

MEFFERT: I didn't think anyone would be a survivor in that plane. Wasn't until I saw the passenger, her head pops up just enough that I am like there's somebody alive.

ELAM: Meffert ushered that passenger to safety before pulling the pilot off the plane.

MEFFERT: Just the two of you?


ELAM: Meffert and other drivers tend to the couple, both are injured, but lucid enough to answer questions.

MEFFERT: Just breathe, OK?

Both of them were pretty bloody. I was amazed there weren't more injuries to them.

ELAM: Frank and Janan Pisano both broke several bones in their backs.

To CNN, Frank said, "John was a hero. He went into a burning plane to save us. He saved my life and my wife's because I know she would have stayed trying to save me."

(on camera): Do you play that moment over and over in your head?

MEFFERT: I play all of the "what ifs," going slower or faster. Could have been a different turnout. We had lots of angels. So I feel very blessed that I was safe, and I was able to render care to them.

ELAM (voice-over): An instance of the right place, right time, measured in millimeters and seconds.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Avalon, California.


WHITFIELD: Hello, again. Thank you for being with me this Saturday. I am Fredricka Whitfield.

A big question looming over Washington today, who's in charge of a top consumer watchdog agency. President Trump named White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, as interim chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after its director stepped down. But that set up a political and legal clash because the out-going director chose someone else.