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Hundreds Dead at Egyptian Sufi Mosque; Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa Sworn In; Flynn's Lawyers Stop Communicating with Trump Team; Dozens Arrested at Pakistani Protest; Protesters in Paris Demand Action Against Libyan Slavery; Macy's Stores Struggle on Black Friday; IRS Beefs Up Security to Protect Trump's Tax Returns. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired November 25, 2017 - 04:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Muslim worshippers murdered in the deadliest terror attack in Egypt, more than 200 killed. We'll have the latest from the region.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): In Pakistan right now, protesters of a hard-line Islamic party clashing with police. With dozens injured and arrested, we go live to Islamabad.

ALLEN (voice-over): Plus, he was on the cover in 2016 and U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he turned down an offer to possibly be "TIME" magazine's Person of the Year again. But the magazine tells a different story.

HOWELL (voice-over): Live from CNN Headquarters here in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: It is 4:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. Around the world, good day to you.

We begin with what is described as the worst terror attack in Egypt's history. The nation's military claims to have found and killed at least some of the terrorists behind the bombing of a Sufi mosque. This happened in the Sinai Peninsula.

ALLEN: Officials promised retaliation after gunmen killed at least 235 people on Friday. The attackers used explosives to draw worshippers out of the mosque and then gunned them down, even targeting the ambulances who came to help.

CNN's Ian Lee followed the story in the region the for us.

Ian, officials are saying that the air force struck several vehicles carrying militants. What more can you tell us?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: George, Egypt's military launched an operation. Shortly after this attack, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi convened an emergency session of his security camp and then ordered the military to take action.

They said they were combing the desert, looking for the perpetrators involved because, after this attack, the culprits were able to slip away into the desert relatively easily. The military did say they were able to strike some of the trucks they say were involved in this attack.

But from the sheer scale of this operation, the scale of this attack, it seems like there were a number of people involved, people that the government will be looking for.

HOWELL: Ian, this attack on Muslims during worship, still no claims of responsibility at this point, though ISIS is believed to be behind it. Explain to our viewers why this particular group was targeted.

LEE: You're right. We do believe ISIS was behind that for a number of reasons. One, this is an area where ISIS is known to operate. ISIS also can carry out sophisticated attacks like this.

And why this mosque, a lot of people may be wondering why ISIS would attack a mosque in a first place.

That's because this mosque was the heart of Sufi Islam, which is a mystic, more tolerant form of Islam than that being practiced by ISIS and their supporters, their followers, which is more a puritanical form of Islam. And ISIS views Sufis as sinners, as infidels and they've threatened the Sufis before. They've attacked their shrines.

So they have been in ISIS' crosshairs. So while no one has claimed responsibility, that's the reason why we believe that ISIS was behind this attack.

HOWELL: Ian Lee following the story. Thanks for the reporting.

Let's get some context now with Fawaz Gerges. Fawaz is the chair of the department of Middle East studies at the London School of Economics, live this hour from our London bureau.

Always a pleasure to have you on the show, Fawaz. Let's talk about this particular part of the world, the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. The most recent attack on Sufi Muslims, but we've seen before Coptic Christians targeted in the past.

What is it about this region that makes it seem like such a hotbed for these extremists?

FAWAZ GERGES, DIR. MIDDLE EAST CENTER, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: This is a very good question because North Sinai has witnessed an insurgency for the past more than a decade. So you have a very complex insurgency, which has escalated after 2013,

after the toppling of Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood president by the Egyptian army.

In the past, you know, since 2013, thousands of people have been killed. You have strategic attacks not only against civilians but even against the security forces. This is the beating heart of the radicalized insurgency that basically has taken on the ideology of ISIS since 2014.

Since 2014, the so-called Affiliate of Sinai or Wilayat Sinai, has pledged allegiance to ISIS. It's now subscribes to its ideology --


GERGES: -- and this is its power base. And what it has done, it has focused mainly on the security forces and Coptic Christians. But, in the past few months, it has focused more and more on Sufis. In the past two months, it beheaded two Sufi clerics.

And the attack on al-Rawda mosque is basically targeting the Sufi community, a mystical strand of Islam, a tolerant strand of Islam, its virtual strand of Islam because what ISIS is trying to do is to really show that the government of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the president, cannot protect minorities and cannot protect his people.

HOWELL: Let's talk just a bit more on that. So the president, it has been something that he has claimed he would crack down on this type of extremist.

But does this, in effect, undermine his ability to take on this problem?

Or does it put more pressure on him to do more?

GERGES: Well, I think, George, if you ask me, what is the strategic goal of the Wilayat Sinai, the Affiliate of Sinai or the Province of Sinai, by carrying out strategic attacks against Coptic Christians and now against Muslim worshippers?

Whether they are Sufis or your ordinary citizens, I think the goal is to undermine the president of the Egyptian republic, Abdul Fattah al- Sisi. President Sisi's platform is security and stability and prosperity.

And since 2013, the various radicalized elements, whether they are ISIS or Al Qaeda or freelancers, they are trying to undermine the credibility of the president. And the president has come under tremendous pressure to show that he can protect Egyptians.

Remember, he is a commander in chief. He was a former general. And by carrying out attacks in Northern Sinai, in Alexandria, in Cairo, all over Egypt, those Al Qaeda and the ISIS affiliates are trying to show that there is no stability and no security in Egypt.

And, remember, George, they are waging economic warfare against Egypt because the attacks against Egypt undermine basically and basically destroy the tourist industry, which represents a major, major element of the Egyptian economy.

HOWELL: OK. So look, there's been no official claim of responsibility again but it is believed that this attack has been carried out by ISIS.

What impact would an attack like this have on ISIS, this terror group, which has been losing a great deal of ground throughout the Middle East?

GERGES: I mean, you and I and your team, George, we have been talking about that ISIS is losing big time in Iraq and Syria. We are witnessing the dismantling of the physical so-called caliphate. Yet what we have really neglected to say, that ISIS has expanded near and wide.

The most potent ISIS affiliates are now are in Egypt, the Wilayat Sinai. They have expanded into Libya, into Somalia, into Yemen, into many parts of the world, Pakistan and Afghanistan. And it tells you that, even though ISIS is going down in both Iraq and Syria, at least physically, the state is being dismantled, I think the morning after it's going to witness many attacks in many Middle Eastern countries and probably Western countries as well.

So we need to be aware of how ISIS has mutated and extended both in the region and outside the region as well.

HOWELL: It is good to get your perspective on this, Fawaz Gerges, live in our London bureau. Thank you for your perspective today.

GERGES: Thank you.

ALLEN: We turn now to Zimbabwe. People there are hoping for big changes from their new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

HOWELL: Mnangagwa was sworn in on Friday. This following Robert Mugabe's resignation as the president of that nation this week. Our Farai Sevenzo reports on what led to this historic change in that country.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighteen days ago, this man was fired by Robert Mugabe, but a single act set off a minor revolution leading Zimbabwe to this point.

Every revolution has a soundtrack. This is Zimbabwe's. A popular song here called (INAUDIBLE). The crowd sing along to the tune about a hero who comes along.


SEVENZO (voice-over): Their hero today is their new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, because the new man is not the old one.

Another of the people's heroes, the army general, who made it all happen.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people are happy.


SEVENZO (voice-over): Zimbabwe's new president took the oath of office and signed the paperwork as the crowd roared their approval.

SEVENZO: Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has put pen to paper and has become the third president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

SEVENZO (voice-over): Mnangagwa spent most of his career serving Mugabe and even went out of his way to praise him this day. He asked the nation to let bygones be bygones.

MNANGAGWA: There is lot we can do in the present and the future to give our nation a different positive direction. And if we do so, we should never remain hostages of our past. I humbly appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones.

SEVENZO (voice-over): With incredible speed, posters and flags have been printed for this new dawn. The country is in the grip of a new positive energy. It's quite something to witness a people who have had no voice suddenly come back to life.

SEVENZO: So here we are, the Zimbabweans very excited. A new energy has been infused in the nation, which has been asleep for so long.

SEVENZO (voice-over): This apparent coup has been very strange. Everybody expected the sound of guns, but the only sound that guns made were in celebration. Make no mistake, this is the army's man.

For decades he ran the forces from behind the ministerial desk, now they happily salute him as Zimbabwe's new commander in chief and the nation's president.

MNANGAGWA: I intend, am required to serve our country as the president of all citizens, regardless of color, creed, religion, tribe, totem or political affiliation.

SEVENZO: The honeymoon with the Army shows no sign of abating. Selfies of the men in camouflage were the fashion of the day and a new all-embracing language began to emerge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not about color. This is not about race. This is not about anything. It's all about Zimbabwe, white, black, red, green or what. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. We are all Zimbabweans. Let's unite. (INAUDIBLE) for Zimbabwe.

SEVENZO (voice-over): And it is this nation's hope that they and their new president can do just that -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Harare. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: We're joined now by "The Washington Times" correspondent Geoff hill to discuss this historic change in Zimbabwe's leadership.

Jeff, thanks for talking with us with. First of all, the euphoria we just saw from those people, such a beautiful thing to see. But now it's up to Mnangagwa to come through for them.

Do you think he can and he will?

GEOFF HILL, "THE WASHINGTON TIMES": Yes, I do. And perhaps I'm putting naive confidence in Emmerson, who I have met several times and spoken with many times. Emmerson is a pragmatist whereas Mugabe was more of a philosopher, sometimes a very violent and bad philosopher.

Emmerson understands what needs to be done to get this country back on track. Words are not going to do it. He will have to show very quickly and very clearly that this is the change before Western countries reengage financially.

ALLEN: That's encouraging that you've met him and feel good about his taking over the country. He struck a very inclusive tone in his remarks to the country.

What stood out for you?

HILL: The fact that he said the past was the past and he didn't want any retribution, that he wanted to go forward inclusively. This was so important, not just in terms of white and black. Remember at the height of Rhodesia in the 1970s, there were only 320,000 whites.

There now 12 million black people, 4 million of them living in exile. And Zimbabwe has a number of tribes. The Shona tribe, the Shona's Mnangagwa's own (INAUDIBLE) people, have a number of clans. It is bringing all of those people together that is so important because many have been marginalized during the Mugabe rule.

ALLEN: Ninety percent unemployment in Zimbabwe.

Is job one the economy?

And where does he start?

HILL: This is so critical. You've hit it there. Not 90 percent unemployment but Mugabe, a former school teacher, insisted that all schools do algebra and Shakespeare. You have the most literate and well-educated country in Africa.

And of course, you can't expect kids who have done their education to go and grow pumpkins. They want real jobs in the city. They're on Twitter, they're on Facebook and they insist on their voice being heard.


HILL: And the first voice, the loudest voice is, we want jobs.

ALLEN: Well, hopefully he can start to create that. He certainly reached out to the world, saying, we're open for business. One journalist we spoke recently with said she was a tad disappointed he didn't account for his role in the past when he spoke, working alongside Mugabe, who put the country in this downward spiral.

Should he have addressed that?

HILL: Very difficult because, of course, he was involved in the genocide of the 1980s against the Ndebele people in the south of Zimbabwe. This would have him in The Hague, essentially. So he has to be very careful.

But you remember that when Gorbachev came to power and he'd been a Soviet strongman, so had Boris Yeltsin, neither of them said sorry for the past. They simply changed the future.

ALLEN: Geoff Hill with "The Washington Times," thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

HOWELL: And still ahead here on NEWSROOM this hour, the President of the United States on a working vacation and the weighty matters on his plate, talk, Twitter and tee times.





HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

There is a clash over who will lead the federal consumer watchdog agency in the United States. Richard Cordray --


HOWELL: -- stepped down as the director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau effective midnight Friday. In his letter to President Trump, he named his deputy director as acting director.

But the president had other ideas. He named budget director Mick Mulvaney to the post. Mulvaney, you see there -- as a congressman, Mulvaney had voted to do away with that agency.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, an outspoken consumer advocate, tweeted this, "The Dodd-Frank Act is clear. If there is a CFPB director, they can see the deputy director becomes acting director. Donald Trump can't override that."

ALLEN: So we'll see what happens in that one.

HOWELL: Absolutely. ALLEN: President Trump is on a working at his Mar-A-Lago resort.

HOWELL: Among other things on his mind, the attack in Egypt, immigration, taxes and tee times -- as Jeff Zeleny reports.



JEFF ZELENY, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump hitting the links today with two of the biggest names in golf, Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson. The White House rarely confirms when the president is golfing, but he made the announcement himself on Twitter, saying he would be "heading over to Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, to play golf quickly."

He departed after more than four hours at the course. His visit marking the 80th day he's spent at one of his golf properties since taking office and his 100th day at a Trump-branded property. Many Americans and more than a few presidents play golf. It's only notable because of what Mr. Trump repeatedly said before winning the presidency.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I win, I may never see my -- I may never see these pieces again because I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf, believe me.

ZELENY: The president also talking by phone today with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the conflict in Syria. The Turkish foreign minister said Mr. Trump pledged to stop arming a Kurdish militia, the YPG, that the government considers a terrorist organization.

The president also condemning the attack today in Egypt killing more than 230 people and wounding more than 100 others in the deadliest terror strike on Egyptian soil.

He called the president of Egypt to discuss the attack, which he also seized upon to push his immigration agenda, tweeting: "We have to get tougher and smarter than ever before and we will. Need the wall, need the ban. God bless the people of Egypt."

The president is also turning his attention to the tax plan up for a vote next week in the Senate. He offered a preview during a Thanksgiving Day call from Mar-a-Lago with American service members around the world.

TRUMP: Now we're working on tax cuts. Big, fat, beautiful tax cuts. And hopefully we will get that and then you're going to really see things happen.

ZELENY: The president is set to meet with congressional leaders at the White House and attend a weekly lunch of Senate Republicans on Tuesday. The Senate Republicans still don't have the votes to pass the sweeping tax overhaul amid the concerns of the bill's effects on the deficit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress is talking about tax cuts that will add trillions to our national debt and hurt our economy.


ZELENY: Senator Ron Johnson has announced his opposition, with Senator Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski all voicing concerns. Senator Rand Paul will likely support the plan with Senator John McCain as a wild card.

As America marked Black Friday, the president's campaign joined in on the annual day-after-Thanksgiving shopping rush with Trump merchandise marked down 30 percent.

In the president's phone call with Egyptian President Sisi, on the heels of his call with Turkish President Erdogan, talking about terror in Syria, both on the heels of a call earlier this week with Russian president Vladimir Putin also about Syria. This working vacation for the president continues throughout the weekend. He heads back to Washington on Sunday -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.


ALLEN: Joining me from Los Angeles is CNN political analyst and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University, Michael Genovese.

Michael, thank you for joining us.


ALLEN: Let's begin with President Trump versus "TIME" magazine.

The president tweeted this, "'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, "TIME" responded, "The president is incorrect in how we choose Person of the Year. 'TIME' doesn't comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6th."

So it just seems another Trump moment where it's all about me bluster.

GENOVESE: Yet another example of the Trump ego run amok, as it did yesterday when he tried to thank the troops for Thanksgiving and turned it into a story about how great I am and what a great job I'm doing and don't you just love what I'm doing.

It's reminiscent of when Teddy Roosevelt, who had a pretty overstuffed ego as well, when his daughter once said, "Poor Dad has to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral and the --


GENOVESE: "-- baby at every christening."

It's kind of Donald Trump needs to be the center of the attention. He needs to be seen as being superior, as a winner and anything that interferes with that, he has to erase.

ALLEN: His daughter, Ivanka, is in the news because she is headlining a summit in India. It's a global entrepreneur summit put on by the State Department. However, the State Department, led by Rex Tillerson, has decided he's not sending a high-level delegation.

Does this have to do with the fact that Ivanka is headlining it?

GENOVESE: Certainly. It's also in part or a function of that the State Department is really tremendously understaffed, that there are all kinds of positions that should be filled that aren't.

Plus, the budget cuts that Tillerson is having to impose, he's trying to make a leaner and smaller State Department, all of which plays into what I think is also now his desire not to feed the beast, not to give Ivanka Trump more prestige, more status.

I think he sees her as the style where he is the substance. And she has a way. She's beautiful and she's glamorous, the president's daughter, always stealing the attention, stealing the show, the way her father does; whereas Tillerson is the serious man.

He's the one that has to make the deals, deal with other leaders; she flies in, flies out, makes the speech and looks glamorous.

ALLEN: Right. Many have questioned why she has such a front row seat at the table but right now, she does, in her way. Finally --

GENOVESE: It's nice to be the president's daughter.

ALLEN: -- yes, yes. She's had quite some experiences, for sure.

The major story that broke over the holiday that lawyers for General Flynn, Mr. Trump's former national security adviser, have said they will stop communicating with the president's legal team about the Mueller investigation.

Is this a likely sign that Flynn may be cooperating with the Russia investigators?

And, if so, when might we hear about it?

GENOVESE: Well, it's almost certainly a sign that now Flynn is talking. And the question is what's the story that he has to tell?

And how far will it lead towards the president?

It's clear that the Mueller investigation doesn't need Flynn to talk about what happened with Flynn in Turkey or Russia. They have got a ton of material on that. What they want is to go after bigger fish. So the question is, can Mueller get Flynn to give up bigger fish, like

perhaps Don Jr., Jared, maybe even the president for a sweeter deal, a better deal not just for himself but for his son?

So there's a double whammy here for Flynn. He's really under a lot of pressure and so this is probably a big break point. We know it's important, we just don't know if it's going to be a blockbuster.

ALLEN: Michael Genovese, as always, we thank you for your help. Thanks.

GENOVESE: Thank you, Natalie.

ALLEN: We'll have much more news for you right after this.






HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you for being with us. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen.


ALLEN: We are tracking developing news out of Pakistan. Officials say 100 people have been arrested at a protest in Islamabad and more than 100 police and protesters have been injured.

HOWELL: Authorities tried to break up the demonstration with tear gas and with rubber bullets. The protest began more than two weeks ago, when around 2,000 people blocked a major road. Let's go live to CNN's Sophia Saifi in Islamabad following the story.

Sophia, what more can you tell us about the reason for these protests?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, George, this has been ongoing for two weeks, like you said. But the actual root cause goes back to last month, when, according to the protesters, the government committed blasphemy.

They're claiming that the government made a change in (INAUDIBLE) laws, in which an oath made by lawmakers, in which they're supposed to make a promise that the Prophet Mohammed is the last prophet of God, they made a change regarding that oath.

And now the protesters are calling for the law minister to resign. The government, on the other hand, is claiming that this never happened. And because of that, there was this stalemate in the capital for the past two weeks, which has now erupted in the protests that happened this morning -- George.

HOWELL: Sophia Saifi, live for us in Islamabad, thank you for the reporting. We'll stay in touch with you.

Outrage is growing after CNN uncovered a horrific modern-day slave market. As you'll recall, our reporting revealed migrants being sold as property in Libya.

ALLEN: The U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday people of African descent are frequently denied their rights. His words come as people in Paris have taken to the streets to demand action. CNN's Melissa Bell has more from the French capital.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the second time in a week, protesters gathered in Paris to express their anger and to call for an end to slavery. The trigger, CNN's exclusive reporting on Libya's slave markets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We talk about the weight of words and the shock of images. People were able to see for themselves.

BELL: This is what people were able to see.


BELL: Dozens of men in Libya being sold at auction many for little as $400. President Emmanuel Macron wants the U.N. to act.

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): It's a crime against humanity. It's one of the forms of trafficking that is the most profitable today and that leads to the most serious crimes and that seats in part the terrorist networks.

BELL: The French president was joined this week in Paris by the head of the African Union, he too wants more than words.

MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, AFRICAN UNION CHAIRMAN (through translator): Imagine you find yourself in a state where human beings are sold in an auction to the highest bidder. This is abominable. No conscience can accept it. We have to act and we have to act now.

BELL: That sense of outrage has also been expressed this week in France's National Assembly. The MP, Max Mathiasin, the great-great grandson of a slave, received a standing ovation when he delivered a passionate plea to parliament to act.

And it was the viral Facebook post of another descendent of Guadeloupian slaves, the journalist, Claudy Siar, that led to last Saturday's protest in Paris. But he believes that the consequences may felt elsewhere. CLAUDY SIAR, JOURNALIST (through translator): This has to serve as a wakeup call to African leaders. I think that, with regard to the fixers, there will be a before after. It's not impossible to imagine that some political systems, that some governments in Africa may wobble and even fall in the coming months because there has been an awakening and there is a desire for revolution today.

BELL (on camera): The numbers of this latest protest are down on what they were last week, but the anger of those here is undiminished and the organizers say that they will continue holding these protests so that the momentum is not lost -- Melissa Bell, CNN, in Paris.


ALLEN: The U.N. Refugee Agency is voicing concern about a new deal between Myanmar and Bangladesh to repatriate Rohingya refugees. The agreement was signed Thursday and Myanmar is touting it as a win-win situation. But there are still no official details about how the process will work.

And the U.N. group says Bangladesh shouldn't send any Rohingya back to Myanmar unless their passage is safe and basic rights are guaranteed.

HOWELL: An estimated 615,000 refugees have fled since August, this when a new outbreak of violence began between Myanmar military and armed militants.


ADRIAN EDWARDS, UNHCR SPOKESMAN: Refugees do have a right to return and a framework that enables them to exercise this right; in line with international standards would be welcome.

First and foremost, this means that return must be voluntary and take place in safe and dignified conditions that pave the way for lasting solutions.

At present, conditions in Myanmar's Rakhine State are not in place to enable safe and sustainable returns. Refugees are still fleeing. And many have suffered violence, rape and deep psychological and physical harm.

Some have witnessed the death of family members and friends. Most have little or nothing to go back to, their homes and villages destroyed.


HOWELL: Earlier this week, the U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson said Myanmar's actions against the Rohingya were clearly ethnic cleansing. Myanmar's military has repeatedly denied that it has mistreated them.

ALLEN: Coming up here, Amazon is carving out more space for itself in the physical world.

HOWELL: Up next, how the Internet retailer is hoping to kickstart holiday shopping online and at brick and mortar stores as well.





ALLEN: Well, look who is here. Days of steady rain have left parts of the Pacific Northwest under water.



HOWELL: Here in the United States, the day after Thanksgiving, it's called Black Friday and it's the biggest shopping event of the year. But as some shoppers battle crowds and long lines, step out and try to get those discounts, some retailers struggle to keep up.

ALLEN: Macy's department store struggled to process the enormous volume of credit card payments in its physical stores across the country and on its website. On Twitter, some customers complained about delays and payments not going through at all.

The company can't really afford any setbacks. The chain has been suffering from declining sales and shrinking revenue.

So they didn't need that to happen, I guess.

HOWELL: I guess not, yes.

ALLEN: Meanwhile, one of Macy's direct competitors is celebrating a record Black Friday. The online retail giant Amazon reportedly swept up almost half of Friday's online sales and its founder and CEO just reached a milestone of its own.

HOWELL: Big milestone, in fact. Bloomberg said Jeff Bezos just reached a net worth of $100 billion. Bezos' stake in Amazon netted him about an extra $2.4 billion on Friday alone. That pushed him into the top bracket of the world's richest people.

Go Jeff Bezos.


HOWELL: Amazon is reaching out beyond its online borders as well. It opened up a physical pop-up store in London for Black Friday.

ALLEN: There's just no stopping Jeff Bezos, is there?

That may seem counterintuitive for Amazon, which makes big money online. Samuel Burke went there to see what it's up to.


SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a major shift happening right now, 59 percent of Americans say that they plan to shop online this year. That's the first time that we've seen more people planning to do this in the digital world than the physical world.

Even though we hear so much about brick-and-mortar stores closing up because they can't compete with Amazon, that very same company is actually opening up more and more spaces in the physical world, including an Amazon pop-up shop.


BURNETT (voice-over): So, Paul in Amazon's home on Black Friday and this is the kitchen.

PAUL FIRTH, AMAZON: That's right.

BURKE: But the real question for you guys is Amazon was always supposed to be a digital space. That's what made you more efficient. You didn't have to pay for a brick-and-mortar shop.

So, why a place like this kitchen, for Black Friday?

FIRTH: Well, we always try to experiment at Amazon. We did that when we first brought Black Friday to the U.K. back in 2010.

That year, we just had 300 deals, just on Black Friday.

BURKE: Why spend all the time creating this beautiful kitchen when you guys own Whole Foods now?

There's a Whole Foods right down the street here in London, where you could be doing all this.

Isn't that why you guys bought Whole Foods?

FIRTH: Because we are selling to people in their homes. And we want people to see how this product will work in their homes. And what we've done here is try to create what a home might look like.

BURKE: It is interesting because you see the tentacles of Amazon expanding. We've got Amazon Lockers by my work. You have this pop-up shop. And it does make some people wonder where will it stop.

I mean, is Amazon's goal to be in all parts of our lives, literally from the living room to next door to our work?

FIRTH: I think Amazon's goal is to make things easier for our customers. And if that means by putting a delivery locker near your work is easier for you to get your parcel, if by putting a place like this together so that people can understand how products work easier, then that's what we'll do.

It's all about focusing on what makes it easier for our customers.

BURKE: As long as they sign up for Prime.

So who are going to be the big winners here?

When you speak to experts, they say it will be the places that have a foothold in both the digital and the physical world, like Amazon is doing, the way Walmart is with its acquisition of Left in the dust could be people like Target and Costco, which just haven't been able to build out their digital spaces as well.


ALLEN: Samuel Burke for us there from London.

The U.S. government is increasing security on President Trump's tax returns. Apparently those returns are in such high demand, bounties have been placed on them. We'll have that story as we continue here on CNN NEWSROOM.






HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. The U.S. president went against the tradition of many of his predecessors when he decided not to release his tax returns.

ALLEN: Now officials are going to unusual lengths to make sure the tax returns don't end up in the wrong hands. Cristina Alesci has our story.


CRISTINA ALESCI, CNNMONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the heart of Washington, D.C., a government agency is closely guarding a document in such high demand that bounties have been placed on the file.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that very big tax return. The biggest I guarantee. There is the biggest ever in the history of what we are doing.

ALESCI: More than a year after then candidate Donald Trump says his tax returns would be relieved, gaining just as glimpse of them has become mission impossible. And now the internal revenue service is increasing security.

JOHN KOSKINEN, OUTGOING IRS COMMISSIONER: We have heard to all of the presidents' return being in a safe. It turns out it was safe like in a sense that there was a locked cabinet in a locked room. So one of the things we are going to do, we decided we should actually turn it into a safe in a locked room. And so we will do that. ALESCI: And who has access to that room?

KOSKINEN: You know, I don't know. I don't have access.

ALESCI: John Koskinen retired as commissioner of the IRS this month. He says the agencies locked down Trump's digital returns in 2016 and is now focusing on the physical documents.

KOSKINEN: There is almost no other taxpayers that I can remember where there has been this kind of focus on. Is there some way we can get a hold of those return.

ALESCI: One hacking magazine has offered $10,000 to anyone who can get a copy of the President's paper work. Last year, even WikiLeaks tweeted a request.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: What I have here is a copy of Donald Trump's returns.

ALESCI: In March, MSNBC got a few pages from a journalist, who said he found them in his mailbox.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You don't know who --


CUOMO: -- sent it to you?


CUOMO: You didn't solicit it, didn't ask anybody for it.


ALESCI (voice-over): Still, there is so much more to uncover when it comes to these presidential records.

Is there more information on file or the IRS than the presidents actually make available historically?

KOSKINEN: Yes, oftentimes there are much more of illuminous (ph) exhibits that usually don't get printed and shared with the public. And so that entire package is what kept secure.

ALESCI: And security at the IRS is no easy task. Most are not successful but it is not for lack of trying. One private investigators is facing federal charges after allegedly guessing a Social Security number and attempting to use it to access the president's information.

In 2015, a so-called cyber mafia used stolen information to posts taxpayers and accessed millions of documents on the IRS website affecting some 720,000 people. As for rogue employees inside the IRS, Koskinen says he is not worried.

KOSKINEN: We basically have a handful of people who have the keys to the kingdom as it where in our I.T. department, but we have great confidence in those people and they take that responsibility seriously.

ALESCI: So who could finally make the president's tax return public?

Well, there is one guy -- Cristina Alesci, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Earlier, we told you about President Trump's tweet, turning down being named "Time" magazine Person of the Year. Others took to Twitter as well.

HOWELL: Julia Louis-Dreyfus tweeted this, "'The New York Times' just called to say I was probably going be named Comedian of the Year. I said probably is no good and I took a pass. Thanks, anyway."

Tennis star Andy Murray tweeted that the BBC had just called him to be Sports Personality of the Year but he passed as well.

ALLEN: And there are a few more online as well.

Thanks for watching this hour. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues right after the break.