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Trump Touts Strong Economy in Thanksgiving Message to Soldiers; Trump's Name to be Removed from Trump Soho Hotel; John Conyers Faces House Ethics Investigation for Sexual Harassment Settlement; Nude Photos of Joe Barton Surface on Internet; Sessions Orders Review of Gun Background Check System; Garcelle Beauvais' Message to Trump on Haitian Immigrants. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 23, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Facebook now admits that close to 150 million Americans may have been exposed. And if you clicked like on those posts you will not be notified automatically. You need to use the tool.

President Trump's Thanksgiving message to the troops included a big pat on the back for himself. His call went out just a short time ago via teleconference. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For each of you, I know it's hard to be away from him at this time of the year. We're doing well at home. The economy is doing really great. When you come back, you're going to see with the jobs and companies coming back into our country. And the stock market just hit a record high. Unemployment is the lowest it's been in 17 years. So you're fighting for something real. You're fighting for something good.


WHITFIELD: CNN global economic analyst, Rana Foroohar, joins me now, a global business columnist and associate editor for "The Financial Times."

Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: Is the president, right? Should he be getting credit?

FOROOHAR: A word no. The economy has been improving now for nine years, right. We are in a long recovery. In fact, we're at the tail end of that recovery. Really, I give most of the credit to Janet Yellen the outgoing Fed chair, the one that kind of got us after the financial crisis, got us through the difficult monetary waters, kept interest rates low, got the economy moving again. Much of this would have been happening where we are no matter who was president.

WHITFIELD: Donald Trump Jr wants to give his dad props here tweeted saying, you know, here's some suggestions for discussion points over Thanksgiving dinner today. "Need something to discuss over Thanksgiving dinner? Try this. Stock market at an all-time high, lowest jobless claims since '73, $6 trillion added to the economy since election, 1.5 million fewer people on food stamps." And the list goes on and on.

Meantime, a little bit of pushback from others who were tweeting saying that it was, you know, his father's predecessor, former President Barack Obama, you talked about Janet Yellen, but, you know, this president did inherit a lot.


WHITFIELD: But he is really kind of claiming he has pushed it over the top.

FOROOHAR: Right. Again, I would just go back to the fact that when interest rates were low, the stock market likes that. It makes asset prices go up. A lot of people that I talked to in the markets say they're ready for a correction and we may see that if the tax plan doesn't go through. A lot of corporations are waiting for the tax cuts thinking they can eke out a little more --


FOROOHAR: A lot is riding on that, politically and economically. I'm not holding my breath.

WHITFIELD: Let's talk about the Trump brand. You know, all around the world, Trump name is on properties, whether it be properties that the Trump organization built or perhaps has deals, contracts with, associated with. And now the Trump Soho Hotel, managers there kind of separating ways with Trump. What is behind all of that? And early, before, you know, their contracted deal is up?

FOROOHAR: I think there's a few things going on. You've seen the Trump brand perform differently in different regions and countries. Frankly, you know, the lower west side of Manhattan Soho, a place you have a lot of upper middle-class Democrats, not his core brand consumer.

WHITFIELD: It was doing OK for a while.

FOROOHAR: Even before Trump became president, this hotel has been troubled. Accusations they were bidding up sales figures to attract buyers. It's never been a wonderfully performing hotel. Now consumers are avoiding it, in that neighborhood, they don't want to be associated with that brand. I want to be fair and say that overseas, you're seeing in some cases Trump hotels performing better. Really depends on which territory you're in and how people there feel about the president.

WHITFIELD: We talked about that earlier, geography --


WHITFIELD: -- really makes a big difference. Rana, thank you so much. Happy Thanksgiving.

FOROOHAR: Happy Thanksgiving.


An embattled Democratic Congressman says he will not resign as he faces a House ethics investigation. A panel is looking into John Conyers' 2015 settlement with a former staffer who accused him of sexual harassment. Meanwhile, another former aide is leveling charges of her own, saying she believes the Michigan lawmaker behaved inappropriately as her boss.


MELANIE SLOAN, FORMER The way it seemed at the time, I was not sexually harassed by Conyers. I was verbally abused repeatedly. And an unpleasant event to walk in on him in his office in his underwear, but it was a very short moment, and I think it was more a question of him just not really caring that I was there and not being very concerned about what he was wearing.


WHITFIELD: All right. That was last night.

CNN congressional correspondent Sunlen Serfaty joining us now from Washington with the very latest on this -- Sunlen?

[11:34:54] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. This is some new pressure, I should say, on Congressman Conyers, new harassment allegations coming from a former staffer. You heard there Melanie Sloan, claimed she was verbally abused and harassed by the Congressman. It's important to note here Sloan does not think she was sexually harassed by the congressman, she says she believes his behavior, though, was inappropriate. But of course, this does come on the same week, Fred, that Conyers has been the subject of allegations of sexual misconduct by other women. Conyers' lawyer says that he is not taking these allegations lightly and despite many calls for him to resign, they say he's not going to -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. And also, something very different, another unseeming story bubbling up regarding a Texas congressman and nude photos that leaked on-line. Tell us about that.

SERFATY: Involves Texas Congressman Joe Barton. Nude photos of the Republican were circulated on social media through an anonymous Twitter account. Barton has not denied that the photos are legitimate, and he's apologized for it, saying this was from a consensual relationship that he had with adult women when he was separated with his wife before they got a divorce.

Here, for some of how his constituents in Texas are reacting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not the person that we know, no. Like I said, but then again, everybody has their own thing, you know. Whatever he does is his business. If that was private, it shouldn't have been leaked or anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he wants to send those pictures to a -- the person he wants to send it to and she's OK with it, I don't have no say in the matter.


SERFATY: Meantime, Barton is raising the possibility that he's the victim of revenge porn, which is a criminal act in Texas, and this is after an unnamed woman has come forward telling "The Washington Post" that Barton, she says, sent her lewd photos, videos and messages when they had two sexual encounters over the course of five years. Now he claims when he ended that relationship with this woman, this woman threatened to publicly share those private photographs in retaliation, that is his claim, but we have a lot more yet to learn about this case.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

All right. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, now directing the Justice Department to find ways to beef up the gun background check system. This, just weeks after a man with a criminal record was able to buy a military-style rifle and kill 26 people inside a Texas church. Details on all of that next.


[11:41:47] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The mass shooting at a Texas church this month has prompted the U.S. attorney general to order a review of the national background check system. Jeff Sessions says the Air Force's failure to properly report the gunman's prior conviction for domestic abuse is, quote, "alarming an unacceptable," end quote, and the system should have prevented him from getting a firearm. And 25 people and an unborn child died in the shootings.

CNN justice reporter, Laura Jarrett, has more on this.

Laura, you also found out that tens of thousands of names were removed from that database this year. Why?


WHITFIELD: Happy Thanksgiving.

JARRETT: This all comes down to what it means to be a so-called fugitive be from justice. It's a category that disqualifies a prospective gun buyer, but we've learned that rules changed in February. Someone who would have been prohibited from buying a gun because they had an outstanding warrant, would now only be denied if he or she crossed state lines to avoid prosecution for a crime or avoids giving testimony in a criminal case. I should mention this was a decision actually made under the Obama administration last year. But that narrow definition has now been in effect under the Trump administration since February, resulting in that purge of tens of thousands of names -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: So would the shooter's name have been among the purged names?

JARRETT: So, it's unlikely that he would have been affected by this change because, remember, in that case, he didn't have an be outstanding warrant for his arrest, but he did have a criminal record, he did have a record of domestic abuse, which the Air Force failed to convey to federal authorities. So his name did not get flagged in the national criminal background check database as it should have.

WHITFIELD: And this decision was made by the Obama administration, and implemented under Trump. Could this administration reverse that decision?

JARRETT: Certainly. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has already made a number of decisions to reverse Obama-era guidance on a variety of law enforcement issues. And now that he's ordered this 60-day review, he could easily decide to change this policy in some way at the end of the process -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Laurie Jarrett, happy Thanksgiving.

JARRETT: Same to you.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, change your status or leave. The Trump administration ending protections for tens of thousands of Haitian refugees living in the U.S. A prominent Haitian-American actress speaking out to CNN and delivering this message to the United States president.


[11:44:20] GARCELLE BEAUVAIS, ACTRESS: Have some compassion. Think about these families, think about these children, and really show that you are the leader of the free world and act like it.



WHITFIELD: All right, glorious day, blue skies and crisp air here in Manhattan as the Thanksgiving Day wraps up as well and now folks get together to enjoy a day of thanks.

Meantime, "have some compassion," that is the Thanksgiving message to President Trump from Haitian-American actress, Garcelle Beauvais. She is voicing what many in the Haitian community are praying for after the Trump administration this week announced it is ending the immigration program that allowed nearly 60,000 Haitians to stay in the U.S. legally.

My colleague, Brooke Baldwin, spoke to Beauvais.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now, Garcelle Beauvais, a Haitian-American actress and producer.

Garcelle, nice to have you on and happy Thanksgiving to you.

BEAUVAIS: Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

BEAUVAIS: I'm thrilled to be here.

[11:49:58] BALDWIN: So this is incredibly personal for you. When you first heard, how did you feel?

BEAUVAIS: First of all, I don't understand the logic in this administration to send the Haitians back. I mean some of the families have had children in America. So when I first found out I was sort of confused and sad and angry. I just feel thick this is such a wrong move. And a lot of Haitians in Haiti depend on the ones that are here in America making a living and sending it back home. I was a witness to that growing up, and I definitely am an immigrant. I left Haiti at the age of 7. We left for Massachusetts, I didn't speak a word of English. And I think when people think of immigrants they think of lazy, they just want a hand out. And these are people actually contributing to our country and contributing to society. So I don't really understand that. I really don't.

BALDWIN: There's a couple of pieces of this. We're talking nearly 60,000 people. Granted, I know several thousands have already heard the news and they're applying to stay in the states legally. But logistically, how do you move thousands of people to your point with jobs, with homes back to Haiti?

BEAUVAIS: You know, that is a question they're going to have to answer, and they're going to have to? Kind of system in place. But I hope we don't get there, because I was just in Haiti shooting a movie in June. And Haiti is not --

BALDWIN: What was it like?

BEAUVAIS: Haiti has improved some, but there's still a lot that needs to be done. For instance, it needs better roads, better everything, if you think about it. But they are not equipped to get 60,000 people to come back to the island. It's just not feasible. What are these people going to do? They're so used to being in America and all the things we have in America. It just makes no sense to me.

BALDWIN: The other piece of the argument is that this was it's in the name, temporary protective status. There was agreement this would not last forever. They still had 18 or so months to figure it out. Can you blame the Trump administration to be the ones to actually put the end date on this?

BEAUVAIS: Wow, don't get me started on the Trump administration. I feel like, yes, the word temporary is exactly what it's supposed to be, but at the same time they are here now. Why don't we make it work while they're here? don't understand that. And I feel also delivering this news right before Thanksgiving and also heartless and they have no compassion. But I also feel like the Trump administration, anyone who is non-white you have to fear. Because it seems like that's the target. And that really bothers me. I feel with DACA and the Muslim ban, I feel like they're only working for a certain group. And Haitians, we have to come together. Even when Donald Trump when he was campaigning he was like saying I would be your champion for the Haitian committee. And he was coming right after me, and I remember some of the Haitians feeling that maybe with Trump he'll have a better chance. And it's not happening, unfortunately.

BALDWIN: Listen, here's my last question to you. We know the president is with his family in Mar-a-Lago, and we know the president watches a lot of tv. Garcelle, you're not holding back how you feel about the president of the United States, but obviously, you care deeply about the Haitians in this country. If he, say, was watching, what would be your message to President Trump?

BEAUVAIS: My one message to President Trump would be have some compassion. Think about these families, think about these children, and really show you're the leader of the free world and act like it. Truly, act like it.

BALDWIN: Garcelle Beauvais, a pleasure.

BEAUVAIS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

BEAUVAIS: Thank you.


[11:54:06] WHITFIELD: Thanks so much Garcelle and Brooke.

All right, President Trump was touting the strong economy in a video address to soldiers, but does the president deserve all the credit when it comes to the strong economy? We'll discuss.

Plus, at least two turkeys have absolutely nothing to worry about today. Drumstick and Wishbone are the two lucky birds who got a pardon from President Trump this week. They are now living large on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. They carved their place in history as the first Thanksgiving birds to be spared in the Trump era.

And look at this. Santa marking the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Happy Thanksgiving, ev3eryone. We've got a new serving of news for you, right after this.





WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in New York.

President Trump is spending his first Thanksgiving as president down in his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, the winter White House, as he likes to call it.