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Flynn Lawyers Stop Sharing Information with White House; Franken Issues New Apology Amid Groping Allegations; More Holiday Shoppers Online Than in Stores. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 24, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:57] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Egypt's president vowing to respond with brute force after today's terror attack on a mosque in the Sinai Peninsula. State media reporting at least 235 people have been killed and more than 100 injured. It's believed the attacker set off two explosions during Friday prayers and opened fire on worshipers as they fled the blast. Some witnesses say the gunmen shot at ambulances as they tried to take wounded people away. So far, no claim of responsibility. Egypt has declared three days of mourning.

And CNN has learned that Michael Flynn's lawyers have stopped sharing information with President Trump's legal team.

Let's discuss this with CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Alice Stewart, Democratic strategist and founder of New Blue Interactive, Taryn Rosenkranz, and conservative commentator and executive director of Generation Opportunity, Carrie Sheffield.

Alice, you first.

Do you think Flynn is about to make a deal with the special counsel?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this. It's not unusual when you have joint cooperation agreements with different attorneys in the case like this when the heat comes closer to your client you pull out of that. I'll listen to what the president's attorney ty cobb has said that the president thinks highly of Flynn but at the same time everyone has their separate path with Mueller and jay Sekulow says we shouldn't jump to conclusions on this. Flynn has some issues. Number one, being his lobbying with turkey that he did not disclose and his communications with Russia. There is a good chance he and he alone will be paying the price for this and his son possibly, but it remains to be seen what his coordination will be with the special counsel. Look, I've talked with a former senior staffer on the campaign and they say look, loyalty is a two-way street and some that feel that Donald Trump may not have been loyal to them, so it will stop with them. It might be every man for himself, but I don't think it's at this point appropriate to jump to any conclusions with regards to what this means.

WHITFIELD: Listen to what a former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said today about this Flynn news.


COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Mike is not a bad guy. He served his country with distinction for a long time. If he didn't fill out the paperwork properly and didn't disclose information and wasn't honest with the FBI like everybody else, he should be held accountable. That's where it stops. Never been any indication that president of the United States or anyone else within that circle of the president of the United States has done anything wrong and so if Mike Flynn did something wrong, he should be held accountable.


WHITFIELD: All right. So Taryn, Lewandowski says he is still talking to President Trump all the time, but potentially, is this a sign that there might be some separation between those who are once on the campaign and the White House?

TARYN ROSENKRANZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST & FOUNDER, NEW BLUE INTERACTIVE: Absolutely. I mean, the biggest conclusion that we can absolutely draw from this is that Flynn's defense strategy has changed. That's clear. Thereby you can already sense and see it in the words and comments and tweets and everything they're talking in response to Flynn that they're starting to separate him and say hey, he's a good guy but. The first words out of Lewandowski's mouth. If he is going down that path we want to make it clear it's him and him alone and not us. They're backing off.

[11:35:23] WHITFIELD: Carrie, how worried should the White House be? Jay Sekulow said, don't read into this, it's premature.

CARRIE SHEFFIELD, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GENERATION OPPORTUNITY: Sure. Well, you know, the president has always said he wants to make sure that if there were actors in his orbit was the words he used he wanted them to be held accountable and that's what he's been saying for the duration of the investigation. I don't think we should be surprised. We knew about the Flynn problems more than a year ago. We knew about the other problems with some of the other people in his orbit over a year ago at this point. So I don't think it should come as a surprise that this is happening. I will also point out that Steve Bannon told "The New York Times" that the people who are coming to the campaign, flocking to the campaign, early on, he called them the island of misfit toys. It wasn't the establishment Republican apparatus who had years of extensive foreign policy experience, years of experience filling out documents so if there was sloppiness or people in the president's orbit, they need to be cleaned up. This whole situation, I'm confident, you know, Fredricka, I'm from Missouri and Utah and in those states people care about tax reform and what's happening to the country and the people of the country specifically in terms of kitchen table issues.

WHITFIELD: Isn't the concern in order to get there, in order to win that support and even trust on the Hill to get some of the things done, you know, with this cloud of the Russia investigation continuing to hover over the White House potentially it's going to stand in the way of getting those things done? It might be important to the rest of America.

SHEFFIELD: I don't think so if you look at what's happening for the tax bill in the House, it passed, it's on track in the Senate. See the grassroots groundswell organization that I help run, which is part of America's for prosperity, united with the conservative grassroots movement, working with groups, unified behind this. We're not distracted by as you called it the cloud. I think that there is, you know, certainly a sense that if there was improper action, all of us within the conservative movement we want people to be held accountable but we're not going to be distracted.

WHITFIELD: Alice, Flynn has always said he had information, a story to tell. He tried to get immunity. That didn't work. You know, but potentially, what kind of deal, if there is deal making going on, you know, might be made?

STEWART: Certainly, what he also has on his plate too, Fredricka, the concerns that some of this may fall to his son. Both of them have been involved in this together. So any deal in my view would be for him to seek leniency from the special counsel, if at all possible, because he doesn't want anything certainly to come on him, and specifically his son. So working together with the special counsel will go to help ease that, and as they often say, those who squeal get the best deal. We could see himself separate himself from the other defense counsel and remains to be seen. As Corey Lewandowski said today all the players we've seen so far, Manafort, gates and Flynn, if they have done something wrong and appears some of them have they will be held accountable. At this time while there's a lot of smoke, there's not been any real fire directly relating the president and the team to coordination with Russia. So I think it's still premature to jump to any kind of conclusion on this but as we said a lot of folks are being held accountable for their wrong doings.

WHITFIELD: Quickly, yes or no, Alice, all of this smoke, do you think that will stand in the way of a yes vote on tax reform next week?

STEWART: I hope not. Look, they can walk and clue gum at the same time as we learned in the House. A lot of issues whether talking about repealing individual mandate or adding a penny to the deficit, hopefully they'll iron all of those out and get the necessary votes needed to get this through the Senate.

WHITFIELD: Taryn, yes or no?

ROSENKRANZ: I don't think he's going to be able to hold together this fragile coalition that he's got right now for the votes. McConnell. It's going to raise taxes on more than half of Americans and two out of three in the middle class. I can't see with so many Senators up for re-election them taking such a massive vote against the middle class and saying that's OK and this cloud of all of this hanging over them, why stand with someone on something so risky anyway when you've got kind of this cloud and smoke kind of billowing and firing up.

[11:39:34] WHITFIELD: We'll leave it right there.

Thank you so much. Alice, Taryn, Carrie, appreciate it. The Black Friday madness has arrived. Have you been out in the

madness? Kind of unavoidable in some parts, but some stores there are no big crowds. How much is on-line shopping to blame for this kind of fizzling of the frenzy?


WHITFIELD: As Congress members prepare to return from the Thanksgiving recess, Democratic Senator Al Franken issued a new apology amid allegations of inappropriate touching, saying he, quote, "crossed a line for some women," end quote, and vowing to regain the trust of his constituents.

Sunlen Serfaty is in Washington with more details on this -- Sunlen?

[11:44:36] SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, Senator Franken issuing this new apology and I think striking a much more of a reflective tone than the last few statements we've seen from him. He talks about how he's learned from these allegations, what he's learned about his behavior but also offering some sort of explanation for the conduct he says, quote, "I'm a warm person, I hug people." But then goes on to say, "I've learned from recent stories that in some of these encounters I crossed a line for some women. I feel terribly that I've made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry. Let me say again to Minnesotans that I am sorry for putting them through this and I am committed to regaining their trust."

Beyond a few statements like this, we have not heard much from the Senator himself directly. He has not spoken out publicly on camera about these allegations since these stories broke. That is all about to change going into next week as you referenced, Fred, the Senate back in session next week after Thanksgiving break most certainly he and all of his colleagues will be faced with these questions, faced with questions about his own political future, and I think this statement right now is an attempt to reframe the week for him. The question, though, is will that be enough? These are serious allegations and he still has a lot of answering to do.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, in Washington, thank you so much.

All right. Let's talk a little bit about shopping. Or not. Those big crowds of Black Friday's past, where are they? It seems to be missing thus far today. Good news, though, for those who would rather not fight rowdy crowds for a good deal on a flat screen, but not so great for the brick-and-mortar stores.

Our Polo Sandoval has more.

No lines.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's incredible. Some of the shoppers are still braving those crowds, but they're doing it on Thanksgiving Day.

Coming up this hour, what some of the retailers are trying do to keep that Black Friday shopping tradition alive.


[11:51:07] WHITFIELD: The Black Friday shopping rush is on. Big retailers are trying to lure customers into their stores with door buster deals as always. Hardcore holiday bargain hunters are turning out, but the jam-packed stores, long lines and frenzied shoppers that we traditionally see are not there.

What's going on?

CNN's Polo Sandoval and CNN tech correspondents, Samuel Burke, are looking at the shopping trends.

I want to begin with Polo inside the store at Target, in Jersey City, New Jersey.

How is it looking? There are people back there but maybe it's not jam-packed.

SANDOVAL: No exactly what we're used to seeing on a Black Friday, Fred. As you mentioned, the retailers try to lure people out with the word sale just about everywhere you go. It goes with the National Retail Federation is estimating. About 150 people will be making the purchases. Today will likely continue to hold the title of one of the busiest if not the busiest of the year. How will some of those people be making those purchases. They are estimating about 59 percent would rather do their shopping from home than online. And the retailers are opening up their doors a day earlier on Thanksgiving evening for the sales. And as we touched on a little while ago, many people are choosing to simply stay home and make the purchases and much better to go online rather than to stand in line to make their holiday purchases.

Nonetheless, there's this optimism from retails that the steadying economy could potentially translate to more sales -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: I think that's exactly what's happening. People are right in front of their computers.

Let's check in with Samuel.

Samuel, does it look like Black Friday that we once knew are a thing of the past?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, when you see them there without the big crowds, it gives you a better sense of why 2017 has been brutal for retail bankruptcies. A record number of store closures. Retailers want a piece of the estimated $1 trillion you will spend all this holiday season, and Black Friday is crucial for them. Average savings of 12 percent on jewelry, 18 percent on appliances and electronics and home assistance and others. Big discounts on iPhones. Walmart has the best deal, a $300 gift card when you buy an iPhone 10. That's the best deal out there.

WHITFIELD: That helps pay for it. Samuel Burke, Polo Sandoval, happy shopping to both of you.

Next, did Michael Flynn flip? That's the question for the adviser that cut ties with the White House. Details on that straight ahead.

But first, voting is now under way for the CNN Hero of the Year. Here is one of this year's top-10 finalists. Meet Rosie Mashale, better known as Mama Rosie, who opened her heart and home to care for aids victims.


ROSIE MASHALE, CNN HERO: So many orphans are left behind. We can build lives like that.

In the year 2000, I found a boy on my doorstep and I took him in.


MASHALE: I have never turned any child away. Most of them are abandoned ant because of HIV and AIDS.


[11:55:14] MASHALE: We feed them and clothe them. We send them to school. The basic things that they give them is the love.


MASHALE: My wish is for their dream to be fulfilled.


WHITFIELD: You can vote for Rosie or any of your favorite other top- 10 heroes here at


WHITFIELD: Hello, again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with breaking --