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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Rips Dems over Russia Excuse; Trump Suggests Tape was Faked; Trump Backs Moore; Cyber Monday Sales; Trump Tweets on Fake News. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 27, 2017 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:33:16] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new this morning, battles in Washington over tax cuts, a possible government shutdown and harassment claims. The president has his hands in all of this and, of course, he has his hands in the Russian investigation as well. And by hands I mean that literally and seriously he is writing about all of it on Twitter.

He wrote, since the first day I took office, all you hear is the phony Democratic excuse for losing the election Russia, Russia, Russia, he says. And then he goes on to talk about the economy and his accomplishments.

CNN's Joe Johns for us at the White House. Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

The president also tweeting this morning about the tax bill that he'd very much like to see get through the Congress and on his desk before end of the year. Important to him because it would be a signature achievement during the first year in office because if you look at the president's tweet last night, clearly the facts contradict the notion that the president has accomplished more during these ten months than any other president during the same time period.

This administration, of course, has not been able to get through a tax bill, has not been able to get through a repeal and replace of Obamacare. And it's also true that a number of other presidents have had quite a few accomplishments, notably Harry Truman, as well as Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So there's that.

Meanwhile, another tweet from the president just yesterday catching the eye of the public that has to do with the Alabama Senate race. Let's just look at it. The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is weak on crime, weak on the border, bad for our military and our great vets, bad for our Second Amendment and wants to raises, the president writes, taxes to the sky. Jones would be a disaster.

[09:35:02] Of course, that points out that the president is very interested in that race. He has said that he would tell us more about whether he will actively participate in campaigning for Roy Moore, who was the Republican nominee in a lot of trouble there in Alabama because of his contacts with women.

So the question, of course, is whether the president is actually going to campaign for him. We are expecting to hear more this week from the president on whether he's going to do that and we'll go from there.

John, back to you.

BERMAN: All right, Joe Johns for us at the White House. Thank you, Joe.

And in justifying his support of Roy Moore, the president seems to be denying not just the accusations against Moore, but really some of his own past as well. Remember the "Access Hollywood" tape?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.

BUSH: (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: No, it looks good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The president is now reportedly questioning whether that tape is real, even though he has admitted that it is real.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it. I was wrong. And I apologize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, Alex Burns, CNN political analyst and a reporter for "The New York Times," he was part of the story that really broke this astounding fact about the president, that he is claiming or questioning whether the "Access Hollywood" tape is real. It has to do a little bit with the Roy Moore story. Roy Moore in a second.

But, first, explain to me what he's doing here.

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You're right, John, that it is connected to the Roy Moore story but it's broader than the Roy Moore story and it gets to his underlying view of the claims against him and of sexual harassment and assault claims in general. It's a comment that he's made now a number of times to folks in the White House, including at least one Republican senator, essentially saying, mostly in passing, you know, that "Access Hollywood" tape, by the way, we're not sure that that's legitimate. The folks who have had those conversations with him have not challenged him on that, pressed him on it. They found it uncomfortable. They've tried to move on.

BERMAN: He admitted it was his voice on the tape. It is a real tape. I mean these people, they just say, huh, this is the president saying something that's not true and then move on?

BURNS: Well, I think people see it as consistent with the president's habit -- and I think we can call it that at this point -- of trying to sort of go back to points in recent and not so recent past where he has been -- where he has faced setbacks, where he has had to apologize or back down, and try to re-litigate those and sort of rewrite history to his own advantage.

BERMAN: It's fascinating.

And how does this have to do with Roy Moore and his decision basically to go all in, in supporting of Moore, without using his name?

BURNS: Right. Well, he certainly -- he's certainly all in against Doug Jones and everybody else can do the math as to what that means for the race.

Look, our reporting indicates that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in Congress, has begged the president to stay out of that race, begged him to get involved to try to push Moore out, begged him, once the president declined to intervene against Moore, to at least not intervene in favor of Moore.

The president blew off both of those requests and told McConnell and has told other people, he's not sure the accusations against Moore are legitimate. That's really a striking break with his own party at a moment when you have virtually every Republican in the Senate saying that they believe Moore's accusers and that he should stand down.

BERMAN: And break with his own daughter as well.

BURNS: That's right.

BERMAN: How did her statement saying that I believe these accusers factor into his decision?

BURNS: Well, Ivanka Trump's -- if Doug Jones wins that race, he may have Ivanka Trump to thank for it. He is running ads in Alabama right now showing her quote that there's a special place in hell for people who abuse and prey on children. When the president found out that she said that, before he had a chance to weigh in on the race and decide for himself how he wanted his administration and his party to handle it, his reaction was essentially frustration and disbelief. Just turned to people around him and said, can you believe that she just did this?

BERMAN: All right, he's not the only one having some political difficulties, the language he's choosing on some of these sexual misconduct claims. Nancy Pelosi did an interview yesterday, we played some of it before, on "Meet the Press" where she called John Conyers an icon and she questioned whether or not she believed the accusations against him because they were unnamed. She didn't know whether it was one or two. I'd say the language she chose to use is concerning to a lot of Democrats that I've heard from.

BURNS: It certainly is. You know, Democrats in Washington and outside of Washington feel like the party overall has the high ground on these issues. That --

BERMAN: Maybe had.

BURNS: In contrast to -- in contrast to Donald Trump, in contrast to Roy Moore, that this was an opportunity for them to get out there and be on the right side of this one. And they do feel that Nancy Pelosi's comments yesterday, it seems like she was trying to sort of gently easing John Conyers to the side, really sacrificed the moral clarity that they were looking for.

BERMAN: And Roy Moore and his supporters, do they watch this and what do they think about it when they see comments like that?

BURNS: Well, I don't know that Roy Moore's supporters are looking to Nancy Pelosi for ques on what to take seriously.

BERMAN: Anything.

BURNS: Right, on any matters. But to the extent that folks in Alabama are looking for some kind of permission slip to say, well, they all do it, both parties are totally corrupt on matters of sex and abuse. You know, conceivably, Nancy Pelosi's comments are probably not helpful to Democrats.

[09:40:08] BERMAN: Alex Burns, great reporting. Thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

BURNS: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Working or shopping? It will be hard to tell what your co- workers are doing today. I will be shopping. Cyber Monday expected to set records today. Stay with us.

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BERMAN: So if you're not done with your holiday shopping yet or you haven't yet begun, do not fret because Cyber Monday is here. Some 164 million Americans expected to go for online deals. Digital sales hit record numbers Friday. So, in a way, I guess cyber Monday began Friday. Go figure. The sales today could be even bigger.

CNN's chief business correspondent, star of "EARLY START," Christine Romans here with the details.

[09:45:01] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And they are big. We're breaking records here right and left. The American consumer apparently feels empowered to spend money and they're using their phone, their tablets and their computers to do it. For the first time ever we see online sales surpassing the sales you're seeing in the store.

So let's talk about the forecast for today, Cyber Monday. This is from Adobe. $6.6 billion. All -- spend it all in one place. That's up 16.5 percent from last year. And if you look at how the days break out, Thanksgiving was about $3 billion. Black Friday, record $5 billion. And there's today's expectation. We have never seen, if you spend $6.5 billion today, that will be a record for one day sales ever.

BERMAN: You know, I spend a lot. I can't spend $6.5 billion at once.

ROMANS: Yes, I know. Well, if you look at --

BERMAN: I like to spread it out over two days.

ROMANS: If you look at your inbox, you're probably just flooded, right, with all kinds of ads. I mean I've been doing a little bit of research and talking to folks. If -- especially for apparel, if it's not 50 percent off, just wait because there will be more sales. The retail environment is so tough these days that, you know, they really need your money.

BERMAN: Well, talk to me about that because, you know, some of these big stores are really suffering. They've been hemorrhaging money. This could be do or die for them.

ROMANS: This is the Amazon effect. You know, Amazon, you look at Amazon shares right now, above $1,200 for the first time in history, the stock is, because it is doing so well and it has changed how we shop. And that's put pressure on retailers like Toys r Us, like J. Crew, all the way down the line. There are a lot of stores that are fighting for their survival. Toys r Us is in bankruptcy, to be honest.

So you're seeing these traditional retailers try to come up with their own digital strategies. Walmart has spent a ton of money and is doing very well in the digital space against Amazon.

I think of all online sales, Amazon is something like 43 percent of all online sales. So think if all those little retailers didn't quite get in the game well enough that are in trouble.

Foot traffic is down about 2 percent. Those days of us covering Black Friday and Cyber Monday, those days of us covering the holidays with the scrum at the front of the Walmart where people are in a fist fight over a flat-screen TV, I think those days are over.

BERMAN: And we'll miss it.

ROMANS: I will miss it.

BERMAN: We will all miss it.

ROMANS: I will miss it.

BERMAN: You still have 30 days to get me a present, which, I know, you'll, of course, get me (ph).

Christine Romans, thank you very much.

She doesn't buy me anything. ROMANS: I don't (ph).

BERMAN: All right, President Trump says he was asked to be "Time's" man of the year but said no thanks. "Time" says that's not really the whole story. Not by a long shot. Brian Stelter joins us with the truth, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:51:46] BERMAN: All right, with tax reform hanging in the balance, with a government shutdown looming, with North Korea still menacing, what is the president focused on this morning? Let me show you. I will give you a dramatic reading of this right now. Let's put it up on the screen so I can see it and people can see it.

We should have a contest as to which of the networks plus CNN and not including Fox is the most distorted, corrupt, and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite president, in parentheses, me. They are all bad. Winner to receive the fake news trophy!

Look, at the risk of dignifying the statements that the president just made there, let me add that he must have read about all this news coverage because he professes not to see any of it, he's spending so much time reading documents.

Let's discuss this and what the president is up to. Joining me now is Brian Stelter, host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," our chief media correspondent.

Brian.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Believe it or not, even when I'm in Washington or New York, I don't watch much television. That's what President Trump said recently.

BERMAN: Right.

STELTER: People don't know that about me. They say I like to watch television. People with fake sources, you know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don't get to watch much television primarily because of documents. I'm reading documents, a lot.

And yet, as you said, John, he must be hearing about what the media is reporting because he's been on a tear lately. "Time" magazine, CNN International. Now he's saying all of the networks except for Fox.

This president is, once again, in one of these modes where he is assaulting the free press. And I think it's astonishing for any, you know, any leader, any public official. Right now it's President Trump. But if this were any U.S. president, or frankly any head of state from another country, we would be equally shocked by the kind of rhetoric we see on this sort of thing (ph).

BERMAN: Yes. Forget that CNN is included in it, because that's not necessarily what's important here. What's important here is this is an assault on free speech. This is an assault on journalism. Any journalism that he doesn't like.

STELTER: He tears down outlets other than Fox because he wants to inoculate himself from the challenges around his White House. Every president has challenges. Challenges in Congress. Challenges in approval ratings. President Trump's challenges are especially severe at the end of his first year in office. So I think he's really always trying to inoculate himself against the coverage, telling his supporters they can't believe what they're hearing.

But, you know, you look at what he said about CNN over the weekend. I think it's worth showing some of our international reporters, some of whom spoke out on Twitter. They were sharing their own comments about how they felt about the president insulting their work. These are reporters who are truly in harm's way, not sitting here in New York.

BERMAN: He criticized CNN International. You know, and, of course, CNN International has some of the greatest reporters in the world who are in war zones covering famine, human suffering, refugees crisis around the world and President Trump chose to talk about them.

We have some pictures -- or had some pictures, of course, of our journalists at work around the world doing what they do. And even that he seems to have a problem with.

STELTER: Yes, he calls real news fake while actually promoting fake news. Over the weekend he promoted a site full of fake information. He said, this is what the media should be reporting. You know, it is a -- it is a really dramatic contrast when he's doing that while actually diminishing the real kind of reporting that CNN and CNN's rivals all do. There are lots of major networks in the U.S. and all around the world working very hard to figure out what's really going on. And you see some of our correspondents here on the screen right now.

[09:55:03] It's disappointing to see any leader talking about wanting to award a fake news trophy. But especially when it's an American president, because normally American presidents stand up for press freedom in order to support journalists in our countries.

BERMAN: Right. Again, this isn't just about us. This is about truth. This is about facts, which he's choosing to ignoring in some cases and promoting these conspiratorial websites as sources of information. Sources -- sites that, in some cases, have nationalistic tendency, that trafficking conspiracies theories and the like.

STELTER: It's all of a piece. If it's positive for him it's real. If it's negative for him, it's fake. I think most of our viewers see through that.

BERMAN: All right, Brian Stelter, thank you so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.

STELTER: Thank you.

BERMAN: Who is running the nation's chief consumer watchdog group this morning? The answer is, we don't know. We'll tell you what we do know, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:03] BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

We begin with a mystery in Washington. A mystery and a standoff. So, who is running a key government agency and how much did donuts make a difference? Two different people claim