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Shoppers Scour Stores & Online for Best Black Friday Deals; Stocks Open Lower on Black Friday Amid Trade Worries; Adam Schiff: Dems to Probe if Trump is Protecting Saudis; Rep. Jim Banks: Trump Needs to Visit Troops in Afghanistan; Trump Compares Afghan War with Mexico Border in Call to Military; Source: Nick Ayers Top Pick to Replace John Kelly. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 23, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:25] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it is Black Friday, which means the holiday shopping season blitz has begun. Millions of people packed stores before the crack of dawn and are now scouring the Internet to snatch up the best deals.

CNN's Alison Kosik joins me now from New Jersey.

What are you seeing out there?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm seeing a lot of people. I can really feel the energy from this holiday shopping. I felt it from the moment the doors opened, 8:00 a.m. this morning. More than 100 people waiting out in 12-degree weather. You know, streamed into this store, many going straight for the big screen TVs. That seems to be the hot seller. Also the Nintendo Switch. That's another big seller as well.

That's just store sales. I'm not even getting to the online sales. Listen to this. On Thanksgiving Day, 3.7 billion dollars was spent online. Buying electronics, clothes, what they wanted for holiday shopping. That means people were on their phones shopping while eating their Thanksgiving Turkey. Today, Black Friday, those online sales expected to hit $6.4 billion. By 10:00 a.m. this morning, Pamela, $643 million has already been spent online on things like Hot Wheels. This is actually one of the biggest toys to get this holiday shopping season.

People seem to be in a good mood. Consumer confidence is high. Unemployment is low, and wages are growing. So people are feeling a little more confident to dig a little deeper in their pockets and spend this holiday season -- Pamela?

BROWN: OK, Alison Kosik, thank you for bringing us the latest there out in New Jersey on this Black Friday.

Meantime, stocks opening lower with the Dow down slightly right now on this Black Friday.

CNN's Clare Sebastian joins me now.

What's the word, Clare?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Pamela, it's interesting. The shuffling you're seeing, this is not being reflected on the markets. The big story today is the price of oil. I think we can take a look at the prices because we're seeing very sharp falls. And that is hitting energy stocks and it's denting confidence across the market. The reason for those falls is both supply and demand. Fears about too much supply on the market. The U.S. is pumping at a record. The Iran sanctions didn't take as much off the market as people were expecting. And they're also talking about slowing demand, that the global economy might be starting to slow. We're seeing signs in Europe, signs in China. That is denting the prices. This has been seven weeks of declines for the oil prices. They're down about 30 percent. That's eating into market sentiment.

And of course, worries about trade. We have the Trump/Xi Jinping meeting coming up next week. A lot of concerns going into that that we may not see a thaw in the relationship and lead to the lifting of tariffs. That is what's going on in the market today.

BROWN: Thanks for breaking it down for us, Clare. We appreciate it.

Coming up on this Friday, we speak with the Republican Congressman who, after visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan, says President Trump needs to do the same.


[11:37:52] BROWN: President Trump's response to the murder of a "Washington Post" journalist could be coming under scrutiny soon. The incoming head of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, telling the "Washington Post" he plans to investigate what exactly the CIA learned about Jamal Khashoggi's death and whether the president is, quote, "representing something very different." Trump has cast doubt on the CIA's belief that the Saudi crown prince was behind the killings.

And joining me now to discuss, Republican Congressman Jim Banks, of Indiana. He also serves on the Armed Services Committee.

Congressman, thank you for coming on.

I want to get right to this "Washington Post" interview with Adam Schiff where he said, you know, look, he's going to take over the House Intel Committee, and he wants to look into the president's response. Do you support that?

REP. JIM BANKS, (R), INDIANA: Certainly, I support more of an investigation into what happened at the embassy in Turkey. But we have to look at the reality of what's going on here. I agree with the president that the world is a complicated and dangerous place. I also trust largely the results of our Intelligence Community, that this murder was ordered by the Saudi crown prince.

That being the case, there are some who want to completely shut off Saudi Arabia. There are others who want to ignore the situation. I don't think we can afford to do either and welcome more investigations into the matter to give us the best -- to give members of Congress like myself and the American people the best look at what really happened so we can decide what the best way forward should be.

BROWN: You said you do believe the assessment from the CIA that the crown prince ordered the murder of Khashoggi. So then do you think it was appropriate how the president responded, basically saying, he may have, he may not have, but we shouldn't bother with it. And basically stood by Saudi Arabia and taking the crown prince's word over the assessment of the CIA?

BANKS: I haven't yet been briefed. Members of Congress will probably be briefed further on this situation next week when we go back into session, next Tuesday. And hopefully that will occur sooner than later. I'm taking the reports of the confirmation that the CIA and other Intelligence Communities have determined that the Saudi crown prince was behind this murder. I'm taking that at your word, at CNN's word, and other's word that there's a confirmation that is the case. That being said, Congress is prepared to act. Congress will act if the administration doesn't do it before Congress has a chance to do that.

[11:40:21] BROWN: In what way? How will Congress act?

BANKS: Congress is already looking at sanctions, other measures that could be put in place. We also have to realize Saudi Arabia is a staunch ally of the United States of America. Their enemies are our enemies. They're largely aligned with our interests around the world. We can't afford to completely shut Saudi Arabia out of the picture, but we have to hold them accountable at the same time, too.

BROWN: I want to switch gears. The president suggested yesterday he may visit troops in Afghanistan. You served there as a Naval Reserve officer. You just returned from there. Now you're calling on the president to make that trip. Why is that?

BANKS: Let's begin with saying, first and foremost, that this president doesn't need a photo op to show he supports the troops. He just oversaw the beginning of the largest rebuilding of the American military since Reagan, restoring 20 percent funding that was cut during the Obama years. He doesn't need to go to Afghanistan to show he supports our troops.

But I just got back from there. I served there in 2014 and '15, as you said, was there earlier this week. The situation on the ground is startling. It's much different, has evolved greatly, even in the few years since I served there. The threat, not just of the Taliban but now of ISIS-K, of other groups in Afghanistan is real, and much of what I learned in Afghanistan, I'm not receiving in briefings in Washington, D.C. The president's briefings are probably different than my briefings but it would be very healthy for the president to go to Afghanistan, hear from our military leadership, as well as to show support for our troops.

I hope he does that. I'll go with him if he goes. It would be healthy for him to do so. BROWN: But what do you say to some administration officials,

including Defense Secretary Mattis, who says, look, I don't want the president to go to certain places for his security and for the security of the troops?

BANKS: As I understand it, Secretary Mattis said there are times when he has advised the president not to go to certain places. He left it fairly open ended after that. That doesn't mean that the secretary might not support the president going at some point. If the president wants to go, I'm sure the secretary and others can make it possible for him to do so. Again, I think it would be very healthy for the president to go to Afghanistan and spend more than just few minutes thinking about the situation there. He has so many distractions in Washington, D.C. He's been effective at dealing with almost every other issue that he's put his full weight behind. And if he determines to make Afghanistan a priority, then he's going to be the president that will go down in the history books as the one who ended the longest war in American history. I'm fully convinced of that. I hope he puts more effort behind Afghanistan in the months to come because I believe the opportunity is ripe for him to do that.

BROWN: I want to ask you about this moment from the president's phone call with members of the U.S. military yesterday. He was talking to a brigadier general in Afghanistan. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED U.S. BRIGADIER GENERAL (voice-over): A stable Afghanistan is good for Afghanistan, but we do what we do for America, sir.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You said it better than anybody could have said. Keep them away from our shores, and that's why we're doing the strong borders. You probably see over the news what's happening on our southern border, and our southern border territory. Large numbers of people, and in many cases, we have no idea who they are. In many cases, they're not good people. They're bad people.


BROWN: So do you see a connection between the fight in Afghanistan and the U.S. border with Mexico?

BANKS: Look, the president was answering questions of our troops. I imagine the troops on the other end of the phone line appreciated that the president was being candid. He was treating them with the respect they deserve, answering their questions about significant issues that isn't just about Afghanistan. The president is right that his job in securing America starts with fighting the enemy off shore and in places like Afghanistan so they don't pose a threat to Americans' lives here at home. And securing the border is a big part of that. I'm fully convinced that securing our border with Mexico is as much of a national security issue as it is related to immigration and I support the president's efforts there as well.

BROWN: Congressman Jim Banks, thank you.

BANKS: Thank you.

[11:44:39] BROWN: This weekend, the president is talking with candidates for open positions in the administration. Up next, is there a front-runner to take Chief of Staff John Kelly's job? We'll discuss.


BROWN: Nick Ayers, if you're not familiar with his name, that could soon change. Right now he is Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, but he could possibly become Trump's next chief of staff. Multiple people familiar with the situation told CNN that Ayers has emerged as a top contender to replace John Kelly.

I want to bring in CNN politics producer, Liz Landers.

What else are you hearing about the possibility. Not everyone in the White House would like to see this. What is going to happen?

[11:50:00] LIZ LANDERS, CNN POLITICS PRODUCER: That's right, Pam. As you know quite well, there continues to be speculation as Trump and his current chief of staff continue to clash. One name that is a contender is Nick Ayers. My colleague, Jeremy Diamond, and I spoke with almost two dozen people for this story to understand, who is this relatively young man who got his start in politics when he was 19 years old with Sonny Purdue in a Georgia governor's race and who has had a meteoric rise in American politics ever since.

Supporters praised his loyalty and pointed to his successes on various campaigns. The most recent being Mike Pence's. But he also has detractors who do not want him to be chief of staff, pointing to his outsized ambition, and that rubs people the wrong way. Ayers has become close with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, two people who Trump values their opinions highly. He's also gained the trust of the president as well. One way Ayers maneuvered himself into the president's orbit, he joined Trump and Pence's weekly lunches mostly held on Mondays after the president invited him and General Kelly to join in on the meetings. From what we understand, there's a lot of chit-chat and TV watching, too. But two sources told us that's when President Trump got to know and like Ayers quite a lot.

But Ayers may face questions about how he has been able to make a lot of money over his short career in politics. As of now, as he has been Pence's chief of staff, he divested from the businesses. But one financial disclosure form that we reviewed had his net worth estimated between $12 million to $54 million, according to disclosure forms. He built wealth through financial investments and through lucrative deals he cut over the course of several campaigns where he served as a political consultant and ad-fire for the campaign that raised eyebrows with Republicans and political advisers in D.C. -- Pam?

BROWN: All right, Liz Landers, excellent reporting. Thank you so much. Move over, football. A duel of two sporting icons is happening this

afternoon. Up next, a look at the match, putting at least $9 million up for grabs.


[11:57:00] BROWN: The city of Lagos is known as Nigeria's Silicon Valley with both Facebook and Google opening offices there within the last year. But with technology sector still dominated by men, one successful computer programmer is determined to help her country's most disadvantaged girls fill that gender gap. Her crusade has taken her to one of the city's poorest slums. Here is one of our top 2018 "CNN Heroes."


UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: When I went in, I was surprised to see the depleting conditions. Most girls are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. Men are not thinking education. They plan for the future. I believe girls should be given opportunities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can we teach -

UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: -What you can see, you aspire to. They need to be shown another life.


BROWN: Her nonprofit, Pearls Africa Foundation, helped more than 400 disadvantaged girls gain skills to transform their lives. Just go to to vote for her or a "CNN Hero" of the year or any of your favorite top-10 heroes now.

Just about three hours from now, the match, Tiger Woods versus Phil Michelson, $9 million, winner take all. That's only part of the prize here. The two already have a $200,000 side bet on the first hole and the winner also claims bragging rights, a huge bonus, for the sport's most famous frenemies.

Our Hines Ward sat down with the legendary competitors.


HINES WARD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You have a hot and cold relationship. Where are you guys at now. Seems like you guys are having fun and it's all about golf and --


PHIL MICHELSON, PRO GOLFER: We have always respected one another and what we can do on the golf course, the wins and losing to him doesn't feel very good.


I tend to rub it in. (LAUGHTER)

WARD: He's the wrong guy to lose to.

We are all in our 40s and you guys found a way to get back into the winner's circle. Can you describe that feeling?

MICHELSON: Our level of consistency hasn't been what it has been, but we had success this year and a bit of activity of it and it will propel us into a phenomenal year in '19. I see us both winning multiple tournaments and more major championships.

WARD: Who wins the first major between you guys?

MICHELSON: It's at Augusta. The next one is at Augusta.


TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER: I mean, there's seven coats between us.

MICHELSON: Yes, yes, yes.


WOODS: But I don't know.


BROWN: Tiger Woods is the heavy favorite. You can watch the match live on "BLEACHER REPORT LIVE" and pay per view this afternoon at 3:00 Eastern.

We are following breaking news out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. A massive explosion levelled a home there and sprayed debris across the neighborhood. Local media reporting one person was inside the house at the time of the blast and has been rushed to the hospital. Fire officials are searching for cause.