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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to Take Place Despite Possible Heavy Winds; Inspector General Report on Origin of Russia Probe Expected to Indicate No Evidence of FBI Spying on Trump Campaign. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 28, 2019 - 08:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just moments ago the New York City Police Department put out some good news. They wrote as of now the balloons will fly.


BERMAN: Despite the strong winds that have had officials monitoring gusts to be sure that it's safe. We're going to bring you a live report from the parade route in just moments.

HILL: Something else to be thankful for.

Meantime, politics. You can be thankful politics still alive and well on Thanksgiving.

BERMAN: Thank goodness for that.

HILL: Yes, and if they're on your turkey day menu, there's plenty to talk about this year. President Trump angering China after signing two bills into law supporting human rights and pro-democracy protesters in and-a-half which is raising questions about whether it could jeopardize a trade deal with China.

Meantime, the president and his senior military officers, we're learning, are at odds or the president's intervention in three war crimes cases. This as the ousted Navy Secretary Richard Spencer is calling the president out in a scathing new op-ed, saying the president has very little understanding of what it means to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices. We'll have more on all of that ahead.

But we do begin with CNN's Miguel Marquez who is live along the parade route here in New York City. And Snoopy is behind you, and it looks like he's ready.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the coolest balloon ever. This is the 40th version of Snoopy that they've had in the 93 years they've been doing this parade. You can see the netting is still on him. All of his handlers, though, have gone under the netting, and they are at their posts. But you can still see those green bags holding on to the netting. That keeps the balloons down. Until those come off and until they are about ready to step off we will know for sure. But right now, NYPD is saying that it is a go. Balloons will fly. They may be low in some places because of the intersections, but they will fly.

We have a band warming up now. Morgan State out of Baltimore, that's going to lead off the parade. And some of the balloons, the smaller balloons, there's about 40 smaller balloons, 16 of the large balloons. Some of those smaller balloons are already out on the parade route ready to go. So it is looking like thumbs up here at 77th and Central Park West, the very start of the parade for the 93rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

HILL: Happy Thanksgiving.

BERMAN: How about a Miguel Marquez balloon. He's such an important part of this.

HILL: There should be.

BERMAN: There should be a Miguel Marquez balloon.

HILL: I think we need to work on that for 2020.

MARQUEZ: There should be.

BERMAN: It will fly no matter what the wind. No matter what the wind.

HILL: Yes.


HILL: You can't keep that Miguel Marquez balloon down. No, sir.

MARQUEZ: In places you wouldn't want it to fly.


HILL: That's a different segment. Thank you, my friend.

Let's get your hour-by-hour forecast not only for the parade, but also have a preview for you. Another big winter storm set to cause more headaches over the weekend for folks maybe hoping to make their way back home. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. Chad, you've got the latest on that for us.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Erica, there's a storm in L.A. right now that will be in New York by Sunday. And there's another storm off the coast that will be in L.A. by Sunday. So both coasts will be very tough. Good news, though, not one reporting station. Central Park, LaGuardia, Newark, or JFK, not one exceeds the 34-mile-per-hour gusts right now. The forecast is still to get there, but right now it's good enough to let the balloons go, and at least for a while they will be up in the air. Good news.

And those winds all over the northeast. In some spots, some of these mountain tops here in parts of West Virginia and Virginia are blowing to 50 miles per hour. So it's kind of ironic that down there in the valley of Manhattan we're not seeing those winds. There's going to be a lot of snow out to the west, and that's the storm that will affect the northeast for your Sunday drive home. I suggest a Saturday drive home, not because you want to leave your in-laws, just because I suspect that across parts of Pennsylvania, New York, and all of New England, that it will be a snowy, icy mess by midday Sunday afternoon. Guys, back to you.

BERMAN: Not because we want to get rid of you --

HILL: Very important to clarify.

BERMAN: But just because of safety.


HILL: We care about your safety.

BERMAN: Safety first, Chad.

HILL: Happy Thanksgiving, Chad.

MYERS: To you, too.

BERMAN: All right, so the highly anticipated report from the Justice Department inspector general on the origins of the Russia investigation is expected to debunk President Trump's repeated claim that the FBI spied on his 2016 campaign. This is according to "The New York Times."

Joining us now, CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart, he's President Clinton's former White House press secretary, CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero is with us, former counsel to the U.S. assistant attorney general, and CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip is here as well.

"The New York Times" put out this report last night. Broadly speaking, what it finds is that the I.G. is going to say there's no evidence the FBI tried to put an undercover agent or informants inside the Trump campaign. They'll also find the wiretaps on Carter Page were not politically motivated. It will find there were omissions and errors in the Page wiretap application. And we have reported, CNN has reported there will be a criminal referral for a line attorney who falsified a document there. That's serious. It is a serious allegation.


But it isn't what the president and his allies have been alleging for more than a year, which is that the campaign was spied on. There were spies placed within the campaign. And just to remind you of that, here's some sound.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major developments again on the deep state spying on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To spy on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spy on the Trump campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm shocked to hear that they put a spy in the campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deep state spying scheme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spy inside the Trump campaign, back to the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FBI spies, or maybe two spies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks as if there could have been a second spy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These spy revelations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spies in this campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ran a spy ring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A spy to infiltrate his campaign.


BERMAN: Except, no, no, except for the no part. Apparently, it didn't happen, according to the inspector general report, "The New York Times" says. And Carrie Cordero, I just want to start with you. What do you make of the reports of this finding?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I'll look forward to reading the full I.G. report that we're still waiting for. But based on the dribs and drabs that are coming out about it, I think the important headline is that, yes, there was a mistake, and there was a wrongdoing by one individual, and so that person can be handled administratively or potentially even criminally, depending on what the facts were.

But there was not any evidence, as far as we know, of a systematic abuse of the surveillance or the investigative systems. There was not, quote/unquote, spying on the campaign, and so everybody, including everyone you played in those clips, including Attorney General Barr who had testified, quote, there was spying involved, that all of those allegations sound like they were not true. And, in fact, whatever investigations or surveillance took place, was done, generally, according to appropriate legal standards, absent what looks like this one instance of wrongdoing, which is by an individual, not in evidence of systematic abuse.

HILL: So while it didn't happen, despite the fact that we were told multiple times it did, Abby, none of us should be holding our breath, likely waiting for not only the folks that we saw in that tape there to say, I was wrong, this didn't happen, but the president either.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. The allegations were made without evidence to begin with. When President Trump tweeted that Barack Obama tapped his phones and that there were spies in his campaign, all of these were claims that were in search of evidence. And so for several years now, his allies have been searching for evidence. And I think we will get a big piece of that puzzle with this I.G. report that seems, based on what we know, to not have any evidence of anything that the president was claiming happening, and certainly not in the evidence of kind of systematic bias against candidate Trump or President Trump in the agencies that are tasked with looking into 2016 election interference.

So do I expect President Trump to apologize? Probably not. But I also don't necessarily expect him to take evidence for the first time and actually use it to inform the things that he has said either then or now.

BERMAN: The part of this that's instructive to me, and the reason this is a big, huge cautionary tale -- look, I didn't have the expectation that FOX News would handle this differently. It's not surprising to hear those voices that we played before say the things they were saying. They'll say just about anything at some point. But some of the statements were made at the White House, right. That was Hogan Gidley, the deputy White House press secretary, at the White House spreading what appears to be something that was just off base. We've heard the attorney general of the United States say it, too. It just goes to show what kind of traction and mileage you can get out of something that appears, according to "The Times," to be nonsense.

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Even the ordering of the I.G. report was reportedly done by Rod Rosenstein to appease the president. I think Hogan Gidley can say whatever he wants. He's said a lot of things that aren't true. But for the attorney general of the United States under oath before Congress to say that he thinks there was spying, and he had access to all sorts of information I think just goes to how institutions have been politicized and undermined across the board. You can take any day. We've talked this morning about the military and the Pentagon being under mine, DOJ, the State Department. We've seen all of these career foreign service officers. As John -- to quote John Dean, there is a cancer in this White House, and it has metastasized to all branches of government.


HILL: Just earlier this week, too, you made me think of Secretary Pompeo was asked about investigating Ukraine, the former CIA director, who wouldn't even push back on --

BERMAN: That's such a good point. This is the same thing.

HILL: Yes.

PHILLIP: I think here in this White House, any questioning of the president's theories, whether they are legitimate or not, is viewed as disloyalty. And people like Mike Pompeo, like Vice President Mike Pence, like Hogan Gidley, and like Bill Barr, know that. Even if there's no evidence to support what the president says, even questioning it can be grounds for the president to look at you and say you're not loyal to him. And for those people, they want to hold onto their positions as long as possible, and they are willing to, in the case of Pompeo, air out this idea that we just need to look into it, even though it's clear there's no there there.

BERMAN: He knows better, though. Pompeo knows better. Bill Barr knows better.

Another story that developed overnight, Carrie, and I want to get your take on this, "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" reporting Rudy Giuliani, while he went to Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens, was also trying to drum up business for himself. And he was involved in contract negotiations with some of the same people that he was asking, apparently, to dig up dirt on the Bidens. I know it's hard to wrap your mind around here, but it does have a stink to it. What do you see?

CORDERO: Well, first of all, I see a lot of conflicts on the part of Rudy Giuliani, just speaking as a lawyer. Unbelievable that somebody would have perhaps the most important client in the country, the president of the United States, if you are a private lawyer, and then to at the same time, as what it sounds like is being reported, be seeking out foreign government clients at the same time. That seems like a bad idea. That seems like conflicts.

And then the fact that the individuals that he was dealing with in Ukraine, that he was potentially seeking business from or professional relationships from, were also the same individuals that he was doing the president's political bidding for in terms of trying to work with those individuals to gain political information on behalf of the president. It is just this incredible dark mix of government business, private business, legal/nonlegal, political. It's just a very -- it's a situation that I don't think any other lawyer would ever want to be in the situation of.

BERMAN: Swampy as the president might say.

HILL: Swampy indeed.

BERMAN: Abby, Carrie, Joe, thank you for being with us this morning. Happy Thanksgiving. Have a great day.

CORDERO: Thanks.

BERMAN: So China this morning is vowing to retaliate after President Trump backed pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. At least he signed a law that does it. Will this derail the trade talks with China? We have a live report from Hong Kong, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, China is accusing the United States of sinister intentions after President Trump signed laws in support of human rights and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

CNN's Will Ripley is live in Hong Kong with the breaking details -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, the reaction is so fascinating, John, because it really illustrates the division here in Hong Kong between the vast majority of citizens and the government itself. Citizens are out on the streets right now. We have these live pictures of something that looks like a Trump rally. You have American flags praising gratitude for the president and U.S. lawmakers in both Houses of Congress who almost unanimously passed this bill which authorizes sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials believed to be involved in human rights abuses.

And, crucially, it also requires the State Department to review Hong Kong's coveted and prized special trade status. If that were to be taken away, the economic consequences for this territory and for the mainland would be devastating.

And so, you have people on the streets thanking the United States but then you have the government in Hong Kong and Beijing condemning this decision to sign this bill into law. And they point to the fact they were on the campus of Poly U, which is a university where there was a huge clash just over a week ago between police and protesters. The police went in today and say they have found hundreds and hundreds of weapons, including 600 petrol bombs that they throw at police that set, you know, the police cars on fire. They were informing napalm, they say.

Beijing is asking, why would the United States support a protest movement that they believe are violent rioters? So, it shows just how split Hong Kong is right now and perhaps why pro-democracy candidates won a landslide victory in district council elections. More than 90 percent of the vote. And yet, Hong Kong's government saying, okay, that was an election but in the end it doesn't change anything because the people who make laws are chosen in a same that overwhelmingly favors Beijing.

And so, what we're seeing here really is the seeds for many more months of unrest and discontent because there's a huge gap between what the people want and what the government says it's willing to provide.

BERMAN: The question from the United States has been, would the president sign this bill given that the trade negotiations with China were still going on? He was concerned they would affect those negotiations.

RIPLEY: Absolutely.

BERMAN: What are you hearing?

RIPLEY: And rightfully so, John, because, you know, Beijing has been careful to always say trade and their national interests are totally different. I mean, it's economics versus, you know, mainland China's sovereignty and its right to have Hong Kong as a territory because some in Hong Kong are calling for independence which Beijing has always said is a total nonstarter. Just like, you know, they say they can take back Taiwan at any time. And the U.S. is also a supporter of Taiwan.

So, this is a huge area of friction that China takes very seriously and that's why you see President Trump even signing this into law almost a week after the House passed it and then the statement trying to walk delicately around Xi Jinping.

BERMAN: All right. Will Ripley for us in Hong Kong -- Will, thanks very much.


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: The balloons will fly. CNN has just learned the New York Police Department will actually have a sergeant escort each of the 16 balloons.

BERMAN: The safest balloons ever.

HILL: These will be the safest balloons you've ever seen at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade set to take flight and make their way through the streets of Manhattan. And that will happen just moments from now.

Stay with us.


HILL: Fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer blasting the commander in chief over his intervention in the war crimes case against Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.

Spencer writing in a "Washington Post" op-ed, this is a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review. It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules or practices.

Joining us now, CNN military analyst, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

As we look at this, you know, I think the first question to you is just your reaction to what we are hearing from Richard Spencer about not only how things played out and he admits that he made mistakes, but his assessment of the president here.


LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Erica, what struck me the most about the op-ed was the fact the number of times he cited unlawful command influence in the run up and execution of the trial. How many times the president asked to intervene and do things specifically for Chief Gallagher.

You know, having run court-martials and been involved in military justice over my career, any time you hear either a defense attorney or a prosecutor having some type of unlawful command influence, it shuts the trial down. And it's a bane or boost to either one of those. So, yes, that's the thing that really concerned me.

But the other thing was how many times he tried to approach the president and said, let this play out. Let the military do what they need to do. And, certainly, there were some prosecutorial problems in that trial. There were some things that needed to be fixed, but in the long term, the judge fixed them and things went right.

And that's the way you've got to trust the system to work in terms of the legal approach to military justice.

HILL: The president was touting his intervention on Tuesday night at a rally. In fact, this is how he characterized what he did and why he felt he needed to do it.

Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state.

People can sit there in air-conditioned offices and complain, but you know what? Doesn't matter to me whatsoever.


HILL: He is saying there's some sort of a deep state within the military. So, he's saying this at the same time that we have reporting from our Barbara Starr that senior military officials are concerned. They are disturbed by his behavior. They're troubled by his intervention in these cases and that there is some division within the ranks even about the president and support for him.

HERTLING: Well, there's division in the society, Erica and, therefore, because the military represents the society, they draw from all parts of the society. You are certainly going to have strong Trump supporters and strong anti-Trumpers within the military. But once you put on that uniform, once you vow to take the oath of office, you're fighting and defending the country and living up to the ideals of the Constitution.

This whole concept of the deep state, truthfully, I sure would like someone to define it for me because I've been called a member of the deep state. It seems to be anyone that vows to defend the Constitution and live according to the rules and regulations that the military adheres to. And also, you know, just fights for the rule of law. I guess that defines a deep state.

It's crazy. It's just unfortunate, and it's causing further divisions in an organization that the president has used, or attempted to use for his advantage.

HILL: As we're talking about all of these things, I don't want to ignore the fact that today is Thanksgiving.

HERTLING: Yes. HILL: And you are not, obviously, overseas today, but having served

for nearly four decades you know exactly what it's like to not be with your friends and your family. And, you know, fair number of service members, we are now in yore 19 of a war. And so, they are in a war zone on Thanksgiving.

We see messages on TV. But just give us a sense. What are your thoughts today for all of those who are serving?

HERTLING: I was thinking about that coming into the studio and counting up the years. I spent a total of 14 years overseas, four of those were deployed when Thanksgiving was going on.

The deployments are tough, certainly. Commanders do the -- and leaders, NCO and officer leaders try to do the best they've can. There's usually a little time to play some touch football or flag football, a focus on the meals.

But even if you're not deployed to a combat zone, which I was for four Thanksgivings, if you're overseas, you also have some really interesting traditions where usually the officers dress up, go into the dining facilities, the mess halls in their dress blues and serve the troops. One time when we were in Baghdad where President Bush appeared to spend thanksgiving with the troops in Baghdad in 2003.

But it's a tradition of family. If you can't be with your biological family, you're there with your professional family. And it makes it as special as you can potentially make it. And truthfully, Erica, I miss some of those days.

We now have a son in the military and he just had the sporting events and the mess hall thing that we did. And I was jealous that he got to do it and I'm not doing it anymore. But it is -- it's the best way to counter the fact that you're away from your biological family. It makes for some good memories.

HILL: I'm sure it does.

Well, we are thankful every day not only for your service but that you are part of our CNN family here and for the insight that you always bring to us. So, happy Thanksgiving to you.

HERTLING: That's very kind. Thanks, Erica. Happy Thanksgiving to both you and John.

HILL: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. This next story may be one of the best of the year.

HILL: Uh-huh.