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Trump: Taliban Peace Talks Are Back On; Iraq on Edge After Deadly Protests; Black Friday is Upon Us; Cowboys' Struggles Continue in Tough Loss to Bills. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 29, 2019 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says peace talks with the Taliban are back on during his surprise visit to troops to Afghanistan.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Iraq on edge. Three days of protests leave dozens dead. Iraq's leader is demanding answers.

ROMANS: Shoppers heading for the stores on Black Friday. Will bargain hunters boost the retail industry?

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START, this day after Thanksgiving. I'm Christine Romans.

PHILLIP: And I'm Abby Phillip. It is Black Friday, as you probably know. It's November 29th, and it's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Peace talks with the Taliban are back on. That's according to President Trump who made a surprise trip to Afghanistan for Thanksgiving. CNN is awaiting confirmation from the Taliban. And the White House has not shown any proof so far that talks are actually restarting.

Even if they have, in a speech to American troops at Bagram Air Base, the president left uncertain whether a successful deal can actually be made with the Taliban.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Taliban wants to make a deal. We'll see if they want to make a deal. It's got to be a real deal, but we'll see.


PHILLIP: This was President Trump's first trip to Afghanistan.

White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins has more on the trip.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Abby and Christine. The president making this unannounced trip to Afghanistan. When the president hit the ground, they met with the troops, he served them Thanksgiving lunch. And then he makes news while speaking with reporters, announcing that they restarted those peace talks with the Taliban, those talks that ended pretty abruptly less than three months ago when the president said he was scrapping them and a visit to Camp David for some leaders of the Taliban when they were going to have final negotiations he believe after that Taliban attack left one soldier dead.

Now, the president says they've restarted. He thinks the Taliban is going to be more open to a potential cease-fire, which would be noteworthy given that was a big sticking point last time around. But also, we should note, that this trip was kept under wraps well by the White House and Secret Service. He left Florida on Wednesday night, flew to Washington where he boarded another plane that was not on the tarmac as it formally is when Trump gets onboard, but instead tucked away in an airport hangar where the president then boarded the plane. They turned off the lights and flew with the window shades drawn so is not to give away their location.

Last year, when the president went to Iraq, an actual plane enthusiast spotted the president as he was making his way over there. Though this time, there were no sightings. But we should note, the White House did schedule tweets to come out of the president's Twitter accounts so there wouldn't be suspicions about his whereabouts -- Christine and Abby.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much for that, Kaitlan.

The president's visit to the site of America's longest war and the revelation that Taliban peace talks have resumed come at a time when he is clashing with his own military. We get more on the trip's significance from CNN's Barbara Starr. She's at the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Getting a peace agreement in Afghanistan is really critical for Mr. Trump's goal of reducing troop levels. Thirteen thousand troops there right now. He wants to get it down to about 8,600. And obviously, at some point, when the Afghans are able to stand on their own and be able to protect security in their country, eventually withdraw all U.S. troops.

During the Thanksgiving visit, he took pains to thank the troops, to remind them that America is behind them. Thank them for their service so far away from home.

It comes at a tough time, though. It's been a difficult week for the U.S. military. Mr. Trump has intervened in several cases of war crimes allegations and issued pardons, exonerations of troops involved in those, not going down particularly well with the top brass at the Pentagon. And it actually, of course, has led to the firing of the Navy secretary, Richard Spencer, who then penned a scathing editorial op-ed in "The Washington Post," saying Mr. Trump simply did not understand what it meant to serve in the U.S. military with uniformed regulations and uniform discipline across the board.

For the U.S. military, they very much want to stay out of politics. Mr. Trump, making that difficult for them at least during this past week.


ROMANS: All right. Barbara Starr, thank you so much for that.

Now, following up on our lead story from yesterday. Yes, those giant character balloons did make it off the ground for Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. There were fears that the balloons would be grounded by the strong winds.

But officials cleared them just one hour before step-off time. A few balloons were pulled from the lineup. Ronald McDonald and three smaller balloons had tears and could not be inflated.


PHILLIP: Severe weather caused power outages all over Detroit, even interrupting a halftime show at the Lions' game.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's something --


PHILLIP: While the Osborne Brothers had barely started when the power blew out. And after a brief delay, the lights did come back on and the show presumed. The Lions might have preferred a blackout. They lost to Chicago, 24-20.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one. Happy Thanksgiving!


ROMANS: All right. Shoppers stepped away from the dinner table and went to stores and setting records online. Early data from Adobe Analytics showed that online sales are set to break a record, $4.4 billion. You know, nearly half of those came from smartphones before 5:00 p.m. Shoppers also hit the shelves to score early Black Friday sales, often waiting in long lines for stores that opened later in the day.

With fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, many retailers even started sales as early as Halloween. All of this, good news for the retail sector as the holiday shopping season really gets under way. And despite the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, consumer confidence remains strong.

PHILLIP: Have you heard it's Black Friday? This Friday tradition is going strong. And shoppers are expected to wrack up $7.5 billion in sales on everything from turtlenecks to toasters and televisions.

CNN's Alison Kosik is live this morning at a Best Buy in northern New Jersey.

Alison, it's pitch black out there. What are you expecting to see?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're expecting to see a lot of people come to these doors here at best buy here in Paramus. Right now, no one is outside, but tickets for door-busters are going to be given out in a couple hours now for items such as the HP laptop and some flat-screen TVs.

You know what? This is still a tradition, despite the fact that more than half of consumers have already begun their holiday shopping. They began it back in October. It's still a real tradition to come out here on Black Friday. It's one of the five big shopping days of the year.

Just in this five-day stretch of the weekend, I'm talking, starting from Thanksgiving all the way to Monday, on Cyber Monday, it's expected 165 million people will get out there and go shopping. And if you look at how much money they're going to spend during the entire shopping period, talking about October, November, and December, an estimated 737 to 730 -- $727 billion to $730 billion is expected to be spent.

What are they going to be buying? It looks like shoppers are going to for the old favorites, you know, electronics, appliances and clothing. Those are the biggies. They will look for price increases.

But according to the National Retail Federation, it's not expected that the tariffs are going to be showing up much because what's been happening lately is retailers are trying to plan ahead. Plan ahead before those tariffs hit. They've been ordering inventory before. That way, they could either absorb costs where the products can come in in time or they wouldn't have to pass it along to consumers.

Abby, back to you.

PHILLIP: Well, enjoy the peace and quiet in that store while you still you can. Alison, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Eight minutes past the hour.

Dozens dead after three days of protests in Iraq, thousands injured. We're going live to Baghdad, that's next.



ROMANS: Thirty-one people are dead after 3 days of bloody protests in Iraq. Over 1,000 have been injured, including at least 75 security officers. Iraqis are angry about government corruption and Iran's meddling in their affairs. They just burned down the Iranian consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. CNN's Arwa Damon is live for us from Baghdad with the very latest.

What's happening there, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're in Tahrir Square, which has become some of the epicenter of the demonstrations in Baghdad. It has a bit of a festival atmosphere. But it's also, at the same time, a constant reminder of how serious the protesters' demands are and what they're willing to give up for them.

We saw two funerals coming by with coffins. People told us they were protesters that were killed in Baghdad in the last 24 hours.

There is a man down below in a wheelchair. He said that he was shot in the back about a week ago. Now, he's paralyzed, it could seem. But he's still coming out here.

There's another man standing up here. He also had an injury that he sustained a few days ago. They're all still here because they say they tried to demonstrate before. The government made promises. The promises haven't been fulfilled.

And then if we look to what's happening down south. In a city like Najaf, like you were just saying there, the Iranian consulate was burned down. This is the country's Shia heartland. This is where Iran thought they had the strongest grip on the Iraqi population, seeing that is it predominantly Shia in those areas.


But the population has no more tolerance left. Not for their own politicians and not for interference from any country, not even from Iran. And you have these very serious clashes that are breaking out in, yet, another southern Shia city, that as we've received reports today, are still ongoing.

What is happening here is significant. Not just for the future of Iraq, that this younger generation is demanding, but also, it's worth noting, that what happens in Iraq is critical to the future of the region's stability, as well.

ROMANS: Very good point.

All right. Thank you so much for that. Arwa Damon for us in Baghdad this morning.

PHILLIP: An evacuation record remains in place in Port Neches, Texas, after Wednesday's huge explosion and fire at a chemical plant. Tens of thousands of residents out of four-mile radius of the TPC plant are not able to return. Firefighters have made progress in suppressing the fire but chemicals continue to burn. Officials are hoping to lift the evacuation order in the next four to five hours.

ROMANS: All right. The death toll and the misery both rising in Albania. Forty-six people confirmed dead after Tuesday's 6.4 magnitude earthquake. Seven hundred fifty people are injured. Three are missing.

One of the fatalities was the fiancee of the Albanian prime minister's son. With rescue efforts ongoing, the region was still seeing aftershocks on Thursday, measuring 5.0.

PHILLIP: In Northern England, anguish and dismay among victims' relatives after a jury acquits a former police superintendent of manslaughter. Seventy-five-year-old David Duckenfeld was charged in the death of 95 Liverpool fans.

The fans were crushed at Hillsborough Stadium in 1989, when police tried to relieve crowding by opening an exit gate into a fenced-in section. Fans were packed so tightly into that section, and as more and more people streamed in, they were crushed.

Duckenfeld was tried after authorities ended decades of official cover-ups.

ROMANS: A 12-day siege at Polytechnic University in Hong Kong is over. Hundreds of police went inside Thursday to remove any weapons left behind by protesters. Afterward, they turned the campus back over to school management. Following a two-day search, officials say they found nearly 4,000 Molotov cocktails, along with 12 bows, 200 arrows and an air rifle.

PHILLIP: Chicago, Buffalo and New Orleans all victorious on Thanksgiving Day. And the Saints have something extra to be thankful for. Carolyn Manno has this morning's "Bleacher Report", up next.

ROMANS: Good morning. I did, I did.



PHILLIP: Welcome back.

The Dallas Cowboys are in deep trouble after another tough loss had a lot of people wondering if the coach is on the chopping block.

Carolyn Manno has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

ROMANS: Good morning, Carolyn. Happy Thanksgiving.


Yes. I hope you guys have a good Thanksgiving, watching a little bit of football. We'll get you caught up if you didn't.

But that's true, fans are calling for Jason Garrett's job. It's been like this for a while now, another dismal loss at home. This time to a pretty good Bills team that don't tell the Cowboys fans that. I'm not sure they care.

And despite losing for the sixth time in nine games, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he is still sticking with his guy. You know, it started well for Dallas, their offense driving down the field. Dak Prescott connects with Jason Witten for the score.

But this is as good as it got. Tied in the second here, Dak strip sacked by Buffalo rookie Ed Oliver, the second of back-to-back turnovers, giving the ball great field position for the Bills, and directly leading to the Bills' pulling out this tricky play, double reverse, wide receiver John Brown to Devin Singletary, wide-open for the touchdown. So, the Bills Dak dancing, stuffing their faces, all the way to a 26-15 win. Buffalo 9-3, the Cowboys are 6-6, still have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season.

Meantime, Drew Brees and the Saints are the first team to clinch a playoff spot. They are the NFC South champs for the second-straight year. And Saints fans can thank third-stringer Taysom Hill for the Thanksgiving win, undrafted out of BYU.

The backup quarterback can do it all, deflecting a punt on the opening possession of the game. This would give the Saints a short field on the first drive. And then check it out, three plays later, now, he's lined up at wide receiver, making an impact. Little toss pass, shovel from Brees to give the Saints the early lead.

Hill at quarterback, in the second quarter, moving all around the field. Nothing he can't do, takes a snap, bulldozes his way up the middle, 30 yards through the Falcons defense for a touchdown. Hill making an impact on every score, as the Saints win 26-18.

Meantime, nothing on the line but pride in Detroit for the Lions and Bears. And oh, my.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's something --


MANNO: Can you believe that? The power went out just seconds into the halftime performance by the Brothers Osborne. Eventually, after 60 painful segments, the set went on as planned.


Bears got the win 24-20.

And while the pros had the spotlight on Thanksgiving, we wrap it up in the college ranks. This is wild. Unbelievable finish between Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

OK. So, late in the fourth here, Ole Miss down the score, fourth and 24, Rebels quarterback Matt Corral, pulling a rabbit out of his hat -- the 57-yard Hail Mary.

ROMANS: No way.

MANNO: And just like that, they've got life. More than that, four seconds to go now, hitting Elijah Moore for the touchdown, to get them within one, Abby and Christine. But then -- ROMANS: No!

MANNO: -- he blew it.


MANNO: You can't do that, 15-yard penalty on unsportsmanlike conduct. So, instead of kicking the extra point for the 10, the ball at the 25 and it's missed. Bulldogs escaping with the Egg Bowl win, 21-20. It was so bad.

ROMANS: He looks like he's sick.

PHILLIP: That's very sad.

MANNO: Well, no Thanksgiving dessert for Elijah Moore.

ROMANS: Come on, the fire hydrant, that's so gross.

MANNO: It's just gross.

PHILLIP: And not worth it, also not worth it.

ROMANS: So many lessons for the young men there. So many lessons.

All right. Thanks, Carolyn. Nice to see you.

President Trump saying talks with the Taliban are back on. He made the claim during a surprise trip to visit troops in Afghanistan. What talks could mean for troops, that's just ahead.