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Trump Falsely Claims Millions Voted Illegally; Conway Warns Against Romney as Secretary of State; Havana Streets Quiet As Much of Miami Celebrates; Pelosi Faces Big Leadership Challenge; Will Trump Follow Through on Threatened Lawsuits?; Black Friday Report: More Shoppers, Less Spending; NYC Firefighters Pull off Miracle on 93rd Street. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 27, 2016 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:09] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour now. I'm Pamela Brown in Washington and for Poppy Harlow. Well, you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday.

And new tonight, Donald Trump now claiming millions of people voted illegally in the election, the election that he just won. The claim is part of a series of tweets the president-elect has fired off today over the effort to recount votes in some states.

Trump writing, quote, "In addition to the winning the Electoral College in a land slide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally. It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than the Electoral College and that I would only campaign in three or four states instead of the 15 states that I visited. I would have won even more easily and convincingly but smaller states are forgotten."

These tweets were sent shortly before Trump boarded his plane to fly back to his transition headquarters in New York. And to be clear, there is no evidence to support the president-elect's claim.

Let's bring in the panel to talk about all of this. Joining me once again, Ben Ferguson, CNN political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show", as well as Marc Lamont Hill, CNN political commentator and host of BET News. He's also professor at Morehouse College.

I can see both of you are ready to go and share your opinions. Marc, I'm going to let you go first. You support Jill Stein. You supported her. She is, of course, leading this effort to recount votes in three states. By claiming millions of people voted illegally, did Donald Trump just help make her case for a recount?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course. Donald Trump essentially said this was not a free and fair election. He said people did not play by the rules, that illegal votes were cast. We said, you know what, we don't have to count them because they were voting for my opponent. It didn't hurt me.

It doesn't make a lot of sense. You can't say the votes were illegal and then say the election was free and fair. If the votes were illegal, let's count, let's sift out the bad ones and find out who the real victor is here. And if it's Donald Trump, it's --

BROWN: OK. So, Ben, on that note. How does Trump's team possibly argue against this recount when Trump is claiming not hundreds, not thousands but millions of people voted illegally in the election?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, he should probably go into his Twitter account and hit the delete tweet button. That would help things a lot right now. I don't think he's going to do that.

Obviously, Donald Trump was fighting back. He shouldn't have used those words. There is nothing to describe or to insinuate that there was a million plus people that voted illegally in this election. For me, I'm ready to move on to the other things. What's going to happen on January 20th and I don't know why he would tweet this out.

But again, I go back to the main thing here. Marc understands it and agrees with me on this. There's nothing that will come out of this. It's meaningless. It is just waste of time. It's waste of resources. It's waste of money.

I think the Green Party, part of the reason why they did this is to get some relevancy after they had a really bad election and maybe bring more people into their party. And it's -- you know, you can even say they borrowed a line from Donald Trump. They pulled a publicity stunt and it worked.

BROWN: Marc, you're shaking your head.

HILL: One, the election didn't go poorly for the Green Party. It went poorly for the Democratic Party.

FERGUSON: It didn't go well, Marc.

HILL: Well, Ben, we weren't exactly seizing up drapes or booking frankly Beverly for the inauguration. We knew we weren't going to win into the Election Day. It was bad for Democrats, bad for the Green Party. But the bigger question here is not whether or not we ultimately have a different president, although we could. I think the odds are against it. But the question is did every vote count.


FERGUSON: Let's not go there.

BROWN: Hold on, Ben. But let me ask you there, with no evidence of hacking whatsoever, does this set a dangerous precedent? You know, after every election, should there be a recount like this now with this movement?

HILL: The problem with the question is that it presumes that this is the first time. It's not a precedent. Elections have been recounted many times. This isn't the first time a state has asked for a recount, whether it's a Senate election, whether it's gubernatorial election or whether it's a presidential election.

And again, let's say that it turns out that of the three states that are being contested, one of them turns, and Donald Trump is still president. If you're in Wisconsin, don't you want to know you didn't vote for Donald Trump? If I'm in Wisconsin, I don't want to know that my state didn't vote for Donald Trump. That matters to future elections, it matters for funding, it matters for campaigning. And it also matters -- I don't want to live in state that voted for Donald Trump.


FERGUSON: Are you going to move every time you don't get your way, Marc? That would be exhausting if that's how you decided where you're going to live, based on where the election went last time.

Second of all, I lived in America proudly for eight years and my guy didn't win. Barack Obama was the president, and let's not go to that extreme of, I don't get my way, I'm going to move somewhere.

But here's what I'll say. You guys keep going and fighting over recounts. Keep giving lawyers, Democratic lawyers, a ton of money, millions of dollars for all this legal stuff while they get rich and as you would say, the poor get poorer when they send in chair checks to fight this.

[18:05:01] And we're going to get ready to run the United States of America, the government, and that's what Donald Trump is going to be focused on.

BROWN: All right. I want to move onto something else because there's a lot to discuss. That, of course, is one issue being discussed. The other one is the infighting over the possibility of Mitt Romney for secretary of state. What do you think, Ben? Do you think that Donald Trump is seriously considering Mitt Romney or could this be him simply wanting to make an adversary grovel before saying no? What's your take on this?

FERGUSON: Look, I'll be honest with you. I think only Donald Trump can answer that question. I do think based on what Donald Trump has done so far, his intentions with everybody he has met with have been very authentic. Putting Nikki Haley in a position after she was very critical of him I think is a perfect example of that, of the proof.

And I think what Donald Trump has pretty much said is look, if you are qualified, I want to interview you. If you are somebody that's a top person, even if you're critical of me, I'm going to work with you. The same reason why he put Reince Priebus as the chief of staff, the same reason why he worked with Paul Ryan and make sure that he was going to still be the speaker, even after they didn't even campaign together. He let it go and moved on.

So, I do think there's one issue here. The Republicans that support him early on, the people that stood in line for five hours to go to his rally or six hours, they said drain the swamp. And Mitt Romney is not draining the swamp, and they do not feel that he is a hard core conservative. He is part of the establishment. He's a RINO Republican in name only and they don't want him anywhere close to a Trump White House for that specific reason. I think they have a very legitimate argument that they are making over it.

BROWN: Do you agree, Marc?

HILL: Well, I think Mitt Romney is not a dyed in the wool right wing extremist Republican. But I think he's a Republican. There's some irony in Donald Trump suggesting that someone is not Republican enough when Donald Trump is all over the ideological map. We'll be hard pressed to say that he's a legitimate Republican if we're basing in a narrow set of standards.

But I think there's a bigger question here. Mitt Romney didn't just not fall in line with Donald Trump. He wasn't just critical of Donald Trump. He said he was a fraud. He said he was a sham. He said he wasn't legitimate candidate, that he was below the dignity of the office of president and he would be a disaster on the international stage.

And then for Mitt Romney to step in and decided he'd want to be secretary of state, to me, is sort of a bizarre choice if you believe that Donald Trump --

FERGUSON: It seems self-serving.

BROWN: Let me ask you this, Ben. I want to get your reaction before we have to wrap this segment to Kellyanne Conway sort of coming out and speaking out against Mitt Romney as a potential secretary of state. What do you make of that? Ana Navarro, who is not a fan of Donald Trump, suggested that perhaps Trump might be orchestrating this.

What is your take?

FERGUSON: Look, Ana Navarro, I'm pretty sure she said she voted for Hillary Clinton. So, I'll say what she's saying about Donald Trump with a massive grain of salt, with all due respect, Ana.

What I will say is I think what you're seeing here from Kellyanne Conway is she has a very close ear to the people and the constituents and those that came out for Donald Trump. She does not want to let them down. And she understands if you do put Mitt Romney in there, it may not outweigh the negative, which is that people feel like that you took advantage of them and you didn't do what you said you were going to do, which is drain the swamp.

Let's also remember this about Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney's biggest speech that he's given the last four years was a 40-minute diatribe of why Donald Trump sucks. Why would you give that guy this job? The second biggest speech he's given in the last four years was concession speech to Barack Obama.

So, this is somebody that I just don't really think you need in this administration. My opinion, I think there's other people as qualified as him and I hope Donald Trump will look around a little bit.

BROWN: All right. Well, we know we have lots of meeting tomorrow. Lot of anticipation for more announcements to come in his cabinet. FERGUSON: Busy week.

BROWN: Ben Ferguson, Marc Lamont Hill, certainly will be a busy week for all of us. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

FERGUSON: And now, let's focus more on the secretary of state position. We were just talking about it. A top Trump advisor continues her very public crusade against Mitt Romney as a possible choice. Take a listen.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: Other candidates being considered apart from the ones that are just being covered more commonly in the media. But apart from that, Governor Romney in the last four years, I mean, has he been around the globe doing something on behalf of the United States of which we're unaware? I'm all for party unity but I'm not sure that we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position.

But again, let me repeat, what Donald Trump decides, Kellyanne Conway and everybody else will respect. It's just the backlash from the grassroots. I'm hearing from people who say, hey, my parents died penniless, but I gave $216 to Donald Trump's campaign and I would feel betrayed.


BROWN: All right. So, let's talk it over with Ryan Williams, former spokesman for Mitt Romney when he served as Utah's governor. He joins me now by phone from Boston.

[18:10:00] Ryan, thank you so much for joining us.

I just want to ask you, the fact that this is playing out in public is just bizarre. You know Mitt Romney personally. How would this public battle affect Romney?

RYAN WILLIAMS, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR MITT ROMNEY (via telephone): I don't think this affect him very much. Obviously, Governor Romney is someone who was not fan of Trump during the campaign. But I think it's encouraging that Trump has reached out to him to at least consider him for this position. I think the governor would consider it, potentially given that he does have a desire to serve the country.

But, you know, I think he spent the Thanksgiving break with his family. I don't think he's bowed into the back and forth on the cable news network. I think this would be something potentially that you would look at if Trump wanted to have a serious conversation about it and if he thought he serve this country and serve the administration as well.

BROWN: Well, it sounds like they have had serious conversations about it. But do you think that this public battle, the fact that you have people like Kellyanne Conway coming out and saying there's been a deluge of people not wanting Mitt Romney to take this job, do you think it could affect his possible willingness to even take the job if it was offered to him?

WILLIAMS: Well, I don't know. I haven't spoken to him. My guess is he's probably not paying attention to it. This is a decision that will be made at the end of the day by one person, and that is President-elect Donald Trump. And it's going to be up to him whether he thinks Governor Romney is the best person to serve in his administration, whether he thinks he's the best person for the jobs and whether he's comfortable having him in the administration. And, you know, I think what Governor Romney is doing is just not saying anything. He's met privately with Donald Trump. He's not discussing with even his closest former advisors what happened to that meeting. I think that's out of respect to the president-elect and to the process.

If this is something he wants to consider, I think it's something that the governor would speak with Donald Trump privately and keep it a private conservation out of respect for the transition process.

BROWN: But why would Mitt Romney want to work for man that he once called a con man, a phony and a fraud?

WILLIAMS: Well, the issues that Governor Romney raised were litigated and Donald Trump won. He is our president now going forward. He's going to be the leader of our country and the free world.

And Governor Romney is someone who cares very deeply about this country, and about service. And I think that, you know, he's reached out to President-elect Trump to wish him well. He said very publicly he looks forward to the coming administration. He wants to see the president succeed because when he succeeds, the country succeeds.

And I think if the governor thought he could, in someway, if asked, play a role in helping move the country forward, he would look at it maybe because he is so dedicated to public service and to serving the country and moving it forward if he was asked to help in that process.

BROWN: And, Ryan, as you know, it's no secret that Governor Romney has a different view on certain foreign policy issues such as Russian than Donald Trump. If he did take on the job of secretary of state, what then?

WILLIAMS: That would be something I would assume they would talk about. I'm not involved in those discussions. I will say though that while they do have some differences potentially on Russia, both Governor Romney and Donald Trump have talked about putting America first, having a strong muscular foreign policy for his country, which differs from what President Obama has done. He's encouraged to see Donald Trump's strong clear view on Cuba and on Fidel Castro. It was in sharp contrast to what President Obama put, kind of placating the dictator and not calling out his atrocities.

So, I think they are both people that want to see a strong foreign policy, that want to make sure that America is respected in the world and I think they have more in common with each other than people give them credit for. Certainly a very different approach from the weak and feckless foreign policy we've seen from the current administration.

BROWN: Well, it certainly didn't seem like they had a lot in common on the campaign trail the way that they spoke about one another. But as we see, it looks like they are trying to bridge that gap.

Bryan Williams, thank you very much for that.

And just ahead this hour on this Sunday as Democrats look to regroup after a bruising election, they'll choose their leadership team this week. Why calls for a new messenger is bad news for Nancy Pelosi.

Plus, an incoming president with no shortage of legal baggage. How Trump's lawsuits -- pending lawsuits, we should say, could become a major distraction at the start of his presidency.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[18:17:40] BROWN: Well, as Cuba mourns death of its former president, Fidel Castro, Cuban Americans celebrates his passing. Take a look at just how different the mood is in Havana today. On your left, the streets of Cuba's capital are quite with very little activity after Castro's death at age 90. And then on the right, the streets of Little Havana neighborhood in Miami were bustling with activity Saturday, as you see, as Cuban Americans rejoice in the death of a man they call a dangerous dictator.

Ed Lavandera joins me now from Havana, Cuba.

And, Ed, you have a really interesting perspective here because yesterday, we saw you live from Little Havana in Miami, where the crowds were celebrating. Now you're in Cuba. How different is the scene there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Polar opposites, right? I mean, like what you saw there on the streets of Little Havana. There's an outpouring of excitement, and the chants of "at last that this day has come".

Arriving here in Havana, a much different scene. Much more subdued. In many ways, you could probably describe it as a cautious reaction as Cubans here try to figure out what they can and can't do, should or shouldn't do, that sort of thing, as they prepare for this nine days of mourning of Fidel Castro which begins tomorrow in the Plaza of the Revolution, where his ashes will be brought and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Cubans are expected to file through that plaza. And this is the plaza where popes have come to celebrate mass and other amass events like this. This is where the beginning of this mourning period begins in Havana tomorrow.

BROWN: I'm just curious. You know, as you said, they were trying to be cautious in terms of how they respond to this. I had people o the show yesterday celebrating Fidel Castro's death who insinuated this wasn't really sincere mourning in Cuba, that people were actually going inside their homes and celebrating Fidel Castro's death. You've been speaking to people there on the streets. What have they

been telling you?

LAVANDERA: You know, it's a fair enough point. It is important to point out a lot of times when you speak with people, you don't really know fully if they're telling you what they are supposed to be saying or if it's their true feelings.

However, there are a number of people who we spoken with who do feel a sense of sadness. Even people who will tell you that I don't describe myself as a communist, they don't describe themselves as a socialist or a communist, but they describe themselves as Fidelistas, supporters of Fidel Castro.

[18:20:04] There are some students at the University of Havana that gathered last night, had a small vigil. And when you listen to them, you can tell just how different it is from anything you might hear from Cuban exiles on the streets of Miami.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, he came here, and he's a struggle of that. The group thought that we have actually some value, and with unity, we can make any change possible. And if he was not an example to Cuba, and he was an example of American Latino and I believe he's an example of the entire world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are revolutionary, truly evolutionary. Not as a speech. I think that the main course here is that the young people in Cuba, the truly revolutionary young people in Cuba, they are not only revolutionary in speech, they are revolutionary in life.


LAVANDERA: And, Pamela, it's important to point out that the vast majority of people who remain here in Cuba have only known their lives with Fidel Castro playing some sort of role in it. His influence in this country has trickled down and into almost every aspect and every fiber of their lives in one way or another, whether it be subtle or, you know, intensely over the top.

These are people who have known no other system, no other way of life than Fidel Castro casting this large mythical figure in their lives. So, this is the first time that they are living without that.

BROWN: Yes. Very important perspective in context there. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much, live from Havana, Cuba.

Coming up on this Sunday, in 2012 after Obama won re-election, a conservative movement began to gain ground. And now, in the wake of a Donald Trump win, a similar movement is taking shape. Kyung Lah introduces us to the tea party of the left.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERICAL BREAK) [18:25:35] BROWN: Well, more than two weeks after Election Day, California is still counting votes, with more a million ballots left to be tallied. The state is home to many liberal Democrats who are taking the presidential election result very hard. Hundreds of disappointed voters showed up for Democrat activist strategy meeting in Los Angeles to talk about how to shake up movement the progressive moment.

Kyung Lah has that story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cry hall is in there if you need to cry.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The time to whine is over, says this room of 200 Los Angeles Democrats.

LISA TAYLOR ROSENFIELD, DEMOCRATIC ACTIVIST: I want to build an army of progressives across this country.

LAH: Trying to harness the rage of Californians, a state that's seen daily, often massive anti-protests.

(on camera): When you look in this room, what do you see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is exactly the place where Republicans were in 2008.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear --

LAH (voice-over): November 2008, Republicans lost the White House, the Senate and House of representatives. Sound familiar. Back then, from that loss, a grassroots conservative movement was born, the Tea Party.

EMILY CAMASTRA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We need that passion, that activism, that level of engagement, that, you know, the Republicans harnessed in 2008, going forward, and we need to capture that for the left.

LAH: People like Emily Camastra. She's not a Democratic operative. Neither are the people in this room. But they're united in their resistance to a Trump administration.

California still counting its votes is overwhelmingly Democratic and anti-Trump.

PROTESTERS: What do we want? Cal exit!

LAH: You see it in the half serious Cal Exit movement, seceding from the United States. California's outgoing Senator Barbara Boxer submitting largely symbolic legislation to end the Electoral College, which gave Trump the win despite losing the popular vote.

The Los Angeles police chief sending a message to the new president- elect that state laws won't force the LAPD to round up immigrants.

The left coast, the natural setting for an opposition to Washington.

BILL CARRICK, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: There's a shock here that how did this happen? They didn't see it in California. They're going to organize, organize hard.

LAH (on camera): Is this grass roots movement going to influence the rest of the country?

CARRICK: You're going to see the Democrats are going to be afraid of Trump. So, I think they will be all hands on deck.

LAH: Is this different than every other thing you've ever seen?

CHRISTIAN ESPERIAS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, it's absolutely different. There's action steps. They have awoken something in us that won't stop.

LAH: Borrowing for the Republican playbook, hoping for a different ending in 2020.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


BROWN: And straight ahead, as Democrats work to pick up the pieces after the election, some are calling for new party leadership. So, is Nancy Pelosi likely to be shown the door? We'll be right back.

You're live on the CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.


[18:30:00] BROWN: With Thanksgiving break behind them, House Democrats head back to the Hill tomorrow with a big decision on their plate, should they keep Nancy Pelosi as leader of their caucus, or go in a new direction? The vote is set this week.

Let's discuss. My panel this time around is CNN commentator Symone Sanders who's a Democratic strategist and served as the Sanders' campaign press secretary. And Robert Jones joins us. He is the CEO and founder, Public Religion Research Institute. Welcome to both of you. Thank you for coming on.

Symone, first to you, just break it down for us. What happens on the Hill between now and that vote on Friday?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, look, Democrats are coming back. And everyone will be trickling in tomorrow, and they'll be some lobbying going on. Just recently we've seen that Congresswoman Marcia Fudge who is the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressman from Ohio just came out for Congressman Ryan in this fight for the leader of the Democratic caucus. So there will be folks lobbying. Nancy Pelosi will be shoring up her side. And then Wednesday, there will be a vote. And I do think Nancy Pelosi

is going to hold on to the minority leadership but not without a fight.

BROWN: And that fight is coming from her challenger, Tim Ryan of Ohio. Let's take a listen to what he said.


REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO (through phone): I want to ask the question to my colleagues, how many seats do we have to lose before we make a change? We've lost 68 seats since 2010. Is it 80 seats? Is it 90 seats? Like, what's the number that forces us to do things differently? And so I'm pulling the fire alarm here.


BROWN: Robert, do you agree with Ryan that the Democrats need a new direction after losing these seats?

DR. ROBERT JONES, CEO AND FOUNDER, PUBLIC RELIGION RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Well, you know, elections, especially when you have lost, always produce this kind of soul searching, you know, among the leadership and really about the soul of the party and where it's going. And so these, you know, leadership battles really are about positioning the entire party going forward.

And, you know, one of the biggest fault lines here is how much do Democrats lean into these kind of growing diverse demographics that's, you know, represented by the coast and how much do they try to reposition themselves to be more competitive than they were among Rust Belt states like, where Tim Ryan is from, in Ohio. So it's not a mistake that he's from Ohio and talking about, you know, how many times do we have to learn these lessons?

So I think the biggest thing to watch out for is, here, what do these appointments mean in terms of how the Democratic Party is positioning itself and what lessons the Party thinks it has learned, really, from the election.

BROWN: And it seems like the Party is still trying to kind of grapple with all of these. Symone, one of the conclusions following the election of Donald Trump is that the Democratic Party lost the White working class by ignoring the pain that it felt yet, Symone, you say you'd like to see person of color step into the Democratic House leadership role. Why so?

SANDERS: You know, it's been a while, actually, not in recent history, since we've had an elected chair of color. I think the Democratic Party is diverse. It represents the depths and breadth of American, and that's what the leadership should represent. And so we have not had an elected chair of color, I do believe, since Ron Brown. And before he got to actually assume the position, he passed. So I definitely think it's time for someone that looks like the base.

But it's not just the chairmanship on the line. There's vice chairs that are really important. And then it comes to who is the executive director in the building? And I think we need to put together a really diverse and competitive coalition. I think it's much more, it's not just about what the folks look like but also what our policy positions are.

[18:35:01] And I mean, voters in the primary and the general, they told us they care about the issues. Democrats, we didn't necessarily run on these particular issues, and we'll have to do some quick correction on that if we want to gain seats in 2017, 2018, and then take that White House back in 2020.

BROWN: And, Robert, you said this loss should not make Democrats lose sight of demographic changes. Explain that. What demographics do they need to court and do they it at the risk of further alienating those working class voters who fled to Trump and helped him win the election?

JONES: Well, you know, I think the biggest danger, really, for both parties is over interpreting the particularities in the selection. It was an enormously close election, you know, just 110,000 votes. You can flip three seats or three states. And so I think kind of going back to the fundamentals.

And the fundamentals are these, really, that the Republican Party continues to be in a very challenging position going forward to win national elections. They're relying overwhelmingly on a very homogeneous and shrinking group of kind of White Christian voters. And there's just, you know, only so many elections you can continue to rely on that kind of a base and still win national elections for the White House.

The Democrats are in a much better position, but I do think the danger of the Democrats is getting into this kind of zero sum game where, if you embrace diversity, you know, that White working class voters lose. And I think the real challenge for Democratic leadership -- and they're better positioned, I think, than the Republicans here -- to be a party that does look like the country.

But looking like the country has to mean both being able to embrace the new growing demographics of people of color while at the same time signaling to the 43 percent of the country that is White and Christian that there is still place at the table for them.

BROWN: All right. Robert Jones, Symone Sanders, thanks for joining us on this Sunday. We appreciate it.

SANDERS: Thank you.

JONES: Thank you.

BROWN: And just ahead, President-elect Donald Trump names his White House counsel who may soon have his hands pretty full.


A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS.COM: Donald Trump loves to sue and he has, and then he loves to threaten to sue because it scares people.


BROWN: We will look at some of the lawsuits Trump has threatened and what may happen as he prepares to take office. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM, and we'll be right back.


[18:40:46] BROWN: Well, the Trump transition team has named campaign finance attorney Donald McGahn, a former head of the Federal Election Commission, to be White House counsel. And he'll likely have to deal with a unique situation, the staggering number of legal cases involving Trump and his businesses. CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, we've got new insights into President-elect Trump's most controversial lawsuits and why he's been involved in so many of them. It has to do with a bare knuckle bravado he picked up more than 40 years ago from a legendary legal brawler who told a young Donald Trump, when it doubt, fight them in court.



TODD (voice-over): The "Access Hollywood" tape and the barrage of accusations from nearly a dozen women of sexual misconduct didn't exactly humble Donald Trump.

TRUMP: The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election.

TODD (voice-over): Trump's also threatened to sue NBC for the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape. He's threatened to sue "The New York Times" for reporting two of the accusers' accounts and for publishing several pages of his 1995 tax return.

STODDARD: Donald Trump loves to sue and he has, and then he loves to threaten to sue because it scares people. Threatening to sue people and run up their legal bill is terrifying, and that's a tactic that he's used -- I can threaten to sue you. I have more lawyers than you do. You will lose.

TODD (voice-over): According to an analysis by "USA Today," at least 70 lawsuits involving the President-elect are still open. And overall, he's been involved in more than 4,000 lawsuits. The general counsel for the Trump Organization tells CNN those numbers are grossly exaggerated, nowhere near accurate. But Trump did just settle three class action suits over claims of fraud at Trump University for $25 million.

Trump's bare knuckle legal philosophy goes back at least to the early 1970s. The Justice Department was suing Trump, his father, Fred, and their company for allegedly discriminating against minorities who wanted rent apartments from them. Around that time, according to the book "Trump Revealed," Donald Trump had a fateful first meeting with a New York Legend.

MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, TRUMP REVEALED: In a very down moment, Donald Trump went to a night club in Manhattan called "Le Club," where he happened to meet Roy Cohn, who was famous for having defended Senator Joseph McCarthy back in the 1950s in the communist hunting days.

TODD (voice-over): From McCarthy to the mobsters he represented, Roy Cohn was a battler. Cohn's message to Trump in that night club conversation, tell the government to, quote, "go to hell."

FISHER: In that very first meeting, Cohn laid out for him his philosophy of how to fight back in a lawsuit, how to fight back against a federal investigation, and that was to hit back 10 times harder.

TODD (voice-over): If Trump sues the women who accused him, analysts say his legal claims are debatable. Potential pitfalls, numerous.

RICHARD LEVICK, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, LEVICK: What about the depositions? It's one thing to sue but then you have to defend. He's going to have to answer questions.

TODD (voice-over): And it could lead to something politically dangerous for Donald Trump as his presidency leaves the gate.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Bill Clinton, of course, got into litigation with Paula Jones regarding things that happened when he was governor of Arkansas, and that ultimately, as a result of statements that he made under oath, lead to impeachment charges being brought against him. And that's a good example for Mr. Trump to look at.


TODD: Will Donald Trump follow through on his threat to sue nearly a dozen women who have accused him of sexual misconduct? The general counsel of the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, told me the President- elect is focused on running the country, pursuing his political agenda, and eliminating distractions. Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Brian Todd, thanks so much for that report. And I want to talk more about Trump's legal situation and how becoming President may affect his options. Let's talk it over with Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, and now a corporate law professor at the University of Minnesota.

Richard, thanks so much for joining us. Just curious, if you were advising Donald Trump, what would you tell him to do about his threat to sue the women who publicly accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior?

[18:44:45] RICHARD PAINTER, PROFESSOR OF CORPORATE LAW, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Oh, well, I wouldn't waste my time on that. And I don't think he will. The problem he's going to have is trying to prevent other people from suing him because the Jones versus Clinton precedent is a very dangerous one for a President who is litigation-prone and has a widespread business empire.

And the plaintiffs' lawyers are going to be looking for an opportunity to go after President Trump, to try to compete with each other to see who is the first who can haul him into a deposition and try and out him under oath. So he's going to have to do whatever he can to fend off those lawsuits. And the best thing he can do is divest himself of his business empire, which is what's going to attract most of the lawsuits, and that would help him focus on being President.

BROWN: So you think more lawsuits will come? As we know, he settled with Trump University recently over the Trump University lawsuit for $25 million. Do you think that that will sort of pave the way for more lawsuits, essentially, the fact that he settled?

PAINTER: Well, unfortunately, yes. That the plaintiffs' lawyers are going to see an opportunity here. In the United States, if you sue someone and you lose, you don't have to pay their lawyer's fees, so we have a lot of litigation any way against the big businesses such as the Trump business empire.

And then if you have somebody who is the sitting President, who can be sued in their personal capacity as the Supreme Court held in the Jones versus Clinton case, well, there's going to be a political motivation for these lawsuits as well and all the President's political opponents are going to be egging it on. And as I say, if he wants to minimize it, he's going to have to divest himself of his business empire because I think that's where most of the litigation exposure is going to be.

BROWN: But with all the pending lawsuits right now, what would be your advice for him right now considering you have once been, you know, in White House counsel?

PAINTER: Yes, but a lot of these pending lawsuits are against various parts of the Trump business empire. So if he divest himself of that, it's going to be a lot more difficult for the plaintiffs' lawyers to try to haul him into court, to haul him into depositions, put him under oath. That's where you don't want to be. It's not that he wouldn't tell the truth, but he does not want to have to spend his time figuring out how to deal with that rather than being President.

So divesting the business empire is really going to help get rid of a lot of the litigation, not all of it but a lot of it. But if he doesn't decide to do that, he's going to have to deal with a lot of litigation over the next four years.

BROWN: And as we know, Donald Trump named attorney Donald McGahn, the former head of the Federal Election Commission to be White House counsel. McGahn advised the Trump campaign. What is your take on him? Is he a good choice to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest with Trump's business arrangements and his children?

PAINTER: Well, he's a very good lawyer. And I think he's going to do a very good job in the White House. The problem is that if the President-elect chooses to keep ownership of his business enterprises, there's going to be a lot of private litigation and that cannot be handled out of the White House counsel's office. That cannot be handled at government expense.

So we're going to have a parallel team of lawyers working for the President in his personal capacity as head or owner of the Trump business organization. And I think that's going to be a litigation nightmare that the White House counsel, no matter how skilled a lawyer, is going to find very, very difficult to deal with.

BROWN: A litigation nightmare. All right. Richard Painter, thank you very much for coming on.

PAINTER: Well, thank you.

BROWN: All right. Let's do a quick check on Black Friday spending now. More than 154 million consumers shopped in stores and online. That's about 3 million more than last year. But while more people shopped, they spent less. The National Retail Federation reports consumers spent about $290 each on average compared to $300 last year. And remember, tomorrow is Cyber Monday. Adobe predicts it will generate more than 3 billion in online sales.

The new CNN MoneyStream app is here. It is your favorite business topics all in one feed. Download it now on your iPhone or Android device or whatever else you have.

And coming up, live right here in the NEWSROOM, it's being called the miracle on 93rd Street, a daring rescue from a burning building and the dangerous technique that's rarely used.


[18:49:20] JAMES LEE, RESCUE 1, FIRE DEPARTMENT CITY OF NEW YORK: The roof was on fire. There was fire coming out of the shaft. There was fire all around us.



BROWN: A Manhattan apartment building burst into flames, an 81-year- old man trapped on the top floor. Well, firefighters had no other options except for a very dangerous rescue technique that's seldom used because it's so risky. CNN's Brynn Gingras talked with five of New York's bravest who went beyond the call of duty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Urgent, urgent, urgent, command to all units. We want everybody out of the fire building.

JOSEPH MOORE, LADDER 13, FIRE DEPARTMENT CITY OF NEW YORK: This is the type of job you see, you know, once in a 20-year career.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a Manhattan apartment building ignited in flames, more than 200 members of the FDNY raced toward it. These five men among them.

LEE: The roof was on fire. There was fire coming out of the shaft. There was fire all around us.

GINGRAS (voice-over): The firefighters never met before, but that day, an 81-year-old man trapped in his home brought them together.

MOORE: Frank called me and told me that we had a guy at the window.

FRANK RUSH, RESCUE 1, FIRE DEPARTMENT CITY OF NEW YORK: And my thought was possibly an off fire escape to get to try him but as you saw in the photos, there was no rear fire escape in this old law tenement.

LEE: I just grabbed the rope, dumped the rope onto the roof, and then that's when Andy and Steve came up and Joe, and we just went to work.

GINGRAS (voice-over): A rope rescue is a dangerous technique which hasn't been attempted by this department in five years because it's considered a last resort by firemen standards but one they knew they had to do.

Within seconds, Jim Lee was being lowered down, scaling the burning building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to your right, Jimmy. Go to your right.

LEE: He was burning, you know. And at one point, you could hear him yelling, burning. And I just remember, it's like sort of seeing him looking up at me with that hood up and I just said to him, "Let's go."

[18:55:03] GINGRAS (voice-over): With the rope holding them beginning to burn --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Lower him down nice and easy, guys. Nice and easy. Lower him down.

GINGRAS (voice-over): The team of firefighters successfully lowered the two men to safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy is burned. We're down. He's down.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Seconds before the rope snapped.

LEE: I'm looking back up, I'm seeing the fire now out the windows. The rope was on fire, and the reality really set in that, wow, we really just -- we saved a guy's life. I mean, legitimately, a group of guys worked together in seamless fashion and saved this guy's life. And what a feeling.

GINGRAS (voice-over): That feeling came again --



GINGRAS (voice-over): -- when the firefighters met the man they saved, Jim Duffy.

DUFFY: I said thank God there. It was a miracle. Of course, I called it a miracle on 93rd.

LEE: All right. Well, that's a good catch phrase. I like it, yes.

DUFFY: You like it, guys?

RUSH: We won't take it away from you.

LEE: Yes.


RUSH: We deal with a lot of tragedy in this job. And through the course of the career, more tragedy than you'd like to ever see. And this is definitely a win for everybody.


GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN New York.

BROWN: Definitely the miracle on 93rd Street. Well, Donald Trump, as we know, won the election. So why is he alleging that millions of people cast illegal ballots? No evidence, but a sharp accusation even as the President-elect argues that a recount would be pointless. Let's talk about it next hour. And you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:00:11] BROWN: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Poppy Harlow. Thank you so much for joining us.