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Trump Thanks U.S. Military, Praises Economy; Owner Of NYC's Soho Building Cuts Ties To Trump Organization; NYC Increases Security Along Parade Route; Argentina: Noise Near Lost Sub Consistent With Explosion; "Relentless" Search Expands For Three Missing Sailors. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 23, 2017 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:07]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Happy thanksgiving. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Just minutes ago, President Trump visiting a U.S. Coast Guard station near his Florida estate. It's a presidential tradition to thank members of the military on Thanksgiving, but the president also lavishing much of that thanks on himself.

First in this morning's predawn tweet and then in his teleconference with U.S. military personnel, the president praised the economy. Here's part of the president's message a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: For each of you I know it's hard to be away from home at this time of the year, we're doing well at home, the economy is doing really great. When you come back, you're going to see with the jobs and companies coming back to our country and the stock market just hit a record high. Unemployment is the lowest it's been in 17 years. So, you're fighting for something real. You're fighting for something good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: The president spending this holiday week in (inaudible) the opulence of his estate, Mar-a-Lago. Joe Johns in West Palm Beach. So, Joe, let's talk about this message and the backdrop?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the message there seems pretty clear, doesn't it? The president talking to five branches of the United States military situated all across the world, saying thanks to them, of course, in no uncertain terms.

But also praising the United States economy as well as indicating in his view how the United States military has been winning since the president took office. And then the president moved from that teleconference at Mar-a-Lago over to a Coast Guard station and nearby to here where he echoed some of those very same messages. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT TRUMP: The stock market on Friday hit the all-time high. The highest it's ever been, ever. In your whole long life, the stock market is higher than it's ever been. That means your 401(k)s and your -- all of the things that you have, whether it's even if you're in the military, you have a country that's really starting to turn, and we want to have a strong country. We want to have a country where I can buy new Coast Guard cutters and not have to worry about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: We anticipate that the rest of the day will be a quiet one for the president and the first family. A very traditional dinner over at Mar-a-Lago. Nothing else on the public schedule -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. So, Joe, President Trump has, you know, taken a lot of heat for his all but endorsement of Roy Moore. Now we've learned that amid the controversy Moore's communication director has resigned from the Senate campaign there in Alabama. Tell us more about that?

JOHNS: Right. John Rogers, the communications director for the Roy Moore campaign, has resigned. The campaign not saying a whole lot about it and neither is Rogers, quite frankly.

As you know, this follows on the heels of the controversy over Roy Moore's questionable contacts with women dating back years and years. Really no answer to why the communications director has resigned.

But we also know that some very powerful and influential Republicans, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee and others have withdrawn their support. So, it continues to be a tumultuous time in the Roy Moore campaign -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Joe Johns, we'll check back with you. Thanks so much.

All right. Let's discuss all of this now. Joining me right now, CNN political commentator, Ed Martin, president of The Eagle Forum Fund and former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, CNN political commentator, Matt Lewis, he is also a senior columnist for "The Daily Beast" and Democratic strategist, Atima Omara.

Good to see all of you. Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for being with me on this holiday. All right. So, thank you. Ed, you first, you know, presidents typically don't tie themselves to stock market rallies for one simple reason, they don't want ownership when the market inevitably falls.

ED MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.

WHITFIELD: So, is this shortsighted of the Trump administration or is there something else behind the strategy here?

MARTIN: Well, sometimes I think we maybe miss the president as a man, as a person. I think he's enjoying his first Thanksgiving as president. I think he's kind of excited and you know, he has a way of upselling what he's doing and you're right, I mean, some people point that out.

If the stock market dips, is Trump going to say that's on me? That's a different question. Today, I think he likes being around the young folks and excited about his family in Mar-a-Lago he loves. It's kind of a good Thanksgiving.

There probably won't be as many Thanksgivings that are, you know, that -- there will be other things that intervene. I think you're right, it's kind of celebrating and seems joyful, and I think people like that on Thanksgiving Day, more than some of the other things.

[11:05:07] WHITFIELD: And is this something particularly on Thanksgiving Day, you know, his audience mostly military as he's presenting kind of boasting of the market, strange or appropriate, Ed?

MARTIN: Look, I just think it's him. He kind of -- it pours out of him, right. I mean, no matter where he is he's talking with Twitter or speaking, he talks about these things and he always talks about aspirational, we're going to be great, I'm going to buy Coast Guard cutters.

For those people that are sitting there, our military is full of men and women who are the first generation to get real opportunities and looking at it and thinking my future, I'm 20, 25, it's going to be brighter.

I think they don't worry -- may not see as much of the politics. I think he brings a certain -- you don't have to like his policies, but he brings a certain energy that people feed off of.

WHITFIELD: And so, Matt, might there be, you know, reality check, you know, soon? Many analysts are predicting the market will take a hit, particularly if the Republicans' tax reforms are not passed. So, this could potentially be a real double whammy for the White House and maybe the president at that point won't be boasting but instead blaming?

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think that's right. Look, I think presidents usually get more credit than they deserve for a good economy, more blame than they deserve for a bad economy. If Donald Trump pushes through tax reform and that stimulates the economy, a year or two from now, maybe he should have a right to boast and to brag about his policies doing this.

But I think Ed is right, this is Donald Trump being authentic. I don't think this is fake at all. This is who he is. He wants to sort of put out an optimistic message and if that helps make him look good in the process that's all the more Trump-ian. Not entirely appropriate for Thanksgiving, but I think it is very in keeping with Donald Trump's style.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And so, you know, I wonder, the Coast Guard members who were near him, you know, kind of dead panned there or perhaps is that just, you know, being a little nervous because you have the president right there, Matt? LEWIS: Yes. I mean, you have to sort of put yourself in their shoes. It's hard to imagine what it might be like if you're maybe away from your family, serving over the holidays, and also have the president address you.

I'm sure a lot of people on the coasts don't have a lot of reverence for Donald Trump, but if you're serving in the military, he's your commander-in-chief and so it's a pretty big deal as well.

WHITFIELD: Atima, we're told that when the president is back at the White House next week, he will be making a big push for tax reforms, meeting with congressional leaders on the topic, so how aggressive do you think Democrats just might be in fighting against these reforms?

ATIMA OMARA, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, YOUNG DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA: Exceptionally aggressive. This tax plan is going to benefit the wealthiest of Americans and factor in corporation tax cuts. So, you know, it's not something that's going to benefit mostly -- most middle-class Americans, pretty much Mitch McConnell has mentioned that.

So, they're going to fight it tooth and nail, especially if those tax cuts are not going to take into effect the Americans who need it the most so absolutely. I would say some of his blister and bravado as mentioned earlier, is sort of humorous given that he's not really actually done a whole lot to benefit the economy in the last 11 months.

He hasn't been able to get his budget passed. He hasn't been able to get the tax plan passed just yet. So, you know, for him, it's a little preliminary, of course, and so he's going to, obviously, want to make sure that this passes so he has something going into next year.

WHITFIELD: And so Atima, with or without that bravado that you speak of, the president boasted being, you know, a great negotiator. Do we see that this is an occasion, particularly since so much is at stake, that he will be reaching across the aisle to try to negotiate for what he wants, tax reform?

OMARA: Well, a couple of the times that he's actually been able to get anything done is because of his alliances with Chuck and Nancy, as he likes to refer to them. It's not been because he's worked well with the GOP Congress that's actually in control.

Usually when the Democrats were in control under Obama, we got a lot legislatively done. Republicans have failed to do that. So, you know, I don't know if he's going to get anything done with this Congress as it stands.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ed, so right now, we're talking about the branding of Trump, the owner of that struggling Trump Soho Building is now cutting ties with the Trump Organization. The CIM Group actually pays the Trump Organization licensing and management fees while the Trump Organization handles day-to-day operations at that hotel in Soho. So, is this early exit from the deal, is this an indicator that the polarizing politics is, you know, taking a real toll on the Trump brand?

MARTIN: Yes. You know, what I always think about with these men and so far it's been men, but Hillary did this too, the big league players in politics have toughness. Obama was amazing how much he was attacked, and yet you see him with his family and who he is as a guy.

[11:10:08] I think it's same with Trump. I think you're right. There's probably some negative vibe on some of what happened, but the Trump brand has been that you're going to fail a bunch of times, but you're going to succeed more than you fail.

I mean, he won the presidency by not running a perfect race or even running a perfect primary, but when he's failed, he kept going. So, I think, you know, it sounds like somebody said this isn't a good fit for Soho, but you know --

WHITFIELD: But you think there really is a connection, though? Do you see that there's a connection between his politics and you know, the loss or removal of his name from some properties, this the first that we know of during his presidency, and there were at least three others during the campaign?

MARTIN: Well, I think that, you know, Donald Trump has succeeded by being elected president and his name will go on in history forever. Sometimes that won't be positively viewed, but in general, I think you would say the brand has gone up in value. There's always going to be people who say not a good fit for us, but that's never been something Trump minded.

WHITFIELD: Quickly, Atima, you're making a lot of expressions there?

OMARA: Yes. I mean, absolutely Trump's brand has taken a bit of a hit. I mean, guess what happens when you run a campaign based on racism, sexism, a lot of xenophobia and a little bit of homophobia.

I mean, you had three properties in New York alone that the tenants complained, the owners have changed the name, they no longer have any relationship with Trump Organization, and you have a couple of his green revenue news for the golf courses in L.A. and the Bronx, they've also lost a lot of revenue from people who canceled charity galas and tournaments.

And Mar-a-Lago where he spends a lot of time, 19 charities have -- 19 charities have canceled galas and a lot of tournaments this summer. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is not because, you know, they're like looking for better places. They always had them there. It's because of the Trump brand. They don't want to be associated with it.

MARTIN: Fredricka, can I say one --

WHITFIELD: Real quick.

MARTIN: One of the criticisms is that Trump is benefitting from being president. You said he's losing money. It can't be both. More importantly I think --

OMARA: Well, the D.C. --

WHITFIELD: Well, it might be both depending on geography.

OMARA: It depends on geography but absolutely in some other places, he's definitely losing money.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it right there. From someone who makes a lot of facial expressions myself, I couldn't help but notice Atima. All right. Ed Martin, Matt Lewis, Atima Omara, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

MARTIN: Happy Thanksgiving.

WHITFIELD: All right. Happy Thanksgiving.

Hey, speaking of such, Thanksgiving, want it take you outside the studios here in New York, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade today as those iconic floats wind their way through the city, an extraordinary sight, the floats, the balloons.

While everyone enjoys the parade, officers too are working around the clock to keep everyone safe. Mayor Bill de Blasio says the presence of the NYPD is stronger than at any previous Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Get you on ground level in addition to the tradition of having Santa there, and, of course, you've got, you know, the big apple floating by, also tradition, Jason Carroll, just about every Thanksgiving Day parade that I can recall while being here at CNN, so you, once again, have the best perch to see it all. What's happening?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What a parade it was. It was a lot of fun, Fredricka. You know, I've said that before, but this year, I really, really do mean it. The parade is still making its way through Harold Square.

Some of the highlights that we saw from our end, some of the new balloons, 17 large balloons which is, of course, what the parade is famous for. Four new balloons that made their way through the parade, Olaf from "Frozen," the Grinch being another one.

But also, you talked about the heightened security. We did see a lot of what the NYPD referred to as enhanced security. They said that you would see officers on every block. We saw officers at every half block throughout the parade route.

They also talked about some of the heavy armed vehicles that would be stationed at various streets, feeding into the parade route. We saw that as well. The, you know, counterterrorism unit was out here in full force. So enhanced security, but clearly a lot of smiles as well -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I love seeing all the security and barricades sometimes are a nuisance but while walking to work this morning, it was reassuring and great. I'm very thankful today, I did get a chance to see a little bit of the parade from the window.

I got to see jet and I got to see -- I guess that was one of the newest balloons out there and, of course, got a chance to see the big apple floating by too. Thanks to you, we get to see and, you know, very fast view, just about everything and all of it. Jason, thanks for taking us there. Appreciate it.

CARROLL: Happy Thanksgiving.

WHITFIELD: All right. And this breaking news, we are now following in the desperate search for a missing Argentine submarine holding 44 crew members.

[11:15:07] Officials saying a noise detected near the sub's last known location is, quote, "consistent with an explosion." Details straight ahead.

Three American sailors still missing in the Pacific after their plane crashed yesterday near the island of Okinawa. We have new details on the search. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We have breaking news in the agonizing search for a missing Argentine submarine and its 44 crew members. The Argentine Navy revealing that a noise detected near the sub's last known location on the day it went missing is, quote, "consistent with an explosion."

CNN military and diplomatic analyst and retired Navy, Rear Admiral John Kirby joining me right now.

[11:20:12] So, Admiral, how do you interpret what this may mean?

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: To hear that, actually, and certainly not going to be good news for anybody in Argentina, not the families of those that are missing, but I think we also need to be careful to draw too much in terms of conclusion from that news.

The sound travels differently under water than it does in the air and sometimes it's very difficult to be able to discern location, type and severity of sound even with the most sophisticated sonar equipment.

So, I'm certainly not in any position to doubt what they're saying, if they heard ha they heard to be an explosion, I'm sure they analyzed that, but we need to be careful before drawing any conclusions.

And as far as I know, all the international effort and it is an international effort, is still really designed as a rescue operation and that's how they're still thinking about it.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And sound is perhaps one of the best avenues in which to detect where the submarine might be. Also with us now, journalist, Stefano Pozzebon. So, Stefano, what are you hearing about the search of any sound indicators? STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes. I can hear you.

WHITFIELD: So, Stefano, tell me what you're hearing about this sound that could be consistent with an explosion or how this is directing the investigation, the search?

POZZEBON: Yes. Just in the couple of hours, Fredricka, the Navy confirmed the noise that was heard on that specific morning of the 15th of November when last the "San Juan was able to make contact with its home base the noise detected by two different scanners could lead to an explosion.

Of course, as you said, explosion could happen down there and it could be one of the worst case scenarios. One of the thing I want to point you to, Fredricka, here in Mar Del Plata, since the news broke in the last couple hours the news about the noise and potential explosion came out, we've seen a constant stream of relatives who are leaving and entering the base in tears.

Of course, very dramatic and tragic moment as many of these relatives who have hoped for the best, for the past eight days are starting to fear for really the worst for their dearest.

WHITFIELD: Everyone still hoping for the best. Stefano, thank you so much. Extraordinary pictures showing the rough seas, giving you an idea of what searchers are up against and thanks also to Admiral John Kirby, and Stefano Pozzebon. Appreciate it.

All right. Now for the latest on the search for three American soldiers in the Pacific. That search is expanding after the plane taking them to the "USS Ronald Reagan" crashed yesterday near the island of Okinawa.

Let's go to CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for the latest -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. Well, what we do know is the search continues. They've now looked at over 300 square miles of ocean out there, U.S. and Japanese forces, ships and aircraft, continuing to search for the still three missing sailors.

We do also know their families, three military families, on this holiday, informed that their loved ones are listed as duty status unknown, frankly, that means missing. The search is going to be looking, obviously, for any signs of wreckage on the surface of the sea or anything that they can learn about where the plane may have gone down and where they can try to recover the other three personnel.

The incident very much under investigation. No word yet on what did cause this plane to go down -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And Barbara, what are the key areas where they are focusing on? Because, you know, clearly things move in terms of where the initial crash site might be and where the nearby vessels are.

STARR: That's right. You know, just over a period of hours, due to the drift caused by ocean currents, they're going to be calculating how the wreckage that is in the water might have moved and adjust the search pattern accordingly.

Because it's going to be important for them not just to recover those who are missing who may be still near or in the wreckage, but to get the wreckage out of there so they can look at it and try and determine what exactly happened.

It's a mystery because this is an aircraft that has been used for decades and is very reliable, it has not had an accident to any large degree and hasn't had any fatalities, so they're going to want to get the wreckage out of there and see what they can learn from it and return loved ones to their families.

WHITFIELD: Heartbreaking. Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

[11:25:01] All right. Here's a question for you during the U.S. election, did you fall for propaganda from a Russian troll farm on Facebook? You'll soon be able to find out, actually. The details behind the company's new effort at transparency.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. You could soon find out if you were had by the Russians on Facebook or Instagram. The social media giant plans to issue a new feature by the end of the year, so you can check if you followed or liked Russian propaganda.

Facebook now admits that close to 150 million Americans may have been exposed an if you clicked like on those posts you will not be notified automatically, you need to use the tool.

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