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Details of Trump's 2005 Tax Return Revealed; Moderate Republicans Bailing on Health Care Plan. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 15, 2017 - 07:00   ET


BLINKEN: [07:00:06] But here's the question for us. Are we going to be in the room where it happens, trying to shape what happens? Or are we going to be on the outside with no influence? I think it's generally a better proposition for us to be on the inside. Trying to effect it. Trying to shape it. Trying to move in the right direction.

For example, on the Human Rights Council because we were there, we were able to protect Israel against some of the excesses that the council was undertaking.

HARLOW: And so President Bush had not had the United States involved. Then under Obama we were once again involved in the council.

BLINKEN: That's right.

HARLOW: Obviously with your work. And now we'll see what happens with Tillerson and the president decide.

Tony Blinken, nice to have you on. Thank you.

BLINKEN: Thanks a lot, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. Our viewers here in the United States, NEW DAY continues right now.


DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER/COLUMNIST: I don't know why whoever sent them to me did so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The American public finally getting a glimpse at President Trump's federal tax returns.

JOHNSTON: It could have been him.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You don't learn that much from tax returns.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The timing is curious. Is this an intentional distraction?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: FBI Director James Comey promising answers on President Trump's allegations. SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'll leave it to them to

issue their report, but I think he feels very confident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an alternative fact, made up in his own head.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: They should just pull the plug on this bill.

REP. TOM GARRETT JR. (R), VIRGINIA: Right now I'm a no. I'm a firm no. I candidly don't see how we get to 216.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're keeping this bill intact. I feel like we're in a good place.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. Poppy Harlow is here. Thanks.

HARLOW: Good to be here.

CUOMO: We've got a lot of news. Up first, someone with a client copy released two pages of President Trump's 2005 tax return. They really just show you what he paid in taxes. What he could have paid if he didn't have the benefit of the alternative minimum tax. But they do not answer any of the real questions, which raises a new question. Was this yet another distraction, at least from the issue of why he doesn't just be the kind of transparent president he promised to be.

HARLOW: And frankly, the man who had this reporting, who got these tax returns mailed to him, brought up, you know, the question. Was it the president who released these to deflect attention from a growing Republican revolt within his own party over his own party's health care reform proposal?

Now, all of the investigations also into the possible ties to the administration and Russia also weighing down on the president right now. Was this an intentional distraction as we enter day 55 of the Trump presidency?

We have every angle covered. Let's start this hour with Suzanne Malveaux in Washington. Good morning, Suzanne.


With the release of Trump's 2005 104O form, it raises more questions than answers. Like President Trump's possible business ties to Russia and other foreign entities; whether he skipped out on paying his fair taxes more recently; and interestingly, the disclosure is now being treated more like a distraction from those who have been calling for his tax returns throughout the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX (voice-over): The American public finally getting a glimpse

at President Trump's federal tax returns. Investigative journalist David Cay Johnston obtaining the first two pages of Mr. Trump's 2005 taxes.

The document shows he paid $38 million in taxes on more than $150 million in income, giving him an effective tax rate of roughly 25 percent. The White House confirming the figures in a statement on Tuesday night.

The move comes as the White House is battling negative headlines on the GOP health care bill and the president's wiretapping claims, prompting Johnston to speculate whether the president himself or one of his staffers sent him the document anonymously.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think it's possible that he could have sent them to you?

JOHNSTON: Oh, absolutely. I think it's entirely possible. As we remember, Donald has a long history of leaking information about himself.

MALVEAUX: Democrats largely dismissing the tax disclosure.

BRIAN FALLON, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY CLINTON: I don't think we learned anything at all interesting tonight. This report tonight, I think, would be a mistake for Democrats to get distracted by.

MALVEAUX: President Trump's son suggesting the release was actually a positive development for his father. "Breaking news: 12 years ago Donald Trump made a lot of money and paid a lot in taxes. #scandal."

This after President Trump insisted for months that he could not release his tax returns because they are still under audit by the IRS.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm not releasing the tax returns, because as you know, they're under audit.

Almost every lawyer says you don't release your returns until the audit is complete. When the audit is complete, I'll do it.

I don't know. Depends on the audit. Depends on the audit. Not a big deal.

MALVEAUX: The DNC suggesting that the president may have other reasons for keeping his taxes to himself.


MALVEAUX: And earlier this morning, the journalist who received the tax forms spoke to NEW DAY, and here's how he explained it.


HARLOW: Do you think it's possible that it was sent to you by the president? JOHNSTON: Yes, Donald has a long history of leaking things about

himself and doing it directly and indirectly, so it's a possibility. The anger with which the White House responded suggests to me not likely, however. It's when something gets leaked he's happy about he doesn't complain.


[07:05:00] MALVEAUX: And the DNC is urging folks not to focus on this this morning, with the new health care plan threatening to kick millions off of coverage -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Suzanne Malveaux in Washington, thank you for that.

Also this morning, FBI Director James Comey is expected to tell senators whether or not the FBI is indeed even investigating these alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. This as opposition grows within the Republican Party over that health care bill. More Republicans demanding changes following the CBO's report.

Joe Johns is at the White House with that this morning. Good morning.


One thing seems clear this morning. This new administration is entering a very challenging period right now, and it's certainly not clear the extent to which the White House is going to be able to control any of it.


JOHNS (voice-over): President Donald Trump facing mounting pressure from members of his own party, confronting internal revolt over the House health care bill and ongoing scrutiny of his unsubstantiated claim that President Obama wiretapped phones at Trump Tower.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: A lot of the Americans need to know.

JOHNS: Amid this turmoil, FBI Director James Comey could confirm today whether the bureau is investigating ties between Trump's campaign and Russia. Leaders of a Senate judiciary subcommittee also hopeful that Comey will also respond to their request to provide evidence regarding the wiretapping accusation.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: They're about to screw up big time if they keep running to the intel committee and not answer that letter.

JOHNS: Earlier this week, Sean Spicer qualified Trump's accusation, but now he's sounding defiant.

SPICER: He feels very confident that we'll ultimately come at this -- we'll vindicate him.

JOHNS: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle showing growing frustration about the White House's failure to provide any evidence to support Trump's extraordinary claim.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: I think, frankly, the administration probably should come forward with whatever proof they have, because again, leveling a charge like that is a huge deal.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: You do not make those kind of allegations, criminal allegations, against a former president, as he did so recklessly.

JOHNS: This as the White House battles criticism from both GOP conservatives and moderates over the Trump-endorsed health care plan, following the release of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report estimating 24 million more Americans will be uninsured by 2026 under the GOP's replacement plan.

GARRETT: Right now, I'm a no. I'm a firm no. I candidly don't see how we get to 216.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: I'm concerned. That's not what President Trump promised. OK? That's not what Republicans ran on.

JOHNS: One top GOP source admitting, quote, "Headlines are terrible," fraying nerves within the GOP.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: Would you give me a minute?

JOHNS: Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski under pressure to support the replacement bill, refusing to answer CNN's Manu Raju.

MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes or no, do you support the health care bill?

MURKOWSKI: Would you please be respectful?

JOHNS: President Trump silent over the report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CBO score, Mr. President, your reaction?

JOHNS (voice-over): As the administration continues to discredit the CBO's findings.


SPICER: CBO coverage estimates are consistently wrong. This is the American Health Care Act. The president is proud of it.


JOHNS: What is the president doing in the midst of all of this? Well, he's hitting the road, headed out to Detroit for an event on creating jobs, and then down to Nashville for a big rally -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Joe. Appreciate it.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Chris Collins of New York. He's the co-chair of the Trump House Leadership Committee. Good to see you, Chris.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Yes. Good to be with you on a snowy -- what is today, Wednesday?

CUOMO: Yes, but you know, you guys up in western New York, you're tough. You can handle whatever comes your way.

COLLINS: Yes. We only got -- we only got 8 more inches last night.

CUOMO: It's nothing for you guys. It's just a dusting.


CUOMO: So help me out with this tax issue just for one second. I see it largely as a distraction. It's not the main point of talking to you today, but it doesn't smell right. You know, a couple pages come out. You know, there's really nothing, no depth to this. Says "client copy" on it. Where do you think these came from?

COLLINS: Oh, I have no idea. I mean, you do release your taxes for various financial reasons to a bank and to other lenders. You know, who knows where it came from? I wouldn't pay much attention to it.

Again, it's his personal financial disclosure form that was filed that gives you all the details on all of his involvement, on all of his businesses.

I mean, this one shows, certainly, in the one year, 2005, he made $150 million, paid 25 percent in taxes. And it is what it is.

But the personal financial disclosure tells you more anyway, and this is 11 years old. So I think we should be talking about, you know, things like repeal and replace of Obamacare and the health care act. And...

CUOMO: Let's do that. Let's do that. When we talked last you said, "Hey, I don't think that the CBO score is going to show that people are going to get thrown off." Well, now we know that they do exactly that. That the uninsured number is going to be high.

[07:10:10] You have members of your party -- we know you're working actively on this -- who are saying, "I can't vote for something where I have to go back to my constituency in West New York, anywhere, and tell people, yes, people are going to lose coverage. I can't do it." Can this be fixed?

COLLINS: Well, I -- I believe, you know, we've got the binary choice. This wasn't done like the binary choice of Clinton or Trump and the ramifications of each. We have the binary choice here of you support the plan that we have or Obamacare continues as is unimpeded, you know, with a plan that has totally failed America and is just not working.

So it is a bit of a binary choice. I don't see many changes that can occur. This is a compromise and, you know, sometimes a compromise means no one really likes it. The far left doesn't like it; the far right doesn't like it, which means it is compromised.

New York, New Jersey Republicans are not Florida, Texas Republicans. We had expansion of Medicaid. Those states did not.

Chris, this is a compromise bill. It's a good bill. It saves $337 billion as scored by the CBO. It lowers premiums.

And their coverage numbers don't make any sense, to say next year there's effectively no changes for 2018, and they say 14 million people aren't going to have insurance.

CUOMO: Well, that's because -- that's because...

COLLINS: I don't know where those numbers are coming from.

CUOMO: It's because it was bookkeeping. Right? It was because you delay what you're doing with the Medicaid money.

But what I don't get is the desperation. Why are you so intent on forcing this right now? Sean Spicer was talking like the world is about to end.


CUOMO: "This is our one chance. Has to happen now." That's where you're getting pushback, not from the extremes, you know, but even from a Senator Portman. You're getting people saying, "Hold on a second." Senator Cotton, "Hold on a second. I'm a real Republican, and you guys are going too fast. And you're giving us something that's going to hurt us that doesn't make the current system necessarily better. It just creates new challenges and difficulties." Why the rush?

COLLINS: We're doing this under the 2017 -- 2017 budget reconciliation...

CUOMO: Right.

COLLINS: ... to avoid the filibuster. We then have to move into getting Justice Gorsuch approved, and the Senate calendar becomes problematic. Then we have to move into fundamental tax reform and infrastructure under the 2018. And we've got to get it all done, really, certainly this year. Next year is an election year. We have to get it done in 2017.

One has to be done first. This sets the new baseline on the revenue stream of America so we can move into tax reform. It's "A" leads to "B" leads to "C." And so there is a very tight time frame.

We've got Easter coming up, and then we all know come July we're out for the entire month of August and first week in September working in our districts.

So we really don't have a lot of time, and when you say delay, to what end? All the facts are on the table. We know what we know. It's not going to change between today, tomorrow or two months from tomorrow. When you have the information, the facts are on the table, you've debated it, move forward.

CUOMO: Well, but it hasn't really -- it hasn't really been debated. I mean, you guys have spent a lot of years just trying to get rid of Obamacare, but you never had a reasonable explanation of having to replace it. Right? That was always the threat. Be careful what you wish for.

Now you guys are in that position. But that's exactly what you're hearing from hour part, is that "We haven't had a chance to debate." Whether it's the Steve Kings of the world -- I know he's fallen into disfavor right now, but he represents a legitimate fiscal viewpoint in your party. They're saying, "This isn't what you guys promised us. This isn't what we wanted." It's just creating new problems.

Why not let it play out? Why not give yourself a shot to have Democrats help you, you know, repair some of what's going on...?

COLLINS: Remember, the Democrats -- the Democrats will never help us on tax reform. They will never help us on repealing Obamacare. That was their signature accomplishment for Obama and Pelosi back in 2009 and '10.

So, you know, the far right wants Medicaid expansion ended in its entirety immediately. Those in the more moderate states, New Jersey, New York, are comfortable that by letting it continue in 2020...

CUOMO: Right.

COLLINS: ... with the standard reimbursement, you know, in the case of New York, it would be 50 percent. Same as, you know, we have for the blind and disabled, which is certainly a reasonable proposal.

That's where, you know, one side would like the Medicaid expansion to go longer. The other side wants it over tomorrow. January 1st of 2020 is the compromise.

CUOMO: Right. But you don't have...

COLLINS: We can debate that all day long.

CUOMO: But you don't even have the president in your corner on this. I mean, you have all these games about is it Ryancare, is it Trumpcare? He says he would keep everybody with coverage. That's what he said. And that is not what you're doing in this plan. Maybe that's why we're not hearing more from the president directly about this. I mean, usually, he argues right to the people about what he thinks they should do.

He said this was going to be great. The CBO score certainly doesn't show that. Do you even have him on board with you?

COLLINS: Well, the CBO score does show $337 billion of savings in a budget...


CUOMO: Well, you're putting less money...

COLLINS: ... deficit.

CUOMO: You're putting less money into it. There's no question about that. The CBO, and you're hearing from Republicans, as well, you're getting criticized for what you're doing with that tax savings and who you've decided you're giving it back to, instead of using that money, as other people in your party want you to do, to help backfill some of the needs of the lower income people. You're making a choice about what you do with the money you don't spend on this health care bill.

COLLINS: Well, we...

CUOMO: But I'm saying, do you have the president on your side? I'm not hearing him come out, take to Twitter the way he is this morning about his taxes, and going after this bill and getting people behind it.

COLLINS: I do believe the president is behind it. He's had folks that are on the -- are undecided to the White House so, yes, I believe he is behind it.

CUOMO: You believe it. But how come we're not hearing it? How come he's not out there making the case?

COLLINS: Well, he is. He's having -- he's meeting with people from the Freedom Caucus. He had meetings with our whip team to try to make sure we got the folks that are going to go whip the votes on the House floor, that they're energized. I do believe firmly he is behind it. He's going to continue to work. The vote's coming up in about two weeks' time. It's not tomorrow.

CUOMO: Right.

COLLINS: We've got to get it through rules and move it forward. I think it is going to pass. And the fact that so many people are complaining about it just moves it is a bill, and in compromise, it's not perfect for anyone. You can't let perfect be the enemy of good.

This, Chris, believe me, I believe it's as good as we're going to get. We've got all the facts on the table. We need to bring it to a vote. And it is a binary choice: either get rid of Obamacare or keep Obamacare. That is the vote that we're going to be taking.

CUOMO: Right. Also setting it up as a binary choice as to whether or not this lives or dies right now. We'll see what happens the next couple of weeks. Chris Collins, appreciate your input, as always.

COLLINS: Good to be with you.

CUOMO: All right. So coming up in our next hour, you're going to get a very different perspective. You're going to have Senator Lindsey Graham on here. He's going to want to focus on what the FBI will reveal today to his committee that he's on. Jim Comey says he's going to tell Congress whether or not there is an investigation into Russian interference and connections to the Trump administration. HARLOW: Yes, some answers on that coming up.

Also, coming up for us here on NEW DAY, the former vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine will join us. He, of course, during the campaign repeatedly called on then candidate Trump to release his tax returns. Well, now that we've all gotten a small glimpse, what does Tim Kaine think? He'll join us live next.


[07:21:38] CUOMO: The White House releasing details of President Trump's 2005 taxes after a leaked copy that was marked "client copy" was obtained and posted by an investigative journalist.

Was the president himself behind the leak? That's a question that is out there. Who knows? But it's another good distraction, kind of feels like the wiretapping claim, kind of takes the focus off these huge questions about what's going on with health care, and what's going on with this Russian investigation.

So let's stick to what matters. And let's get Virginia senator and former Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine in here.

Big day, Senator. Jim Comey...


CUOMO: ... going to the Judiciary Committee, and he says he will tell you whether or not there is an investigation into potential connections between the Trump administration and Russia, Russian actors, of the Russian interference play that happened during the election.

KAINE: Chris, it's very important that he do that. And here's one of the reasons. We in Congress are doing investigations. I'm on two committees -- Armed Services and Foreign Relations -- that are having hearings, but you've got Judiciary and Intel that are actually doing investigations. If you don't know what the FBI is doing, there's some chance that you could sort of stumble over each other. And it's really important to understand what the FBI is doing so that we in Congress can do our job, but without, you know, creating needless crosscurrents as we get to the bottom of what was the tie between Russia and the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, and the Trump administration.

CUOMO: Where's your head on how big a deal this is today? If Jim Comey says, "Yes, we're looking at it," is that -- you know, does that create controversy? Is it a non-troversy? How does that help you?

KAINE: Well, Chris, I think -- I think many of us are expecting that he will say yes, the FBI is looking at it. That's what I expect to hear. And we need to. The -- at the bottom -- you know, when you get to the bottom line on this, we have to understand everything about the ties between Russia, the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, the Trump administration. Especially the degree to which Russia tried to invade the American election, because we have to protect future elections.

And we also have to give some advice to our allies. There's elections in France coming up. There's elections in Germany coming up. Russia has already been engaged in the Brexit election. They are engaged in the French election to some degree. We've got to give our allies some ideas about how they can protect themselves.

CUOMO: All right. So when you look at these issues, though, you have "What did Russia do? How did they do it? And whatever we can learn from it and tell others." That's one part.


CUOMO: The other part is what did Trump have to do with it, either specifically...

KAINE: Absolutely.

CUOMO: ... or generally? There is frustration on that question, that there doesn't seem to be more than what we already know about connections. What do you tell people to justify the need to look more?

KAINE: Well, two facts that are facts in the public record. First, as you know, our combined intel community made a decision that they put out in a report in early January...

CUOMO: Right.

KAINE: ... that Russia, they were initially engaged in getting data, hacking the DNC, state boards of elections, just to sow chaos. But they then made a decision in June or early July that they wanted Donald Trump to win, and they wanted to defeat Hillary Clinton.

In July, Donald Trump went to a press conference and said, "I encourage Russia to cyber-attack to help me win the election." Either it was an incredibly lucky guess that he made to state that right at the time our intel agencies say Russia had made the decision to do just that, or he was aware of it.

And that's what the investigation ultimately needs to get into, as to whether the -- Donald Trump himself and the campaign was aware of what Russia was doing. We don't have the full answer to that question, and you shouldn't reach a hasty conclusion about it. But I am now confident that we will get to the bottom of it.

Because, Chris, in one way the resignation of General Flynn was pivotal in this. Because it took the investigation from, "Oh, that was about last year. That was just about the election." No, General Flynn was a sitting national security adviser, so now this is part of the administration itself. And I think that guarantees, even if it might be slow, we will get to the bottom of it and answer the question about what the Trump connection to this Russian hacking was.

CUOMO: All right. Yes, I'm one of the few that holds out skepticism about Flynn, about whether or not he was a political fall guy. The FBI said they weren't going to charge him. They said that he wasn't misleading. It's taken as fact that he lied to Pence. We don't know that for a fact...

KAINE: Right.

CUOMO: ... about what happened. So I hold out a little bit of skepticism on Flynn, but these are real questions. We'll see how Jim Comey advances the ball today.


CUOMO: Do you feel that the wiretapping is as legitimate a question as these other ones you have been profiling on the show this morning? Or do you think it is a distraction?

KAINE: I think -- I think it's a distraction, but, look, once Donald Trump tweeted out that President Obama wiretapped him, we have to get to the bottom of it. We absolutely have to get to the bottom of it.


KAINE: And -- because I think we need to see whether the president was trying to distract us, and why he was trying to distract us, or is there something there?

Remember when President Trump made this claim. When he had had a pretty good week after his State of the Union, at least for a couple of days. But then the controversy came up...

CUOMO: Right.

KAINE: ... about Senator Sessions misleading the Judiciary Committee about exactly the same thing...

CUOMO: Right.

KAINE: ... that General Flynn misled about, contacts with Russia. And in the aftermath of that, he was very angry...

CUOMO: Right.

KAINE: ... and tweeted out that he was wiretapping.

CUOMO: So then why take the bait?

KAINE: I think it's a distraction. Well...

CUOMO: Why take the bait and put more burden on investigative committees to burn resources and time chasing down something that, first of all, the president could answer more quickly than any of you and declassify whatever he learns more quickly than any of you. Why do it?

KAINE: I don't -- because I don't think it's going to take a lot of resources. I think we're going to be able to disprove what the president said. And then put people even more on notice. (CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Ah, but Sean Spicer said they are extremely -- and then he said very, whatever.


CUOMO: He expressed an abundance of optimism...

KAINE: Right.

CUOMO: ... that something will be proven. Are you concerned that something's going to come out, that there was some kind of surveillance? And you will have enabled the White House's ability to say, "See? Everybody was against us once again, and we were proven right once again."

KAINE: You know what? You know what, Chris? The truth is the truth. And so whether I like it or not, when somebody makes a claim like that, we ought to get it out there for the people to see. And the chips are going to fall where they fall based upon what's happened. But I think it is very unlikely that this claim is going to amount to anything.

CUOMO: And then what happens if Jim Comey or whomever you're able to tap into says no FISA warrants, no proof of any surveillance on Trump Tower certainly by President Obama, or anything that falls into this category -- well then what?

KAINE: Well, look, the American public will be even on more notice that President Trump says things that are completely false. And that's very, very important, because if you lack credibility in what you say -- the American public figures it out. They figure it out. And then they will discount future claims like this and that's -- that's important, too.

If the president just made this up to distract from the horribly embarrassing news about Jeff Sessions that he's obviously really sensitive about. They're very sensitive about this claim. And so if it turns out that this was an attempt to distract away from the claim, we'll both know that his claims lack credibility, and it will be additional evidence of how nervous this Russian investigation makes them.

CUOMO: Senator Tim Kaine, appreciate your take on this.


CUOMO: Thanks for being on NEW DAY, as always.

KAINE: You bet, Chris. Glad to be with you.

CUOMO: Be well.


HARLOW: All right. Good conversation.

Coming up for us, more Republicans defecting this morning from their own party's health care replacement plan. What kind of changes are they going to demand? And how does this plan really stack up against Obamacare? We're going to debate that next.