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Hillary Clinton Back into Political Fray; Health Care Push; Fighting in Iraq; Winning with Tax Reform; Gunfire Near Capitol Hill. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:30:23] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So guess who made a big political speech last night?


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And that's what was so maddening about the debate over the health care revision. I mean, really, take away maternity care? Really? Take away mental health and substance abuse care? I mean, who do these people talk to? Do they not have any idea about the necessity and the suffering that goes on?


HARLOW: Hillary Clinton is out of the woods and back into the political fray.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I recognize her. Hillary Clinton spoke to a diversity conference in San Francisco. But how far back into the fray will she go and why now?

Joining us, Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief of "The Chicago Sun- Times" and Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic."

Lynn, let me start with you. She's back?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Take the question mark away. She's going to be back as a voice in the American conversation we're having in these tumultuous political times. So, yes, John. Now what that means, how active she gets, I don't know. But I think she will serve to be an infuriating presence for President Trump.


HARLOW: Ron Brownstein --


HARLOW: I mean how do you see it and in what capacity? What role can she play going forward? BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I -- you know, I think Hillary Clinton

certainly has every right to speak out on issues -- particularly on issues that she's been long involved with, like gender equity and health care. But I think if you took a poll of Democrats, most Democrats would rather hear from Pamela Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand and Corey Booker and Joaquin Castro and Sherrod Brown. I mean there is a desire amongst Democrats to turn the page. And I -- what I find ironic about this, you know, kind of return to the stage last night around these issues, particularly of gender equity, is maybe the single biggest reason Donald Trump is president is because Hillary Clinton could not get more working class white women to vote for her, particularly in the Midwest. I mean, yes, she won college educated white woman, but she lost those without degrees by 27 points. And, in fact, lost white women overall as a result. So I think by and large, yes, she's an important voice and has a legacy in the Democratic Party, but I think most Democrats are ready to turn the page.

BERMAN: And let's see one other comment she made that made news last night was when she defended April Ryan, the reporter at the White House briefing Sean Spicer seemed to demean her somehow when she was shaking her head, and also Maxine Waters jumps to her defense based on comments that Bill O'Reilly made. Listen to the former secretary of state.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: April is a tough reporter.



CLINTON: Especially women of color have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride. But why should we have to. And any woman who thinks this couldn't be directed at her is living in a dream world.


BERMAN: So, Sean Spicer, on the radio, Lynn, basically just said he treats all reporters the same. The idea that he was treating April Ryan differently than he would treat Jonathan Karl or Jim Acosta isn't so. But back to Hillary Clinton. You see this as an area where she can be a voice?

SWEET: Well, Hillary Clinton, throughout her career, has been a voice for women empowerment. No matter where or what happens in the Democratic Party leadership, she's going to be speaking out on issues and the situation with April Ryan at the briefing yesterday was just the latest example that she used to talk about women suffering from indignities and women know what she meant when she was talking about this. It doesn't mean necessarily that she's going to run again or take an official post. It just means she's going to speak -- in this case we could take her literally. She -- and seriously. She says she's going to speak out on issues to which she holds deer and all the issues, as Ron said, for which she has a decades long track record. HARLOW: I want to switch gears because we just had Republican

Congressman Charlie Dent on making a lot of news with us on the health care front and on the Intel -- House Intel investigation into Russia and the Trump administration. Let me just get your take on health care. You know he essentially said, Ron Brownstein, I -- he said, quote, "I'm not negotiating with anyone." Meaning, he's not talking to the White House about this and he sounded a whole lot to me like he'd rather work with Democrats than his own Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus. How do you see it.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Look, I mean I think that the idea of working with Democrats being easy, you know, is kind of silly. I mean there are two separate issues in health care. The first is that the exchanging, the private exchanging where people are buying insurance on the private market do have issues and there may be ways to attract Democrats and discuss that. But the core of the Republican bill was repealing the expansion of Medicaid under President Obama and going further to block grant the underlying programs to the point where 14 million people, the CBO says, would lose coverage. That is an absolute nonstarter. There is not a single Democrat, I believe in either chamber, as well as not that many moderate Republicans, who will vote for that.

[09:35:28] So if, in fact, there is any path forward, you would think the first thing that would have to happen is that retrenching Medicaid would have to come off the table and, of course, that is very difficult for the conservatives because that's where they get the money to support the tax cut that they include as part of the bill. So I -- look, the path forward is very difficult. Senate Republicans have said they don't want to do a direct conciliation (ph) which means that, in effect, they don't want to do it. But, you know, I think this is going to flicker for a while and maybe they will find a way to go forward.

BERMAN: Yes, color me skeptical that it's going to be as easy as the president says or what he believe that --

HARLOW: So easy.

BERMAN: So easy or that they're closer today than they were last week. If Charlie Dent is not involved in negotiations right now, it probably means there aren't serious negotiations happening.

Lynn Sweet, the other thing that Congressmen Dent just told us, and this is a Republican congressman, remember. He says we now have to turn our eyes to the Senate to have a fair investigation into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia. A Republican House member saying he's seen enough from the House Intelligence Committee.

SWEET: Well, the reason we're turning our eyes to the Senate is that the House Intelligence Committee, led by Californian Rep. Devin Nunes, is now discredited and they're paralyzed and they're not going to go forward in an effective path that anyone sees right now. That's why all eyes are on the Senate Intel Committee because maybe they could run a more thorough investigation, or at least not be -- not be paralyzed as the House is right now. So that -- that's why I think all eyes are on the Senate. And -- and they have, I think, fewer internal political issues in running a big-time investigation, such as this one.

HARLOW: All right, Ron Brownstein, Lynn Sweet, thank you guys very much.

SWEET: All right, thank you.

HARLOW: Still to come for us, President Trump raising eyebrows with some surprising comments about the U.S. role in Iraq. Why he said last night things are going very well. The timing of this, critical.


[09:41:21] BERMAN: All right, overnight, a surprising comment from President Trump on the fight against ISIS in Iraq and it came the same day that a U.S. commander says that there's a fair chance that the U.S. was behind a deadly air strike that killed more than 100 civilians in Mosul.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're doing very well in Iraq. Our soldiers are fighting and fighting like never before. And the results are very, very good. So I just wanted to let everyone know.


HARLOW: All right, two things really worth diving into there. First, it's going very well and also that U.S. soldiers are, quote, "fighting like never before."

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, just the context of what he said, the timing here when there's an investigation into more than 100 civilians being killed.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The timing is worth noting. Good morning, John and Poppy.

I have to tell you, I think it got a lot of attention also, soldiers, American soldiers, fighting like never before. Let's just explore a couple of facts here.

The mission right now is one that is very limited. There are those air strikes and they are very heavy at the moment. But fighting like never before, troops on the ground actually quite limited. Their main job is to advise and assist and train Iraqi forces. Have they been in fire fights? Yes. But you have only 5,000 troops on the ground and maybe just several hundred in that advise and assist role.

They are not in ground combat like never before. It's just simply not what's happening on the ground. In the air, a lot of action. On the ground, however, perhaps worth taking a moment to remember. During the years of heavy combat, fighting perhaps like never before, more than 30,000 American troops wounded in action, more than 3,000 killed in action on that Iraqi battlefield.

John. Poppy.

BERMAN: And as for the air strikes and civilian casualties, what more are we learning, Barbara?

STARR: Well, what we are learning, that indeed U.S. air strikes are very heavy over Mosul. That is something that remains ongoing as they are trying to push Iraq -- Iraqi forces are trying to push ISIS out of Mosul. But it is those civilians that are paying the price, being caught between ISIS and U.S. war planes overhead. The investigation continuing and the U.S. military, as you say, now acknowledging that there is, in their words, a fair chance that it was a U.S. air strike that caused this. What they're trying to find out is how that house in Mosul was brought down. What role ISIS played. Was the house booby- trapped? These people being held there potentially as civilian shields? And it really goes back to who is paying the price right now for all of this military action in west Mosul and it is Iraqi men, women and children.

John. Poppy.

BERMAN: All right, Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon. Great to see you, Barbara. Thanks so much.

A tax overhaul easier said than done for Republicans maybe looking for a win after the health care failure, but can the president deliver tax cuts without blowing up the deficit?


[09:48:55] BERMAN: After the failed health care bill, the White House needs a win, big league (ph). They're hoping to find it in tax reform. Something so hard, so complicated it hasn't been done in more than three decades. Now, on the campaign trail, then candidate Trump promised big tax cuts.


TRUMP: It will provide major tax relief for middle income and for most other Americans. There will be a major tax reduction. It will simplify the tax code. It will grow the American economy at a level that it hasn't seen for decades.


HARLOW: A level we haven't seen for decades. Can the White House get a win here and not blow a hole in the deficit at the same time?

Let's bring in two really smart women, CNN Money's senior writer Jeanne Sahadi, and CNN global economic analyst and columnist for "The Financial Times," Rana Foroohar.

No one I would rather have up here talking about this, except for maybe Stephen Moore could join us, as well. We're going to talk about some of what he said and get your take on it since he did advise the president.

Look, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says that tax reform is, quote, "much simpler."


HARLOW: Much simpler than health care reform. Really, Jeanne? And is he just talking about tax cuts?

SAHADI: I think at the end of the day that's really what he's talking about because who doesn't love a tax cut? Really, even Democrats like tax cuts. The White House and the Congress are both proposing real tax reform, but they're just going to run out of time this year. They have way too much else in their agenda. And the people in the White House have never written a tax -- a tax overhaul before. Secretary Mnuchin said he's doing it from scratch. OK, well that's a long process. So, good luck.

BERMAN: Just so we know, so we're clear, the difference between tax cuts, which is, you know, you're going to pay less money in taxes --


BERMAN: And tax reform is what?

FOROOHAR: Tax reform means not just necessarily tax cuts, but simplifying the tax code, generally getting rid of loopholes, right, that -- that make things convoluted, but also make them unfair. Unfortunately, loopholes are generally put in there by special interest groups. So if you think about something like the mortgage interest deduction, any homeowner is not going to want that to go out of the tax code, but that's the big --

HARLOW: That's like third rail (ph).

FOROOHAR: Yes, that's a --

BERMAN: That's a heck of an interest group, by the way.

FOROOHAR: That's a -- middle class, yes. But also, you know, a break for hedge funders, breaks for certain kinds of state and local provisions. These are really difficult things politically to get through. Much easier to just say we're going to lower the tax rate, maybe we're going to repatriate some money at a lower rate and allow companies to invest.

HARLOW: Well, we do know that Trump does wants to go after carried interest in the hedge funds, which has been different than his other Republican counterparts in the past. But Paul Ryan, Jeanne, wants to do something radical, which is interesting for Paul Ryan. He wants this border adjustment tax. That just means imports coming into this country taxed at 20 percent. The idea is then you incentivize people to make things here.

SAHADI: That's right. HARLOW: Stephen Moore, who is the senior adviser to the president

during the campaign on economics said on our air this week that is dead now after health care failed.

SAHADI: Right.

HARLOW: Do you think it's dead?

SAHADI: That's what the Treasury secretary seemed to suggest in an interview last week. He said, well, there's some interesting things and there's just some things that concern us. We're looking at it, but not as is. So when they put out their plan, which is coming very soon, we are promised, I'm going to bet we're not going to see a border adjustment tax like the House has proposed.

BERMAN: It's interesting --

FOROOHAR: I think that's right. I mean you get huge companies like Walmart, retailers are against this. I mean half the business community is not for this tax.

BERMAN: Which, of course, is important, you know, to the Republicans, no doubt. The president's initial -- or, I guess, second tax cut plan during the campaign, because he had two, would have added trillions to the debt, maybe up to $7 trillion.

FOROOHAR: Yes. Right.

BERMAN: You know, does a new plan need to address this?

FOROOHAR: Debt and deficit? Yes. I mean this is one of the things that the president has been putting forward plans that are Reagan-esque in the sense that, yes, tax cuts but would grow the deficit. A lot of Republicans are saying, no, we have to have a revenue-neutral plan. The problem is that because they didn't get health care through --


FOROOHAR: They didn't get that big savings that they were hoping for. They thought they were going to have a trillion dollars just in the bank to work with.

HARLOW: Right. Right.

FOROOHAR: Don't have that now, which means that they really can't cut the rate as low as you would think, maybe even a 28 percent rate, which is kind of what Obama --

HARLOW: Like what Obama was talking about.

FOROOHAR: It's back to the future here.

HARLOW: Look, I get that, you know, debt and deficit matters a lot, but some are questioning, are we in a place, Jeanne, where, you know, deficits don't matter anymore because I will quote the president to "The New York Times" magazine. Here's what he said recently. "We're going to prime the pump in order to get the economy going and going big league. In other words, spend money to make a lot more money in the future."

SAHADI: That's right. And that's actually a very Democratic kind of position when you --


SAHADI: When you look back to the recent history.

BERMAN: With a (INAUDIBLE) Democratic Party.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

FOROOHAR: Yes, that's right.

SAHADI: That's correct. And, you know, you have the House Freedom Caucus, which are very much deficit hawks, but, you know, after the failure of Obamacare repeal, and who knows what they'll do next, you know, the House Freedom Caucus is reassessing where they're going to put up a big fight. My guess is it might come in the spending fights that are coming up. We have two budgets to pass between now and the end of the year. We'll see.

FOROOHAR: By the way, budget deadline, 28th of April, are we going to see another fight? Are the Republicans going to get blamed? You know, I mean that is just -- it would be an unbelievable scenario.

BERMAN: There a sense we've been hearing just in the last 12 hours, you've heard from some Republicans in leadership saying they're not going to press controversial things that would lead to a shutdown. We will have to wait and see.

One of the things that you'll heard from Republicans, we heard on this air, is that you can cut taxes and not blow up the deficit because we're going to get 4 percent --

FOROOHAR: Dynamic growth.

BERMAN: You know, dynamic growth.

HARLOW: And the economy's going to grow 15 percent annually.

FOROOHAR: You've been talking to Peter Navarro, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, clearly.

BERMAN: What does it mean and is it real?

FOROOHAR: So, John, these models, these sort of black boxes, I call them, these numbers get plugged in and Republicans, a lot of conservatives, have always believed the sort of supply side idea that if you cut taxes, you get so much growth that that creates this wonderful snowball effect where the economy's growing, more tax revenue is coming in. you get to plug debt and deficit. Frankly, there's just not a lot of evidence that that's worked in the last 20 years. I know I was at the Fed recently. They're not thinking of it in that way. You know, for 20 years tax cuts really have not led to sustained growth.

HARLOW: Right. And you have the -- I think it's the San Francisco Fed study that said we should be looking at 1.5 percent to 1.7 percent annual growth.

FOROOHAR: Exactly.

HARLOW: But let me push back because our friend Stephen Moore, Jeanne, wrote about this in a recent op-ed and he said, why not? Look at the 1960s. Look after the Kennedy tax cuts. We had 4 percent annual growth. Look under Reagan's tax cuts. We had 3.75 annual growth. Why is now so markedly different?

[09:55:13] SAHADI: In terms of generating that kind of growth?

HARLOW: Well, why is it impossible, right?

SAHADI: It's -- nothing is impossible. It isn't -- it just isn't likely. We have a much larger debt going forward and it's going to grow quite precipitously in the future with entitlement growth. That will become a concern eventually. We have a different international scene now.

HARLOW: Absolutely.

SAHADI: The world is in kind of chaos in many ways. There are parts of the world that are just a nightmare. So that's going to weigh in.

FOROOHAR: China has got a debt crisis that, you know, who knows when that's going to blow. We've got -- I mean growth is basically population and productivity. You know, the two things together. Baby boomers are aging. We have an aging population here.

HARLOW: But you --

FOROOHAR: Yes, we have limits potentially on immigration, which is a good thing for growth, and you have productivity that's flat. There's nothing in this scenario that has changed.

HARLOW: Except you have a lot of young folks out of work, that this administration says they can put back to work and that's going to make a difference.

FOROOHAR: You do, but that also brings -- yes, but that also brings in at what rate? Are we talking about low-wage service jobs, because those are still the ones that are growing really fast. That's not going to create some kind of strong consumer spending economy. And also the impact of technology, which we could do a whole nother segment on. Automated cars. You know, some of the technologies that are going to be at least changing jobs, if not displacing some workers.

HARLOW: All right, guys.

BERMAN: All right, thanks, guys, so much.

I was looking at my computer because we have some breaking news.


BERMAN: Just --

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right. We've been getting reports over the last few minutes that there were shots fired on Capitol Hill. This is on Independence Avenue. This is the House side of Capitol Hill for people who know the geography there. And I'm just going to read you what I have in front of me. Metropolitan police tell CNN that a man driving on Independence Avenue ran into a Capitol Police cruiser and continued to attempt to run over Capitol Police officers earlier this morning. That happened at about 9:30 and that is when we had the reports of shots fired on Capitol Hill. Police apprehended the driver, at Third and Independence, so about two blocks away from where it all started, and took him into custody.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: There are no reports of injury.

HARLOW: Again, what we're learning is that this was apparently a man driving on Independence Avenue, ran into the Capitol Police cruiser. At this point, they have apprehended this person at Third and Independence, just to give you a sense. We're working to getting a map up here so you can get a sense of what we're talking about. This person has been taken into custody. No reports of injury at this time.

Of course, we've reached out to the Capitol Police about all of this. We have not received a response yet. I do want to read you the alert, though, that we've gotten from Capitol Police that they sent out broadly. They said that there's ongoing police activity of Washington and Independence. Stay clear of the area until further notice.

BERMAN: I think we have some pictures. Hopefully we'll be able to throw up for you in a second of exactly what was going on there.

In the meantime, I want to bring in CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, who I believe is joining us by the phone, former assistant director at the FBI.

And, first of all, Tom, to be clear, any time we get reports of any kinds of shots fires or anything like this on Capitol Hill, near the seat of government of the United States, it's a big deal, period, full stop. But the idea that someone was trying to ram into police officers up there in a vehicle, that is concerning.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): Right. It's very concerning, John. And I think at this point, though, they have not released the identity, they haven't released any information about the suspect. So, so far we have no clues of what the motivation may have been, whether it's one deranged person that just decided to attack the police officers or what the circumstances were. But apparently in the exchange and in the shots fired by the police, no one was hit and the subject has apparently been captured without injury. So they'll be able to take him into the police station and interview him and identify him and find out, was he acting alone? Is he a deranged person? You know, what are the circumstances that led to this?

BERMAN: And it does seem, we should say, that the shots that were fired were warning shots and they came from police as this man was trying to ram them. And, again, as you know, this man is now in custody and we have no -- we have -- hang on, Tom -- and we just want to be clear, we have no current reports of injury.

Go ahead, Tom.

FUENTES: First of all, the police are not -- the police are not trained to fire warning shots, especially in a crowded area in the Capitol. They're only authorized to fire shots if they actually mean to shoot the person and stop him. So I think wherever that report's coming out that they were warning shots I think sounds erroneous to me. That is not how the police are trained.

BERMAN: All right, to be clear, it was Metropolitan Police said that Capitol Police fired warning shots.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: We have reached out to Capitol Police to get their side of the story. The important thing is that witnesses did hear shots fired there. But again, as of now, we have no reports of any injuries.

HARLOW: We do have our Brian Todd, who's on the phone with us. I believe he's on his way to the scene.

Brian, we have not, at this point, heard from Capitol Police. Have you? And what else are you hearing potentially from witnesses?

[10:00:06] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): We're a couple of blocks away from the scene and we're almost there.