Return to Transcripts main page


White House Considers Slashing Corporate Tax to 15 Percent; White House Denies Overnight Committee Request for Michael Flynn Documents; North Korea Conducts Large-Scale Artillery Drill; Dale Earnhardt to Retire from NASCAR; Warriors Sweep Blazers in Playoffs. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 25, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:33:56] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the White House claims the president will unveil his tax plan tomorrow, at least some of it. We're not sure we'll get all the details, but one detail has leaked out, a corporate tax cut down to 15 percent. We're joined by CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans. That's a big cut.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is. Will it just be tax cuts or will it be tax reform?


ROMANS: That's what we want to know. I have a lot of questions about what this is going to look like. Is it going to be the principles the president wants to put forward or is this actually the plan? Because you know, the White House has been working on a plan for some time and some of those details the White House has been at odds with. So what is it going to look like?

What we do know is that corporate taxes in the U.S. are the highest in the world. Business for years have been saying this has got to be cut. And it has to be reformed. Not just cut from 35 percent in the U.S., but reformed. So all those loopholes and special treatment of different industries are much more level. You can see the average for developed nations as much as 33 percent.

You look at, you know, like Ireland, for example. It's only like 12.5 percent, which is why so many companies --

HARLOW: Yes. They're all going there.

ROMANS: -- are moving and investing there. But the effective tax rate, this is what large companies that make money in the U.S. they actually pay around 14 percent, because they use that super stupid, complicated tax code we have to find ways to lower their tax burden, and --

BERMAN: Is that the official name of it?


ROMANS: That's what I --

HARLOW: The super stupid.

ROMANS: Yes, the super stupid.

[10:35:05] But one in five companies pay no tax. And for years, Poppy, you know covering business.


ROMANS: That the most important job in an American corporation is the tax office.

HARLOW: Of course, of course.

ROMANS: You know? And earlier this morning, somebody in business e- mailed me and said look, if you're paying 35 percent and you're a big company, you just got fired, because, you know.


ROMANS: Because there are ways to get around it. Now the question is, are we going to simplify it for consumers, for everyday people? What's that going to like?

HARLOW: Who gets hurt? Who makes up the difference? Because the Tax Policy Center comes out and says, all right, you want to do that, you want to lower it to 15 percent? In a decade, you're going to be $2.4 trillion in the hole.

ROMANS: Tax cuts are very expensive. $2.4 trillion definitely over 10 years. So where do you make that up? Now the Treasury Department says you're going to grow the economy so much by unleashing all of these economic activities from lower taxes that it will pay for itself. A lot of economies disagree.

BERMAN: You know what else is expensive? Trade wars.



BERMAN: Trade wars, very, very expensive. And we may be in this first stage -- I won't call it a war, but a trade spat.


BERMAN: Spat? With Canada.

ROMANS: Over dairy farmers and lumberjacks. Two friends, two allies, two neighbors in a fight over dairy farmers and lumberjacks.

BERMAN: Sounds like a Monty Python.

HARLOW: It's the low Paul Bunyan. ROMANS: The United States has been for years saying that Canada

restricts imports of U.S. -- some kinds of U.S. milk and dairy that they use for cheese-making. And also the United States has said that Canada subsidizes its soft woods, some kinds of lumber. So you have this fight that was actually outside of NAFTA by you know -- it was never addressed really through NAFTA, and now the Commerce Department is getting tough and actually putting tariffs on Canadian wood.

HARLOW: The first tariff under the Trump administration, you would have guessed --

ROMANS: I would have said China or Mexico, for sure.

HARLOW: Yes. Would not be in Canada, but it is indeed.

Christine Romans, thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: We do have some breaking news to get to.

BERMAN: Yes. Let's get to Capitol Hill. Manu Raju is there. Manu Raju, our chief congressional correspondent.

Manu, this deals with the House Oversight Committee, and it's -- I guess we can call it investigation into former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, and actually payments that he received from Russian entities and whether or not he accurately and legally disclosed some of those payments as part of his request to get security clearance to become President Trump's National Security adviser before, of course, he was dismissed from that job.

Now we have just obtained a letter that the White House has sent from the -- to the House Oversight Committee from actually Mark Short, who is the assistant to the president for Director of Legislative Affairs, and they did not respond to a lot of the requests from this committee. In fact, mostly blew off the committee from a number of the things that they were looking for to determine whether or not Michael Flynn did accurately and legally disclose these Russian payments from entities including the Kremlin-backed news station, RT.

Those things were not provided to the committee from the White House and the White House gives a lengthy explanation about why, saying that sort of things they do not believe are relevant to the committee's investigation, saying they can't provide certain information after January 20th, after the time the president was sworn into office, and saying that other information does not seem pertinent to the investigation, so not getting their documents.

Expect that to be a line of criticism from these members who are reviewing other information that they have received from the Defense Intelligence Agency related to Michael Flynn's request for his security clearance application and other issues as well. That's going to be a concern. The White House not being responsive to this committee, particularly according to this letter that we have received from the White House to the House Oversight Committee, guys.

HARLOW: So, Manu, I mean, the key issue here is transparency or lack thereof, and this is a White House that touts its transparency, right? And at first blush, you've got the letter. This is a lack of exactly that. What kind of powers does this committee have? Is this a committee that would have subpoena power? Can they get these documents? Can the White House be compelled to turn all this over?

RAJU: They can certainly issue subpoenas. That's well within their rights to try to obtain these documents. And the White House can turn around and assert executive privilege and not provide those documents. So you might see a bit of tug-of-war between Congress and the executive branch over some of these documents.

It will be interesting to hear from these leaders of the committee if that is the route that they do want to go to get documents related to this investigation and whether or not they want to actually hear from Michael Flynn publicly to discuss his disclosure or lack thereof, of some of these payments to the executive branch.

So expect this fight to occur between the White House and Congress over documents related to this investigation now focusing on Michael Flynn from this oversight committee. Of course, there's a separate House and Senate Intelligence Committee that's looking into a larger issue of Russian meddling and Michael Flynn at the center of that investigation as well, guys.

BERMAN: You know, one crucial point, Michael Flynn doesn't work for the White House anymore.

HARLOW: No, and remember, he said he has a story to tell.

[10:40:02] BERMAN: He has a story to tell. So this is fascinating to see how he reacts to Congress and Congress reacts to him and how much the White House is willing to get involved.

Manu Raju for us on Capitol Hill.

Again we are waiting to hear from the House Oversight Committee. We might get some answers to that question, what do they intend to do with the former National Security adviser going forward? Stay with us.


BERMAN: All right, live pictures right there from Capitol Hill. We are waiting to hear from the House Oversight Committee. They've been reviewing some classified documents connected to the former National Security adviser, Michael Flynn. This has to do with the investigation or investigations, at this point, into possible Russian connections to the past elections.

HARLOW: We're expecting to hear from the chair of the Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, at any moment. [10:45:04] Meantime, while we wait for that, we want to take you

overseas because a new brazen show of force overnight by North Korea amid these escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Overnight, North Korea carrying out a very large-scale artillery drill as an American nuclear submarine arrives in South Korean waters. That move by the U.S. now being described as a show of force.

BERMAN: Now today North Korea's celebrating the 85th anniversary of the founding of its army, and it comes as President Trump just said of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, quote, "I'm not so sure he's so strong like he says he is."

We want to get to CNN international correspondent Alexandra Field, who is in Seoul, in South Korea. And big shows of force particularly by the North Korean overnight, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Absolutely. You have a situation here, John, where everyone seems to be flexing their muscle and at the same time that's contributing to these escalating tensions, while the same parties involved are working sort of furiously to try and defuse these rising tensions.

So you have these training drills, these long-range artillery drills coming from North Korea. These underscore, of course, the threat to South Korea that the North could pose with its use of conventional weapons. At the same time, you have this submarine, the most powerful U.S. submarine, arriving at a southern port in South Korea.

Now that is being called a show of strength from the U.S. by one U.S. official. It's also being described by military officials, however, as being on a routine stop. But this is a powerful submarine, some of it can carry some 154 Tomahawk missiles.

We're told it is not there to participate in any kind of training drills, but a military official did went -- go on to say that its very presence there does serve to underscore the strength of this alliance between the U.S. and South Korea.

You've got the U.S. and South Korean military participating in joint training exercises right now. Same thing going on between the U.S. and Japan, all that happening while North Korea is conducting its own artillery training exercise. Of course, they pulled off that exercise on one of their big national holidays, so officials here in South Korea had actually anticipated that they could see some kind of provocative action from the North, which is exactly what they did see in terms of those exercises.

The question now, again, the question we're asking every day is how everyone will respond to this. Over the weekend, North Korean state news issued a threat that North Korea was capable of sinking the USS Carl Vinson, that's the U.S. aircraft carrier that's making its way to the waters off the Korean Peninsula. And then after that, you had U.S. president Donald Trump firing back with some sharp words, saying he questioned really how strong Kim Jong-un is as a leader. No response from state news in North Korea on that point, but certainly, you have to wonder if that will continue to elicit these provocative measures that we continue to see from the North -- John, Poppy.

HARLOW: Alexandra Field live for us in Seoul, South Korea. Alex, thank you for the reporting.

BERMAN: All right. Let's take a look at Capitol Hill right now. We are awaiting what could be a pretty revealing news conference inside Capitol Hill from the House Oversight Committee on its investigation into some documents connected to the former National Security adviser Michael Flynn. Stay with us.


[10:52:04] BERMAN: All right, one of NASCAR's most popular drivers will be hanging up his helmet at the end of the season.

HARLOW: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Who is it?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy and John. It's Dale Earnhardt Jr., Poppy. He's going to go down as one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history, but it's just been announced the two-time Daytona 500 champion will retire at the end of this season. He's 42 years old and he's currently in his 18th season of racing. How popular is this guy? He's been voted by the fans as NASCAR's most popular driver the past 14 years straight. That's a record.

Dale Jr. missed the second half of last season battling concussion symptoms, saying that he didn't want anything to do with racing during that time. Junior is scheduled to address the media this afternoon.

The Warriors, my goodness, advancing to the next round of the playoffs, dominating the Blazers. Superstar Kevin Durant back after missing two games with a calf injury. Golden State was simply on fire, scored 45 points in the first quarter alone. Got so out of hand, guys, that the Blazers were poking fun at the score on Twitter. The Blazers. At the end of the first quarter, it said, "Blazers 22, Warriors a lot" in one tweet.

Then it would go on and say at halftime, "Blazers 48, Warriors more." End of the third quarter, "Blazers 80, Warriors enough," Golden State winning by 25, sweeping the Blazers if four straight games.

Love this story. 16-year-old Muslim American boxer Amaya Zaffar has won her fight to be able to wear a hijab and fully cover her arms and legs while competing. USA Boxing granted her an exemption to compete locally, despite a rule requiring boxers to wear a sleeveless jersey and shorts. Now Amaya setting her sights on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo she says. And she also needs to persuade the national and international boxing associations to follow suit and allow her to wear her traditional religious attire as well.

NBA legend Larry Bird wants to fly, but not in the sky, in an Indycar. Going down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The Indiana Pacers president of basketball delivering the team's bid to host the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. Bird told Adam Silver, the commissioner, that this was a bucket list thing. Indianapolis last hosted the game over 30 years ago, but Bird may have just put the city on the fast track, if you will, to find the festivities back in Indy this year. That's 6'9" trying to fit into that little car, guys. Some good stuff.

BERMAN: You know, they don't have Indycars in French Lick Indiana where Larry Bird is from. They don't drive down the street. It was great to see. Back problems, though, for Larry, tough for him to get out.

Thanks so much, Coy.

WIRE: You're welcome.

HARLOW: There you go. Coy, thank you so much. Nice to see you.

All right. We are waiting for two big live events. You'll see them both live right here on CNN. The leaders of the House Oversight Committee about to address reporters after they looked at a number of classified documents tied to former National Security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russia probe.

BERMAN: And in just a few minutes, we're also going to hear from President Trump.

[10:55:01] He is speaking live on Capitol Hill. Those are live pictures. Stay with us.