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Graham: If GOP Loses House, Dems Could Impeach Trump; Congress Passes Budget, Clears Way For Tax Reform; Trump Teases New Fed Chair Nomination; CDC: 91 Americans Die Every Day From Opioid Overdose. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired October 28, 2017 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- Eastern and Pacific. We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.

Hello, again, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right. The White House responds with a no comment following news first on CNN that the first charges have been filed in the probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, possible collusion with Donald Trump's campaign, as well as possible obstruction of justice by the president. A federal judge has ordered the charges remain sealed, but sources tell CNN anyone be taken into custody as early as Monday. Still unclear, who could be charged or the possible charges.

Our correspondents and expert analysts are standing by to break it all down. We begin with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, who helped break this story. So, Shimon, what more are you learning, and what are the expectations of these charges?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Right, so at this point, our expectations are that as early as possibly Monday, we will first hear about what the charges. The charges, as you well know, are under seal. They were filed on Friday, some time Friday we're told, these grand jury charges were filed. They remain under seal.

We have heard some names of people who may be charged, but we have not been able to verify it. We've reached out to various lawyers who are associated with some of the people, who have been under investigation, and they so far either have not heard or have been asked to have their clients surrender and other attorneys have just not returned our calls.

I mean, this is a tremendous next step in this investigation. As you well know, Fred, and, really, what this means, now, is we could possibly get some insight, some official insight into -- what the special counsel, Bob Mueller and his team have been looking into.

And this could just be the first step of this investigation. You know, there are a lot of other aspects of this investigation by the special counsel that are still ongoing. Specifically, into the issue of obstruction, of the firing, which was started after the firing of the formal FBI Director James Comey, which ultimately led to the special counsel being put in place.

So, there's still a lot that we don't know. All that we can at this point say is some charges have been filed. They remain under seal. We're hoping that on Monday we will get word on what some of those charges are.

WHITFIELD: All right. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much for that.

All right, let's talk more about this. Joining me right now is CNN political analysts, Nathan Gonzales and Patrick Healy and former White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, Richard Painter. Good to see you all.

All right. So, Richard, you first, you know, this could involve one, or perhaps multiple people being indicted. In your view, what are you expecting to be unraveled or revealed in this first sealed indictment?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER, GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I wouldn't want to speculate about who might be charged with what. We have several categories of potential charges here. One, there are a number of people who lied about their contacts with the Russians, lied about receiving money from the Russians, and I think a number of those people could end up getting indicted for that.

Second, we do have the collaboration with the Russians that is clear that happened in Trump Tower, but we do not yet know whether any of that collaboration was criminal or not. We need to know more information to know that.

And the third category is obstruction of justice, which we clearly saw I believe the Comey firing and there may be more evidence of attempts to obstruct justice from inside the White House.

Lastly, there are concerns about money laundering and financial ties with Russia and various parties and some of those might be prosecuted by Robert Mueller, some of those might be referred to the United States attorney in New York or in some other place.

So, the broad range of potential charges and rather than speculate, I think it's best to wait and see what happens next week. But it's critically important that the president not comment on this, that the White House stop commenting on this.

And this making up stories about Hillary Clinton is just ridiculous. They're making themselves look foolish trying to throw that kind of noise around at this point.

WHITFIELD: And thus far today from the White House, a, big fat no comment. So, you know, Nathan, in your view, this has to be rather unnerving for the White House this weekend. Can it or does it have anything within its powers to learn about what's in that document, this indictment, before Monday? [12:05:07] NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. I mean, I think we're in a holding pattern, right? I mean, there's a lot of uncertainty. I think we're all looking to Monday now because that's what they're reporting. I don't even know it's guaranteed we'll know something by Monday. So, we're waiting.

And I think it matters, you know, politically what, you know, if someone is taken into custody what level of person it is. Is it someone who's currently involved in government and kind of prohibits what the White House is trying to do, or is it someone who is now on the outside.

You know, remember when some of this started -- and then that will depend on how the White House responds. Remember when some of this started getting rolling, and Paul Manafort's name was mentioned, he's the former campaign chairman of the Trump campaign, and they treated him like he was an intern and kind of pushed him aside, and so it really depends on who it is and what the charges end up being.

WHITFIELD: And, you know, Patrick, it is unsealed. We understand that it could be one or it could be multiple. But in your view, how might this be particular distraction or disruption for this White House to try to piece together its tax reform plan, to try to move on business as usual?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, exactly right, Fred. This comes at a really terrible time for the White House. I mean, after basically nine months of stalled legislative agenda, they were starting to see some headway this past week with tax reform.

The passage of the budget document in the Senate and then in the House basically set up a process that they were hoping would be a bit of a glide path to the end of the year, toward major tax cuts.

And instead what you're seeing is sort of the possibility of such sort of chaos and unpredictability kind of a drip-drip-drip that may start as soon as Monday that has really distracted past administrations when they faced it.

You had the Clinton administration in the second term, in the late '90s, the Reagan administration in its second term, both when they were dealing with special counsels, special prosecutors, legislative agenda, sort of a forward momentum, sort of a can-do approach, really got stalled out in both of those cases.

Because they were -- the White House and sort of the apparatus around it political governmental was just sort of stuck in what the special counsel, special prosecutor was doing. So, this is, you know, not the moment when the Trump administration was hoping they would do this legislative pivot. It's a terrible moment for them now to be dealing with this.

WHITFIELD: And Richard, while the indictments might be unsealed as early as Monday, an indictment doesn't always mean an arrest is imminent. I mean, sometimes there are other ways in which somebody can report without actually being, you know, arrested. So, in your view, when and if this were to happen, do you believe it will be out of the public view?

PAINTER: Well, I think that the public will find out who it is at some point very soon. And I expect multiple people to be charged, as I said, there are various categories of potential offenses here, but how that's done, you know, I don't think is particularly important.

We're not looking for a perp walk for entertainment purposes here. What we're looking for is finding out who has violated criminal laws in connection with collaboration with the Russians or obstruction of justice. This is a very serious matter.

We need to get to the bottom of it and find out who these people are and put them in jail and we got to get the White House focused on policy instead of on obstructing justice and making up laughable stories about Hillary Clinton. We need to get down to the business of governing in this country.

WHITFIELD: Donald Trump and many around him have, you know, denied any kind of collusion from the very beginning, so just as kind of a reminder, just take a look here.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Russia story is a total fabrication.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did any adviser or anyone in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians who are trying to meddle in the election?


PRESIDENT TRUMP: So there has been absolutely no collusion. It's been stated that they have no collusion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign, and Putin and his regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there are not. It is absurd.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There was no collusion between us and Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anyone involved in the Trump campaign have any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: In the meantime, no collusion, no obstruction --


WHITFIELD: And so, Patrick, now a big no comment coming from the White House this morning. Do you believe that there will be kind of a continued silence on this, particularly as we, you know, get closer to Monday but even in the days following? [12:10:04] HEALY: I think a continued silence, Fred, on basically whether or not anyone will be indicted sort of the specific questions. But, you know, to Richard's point, which is a really good point, President Trump, you know, during the campaign when I was covering him closely, you know, throughout this administration, he's so invested in creating these side show distraction stories like with Hillary Clinton.

That usually a White House will go sort of silent, look cooperative, not try to get ahead of the news, not try to be seen as kind of, you know, sort of throwing, you know, oil on a different kind of fire.

It will be interesting to see just sort of this week basically can President Trump contain his anger, you know, contain his frustration through Twitter, you know, and public comments, what he has Sarah Huckabee Sanders say about this, and sort of pull back and see what happens.

But right now, again, President Trump is so invested in, you know, fighting these kind of, like, sort of proxy wars with Robert Mueller and his team, and it doesn't seem to have much upside except to sort of rally the base to his side, which has been, you know, for him sort of a key strategy.

WHITFIELD: So Nathan, this weekend is one test for the president. How quiet can he be until it is revealed on Monday. Do you believe that he will be able to contain whatever anger or his emotions about whatever is revealed on Monday?

GONZALES: Well, I think the stakes are higher, right, and we're talking about his investigation, and I'm sure he has the White House counsel being very emphatic with him about that he has to be more careful about this than any particular political topic before.

But I think Patrick brought up a point that I think is important and I think we have a divided country in multiple ways, but in this case, you have a group of Americans who are putting a lot of stock in this investigation.

And that Mueller leading the investigation brings a level of gravitas. But you have another group of Americans who I would, you know, who are loyal to the president who, no matter what comes out, no matter who's taken into custody, what the charges are, they're going to say that it's a setup. It's a scam. It's a witch-hunt.

And so, this is -- we're still going to kind of remain in this level of bickering and back and forth, even though we're going to have something more tangible to hang on to.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it right there, Gentlemen. Nathan Gonzales, Patrick Healy, Richard Painter, thanks so much.

All right. Straight ahead, as the Russia investigation intensifies, the Trump administration tries to focus attention on what role Hillary Clinton and the Democrats had in the dossier.

Plus, a stark warning from a top Republican ahead of this week's big push on tax reform.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Well, I think all of us realize that if we fail on taxes, that's the end of the Republican Party's governing majority in 2018.


WHITFIELD: We'll speak with a member of the House Budget Committee about the pressure building in the Republican Party next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Before news broke that indictments could be unsealed as early as Monday stemming from Special Prosecutor Mueller's Russia investigation, this has been the White House's narrative all week.

A call for the State Department to release the rest of Hillary Clinton's e-mails comparing the Obama era uranium deal to Watergate and harping on the Democrat's funding of the Trump dossier about his alleged ties to Russia.

All right, Ryan Nobles is at the White House for us now. So, Ryan, it seems like the administration has been doing everything to try to keep the attention off themselves. Is that about to change now?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't appear to be, Fredricka. You raise a good point, it seems as though they want to talk about everything except this specific investigation into the president and his campaign's dealings with Russia during the campaign.

In fact, I talked to a senior White House official this morning who told me there would be no comment on the news that charges have been filed by the special prosecutor. This morning, the president is at his golf course in Northern Virginia.

This is the 33rd weekend that he spent at a Trump property since becoming president. He's been relatively quiet on Twitter this morning. He's only tweet a few times and he's not at all mentioned the fact the special prosecutor plans to file charges.

The tactic by the White House to this point has been either to try and undermine or destroy the credibility of Robert Mueller and his team. They've suggested this week that the investigation is too costly, and it hasn't revealed anything.

And then to your point, they're also bringing up all these other issues, the relationship that the Clinton campaign had to this reported dossier and that uranium deal that was hatch during the Obama administration while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

All of that doesn't have a whole lot to do with the substance of the investigation itself. And we don't know exactly what's going to happen earlier this week, but we do expect arrests to come. Fredricka, there's a good chance that those arrests could be someone tied pretty closely to the president and his administration.

BALDWIN: So, President Trump and his allies have also complained, you know, about the cost of the investigation overall, that it's a waste of money. Is there a way to know how much has been spent? And whether it has been, you know, egregious or appropriate or what?

NOBLES: Well, eventually, we are going to know how much the special counsel is spending, Fredricka. They do have to submit their budget to the Department of Justice for a review. Once the Department of Justice reviews that budget, they do have to make that information public.

But it's important to point out that regardless of how much has been spent by Robert Mueller, there isn't a whole lot that the White House or Congress can do to stop that spending. That is money that's already been appropriated. It's part of a special account under the Treasury Department.

[12:20:03] It's not through the Department of Justice. If the Congress wanted to cut off funding to Robert Mueller that would require a special rider on a spending bill and there just is not the political will to get something like that done.

In September, Ron DeSantis, who is a congressman from Florida suggested adding an amendment to the current budget that would limit the special counsel's budget to six months. That didn't even make it to the floor of the House.

And keep in mind, this is Republicans who would be in charge of deciding whether or not the amendment got to the floor. So, Fredricka, it seems pretty clear that the special counsel is going to be able to do its job.

The question is can the administration and Trump allies use whatever amount of money is being spent by the special counsel as a way to discredit their investigation and make it seem as though it is a waste of taxpayer money.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Nobles at the White House, thanks so much.

All right. Straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM, Republicans forge ahead on a tax plan after the House narrowly passes a budget reform bill, but not all of the party is on board with the details. We'll speak with a Republican congresswoman, who voted no on the budget.



WHITFIELD: All right. Hello, again, everyone, and thanks so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right. Later this week, President Trump will embark on a tour of Asia, marking his first trip to the region since taking office. This comes as North Korea says a nuclear test above ground should be taken literally.

Earlier this month, the president fired off a tweet saying that diplomatic options are a waste of time. Saying, this, quote, "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful secretary of state, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with "Little Rocket Man," end quote.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke exclusively to CNN about the rising tensions. Our Elise Labott asked if the president could undercut her like he did Tillerson.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In effect it's kind of saying that you're wasting time too. You're working at the U.N., you're trying to get more pressure, which is in effect diplomacy, you know, doesn't that kind of undercut your efforts as well?

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: No, Elise, we've done more with North Korea than has been done in 25 years.

LABOTT: That's all before he tweeted though.

HALEY: No, General Mattis is in the region now. If you look at the way we've worked with China, we have never had the relationship with China that we have now. The relationship with President Trump has with President Xi is a very strong one.

If you look at the sanctions that we have passed, first of all, you can look at the numbers. The numbers on coal revenue has dropped dramatically. North Korea's now complaining that all of their laborers are being sent home and they can't get that labor revenue anymore.

You're also seeing the fact that their economy is hitting that low and China is following through on what they were supposed to do.

LABOTT: Do you see a new resolution? There are some diplomats who say in the council we've got one more big resolution in our pocket?

HALEY: Well, I think you have to look at the fact that the sanctions are going to take effect September 5th. So, when all of that --

LABOTT: They're not feeling the effects yet even?

HALEY: They're starting to. Just imagine 90 percent of your trade cut off, 30 percent of your oil cut off. There's no way they don't feel this and there's no way they don't have a decision to make. You will see all of that play out.

I think General Mattis is also in the region to basically say we're prepared for anything, but we don't want war. We don't want military action, but we're going to be prepared. We're going to be in front of this.


WHITFIELD: With the threat of a possible hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. and its allies are on full alert. Our own Brooke Baldwin ventured to the Pacific for a rare glimpse into life on the "USS Ronald Reagan" off the Korean Peninsula. Here's what she found.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a few hours in an undisclosed location, the U.S. Navy invited CNN on a rare embark aboard the "USS Ronald Reagan" somewhere off the Korean Peninsula.

This aircraft carrier serves as the front lines to any escalation with North Korea and is home to more than 5,000 American sailors. Petty Officer 2nd Class Sharice Gray first signed up to see the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm here for the bigger picture, to make a name for my family, support the country.

BALDWIN: At 23 years of age, Gray's job is damage control on the ship. But never far from mind, her 2-year-old baby boy, Messiah, back home in Sanford, Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a big challenge because it started off a full year, just me and him. Then came overseas. I see him about twice a year.

BALDWIN (on camera): You see him twice a year in person?


BALDWIN: What is that like? Does that just pull at your heartstrings?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somewhat. It's not -- I know what I'm making the sacrifice for now. I know it's going to pay off in the end.

BALDWIN (voice-over): Sacrifice is a word that carries profound meaning in their waters. Lieutenant Brian Allen and Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Sasha Hasbrook are also parents and rising tensions in the region brings an unwavering commitment to the mission.

LT. BRIAN ALLEN, USS RONALD REAGAN: I'm concerned about my mission daily, all the action that I'm going through on the flight deck every day, all the people that are working for me, keeping them focused with our mission, our current mission, and staying ready. So, if something does happen, we'll be ready to take care of it.

BALDWIN (on camera): Do you feel that the region feels increasingly tense? Do you sense that out here? We certainly do at home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really sense it too much out here. I'm just concentrating on the mission. I'm making sure that, you know, we have the three squares meal -- three-square meals a day that we are feeding the crew and making sure that the crew is set to go.

BALDWIN (on camera): Last week, the U.S. Navy conducted a round of joint exercises with the ROK, their allies in South Korea. It is essential if there were an emergency tonight that these two nations speak the same language militarily speaking.

CAPT. MICHAEL DONNELLY, COMMANDING OFFICER, USS RONALD REAGAN: We are operating constantly in Seventh Fleet, regardless of the current situation that's going on politically or what heightened tensions may be perceived are going on. We rely on the inoperability working with our close allies like the Japanese or like we're doing now with the Koreans so we can fold into any eventuality.

BALDWIN (on camera): Despite the unpredictability in this region, the sense of mission among these sailors is strong. So how will President Trump's upcoming trip here to South Korea resonate among the men and women on the front lines?

REAR ADMIRAL MARC H. DALTON, USS RONALD REAGAN: I think that the President's been very clear about using all the levers, all the tools available to us to convince the North Korean government to change its aggressive and dangerous behavior. And I think the sailors appreciate that, that we're looking for any way to avoid conflict and to keep deterrents working.

BALDWIN (voice-over): The potential for nuclear conflict in Korea isn't the only cause for concern for the Navy's Seventh Fleet. This summer, 17 sailors were killed in what the Navy admits were preventable collisions. On board the USS Fitzgerald and McCain. Those investigations are ongoing.

In addition, reports of deteriorating morale and a severe lack of leadership on the USS Shiloh led the Navy to replace the ship's captain and put in new measures to better gauge the mood of its sailors. Every one of those ships belongs to this fleet.

(on camera): When you heard about the McCain and the Fitzgerald, how did you feel?

PO 2ND CLASS SHARESE GREY, U.S. NAVY DAMAGE CONTROLMAN: Well, being a damage control manager, it gave us that reality feel. Like it definitely -- anything can happen. Every once in a while, we have to take a step back, get a breather. Everybody understands that. So, not so much it stretches me thin, but yes, we work hard.

BALDWIN: Do you feel cared for? Do you feel looked after? Respected?

GREY: Oh, absolutely. Sure.

DALTON: The deaths of the 17 sailors, you know, I mourn the loss of the sailors, the bond, the sacred bond we have to keep the sailors that work for us safe is one that hasn't changed in the history of sailors going to sea. As those investigations complete, we're going to go after the recommendations. And I've been very clear with my sailors that the things that we do, we're going to make changes and we're going to assure that they're safe.

BALDWIN (voice-over): Navy leadership has introduced new round the clock watch rotations and updated its system to navigate through heavy traffic. Efforts they hope assure sailors are safe.

(on camera): What do you want families back home to know? Because there is concern, but we're proud of you too.

HASBROUCK: I just want them to know we're out here and we're supporting the mission and doing what we need to do. And they can rest easy knowing that we're out here protecting them.

LT. BRIAN ALLEN, USS RONALD REAGAN: And that we're trained professionals, every day we're working hard and doing the job right, and training for emergencies. Training for any situation that may arise and we all take care of each other. So even though they're not with their family back home, they have a family out here.

BALDWIN: For people who are watching, who are wondering how you could leave a little, itty bitty, sweet precious boy behind to be out here in the middle of the ocean fighting this unpredictable threat, you would say what?

GREY: Somebody has to do it. You know, so I'm here to be that person.


BALDWIN: My sincerest thank you to the U.S. Navy for their service and their sacrifice and allowing us on the USS Reagan. Also while I was in Korea last week, I spent quite a bit of time with U.S. Army soldiers stationed on bases throughout the Peninsula, including right there on the DMZ. I wanted to go to Korea to really shine a light on the lives of Americans living so close to North Korea. What is life like there serving there and even for families who are living nearby as well.

And you might be surprised to learn exactly how many thousand Americans, military and not, live in South Korea, Fredricka. So I look forward to sharing their stories with you in the coming week.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: All right, we look forward to seeing it. Thanks so much Brooke Baldwin.

All right, so much more right after this.


[12:39:01] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A big move on Capitol Hill this week. Republicans clear the path to fast-track tax reform legislation after the GOP budget narrowly passed on Thursday. The bill passed by four votes giving the President and Republicans the push needed to potentially change how Americans are taxed for the first time in decades. Details of the tax reform are being unveiled next week. And one top Republican warns of major consequences if the GOP fails to pass the plan. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I think all of us realize that if we fail on taxes, that's the end of the Republican Party's governing majority in 2018. We'll lose the House, probably lose ground in the Senate. I can't imagine how he could be successful with Nancy Pelosi running the House. They'd try to impeach him pretty quick. And it would be just one constant investigation after another. So it's important that we pass tax reform in a meaningful way. If we don't, that's probably the end of the Republican Party as we know it.


[12:40:04] WHITFIELD: All right, all of this happening as the economy notches up 3 percent in the third quarter, showing the highest back- to-back numbers since 2014. Joining me now is Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney of New York, one of the 20 Republicans who voted no on the budget reform bill. Congresswoman, I'm glad you're able to be with us. Do you agree with Lindsey Graham on what he had to say?

REP. CLAUDIA TENNEY (R), NEW YORK: I'm not sure he's exactly right. I still think we're going to retain the House. I'm not sure about the Senate. I think the message coming from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and quite frankly in my own state, Andrew Cuomo, is not a message that is resonating with constituents.

I know some people may not love the President but they like the policies and we desperately need tax reform. We need to jump start our economy. As you can see the enthusiasm is bringing our growth, our GNP up substantially. So our growth is over 3 percent. And I think with tax reform, we're going to go. And middle class families are waiting for this.

WHITFIELD: But at the same time then, you voted no on the budget bill. So you do want tax reform but in order to get there, you know, there's got to be an overwhelming I guess consensus on getting there. But then you stop it with this budget bill, why?

TENNEY: Right. I voted for the initial budget that was put up in us. The budget that came back from as soon as Senate was changed. Not only did it add $1.3 trillion in more debt, but one thing it did is there was a nonbinding amendment, a Senate direct directive, as we head to budget tax reform. It indicated that we should not include what is called the salt or the state and local tax deductions. That's a huge problem for upstate New York and specially -- overall the state of New York were a very high taxed state.

Do now fall (ph) to the taxpayers but through the very poor policies in Albany that have been ran through with high taxes, high cost of living and particularly on the local level, as unfunded mandates have forced us to some of the highest taxes in the nation. And without salt, something like 62,000 or greater of my constituents would end up paying more in taxes if we eliminated the salt deduction altogether.

We voted no. A number of us in New York State, seven out of the nine Republicans and every other Democrat voted against the budget because of what was coming in the tax reform bill. We immediately met our majority and with our leadership, including the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and talked about ways that we can come up with a compromise or reform of this to include salt, either 100 percent or in some capacity so we can protect our middle income taxpayers.

WHITFIELD: OK. And, you know, this week, you know, we saw 3 percent economic growth bump under current Chairwoman Janet Yellen. Should the President be looking elsewhere with this kind of positive growth? He says he kind of wants to make his own mark on the Federal Reserve. But if the economy and, you know, the indicators are going so well, replacing Janet Yellen, is that the answer?

TENNEY: I don't think Janet Yellen can take too much credit for where we are. I think the enthusiasm coming from tax reform, the possibility of repealing and replacing Obamacare, the possibility of unleashing the American dream that so many middle income taxpayers have been left behind with tax and spend policies. And I think the Fed actually has been intervened too much in the economy and created some false narratives for us.

I think Janet Yellen -- I had her -- she testified in front of the House Financial Services Committee with my committee and she actually admitted some of the problems that have held back our economy and they include some of the policies of her own appointer President Obama and some of the policies she had. She was incorrect when she talked about what was happening on the ground.

We find that -- she said well, baby boomers are retiring, that's what's wrong with our economy. Well it's actually the opposite is true. The baby boomers are working more now than ever and they're contributing to the economy.

Our biggest struggle is those people 25 to 55 income level to get to work and to get out there and some of them are unable to find jobs or they're not qualified for the jobs. That's some of the issue. And I think that Janet Yellen is not -- should not be the one doing the victory lap here. I think it's the hope and the enthusiasm coming forward, what the economy has to offer.

WHITFIELD: So you want to see a replacement?

TENNEY: I'd like to see a replacement. I think there are other people who can talk about jobs more than Janet Yellen. I haven't decided who I like there but it's my decision, so we'll see what happens.

WHITFIELD: All right. Senators Flake and Corker both deciding not to run again in 2018, you know, even calling out the President as being a disrupter. What do you make of their comments? And what does this do to the Republican Party?

TENNEY: Yes. I'm not sure really has any reflection on the Republican Party. I'm someone who is very much an outsider. I got to this job, but never been endorsed by my local Republican committee ever. And I served three terms in the state assembly and I'm now serving in the House of Representatives. So I think (INAUDIBLE) in unconventional Republican someone like me, I think the President is there, is really someone that was there to break plates and I personally don't like to get into his personality or those types of things.

[12:45:12] I think my constituents may not love what he says and does, some of those things, but they like the agenda and that's what we're finding out as I travel around my district. People are, you know, wishing he would stop doing so much twitter and, you know, focus more on the agenda.

But -- I mean, a lot of things have happened. This has been one of the most productive congresses in just 10 months. We've had so many bills passed. So many changes have been made. Our House -- some of the things -- our bills are piling up in Senate nearly 300 bills. We're waiting for the Senate to act on.

So, when those things start happening, I think you're going to -- again, back to the economy, think the economy is going to continue to move up. I think the Republicans are going to be in good stead. They may lose a few seats next year. But I think overall, I think the Democrats have not shown a real reason to vote for them at this point.

Policies of Nancy Pelosi in the past had not helped the American people in moving forward. Maybe some people don't want to, you know, may not love the President but I think they like the agenda. And I think if he can get some of it through by the end of this year and early for the next year, you're going to see growth and you're going to keep coming on the Republican side again.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Except there are so many still debating. There have not been any big legislative passages at all in this year thus far.

TENNEY: (INAUDIBLE) tax reform and that's really the most significant tax reform in 31 years. I do want to say put my pitch in for the state and local tax deduction. That was on the chopping block back in 1986 when Reagan did his historic reform. It was saved. And we'd like to save it again at least in whole or part. So we're going to be fighting for that as New Yorkers.

And I think some of the states -- some of the California, Illinois, New Jersey, some of the other higher tax states were therefore -- taxpayers are victims of very democratic aggressive policies that have hurt the state. We're going to fight for our constituents regardless of party.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there. Congresswoman Tenney, good to see you. Thanks so much.


WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:51:31] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Americans on the front lines of the opioid crisis will have more resources for their fight now that President Trump has declared the epidemic a public health emergency. CNN's Gary Tuchman went to Boston and met two young people who were locked in a hellish battle to overcome their opioid addiction. We warn you, some of the images may be disturbing to some viewers.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To most people this is a neighborhood south of downtown Boston. To others, it's a living hell.

BILLY, OPIOID ADDICT: I'm a junky. I've been shooting heroin for 16 years. I'm homeless. I live on the sidewalk and this is my life.

MEGAN, OPIOID ADDICT: You know, I didn't grow up thinking I was going to be a heroin addict. Like this isn't exactly what I want to be like.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What are your hopes and dreams?

MEGAN: To get older to have a family. I've at one point thought I was going to and I lost (INAUDIBLE) in my life people who are overdose didn't woke up in their bed.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Billy is 31 years old. He has a five-year-old son. He wants to be a tattoo artist someday. But even while we talked, he was looking for a vein.

(on camera): Is it possible for you to stop doing the heroin while we talk?

BILLY: It was hard. If I hadn't got any it wouldn't be but --

TUCHMAN: So that's what I'm wondering like you feel such a stronger that you can't stop while we talk?

BILLY: Yes. Yes. There's nothing that would stop me. And that's how bad it gets.

TUCHMAN: Megan also lives on the streets in the sidewalk. You're about to reach your 30th birthday, and how long have you been addicted to heroin?

MEGAN: Since 19.

TUCHMAN: And how did you start the first time?

MEGAN: It was pills then pills became expensive, hard to get and heroin is just extremely easy to get and a lot cheaper.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Like Megan, the gateway to heroine for Billy was also pain pills. He was 13 years old when he started. BILLY: I was already using prescription pills. I liked the way it feel that felt. I found out heroin was cheaper than the pills and it was more intense so I became sneaking early. And then I found out soon and it was the next step from there and I would save money and I would like to shot and the first time I shot it, I fell in love with it. It was like -- the only way I can explain is like I met God.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Billy and Megan are joined in their opioid devotion with scores of other people who gather on the street. It happens to be near a hospital, methadone clinics and shelters, people who want to help.

Forty miles up the road in the small city of Gloucester, Massachusetts, police will not a rest you if you come to the police station with opioids looking for help. The strategy of help not handcuffs started here and spread throughout the country. But after a much-publicized and encouraging start, the police chief here is facing a stark reality. Things are not getting better.

CHIEF JOHN MCCARTHY, GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS POLICE: We've seen an increase in fentanyl. Fentanyl is a drug that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Like heroin fentanyl is an opioid, even a tiny dose of it can be lethal. Craig uses fentanyl. Like everyone we met on the street he wants to stop but says he can't.

CRAIG, OPIOID ADDICT: I'm addicted to opioids.

TUCHMAN (on camera): So what do you do here in the street, what kind of opiates?

CRAIG: The pain is every -- all the opiates right now is fentanyl so everybody is dying.

[12:55:04] TUCHMAN (voice-over): It's about to start pouring here in Boston. These people who can't live without their pills and their needles will be sleeping in dirt that will turn into mud.

(on camera): Are you afraid you're going to die from this?

BILLY: I know I'm going to die from this.

TUCHMAN: Are you afraid you're going to die from this.

MEGAN: Not really afraid. Honestly, sometimes, it just seems easier.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN, Boston.


WHITFIELD: Much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. But first, meet this week's CNN hero, Max Levitt.


MAX LEVITT, CNN HERO: A lot of kids learn the importance of work ethic on the sports field.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, there we go. Good job. Do it again. Both of you. Do it again.

LEVITT: Sports were the most important part of my childhood. I thought that was a given for kids to play sports. But so many kids can't afford to play sports. There's millions of dollars of sports equipment that is not being put to use. That is either being thrown away or wasting away in garages. I thought, why don't we just create a food bank for sports equipment.


WHITFIELD: All right, to see how Max's equipment is really making a difference, go to We'll be right back.