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House to Unveil Tax Plan; Jeff Sessions Speaks on National Security; New York Attack Details; Trump Prepares for Asia Trip. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 2, 2017 - 09:30   ET



[09:33:50] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, happening now, House Republicans hearing the details of the new tax plan for the very first time. Up until now, we haven't been told what is inside. But, lucky for us, not only do we have a Republican congressman with us, but one who is on the Ways and Means Committee that drafted this bill.

Joining us now, Republican Congressman Jim Renacci of Ohio, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

What's inside? Let's get some of the specifics, sir. Let me as you some specific questions as your colleagues are being briefed on this.

The top tax rate, 39 percent. Will it stay in place and what income level will it phase in?

REP. JIM RENACCI (R), OHIO: Well, good morning, John.

And what I will tell you is most of those details will come out at 11:15.


RENACCI: But I will say that much of the framework is still intact. The rates that we've talked about are still there. There will be a top tax rate that will be faced in. And these are the things that are -- that we're trying to make sure that, number one, this tax cut affects middle income families and that's the key. And that's going to be the real key. And I think at 11:15 you're going to see that's going to happen.

BERMAN: I don't want to wait until 11:15. 401(k)s, are they going to be touched?

[09:35:00] RENACCI: I can tell you that 401(k)s have been an issue. I know that even during the (INAUDIBLE) I fought to maintain them. A lot of members on the committee wanted to maintain them. I think that people will be surprised at 11:15 to see that we've done our work to make sure that middle income Americans continue to get that break and continue to have that break.

BERMAN: And the last specific I'll push you on, because you do seem reticent to spill right now, is state income taxes. Will they be deductible?

RENACCI: Well, look, that has also been another issue that I know we've talked to many of the Congress people that have -- that represent states with high income taxes. So there have been some adjustments made to that.

Again, this tax plan is built on a framework to help middle class Americans, and that's what it's going to do. In the end, there are going to be some people that say, I don't like this, I don't like that, but I promise you that we're going to see some tax cuts for middle Americans, even with some of the changes, including state and local income taxes. When you double the standard deduction, it makes so many changes for many, many people in middle America, the taxpayer.

BERMAN: One of the things you, sir, have been personally concerned about for middle America is the national debt, concerned about the burden it will place on each and every one of us and all of our children all over this country for years to come. How does this tax plan help reduce the national debt?

RENACCI: Well, in the end, it's about growth. And that's the one thing we have to do. If we continue to grow at 1 percent, 1.5 percent, I know there's a spike up now in growth, but we need sustained growth. Without sustained growth, we cannot fix the national debt. So the good thing about this is, we have a plan for sustained growth, which gives us the opportunities for a long-term sustained growth, which is necessary for the national debt. This plan --

BERMAN: You say -- you say God help our children and future generations of America as we continue to bury them in unsustainable debt.

This plan, even to meet, it's -- you know, it's Senate burden, it can still be sort of in the red $1.5 trillion, but it could be in the red even more than that, couldn't it?

RENACCI: No, because the goal is really on a static score, which is the basic of scores, a static score to get to $1.5 trillion. That's what the instructions gave us the ability to do. No one's taken into consideration dynamic scoring yet, the growth from the economy. There are so many numbers coming out. Look, there's going to be economists say that it's not going to grow the economy. There are those that say it is. What we're finding is most are saying that the way we've built this thing, it is going to grow the economy. And a 1 percent growth alone will take care of much of the deficit in the static score numbers.

BERMAN: Congressman Jim Renacci, thank you so much. Blink twice if the 39 percent tax cut phased in at $1 million.

RENACCI: I think, like I've told many people, it sounds like you were in the room, so we'll let it at that and see what happens at 11:15.

BERMAN: All right, congressman, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Joining me now to talk about everything we just learned and that which we did not, CNN chief business correspondent, star of "Early Start," Christine Romans.

Look, I think what we did learn is that the 39 percent tax rate (ph) will still exist.


BERMAN: We don't know where it will phase in. The number they've talked about is, what, a million dollars?

ROMANS: A million -- a million dollars, or maybe even a little bit below there.

But, look, this has been called, you know, toxic to be able -- to be cutting tax rates of the richest Americans at a time when the president is trying to sell a tax cuts plan, what he has said are massive tax cuts for the middle class.

He talked about the framework. You heard that congressman talk about the framework. Let me remind you what the promise is, the original framework here. Tax cuts for everybody. Brackets of zero, 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. Simplify those tax brackets. Shrink it all down into four. Cut the corporate rate to 20 percent. The president would like to see even less than that, but 20 percent for a corporate rate. And eliminate most deductions except for a few sacred ones, like the mortgage interest deduction, like your 401(k). There's been some confusion and, actually, controversy about whether that should be preserved.

BERMAN: He seemed to suggest -- that seemed to be the thing he was most willing to show some leg on right there is that 401(k)s will not be touched.

ROMANS: Yes. And state and local deductions, you know, property taxes, all of this. I mean in some of these high-tax states, there are Republicans who really do not want to have to sell that to their middle class voters, that you're not going to be able to write off your state and local deductions.

BERMAN: And, again, he kind of revealed a little bit there, too. You are going to feel some pain if you live in New York, New Jersey, California, to say the least.

I keep on harping on the 39 percent tax rate. If it phases in at $1 million, what that means is that people who make, you know, $800,000, $900,000 a year, $999,000 a year, which is a lot, they are going to see a huge tax cut.

ROMANS: Yes, they are going to see a huge tax cut. And this is what, again, is so toxic about how they present this message. That if it looks as though the bulk of the relief as this cut, cut, cut, as the president wants to call it, this cut, cut, cut act, if the bulk of the relief goes to rich people and corporations, they've got to really sell it as a middle class tax relief. And that congressman acknowledged that there are many economists who say this is not true middle class tax relief.

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: And is it reform? Is it true reform? If you start to see a phasing in and sunsets and mathematical gimmicks -- gimmickry to get it to work, that's not true tax reform.

[09:40:10] BERMAN: Look, you know, they say the devil's in the details here. That's a cliche. The fact of the matter is that the details are everything in this case and we're still waiting. And we may have to wait until 11:15 --

ROMANS: 11:15.

BERMAN: To find out.

Christine Romans, thank you so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Just a reminder, keep it here on CNN. Phil Mattingly will sit down with the House speaker, Paul Ryan, for his first interview after the tax reform bill is released. How will the speaker respond to some of these very important questions? That will be fascinating.

All right, nervous, aggressive, neighbors give very different accounts of the New York terror suspect before the attack. We have some new developments on that ahead.


[09:45:04] BERMAN: All right, you're looking at live pictures of the attorney general of the united states, Jeff Sessions, right now. He is talking about terror investigations and what he wants to see in general going forward. We'll check in with this in just a moment.

Actually, you know what, let's listen in right now to what the attorney general's saying.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: On the first precinct, its quick response, courageous action, under pressure, prevented the attack from getting worse. He's rightly regarded as a hero today. Not just in New York, but across America. He symbolizes the best in law enforcement.

I remember at the Capitol a number of years ago I saw a young officer just racing past me. And there was a shooting outside the Capitol. He didn't know what was out there. Could have been a gang of terrorists with automatic weapons and things. He was going to the fight.

That's what our law enforcement officers do. We need to validate them. We need to affirm them. And we need to -- if somebody in a department does wrong, they need to be punished. But we need to affirm steadfastly the great officers who serve us every day and put their lives on the line for us.

This morning, I attended the roll call with officers from the 13th Precinct, some of whom responded to the 9/11 attacks. BERMAN: All right, the attorney general right there, Jeff Sessions,

talking about the hero police officer, Ryan Nash (ph), who saved uncounted number of lives here in New York City by taking down the assailant, the terrorists, in lower Manhattan two days ago.

We are learning new details about this killer. Let's go to New Jersey. CNN's Athena Jones is in Patterson, where the suspect most recently lived.

Athena, what are you learning?


Well, we know that the suspect appeared in court last night. He didn't say much in that initial appearance. He did not enter a plea according to a source. But he is talking to authorities. Authorities, investigators, have learned he had been planning Tuesday's attack for a year. According to the criminal complaint in this case, Saipov told investigators that he decided two months ago to use a truck in order to, quote, inflict maximum damage against civilians.

Now, yesterday, I, and along with a few other reporters, spoke with a neighbor of Saipov, Carlos Batista, who mentioned having seen a Home Depot truck, similar to the one used in Tuesday's attack, parked in and around this neighborhood over the last couple of weeks or more.

Listen to our discussion with Carlos Batista.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long have you been seeing him around?

CARLOS BATISTA, SUSPECT'S NEIGHBOR: Since I've been here. About a year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So for how long you see this truck backing (INAUDIBLE).

BATISTA: Oh, the truck's been here for about three weeks, on and off.

JONES: And you believe it was at least a similar truck, if not the same truck that was --

BATISTA: It has to be the same truck. It has to be the same truck.

JONES: And tell us again about when you would see it, where you would you see it.

BATISTA: In front of the house. It would be parked by his, you know, his parking lot. It would just be all over this block. It would just be all over.


JONES: So this was Carlos Batista talking yesterday about having seen that truck. And, in fact, he was able to capture a photograph of that truck on October 22nd. That's about ten days before the attack, ten days or so before the attack. We know from the criminal complaint that Saipov rented a truck -- rented the truck on October 22nd to practice making turns, to practice getting a handle of driving it.

Batista said he happened to be taking pictures of a vehicle he wanted to sell and he captured this Home Depot truck in the background. I believe we have those pictures. You can put up on the screen. They are exclusive to CNN.

Batista also says that he saw Saipov in that truck before and after that photo was taken, again, on October 22nd. So some interesting details emerging from right here in this neighborhood, from witnesses and neighbors who knew of Saipov and who saw him frequently.


BERMAN: All right, Athena Jones, thanks so much.

We do want to tell you that all eight of the victims in the deadly truck attack here have been identified. Five of them part of a group of friends visiting from Argentina, Hernan Ferruchi, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Hernan Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini. Those five men killed. They were part of a reunion here in New York City. So sad.

There is also Anne Laure Decadt, a 31-year-old mother from Belgium, who was vacationing with her family. Her husband says she was a fantastic woman and a brilliant mother to their children.

Thirty-two-year-old Darren Drake of New Jersey. He served on his local school board. The school's superintendent says Drake was a good man with a huge heart and unwavering commitment. Hearing his father talk about him is heartbreaking.

And Nicholas Cleves, a 23-year-old from New York City, recent graduated from college, from Skidmore. Got an engineering job in the city.

Our hearts go out to all of them and their families.

We'll be right back.


[09:54:15] BERMAN: This morning, world leaders may be scrambling to hide fish with the heads still on because tomorrow President Trump heads to Asia for a 12-day trip. He'll visit five countries with trade and the North Korean nuclear program topping the agenda.

But the White House is concerned that this week's developments in the Russia investigation could be a distraction. Then there is the time change. And, of course, the menu, an aversion to spicy food, and the fish head thing.

CNN White House reporter Jeremy Diamond joins us now with these concerns. Jeremy, what are you learning?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, John, as you know, this is going to be a high stakes trip for the president. A 12-day swing through five countries in East Asia. A lot on the line, particularly as the North Korean crisis royals on. And there is the question among some White House aides about how distracted the president may be. We heard Chief of Staff John Kelly already admit earlier this week that the president is distracted or has been at least his this week by this investigation. And the question is whether this trip could be a welcomed diversion for the president or whether he will remain -- you know, continue to stew over this investigation which has borne its teeth this week.

[09:55:20] You know, during this trip, the president is going to be facing meetings with diplomatic -- with leaders from around the world. He is going to have to deal with these time changes. And aides have tried to do everything they can to keep the president's schedule so that he remains engaged, to try and keep things familiar. Yes, for example, no whole fish with the heads on, on them still remaining, to keep the president in his comfort zone.

But there is a broader question here, as whether or not the president himself feels hobbled by some of this investigation. You know, one senior White House official told me that the president, you know, feels that his negotiating ability may be hampered. So a lot to watch out for as the president heads on this 12-day trip.


BERMAN: All right, Jeremy Diamond, at the White House. Jeremy thanks so much.

We have dramatic new video out this morning that came into CNN about one hour ago. This from the moments after the terror attack in New York City. What this video tells us, that's next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I need -- can you call 911? I've got -- oh, my God.





[10:00:03] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: All right. Good morning, everyone. John Berman here.