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Trump's Critical Trip to Asia; Trump's Tax Plan; Brazile: DNC Was Rigged for Hillary Clinton. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 3, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:14] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: North Korea, the focus for President Trump as he readies for the longest foreign trip of his presidency. He leaves for Asia this morning, and a show of force overnight raising tensions with Pyongyang.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The biggest tax overhaul proposal in years is out. What's in? What it means for you? Can Congress pass it? Let alone this year?

Good morning. Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I was last night trying to figure out what it would mean for me and I couldn't get figure it out because these Northeast states, you're going to lose a bunch of --


ROMANS: -- tax deductions, state and local deductions. I --

BRIGGS: I tried the same thing, but a lot of Americans tried the same thing. And they can't figure it out. We're leaning on you this morning. So, good luck with that.

ROMANS: All right. I'm here, I'm here. We got Greg Valliere, too.

I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, November 3rd. It is 4:00 in East. It's 10:00 p.m. in Hawaii. It is 4:00 p.m. in Tokyo.

All right. President Trump taking off this morning on this marathon overseas trip. Air Force One departing at Joint Base Andrews at 9:00 a.m. So, just five hours wheels up, on route to Hawaii, then to Japan on Sunday, followed by South Korea, China, Vietnam and ending in the Philippines on November 12th.

Ahead of this trip, the president spoke out on the North Korea threat, touting America's relationship with Japan.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Japan is a warrior nation and I tell China and I tell everyone else that listens, you're going have yourself a big problem with Japan pretty soon if you allow this to continue with North Korea.


CUOMO: National security adviser H.R. McMaster says the president is thinking of putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, as a quote, threat to the entire world. We also learn that Pyongyang may be ready to carry out new missile and nuclear tests.

For the latest, let's bring in CNN's Matt Rivers, live for us this morning from Beijing.

Good morning to you, Matt.

And ahead of this trip, our bombers doing something the North Koreans may see as provocative?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And when President Trump comes to this part of the world, he's going to a lot of different places. But the common thing is going to be the North Korea is the top of the agenda at each stop that he's going to make.

And there's certainly been a lot of developments over just the last 48 hours here. It was on Thursday that the U.S. military said they flew two B-1 Lancer bombers over the Korean Peninsula. They said it was a planned drill. We have seen that kind of thing before.

However, the North Koreans didn't see it that way. They came out through state media, saying that that was a dry run for the U.S. to possibly conduct a nuclear strike against North Korea at some point in the future. A lot of heated rhetoric there.

And at the same time, we heard from South Korean intelligence agency on Thursday that North Korea is preparing based on activity that intelligence agency has seen in North Korea, to carry out another missile test and that they are capable of pushing the button on a new nuclear test at any time they so choose. So, lots to deal with there for the president when he comes to this part of the world and tries to figure this ongoing crisis.

But it's not just North Korea. There's a lot of other stuff going on. Look at trade, for example. The United States pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership under the Trump administration. They've got a lot of work to do there with countries like South Korea building new trade agreements.

And then, President Trump has also said he's coming to China about their role in the opioid crisis and their military expansion in the South China Sea. And so, while North Korea definitely going to be the top of each agenda each stop that he goes to, there's certainly a lot of topics for the president to talk about on this long trip that he's about to embark on.

BRIGGS: Boy, no question about that. A crucial trip. Matt Rivers live for us in Beijing, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. One more thing about the president's Asia trip: expect Trump to be Trump. National security adviser McMaster telling reporters the president

does not plan to tone down his rhetoric on North Korea even when he's there in the region.


H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The president will use whatever language he wants to use, obviously. I don't think the president really modulates his language. Have you noticed him do that?

I mean, he's been very -- he's been very clear -- he's very clear about it. I've been aware of the discussions about, is this inflammatory? What's inflammatory is the North Korea regime and what they're doing to threaten -- to threaten the world. I think there'd be a great danger --


BRIGGS: President Trump's visit wraps up with the controversial meeting with Philippines' president, strongman Rodrigo Duterte. McMaster claims the president is a staunch advocate of human rights, but does not believe, quote, yelling about it in public is effective.

ROMANS: All right. The GOP tax plan is out and debate amongst lawmakers and tax experts is heating up. So, what does it mean for your tax bill?

The cornerstone of this plan. Four new tax brackets shrunk down from seven. Couples making up to 90 grand or individuals making up to $45,000 would see their rates cut to 12 percent.

[04:05:02] Higher income households who pay 25 percent or 35 percent, you can see the numbers there. Top rate stays the same at 39.6 percent for the highest earners.

Another big change is the standard deduction. It's nearly double in the new plan, $12,000 for single filers, $24,000 for couples. This will cut the amount of people who itemize and reduce the deductions they could have taken.

But the plan also would eliminate the personal deductions where some taxpayers could see little benefit to the larger standard deduction. Other big changes that would affect your money, the child tax credit is being boosted by 600 bucks. It allows for more people to claim the credit.

As for housing, the popular mortgage interest deduction will be capped at loans up to $500,000, and homeowners can only deduct 10 grand worth of property tax. The state and local tax deductions known as SALT will disappear, as with the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax by the year 2024.

Now comes the horse trading, the lobbying, the fighting, the president goes off to Asia, leaving this to be rushed through, basically.

BRIGGS: Well, you led me to my question. The realtors won't be happy.

ROMANS: They're not.

BRIGGS: But what's the big fight ahead. I can't see it yet.

ROMANS: You know, the realtors aren't happy and some of the small business groups aren't happy either. The small, they say it doesn't go far enough for small business.

I think what you're going to see, who is happy, corporate America in general. This is the center piece of this thing.

You know, yesterday, you saw Paul Ryan and Republicans really trying to sell this as middle class, for the middle class, for the paycheck to paycheck worker. And they say that $1100 for a family of four making 59 grand, you're going to see $1100, basically a raise. You know, you're going to pay $1100 less in taxes.

But this is really about companies, companies having less taxes.


ROMANS: And will that ultimately end up -- you know, creating jobs? Or just making companies richer?

BRIGGS: The deficit talk is amazing. It is the Democrats now who are deficit hawks, and Paul Ryan -- ah.

Anyway, elsewhere, new signs this morning special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is reaching the president's inner circle on it, maybe extending beyond Russian meddling in 2016 campaign. CNN has learned investigators have started asking about senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. Sources tell CNN investigators want to know about Kushner's role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and the events surrounding that meeting at Trump Tower, the one between Russians and top Trump campaign officials, including Kushner.

ROMANS: What is not clear right now is how Kushner's advice to the president might relate to the Russian investigation, or to possible obstruction of justice in the Comey firing.

Our justice correspondent Evan Perez has more from Washington.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, sources tell us that Jared Kushner voluntarily turned over documents that he had from the campaign and the transition, and these related to any contacts that he had with Russia. Now, the documents are similar to ones that Kushner gave to congressional investigators.

This all comes as investigators have begun asking witnesses about Kushner's role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Now, we heard different accounts from sources. Some say Kushner was a driver of the president's decision. Others say that he simply didn't oppose it, and it was something that the president had already made up his mind about.

Now, sources close to the White House say that base on what they know, Kushner is not a target of this investigation. White House official says there's no surprise that the Mueller team would be asking questions about Kushner. They also say that Kushner would be among a list of people that investigators would be asking about.

A lawyer for Kushner did not comment and the White House declined to comment for the story -- Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: All right. Evan, thanks.

The Internet red alert has been canceled, folks. Exhale. The president's Twitter account is back up and running this morning after briefly going offline. How is this for a plot twist? It wasn't a glitch. Turns out an unnamed Twitter employee pulled the plug on the account on his or her last day at work.

The president's account was restored within 11 minutes but was down long enough to trigger a tsunami of sarcastic jokes and conspiracy theories online, including this tweet, senior editor of the "New Republic" magazine: Wait. Trump's Twitter account has disappeared. Is this how we do coups now?

That was one of hundreds of thousands of jokes online.

ROMANS: It wasn't (INAUDIBLE) I got to say.

BRIGGS: It was a peaceful 11 minutes.

ROMANS: I got to say, a peaceful transfer of power for 11 minutes.


ROMANS: President Trump does not seem troubled by a staffing shortage at the State Department.


TRUMP: The one that matters is me. I'm the only one that matters.


ROMANS: We'll try to make sense of that, next.


[04:13:43] BRIGGS: Frustration boiling over for many Democrats following some stunning allegations from the former head of the party. Former interim chairwoman Donna Brazile suggesting the nomination was rigged for Hillary Clinton.

In her forthcoming book, Brazile mentions an agreement arranged in August 2015 between the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Brazile says it gave the campaign a significant measure of direct influence over the party's finances and strategy.

ROMANS: This morning, many Democrats are angry including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who tells our Jake Tapper the party has to rebuild and past.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is a real problem. But what we've got to do is Democrats now is we've got to hold this party accountable. You have got to put together a Democratic Party in which everybody can have confidence that the party is working for Democrats rather than Democrats are working for the party.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Very quickly, Senator. Do you agree with the notion that it was rigged?



ROMANS: Jeff Weaver, the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, calls the DNC actions egregious and undemocratic. Clinton, through, his spokesperson, declined to comment.

BRIGGS: President Trump could not help by weigh in, tweeting: Donna Brazile just stated the DNC rigged the system to illegally steal the primary from Bernie Sanders. Adding, major violation of campaign finance laws, and money laundering.

[04:15:05] Where is our Justice Department?

ROMANS: It is important to note, Donna Brazile herself has admitted to helping the Clinton camp. Leaked emails show when she worked as a contributor to CNN, she sent questions of the campaign in advance of the CNN's town hall.

BRIGGS: One would think she'll address that in the book.

Meantime, the president lamenting his lack of influence with the Justice Department. Mr. Trump spoke to radio host Larry O'Connor. The host said his listeners want the feds to go after Hillary Clinton to which the president said this.


TRUMP: The saddest thing is that because of the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I'm not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I'm not supposed to be doing the kind of things I would love to be doing and I'm very frustrated by it.


ROMANS: President Trump himself is under scrutiny, concerning his interactions with the Justice Department. We learned last week he wanted a gag order lifted on an undercover informant in a case that could involve Hillary Clinton. It's still not clear whether the president did anything improper buy firing the former FBI Director James Comey.

BRIGGS: Do you ever have the feeling President Trump believes the only person in the federal government who matters is him? Well, now, he's confirming it in his latest interview with Fox News.

The president was asked about open positions at the State Department going unfulfilled. His response? No problem.


TRUMP: We don't need all the people that they want. You know, don't forget. I'm a business person. I tell me people we don't need to fill slots don't fill them, but we have some people that I'm not happy with --

INTERVIEWER: But assistant secretary of state, you're not getting rid --

TRUMP: Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I'm not only one that matters because when it comes to it, that's what the policy is going to be. You've seen that, you've seen it strongly.


ROMANS: President Trump has nominated 79 people for State Department jobs, 33 of them confirmed, way behind Barack Obama and George W. Bush at the ninth month mark of their presidency.

BRIGGS: All right. A well-known university says it will no longer about provide birth control to students and faculty. Which school and why -- next.


[04:21:40] ROMANS: Ivanka Trump touching down in Tokyo ahead of her father's stopover in Japan. She was there briefly to talk about women participating in the economy at the Annual World Assembly of Women Conference organized by the Japanese government. The president's daughter getting a personal invitation to attend from Prime Minister Abe.

BRIGGS: She used the occasion to call on business and government leaders to pave the way for equality and respect in the work place.


IVANKA TRUMP, ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: In some countries, women are not allowed to own property, travel freely or work outside of the home without the consent of their husbands. Countries like the United States and Japan cannot be complacent. We must continue to champion reforms in our own countries.


BRIGGS: The first daughter dines with the Japanese prime minister tonight before returning home to help in the push for tax reform.

ROMANS: ISIS is claiming the attacker in this week's deadly truck ramming in New York City is the quote soldier of the caliphate. The terror group's weekly newspaper did not name that suspect nor claim direct responsibility for the attack. The article also stopped short of providing any credible evidence ISIS had knowledge of the attack before it happened or even played a role in its planning. This is the first time ISIS made such a claim in its newspaper before boasting through its regular news agency.

BRIGGS: The University of Notre Dame announcing it will no longer cover birth control for students, faculty or staff. The Catholic institution making the move less than a month after the Trump administration added a loophole to Obamacare's contraceptive mandate.

ROMANS: New rules allow employers to stop covering birth control if they have a sincerely held religious belief. The school says it honors the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. Employees will lose contraceptive coverage December 31st. Students lose coverage August 14th.

BRIGGS: Staff and readers shocked after some popular local news sites abruptly shut down. The move happening a week after journalists at New York-based DNAinfo and Gothamist voted to unionize. In a message to Website visitors, billionaire owner Joe Ricketts said, quote, progress hasn't been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense. But it was no secret Ricketts was opposed to unions.

ROMANS: Affiliate sites in Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco were also shuttered. Staffers tell CNN Money they were stunned to find out they were unemployed in what appeared to be a normal workday. "The New York Times" says the decision puts 115 people out of work.

BRIGGS: Allegations of sexual misconduct against actor Kevin Spacey now reaching the set of "House of Cards". Eight current or former show employees tell CNN Spacey created a toxic work environment through a pattern of sexual harassment. All eight people describing the actor's behavior to CNN as predatory. It follows the accusations by actor Anthony Rapp who says Spacey made sexual advances toward him back in 1985 when Rapp was just 14.

ROMANS: Spacey issued an apology in response to Rapp's account. Now his publicist and talent agency are parting ways with Kevin Spacey without specifically saying it's because of these allegations. Netflix has indefinitely suspended production on the sixth and final season of "House of Cards".

You know, I cannot overstate how important that program was to Netflix. I mean, think about how important that was for putting Netflix on the map, and now, they're in this position where they halted production.

[04:25:02] BRIGGS: I think its loyal audience felt it was about time for that show to go --

ROMANS: I agree.

BRIGGS: -- either way.

OK. The Houston Astros get to celebrate their historic World Series title with the fans today. A victory parade for the hometown heroes step off this afternoon in downtown Houston. The Astros won their first ever series, beating the Dodgers in seven.

There should be plenty of kids on hand. The Houston independent school district has closed all schools today. Bravo.

This is not all good news for sports fans, though. Texas star rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson will miss the rest of the season aft tearing and ACL in his right knee during practice on Thursday. It's been a difficult NFL season as far as storyline go. He was probably the brightest story line in the league, and that was devastating, even LeBron James tweeting about it yesterday.

ROMANS: We wish him well.


ROMANS: Twenty-five minutes past the hour.

BRIGGS: All right. Just hours from now, the president takes off for a huge trip to Asia with a big focus on North Korea. We're live in the region on what to expect and also break down what the Republican tax plan means for you, next.