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New Developments Reported in Russia Investigation; Jared Kushner Hands Over Documents to Special Counsel Mueller; House Republicans Roll Out Tax Reform Bill; Interview with Congressman Kevin Brady. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired November 3, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: So, please, tune in today at 2:00 eastern.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As we do every day.
BALDWIN: Of course.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You capture the sacrifice of the family so beautifully.
BALDWIN: Thank you for letting me share it on your show.
CAMEROTA: Thank you for bringing it. We'll be watching.
BERMAN: A lot of news this morning, so let's get to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump did not dismiss the idea of arranging a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had nothing to do with Russia. No person that I deal with does.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sessions failed to tell Congress about the Trump-Putin meeting during his confirmation hearing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His campaign was riddled with people with Russian connections. That's not normal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is peeling away the layers of the onion and somebody is going to end up crying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really about a DNC that lacked transparency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree that it was rig?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get this done, why, because the American people deserve this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their advertised effort on behalf of the middle class is simply not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Friday, November 3rd, 8:00 in the east. Chris is off this morning. John Berman joins me. We have a busy hour.
BERMAN: We do. And someone else has been busy, too, this hour.
CAMEROTA: We'll get to that.
But we begin with several developments in the Russia investigation. Despite repeat denials from President Trump and the White House, we now have concrete evidence that Mr. Trump was personally told about ties between one of his campaign advisers and Russia. Former national security adviser J.D. Gordon, as you'll see here in this photo, was at that meeting in March, 2016. That's where George Papadopoulos made his pitch to set up a meeting between Vladimir Putin and then candidate Donald Trump. Gordon says that Mr. Trump heard Papadopoulos's pitch and did not dismiss the idea.
Also, the president's son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner turning over documents to Robert Mueller's investigators. Sources tell CNN that signals that Mueller could be building a case of obstruction of justice against the president for firing FBI director James Comey.
BERMAN: Also this morning, serious new questions about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his memory and sometimes lack thereof. Campaign adviser Carter Page testified to a House panel that he told Sessions he was traveling to Russia during the campaign. Remember, Sessions was also in the room with Papadopoulos when he made his pitch about the Russia meeting, yet the attorney general has said he was not aware of any conversations between the Trump campaign and Russia.
All of this as the president gets ready to leave this hour for his high stakes 12 day trip to Asia, he has been writing furiously all morning, tweeting about many, many things, not one of them about this 12 day trip to Asia.
We have it all covered for you, let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House. Good morning, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. That's right. This is expected to be the longest foreign trip of the president's administration, at least so far. He's been tweeting all morning, but not about the trip. Probably the biggest thing on the agenda will be the crisis in the Korean peninsula. But this focus on foreign policy right now overshadowed by the Russia investigation.
JOHNS: The latest bombshell in the Russia probe, President Trump did not dismiss the idea of a campaign advisor arranging a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Trump during a campaign meeting in 2016 according to a person in the room. It's the first concrete evidence that Mr. Trump was personally told about ties between a campaign advisor and Russia despite fierce denials.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.
JOHNS: Court documents reveal that during this March, 2016, national security meeting, former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos pitched the idea of a meeting between Putin and Trump. Trump campaign advisor J.D. Gordon, seen here with then candidate Trump, Jeff Sessions, and Papadopoulos. Gordon says Mr. Trump listened to his idea and he heard him out. The White House denying the president had any recollection of this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Papadopoulos suggesting the meeting between then candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin, does he recall that?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No, I don't believe he does.
JOHNS: Attorney General Sessions rejecting the idea of a meeting with Putin according to the source, but Sessions never disclosed the conversation during multiple Congressional hearings when he was asked directly about such communications in the Trump campaign.
SEN. AL FRANKEN, (D) MINNESOTA: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians, is that what you're saying?
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I am not aware of anyone else that did, and I don't believe it happened.
JOHNS: Now Senate Democrats want to question Sessions about those denials. The highly anticipated testimony from former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page fuelling even more questions about what Sessions knew regarding ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
[08:05:03] Testifying behind closed doors for more than six hours before a House panel, Page revealing that he told Sessions about a trip he was taking to Russia during the 2016 campaign, though Page said the trip was unconnected with the campaign. This is another conversation Sessions failed to mention during hearings.
FRANKEN: He seems to have problems telling the truth on this subject.
JOHNS: The attorney general forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after failing to disclose his own contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.
SESSIONS: I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States. JOHNS: In the wake of indictments of three Trump foreign policy
advisors, the president continues to insist that Hillary Clinton should be the one investigated.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The saddest thing is that because I'm 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.
JOHNS: And continuing to watch the president's Twitter feed this morning, he's been on a real Twitter tear. As you know, last night there was some controversy when a rogue Twitter employee on his or her way out the door apparently shut down the president's Twitter feed for about 11 minutes. He talked about that, and since then he's tweeted about a variety of subjects, including excerpts of a new book from the former interim director of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile alleging that the process in the primaries was rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton. He most recently tweeted about ISIS, but so far, John, as we said at the top, he has not tweeted about this Asia trip he's about to embark on. And it's going to be the longest trip so far of his administration.
BERMAN: He is making up for that 11 minute absence on Twitter this morning, to say the least. Joe Johns at the White House, thanks so much.
Sources tell CNN that President Trump's son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has turned over documents to special counsel Robert Mueller. Investigators are now looking into what role he may have played into the firing of James Comey. Is the special counsel building a case for obstruction of justice? CNN's Shimon Prokupecz live in Washington with much more on this. Shimon, explain these documents.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John, some sources tell us Kushner voluntarily turned over these documents. These are documents from the campaign and transition, and they're related to any contacts he had with Russia, and these are the documents that are similar to the ones Kushner gave to congressional investigators. This comes as investigators have begun asking witnesses about Kushner's role in the firing of the former FBI director James Comey, John.
BERMAN: So why exactly is the special counsel interested in what Kushner did or did not do during that firing?
PROKUPECZ: So interestingly enough, witnesses who have come before the special counsel have been asked about Kushner's role in that firing. Now, we've heard different accounts from different sources. Some say Kushner was a driver of the president's decisions. And others have said simply he didn't oppose it and that it was something the president had already made his mind up about. And sources close to the White House say that based on what they know, and we don't know how they know this, Kushner is not a target of Mueller's investigation.
But this is a sign that Mueller could be building a case for obstruction against the president for that firing of the former FBI director.
BERMAN: They say Kushner is not a target, important there to remember the source. The bigger question though, Shimon, how significant is all of this?
PROKUPECZ: Right. So Mueller's team's questions about Kushner are a sign, and we believe that investigators are reaching into the president's inner circle, and this is extended beyond the 2016 campaign to actions taken at the White House by high level officials. A White House official tells us that Mueller's team's questions about Kushner are not a surprise and that Kushner would be among a list of people who investigators naturally would be asking questions about. Now, Kushner's lawyers did not comment and the White House, John, we should note, also declined to comment.
BERMAN: Shimon Prokupecz for us, thanks so much, Shimon. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Republican Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas. He's the chairman of the ways and means committee and drafted the GOP's tax reform bill. So obviously we'll be talking all about taxes and getting into the details of that. Congressman, it's great to see you.
But in the meantime, we just want to start with the news of the day, and that is the new Russia revelations. We now know that Donald Trump, then candidate, was in a meeting where George Papadopoulos pitched having a meeting, setting up a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Trump. Here's a picture from march 2016. What do you make of all the latest revelations?
[08:10:06] REP. KEVIN BRADY, (R) TEXAS: Here's what I know for certain. Everyone following this Russia investigation deserves a tax cut and a better paying job. That's exactly what we're focused on here yesterday. We unveiled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This really grows the economy in a major way. It reduces taxes for families, so much so, and simplifies, so nine out of 10 Americans can file using a simple postcard system. These are bold changes the way Americans are taxing.
While there are other interests and other issues, I will tell you back home in our community, our main street local businesses, they are just starved for tax reform.
CAMEROTA: I give you an A for pivoting.
BRADY: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: That was a wonderful segue that you did there. So let's dive in because I know that's what you want to do. Let's get into the details, where the devil waits. So the local and state deductions that people certainly in big states, or I should say blue states, like, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, people have been relying on being able to deduct their local and state taxes. If those go away, those people get hurt.
BRADY: So I don't believe so, and here's why. We want families, regardless of where you live, including in those high tax states, and by the way, I'm sorry that these families just get hammered by their local mayors and governors with the highest taxes in the world it feels like. I don't know how they make it. But we believe they ought to keep more of what they earn as well. And so we are working with these high tax state lawmakers.
The reason we provided a significant tax cut, we doubled the standard deduction, we eliminate this double AMT tax, and we increase, we create a new family credit to help every family in America keep more of what they earn. When you do that you make sure that whether you're in New York or you're in Kansas, you know, you keep more of what you earn.
CAMEROTA: Well, it's not passing the math test for some like Congressman Lee Zeldin, a Republican. He says this, "I am a no to this bill in its current form. Eliminating the SALT," which is the state and local taxes "deduction would be a geographic redistribution of wealth picking winners and losers." What do you say?
BRADY: So I do want to make this correction. I've worked with Congressman Zeldin and he's a champion. He just wants to make sure his families are better off after tax reform than before. I agree with that. But to be accurate, we do restore the state and local property tax deduction to this because of our discussions with people like Congressman Zeldin and others. And so we are focused on working with him, but at the end of the day --
CAMEROTA: So it's back in there. Just so I'm clear, so you're saying that for people in those states, that they can take their state and local tax deduction?
BRADY: Their state and local property tax deduction, which is for most families, maybe the most painful because it's not based on your ability to pay. It's just hurts. Whether you're a young family or a senior family where you've paid off the mortgage and that property tax is just killing you, again, imposed by those local governments, we want to provide help for you.
CAMEROTA: That leads us to the mortgage deduction. So any deduction for mortgages over $500,000, as we understand it, is going away. The National Association of Homebuilders doesn't like this. Let me play for you what they say about the plan. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY HOWARD, CEO, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOME BUILDERS: When house values start to go down in one market, it spreads to the next market and the market next to that and another market. And the next thing you know you have a housing recession. The people who are counting on the equity in their homes had better sit tight for a few years before trying to cash it out, exactly to you point, and that has our members irate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Congressman, here is his point. There are seven million homes on the market right now that are more than $500,000. So the mortgages wouldn't be able to be deducted under your plan. Those houses would automatically be devalued. What do you say to him?
BRADY: So I don't believe that, and here's why. People don't take out a mortgage for the entire value of the house, at least hopefully they're not anymore. That was a problem before in the last crisis. The other things is everyone keeps their mortgage deduction on their mortgage up to $1 million today, so nothing changes there.
But here's my main point, the value of your home and the home sales increases when the economy gets stronger, and it goes south when the economy goes south. So when we go bold like we do to get people back to work, create jobs and create growth, that is good for homeowners. It's good for home builders. And by the way, it's good for home values.
CAMEROTA: Well, obviously, they've thought about that and disagree with you, as do --
BRADY: But I will tell you this, we are working with the home builders. We've worked with them to develop what we call a new home credit that can help more people across maybe a broader economic spectrum with their home ownership issues. We continue to explore that. I think it's a terrific idea. I would like to see it frankly in the tax code at some point.
CAMEROTA: So you might be inserting some things to help the home builders come around?
BRADY: Well, just because I think there are smart ways and smarter ways to do the exact same thing, this old broken tax code, frankly, doesn't work for a lot of Americans. And so we'll continue to work all the way down the line because while we're starting in Ways and Means Committee on Monday to take action on this tax reform, I'm looking to improve it at every step of the way.
CAMEROTA: Let me show you the list of Republican lawmakers who are not a yes on your plan yet. So we have, as we've discussed, Congressman Lee Zeldin, Congressman Peter King of New York, Congressman Dan Donovan of New York, Congressman Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey, Congressman Tom McCarthy, New Jersey. You can see that there's a pattern in terms of people thinking that it would hurt their constituents in those states.
And then you have Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. He doesn't think that it goes far enough towards helping working families. You have Senator Jeff Flake, who doesn't like that it would increase the debt and deficit. And Senator Bob Corker also believes that it would increase the deficit. So what do you say to them?
BRADY: So I say the Senate will have a chance to pass their tax reform. And we think unlike healthcare, where simply they didn't deliver, we're hopeful they'll work together to provide big bold tax reform --
CAMEROTA: But does it increase the deficit?
BRADY: -- just as we did as well.
CAMEROTA: I mean, just hold on a second because obviously it's -- you know --
BRADY: Well, you were asking about some of the members who have concerns.
CAMEROTA: I am, but on that note --
BRADY: I think it's healthy for them to have this at this point.
CAMEROTA: -- does it add $1.5 trillion to the deficit?
BRADY: And we're working with those lawmakers to make sure we find common ground.
CAMEROTA: But are you comfortable with it increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion?
BRADY: So I believe tax reform will move us back toward a balanced budget. Part of it will be because of strong growth. That really helps, not just in Washington but mainly back home as well. But that's not enough. You also have to cut out all the special interest deductions and loopholes and all that. The reason we go to the simple postcard solid approach is we eliminate a lot of those special loopholes so that we can lower tax rates for everyone. That's part of getting back to a balanced budget as well which is exactly where we want to go.
CAMEROTA: Look, we often hear that tax cuts will automatically lead to growth, but as you know, that's not always the case. That did not happen with George W. Bush's tax cuts. It's not a fait accompli.
BRADY: So George Bush's tax cuts were right for that era. But President Reagan's cuts and we know President John F. Kennedy's cuts that he designed as well were incredibly pro-growth. Here's what we do know, if you want to stay with high deficits and the national debt, just stick with the status quo. Keep the tax code where it is. Let's watch our jobs continue to leave America. Let's keep paychecks stagnant for another decade, I guarantee you we'll be deeper in debt as a nation and our families will be poorer, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Look, our analysts, many of our analysts said that the Ronald Reagan analogy is not an apt one. He was bringing it down from 70 percent. You can't use that in the modern day.
CAMEROTA: The George W. Bush analogy is a more applicable one because that one, as you know, did not lead to the promised growth. BRADY: So I will tell you this. I think you make a great point about
the Reagan reforms. This is a different era. We know that the rates have come down over time, we make the changes, improvements underneath those rates to get rid of all those hidden taxes, that double taxation of AMT. All that stuff that people don't know hit them. So we make those improvements but we do something else.
Another focus for us is leapfrogging America from where we're at nearly dead last competitively around the world into the top three so that we can bring those jobs back to America. And by the way, look, this economy, it has improved dramatically. We've got to get it revved up for another decade. And so that growth, those paychecks, that's all great for middle class families.
CAMEROTA: Look, we're out of time. But obviously we'll have you back to talk about all of the things in your plan because there are so many questions still.
BRADY: There are so many, thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you for being on with us -- John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks, Alisyn.
President Trump minutes away from leaving for the most consequential international trip of his presidency. But over the last hour, he has had a steady stream of statements, including apparently announcing military policy. We'll discuss what he's been doing and what he plans to do. Is he going to keep this up for 12 days on the road? Stay with us.
[08:23:36] BERMAN: OK, President Trump very busy this morning and doing things I think of enormous consequence. He's about to embark on a 12-day trip to Asia. For the last hour he's been making statements of all kinds on all subjects. Eight pronouncements on Twitter so far calling for an investigation into the DNC using a racial term to describe a U.S. senator. And maybe more importantly, most importantly, making news in the war against ISIS.
I want to bring in our panel. CNN Politics reporter and editor-at- large Chris Cillizza, RealClearPolitics associate editor AB Stoddard, and former FBI special agent and a senior lecturer at Yale Law School, Asha Rangappa.
Chris, I want to read you a couple of the last statements from the president because it's very, very important here. "ISIS just claimed that a degenerate animal who killed and so badly wounded the wonderful people on the west side was their soldier. Based on that," he writes, "the military has hit ISIS much harder over the last two days. They will pay a big price for every attack on us."
Did the president just announce first of all that there have been military strikes against ISIS over the last few days that we didn't know about, which is his prerogative? But number two, some kind of policy shift in ISIS -- against ISIS that each terror attack will end up with some kind of proportionate or disproportionate response?
CILLIZZA: Who knows? You know, I hate to be flip about it, John, but the reality is if past is prologue, this tends to be punditry by the president.
[08:25:01] Him reacting to events, you know, making exaggerations, saying things that are -- sort of wish that it were true, hopes, or because he's not a pundit, he's the president of the United States, it's, to your paint, maybe it is a military change. Maybe we have made strikes against ISIS that we don't yet know about.
I mean, this is the fundamental peril of a president who thinks and acts like a pundit. We don't know if he's just popping off or if he's acting and there's policy behind it. That uncertainty by its very nature is dangerous.
CAMEROTA: Yes. So, AB, look, we don't always know about all of the attacks that the military is making on ISIS but when the president announces like this, does it sound like there's some sort of new front or change in policy?
AB STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Of course it does. And when the president said a few months back that North Korea was going to face fire and fury if they'd threaten us again like they'd never seen, like the world has never seen, and they've of course subsequently threatened us again.
What happens is people start to not believe what he's saying. And I think none of us will be surprised if we see H.R. McMaster, the National Security adviser, or someone else come out later and sort of do a cleanup on aisle three about this. This is -- what he does, Chris is right. He acts on impulse. And sometimes it actually can be that he revealed something that should not be revealed. That's rare.
But it has happened, or he's just talking about what he would like to happen. Either way he's supposed to be getting on a plane to Asia for a very sensitive trip on which there has already been reporting by Newsweek that his aides are very concerned about his fatigue level. What he might say to allies like the Japanese or the South Koreans or to the Chinese or the North Koreans or about them.
And this is obviously a concern that he is making pronouncements about a potential, you know, strike against ISIS strongholds before he gets on the airplane.
BERMAN: But we're going to have to do, we'll do this, is we're going to press the Pentagon for answers right now, if there was some kind of attack or strike over the last few days that we should know about. If there is some kind of policy shift that was just announced.
I also want to note one of the things the president has also written about is he's called Elizabeth Warren, senator from Massachusetts, Pocahontas again. That appears to be a racial term with the fact that she's claimed in the past to have Native American roots.
Asha, I'm going to shift gears for a second. As the president leaves for this Asia trip, CNN has been doing a whole lot of reporting on new Russia revelations and the investigations right now. I think perhaps the most significant is Jeff Sessions, we know he testified two weeks ago that he had never talked to anyone in the campaign about Russia. No advisors talking to Russia.
Well, Carter Page testified yesterday that he told Jeff Sessions about Russian meetings. George Papadopoulos was sitting in the room. We've seen the picture two seats down from Jeff Sessions where he said he'd been meeting with the Russians who want to meet with the president or the candidate then running for president of the United States right now.
There seems to be an issue of either a memory or some truth telling here.
ASHA RANGAPPA, SENIOR LECTURER, YALE LAW SCHOOL: That is correct. This is -- he's testified now three times. And every time there's been more questions for him to clarify something from before. And he's been very hinky and potentially he's being dishonest. I think we need to zoom back and look at this in the big picture.
There is a statistically improbable number of Russian contacts with this campaign. OK. Apart from Sessions, we have Russian lawyers, Russian billionaires, Russian professors. I mean, this is like Gilligan's Island with Russian spies and the Trump campaign was in the middle of it. And as the primary law enforcement officer of the United States, the attorney general, he should not only be concerned about this, but he should be proactively scouring his memory to give the information to Congress on his own and not be waiting for them to ask questions.
And I will say this, Mueller will question him and if he lies to Mueller, we know that Mueller has no problems with charging people with false statements.
CAMEROTA: That will be very interesting, Chris Cillizza, because how will he, you know, sort of square the circle of what he has said publicly when he is questioned Robert Mueller.
CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, look, I think Asha's got it. I think for all -- we focus on Manafort, we focus on Carter Page, understandably George Papadopoulos, I think most of us didn't know until earlier this week. But to me my take at the end of this week, although obviously the president has tweeted eight times since before 8:30 so maybe there's more to come. But close to the end of this week is Jeff Sessions.
Forget once, OK. Forget twice, uh, forget three times, and again, remember the things he's forgetting. I think you can somewhat understand a conversation or a mention of Carter Page saying he's going to go to Russia over a dinner.