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Trump Departs Hawaii, Heads To Tokyo; Former Adviser Says Sessions Knew About His Russia Trip; Topic Of Trade Likely Overshadowed By North Korea Concerns; Sessions Under Fire For Answers On Russia; Trump Begins High-Stakes Trip: 13 Days, Five Nations; Trump Seeks Allied Support Against North Korea; Dems Call Tax Bill "Middle Class Con Job"; GOP Tax Plan Caps Home Interest Deduction at $500K; Trump Calls Tax Cuts A "Christmas Gift" For Americans; Netflix Severs Ties With Spacey Amid Sexual Assault Claims; FBI Focused On Digging Up Dirt On Martin Luther King Jr. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired November 4, 2017 - 12:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. Next hour, President Trump climbs aboard Air Force One and officially begins his more of the critical foreign trip since taking office. The president and first lady overnight in Hawaii. They met with U.S. military leaders and visited the "USS Arizona" Memorial to honor the Americans killed at Pearl Harbor.

First stop after Hawaii, Japan. The first of five Asian countries the president will be visiting. He'll meet with Asian leaders increasingly concerned by a nuclear armed North Korea, and of course the inflammatory rhetoric between North Korea's unpredictable leader and President Trump.

Also threatening to overshadow the trip, the intensifying Russia investigation back home. Former campaign adviser, Carter Page, is backing away from his earlier denials and now confirms to CNN a 2016 meeting with Russia's deputy prime minister.

Even more significant, Page says a few people in the campaign knew about his Moscow meeting and afterward he even sent an e-mail about it to a campaign aide.

Let's begin in Honolulu. CNN's Ryan Nobles is traveling with the president -- Ryan.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, good morning from Honolulu. The president hoping that this trip to the Asia-Pacific region can help him escape a little bit from all the controversies that he's dealing with in Washington.

This is an ambitious trip. He'll travel to five different countries and meet with some of the most important leaders in this region, particularly leaders that are being forced to confront head on the growing tension with North Korea and the Kim Jong-un administration.

The president will meet with the leaders of China, the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Philippines, and Vietnam. These are all important players not just as it comes to national security but also economically.

And the president expected to talk about trade deals with these different nations, especially in the wake of the administration deciding to pull out of the free trade pack that was initially hatched by the Obama administration.

Now, we get back to what's going on in Washington. You mentioned it, Fredricka. This is a lot of heat that the president is facing as it relates to the special counsel investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia.

And the president was asked specifically does he think that he may try and change things with the special counsel, perhaps fire Robert Mueller and his team, and this is how he responded before he left on this trip.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't know. I'm really not involved with the Justice Department. I'd like to let it run itself. But honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats. They should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty. They should be looking at a lot of things. A lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department including me.


NOBLES: What's interesting about this, Fredricka, this was a pattern with the president. He didn't really talk all that much about the trip before he took off and he's trying to find ways to distract and undermine the special counsel investigation.

This being another example of that. Talking a lot more about the Democrats and Hillary Clinton and her campaign instead of the substantive investigation and the role his campaign may have played -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles in Honolulu, thank you so much.

We're following new developments in the Russia investigation. Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser for Donald Trump's campaign tells CNN he told multiple members of the campaign about his trip to Russia where he met with a high-ranking Russian government official while in Moscow last year.

And according to "The New York Times," he even e-mailed details of that meeting to at least one Trump campaign aide. Here's what he said about his conversation with Jeff Sessions where he mentions his trip to Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Who else in the Trump campaign knew about this trip to Russia other than Jeff Sessions?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: You know, that mention, which was the big headline yesterday, was a brief comment as we were walking towards the elevator after having a dinner together, and so it was such a nothing event.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Jim Sciutto looks at where the investigation is headed now.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A pressing question, were President Trump and Attorney General Sessions misleading when they denied any knowledge of campaign contacts with Russians? Here is Mr. Trump in February.

[12:05:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I told you General Flynn obviously was dealing, so that is one person, but he was dealing as he should have been.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: During the election?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, nobody that I know of.

SCIUTTO: And here is Mr. Sessions in testimony just last month.

SENATOR AL FRANKEN (D-MN), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians, is that what you're saying?

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.

SCIUTTO: In fact court filings unsealed this week show that former Trump campaign Foreign Policy Adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators suggested at a March 2016 meeting that Trump meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

J.D. Gordon, a former national security adviser to the campaign, who was in the room for that meeting tells CNN that Trump heard out Papadopoulos and another source tells CNN that Sessions, a top campaign national security adviser and surrogate rejected the idea. The president responded by saying he doesn't remember much of the meeting.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting took place a long time, don't remember much about it.

SCIUTTO: Another former campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, tell CNN that he testified before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors Thursday that he informed Sessions he was traveling to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, though he said that the trip was not tied to his role with the campaign.

Papadopoulos' account is placing another under Trump adviser under scrutiny, Sam Clovis, who served as deputy campaign chairman. Court documents show that Papadopoulos contacted a campaign supervisor, who the "Washington Post" has identified as Clovis about a potential trip to Russia to meet Russian officials.

The supervisor responded encouraging Papadopoulos to make the trip. Papadopoulos' account was unsealed the same day as indictments of former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, in relation to their lobbying work for the Ukraine government.

In the indictments, the government alleges that they received tens of millions of dollars for their work and to hide that income, laundered the money through, quote, "scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts."

Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty to charges, which cover activities prior to Trump's presidential campaign.


SCIUTTO: There is now a proposed start date for the Manafort/Gates trial of May 7th, 2018. The trial is expected to last more than three weeks. That would take it into the summer of 2018 just before key midterm elections. Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.

WHITFIELD: All right, I want to bring in now Alice Stewart, a CNN political commentator and former communications director for Ted Cruz, good to see you, and Lanhee Chen is a former public policy director for Mitt Romney, good to see you as well.

All right, so Alice, you first, as the president spends the next couple of weeks abroad, he may want the cloud of this investigation to dissipate but, you know, how might it color the thinking or perhaps even the demeanor of some of the Asian leaders that he is going to be meeting with?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, there's no doubt that the Mueller investigation is something that is front and center on many people's minds. I've perused the foreign papers and the foreign press and they're covering it quite heavily.

But the key to this trip is to work and further develop the relationships we have in these other nations and work on uniting nations against North Korea and attempt to reduce their nuclear weapons program. I think as he's there, all focus will be on where the president is and what he's doing.

Clearly back here, Robert Mueller and the special counsel will continue their work investigating the Russian collusion in this election. So, I think Robert Mueller is not going to be distracted, but once the president gets involved in these meetings and these conversations, in my view, that's going to be front and center on the minds of the foreign leaders.

WHITFIELD: Well, Lanhee, you know, so much is at stake as it relates to North Korea, you know, but Trump is going to be peppered with lots of Russia-related questions. Whether it be from American journalists or perhaps even, you know, journalists from other countries. How the president handles this is really critical, is it not?

LANHEE CHEN, FORMER PUBLIC POLICY DIRECTOR FOR MITT ROMNEY: No question, Fredricka, this is a critical foreign trip for the president. And actually, foreign trips traditionally have been opportunities for presidents to show unity in their own countries, to show and demonstrate that countries are looking toward similar kind of goals.

Particularly in this case, the North Korean problem is something he's going to address with the leader of Japan when he's there today and tomorrow. Certainly, when he gets to China in the middle of the trip, that's going to be an issue as well.

So, for the president, this is a very, very important trip, make no mistake about it, and it's important for him and his team to stay focused, although it will be very difficult, given the ongoing investigation here in the United States.

WHITFIELD: And also, Alice, the president, you know, tweeted out that the Department of Justice should be going after, you know, the Democrats, this right before his trip, you know, going after Hillary Clinton. You know, he's also going to be peppered with questions about whether he has overstepped his boundaries. That can't look good, particularly on the world stage.

STEWART: It's not. Given specifically the way that the president should be focused on his agenda and his message and what he is trying to accomplish on this important trip and let the Justice Department do their work. And I think that is critical.

Not to second guess what the Justice Department has done in the past and try and influence what they're going to do in the future. I do think that Republicans were handed a gift this week with the -- with Donna Brazile and exposing some of the activity that happened during the primary process and the general election with regard to Hillary Clinton and the fundraising agreement she had with the Democratic National Convention. I do think that is certainly worth looking into, but I think --

WHITFIELD: It's not illegal, right, isn't that just kind of inside baseball?

STEWART: It's inside baseball. Did it put the finger on the scale of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders? But in my view, my recommendation, let the past be the past. Hillary Clinton is not president. She will never be president. Let the Democrats wallow in their own problems.

And I think the president is on a good path to have a tremendous foreign trip. Let the attention be on that. Let the attention be on this great tax reform package that is working its way through Congress right now and keep on message, and let the Democrats deal with their own problems.

WHITFIELD: Except that even, you know, within Trump's orbit, it's the president who calls attention to other things. You know, Lanhee, he has said he's very disappointed in the Justice Department.

One can't help think, is that another message to Jeff Sessions? Jeff Sessions being asked more pointedly about what he knew and when he knew it. And whether he has perjured himself, take a listen.


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. Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.

FRANKEN: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians? Is that what you're saying?

SESSIONS: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did, and I don't believe it happened.


WHITFIELD: So Lanhee, these inconsistencies don't look good. This, you know, stroke of amnesia. But at the same time, balancing that with apparently Jeff Sessions did at least discourage any kind of meeting between Trump and Putin when that was discussed during a campaign meeting. So where do things stand for Jeff Sessions right now?

CHEN: Well, you know, Jeff Sessions has been in a difficult position for many months now. You'll recall as you mentioned there was a period of time when he was not in the president's good graces, when that was a time that the attorney general himself said was very challenging.

I think we'll have to see where this thing goes from here on out in terms of previous statements made. You know, it's always very difficult to make these kinds of declarative statements. I mean, Alice and I, we've both been in campaign settings.

Candidates and people around candidates take lots of meetings and there are lots of things going on. When you go out there and make declarative statements like that, you're asking for trouble, particularly if you aren't absolutely sure that's what happened. We'll have to see where this goes.

The attorney general, you know, no question he's been in difficulty with the president. That having been said he has kept his head down, he has worked on the things that the president has asked him to work on so only the president knows where this is going.

WHITFIELD: And Alice, one can only presume that Trump's attorneys would wish he would just not talk about anything as it relates to, you know, the ongoing investigations, but he can't help himself, he does. So how closely might, you know, Bob Mueller be looking at or his team be looking at and really trying to dissect everything that the president says, whether it's he doesn't recall or whether there are incremental details that he does reveal?

STEWART: Fred, I think not just the president's attorneys, but his entire team would wish that he would keep his Twitter feed, and many of his comments on message, but he just can't help himself and they knew that going into this.

Look, I think Robert Mueller and the special counsel will be watch everything he tweets and everything he says. But with regard to the guilty plea by George Papadopoulos, we're seeing that Mueller is not putting up with any false statements.

He is not going to put up with any inconsistencies and there are penalties to pay. So, moving forward, I think a little political amnesia is more beneficial than misremembering something or providing a false statement in this situation.

So, I'm not surprised if we'll see a lot of "I don't remembers" in the next few weeks with regards to anyone talking to Robert Mueller, but that is much more careful response than trying to remember something from a year and a half ago that you're not 100 percent positive about.

WHITFIELD: Alice Stewart, Lanhee Chen, thanks so much.

[12:15:05] All right. Stick around because up next as the president kicks off his trip to Asia, the stakes are very high. So, what does success look like? And will the president be able to stay on message? We'll ask a former U.S. ambassador to Japan next.


WHITFIELD: All right, in the next hour, President Trump heads to Japan for the first leg of his 13-day tour of Asia. There, Trump will visit five Asian nations, united in anxiety over nuclear-armed North Korea.

Tom Schieffer is a former ambassador to Japan under President George W. Bush and join us now from Fort Worth, Texas. Good to see you, Mr. Ambassador.

TOM SCHIEFFER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN: Thank you, Fredricka, always good to be with you.

WHITFIELD: Thank you. So, what would be meaningful accomplishments for President Trump while in Asia in your view?

[12:20:01] SCHIEFFER: I think more than any other time, Japan and South Korea and America's friends and allies are wondering if the United States is going to be there if hostilities were to erupt with North Korea, so I think a calming effect would be great on the area.

There's a great deal of anxiety there about North Korea and these provocative acts of continuing to test missiles by flying them over Japan and other things like that. So, I think that's the number one thing.

And the number two is a better definition of where the United States wants to go with regard to trade, withdrawing from the Transpacific Partnership was a blow to many in Asia and I think they would like to have a better understanding of where the president would like to go in that area.

WHITFIELD: So, is their particular edge or, you know, disappointment from some of those Asian nations, i.e., you know, China particularly, as it pertains to that trade plan that is being undermined by this president?

SCHIEFFER: Well, the Transpacific Partnership was a major deal for the United States when we brought 11 other countries into the fold and tried to put forward a program that would provide the rules of the road for trade in the future.

The withdrawal of the United States from that agreement, created a lot of angst in a lot of capitals. Japan has taken the lead here in trying to hold the other 11 countries together and try to get them to go ahead and ratify the agreement in the hopes that the United States would join sometime in the future. So, we'll have to see how that plays out, but it's a big issue in Asia.

WHITFIELD: So Tokyo, first stop, you know, Trump is quite close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In your experience, how important are relations with Japan in the eyes of other U.S. allies across Asia?

SCHIEFFER: Well, Japan is the linchpin of U.S. foreign policy in Asia with the alliance in Australia, the southern anchor of it. But there are 50,000 troops, American troops, in Japan, more than any other place in the world.

So, relationships with Japan are extremely important because they make possible better relationships with others including the Chinese. As long as the U.S. and Japan are together, they are a formidable alliance that brings order and calm to all of Northeast Asia.

Americans, I think, are just now becoming aware of how dangerous the situation exists in Northeast Asia with North Korea and of course, the robustness of the Chinese challenge now and the South China Sea and other places. This is an important region of the world for us. Japan is at the heart of whether we'll have success there or not.

WHITFIELD: And Japan, as you know better than anybody else, is a nation of traditions and Trump is known for bucking traditions. Could that potentially backfire, you know, on this president as he visits Japan, even though he and Abe seem like they get along wonderfully? SCHIEFFER: Well, I think that Prime Minister Abe did a wonderful job of coming to the United States quickly and establishing a friendship and a relationship with the president. That's very important. So, I hope that they're able to maintain that closeness.

But there's no question that this is a very challenging time in Asia. And with the North Korean provocations and the robustness of the Chinese efforts, it's a dynamic time. We have to reassure our allies that we are in Asia for the long haul.

That we're not going to pull back to the United States and have a protectionist isolationist view of the world as we did in the 1930s. That would be disastrous for everyone.

WHITFIELD: Are you nervous about the president and his potential rhetoric as he talks about North Korea while he's there in the region?

SCHIEFFER: I think you have to be very careful here. This is not a time to get into a rhetorical argument about who is the toughest or whether is the meanest in the neighborhood. This is a time for calm to prevail and for people to try to act rationally.

The danger, as I see it, from North Korea, is that Kim Jong-un may be trying to acquire nuclear weapons to achieve what his father and grandfather were unable to achieve, and that was to unite Korean Peninsula under a communist regime. That would be very provocative, very dangerous and could lead to serious, serious consequences.

I think that's on the mind of a lot of Asians. If you see some of the polling recently, 60 percent South Koreans now believe that they should acquire nuclear weapons, and if the South Koreans were to acquire nuclear weapons, that would put pressure on the Japanese to acquire nuclear weapons.

We don't need more nuclear weapons in that neighborhood, it is dangerous enough, and so we have to be united in our approach to North Korea. I think it is in everyone's interests, the United States', Japan's and China's, that North Korea not acquire nuclear weapons.

[12:25:14] WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it right there. Ambassador Tom Schieffer, thank you so much.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Up next, Republicans roll out their new tax plan and insist it will help the middle class, but will it pass, or could that plan be sunk?


WHITFIELD: Hello, again, thanks so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield this Saturday.

[12:30:02] It is the biggest tax reform undertaken in more than 30 years. The Republican plan includes the collapsing of tax brackets and wide ranging tax cuts. But as Christine Romans points out, the story is in the details.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Fredericka. This tax reform package is branded as a tax cut for the middle class so let's start with what it means for average Americans. It cuts the number of tax brackets from seven to four. Couples making up to $90,000 a year, individuals making up to $45,000, will pay a 12 percent tax rate. Then it's 25 percent and 35 percent as you can see as incomes rise.

The plan keeps the top rate of 39.6 percent for families making more than $1 million. The bill also nearly doubles the standard deduction. 12,000 for single filers, 24,000 for couples. The idea here, fewer people will itemize, claiming fewer deduction. But it also eliminates personal exemptions. That's something that could hurt families with three kids or more.

There are some good news for the middle class in this bill. Aside from the lower tax rates, the plan would increase the child tax credit to $1,600. There's also a $300 tax credit for non-child dependent. So think a college kid who's come back to live at home.

And also for a spouse. Also 401k plans will be left alone. So who are the winners? Who are the losers? Corporations are the clear winners here. The bill lowers the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. This is a center piece of tax reform overall, the benefits that go to corporations and investors.

The ultra rich are also big winners. This bill repeals the estate tax in the year 2024. It doubles the exemption to about $10 million before that. Very, very wealthy families will benefit. It also repeals the alternative minimum tax, another plus for some wealthy taxpayers. But, again, the AMT also hits middle class taxpayers as well. So good for them.

As for the losers, people in high-tax states. No more state in local tax deduction for income or sales tax. And they can only do that property taxes up to 10 grand. For new home purchases, the mortgage interest deduction is cut in half to $500,000. That's something that will be important in the housing market.

Bottom line, Fredricka, it depends on how much money you make. It depends on what state you live in, how many children you have, what deductions you take. And of course lawmakers could change some of these proposals as well, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Christine Romans, thank you so much.

So President Trump has made it clear he wants his tax plan to pass quickly saying the plan is a Christmas gift for Americans.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working to give the American people a giant tax cut for Christmas. We are giving them a big beautiful Christmas present in the form of a tremendous tax cut.


WHITFIELD: All right, I want to bring back Alice Stewart, a CNN political commentator and former communications director for Senator Ted Cruz, and Scott Jennings, CNN political commentator and a former special assistant to President George W. Bush. All right, good to see you both.

So, you heard the President there. He wants this done by Christmas, but there are already dissenters within his own party, especially with the Russia investigation indictments and the guilty plea. Alice, does Trump have the political capital that it takes to get this done quickly on the heels of health care repeal and replace defeats?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He does, and members of Congress realize they need to get this done. They need to have a win in the legislative accomplishment column and this is a great way to do it. This is a big bold tax plan, as Christine said. It hasn't been done in over 30 years.

And the key with this, she mentioned a lot of numbers, but the take home number that really matters to middle income families of four that tax breaks involved in this mean they get to keep in their pocket about $1,200 each year if this current plan goes into place. And that is key. That goes right to the heart and to the pockets of middle income Americans which is what President Trump really wants to do.

And he is focused on providing tax relief for those people and also it is important, his committee is not going to sign anything unless it provides tax relief for middle income Americans and reduces the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent to allow business owners and job creators to grow their business and to hire more people and to bring about higher wages. And those are critical components to average Americans as well as the economy overall.

WHITFIELD: So Scott, you know, $1,200 a year $100 a month for many middle class families. And overall, this plan might be adding to the deficit by more than $100 trillion. So how can all the deficit hawks in Congress want to sign off on this?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a couple of things. Number one, Republicans believe when you cut taxes you stimulate the economy. You create more jobs which ultimately creates more tax revenue for the federal government. I believe that. I believe Alice believes that.

[12:35:02] And so the Republican Party is banking on more economic growth than we saw during the Obama years. But number two, let's be honest, Donald Trump's tax plan that he laid out during the campaign and his principles that he's laid out in this process here don't really take into consideration deficit spending. He doesn't care about the deficit as much as some Republicans in Congress do and I think Donald Trump's most important player here, this is his tax plan. It's got his imprint on it. And so the Republican Party is going to go down this path.

But ultimately I think the economic growth is what's going to help mitigate the deficits because I think when you cut corporate rates and you put more money back in the hands of job creators, small businesses --

WHITFIELD: But there are no insurances there, no guarantees that those companies will turn those new profits, the savings from tax into jobs.

STEWART: Fred, I think there's --

JENNINGS: No, there's no guarantees because our government doesn't force people to do things with the money that we let them keep. But I can tell you, I'm a small business owner --

WHITFIELD: Then how do you convince -- right, then how do you convince particular people in the middle class that, you know, this kind of tax break for, you know, Corporate America is going to be beneficial to middle class Americans?

STEWART: Fred, you do this by looking at other countries. This policy has worked in other countries by lowering the corporate tax rate and this works in policy and in principle. We have many examples to show that.

And as for addressing the deficit with regard to this, look, conservatives in Washington such as the House Freedom Caucus, they want to repeal the individual mandate. That in and of itself would put $400 billion back into the economy which would help offset some of these tax cuts. So they are looking at ways to make sure we can reduce taxes and help cover up the income that would be lost and offset with that.

So they're ironing out all the details. The Senate is on board with this. There's a few little details they have with regard to the corporate tax cut. They want to reduce it to 22. The President and members in the House are firm on 20. So I believe everyone's going to work together and compromise and we're going to get this done.

WHITFIELD: So there are a lot of sticking points including, you know, the cap on mortgage interest deductions. It caps the deductions at half of what it is right now. So Scott, you know, already you've got builders, real estate groups that are bulking. How strong is that lobby?

JENNINGS: Well, there are going to be a number of lobbying groups that come out in opposition to this early on because they're all trying to protect individual tax preferences. This is one of them. But the only way to lower rates for everybody is to get rid of as many of the tax preferences as you can.

And what the Republicans ran on is creating a tax system that is more fair and the only way to make it more fair is to lower the rates for everybody. It's fair to lower the rates. Not everybody takes advantage of the individual preferences, but everybody is affected by the raise.

And so I wish special interest groups would not come out so hard in opposition to this right away because it's an open process. We're going to go through a process in the House and then one in the Senate. I think at the end of the day, what most people want to know is are the rates coming down, is it going to cost me less time to do my taxes and if we can answer yes to both of those question, it will be a winner for the American people.

WHITFIELD: So Alice, those lobby groups already, you know, pretty influential. You know, twisting the arms of many on Capitol Hill who are saying wait a minute, you know, this is going to mean that a lot of Americans are not going to want to buy homes over $500,000 if they're in a position to do so if they don't have any tax incentives, any deductions.

STEWART: Well, look, not everyone is going to win in this. This isn't free ice cream for everyone across the country. And no plan is going to do that. And that's important to keep in mind.

But at the end of the day, whether you're buying a $500,000 home or a million dollar home, the overall economy will be beneficial for hard- working Americans. And make it crystal clear, the President and people in Congress who have campaigned on tax reform and providing for middle income Americans, they are committed to, first and foremost, providing tax relief for middle income Americans.

As for the rich and those buying home, and cars and boats, that is not their focus, they're focused on middle income Americans. And with this current plan --

WHITFIELD: But tax reform is only good if it does just what you just said, provides relief.

STEWART: And that's clearly --

JENNINGS: It will. It will absolutely provide relief. There's no way anybody's going to end up paying more taxes in this. That is the commitment of the President. It's the commitment of the Republicans. This tax plan's going to provide relief up and down the board.

And look, the Republicans have momentum right now. Since Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump appeared in the Rose Garden, they've had movement on judges, they got the budget resolution passed when there was uncertainty around that. We've got momentum on tax reform. As Alice said earlier, they can't afford to lose this momentum because they need a win. I think they have it. I'm going to be a (INAUDIBLE) Republican today and say they're going to get it done before the end of the year.

[12:40:00] WHITFIELD: OK, we'll be right there. We love the positive energy. Scott Jennings, Alice Stewart, thanks so much.

STEWART: Thanks, Fred.

JENNINGS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Our live pictures right now. The President is soon to be on his way on Air Force One there, leaving Honolulu on the way to Tokyo to embark on his 13-day, five-Asian nation tour. We'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Netflix is announcing it is cutting ties with House of Cards star Kevin Spacey as the actor faces a growing number of sexual assault and harassment allegations. Spacey had already been suspended and now Netflix is making it clear they will not continue to be involved in the show if Spacey has any part of it.

Joining me to discuss, CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas. So Chloe, what are you hearing from Netflix? This is rather complicated.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes -- I mean, in less than 24 hours after our story broke, our explosive bombshell that over eight former and current employees of House of Cards were accusing Kevin Spacey of not only sexual harassment over the past six seasons, but also one accuser who tells me that Kevin Spacey sexually assaulted him when he was a production assistant on an early season of the show.

[12:45:18] At the time Netflix and Media Rights Capital told me that, listen, we're looking into it, we take these allegations very seriously. We didn't know about any of these allegations. There was one in 2012 that we knew about but we handled it at the time and it had to do with Spacey saying something lewd comment to a former staffer.

Anyway, now, last night, Netflix releases this bombshell statement saying that they have cut all ties with Kevin Spacey. They're not going to move forward with their Gore film project with him anymore and that they are not going to be involved with House of Cards if Kevin Spacey is in it.

Well, Media Rights Capital, the production company then releases a statement saying that they have suspended Kevin Spacey. They didn't say fired, they said suspended. Well, it looks like there's no more Kevin Spacey on House of Cards.

WHITFIELD: And so, does that mean for production's moving forward, he's not in it, but then would they not have reruns and how would they handle his appearances in old House of Cards episodes?

MELAS: Well, there's a lot of questions, right. I mean, I totally get what you're saying. But at the same time, though, we also have hundreds of people who work on this show, crew members. This show is filmed in Baltimore, Maryland.

There's not a lot of shows that go to Baltimore, Maryland. Veep is in its last season right now. They had The Wire. So there's a lot of jobs stake and all the people that I spoken to really hope that they just kill off his character and keep the show going because people have families to feed with this paycheck.

WHITFIELD: All right, there's a lot at stake for so many. Chloe Melas, thank you so much.

MELAS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, secret no more, a document about Martin Luther King Jr. was just released from the JFK files. It includes a confidential analysis of the civil rights icon were revealed. Details next.

But first, CNN is proud to announce the top 10 CNN heroes of 2017. Each honorary will receive a cash prize and a shot at the top honor. CNN hero of the year, which will earn one of them an additional $100,000 for their cause. And you get to help decide who that person will be. Here's Anderson Cooper to show you how.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now that we've announced the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2017, it's time to show you how you can help decide who should be CNN Hero of the Year and receive $100,000 to help them continue their work.

Just go to, where you can learn more about each hero. And when you're ready, just click on vote. Log in using your e-mail address or Facebook account and choose your favorite. Then confirm your selection and you're all set.

And this year you can vote through Facebook Messenger. You can vote up to 10 times a day per method, every day, through December 12th. Then rally your friends by sharing your vote on social media.

My friend and co-host, Kelly Ripa, joins me to reveal the 2017 Hero of the Year live during our 11th Annual CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute Sunday, December 17th.



[12:52:38] WHITFIELD: All right, live pictures out of Honolulu. At any moment, the President and First Lady will be boarding Air Force One as they leave Hawaii and embark on their 13-day, five-Asian nation tour. First stop will be Japan.

All right, just released documents from the JFK assassination files including insinuations and allegations about Martin Luther King Jr. And reveals how the FBI tried to discredit and dig up dirt on the civil rights icon. CNN's Kaylee Hartung has more on these once secret pages and joins me now. What are we learning?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, this 20 page FBI document that we're now seeing for the first time, it portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in a harshly negative light. It was written just three weeks before Dr. King was assassinated in 1968.

Here there are attempts to tie him to various communist influences. There are allegations of financial improprieties at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to civil rights organization he led labeling it a tax dodge. And the document delves into Dr. King's personal life with insinuations of extra marital affairs and other sexual improprieties that would have undoubtedly and embarrassing to the icon at that time.

And as the conclusion of this analysis, it questions how deserving Dr. King was of the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded in 1964. So it's long been known that the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover had an interesting in King's possible connections to communism and his personal life. Well, Hoover authorized an extensive surveillance program on King in the '60s. He had investigators trail him and spy on him.

So we should point out that it's not clear how or if the authors of this FBI document verified any of the information included. And last night, Clayborne Carson, he's the director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute. He spoke with Anderson Cooper.


CLAYBORNE CARSON, DIRECTOR, MLK JR. RESEARCH AND EDUCATION INSTITUTE: I think what's striking about this is that this was a file that would have -- that could have been released in 1968 and in that climate it probably -- you know, it can hardly guess how people would have responded to it, because it's simply an allegation --

COOPER: Right.

CARSON: -- by an unnamed person. An informant. And it's striking that I've gone through some of the JFK documents that were released. The FBI and other federal agencies go to great lengths to keep out the names of informants.


[12:55:3] HARTUNG: Carson went on to say that what he sees in this document is a person, Director Hoover, who was trying his best to damage Dr. King.

WHITFIELD: And so much of that has been implied over the years and now you have the release of these files to kind of underscore what were rumors and now appear to be documented choices. All right, Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much.

We've got so much more straight ahead in NEWSROOM right after this.


WHITFIELD: All right, hello again, everyone. And welcome this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. At any moment now, Air Force One goes wheels up out of Honolulu there. President Trump officially embarks on a very critical foreign trip.