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CBO: GOP Tax Bill Would Add $1.7 Trillion to Debt; Pastor Calls for Security Plans for Churches; Menendez Jurors Ask Judge, "What Is a Senator?". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news today. The Republicans proposed tax bill, now the Congressional Budget Office, the CBO, the independent scorekeeper who estimates what new legislation would cost, just said that the current plan would add a whopping $1.7 trillion to the deficit. This is coming in as Donald Trump is trying to court moderate Democrats, who are warry of the bill's possible tax cuts for wealthy Americans. On the phone call from Seoul, South Korea, the president told Senate Dems that he had spoken to his own accountant about the tax plan, and that, "as a wealthy person," and I'm quoting the president now, saying that the president "would be a big loser."

So, with me now to break all this down, Rick Newman, columnist for "Yahoo Finance."

President said he would be the big loser if the tax plan comes to fruition. Just fast track this for me.

RICK NEWMAN, COLUMNIST, YAHOO FINANCE: He may have to fire his accountant. Of course, we don't know what his tax plan looks like. Only glimpse is leak from 2005 plan, but he wants to eliminate alternative tax plan, that cost him $31 million in 2005. So if you eliminated that, his tax would have gone from $31 million to $7 million total. So that one would save him several million dollars.

BALDWIN: So you say fire the accountants. Number two, I was reading "The Washington Post." The Nonpartisan Committee on Taxation said, "The bill, as stands right now, would broadly cut taxes but, they say, the wealthy and corporations would really be the ones to stand to benefit.

So my question to you then, who ends up paying more? Who is on the shorter end of the deal?

NEWMAN: Remember, the thing adds $1.7 trillion to the debt. So it is net loss of federal revenue. Meant to give everyone tax cuts in the bracket. And people who would lose with peculiar demographics, possible families who have a lot of kids who fall in certain tax brackets might pay more because the personal exemption which allows them to reduce taxable income for each child, that personal exemption would go away. So fewer mechanisms for lowering their taxable income. Depends where you fall in terms of tax breaks, some would end up worse off by losing state and local jurisdiction, depends where you live and what your income and tax bracket is. When you put it all together the tax independent group is saying about 7 percent of people would pay higher tax first year this went into effect and that could go up to as 25 percent up to 10 years from now.

BALDWIN: This is the House version of the bill, as it stands at the moment without any changes. We'll see where it. We know Paul Ryan wants to get this through, as he said today.

Rick Newman thanks for swinging by.


BALDWIN: Coming up on CNN, a powerful speech to a room full of cadets after racial slurs were found written on the wall at the academy. Today, a stunning revelation about who actually wrote the message.



[14:36:59] LT. GEN. JAY SILVERIA, SUPERINTENDENT, U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY: If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.


BALDWIN: A stunning update today on a story we covered in late September. It was a speech heard all around the world, viewed more than a million times on social media. Lieutenant General Jay Silveria received high praise for telling a room full of cadets that racial slurs will not be tolerated. He was responding to racial "N" word on doors at the prep school.

And I talked to him the day after his speech, was really praised all around and this is what he told me then about that teachable moment.


SILVERIA: So I need to do address the topic head on, but it's also about teaching them about addressing that. So I wanted to be unambiguous how we'll treat this topic, but everything that we do here is about developing these air men. So I wanted to take an opportunity to also give them a leadership lesson.


BALDWIN: After a month-long investigation, officials at the school now say it was all a hoax, perpetrated by one of the black students.

CNN Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne, is with me with more on this.

And I mean, this was so huge, Ryan. We talked to the general. You had former Vice President Biden and Senator McCain reacting at the time. What happened? Who do this, according to the Air Force?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, the Air Force conducting investigation found out one of the supposed victims of these racist messages was in fact the perpetrator. And the Air Force Academy issuing a statement following the investigation at the academy prep school saying that this individual admitted guilt and the investigation found that he was in fact the culprit. And so, again, as you said, launched a strong worded response from the academy lieutenant general, and a lot of buzz, in fact encouraged those witnessing his speech to take out their cell phones, to fill many it, disseminate wider. Now the investigation concluding it was actually one of the supposed victims who was responsible for these messages.

BALDWIN: The general, you know, in talking to him, he was so sincere with us in his resolve really with everyone in that room, right, to promote a culture of respect at the Air Force Academy. How is he responding to the news?

BROWNE: Well, the general says he stands by his comments. Those words were written. Issued a statement to CNN earlier today saying that, you know, regardless of the circumstances, that those words were written and they needed to be addressed. And so he said, you know, you can never over emphasize the need of a culture of dignity and respect. And so, again, very strong words backing up what he said. And so he stands by his message and he thinks it's a powerful message that should be understood by all air men both at the academy and wider.

[14:40:05] BALDWIN: Well, he's right. The speech still stands. The words ring true. It's just unfortunate to learn who really -- all the way around, who wrote it.

Ryan Browne, thank you, at the Pentagon for us.

Moments from now, the vice president will be meeting in Texas to talk with the survivors. We'll talk to a mega-church pastor calling on churches to increase security.

Also ahead, breaking news, "House of Cards" star, Kevin Spacey, now under criminal investigation for alleged sexual assault. A mother telling what Kevin Spacey did to her son last year in Nantucket.


[14:45:19] BALDWIN: The painstaking process of identifying all of the victims from Sunday's shooting at First Baptist Church is now complete and the survivors who remain in the hospital are all now at home. CNN has also learned the first church service since the deadly attack will take place this coming weekend at a community center next door to First Baptist Church. And the head pastor, Frank Pomeroy, says that he will preach. He and his wife lost their 14-year-old daughter in Sunday's morning's rampage.

Meantime, a Texas mega pastor is calling for churches to have a security plan in place. He is Jack Graham, who leads Dallas' Prestonwood Baptist Church. Wants congregation to step up security. Graham, an advisor to the president, tweeted this after the shooting, quote, "It is important that every church, no matter how large or small, have a security procedure. We are living in dangerous days."

Even the FBI admits the time has come to rethink security methods and preparation.


CHRISTOPHER COMBS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: If you are in a school, college, movies, we should all be thinking about what should we do if a crisis breaks out right here. But we have to think very hard about this and make sure we are prepared, just like schools do fire drills. We used to kill a lot of children back in fires in early 1900s. We have to take active shooters seriously and prevent and prepare for that.


BALDWIN: Pastor Jack Graham joins me now.

Pastor, welcome.


BALDWIN: These are dangerous days. Pastor, what is your solution to better protect worshipers in church?

GRAHAM: Well, since 9/11, really, most churches, many churches I should say have been ramping up security. Everything changed when that happens of the once we have shootings, this puts us at the forefront.

And I should say, first and foremost, our prayers are with the people there --

BALDWIN: Of course.

GRAHAM: -- at the church. I've spoken with the pastor. He's a strong guy. And he's committed to encouraging and blessing and comforting his congregation to the degree he's going to preach, as you noted this coming Sunday. So the church will rise up.

In a practical way, so we are praying, praying for god's peace and comfort and strength, for the people. And then when we pray, then we are called to move and to serve. And this is a way that churches and church leaders should serve our people. One of the responsibilities I have as a pastor, as a shepherd of the church is to protect the people. And that includes spiritually, of course, but it also includes the physical protection. So we need to be doing everything we can right now to protect our people. And that includes visible police officers, volunteers, and keeping our eyes open, because we do live in dangerous days.

BALDWIN: Police, volunteers, security, you know, that's one piece of it. But there has been this whole conversation since Sunday, and a lot of folks out there, Pastor Jack, saying, you know what there should be people take up arms bring more guns into churches. Are you of that belief?

GRAHAM: I don't think the call is to bring more guns into churches. I think the call is for churches to be truly prepared. And to have a discussion. We as a congregation, we actually are going to work with other Baptists here in Texas to host a seminar on December 5th to just give some best practices as to how to protect people when they are in our worship services or church activities. And so the call really is to get people aware, alert. And churches to have this discussion right now. Because we are certain that these kinds of things will happen again. And we are praying that they don't, but we need to be ready if and when it happens.

BALDWIN: Yes, sir. You know, you also play a special role. You serve as evangelical adviser to the president. And I want to ask, just hours after last week Easter or attack in New York where the president called for this immediate overhaul in the immigration, nut after Texas and Las Vegas, Las Vegas -- Las Vegas, 58 people were killed, and he dismisses any notion of legislation, and basically says, sorry, nothing can be done. Pastor, how do you square that?

GRAHAM: Well, that is a political conversation, truly. And I know it's a discussion we are having as a nation, as a country. I know the president -- the vice president is there today in Sutherland Springs and we are grateful for him. I know this president, President Trump cares deeply about the safety of the American people. I know that we are all preparing for wisdom as to how to handle this in these days. So those discussions will happen.


[14:50:22] BALDWIN: If I may --


GRAHAM: But I'm not a politician.

BALDWIN: I understand.

GRAHAM: I'm a pastor.

BALDWIN: I understand. But you are a leader in a really important community. And I guess my last question to you is how do things get better if we can't have this open discussion?

GRAHAM: I believe we are having the open conversation. And that conversation is happening everywhere. It's happening in Households. I had it at lunch today with friends. So people are talking about this. We will get to a resolution of this issue. But right now, to me, the focus should be on the people of Sutherland. And as we pray for them, as we help them, and serve them, help them to rebuild. Then let's talk about how best to protect our people going forward.

BALDWIN: Pastor Jack Graham, thank you for your time.

GRAHAM: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: At any time, the political future of a sitting U.S. Senator said to be decided by New Jersey jury. Next, the latest on Senator Bob Menendez's corruption trial on day three of deliberations.


[14:55:52] BALDWIN: Right at this very moment the political future is in the hands of the jury. We are awaiting this verdict in the Senator Bob Menendez corruption trial. The New Jersey Democrat accused of helping a donor in exchange for bribes. The Justice Department says Menendez accepted more than $600,000 in contributions, free rides on private jets, a swanky hotel suite in Paris, from this wealthy Florida doctor. In return, they say, Senator Menendez abused power of his office to help the doctor revolve some business disputes. Senator Menendez has pleaded not guilty.

So Caroline Polisi is with me, a federal and white-collar criminal defense attorney.

Let's begin with the number-one headline out of the day where you have one juror who was asked this question, which is, what is the Senator.



BALDWIN: Are you serious? But there can be more to it?

POLISI: It does sound like a silly question, but it may be astute here is why. One of the key elements of the prosecution is going to need to get a conviction under the federal bribery statute is he acted as Senator. Now, complicating the legal landscape quite a bit for prosecutors the case in 2016 of Governor Bob McDonald. They stated it was enough that he made calls to friends or set up dinners or even arranged for meetings. It had to go a little further. So prosecutors have really been homing in on this issue specifically in the trial because the legal landscape is really up in the air right now in terms of how to get a conviction under this statute. So going the extra mile to add the extra element. So I think the jury could be actually quite astute in this question.

BALDWIN: OK. The judge declined, though, to answer the question. Telling jurors, "They should rely on their individual and collective memories to determine how to define 'Senator'."

POLISI: That's right.

BALDWIN: What does that mean?

POLISI: Specifically the question that the juror was asking about, referring to the closing argument by criminal defense attorney, Abby Lowell, who is defending Senator Menendez. He alluded to the fact that this issue in his closing statement. We all know that closing statements, opening arguments by prosecutors and defense attorneys, that is not evidence. That is not allowed back in the jury room for them to deliberate. They could get read back of testimony, perhaps. They could see exhibits. But can't get read back of the closing arguments. Those are arguments attorneys are making for the purpose of the trial. So the judge was admonishing the jurors in this situation to say, hey guys, go back, use your memory, that's what matters, not this.

BALDWIN: Jury deliberations. They watch and wait, as do we, Caroline.

POLISI: Only time will tell.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

On a bit of a lighter note, but court related here, when Citizen Obama reports for jury duty, this is no ordinary day at the courthouse. The former president strolling in with the Secret Service details, shaking hand after hand, and greeting potential jurors. Check this out.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Mr. President. Good to meet you.

OBAMA: Thank you. Thanks everybody for serving on the jury, or at least being willing to.


Good to see you. How are you all doing?


BALDWIN: Shock of all shocks, he didn't get picked. What? The former leader of the free world was dismissed a short while ago. Apparently, his qualifications, that old harvard Law degree, plus eight years as commander-in-chief, didn't quite make the cut.

All right. We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

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