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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
CNN Exclusive Special Counsel Interviews Senior White House Aide Stephen Miller About Comey Firing; Ex-Trump Bodyguard Nixed Offer From Russian To Send Five Women To Trump's Hotel Room In 2013; Washington Post: Woman Says GOP Senate Candidate Roy Moore Initiated Sexual Encounter When She Was 14, He Was 32. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 9, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." "Erin Burnett OutFront" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: "OutFront" next breaking news, the special counsel interviews Trump's top aide, Stephen Miller, as Trump's former body guard makes a bombshell accusation that a Russian offer to send five women to Trump's hotel room during a trip to Moscow.
Plus more breaking news, the GOP nominee for Senate from Alabama, a crucial race rocked by shocking allegations of making sexual advances towards a 14-year-old. Is he out? And she was offended by an elected official's sexist joke so she decided to run against him and she won this week. She's my guest tonight. Let's go "OutFront."
Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. "OutFront" tonight the breaking news the CNN exclusive this hour, special counsel in the Russia investigation reaching the top levels of the White House, Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser, almost always by President Trump's side, interviewed by Bob Mueller's team.
Miller is the highest rank aide currently in the Trump White House, we know of, to be interviewed by the Mueller team, at issue, Stephen Miller's role in the firing of James Comey. Investigators are looking into possible obstruction of justice.
Miller was with President Trump and helped the President write a memo outlining the reasons for Comey's dismissal according to sources. But "The New York Times" reports the White House lawyer scrapped that memo, believing it was problematic.
Now, this development on Stephen Miller and the top echelon of the White House is coming as Keith Schiller, Trump's long time former bodyguard and confidant, testifies to House investigators about a Russian offer to send five women to Trump's Moscow hotel room during a visit for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. This is according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of Schiller's testimony.
Schiller telling the House Intelligence Committee that he told Trump about the offer for women and turned it down. Committee members raising the matter because of salacious details into now infamous Trump dossier.
At this hour, Trump is about to depart Beijing for Vietnam where he is expected to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin at an economic summit. Both American and Russian officials say the details of that potential meeting are still to be worked out. But, assuming that those two leaders sit down tomorrow face-to-face, they are going to have some big things to talk about, including North Korea, as well as, well, meddling in the U.S. election. We'll see if the President takes him on.
On that, we begin tonight with Evan Perez who has the exclusive reporting on the special counsel investigation. Evan, now reaching the top echelon of the White House.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. Stephen Miller is now the highest ranking aide of President Trump known to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigators. Miller is the White House senior policy Adviser. He's been close to Trump since the early days of the campaign. Sources told us that one of the topics that investigators were interested in was Miller's role in the President's decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey.
Now, we know from sources that the Comey firing is part of the investigation into possible obstruction of justice, part of the broader Russia investigation. Special counsel investigators have also have shown interest, Erin, in talking to Trump campaign associates who attended a March 2016 meeting where Foreign Policy Adviser George Papadopoulos said that he could arrange a meeting between Trump and president -- Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Now, Miller was also at that meeting, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Papadopoulos was recently charged, as you know, with lying to the FBI about Russian contacts he had during the campaign.
Earlier this year as you mentioned, Miller assisted Trump in writing a memo to explain why Trump planned to fire Comey. "The New York Times" reported that that memo was eventually scrapped. And when Comey was fired, the White House instead cited a memo that was written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Very important to know what that memo was, especially in this obstruction questions. Evan, thank you.
And I want to go to the other breaking story here. The President's former bodyguard and chief of operations at the Oval Office telling congressional investigators that then, businessman Donald Trump laughed it off a Russian offer to send five women to his Moscow hotel room in 2013.
Now, Manu Raju broke the story. Manu, this was important testimony. What exactly are you learning about what Keith Schiller said?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. According to testimony from President Trump's long-time body man, Keith Schiller, he told investigators this week that when Trump went to Moscow in 2013 as a private citizen, Russian did come up to Mr. Schiller and said he could send up to five women to Trump's hotel room.
Now, Schiller said that he took it as a joke, he rejected the offer and he said that Trump laughed it off as they were told -- as he told Trump about it on the way up to Mr. Trump's hotel room that night. Now, Schiller left the room after several minutes and said he did not know what happened after that.
Now, Schiller said he did not know who the Russian was who made the offer, but someone said -- he said it was someone in a group that was tied to Emin Agalarov, who was at the meeting with Trump.
Now, Agalarov is the Russian pop star whose father is a Russian billionaire and close to Vladimir Putin. And, of course, it was the Agalarov who have set up that meeting in 2016 with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower, Russian's promised dirt on the Clinton.
[19:05:10] Now, Erin, a lawyer for Emin Agalarov told me tonight that his client has no knowledge of this offer that apparently took place. But, Erin, lawmakers ask this question because they wanted to know if Russians have any dirt on Trump as alleged in that Steele dossier that lays up all those alleged Trump-Russia connections. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Manu Raju, thank you very much. A very important details.
I want to go now straight with Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel of New York, who is the ranking member at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Congressman, thanks very much for being with me.
Let me start here with what we're learning about Keith Schiller and his testimony. So he's saying they offered to send five women to Trump's hotel room that Trump laughed it off. Keith Schiller stood outside his door for a couple minutes and went to bed. So does this put this whole allegation of women in Moscow to bed?
REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, you know, at least the President laughed it off and didn't act on it. I mean, this just is another incident which shows the closeness between the President and the Russians. I think that's clearly what it showing. And, you know, that's why I support Mueller and his delving into these things and just kind of let the chips fall where they may.
BURNETT: So the offer -- the fact that an offer for five women to go to his hotel room was made and Keith Schiller says it was rejected, to you, it is still significant that that happened?
ENGEL: Well, you know, it's significant, obviously, because the offer was made. This is just one other incident that shows the closeness between the President and Russian authorities. I mean, what else can you say? We're hearing a lot of things nowadays. There are people are pleading guilty. There are people who are indicted. It keeps going step by step by step closer and closer to the President's campaign. And so, you know, again, I just think that Mueller is impeccable in terms of his reputation and we should let him call whoever he wants to call and let him see what, you know, let things go where they may.
BURNETT: On that front, you know, he is obviously, Stephen Miller, we know, has been interviewed, the most senior person, currently, in the White House to have been interviewed, obviously, a top policy adviser.
He was with the President when the President drafted the memo about why Comey should be fired, a memo that the White House counsel thought was so problematic and they didn't want to use it. What does this tell you about Mueller's investigation right now that Stephen Miller has been questioned?
ENGEL: Well, it's getting closer and closer to the Trump campaign. A closer and closer, perhaps, to the President himself. You know, again, I think the more people he calls, the more they have seems to be some kind of linkage with the Russians.
I mean, we know now, it's beyond any doubt that there was a connection between the Trump campaign and the Russians. The question is who initiated it? How deep is it? And where is it going end? And I think that everybody should want to hear the truth.
ENGEL: When Mueller was appointed, everyone said he's the perfect person for the job. And now there are some attempts to disparage him. I have confidence in him and I think he'll do the right thing, one way or another.
BURNETT: You know, we have also reported, when you talk about inner circles with the White House, that special counsel's team is asking questions in interviews with witnesses about Kushner's role in Comey's firing, right, very important. Asking other people about what he said, what he did, obviously to see if it's going to go to that level of Jared Kushner, which would be a hugely significant development. How important do you think Jared Kushner will be?
ENGEL: Well, we do know that he had meetings with Russians. We know he met with the ambassador. We know he met with one of the lawyers that was -- had close ties to the Kremlin. And I think it's logical, again, that he is someone of interest. And I think that he'll be interviewed, he'll be grilled and the truth will come out.
I don't want to prejudge anything. I just want to say that I have confidence in Mueller. I think he's doing the right thing. I think he's asking the right questions. And I think the truth will prevail.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Congressman Engel.
And I want to go now to our Political Editor-at-Large, Chris Cillizza. Chris, two developments here today, right?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICA EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Right. One, Stephen Miller being questioned by Mueller's team, highest person so far in the White House, close adviser directly to the President, worked on the Comey firing. Second, Keith Schiller testifying there was an offer for five women to come to the President's hotel room when he was a businessman. Obviously, as a -- it came up in the context of the dossier. Two big developments today.
[19:10:03] CILLIZZA: Two huge developments. Look, the Stephen Miller thing, I think you hit on it exactly, Erin. This gets closer and closer to Donald Trump's inner circle, right? You mentioned -- I think we -- the news cycle moves so fast with the tendency to forget that Jared Kushner -- they're being asked about Jared Kushner and his ties to the Comey firing, same thing with Stephen Miller. It seems as tough that's where this investigation is focusing more and more of its energy.
The Schiller thing, look, I don't know that it says that much about Donald Trump, but I do think it says something about at least someone in Russia as Manu noted close to Emin Agalarov who, you know, Schiller took it as a joke.
Not clear whether it was meant as a joke or if it was meant as a joke only because it was not accepted. But the point is, someone in Russia was doing what we know is comportment, right, this process of trying to gather -- compromising information on targets. So I think it's at least worth nothing, though, it doesn't say much about Trump.
BURNETT: And himself, what do we know about Trump himself, right? He is, is publicly insisting he's not under investigation. But obviously nobody knows whether that's the case or not.
CILLIZZA: Right. Look, we know that he called "The New York Times" a few weeks back out of the blue to simply say essentially, "I'm not under investigation, please report that or, you know, please write that." We don't know much more than that.
I will say the one thing we do know is Trump's insistence that the dossier is wholly garbage, wholly fake news. None of the more salacious elements have been confirmed by CNN or anyone else and that's why we haven't reported them.
CILLIZZA: But there have been elements, Erin, that have been confirmed by U.S. intelligence officials, so it is not all junk. I think it's throwing the baby out with the bath water there. It is not all junk. So many -- it is stuff that is being pursued by Mueller, by the congressional committees looking into this. So I think it's an important distinction to make.
BURNETT: It certainly is. Parts of the dossier have been confirmed to be true. All right, thank you very much, Chris Cillizza.
And next, more breaking news, stunning allegations against a crucial GOP Senate candidate, accused of initiating a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl. The reporter who broke that wrote that story is "OutFront."
Plus, Republicans are moving to close the whole bunch of tax loopholes, except for, well, one of the them that isn't on the table is the golf deduction. Guess who benefits directly from that. And the incredible story of a first time politician. She took an office holder, sexist insult, (INAUDIBLE), she got mad, she ran against him and she won. She's our guest.
[19:16:14] BURNETT: Breaking news, stunning allegations tonight against Roy Moore, the controversial Republican Senate candidate from Alabama. He is in a must win race for Republicans.
According to "The Washington Post," the woman says Moore initiated a sexual encounter years ago when she was 14 and he was 32. That woman, Leigh Corfman, claims Moore baby sat her outside of the courtroom so her mother could attend a child custody hearing. Corfman says Moore asked for her phone number and days later picked her up, took to his home and kissed her.
During a second visit she said he took off her shirt and pants, removed his clothes, touching her and got in her to touch him. And there are many very graphic and explicit details on this. Well, she say this again, she was 14 years old and you saw her picture.
Three other women have come forward to the "Post" saying Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18. He was also in his 30s at that time. Numerous Republicans quick to call on Moore to step aside if the allegations are true.
The latest just moments ago, Ted Cruz, who had endorsed Moore and Senator John McCain saying Moore should step aside whether it's true or not saying, "The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside."
The Moore's campaign rejected the allegations calling them fake news. And just moments ago, Roy Moore himself doubled down tweeting, "The Obama/Clinton Machine's liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I've ever faced. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message. The forces of evil will lie, steal, chill -- cheat, steal, even inflict physical harm. If they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me."
Martin Savidge begins our coverage "OutFront" tonight in Gadsden, Alabama. And Martin, wow, that is a stunning rebuke of the allegations.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, but it is not out of character with Judge Roy Moore. I covered him many times when he was on the Alabama State Supreme Court, not once, but twice. And he is a man who would take this as on a front not just on himself politically, but on everything he stands for. He believes that this is really a fight and a cause and this is just everything you would expect by standing up for what he believes is right. He's only going to do it again.
This is the Alabama County Courthouse. This is, according to "The Washington Post," that Leigh Corfman, the youngest at the time, 14- year-old girl, says where she first met Roy Moore. He was inside here, she was on that bench that she just outline.
We came back to this town, Gadsden, to look for Leigh Corfman, to talk to her, to get her to tell us the same story she is telling to "The Washington Post." I knocked on her door, she wasn't home. Went to where she works, they say she wasn't there. She has right now just dropped out of sight.
A neighbor I spoke who said that she is aware the media is looking for her and she does not want to talk, at least at this moment. So we are going continue to knock on doors and continue to dig. But right now, she is dropped out of sight.
BURNETT: And I know, you know, that the reporter from "The Washington Post" is going to talk to us in just a moment about these allegations. But you have had a chance, Martin, to talk to people in Alabama about whether this matters, right? In Capitol Hill, it's been pretty overwhelming. Even Ted Cruz, who endorsed him said, "If this is true, you're out." What are voters saying?
SAVIDGE: Right. Everybody knows that this has incredible implications, some serious implications on what is already a dramatic campaign, a Senate race that has national consequences.
A lot of the people when you first -- when I first approached them, they said they didn't know. They've been working all day long. They hadn't heard about the story. So when I told it to them they just look at you with this kind of expression either they don't know whether to believe me or to believe the story they just heard.
Most of them said they didn't know what to make of it. Some of them clearly seemed to be supportive of the young woman who is now 53. But others are very much in support of the candidate.
BURNETT: All right.
SAVIDGE: Tomorrow everyone know, know about it. Erin?
BURNETT: Certainly. Well, thank you very much, Martin Savidge for pursuing that story on the ground.
[19:20:03] And "OutFront" now, one of the reporters who broke the story, "Washington Post" Investigative Reporter Beth Reinhard. And Beth, I appreciate your time. So, look, your report is about four women, all teenagers at the time, making these accusations against Roy Moore.
Let's talk about Leigh Corfman because she was 14 when she says Roy Moore approached her, initiating a sexual encounter with her. What does she say happened?
BETH REINHARD, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: So, she says she met Roy Moore in the courthouse in 1979. He was an assistant district attorney. And she was there with her mom for child custody hearing. She says Roy Moore introduced himself, offered to watch her while the mom went into the courtroom and then chatted with Leigh, asked for her phone number, called her a few days later, picked her up around the corner from her house, drove her to his house in the woods, offered her alcohol and they made two -- he took her to his home twice. And on one of those occasions, she says he undressed. He took off her clothes. He touched her and guided her hand to touch him.
BURNETT: And she was very explicit about what he was wearing, all those details. We don't -- people can read your article to see them, but they are very explicit, right? She has a clear memory of this.
REINHARD: She does.
BURNETT: You talked to her, you talked to this other women, you've talked to the people in their lives at the time would know. You have run this down. And two questions for you on this. When did you start? When did you first hear it? And with all of this, I would imagine, Beth, that you clearly wouldn't have put this in "The Washington Post" if you did not believe it all to be true.
REINHARD: So it was roughly a month ago when "Washington Post" reporter was in Alabama reporting another story when we started hearing these rumors at that time, that Roy Moore had pursued teenage girls when he was assistant district attorney, decades ago. Two of us spent weeks in Alabama chasing these leads down.
In our, you know, when we first met, the women who are quoted in the story, they were reluctant to speak on the record. They would only speak off the record. You know, they know that Roy Moore is popular in Alabama and a powerful man and they were worried about the repercussions.
And it was only through multiple interviews that they agreed to speak publicly and, you know, felt like they had to in order to show Alabama voters that there's another side to Roy Moore that they felt they needed to see.
BURNETT: Well, look, I mean, it's pretty shocking, 14. Look, that's pedophilia, let's just be clear, to use the word for what it is. Beth, Roy Moore has showed (ph) your paper that these allegations are completely false and are desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party in "The Washington Post" on this campaign.
And then that tweet which I just read a couple moments ago, I don't know if you had a chance to see it, but it continued in the same thing saying this is part of an attempt by forces of evil to lie, cheat, steal and inflict physical harm to silence him. And he went on to mention, you know, that was about the liberal media and the Clintons. What do you say to that?
REINHARD: We spent a month working on this story. We thoroughly investigated everything that these women told us and many of the cases, what they told us was corroborated by family members or friends. We vetted their backgrounds to see, you know, do they have some kind of political vendetta against Roy Moore. That wasn't the case.
And so, you know, this was a story we took a lot of time with. And, you know, as we point out in the story, these women did not come to us seeking attention. We found them and it was only through weeks of interviews that we felt our reporting was solid and we were ready to publish the story.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Beth, thank you very much. Obviously a lot of hard work went into that. So thank you so very much for that.
And now let's go to the Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill. And Secretary Merrill, I appreciate your time. What is your reaction, Sir, to these incredibly damaging charges against Roy Moore?
JOHN MERRILL, ALABAMA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it's inappropriate for me to comment on the allegations that have been made simply because I wasn't involved in the investigation. And frankly, today, since I have had a fire storm of interviews that I've had to go through about what will happen if certain things occur in the process of ballot activity and if Judge Moore can remain on the ballot --
MERRILL: -- if the party wants to remove him. So I've been dealing with those things all through the day.
[19:25:03] But, I just think it's interesting and a little odd that this story is now being introduced to the national media at this time in the campaign.
BURNETT: Now, these women are saying though, you heard this, right, that they felt they had to come forward now --
MERRILL: Yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: -- because it is of such importance. And Leigh Corfman who was 14 when she says this happened, she's voted for Republicans in the last three elections. She voted for Donald Trump. She said she did almost come forward publicly in one of his Supreme Court. When he was campaigning for Supreme Court, she decided against it because her two children were in school and she was worried it would be humiliating for them.
MERRILL: Yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: She never donated anybody to any -- to his challenger's campaign, to Luther Strange, or anything like that. None of these women have. I mean --
MERRILL: Yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: So, are you comfortable really saying you just don't believe that a month of investigative work adds up?
MERRILL: Well, no, no. I certainly didn't say that. And I can't say whether these allegations are true or whether they're false. I think that time will determine that. And I think as more information is introduced, it will be clear about what the true picture is regarding that.
BURNETT: So, let me just ask you. Ted Cruz said Roy Moore should obviously step aside if there's an ounce of truth in these allegations. Ted Cruz, of course, has endorsed him.
MERRILL: Yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: He's not alone. Here are just three of at least 20 plus senators today, Secretary Merrill, who have said the same thing publicly. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: If there is any shred of truth to the stories, he ought to step aside now.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: If allegations are true, to me, he needs to step aside.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: If that's true, I don't believe there would be any place for him in the U.S. Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now I know, Secretary Merrill, that the ballot can't be changed this close to the election, right? You can't put another name on it, technically.
MERRILL: That's correct.
BURNETT: But do you believe Roy Moore should withdraw from the race as those gentlemen do, if this is true?
MERRILL: Well, yes, ma'am. It's certainly a decision that Judge Moore and Ms. Kayla and his entire family and his campaign team will have to make after consulting with a number of people who will probably have their opinion heard on whether or not they need to continue to advance their campaign.
There are also other things that are under consideration. What the state party's position is on Judge Moore's nomination in exactly what should happen in that regard, too. But the codes in the constitution of Alabama are very clear about his candidacy and that is Judge Moore will remain on the ballot as the Republican nominee because it's within that 76-day window that's prescribed in the code.
BURNETT: So you can't change it?
MERRILL: And that's according -- yes, ma'am, according to Section 17- 621 Section B.
BURNETT: So let me ask just you, Secretary Merrill, though. You point out the state party, right? So the state party, the GOP could request that you, the secretary of state disqualify a candidate on the ballot, right, even if the candidate wants to stay in the race.
So he say -- obviously from his tweets doesn't sound like he wants to go anywhere, but does the party could come to you and say, "We want him off." If they do that, they make that request to you, Secretary Merrill, will you honor it?
MERRILL: Yes, ma'am. Well, he would not be removed from the ballot. But then again, there's a number of other things that will follow a protocol if the party takes that permanent step. And if they do, we will adhere to their request and we'll honor their request as we should, by law, and then we'll make sure that the proper adjudication of the process is adhered to as the election continues.
BURNETT: Do you agree that what he is alleged he has done if true is disqualifying?
MERRILL: Well, I think most of the people in State of Alabama would be very disappointed if someone that had been alleged to have engaged in that type activity had been proven that they had engaged in that activity was continuing represent them in any formal capacity.
BURNETT: Right. So that's -- I mean, I know -- I just want to get a clear answer here. So you're saying, yes, you would think that was disqualifying?
MERRILL: Yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: OK. Thank you so much. Secretary Merrill, I appreciate your time. Appreciate it.
MERRILL: Yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: And tonight on CNN, don't miss a live town hall on "Sexual Harassment" hosted by Alisyn Camerota. It is tonight at 9:00. It's going to fantastic. It's a must watch with Alisyn tonight.
And next, major developments on the tax plan. Republicans making lots of changes, but here's the big question. They're coming out and saying they can't cut anymore for the middle class. This is how a top White House official put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID COHN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR: We have cut their taxes significantly. You can't go much further in the tax system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And the Rand Paul attack case is getting stranger tonight. What really happened?
[19:31:56] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Tonight, Senate Republicans unveiling their tax bill. And among the ways that it differs from the House, it has seven tax brackets instead of four and complications with the estate tax. But at its core, here's what matters, it's just like the House tax bill, OK? It's about corporate America and does a lot to help corporate America.
The national economic director, Gary Cohn, was on the defense today against accusations that Republicans aren't doing enough for the middle class. Cohn, in an incredibly telling answer to John Harwood, says they've cut so much for the middle class, they just can't do anymore. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY COHN, NATIONAL ECONOMIC DIRECTOR: The median family in the United States, a family that earns about $60,000 in the United States, the speaker talked about them getting $1,182 tax cut. So, a $60,000 earner, a family of four is paying less than $500. We have cut their taxes significantly. You can't go much further in the tax system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.
And, Phil, both the Senate and the House, look, they are fighting about a lot of things. At their core, this is about a corporate tax cut.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, there's no question about it. If you talk to Republicans, they talk about middle class tax cuts. That's a big issue here. But a centerpiece, maybe the centerpiece of their plan is a dramatic cut in the corporate rate, from 35 percent down to 20 percent.
Now, Erin, there's bipartisan agreement that the corporate rate is too high. It's one of the highest corporate rates in the industrialized world. But it's the scope of the cut, how dramatic it's being slashed is raising a lot of concerns, kind of what John Harwood was trying to lay out there of, why are you trying to do something this dramatic, that cost $1.8 trillion, when perhaps you could be giving financial aid elsewhere?
Here's the rationale from Republicans and it is where they diverge on economic theory from Democrats, and that is it will spur investment and that it will grow wages. Here's the rub on that, that is difficult to actually show in a tangible manner as you were trying to sell this bill. So, while Democrats certainly are unified in their opposition to this right now, Republicans who are staring at in the five, six, seven-year in the future time frame, individual cuts for a lot of people start changing into individual tax increases are questioning, is this really going to create the growth, particularly on the wage side that will actually help this plan?
If it doesn't, Republicans are in a bad place right now. But, Erin, I tell you, why you see House and Senate Republicans doing this, this is extraordinarily important to the president. The president wanted a 15 percent rate, something Republicans simply couldn't afford. But he has made clear, the corporate rate is one of, if not the most important elements of this plan, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Phil Mattingly. And, of course, another one for Republicans is the estate tax.
Stephen Moore is with me, former senior economic adviser of the Trump campaign, and our senior economics analyst at CNN, and Gene Sperling former director of the National Economic Council under both Presidents Obama and Clinton.
OK. Steve, let me start with you. John Harwood asked the question I thought so well. He basically did the math, OK? You add up the business tax cuts and you add up the estate tax, and that's going to cost $1.2 trillion. And then you look at the cuts for individuals, regular Americans and you get $300 billion.
[19:35:03] So, that's four times more going to rich people and corporations than to regular Americans. That's how he phrased the question. And let me just play the operative answer from Gary Cohn one more time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHN: So, $60,000 earner, family of four is paying less than $500. We have cut their taxes significantly. You can't go much further in the tax system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Really, Steve?
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Well, it is true, Erin, that if you look at the tax system today, it is highly progressive. We have one of the most highly progressive tax systems in the world. And it is true that, you know, people make less than $40,000 aren't paying much income tax today.
One of the things we do actually in this plan, Erin, as you know, is millions of additional Americans will take their income tax liability to zero. We -- if you are -- let's take a family that makes $85,000 a year. That's in a lot of places, that's maybe a schoolteacher married to a financial person. That family is going to save $2,500 to $3,000 a year on their taxes. So, that's significant to a lot of families that are financially stressed out.
But I would simply say this, I mean, you and I have talked about this on the show before. We really do believe the business tax cut is really central to this because we think that the system that we have today is putting America in an uncompetitive situation. We have seen businesses leave the United States. And guess what? If those businesses do come back and the capital and the factories come back, that's going to be good for workers. So, it will raise wages because there'll be more jobs.
BURNETT: Well, there's been a lot coming back, I mean, that's a separate conversation. But the overall point, Gene, is -- did Steve convince you or is it better to look at it is four times more when you look at the amount of money we're spending on this tax plan, four times more will go to corporations and rich people via the estate tax than other Americans?
GENE SPERLING, FORMER NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR UNDER CLINTON & OBAMA: Well, Erin, I think what Steve said, what Gary said is very telling. I mean, their view, they might as well say this directly to any struggling American out there, the number one problem in your life, the number one thing that they want to do for you is give a major cut to the major corporations of our country.
It's not that we have a different philosophy. Erin, over the last 16 years, corporate profits have almost doubled while employee compensation has gone to nearly a record low. There's been no connection. So, what they are doing is they are saying the main thing we are going to do for your wages, we can't possibly help you or give you more of a significant tax cut as my successor Gary Cohn says, what we're going to do is unconditionally give the same major companies hundreds of billions and we are going to hope and pray that they're going to do more.
And most people are saying, just give us a tax cut for child care, for jobs, for skills, for things like infrastructure that directly helps Americans.
BURNETT: You're referring to trickle-down, can I just play for you what Gary Cohen said? He actually used the words trickle down, Steve, in a way that he thinks that's exactly what this is. He's not ashamed to admit and he thinks it's going to work. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHN: Workers get paid more. The workers have more disposable income. The workers spend more. We see the whole trickle down through the economy. And that's good for the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Steve, can you tell me why, if you give a corporation a tax break, they would spend it on wages as opposed to executive pay or buy backs or dividends or just -- I mean, why do you think they would give it -- to give people raises?
MOORE: Well, because the Congressional Budget Office, which I think Gene Sperling, you know, my friend Gene Sperling, would probably agree, it's a pretty honest referee. Sometimes I think it's against us.
But the Congressional Budget Office, you can look at -- I advise your viewers to go to the report on the -- that's on their Website that shows they estimate when you cut the corporate tax rate, that about 60 percent of the gains of that goes to the workers, in the form of more jobs and lower wages. We have a system that encourages --
(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: Controversial analogy.
MOORE: But let me just finish this point.
MOORE: When companies leave the United States, right, they don't pay any wages to American workers. They're paying wages in China, in Ireland, in Mexico and Japan. We want to bring those jobs back to the United States.
And, Gene, wages --
BURNETT: It's going to be cheaper for them to hire people there no matter what you do to the U.S. tax code. That's the only point I make there. But I can just --
MOORE: That's not true. We know that a lot of these companies, you know, we know a lot of these companies are leaving because of the tax code. They can pay half the tax if they go to China, if they go to Mexico than if they're here. So, I mean, we -- they tell us why they are leaving.
BURNETT: All right. Can I just make one last point before we go? I have to get both of you to weigh in on this, OK? I'd love talking about that, but, you know, we got time constraint.
BURNETT: There's a loophole not on the table. There's a lot of wheeling and dealing going on, but there's something not on the table, apparently, it's the golf loophole. This is a tax break for people who own golf courses. So, basically, if you build houses kind of like right off the golf course, as opposed to on it, you get a tax break. It's worth $600 million, if it's close.
OK. We know who is beneficiary of this. Steve, why not -- why can't things like this get closed?
[19:40:04] MOORE: You know, this is my frustration with this bill, frankly. You know, I think there's a lot of good things in it, but I wish the Republicans have been much more aggressive at getting rid of a lot of these incredible loopholes that go to mostly rich people.
I just wrote a piece, Erin, saying, why can George Soros, one of the richest men on the planet, give $18 billion to his foundation and, Gene, that's money that was never taxed, not a dime of tax, that $18 billion. That should be taxed.
BURNETT: Gene, you agree with him on the golf loophole?
SPERLING: Look, I think when you look at the simplification loopholes, you see a lot about people's values. And what you see is, a $448 billion loophole for people paying a lower rate who are not really small businesses, they're just well off Americans, nearly a half trillion dollars. You see $170 billion for an estate tax cut that only goes to people over $11 million.
And yet, Erin, at the same time, they are going to take away the medical deduction for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's or children with cancer. These, you know, simplification is a word that can hide what our value choices. And the value choice in this bill is to benefit the most well-off and the corporations, and the middle class, the working families are an afterthought. Many are going to get their taxes raised and many are just going to find themselves getting $5, $10 tax cut a month --
BURNETT: I've got to leave it there. I have to leave it there. I have to leave it there. We'll be back.
BURNETT: Thank you.
Next, I'm not guilty plea today from -- I'm just going to keep going. The man accused of breaking six of Senator Rand Paul's ribs. That's the plea. Was this fight really over yard work? The story is getting stranger every day.
And the voter angry about a politician's sexist insult didn't get mad, she ran against him and she won. She's our guest.
[19:45:36] BURNETT: Tonight, the man accused of assaulting Republican Senator Rand Paul pleading not guilty. But the mystery about what led to this. Paul, by the way, has six fractured ribs and bruises to his lung. This was incredibly serious.
And now, the mystery is deepening, because neighbors say it's impossible to believe the motive was really a feud over leaves and lawn clippings on a shared property line. And one of the senator's advisers today says the Pauls haven't talked to the suspect for years.
Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Are we going get an explanation?
(voice-over): Rene Boucher silently entered court this morning pleaded not guilty and within minutes had slipped out a back door with his attorney, avoiding more than a dozen members of the media still trying to get one question answered, why did you do it?
Boucher is accused of blindsiding U.S. Senator Rand Paul last Friday, tackling him while the senator was cutting his own lawn, landing Boucher in court and the senator recovering from six broken ribs and fluid around his lungs. For 17 years, these two men have been neighbors, sharing this property
line in a gated community just outside Bowling Green, Kentucky. An investigation is continuing and Boucher's fourth degree misdemeanor assault charges could, according to Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken become more serious due to Senator Paul's injuries.
AMY MILLIKEN, WARREN COUNTY ATTORNEY: The non-financial bond conditions include 1,000 foot stay away, 200 feet stay away if he is at his home.
GRIFFIN: Boucher is a retired anesthesiologist and Democrat who has posted anti-Trump messages on his now shutdown Facebook account.
Rand Paul is an ophthalmologist and staunch conservative Republican. That is enough to fuel right wing speculation, Senator Paul was attacked for political reasons. The senator even piling on by retweeting two articles that raise politics as a motive.
Rene Boucher's attorney again said that is all bunk.
MATT BAKER, ATTORNEY FOR RENE BOUCHER: This has absolutely nothing to do with politics, any liberal versus conservative or Republican versus Democrat. It's just not about that. It's a personal dispute between two neighbors.
GRIFFIN: Attorney Matthew Baker says the motive was in line with what CNN has already reported, that the two men who share this lawn have a long-standing dispute over landscaping. But Senator Paul's adviser, while not providing more detail, said not true.
As to reports of a long-standing dispute with the attacker, the statement read, the Pauls have had no conversations with him in many years. The first conversation with the attacker came after Senator Paul's ribs were broken. This was not a fight. It was a blindside, violent attack by a disturbed person.
BAKER: They had not spoken to each other in years. But I still think that you can have -- I'm certain that you can have a personal dispute without having spoken. It has to do with the maintenance of each other's property and the disagreement that two neighbors, two adjoining neighbors have had over that.
GRIFFIN: Erin, Capitol Hill police came to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and interviewed Rene Boucher this week, asking him questions about his politics and the attack. We also know the FBI is interested in the case. But as of now, this case remains local, in the criminal courts of Kentucky and do not involve politics or federal charges -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Drew, thank you very much.
And next, winning an election, the best revenge. A political newcomer defeats the incumbent after his putdown inspired her to run. She's OUTFRONT.
And Anthony Bourdain on a celebrity chef who changed how and what we eat in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: Complete re-evaluation of not just American food and ingredients, but food.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:52:22] BURNETT: New tonight. Political revenge, a 32-year-old New Jersey woman who had never run for political office has tonight ousted a local politician who inspired her to run. The reason was this sexist image about the women's march. It was posted to Facebook by the now former county legislator, John Carman. So, you see, the woman cooking.
It reads, will the woman's protest be over in time for them to cook dinner? Carman added, just asking.
Well, that did not go over well with women in New Jersey. Dozens confronting Carman at a meeting demanding apology. Here is how he responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN CARMAN, FORMER DISTRICT THREE FREEHOLDER: I am and always have been a supporter of women. I'll grant you, I made a bad choice. It was a bad taste, the joke I posted. But it was just that, it was a joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Just a joke. Well, my next guest was not laughing at it. And instead, she decided to run against Carman and Tuesday night, she won.
Ashley Bennett is OUTFRONT now.
And, Ashley, obviously, a big win for you. You know, let me just show you video when it was announced that you won on Tuesday night. How did you feel that you actually pulled it off?
ASHLEY BENNETT, UNSEATED POLITICIAN WHO MADE SEXIST JOKE: Well, thank you, Erin, for having me. I was so shocked. I wasn't expecting it by any stretch, and so, I think I'm still shocked at this point.
I've pretty much -- that is kind of the trend this entire process for me. I never expected to do this. So, then to win and have the support of my family and former classmates and former teachers and friends and neighbors has been everything to me. I'm truly humbled and truly grateful.
BURNETT: Now, I know you -- you know, know you were motivated by the Facebook post, which we showed, right, the woman cooking dinner and Mr. Carman's comment, will the women's protest be over in time for them to cook dinner. And here he is at meeting that you then attended because you were angry about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARMAN: You know what this has made me realize? It's made me realize how blessed I am, because the women I'm surrounded by, my family, my friends, my colleagues, are all strong, confident women, women who are sure of themselves. They didn't get offended by this. They looked at it, they looked at it, they saw it for what it was. If it hurt your feelings, it wasn't intended.
[19:55:00] It wasn't posted with any malice (ph) (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, we're leaving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You were there. And among the women that we see walking out here as he was saying that, what was it about those comments that made you decide to go from being a concerned citizen, someone who showed up, right, to that town hall, to actually run against him?
BENNETT: Sure. So, what happened was I had wrote him a letter when I first saw the post and didn't get a response. And so, I went to the meeting, and I waited to hear what his response was going to be to everyone who showed up.
And as you showed, that's what we got, that the people that he surrounds himself with were strong. Which in turn means what to the rest of us who were offended by it? So, are you saying we're weak? And I didn't like that.
And so I walked out because I took vacation time to come from work to hear what he had to say. And it just felt like a waste. And so, I walked out. And I went home and I was still upset about it.
And my family said, why don't you run? And then I said, well, why don't I? Because it comes down to whenever there's something that is offensive, we always tell the person who is offended, lighten up, it's a joke, don't be so sensitive.
But we never talk to the person doing the offensive thing or saying the offensive statement to not be so offensive. So, why is the accountability always on us?
BURNETT: Well, you've turned the tables indeed, Ashley. Turned it around, and, obviously, with your big victory. Congratulations and thank you for being with us. We wish you best of luck.
BENNETT: Thank you so much and thank you for having me.
BURNETT: All right.
And next, the American chef who transformed food in the words of Anthony Bourdain. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOURDAIN: In my view, we should know who changed the world. We should know their names.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This Sunday on CNN, a new film from Anthony Bourdain. Yes, that is exciting, and it is on the life of legendary chef Jeremiah Tower, a man called one of the most influential figures in American cuisine. He quickly rose to fame, and then suddenly, fell off the map.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most people would not know who Jeremiah Tower is, and sadly. He's certainly considered in my book anyway a father of the American cuisine.
BOURDAIN: 1972, Jeremiah Tower walks into Chez Panisse. Everyone reluctantly or not has to agree that he put the place on the map. Jeremiah Tower's menus made Chez Panisse the place that everybody wanted to go. Complete re-evaluation of not just American food and ingredients, but food.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And don't miss "Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent" hosted by Mr. Bourdain, Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern.
Thank you so much for joining us.
Anderson starts now.