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GOP's Graham Weighs in on Roy Moore Scandal; Senate Tax Bill to Include Repeal of Obamacare Individual Mandate; Few CEOs Say They'll Invest More If Tax Cuts Pass; Army: "Significant" Questions in Firearms Database following Texas Church Shooting; Sexual Harassment Accusations on Capitol Hill & Settlements Paid with Tax Dollars; African Immigration Can Lead to Slave Auctions. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 15, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: So it's up to the people of Alabama have to deal with it. It is a shame that the Republican Party finds itself where we are. I would like the Republican Party of Alabama to step up and fix problem for the good of the state of Alabama and the country as a whole, and certainly, for the Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you see the president weighing in and join your cause --


GRAHAM: Well, that'll be up to him. He's the head of the party. It would probably be good if he would say something.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think that'll change the calculus a little bit if the president came out and gave --


GRAHAM: I don't think it would hurt. I think it is a defining moment, not only for the Republican Party of Alabama. We have a 52- seat majority up here. Clearly this candidate cannot be an effective Senator if he were elected. And you are asking a lot of people to turn the other way on a behavior that you should not turn the other way on. So I think the best solution is for the good people of Alabama and the Republican Party to address the problem in their backyard because it affects the country as a whole. To the governor of Alabama, to the Executive Committee of the state of Alabama, and you have a problem that does not affect only Alabama alone but all of us. Please deal with it in a responsible way. I don't want the Republican Party to tolerate behavior like this when it is just overwhelming the man has a problem and it's, in my view, towards allegations that were made by the young woman, at the time as a young woman.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: There you have it, another Republican Senator weighing in on the scandal engulfing the current Alabama Senate race and the Republican candidate, Roy Moore. The question is, as he said, the president is the head of the Republican Party, the president should weigh in, as, he said, the Alabama Republican Party.

Speaking of Republicans, let's talk taxes. Despite of years of rejections and failure, Republicans are once again going after Obamacare. This time, the stakes are higher since what they are trying to do, they say, is the must-do legislation of the year, tax reform. Senator Republicans added the appeal of Obamacare's individual mandate to their tax plan. It requires a person to get health insurance or pay a fine. And repeal this, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would save the government $338 billion over the next 10 years. This is all about revenue. This is because it would mean a lot fewer people would be federally subsidized. But the CBO also predicts premiums would go up by 10 percent and 13 million fewer people would have health coverage by 2027. A Republican aide says if the Senate approves this, the House will back it. For now, the House is expected to vote tomorrow on this plan, which does not contain this mandate repeal.

Let's spell this out further for everyone. I know it gets complicated.

Rick Newman, Yahoo finance columnist, he writes about this all the time.

If this goes through, within the Senate plan and continues all the way through, how does it affect someone with Obamacare?

RICK NEWMAN, FINANCE COLUMNIST, YAHOO FINANCE: For low income people, their premiums would go up. The higher your income, the lower your government subsidies. The people that get hammered the most are people who don't get insurance through employers. Those people are already getting crushed. They are in the worst part and observed all the increases without subsidies and big pools. When you say premiums going up of 10 percent, those are the people who end up paying. We are talking about people paying well over $20,000 a year just for insurance. That's before you get out of pocket cost. It is extraordinary.

BALDWIN: Can we punch some numbers. We have a full screen of how middle-class families would be affected.

NEWMAN: Right. The Senate is saying a typical family, whatever a typical family is would save about $1,500 in tax in a given year. We need to point out that's the best-case scenario. And independent analysts would say that most people would get a tax cut. It is not just wealthy people. Every income tax bracket whose taxes will go up. And it depends on how many kids you have because personal exemptions would go away and things like that.

BALDWIN: And people hearing the year of 2025 and 2027, that's forever from now but that's pertinent of the conversation. The new individual tax rate would sunset in 2025 because of reconciliations and creating this potential cliff down the line. Any sensible person could say, oh, this is a good idea. Why won't you only make it temporary?

[14:34:54] NEWMAN: The business tax cuts are not temporary. The whole reason they are temporary is because they cannot pound the money it would cost in the next couple of years to get it done under Senate rule. Everybody knows you are not going to let those tax cuts expire in 2025. If you do, that's a, de facto, cost increase. So cynically, they'll say well, Congress will have to approve that, we are not going to count the money that costs because that way we cannot get the bill passed this year. It is pretty cynical.

BALDWIN: All right, before I let you go, Gary Cohn, the White House economic adviser, he was at this "Wall Street Journal" CEO event last night. He was surprised by this reaction he got when he was asking all these chief executives to raise their hands, all right, if you have more money, how many of you will reinvest it, all right? This is the reaction he got.


GARY COHN, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISOR: Can I ask you all a quick question. If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase investment, your company's investment, capital investment -- just a show of hands -- if the tax reform goes through?

Why aren't the other hands up? Why aren't the other hands up?


NEWMAN: Bueller? Bueller?

BALDWIN: I mean, obviously -- not everyone's hands shoot up. Why?

NEWMAN: Companies don't spend money because they have it. They only spend money for these types of investments. They're only going to spend that money if they make calculations, we are going to get a positive rate of return on that investment and the higher we can do with it in a higher way. If new business is not there and the economy continues to grow at 2 percent and not new demand, they're not going to automatically spend money. They'll invest it in some other way and getting back to shareholder and stock prices will go up. Just because they have the money, does not mean they'll spend it the way Republicans want to.

BALDWIN: Right, which is the opposite of the premise, you got the money and you will invest in it.


NEWMAN: That's why it trickles down and does not show up.

BALDWIN: Rick Newman, thank you, as always.

NEWMAN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We are waiting on the president of the United States to speak from the White House this afternoon. Keep in mind, this is really significant. His first public remarks since return from his Asia trip. We'll take that live.

Also ahead, an explosive and undercover story right now of allegations of two current lawmakers are sexual harassers. And that millions of dollars have been paid out to accusers on your dime, the taxpayer. We'll tell you what you know now, next.


[14:41:58] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: Breaking news here. This important development involving the gunman who killed the 25 people and the unborn child in Texas. There were many red flags about his violent past, including how he got access to guns after his criminal history in the military.

Barbara Starr is live for us at the Pentagon.

Barbara, what do you know?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, very disturbing, but very candidate acknowledgement a short time ago from General Mark Milley, the chief of staff of the U.S. Army, the head of the Army. All the services since the Texas shooting have been looking at their databases to make sure those in the military who have been discharged with criminal convictions, bad discharges, have been appropriately reported to the FBI and criminal databases. This is because of the Texas shooting. They found out that shooter, Devin Kelley, was not reported to the FBI when he was discharged from the Air Force. His discharge would have prevented him from getting access to guns. Just a short time ago, General Milley, the head of the Army, said when they scrubbed their databases, so far, they have found, in his words, "significant omissions." That's the head of the U.S. Army. Significant omissions in the correct number of soldiers discharged from the Army being reported from the FBI for these types of criminal discharges that would prevent them getting access to weapons and preventing them being on FBI databases and FBI registers for all kinds of offenses, assault, as was the case in Texas, murder and sexual convictions and all of that. The general says they get about 150 bad discharges in a year in the Army. And they have been going through all of this. It is going to take them some time.

The fact the head of the Army is saying they have found significant omissions. The concern is we have now seen it in the Air Force and the head of the Army is acknowledging this. What else is happening in the Navy and Marine Corps? The military has a long way to go after this Texas shooting to make sure that people who are discharged, who should not have access to weapons, are reported to the FBI and that that loophole, if you will, is really closed up once and for all.

BALDWIN: So tragic that the shooting had to happen for these omissions and issues to be cleared in the military.

Barbara Starr, I know you'll stay on it. Thank you very much for the update.

STARR: Sure.

BALDWIN: Let's take you to the news today. These two female lawmakers are introducing bills to change the way sexual harassments are handled on Capitol Hill. This, as one congresswoman is revealing how much money has been spent on settlements in recent years.


[14:45:01] REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D), CALIFORNIA: In the last 20 years, there's been 260 settlements at a cost to the taxpayers of this country of $15 million. That $50 million has been there to silence victims of all types of workplace discrimination.


BALDWIN: Again, that $15 million went to pay for sexual harassments and other claims. This all coming to light after two sitting members in Congress right now are being accused of sexual harassment.


SPEIER: There are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now who serve, who have been subjected to review or not have been subjected to review but engaged in sexual harassment.

REP. BARBARA COMTOCK, (R), VIRGINIA: This member asks the staffer to bring materials over to his residents, and the young staffer is a young woman and went there and was greeted with a member in a towel, who is a male, who then invited her in. At that point, he decided to expose himself. She left, and then she quit her job.


BALDWIN: My next guest is a former congressional staffer working on Capitol Hill for former Congress Gary Miller. She's Rebecca Weir. She is now an attorney.

Rebecca, thank you for being here and sharing your story.


BALDWIN: We'll get into your story. Before I do, you heard Congresswoman Speier about the two congressmen being accused of sexual harassment. I want your response to the fact that it is out there right now.

WEIR: It ties out right now of why I am coming forward of my former member, this is a former problem on Capitol Hill. You are going to see much more of this. You heard Representative Barbara Comstock say yesterday we need to name names. I am coming forward and I assume others will, too, to talk about our experiences to show and highlight how serious this really is.

BALDWIN: Tell me what happened to you and tell me about the twirl.

WEIR: So, working for Congress is my first job out of college. I was government major and I really wanted to go into public service, I was devoted to work for the people. I found representative's office and it was a great fit and I loved that job and I excelled at my job. About a year in, we got raises and I found out that I did not receive as high of a raise of a colleague of mine. He was part-time, he did not have a degree, he was closing less constituent cases than I was. I asked at the time why the difference? So I was told that he was recently engaged, and he was going to become a breadwinner and he needed the money more than me. So shortly after that, it was the August recess and Mr. Miller came back to the district and I was eager to present a proposal to him that I had been working, and I did so in his office, it was just he and I and as I got up to leave, he stops me and said, "My god, you just looked amazing today, just really stunning, would you mind twirling for me."

BALDWIN: Twirling, like spinning around in a circle?

WEIR: Yes. I had a dress suit on at the time. I was stunned that I was 22 years old and I was inexperienced, and I respected him. He was my member and he was doing a lot of good work in Congress and I complied. I didn't know what else to do. I was confused after the incident. I went to sit down at my desk and just kind of regrouped when, shortly after, I received a phone call from our Washington office saying, well, Rebecca, congratulations, I don't know what you did, but Gary called and said that you needed to have a bonus immediately. I was so furious at the time because I knew what I did. I twirled.

BALDWIN: Twirled.

WEIR: I needed the money at the time and it was my first job working for Congress and these jobs don't pay very well. I grappled at the time of do I give this money back or preserve my integrity, it gutted me.

[14:49:57] BALDWIN: What did you do? You thought back and forth, and you were furious, I imagine, partially of yourself and partially at the congressman. You think of giving the money back, but you don't, because why?

WEIR: Because I was just out of college and I had a mountain of student loans that I was paying off. I was commuting an hour and a half one way to work and I needed the money on my own.

BALDWIN: Did you say anything to anyone or did you keep it to yourself?

WEIR: I am sure I talked about it with friends and family at the time. It was gutting. It was part of -- I accepted it as part of the job and I feel like so many of my colleagues on the Hill are currently facing similar problem, the economic dynamic, the power dynamic that's inherit in the relationships between members and staffers. Those are the types of things that inhibit women from going forward and my motivation today in coming forward of my story and again, my story is not unique. It is to help empower women who are coming after me and who are, the same 22 years old that I was and their first job feeling empowered to come forward and speaking out and let them know that they have the same options. Hoping for a change there but this culture needs to change and that's what I am hoping my story will help move along.

BALDWIN: Rebecca Weir, I appreciate your voice.

We reached out to the former congressman for comment, but we have not heard back.

I know there are all these conversations of requiring sexual harassment training and we heard from Speaker Paul Ryan. I am curious of, last question, why do you think, so far, it is so consequence-free on the Hill, as opposed to Hollywood? Why do you think?

GREIR: Consequences on the Hill as opposed to other industries?


WEIR: Again, you have the power dynamic that's unique to the Hill. You have young staffers who are eager to start their careers and do good and you don't want to be branded right out of the gate as someone who's a troublemaker and there's the economic disincentives. You may lose your job, quite literally and that's just not an option for some women who are in the situation and -- I feel like you had a lot of power dynamics that are going on there. That's why change to the culture and the climate that exists on Capitol Hill is so important.

BALDWIN: Rebecca Weir, change will come because it has to.

WEIR: I agree.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

WEIR: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Lets now talk about this stunning report. This is a CNN's exclusive. For years and years, migrants crossing the Mediterranean have brought with them stories of beatings and kidnapping. And many made the horrendous journeys from West African countries. Those migrants who do make it, are often too terrified to talk about their ordeal.

For the last year, CNN have been working to bring these stories to life. The CNN's team comprising, correspondent, Nima Elbagir, and Producer Raja Razek (ph), and photojournalist, Alex Plak (ph), we are able to travel to Libya to witness the true humanity of themselves. They got access to a migrant slave auction where men were sold like commodities.



NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man addressing an unseen crowd. Big strong voice, he says. $400? $700? $800? The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1200 Libya pounds, $400 apiece.

You are watching an auction of human beings.

Another man, claiming to be a buyer, off camera, someone asks, what happened to the one from Niger? Sold off, he's told.

CNN was sent this by contact. After months of working, we were able to verify the authenticity of what you see here. We decided to travel to Libya to try to see for ourselves.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): We are now in Tripoli and we're starting to get a little more of a sense how this all works. A contact telling us there one or two of these auctions every month and there is one happening in the next few hours. We'll head out of town and see if we can get some sort of access to it.

[14:55:02] (voice-over): For the safety of our contacts, we have agreed not to say the location of this auction. The town that we are driving to is not the only one.

Night falls, we traveled through suburban neighborhoods pretending to look for a missing person. Eventually, we stopped outside the house like any other. We adjust our secret cameras and wait.

Finally, it is time to move. We're ushered into one of two auctions happening on the same night. Crouched at the back of the yard, a flood light obscuring much by the scene. One by one, men are forced out as the bidding begins, $400, $500, $550, $600, $650, $700. Very quickly, it is over.

We ask to speak with the man, the auctioneer, seen here, he refuses. We asked again if we can speak to him. No, he says. The auction is over with.


ELBAGIR: And we are asked to leave.

(on camera): That was over very quickly.

We walked in, and as soon as we walked in, the men started covering their faces. But they clearly wanted to finish what they were doing, and they kept on bringing out what they kept on referring to, of men as merchandise. All and all they mentioned to us there were twelve Nigerians that were sold in front of us. And I honestly don't know what to say. That was one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): These men are migrants with dreams of being smugglers overseas.


ELBAGIR: They come in the thousands from Niger, Nigeria and Ghana. It is hard to believe these are the lucky ones, rescued from warehouses like the one in which we witnessed auctioned. They are sold at those warehouses if the warehouses become overcrowded or if they run out of money to pay their smugglers.

Of these rescued men, so many say they were held against their will. It does not take us long to find victims.


ELBAGIR: Victory was a slave.

(on camera): We know that some people are being sold.


ELBAGIR: Some people are being sold. Is this something you have heard about? Can you tell us about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. Yes, I was sold.

ELBAGIR: What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see me, the amount of beating with electric. So the money was not that much.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Other migrants now start to come forward with their stories.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise you, I will take care of your husband.

ELBAGIR: This man is a supervisor here. With no international support, it is his job to look after the captured migrants until they can be deported. He says every day brings fresh heartbreak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am suffering and what they have seen here. They were abusing them.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Have you heard of people being auctioned off, of migrants being sold?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we hear the rumors but there is nothing that's obvious in front of us. We don't have evidence.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): But we now do. CNN has delivered this evidence to the Libyan authorities who have promised to launch an investigation --