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Senate to Attempt to Pass Tax Reform Bill; Senate Majority Leader Calls for Roy Moore to Step Down as Alabama Senate Candidate; Shooter Goes on Rampage in Northern California Town. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 15, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, November 15th, 8:00 in the east. President Trump is home from his Asia trip and has got three burning issues. First, Senate Republicans added the repeal of the individual mandate in Obamacare to their tax reform plan. It helps them on the revenue side, it may also help them on the political side. Hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years could be saved if they do this, but 13 million Americans could be uninsured and premiums could go up for the same group of people they say they want to help.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And there are other top stories. There is the Roy Moore controversy. More conservative leaders suggesting that Moore quit the Alabama senate race in the face of these sexual assault allegations as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell floats Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a possible write-in replacement. Sessions faced his own challenge on Capitol Hill. He was forced to answer questions about Trump campaign contacts with Russia. So we have all that covered. Our coverage begins with Suzanne Malveaux. She is live on Capitol Hill. Bring us the latest, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. This really was a bombshell announcement. Senate Republicans saying they are trying to accomplish the two top legislative agenda items, tax cuts as well as health care, in the same bill. Initially they resisted this. They did not want to get into a toxic battle over health care again. They thought it would derail the process. Now desperate to get something done before Christmas, they are taking their chances.


MALVEAUX: Senate Republicans taking a gamble, proposing to repeal Obamacare's individual mandate requiring individuals to have health insurance or pay a penalty, to free up $338 billion to pay for tax cuts.

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: We are optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful.

MALVEAUX: But the Congressional Budget Office estimates that repealing the mandate would also result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance and drive up premiums by roughly 10 percent. Senate Republicans also announcing the individual tax cuts in their plan would be temporary, expiring at the end of 2025, in order to comply with Senate rules that would allow them to pass the bill along party lines.

The cut in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, however, would be permanent.

CHARLES SCHUMER, (D-NY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: They are cutting taxes on the wealthy and taking health care away from millions and raising the premiums of millions of others.

MALVEAUX: The updated bill unveiled by Senate Republicans last night proposes to us the money saved by the repeal of the individual mandate to modestly reduce include tax rates for middle income taxpayers and boost the child taxpayer credit from $1,650 to $2,000, a priority for the President Trump's daughter, Ivanka.

The president urged lawmakers to end the Obamacare mandate on Twitter Monday. Senator John McCain cast a dramatic vote killing Republicans last effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, signaling he is leaning towards supporting the bill. But Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, two other Republicans who voted against the GOP health care plan, indicating that they are not sold on the idea, Collins saying "I personally think that it complicates tax reform." House Speaker Paul Ryan signaling the Senate must show their bill can pass before the House gets onboard.

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The Senate was the issue. So we are now seeing that the Senate has the votes to actually repeal the individual mandates.


MALVEAUX: So the House debate begins on the floor today. It is one that the bill does not have a repeal of Obamacare mandate but it's expected that it will go to a vote tomorrow. The Senate Finance Committee begins its third day in the markup process, taking a look at various amendments and considerations of those amendments and changes. At the same time the Democratic leadership, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, progressive group will be meeting for a noon rally here on Capitol Hill for the battle to begin. Chris, Alisyn?

CUOMO: All right, Suzanne, thank you very much. Alisyn was not pointing at you.

All right, you set the table. Let's get after it. We have CNN political analyst David Gregory and John Avlon. Let's break down some facts here. What is in this GOP bill? What are the big ticket items? Let's put it up for you. Getting rid of the individual mandate, this is a political play. It's also a revenue play. We'll explain why. It boosts the child tax credit, that's part of the upside of getting rid of the mandate in terms of the money that it releases. It lowers several middle income tax rates, but for how long and for whom is part of the analysis.

Corporate tax rate reduced to 20 percent, that's always been in the making here, but it all comes down to this mandate. There's this new political curveball helps with some Republicans, hurts with a lot of Democrats. What does it do? It brings the deficit number down. Remember, they are trying to get this through with a simple 50 vote, and to do that it has to meet certain deficit projections. This helps with that.

[08:05:01] But it would raise average premiums by 10 percent which you could argue would wipe out any tax savings. And 13 million fewer insured over 10 years. So I keep saying it's a gamble, it's a gamble, it's a proposition. What is the proposition?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's math and votes. If you make the math work that's important to be able to do it on a party line vote, and do you have the votes? There's a lot of conservative Republicans who have not liked this tax plan. They may like it better if you get rid of the individual mandate, make it sweeter in terms of the middle class and reduce that deficit picture, that becomes important.

The gamble pieces, you could also lose some Republican votes. Murkowski, Collins, we'll see how Alabama goes if it falls into a Democrat's hand. There's not much room to maneuver here. And then you pick a fight the Democrats have been beating you over the head with, which is look at Virginia. People like their health care, they like Obamacare, and they failed miserably trying to roll back Obamacare. And messing with the individual mandate, you heard Zeke Emanuel say, this upends the system, premiums go up, affects a lot of people who are Trump supporters. So there's a lot of risky politics involved here. Bottom line, this is political expediency. They're in a hurry and they want to try to get this over the line.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's exactly right. We can talk about the policy implications of this, but for Republicans, this is really just political. This is an end run trying to attach an Obamacare repeal of a key provision, which was originally, by the way, celebrated as a conservative provision --

CAMEROTA: The individual mandate?

AVLON: Yes, it was sold as individual responsibility.

CAMEROTA: That is interesting, because that it, I think you can argue, been the least popular component of all of Obamacare, because people didn't want to be forced to do something they didn't want to do.

AVLON: That's exactly right. But that was always the glue that made the larger system work. You had to compel people to get insurance, and this was the stick that would compel people to get insurance. But this is purely political. This is an attempt to attach Obamacare repeal to a tax bill so they can get a two-for for their base and a simple majority vote. So let's not ignore that obvious fact.

CUOMO: And I promise not to get too in the weeds, but the individual mandate when you talk to people about it, there's a specific part of the population that gets the penalty, but the penalty is much less than their actual having to buy health care on their own so it has been an economic wash. It's choice that has been the biggest drawback for this plan, and the problem is this doesn't address that. So you are taking away the engine that keeps prices down, which is the mandate, and you're not replacing that with anything, so you're creating not just these numbers we just gave you, but there are potential shortfalls going forward.

So the political calculation, though, is what happens if they don't get it done? This is the simple 50. They have to make it within this reconciliation window. If they don't?

GREGORY: It's a huge problem in the Senate politically for 2018. You have the House, it's more likely to get something done. They at least want to get to a place where --

CUOMO: The house likes the mandate aspect and wants to add it to their own bill which is more likely to get the reconciliation bill. You can negotiate it once you have it.

GREGORY: Right. And if they can get a Senate Bill, they reconcile it with the House through negotiations. But look, I don't think there is -- I don't think failure is an option here is how they are looking at it. I think there's so much downside. But this has been the problem with how the tax bill has been argued and how it has come together. Again, a lot of conservatives don't like it.

AVLON: And go back to also just when Reagan did the major tax overhaul in 1986, he did it with Democratic senators like Bill Bradley. One of the criticisms of Obamacare was it was done basically on a party line and jammed through, and here we see that same dynamic and we don't even comment on it anymore. These big overhauls traditionally have had some degree of bipartisan support, and that seems to be entirely off the table and then pushed through by a manipulation of the regular order of rule.

CAMEROTA: Let's move on to another top story --

AVLON: There's only one top story.


CUOMO: I have fought and lost this battle on numerous occasions.

CAMEROTA: We have many top stories. But let's move on to Roy Moore. I don't know if you just heard, the longtime Alabama political reporter Josh Moon. He was just on and he pointed out that in a low turnout race, which this will be because it's a special election, that Roy Moore's base turns out, and he predicts that even despite these accusations of five women, that Roy Moore on December 12th if he stays on this ballot will win.

GREGORY: David Brooks writes in his column this morning about a siege mentality to explain how even evangelical Christians could give Roy Moore a pass and vote for him. And this idea is what he's playing into last night at an appearance, that he is under attack, that he is the one being harassed here, and that could turn out a certain base of support. I think you have to look more widely about whether political support is crumbling all around him, among even Republicans in Alabama. That's what Mitch McConnell is looking at, that's what Paul Ryan is looking at. Increasingly that's what the White House is looking at.

CUOMO: Better call the governor, because Kay Ivey, who is in a tough spot as a woman, ostensibly not believing the women accusers, she holds the power to decide what happens --

[08:10:05] AVLON: She does, but it is unprecedented for the Senate majority leader to say he should not be on the ballot and we will not seat him if he wins. And yes, Roy Moore is using the Trump playbook here. If you're confronted with facts you don't like, you call it fake news. You tell the base you are under attack. And that may work in a low turnout election. But in addition to the mounting evidence, let's not ignore two facts. Moore was not a great statewide guy for Alabama. He is always been a fringe figure in Alabama, it's just as the party has gotten more polarized he's got a toehold. And second of all, how hard is it to get banned from a mall in the 1980s?

CAMEROTA: I spent a lot of time there in the '80s. I think it must have been very difficult.

AVLON: Anybody was welcome. If you are the assistant D.A. was told not to hang out at the mall, that, to me, is a different kind of troubling.

CAMEROTA: There was a lot of loitering.

CUOMO: For the 80s, I think chess king and ties with piano keys on them, and I had many.

GREGORY: A little known fact, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," I actually hung out at that mall. I was present for the valley girl movement.

AVLON: No shirt, no shoes --

CUOMO: What kind of tie did you have on?

GREGORY: I might have had torn jeans on, though.

CAMEROTA: That's awesome, but I am from, as you know, the capital of New Jersey.

AVLON: Oh, yes, fair point.


CAMEROTA: All right, people, that's enough fun. Thank you, John Avlon, David Gregory.

We need to get to this very serious story because there's a deadly shooting rampage in a northern California community and it could have been worse. Four people were killed but officials say the quick actions of an elementary school's staff saved lives there. CNN's Dan Simon is live in Rancho Tehama, California, with more. What happened, Dan?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, this began as a neighborhood dispute with the shooter targeting a woman he had been feuding with. From there he gets into his stolen pickup truck and then randomly starts shooting at homes, shooting at passing cars before ultimately making it to an elementary school. The bullets shattering glass, going through walls. This could have been another major schoolhouse tragedy.


SIMON: The first 911 calls came in just before 8:00 a.m. Police say a shooting at a neighborhood dispute spilled onto the streets sending a rural northern California community into chaos.

PHIL JOHNSTON, TEHAMA COUNTY ASSISTANT SHERIFF: Right now we have a total of seven shooting scenes. Essentially with this individual, after the initial shooting, he reportedly took a vehicle and went on a shooting rampage throughout the community.

SIMON: Police say the gunman fired from a stolen truck randomly into homes, eventually crashing the vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like they were shooting, emptying the magazine, and popping another one in.

SIMON: He stole a second car and kept firing, injuring a mother and her son as they made their way to Rancho Tehama elementary school. The suspect tried to enter the school, spraying the walls and classrooms with bullets.

JOHNSTON: As tragic and as bad as it is, it could have been so much worse if it wasn't for the quick thinking staff at our elementary school, because there was a series of gunshots about a quarter mile away that alerted that staff, and they went into an immediate lockdown without having to be told to do so by law enforcement.

SIMON: Fourth grader Arianna Ybarra and her classmates heard gunshots and took cover.

How did you know how to hide under your desk?

ARIANNA YBARRA, STUDENT: Because our teacher told us to go under our desk and to keep calm and lay flat just in case he comes inside.

SIMON: The shooting spree ended after the suspect was shot dead during a gun battle with deputies, Police say a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns were found.

JOHNSTON: I have to tell you, I am personally grateful to the men that engaged this suspect. It's a tragic event, but I -- I'm personally grateful to those men for engaging such a terrible -- a mass murderer, really, that's what he is.


SIMON: Authorities say it appears the shooter got frustrated at the school after a period of time and left because he did not have easy access to the classrooms. This whole episode lasted about 45 minutes before the shooter was eventually cornered by the deputies and shot dead. Chris?

CUOMO: Dan Simon, how he got the weapons, what was his situation, what issues it races, all those questions have to be considered, but I guess in context, boy, did they got lucky. Thank you very much.

We have other breaking news for you. The U.S. embassy in Zimbabwe telling most of its staff to stay home today after the army there swarmed the streets in an apparent coup. A military spokesman appeared on state TV denying a military takeover, but observers say the situation suggests otherwise since 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe and his family appear to be in military custody. Tensions spiked after Mugabe suddenly fired his vice president more than a week ago, clearing the way for his wife to take the role and eventually succeed him.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, Australia taking a giant step towards legalizing same-sex marriage. Almost 80 percent of the population took part in this referendum with every state and territory returning a majority yes. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledging to have same-sex marriage legalized by Christmas.

CUOMO: So, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, very much in a spotlight, grilled for hours on Capitol Hill. Had some memory issues. A lot of can't recall. Just raising more questions about the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia.

What did the testimony mean for him and his future, next.

CAMEROTA: And also, when you are in the car you can still listen to NEW DAY on SiriusXM, channel 116. It is free for a limited time, so check it out now.



REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: You did have communications with the Russians last year, isn't that right? Just a yes or no.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I had a meeting with the Russian ambassador, yes.

LIEU: That's exactly the opposite answer you gave under oath to U.S. Senate. So, again, either you are lying to the U.S. Senate or you are lying to the U.S. House of Representatives.

[08:20:02] SESSIONS: Well --


CUOMO: The Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not like that assertion, but he also has a problem with his testimony. He insists he never lied to Congress under oath. This, of course, during a grilling on Capitol Hill. He testified he only recently remembered former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, suggesting that now President Trump meet with Russian President Putin.

Joining us now is Congressman Adam Schiff. He's the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

What was your takeaway, sir?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I had a couple takeaways. The first, as you pointed out, his testimony was quite different today than it was sometime ago in the Senate. I was struck by the fact that claiming to have not remembered the discussion with George Papadopoulos, and now he remembers it, he doesn't remember much about it, but he doest remember putting a cold shoulder on the idea of a meeting with Putin.

That's fairly collective in terms of recollection. But, you know, I can't say whether this is a failure of recollection or it's more than that. We do have to remember the context, though, at the time of these discussions. Russia was a big issue and the campaign's contacts with Russia, their policy on Russia was a big issue.

So, it wasn't like this was some isolated, small bore matter, it was fairly a pivotal and high profile issue for the campaign.

The other thing I would say in terms of context, Chris, is this comes among a series of dissembling and deceptive comments by other people associated with the campaign about their contacts with Russia, and so, we have to view it through that prism as well.

CUOMO: Donald Trump, Jr., getting a lot of attention for his conversation conversations with WikiLeaks. Context also there made an issue and that this came after WikiLeaks had been identified as a malefactor with Russian interference after they had dumped some of their stolen emails.

How important is that to you?

SCHIFF: It's very important, because if you look at the chronology, Donald Trump, Jr. meets with the Russians at this well-known meeting at Trump Tower. They offered to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what they described as the Russian government effort to help Donald Trump, and he expresses, number one, he would like to get that kind of help and he sends a message back through the Russians that he was very disappointed in what they were offering during this meeting.

Now, it's only days after that meeting that Julian Assange announces for the first time he's received thousands of the stolen Hillary Clinton e-mails, and we know those e-mails came from the Russians, and then now you know through the e-mails and these direct messages rather that Trump Jr. is in direct contact with WikiLeaks.

So, it's that broad picture that is so troubling coming on the heels of the meeting and coming when we know that WikiLeaks was playing a role cut out for the Russians. I think it gives us another piece of the puzzle.

CUOMO: So, then you have the simple standard question you will have to meet here, so what if Jeff Sessions has inconsistent testimony, so what if Donald Trump, Jr. was even coordinating and helping with the dispersal of the e-mails that WikiLeaks stole? None of that amounts to a crime. I know that's not your purview. You're looking in terms of the intentionality there.

But so what? Where does any of this lead?

SCHIFF: Well, you know, the so what with respect to Jeff Sessions is two-fold. If he is deliberately making false statements in his Senate testimony, then it's a pretty big so what. That will be a decision ultimately for the congress, but ultimately a decision for potentially for the Justice Department.

Beyond that is indicative of what is our view of our attorney general, even if it doesn't amount to a crime. Do we have an attorney general that we can count on to level with the American people? In terms of the Trump Jr. allegations, again, the so-what is, if this is part of the conspiracy with the Russians, it is a crime. If you have the offer by the Russians to help, you have the acceptance of the offer by the Trump campaign and it is communicated that the way the Russians intend to fall through on this is not by giving the documents to the campaign that could lead the FBI and others to the campaign, but rather by publishing it through a cutout, then that's a criminal conspiracy.

Again, that will be a decision for Bob Mueller to make. But what we are going to try to present to the country and I hope in a bipartisan basis is here are all the facts we have found. Here are all the connections. Here's why we believe if we do that the policy of the United States is being undermined, vis-a-vis, a very important adversary because there are these ties between the president and his aides, and Russia.

[08:25:00] And that is not in our national security interests.

So, it's a pretty big deal, as a matter of fact. Whether it results in prosecution will be Mueller's decision. But we need to let the country know exactly what leverage the Russians may have over our president.

CUOMO: Obviously, I am not taking a position as to whether it is or isn't, but that's the standard that you're going to have to meet with the American people.


CUOMO: And then the second standard will be, this is also supposed to be this will be mainly finding out how the Russians did this and stopping them from doing it again. Are you anywhere on those questions?

SCHIFF: Well, it was telling on the Sessions' testimony when Brad Schneider (ph), one of my colleagues said, what you have done to help the country in terms of the elections, and his answer was, you know, I don't really know, I will have to get back to you. Of all the important questions not to be able to answer, that is

pretty much at the top of the list. And I think it's indicative frankly to the fact that the administration has done little to nothing to protect us from the next Russian intervention because they won't admit the first took place, and this is the broader problem. We can't both fashion a response in terms of the administration in Congress and we can't develop the national consensus of foreign interference when we have a commander-in-chief when he won't acknowledge what the intelligence agencies have been telling him.

CUOMO: Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you for the update and your take. Appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: OK. So, Senate Republicans are tying the repeal of a key Obamacare mandate to their tax plan. Will that work? We ask the former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, next.