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House Passes Tax Reform Bill, Senate in Doubt; Mick Mulvaney Likely to Head CFPB; Roy Moore to Address Sex Abuse Allegations as More Accusers Come Forward; Ivanka Trump Speaks Out on Roy Moore; Mistrial in Bob Menendez Corruption Case; Senate Judiciary Committee Seeks More Information from Jared Kushner on Russia, WikiLeaks. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 16, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The House passing a massive tax overhaul bill. Of course, the Senate side, two Senators already criticizing their version of the pln. By the way, more than two Senators who are to watch who could really stall the whole thing.

But one we are watching is Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, rejecting the current plan, although he has admitted to the president in a call after fact that he wants to come around to yes. The other Senator we are watching is Maine Senator Susan Collins. She is concerned as well. She's against adding the Obamacare mandate repeal because she says it will hurt the middle class while Johnson says it hurts small businesses and favors corporations.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R), MAINE: I believe that if we start getting into health care issues with the individual mandate, that we send a very mixed message.

SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R), WISCONSIN: I'm not for the current version. What I want to see is the information to prove the kind of economic growth we are going to get with all of our tax revisions.


BALDWIN: So we've got Stephen Moore, CNN senior economic analyst and former economic adviser to the Trump campaign, and Dylan Ratigan is with us, a business analyst.

Dylan, let me start with you.

We heard it first from Senator Collins, concerns with the individual mandate, part of the plan stands right now that would mean that health care premiums would go up which would negate any savings from tax cuts for middle class Americans. How big of a problem is that as a selling point for Republicans?

DYLAN RATIGAN, BUSINIESS ANALYST: That's a big problem. Really industrial policy. Tax policy dictates how you want capital to flow, how you don't want capital to flow, how you basically deal with resources. And I think what's challenging about this particular piece of legislation, it's not intellectually honest in approaching the taxation as what it is, which is a policy for how we want capital to flow and, reads more like a series of favors and ideas and policy positions that range from setting precedent for abortion to sneaking the health care. It doesn't feel genuine to most people in its actual intention to reform in a healthy way the tax policy. And that's not to get lost in a specific debate about a middle-income level or this or that. It's that this actual tax bill at least, to me, Stephen, doesn't really read as a genuine effort to reform the tax code so much as it is a series of favors and out lays. I mean, am I misreading it?

BALDWIN: Go ahead, Stephen.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: First of all, I have to get this off my chest. It's pretty rich for Democrats to say we can't have this health care change because it will lead to increase in premiums. Brooke, right now, I'm sitting in Arizona where health premiums under Obamacare has more than doubled. We have seen explosiveness in costs. Anything that holds down costs will be a big improvement.

By the way --


RATIGAN: If they're being genuine -- I'm not disagreeing with you. Obamacare, I agree with what you just said. I just find it peculiar that we are trying to layer all of this into a so-called industrial tax bill or tax reform as opposed to being honest with each other about, yes, you know what health care is too expensive and Obamacare did make things too expensive. But what are we doing? It doesn't feel honest to me.


BALDWIN: Go ahead and respond.

MOORE: Dylan the answer to that is this is a tax on low income Americans. And average person who pays that Obamacare tax earns about $35,000 a year. So it's a very regressive tax. I think Republicans have the upper hand here.

But let's not lose the big picture here, Brooke. This is a big day for Republicans. I've waited 30 years for this moment for big change in the tax system.

Now I think Dylan you are right, this is not the sweeping tax reform that I might have liked to have seen. But it certainly does make American businesses more competitive by lowering the rates. The other thing it does let's not forget the average middle-class family is going to save about 2,000 to $2500 a year, if you are making $60,000 a year that's pretty significant increase in your take home pay.


BALDWIN: Hang on. What about small businesses, because you hear the concern, specifically from Ron Johnson, saying that, great, the larger corporations would benefit from this, but this hurts the little guy?

MOORE: Yes. So I think Johnson has a point here. Look, this is not ha finished product. It is something that is still being negotiated and debated. And I'm with Ron Johnson. I'd like to see -- look t as he said 90 percent of the jobs are created by small businesses. So I'd like to see that rate lowered. And I hope as they move through this process -- remember, Brooke, heavy lift now is getting this through the Senate. Whereas you said there is only 52 Republicans, and you've got two that are already voicing some skepticism. But I'm actually feeling somewhat confident that they are going to iron out a lot of this. I heard your interview with Alexis, talking about the differences between the two bills. There are differences, but they are not -- I think they are very easily compromised.

[14:35:18] RATIGAN: What's unclear to me, politically, Brooke, how the Republican Party gets buy-in from New York, California? There are states where these sort of the working millionaires, if you will, so people high earning, but not necessarily high wealth, really get nailed in the current iteration, whether it's with the SALT exemption, which I know we'll see if that happens, whether it's the home interest deduction. And so you are asking Republicans from New York, Republicans from California, Republicans from Illinois, for that matter, from where there is that working, that particular category of people who are part of the Republican base, to basically take a tax increase in order for 10 percent of the tax benefit to go to one-tenth percent of the population to repealing the estate tax. There's aspects of this that strike me as illogical.


RATIGAN: Go ahead, Stephen. I'm sorry.

MOORE: Hold on, Dylan. I'm the state and local tax deduction which certainly is there is a lot of controversy over this. By the way, not a single Republican Senator from the six states that are most adversely affected, California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, and Minnesota.

But, look, if you look at getting rid of the state and local tax deduction, almost half of the benefit of the state and local tax deduction right now, Dylan, goes to the top 1 percent. So if you want to make the system more progress, get rid of that state and local tax deduction. By the way, I think one of the effects of that, Brooke, if it passes it's going to force the high-tax states like New York and California, my home state of Illinois, they will have to cut taxes unless people won't want to live in those states anymore.

BALDWIN: Which would be a huge problem.

Hang on. I want you to weigh in on this. Breaking news, we are told that the budget director, Mick Mulvaney, is likely to be named of the Consumer Finance Protect Bureau. That agency, of course, that was proposed by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. First, Dylan, to you, your reaction?

RATIGAN: The fact that the CFPB continues to function and have any relevance at all is a huge win. And I think that the fact that they are looking at somebody like him to do it, I think is ultimately a good thing. I'm actually surprised there hasn't been a more aggressive move to dissolve this entity all together.

BALDWIN: Stephen?

MOORE: I agree with that. Brooke, I know Mick Mulvaney, I'm a good friend of his. He's done a great job as budget director. I'm somewhat surprised that he would leave the budget director job for this job. Because I think the budget director job is probably more important. And a lot of Republicans would like to get rid of the Consumer Finance Protection Board. Already eight other agencies in the federal government that regulate consumer finances. So we'll see how that develops. And by the way, it will be interesting to see who the new budget director is.

BALDWIN: We shall see. Maybe they'll talk about this in the White House briefing. I'm sure someone will ask about the Mick Mulvaney move, coming up in a couple of minutes.

Gentlemen, thank you so much.

Any moment now, as well, embattled Senate Roy Moore in Alabama is expected to take to the podium and speak up in Birmingham. Two new accusers have come forward. We'll take you to Alabama, coming up.


[14:43:05] BALDWIN: Any minute now we are expecting to hear from Roy Moore in Alabama, the embattled Alabama Republican Senate candidate. Now you have two additional accusers coming forward against Roy Moore telling their stories to the "Washington Post."

So let's go to a woman covering this from the ground there in Alabama. Anna Claire Vollers is back with us today, investigative reporter with Alabama Media Group.

So, Anna Claire, thank you for being with me.

I know you have talked to women, the accusers up to the "Washington Post" I believe up to seven. But he's about to speak. And we know he got a huge vote of confidence from Alabama Republican Party. Do we have any idea what Judge Moore is about to say at this press conference minutes from now?

ANNA CLAIRE VOLLERS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, ALABAMA MEDIA GROUP: No, we don't. He has showed no indication that he is interested in stepping down. I mean, Alabama politics, you never know what's going to happen, but I think he's probably in this for the long haul. So I'll be interested to see what he has to say.

BALDWIN: What are the -- you've read all these different "Washington Post" pieces, I know, of course, as I have. What are some of the common threads, themes in these accuser stories?

VOLLERS: I think a lot of them is he seems to be willing to talk to any young women. He starts out flirting with them, telling them that they are pretty, that they have nice eyes. He moves on from there. I mean, there is a variety of behaviors he's been accused of doing. People I talk to said, even when they seem uncomfortable or don't seem to reciprocate his advances, that he just keeps on.

BALDWIN: And one woman, which we haven't talked about enough is his wife, Kayla Moore. I have been reading as much as I can on her. Of course, she is standing by her husband through all of this, as she has for years and years, through other controversies, more on local level in Alabama. It's my understanding they met when she was 24. Although I read something that he had eyes for her years before. Tell us more about his wife.

[14:45:17] VOLLERS: Yes, he says that he saw her some years before they got married. He's not very clear and he hasn't spoke how many years. Saw her dancing in a dance recital. As far as we have been able to piece together, might have been in high school at that point or junior college, because recital was at a junior college near Gadsden. And they got married in 1985 when she was 24 and he was 38, if I'm not mistaken. And she has stood by him. She has posted on Facebook in support of him. She's released a list of pastors that she said supported him. So she just been very, very supportive this whole time.

BALDWIN: Anna Claire Vollers, thank you so much.

I have Emily Jane Fox here with me as well.

Again, waiting for Roy Moore to speak. Waiting for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to speak over at the White House to hopefully address this story as well.

The president has been silent. His daughter has not.

Talk to me about Ivanka Trump.

EMILY JANE FOX, SENIOR REPORTER, VANIETY FAIR: So yesterday, she said in an interview with the Associated Press that there is "a special place in hell" for people accused of crimes like this. And no reason not to believe the women. It was a very strong statement.

BALDWIN: Special place in hell.

FOX: Yes, that is also a line that almost said on verbatim to meet the press. Which I noted was interesting. It's a very strong statement but some statement that someone who she works with also gave several days before. It's a great thing that you came out so strongly against this. Certainly, only person in the Trump family who has said anything about these allegations. She is a senior member of the administration. So it is notable that she said something. It was seven days after the first report. She has given an interview on FOX News. She had been at several events pushing tax reform and hadn't said anything. This is someone who has spoken her opinion about things like the Charlottesville protest on her own Twitter account. And she didn't do that, she waited seven days on this for a prearranged interview with the Associated Press. I myself have asked the White House repeatedly for comment and she waited until yesterday.

BALDWIN: Here's my question. This is what I would ask Ivanka Trump if she was sitting in front of me: Why believe the accusers in the Roy Moore story but not the accusers with regard to her father?

FOX: What is the answer to that? This is not something that you can square as a logical thing. You can't believe certain accusers and not other accusers. Her emotions and attachment to her father is not logical. So who knows if she believes the accusers against her father. She certainly would never admit if she did. And I think that there is obviously some familial blinding going on when it comes to those allegations.

BALDWIN: Faith Jenkins, we know that Roy Moore's name cannot be removed from the ballot. What happens if he wins?

FAITH JENKINS, ATTORNEY & HOST, JUDGE FAITH: Well, there is the option, Brooke, that the Senators could vote to expel him. That hasn't happened in recent history, but it is an option. Requires two thirds of the majority vote. There is a question. The Alabama voters are well aware of the allegations and the controversy going into the voting booth next month. So there is this issue of, are Senators in Washington going to overturn the Alabama electorate the decision, the decision they made. And so there is the issue there. Legally they could. But would they do that? So I think that that is going to be a question.

[14:49:10] BALDWIN: Ladies, thank you so much.

Before we go to break, let me throw this tweet up again we we're waiting to hear from Judge Roy Moore in Alabama. I want to show you what he twitted in regard to a story we're about to tackle here and Senator Al Franken.

Do we have the tweet from Roy Moore?

I'll show you how he's talking about Mitch McConnell. So he says, "Dear Mitch McConnell, bring it on." But there was a separate tweet where he says, "Al Franken admits guilt after photographic evidence of his abuse surfaces. Mitch McConnell says let's investigate. In Alabama, zero evidence, allegations 100 percent rejected. The Senate majority leaders says Moore must quit immediately or be expelled."

Might that be an indicator of what he's about to say behind that podium in Birmingham? We'll see together. We'll take it live momentarily.

Meantime, speaking of Senator Al Franken, he is apologizing now. Even calling for this ethics investigation for himself, saying that he would participate, of course, in that investigation after this photo has now emerged showing him groping a woman who was sleeping from more than a decade ago. We'll show the picture to you. And the White House will respond moments from now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Breaking news out of New Jersey as well. The federal corruption trial of Bob Menendez has ended in a mistrial. Jury passed a note to the judge earlier today saying they were deadlocked after receiving all evidence slowly and in great detail. The judge even interviewed the jurors one by one before declaring the politically charged case a mistrial. The Senator faced conspiracy, bribery, and other alleged abuse of power charges, but the jury wasn't convinced.

Senator Menendez spoke after the fact and he was quite emotional when faced with the reporters.


[14:55:18] SEN. BOB MENENDEZ, (D), MINNESOTA: I've also learned about the incredible weight and power of the federal government and how it can crush you if it wants to. It gives me an even greater resolve to make sure that there is a check to that awesome power.

To those who left me, who abandoned me in my darkest moment, I forgive you. To those who embraced me in my darkest moment, I love you.

To those in New Jersians who gave me the benefit of the doubt, I thank you. To those who have a doubt, I'm going to work harder than ever before so there is no doubt.


BALDWIN: CNN justice reporter, Laura Jarrett, has been following the entire trial.

Laura, mistrial, what does this mean? Is this done? Over? He moves on? Or not necessarily?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, the Senator is breathing a sigh of relief, Brooke, today, given the severity of the charges, given how many years in prison he was potentially facing, he is breathing the sigh of relief.

But the big question what will the Justice Department do next. They sent out a statement appreciates their service in lengthy trial and consider next steps in this important matter and report to the court at the appropriate time. They could easily refile this entire case all over again, but they could also decide to drop some of the charges or change the presentation in some way.

Now, one of the jurors who just left the court a short time ago told my colleague, Sara Jorgenson, that the jury was actually split 10-2. Only two people on that jury wanted to convict the Senator. So no telling how that will factor into the Justice Department's decision as they move forward here -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Laura Jarrett, thank you so much, in Newark.

We have news Senate Judiciary Committee saying the president's son-in- law has given incomplete information and now wants more.

Let's go to Manu Raju up on the Capitol Hill.

Manu, what's the story?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Actually, they're setting the deadline for send of the month, Brooke, for Jared Kushner to send a series of documents to the committee. Not satisfied with the response from Jared Kushner so far to the committee's request.

Now in particular what they are asking for are documents that they have received from other individuals where Jared Kushner was CC'ed on and copied in which Kushner did not provide. So they are asking questions, how come he didn't provide these documents.

One thing worth pointing out was September 2017 e-mail from Jared Kushner, e-mail that was forwarded to him concerning WikiLeaks. Now it was revealed earlier this week that Donald Trump Jr was in communication, had some correspondence with WikiLeaks through Twitter, and he forwarded correspondence to Jared Kushner and some others. It appears this committee did not get it, despite asking for some of those communications.

In addition to that, Brooke, they said others have produced documents concerning a, quote, "Russian backdoor" overture and dinner invite, which Kushner also forwarded. Now he said that Kushner did not provide that information to the committee.

And they also were trying to get communications about Sergei Milian (ph), a Russian American real estate broker, who apparently may have been involved with some deals with Mr. Kushner's father-in-law, the president of the United States. No documents for that.

And they want more documents regarding any communications with Michael Flynn, former security adviser, dismissed earlier this year.

In addition to that, they did not get information about Jared Kushner's security clearance form, which he was supposed to amend on multiple occasions to list his foreign contacts, which he did not list initially. So we'll see if he does provide that to the committee.

But a bipartisan from the leaders of that committee to get that information by the end of the month -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Not satisfied with what he is given. He's got some documents to hand over, it sounds like.

Manu Raju, thank you so much for the update on Jared Kushner.

Meantime, we are mere minutes away from the first White House briefing since the president's return home from his big Asia swing. A lot to talk about there, from Al Franken, to Roy Moore, to the tax fight upcoming in the Senate. Lots to tackle for Sarah Huckabee Sanders. We'll take the whole thing live.

Stay with me.