Return to Transcripts main page


House Passes GOP Tax Bill, Fate in Senate Unclear; Senate Committee Requests More Info on Kushner. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 17, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:31] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: House Republicans passed their tax reform with senators preparing to act on their version after Thanksgiving. The Senate Finance Committee approved the $1.5 trillion plan. But before Chairman Orrin Hatch chastised Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown for saying Republicans have only tried to cut taxes for the rich. Watch this.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I come from the poor people. And I've been here working my whole stinking career for people who don't have a chance. And I really resent anybody saying I'm just doing this for the rich. Give me a break. I think you guys overplay that all the time, and it gets old. And frankly, you ought to quit it.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Mr. Chairman, the public believes it.

HATCH: I'm not through. I get kind of sick and tired of it. True, it's a nice political play.

BROWN: Well, Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, I get tired of the richest people getting richer --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regular order, Mr. Chairman. Regular order.

BROWN: -- over and over again.


BERMAN: All right. Back now with Errol Louis and Karoun Demirjian.

You know, Karoun, it's interesting, you watch this debate, it's part of the issue with selling this entire tax plan where most of the money in the tax cut is in fact, a corporate tax cut. But most of the sales pitch is as a middle class tax cut.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, which is a fundamental mismatch when you're starting out.

Certainly, Republicans believe with the corporate tax cut this will help fuel the investment in the economy, create jobs, get more people who are earning less to earn more, and thus, you know, kind of balance everything out in the end. But Democrats are basically pointing to the raw numbers right there and saying, first of all, you can't prove that is going to happen. Corporations hold all kinds of cash and they don't put back into the economy.

And also, you know, with this latest report that the projections are over 5, 10 years, the burden of taxes on the middleclass is actually going to go up and the poor is going to go up. That's a very direct sales pitch to the people.

Tax reform is a complicated thing to sell. People are familiar with the parts of it that affect them directly, whether it's state and local taxes which as we know are out, or just the raw number that, you know, of how much they're going to be paying into the government now versus five years from now and beyond.

And the numbers have not shaken out that well for the GOP on this one. And so, they are now fighting -- I mean, they're fighting exactly the microcosm battle between Orrin Hatch and Sherrod Brown.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and yet, Errol, I mean, this thing came out of the House. It worked. It sped through the House. It came out in the committee, in the Senate.

So, are there speed bumps ahead?


CAMEROTA: Or it is going to be on the president's desk before Christmas?

LOUIS: Oh, there are some big speed bumps out there. The reality is, and I think this is what fueled some of the exchanges we saw, is that the Republican leadership is trying to shut Democrats out 100 percent. No hearings. No real findings. No real research. No amendments.

CAMEROTA: But they can pass it without Democrats, right?

LOUIS: Well, they can try. And what we saw in the attempt to repeal Obamacare, they teed up the very same situation, because what happens when you try and pass it just with the conference when you have only a narrow majority as the Republicans do in the Senate, is that you're effectively giving a near veto power to almost any individual senator.

And so, you have Ron Johnson from Wisconsin saying, well, I don't like what's going on with some of these escort provisions. And you get John McCain saying, you know, regular order, sort of throwing that little procedural question out there that they have never really seriously addressed. You have Susan Collins of Maine saying, well, how come we're all of a sudden taking away people's individual mandate premiums?

So, I think there's going to be a very good chance that those speed bumps will really come to the fore, especially after folks go home for Thanksgiving and to her from some of their constituents. BERMAN: Yes, two things can be true. Number one, it is significant

the House passed this version last night. But it is also true, it's a whole new season in the Senate.

If we can put -- we have a list of the Republican senators right now who might have issues with what's going on. Errol just mentioned it right now. Ron Johnson doesn't think enough of the tax cuts from corporations go to smaller businesses. Susan Collins is concerned about the individual mandate and the distribution of tax cuts.

To me --

CAMEROTA: And the deficit issue that people --

BERMAN: I think that's the most interesting. That's where you have Senator Bob Corker, Karoun, who has sent out these cryptic tweets about the fact that he is still concerned with the national debt and the deficit here which is a problem that will not be fixed no matter what they do on the Senate side.

[06:35:04] And if Bob Corker is going to be concern about that and vote on the deficits and national debt, then this thing is in big trouble.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, definitely, and there's a lot of people like Corker who are concerned that the national debt is, you know, it's a national security threat. It's just a general threat for the future. Unless they have something absolutely perfectly, they're not going to be willing to compromise on that point.

Also, remember of the people that you show, the faces you showed a minute ago, a lot of guys are not necessarily coming back. They are not necessarily beholden to the president and the party in the same way others might have. Corker is retiring. Jeff Flake is retiring. Senator McCain is unwell and he just won reelection. So he is not beholden to the party either. And you have people like Susan Collins who have been -- and Lisa Murkowski have been willing to go out on their own. They might be eyeing different jobs is than their Senate is seats too.

So, if the overarching thing is we need this win, the president needs this win, the party needs this win, compromise on the things you don't like that much so we can get this through and do something that is going to work and count as that, you might not have enough people coming on board. Again, you can only afford, when you got 52 Republicans, to lose three if Mike Pence comes in and breaks a tie basically. Or not even. The second you lose the third one, you're pretty much in a difficult position there and you can't really win this.

So, it's really playing very close to the margins and if you have that many senators who are either on their way out or not traditionally beholden to the party, that's a very tough puzzle.

CAMEROTA: Karoun, Errol, thank you very much for helping us understand it. We'll see if the president gets more engaged on getting this through.

Millions of Americans meanwhile are finalizing Thanksgiving travel plans. Those plans could be impacted by this fast-moving storms we're seeing in the forecast. What you should know before leaving home, next.


[06:41:08] CAMEROTA: OK, millions of folks ready to travel for Thanksgiving as fast moving storms approach.

Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Chad Myers with our forecast.

What are we looking at, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's going to be wet. I guess that's better than white if you're driving. The temperatures are cool but not, Alisyn, not cold enough to snow.

This weather this morning is brought to you by Humana. Start with healthy.

Now, there will be a storm that affects Rocky Mountains today with winter storm warnings. If you're traveling to Vail, or Aspen, or Snowmass, anywhere out there, you will be happy with the amount of snow coming down, could be 20 inches of new snow in the mountains. Rain, though along the surface, rain in Chicago for tomorrow. Heavy rain in New York City for tomorrow night into Sunday.

So, if you work this out, you could actually run between the rain drops if you have to, because airports will still be pretty good. Not going to have any significant weather for next week at all. Temperatures are going to be in the 40s, 50s. So, well above freezing except for the lake effect areas around Buffalo and maybe just east of Chicago.

Pushing you ahead until next week, airports look really good. Philadelphia, New York may have 15 to 30 minutes. But most of the affected airports will be only 30 minutes long with weather delays, John. Good stuff.

BERMAN: Right. That's not so bad. Chad Myers, thanks very much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right. Major developments on two fronts in the Russia investigation. Senators demanding to know more about Jared Kushner's emails involving WikiLeaks. Will special counsel Robert Mueller targets the Trump campaign?

We have new details, next.


[06:46:58] CAMEROTA: According to two sources, special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump campaign for more Russia-related documents. And the Senate Judiciary Committee is requesting more Russia-related information from the president's adviser and son-in- law, Jared Kushner.

So, let's go live to Washington and bring in Jessica Schneider.

So, what do we know about this, Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn. The Senate Judiciary Committee now demanding a number of documents. It says so far they have failed to turn of.

So, here's the rather lengthy list of what they want. Kushner's communications related to fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, including Flynn's registration as a foreign agent. The committee also wants documents related to Kushner's security clearance. You'll recall that Kushner had to update his forms three times, amending them to document several meetings with foreign entities, including Russians.

Also on the list, the he mail chain where Donald Trump Jr. relayed his direct Twitter messages he had with WikiLeaks. We know that Kushner emailed that chain to Hope Hicks. The committee is also demanding emails about attempts to establish a back door line of communications to the Russians and a dinner invite that Kushner received, as well as phone records.

Now, Kushner's attorney is responding to all of these requests saying that, quote, we provided the Judiciary Committee with all relevant documents that had to do with Mr. Kushner's calls, contacts or meetings with Russians during the campaign in transition which was the request.

But Abbe Lowell there also adding that Kushner will continue to voluntarily cooperate. Now, in the meantime, the Trump campaign has been served with a so-called cleanup subpoena from the special counsel. This is basically a demand for documents from Mueller's team they are making on an expanded search term that they have made.

Now, a source called this subpoena bookkeeping at the end of the grand jury process. So far, we haven't heard any comment from the Trump campaign about this new subpoena -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Jessica Schneider in Washington, thanks so much.

I want to bring in CNN national security analyst, James Clapper. He was director of national intelligence during the Obama administration.

Director, thanks so much for being with us.


BERMAN: I want to start with Jared Kushner. It is not just once he hasn't turned something over that was requested or done something in the right way. It started with the documentation and security clearance way, way back at the beginning as he was coming into the administration. And now, we're in a situation where the Judiciary Committee is saying, hey, where are these e-mails about WikiLeaks? These are something you should have turned over to us?

So, the question is, if you're looking at this from the outside, does this look like deception or incompetence?

CLAPPER: Well, I don't know. That's a great question. I mean, there seems to be a history or track record of less than stellar records keeping and lack of attention to administrative detail, certainly with filling out the standard form 86, background investigation form in which more than once foreign contacts were omitted.

I do think that as this whole thing goes on, there's going to be a challenge for the White House or the people involved with the campaign in providing the same records consistently but to the multiple investigations going on either with the special counsel or in Congress.

[06:50:01] BERMAN: It is interesting. And the other bit of news that Jessica was talking about there was Robert Mueller issuing a subpoena to the Trump campaign. Sources on that side say it is a cleanup subpoena. We don't know what that means. But it does shows Robert Mueller is working here.

CLAPPER: Oh, yes, absolutely. And I think it also reflects his methodical, systematic approach to this and his intent here to gather all possible records that are relevant. And, of course, subpoena is a pretty powerful tool.

BERMAN: Yes, it's not nothing.

Before we move on, because there is one foreign policy issue that ties into this that I want to get to, but first, just on the investigation. You famously said during the transition process that you yourself have seen no evidence of collusion.

Well, there's a lot that's happened since then and you've talked about the George Papadopoulos meeting. You've talked about various Carter Page meetings. We're getting into WikiLeaks here, the idea that Donald Trump Jr. had this private message exchange with WikiLeaks. Not something you knew what you said there was no collusion.

CLAPPER: That's right.

BERMAN: And, likewise, you know, Jared Kushner -- we don't know what's in the e-mails he has to turn over. But it is a lot of stuff he's being asked to turn over to the investigation right now that pertains directly to this investigation. Did you know about any of that when you said no collusion?

CLAPPER: No, we didn't. The only thing we knew about before the publication of our intelligence community assessment on the 6th of January was the multiple meetings going on.

We didn't necessarily know content, but certainly, for those of us in the national security circle, that was concerned, the metaphor I used was our dashboard warning lights were clearly flashing. Subsequently, you know, the 10 months since the inauguration, more and more has come out, which -- at least it's still circumstantial, but it is getting more and more compelling as time goes on.

BERMAN: Yes. Would you have made the same statement as you made 10 months ago?

CLAPPER: I would not have, no.

BERMAN: All right. And part of this is the policy implication to this. Donald Trump ran as a candidate as someone who wanted a closer relationship with Russia. Maybe they get them to do things that he thinks are in the U.S. interests.

Well, over the last 24 hours, Russia vetoed a U.N. measure that would have continued chemical weapons inspections in Syria, which the U.S. supports.


BERMAN: So, this indicates the U.S. isn't getting what it wants from Russia.

CLAPPER: Well, it's indicative that the Russians and we are not, have not been and probably never will be on the same page. The Russian objective here, of course, is to prop up their surrogate Assad, and that has been their objective from the get-go.

And so, it's not surprising that they would veto this. There's not much we can do about it. Plus, the president, for whatever reason, refuses to acknowledge the threat posed by the Russians or even acknowledge at least consistently their profound interference in our election and our basic democratic process.

BERMAN: Have you seen any evidence that this president has more influence over the Russians from a policy standpoint than previous administrations?

CLAPPER: Well, no, I haven't. And the Russians are not our friends. And they are not going to, unless it's in their interest, come to some kind of grand agreement with the United States. They're just not. It is very disturb to go me that this threat they posed to our basic system is recognized.

BERMAN: Director James Clapper, thanks so much for being with us.

CLAPPER: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.



Capitol Hill now rocked by allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior. President Trump going after Democrat Al Franken but keeping his distance from the Roy Moore controversy, and his own controversies. Late breaking details, next.



LEEANN TWEEDEN, NEWS ANCHOR: You know, it is belittling, it's humiliating. Is that funny if that's' your wife or your daughter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She accepted his apology. Is it enough? I think the Senate is going to have to be the judge of that.

REPORTER: Should Roy Moore step aside?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For every Roy Moore, there will be an Al Franken? And once you've covered up for one, you lost moral credibility to hold the other to account?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Be very, very afraid for the women are empowered, they are emboldened and they're not going to take it anymore.

BERMAN: The House passes a sweeping tax overhaul, but the future of the Senate plan remains uncertain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I resent anybody saying I'm doing this for the rich. I get to kind of sick and tired of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This plan will blow our deficit, favor the most affluent and mortgage our future.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.


CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Chris is off today. And John Berman joins me for this important conversation that we've been having.

BERMAN: Indeed, thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you here.

So, this morning, more sexual assault scandal forcing the White House to figure out which to condemn and which to ignore. President Trump blasting Senator Al Franken, in a series of tweets, after a news anchor came forward saying Franken groped and forcibly kissed her.

The president slams Franken's behavior, despite the fact that more than a dozen women have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.

BERMAN: And while the president is happy to weigh in on Senator Al Franken, he won't say anything about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is accused of sexually molesting a girl when she was 14. The president flat out refuses to say whether he thinks Roy Moore should be a senator. Overnight, he was talking about Franken. This morning, he is talking about taxes.