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Mar-A-Lago Loses Events After Charlottesville Controversy; Attorney Defends Kushner Against Criticism Over Failing To Turn Over Documents; Trump" I Should Have Left UCLA Players In China Jail; Senate Grappling With Tax Plan As House Passes Bill; NYT: Tillerson "Downgrading" State Department; Puerto Rico Still Coping With Blackouts, Food Shortages. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 19, 2017 - 15:00   ET


[15:00:00] DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: At the same time, they're located in some of the country. Trump's like going to visit them very often, so there's not really an easy way to monetize the power of the presidency. At the same they are located in cities where Trump is not that popular. So you've seen anecdotal evidence. Again, it's hard to see the whole picture, but there's other places that are losing business.

The question was where does Mar-A-Lago fit? Is it one of the places that it's losing or one of the places that it's gaining? And it's a little too hard -- too hard to tell now. For one thing, they did raise the initiation fee from $100,000 to $200,000.

So there are many more members coming in to the higher price. But on the other hand, all of these very lucrative events have departed and this kind of secondary events that have come in and take your place. It doesn't seem like right now they're going to provide the same kind of revenue that Trump has lost.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: Interesting. All right, David Fahrenthold that's a fascinating read, Washington Post. Thanks so much.


WHITFIELD: We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right now.

Hello again everyone and thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with breaking news on the special counsel's investigation of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

The attorney for Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law, at the center of the probe just spoke to CNN Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez. And Evan is joining me right now. Tell us what Abbe Lowell said.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, for months, you know, there's been this growing perception that Jared Kushner hasn't been up front about Russian contacts, misfailure to list them in his security clearance application. To this past week when the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a bipartisan and public letter to Kushner saying he hadn't turned over documents at the committee new existed. The committee says that the documents cover everything from campaign contacts of WikiLeaks to a Russian backdoor proposal to connect the Russian President Vladimir Putin with the campaign and idea, by the way, that Kushner rejected.

In an interview with me today, Abbe Lowell, Kushner's attorney, push his back against those accusations. Take a listen.


PEREZ: So Abbe, tell me what this disagreement with the Senate Judiciary Committee boils down to for you?

ABBE LOWELL, JARED KUSHNER'S ATTORNEY: You know, the committee investigations, unfortunately are devolving into political gotcha games. At the committee's selectively leak parts of interviews present me letters to the media or turn Jared Kushner's very clear e- mail that there should be no contacts with anybody in a foreign country into what they call as a missing document, then they're undermining their own credibility. The issue of Russia interference in the 2016 election is a serious one, but these committee actions are not.

PEREZ: So what I hear you saying is you don't believe that there's any missing documents and you don't really plan to provide any additional documents.

LOWELL: No, let me be clear that when we told the Judiciary Committees that we've send them what we'd already sent the Intelligence Committees and then work with them if there was anything else that was relevant. And then what they decide to do was to create a media event. That undermines the seriousness of their endeavor.

PEREZ: So do you not plan to allow another interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee that seems to be what they're asking for?

LOWELL: Mr. Kushner's made very clear that he will cooperate as he has been voluntarily with all bipartisan requests from committees on anything that's relevant. He's done it and he'll do it again.

PEREZ: So, in these cases, as you know, the perception is often as important as the facts. And the perception that has been built here is that Jared Kushner perhaps has something to hide because this committee say that he's not being as forthcoming as others have been. They received the same request, the same broad request for documents, and they provided documents that Jared Kushner did not provide. Is there a problem with Jared Kushner's ability to --

LOWELL: Let's be clear again.

PEREZ: Right.

LOWELL: In my communications with the Senate Judiciary Committee, I said, take these documents and let's talk about what else is relevant. They jump the gun to make a media event.

In any perception that Mr. Kushner has been anything, but not only cooperative, but if you look at the contents of these e-mails, he's the hero. He is the one who's saying there should be any contacts with foreign officials or foreign entities. That's what the Senate Judiciary Committee pay attention to and not create some sort of partisan gotcha game.

PEREZ: The perception, though, is built because of the SF-86, the fact that he didn't disclosed all those contacts at first and the fact that these documents, they say are missing, but were provided by others. So again --

LOWELL: No, he say that he did not disclose on SF-86. Again, a misperception. It was sent first time with a hit of a send button before it was complete. And then within days and weeks, it was completed. I mean, that's just silliness.

PEREZ: It took a couple of months for the 100 additional contacts to be --

LOWELL: It took a couple of months to get it thorough and also make sure that it was complete. That's not a typical in this process.

PEREZ: So, you have a deadlocked jury in New Jersey that basically allowed your client to walk away from these charges in the Justice Department charges. What do you think -- what's your message that you have to the department as they face a lot of pressure to retry Senator Menendez?

LOWELL: Look, everyone should pay very close attention to what the jurors were saying with your votes and with their works.

[15:05:08] And what they were saying is that the premise, the entire premise of the governments, all of their charges were wrong, that there was no bribery, no corrupt agreement, and that Senator Menendez and Dr. Salomon Melgen were real friends. And more investigations and more prosecutions and more trials cannot change that basic and simple fact.

PEREZ: Senator Menendez, obviously is a public official, he's a policy maker. Do you think that there's reason for him to worry that there's -- that he adds to the cynicism that people have about the institutions? You know, the fact is that, you know, Richard Painter, the former ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration said, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court for so narrowly defining bribery that convictions are almost impossible. The idea being that because of the 2016 Supreme Court ruling, Senator Menendez and other public officials are going to skate by.

LOWELL: I'm sorry to Mr. Painter, he didn't really pay attention to the trial and to the evidence and what the juror said. They're not talking about anything like the Supreme Court's decision. What the said was, the premise of the government's charges were not correct and the premise was, they said, it was no underlying bribery, no corruption, no agreement, and that this was a real friendship. That's innocence before the Supreme Court rule and its innocence after the Supreme Court rule.


PEREZ: And Fredricka, right there at the bottom of that interview, we addressed the Senator Menendez, efficiently walking away because the jury could not come to a decision in his case. Obviously, Abbe Lowell believes that he should not stand a retrial. There should not be a round two, which is of course something that the Justice Department is under great pressure to do.

And the bottom line with Jared Kushner is that you hear -- you heard him here, Kushner is not promising to provide an interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is something that they are demanding. And while his attorney says that he is cooperating, there's no explicit promise that you heard there to provide any additional documents from that this committee is demanding, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: OK. So, yes, Abbe Lowell very busy, you know, representing Bob Menendez to that hung jury case, and then also now Mr. Jared Kushner case.

So I want to bring in to discuss with you Evan, CNN Legal Analyst Page Pate. And so Page, this is very interesting because the attorney is saying, wait a minute, there was no omission, if I'm understanding that correctly. So all of the documents, all the information was provided adequately and he's actually saying if these committees that are undermining the case by disseminating public information that Jared Kushner has been less than honest and forthright.

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think that's the perception but I think it's a fair perception. I mean, Abbe Lowell is a very good lawyer. Obviously, he did a great job in the Menendez case. Now he's doing the best he can for Jared Kushner.

But what they are doing here is cooperating but very reluctantly. What they did is give a batch of documents to the investigating committees and said look at them, then if you don't think they are complete, come back to us and we'll give you more. So, it's almost like they're saying, you have to ask us the right question if you want the right answer.

WHITFIELD: Is that usually the way it goes? And in respect to the S.F., you know, it takes, you know, form as well because there are -- there been a lot of amendments for Jared Kushner.

PATE: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: Right. And it sounds as though the same explanation might apply.

PATE: Yes. That's true. When you're filling out of form like that for the federal government, the law is, if you make a false statement, that is a crime. It's not like a rolling form. It's not an ongoing process as Abbe Lowell made it appear to be.

Most people are judged on what they put on that form the first time. Now some people do get to amend it, there can be an honest mistake, there can be an honest omission. But once there's a pattern of mistakes or a pattern of omissions, then you have evidence of deception.

WHITFIELD: And so Evan, you know, one of the issues in which Jared Kushner, you know, either reportedly or is being accused of not being completely forthright and honest is any kind of interaction he had with WikiLeaks. And that he, you know, is saying he either passed on the information. Others are asking whether he was an active participant, you know, in the conversations. Is Abbe Lowell, in anyway, suggesting that Jared Kushner will try to clarify that by documentation or potentially being interviewed again by any of these committees?

PEREZ: Well, you know, the bottom line, Fredricka, is simply put, you know, the same request. You heard me in my questions, and the same request for information went to everyone that was connected to the campaign. And they came back with all these documents which is why the committee knows they exist.

Jared did not provide those documents. Donald Trump, Jr. did. And so, that's how they know they exist. And so the way this usually works is that you are supposed to provide these documents. And there is stuff that they can learn.

Look, Abbe Lowell seems to be saying, well you already have the documents from other people, why do you need it from us? Well, there's a reason why you need to provide it, it's because investigators can look to see, for instance, if you forwarded it somewhere.

[15:10:13] That perhaps they don't know about. There's a lot of information that they can learn from your production of those documents. And that is the reason why they are insisting that he provide them.

WHITFIELD: And what, Page, could potentially happen if Abbe Lowell, Jared Kushner resist on providing any more documentation or resist even going back on the Hill and be interviewed by the committees?

PATE: Well, the committees can go through the subpoena process. And then if they still refuse to either produce documents or appear and testify then there's a contempt process and they can go to the courts and try to enforce it.

You hope especially in a situation like this. If they're saying, if Kushner lawyer is saying, we're going to cooperate, then, let's also be transparent about it. Give us the documents the first time. Sit down with us and answer the questions the first time. Don't make us comeback again and again to try to get you to do what you said you're going do in the beginning.

WHITFIELD: OK. You know, Michael Zeldin is also joining us now. And, Michael, you've, you know, worked with Bob Mueller previously. So, by listening to Abbe Lowell's explanation there and saying that it's -- these committees that are undermining the investigations by, you know, publicly saying enough information, not all of the right information has been provided by Jared Kushner. How might Bob Mueller and his team be looking at this interview? How does it either assist or potentially interfere with?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think in some sense it's not pertinent to Mueller. Muller is going to make his own requests of Kushner. And Abbe Lowell has respond to those. Those are the ones that matter to Abby way more than Congress. Congress unless this guy is put under oath and lies under oath, or they issue a contempt citation against him, none which is going to happen.

Abbe's primary and perhaps only real concern is Mueller. And so, he's got to make sure he is protecting his client for future contact with Mueller. And as a consequence of that, he's going to give to the committees that which they specifically ask for.

If they ask for something, he'll give it to them. He's not going to define their intention in a base had a hope that they would get more from him than they specifically ask for, that's on them. And that's, I think, that's Abbe's point of view.

And, you know, if I were a lawyer, I think that would be what I would do is protect my client and tell them answer the questions that are asked, don't embellish and wait for the next question. And I think that's what's going on here.

I think what upset Abbe too was the release of the congressional in the public domain. He is saying, look, we're endeavoring to cooperate with you. Why did you have to do that? It's embarrassing to us, it makes us look bad. It wasn't necessary. You could have asked for it in private. We will give it to you. So, they've got a little bit of a bone to pick about the public display there too.

WHITFIELD: The Mueller investigations can potentially lead to prosecutions charges where as the congressional inquiries really do not. So, there aren't -- Are there really any consequences from these congressional investigations if Jared Kushner or anybody else is less than cooperative?

ZELDIN: Well, yes. Again, if they brought charges against him for lying to Congress, yes, sure, then there are consequences. But, principally, as between the two, Congress is more of an appearance of cooperation, slow --

WHITFIELD: Transparency.

ZELDIN: -- dragging it. Yes, all that sort of stuff. Mueller is a grand jury and the very realistic possibility as we saw from Papadopoulos, that if you're not 100 percent fully forth coming there, you will end up with a charge of misleading or lying or perjury or some such thing. And that's what Abbe has to concern with. Yes, exactly, that's what Abbe has to worry about.

WHITFIELD: Very good. All right, Michael Zeldin, Page Pate, Adam Perez, thank you to all of you. Appreciate it. All right, still ahead, the President of the United States just went after the father of one of the UCLA players that he helped to get out of jail. Why the President says he should have left them, the players there in China.


[15:18:27] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. President Trump has ignited another public dispute with a private citizen. Today, the President shot back at LaVar Ball, the father of one of UCLA basketball players arrested in China.

The President was apparently upset that the father belittled his role, the President's role in the student's release. Here is the President's tweet. "Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail." That's from the President of the United States.

CNN Boris Sanchez is covering this for us from the White House. So, Boris, tell us more.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. Yes, the President never want to turn down a fight in the press. This all started several days ago after the President wondered allowed on Twitter whether or not these three UCLA basketball players would publicly thank him for his role in their release and their return to the United States.

The White House is telling us that President Trump personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to let these players go. Since then the players did thank him publicly. But one of their fathers, as you said Fred, downplayed President's -- President Trump's role in the release of his son, telling ESPN, "What was he over there for. Don't tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out."

So, we got that response today from the President essentially saying that, he should not have asked for being release of these U.S. citizens imprisoned in China because one of their parents didn't publicly give him credit for it.

[15:20:10] Noticeably absent though form the Presidents Twitter feed today, Fred, as any mention of Roy Moore and the controversial Senate race in Alabama over this week. The reporters have gotten chance to ask the White House several times whether or not the President believes in Roy Moore's accusers.

We haven't gotten a definitive yes or no answer, though, on Friday. Sarah Sanders, the Press Secretary told us that the President had weighed in and there was a feeling that the White house had said enough about this race. And that Alabamian should have their say in whether or not they believe Roy Moore, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much. Let's talk a little bit more about, just joining me right now, CNN Senior Media Correspondent, host of Reliable Sources, Brian Stelter. And so, you know, Brian, you know, the way this President, you know, prioritizes is very confusing to a lot of people. Because as Boris underscored, he has not said very much about Roy Moore although a representative from the White House did go on the air today and say the President has been in Alabama to campaign. That says something about what he believes about Roy Moore.

But the President would extensively express himself in frustration over the parent's words to ESPN about these three boys, three young men actually being in China and their release.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: These words were from Friday on ESPN. And now all of a sudden here on Sunday afternoon, the President decided to chime in. You know, this time last year Fred, President Trump said in an interview with CBS that he would be very restrained with Twitter once he took office. If this is restrained, I can't imagine

what it would look like if he were to be unrestrained.

I mean, think about this. He is just recently let the NFL kneeling controversy starts to subside, start to fade away. And now here he is calling out these players and the families again.

I think it's immature at best, Fred, but it's really waste baiting at worst. That's going to be debated, that's going to be argued about. But I want to put around the table, it sure looks like race baiting to a lot of people.

And, by the way, the reason why these tweets are important, is because they are in serious look into his psyche, into what the President cares about. I know some folks at home might think, he is trying to distract us from the Roy Moore scandal. Trying to distract from his own scandals, his own history, or maybe trying to distract from Jared Kushner's legal trouble.

But if that's true he's also distracting from the closing arguments involving tax cuts. He is taking away attention from the GOP effort for tax reforms. So, I don't buy the distraction strategy. I think this is just an insight into what the President is really fired up about. He feels he did not get -- he is not getting enough praise, enough support for what he did for these players.

WHITFIELD: You know, and it's the sequence too. I mean, it cannot be, you know, overlooked that, you know, this is part of a pattern of communication about these young men, you know, in China, right? Because while they were overseas and, you know, being held, the President was also overseas at one point, you know, it all kind of came together. They were all in China.

And then the President just prior to the young men returning to UCLA early in the week and being very contrite expressing how they embarrass their families, their universities and their country. And the President preceded that with, you know, this tweet saying, "Do you think the three UCLA basketball players will say thank you, President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail."

And then we did hear these young men, LiAngelo Ball, Mr. Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, all of them express themselves very eloquently in their, you know, thanks to the President.

STELTER: Right, right.

WHITFIELD: And to their parents and everyone who, you know, put so much stock into them. In fact I think we may have one lined up, right? OK, can we hear from them? This is LiAngelo Ball. All right, let's listen.


LIANGELO BALL, UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER: I would also like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they provided as well. I'm grateful to be back home and I'll never make a mistake like this again. I'm assuming sorry for those who I let down. But I'm also very thankful for all the help, love, and support that they provided. And I take full responsibility for my actions and I'm sorry. Thank you.


WHITFIELD: So Brian, the President's tweet preceding their comments was, you know, struck a lot of people as being very unusual and odd.

STELTER: Yes. And certainly I think these players in those forthright apologies probably would have said the same thing if President Trump hadn't tweeted about them ahead of time. The U.S. government does deserve credit for helping to make sure they were home safe and sound.

[15:25:04] But now today's tweet saying he should left them in jail, what do you think that seriously or literally is disturbing. You know, Democrat Adam Schiff is responding on Twitter right now saying, The President would have left students in a foreign jail because their families didn't lavish sufficient praise on him? Adam Schiff saying, how can someone in such a big office be so small?

WHITFIELD: That says a lot. All right, Brian Stelter, we're going to talk more about this. Thank you so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.


[15:30:02] WHITFIELD: All right, now that the U.S. House has passed its tax bill, the U.S. Senate says it will get their version to the floor sometime after Thanksgiving. Some critics of the House Bill say it will actually mean a tax increase for many middle class families when the cuts expire in 2025.

On CNN this morning, a White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was asked to explain why corporate tax cuts were permanent while individual cuts are not.


MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: Just because the way it scored. And again, a lot of this discussion, and this is what so hard to explain to folks, this is where Washington really does speak a different language. So much of what you are seeing. All of these intricacies about this expires after five years, maybe this is permanent, maybe this is not, maybe the estate tax is doubled for now and couple of years then goes away, is to try and shoehorn the bill into the rules of the Senate.

Because of the observe rules, the Senate require 60 votes on just about everything. In order to get the 50-vote frequently (ph) we get under reconciliation. We have to follow these very specific requirements of the Budget Act of 1974. It doesn't speak to the quality of the policy, it simply trying to essentially manipulate the numbers and game in the system so that you call fall into this --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: By using game of thugs (ph).

MULVANEY: By using game of thugs (ph).


WHITFIELD: All right, I want to talk this over with Stephen Moore, CNN Senior Economist Analyst and a former Economic Adviser to the Trump campaign. And Austan Goolsbee, a Democratic Economist and former Chairman of the Economic Advisers Council. Good to see you both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: All right. So Austan, you first. What will the long-term potential consequences of making the individual tax cuts temporary be?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, DEMOCRATIC ECONOMIST: Well, I mean, I was kind of stunned that Secretary Mulvaney there admitted that they're just manipulating and trying to gain the system. The only rule -- the rule that he called the absurd rule is that if you're going to pass tax cuts, you have to pay for them.

And what they're doing -- we now have the official -- the people whose job it is to add up whose taxes go up and whose go down have shown that virtually everyone making less than $75,000 a year will have their taxes go up by the end of this bill so that they can pay for giant cut and get rid of the estate tax on billionaires and get rid of much of the corporate taxation. And I just think we shouldn't get too worked up about what's in the bill now because it's quite clear that most of the Republicans are not going to be able to support this bill, once the American people find out what's in it.

WHITFIELD: So Stephen, for whom of this be a big benefit especially when another big concern then that this kind of tax bill will actually add to the deficit to the tune of something like $1.5, you know, trillion? STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Well, Fredricka, first of all, this idea that somehow this is a tax increase on the middle- class and working-class people, is just absolutely the opposite of the truth. I mean, if you look at -- let's say families that are making between say $60 and $100,000, I think we could all agree that's middle-class. Those families are looking at about $2,000 or $3,000 tax cut for the first six of seven years.

Now, what happens after that, you know, Lord knows -- I mean, eight years from now, were going to -- that's two Presidential elections from now. The tax code will certainly be shifted from now, but the --

WHITFIELD: Well, except that, when you haven't seen a change in the tax, you know, codes in something like 30 years -- I mean, people are going to be anticipating within eight years anything is going to change --

MOORE: Fredricka, it is true we haven't fundamentally change the, you know, reform the tax system in 31 years, but we change the tax laws every three or four years in this country.

But I think the bigger point is this, that the objective of this tax bill is clearly to grow the economy. You keep what Trump's already started going. I mean, remember, the Congress only growing a 1.5 percent in Obama's last year in office. We're already up to 3 percent growth. We think we can get to 3.5 percent to 4 percent growth. And if you can sustain that, I mean, this is the point I would make to my friend Austan Goolsbee.

If we can get growth at 3 percent to 3.5 percent, you're going to have a lot more revenue coming in, Austan, that that is not going to go up, it's going to go down. And as more people are working, less people are on welfare and people make more money. That's the whole objective of this. And look, it worked in the 60s under Kennedy, it worked under Reagan in the 80s. We think it will work for Trump in this decade.

WHITFIELD: So, Austan, you know, the OMB Director Mick Mulvaney also said that, you know, this individual mandate becomes problematic if it really is a big impediment, you know, just getting this tax bill pass. Then there are maybe be modifications the White House would be OK with that. What does that say to you?

GOOLSBEE: Look, it says what he said with his own words. They are manipulating and gaming their tax plan to try to fit it under rules that they know it doesn't fit under. They're taking $4.5 trillion of tax cuts and trying to stuff them into a magic gimmick sack in which they say that will only cost $1.5 trillion. And the only way that they are able to do that right now is because they're writing into the law that there will be substantial tax increases on people who make less than $75,000.

[15:35:10] And what they are saying is well, trust us, we'll never do that. We're just writing that into the law that your taxes are going to go up, but we won't actually do that when the time comes. It's just a gimmick. MOORE: Well, let me just respond to that. I mean, the question was about this individual mandate tax which is one of the most regressive taxes in the tax code. You know, the --

GOOLSBEE: It's about far more than just the individual mandate as you know.

MOORE: No, no. The question was about the individual mandate whether that will be in the bill. And I think it's so interesting, Fredricka, here is a tax that is imposed on people make -- you know, the average income of the people who paid that tax about $35,000 of working poor people. And Democrats are against the tax cut for low-income people. It will free people from having to, you know, to -- if they can't afford Obamacare, it will free them from having to pay a penalty for not being in it. I mean, I think that's one.

And that makes this whole tax system more progressive because you're cutting taxes for people at the bottom. And, Fredricka, I thought you just said a minute ago, the problem with the bill is it doesn't cut taxes for people at the bottom.

WHITFIELD: It won't.

GOOLSBEE: Fredricka, it doesn't. They have added up the numbers. It doesn't cut them for people at the bottom. What Steve is talking about on the mandate -- hold on, Steve.


GOOLSBEE: You're failing to mention what the actual people who add up the numbers showed, which is, if you try to sabotage the exchanges that are working, which is what this bill is trying to do, the prices of health insurance will go up for everyone else, not just for the people who get to choose not to -- who do not have to follow the mandate. Everyone else who tries to buy health insurance because half of those people leave see their prices go up.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So the argument is there will -- there may not be a rule break even. You might get some tax cut, but then your premiums have gone up and you're spending more, et cetera.

MOORE: Correct.

WHITLFIELD: But, you know, Republican said --


MOORE: No, wait, hold on. I was going to respond to that. Don't --

WHITFIELD: -- and also disputing whether he will support this bill.


WHITFIELD: Yes, it stands, Maine Senator Susan Collins also has some reservations and she explains why. Listen.



SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It benefits people of all tax brackets, but what I want to do is to skew more of that relief to middle and low-income families. There are provisions of the bill that I would like to see changed and keeping that top rate for individuals where it is for people making more than $1 million is one change. And I would also like to see the business taxes which do need to be reduced in order to incentivize the creation of good jobs and higher wages in this country, but it does not need to be reduced all the way to 20 percent.


WHITFIELD: So Stephen she expressed -- she is a Republican who is worried about the low to middle class, you know, folks who may not be reaping lots of benefits here.

MOORE: Well, I like a lot of what Susan Collins just she said. I disagree with her on the business tax cut, you know, the heart of the plan is really getting those corporate rates down to 20 percent. And for small business as well, we want to cut taxes. But look, this is going to be negotiated, Fredricka.

We're going to see a couple of weeks now of furious negotiations to accommodate people like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and John McCain and get a bill that you can get 50 to 51 and 52 Republicans to agree on. I would love to see a bill, Austan, that maybe we can get up, you know, 45 moderate Democrats to support.

And we'll see whether that happens. But this is not the end of the game, Fredricka, there's going to be a lot of negotiating and coming up with the bill that I think everybody can support that --

WHITFIELD: Well let's say the Christmas gift.

MOORE: -- cut tax for everybody.

WHITFIELD: Christmas gift by Christmas?

MOORE: I think so.

WHITFIELD: (INAUDIBLE) from the President.

MOORE: I'm hoping so.

WHITFIELD: All right, we shall see.


WHITFIELD: All right, Steven Moore, Austan Goolsbee, thanks so much. And appreciate it.

GOOLSBEE: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right, coming up next, in a scathing New York Times editorial, the paper is calling the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, quote, ill suited for diplomatic leadership, details on that next.


[15:43:33] WHITFIELD: The editorial board of the New York Times slamming U.S. Secretary Rex Tillerson for his leadership of the State Department. The paper writes quote, "Rex Tillerson is widely seen as ill suited to diplomatic leadership. The department is being undermined by budget cuts at failure to fill top jobs. An erratic President and a Secretary who has called reorganization rather than policy is most important priority."

CNN Global Affairs Correspondent Elise Labott joining me now. So Elise this is a scathing editorial from the New York Times on Rex Tillerson's ability to leave the State Department. But what kind of reaction is coming from The State Department?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, nothing specific on this particular editorial. Some of his aides have kind of forwarded tweets supporting President-Tillerson in response. But this is really the longest list in a recent wave of criticism bite of Secretary of State Tillerson by top members of Congress, lawmakers very concerned about the state of the State Department, particularly what they call the hollowing out of the Foreign Service.

On Friday, the State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert acknowledged that there was very poor morale of the State Department and urged diplomats to hang in there. Take a listen.


HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: I know that times may seem tough right now. I know that the headlines coming out of the State Department do not look good, do not look promising. We have a lot of work to do here at the State Department. From the crisis that unfolds in Burma right now to what is going on in Iraq and that the good defeating of ISIS that we are doing, we have so much work that has up to be done to what is happening in Cambodia right now.

[15:45:10] Their work I can just say from a personal point of view is valued, is needed. We need the Foreign Service officers to keep doing what they have committed. There are lives to do. I hope that they will stay on. It breaks my heart to hear that some feel that they aren't wanted or aren't needed or aren't appreciated.


LABOTT: Now this career Foreign Service officers serve across Republicans and Democratic administrations. But particularly in this Trump administration, there's been this feeling that, you know, they're part of the so-called deep state, the old guard. And this administration really, across the government, has been very wary of those career officers. Now Secretary Tillerson does meet with employees when he goes to embassies across the world, Fred, that I think those diplomats here on Washington, here at the State Department are looking for Secretary Tillerson to bring them in more. You've seen this kind of having a little bit of insular attitude and not. There are career officers that are working with him, but certainly not enough, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Elise Labott in Washington. Thanks so much. And we'll be right back.


[15:50:57] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Thousands took the streets in Washington, D.C. today to draw attention to the crisis in Puerto Rico. The unity march for Puerto Rico comes two months after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory and people who lived there are still struggling to survive. Power is still an issue, meaning they don't have it in nearly half of the places on the island and relief is still very much needed. And just yesterday the embattled head of Puerto Rico's power utility resigned due to the slow response to get power restored.

Let's go to CNN's Leyla Santiago. She joins us from San Juan. So, Leyla, give us a progress report on any improvements for people there in two months.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, as the power has certainly been part of the controversy given contracts and the CEO that resigned as well. But power is also very much the every day struggle. While the power authority here likes to use numbers like 48.9 percent as for restoration right now, that is the number of power that is being generated right now.

Not an indication at all as to how many people on this island actually have power. And so that's a frustration not just for daily lives. People who, when the sun comes down it's a dark home, but also in terms of business, businesses who have to run generators. And so 'another cost after Hurricane Maria. And also, just to do business.

We were actually at a press conference the other day where the power went out and as soon as it went out, somebody mumbled life after Maria. People having to find ways around the lack of power, which is still very much a frustration. And when it comes to relief efforts, FEMA so very much here, so very much working, but when it comes to military efforts here that was really downsized this week as well. The three star general left after this week, took quite a bit of equipment with him. The U.S. comfort ship, that floating hospital also left this week.

So we're starting to see the recovery efforts winding down but frustrations that are still very much a part of daily life. And this ought to put it into perspective here. There were still about 1,600 people in shelters across this island. And again, perspective, that's not that far off from the number of people who were in shelters the night before Maria struck. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Leyla Santiago, thank you so much, in San Juan. We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. Stay with us.


[15:58:00] WHITFIELD: All right, this year's political landscape has transformed late night comedy television. It's the subject of a new CNN special report, Late Night in the Age of Trump, hosted by Brian Stelter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be crazy.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: Every day, there's something nuts.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW: Bring out the POTUS. You're the bloatest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, how long does this wall have to be?

STELTER (voice-over): He's the most mocked man in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the problem with the media.

STELTER (voice-over): Monopolizing late night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard not to feel like you're being redundant.


KIMMEL: Kim-Jong-Un, Rocketman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kim Jong-Un as Rocket man.

STELTER (voice-over): Dominating SNL.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's like a mine producing raw materials.

STELTER (voice-over): He's blowing up scripts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a really great show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pace of the news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So much faster.


STELTER (voice-over): Making and breaking careers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a little kind of Churchill.


STELTER (voice-over): Would you say you're on a mission to take him down?

CHELSEA HANDLER, COMEDIAN: I would like to see him brought down to the ground preferably in handcuffs.

COLBERT: You're turning into a real -- dictator.

STELTER (voice-over): Has late night gone too far?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disrespectful of the office of the presidency? I think so.

BALDWIN: Let's roll.


WHITFIELD: Boy, don't miss this special report, Late Night in the Age of Trump, tomorrow night 9:00 eastern.

All right. Hello again everyone and thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Another war of words, this time the President of the United States attacks the father of a UCLA basketball player for perceived slight tweeting I should have left the players in jail in China. While the President has plenty to say on the college basketball players, he remains silent on controversial GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore as more women come forward and accuse him, Moore, of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior.

These as three of the state's largest newspapers are now urging voters to support Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore. And the number of Republicans calling on Moore to withdraw his growing with multiple GOP lawmakers speaking out this morning.