Return to Transcripts main page


Showdown Over Consumer Financial Watchdog Agency; Senate Tax Bill Faces Tight Vote; Prince Harry Announces His Engagement; Virginia Mom Faces Felony Charges. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 27, 2017 - 05:00   ET


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: One agency, two bosses. So, who's in charge this morning at the bureau charged with keeping big banks in line?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Critical task for the president this week. Can he win over Republican senators to pass a big tax plan and what's being done to get them on board?


SENATOR AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA (via telephone): I'm just going to do my job, and I'm going to go forward.


BRIGGS: Senator Al Franken contrite but moving forward, heading back to the Senate this morning on the heels of groping allegations while another Democratic accused of harassment is giving up a top job in the House.

Good morning, everybody. Thanks for getting an EARLY START" with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, November 27. It is 5:00 a.m. in the east. So, who, who is running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this morning? It depends on whom you ask.

Is it President Trump's choice, Mick Mulvaney, a harsh critic of the agency, who is also the director of the Office of Management and Budget, or is it Leandra English, the handpicked successor to the outgoing chief, an Obama appointee.

BRIGGS: Last night, Leandra English filed a lawsuit against the president. She's seeking to block Mulvaney's appointment to run the agency. The suit argues the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Law entitles her to the job.

ROMANS: But the White House says the Federal Vacancies Reform Act gives the president the right to appoint Mulvaney instead. For context, here's what Mulvaney said in 2014 about this agency. The president now wants him to lead.


MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: The place is a wonderful example of how a bureaucracy will function if it has no accountability to anybody. It turns up being a joke and that what the CFPB really has been, in a sick, sad kind of way.


BRIGGS: Now the president named Mulvaney acting head just after Outgoing Chief Richard Cordray appointed Ms. English on Friday setting up this legal showdown. The administration calls Cordray's maneuverer a stunt that, quote, "put his political ambition above the interest of consumers." A source close to Mulvaney tells CNN he is expecting a normal transition and not some kind of face off when he shows up at the bureau this morning.

ROMANS: Senator Tom Cotton, a longtime CFPB foe also backing the president. He calls the bureau a rogue unconstitutional agency and adds this in a statement, "Leandra English's lawsuit to install herself as acting director against the president's explicit direction is just the latest lawless action by the CFPB. The president should fire her immediately and anyone who disobeys Director Mulvaney's orders should be fired summarily."

BRIGGS: The bureau was created after the 2008 financial crisis to protect consumers and keep an eye on Wall Street. Despite criticism from Republicans, the bureau has had its share of success.

It ordered Wells Fargo to pay a $180 million fine and pay $5 million in refunds in the wake of the fake account scandal. The bureau also got more than $700 million in payouts from Citibank and Bank of America stemming from allegations the bank misled credit card customers.

ROMANS: All right. Congress returns to Washington this week with no major legislative achievement this year, it is crunch time for GOP. The last best chance this tax bill. President Trump already tweeting his support for tax cuts.

Adding that, "Senate Republicans will hopefully come through for all of us." However, the Senate bill faces a close vote this week. The GOP can only afford to lose two, count them -- two votes.

And several Republican senators have already raised objections, including Senator Ron Johnson, who outright opposes the bill. He says it unfairly favors corporations over small business.

So, GOP leaders may increase the amount of income passed through business can deduct, one of several last-minute changes to win votes according to "The Washington Post." Other possible adjustments to the bill, cutting state and local tax breaks for corporations.

Adding back the deduction for local property taxes for regular people. That should help middle-class families in high-tax states. But the CBO finds the current Senate bill could actually hurt most Americans especially low-income Americans.

People earning less than 30 grand a year will be worse off right away. By 2027, most Americans will see a tax increase. Meanwhile, people earning $1 million or more will still get big tax cuts. That's from the CBO.

BRIGGS: All right. Joining us live from Washington, "Washington Examiner" commentary writer, Philip Wegmann. Good morning to you. Thanks for coming on the program.


BRIGGS: We don't want to get to wonky on this who's the boss argument at the CFPB but broadly speaking, you've heard the argument from Mulvaney and President Trump over and over it's been terrible for big banks. Big banks that are making record profits this year and in the last couple of years, what has been the harm they've caused?

WEGMANN: Well, I think what's going to be terrible as for the people at CFPB this morning, they've got a new boss, but they are not certain if that's going to be their new boss permanently. So, there's going to be awkwardness here.

But look, Mulvaney is going to stay in line with the Republican orthodoxy when it comes to this agency. I think what this shows and what it really underlines is that President Trump's governing philosophy is loyalty.

[05:05:10] Mulvaney was loyal to him at OMB. He's been a loyal and vocal spokesman for the administration, and so now Trump just thinks, well, I'll move him over to CFPB because of his loyalty. That sets up an ironic situation where Mulvaney is going to head the organization that he opposed when he was in Congress.

ROMANS: Is he going to head the organization or gut the organization? Because he is a stated foe as are many Republicans and the president of all things Dodd-Frank. This is about helping Wall Street. I mean, the president and many of his policies have been about helping Wall Street. Is this part of a plan not to lead the CFBP but to destroy it?

WEGMANN: Well, I think we saw early on that Mulvaney is very interested in deregulating the market and making certain businesses can move forward. This is the sort of mega economics that they constantly are describing over at OMB.

So, I can see that definitely being in line with what he tries to achieve over at CFPB. But again, from what I've seen so far this is a transitional period. There's going to be someone else who's going to come in later on.

That's a debate that I think both Republicans and Democrats are going to have to have in the Senate because this is still a new organization. What is the nature of this agency long-term? That's a debate that needs to be had.

BRIGGS: All right. Meanwhile, the big showdown and probably the most important thing for the president this week is Tuesday when he starts trying to sell this tax cut, tax reform plan. Right now, just one senator has come out in opposition. That's Johnson from Wisconsin. but some bad news on this tax plan from the CBO, from Brookings, from Pen Warton. Economists have not been pleased with the model here suggesting that most people under $75,000 would be worse off financially in the long run. What's the biggest obstacle you think to getting this through for the president?

WEGMANN: The biggest obstacle right now is this really ugly whip count. You have a handful of senators, you've got, you know, Collins, worried about the way that state and local taxes are dealt with. You have jobs and like you've just said there's worried about the way that small businesses are treated.

And on top of that, you have John McCain, who wants regular order and you know, pick a Republican senator at this point. Chances are they have their pet problem with the bill. Republicans can only lose a handful senators here. I think something will limp to the finish line. The Republicans will call tax reform. What that looks like is really going to depend on the huddle that the Trump has with congressional leaders and what the Republicans have the appetite to push.

ROMANS: Yes. The deficit, middle class objects, favoring big business over the middle class, favoring big business over small business, what it means for homeowners, all of these things are going to have to work out today.

BRIGGS: Yes. All right. So, the big story ahead of all this, really for the Sunday shows are the sexual harassment scandals continuing to rock Washington, D.C. Of course, the president continues to support Roy Moore for his candidacy down in Alabama, that election December 12th.

And now what's happening with John Conyers, Nancy Pelosi said this about Conyers on Sunday before we heard he was stepping down from his leadership position.


REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: John Conyers is an icon in our country. He's done a great deal to protect women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that John Conyers --

PELOSI: I don't know who they are. Do you? They have not really come forward. That's for the Ethics Committee to review. But I believe he understands what's at stake here and he will do the right thing.


BRIGGS: So, whether it's Pelosi on one side or the president on the other, is this, as Jeff Flake tweeted, political tribalism at its worst when it's your team it's OK?

WEGMANN: It's hard to disagree with that assessment. I mean, look, human nature is universal. I think as a result we're going to see allegations of sexual harassment become more and more bipartisan. It's going to occur on both sides of the aisle.

This sort of tribalism that you see not just from President Trump who's backing Roy Moore in Alabama, despite those numerous allegations but also, now, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi coming to bat for Conyers.

It really shows that both side, it seems, are more interested in keeping their guys in power rather than dealing with this problem. Until we move past that, I think that anyone looking at this controversy really has reason to be cynical.

ROMANS: All right.

BRIGGS: I should mention Al Franken also back today says he is not resigning. They are sending that to an ethics investigation.

ROMANS: Philip Wegmann, nice to see you. Come back in about half an hour. We'll talk about more of the headlines this morning. Thank you.

BRIGGS: We mentioned the tax plan. That will be the focus of the next CNN debate. Tomorrow night, Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Tim Scott, Democrats, Bernie Sanders and Maria Campbell will square off tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern only on CNN.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking happy royal news this morning, word from London that Prince Harry has announced his wedding engagement to American actress, Meghan Markle. Kensington Palace announcing the two are set to wed in spring of 2018 that's coming up.

[05:10:11] Let's bring in CNN's Max Foster in London. Good morning, Max. I will admit I have been following this relationship in the tabloids and now it apparently is true and real. Bring us up to speed.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: You'll be as relieved as everyone else then. They were starting to call it a "Markle debacle," the whole speculation about when they were going to announce this, but as I suspected they already are engaged.

They got engaged apparently earlier this month. They've informed the whole royal family and Megan Markle's family as well. They're expecting a wedding in the summer, but actually it's in spring next year and we will get to see them in an official photograph for the very first time this afternoon.

They're going to do an appearance at the Kensington palace, I understand. Those images will be blasted around the world. I think for many -- I don't know if it plays into a fairytale that Prince Harry met his princess over in America.

She's an actress, of course and they've been together quite a long time for about a year we understand and a huge amount of pressure on them. And Prince Harry doesn't react very well to media pressure, so they have very successfully kept this quiet. But now they've finally come out into the open. ROMANS: We watched her as she sort of unwound her career and her blog, right? She's leaving the show that she's on suits. The "Markle debacle" is just like "Waity Katy," remember (inaudible). All right, nice to see you, Max. Keep us up to speed. Thank you.

BRIGGS: The first American in the monarchy, right?

ROMANS: I have no idea.

BRIGGS: I believe so.

ROMANS: We've got to go back on Max on that because I have no idea.

BRIGGS: We'll do. All right. A Virginia mom facing felony charges after trying to protect her daughter from bullies.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you working so hard to vilify me instead of addressing the issue of why this even exists.


BRIGGS: What she did when her daughter told her she was being bullied at school, next.



ROMANS: The Arlington Texas Police Department standing by one of its officers who shot an alleged shoplifter after the suspect pointed a pellet gun at him. Police say they responded to a call of someone stealing sunglasses at a mall on Sunday. Officers spotted the suspect, a chase ensued. Police say the suspect pulled an imitation firearm from his waistband and pointed it at one of the officers who then fired hitting the suspect.

BRIGGS: The unidentified 20-year-old was taken to the hospital for treatment. Investigators recovered the bb gun. Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson tweeting a photo showing the suspect pointing the gun directly at the officer. Johnson writes, "It is nearly impossible to determine the authenticity of a real versus fake gun."

ROMANS: A Virginia mom faces five years in prison on a felony charge for putting a recorder in her 9-year-old daughter's backpack after the child complained about being bullied. Sara Sims telling CNN affiliate, WAVY, her daughter was being picked on at Ocean View Elementary School in Norfolk. Sims said she called the school, e- mailed the school repeatedly but her messages, she says were ignored.

BRIGGS: She took matters into your own hands putting a digital recorder in the fourth grader's backpack to catch the alleged bullying. When the recorder was discovered, Sims says her daughter was kicked out of class and a month later, Sims was arrested.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I'm not getting an answer from you, then what am I left to do? I don't even think surprise is the right word. I was mortified. I was terrified. Next thing I know, I'm a felon. Felony charges and a misdemeanor when I'm trying to look out for my kid. What do you do?


ROMANS: What do you do? The Norfolk School District says electronic devices are prohibited in elementary schools, but would not comment on the charges filed against Sara Sims. Charges that Sims' attorney believes will not hold up in court and no word on what the district is doing about the bullying against her daughter.

BRIGGS: All right. The new head football coach of Tennessee is unclear at this point. Why did the school pull the plug on former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Bucks Coach Greg Schiano. Coy Wire with this confusing story this morning in the "Bleacher Report" next.



BRIGGS: All right, yet another story of who's the boss. Tennessee reportedly calling out its deal for a new head coach after protests from fans.

ROMANS: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Hi, Dave. According to reports, an agreement was in the works for Ohio state defensive coordinator, former Tampa Bay Bucks Head Coach Greg Schiano to become the University of Tennessee's next head coach.

But now the school is reportedly backing out of the deal after backlash from fans who are upset about Schiano's link to another, one of his previous coaching jobs, one that links him to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State.

Schiano has been named in court documents as allegedly having known about Sandusky's child abuse while both men were assistants at Penn State. Schiano has denied having any knowledge of the abuse, but that didn't stop fans from protesting the hire on campus last night.

Perhaps Denver's (inaudible) Talib (ph) was throwing some early holiday jewelry shopping. He yanked the chain off Auckland's Michael Crabtree in the middle of the game and a wild scene ensued.

Look at this. Three players ejected including Crabtree who would watch the rest the game from what appears to be a suite. This is the second time Crabtree had the chain taken by Talib in less than 11 months. The Raiders won 21/14. Here's Talib's coach on the matter.

VANCE JOSEPH, BRONCOS HEAD COACH: I don't like it. It's unacceptable. We can't lose our best players because of personal battles. That's a personal battle. This is about the Broncos, it's not negotiable.


WIRE: The 5 and 5 Packers were in Pittsburgh and took the Steelers down to the wire. Ben Roethlisberger finds Antonio Brown who makes this catch. The toetap the unreal, 169 yards for Brown in this one. He nails it.

[05:25:03] As time expires, that match the longest field goal ever made in the field history. The Steelers win 31-28. This is what it's all about to get you EARLY START going.

Jaguars lost to the Cardinals in the final seconds, but the real story rookie runningback did before the game. He took what appears to be a t-shirt and his cleats he was wearing and signs them for a wheelchair- bound fan.

You can see the fan is just in disbelief, the big hug. Had to share that moment with you this morning. Understanding your platform and the influence you can have, we can all do that. You never know how or who or when, but we have the opportunity to brighten up someone's day.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

BRIGGS: That was a terrific game too, 56-yard game winning field goal by the Cardinals as time expires. And Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, we are seeing some of the greatest play ever at position from those two.

WIRE: Some of the most exciting football we've seen in a while coming a lot from those two, 250 yards for the third time in his career for Julio Jones. That's the most ever in NFL history. Incredible stunt.

BRIGGS: I could watch those two all day long. Coy Wire, thank you, my friend.

All right. Drama could unfold this morning at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. One boss appointed by the president and another by the outgoing chief. Who has the final say on critical financial matters?

ROMANS: And weddings bells for Prince Harry. It is true. He's set to wed an American actress. Details on the breaking news, we go to London next.