Return to Transcripts main page


North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile Capable of Hitting East Coast; Graham on North Korea: "We're Headed to a War If Things Don't Change"; GOP Tax Bill Advances After Pres. Trump Lobbies Senators; Another Accusation against Rep. Conyers; Judge Won't Block Pres. Trump's Pick to Lead Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; White House: Warren Lied About Heritage to Advance Career; Eric Trump Defends Father's Pocahontas Quip; Soon: Senators Face Off In CNN Tax Debate; Pres. Trump Links North Korea Issue to Spending Fight. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 28, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

Two huge developments happening late this afternoon, both with potentially significant consequences. First on taxes, a victory for the White House. A sweeping Senate bill clears the first big hurdle, thanks in part to deal-making from a president who campaigned on his ability to do just that. At the same time, mixed with the thing he's become known for, name calling. We'll have more on that later.

And nearly the exact same time that was happening in Washington, word came that North Korea tested what appears to be an intercontinental ballistic missile which experts say could have the capability of hitting not just Hawaii but the U.S. mainland, possibly including the East Coast.

Already, the rhetoric has ramped up to the point where one U.S. senator said, quote: We're heading for war if things don't change.

We begin right now with CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House.

So, first of all, let's talk about how the president responded to the news of this launch.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, he was much tougher on Democrats today than he was on Kim Jong-un. There was no talk of fire and fury. There was no talk of little rocket man earlier today, but the president did tell reporters who were gathered here at the White House earlier today that he's on top of the situation in North Korea.

Here's what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you probably have heard and some of you have reported, a missile was launched a little while ago from North Korea. I will only tell you that we will take care of it. We have General Mattis in the room with us. And we have had a long discussion on it. It is a situation that we will handle.


ACOSTA: Now, the White House says as of this evening, the president has spoken with the leaders of Japan and South Korea, but, Anderson, absent from the president's comments from today was really any of the brinkmanship that we've seen all year long with respect to Kim Jong- un, which is a very I think an interesting development.

We'll have to see if that continues to be the case over here at the White House because obviously that's raised a lot of concerns across Washington as to whether the president should be engaging in that kind of brinkmanship, getting into name calling like he does with Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi when this person that he's dealing has his hands on the nuclear weapons -- Anderson.

COOPER: It is a real test for the president coming not long after listing North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

ACOSTA: That's right. Not only did he decide to change that policy, the Bush administration before Barack Obama took North Korea off the list of state sponsors of terrorism, as we know. But in addition to that, Anderson, keep in mind, he just came off a nearly two-week foreign trip during which he softened his rhetoric on China with the intent of using China to have some kind of leverage over North Korea. That has been his policy throughout this entire administration, ten months of it so far.

So far, it has not yielded results. He's tried everything from using China. He even talked about using Russia during this foreign trip. And he's also obviously raised -- ratcheted up the rhetoric on North Korea as well. None of those things have really had the intended effect of de-escalating the situation with North Korea, which is why it's no surprise you heard Lindsey Graham, a foreign policy hawk up on Capitol Hill earlier tonight, saying on CNN that perhaps it might take military force to change the situation over in North Korea.

If that is the situation that we're heading towards, that will obviously be a critical moment for this presidency and obviously for the entire world, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Jim Acosta, appreciate that.

So, the president says we'll take care of it. Clearly tonight, whatever that entails just got more complicated. Today's test shows that Kim Jong-un's engineers are on a learning curve, perhaps an accelerating one.

Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto joins us with more on that and where this all appears to be leading.

What is the latest, Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, what's key about this test, it's the highest altitude test North Korea has ever conducted. It went 2700 miles directly up into space, and then back down to earth. That is more than ten times the altitude, for instance, of the international space station.

Why is that important? Because that is the arc, that is the flight path consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile, a missile that can go from North Korea to, for instance, the United States. And it also fits with a pace that we have seen this year of North Korean missile testing that we have never seen before.

This is the 23rd missile test that North Korea has conducted since Donald Trump was elected president. We have never seen that before. And with each test, they are learning more, getting closer to being able to threaten the United States.

COOPER: So, I mean, is it the view of the pentagon that right now North Korea does have a missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland?

SCIUTTO: What North Korea has not yet demonstrated in a test is the capability to bring a payload, in effect, a nuclear warhead back into the atmosphere. They haven't done that yet, but each of these tests brings them closer to doing that. And for months, the view of the U.S. intel community has been this, that we have to assume as a country for national security purposes that North Korea has an untested capability of doing that.

And that's about posture, that you have to be prepared for that possibility and really that is a game changer because as you know, Anderson, we have talked about this before, that multiple administrations, Democrat and Republican, Obama, Bush, going back to Clinton, have all said this is a possibility they would never allow to happen. And we are this close to that being the reality. It's just an alarming reality today.

COOPER: Yes. Jim Sciutto, appreciate that.

More now on how South Korea and the region are reacting. New developments on that front tonight as well.

CNN's Will Ripley has just spoken to a North Korean official. He joins us now.

What did the North Korean official tell you?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically what Jim said, that North Korea hasn't proven they can bring a warhead back into the atmosphere. That's what North Korea still feels they need to prove.

This is the same official who told me back in October that North Korea basically had to show the Trump administration two things. One, they had an ICBM, they showed that today. And two, that they can detonate this device, which would be an above ground nuclear test like the kind that North Korea's foreign minister threatened back in September, possibly over the Pacific Ocean.

It could just be posturing. Maybe we could see another underground nuclear test, but the sense I have gotten from repeated conversations with North Korean officials is that in order to round off their nuclear program, in their words, they do need to conduct this kind of above-ground test that would be so alarming and so provocative for much of the world. But the North Koreans feel completely justified doing it. They point to China, which did it 40 years ago, the United States, Russia, all nuclear powers that had to conduct above ground tests to get their programs to a certain stage.

And the North Koreans feel they're almost at that stage, just a couple more steps to go. Of course, the big unknown, how would the United States and the region respond to that?

COOPER: Yes, how has South Korea responded so far?

RIPLEY: Well, you know, you have President Moon Jae-in who was speaking in the last few hours. This is a president who came into power after the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, promising not to take a hawkish approach to North Korea, talking about peace, talking about sitting down and having discussions with Kim Jong-un, now saying if North Korea continues this kind of behavior, peace would be impossible.

And then you had the unification minister even before this missile launch saying that their analysts here in South Korea now believe that North Korea is closer than anyone ever expected to finalizing, finishing their nuclear program, and the U.S. has stated that it could be early next year, perhaps a matter of weeks before North Korea has this reliable ICBM nuclear capable in their arsenal.

COOPER: That North Korean official you talked about, I mean, he talked about two conditions essentially North Korea wants to achieve intercontinental -- an ICBM, an intercontinental ballistic missile, and some sort of above ground test. Is that -- I mean, have they ruled out diplomacy with the U.S. as far as you know until they can demonstrate its nuclear capabilities?

RIPLEY: They're not ruling out diplomacy all together, but there are a number of things that lead the North Koreans to believe that diplomacy is not an option right now.

First of all, the mixed messaging from the Trump administration. You had Secretary Tillerson talking about the possibility of diplomacy, but then you had President Trump beating the war drum in their North Korean view, calling their leader rocket man, saying that the U.S. could totally destroy North Korea, all of it bolstering their long- held view that they have to arm themselves against the looming threat of the United States.

So, I think the North Koreans do want to talk to the United States at some point, but they want to do it after they feel that they have proven to themselves and to the world that they have this full fledged nuclear program, that they will be accepted into the international community as a nuclear power because they have said repeatedly, even as recently as a couple weeks ago when I was in Pyongyang, that getting rid of their nuclear arsenal is simply no longer an option that they would even consider.

COOPER: I mean, will, you have been there more than anybody I know, certainly, for CNN repeatedly. Does any of this surprise you? I mean, given what you have seen, given the militarization that we have all seen in images and what you have seen on the ground, does -- I mean, can you explain what their mind frame is on this?

RIPLEY: Yes, this test absolutely not a surprise to me. Yes, it's been more than two months since North Korea conducted their last missile launch over northern Japan, then they had the nuclear test back in September as well. But this long pause, I mean, you think about the kind of things they're trying to accomplish now.

These are big tests and they need to get them right. And so, it could have been technical reasons, it could have been political reasons at home. North Korea's leader has been appearing in state media talking a lot about, you know, bolstering his state's economy in the face of sanctions because they are expecting to really feel the impact of those sanctions in North Korea, but they're trying to tell their people that even though they're going to keep launching missiles and developing nuclear weapons, they're also somehow going to try to provide them a better living standard as a result.

COOPER: Will Ripley, appreciate that tonight -- thank you very much.

Coming up next, one senator warns war against North Korea.

[20:10:02] We'll play for you exactly what he said. Our military experts weigh in on what it would look like and what it would look like when it's over.

And later, how the president won over Republicans but dissed two Democratic leaders, his former friends, Chuck and Nancy, on taxes today. A tale of two empty seats, as you see there, when we continue.


COOPER: A short time ago, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham spoke about the possibility of war with North Korea. I want you to hear what he told Wolf Blitzer on "THE SITUATION ROOM" tonight.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't want a war, he doesn't want a war, but we're not going to let this crazy man in North Korea have the capability to hit the homeland. We're not going to live this way.

To our friends in China, we're not going to live this way. You need to help us. If you don't help us, we'll take care of it. And us taking care of it means the war's in your backyard, not ours.


COOPER: Well, at stake, of course, potentially, hundreds of thousands of lives on the Korean peninsula and possibly beyond.

Joining us, two CNN military analysts: retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. So, General Hertling, how big a step forward, first of all, is this

for North Korea, the fact that they now may be able to hit the East Coast of the United States?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's pretty big, Anderson. You take a look at some of the data that came off this missile launch, and it shows a significant improvement. What we're talking about whenever you launch a missile, that's three phases. You have the boost phase as it comes off the pad. They have had that down for a while.

Then you have the midcourse phase. For it to travel up to 4700 kilometers, that's higher than the space station is circling. That means it can get in upper atmosphere and come down wherever it wants.

And then, you have the reentry phase. So, the fact that it traveled as far as it did, as high as it did, is significant. The last missile they shot up hit 3500 kilometers, and that was a big launch. So, from the standpoint of technical capability of this rocket, it was an improvement, and they're showing steady improvements across the board in their missile systems.

COOPER: Colonel Francona, I mean, the speed with which North Korea's nuclear capability seems to be increasing, what is that due to?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: This is what's surprising, not the fact that they're having these tests. It's the fact that they're achieving these goals so quickly.

You know, as the general said, they have already mastered these three phases of flight. They have already mastered the staging. That's also a very critical part, is having the ability to launch multi- staged rockets. Now, they have done that.

I think that their stumbling block right now is this re-entry vehicle, the third phase as the general said. When this vehicle re-enters the atmosphere, it has to survive.

The North Koreans claimed a few months ago and they showed us pictures of that miniature nuclear weapon. They need a housing for that to survive. That's what they're working on now. And I think that's the next step.

But that's not it. They're not done just yet. They won't present this in a few weeks. They're going to have to have some way to fuse it and some way to guide it. So, we still have some time, hopefully, for diplomacy to work.

COOPER: Well, General Hertling, I mean, the president said today we'll take care of, and that it's a situation that we will handle. That's a quote.

Do you know what that means exactly? Because I mean, when obviously there's diplomacy, but military options, we've talked about this before, none of them seem good. HERTLING: None of them all good, Anderson. And I heard the president

say that. I'm a little bit concerned about that because there is no published strategy.

Now, of course, President Trump has said in the past that he's not going to let people know what he's doing, but there doesn't seem to be an indication that there is a strategy for this particular area of the world.

There's been a lot of talk about coordinating with China in an attempt to get North Korea to do our bidding, but the truth is we also need to get Russia. Russia supported North Korea for about 20 years in the '80s and the '90s, gave them a whole lot of financial support, and in fact, fed the regime. So I think Russia needs to play a part in this too. And, frankly, I believe Russia is countering every action of the United States in this part of the world to cause more confusion.

But to get to the conflict that you just talked about, if you have studied the Korean conflict of the '50s, you will know that it is a conventional war without equal. It was very tough. You talk about frozen -- in fact, Brooke Baldwin went over there a couple weeks ago and I talked to her before she went, and I said when you get in a helicopter around the DMZ, look at the terrain because it's some of the most difficult terrain to fight a conventional war in that you can imagine.

If that's not the kind of war we're going to fight, if it's something else, and I don't want to mention what that might be, the artillery, the rockets and all of the things that North Korea has to fire on Seoul has been reported many times, can kill hundreds of thousands of people, more if you're talking about a nuclear exchange.

COOPER: And, General Hertling, just very briefly -- an ICBM heading toward the United States, is that something that can be taken down?

HERTLING: It can. We have missile defense systems. There are systems in Japan. There are systems on the West Coast of the United States, in Hawaii and in Guam and in other places.

But truthfully, Anderson, we would know of a launch through StratCom. They measure the telemetrics and they would be able to tell it. But when you're talking about a missile, an ICBM missile launch, it's hard, very hard.

COOPER: All right. General Hertling, appreciate it. Colonel Francona as well.

Coming up, the state of the Republican tax bill. The president visits Capitol Hill today. The bill passes the Senate Budget Committee. So, we'll tell you what's next and, of course, what's at stake.


[20:24:01] COOPER: As we get closer to tonight's CNN tax debate, more now on the Senate tax bill that moved forward today. The questions are, what did it take to get to this point? And most importantly, what's in the bill for people to look forward to or be aware of?

CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us from Capitol Hill with what he's learning tonight.

So, what is the current state of play? Does it look like the tax bill is going to make it through?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, Anderson, they're in a much better place right now than this morning. There's no question about it.

But I think what's important to note, even though it's gone through the committee process, even though it's about to be on the Senate floor, there's still a lot of hurdles left. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader likened this whole process to trying to work with a Rubik's cube, a lot of competing demands.

And just to go through some of them, because they're very important -- you have deficit hawks on the Republican side of things. Look, this is a $1.5 trillion proposal, and these individuals don't want it to add to the deficit or add to the debt in the long term. They want a trigger, basically something that would snap back the tax rates into play if the economic growth projections didn't match up to what they were looking for. So, that's Senator James Lankford, Senator Jeff Flakes, Senator Bob Corker.

Then you have people like Susan Collins who, Anderson, a lot of people assumed would be a no on this from the get-go. That's not the case. She's getting closer to yes. Why? She's gotten a commitment and sources tell me that they will add the state and property taxes capped at $10,000. That's something that's in the House. The Senate wants that as well.

Then you have to look at the issues that really kind of bogged this down leading into today, the pass-through rate. People like Senator Ron Johnson, Senator Steve Daines, they want the rate cut for business entities like LLCs, S Corps, partnerships, to be expanded even further.

Then you have Marco Rubio, he's been a proponent of expanding the child tax credit. The Senate bill does that. It doubles the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000. But it's not fully refundable. That's what Senator Marco Rubio wants.

In closing and why this all matters, a lot of those things cost a lot of money. That's where senators right now are trying to figure out how to get this across the finish line. That's where majority leader Mitch McConnell is trying to figure out if he can actually get this done.

They're in a much better place than they were this morning. It's still a long way to go.

COOPER: The CBO has scored this. Can you explain what kind of impact this would have on Americans if it were to pass in its current form? MATTINGLY: Yes. So, the issue right now is if you look across the

analysis we have seen based on the individual side. There's one kind of current theme, and that is lower income Americans, lower to middle income Americans start to get hit, start to actually see tax increases at varying paces that kind of runs contradictory to what you've heard Republicans say. A lot of this is because of the repeal of Obamacare's individual mandate.

So, if you look at the numbers -- those making under $30,000, they would start to get hit in 2019. Those making under $40,000, 2021. Those making under $75,000, a few years later.

Why you're seeing that is because the scoring is that the subsidies would be taken away and that would lead to a tax increase.

Now, Republicans reject that idea all together. They say take that out. People can still get insurance and get the subsidies. When that occurs, numbers look a lot better until the very end of the decade. 2027, look across the income brackets there, under $75,000. You're seeing a lot of people getting a tax increase.

Why? Well, the individual side sunsets because of budget reasons, because it costs a lot of money. This really underscores the priorities here in this bill. The corporate cut from 35 percent down to 20 percent, that's made permanent. A lot of corporate side of things are made permanent.

The individual side, that sunsets. And I think what you understand there is Republicans relying heavily on this idea that what they're doing on the corporate side will create a lot of growth. They need to make that permanent for planning purposes, but what that takes away from is the individual side suffers if Congress doesn't figure out a way to extend those tax cuts past 2025, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Phil Mattingly, stay there.

I want to bring in our senior economics analyst, Stephen Moore. I want to mention, he's an informal adviser to the White House on tax policy. Also with us is Dylan Ratigan, former broadcaster, chairman of Helical Holdings, and author of "Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communities, Banksters and Other Vampires From Sucking America Dry".

Quite a title there, Dylan.

Dylan, just as you see it, does this -- I mean, do you buy what the CBO has said about this bill?

DYLAN RATIGAN, AUTHOR, "GREEDY BASTARDS": I mean, you buy what the CBO says, I would say within, you know, a 25 percent margin of error, right? So, there's -- it's going to create some sort of deficit.

Is the CBO right? Probably not. Are they in the right direction? Probably.

The thing that really strikes me about this, Anderson, is there's an extremely valid argument for the idea of warehousing capital in the private sector, putting more capital in the hands of -- whether it's corporations or individuals, for it to be invested in society. That is a very valid argument for the use of tax policy.

What's confusing to me about this is that the idea of warehousing more capital in the private sector by altering the tax policy is not being matched in a way that rewards actual investment in the development of enterprise in America and the creation of jobs. It's one thing to put more money in the hands of wealthy corporations and individuals. It's another thing to only put that money in the hands of wealthy individuals and corporations contingent on an investment in American enterprise that creates jobs, and I would argue that that's a significant oversight in the overall interpretation of the policy.

Again, you don't want the government to have more money? I understand that. You want to have private individuals have more money? I understand that.

But to put more money in really wealthy hands without creating a distinct incentive to invest it is nonsensical to me, not to mention the fact that the tax bill itself goes after the biggest economic engines in our country, whether it's the Northeast or California with the SALT and all -- I don't want to get lost in the weeds with that.


RATIGAN: But I feel like there's also an attack on the economic engine of America --

COOPER: So, let me --

RATIGAN: -- for the working.

COOPER: Let me bring in Stephen.

Stephen, I mean, every Republican I have talked to says, look, this is going to create jobs because these companies are going to be hiring more people. How can you guarantee that?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, there's never any guarantees. By the way, this was a very big day, Anderson, for the tax bill. I think it's looking more and more certain. I'd say 80 percent odds now that Republicans are going to get this done, in part because they realize there's no turning back now.

Look, I disagree a little bit with Dylan's analysis. Dylan, I think, you know, that one of the big things is going to cause a big burst of growth and investment spending starting on January 1st of 2018 is the immediate expensing. And Anderson, that allows businesses to invest in building a new plant or equipment or a new machinery and basically you get to write it off the first year. I talked to a lot of business men and women, Dylan, who say, look you put that in, we're going to start spending right away. I think you could see 4% to 4.5% growth in the first half of next year as a result of that.

And look, I also disagree with you on one other thing. I do think that this is going to bring a lot of capital, Dylan, back to the United States. I think a lot of those, the outsourcing that's happened for the last, you know, 15 or 20 years of companies leaving United States, I think a lot of those companies will come back as we make our tax rates more competitive globally.

DYLAN RATIGAN, AUTHOR, "GREEDY BASTARDS": And I don't even disagree with that as somebody who has invested millions of dollars with helical in a business in Louisiana, the advantage of the immediate write-off. Is something that I personally will affect the way we do our budget next year. So I don't even disagree with what you said, Stephen. But if the idea is to create more capital in the hands of entrepreneurs and businesses for the explicit purpose of creating more robust American enterprise and more jobs, which is the basic fundamental argument between whether you put more money in the public or the private sector, why not be more explicit and tie that tax benefit explicitly to bringing the money onshore, as you suggest it may happen. But why should we put all of this money into the private sector and then hope as opposed to really create guardrails to insure that's how the capital flows.

MOORE: No, and it's a good idea. And look, this bill is not done Anderson by any means, as you just heard. I mean there are a lot of, you know, bridges to gap in terms of the House and Senate bill. And one of the complaints, Anderson, that we're hearing from some of the senators is there's not enough tax cut for the small businesses, the kind that Dylan is talking about. And I think that's something that has to be fixed, that --


MOORE: -- you know, more reductions in it, because you're right, Dylan, no small businesses, those entrepreneurial companies, that's where the jobs come from.

COOPER: I want to ask Phil, I mean all these tax cuts, Phil, cost money too. The CBO projected that's going to add $1.4 trillion to the deficit. How concerns are Republicans about that number? Did they -- I mean a lot of them simply don't buy that number.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think they're not concerned about the $1.4 trillion number, because they're assuming growth projections, right. That's the entire crux of this, that's why you have the immediate expensing, that's why you want the corporate side to be able to plan long term, re-invest back into the economy. Use what they're getting, the permanence of that, to create jobs, to create growth, to create wage growth. I think the issue right now is, look, we haven't seen what's called the dynamic score where at least a legitimate dynamic score from kind of the -- by nonpartisan analysis here that really ays out what kind of growth you're going to see.

But what we have seen on both the static side and on some of the early iterations of that dynamic score is that there's nowhere near enough growth that's going to create $1.4 trillion. I assume Steve is going to disagree with me on this one, but I think the bottom line here is Republicans have very, very rosy projections on growth in kind of the near term and on growth over the next 10 years. If -- MOORE: I'll give you one --


COOPER: I've to get a break in. To be continued. And Dylan, I think I said helical it's helical holdings. I appreciate that.

RATIGAN: Helical.

COOPER: Yes, helical. Thanks very much. On the subject, stay tuned at the top of the hour for CNN debate night, the fight over tax reform.

Also ahead, another woman says veteran Congressman John Conyers sexually harassed her. We'll tell you her story, and new word tonight of a possible effort to get Conyers to resign.


[20:37:15] COOPER: Another woman has come forward to accuse Congressman John Conyers of sexual harassment. There's already a House ethics committee investigation under way after other allegations again him. He's denied wrongdoing, now several Democratic sources tell CNN there is an effort underway from several members of the Congressional Black Caucus to get Conyers to resign. Sara Ganim has the story.


SARA GANIM, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deanna Maher can still remember how she felt that night in 1997 when she says Michigan Congressman John conjures made unwanted sexual advances toward her.

DEANNA MAHER, JOHN CONYER'S ACCUSER: All of a sudden, John Conyers walked into my bedroom.

GANIM (voice-over): Maher within her 50s at the time and as Conyers' deputy chief of staff, she traveled to Washington with him for an event. She says she later discovered she was sharing a two-bedroom hotel suite with him.

MAHER: I was absolutely shaking. And he took off his clothes. And then I figured out, oh, my god. What should I do? How stupid at my age that I walked in and got myself into a situation like that.

GANIM (voice-over): Maher says there were two more incidents involving Conyers, one in the spring of 1998 when she says Conyers touched her as he drove them both to the airport.

MAHER: His hand was feeling me all over my -- what do you call it, my abdomen.

GANIM (voice-over): In the 1999, Maher said she was on stage during a Conyers community town hall. MAHER: He walked up to act like he was whispering in my ear, something about the town hall meeting, and he stuck his hand up my dress. And whispered in my ear, wow, you've got great looking legs. And that is in front of everyone.

GANIM (voice-over): Maher says the office culture was one of inappropriate behavior and that Conyers wasn't the only person in the office who harassed her. A male staffer also forcibly kissed her and documents she shared with CNN shows she reported it to the FBI and the House Ethics Committee. She retired in 2005.

MAHER: This is why I want to, and I'm saying before I die, and because I'm going on 80, I want to before I die see changes made. I want to see a different Capitol Hill.


GANIM: Deanna Maher is now the fourth victim whose allegations against Conyers have been made public, Anderson. He's 88 years old and tonight he's under pressure from Democrats, from the Congressional Black Caucus, to step down, to resign from his job. He's the longest member of -- longest serving member of Congress.

[20:40:03] He's also one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. And given all of that, the Democrats are kind of doing this dance, trying to figure out a way for their to be consequences for these allegations while giving him a sort of ease, a way of stepping down without, as they put it, the trampling on his legacy, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. I think she's give good testimony about what his legacy may actually be.

Also in Washington, a court ruling on who will be the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Jessica Schneider joins us with that. What did the judge decide?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, Mick Mulvaney, he will stay in as acting director the federal judge ruled that he will not overturn the president's pick, and he also ruled that Leandra English, who was named to that same position by the outgoing director when he resigned Friday, well she didn't show the irreparable harm that was necessary for the judge to grant her a temporary restraining order.

Of course Anderson, it was just Monday morning when both Mulvaney and English, they showed up at the CFPB, they will staked their claim to the acting director title, even sending those dueling e-mails to staff, but the judge saying tonight Mick Mulvaney he has the rightful claim to the acting director position. Anderson?

COOPER: So does that mean that battle of the bosses is over?

SCHNEIDER: Well, for now, yes. But Leandra English's attorney, he is promising to continue the fight. Holding on to that argument that she is the rightful acting director under the language of the Dodd/Frank Act, that's the law that set up the consumer watchdog agency in the first place.

So her attorney, Anderson, saying he'll either file a new motion in federal court or he'll appeal this directly to the D.C. circuit, but it's interesting to remember this. English, she's still is at the bureau. She has the title of deputy director. President Trump hasn't fired her, so she's still there, presumably she'll be at work tomorrow, but of course, the official boss after this ruling today will be Mick Mulvaney, at least for now. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks very much.

Up next, President Trump calling a Senator Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas, and the White House saying she claimed Native American ancestry to help her career. Jeffrey Toobin to do excessive reporting on her tonight with the details ahead.


[20:46:36] COOPER: Today, Eric Trump jumped to the fray over the president's use of the name Pocahontas during a meeting with Native American war heroes in the Oval Office yesterday. This morning the president's son tweeted saying, "The irony of an ABC reporter whose parent company Disney has profited nearly half a billion dollars on the movie Pocahontas inferring that the name is offensive is truly staggering to me."

The reporter he was referring to is Jonathan Karl who asked Sarah Sanders about what the president said yesterday. As reminder here is what the president said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: And I just want to thank you because you're very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.


COOPER: Well, just after those remarks, multiple reporters including ABC's Jonathan Karl asked Sarah Sanders about what the president said. Here's part of her response to another reporter, Kristen Welker of NBC.


KRISTEN WELKER, NBC: Is it appropriate for the president to use a racial slur in any context?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS: I don't believe that it is appropriate for him to make a racial slur or anybody else.

WELKER: Well a lot of people as though this is a racial slur. So why is it appropriate for him to use that?

SANDERS: Well I think, like I said, I don't think that it is. And I don't think that was certainly not the president's intent.

WELKER: Does he see --

SANDERS: I think that --


WELKER: -- the more offensive, the most offensive thing --

SANDERS: I'm sorry.

WELKER: Does he see political value in calling people out racially? Why use that term?

SANDERS: Look, I think that Senator Warren was very offensive when she lied about something specifically to advance her career. I don't understand why no one is asking about that question and why that isn't constantly covered.


COOPER: Well, keeping them honest, CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin wrote an in depth profile about Senator Warren for the New Yorker. We thought we'd ask him to clarify what actually happened regarding this whole claim.

So you heard what Sarah Sanders say, did Elizabeth Warren claim Native American heritage in order to advance her career?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Two false statements in one sentence by Mrs. Sanders there. You have -- first of all, she never used it to advance her career. I mean I went through the 10-year process at Harvard, Charles Fried was the professor in charge of it. They didn't know that she had ever claimed Native American background. It was of no benefit to her. She got tenure completely independent of any sort of Native American background she has.

In terms of her Native American background, her family, like a lot of families in Oklahoma, white families, there's a family story that a couple generations back, there were some Native Americans. If you talk to people in Oklahoma, white people, it's very common. It's not like some exotic, crazy claim.


TOOBIN: I'm sorry, go ahead.

COOPER: My dad's family in Mississippi always thought there was Native American and I did an ancestry test and there isn't.

TOOBIN: And, you know, many of us have family stories that may turn out to be true, may turn out to be untrue, but there's nothing --

COOPER: But did she ever write down on a form, I am part Native American? TOOBIN: It did appear, yes, in certain law directories, and that's the root of this controversy, that it did appear in these directories, but she said she passed it on because it was a family story. But as far -- as I could tell, she never got any benefit from it. And she got no affirmative action. She wasn't hired because of it. It was just something that she wrote on a form.

[20:50:02] COOPER: So did she, on the forms, did she describe herself as Native American or as part Native American?

TOOBIN: I think it -- the form was no t that --

COOPER: That specific.

TOOBIN: -- that specific. I mean, you know, one 30 second, you know, a lot of people, you know, measure themselves that way. But the forms as I understand that didn't have that sort of level of specificity.

COOPER: All right, Jeffrey Toobin, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

More on the tax bill on a moment as we countdown tonight CNN debate. The fight over tax reform. First of all I'm going to remind you there are two weeks left to vote for the CNN Hero of the Year. You can do that right now at And tonight on what's known as giving Tuesday, we want to show you another way you can support one or more of this year's top 10 CNN heroes. Take a look.


COOPER: Just go to and click donate that need any 2017 top 10 CNN hero to make a direct contribution to that heroes fund raiser on CrowdRise. You'll receive an e-mail confirming your donation which is tax deductible in the United States. No matter the amount, you can make a big difference helping our heroes continue their life-changing work. CNN is proud to offer you this simple way to support each cost and celebrate all this everyday people changing the world.

You can do not from your laptop, your tablet, or your phone. Just go to, your donation in any amount will help them help others. Thanks.



COOPER: More breaking news tonight. The president just tweeted time to show down with North Korea, with the showdown over the budget, the tweet reads, "After North Korea missile launched it's more important than ever to go to fund our government and military. Dem shouldn't hold troops funding hostage for amnesty and illegal immigration. Iran on stocking illegal immigration to one big, they can't now thread, they shut down to get their demands."

But that on the table, we're now just minutes away from the CNN's -- special CNN town hall debate over tax reforms, Senators Bernie Sanders, Maria Cantwell squaring off with Ted Cruz -- Senators Cruz, and Tim Scott. Now, legislation involving trillions of dollars and affecting nearly every taxpayer in the country. Now heading for a Senate vote, the consequences could shake up the economy for years to come perhaps shake up Congress as well.

We're going to talk about it now as we get closer the debate, Gloria Borger is here, Peter Beinart and Scott Jennings. So Gloria, I mean no doubt about it, the bill getting through the Senate Budget Committee today, clearly a win for the White House and for the president?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely a win. I mean before you can get something to the floor, you going to get it through committee. And they made a lot of promises when the president met with Senate Republicans today. But promises made are not promises kept, so there's still a long way to go. Before they get to that vote this week. And every senator who has made a promise, senators like Susan Collins or Bob Corker is concern about the deficit, they're going to be watching to see how this bill morphs.

[20:55:01] I just want to say something about the president's tweet. Though, it's kind of a bookend to what his tweet was this morning, which was, you know, I don't see a deal, we may have to shut the government down, and, you know, that's why they decided to not to go to his meeting, but he's really every day seems to now be pushing towards blaming the Democrats if, in fact, they can't come to an agreement on immigration and other things that he mentioned in that.

COOPER: I mean Scott as Gloria said, the budget committee vote, the first of many hurdles are so a ways to got -- to get some reluctant Republicans over the finish line.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but the committee vote today when you see Johnson and Corker come on board, that makes it a lot more likely that it's going to pass the Senate. Now they still have to reconcile this version with the House version, but you can feel the momentum right now in the Republican Party. They also confirmed another judge today. And so Senator McConnell and Donald Trump are working together on that. The conference really wants to get a victory. They want to cut people's taxes and they want to keep a promise. They're still smarting from the loss over Obamacare. This would help reverse that by eliminating the individual mandate while fulfilling another big campaign promise and keeping this momentum going. You can feel it happening, and I'd say better than 50% odds they get this thing passed by Friday.

COOPER: Peter, I mean to some Senate Republicans are pretty optimistic after a lunch with the president today. It's interesting to see his level of involvement with the negotiations and hard to overstate just how badly I mean discussion how badly the president and Congressional Republicans need a legislative win.

PETER BEINART, CONTRIBUTOR, THE ATLANTIC: Right, they desperately need a legislative win which is why they're pushing this through even though there have been no hearings, even though they're not waiting for the Congress's own budget tarry analyses to try to figure out what the impact on the deficit would be. They don't seem concern that all that University of Chicago asks 42 different economists across the IO (ph) spectrum. And only one said this would increase economic growth.

They don't seem concerned it by according to the joint committee on taxation by 2027 taxes on Americans earning under $75,000 under this plan will actually go up because you're right, they're simply desperate to be able to say they did something and they cut taxes even though the vast majority of the taxes they cut will be for the very rich who don't need them.

COOPER: Scott, do you agree with any of that?

JENNINGS: Well, look, you know, Anderson I'm sitting here in Louisville tonight. We know a thing or two about horses out this way. And I certainly tell you when they're beating a dead one. These are the same stale, tired talking points you get from Democrats every time Republicans want to stimulate the economy and boost growth by taking money out of Washington and giving it back to tax payers. You get the same stale talking points and this crying calling wolf. And I think people --


JENNINGS: -- are tired of it. We see this promise fulfill.

BEINAET: We've seen this twice before, we've seen the way this movie ends. When Ronald Reagan did this in the early '80s, when George W. Bush, the budget deficit went way, way up. So this is not tired, stale talking points. We know how this plays out. We know that reducing taxes for the very rich is not the best way to stimulate the economy.

BORGER: You know, Anderson, the good news --

JENNINGS: They are taxing across the board here.

BEINART: Actually, actually going to go up for Americans earnings $175,000 --

COOPER: Gloria?

BORGER: You know, the good news for Republicans as Scott says is I may get to that, the tax bill. The bad news for Republicans is that they may get the tax bill. And in the end if people don't see their taxes go up, if they see tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy become permanent and their tax breaks expire, then it's got Republicans' brand on it and the president's name on it. They want to get this done. They didn't get health care done.

I agree with Scott. I think it's more likely than not that they are going to get this through, but they've made a lot of promises and they have to keep them.

COOPER: This back and forth, Peter, between the president, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, the tweets, the empty chairs, Pelosi and Schumer skipping the meeting, does it play well for either side here? BEINART: It plays for both sides, right. I mean we know Republicans don't like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and Democrats don't like Donald Trump. I mean Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi unlike Mitch McConnel can stand up to Donald Trump because their supporters hate Donald Trump. So it's good to them, but it's also good for Trump, because he's taking a fight a Democrat. So, I think this is political fear that benefits both sides. I'm not sure it's good for the country, but it works well for both sides.

COOPER: Scott, the fact is the president needs Democrats to avert a government shutdown.

JENNINGS: Yes, he does, but look there's going to be a lot chatter about shutting down the government. I don't think anybody wants to shutdown the government, it would be galactically stupid for either side or force the government shutdown here.

Look, the economy's humming along, the finance committee vote today caused the stock market to go up. We're heading for a tax bill that a lot of Republicans think is going to cause great economic growth. Things are actually bumping along here.


JENNINGS: They're heading towards solutions, it would just be really, really dumb politics. And I think by the way, the democrats look really small today by not showing up, not just to talk about fiscal issues but they didn't show up, we have the national security crisis --

COOPER: I'm going to jump in.

JENNINGS: -- while they're not there?

[21:00:04] COOPER: We got five seconds. Scott, Peter, Gloria, thank you. Thanks for watching 360. CNN Debate Night: The Fight over Tax Reform starts now.