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Trump Heads to Capitol Hill to Rally GOP Senators on Tax Bill; Trump Calls Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas" at Navajo Event; Retail Stocks Climb After Record Setting Cyber Monday. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 28, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:25] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So how will a little bit of racism help sell a tax bill?

Good morning, everyone. John Berman here. Less than 24 hours after the president dropped a racial slur at an event honoring Native Americans, today he stares at a crucial test to his agenda. He will face a room full of Republican senators trying to sell a tax plan that will cut taxes for many but raise taxes for some. A plan that could stall out in hours if just one Republican senator opposes it.

For the president it's a challenge of quintessential 2017 multitasking. The question isn't can he walk and chew gum at the same time, it is, can he slander and legislate at the same time?

CNN is all over this as senators await his arrival. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux in Washington, Christine Romans here in New York.

Suzanne, first to you. Where do we stand right now with the votes?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly it's a critical task for the president as well as his party. What we're going to see is the Senate's Budget Committee is actually going to vote on this, expected to vote on this, but they have about a dozen members of Republicans on that committee. They can only afford to lose one of those Republicans, and so far you've got two who've been outspoken critics about this or at least about their concerns.

One is Ron Johnson and he is talking about the fact that he doesn't believe this is actually doing enough for small businesses, that they need bigger breaks. He has been in contact with the president and White House officials. They think that maybe he's a bit malleable, they can help him out and his concerns, but it's Senator Bob Corker, who very likely a big Trump critic, he's not really going to be listening all that much to what the president has to say and what his concerns on. He's really focused on the federal deficit.

So the problem here is if you satisfy one you may alienate the other and that would initially make the legislation stall in committee. But let's just say they did get it through committee, it's able to go to the full Senate floor, but then you've got a bigger problem. You've got more senators who are concerned about this and they range from a host of issues. Some people who say yes, we agree, this is not good enough for small businesses. It leans too much to big corporations. Others who are not in favor of repealing the Obamacare individual

mandate that too many people will suffer, will not have insurance because of that, and others who are looking at the federal deficit, the deficit hawks who say this plan is just too expensive.

The mood here on Capitol Hill, as Senator Lindsey Graham said yesterday, is that something has to get done and that failure is not an option, but, John, it's far from certain whether or not they're going to be able to satisfy those members to move this thing forward.

BERMAN: All right. Suzanne on Capitol Hill. Thank you.

You know, it's also far from certain, Christine Romans, what will actually end up in the bill when they vote on it.


BERMAN: It could change but given what we know, what does it do and for who?

ROMANS: It will change. There's no question. But here's what's on the table. The CBO says what we're seeing here, the tax cuts that we're seeing here basically benefit big companies and the rich to a lesser extent, the middle class and everybody else. And in fact, over time this is how it changes by the year 2019 people making $30,000 and less would see a higher tax bill than if nothing is done here, no legislative changes.

By 2021, it would be $40,000 a year and less, in 2027, people earning $75,000 a year and less. And part of that is because if you repeal the individual mandate for Obamacare, things get more expensive. A middle tax cut on paper suddenly goes away because of higher costs. 13 million more people uninsured by 2027. That means the government doesn't have to pay for them, it comes up to $338 billion to help fund the tax plan. But it doesn't go all the way.

And in fact, another sticking point that they're going to be squabbling over is just what is the deficit addition going to be. About $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years is what the CBO estimates and that's going to be paid for, we're told, by this exploding economic growth that's going to happen when you cut taxes for big business.

But there's no guarantee that it will explode and there's a big debate on how you claw back these tax cuts if in fact the economy is not doing well, but if the economy is not doing well and revenue isn't coming, and then you shouldn't be raising taxes. So it's a real conundrum from an economics 101 standpoint.

There's also this issue of the pass-through businesses, John. And you're hearing a lot from Senate Ron Johnson and others who are worried that this tax plan as it sits right now benefits big business and not smaller business, but pass-through businesses, about 69 percent of all pass-through income actually goes to the top 1 percent earners, so there's a worry that if you try to help some small businesses here you are still tilting it more toward benefiting the rich and corporations over regular people -- John.

BERMAN: You know, one of the things that does make this different from past tax cuts, if you harken back to the Bush years, even the payroll tax cuts under the Obama years, is that those cut taxes on everyone.

[09:05:05] It cut taxes more for some people and others, but everyone saw some kind of tax cut. This will raise taxes for some people. It will cut taxes for many, maybe even most, but there will people who'll see tax increases.

ROMANS: That's absolutely correct. It will cut taxes at the outset for many people, for most people, but it will raise taxes for some. And that over time, because in some of these proposals, these middle class tax cuts and small business tax cuts actually expire. But corporate tax cuts are permanent and there you see the tilt. There's why you have so many people saying, wait a minute, this is corporate tax cut, packaged up as a middle class tax relief.

BERMAN: And the administration argues that will be good for the economy.


BERMAN: And people will see jobs and that might be the case but that is an economic theoretical argument right now that will only bear out over time.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, great to have you with us. Thank you very, very much.

New this morning, the president facing the fallout for a remark deemed by many to be flat-out racist. It was at an event honoring Native American war heroes. The president thought that was the appropriate place to repeat a name he has called Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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. But you know what? I like you because you are special.


BERMAN: CNN's Joe Johns at the White House for us.

Joe, Senator Warren is responding to these comments. What is she saying?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Senator Warren has really gone after the president as she has in the past, but, John, it's also interesting and important to think -- to mention that the target audience on a statement like this and how it's received is very important as well.

Russell Begaye, the president of the Navajo Nation, on "NEW DAY" this morning indicating in his view that the way it was used, it was, he says, a racial slur or at the very least culturally insensitive. And it's very important to say also that this was not only the president speaking to Navajo code talkers, World War II heroes, but also speaking in front of a painting of Andrew Jackson, the president who signed the Indian Removal Act that effectively launched the Trail of Tears Native Americans on a death march many thousands of them from the east to the west.

So given all that now let's listen to what Senator Warren had to say about the president's remarks.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I really couldn't believe it that there he was at a ceremony to honor Native Americansmen who had really put it all on the line. Really amazing people. And President Trump couldn't even make it through a ceremony to honor these men without throwing in a racial slur.


JOHNS: The president has used the Pocahontas name to call out Senator Warren for her claiming ethnic Indian heritage. Of course that's been very difficult for fact checkers to trace. Nonetheless the senator has been raising money on this latest iteration of the president's name calling. For her part, the White House press secretary has essentially blamed Senator Warren for the entire mess.

John, back to you.

BERMAN: All right, Joe Johns for us at the White House.

Joining us now is Sonny Skyhawk. He's an actor, producer, founder of the American Indians in Film and Television.

Sonny, thanks so much for being with us. First, can I just get your reaction? When you heard the president say what he said yesterday in that room with Native American war heroes, what did you think?

SONNY SKYHAWK, FOUNDER, AMERICAN INDIANS IN FILM AND TELEVISION: Well, obviously, again, it was a slight against our people, it is a slight against our heroes. Native people also have their heroes and these were some of them that were represented.

Now when it comes to the code talkers, there were various tribes that had code talkers and not just the Navajo, but that having been said again, he's politicizing this racial slur. It's just something that's totally unacceptable to our people and we feel slighted for having done that.

And we have to hold this president accountable for what he says. I heard a comment a while ago that the American people need to take a selfie to realize what they are doing and why they still support this president, and I think it's partly how we feel. To slight the native people of America is beyond acceptable.

BERMAN: You know, so, Sonny, you know that the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, she faced questions about this and she says, no, no, no, I don't think it's a racist term. So explain why you think it is.

SKYHAWK: Well, again, dealing with Pocahontas and the way that he's used the name Pocahontas in the past is self-explanatory.

[09:10:04] You don't have to go very far to listen to some of the comments that he's made prior to this against Elizabeth Warren so this is not about Elizabeth Warren. It's about a president that takes it upon himself to bring about racial slurs and not just to Native Americans. He's an equal opportunity racist is my estimation.

BERMAN: So this event yesterday with these Native American war heroes, it took place underneath the portrait of Andrew Jackson, whose history when it comes to Native Americans is not idolized by any stretch of the imagination. He was president during the Indian Removal Act and of course the Trail of Tears.

What did you think when you saw that portrait? Do you think that the president knew what he was doing by holding this event under Andrew Jackson?

SKYHAWK: This was totally staged. And I challenge anybody to say that it wasn't staged. He knew what he was doing. He's been on television long enough to know how you stage what's behind you and how people see you. So that was totally staged. That podium was placed there for a purpose and that was to showcase Andrew Jackson and the president.

And again totally condescending to our heroes, the code talkers. I can't explain how disarming that was to me.

BERMAN: You don't think it's possible that no one in the White House or they simply just didn't think of it and they hold events there all the time and Andrew Jackson just happens to be on the wall?

SKYHAWK: Andrew Jackson did not just happen to be in the background. This was a staged event prior to the code talkers appearing there and talking to him.


BERMAN: Sorry, Sonny. Didn't mean to interrupt. Go ahead.

SKYHAWK: Well, you know, Native people have been serving this country way before they were even made citizens which happened in 1924. But we have had our people in the Indian wars, the World War I and obviously at World War II as the code talkers. So we have defended this country that at one time, and it's pretty ironic, that the languages that we used during World War II, at one time we were prohibited from using those languages. We were punished strongly for using those languages and here, World War II, it comes to play that they defended the United States of America. BERMAN: And they were heroes. No doubt about that.

SKYHAWK: You bet.

BERMAN: One of the things that the Press Secretary Sarah Sanders did say is that she does feel that the statements that Elizabeth Warren has made in the past are offensive. I know you say it's not about Elizabeth Warren. But Senator Warren, the history here is that she claimed Cherokee heritage in the past. And there isn't any real rock solid documentation to back that up.

So is the White House correct in trying to draw a focus to this? Is there anything wrong with what Elizabeth Warren has said?

SKYHAWK: Look, I think, and I've seen figures before, I think at least one-third of the American population identifies or self- identifies with having some connection to a Native person or a Native family. So that's nothing new.

Elizabeth Warren might rightly be or might not be, but that's not the point here. The point is that we have an American president that is politicizing an honor situation with the code talkers of the Navajo Nation. And to me, again, that's unacceptable and he should be held accountable for it.

BERMAN: Sonny Skyhawk, great to have you with us, sir. Thank you so much.

SKYHAWK: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right. We are counting the votes this morning of the Republican tax plan. We have new developments ahead. Plus, Roy Moore rallies. Telling his supporters that the sexual misconduct allegations against him are, quote, "dirty politics." And Ivanka Trump in India today for a high-profile visit but it's who is not in India with her that's making headlines.


[09:18:30] BERMAN: All right. Very shortly, a high-stakes lunch on Capitol Hill as President Trump looks to strike a deal with Senate Republicans on taxes. Can he get this deal done?

Joining me now to discuss, Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times", Patrick Healy, CNN political analyst, and Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst.

Lynn, I want to start with you. When President Trump walks into the room, before the inevitable standing ovation, which he will tweet about after, what is do these Republican senators want to hear from him?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN TIMES": They want to hear what he can do to take their different criticisms of the bill and somehow address them knowing that all -- knowing that each person has enormous leverage, because there's not going to be any Democratic votes and only Republicans if this thing is passed, and two could stop them.

So, I think what they want to hear is tax policy and proposals, not platitudes. You are dealing with people who have to write very specific things to address specific concerns, and this includes numbers, OK, John? These are numbers, decimal points, percentages.

However, you want to compute it, it's not just basic words. That's the hardest thing for President Trump to do is work on very complex policy, and now he has within that room he will go into with Republicans, a bunch of different interests.

BERMAN: It looks to be fair, math is hard for all of us, Lynn. Patrick, one of the things that strikes me is fascinating about this is somewhat the potential holdout of Republican senators, and one is Bob Corker, for instance.

[09:20:03] And Bob Corker as you know no blinks left to give when it comes to President Trump, I mean, he is all but given up on President Trump as a moral leader. The question is, does that make him more likely to vote against his tax plan? Does it make him a harder get in terms of a vote?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Not more likely, but President Trump's persuasion tactics, like at the lunch today, you know, go nowhere with someone like Bob Corker or Jeff Flake in Arizona, same thing.

But what they want to see is proof, evidence, that this tax bill is going to help the economy and growth in a way that offsets these deficits, numbers that they are seeing and getting warnings about that really could, you know, saddle debt for generations.

But the problem is that President Trump has shown with the health care, you know, with the health care repeal that he tried over and over again, that going in and jaw boning these Republican senators and saying, I will run against you, or I am going to support candidates who oppose you, these sort of threat tactics.

They didn't go anywhere the last time, Joh, and he's not able to persuade, you know, basing on sort of logic and evidence. So, in terms of what he can actually do beyond just sort of tweet and noise, you know, it doesn't look like he can do much.

BERMAN: All right. Stand by, because we do have something new from the president of the United States, and he has another meeting today. It's not just with Republican senators. Later he meets with the bipartisan group of congressional leaders.

And this is what he writes in advance to that meeting, "Meeting with Chuck and Nancy today," he means Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, "about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our country on check, a weak on crime, and want a substantially raised taxes. I don't see a deal."

You know, that's an interesting way to say how are you doing, Lynn Sweet? Is that a nice way to greet Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as they come to the White House today?

SWEET: No, because it also includes things that just are not true. OK. The Democrats have never said that they want a flood of immigrants to come in as to suggest there's some new provision they want that is not on the books right now.

No, it's not a way that you make a deal especially when you say you can't have one. I mean, this is not a piece of real estate here. He also put conflated several issues, sometimes -- John, you just asked about Corker when you and Patrick were talking.

BERMAN: Right.

SWEET: Lawmakers on the Hill know how to separate things, you know, either personal animist or political differences. Each deal is a separate entity. What Trump is trying to do it seems with that tweet is poison the well going in for everything he wants to do especially since Democrats will probably not give him votes on the tax bill. Other measures he might get them on keeping government open.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The line about immigrants in the president's tweets, that appears to be a reference to DACA. Remember when the president rescinded the executed order protecting the DREAMERs, the people who have lived virtually their whole lives here as Americans.

He said I want to fix. I want legislatively Congress to protect these DREAMERs. Now it looks like he's giving up on that and the DREAMERs are, you know, being kicked to the curb, at least based on that tweet.

So, I mean, anyone who believed that the president was actually going to take action to protect -- I forgot how many million people it is, 2 million, I think, and it's a lot of people. You know, it looks like it's a -- you know, too bad for them.

BERMAN: You know, there's a metaphor I like to say with the president, when you are dealing with politics and Republican members of Congress, it sort of like from Pig-Pen (ph) from Peanuts, he walks around with a cloud surrounding him and that cloud is controversy often.

And today's cloud that's surrounding the presidential Pig-Pen he goes to Congress is this statement he made about Elizabeth Warren, where he called her Pocahontas. Sarah Sanders said it's not racist, and we had an Native American leader on said it is. Any impact?

HEALY: I mean, look, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are going to into the White House today. They have President Trump's number. They have had it for a while. The way that he uses names and insults and racial slurs to, you know, sort of get at people.

But I think in terms of separating the personal from the political, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, they know how he operates. I don't think it has impact in terms of like hurting the ability to do a deal, but in terms of just dealing with President Trump, you know, it's just that much more sort of frustrating.

BERMAN: (Inaudible) Republican senators, who, you know, Lynn was saying they have an ability to separate issues. They seemed to have this consistent ability to separate statements like that from the deals they want to cut today.

HEALY: I mean, they have -- for two years now, they said President Trump is going to say what he wants. He's going to tweet what he wants, and we are not going to defend him, and we are not going to the wall on Pocahontas and Elizabeth Warren.

TOOBIN: You know, for all that Republicans grumble privately about President Trump, they basically follow in lockstep with whatever he wants.

[09:25:06] You know, every judge gets confirmed, every -- you know -- except for John McCain and two others, they all supported health care, and they are almost all going to support tax reform. This supposed upset with President Trump doesn't translate.

BERMAN: Unless Bob Corker, who's gone off on this subject, Jeff Flake, or John McCain, where you don't know where he is necessarily on the subject, unless he decides, they decide to take a stand on something like this, or the collection of issues, Lynn, because you are there in Washington. I just want -- predict for me what will happen this week. Do you think they will get the vote through?

SWEET: We will have some tests early on, on Thursday. It's hard to see how all of these -- this is an artificial deadline. It doesn't have to be done this week. So, I think, may (inaudible) your question if I may and say do I think there could be a deal, and yes, if this is a less ambitious tax overhaul.

We are trying to look at the biggest overhaul since Ronald Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a less ambitious bill, fewer moving parts, and less retooling all of the aspects of the tax code, you make get something doable.

One quick point, I think Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are more immune to the taunts and insults of President Donald Trump because they kind of come from that more --

BERMAN: Right.

SWEET: They could give it as well, not that they would necessarily, but they get the psyche of somebody who is like that, and they have dealt with versions of Trump a lot longer, especially Chuck Schumer, he can decode what is going on and I think Trump can get in his head a little more than some Republicans because they know what he's about.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, I want to ask you one legal question here. There's reporting that lawyers from Michael Flynn met with the special counsel's office yesterday. What could that mean?

TOOBIN: Well, when you combine that with the news of last week that Flynn's lawyers have broken off contact with Trump's lawyers and the other subjects of Robert Mueller's investigation, it certainly suggests that Michael Flynn is heading towards some sort of deal with Mueller, which would presumably include a guilty plea and cooperation, and that would be a major victory for Mueller, but we don't know what he has to offer in terms of cooperation.

BERMAN: Other than a leak to the press preferably CNN. How would we find out?

TOOBIN: When he walks into the courtroom and pleads guilty. That's how it works. That's public.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, Patrick Healy, Lynn Sweet, great to have you with us. Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it.

SWEET: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Roy Moore goes on the offensive saying the accusations against him are like the Russia probe. Two weeks now until election day in Alabama, what do the voters there think?

Retailers already cashing in from booming black market sales getting another boost, and Cyber Monday has set the record for the biggest online shopping day ever. Christine Romans back with us. Christine, congratulations to you on Cyber Monday and I am sure the markets love this.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, it really marks a titanic shift in how we shop. You had a majority of sales online, smartphones hitting a record for how much money you are spending on your smartphone. Call it the Amazon affect.

You know, Amazon has changed how we shopped and you can tell it in the market place. Amazon shares crossed $1,200 per share for the first time ever, closed slight below there, but still up 60 percent this year.

Now consumers are catching up to the visionary model. Let me gives you the numbers. Thanksgiving, $2.9 billion. Black Friday, a record $5 billion. These are online sales. Unbelievable kinds of numbers.

Cyber Monday, $6.6 billion, again, a record. Today, yes, it's about what this says about the consumer, how strong the consumer is and the economy, and what wrinkles will there be in tax reform, and what will we hear, and will there be a bill that gets passed? That's what Wall Street is going to be watching very closely for any kind of political maneuverings here today -- John.

BERMAN: Many wrinkles I predict. Christine Romans, thanks very much. Much more on Roy Moore and Alabama when we come back.