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Trump Heads to Capitol Hill to Sell Senate GOP Tax Bill; Trump Calls Warren "Pocahontas" at Ceremony for Navajo Veterans; Trump Reversing Himself on 'Access Hollywood' Tape? Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 28, 2017 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republican senators scrambling to shore up support for their bill ahead of a crucial committee vote.

[05:59:33] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the tax bill is doing very well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the bill currently stands, I'd be a "no" vote.

MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Sausage making is never fun, but all senators are looking to try to get to "yes" on the Republican side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a con job on the middle classes.

TRUMP: We have a representative in Congress that they call her Pocahontas.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: President Trump couldn't even make it through a ceremony to honor these men without throwing in a racial slur.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been a very strong friend of Native Americans since he's been in office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was their day, and he crapped all over it, being an insult comic. I feel so sorry for those guys.


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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, November 28, 6 a.m. here in New York. Time for the starting line.

President Trump heads back to Capitol Hill just later this morning to rally Senate Republicans on their tax bill. Right now, the bill is in the Budget Committee. And two of the biggest GOP opponents are on that committee. If they don't vote for it, it stalls where it is before even getting to a vote by the entire Senate. So it's a big day. Another big challenge facing the president, negotiating a deal to keep

the government going. Trump sold Democrats on a short-term fix. Now the time is up. Can he avoid a shutdown?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And President Trump under fire for using a racial term to attack a political rival during a White House ceremony honoring a group of Native American veterans.

The backdrop for this Oval Office event is also raising questions about sensitivity and judgment from the president and his staff.

And the White House is standing by President Trump's original apology for those vulgar comments on that now infamous "Access Hollywood" tape. "The New York Times" was reporting that the president has privately told at least three people that he, though, is questioning the authenticity of that tape even after he publicly apologized for it.

So we have all of that covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She is live on Capitol Hill. A lot happening there today, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Yes, there is a lot happening. It's a very big day. Congressional leaders here on Capitol Hill. Desperately trying to secure support for their Senate tax plan coming before a critical vote this afternoon in the Senate Budget Committee.

At the same time, you have President Trump will be meeting with Senate Republicans during their weekly lunch, eager, trying to push before that vote, trying to get some sort of legislative accomplishment before the end of the year.


TRUMP: I think the tax bill is doing very well, and I think the Republicans are going to be very proud of it.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Trump heading to Capitol Hill today to shore up support for the Senate tax plan as Senate Majority Whip Jon Cornyn tells reporters that Republicans do not yet have the votes needed to pass the bill. Senate Republicans can only afford to lose one vote today in the Budget Committee, but at least two senators are still expressing concern, including Ron Johnson, who said Monday that he is a "no," because the bill is unfair to millions of small business owners. If Johnson votes against the bill today, it will stall in committee until more changes are made. And addressing Johnson's concerns could further increase the national debt, possibly generating opposition from deficit hawks.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Failure is not an option. When it comes to the Republican Party cutting taxes, the fate of the party is in our hands.

MALVEAUX: If the bill passes through committee, the tax plan could go up for a full vote on the Senate floor this week, where they can only lose the support of two Republicans.

Senator Steve Daines has also expressed reservations about the impact of the bill on small businesses. Three Republicans remain a wild card, and five others have raised concerns about issues like the bill's repeal of Obamacare's original mandate and the impact on the national debt. These deficit hawks are pushing to include an automatic trigger into the bill that would increase taxes if the legislation fails to generate as much revenue as expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our estimates are a 0.4 percent increase in the GDP. We think it's a pretty conservative estimate. My statement is if that doesn't happen, if you even don't get a 0.4 percent increase in GDP, how do we create a backstop to be able to help protect us on the debt and deficit?

MALVEAUX: Further complicating the effort, a new estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, says the latest Senate bill would increase the deficit by $1.4 trillion over ten years.

The report also shows that the bill will hurt more lower-income Americans than originally thought while benefiting higher earners. Those earning less than 30,000 are predicted to be worse off by 2019, but those making less than $75,000, worse off by 2027.

Removing Obamacare's original mandate would also result in 13 million Americans having health coverage over the next decade.


MALVEAUX: And after the president meets with Senate Republicans, he has another critical meeting with congressional leaders from both parties. They have to come up with a deal to fund the federal government by December 8 or possibly face a potential government shutdown -- Alisyn, Chris.

CUOMO: Yes, it worked well for the president at the time. Cutting that deal directly with the Democrats, but it was a short timer. Now has to do it again. Suzanne, thank you very much.

Let's bring in CNN political analysts John Avlon and David Gregory. So big day any way you look at it in terms of what's going to happen on Capitol Hill.

David, how do you see the challenges ahead for the president? Let's start with the tax bill.

[06:05:04] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they're big. There's no question about it. This is a Republican Party fight, and this is the fight in Donald Trump's Republican Party between conservatives. Those who are more moderate, who are concerned about people losing out because of taking away the individual mandate for health care. Deficit hawks, you've got a little bit of everything here within the Republican Party that's facing Donald Trump.

And this is quite a brew of tax cuts that create a lot of questions. I do come down with Lindsey Graham here, though, from South Carolina, which is failure is really not an option. This is not something thatRepublicans can afford to take a swing and a miss on. And I think that's ultimately going to unite people in the end.

The real problem are the wild cards, the John McCains who have proven impervious to the president's lobbying.

CUOMO: We have a graphic that we can put up. Take us through some of the people. You mentioned McCain. We see Johnson on there. Daines, Collins, Corker. Who do you see as being a big deal?

GREGORY: Well, you know, Johnson, who's worried about, you know, smaller businesses who are taxed at an individual rate, it sounds like they're dealing with that.

I think Susan Collins and McCain are big wild cards because of their concern on the individual mandate and people being hurt because of higher premiums. McCain doesn't like the process. McCain is someone you cannot predict at this point. If he doesn't like the process and they're jamming it through, he'll just vote no. We saw that on health care.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But look, I mean, if you sincerely care about the deficit and the data, as a card-carrying fiscal conservative, this bill ain't for you. It's a total contradiction to those principles. And so that's what's putting senators like Bob Corker, gave him a real pause. And James Lankford.

The other thing is, if you really want to put the focus on the middle class like Donald Trump campaigned on and said he wanted to do, this bill ain't for you. Because it doesn't do that. It's going to probably raise taxes on folks who are at the bottom of the income spectrum.

So those are two fundamental problems that go way beyond GOP civil war and go to the heart of philosophy and people's pocketbooks.

GREGORY: Let me just -- let me just quibble with that a little bit. He's fundamentally right. And what John is referring to is that if you get middle-class tax cuts, they will expire at some point and then go back up. That's how they try to deal with the deficit issue.

But you know, he's not -- they're not changing marginal rates. So upper income taxpayers, wealthier Americans get a benefit because of the corporate tax cuts because of the phasing out of the estate tax.

AVLON: Big time.

GREGORY: Which is big. But you know, if you're a wealthier American, you probably end up paying more taxes, because you lose deductions on real estate in the big blue states and high-tax states.

So there is a mix here. And there's no question. That is why you have a couple of senators saying, "Hey, if you guys are so confident that this is actually going to increase economic growth, then put a stop gap in there where we dial back some of these tax cuts if you're wrong." AVLON: Yes. But look, if you end up losing state and local, for

example, like in New York or California--

CUOMO: What they're calling the SALT provision.

AVLON: SALT provision, right, state and local tax. That's a tax hike on folks who are middle class and upper middle class. No way about it. And the Republican reps in those state also have a real hard time explaining to their constituencies why they support this bill.

CAMEROTA: Let me introduce one other wrinkle. And that is the backdrop against which all this is happening. The economy is booming. I mean, every marker that we're seeing this week, the stock market, the holiday sales. The president tweeted housing markets are up. I mean, is this the time to be sort of upsetting the apple cart?

AVLON: This is -- this is catechism. This is -- this is tax cut theology, as well as a political necessity, as David pointed out. This is not about stimulating the economy. In fact, if you look at the Bush tax cuts, there's not a ton of evidence that they do stimulate the economy. What they do definitely do is add to the deficit.

GREGORY: I would just -- first of all, we have a big bull market we're in the middle of that the president talks about a lot. Think part of what's driving that is an expectation that there will be tax reform.

And obviously, advocates for this would argue, you know, whether they're proved right or not that there will be economic growth at -- on the other end of this. And there is some effort to simplify the tax code here that will be beneficial.

But I think to John's earlier point, this is worth mentioning again. Because we saw it yesterday where we were talking about the consumer watchdog agency, as well. Candidate Trump and President Trump are different people, OK?

Let's just be very clear about that. This was a guy who brought together all the major elements of the Republican Party. And that's why this is a tax bill that is going to be primarily helpful to corporate America. That is pulling together all the legs of the stool of the Republican Party. That's what he's done as president.

CUOMO: Right. But this isn't your typical poetry/prose split.


CUOMO: This is more fundamental than that. And this is all very edifying. But it's going to be confusing for people. Because even if you were within the Republican Party, it's confusing.

The reason you don't have any Democrats coming on with this, is your point about the economy is booming. The question is for whom is it booming? The stock market is doing well. That's partly a gamble game. Right? That's a risk/reward game. CAMEROTA: Sure, sure.

[06:10:11] CUOMO: And the irony is the president used to say that don't look at Wall Street for a measure of Main Street.


CUOMO: And he was right then.


CUOMO: He just doesn't say it now. The economy is not booming if you are a middle-class person.

CAMEROTA: This doesn't help wages. This doesn't help wages.

AVLON: That's the problem. It could exacerbate income.

CUOMO: Here's a theoretical dispute. There, you will have senators, including Ron Johnson, who doesn't like that small businesses aren't getting equal treatment to big businesses who will say wrong, wrong, wrong, David Gregory. Growth will happen.

Even though the economy is doing OK, it's not doing that well. We want 3.5 percent growth, not netted up to near 3 where it is now. Tax cuts will create stimulus. And there's an economic theoretical discussion you'll have there and historic markers are not that generous to the president's position on it.

But it's still a fundamental argument about what kind of economy you want. They have a great proposition they're selling right now, which is who do you want to have more money in their pocket, government or you? That is a great sell. The problem is, they're not defining the "you."


CUOMO: The people who are going to get more money in their pocket with this tax bill aren't the people that Trump promised.

AVLON: That's right. And the folks who need relief. They're the folks who need economic relief, are the middle class, are the main street who have been left behind at a time when the wealthier keep getting wealthy.

CUOMO: Because wages aren't going up.

AVLON: That's right.

CUOMO: Companies are making more money. They're holding more capital. You see it in the modern era. They just--

CAMEROTA: And they're not even promising to increase wages, by the way.

AVLON: Well, of course not. CUOMO: Not their job.

AVLON: There's not a mechanism to require that in the first place.

CUOMO: Nor should there be in a capitalist society.

AVLON: No, of course not. But look, if this is clearly about if it's about helping the middle class, sign me up. But if people are putting the political necessity on passing something on overall policy considerations, that results in bad policy that's going to exacerbate a lot of the problems we're dealing with now that, ironically, led to Trump being elected.

CUOMO: It's one of the great arguments for the president that David Gregory makes all the time. Stay more focused in leaving all the -- you know, stuff that he loves to tweet about alone. He has huge divisions in his own party. The people who you'll win over with the marginal tax rates are going to piss off the deficit hawks. You know, and the people -- if you're going to make them happy, well, then you're not going to get this growth argument the way he has. He's got a lot to finesse. It's a big negotiation, one cut out for the man who calls himself the best deal maker ever. We'll see. We will see. Three loaded words, but they're going to come home to roost on this one. Join us tonight. All this complexity is going to get laid out in good, old-fashioned, point-counterpoint debate on tax reform. Jake Tapper, Dana Bash moderating. You've got Senators Bernie Sanders on one side, Ted Cruz on the other, Tim Scott, Maria Cantwell. These are good teams. Nine p.m. Eastern tonight.

CAMEROTA: OK. So was this another cringe-worthy moment at the White House? President Trump called Senator Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas" at an event honoring Native American veterans. That wasn't the only offensive moment during the ceremony. We discuss the optics, next.


[06:17:20] CUOMO: President Trump with yet another unforced error, stepping on his all-important tax reform message, because he distracted with something ugly, reviving a racial slur, attacking a Democratic senator during a White House ceremony that was honoring Native American war heroes. Not the time to throw out an Indian slur.

CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more -- Joe.


Hard to see this was not what it is, a blatant insult on top of an insult at an event with the president of the United States at the White House to honor Navajo code talkers, the Native Americans from World War II, who played a critical intelligence role by transmitting messages the enemy could not translate.

The president, at this event, once again repeating the name he has used for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. That would be Pocahontas. But what was different about this was the setting. The president did it in front of a picture of Andrew Jackson, the

president who in 1830, signed the Indian Removal Act, which essentially led to the Trail of Tears, basically a death march across the United States to the west for thousands of Native Americans seeking Indian territories.

Let's listen to what the president said.


TRUMP: 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 special.


JOHNS: Now the president has used the "Pocahontas" term in the past to refer to Senator Warren and raise questions about whether she could claim Native American heritage. She, in turn, has gone after the president for using the term in the first place, and she did so again just last night. Listen.


WARREN: I really couldn't believe it. There he was, at a ceremony to honor Native Americans, men who have really put it all on the line to save American lives, to save lives of people, our allies during World War II, 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: Now the White House press secretary, unable to quell this controversy, essentially tried to argue that the term "Pocahontas" is not a racial slur -- Chris and Alisyn.

[06:20:002] CAMEROTA: OK, Joe, thank you for setting all that up for us. Let's bring back our CNN political analysts David Gregory and John Avlon.

So John Avlon, the Andrew Jackson portrait, which is obviously no hero to the Native American population and the "Pocahontas" term, I mean, is this insensitive, oblivious or deliberate?

AVLON: I'm going to go with "B," oblivious.

CAMEROTA: John's going to jump in.

AVLON: "B" would be oblivious. Look, the Andrew Jackson portrait hangs in the Oval. That's because this president, and under the encouragement of Steve Bannon, sees him as a populist and a kindred spirit.

When he's looking at that, no one did the math about the Trail of Tears and Navajo code talkers. That's just about historical literacy. But we've seen that pattern throughout this administration, in this president in particular.

CAMEROTA: So the tone deafness is just obliviousness? They just don't know that this is--

AVLON: Certainly about the optics of Andrew Jackson being in the background.

The president also couldn't resist making an insult. And clearly, he's riffing off the cuff. But the whole thing just reads like another chapter in some weird excerpt from a Chris Buckley political satire. He can't help himself.

CUOMO: Andrew Jackson is either insensitivity, lack of history of historical, you know, touch or they just missed it. They forgot where that they were holding it and how it would be projected. That's fine.

That's a very different thing than the Pocahontas jab. It's completely intentional. It is not oblivious, because the president doesn't care about the people who are sensitive to this. He literally turned to the Navajo hero and said, "I like you, though, because you're special."

Listen, this is who he is. I don't understand why people have to keep explaining the reality of who the man is. He will go at you any way he thinks he can that will hurt you. And Warren gave him a little bit of room when she couldn't prove her Cherokee roots to the satisfaction of those who were asking.

Once he had that little bit of space, that's his dog whistle. She's a liar. The Democrats are liars. They're all fake. And he will do it as ugly as he can, David Gregory, because that's who he is. That's how he fights. Where is the mystery in this? I don't mean to erupt, but I just -- I don't see where--


CUOMO: -- the mystery is in this. This is what he does. He doesn't care if those guys are offended. He doesn't care.

GREGORY: No. I was driving my 15-year-old and when I heard this on the radio yesterday, and he just kind of burst out with this kind of incredulous laugh. He's not spending all of his time following politics, but he understands one thing about President Trump. He has introduced a crudeness to the era of his presidency that will be one of his hallmarks.

So you know, I mean, I don't think there's a whole lot of analysis beyond what you said, Chris. That it's the crudeness that he'll go after you no matter when, no matter what, no matter how. And he'll do it ugly. He doesn't care. And he -- he does -- he's not worried about the trappings of the office, how he'll be looked at, how he'll be scrutinized.

Because whether it's Charlottesville and saying that, you know, all sides on that had good people, even in a neo-Nazi march; or whether it's, you know, throwing around slurs like "Pocahontas" at a Native American, you know, event, he just doesn't care.

So there's a crudeness to him that we've almost become numb to and that supporters of his, the best they can do is just say, "Oh, stop paying attention to these kind of daily eruptions."

CAMEROTA: OK. There are a couple more threads we need to now talk about, developments with the "Access Hollywood," the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape.

This was so notable on so many levels. Because you could hear the -- Donald Trump, then candidate, in his own words saying these shockingly vulgar things. Then he apologized. So out of character so unusual, on Facebook. He apologized, and he said, "I said it and I apologize."

So now "The New York Times," as you know, was reporting that he has begun saying to now three people, Maggie Haberman, one of the reporters of "the New York Times," has said he said to three people he's not quite sure of the authenticity of that tape. So ultimate revisionist history, forcing "Access Hollywood" yesterday to come forward and say -- Natalie Morales said, "Let us make this perfectly clear. The tape is very real."

John, where does this leave us?

AVLON: It leaves us forced to confront yet again that the president has a fundamental truth-telling problem, and that he will impose his own reality distortion field on anything, even something he has said that is publicly available, that's incontrovertible. And of course, it puts anyone who has reality attached has to force that -- face that fundamental contradiction, even if you work in the White House.

And the question is, does the president really believe it, or does he think he's simply spinning people, you know, in the Senate; and maybe that will cause some doubt? It's -- it's just divorced from reality.

CUOMO: This winds up being a test, David. It's obviously a lie. There's no reason to go into it. It's a lie any way you want to look at it.

[06:25:06] CAMEROTA: Unless it's what John is saying, which is that he is divorced from reality. That's the other thing that he's suggesting.

CUOMO: He has tapped well into the reality that, if you tell people things enough times, they may believe it. That's what he's doing. And he knows that's what he's doing. He's hoping it works. It needs to be condemned and condemned again.

Let's just remind people what he said. Or not. Let the silence stand.


TRUMP: I never said I'm a perfect person nor pretended to be someone that I'm not. I've said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more-than-a-decade-old video are one of the them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it. I was wrong and I apologize.


CUOMO: All right. That was him. Here's Sanders yesterday in the White House.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president addressed this. This was litigated and certainly answered during the election by the overwhelming support for the president and the fact that he's sitting here in the Oval Office today. He said what he didn't like and what he found troubling were the accounts that are being reported now.


CUOMO: One of the immutable laws of politics is a bad lie isn't so bad for the liar. It's bad for everybody who has to cover for him.

AVLON: Yes, sure.

CUOMO: Because it exposes how they're going to react to an obvious falsehood, as well, David, and Sanders there winds up being exposed.

GREGORY: Yes, I don't understand. What was her -- what was her point?

CAMEROTA: That what they don't like is what "The New York Times" is now reporting, that he's saying it didn't -- it wasn't authentic. That's the part that they're quibbling with.

GREGORY: Who knows what she's saying.

CAMEROTA: I can now at this point.

CUOMO: It's a clumsy cover. But that's the problem with a lie. Now she's got to cover for him. And how she does it is how she's going to be measured.

GREGORY: I go back to, you know, the president, we're kind of always joining the president in a conversation that's already under way. And you know, kind of the transcript of the presidency creates so many question marks and so many moments when you want to kind of, you know, do this. {PUTS HAND TO FOREHEAD}

And you know, that's part of it. And he doesn't really care. I think, you know, the pitfall is actually, you know, talking about it too much. This is a settled question, as we know.

CAMEROTA: Seth Meyers said, when I inadvertently slapped my head. that this would become our new Pledge of Allegiance. Because we so often must slap our heads. CUOMO: Look, I'll tell you what. It gives him a challenge. Now he's going to go to Capitol Hill. He's going to try and cut a couple of different deals that matter. When people are sitting across from him and he's saying, "I promise I can do this, I can do that."

CAMEROTA: "Take my word for it."

CUOMO: This stuff all matters. I'm telling you, I grew up in that business. They will look at him and be like, "Well, I know one thing about you. You're a liar. So I have to take that into" -- lucky for him, he's dealing with a lot of liars on the other side of the table, as well. So it's somewhat of a state of play. But this was an obvious one, and it's got to be called out.

CAMEROTA: On that positive note, gentlemen, thank you very much.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we will talk about the White House response to these controversies with former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

CUOMO: Straight shooting Mooch. What's he going to say about this one?

All right. "The Washington Post" busting a well-known conservative group that may have been trying to discredit the newspaper in an undercover sting operation. Brian Stelter with the inside story next.