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Feinstein: Senate Committee investigating Trump for obstruction; Trump's lawyer claims he wrote Trump's tweet about Flynn; GOP Rep Trent Franks on Flynn plea deal; Senate-passed bill similar to plan that failed in Kansas; Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI, is cooperating; Silverdome implosion doesn't go exactly as planned. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 3, 2017 - 17:00   ET



[17:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, boy. Well that was SNL last night. Hey, thanks so much for being with me today, Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, the CNN Newsroom starts right now.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the CNN Newsroom. I'm Boris Sanchez, in for Ana Cabrera. We thank you so much for joining us tonight.

First up, news that the Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice, this from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein who says the case against the president grows with every single tweet he fires off. Listen to this.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: The Judiciary Committee has an investigation going as well. And it involves obstruction of justice and I think what we're beginning to see is the putting together of a case of obstruction of justice.


SANCHEZ: The president renewed talk of obstruction yesterday when he tweeted that he knew that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI when he fired him, meaning that he also would have known that Flynn lied to the FBI when he asked former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating Flynn just one day later.

President Trump's attorney now said that he actually wrote that tweet, not the president. We'll have more that in that angle in just a moment but for now it seems the president is back behind the keyboard.

He has unleashed a tweet storm attacking everything from James Comey to Hillary Clinton and the FBI saying it is in quote, tatters and the worst in history. We're joined by my colleague crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.

Shimon, you have done excellent reporting on the Russia investigation. You've followed that -- the whole way through since the beginning.

Based on what you have seen from this plea deal struck by Michael Flynn and some of the other plea deals, and charges against Paul Manafort and the like, does this give you the impression that the focus on collusion with Russia or somewhere else?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: So it's hard to say really with what -- where this is going and what the Special Counsel is doing.

But we can read certain tea leaves and certainly the investigation right now has been focused on people who have lied to investigators and both of those people are now cooperating. Manafort and Rick Gates, in separate, these are old cases, old investigations.

SANCHEZ: Financial crimes.

PROKUPECZ: Financial crimes. So not really have anything to do with collusion. Collusion isn't necessarily a crime and this is what we have been told by sources but the issue here is that the FBI had a job to do.

They saw there was some contact between people within the Trump world during the campaign, during the transition and that concerned them, and they began an investigation and when they started asking questions about that contact, people were lying to them.


PROKUPECZ: And so what happens is, is they need to now figure out why that is. And it could be that there is some other kind of collusion.

But when you look at someone like George Papadopoulos who was arrested and charged, and admitted to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, he basically admitted to going to meet with Russians willing to accept their help on this so-called dirt on Hillary Clinton.

We have heard other people, Donald Trump Jr. having a meeting at Trump Tower, willing to accept, and listen to possible information on dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Those are signs of potential collusion, not necessarily a crime let's say, but why are -- why have people lied about it? And that is the key issue here I think for investigators as they try to pore through this.

And having Michael Flynn now as a cooperator, it will certainly open new doors for investigators that hopefully will answer as to why people have been lying about their interactions with Russia.

SANCHEZ: There are many people reading the fact he got a pretty sweet deal compared to other charges that he could have faced as an indication that he might have information...

PROKUPECZ: Absolutely. SANCHEZ: ... that would help the investigation. So you have close ties to the intelligence community. They pay a lot of close attention to the words that the president uses. How do you think they respond to him saying that the FBI is in tatters, the worst it's been in history when his own appointee is now leading it and Christopher Wray?

PROKUPECZ: Right. So it think for most, they want to move on from this. They want to move on from the James Comey days and the Clinton -- Hillary Clinton investigation. And they feel they have a new leader and they want to start anew.

But the president obviously does not allow that to happen because he reminds them into these tweets are, I would say, insulting to them. But these are professional people. They're going to continue doing their job.

They're going to continue doing their investigations. And the most important thing certainly for the FBI is keeping us safe from terrorism. That is an important part of their job and that continues.

I will say that when you do speak to intelligence officials, former, current, senior level people, their concern has always been with these tweets that bringing in new talent into the intelligence community, into the government.

[17:05:00] People may be hesitant to do that now. Because they see how much the president -- they feel the president is beating them up, that it's going to be hard to recruit good people, talented people to come and work at these agencies.

The people there now, yes, you know it bothers them but they are continuing to do their job. They have to keep us safe. They know that. But it's -- what's going to happen in the future, that is always the concern for senior people in these government jobs or leading these agencies.

SANCHEZ: Right. It also raises concerns -- ethical concerns about these agencies that are supposed to be independent from the president being guided by the White House. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much for the reporting.

I want to get back into that unusual explanation for the president's tweet about why he fired Michael Flynn. President Trump's personal lawyer John Dowd today claimed that he authored that tweet.

I do want to remind you of something really that's key to understanding the context around this. It's a sound bite from the Trump White House in which they have said that past comments by the president on social media are considered part of the official record. Here's Sean Spicer in June when he was White House press secretary. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the president's tweets, are President Trump's tweets considered official White House statements? SEAN SPICER, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Well the president

is the president of the United States. So they're considered official statements by the president of the United States.


SANCHEZ: The president is the president of the United States. Let's go to CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Jeremy, John Dowd claims that he authored the tweet. He's trying to clarify the contents of the tweet, the intention of the tweet. Is he saying that he misspoke? What exactly is he trying to clarify?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I had a brief e-mail exchange with the president's attorney, John Dowd this morning and he did appeared to suggest backtracking in fact on this tweet that he claims to have authored saying in fact that the president did not know at the time that Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI.

The president's attorney sent me an e-mail was at the time of the firing, no one including justice had accused Flynn of lying. Of course we now know as of Friday that Michael Flynn did indeed lied to the FBI and that was the crime that he was charged with and pled guilty to.

But this does raise questions about why in fact either the president or the president's attorney John Dowd decided to put out this statement.

John Dowd said he drafted the statement but actually pushed it over likely to social media director Dan Scavino who physically posted the tweet on to Twitter. But the president's attorney would not answer whether the president himself was involved in the drafting of that tweet.

The president as you know, Boris, is typically very involved when it comes to his own social media presence and unless something is a public relations video or photo, he is typically involved in the putting out of those tweets.

So a lot of questions being raised especially as this tweet once again brought back the specter of the questions of obstruction of justice. If the president had indeed known that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI, that would lead to those kinds of questions.

SANCHEZ: And, Jeremy, the specter of the Russia investigation overall seeming to cloud this White House even when they score legislative victories like the major tax reform bill that was passed in the Senate over the weekend. The president's approval rating seems to reflect that specter. It's taken a hit. Help us break that down.

DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. The latest polling from Gallup, which does the daily tracking poll has the president's approval rating down to 33 percent. That's just a third of the Americans approving of the job that he is doing as president.

And you have to think that some of this has to do with the extent to which the Russia investigation and the president's response to it has affected his perception in the public.

As you mentioned, you know, the president should be in a celebratory mood right now. He just scored this major legislative victory -- his first major legislative accomplishment of his presidency with the Senate's passage of this major tax reform bill.

But right now, the president is not able to come out publicly and celebrate this for fear of having to face a lot of questions concerning the Russia investigation, Michael Flynn and his now cooperation with the FBI.

SANCHEZ: All right. Jeremy Diamond, reporting from the White House, thank you. Joining me now to weigh in on all of these, Republican Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona, he serves on the house judiciary committee.

Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. Last time we got a chance to chat but we were cut short by breaking news. Hopefully that doesn't happen this time.

CONG. TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: That's all right. Thanks -- thanks for inviting me back.

SANCHEZ: A pleasure. Back in October, Congressman, you wrote an op- ed in which you called the indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and a guilty plea of George Papadopoulos of quote, nothing burger.

You called for Robert Mueller to resign. Do you still believe that this investigation is tainted and that this is a nothing burger after this plea deal Michael Flynn struck and everything has been revealed because of it?

FRANKS: Well, Boris, I really do. And if you look at it, in the context that it was written, this was as it applies to somehow collusion that the Trump administration may have had with Russia somehow.

[17:10:00] And there's just no indication of that. You know, if you look at the evidence clearly and you look at, you know, when Robert Mueller was the FBI director, he became aware that the Russians were trying to gain a significant equity in the American uranium industry market.

And he didn't do anything about that and yet, the deal that they signed called the Uranium One deal, the same month that they signed it, Bill Clinton got $500,000. The chairman of Uranium One gave the Clinton administration, $2.35 million.

And overtime, the shareholders of Uranium One gave the Clinton Foundation $145 million. Now if they had that kind of evidence against Donald Trump, they would have burned him at stake in front of the White House without a trial.

So I'm think that the more they push on this Russia thing as we rally get into Russia, you're going to see that the Democrats are going to be sorry they ever found it on the map finally.

SANCHEZ: Sir, with all due respect, the question is specifically focused on the Trump transition, not the Clintons, and there are some key specific points that we can refute there but I want to focus again on this investigation.


SANCHEZ: CNN has confirmed that Jared Kushner is the very senior transition member who directed Flynn to contact the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, according to documents gathered from The New York Times, e-mails, interviews and records that have been submitted in court, Flynn was briefed -- or Flynn briefed several key Trump transition officials before his meeting with Kislyak and after his meeting with Kislyak.

So why is the administration for so long had to deny that there were any contacts between Russian officials and the Trump transition? At one point Vice President Mike Pence was on a Sunday morning talk show saying that there was no communication between the Trump camp and Russians.

FRANKS: Well I know Mike Pence is a man of the greatest integrity and honor and if he said that that's what he meant, that's what he -- that's what he understood. So I have no doubt about that.

But consider the context here, first of all, incoming administrations all the time try to sort of lay the ground work for some of their key foreign policy issues.

And if you look at Mr. Flynn's calls, when he called the Russians after Mr. Obama had politicized the situation and put sanctions against Russia for extensively interfering with the election, then the new administration asked the Russian government not to antagonize the situation further or to escalate it and they did.

The second call -- that you know, they went ahead and went along with Flynn. The second call Flynn made was to ask them to help us stop an Egyptian resolution to condemn Israeli settlements. And that's -- you know, those are things that are entirely consistent with an American policy and these are not new things.

In fact, when they went after Flynn, the law that he ostensibly may have crossed over the line was I think somewhere around 80 years old and I don't think it's ever, ever been fully enforced at any time. So there's -- they're reaching here in a big way and I've just got to tell you, I think it's unfortunate.

SANCHEZ: Sir, you're saying you think that you think that the Special Counsel is reaching though many people, many legal experts have said that Flynn got a pretty sweet deal when it comes to all the other charges that he could have faced.

He's looking at potentially five years for cooperating with the Special Counsel when he could have faced much more for other crimes in terms of not declaring himself a foreign agent, declaring money that he may have received from foreign governments for lobbying work. You don't read into that thinking that...

FRANKS: I actually predicted that. I think it might have been on this network. I'm not sure.

SANCHEZ: Well, you don't read into that thinking that...

FRANKS: I predicted what would happen would be that the Mueller investigation would try to make deals and try to somehow get at Trump no matter what they had to do. Now time will tell.

But I will tell you this much, the rulings against Mr. Flynn right now or at least the findings -- that's a better word, do not indicate anything that goes along with this whole notion that the Trump administration illegally was involved with Russia relating to collusion with the election.

SANCHEZ: But it does certainly raises questions about why Flynn lied to begin with and why the administration has -- had to change the story several times about contacts with Russia. Does it not?

FRANKS: Well, I remember Mike Pence -- you know, I remember Mike Pence saying that the reason that they made this move was because Flynn lied. So the Trump administration I think acted exactly as they would have been predicted to do so.

SANCHEZ: Here's the question about that. That interview that Mike Pence gave was in late January. If there were Trump campaign officials that were briefed about Flynn's discussion with Sergey Kislyak back in December, before and after he had that conversation with Sergey Kislyak, why did no one tell the Vice President that there were communications between the Trump campaign and Russia?

[17:15:00] FRANKS: There are two things I can tell you specifically. The number one, campaigns are the absolute unmitigated epitome of chaos. Nobody knows what's happening, you know, when you're moving into a new administration.

So it's very easy for me to see how Mike Pence might not know about that. But secondarily and really more importantly is that when Mike Pence said he didn't know, Mike Pence, didn't know. I served with him 10 years in the Congress. There's not a more honorable, more noble statesman in the United States government.

SANCHEZ: Sir, one final question because we are short on time.

FRANKS: Yes, sir.

SANCHEZ: I did want to ask you tax reform and something that Republicans have been working on for quite some time. Congratulations for getting that on the board.

You guys are going to head into conference with the Senate within the next couple of days to try to iron out any differences between two. What challenges do you see in that conference moving forward?

FRANKS: Well, I am very optimistic. I'm glad we're going to conference. I wish we could go to conference on every appropriations bill.

The Senate rules don't allow that. And the rules are going to fall off the government here pretty soon because of that. So we have got to deal -- somehow deal with the Senate rules.

But in this particular case, the Senate bill, I think, is a very good bill. I'm glad we're going to conference, trying to make it the best we can to get the best of both, the House and the Senate version.

But the good news is, if everything just goes to pieces, you know, the House can accept the Senate version and still have a great piece of legislation that I think will be a tremendous resurgence for this economy and do America that is something truly historic.

SANCHEZ: All right, Congressman Trent Franks, we have to leave it there. Sir, thank you so much for joining us on this Sunday.

FRANKS: And thank you, sir.

SANCHEZ: We have to take a quick break. But we're going to get the other side of this story. Chatting with a prominent Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee about what he thinks about Donald Trump's tweet and whether there's even a need for congressional investigations. We'll chat next in the CNN Newsroom.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. We have got new developments in the Russia investigation, plus, an unexpected explanation for a problematic presidential tweet.

Senator Dianne Feinstein says the Senate Judiciary Committee may be building an obstruction of just case against the president. She is the ranking Democrat on that panel.

And then, there is this, Trump's personal attorney, John Dowd claiming that he is the author of that Trump tweet about firing Michael Flynn.

The tweet suggesting the president knew that Flynn lied to the FBI before he hired him and then asked former FBI director James Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn.

Let's discuss with Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu. Congressman, thank you for joining us this Sunday evening. I have to ask you right after that, do you believe this explanation from John Dowd that he was the one that wrote this tweet?

CONG. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Boris, for your question. No, not at all because if that story is true, they would have fired John Dowd by now. That is stunning legal malpractice to basically have your client admit to obstruction of justice in plain view.

But even if John Dowd wrote that tweet, it doesn't absolve Donald Trump. If a lawyer write something for me and I tweet it out, I owned that statement or if a lawyer tells me to say something and I actually say it, I own that statement. So the White House is abruptly trying to spin that tweet because they're very freaked out about its consequences.

SANCHEZ: So, sir, you're making the case that this is a legal admission? In other words, this is evidence that could be presented against the president in court?

LIEU: Absolutely. And the president of the United States has on more than one occasion, admitted to such elements of obstruction of justice.

As you remember, he went on national TV and said one thing his attorneys never told him to say was he just basically fired James Comey because of the Russia investigation and now we know that he knew Michael Flynn lied to the FBI and he was still trying to get the FBI to drop their case against Michael Flynn.

SANCHEZ: So, Congressman, you're on the House Judiciary Committee. We heard from Dianne Feinstein suggesting that the Senate Judiciary Committee, its counter part in the Senate, may be building an obstruction of justice case.

Are the House and Senate investigations at this point doing something that Robert Mueller's FBI probe is not doing? Is there something that perhaps you guys are working on that isn't in his purview?

LIEU: There's no reason that you couldn't have parallel investigations happening and I'm pleased the U.S. Senate is proceeding that way.

I think it's now time for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the president of the United States. We're looking at on obstruction of justice, just staring us in the face and it's a dereliction of duty to not investigate.

SANCHEZ: Well, sir, you have put out this tweet as potentially evidence of President Trump obstructing justice if he knew that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI, then his asking of James Comey would be considered obstruction of justice.

But really, James Comey's testimony is all that we have to go on in terms of that reporting. So do you have any other concrete evidence that the president obstructed justice because right now it's just he said, he said.

LIEU: Well, we also have the president saying on national TV he fired Comey because of the RUSSIA investigation and we have a New York Times article reporting what the president told Ambassador Kislyak.

He said that he felt great pressure from the FBI investigation. He fired Comey to relieve that pressure. And that account has not been disputed by the White House even to this day. So we have words of the president incriminating himself.

And I'm a former prosecutor, I can tell you that obstruction of justice statues is very broad. You don't actually have to stop an investigation. You just have to endeavor to influence an investigation and the president is certainly trying to do that. SANCHEZ: Now whether or not there's evidence of obstruction of

justice or enough evidence of obstruction of justice, politically isn't it ultimately a moot point if the House remains in Republican hands?

[17:25:00] They're likely not going to impeach the president.

LIEU: For purposes of impeachment at this point in time, yes. I believe you need to change the makeup of Congress. But Special Counsel Mueller's investigation is proceeding and every day he gets closer, and there are no words in the constitution that will prevent Special Counsel Mueller from indicting a sitting president.

SANCHEZ: Sir, I'm not sure if you were able to hear the conversation. But I just spoke to Republican Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee with you. He says that there's nothing wrong with Flynn discussing sanctions with Russian officials before Trump became president.

LIEU: Right.

SANCHEZ: There is the suggestion, you know, that perhaps they made outreach the Trump transition team to Kislyak in order to get around sanctions that were imposed by the administration that was in place at the time the Obama administration. What's your response to all of this?

LIEU: If there was nothing wrong, why would Flynn lie about it, why would mike pence lie about it or the president lie about it? There clearly is something wrong. We have one president at a time.

You can't conduct you're road foreign policy and it is a violation of the Logan Act. But Keep in mind, Michael Flynn's guilty plea is a gang changer.

A prosecutor wouldn't do that kind of guilty plea with cooperation to get lower level individuals. The only reason Special Counsel Mueller did that agreement is because he knows Michael Flynn has incriminating information on people above him.

SANCHEZ: Well, sir, there was a New York Times report out yesterday that indicated that Michael Flynn was not only briefing transition officials before but also after his meeting with Sergey Kislyak.

And the same day he spoke with Sergey Kislyak, an e-mail was sent out by one of Trump's advisors, K. T. McFarland in which she specifically states that connecting with Russia is going to be difficult because of the Obama sanctions.

And at one point, she specifically says that Moscow through the USA election at Trump. Now a White House attorney says that she was referring to how Democrats were going to spin the perception that Russia helped Trump get elected.

How do you see that e-mail specifically and the revelation that it was clear that the Trump administration knew that Michael Flynn was talking to Sergey Kislyak?

LIEU: With documents and e-mails we're seeing the unraveling of the mountain of lies by the Trump administration and Trump campaign.

As you remember, for the longest time, they denied any communications with the Russians and now we know there's been several communications and some of them are very detailed asking for example, for dirt on Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner in that meeting, you know have this e-mail from K.T. McFarland.

You have and what Flynn has done. So it's possible that every single Trump campaign official had mass amnesia about one topic, Russia, or something very bad happened last year.

SANCHEZ: And, Congressman, one final question before we go. Has anyone on the House Judiciary Committee reached out to talk to K.T. -- K.T. McFarland?

LIEU: Not yet but you can bet we're going to do that this week when we go back into session.

SANCHEZ: All right, Congressman Ted Lieu, we have to end the conversation there. Thank you so much for the time again, Congressman.

LIEU: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, as Republicans look to past a major tax overhaul, the founder of America's tax reform, Grover Norquist says the proposed changes would quote, change the world. We'll ask him what he means, next.


SANCHEZ: Optimistic members of Congress hope to put a tax reform bill on the president's desk for his signature before the end of the month. Senate Republicans gave President Trump a major victory this weekend by narrowly passing their version of tax reform.

The vote came in the wee hours of Saturday morning with some changes happening practically at the last minute handwritten into the bill. Grover Norquist is here. He is the founder and president of Americans for tax reform. Grover, thank you so much for joining us.


SANCHEZ: Your reaction after the Senate vote this weekend was very strong. You went so far as to say this tax reform bill would quote, change the world.

I want to ask you about the Kansas model because a very similar strategy when it comes to tax cuts based on the so called, Laffer curve were applied to Kansas on a state level. They didn't really create economic sparks the way that they were expected to. Does that make you at all nervous? NORQUIST: No. The reason why the left likes to talk about Kansas is

the other 49 states tell the opposite story. The states with high taxes are losing people. The states with low taxes have people and jobs moving towards them.

You take the top high taxed states in the nation, people are walking away from those states, New York, Connecticut, Illinois. States with no income tax at all, Florida and Texas are growing by leaps and bounds.

Kansas spends too much money and at court which required them to spend too much money. And they have had poor growth before that tax change and of course they reversed it almost immediately and they continue to have poor growth.

So the model is you have to take spending down and you want to go to low tax rates but the idea that we should look at Florida and Texas, and Tennessee with no income tax, and see how well they're doing, and look at states with high income taxes, and how poorly they're growing and that people leave, the lesson is pretty clear.

It's also clear internationally people put their money and invest in low tax states. When I said it would change the world, this tax bill, we used to have the highest business tax in the world except for about three countries that you can't pronounce them. I don't remember their names.

[17:35:00] But we are now going to be down towards the bottom or towards the middle bottom of tax. We're going from 35 percent down to 20 percent, European average a little over 20 percent.

But we're still not doing as well as states like Hong Kong and Singapore, and Ireland, and Canada, and Britain which all have even lower than 20 percent. But I was talking to Swiss bankers just a couple weeks ago.

They said money is going to hemorrhage out of Europe into the United States with a lower rate like 20 percent. I spoke to one of these countries that has like a very few percent and they said even though we have almost no income tax, we can't compete with the United States at 20.

We can compete with them at 35. We can now compete with them at 35. But at 20, the United States is a great place to put resources.

So you're going to see a lot of money coming -- some of it American money earned over seas, coming back to the United States because of the repudiation part of this and the fact people can invest from China and Japan, many other countries can bring money into the United States to create jobs.

This is a huge shift in the direction we have over the last 20 years have American companies bought by foreign companies because the same firm, Burger King, was worth more owned by a Canadian company than by the United States, same burgers, same number of employees and outlets, worth more because of our stupid tax policy. That changes now. SANCHEZ: When it comes to taxes on individuals though and

specifically permanent tax cuts in the Senate version of the bill, only the top two brackets are going to keep their tax code after I believe 2026 or 2027.

Senators have said that's because of the rules of reconciliation. They had to keep the cuts on lower brackets to remain temporary in order to only require 50 votes to pass the bill.

They're basically saying that the American people should trust lawmakers, that they're going to eventually make these cuts permanent long term. Should the American people trust lawmakers to make those cuts permanent for those who need it most?

NORQUIST: OK, first of all, the American people should never trust lawmakers. They should trust themselves.


SANCHEZ: So why make this assertion, just don't worry, we'll make the tax cut permanent for the lower five brackets eventually.

NORQUIST: Well, they're going to make it permanent for all of the brackets. There are a series of tax cuts that have to be permanent if you want to change behavior.

The business tax rate -- you can't tell a business, please build a factory that's going to be around for 50 years and we think we have got a tax cut for you for five years. That doesn't happen.

SANCHEZ: I do want to specify for individual taxpayers. I don't mean the bill interrupt...


NORQUIST: That's why -- that's why some are permanent. Some are not. They will all be permanent and the Republicans have made it clear as soon as they have breathing space in the next bills, these will be kicked out and made permanent.

The Bush tax cuts were all disappeared in year '10, they were all made permanent even with the Democrats in charge. The Democrats will not undermine making it permanent even if they wanted to. They're permanent and they will be.

SANCHEZ: Grover, very quickly, because again, we are short on time.


SANCHEZ: The success of this tax bill depends on very serious growth. Four percent growth let's say. Do you think that's realistic?

NORQUIST: Well, first of all, some people have said, what about the deficit. It's revenue neutral at 0.4 percent growth.

SANCHEZ: Correct, yes. NORQUIST: You have to increase 0.4 percent. And under Reagan we have

got to two, four plus percent growth because of lower tax rates with strong economic growth. I was talking with Mark Penn on the panel, who is general adviser of both to the Clintons -- both Clintons, Hillary and Bill.

And he said they were surprised by that strong growth, not anything else. Growth is what got us the end of deficits and surpluses when we cut -- while cut the capital against tax, you saw strong economic growth.

The thing that drops deficits and gives you surpluses is economic growth. And this bill, plus the Republican deregulations which have already begun to kick in and reducing the permanent income, that will give you the growth that we need.

We also need to reform entitlements. And overtime, they can't keep growing faster than the economy which is what they have been doing.

SANCHEZ: All right, Grover Norquist, we thank you so much again for joining us this Sunday.

NORQUIST: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, a tweet from the president's account suggests that he knew about Michael Flynn lying to the FBI when he fired him.

That races the possibility that the president may have obstructed justice when he later reportedly fired FBI Director James Comey because he would not make the Russia investigation -- the investigation into Michael Flynn go away. So, did this tweet put Donald Trump in legal jeopardy? We'll discuss next.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. The president's personal attorney says he did it. He was behind that tweet that had many wondering allowed whether the president had just admitted to obstructing justice on Twitter.

The Saturday tweet from Trump's account reads quote, I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is ashamed because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide.

That tweet now had been attributed to the lawyer, John Dowd. And it seems to suggest that Donald Trump knew his former national security advisor had lied to the FBI when he fired him, and he knew about the crime when he reportedly asked former FBI director James Comey to back off in investigating Flynn.

And according to The New York Times, Dowd has apologized to the Whit House for the tweet, saying that he should have been more careful in his language.

Ironically, the tweet had been crafted as part of an effort to calm the president down after Flynn's guilty plea. And IF you looked at the president's Twitter timeline over the past 24 hours, it didn't have the intended effect.

Joining me now is CNN legal analyst and former special assistant to Robert Mueller at the Department of Justice, Michael Zeldin, as well as CNN national security and legal analyst, Susan Hennessey.

[17:45:00] She is also a former NSA attorney. Susan, starting with you, at first John Dowd claimed that he was just trying to parrot a statement from another Trump attorney, Ty Cobb. Even though Ty Cobb's initial statement had no mention that Flynn was fired because he lied to the FBI. How big of a blunder is this?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Right, so the real question here isn't -- isn't who wrote the tweet. It's whether or not the substance of the tweet is accurate.

So, this is -- the real question here is what did Donald Trump know on February 14th at the time that he instructed former FBI director Comey to see if he can let Michael Flynn go.

Did he know that there had been the existence of a federal crime? Now some people might say the fact that the president didn't personally put that in his own words, that means that it can't be attributed to Trump.

On the other hand, the fact that a lawyer who presumably has lots of knowledge regarding what happened decided that that was the way to phrase this is, if I actually raise the possibility, you know, that this is a legally significant statement.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Michael, I want to show you another tweet from the president. He has tweeted many times in the past 24 hours. He writes, quote, I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more fake news covering another Comey lie. Why is this tweet so important?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if the president says that under oath and I believe that he will be asked to give testimony under oath, then it sets up a direct conflict between the president and Comey.

And Mueller will have to make a decision who to believe. And if he believes Comey that the president asked him to stand down on the Flynn investigation, then the president will have lied under oath.

That's what got Bill Clinton into trouble. That's what got Richard Nixon into trouble. So this tweet if the president stands by it, I think is potentially down the road very problematic for him.

SANCHEZ: Susan, there's been some debate about whether or not this tweet could be potentially presented as evidence in an obstruction of justice case representative Ted Lieu was just on with us a short while ago saying that there should be submitted as evidence in any potential obstruction of justice case. Do you agree that this is a legal admission that can be used?

HENNESSEY: Right. So it certainly depends on who actually authored it. You know, the other issue is whether or not there isn't stronger evidence.

So e-mails corroborating, witnesses, other things through the notion that the tweet would be the strongest thing you would want to put forward.

That said, you know, if this actually would go to prosecution and again, you know, the idea of actually indicting a sitting president, you know, there a lot of sort of threshold preliminary questions here.

But in a hypothetical how much you do indict a president, one of the things that you would have to prove for obstruction of justice charge is this corrupt purpose and the knowledge of -- that Flynn had in fact committed an offense, is an essential element of that crime and certainly is the kind of thing that a prosecutor would need to present in court.

SANCHEZ: Susan, staying with you -- Michael, did you want to weigh in?

ZELDIN: Yes. I was going to just say that I agree completely with what, Susan, has said. Where I have issues with Congressman Lieu is I don't believe this is factually correct. I don't believe that the president knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI.

I don't think it was possible for him to know that. I think this is sloppy draftsmanship by Dowd and not what people have been wanting to make of it which is evidence -- further evidence of obstruction of justice.

SANCHEZ: Susan, if you were advising the president would you tell him to get rid of John Dowd after this tweet?

HENNESSEY: Well, this is certainly yet another series of really, really significant blunders from the president's league team, sort of the most recent in astounding one was Ty Cob who had this conversation about privilege sort of within earshot of a New York Times journalist at a Washington, D.C. restaurant.

This is yet another blunder. Certainly if I was advising the president, I would advise him to take a pretty hard look at his legal team and whether or not they are actually serving his interests at this point.

SANCHEZ: Michael, again, you worked closely with the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. I bet you have a response to what, Susan, just said. But I also want to ask you, how do you think the Special Counsel might use this tweet and this information going forward?

ZELDIN: So I think if you looked at this as an algebraic equation, you have X plus Y equals Z. X is all these mosaic pieces of obstruction.

The firing of Comey, the loyalty oath, the requesting of Congress to stand down, the request by his national security team to intervene with the FBI, all that goes into the X bucket. And what I think is necessary for an indictment or an abuse of

authority, article of impeachment is why, which would be a crime, which is the line.

So I think that if you have all this mosaic and a lie, you get to Z, which is an impeachable offense or indictable offense, and I just don't yet see the lie, the crime, I just see pieces that are going into this X bucket of mosaic pieces for obstruction.

[17:50:00] But I don't yet get to the end.

SANCHEZ: Susan, to you, what do you make of what's been perceived as a light sentence or kind of sweet deal for Michael Flynn? There were a number of charges that he could have faced that he is not facing.

Do you think that's an indication that the Special Counsel is hoping to work amiably with him to then go deeper and perhaps closer to the president or other figures on the Trump campaign that may have colluded with Russia?

HENNESSEY: Right. So certainly if even a tenth of what has been publicly alleged about Michael Flynn is true, this is an incredibly good deal and that's an indication that Flynn has offered quite a bit of valuable cooperation in exchange for this deal, it also may be an indication that he's cooperating up the chain.

Instead of just sort of other individuals who are sort of at his level. You know, when ever you're talking about the national security adviser, people who rank above him on sort of issues of public integrity, you know, it's a relatively small group.

So I do think that quite a bit can be read at this point from the fact that he got this -- you know, this really very good plea deal.


ZELDIN: I agree with her. The interesting thing to ask, and what I what I add to this, when did Flynn start cooperating? Because if he has been cooperating for several weeks or several months, what information he may have been able to gain for the Special Counsel through recorded conversations or otherwise will be very important to the outcome of this investigation.

SANCHEZ: Ripe for speculation. Susan Hennessey and Michael Zeldin, thank you so much for joining us.

ZELDIN: My pleasure.

SANCHEZ: Well, some implosions go as planned, and some do not. Watch this. The story of a football stadium that just will not die. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Go as planned and others do not. But the Detroit Lions Silverdome was supposed to come crashing down this morning, but despite all the flashes and bangs, it is still standing. Apparently the blast did break the stadium steel beams.

So construction officials say it should eventually come down. Jokes, as you might imagine, broke out on Twitter. One person writing that, even the walls are afraid to cross the goal line. Poor Detroit Lions can do nothing well, but I can't really judge. I'm a Dolphins fan.

On the more important news, as one prominent lawmaker says she's now looking into making the case against the president for obstruction of justice, is the president putting himself in legal jeopardy with his tweeting about the Russia investigation. You're live in the CNN Newsroom. We'll be right back.