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EARLY START

Republicans Strike Deal on Tax Bill; McConnell's Flip Flop; Salma Hayek: Weinstein is a Monster. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 14, 2017 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[04:30:47] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A giant tax cut for Christmas. And when I say giant, I mean giant.

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CHIRSTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Moving at warp speed, Republicans closing in on a deal to reshape the tax code. The House and Senate bridging key differences on the corporate rate, the mortgage deduction, and more.

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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: What I think is clear that there will be no further action in the Senate until Scott Brown is sworn in.

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RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: That was then, but this is now. Cries of hypocrisy as the Republicans force through the tax plan knowing they're about to lose a vote in the Senate.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And another Harvey Weinstein accuser with a startling accusation. The actress Salma Hayek says Weinstein demanded a sex scene in her movie after she rejected numerous advances.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

It was quite an op-ed she wrote.

NOBLES: Yes. We'll have more on that in a bit. I'm Ryan nobles. It is 31 past the hour.

And the GOP moving at full speed on its tax plan, sprinting to get a bill passed as soon as next week. House and Senate Republicans have now hammered out a deal, reconciling the top-line differences between their two bills. Smaller details remain to be worked out within the GOP, leading to a hoped-for vote before the holiday recess.

ROMANS: Democrats are calling on GOP leaders to slow the process until newly elected Alabama senator Doug Jones can be sworn in. More on that in a moment, but for the latest on the emerging shape of the tax plan, a tax reform that will reach all corners of the economy, we go to Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.

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PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Ryan, you can name them, it's the president, the Senate majority leader, the speaker. Republicans say they are on the verge of passing their overhaul of the U.S. tax system, something that hasn't been done in 31 years. Negotiators struck a deal on all of the top-line elements about how to reconcile the House and Senate plans. So, the details are extremely important, and a lot of them diverge from where the House and Senate were.

Take the top individual rate. That will move to 37 percent. You remember, the House had it at 39.6 percent, the current rate. The Senate, 38.5 percent.

Now, take a look at the corporate rate. That, both the House and Senate Republicans said they wanted to move from 35 percent down to 20 percent. That will end up at 21 percent. Why? Well, one percentage point equals $100 billion in revenue, that helps pay for a lot of the issues in the plan.

They also have something like the mortgage interest deduction. The House dropped the threshold to $500,000 and the Senate left it untouched at $1 million. They'll compromise on that at $750,000. The state and local tax deduction, that will be expanded, still capped at $10,000, but now it won't just include a property tax, it will also include income as well.

Guys, all of these things are hugely important as Republicans in the House try and get to 218 votes to pass this and Republicans in the Senate try and get at least 50 or 51.

Now, what's the timeline? House Republican leaders have made clear they want this done by the end of this week. They want to vote on it as soon as Monday in the Senate, as soon as Tuesday in the House. That means they want it on the president's desk by Wednesday of next week.

Yes, they're moving very fast -- Christine and Ryan.

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ROMANS: All right. Phil Mattingly, no sleep for you.

Fresh off their big win in Alabama, Democrats want to put off the vote on tax reform. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer insisting Senator-elect Doug Jones should be involved in the process. He and leading Democrats demanding lawmakers wait until Jones is sworn in.

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SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: This was a referendum. The middle class and suburban middle class people said we want change. And when that happens in Alabama, that's happening everywhere in America. It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the newly elected senator from Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: What's the rush? What's the hurry? We don't have a crisis on our hands. The market's stronger than ever. We don't have double-digit unemployment. It's lower at 4 percent than ever. What's the hurry? Why can't we do what Ronald Reagan did? He worked it for two years.

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NOBLES: This may seem like a bit of a Hail Mary by Chuck Schumer, but there is some precedent here. In 2010, the Senate faced a similar situation on Obamacare after Republican Scott Brown won a special election in Massachusetts. Now, Mitch McConnell was the minority leader at the time and he insisted that Brown had to be included in the voting.

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REPORTER: The Democrats say that they want to continue to go forward and make sure that his bill passes.

[04:35:03] MCCONNELL: Well, with the risk of being redundant, what I think what's clear is there will be no further action in the Senate until Scott Brown is sworn in.

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ROMANS: More than a day after the Alabama Senate race is called, Roy Moore is still not conceding his loss. Last night his campaign released a five-minute video in which Moore protests he has not received the final count, including military and provisional ballots. Meanwhile, the rest of the country is moving on, including the president, who strongly backed Roy Moore.

NOBLES: The president offered relatively gracious words to the winner, Doug Jones. Now he's absolving himself of any blame, and in fact, congratulating himself, Trump tweeting that in backing the loser in the Republican primary, Luther Strange, he predicted that Moore could not win and he was proven right.

ROMANS: Within the GOP, finger-pointing under way. One Republican close to the White House telling CNN this is the worst political operation in my lifetime in a White House, Republican or Democrat. It's just a rudderless ship with no direction and no captain. Ouch!

For more, let's bring in CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

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JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Ryan. Doug Jones, that Alabama Senate candidate who won his election, will

be coming here to the White House. That invitation from President Trump went out yesterday in a phone call between the two gentlemen here. Doug Jones, of course, will be a Democrat, but, of course, he's representing one of the reddest states in the country. An open question, of course, if he will play ball with this White House.

But at least in the early hours, there is a gracious congratulatory call, at least in the words of Doug Jones, this is how he described it in Alabama.

DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATOR-ELECT: It was a very gracious call. I very much appreciated it. He congratulated me on the race that we won. He congratulated me and my staff on the way and the manner in which we handled this campaign and went forward, and we talked about finding that common ground to work together.

ZELENY: Long before Roy Moore makes a decision if he will drop his recount challenges, threat of that, at least, President Trump moving forward. The question is, will this new Democrat be a player with the White House? Will he be bipartisan?

Back to you guys.

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NOBLES: All right, thank you, Jeff.

And it looks as if Omarosa Manigault Newman has met the same fate at the White House as she did on "The Apprentice." Media reports say the one time reality contestant was fired. The official story is she is resigning January 20th to pursue other opportunities, but the Secret service says her White House pass has been deactivated. Two sources tell us that since John Kelly took over as chief of staff, Manigault Newman's role at the office of public liaison had seemed ill-defined.

ROMANS: Another source says she has had no access to the president for months and is considered to be a nonstop problem in the West Wing. One former official tells CNN, quote, many of her colleagues are elated by the news, adding, people have long been unsure what she did at the White House.

CNN reached out to Manigault Newman but has not heard back.

NOBLES: Senator John McCain admitted to the hospital for another round of treatment for brain cancer. He was diagnosed with a terminal form of the disease in July. McCain's office says he looks forward to returning to work as soon as possible.

McCain's daughter, Meghan, and former Vice President Joe Biden sharing an emotional moment Wednesday on "The View." Biden's son, Beau, died in 2015 from the same form of brain cancer.

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MEGHAN MCCAIN, SEN. MCCAIN'S DAUGHTER: I think about Beau almost every day. And I was told -- sorry -- that this doesn't get easier, but that you cultivate the tools to work with this and live with this. I know you and your family have been through tragedy that I couldn't conceive of --

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Well, look, look, look --

MCCAIN: What would you tell people? It's not about me, it's about everyone.

BIDEN: No, it is about everyone. But look, one of the things that gave Beau courage, my word was, John, your dad -- you may remember, when you were a little kid, your dad took care of my Beau. Your dad, when he was a military aide worked with me, became friends with Beau.

And Beau talked about your dad's courage, not about illness, but about his courage. There is hope. And if anybody can make it, your dad -- her dad is one of my best friends.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

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NOBLES: That's a Republican and a Democrat. Biden citing ongoing research and progress into glioblastoma, encouraging McCain to remain hopeful about her father's recovery.

ROMANS: We certainly wish them well. John McCain is a good, good man.

Disney is very close to producing a large chunk of 21st Century Fox, the announcement expected today, and the deal would shake up the entertainment industry. Disney takes ownership of one of the largest U.S. movie studios, TV channels like FX, becomes the majority owner of Hulu, and with plans to launch a streaming service next year. This will transform Disney into a streaming video giant to rival Netflix.

It's also a monumental shift for Fox, slimming down after years of expansion to focus on news and sports.

[04:40:03] And those companies may recombine with News Corp., the owner of "Wall Street Journal" and HarperCollins.

The deal needs regulatory approval but could signal a future media industry dominated by a few giants, along with Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, if the deal is approved, AT&T and Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. All anybody's talking about in the media world right now.

NOBLES: Yes.

A new Harvey Weinstein accuser, and Salma Hayek's story is harrowing, escalating rage, a death threat and so much stress, she had to take a tranquilizer that made her sick. More of her story next

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:45:04] NOBLES: Verbally abusive, sexually demeaning, just some of how a former senior aide to Congressman Blake Farenthold describes what it was like to work for the Texas lawmaker. Michael Rekola, Farenthold's communications director in 2015, says he was bullied so badly, he had to seek medical treatment and psychological counseling. He says it was so severe, he vomited every day.

ROMANS: I mean, the details are pretty stunning and we cannot repeat some of the comments attributed to Farenthold on the air. But another former colleague Elizabeth Peace, she confirms the account. Farenthold denies making sexually demeaning comments but admits using vulgarity in jest.

They are investigating allegations made by a former aide who received a settlement from a public fund, taxpayer money. The congressman has denied any wrongdoing.

NOBLES: A state representative from Kentucky accused of molesting a teenage girl found dead in what the coroner calls a probable suicide. The body of 57-year-old Dan Johnson found near a bridge with a single gunshot wound to his head. In a since-deleted Facebook post, Johnson denied molesting a female member of his church when she was 17, writing, "I cannot handle it any longer, but heaven is my home."

ROMANS: State leaders from both parties had been calling for Johnson's resignation after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an expose on Monday detailing how Johnson allegedly woke his daughter's friend during a sleepover in 2013 and forced himself on her.

NOBLES: Tavis Smiley's show suspended by PBS amid sexual misconduct allegations against its host. The public broadcaster hiring an outside law firm to investigate the matter. PBS saying in part, an inquiry uncovered multiple allegations of misconduct inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS. Neither Smiley nor his production company which makes the show for PBS could be reached for comment.

ROMANS: Oscar-nominated actress Salma Hayek now coming forward in a "New York Times" op-ed, a gripping op-ed, calling disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein her monster, too. The star opening up about years of sexual harassment and abusive behavior, including a threat to kill her.

She writes that on the set of "Frida," Weinstein demanded a host of awful things that culminated in demanding a sex scene with another woman, full frontal nudity, or he would shut down the production, after she said again and again no to other requests for massages and stuff.

Hayek writes: It was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another. There was no room for negotiation. I had to say yes. By now, so many of years of my life had gone into this film.

I arrived on the set the day we were should shoot the scene I believed would save the movie and for first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown. I was shaking uncontrollably, my breath was short, I began to cry and cry, unable to stop as if I were throwing up tears. Since those around me had no knowledge of my history with Harvey, they had no knowledge of my struggle. It was not because I would be naked with another woman, but because it was for Harvey Weinstein, but I could not tell them.

"Frida" earned six Oscar nominations, including a best actress nod for Hayek. A spokesman for Weinstein responded by saying the allegations are not accurate. This reckoning over sexual harassment has spread to affect a wide swath of powerful men in fil film, media, politics, and elsewhere. And one can suppose it's not over yet.

NOBLES: Meantime, a surprising comment from a Democratic female lawmaker at a closed-door meeting of House Democrats to discuss sexual harassment allegations. Seventy-one-year-old Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur suggested that female lawmakers were inviting unwanted advances because of the way they dressed. Kaptur said female staffers and reporters were also guilty of wearing outfits that she believed were too revealing. Sources say people in the room were totally in shock. The congresswoman tells CNN she was not suggesting that victims were responsible.

ROMANS: You work in Washington. The dress code in Washington does not seem very revealing to me. Seems like a lot of suits.

NOBLE: It's not south beach, for sure.

ROMANS: On men and women.

NOBLES: Yes.

ROMANS: All right. Target is speeding up its delivery service in a challenge to Amazon. Details on "CNN Money Stream," next.

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[04:53:52] NOBLES: Right now, Russian president Vladimir Putin is wrapping up the year with what's becoming something of a holiday tradition, a marathon news conference, briefing reporters on Russian domestic and foreign policy. He's currently fielding questions about the election -- or I'm sorry, he could field questions about the election meddling investigation here in the U.S., and he's making some news about his own political future.

CNN's Phil Black is following along live for us in Moscow.

And, Phil, the Russian president talking about which party he's going to be affiliated in his upcoming election.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, indeed, Ryan.

So, this press conference is really only getting started, because as you say, these things tend to go for many hours. Once, to give you context, he almost got close to five hours. So far, the questions have been pretty softball, all related to domestic issues. There's been some questions regarding the upcoming presidential election. This press conference is important to Putin, because in three months' time, he will be running for president again. This would put him in power -- because he is assumed to win -- put him in power until 2024.

He has cleared up something, and that is, he said he will be running as an independent candidate, seeking support from people across parties that support his views and vision for Russia.

[04:55:08] This is significant, because traditionally he has been associated with United Russia, by far the dominant political party in this country. This time, however, he says, perhaps an indication that he is trying to broaden his base as much as possible, seeks support from across political parties and not associate himself specifically with one party and one platform.

There is no real opponent to Putin in this contest, so what he is trying to do is battle voter apathy, and perhaps in this move to run independently -- as I say, he is broadening his base as much as possible to try to get as much possible support for that vote in three months' time.

NOBLES: All right, Phil Black in Moscow. Thank you for that report.

ROMANS: All right, three members of the International Space Station crew landing safely after 139 days in orbit. One of the member who landed in Kazakhstan is from NASA, one from the European Space Agency, and the third a Russian cosmonaut. On Sunday, a new crew launches, one from NASA, one from Russia, and the third from Japan.

NOBLES: And speaking of space, may the force be with you tonight. You may need to make some plans. You're going to have to stand in line if you want to see this tonight.

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" opens in North America in just hours. It is expected to top $200 million at the box office. It could be one of the biggest openings of all time.

Listen to this, Christine. Demand for tickets so high, some theaters in New York will be showing the film on a 24-hour schedule starting at 6:00 p.m. tonight.

ROMANS: We recorded yesterday that fandango said, you know, the presales was already the biggest presale they've had all year. I'm going to see it.

NOBLES: I think I can wait, though, you know.

ROMANS: I don't ever see it the day it comes out because I can't stand --

NOBLES: You worry about the spoilers, talking about it.

ROMANS: I'll be careful.

NOBLES: I think I can wait. I have a 7-year-old who needs me to go with.

ROMANS: How many light sabers do you have in your house?

NOBLES: A lot. Blade builders, my son's (INAUDIBLE).

And about the "Star Wars" lines, if you're lining up outdoors, you're going to need an extra layer.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the latest.

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PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Ryan and Christine.

The story today across the Northeast becomes all about the snow showers, the cold air, and the multiple days of cold air in store across this region as well. And the snow showers are really just going to be limited to the early and midmorning hours. Beyond that into the afternoon and evening, it all begins to taper off and really not much in the way of significant accumulations.

We'll go with 34 today in New York, 43 in Washington. Down around Jacksonville, lower 70s what we're looking at, Kansas City upper 30s what we're looking at. I notice as this disturbance today moves out, the next one in line is just bringing in a reinforcing shot of cold air, very much a moisture-starved storm by the time we get to Saturday afternoon.

Now, talking about Saturday here, that's the coldest day for a lot of people, coldest day of the season. And in Boston in particular, the average temperature for this time of year, the high, at least, 42, the low into the upper 20s. Look what happens here in Boston. In fact, the high the next couple of days is comparable to what you should have for lows into the overnight hours. That's about 29 to 30 degrees. By Saturday we make it up to 34.

Finally by next week we get back into what would be more seasonal weather across the Northeast, lower and middle 40s what we expect in Boston -- guys.

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ROMANS: All right, thank you so much for that. That was your weather. Now it's time for your money. Let's check on "Money Stream."

Global stock markets mixed right now. U.S. stocks rose after reports broke congressional leaders reached a deal on that tax bill. The Dow at a record-high close. The S&P closed lower after financial shares dropped when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates.

That's the third hike this year. Higher interest rates mean higher rates for mortgages, auto loans and credit cards. It was also the final meeting for outgoing Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

She's had a great run. For the record, she pulled the fed back from its emergency measures, raising interest rates without upsetting the economy or the markets. The future of how the Internet is regulated is about to change. The

FCC is scheduled to vote today on a controversial plan to roll back Obama-era net neutrality protections. The 2015 rules intended to keep the Internet open and fair, barring the blocking or slowing of Internet traffic for some customers.

FCC Chair Ajit Pai says it stifles broadband innovation, but others argue consumers could face higher costs and slower speeds without it. The repeal is expected to pass.

Target speeding up its delivery service in a challenge to Amazon. Target bought delivery service Shipt to begin same-day delivery. They plan to offer the service at half its stores early 2018 with all major markets next holiday season. Until now, they had an advantage of picking up items the same day, but now Amazon is pushing for same-day delivery and Wal-Mart's also experimenting with faster online orders.

The winner is you. That's what I'm excited about. They're making all these investments, but the winner is the consumer.

NOBLES: I still don't feel like I can trust same-day delivery quite yet. They still need to work out some kinks, I think.

ROMANS: The boxes, what do you do with the box?

NOBLES: I know.