Return to Transcripts main page


Republicans Strikes Deal On Tax Bill; Democrats Want Tax Vote Delayed; Salma Hayek: Weinstein Is A Monster; Putin Holds Annual Press Conference. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 14, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:38] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A giant tax cut for Christmas, and when I say giant, I mean giant.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Republicans are closing in on a deal to reshape the tax code. The House and Senate merging key differences on corporate rates, the mortgage deduction, and more.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: And what I think is clear is they'll be no further action in the Senate until Scott Brown is sworn in.


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

NOBLES: And another Harvey Weinstein accuser with a startling accusation. Salma Hayek said Weinstein demanded a sex scene in her movie after she rejected his advances.

Good morning and welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ryan Nobles.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 32 minutes past the hour. Nice to have you here --

NOBLES: Thank you for having me.

ROMANS: -- from Washington this morning where the action is, by the way.

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 topline differences between their two bills.

Now, smaller details remain to be worked out within the GOP, leading to a hope-for vote before the holiday recess.

NOBLES: Democrats are calling on GOP leaders to slow the process until newly-elected senator Doug Jones can be sworn in.

We'll have more on that in a moment, but for the latest on the emerging shape of the tax plan let's go to Capitol Hill and CNN's Phil Mattingly.


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. Now, the details are extremely important and a lot of them diverge from where both the House and Senate were.

Take the top individual rate. That will move to 37 percent. You'll 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 different issues in the plan.

Also, you have something like the mortgage interest deduction. The House dropped the threshold down to $500,000. The Senate left it untouched at $1 million. They'll compromise on that -- $750,000.

The state and local tax deduction, that will be expanded. Still capped at $10,000 but now it won't just include 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. The Republicans in the Senate try and get at least 50 or 51.

Now, what's the timeline? House Republicans 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. What that means is they want it on the president's desk by Wednesday of next week.

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


ROMANS: Yes, they really want this done.

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 other leading Democrats demanding lawmakers wait until Jones is sworn in.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE 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.

[05:35:00] 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 hand.

The market's stronger than ever. We don't have double-digit unemployment. It's lower at four percent than ever.

What's the hurry? Why can't we do what Ronald Reagan did? He worked it for two years.


NOBLES: Well, let's go back to 2010. That's when the Senate facing 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 listen to what he said about Brown being included in the vote.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Democrats say that they want to continue to go forward and make sure that this bill passes.

MCCONNELL: Well, at the risk of being redundant, what I think is clear is they'll be no further action in the Senate until Scott Brown is sworn in.


NOBLES: And joining us this morning for the first time -- well, the second time this morning, the first time in his career here at CNN, Siraj Hashmi. He's a commentary writer and editor for the "Washington Examiner."

Siraj, we talked about the president's approval rating when you joined us last hour and we talked about how that base -- you know, he's at 32 percent right now according this Monmouth poll. It's the lowest it's ever been.

Do you think that the president -- the White House has hopes that this tax bill will somehow expand upon that base at all? I mean, he really has only up to go in terms of his approval rating. Do you think that's their hope at this point?

SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER AND EDITOR, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Right. I mean, right now, establishment Republicans are probably the ones on the fritz who have a chance of actually being in support of President Trump if this tax bill goes through in both the House and Senate because while they couldn't go forward on Obamacare repeal, you know, the Senate version of the tax bill has at least a repeal of the individual mandate.


HASHMI: And that's actually something they can chalk up as kind of a win and a half if you will because at least, you know -- they can at least say they --

ROMANS: Right.

HASHMI: -- did something on both taxes and Obamacare.

And I think a lot of establishment Republicans and some conservatives will say, you know, this is actually a good thing so I'm sure they'll have a little bit of better or favorable view of President Trump's job.

NOBLES: A win and a half. You should trademark that.

ROMANS: I like --

NOBLES: It sounds like a good hashtag opportunity.

ROMANS: You know, but they're making an assumption here that this is a net positive when they go out on the campaign trail. And you look at the approval ratings of the GOP tax plan and the Quinnipiac poll has an approval rating of the tax plan of just 26 percent. That's miserable.

And 43 percent in that same poll said they are less likely to vote for someone who supports the plan. Forty-three percent less likely to vote for someone who supports the plan.

Republicans, for one reason, because they don't like how it adds to the deficit. In great times in the economy adding to the deficit, that is anathema to the Republican -- you know, the Republican mandate.

And liberals will say look, this is just a gift to the donor class and corporations. Don't call this a middle-class tax cut. There's a little bit of middle-class relief in there and it expires. This about giving a gift to the companies.

HASHMI: Well, yes. I mean, there's an argument to be made, obviously, for giving a gift to the donor class and to corporations from lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. And also, adding $1.5 trillion to the debt -- or deficit, I should say --

ROMANS: Right.

HASHMI: -- in a time when a Republican-controlled House and Senate and White House -- when the economy is booming, unemployment is around four percent, the lowest it's been in the past decade, adding to the deficit right now is not where they should be.

But, of course, the theory of lowering the corporate tax rate is that, of course, you bring companies and jobs back to the United States that have left previously, so you probably have a chance of -- I don't know, bringing more jobs --


HASHMI: -- so they're working in middle-class through manufacturing, through production.


HASHMI: And that's what President Trump hopes this will do.

ROMANS: And that's making the big assumption that the reason those companies left was because of the tax code and not because of cheap labor and lower environmental standards, and I think that that's part of that mix, too.

The other real issue will be with the lower rate on the repatriated -- all the money coming from overseas. Does it go into building plants or does it go right into shareholder's pockets?

NOBLES: Right.

ROMANS: That'll be really important to watch, too.

NOBLES: And, you know, it's interesting. When you're in Washington and I think that it's pretty clear that taxes appears to be one of the few things that Republicans all seem to be at least somewhat on the same page on.

And, Siraj, I have to imagine that after Alabama there's a ton of finger-pointing right now. There's the Bannon wing of the party that is wounded at this point. The establishment wing of the party might feel as though they've have some (audio gap).

You know, after they get (audio gap) they will likely get it done this week. You know, Paul Ryan is talking about reform. He's talking about touching things like Social Security and Medicaid. Health care is still standing out there.

Is there any indication that the Republican Party is unified enough to go forward with some of these big-ticket items that they have on the agenda?

HASHMI: Well, right now, Republicans do need a legislative win. I mean, 2017 has been kind of dearth in terms of what they've actually accomplished. [05:40:03] What they really need is the legislative win to build some momentum. So once they actually have a little bit of momentum they're probably more willing to unite and come together and have -- build some consensus on future bills that may go forward.

So one of the things that President Trump has endorsed that was brought forward by both Tom Cotton and David Perdue, both senators, and the Republican Caucus is the RAISE Act. And that's something that on immigration, President Trump obviously campaigned heavily on. Building the wall, bringing E-Verify. Basically, ending chain migration.

ROMANS: Right.

HASHMI: And, you know, a lot of things that his base was really in support of.

If they can get to the point where they can even start discussing the RAISE Act, that's a lot of the progress that we can say the Republicans have made. But they have to do it, obviously, before the 2018 midterms or else, you know, you're going to see the Democrats continue their blue wave that we saw in November and now, with the special election in Alabama.

And, you know, right now, there are two very vulnerable seats in the Senate after Doug Jones took Alabama. You've got Dean Heller in Nevada and you've got the open seat that Jeff Flake is retiring from in Arizona.

And that will be enough for Democrats to now take control over the Senate. And if the House goes up then why are we even looking out for President Trump because there'd be impeachment proceedings?

Right now, in the last 24 hours that we've seen with Trump's graciousness towards Doug Jones, we might see Trump on his best behavior going forward. We might even see this as a presidential pivot.

NOBLES: We've never heard of that before, right?

ROMANS: The pivot, the pivot.

NOBLES: The pivots always last about 15 minutes.

HASHMI: Yes, I know we've always talked about it but this might actually be the one.

NOBLES: Maybe this is it -- all right.

ROMANS: All right, I'm writing it down -- 5:41 a.m., you said it.

Siraj Hashmi, commentary writer and editor of the "Washington Examiner," really nice to see you. Come back again soon. Never a dull day.

HASHMI: Thanks for having me. ROMANS: He's telling us it will never be a dull day.

NOBLES: Never be a dull day. We knew that already, but --

Well, it looks as though 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 -- I'm not going to do it the way you want me to do it - was fired. The official story is that she's resigning effective January 20th to pursue other opportunities.

He never said that on the show, did he, Christine? Go pursue other opportunities.

But the Secret Service says her White House pass has been deactivated. Two sources tell us that John Kelly, when he took over as chief of staff, Manigault-Newman's role at the Office of Public Liaison seemed ill-defined.

ROMANS: Another source says she has had no access to the president for months. It 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 her -- has not heard back.

NOBLES: Senator John McCain admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center recovering from another round of treatment for brain cancer. McCain's office says he looks forward to returning to work as soon as possible.

ROMANS: McCain's daughter, Meghan, and former vice president Joe Biden had this emotional moment Wednesday on "THE VIEW." You might have seen this on your Facebook feed.

Biden's son, Beau, died in 2015 from the same form of brain cancer.


MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF JOHN MCCAIN: I think about Beau almost every day and it 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 OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, look, look, look, look, look, look, look.

MCCAIN: What would you tell people -- it's not about me, it's about everyone with cancer.

BIDEN: No, no, 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 an aide and 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.


ROMANS: Biden said his ongoing research and progress on glioblastoma -- encouraging McCain to remain hopeful about her dad's recovery. We wish them the best.


A new Harvey Weinstein accuser, and Salma Hayek's story is harrowing. Escalating rage, a death threat, and so much distress she had to take a tranquilizer that made her sick. We'll have more of Salma Hayek's story when we come back.


[05:48:55] ROMANS: 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, credible allegations of conduct that is 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.

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

Hayek writes Weinstein berated her with unwanted sexual advances that culminated on the set of "FRIDA" when Weinstein demanded a sex scene with another woman, with full frontal nudity, or he would shut down production.

She 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 years of my life had gone into this film.

I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot that scene that I believed would save the movie, and for the first and last time in career, I had a nervous breakdown. My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short, and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears.

[05:50:12] Since those around me had no knowledge of my history of Harvey they were very surprised by my struggle that morning. It was not because I was naked with another woman, it was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein, but I could not tell them."

In the end, "FRIDA" earned a total of six Oscar nominations, including a Best Actress nod for Hayek.

A spokeswoman for Weinstein responded to the op-ed telling other media outlets the allegations as portrayed by Salma Hayek are not accurate.

This reckoning over sexual harassment started with Weinstein and look how it has spread. A wide swatch of powerful men in film, media, politics, and elsewhere.

All right.

Meantime, a surprising comment from a Democratic female lawmaker -- a shocking comment, really, at a closed-door meeting of House Democrats to discuss sexual harassment allegations.

Seventy-one-year-old Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur shocked her colleagues in the room when she suggested female lawmakers were inviting unwanted advances because of the way they were dressed. Kaptur said female staffers and reporters were guilty of wearing outfits that she believed were too revealing.

One source in the room told "Politico" Kaptur said this. "I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor." Sources say people in the room were totally in shock.

The congresswoman tells CNN she was not suggesting the victims were responsible.

All right. Target is speeding up its delivery service in a challenge to Amazon. I've got those details for you next on "CNN Money Stream."


[05:55:28] ROMANS: All right.

Right now, Russian President Vladimir Putin is wrapping the year with a marathon news conference. He's fielding questions about relations with the U.S. and he's making some news about his own political future as well.

CNN's Phil Black is monitoring all of this live for us in Moscow. What's the headline, Phil?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a few things here, Christine.

Vladimir Putin was asked to assess Donald Trump's first year in power. He said that's not his job, that's for the American people.

But he talked about Trump having a number of major successes and pointed to the state of the financial markets, saying that they indicate that people still trust the American economy and that means they trust the decisions that Donald Trump is making. He was also asked about the many contacts between Russian officials and Trump's people -- contacts which are now the subject of multiple investigations in the United States.

His view -- and he's kind of said this before -- is that he believes it's all largely been made up by Trump's opponents to delegitimize his presidency. And he said that in so doing, these people are actually undermining their own country in the process, as well.

Nothing unusual, he says, about Russia's ambassador meeting with people from an incoming administration.

He also talked about his own political future in the sense that he's running for reelection in just three months' times. That's when the next presidential vote in this country is. And he said that will run as an Independent, not associated with the United Russia Party as he has been in the past. That's the dominant political party in this country.

What it seems to indicate is that he is trying to broaden his appeal as much as possible because while he is expected to win this election pretty comfortably -- there simply isn't another opponent, really -- what he's battling against is voter apathy so he wants as many people to turn out and vote for him in March at that election, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Phil Black for us. Thank you so much this morning where it's about two in the afternoon in Moscow. Thank you, sir.

Three members of the International Space Station crew landing safely after 139 days in orbit. One of the men 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.

May the force be with you tonight. You may need it if you plan to stand in line for "STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI" which opens in North America in just hours. It is expected to top $200 million at the box office, one of the biggest openings of all time.

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

Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stock markets are mixed right now. U.S. stocks rose after reports congressional leaders reached a deal on the tax bill. The Dow hit a record high.

The S&P, though, closed lower after financial shares fell and when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates. That's the third hike this year. It means higher rates on mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards. The future of how the Internet is regulated is about to change. The FCC is scheduled to vote today on a controversial plan to rollback Obama-era net neutrality protections. The 2015 rules intended to keep the Internet open and fair, barring the blocking or slowing of Internet traffic.

FCC chair Ajit Pai says the regulations stifle broadband investment and innovation, but advocates argue that without it consumers would face higher costs and slower speeds.

The repeal is expected to pass.

Target is speeding up its delivery service in a challenge to Amazon. Target bought delivery service Shipt to begin same-day delivery. The plan here is to offer this at half of its stores by early 2018 and all major markets by the next holiday season.

Until now, Target and other store-based retailers had one advantage over online. You could pick up your items the same day.

But now, Amazon is making the push to same-day delivery, so there is real fight in the retail space. And I think you, the consumer, are the big beneficiary there.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


TRUMP: We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas.

MATTINGLY: Negotiators struck a deal about how to reconcile the House and Senate plans.

SCHUMER: The public knows what's going on and that is tax cuts for the wealthiest.

ROY MOORE (R), LOST ALABAMA SENATE ELECTION: We have not received a final count. Our political process has been affected with baseless and false allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But certainly shows that the voters of Alabama are taking another look at the Trump administration.

DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATOR-ELECT: It was a very gracious call. He congratulated me on the race that we'd won.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: And I think the public trust in this whole thing is gone.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Nobody has communicated to me a desire to remove Robert Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would hope to think he's safe. If not, then all hell will break loose. (END VIDEO CLIP)