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Special Counsel Investigation Timeframe; Tax Reform Bill; Eagle Scout Helps Train Victims; Trump Considered Rescinding Gorsuch Nomination. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired December 19, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:33:34] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new this morning, "The Washington Post" is reporting that people close to Bob Mueller's team are suggesting the special counsel's investigation could go on for another year, although CNN's reporting is the president expects to get a letter soon clearing him of any wrongdoing in the Russia probe.

So, which is it?

Joining us now is Congressman Chris Stewart, a Republican from Utah, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, great to have you with us. Happy holidays to you and your family.

You are on the House Intelligence Committee. You have a better sense of what's going on. Granted it's not the special counsel's investigation, but would it surprise you if that investigation went on for another year?

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: You know, it really would.

And, by the way, thank you and Merry Christmas to you as well.

Yes, it would surprise me. And I don't think it's helpful for the American people. And I, frankly, don't think it should take that long. I think the special counsel has a duty and a responsibility to do this as quickly as possible.

Now, look, we don't want to rush the investigation. But knowing what I know and seeing the evidence that I've seen, I've got to tell you, I just can't imagine that it would take another year.

But, if it does, it does, and I guess we'll deal with that as it comes along.

HARLOW: Why is making this as, you know, expedient as possible the best thing for the American people? Wouldn't the best thing for the American people be to take however long is necessarily?

STEWART: No. And I hope I never said it was the best thing if it was done expeditiously. I have always thought that the best thing is to get the right outcome, to tell the truth, to ask every question, to have time to talk to every witness. And we've tried to do that. I just don't think it would take that long.

[09:35:11] Again, having talked with these witnesses, having looked at the evidence, as we've been doing now for -- talked about a year. It's been more than a year that we've been looking at this from the Intelligence Committee and our perspective, we've seen this body of evidence. And unless Mr. Mueller has something that we haven't seen, which I kind of doubt at this point, I just don't - I just don't imagine it would -- it should take that long. Another year is a long time. The American people, I think --

BERMAN: Well --

STEWART: Well, I just think the American people deserve an answer as quickly as possible.

BERMAN: I understand. I mean they clearly do have some things that you don't have. I mean they convicted Michael Flynn of lying to the FBI, pleading guilty there. George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. There are indictments on Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. So they are progressing here and getting convictions in some cases and filing charges elsewhere, you know, should they have the leeway to pursue those?

STEWART: Yes, and I understand that. And, by the way, those convictions and those accusations against them, we were aware of those. That's not something that was a surprise to us.

BERMAN: All right.

STEWART: But focusing on the Russian collusion accusations. Well, was there actual collusion between the Trump campaign, which is the heart of this matter? Again, maybe there's some bombshell out there that none of us have seen. I doubt it. I think if there was, you would be reporting it because I think it would probably be leaked. But I guess we'll see. And if it -- again, if it takes a year, it takes a year.

BERMAN: All right.

HARLOW: Let me get your take on the Republican tax bill that is -- it looks pretty clear that it's going to pass and make it to the president's desk as soon as tomorrow. We have new polling out this morning, I'm sure you've seen it, CNN polling. It shows 66 percent of Americans, two-thirds of voters, think it's going to benefit the wealthy more than the middle class. And that is a, you know, a direct contrast to what was promised over and over and over by this president. Fifty-five percent of Americans overall just don't like the thing.


HARLOW: So, I mean, are you fully -- we know it will have your vote -- are you fully, fully behind this?

STEWART: Oh, absolutely.

HARLOW: Do you believe that this is going to fulfill all of the president's promises for most Americans rather than benefiting the wealthy more?

STEWART: Oh, absolutely. And, look, I think some of the -- there are some polls and my response to the polls is, you know, a lot of times I don't believe them, frankly, any longer, and I want to know whose poll it was and what their --

HARLOW: It's our poll. It's our poll.

STEWART: Well, so what's -- what's the agenda behind it? And I -- and there's other polls which --

HARLOW: There's no agenda.

STEWART: Well, wait, just a minute. I --

HARLOW: These are pollsters. This is what they do for a living and they ask the American people these questions and they give them their honest answers.

STEWART: I get that. I wasn't speaking specifically to your poll. I'm just saying, I ask what polls are they and is their agendas behind them?

But let's go back to your segment earlier about the stock market. Now, that's an interesting and I think and something worth noting as well. There are some polls that show maybe some Americans don't like that, but look at what it's doing to the stock market already, and most Americans do own stock and most Americans look at that and they go, that's -- that's a good thing.

HARLOW: No, they don't.

BERMAN: Forty-five -- about 45 percent of Americans have 401(k)'s.

STEWART: OK. So a lot of Americans have it and they think that's a good thing.

This is a tax cut for all Americans. Now, some Americans are rich. And, you're right, some Americans are going to get a tax cut. But there's a lot of working single mothers that are going to get a tax cut as well. There's a lot of just average American hard-working making $70,000 a year, they're going to get more than $2,000 a year in tax cuts. Why is that a bad thing?

I'd love to go home and defend this.

BERMAN: I -- I --

STEWART: And, by the way, last point on this and I'll be quiet.


STEWART: Look, I understand there are some polls that say some Americans don't support this. I'm telling you, that's not what I'm hearing back home. When I go back home, I hear from people all the time, thank you for letting me keep some more of my money, and that's the ones that really matter to me.

BERMAN: Well, unfortunately, we're running out of time, sir. I will just say, we heard Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, say that the wealthy will not get a tax cut.

HARLOW: At all.

BERMAN: At all. You agree at this point that that wasn't true. That proved not to be true. They're getting an absolutely rate cut. And when you take away the estate tax, and you deal with corporate taxes and pass throughs, the wealthy are getting a tax cut.

HARLOW: A big one.

BERMAN: And, in fact, most of the tax cuts go to them. You would agree there.

STEWART: Yes. There was a point when -- and, by the way, I supported this and still do. It wasn't included in this. But I didn't want to give a tax cut to the very upper bracket. And there's -- and I think Mr. Manchin (ph) was probably talking at that time. But, regardless, this is a tax cut for all Americans and we're very proud about that.

HARLOW: But then why did you?

STEWART: Why did what?

HARLOW: And why are you support -- why are you supportive of something that cuts the top rate?

STEWART: Because there's not -- there's no such thing as a perfect bill. There are things in every bill that I don't necessarily love. But you have to take it in its entirety. And in its entirety, this is a great bill and I do support it.

BERMAN: Congressman Chris Stewart from Utah, great to have you with us. Thanks so much, sir.

STEWART: Thank you. Thank you both. Good morning.

[09:39:50] BERMAN: So an Eagle Scout crawls into a mangled train searching for survivors. We will ask him what it was like inside this mangled wreckage after the train derailed.


BERMAN: Routine Monday morning commute turned into anything but for Daniel Konzelman. He was driving to work when he saw the Amtrak train speed past him. Moments later, this, it derailed.

HARLOW: So the Eagle Scout jumped into action, crawling into the train through a broken window, helping trapped victims. He joins us now.

Incredible. I mean you're witnessing this, your typical drive to work, and you get in the train car, you jump out to help even before any first responders get there. Walk us through what it was like? DANIEL KONZELMAN, RESCUED AMTRAK DERAILMENT VICTIMS: Yes, it was very

-- it was surreal in the moment. We were just driving south. I do the commute every day. I saw the train go by us on the right and I noticed it but didn't really think anything of it.

[09:45:03] And then we get to the bridge and there's kind of a traffic holdup. And I look up to the train bridge and it's kind of hard to see because it was dark and foggy, but it looked like the train was hanging off the side of the bridge. And it kind of hit me all at once, like, there's been a major accident and this is not good.

So we pulled off the freeway as fast as we could and literally sprinted down onto the tracks from an access point down the way about a quarter mile and just, as fast as we could get to the bridge, sprinted down there. And immediately there was victims who had crawled out of one of the broken windows and were in shock, were just sort of disoriented, didn't know where they were, what had happened, where their family was, where they were going.

And so Alisha Hoverson (ph), my girlfriend who was with me at the time, just did our best to calm people down and assess if they were injuries and then escort them down to the freeway so that when the medics got there, they could treat them. And then just sort of worked -- worked my way through the trains with a head lamp that I happened to have in my car at the time. And tried to find people who were still stuck in the trains or couldn't move. And probably ten minutes after I got on site, a police officer showed up and jumped in the train car with me and together we both had flashlights, we worked our way through the rest of the train cars.

BERMAN: Of course you're an Eagle Scout, so you would have a head lamp in your car with you.

KONZELMAN: Be prepared.

BERMAN: As you're going through -- as you're going through the train, what did it look like on the inside? Give us a sense of the scene?

KONZELMAN: It was really -- it was super dark. Everybody had left their physical belongings and it looked like somebody had picked up the train car and shaken it. And some of them were -- so like so there was -- it was crazy. There was wallets and iPads and backpacks and everything just sort of like had slidden across the floor of the train car. Some of them were on their side. Most of the windows were broken. A lot of them had collided with trees, so the roofs were caved in on some of them, or there was debris that I don't know where it came from, but it made it, on some of them, difficult to get through. We had to sort of -- on one of them in particular, we had to belly crawl under some debris to get through. And, luckily, there was nobody in that train car when we got to it.

But, yes, it was just -- they were very dark. It was like pitch black in there. And yes, some of the -- the major -- the major damage happened on a car that had flipped over and the roof had sort of been ripped off. And that's where some people were pinned underneath there. So, yes, it was just -- it was a mess on the inside. And you were sort

of scared what you were going to see as you worked your way through, but also sort of hoping that there was -- if there was somebody in there, that you'd find them and could -- could help them in some way.

BERMAN: All right, Daniel Konzelman, thank you for being with us. Thank you for what you did. I know you probably provided comfort to a great many people who desperately needed it at the time.

KONZELMAN: Thank you, guys. God bless.

BERMAN: So did Neil Gorsuch almost get un-nominated for the Supreme Court? An eye-popping report that questions of loyalty and gratitude might have nearly cost him his job.


[09:52:59] HARLOW: President Trump often sings the praises of his Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, but there's new reporting this morning that he thought about pulling the nomination. That's according to "The Washington Post."

BERMAN: Why? He was apparently worried or concerned or angry that Gorsuch was not showing him enough loyalty.

Our Supreme Court reporter, Ariane De Vogue joins us now with the very latest.

This is some headline. He almost got un-nominated for the Supreme Court, Ariane.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, right. "The Washington Post" is reporting that Trump talked about resending Gorsuch's nomination. And the president was upset because Gorsuch had told a senator during one of those meetings that you have as the confirmation process that Trump's repeated attacks on the judiciary were disheartening and demoralizing.

Now, it comes at the time, remember, Trump was on the losing end of a lot of travel ban rulings. Remember, he called one judge a so-called judge. And it's unclear if this was a passing storm, as "The Post" says. But it's interesting, guys, about the theme of loyalty. A White House spokesman said last night to "The Post" that the president at no time considered withdrawing the nomination. But it's pretty ironic because Gorsuch has been such a big win. Listen to what the president has said about his nominee.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill and deep devotion to the law.

I have no doubt you will go down as one of the truly great justices in the history of the United States Supreme Court.

Antonin Scalia will forever be a symbol of American justice. To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill and deep devotion to the law.

We are strengthening our judiciary, including a brilliant Supreme Court justice.


[09:55:01] DE VOGUE: And, don't forget, since Gorsuch has taken the bench, he has -- he hasn't cast that many votes, right, but his votes have been consistently conservative on issues like the travel ban, voting rights, the Second Amendment. And just a few months ago, he gave this rousing speech at the Federalist Society where he clearly aligned his judicial philosophy with that of Scalia. That's why this report is so interesting, Poppy and John.

HARLOW: It is indeed. And the word "loyalty" obviously sparks thoughts of --

BERMAN: Honest loyalty. Loyal honestly.

HARLOW: James Comey.

BERMAN: You know.

HARLOW: Exactly.

Ariane, thank you so much for the reporting.

All right, at any moment, House Speaker Paul Ryan will address reports. It's an understatement to call today a big day for him. Finally it looks like getting tax reform through, something he's been pushing for, for more than a decade. You'll hear from him alive ahead.


[10:00:06] BERMAN: All right. Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow. Top of the hour.