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Speaker Paul Ryan Downplays Public Opposition to Tax Bill; Interview with Senator Chris Van Hollen; Mark Warner Has Questions for Jill Stein; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired December 19, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: -- a system. We need to update and upgrade the Congressional Accountability Act. That is now happening. You're going to see Chairman Harper roll out a slew of reforms to upgrade this law so that we have standards so that we have the right kind of transparency. And when you get into this you have to also keep in mind the victims themselves. What is it that they need to protect their interests and their equities. So that's why we've taken some time to make sure that we get this right.

You saw that we passed mandatory training. Those regulations on how to put that mandatory training in place is coming due this week and then you're also going to see the House administration committee put out a new slew of reforms so we have basic standards so that we can go forward with a new updated law that actually respects this issue for what it is. Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, talking about the tax bill which will come up for a vote in the House today, also saying that he doesn't plan to go anywhere any time soon. There have been speculation he was on his way out. I will note he did not answer directly.


BERMAN: Whether he will run for speaker again for the next Congress. Leave that aside. So I want to get to one thing he said about the tax bill, Bianna Golodryga, who's still with us right now. He said people will start to see this in their paychecks soon. They will see bigger wages as a result of this tax bill that's going through.

That has been the promise from Paul Ryan that has been the promise from the president. But, in fact, that is the great unknown here because the business is, the corporations getting these tax cuts, they haven't told us they're going to pass this back to the worker.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And no one is forcing them to do that. I mean, this betting on trickle-down theory is just that, a bet, that hasn't worked over the past few decades. Giving corporations more money to invest doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to be reinvesting and hiring more people. I mean, one of the big problems we're having is this disconnect between abled bodies who are just not trained properly for some of the jobs that are available but one thing that you saw under the banner as he was speaking was a 33 percent approval rating for this bill regardless of whether you're Republican or Democrat.

In the past, tax cuts have historically been popular. This one is not. So if this is the president's signature achievement, legislative achievement for the year, even though Republicans are happy they've got something to show for to their constituents, I can't imagine them being overjoyed by seeing a number like that. So we'll see.


GOLODRYGA: Look, the middle class, everyone is going to be getting tax cuts over the next few years.

BERMAN: Unless you live in New York, California, Maryland, Connecticut.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Exactly.

BERMAN: I happen to know this because I live in one of these states.

GOLODRYGA: The blue states, those tax cuts of the majority of Americans expire. They sunset after a few years. The tax cuts for corporations do not. That's a hard sell for average American.

HARLOW: Ben Ferguson, to you, Paul Ryan's words, the greatest -- this is the greatest example of a promise being made and a promise being kept.


HARLOW: But the promise that was made even recently as in terms of this fall, that recently from the president and from Steve Mnuchin, was that this is going to overwhelmingly help poorer Americans and the middle class. Not the rich. I mean, Mnuchin went so far as to say there would be no tax cuts for the upper class. How is that the greatest promise made and greatest promise kept?

FERGUSON: Bottom line, there's two things here. One a year ago if you rewind, people were saying that the economy was going to be tanking because Donald Trump was elected and look what it's doing now. Clearly corporations are hiring. Look at the unemployment rate. Look at consumer confidence, it's at 17-year high. You add tax cuts on top of that, and if you have a job right now, there's a very good chance that you're going to be -- one, have job security because of this tax cut, because corporations and who you're employed by are going to have more money to hire, give raises and expand their businesses. But you're also going to get a hard tax cut with it. So again, it's easy to fear-monger on this. It's easy to say, well, this is a terrible deal.

HARLOW: That's not what I'm doing.

FERGUSON: But when you see -- no, but I'm saying in general. I'm talking about the Democrats, I'm talking about how you say -- I mean, earlier, let's be honest when I said that look at what the economy is doing now, you tried to imply somehow it was related to Barack Obama.


FERGUSON: That's just not true.

GOLODRYGA: It is related --


HARLOW: Ben --

FERGUSON: But let me finish. Let me finish.

GOLODRYGA: The economy lags. Ben, it takes you a long time to finish.

FERGUSON: Then explain to me how a year ago --

BERMAN: Hang on. But you've got to be quick because I want to get Angela in.

FERGUSON: But explain to me how a year ago when the president was elected every Democrat was out there saying the economy was going to crash and saying it was going to be because of Donald Trump being elected. How do you give credit now to Barack Obama for an economy that clearly Donald Trump --

BERMAN: Angela --

FERGUSON: -- has been moving forward for the last year?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Happy to answer you. So, Ben, the same way in which you all refused to believe that unemployment numbers were real. The same way in which you all refused to believe that the stock market was somehow tied to the economy.

FERGUSON: I never said that.

RYE: Maybe you didn't but your party dang sure did and certainly the president has tweeted about it. I'm sure you can go back in the archives for that. But the bottom line is everyone knows --


FERGUSON: So at what point --

RYE: Wait, wait, wait. Wait, Ben --

BERMAN: Hang on. Hang on. Angela is talking.

RYE: Wait, Ben. Whether it's macro or micro economics, Ben, everyone knows that the economy lags. So I am going to say that we can attribute a lot of this to the successes and the things put in place by President Obama.

[10:35:01] I will also say, all of these things that you're talking about related to this tax reform bill are false. There are single people that will be hit very hard. FERGUSON: All of them? All of them are false?

RYE: There are single people who will be hit very hard by this bill.

FERGUSON: Come on.

RYE: Yes, it's true. The fact that you can only have a limited amount of state and local income tax deductions accounted for, that's going to hit a lot of people very hard if you don't have children. I don't have children. That's going to hit me hard.

FERGUSON: Angela --

RYE: As a business owner it's going to hit me.

BERMAN: Hang on. Ben, Ben. We're out of time, Ben. So Angela --

RYE: There you have it.

BERMAN: All right. Angela Rye, Bianna, Ben Ferguson, thanks very much. Appreciate your time.

RYE: Thank you.

HARLOW: I'm awake.


HARLOW: After that. Thank you all very much.

All right. We do have some news in. Our Manu Raju of course getting another one of his interviews with Senate Intel Committee, the ranking Democrat on that committee, Mark Warner, what he has to say about the Russia probe amid some new reporting this morning on it. Stay with us.


[10:40:13] HARLOW: It was President Trump's wish from Republicans to hand him a tax bill before Christmas. It is pretty set that that's going to happen. It may hit his desk as early as tomorrow. It is not, though, what apparently the majority of Americans want for Christmas. Only 33 percent favor this new tax plan in our new CNN poll out this morning.

BERMAN: The House expected to pass the bill in a matter of hours. We just learned the Senate will vote on it tonight, which means our next guest, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat from Maryland, will be up late.

Sorry to bring you that news, Senator. We just learned that from the majority leader's office. Look, we've been talking about this tax bill for some time, the long-term impact, the debt that it will create over next 10 years. However, in the short term, and I ask you this because you run the Senate campaign committee for the Democrats right now, next year at this time there will be a lot of Americans who will see a tax cut, a lot of Americans will be beginning to get their accounts in order and they will be paying less in taxes. A majority of Americans will be paying less in taxes next year. How do you campaign against that?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), CHAIRMAN, SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: So, first, John, millions of middle class families with will see a tax increase. We know that so it's important that people know that. In fact, AARP just came out against this bill because they calculate that millions of seniors, folks over 65 years old, will see a tax increase under this bill, an immediate small tax increase and a large tax increase over time.

Yes, there are Americans out there that are going to get very small tax cuts but they're small and they are temporary, compared to the corporate tax cuts here which are huge and permanent. And in 2019, foreign stockholders who own 35 percent of the stock are going to get a $48 billion tax windfall that will be paid in large part by these millions of Americans who will see their taxes go up.

So it is a raw deal for American taxpayers and the reality is those who will get a tax cut in the middle class, it will be small and temporary. If you're a millionaire, you will make an average tax cut per year of over $45,000. Every year. So big tax cuts for the very wealthy, big tax cuts for corporations.

Tax hikes for millions of folks in the middle class and small tax cuts and temporary for everybody else. That is not putting America first and it's certainly not putting the middle class first.

HARLOW: OK. Yes, you're correct that it is bigger tax cuts in terms of, you know, proportionally and dollar figure wise for the richest Americans, but you just said that these are really small and insignificant for most American families. Just take a family, the Tax Institute just did the analysis, in Kansas City, Missouri, making $45,000 a year, a lot less than you and I make. Their tax cut immediately is going to be $1800. That's material to them, is it not?

VAN HOLLEN: Yes. Look, it depends on how many children you have, it depends on your family. There are lots of people in that state who will see tax increases as well. So the bottom line is that they promised not just tax cuts for some people, they also said that because you're going to cut corporate taxes, people are going to get a $4,000 increase in their wages.

We saw a Republican colleagues with their charts on the Senate floor, President Trump has talked about this. Six months from now we're all going to be asking, did your company give you a $4,000 pay raise while they were also getting these huge windfalls in corporate tax cuts that they're paying out in dividends to foreign stockholders. I don't think people are going to like that and I think it's a total, total betrayal of what Trump said on the campaign trail with respect to his populist economic plan.

BERMAN: So heading into Christmas, you know, after this bill passes which we assume it will in the next 24 hours or so and the president signs it, the president will be able to say that he passed this tax bill, call it a tax cut for many, not for all, though. He'll also be able to repeal the Obamacare mandate, the individual mandate on Obamacare, got Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, instituted a partial travel ban, got rid of a lot of regulations.

Isn't that a lot of what he promised on the campaign trail? Did he deliver what he campaigned on?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that's -- he did not campaign on taking away access to affordable health care for millions of Americans, which by the way this tax plan will because it will double the premiums that people have to pay in these health care exchanges. Again, in order to give big corporations a tax cut. And he promised -- what was the one thing he talked about on the campaign trail when it came to tax reform.

He railed about the carried interest loophole and said that hedge fund managers were getting away with murder. Guess what? We have a huge tax bill here, nowhere in it does it eliminate the tax breaks for hedge fund managers.

[10:45:05] HARLOW: That's true. That's true.

BERMAN: Not -- and he cuts taxes on the wealthy.

VAN HOLLEN: That's why -- that's all he talked about during the campaign. That's why this isn't about tax reform. It's about huge giveaways to corporate America, Trump supporters and that last-minute provision that will benefit the Trump real estate dynasty.

HARLOW: What do you run on? I mean, you're the guy who's also charged with trying to help the Democrats retake the Senate in 2018. Do you run on that? I mean, it may anger some folks that really rich hedge fund men and women get to keep, you know, 15 percent to 20 percent tax rate, the carried interest loophole, but is it enough for your party to win and retake the chamber on? I mean, are you going to run on that and the Russia probe or what's in the message you and other fellow Dems that you want your party to run on?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, first, Poppy, our senators will be talking to folks in their states about what's best for their states. That's always their North Star, so sometimes they will fight the Trump policies like this tax giveaway to big corporations. On some issues they may work with Trump. But the bottom line is the economic message of the Democratic Party will be very similar to what Doug Jones ran on in Alabama, which is, economic security, security for health care, Republicans are going to turn right around in their budget.

Mark my word it's in their budget, they plan to cut Medicare by $473 billion, that's in their budget. Cut Medicaid by over a trillion, while they're increasing the national debt by over a trillion. That is not popular with the American people.

BERMAN: Senator, if I can ask you over the last 24 hours, you had West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin suggest that Al Franken should not have been pushed out, should not have resigned. Pat Leahy suggesting he regrets his call for Senator Al Franken to resign. You know, where do you stand on that right now? VAN HOLLEN: Well, Al Franken made his decision. He announced his

decision. As you know, the governor of Minnesota has now picked somebody to be the replacement and I have no indication from Al Franken that he plans to reconsider. So --

BERMAN: But what do you think? But what do you think, Senator?

VAN HOLLEN: This is not -- this is a question for Al Franken, and he's made his announcement.

BERMAN: Well, but it wasn't a question for him when all, you know, these Democratic senators, the majority, lined up beforehand and said he should resign. That, you know, wasn't a question for Franken then. That was a question for all of you. So I'm asking now. Do you think he should honor that?

VAN HOLLEN: I think he's made his decision and that's it.

BERMAN: All right.

HARLOW: Not really an answer on that one, but --

VAN HOLLEN: Well, look, I -- well, it is. Let's wait to hear from Al Franken, but I've heard nothing from Al Franken. I did not call on Al Franken to step aside. I said he should do the right thing under the circumstances. And I do believe we need to strengthen our Ethics Committee process to make sure that the public has more confidence in that process. But Al Franken has made his announcement and I've seen no change at all.

HARLOW: He has not yet set a date for when he will resign. We'll watch.

Senator, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much, Chris Van Hollen.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you. Thanks.

BERMAN: All right. President Trump may be hoping that the Russia investigation is wrapping up but the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee sounds like he's got a lot more to go. New questions he has next.


[10:52:51] BERMAN: All right. Just in, new questions from the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee about the Russia probe.

HARLOW: That's right. Our Manu Raju caught up with Democratic Senator Mark Warner on the Capitol. This comes at a big morning of a lot of new reporting around this Russia probe.

What did he tell you?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. We know that this investigation has focused in large part over the Trump campaign's contacts with Russians, questions about whether or not there was any collusion with Russian officials, but the same committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, is also interested in other campaigns and one campaign that is now being scrutinized by the panel Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, from 2016 and whether or not she had any contact that the committee would view as improper with Russian officials.

Now Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the committee, was asked just moments ago by me and some other reporters about Jill Stein and about the committee's interest in talking to her. Here's what he said.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I'm not going to comment on who we might see as witnesses or not. I will point out, though, that Miss Stein was at the infamous dinner that included General Flynn and Vladimir Putin, and we do know that she's had very complimentary things to say about Julian Assange who clearly was being used by the Russians to take some of the hacked information and release into our political system. But again, I'm not going to comment on any individual witnesses.


RAJU: Now yesterday when I talked to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Chairman Richard Burr, he had a similar message. He said that we are just starting into looking into two other campaigns, not Trump related, and I asked him about which campaigns. One question came up about Jill Stein's campaign. He said he wants to know whether or not there was any collusion with the Russians with Stein's campaign.

Now Stein's campaign did put out a statement overnight saying that his meeting that they had overseas that was sponsored by RT, the television network, was simply an effort to go and talk about some of the shared values that they had, denying that there was any collusion whatsoever, but interestingly, even though Richard Burr seemed to suggest that they're looking into some other campaigns, Mark Warner said there are a lot more questions for Trump officials.

[10:55:06] He wants the members of the committee to interview some of those Trump associates who have only been interviewed by staff of the committee and he also said that there are still some questions about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. He said there's still one individual that the committee has not yet met with. So he doesn't see this investigation wrapping any time soon, guys.

HARLOW: So the president thinks it will and thinks he will get a letter exonerating him.

BERMAN: He's running to the mailbox right now.

HARLOW: All right. Manu, we appreciate the reporting as always. That's fascinating coming from Senator Warner. We are just hours away from the first votes on the Republican tax

bill. It is expected to pass, but a new CNN poll shows only 33 percent of Americans like it. Much more ahead.