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Press Secretary And Congressman In Heated Twitter Battle; Disney's New Trump Robot Causes Social Media Stir; Trump Jr.: Some In Government Don't Want To Let America Be America. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 20, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So we fact-check in real time here. So just to clarify, President Obama's plan would have lowered the overall corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, and lowered the effective corporate rate for manufacturers to 25 percent, which is what the Congressman was talking about.

OK, there you go. Get out your abacus.

Up next, a mistake on Twitter leads to a heated back-and-forth between a congressman and the White House press secretary. The congressman at the center of that exchange joins us next.


CAMEROTA: A heated exchange of Twitter between Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and a California congressman -- an erroneous tweet from "The Hill" Web site misquoted Sarah Sanders saying that the GOP begged Democrats to work on tax reform.

Congressman Ted Lieu then responded, "Dear Press Secretary, you don't serve in Congress, I do. And I can say with absolute certainty that you are lying."

But here's what Sarah Sanders actually said.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a president who would have been happy to take their call and certainly, happy to have their vote to help Americans have more money in their paychecks, more money in their pockets, more money for businesses to reinvest in this country. That's something that Democrats shouldn't need to be begged to be part of.


[07:35:08] CAMEROTA: OK. She later then tweeted to the congressman, "Dear Ted Lieu, I don't serve in Congress but I can read. If you had read the story, not an incorrect tweet, you would see that what I said what Dems should be begging to help Americans keep more of their money. You should spend less time tweeting, more time doing your job."

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu. Good morning, Congressman.


CAMEROTA: What's your response to Sarah Sanders that you should spend more time doing your job?

LIEU: Well, my response is, first of all, "The Hill" had a tweet that turned out to be incorrect, which meant my tweet was incorrect. And I am totally fine admitting errors. I wish the Trump administration would also admit errors when that happens and I would urge the press secretary to give her own advice to me also to her boss.

CAMEROTA: Meaning --

LIEU: That's my response.

CAMEROTA: -- spend less time tweeting and more time doing your job?

LIEU: Oh, yes. I would love if the president did that, exactly.

CAMEROTA: That's the message that you want her to give her boss. OK, so tweetstorm done.

Now let's talk about this tax bill that is about to be signed, it looks like, by the president.

So listen, we just had Congressman Sean Duffy on and he said what we've heard from all sorts of Republicans.

You Democrats were invited in. You could have come into the hearings. This wasn't done in the cover of darkness. You could have negotiated with them, you could have made this bipartisan.

What's your response?

LIEU: It was done in the cover of darkness. Let me just give you one example. A provision was inserted this past Friday and a senator on the Republican side had to write another senator asking how did that get in there because that provision, all of a sudden, enriched a lot of people on the Republican side who happen to be senators.

We got this bill on Monday and then we voted on it on Tuesday in the House. There were no public hearings where witnesses could go and offer their testimony. This was totally unlike any other legislative process. It was rushed through which is why we're voting on it again today.

CAMEROTA: Because there was this procedural hiccup, right, that somehow you got wrong and now you have to vote on it again, but it's going to pass.

LIEU: It will likely pass today, that's correct.

But let me say Democrats are not opposed to tax reform. We're opposed to harmful tax reform. And this bill is going to harm America by exploding our deficit by $1.5 trillion. It's then going to require automatic cuts of $25 billion to Medicare. And most of the benefits of this tax bill go to the super wealthy.

CAMEROTA: Well, let's talk about this because this is where the rubber meets the road.

Look, the corporate -- the corporate tax rate is going to be lowered. That's something that President Obama wanted, that's something that Democrats, that's something that Republicans wanted. It's happening.

So why so much consternation?

LIEU: I'm not opposed to lowering corporate tax rates, but I am opposed to lowering them if it's going to cause $25 billion of cuts to Medicare, and that's one of the main problems with this tax bill. None of it is paid for -- $1.5 trillion of it not paid for. That means not only is Medicare going to be on the chopping block, but eventually Social Security and other programs that really help a lot of Americans.

That's why this is such a harmful bill. It's generational theft from our children.

CAMEROTA: And tell Americans when that's going to happen. How is -- what's going to happen next?

LIEU: So, the bill's provisions don't take effect until next year but next year, some middle-class families will see a tax increase. By 2027, most Americans will see a tax increase.

But the corporate tax cuts do not expire. And again, this is really a transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the super wealthy and to large corporations.

CAMEROTA: I understand. But, I mean -- so you're saying that the benefits for individuals sunset eight years from now.

But listen, that's an eternity. I mean, you know how this works in Congress, anything's possible. There could be new administrations, there could be a change in the balance of power. Anything's possible by then.

So that doesn't - that's not anything that I think Americans really worry about tonight, today in terms of how they're going to pay their bills.

Eight years from now -- I mean, is that what you Democrats are hanging your hat on in terms of how you're going to tell the American people --


CAMEROTA: -- this isn't good for them? LIEU: No, but we are hanging out hat on massive unfairness. The corporate rates don't sunset and, for example, this tax bill eliminates the state and local tax deduction. That's going to cause taxes for millions of middle-class families to rise.

It does not eliminate that tax deduction for corporations, so corporations get to still take it but the middle-class family in California, New York, New Jersey will not.

CAMEROTA: There you go because it's the blue states.

It's the people in the Californias, the New Jerseys, the New Yorks, the Connecticuts. Those are the blue states. Those are the ones where the math may not work out in their favor. You, of course, are from California.

But listen, that's just a percentage of Americans. I mean, people not in those states are -- may feel good about this when they see their, you know, tax returns.

[07:40:04] LIEU: Yes. I can understand if a Republican legislator in Alabama voted for this. I cannot understand any Republicans in California, and New York, and New Jersey voting for this. And the ones that did, they're going to face a very difficult reelection next November.

CAMEROTA: OK. Congressman Ted Lieu, we really appreciate you coming on with your perspective on all of this breaking news.

LIEU: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much.

All right, Bill --

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR: Alisyn, what caused that deadly train derailment in Washington? What we have learned about the workers at the controls when that train crashed. We'll have the very latest, next.


WEIR: The investigation into that deadly Amtrak train derailment is now focusing on possible driver distraction and inexperience. The National Transportation Safety Board reveals that the engineer and a conductor unfamiliar with the territory were in the cab when the disaster happened.

There's still no explanation for why the train was going 80 miles an hour in a 30 mile and hour zone. The NTSB does say that it is waiting to interview crew members who are hospitalized.

[07:45:11] CAMEROTA: Caught on camera in South Florida, a police officer dragged for half a mile. According to authorities, the officer observed a man and woman asleep inside a parked car, along with a clear baggy containing an unknown substance. When the driver woke up he sped off with the officer holding on to avoid being run over. The officer eventually let go, suffering serious road rash injuries to his legs and arms.

The suspect was caught after a 20-mile chase.

That is scary. Oh my gosh, imagine how terrifying that must have been.

All right, something lighter. Disneyworld's Hall of Presidents has unveiled its life-sized robot of President Trump. Twitter users say the face looks familiar, but not like Mr. Trump's.

CNN Jeanne Moos explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Washington --


MOOS: -- introduced animatronic Donald Trump to Disneyworld's Hall of Presidents.


MOOS (on camera): Yes, well, we the people all seem to be noticing the same thing best described in two words, Jon Voight. There is an uncanny resemblance to this Trump supporter.

JON VOIGHT, ACTOR: He will save our America and he will certainly make it great again.

MOOS (voice-over): Read one tweet, "Congratulations to Jon Voight for being elected to Disney's Hall of Presidents."

Though to be fair, someone noted, every robot in the Hall of Presidents looks like they were designed by a guy who lost his glasses.

From Obama to Bush, some imagine the other presidents' reactions to President Trump's presence.

TRUMP: To stand here among so many great leaders of our past --

MOOS (on camera): There is one other theory on why President Trump doesn't quite look like himself.

MOOS (voice-over): "It looks like Disneyworld expected Hillary to win." Noted someone else, "I'm not saying Disney made a Hillary robot and last-minute changed it into Trump clothes, but."

A petition with more than 15,000 signatures asked Disney not to let Trump's figure speak. It was ignored. The president recorded the audio at the White House.

TRUMP: And the best days of our great nation are still ahead of us.

MOOS: Tweeted one critic, "Anyone who can hack into this and replace the audio with the "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape is a national hero."

Well, someone dubbed in the "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" audio, as well as sound from a Trump-Rubio dustup over hand size.

TRUMP: He referred to my hands. If they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee it.

MOOS: We can guarantee what Lincoln would say.


MOOS: But not all robots.

TRUMP: Look at those hands. Are they small hands?

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CAMEROTA: It's amazing how well that works (INAUDIBLE).

WEIR: They got the tie length right.

CAMEROTA: They did? OK.

WEIR: And, you know, nothing excites the kids. I know you kids want to go ride Space Mountain but let's go look at onkey robots.


WEIR: Presidents through history.

CAMEROTA: Jeanne Moos, another fabulous one. All right.

What Donald Trump, Jr. is now saying about the people trying to stop President Trump. The head of the NSA calls it scary, next.


[07:52:34] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, JR., PRESIDENT'S SON: My father talked about a rigged system throughout the campaign and people were like oh, what are you talking about? But it is, and you're seeing it.

There is, and there are people at the highest levels of government that don't want to let America be America.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WEIR: Donald Trump, Jr. is blasting the Russia investigation, suggesting that government higher-ups are actually using it to try to block his father's agenda. Those comments come just weeks after Trump, Jr. spoke with congressional investigators.

Let's bring in CNN's national security analyst, former director of the CIA and NSA, Gen. Michael Hayden. General, good morning.


WEIR: Thanks for being with us.

Your reaction when he says they don't want to let America be America?

HAYDEN: Yes. As I suggested last night, that's more than just a little bit scary. That is a barely coded attempt to say America should be governed by the unchecked will of the executive.

And those so-called forces pushing back, they also go by the popular name, the rule of law and the system of checks and balances that have governed us for two and a half centuries.

CAMEROTA: Do they --

HAYDEN: This is an appeal for something quite different, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: And what is it? What is it an appeal for?

HAYDEN: Well, it is an appeal for the unchecked will of the executive to govern the United States, and to get in the way of President Trump is to somehow be un-American.

Look, I don't want to be judgmental here. I don't know the Trump family at all. But it seems to me from the outside looking in this is a family that is used to getting its way, and when people stop that from happening they're viewed as enemies rather than in the American political system, doing their job with competing and co-equal branches of government.

WEIR: Judging from their Twitter habits, both the president and his son tend to like banting about conspiracy theories and these sorts of things.

But take us inside the structure of a place like the FBI, or the NSA, or the CIA. What the codes are in terms of keeping your ideologies to yourself and being a professional. Surely there are people in -- within those agencies who have liberal leanings, but how could they undermine a presidency?

HAYDEN: Sure. So, just to set the record straight a little bit, Bill, on balance through a process of self-selection, by and large, the American military, the American FBI, the American Intelligence Community trends a bit right rather than left. That's not a fundamental issue, it's just a reality. [07:55:12] WEIR: Sure.

HAYDEN: And so, we've learned how to cabin our political preferences over hear and not let it affect our professional performance.

Now look, before everyone out there jumps on me, it's an imperfect world. We are imperfect beings. Occasionally, one inappropriately gets in the way of the other. But on balance, our institutions -- what I call our permanent government -- are as apolitical as any in the world and we rely on them a great deal.

CAMEROTA: So, General, I mean, Bill and I have been talking about this all morning and I'm truly trying to understand what Don, Jr. is saying.

So when he says there are people at the highest levels of government that don't want to let America be America, is it -- to you ear, does that mean the Department of Justice? Does that mean the CIA? Does that mean the FBI? Who's he referring to?

HAYDEN: Well, maybe if you can rack and stack, Alisyn, the last 10 months all of those institutions and more have kind of been in the dock at one time or another, you know. Intelligence, so-called judges, fake news, a tattered FBI.

Again, the technique appears to be not to argue the merits of a particular case but to undercut the legitimacy of the institution or the person that is pushing back.

Look, we need to be careful here, too. Let me pivot a little bit more off the question Bill asked just a minute ago.

And so, intelligence or FBI pushing back in our appropriate role in terms of the rule of law. But we have to be very, very careful. We can't be so reflexive about that that we are or we appear to be the opposition. And, heaven forbid, that people begin to think of us as simply the resistance. That's not our role.

Donald Trump is the legitimate President of the United States. In a sense, we owe it to him -- our loyalty and our service, but it's got to be within the bounds of the rule of law, within the bounds of truth, within the bounds of fact. And institutions have to hold that ground, again, without being reflexably negative about the president.

WEIR: This kind of came up during the Anthem debate and the countries where everybody stands up for the flag are usually the ones you don't want to live in. And what makes Americans Americans are these discussions, hopefully respectful, you know --


WEIR: -- disagreements --

CAMEROTA: Or not of protest.

WEIR: -- when it comes to policy, allowed to protest, allowed to hold truth to power.

So be wary of those who throw around un-American, right?


HAYDEN: Indeed, and look, I'm not a fan of doing anything for the Anthem except standing up reverentially. But when the president made it the issue he made in that speech in Huntsville a couple of months ago, this was really easy. It now became something that was distasteful to me compared to something that threatened my liberties as an American citizen.

WEIR: Right.

HAYDEN: That's an easy call. I wrote on that one, put me down with Kaepernick.

CAMEROTA: General Michael Hayden, always great to get your perspective. Thanks so much --

HAYDEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: -- for joining us.

We are following a lot of new this morning, including breaking news, so let's get right to it.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: This is serious stuff. We believe you're messing up America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a historic moment. We're able to bring relief to the American families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to do a middle class tax cut, darn it, do a middle class tax cut. Don't give it to corporations.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: If we can't sell this to the American people we ought to go into another line of work.

TRUMP, JR.: There are people at the highest levels of government that don't want to let America be America.

HAYDEN: That was a little scary. That is an appeal to heart of autocracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's an effort to tear down what Bob Mueller may find by casting doubt on the integrity of these institutions.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota. CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Wednesday, December 20th, 8:00 in the east.

Chris is off; Bill Weir joins me. Great to have you.

WEIR: It's great to be here.

CAMEROTA: OK, so a widely unpopular landmark overhaul of the U.S. tax code is now just hours from becoming the law of the land. The House is set to vote one final time on this Republican measure before the president signs it.

WEIR: President Trump already taking a victory lap, tweeting praise for what he calls the biggest tax cut in history. Not technically true but lawmakers not turn their attention to a looming government shutdown with funding set to run dry on midnight Friday.

Our coverage begins with Joe Johns, live at the White House. Good morning, Joe.


The House of Representatives has to vote on a few small tweaks to bill and after that the White House is planning on a media event here sometime this afternoon.