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Stocks Set to Drop; Kushner Agrees to Questioning; Health Care Flop; White House Shifts Focus; Nunes Before Announcement; U.S. Airstrike Kills Civilians. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired March 27, 2017 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: The Republicans control the White House and Congress. It should have gone a lot smoother than it did.

Now, the skepticism is showing up in certain pockets in the market that's really indicative of how investors feel. Bank stocks very sensitive to Trump's agenda, very sensitive to possible tax reform, they are down this morning. The dollar also down. Perhaps investors see economic growth not being as strong here as they would have expected. And, more importantly, a certain corner of the market is up. Volatility. That could indicate that investors have some fear, have some anxiety of what's ahead.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, because tax reform is so hard to get done.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, and it's also what they want and what investors expect.

HARLOW: Of course.

BERMAN: I mean that's what's been fueling this market surge. And you can see at the opening bell right now, we're already down 173 points.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: So investors thinking maybe tax reform won't happen so easily, so quickly?

ALESCI: That's exactly what they're questioning right now. We had Treasury Secretary Mnuchin last week say there's a goal to do it by August, right, and everybody else is scratching their heads kind of wondering, OK, what does that really mean?

HARLOW: Yes.

ALESCI: Are you talking about tax cuts? Because that's easy. You can hand those out. It's a nice little sweetener. That's desert.

HARLOW: Yes.

ALESCI: Where are the vegetables? Where is true tax reform going to happen? HARLOW: And there's a reason this hasn't happened in three decades,

because it ain't easy, and they have a trillion dollars less savings to work with now because this failed, right?

ALESCI: That's exactly - that's exactly it.

HARLOW: All right.

ALESCI: That's why health care was important.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: All right, Cristina Alesci, thanks so much. Great to have you here with us.

ALESCI: Absolutely.

HARLOW: All right, well, a stunning new development in the investigation of these possible ties between the Trump administration and Russian officials.

BERMAN: Senate investigators now say they want to speak with Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president and his son-in-law. He's married to Ivanka. Jared Kushner has agreed to be questioned.

We're joined right now by Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio. He is on the House Intelligence Committee. Different than the Senate committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.

The news this morning, the senators want to speak to Jared Kushner. Is he on your radar? Is he someone you would like to have him come in and speak to your committee? And, if so, what questions do you have for him?

REP. MIKE TURNER (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, not at this time. I think this certainly shows that the investigation is moving forward. And certainly even "The New York Times" in their article says that, you know, during a transition it's not unusual for members of a transition team, or an incoming administration to meet with foreign officials during that time period.

But this all does have to be looked at in the light of the director of National Intelligence, former Director Clapper having said that during his time period of this investigation from June to January with the Intelligence Committee, that he saw no evidence of collusion. And we certainly have the chairman, Nunes, of the House Intelligence Committee, who certainly has had exposure to all of the intelligence that has been provided to Congress, who said he similarly has seen no evidence of collusion. So what's important is, is that it's showing that these investigations are moving forward, but at this time there certainly is no evidence of collusion that's been presented to Congress.

HARLOW: All right, just to be very clear for our viewers, you guys are running separate track investigations, the Senate Intel Committee and the House Intel Committee. The Senate wants to talk to Kushner. He's going to talk to them. This is the only person in the White House currently to be questioned by these committees and the closest person to the president and someone who we now know sat down during the transition with the head of one of the biggest banks in Russia, a bank that is sanctioned from under the Obama administration, a bank who ono its board sits, you know, cronies of Putin, including Medvedev, and you have no questions for him?

TURNER: Well, I didn't say that. And you have to understand that you can't sit down with anybody in Russia where there isn't going to be some ties to Putin.

HARLOW: Well, you said that you don't - you - but you did say, congressman, that you don't -

TURNER: I mean obviously the structure that he has put in place - I said that at this time there is certainly no expectation that he is going to be called in front of the House. It does not mean that he might not be at some other time.

The House and the Senate, by the way, are sharing information in their investigation. Chairman Nunes and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including the ranking members of both the House and the Senate Committees, share information on intelligence and all have access to the same intelligence information.

What's also concerning is, as you know, the chairman has recently come forward and said that there's evidence of interception of the communications of the Trump administration during its transition that may have been shared with the Obama administration. That's certainly part of our investigation now and certainly is an important aspect of it.

BERMAN: So, congressman, you brought up the fact that former DNI Clapper said there had been no evidence of collusion prior to January 20th, which is something that the chairman of you committee had also said up until very recently. But CNN's reporting now from last week that the FBI is looking into possible contacts, possible coordination, that's a CNN report from last week, and then there was this exchange that you had with the FBI director, James Comey, during the hearing last week. I want to play it for you to refresh your memory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TURNER: Don't you need some action or some information besides just attending a meeting, having been paid to attend a conference that a picture was taken, or that you traveled to a country, before you're open to investigation for counter intelligence by the FBI?

[09:35:04] JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The standard is, I think there's a couple different at play. A credible allegation of wrong doing or a reasonable basis to believe that an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So the FBI director told you he's doing an investigation because there's a credible allegation of wrong doing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power. What were you thinking when he said that?

TURNER: Well, what's important about his answer, and the reason why I was asking the question is, because going right to the heart of what you're struggling with is, you know, why is the FBI looking at this and who are they looking at? Now, you will note that he was very careful of saying that someone may be an agent of a foreign power. He did not say issues of collusion in the campaign or a collusion with the Trump administration. He said agents of a foreign power, which is completely different and perhaps even an unrelated issue to what we're looking at overall with what Russia has done and what, you know, our concerns are with those in the Trump administration and during the transition. We will get to the bottom of this. The FBI is pursuing their criminal investigation and we're certainly going to go look to them to undertake that thoroughly and diligently. But it certainly does illustrate that the FBI, in looking at this, is looking at all aspects. So our investigation in the House and the Senate are also coordinating with the FBI.

HARLOW: All right, so let's turn to health care, obviously still a major headline after the bill was pulled on Friday. You were planning to vote no, one of the Republicans planning to vote no. You said that essentially the Freedom Caucus pushing to get essential benefits taken out was just a bridge too far for you. If Republicans cannot get through the signature promise of many of their campaign and this president's campaign, when they have control of the White House and the Senate and the House, this does beg the question, can Republicans govern? Do you have faith your party can get these promises done for the American people?

TURNER: Absolutely. And you have to remember also that in the Senate it takes 60 votes, not 50, to get something through. So even though Republicans are the majority, they do not control.

One thing that's important is, the bill that was going to go forward in the House, which I would have vote against because it would have cut benefits for my community and also, as you said, the essential care benefits had been eliminated, this is a bill where we could look to the Senate and say, let's conference a bill and find out a bill that 51 senators could vote for and then come back to the House with a bill that we know Congress can support. This bill, even though it was troubled in trying to get out of the House, similarly would not have gotten through the Senate. We need 60 votes to get it through the Senate. That's why we're doing this arcane reconciliation process, just a portion of the overall Obamacare repeal. This gives us an opportunity to, I think, do some negotiations and come about a bill that serves the American public.

BERMAN: Simply put, does the Freedom Caucus make your job harder? Does it make it harder to get things done in Congress, congressman?

TURNER: Absolutely. And I think the speaker is beginning to see that there's some grave difficulty in having one group that organizes themselves in a fashion where they view themselves as separate from the rest of the conference or separate from Congress themselves. They're not acting individually. They are having a group or mob mentality that I think is - I think the speaker's going to have to address, whether it's this bill or anything else moving forward, the speaker is going to have to address this issue or he will be dealing with gridlock, not just in Congress but in the House.

HARLOW: Mob mentality?

TURNER: When you get a group together that says, you know, we're all going to - going to pledge voting together, I think it certainly is a group that has characteristics that the speaker needs to be very concerned about.

HARLOW: Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, we're glad you're with us this morning. Thank you.

All right, still to come for us, you think health care was hard? Wait for tax reform. The president promised it on the campaign trail. And now the Treasury secretary says we're going to get it done by August. Can they follow through? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:43:06] BERMAN: Investors with a case of the Mondays. Don't you hate when people say that? But, look, the market's down 170 points -

HARLOW: Not - not when you say it.

BERMAN: One hundred and seventy points just after the opening bell.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: And you have the sense this is connected to what's going on in Washington.

What is going on in Washington? Right now the White House with the question of what now? What do you do now after the defeat of health care? Well, it looks like the big issue will be some kind of tax reform.

HARLOW: Joining us now, Austan Goolsbee, a professor at the University of Chicago and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, and Stephen Moore is with us, our senior economics analyst and a distinguished visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He also has a unique perspective because he was a former senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign.

So, my friend, Stephen Moore, you made the front page of "The Times" this morning above the fold and you say they have - they have to have a victory here. The administration has to have a victory on tax reform.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: They do.

HARLOW: It's really hard. It hasn't happened in three decades since 1986 for a reason. Can they do the broad, big, huge, bigly (ph) tax reform that they wanted now that they have this failure on health care?

MOORE: Well, look, Trump does need a victory, there's no question about it. This defeat that happened this week, as a conservative, it really stings. I mean we need to reform our health care system and we need to reform our tax system.

Now, maybe we're not going to get a huge grandiose fix of the whole tax system, the individual taxes, the business taxes, but I do think there's - I do think they're going to get over the goal line on tax reform and tax reduction, especially on the business side where I think even Austin and I, who clash a lot on this show, we probably could sit down in a room in ten minutes and come up with something that makes a lot more sense than what we have right now, that lowers rates, gets rid of the deductions and loopholes, and is - and stops this bleeding of jobs and factories out of the United States to other countries.

As Austan knows, we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, and that is leading to a lot of jobs being lost. I want to bring them back to the United States. And I think there's room for maybe even a bipartisan compromise here.

[09:45:11] BERMAN: I would rent the hotel room to put you guys in to work out a tax reform package. So that offer is out there. Let me just leave that there. You have that time.

Stephen Moore talked about the goal line, Austan. Well, the goal line, as he put it, has been moved, because there's not this health care reform package. Republicans actually have less money to work with when it comes to their tax reform. They have to be leaner, probably, not cut as much perhaps. You know, what do you think the prospects are for a deal?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHMN. COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS FOR PRES. O BAMA: Well, you know, I think coming out of the health care, as I say, we set a low bar for the president and he rammed his head on it. And you knew that somebody who campaigns without specifics, without any tradeoffs, just telling people they're going to satisfy, they're going to have their wildest dreams fulfilled, and he's going to replace Obamacare with something fabulous, you knew he was going to have problems when it actually came to trying to pass a policy.

And the same thing is about to happen on tax reform, which is, he has not set the stage for a sober discussion like the one Steve and I are going to have either in this hotel room or in a bar, or wherever we're going to have that discussion. And that's going to involve tradeoffs.

MOORE: I'm right down the street from you, Austan! I'm in Chicago. We could do this today!

GOOLSBEE: Look, I'm telling you, any tax reform is going to involve tradeoffs -

HARLOW: Yes. GOOLSBEE: Where you say, look, we're going to have to get rid of these deductions, or broaden the base, or find a way to get the rate down. And that's a mature discussion and it's not one that Donald Trump is going to have.

HARLOW: Yes.

GOOLSBEE: And so they're going to go out, they're going to suddenly find out that every bit of reform that they want to do has an enemy, and they're going to say, oh, you know what, let's just pretend it's going to pay for itself, and let's cut the rate.

HARLOW: Look, you've got - you've got to get to a place -

MOORE: Can I - can I add one point to this?

HARLOW: Sure. I was just going to say, you've got to get to a place where it doesn't blow up the deficit. But I'm just wondering if that place where they can sort of get more on the same page or get some bipartisan support is if they drop the idea of a border adjustment tax. I mean you've got Paul Ryan loves that, the president, Steve Mnuchin, not clear that they love that and is that what they're going to have to give?

GOOLSBEE: I think the border adjustment tax, as is formulated -

MOORE: Well, it's not -

GOOLSBEE: Oh, sorry.

HARLOW: Go ahead, Stephen.

MOORE: Were you asking me or -

GOOLSBEE: All I was going to say is the Democrats aren't for corporate tax reform.

MOORE: Oh, I - I personally - look, my view is that the -

BERMAN: Sorry, I didn't hear much of that. Stephen, you first. Stephen, go ahead, and then, Austan.

MOORE: Sorry. Sorry. I was just going to say, I think the border adjustable tax, as it's formulated in the Paul Ryan plan, is dead. I don't think it's going to happen. I think you're going to get retailers like Walmart that are going to, you know, spend, you know, are already spending money to defeat that plan.

But I want to go back to the issue of the - of the stock market, which you guys mentioned at the start of this segment. The stock market fell today. It's been falling. And I think there is a lot of unease about their - among people in the financial markets and among businesses that maybe, you know, Trump isn't going to be able to get this done, the reduction in taxes that he promised.

Now I believe very strongly it is going to get done. But my only point is, if we don't get it done, it's bad for America, it's bad for the stock market, it's bad for investors and it's bad for workers. So we've got to get it done. I would love to see a bipartisan agreement done on tax reform. If it can't be done that way, Republicans have to get their act together and do this on their own. They have a majority in the House and the Senate. They weren't able to bring it together on health reform. They have to bring it together on tax reform.

BERMAN: All right, Stephen, Austan, thank you so much for this discussion. We've got to cut it short because we do have some breaking news that has to do now with the House Intelligence Committee and its investigation into possible connections between Trump associates and the Russians.

We now know a little bit more about maybe where Devin Nunes was before he got the idea that there was incidental contact picked up between Trump associates and the Russians.

Manu Raju, I hope is with us right now.

Manu, let's go to you. Fill us in. Bring us up to speed here.

MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, now we have learned where Devin Nunes was the day before that bombshell announcement where he announced last week that President Trump, perhaps some of their communications with transition officials were picked up incidentally. Now, Mr. Nunes actually spoke to our colleague, Jake Tapper, and confirmed to Jake that, in fact, he was on - Nunes was on White House grounds the day before the announcement. Now, it was not clear that he was in the White House itself, but he was on White House grounds. There are a lot of buildings on White House grounds, including the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. And it's unclear who he met with. He claimed to Jake that no one in the White House was aware that he was there, but he was there at the White House at the time. He said - he told Jake that he was there for additional meetings to, quote, "confirm what I already knew." But he would not comment further because he did not want to compromise his sources and methods.

[09:50:03] Now, we do know that it's been a mystery where Devon Nunes was. He was with his staff that evening. He left his staff, continued on a cab to wherever he got that information. Now, why this is significant is that a lot of critics believe that Mr. Nunes may have gotten some of the information from people sympathetic to the White House, maybe the White House itself, in order to provide political cover for the president at the time where he was contending that he had been wiretapped under the orders of President Obama. And the suggestion that perhaps that the - that he may have been, at least in some way, to muddy the waters a little bit, could protect President Trump. So, that's why Mr. Nunes has come under a lot of scrutiny for this.

Now, one other thing, John and Poppy, I asked Mr. Nunes repeatedly last night, did you get this information from the White House? He would not rule that out, but the news today, he was on the White House grounds the day before the announcement, guys.

HARLOW: Manu, thank you for the reporting. Again, the background of this is, remember, the president said just

about a week before Nunes came forward with that information that, indeed, we would be presented soon with information in the coming days that would back up his wiretapping claim against President Obama. Of course, what Nunes presented did not do that. But, again, what Manu says about providing some political cover. The question now is, where did he get that information. Manu Raju with the breaking news.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:56:00] HARLOW: All right, well, dozens are dead, possibly 100 people killed after an American-led air strike on the ISIS stronghold in Mosul.

BERMAN: This is according to Iraqi officials who say the air strike hit an ISIS truck filled with explosives. It blew up, apparently destroying nearby homes where there were civilians hiding. The Pentagon is investigating. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us now with the latest.

Barbara, what are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning.

I can tell you that the U.S. military does feel a great sense of urgency to get this investigation done as quickly as possible. According to officials we've spoken with, they know the sensitivity of this. Perhaps 100 or more bodies, about 100 pulled from the wreckage so far.

The investigation focusing on what exactly happened. The U.S. knows already that it did conduct an air strike on this street in west Mosul on March 17th when all of this apparently happened. But the question at hand is what exactly did the bomb hit? How did these houses collapse? Was there a truck bomb that was hit possibly causing secondary explosions? Was ISIS, in fact, holding these people as human shields as they very often do?

The U.S. view very much is that they try to avoid civilian casualties, but that it is ISIS' responsibility that it is holding people essentially hostage in their city. The atrocity, the U.S. view is, that it is ISIS' atrocity at this point. They are still trying to determine exactly what happened here.

HARLOW: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you very much for that reporting. Of course, we'll bring you more as we learn it.

BERMAN: All right, we got a lot of breaking news this morning.

Senators want to speak to Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, about meetings he had with Russian officials. And now, just in, new questions about the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee and where he was the day before he made a key announcement. Don't go anywhere. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:07] BERMAN: All right, good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow. Top of the hour. We begin with breaking news. Two big, major breaking stories.

Just moments ago, we