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CNN NEWSROOM

Stone's Conversations with Journalist; FaceBook Gives Russian- Linked Ads; Relief Flights Deliver Help; Trump's Alabama Loss; Bannon Warns More to Follow; DHS Urged To Wave Restrictions; Non-Profit Helps Refugee Mothers and Children; Tax Plan Details. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 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] REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINIOS: And extraordinary concerns about involvement here in the United States with the Russians.

At this point in time, let me be clear, we are far closer to the infancy of this investigation than its completion. Let us do our work. We're doing this the right way, following the facts wherever they take us, not rushing to judgment. All I'm suggesting is, if you had seen what I had seen, you would want us to go forward.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: FaceBook has turned over some of its ads it says were purchased by Russian operatives. The chairman in the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, says that he has seen no evidence yet of collusion between Trump associates and the Russians to get these FaceBook ads up. You have?

QUIGLEY: I never disclosed what I've seen to the direction of absolutism, in terms of whether there was collusion or not. What I have suggested was that there's preliminary evidence to believe that there was coordination. I don't know what the word collusion means from a legal point of view.

BERMAN: Coordination on these FaceBook ads the Trump campaign (INAUDIBLE) coordinate on the FaceBook ads?

QUIGLEY: No, I didn't say that.

BERMAN: OK. Go ahead.

QUIGLEY: No, I'm talking about coordination -- look, if someone had told me months ago that we would have acknowledged e-mails to Trump Jr. in which he said, if that's what it is, I love it. I would tell you that that was the smoking gun in which Trump Jr. was at least acknowledging his willingness to coordinate.

So, again, let the investigation take its course. We're not jumping to conclusions. I mean you don't ask a jury a quarter of the way through the trial, you know, is the person guilt or not yet. You let the investigation take its course.

I'm not prejudging one way or another. I'm telling you there's enough evidence to go forward, whatever our friends in the Senate say.

BERMAN: Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

QUIGLEY: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right, so you think you've had a busy week. Just look at the president.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:36:28] BERMAN: All right, the breaking news. We've been talking about the need in Puerto Rico. Just moments ago, a Homeland Security plane carrying supplies landed on the island. Our Rosa Flores was on that flight.

We want to go right to her now. We don't want to make her wait. That's why we're going to the tarmac right now.

Rosa, tell us about this effort. Tell us about how much aid is getting in.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, on this flight, 3,500 pounds of supplies left Homestead, Florida, and literally just arrived moments ago. And, John, you know how much of a need there is here in Puerto Rico right now.

On this plane there was water, there were MRE's, there were also baby care supplies to make sure that these supplies go to some of the hardest hit areas.

Now, from landing here on the ground, I can tell you, that you can see that Puerto Rico was slapped by Maria. You could see trees down. There are also parts of this airport where hangers are missing roofs. They're missing parts of the wall as well. And you see trees and they are completely, some uprooted, others just slapped with the wind. You could also see cars that were in places that they're not supposed to. Boats as well.

Now, this was a dual mission. Not only is the Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents here in Puerto Rico to deliver supplies, much needed supplies, they will also be returning to the United States with evacuees. They are picking up 14 people here in San Juan, Puerto Rico. And in moments we are going to be boarding this plane and heading to Auguadia (ph). More people will be picked up at that airport and then we will be heading back to Homestead, Florida.

Again, John, the need here is critical. There are so many people without power. People who are beginning to go hungry. People without water. And, of course, there was that risk of that compromised dam that could further compromise other people downstream.

So these are some of the federal resources that are being brought to make sure that there is not only food, water and other supplies brought in to Puerto Rico, but also, even though it's a trickle down, even though it might be up to 28 people who leave in these -- in this flight that we're on right now, little by little, hopefully, people able to escape Puerto Rico and the wrath left behind by Maria.

John.

BERMAN: All right, Rosa Flores for us. Every little bit helps, but they need a whole lot more than just a little right now.

Back to politics. It has been a difficult week for President Trump. He backed a candidate in a Alabama Senate primary and that candidate lost big. We just talked about the IRS now sharing information about key Trump campaign officials with the Robert Mueller investigation. A last ditch effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare failed, again. The president rebuked by NFL players and owners, including some of whom donated to the president's campaign and inaugural. And growing criticism over the White House response to the crisis in Puerto Rico. That prompted the president to announce he will visit the island next week.

Here to discuss, Rick Santorum, former Republican senator, CNN senior political commentator, and Tara Palmeri, a CNN political analyst.

Senator, we are so happy to see you alive and well with us here right now. You are well worth the wait.

I want to talk about the president's week and the capstone of it, this loss in Alabama. He backed a candidate who lost badly. What does it tell you?

[09:40:05] RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, look, that was a campaign that Roy Moore ran against Mitch McConnell, not against Donald Trump. In fact, you know, Roy Moore is a very big fan of Donald Trump and did a lot to try to appeal to Trump voters.

This was the -- this was really the establishment versus the outsider. And certainly in this environment, I want to be the outsider, not the establishment. And there's also the complication that Governor Bentley had obviously resigned from office and he was the one that put Luther Strange in and that sort of tainted Luther's campaign. He had a lot of problems that had really nothing to do with Luther and frankly nothing to do with Trump that resulted in that election.

BERMAN: You know, Tara, the senator is doing an effort here to try to make this a very limited situation. But Steve Bannon, the president's former adviser, says it's just the beginning of more. He says you're going to see this in state after state, people challenging the Republican establishment, maybe Republican incumbents. He even said, your reckoning is coming. What does Steve Bannon mean by this and how far reaching could it be?

TARA PALMERI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What you're seeing is a weaponized Steve Bannon. You're seeing the power of Steve Bannon outside of the White House, which he warned about when he left.

He is able to use the power of the conservative media to really rile up the base, to get them out, to get them voting. It was amazing to see Steve on the stage a few days ago, you know, speaking like a politician more than an adviser to the president or a media mogul, you might say.

And so what you're seeing is really, you know, Steve versus the president, even though he wouldn't want to say that. That is essentially what you saw.

I spoke to a senior administration official last night after the results came in and the person said that, you know, Trump was just in shock over how badly the polls turned out for Luther Strange. And he wasn't so much angry, but the person predicted that by the morning he'd probably be angry when he saw the, you know, cable news, cryons (ph) and people talking about how this was a humiliation for him. And I think you saw that the deleting of the tweets that were in support of Luther Strange, that is the equivalent of Trump basically, you know, walking away with his tail in between his legs.

BERMAN: That's right, I mean he hasn't deleted tweets --

SANTORUM: I mean if I could --

BERMAN: Go ahead. Go ahead, senator.

SANTORUM: Yes, if I can make a comment.

Look, I'm not saying that this isn't a defeat for the administration. It was. But it's a much bigger defeat, frankly, for the establishment Republicans. And that's what Steve Bannon -- Steve Bannon isn't going after the president. He's going after, you know, the Republican leadership. He's going after the inaction of the House and Senate because moderate Republicans have block a lot of things from happening. And so he's sort of putting the hammer down. We're going to run conservative -- they're going to run conservative candidates against incumbents for the United States Senate, against incumbents in the -- in the House of Representative who have been resistant --

BERMAN: So, senator, how nervous -- if you're an incumbent -- if you're an incumbent, senator, you know, how nervous are you right now if you're a Republican?

SANTORUM: I would be pretty nervous.

Look -- look, the fact that health care did not succeed yesterday -- now, I'm still, as you know, I've been very involved in that. I'm still very confident that that bill is going to pass early next year. But the fact that we -- that it was not passed right away is another big blemish and a lack of trust and the folks who are running the United States Congress. And if you're one of those congressmen, and you're at all responsible for this defeat, you're going to have a rough time.

BERMAN: So, Tara, as if he's watching right now, the president just sent out a message to the world via his favorite medium right here, and he says, no president has accomplished what we have accomplished the first nine months, an economy roaring.

You know, in the face of what he's seeing this week, health care, which is a big effort. I mean, you know, the senator just said it right now, this is a big Republican effort. It failed. You know, he is still claiming that his administration has been wildly successful. What does this tell you about the ethos righted now in the West Wing?

PALMERI: Well, I think this is an example of Trump puffing up his chest. He had a very hard week with Puerto Rico, North Korea claiming that we -- that the U.S. had claimed war against them, and this is Trump essentially, you know, using his own PR machine to say, no, no, no, no, look away, look away. Sure, I supported, you know, a primary incumbent and they lost, and, yes, I haven't really dealt with Puerto Rico, and, you know, he's having a very tough week.

So he -- he has to, you know, use his spin machine and he thinks that his Twitter is more effective than the press secretary's podium, than any sort of, you know, communication that the White House can do. And he might be right about that, but I don't know. That's -- if people are buying, you know, one tweet, this is the best ten months or nine months of the past, you know --

BERMAN: Senator, you're good at explaining things. So I want to ask you about the Jones Act. The Jones Act, as you know, essentially says that cargo between U.S. ports has to be carried on U.S. ships. It was waived for Texas and Florida in the aftermath of the hurricanes.

SANTORUM: Right.

[09:45:08] BERMAN: It has not been waived for Puerto Rico. Senator McCain has called for it to be waived. People in Puerto Rico have asked for it to be waived and it hasn't been yet. And we're getting different responses from the government and DHS as to why. But bureaucracy shouldn't get in the way of this if it can help the people of Puerto Rico, should it?

SANTORUM: No, it shouldn't. I mean this is, you know, as bad as Texas and Florida were and they were really horrendous. The ability for the United States government to support them is a lot better. And, frankly, just the government -- you look at what Abbott and Scott are doing, Governor Abbott and Governor Scott are doing, the local preparedness. I mean they could respond.

Puerto Rico has none of that infrastructure, none of the resources. And, plus, you know, it -- you can't -- you can ship and truck and fly things into Texas and into Florida. You've got to barge large things, you know, a seven-day barge trip to get things into Puerto Rico.

This is a -- this -- we -- I talked to Senator Marco Rubio yesterday. He was just down there a couple of days ago and he is sounding the alarm this could be -- this could make Katrina look like, you know, a minor problem that Puerto Rico is potentially facing. I think that's why the White House has really stepped up their game. I think they realize the devastation here and the inability for the people of Puerto Rico to have any infrastructure to respond to it.

And then the difficulty in the United States, even if we wanted to, to try to get the -- and I think we do, obviously, to try to get the materials down there in time to avert some sort of humanitarian crisis. So I think the president is now clearly focused -- I think they have their arms wrapped around this and they need to get moving as quickly as possible. But even -- even moving quickly is going to be a very tough -- very tough go down there right now.

BERMAN: All right, Senator Santorum, Tara Palmeri, thanks so much for being with us. Do appreciate it.

SANTORUM: You bet.

BERMAN: The White House reportedly preparing to set the lowest cap on refugees coming to the United States in generations. In today's "Impact Your World," we look at a charity that is changing perceptions about refugees who settle in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These women share a common experience of being displaced from their home countries with young children.

Refugee Family Literacy Program is a two-generation program providing education for refugee mothers and their young children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could you get hurt surprising someone like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Children come to our school and participate in an early childhood development program so that when they start school some day they'll hit the ground running.

Mothers are upstairs learning English. Our students are from about 20 different countries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am from Burma. (INAUDIBLE) 2007. In Burma it's the government is not good. It's not safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They didn't want to leave their home country. They left because they did not have any choice. That common experience transcends language. These women are able to support each other.

I think a misconception is that most refugees were uneducated and impoverishes. Many refugees have strong education, strong skillsets and so much to offer us. If we think of them as uneducated just because they don't know English, really it's our loss.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[0953:06] BERMAN: All right, breaking news, Republicans, including the White House and congressional leaders, just releasing the framework for their tax plan. The president headed to Indianapolis today to promote this plan. We honestly just got a copy of the framework off the printer.

Joining me now to talk about it, CNN chief business correspondent, star of "EARLY START," Christine Romans.

(INAUDIBLE).

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And a hat tip to our Deidra Walsh for this. This is the tax reform plan, the framework here and it looks like real tax reform, John.

This is a shrinking of the brackets. It's doubling the standard deduction. It's cutting the corporate tax rate. It's all these things that are going to make the tax -- the tax code more simple and fair.

So let's start at the top. The proposed tax brackets here. Twelve percent would be the lowest. The middle class tax break of 25 percent. And then a top rate of 35 percent. And we're told there could be some room to add a fourth rate, perhaps if there's some outrage about how much rich people are paying. The president has suggested he would like to raise taxes on the rich. So keep your eyes peeled for maybe a fourth tax rate there.

Here's the business tax cuts. A corporate rate to 20 percent. Not the very rich 15 percent the president has mentioned on the campaign trail, but 20 percent, down, you can see, substantially from what companies pay now, or at least are advertised to pay at 35 percent. A pass-through rate of 25 percent. That's for small businesses who end up paying on their taxes, you know, the high -- their own personal rate on their business.

What would disappear? Some deductions. State and local tax deductions. That's something that would be really felt in California, in New York, in New Jersey and some of these high-tax states. Medical costs. Student loans. We're told that it would double the standard deduction. So the first $24,000 of income would be federally tax free. That's something that low-income Americans would feel instantly, a tax break there.

So we're still going through all of the details here. There had been some concern, as I told you, that maybe this would just be tax cuts for corporations.

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: Maybe they wouldn't be able to figure out how to do real tax reform. But at least this framework, as they're calling it, this looks like tax reform.

[09:55:01] BERMAN: What we don't know yet is how much it will cost and we also need some more details -- two things that were notable, they're actually hiking the lowest tax bracket from 10 to 12 percent.

ROMANS: Yes, but doubling the standard deduction.

BERMAN: Yes.

ROMANS: So that's where the wash is there.

BERMAN: And then they are reducing the highest tax bracket, for now, from 39 percent to 35 percent.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: So that, as of now, is a big tax step (ph) for the wealthy.

ROMANS: And killing the alternative minimum tax and repealing the estate tax, also two things that disproportionately help the wealthy.

And the president has said again and again that, you know, he doesn't want rich guys like him to get off scot-free on this. He would -- he would -- he would raise their taxes if he could. We heard Steve Bannon, when he was still the chief strategist, talk about a 44 percent tax rate for the richest Americans. So we'll see. There are a lot of folks in the House, fiscal conservatives, who don't want to raise taxes for anybody. So at least on paper this is tax cuts for everyone and tax reform.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Moments from now, threats to the United States. The FBI director on Capitol Hill. We're all over it. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)