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New Details of GOP Tax Plan; Trump: Suspect "Should Get Death Penalty"; House Intel to Interview Trump Tower Russia Meeting Attendee. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 2, 2017 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone, John Berman here. The breaking news, the leaks are upon us. Just in to CNN actual details of the Republican tax plan that could affect Americans for generations. House Republicans are still behind closed doors being briefed, but we refuse to wait for them. Our intrepid reporters have pride the information loose, Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill. Phil, we've been waiting to learn these details. What do you know?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. This is what matters. This is what determines whether or not things move forward. Not a nine-page framework but the details themselves. Let me run through a couple of them right now because they are extremely important.

On the corporate side, John, obviously, President Trump has made no secret about the fact that 20 percent is the rate where he wants it at, not the 35 percent where it is currently. That will happen. It will go down to 20 percent and it will be permanent, according to sources who have been read out summaries of what's going to be in this bill. And as you noted, House Republicans right now still behind closed doors. They're in about a 90 minute briefing about the contents of this bill.

Let me go over the individual side because that's what's going to matter to everybody who's filing their taxes every single year. We now have where the rates are actually going to be. Now it's never been secret that this plan was going to shrink from seven rates down to four rates in terms of bracket itself.

At the top rate, they will actually leave the 39.6 percent rate for individuals who make more -- or for couples that make more than a million dollars. For individuals that threshold is $500,000. Now that wasn't always going to be the case but that's recognition of two things. One, they need money to pay for this plan and two, politically, saying millionaires aren't getting a tax break at least on the individual side is certainly valuable.

Now they start going down the list here. For those who get the tax rate of 35 percent, that would start at married couples at $260,000 a year, $200,000 a year for individuals. At the 25 percent rate, that would start at $90,000 a year for couples, $45,000 a year for individuals. There's also a lower rate of 12 percent where others would come in on that.

I also want to talk a little bit about key things that people like. We've heard a lot about the state and local tax deduction. Obviously, a lot of northeastern Republicans have been very concerned about the proposal to repeal that entirely. The property tax element of that tax deduction will remain up to $10,000. So that is a give on House leadership's part. The big question is will that be enough? A lot of Republicans from those states have said no, but we'll see. That's at least a give on something.

The income side of that, though, that will be repealed altogether. There are a lot of different elements on this on the corporate side, on expensing for business investment, things that will sunset, things that won't last much longer than four or five years. There's a reason for that, John, and it's why this was delayed for a day. It's why Republicans have really been kind of working day and night to try to figure this out.

With major cuts like on the corporate side and on the individual side, it costs money. You have to pay for this. How do you pay for it? Well, you get rid of things people like a lot, the home interest rate deduction. That's going to drop a little bit, things like student loan write offs, those types of things, those will start to go away as well.

These are popular tax breaks. These are the things that people really enjoy. This is why tax reform is so hard. These details are extraordinarily important. Obviously, House Republicans behind closed doors being read out those details right now. And just about an hour's time House Republican leaders will come out and talk about this tax bill. This is the first step but make no mistake about it.

They are not going to let this language or hang out there. They know how politically difficult this can be. They want to move quickly. The House Ways and Means Committee will consider this bill next week. They want it on the floor the week after, the week it's on the House floor. Senate Republicans want to start moving their bill through committee.

In all, John, they want to pass both in the House and in the Senate tax reform bills by Thanksgiving. Now, anybody who has been paying attention over the course of the last 10 months, things don't always move quickly, particularly in the Senate. That's the schedule right now. But as I noted, there's a reason this was delayed for a day. This is very difficult. There are a lot of tradeoffs right now. They're in a lot of very popular things that are on the chopping block. We'll see how House Republicans are able to stay together, kind of maintain at least the political imperative to move forward on this in the days ahead.

BERMAN: All right. Phil Mattingly, stick around. I'm also going to bring in chief business correspondent Christine Romans but, Phil, before I talk to Christine. I just want to get exactly what you said about state income taxes. Will those no longer be able to be deducted? MATTINGLY: That's correct. That will be gone. Instead they will give a cap - what their give here, they wanted to repeal all state and local deductibility altogether, income and property tax, property tax will now be capped at $10,000. That's a give. Income tax will be gone, that will be repealed.

BERMAN: All right. Phil, stick around. I have one more question on the political implications here. Christine Romans, you've been looking at these details. What jumps out to you?

CHRISTIN ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: What jumps out to me is you're going to see House Republicans really try to sell this as a middle-class tax cut and you can see the language and the framing are ready in the messaging of that. So when we hear them at 11:15 that's what they will be focusing on. They've given us sort of four scenarios, typical families with the kind of tax break that they would make.

Take a look at this, these are the new tax brackets, 39.6, that is -- originally the plan was to get rid of that and 35 percent would be the top rate. So you can see for married couples that make a million, for $500,000, for individuals, that where that tax rate would fit in.

[10:05:01] And that's because they did not want this to look like this was a little bit of middle-class tax reform and a lot of reform for rich people. I've been digging into what the numbers look like for companies because this is really important.

As you know, Democrats and Republicans and companies for years have been trying to simplify and lower the corporate tax rate in the U.S. from 35 percent to 20 percent and they do that here. What I don't see and what is not clear yet is repatriating. The money that's sitting overseas, will they bring that back at 20 percent, that new tax rate or will it be less. That's going to be key for corporate America. For you, for the average person, this bill, it says that you're going to be able to do your taxes on a postcard. That would be true simplification. That would be a true tax reform if it happens and that's a political question for sure.

BERMAN: To that political point, Phil Mattingly, to you, do we know if the House Republicans, the leadership, has the buy-in that they need from the Republicans in New York, New Jersey, and California where these states have high income taxes that will not be deductible which means that people who live there will effectively get a tax increase or at least a partial increase on that front. And also, with the property tax cap, which again, may not affect as many people as they want do they have buy-in from Republicans from those states?

MATTINGLY: They don't, at least not as of yet. And that's why there been a lot of late night meetings over the course of the last couple weeks. That's why the House budget, which is essentially the vehicle for tax reform, you saw a lot of Republicans from New York, from New Jersey vote against that. They were making it very clear, changes need to be made.

Now one change was made when it comes to property tax deduction, the cap on that, but you still have a lot of Republicans from those states who care about the income piece of it. They want to see more. They want a credit perhaps as has also been proposed. So, this is still an open question and it's not just on the state and local, there are a lot of other issues here.

But I think it's worth noting this, John, there are 33 Republicans that come from what we would call high tax states where this really, really matters. House Republican leaders can afford to lose 22 total if they want to pass this bill. So this is a real issue and one that they're going to have to iron out. Their final take was, let's put something on the floor. We can change it as we go through when the committee marks it up any type of floor action, things like that, changes can be made but they still need the buy-in, John.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, to you, home buyers, the various home builders associations have been concerned. What do you see in here that may either delay or fuel their concerns?

ROMANS: I see here something really interesting. It preserves the home mortgage interest deduction for existing mortgages and then maintains that mortgage interest deduction for newly purchased homes up to $500,000. I'll be interested to see if the housing industry thinks that that prevents people from moving up into bigger homes if that's going to have any kind of effect there. Also the estate tax, I think politically this could be interesting because it provides immediate relief from the estate tax by doubling the exemptions that would be I think like $10 million and then repealing it altogether after six years. They're really very few every year, very few family-run farms, for example, that actually fall under this. So this is relief for some of the richest Americans.

BERMAN: OK. Dozens of people affected by that, to be clear, you know, fewer than 100 at times. Phil Mattingly, I understand we just heard a round of applause coming from the Ways and Means Committee. President Trump wants to make a big deal out of any applause for anything but do you get the sense that Republicans are pleased with where this is headed right now?

MATTINGLY: Yes. I think that's true. And look, you're talking about the work that went on behind the scenes here. There have been member to member meetings with leadership, with House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, while they haven't seen the details and they certainly haven't leaked to us the details over the course of the last couple weeks. There has been real effort on one primary issue, and that is the overall economic picture of what this bill will present.

The idea that whether you care about state and local or home interest rate deduction any of those types of things you can't look at it in isolation. You have to look at it in the bigger picture. And when you talk about cutting the corporate rate from 35 to 20, which Republicans care about deeply. When you talk about the individual rates going down for most people, when you talk about the pass through rate for small businesses down to 25 percent, that's a huge issue as well, these are the types of things Republicans want. On top of all of that, John, you know this as well as anybody. There is a political imperative to do something. Republicans came back a couple weeks ago recognizing that after health care failures and other legislative failures, they have to pass something. This would be a cornerstone domestic achievement. They are all-in on doing this. The question is, can they get the details in the right place to get 218 votes.

BERMAN: All right. Phil Mattingly, Christine Romans, again, thanks so much for being with us. Let you get back to this to pore over the details because again, everything is in the details right now. That is what will matter to these politicians on the fence. And that is what will matter to you, the American people, how it affects you.

A lot of other news in Washington right now, the president, perhaps, interfering with the prosecution of the terrorist who killed eight people here in New York City on Halloween, saying he wants the death penalty.

Joe Johns at the White House from what we've been hearing. Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John, human reaction, angry reaction from the president about a terrorist attack in his hometown, nonetheless the president is still the president, the question, the question is, whether this could affect a jury pool, whether this could affect a defense attorney, a defense attorney who could raise some objections because the president of the United States weighed in.

[10:10:13] Now, the president has also talked about Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and sending this suspect there where so many combatants from foreign countries have also been sent. Let's read the tweets this morning. The president writing "Would love to send the NYC terrorists to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the federal system. There's also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. Death penalty!"

So what that says to us is the president has sort of evolved from yesterday where he said he would consider sending this individual to Guantanamo Bay. It is clear there would be some constitutional questions, some legal questions, because to our knowledge, no person on American soil has ever been sent to Guantanamo. It's just been people from other countries. Enemy combatants who don't get their Miranda rights read. So, apparently the president has sort of changed his mind. The question, of course, whether he is tainting the jury pool by expressing his outrage is something we'll have to hear in the weeks and months ahead. John, back to you.

BERMAN: All right, Joe Johns at the White House thanks so much.

We are getting new details about the investigation itself. CNN's Alexander Marquardt has that. Alex?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, we're learning a lot more about the planning that went into this how much more carnage the attacker wanted to cause. The reason that we're learning so much so quickly is because the attacker has waived his Miranda rights. He is speaking with investigators.

We know that the planning has been in the works around a year but it's only about two months ago that the attacker decided to use a truck to inflict what investigators say maximum damage. He likely looked across the pond to Europe and saw those horrible attacks that took place in places like Berlin, Barcelona and London, saw how many people were killed and decided to use a vehicle as well.

We know that on October 22nd, so just under two weeks ago, he rented a similar truck from Home Depot to practice his turns, investigators say. Then on Halloween, two days ago, he drove across the George Washington Bridge on the west side of Manhattan and barreled down the west side down that bike path, careening into pedestrians and to bicyclists.

Now, right here across the corner, that's where he slammed into a school bus and that's when his rampage came to a stop. He got out of the -- out of his truck with two fake guns and was taken down by a police officer. But we do know that the attacker had intended on then going across town over to the Brooklyn Bridge and killing as many people as possible. Instead, he was stopped right here and in that vehicle, authorities found a bag full of knives which could imply that he was planning on at some point getting out of the vehicle and going on a stabbing rampage. There were two cell phones that were found, including one that had some 90 videos and some 4,000 photos that were associated with ISIS, his allegiance to ISIS in no doubt, John.

BERMAN: Alex Marquardt for us in lower Manhattan. Thank you very, very much.

It is a big day also in the Russia investigation, two key players being interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee. What are they revealing? Also, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, they head back to court today.

And Houston, no problem today, the Astros, World Series champions. We'll give you the best highlights and bring you the best celebrations ahead.

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[10:17:52] BERMAN: Just in to CNN one of the president's nominees could be in trouble because of the Russia investigation or the nomination could be in trouble. Sam Clovis, who was a senior campaign official we know he has been speaking to the Special Counsel's Office. CNN Senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns has the story for us. Joe?

JOHNS: John, Sam Clovis, as a lot of us know, was a very visible member of the Trump campaign, on CNN's air a lot and he was also a high-ranking official in the campaign. He is now up for a job nominated as the top scientist at USDA, the Department of Agriculture, but he's got a problem, we are told, by a White House person who -- with knowledge of the situation that Sam Clovis may have to withdraw his nomination or be forced out. And that's because of his apparent connection to a man named George Papadopoulos and the Russia investigation.

Papadopoulos, as we all know, pleaded guilty to a count of making false statements as a result of an FBI interview with him. And apparently, Clovis is one of the individuals who e-mailed and had other contacts with Papadopoulos and among the topics of conversation, was whether staff for the Trump campaign ought to travel overseas to meet with Russian officials. As you know, the investigation is in to coordination of campaign efforts between the United States -- the campaign in the United States and Russia. So, possibility that Sam Clovis may have to step out of the way. His attorney says at all times Clovis strongly, strongly opposed any trips overseas by the aides for the Trump campaign. Back to you, John.

BERMAN: All right, Joe Johns at the White House, we will be watching that very closely. Meanwhile, more developments in the Russia investigation happening now on Capitol Hill, testimony from two major players, the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors with Carter Page as we speak, his connections to Russia go back years.

[10:20:05] The committee will also hear from a Russian who was in that Trump Tower meeting held by Donald Trump, Jr., where he was promised Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has the very latest for us. Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A flurry on Capitol Hill, John. So right now, Carter Page is talking with Congressional investigators. He's a renewed interest right now because he's now admitted he exchanged e-mails with George Papadopoulos and Carter Page said the topic in those e-mails of Russia may have come up, but that nothing major was discussed. Of course George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about his extensive communications with Russians while he was working for the campaign.

But even before Papadopoulos's plea, Carter Page, he was of interest. He told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he did have brief interactions with low-level Russian officials in 2013, and that he even traveled to Russia at the height of the campaign when working as a foreign policy adviser in July 2016. So that was notably around the same time Papadopoulos was sending campaign e-mails saying that Russian officials wanted to meet with the campaign. Now Carter Page has insisted he did not meet with any Russian officials during his trip. Of course that will all be fleshed out on Capitol Hill today.

The House Intelligence Committee also talking today to Ike Kaveladze, you'll remember, he was the eighth person in the room for that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower where Don Jr. was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton but says he didn't get it. Kaveladze has been investigated before for ties to money laundering. He also worked for the Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov who arranged the Trump Tower meeting and he also - that company worked with Donald Trump on the 2013 Miss Universe in Moscow.

So that's happening on Capitol Hill. We're also watching federal court where Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, they'll be in court this afternoon for their second appearance after pleading not guilty Monday and it's interesting, now the Ukrainian government is sort of getting involved in this case, Ukraine's prime minister said in an interview with Canadian broadcasting last night that Ukraine is willing to provide any information it has on Paul Manafort, although they've said that prosecutors haven't asked for anything yet.

Of course, Manafort and Gates accused of laundering money that they made while working as lobbyists for the pro-Russian Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych back in the early 2000. So now, Ukraine's prime minister weighing in as we await that court appearance a little bit later today, the second court appearance for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, a lot happening, John.

BERMAN: All right, Jessica Schneider, a lot happening indeed.

Joining us now Republican Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida, he is on the House Foreign Relations Committee. Congressman, I will ask you about the Russia investigation in a bit, but first I want to ask you about the terrorist situation here in New York City and the investigation into that. Do you, sir, think our federal courts are up to trying terror suspects?

REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R-FL), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I do. I have confidence in our American system of justice. It's the leading light of the world, based upon the Fourth Amendment and our Constitution. I'm confident that terrorist will get the kind of trial he deserves and hopefully the punishment he deserves.

BERMAN: Leading light of the world, different than a joke or laughing stock, which is what the president called it yesterday. The president also has suggested that he wants this terrorist to get the death penalty, which I am sure is a sentiment shared by millions of Americans, perhaps. The question is, is it imprudent for the commander in chief to say that out loud? Do you have concerns that it might taint a jury pool?

ROONEY: Well, no, I'm sure they can impanel a jury out of 330 million Americans to give this guy a fair trial but hopefully he's going to get what he deserves. You know we're all emotional, frustrated, scared and tired of this inspired terrorists wreaking havoc around the world and I think the president is expressing frustration right now. I certainly am frustrated. That's why I sponsored the RAISE Act to get (INAUDIBLE) out of there.

BERMAN: Well, you mean, the diversity visa lottery is how he came into the United States, correct? How is it -- he got in through that way. We don't know if he would have been able to get into the United States through another means. He was vetted, sir. Just explain how it's responsible?

ROONEY: If the RAISE Act were passed, people would be admitted to the United States on the basis of skills and a combination of talents, rather than being detached family or this diversity lottery which absolutely to me makes no sense whatsoever. BERMAN: And look, there are Democrats and Republicans who agree with you, those who are negotiating as part of the gang of eight were going to do away with the diversity lottery. You know the question is, is the lottery in of itself responsible, but I do understand your point, sir.

I want to ask you about the Russia investigation. "The Wall Street Journal" reports today that the Justice Department is considering charges against more than six members of the Russian government involved in the hacking of the DNC. Have you heard anything about this?

[10:25:09] ROONEY: I haven't heard about indictments but I've certainly heard about the DNC attempts and about the other Russian activity that has been on CNN and in the newspapers.

BERMAN: If the Justice Department, again, this actually isn't even part of the special counsel's investigation. If the Justice Department pushed for charges against specific Russians, that would show the severity of what went on last year, would it not?

ROONEY: Yes. It would show the severity. Maybe that will push for charges against Twitter for admitting something they've admitted they suppressed the DNC leak. Maybe we need the fairness rule back. Maybe we need the fairness rule back to make sure that things like Facebook and Twitter are not biased one way or the other.

BERMAN: Well, look, Facebook and Twitter, they were up on Capitol Hill yesterday and we listened to the hearings extensively and they were pushed on both sides for their practices. There are a lot of people that think that Facebook should have done more to step up in the way of some of these ads that went on. Do you think they should have done that?

ROONEY: Well, I think that needs some careful thought as to how many -- what kind of due diligence requirements to place on them. You know you're a journalist. Journalists live to a pretty high standard of making sure they're telling the truth and they check their sources and things like that. But I don't know that exists with Facebook or Twitter.

BERMAN: Look, I think your concerns are shared by a great many people there. We're learning some of the details right now of the Republican tax plan that was just discussed behind closed doors. I assume you were in at least part of that meeting right now. I assume also you're supportive of this plan based on what I have read from you in the past. Are there any concerns you have of any of the provisions inside, specifically a Home Builders are concerned about the caps on the property tax deduction. And I'm being sent e-mails by our business reporter saying that that Home Builder stocks have tumbled since some of the details have started leaking out.

ROONEY: I think to accomplish the comprehensive, simplification and reform that is the goal of the president, the goal of the Congress to -- and to achieve some kind of middle-class tax relief while we reform corporate taxes to stimulate capital formation, everybody is probably going to have to share a little bit of pain.

BERMAN: All right, Congressman Francis Rooney thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate your time, sir.

ROONEY: Thanks for having me on.

BERMAN: The New York terror suspect talking to investigators explaining how and why he picked his targets. That's next.

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