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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Jared Kushner Turning Over Documents to Mueller's Investigators; Sessions' Testimony On Russia Contacts Under Scrutiny. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 2, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Barbara, thanks very much.
That's it for me. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OutFront next, breaking news. Trump's son- in-law, Jared Kushner turning over documents to investigators in the Russia probe. What was his role in the firing of Jim Comey?
Plus, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, new and questions about his testimony to Congress. Did he commit perjury? Senator Al Franken demanding answers. He's my guest this hour.
And Republicans roll out their plan to cut taxes. Who's getting all the cuts?
Let's go OutFront.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, the breaking news. Jared Kushner turning over documents to Special Counsel Bob Mueller. The president's son-in-law under incrossing scrutiny tonight for Mueller's team and the Russia investigation. We are learning Mueller's investigators are asking witnesses about Kushner's role in the firing of Jim Comey.
Kushner already coming under fire in the Russia investigation for failing to disclose his contacts with Russians, including that meeting in Trump Tower in June of 2016. A meeting between top Trump campaign officials including Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Kushner and number of Russians with links to the Kremlin. The purpose of the meeting states, to pass along dirt on Hillary Clinton.
These as new questions tonight are being raised about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and whether he perjured himself in his testimony to Congress on possible contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. Court documents unsealed reveal that Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos discussed a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Jeff Sessions was present at that meeting. He says he wasn't.
Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill covering the story. We begin though with Shimon Prokupecz with these questions swirling around Jared Kushner and the breaking news about documents. Shimon, you are breaking this. What are you learning?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, that's right Erin. So sources tell us that Kushner voluntarily turned over documents he had from the campaign and also the transition. And these documents are related to any contacts with Russia. The documents are similar to the ones Kushner gave to congressional investigators.
Now, this comes as investigators have been asking witnesses about Kushner's role in the firing of FBI director, the former FBI Director James Comey, Erin?
BURNETT: So, why is Shimon the special counsel interested in Jared Kushner's specific role in the Comey firing? What do we infer from that?
PROKUPECZ: Right. So we're told investigators have asked witnesses about his role. And they basically were told by the sources there are different accounts from these sources. Some say Kushner was a driver in the president's decision to fire the former FBI director. Others have told us that he simply just didn't oppose it and that it was something the president had already made his mind up about and that Kushner basically had really no driving force in that.
Now, naturally sources close to the White House say that based on what they know and we don't know how they would know this that Kushner is a target -- is not a target of the investigation.
BURNETT: But Shimon, I mean, the question here is, is you got Bob Mueller now requesting and getting information directly from Jared Kushner. That is new, and how significant is it?
PROKUPECZ: Well, certainly it is. And Mueller's team asking questions about Kushner is a sign that investigators are reaching into the president's inner circle. And it extends, this investigation extends beyond the 2016 campaign to actions that have been taken by high level officials at the White House.
A White House official says that Mueller's teams questions about Kushner are not a surprise and that Kushner, naturally, would be among the list of people who investigators would be asking about. A lawyer for Kushner did not comment, and we should add that the White House also declined a comment to us.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Shimon. But obviously a significant development getting, requesting documents from Jared Kushner in the inner circle from Bob Mueller.
And I want to go to Manu Raju, OutFront on Capitol Hill because Manu, you have more breaking news tonight. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions under scrutiny now, renewed scrutiny and very serious scrutiny.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, from Democrats and some Republicans alike. This is after court documents were unsealed this week, Erin that showed that George Papadopoulos proposed a meeting between then candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin in March of 2016. Now, Jeff Sessions was at the meeting when he's a senator from Alabama, a top surrogate for the Trump campaign. And we are told by a source in the room that he actually rejected the idea that these two should meet.
Now, why this is significant is that, in several appearances on Capitol Hill this year, Sessions actually did not disclose this meeting. In fact, he was asked about conversations that happened about Russia, about communications with Russian operatives and the like, and either he didn't recall or say it didn't happen.
[19:05:08] But today, Erin, a lot of Democrats are raising concerns saying that he should amend this testimony and clarify what exactly happened with George Papadopoulos. Now, even some Republicans, Erin though are saying this is an area to pursue, that Senator Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said it's something that he's looking into. And the number two Republican, John Cornyn of Texas told me it's a legitimate area to explore.
And so far, Erin, the Justice Department is declining to comment but a source familiar with Senator Sessions -- Attorney General Sessions' thinking says that he does not recall those conversations taking place with Papadopoulos. Erin?
BURNETT: Doesn't seem to recall anything when it comes to Russia until someone comes with evidence. Thanks so much, Manu.
RAJU: Thanks Erin.
BURNETT: Joining me now is Senator Al Franken, he's on the Judiciary Committee which is investigating Russia's meddling in the election. And Senator, thanks very much to you, I appreciate your time.
You know, the president says he made the decision to fire Comey. But multiple sources say Jared Kushner was a driver of that decision. How big of a role did Kushner play?
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I don't know. Evidently special prosecutor has asked for some documents from the son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And that -- and he is obviously investigating obstruction of justice in this matter. And that's -- you know, Robert Mueller will probably be the one to get to the bottom of this. And he'll probably be making these decisions as to who committed some crime such as obstruction of justice.
BURNETT: And we now know, of course, that Kushner filed his security clearance forms indication he had no meeting with Russians, right. Among other things, he left off those forms the meeting in Trump Tower with Don Jr. and Paul Manafort and the Russian lawyer who was linked to the Kremlin who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. He left off the meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States. He left off a meeting with the CEO of Russia's most politically connected bank. And by the way, he revised that security clearance form multiple times, he's adding and saying sort of -- yes, bit by bit.
Do you think he is hiding something, Senator?
FRANKEN: Well, I think it's odd that he forgot all those things. And so, that's an assumption that I think it'd be fair to make, sure.
BURNETT: Senator, we're also learning tonight that the attorney general, Jeff Sessions was part of a discussion involving then candidate Trump and George Papadopoulos about a possible meeting with Vladimir Putin. So sources in this meeting say that Papadopoulos discussed his conversations with Russians in a meeting of Trump's foreign policy team.
Sessions was there, Trump was there. Now, this is really important for a lot of reasons. Not least of which is that last month Sessions testified to your committee and here is part of your exchange with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians? Is that what you're saying?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I am not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.
FRANKEN: And you don't believe it now.
SESSIONS: I don't think believe it happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right, we now know he did hear about at least one of those conversations in a meeting with Trump himself. Is Sessions being honest to you?
FRANKEN: Well, again, he seems to have problems telling the truth on this subject. During the confirmation hearings, in response to a question of mine, he said that he had not met with Russians during the campaign. It turned out he met with the ambassador from Russia Kislyak three times during the campaign.
You saw in this recent -- the next time he came back before our committee, he said that he didn't know anybody in the campaign who met with Russians, but we know that Jared Kushner that -- the president's son, Donald Trump Jr. and that Paul Manafort met with the Russians in trump towers.
Now, this George Papadopoulos -- this information comes from a plea from a statement of his to special prosecutor saying that he had met with Russians about arranging a meeting between Putin and Trump, and that he had taken this information to a meeting with Jeff Sessions for their foreign relations or their national security team. Sessions was the chairman of the team.
And at this meeting, there's a picture of it, you can see the two of them together as Sessions is speaking. The president was there. At that, he raised this.
[19:10:00] And we've heard from other sources that the attorney general -- now attorney general then Senator Sessions said I don't think we should do this and nobody should talk about this to anybody.
And that seems to be something you'd remember. He said something to that effect. I don't have it exactly quoted. But this is why I have a lot of questions, and I have written a letter with a lot of those questions and I would like to have him come testify before the Judiciary Committee, again.
BURNETT: You want him to come back. I mean -- because the big question is and I know, you know, you can use the word whether someone is being honest or the word amnesia, but obviously the big word here is lie.
Are you close to using that word when it comes to the attorney general and how he's answered your questions, repeatedly?
FRANKEN: Well, that's why I want him to answer these questions and that's why I want him to testify again. But ultimately, whether or not he committed perjury will be, again, I believe Bob Mueller's call.
BURNETT: Do you think the attorney general is fit to continue in his job as attorney general, at this time, or should he step down?
FRANKEN: I would like him to answer the questions in my letter. I hope we've sent you a copy of that. And I would like him to come testify before us again.
BURNETT: All right, well, Senator Franken, I appreciate your time. Thank you so very much.
FRANKEN: Very nice talking to you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, nearly half of Americans think the president likely committed a crime, according to a new poll. This as Mueller's Russia probe reaches the heart of Trump's inner circle tonight.
Plus, the new GOP tax plan rolled out just hours ago and already facing oppositions from Trump Republicans. Why?
And, new details of the New York terror plot emerging tonight. The suspect's home country blaming his time in the United States. Is it true?
[19:15:33] BURNETT: Breaking news in the Russian investigation this hour. The Special Counsel Robert Mueller zeroing in on the president's inner circle. CNN learning that Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser has been asked to turn over documents to Mueller's team and he's doing so.
Sources telling CNN investigators specifically are interested in Kushner's role in the firing of FBI Director Jim Comey.
Jim Acosta is OutFront live at the White House. And Jim, what is the response from the White House tonight? JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right now, the response Erin is that there is no response. I was discussing this with a member of the White House legal team here, the president's legal team. They are referring us to Jared Kushner's personal attorney. And at this point, they're not commenting on this new reporting coming from CNN.
I will tell you though, when I talk to White House sources here, they are very much trying to make the case that they're sticking to their agenda. That they're sticking to what they're trying to accomplish on a daily basis.
I talked to a White House source earlier today who said, you know what, we're pretty happy about the president's tax reform proposal. We're pretty happy about where things stand for the president's trip to Asia which is coming up tomorrow, he'd be overseas in Asia as you know for 11 days.
You don't get the sense, and we did hear some of this earlier this week, you don't get the sense from talking to White House officials that their hair is on fire at this point. But as you know, Erin, every day one of these stories comes out it makes people more and more uncomfortable inside the building and you do hear that from a number of people.
Keep in mind, this Washington Post/ABC poll that came out earlier today showing, you know, 49 percent of the public believing that the president may have done something illegal and 58 percent having confidence in the special counsel Robert Mueller. That is an indication that the polling is not heading in the same direction that the White House would like to see it head.
But talking to White House sources, Erin, they are adamant, that they are standing by this president and they're sticking to his agenda and they're carrying it out as we speak. Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Jim Acosta.
And I want to go now to Van Jones, former special advisor to President Obama, and Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia attorney general and of course a Trump supporter.
Look, Ken, let me ask you, yesterday, the president called the New York Times and he said, and I just want to quote him, I'm not under investigation, as you know. And even if you look at that, there's not even a mention of Trump in there. It has nothing to do with us. And he's referring to Papadopoulos obviously pleading guilty as well as the charges against Gates and Manafort.
But now we're talking about Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser.
KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, VIRGINIA: Well, the only thing that happened today was the request for documents. It's not -- I don't find it that unusual. I expect Mueller is going to ask a lot of people for documents and we're going to have more reports like this.
And thus far, all we know is that he was asked for documents that were about the Comey firing. Surely Jared Kushner isn't a target in any of that and that's the initial reporting says the same thing. We'll see how this develops, but it's hard to imagine a hypothetical set of circumstances where Kushner would have any sort of liability related to Comey for anything. Maybe Mueller, and I expect he will, will flush out all of the possible problems associated with the situation, including the consideration of obstruction of justice, which I, you know, I think is very difficult in the case of the president, of all people.
Nonetheless, gathering that information including getting documents from Jared Kushner is a natural part of that investigation process. So I'm not all that surprised. I understand why people in the White House are uncomfortable with it. But I agree with the reporting that we just heard from Jim Acosta that the best thing they can do in the White House is press ahead on the agenda front and actually do the job they were elected to do, instead of getting tied up in all of this.
BURNETT: So Van, do you buy what Ken is saying, this is standard? Nothing to be concerned about obviously in light of, you know, what we were just talking with Senator Franken, Jared Kushner was in that meeting in Trump Tower where dirt was promised on Hillary Clinton. Jared Kushner had meetings with the Russian ambassador and meeting with the Kremlin tie VAB Bank, none of which he disclosed in security clearance form. So sort of this drip by drip by drip, edit after edit after edit.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right. Well, I mean, I think a couple of things. Certainly, it could be in the line of fire, at least in terms of trying to figure out what role did he play in advising his father-in-law to fire Comey, which could be a part of obstruction of justice.
[19:20:08] But, there's a bigger thing that's happening here which nobody really I think talks about enough. Trump's overall management style is so reckless that it is now endangering his own family. If you decide that you're going to put a complete novice in a position like this, that novice will make mistakes. That's reckless.
If you decide to give that novice, basically the title secretary of everything which is what he's been called because nobody can figure out what his job is, he's going to create mistakes. And then you're going to create an environment where internal to the building, there'll be a sense that he's a teflon guy. You know, you can't really mess with him. You know, how do you deal with him but external to the building, he's going to be the Velcro guy.
Anything you throw at this guy is going to stick because who knows what his job is. So if you put somebody who is a novice in that position, you give them a title and a job that nobody can understand, and that person is you're family member, it's very hard to explain to anybody that you love your family and you're a good manager because you would never do that if you love your family or you're a good manager. It's really, really dumb when you say it. BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) to management, Ken, it does raise some serious questions.
CUCCINELLI: Well, look, President Trump won his election in a fashion we've never seen before. And I refer to it as actually using chaos theory to win an election. But it isn't much of a management style once you're governing.
And, you know, we see it in the tweeting and other things. And that doesn't mean Jared Kushner has done anything wrong. And I think it's important to differentiate the two.
I think this is just information gathering at this stage. I think Van's observation is more broadly applicable to how the White House runs and I don't necessarily disagree with him with respect to the chaotic approach, but it seems like that's how the president wants to approach things.
So, there is a downside to that. And it's a lot of loose ends and a lot of pieces hanging out there that people can take shots at.
BURNETT: And look, he comes out, Ken and he says there's no collusion, and you know I'm not under investigation and all of these things.
BURNETT: And this comes as the Washington Post/ABC News poll comes out with something that has got to be pretty sobering for people in the White House who want to be honest with themselves. Jim Acosta referred to it.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans approve of Bob Mueller's handling of the investigation. That means there's a lot of Republicans who approve of Bob Mueller's handling of the investigation, OK?
Twenty-eight percent said they disapprove. Maybe those are the Trump supporters. But this is not people getting on board with the president saying this is a witch hunt and a joke.
CUCCINELLI: Yes but look, I'm a former attorney general. I have a really hard time with even the notion of polling whether a crime occurred. I mean, that's what they polled. Do you think there might be criminal activity --
BURNETT: Yes that was -- OK, 49 percent said there might be criminal activity. I'm just purely saying do they think Bob Mueller is doing a good job.
CUCCINELLI: And Bob Mueller is viewed like a mini version of courts and people like to think of those, people in those roles as fairly neutral. I think there's reason to question that with respect to Bob Mueller. That's been discussed publicly, have gone to a lot of details.
Well, look, surely Van you agree there's a basis to have the discussion. The outcome of the discussion is another matter. But, these are things --
CUCCINELLI: -- it only advances the discussion and it isn't very constructive frankly.
JONES: Well, I'm just saying that the idea that the president and his friends are now trying to discredit Mueller. I mean, Mueller was praised by everyone, his entire career, and now he's in the tank for the Clintons. That sort of doesn't make any sense.
Here is what I do think people should be trying to pay close attention to going forward. Yes, you can in that building do a whole bunch of stuff at the same time. But when people feel personally that they are not safe, personally that they may, you know, get a knock on the door from the FBI. When they feel personally -- when they go home and the wife or the husband is asking personal questions, it does begins to erode your ability to do your job.
A lot of happy talk, oh we got tax plan, I guarantee that's not the only talk happening in that building.
BURNETT: I'm sure it's not. All right thank you very much to both.
CUCCINELLI: Sure but still, the best focus for the White House is the actual agenda.
JONES: I agree with you on that.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both.
And next, breaking news, new details about what former Trump adviser, Carter Page, told the House Intelligence Committee under oath today about the Russia probe. This is pretty stunning, everybody. You got to listen to this because this is a really big deal for Jeff Sessions tonight.
And Republicans trumpeting their tax plan. But some in the GOP, some of Trump's big supporter say no way. That's ahead.
[19:28:22] BURNETT: Breaking news, another major blow to Attorney General Jeff sessions in the Russia probe. We're just learning at this moment here some breaking news.
The former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page testifying under oath today to the House Intelligence Committee. And we are learning that Page made a stunning statement. Page told the committee that he directly told now Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he was going to Moscow in July 2016. That, of course, would be during the presidential campaign.
Now, this is crucial. He said it under oath. It comes as Jeff Sessions told Congress that he knew nothing about any Trump campaign official having a contact at any time with Russians.
Manu Raju is OutFront. And Manu, look, this is a big deal here. Carter Page, under oath coming on top of the revelation that Sessions shot down a suggestion from the former adviser, George Papadopoulos to meet with the Russians when they were discussing Russians who said they had dirt on Hillary Clinton. Now you got Carter Page. How significant is Carter Page's testimony?
RAJU: Look, what we're learning tonight, Erin, Carter Page mentioned to Jeff Sessions in June of 2016 he would travel or planned to travel to Moscow. Now, he claimed it was not related to the campaign. It was a speech that he was planning to deliver in Russian. He told Jeff Sessions this during a private dinner that they had with Trump. The trump campaign national security team, just steps from the capital, at the Capitol Hill Club.
Now, this is significant, Erin, because Jeff Sessions, on multiple occasions said he did not recall having any discussion with anybody about Russia. In fact, he was asked in June, a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, whether or not he was aware of Carter Page had traveled overseas to meet with any Russian officials. At that point he said I don't know.
He said he didn't recall and he also said that flatly, no on number of occasion whether there any communications with Russians and the Trump campaign.
And, Erin, this comes in the aftermath of Monday's revelation of the court documents unsealed that George Papadopoulos raised the idea of a Trump meeting during the campaign season at a session that Jeff Sessions attended in March of 2016. That meeting, also, Jeff Sessions did not disclose to Congress. The fact we are learning that Carter Page testifying before the House Intelligence Committee telling them he did inform Jeff Sessions before the trip about his plans to go to Moscow, sort of raised even more questions on Capitol Hill, Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So, Manu, what is the Justice Department saying now? What's their response?
RAJU: They are not commenting on this, but I can tell you both Page and a source familiar with the meeting are downplaying this. They are saying Page told me, look, he mentioned in passing to Jeff Sessions, it was not, it was the only time he ever spoke and met with Jeff Sessions. Page telling me this today after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee for more than six hours.
And a source familiar with that meeting said that Page did mention this to him, shook hands with him towards the end of this meeting in June 2016, this dinner meeting and then went on his way to discuss it further. But again, Erin, lawmakers are bound to ask more questions about this. Why didn't Jeff Sessions disclose this, if he did remember this during his multiple hearings on Capitol Hill, Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu.
And OUTFRONT now, the former CIA director and defense secretary for President Obama, Leon Panetta, who was also the chief of staff of former President Bill Clinton.
Good to have you with me, Secretary. Appreciate your time.
What's your reaction to this latest development?
LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it's part of this drip, drip process of finding out exactly what kind of inner relationship there was between various individuals in the Trump campaign with Russia. And, you know, it's been -- it's been something that obviously Bob Mueller focused on. The committees in Congress focused on it.
But what's of concern is that we are going through this process of finally finding out what's been involved here rather than having people, like the attorney general and others, be a lot more forthcoming about, you know, the fact that there were ties and efforts to work with the Russians. That's something that should have come out a long time ago. And I'm sure the committees are going to ask for clarification.
BURNETT: Yes, I know they, of course, the Judiciary Committee, Senator Al Franken telling me, he wants the attorney general to come back and testify again. Obviously, when they asked him about meetings with the Russians, he said he had none. It turned out that he had three with the Russian ambassador and now this. You've got the former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, right, that's the breaking news, saying he told Jeff Sessions he was planning a trip to Russia during the campaign. Former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos saying he discussed setting up a meeting with Russians in a meeting with Sessions.
And here is Sessions, point-blank, denying anything like this ever happened when he was asked about it last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians? Is that what you're saying?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I am not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened. But --
FRANKEN: You don't believe it now?
SESSIONS: I don't believe it happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Secretary, is there a way to explain this in light of the testimony from Page and Papadopoulos?
PANETTA: Well, it was -- it was a pretty direct statement that the attorney general made under oath. And I suspect that there are going to be a lot of questions about just exactly what he did or did not remember with regards to dealings with the Russians. You know, it just, what it does is it raises concerns with the
American people about whether or not we're getting the straight story here. You know, we have had 17 intelligence agencies tell us that Russia was involved directly in trying to influence our election. We have had now Bob Mueller investigating contacts with the Russians and among national security aides.
[19:35:00] What the American people want to find is the truth. And, ultimately, the truth is going to come out. But, it would be a lot better if people were more forthcoming about exactly what took place here. There may not be any connection directly with the president. We understand that. But, the fact is, we should know what contacts were made so that the American people, the intelligence committees and certainly Bob Mueller, can determine just exactly what happened.
BURNETT: So, Secretary Panetta, this comes as Chairman Paul Manafort and the deputy are charged with conspiracy against the United States. Look, in the court filing in the Manafort case, among other things, they show that he had a phone registered to a fake name he was using last year as he traveled around the world. He had an alias.
You ran the CIA. What's your reaction when you hear Paul Manafort had a phone to a fake name, an alias?
PANETTA: Well, he was trying to hide something. You don't do that unless you are trying to hide something. That's what intelligence agents do. That's what people do that are involved in spying, try to make sure that others really don't know what they are up to.
And so, when you have a fake phone, when you are operating with secret bank accounts around the world and when you're doing the things he's accused of doing by the special prosecutor, it raises very serious questions about just exactly what was he up to.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Secretary Panetta, I appreciate your time as always. Thank you, sir.
And I want to go now to our political reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza.
Chris, obviously, for Attorney General Sessions, this is all now adding up. How big of a problem is it going to be for him?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Big, Erin, because it's -- you can understand, I forgot a meeting, it was a quick hello with the Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, no big deal, omitted it, but not purposely.
The problem is when you have that I forgot excuse two or three times, it's like your kid. Oh, I forgot something at school. OK, it happens. I forgot my homework again at school. Oh, I forgot my homework again at school. Well, you're forgetting homework --
BURNETT: We are up to five times.
CILLIZZA: And this is the problem. I think Congressman Panetta makes a really important point, which is, it's the drip, drip, drip of this and the trust issue.
Let's remember, Jeff Sessions is the nation's top law enforcement official, right? This is not a bureaucrat in the federal government. This is a high-ranking official. And if you start to wonder, why does he keep forgetting these specific details related to this --
BURNETT: He's supposed to stand, right, for truth and honor and integrity, right?
CILLIZZA: And transparency.
BURNETT: That's the job of the attorney general.
CILLIZZA: I mean, I always think that this is true for all politicians, say what you know when you know it. Any attempt to get obfuscated get in trouble particularly when you're testifying under oath in front of Congress, which Sessions has done several times in relation to this. People are going to rightly comb through what he said. And it doesn't match up with what we now know.
BURNETT: And what does it mean for Trump? I mean, we know, right, that he's wanted to get rid of Jeff Sessions. He said so basically many times. Here we are now with these new revelations. What does it do?
CILLIZZA: In the up is down and down is up world of Donald Trump, this may actually help Sessions. Erin, hear me out, because Donald Trump believes, in his heart of hearts, the Russian thing is a hoax. I really think that he does believe that.
And he thinks the media has trumped it up and Democrats have trumped it up. Potentially, if he's viewed Sessions as being targeted unfairly, maybe it reassures him that that Sessions is loyal to him. But I would say, again, that's the political calculation. I think we always have to keep in mind that, yes, that matters.
But the legal process here, represented by Bob Mueller is what's really important, right? What Mueller finds, whether it's the indictment of Paul Manafort, whether as we learn today, thanks to our reporters, about the documents being asked of Jared Kushner, whether it's Carter Page, whether it's Jeff Sessions, all roads lead back to the Mueller probe. The politics of it will eventually follow from that.
BURNETT: That's right. And as Senator Franken said, even things like whether Jeff Sessions committed perjury ultimately going to be put at the feet of Bob Mueller.
Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Chris.
And next, the tax code. While it was what they wanted to be the top story today, it is an important story, the ink not yet dry. But the plan is being booed by members of the GOP. Why? What's in it?
And we're learning more about the New York terror attack and the suspect this hour. Someone who has known him for years reveals what she knows.
[19:43:31] BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump and the GOP already facing opposition to the tax reform plan from the GOP. So, let's just tell you first some of the core things this plan does because if it passes, it is going to change your life.
Let's see if you think for the better or not. It's going to double the standard deduction for single Americans and married couples, just about do that. It cuts the deductible on mortgage interest in half. So, instead of being able to deduct the million on your home, you're going to deduct half a million. It repeals state and local tax deductions which is obviously huge for a whole lot of people, eliminates property tax deduction to $10,000.
And the big thing that it does, among others, is to repeal the alternative minimum tax, AMT, which was really put in place to ensure wealthy Americans could use deductions to avoid taxes.
Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, who supported Trump and aggressively so, almost immediately came out against the bill, which was supposed to be the president's bill.
The president, though, for his part, says tax reform is going to be in the bag by Christmas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are giving them a big, beautiful Christmas present in the form of a tremendous tax cut. I really believe we'll have it done before Christmas. I consider that one of the great Christmas presents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, former senior economic adviser, Steve Moore, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, Austan Goolsbee.
OK. Steve, so here we go. Let's start with -- I know your overall ranking is you like this plan, not perfect, but you give it a B-plus. So, let's start with the AMT.
The AMT has been around for a long time, four decades, and it was put in place so that rich people couldn't use deductions to avoid taxes. Here is why this matters. In 2005, the year of Trump's leaked tax return, he paid $38 million in federal taxes, 31 of those 38 were AMT.
So, let's just be clear here, Steve, you're OK with this. The president would get a massive $31 million tax cut just in that one year.
STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER SENIOR ECONOMIC ADVISER, 2016 TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, let me just go back to one issue you started the conversation with, which is some of these Republicans that are peeling off on this, I've got to tell you, I was with a lot of House Republicans today. I talked to a lot of Senate Republicans today, I've got to tell you, I think the Republicans are pretty unified right now.
I mean, sure, there are some Republicans that are splitting off this, but I think they realized, you know, that this is the plan that will grow the economy. They've got to hang together here. And I think they will.
Now, on your issue -- and, by the way --
BURNETT: Now, let's get to Trump's $31 million tax cut.
MOORE: Right. OK. So, one of the things we are trying to do here in this plan is get rid of a lot of the special -- the reason we have to have an AMT is because we have all this junk in the tax system, so rich people take advantage of all of these loopholes. What we're trying to do here is get rid of the loopholes. I mean, why does Warren Buffett and Bill Gates need a mortgage deduction on their house? Why do we have -- why do we have our tax write-offs for football stadiums and that?
We're getting rid of a lot of that. And that is going to make the AMT unnecessary, because the rich aren't going to have the places to stash away their money. The whole plan is lower rates but get rid of loopholes. I think --
BURNETT: I know you can't give me an exact number, because we don't know his whole tax returns or whatever.
BURNETT: But give me a sense here, right? He paid $38 million, $31 million was because of the AMT. Are you trying to say that he is not going to get a tax cut, that all these other things are going to make up for it, or are you saying, yes, he is going to get a tax cut of many, many millions of dollars?
MOORE: Donald Trump, personally?
BURNETT: Yes, I mean, I'm just saying, hypothetically, yes.
MOORE: I don't know.
BURNETT: Or people like him, I'm using him as an example.
MOORE: But I will say this -- I will say this, I think this plan is designed to give everyone who pays taxes a tax cut.
MOORE: So, if you are a middle class family, you are going to save on taxes. If you are paying taxes, you are going to get a cut. And for most people watching the show, they don't care about how much taxes Donald Trump is going to pay, they care about their own tax bill.
And, you know, as the taxi driver who drove me over said, you know, show me the money. They want to see what it is going to save for them. And for the average family, about $2,000.
BURNETT: Or $31 million for Donald Trump.
Austan, go ahead.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Look, Steve gave it a B plus and I give it an F plus, I put the plus in there to try to encourage to fix the glaring problems. But if you look at the tax plan, what Steve is saying they got rid of loopholes. The loopholes they're getting rid off include things like people now get to deduct the interest that they pay on student loans. They are getting rid of that.
GOOLSBEE: People will have massive medical expenses get to deduct that. They are getting rid of that deduction, so that they can abolish the estate tax for billionaires, so that they can abolish the AMT, which would oh, by the way, personally benefit Donald Trump by $31 million.
I think the biggest danger, the thing that the Republicans are most afraid of at this point is that people are actually going to read what's in this bill. When they do that, I think there are going to be a lot of Republicans that peel off and say I can't support this.
MOORE: Well, look, I mean, the thing about AMT, most people don't know about AMT because, you know, most Americans don't deal with it. But it's increasingly hitting a lot more nerve --
BURNETT: Those that do hate it, they hate it. More people are hit by it every year if they have to pay.
MOORE: Exactly. I mean, more and more people are being -- that's sort of the point of this, is that it was supposed to be, you know, the AMT, you go back, I think it was introduced in the late '60s, early '70s, it was going to hit, you know, the richest 200 or 300 families. Now, you've got, you know, I don't remember the exact numbers, but a lot of people, as many as a third of the people who file, they also have to pay AMT.
And the reason they hate it, Erin, is because you have to go through all the work of compiling, you know, dealing with the current tax code as it is, with all its byzantine features, and then when you're done with that, you have to fill out another form, you know, the AMT, and then you pay to pay --
BURNETT: Well, it keeps accountants in business.
MOORE: So, it's unfair, I think.
BURNETT: But I want to get to each of you.
GOOLSBEE: Then repeal it just for them, why repeal it for Donald Trump? I mean, that's the basic --
BURNETT: Steve, I know your point is always, you are fine with wealthy people getting a tax cut because they do pay the vast majority of taxes. I think that's your point of view. But it's -- the issue that I'm raising here is the president and his word. I did an interview here before you were on board, OK, Steve, with him in 2015. So, I'm sure you made it a lot better.
But at the time, I asked him whether he would pay more taxes directly. Here is how he answered the question.
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TRUMP: I will probably end up paying more money.
[19:50:01] But at the same time, I think the economy will do better. I'll make it up that way. But I will probably end up paying more money.
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BURNETT: Not true at this point, right, Steve?
MOORE: Well, look, I don't know how much he's going to pay, but I will say this, every conversation I had with them on this, talked a lot about the tax plan, he basically said I don't want people like me to pay less taxes. That's one of the reasons if you look at this current version of the plan, for people who make over $1 million, there's no tax rate reduction. They're going to still pay the 39.6 --
BURNETT: They all pay the AMT. Austan?
GOOLSBEE: It abolishes the estate tax, which is paid for by only 5,000 richest families in the country.
MOORE: But you know how much money that raises, it raises less than half of 1 percent.
GOOLSBEE: It raises about a half a trillion dollars. It's a half trillion dollars.
MOORE: You know, I talk to people all over the country who are small businessmen and women who hate this tax because they spend their whole life building up business, they build millions of dollars during their whole lifetime, they have a successful business, maybe they make $10 million --
GOOLSBEE: It applies to 5,000 people.
MOORE: And the government is going to take half of it away? The IRS --
GOOLSBEE: And those 5,000 people, those 5,000 people are getting more than 10 percent of the total tax cut in the entire bill. It doesn't make any sense. And if you look --
MOORE: By the way, leaving out something, I don't want to get too much in the weeds but gets rid of the step up basis of death on capital gains. So, the big tax cut --
GOOLSBEE: This plan also creates what has been called mother of all loopholes, which is going to give pass through entities a 25 percent --
BURNETT: That's a crucial point.
MOORE: No, no, the mother of loophole is the step-up basis on capital gains, now you're going to have trillions of dollars --
BURNETT: I have to say, the mother of all loopholes, I would love to have conversation about that, because there are so many candidates for it in terms of egregiousness or absolute value. We can go into this. I go with carried interest --
BURNETT: I've got to leave it there.
MOORE: But this is about jobs and the economy. We do think it's going to grow the economy.
BURNETT: OK, I'm going to leave it there.
GOOLSBEE: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: Thank you both.
And next, investigators talking to people about the New York terror attack suspect and what they saw in the days and hours before the attack, and school children caught in middle of the carnage as attack took place. Update on how they're doing tonight.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God, I need an ambulance right here.
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[19:55:13] BURNETT: New developments tonight in the New York terror attack. Tonight, investigators talking to residents who may have seen and been with the suspect in the days leading up to the attack. Neighbor telling CNN he saw at least two people with alleged attacker while he was driving another Home Depot rental truck, a truck the suspect claims he use to practice his turns for the attack.
Our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT.
And, Drew, what are investigators learning tonight about this attack?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're trying to learn if there was anybody else with this guy, Erin. We were there this morning in Paterson, New Jersey, when several plainclothes officers began recanvassing the neighborhood, knocking on neighbor's doors.
And also talking to that fellow that you talked about, the neighbor Carlos Batista, who shared this photo exclusively with CNN which shows a Home Depot rental truck parked in background of a photo that he was taking. That photo taken on October 22nd, seems to match what police tell us, that Saipov was practicing -- renting these trucks and practicing for this attack in the months and weeks ahead of time.
But I must tell you, we also have been canvassing that neighborhood and we haven't found anybody to corroborate what Batista is saying. We couldn't find anybody that said he hung out with any that -- Saipov hung out with anybody, that there were any friends in that truck with him, or that anybody even visited the apartment where he lived with his wife. In fact, the neighbor right next door said they were very reclusive, the wife never came outside. It was Saipov who took his 6- year-old daughter back and forth to school.
So, I think the police are continuing to look to find out see if anybody else involved, they were making sure they're covering all their bases.
BURNETT: And, Drew, you know, look, I know investigators have said he was radicalized in the United States, but this is obviously going to be a crucial question, and you have some new details about his past in Uzbekistan tonight.
GRIFFIN: Yes, that's right. We actually, CNN went to his town, his neighborhood, his home in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We couldn't find his actual mom and dad, they still live there. But the neighbors described his family as upper middle class, moderate Muslim, not very religious, say this guy was nice kid. We know from the embassy -- the Uzbekistan embassy here that he actually went to school and was an accountant.
So, radicalization seems to have happened, Erin, while he was in the United States after a couple of years actually.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Drew Griffin, with that investigative details.
And next, an update on the school children who were caught in Tuesday's terror attack when the terrorist struck their bus.
BURNETT: Moments ago in New York, a vigil, a march to honor those killed in Tuesday's terror attack. And those injured marchers lighting candles, walking silently along the attacker's rampage route. We have an update tonight and about some school children who were caught in middle of the danger. Those students were on a bus and that bus was rammed by the truck suspect was driving. It was horrific.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stuck in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God, are you OK? Oh, my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.
Hey, I need -- can you call 911, I got -- oh, my God. Oh, my God. OK, I need an ambulance right here. Right here.
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BURNETT: Two adults and two children injured on that bus. One of the children went through surgery yesterday and appears to be on the mend. One of the adults had two operations and expected to recover. That's a miracle for those four individuals. And, of course, thank God that bus only had four people on it at the time.
Thanks for joining us. Anderson is next.