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GOP Senate Chief Says Moore Should Be Expelled; Senate Tax Bill Markup And House Heads For A Vote; Menendez Jury Deadlocked; Army Investigating If Soldier Was Found With Hands Tied In Niger. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 13, 2017 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Republican Senator Corey Gardner says, if Moore wins this race that the Senate should vote to expel him. So, I've got Brianna Keilar. She is back up with us from Capitol Hill, our CNN senior Washington correspondent and also David Chalian, CNN political director. Brianna, let's start with you, that's a big, big statement and that's taking it farther from -- talk about Corey Gardner, farther from he should drop out and if he is voted in we should vote to expel him.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So, you're seeing this official Republican press trying to keep Roy Moore from continuing on the path that he's on, but I also think, Brooke, that there is this awareness from the establishment GOP that they might not be able to really convince Roy Moore to not continue his run and all eyes are certainly on the state party in Alabama.

But there's this concern here among Republicans that he is leaving the stain on them, and so they're trying to distance themselves from Roy Moore as much as possible. I'm standing now outside of a Senate Finance Committee mark-up on tax reform. This is what Republicans want to be talking about and this Roy Moore controversy which you now have Republicans like Corey Gardner saying it is true.

They believe it is true and they believe these women and find them credible. They don't want to be talking about tax reform, they don't want to be talking about Roy Moore, a candidate they never supported before, and he certainly wasn't a favorite of the GOP establishment and this story is completely hijacking their agenda when there is such a tight time line for trying to pass tax reform.

BALDWIN: So, right. Of course, they want taxes front and center. It will be a big week for the Republicans and this is the cloud that's still hanging over and David Chalian, to you. I don't know if you heard my conversation with Steve Genny with the Moore campaign and he was saying to me every one of these Republican lawmakers on cap toil hill saying get out, get out, it's only helping his cause. His phone is ringing Moore and more, for those people giving a lawn sign, I'm all in.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: When it was Luther Strange versus Roy Moore that Mitch McConnell was the most toxic word used in the campaign. Mitch McConnell was an albatross around Luther Strange's neck and Roy Moore used that day in and day out on the campaign trail. Now that Mitch McConnell is asking Roy Moore to step out of the way and that's not going to have a ton of sway with Roy Moore voters and his most committed supporters.

Two things about the Corey Gardner statement and the Republican senator from Colorado who heads up the national Republican senatorial committee. First of all, remember what his job is. He is in charge of the committee, committed to keeping the majority in Republican hands in the United States Senate, and so the statement coming from him that even if he wins, we need to vote to expel him indicates that he sees Roy Moore as a real big 2018 electoral problem for potential Republican senators like Dean Heller in Nevada, for instance.

That's one, two, that's part of the leadership, Brooke. Corey Gardner doesn't give that statement without Mitch McConnell giving his blessing. That is the Republican leadership point of view and it takes two-thirds of the Senate and 67 votes to expel a number, but this is now the Republican party's position that Roy Moore should be expelled if he wins on December 12th.

BALDWIN: Again, this Alabama Republican who is helping Roy Moore out on this campaign saying listen, that message from Corey Gardner is saying to all of the Alabama voters your vote doesn't count because we here in the big Senate in Washington, we're going to take him down. Paraphrasing.

CHALIAN: No. You're absolutely right. It is going to embolden Roy Moore's supporters and remember, this is a bizarrely competitive race to begin with before the allegations came out, because Roy Moore is a pretty controversial figure from his past with past policy positions and statements and clearly, this was already more competitive than the Alabama race would become. Now it's probably even more so,

You are right, when "The Washington Post" comes out with allegations and when Gloria Allred that big lawyer up in New York sits next to a client, and when the established Republican senators are out there pounding their chest against Roy Moore this is exactly the argument he's been making to voters in Alabama, that that all needs to get busted up because that's a voice from the outside, the northeast media, mainstream liberal elite, and not representing Alabama. And that is certainly something you see him saying in his statements in the last few days.

BALDWIN: Yes. Listen to me, not a week, a month before this big election in Alabama. David Chalian, thank you. Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill. Thank you so much.

Let's take a turn to the stunning developments and these two Navy SEALs being investigated over the death of an Army Green Beret.

[15:35:00] The "Daily Beast" is reporting those Navy SEALs had a secret they were trying to keep until their story started to unravel.

Also, ahead, the jury in the Senator Menendez corruption trial deadlocked today just 48 hours after a dismissed juror went and spoke out. We'll talk live with a jury consultant about what this means for the trial moving forward. [15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: This week another moment of truth for the Republican party as both House and Senate Republicans are in this frantic rush trying to find an agreement on the details of their tax bills. Right now, the Senate Finance Committee is marking up the Senate's version of their tax plan, that is the first step on the Senate side to see an actual vote of their version, but the GOP has a messaging problem and the senate majority leader said last week that nobody in the middle class would see a tax increase.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell now telling "The New York Times" he misspoke on that, and you can't guarantee absolutely that no one sees a tax increase. On the House side, speaker Paul Ryan says most folks in the middle class will get a tax break. So, let's go straight to Phil Mattingly, he's been living, breathing all things tax cut and tax reform on Capitol Hill. This is already a complicated process. Where are we with this tweet from the president?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not necessarily a traditional legislative strategy. That was the reaction I got from most House and Republican aides I spoke to when the president tweeted out this morning from overseas and I want to quote this. We're getting close and how about ending the unfair in highly unpopular individual mandate in Obamacare and reducing taxes even further and cut the top rate to 35 percent with all the rest going to middle income cuts.

There's a lot to unpack there and let's look at two primary things, one, the idea of reducing the top rate further than it already is, and two, introducing the repeal of the Obama individual mandate. And those are two key policy items, Brooke, that are not in the Senate version which as you noted the committee today, and they are not in the House version which is supposed to get a House floor vote this week.

Now, here or that is problematic. Those are things that are attractive. Both of them to certain Republicans and those same Republicans who may have to vote on the proposal this week. Here is the bigger issue here right now. There's a reason those aren't currently in the proposals and break it down really quick, the individual mandate if it's repealed would essentially allow for $338 billion in deficit savings over ten years, why is that? Individuals would not be seeking insurance because they wouldn't be required to under law, and the government wouldn't have to pay as many subsidies and that would hop onto the Medicaid rolls. So that would save money. Why does that matter to tax reform? Republicans need money. Revenue is extremely important to try and pay for the scale of the cuts that they're trying to do both on the corporate and the individual side.

In that sense it's attractive, here is why it is not attractive. Think back a couple months ago to the healthcare debate, which did not work out so well for Republicans repeatedly week after week after week and month after month after month.

I want to be clear, this is something that is actually on the table and it may resurface or general at some point during the process, but there is a clear reason leaders have kept this off the table up to this point. They recognize the potential major problems of introducing the health care debate into a tax reform debate which by all accounts, every source that I'm talk to on both the House and Senate say, is going surprisingly well up to this point.

Here is why. You repeal the individual mandate according to the CBO, 13 million fewer people would have insurance over the course of a ten- year period and that is a tough number to confront and the type of number that strangled Republicans throughout the health care debate and one they've wanted to avoid up to this point. The revenue idea, Brooke, it's very attractive and they're making tough choices and $338 billion would certainly be helpful.

But the big question now despite what the president tweets, is do Republican leaders really want to bring health care back into this debate that up to this point has been going somewhat smoothly. As of now the answer is no, but as I said, keep this -- bookmark this tweet and bookmark this idea. If it comes down to the wire over the next couple of weeks and they need money, the individual mandate repeal as difficult politically as it may be, it is absolutely on the table, Brooke.

BALDWIN: That it's on the table now potentially part of this whole massive conversation, Republicans have got to get this done, and if not, it could spell big, big problems for them in 2018. Phil Mattingly, you are excellent at what you do. Thank you so much. I appreciate you there on Capitol Hill breaking that down for us.

Now to breaking news in the corruption trial of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, the jury says it is deadlocked on all 12 counts after the dismissed juror went rogue and talked about the trial and we'll speak live to a jury consultant about what happens from here.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right, back to the breaking news in the corruption trial for New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. The jury here deadlocked on all 12 counts and the judge has ordered them to go home for the day and, quote, clear their heads. This happened after the alternate juror joined the group to basically begin deliberations from scratch, that juror is replacing another juror because of a previously scheduled vacation, but that dismissed juror did not fade away quietly and even predicting a hung jury.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EVELYN ARROYO MAULTSBY, DISMISSED JUROR: Told them they weren't going to change my mind so there was no reason for them to try to change my mind. I was already in the courtroom for nine weeks and in those nine weeks they presented everything they had to present. I didn't fall asleep, I paid attention and I wrote my notes. What I saw in the courtroom was he was not guilty of all counts and so was Dr. Melgar, they're are friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Let's talk to Robert Hirschhorn, trial jury consultant, who also worked with George Zimmerman's defense team. Nice to have you on.

ROBERT HIRSCHHORN, TRIAL JURY CONSULTANT: Thanks for having me on, Brooke.

BALDWIN: No surprise, there are a lot of juries that are deadlocked. I understand that, but basically starting from scratch today a couple of hours in and they're saying to the judge, we can't. We're deadlocked. Does that surprise you?

HIRSCHHORN: It does not. If it is a weak case and it's a he said/she said kind of case. No videos, no audios and they have some e-mails, but you know, what I found having done this 30-plus years, people from New Jersey they say what they mean, and they mean what they say. And if this jury says they have a reasonable doubt it's unlikely that there will be a whole lot more argument that will change their mind.

BALDWIN: What do you make of that outgoing juror speaking the way that she did with the trial still ongoing?

HIRSCHHORN: Well, jurors do it. They have a First Amendment right. The judge as I understand it did not put any kind of gag order on the jurors. Jurors have the right to convey to the public what they're thinking.

Understand, this was the juror that felt that she wanted to get a note to the judge about what's going on in the jury room. The other jurors tried to talk her out of it. The court officer for that judge took the note, gave it to the judge. This is a juror that's really frustrated. I wish she hadn't gone on vacation.

I wish she had been able to change that. But she didn't. So, what she felt was she couldn't complete her task, so she was going to talk about it and she had the right to do it.

BALDWIN: So, Robert, what happens now? You have these jurors, as per this judge, going home, clearing their heads, getting a fresh breath of air. Obviously, the judge hoping they can be back at it tomorrow. When might this Allen charge, the dynamite charge come into play?

HIRSCHHORN: Let's talk about what the dynamite charge is, it is where a judge says to the jury, look, you are the only jury, there is no other jury that can do a better job than you. Please, do everything you can. Try to reach your verdict, if you can.

But by the same token, don't give up. If you believe that your position is right, then you should stick with it. The Allen charge I would suspect is going to come the next time the jury sends out another note saying that they're deadlocked. Here is the interesting thing for the viewers to think about.

Remember, Brooke just told you that the composition of the jury changed because that one juror that just left because of a pre- committed vacation. They brought a new juror in and they only deliberated a couple of hours, sent out the note saying we're hung and the judge let's them go home. They had just come off a three-day vacation, because, remember, Friday was Veterans Day, so nobody worked on Friday. So, they don't need to clear their head. They are from New Jersey. They've made their mind and I think these folks are going to stick with what they think.

BALDWIN: I appreciate all of your trust and belief and how, you know, they say what they mean, and they mean what they say. Shout out to New Jerseyens. We'll see what happens come tomorrow. Thank you so much. Good to have you on.

Coming up next here, this major development involving the deadly ambush against American troops in Niger. What CNN is now learning about witness accounts that indicate that Sergeant La David Johnson was found dead with his hands tied. We'll take you to the Pentagon for that latest reporting.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: New and alarming details emerging from the investigation into the deadly Niger ambush. A team of military and FBI investigators have gone back to the scene of the attack where those four American soldiers were killed. A defense official telling CNN that U.S. officials are now looking into some eyewitness accounts that Sergeant La David Johnson was found with his hands bound.

So, let's go straight to the Pentagon to Barbara Starr, who is the one with this reporting. So, hands bound. Tell me more about that.

BARBARA STARR, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, what we have to emphasize is they are looking at these local reports from the villagers, from people in the area, but there is no corroboration of that at this point. We, in fact, are being cautioned very heavily that really one needs to wait until the U.S. military investigation is done. They simply do not know the answers.

But U.S. military investigators and FBI agents over the weekend went back to this village in Niger. They talked to local people there. They looked at the ambush site. And they're basically investigating at this point all of the reports they're getting. Sergeant La David Johnson, as you will recall, is the young soldier whose body was not found for 48 hours after three other soldiers were killed in this ambush and one of the ongoing very sensitive questions is what happened to him? Why couldn't they find his body? Where was he during that 48-hour period?

He was eventually found dead in a brush-covered area. They don't know if he was even there the whole time. They're looking at reports. Villagers, friendly villagers may have taken the body and then turned it back over to Nigerien forces.

[16:00:00] So all of these things part of the investigation. But also, very critically part of the investigation is how the ambush actually happened. Because the soldiers were told there was very little chance of enemy contact, that it would be very unlikely, and yet they were. A 12-man team ambushed by some 50 suspected ISIS fighters.

So, did this team have the proper intelligence when they went out into the field? Were all the proper authorizations and reviews signed off on before they went out? All of this being looked at now and they will -- they are estimating that the investigation, in fact, is so complex it may not be done until January. Brooke?

BALDWIN: 30 seconds, Barbara. Just curious, in all the, you know, top brass you talk to, how big is a concern because of what happened in Niger that our men and women all around the world, you know, in military are even more so in harm's way?

STARR: Well, look, I think the U.S. military very strongly looks at intelligence every time the U.S. troops are out in the field and tries to make their best assessment case by case about the threat they are facing. Clearly here in Niger, they missed the mark. 12-man team ambushed by 50 ISIS fighters that they never expected. It is a reminder. Dangerous business. They have to look at it all the time. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Barbara Starr, thank you so much at the Pentagon. Thank you all for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. "The Lead" with Jake Tapper starts right now.