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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
W.H.'s Go-To Answer About Roy Moore: The People Will Decide; Trump Punts On Roy Moore Questions; Fox Poll: GOP Candidate Roy Moore Trailing Dem By Eight Points; Sen. Franken Calls For Ethics Investigation Into His Actions, Apologizes For Groping Woman In 2006. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 16, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:07] ERIN BURNETT, OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next, breaking news, President Trump punts on Roy Moore in a big way. Plus, Senator Al Franken accused of sexual harassment and assault. Bombshell revelations rocking the Democratic Party.
And Jared Kushner busted by Senate investigators for not revealing his e-mails about WikiLeaks and about the man reportedly known as source D in the Trump-Russia dossier. Let's go OutFront.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, Trump punts and run. President Trump refusing to answer repeated questions about Roy Moore and whether the embattled Senate candidate should step aside. Since the President's return from Asia, he's not said or tweeted a single word about the mounting allegations of abuse against Moore. Here is Trump asked about Moore today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, should Roy Moore step aside, sir? Should Roy Moore step aside, sir? Should Roy Moore step aside, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: His answer, you heard it, silence. Since returning from Asia, Trump has fired off 16 tweets of all sorts of things from the trip itself to UCLA basketball players, even slamming CNN and The New York Times as he likes to do. But not a single word about the Republican Senate candidate, who was accused by seven women of harassment, sexual assault and inappropriate behavior when they were teens including one of whom who was a 14-year old girl at the time.
And when Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked today multiple times, if the President feels that Roy Moore should step aside, Sanders punted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision. That's also something in a decision that the people of Alabama need to make. The people of Alabama should be the ones to make the decisions. It's up to the people of Alabama to make the decision.
The President believes this is a decision for the people of Alabama to make. Look, the President, as I've said about seven or eight times now thinks that this is a decision for the people of Alabama to make.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, in fact, Sanders rattled off her people of Alabama line six times in a 20-minute press conference. And as for the President, this is what's so crucial here. The last time he actually said something out loud about Roy Moore was the day Moore won the Republican primary for Alabama's vacant seat in the Senate in September. Here's the President then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we have a man who is going to be a great senator. And I'm very happy with that. Roy ran a really great race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Let's just be clear. If the last thing that Trump, himself, said about Roy Moore is, he's quote, going to be a great senator, then that's where he stands on Roy Moore. On a man, even Alabama's newspapers call unfit to serve as senator for the United States.
So why is Trump dodging the question after his own daughter said there's a special place in hell for people who prey on children and that she has no reason to doubt Moore's victims accounts. Because the President is hoping that his statement from his Press Secretary last week that said, quote, if President believes that if the allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside, is enough. But it is not enough. And At least 20 leading Republicans know it isn't enough. They have taken a stand when the leader of their party has failed to do so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: If he cares about the values and the people he claims to care about, then he should step aside.
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am -- I have no reason to doubt these young women.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Roy Moore should step aside. The women who have come forward are entirely credible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Jeff Zeleny is OutFront tonight at the White House. And Jeff, again, the President refusing to answer questions and we heard the last time he said something out loud about Roy Moore. Of course, it was incredibly complimentary before this news broke.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, good evening. It is an uncomfortable and unusual silence here. The President we have seen for months weighs in with a great frequency on social media talking and answering questions from reporters on everything across the spectrum except this.
We do know from top, his advisers, he is following this very carefully. He's talked to Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell several times on the telephone. He believes that Roy Moore I'm told is not good for the Republican brand, but he has not talked about that publicly. We heard Sarah Sanders today at the White House press briefing saying, again and again, the President finds this troubling but he believes it's up to the people of Alabama to make this decision.
Sarah Sanders was also asked if the President still stands by his endorsement of Roy Moore. Again, the answer was, he believes it's up to the people of Alabama to make the decision. Of course, that didn't stop him from endorsing Roy Moore in the first place.
So Erin, but the bottom line here is I am told, one of the reasons the President is unwilling to talk about this, in the fact, he does not want to engage in this is because of the substance of these allegations. He, of course, had many women who came forward during his own campaign who alleged misconduct. I'm told that he does not want the conversations to become about that. He wants to focus on the matter at hand here.
[19:05:08] But Erin, I can tell you, simply the White House Press Secretary answering these questions will not be enough. The President at some point will have to be -- he'll have to talk about it. He'll be asked about it again and again.
And Kellyanne Conway told us earlier today she does expect the President at some point to address this, but certainly, he hasn't yet and we're nearing the end of the week, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny.
And more breaking news on the Roy Moore situation at this hour. There's a new poll out from Fox News. And in it, you can see the Democrat in the Alabama Senate race, Doug Jones, right now, according to Fox News, running ahead of Roy Moore by eight points.
But why Moore today still stood defiant. No sign that he is going to step aside and make this easy for the President or anyone else. And, of course, he is defiant. Even as more accusers are stepping forward, putting their names and reputations on the line.
Kyung Lah is OutFront tonight. She's in Birmingham, Alabama. And Kyung, Moore says, again, not going anywhere.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Let's use his own words, what he said in this news conference. In his words, he says he will quit standing when they lay him in a box and put him in the ground. So clearly, he doesn't intend to go anywhere. He held this news conference. He was flanked by Christian conservatives. There were approximately 20 of them, almost all of them were from out of state but they agreed on one thing. They all back Roy Moore. They believe that he is being persecuted. And if there was a theme to all of this, it was, it's us versus them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE NOMINEE: This is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama and they will not stand for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: And Moore, in his comments did, basically, give a blanket statement saying that all the allegations that have been brought forward that they are simply untrue. What he would not answer, though, are specific reporter questions as we followed him out, as we're shouting questions at him. He would not address these latest two accusations published by The Washington Post.
They spoke to two women, an 18-year-old who says that Moore, 40 years ago, called her at her high school, interrupted her trigonometry class. She finally agreed to go out on a date with him. Where at the end of that date, he gave her an unwanted, forcible kiss, that left her uncomfortable. She told The Washington Post.
And then there was a second woman, a 22-year-old, Erin, and she described him at the mall. We've heard a lot about this mall where she says that he was persistent, pursued her, where she reported him to her manager. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much Kyung Lah. And as now, you have a count here of seven women.
OutFront now, Michelle Holmes, the vice president of Alabama's largest news organization AL.com. She's a member of the editorial board there which wrote and editorial titled, "Our view, Roy Moore Grossly Unfit for Office." And David Gergen who served as adviser to four presidents.
So David, let's start with this President, who is the leader of the Republican Party, the leader of the nation and he is stunningly silent on this issue. He is not calling on Moore to drop out. The last time he talked about him was, of course, an endorsement.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well it's hardly a profiling courage. And meanwhile, Roy Moore seems to be struggling in a race that's very significant. That was poll was taken showing Doug Jones, the Democrat ahead by eight points. That poll was taken by Fox News, which, you know, is hardly a bias source against Republicans. So, it sounds like that Roy Moore is not only trailing, but the stakes are going up for this President, rapidly.
If the Democrat, Jones, wins on December 12th, just think how much is at stake for the President. If Jones were in office today, Erin, the tax bill that's coming out of the Senate would likely be toast. He would provide -- a Democrat would provide one more vote, would put the nail in the coffin for the tax bill, they have to rewrite it. Others might come out.
And as you say, we're up to seven women. I think that the President, it's in his personal interest to take a stand on this, knowing that he may have to pay a price, personally, knowing that it will reopen some of the old wounds. But he's got to show some courage and some moral leadership.
I think the country is looking for guidance on this. Compare this to, you know, the Republicans have now come in contact (ph) by in large, or come to the point of asking Moore to leave.
GERGEN: But look how the Democrats, the Democratic senator jumped on the Al Franken story. Twenty of them demanded an investigation. They didn't waste any time. They got right out there in front despite the fact it was might be horrible to some of them.
BURNETT: So Michelle, there are new accusers stepping forward. And so far, you know, we're referring to seven women who have spoken out against Roy Moore.
[19:10:04] The Washington Post interviewed 30 additional people who have corroborated the story for them in their first article. So that was just about the first four women, so then you had 34 people. Each person, you know, when you and others do this reporting, you're speaking all sorts of people who knew them at the time, who they spoke to at the time, right?
You have a lot of people who are coming out and putting their reputations, their honesty on the line. Moore starting to sue the woman, The Washington Post, and your site. So far, nothing has been filed. I just want to make it clear. Michelle, you're looking at this so very closely. You live there. You're talking to these people. And you believe the women, right?
MICHELLE HOLMES, ALABAMA.COM EDITORIAL BOARD: Absolutely. I think any woman who is stepping forward into this intense media scrutiny, into this intense climate of social media, abuse of death threats, even coming to some of these women, there's no reason to step into this fray unless something happened. And I fully believe, and my news organization fully believes through the reporting that we've done independently that these women are telling the truth.
BURNETT: And let me ask you, Michelle, you know, with all these accusations, right, the women coming forward, they are putting their names out there. They're coming on the record. They are unafraid of being sued, right? They're taking all these amends personal risk, which is really important for people to understand.
The President, of course, unlike many members of his own party is not calling on Moore to step out. He said in a statement that Moore should step out, if the allegations are true. Which is a real a cop out. I mean, I'm just going to call this out. It's a real cop out.
Today the White House Press Secretary was asked what proof the President needs, right. This happened in the past. So what proof does he need? Or is this just a punt. I want to play the exchange for you, Michelle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would the President like to see that truth proven?
SANDERS: Look, I'm not going get into and litigate back and forth. But the President has been clear that if any of these allegations are true -- allegations that he takes very seriously and finds troubling -- if those do happen to be true, then he should do the right thing and step aside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the President believe the accusations themselves -- that is to say the women themselves and their own credibility -- can be established outside of them making these allegations? What's the mechanism by which the President would be satisfied that the allegations are true?
SANDERS: Look, I don't think the President's laid out what the mechanisms are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Michelle, will anything be enough?
HOLMES: Well, the President's got a tricky situation right now. The number of accusers who have come out against President Trump is equally stunning and equally staggering. This is a real pivotal moment. How he responds to Roy Moore means it sets a stage for how voters and how the American public is going to expect him to vote for himself.
BURNETT: I mean --
HOLMES: Or how to respond to himself. Yes.
BURNETT: Yes. So David, that is the true question, right? And I want to play, again, the reason given over and over again by Sarah Sanders, the White House Press Secretary for why the President will not call on Moore to get out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: The President believes that these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously and he thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And just showed that poll, of course, David, you were talking about. Do you think Moore could pull a win out, right? You've got until December 12th.
GERGEN: It's hard. I think he would help himself if he were sort of a lot more of a contrition and sort of, you know, maybe I miscommunicated kind of thing. You know, I take Al Franken's statement today. It didn't totally protect him, but at least he came out and he apologized. He said I was misunderstood. I didn't mean to do this. I think the behavior was repugnant, and that sort of thing.
And we haven't heard anything like that from Roy Moore. And I do think that that would help. And I -- Listen, I just -- it's just hard for me to see the President staying silent all the way through this. In some ways, the more longer he stays silent, it's not just a dodge. But it is sort of to say, you know, I'm not going to take this too seriously. I'm going to put politics above what's right. And that's the way I'm going to play my presidency.
I think that drain some of the authority away from the President, that he ought to be on a building period and, you know. So this is -- he needs to be much tougher with himself on this, frankly.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both so very much. I appreciate it.
And next, a woman says a sitting member of Congress groped her. Take a look at this picture. This is Al Franken, currently a senator. A picture made public by the woman he is grabbing there. Republicans and Democrats claiming the senator's job is now on the line.
Plus, the GOP tax overhaul plan clears one a hurdle. But a damming new study shows taxes going up for the middle class. And a victory for big game hunters like Donald Trump's sons. They are now allowed to bring elephant heads into the United States as trophies.
[19:18:38] BURNETT: Breaking news. Accusations of sexual assault against Senator Al Franken could lead to his expulsion. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and Franken, himself, calling for an ethics investigation all days after radio host and former model Leeann Tweeden said Franken kissed and groped her without her consent while they were on a USO tour together in 2006. She also released this photo of Franken with his hands over her chest while she was sleeping. Here's what she says happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEEANN TWEEDEN, ACCUSED AL FRANKEN OF GROPING, KISSING HER IN 2006: He mashed his lips against my face and stuck his tongue in my mouth so fast. And all I can remember is that his lips were really wet and slimy and he stuck his tongue to my mouth. And I remember I pushed him off with my hands.
I just remember I almost punched him. Because every time I see him now, like my hands clench into fists. And I'm sure that's probably why. And I said, if you ever do that again, I'm not going to be so nice about it the second time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So now, we have a publicly named sitting member of Congress accused spectacular misconduct. CNN's Manu Raju is OutFront tonight. And Manu, Franken's fellow Democrats moved quickly to speak out.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes. Distancing themselves from Al Franken saying pretty clearly they support this ethics committee investigation going forward. And when I put the question to Democratic senators about whether or not they believe this could lead to the expulsion of Al Franken, they did not rule it out.
[19:20:03] SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D), NEVADA: Very disappointed. I support an ethics investigation in this kind of conduct, not be tolerated by you or any public officials.
MANU: Do you think that this could lead to his expulsion?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: I wouldn't want to prejudge anything at this point.
RAJU: You can't shut the door on expulsion?
SHELDON: Don't -- the Senate will take this up through proper procedures and we will work as well. Don't you prejudge it? And I won't prejudge it either.
RAJU: Couldn't be expelled from the Senate even.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: I think the right place to address is Ethics Committee.
RAJU: That was very rare even to expel a sitting senator. But to do so, you needed the support of two thirds of the Senate itself in order to get to that point. But right now, Democratic senators are pointing to this Ethics Committee process is the first step. And they're also doing something else. They're giving away donations that they have received from him over the years including vulnerable Democrats doing that, making sure he is not an issue on their Senate races.
And then when I want to talk to the top Democratic senator who runs the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee, Chris Van Hollen, and he suggest they are going to cut off using Al Franken as a fund raiser going forward. They were going to review his donations that have come to the committee considered giving up those donations as well. So the Franken fall really hitting Democrats very hard. And it's uncertain where this ends here, Erin
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Manu.
And OutFront now, former communications instructor for Senator Ted Cruz, Amanda Carpenter, our political editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza, and former communications director for President Obama, Jen Psaki. Jen, let me start with you. How bad is this for Senator Franken?
JEN PSAKI, FMR COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Pretty bad. I think it's not a surprise for any of us who've worked on Capitol Hill that there are incidents of sexual harassment and even worse that have happened. And obviously, what happened with Harvey Weinstein and Mark Halperin and others has really opened the door to that. There will be more with more members as we already know and staff.
But this is a scenario where when you have members of your own party already backing away from you and not ruling out expulsion, that's a very tough place to be.
AMANDA CARPENTER, FMR. COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Well, I am a little curious about the whole prospect of the Senate of its investigation. Because in my mind, what is there to investigate? You have the woman's story, who everyone appears to believe, for a good reason. You have a photo of a sitting senator groping her and he have an apology, which is admission of guilt from a senator.
So what is left to investigate unless we believe that there is more to the story or perhaps they want to extend it to others? I want clarification on that question, because in my mind, I have seen enough.
BURNETT: I mean, you know, what I mean, that's an interesting point. And fair -- I mean, he says in his statement, Al Franken, and look at the first thing I want to do is apologize, I'm sorry. There's no excuse. I look at that picture now and I'm disgusted. I'm committing to make it up to him, right? He is saying he's sorry, he is acknowledging it happened.
And Chris, his accuser, Leeann Tweeden on this issue of expulsion, she actually came out and said she doesn't want him to step down. She -- let me just play what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TWEEDEN: I've been angry about it, Jake, for over 10-year. If he did this to somebody else or if somebody else had been sexually assaulted or if they have been, you know, abused in any way, that maybe somebody else can come out in real time because they find strength in numbers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So Chris, to Amanda's point, are there going to be more women? And is that what the Ethics Committee needs or is Amanda right? I mean, look, she said he did it. He admits to doing it, so this is done.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I mean, I think, Amanda is largely right here. This is an attempt to buy Al Franken some time. You know, there -- as it relates to Leeann Tweeden, it doesn't seem like there's whole that much more we need to know, right?
CILLIZZA: We have an accusation. We have an apology, the end. The Senate Ethics Committee is not the world's most effective body, Erin. This is a place where usually ethics complaints go to die. It moves in a lot of ways like the rest of Congress, very slowly.
CILLIZZA: And so I think, Al Franken is hoping that, plus the thanksgiving recess, of people with their families focused on other things. But, if another allegation came out, if another accusation came out, I think that would be it for him. That said, it is odd that we're referring something to the Senate Ethics Committee, that there is no debate about.
CILLIZZA: There's no investigation.
BURNETT: OK. That's a fair point. But I'm also confused, Jen, because you have people I believe, Senator Collins it was, she said she didn't think if Roy Moore got elected then he could be expelled. It wouldn't happen. And in Roy Moore case, we're talking about a 14- year-old girl and others. So if it wouldn't happen in that case, yet it would happen in Al Franken's case, I mean, I don't really understand that.
PSAKI: Look, I think this is a serious moment of reckoning for members from both parties.
PSAKI: And it's not going to end. And this is really unique. Because if you look at Hollywood rarely a moral compass, and they acted very quickly, now they can be criticized and they should be for covering up allegations for decades.
[19:25:10] But look at what happened to Kevin Spacey and others. Their book contracts were ended. Their movies were canceled. Things happen very rapidly. And the word of the woman to Amanda's point was what was taken. This is not a court of law. This is about what's right and what's morally right.
And there's a big question from members right now, are you going to be the moral compass for this country or you going to delay it, or are you going to try to work around it to preserve your friendships in people -- in your number of members in the House and the Senate?
CILLIZZA: Erin, just to be clear, he is not going to be expelled. He would resign. There's no question.
BURNETT: Right. CILLIZZA: The last senator to be expelled was in 1862.
CILLIZZA: It's only happen 14 times and that was --
BURNETT: Susan Collins and more.
CARPENTER: And if there -- I will say, if there is a function at the Senate Ethics Committee, it's to see if there's a case that will build enough shame to force the senator to resign.
CARPENTER: Because rather than Ethics Committee investigation leading to expulsion and much more often leads a member to resignation.
PSAKI: But typically there was --
BURNETT: Which, of course, is what happen before -- yes, go ahead, Jen.
PSAKI: And I was going to say, typically, those conversations happen behind the scenes in any of these cases. Obviously, Roy Moore is a bit untouchable in some ways because he is not even in the Senate yet. He has no loyalty to anyone here.
Al Franken, others, have a lot of relationships. Those are relationships that could be utilized on -- from there and over the next couple of days.
CILLIZZA: I do --
BURNETT: So, Al Franken himself, you know, has spoken out about sexual assault. OK. He's spoken about it when Harvey Weinstein came up. He returned all his donations from Weinstein. And just a couple weeks ago, here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you make of the Harvey Weinstein scandal? It's been an interesting time in entertainment?
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: It's a horrible thing. It's a horrible thing. And unfortunately, sexual harassment happens in every profession. And I think that we need to do something legislatively to make it easier for women to not only go to court, but -- so that this isn't secret.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, let me ask you, obviously, the irony, OK. But, Amanda, does being sorry matter? OK. So when you look at Al Franken, so he said that. Now, he comes out today, look a picture. I look at it now, I feel disgusted with myself. At the end, he talks about women. They deserve to be heard and believed. And they deserve to know I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down. And I'm committed to making it up to them.
All right, now, who knows if there's other women and story changes. But right now, he says he's sorry. Look, at someone like, Roy Moore, who not only isn't sorry, but won't admit it even happened. Is there a difference? And do you treat someone differently because of that?
CARPENTER: Well, yes, there is a difference in Al Franken's case because there is a photo. Even when there are multiple women have talked about Roy Moore, there is no concrete evidence that you can look at other than, you know, the handwriting sample. There's no photo, audio or video. So that what makes Al Franken different.
Now, is sorry enough? Perhaps. But that have to be along with absolutely no other women coming forward at all. And he has to go through a very public, you know, talk with it. And I think he's going to have to talk to the women he kissed, at some point.
CILLIZZA: Well, and Erin, remember --
CARPENTER: And he's not up until 2020. So we have time for that.
CILLIZZA: But, Erin, just very quickly. This is -- Al Franken didn't just decide out of the goodness of his heart to address this.
CILLIZZA: And, I mean, that's the other thing, right? He apologized because this woman came out and said this happened. So -- I mean, he gets credit for apologizing, but it not --
BURNETT: He got some questions, right? Did he simply not remember it, because it was insignificant to him so he did not remember it because it happened before, with others. He did not --
BURNETT: -- or did he remember in that state and we just don't know what at this time.
CARPENTER: Well, I will say, a lot of these men don't remember the parts that could get him into possibly criminal trouble. I think there's a statute of limitations. But, you know, he remembers the groping, but not the forceable kissing. So that's a little questionable.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much all of you. And Jake's interview with Leeann Tweeden is re-airing tonight at 9:00. And OutFront next, the House passes the GOP tax reform bill. It is getting closer and closer to the law of the land. And breaking news, Jared Kushner accused of withholding crucial documents in the Russia investigation. Among the things that Kushner did not turn over, e- mails about WikiLeaks, and about a source said to be in the Trump dossier.
[19:32:06] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Tonight, a major Republican celebration. The House passing the GOP tax plan. The president happy tonight after saying the massive corporate tax cut will give you, American families, a $4,000 raise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My council of economic advisers estimates that this change, a long with a lower business tax rate, would likely give the typical American household around a $4,000 pay raise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Four thousand dollars is a lot of money and it's a specific number, at the core of Trump's sell of the tax plan.
Now, the person who gave President Trump that number is Kevin Hassett. He's the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. And he is OUTFRONT tonight.
And, Chairman Hassett, I appreciate your time.
And I want to talk about the $4,000 because it is so crucial here. But, first, I want to start with a bipartisan estimate from then Joint Committee on Taxation which came out today. It shows the Senate tax bill will raise taxes on people earning between $10,000 and $30,000 over the next four years. And within 10 years, everyone making less than $75,000 will get a tax increase.
Does that concern you? That's not acceptable I would imagine to you.
KEVIN HASSETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS CHAIRMAN: If I thought they were an accurate and accurate reflection, and, yes, sure, I would be concerned. But the fact is, if you repeal the individual mandate and you don't require people to do something, then if they choose not to do it, then it's hard to say that that's imposing a tax on it. If I'm making you do something you don't want to do and then I withdraw that, then, you know, it's not imposing an extra constraint on you. It's withdrawing one. And so, I think their analysis is just flawed on that.
The second thing that you point to, is at the end, because of the budget rules, they are letting some things expire, which they hope to extend. And that's part of the normal legislative process.
BURNETT: So, at its core, this plan is built on the belief slashing corporate taxes will create jobs and raise wages, right? I mean, that's the core of this.
BURNETT: Gary Cohn used the words trickle down when he was talking about it recently. So, the plan cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. And your analysis, this is now the famous analysis which the president keeps citing, your study here, I'm just reading the lines. You say this cut could, conservatively, increase average household income by $4,000. I mean, conservatively $4,000 a year.
Look, a lot of economists, Chairman, as you know, say this is extremely optimistic. Do you stand by that $4,000?
HASSETT: Oh, absolutely. And if you look, we put out two CEA reports, that we've looked at a massive literature, more than a hundred sites. We've estimated the effect a number of different ways and absolutely I stand by that number.
And it's important to remind the viewers where that comes from because what's happened is that, you know, the U.S., as you know, is the highest corporate tax place on earth, and the reason is --
BURNETT: Well --
HASSETT: -- in the developed world, and the reason is that everybody else has been cutting their rate, while we haven't been doing anything. And so, there's a massive amount of data where we've watched other countries reduce their corporate rates and then look to see what happens to workers.
[19:35:04] And there's a lot of literature that shows workers wages go up because companies decide to locate in a low tax country. And so, right now, we're a high tax country, our firms are locating factories offshore, increasing demand for workers offshore and driving down wages here and driving up wages over there.
BURNETT: But we're still going to be -- I mean, just on that pure reality, though, we are still going to be a high tax country. I mean, you know, you look at, Ireland raised taxes to 12-1/2 percent. Apple is, you know, supposedly putting all this money in Jersey, the Channel Islands, where they are getting zero percent.
I mean, in a world that's what you are competing with, you are not going to win, even with this.
HASSETT: Well, it's a terrific point, but you have to understand that there are a lot of good reasons to be in the United States, not just taxes.
HASSETT: And, you know, if we change the tax rates so that the U.S. is more attractive, then, you know, we have great universities, great workforce, hardworking people. You know, the infrastructure maybe even better next year after we see the president's infrastructure plan. You know, that kind of stuff will attract business back here.
And, again, if we look around the world, there have been countries all around the world that have cut their corporate tax rates and then we've seen wages go up because plants locate back in those countries.
And so, the people that dispute these numbers, you know, I don't really -- I haven't yet -- so you've heard a lot of noise since we came out with the study weeks and weeks ago. I have not seen one point that has required us to redo any calculation or withdraw anything because we're just citing peer-reviewed research. You know, one of the papers is in the American Economic Review.
HASSETT: And the peer-reviewed research says the wage is conservative at $4,000.
BURNETT: OK. That's the peer-reviewed research, but what matters is the reality on the ground, right, for the $4,000 raise to happen.
BURNETT: So, companies, for this to happen, they have to use their tax savings to invest in capital spending in their business, right? And things like wages. So --
HASSETT: That's correct. And that's what we have seen them do in the past.
HASSETT: But you're right, the fact that we've seen them do that in the past means we should expect them to do it in the future. But you don't know for sure just like a mutual fund performance, right?
BURNETT: I'm not saying that they -- I'm not saying they will because what I'm concerned about is something that happened this week and you were there for it. You and the head of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, attended a "Wall Street Journal" CEO council meeting, so the audience was business leaders. And they were asked if they would invest their tax savings and capital spending, and I want to play the exchange of Gary Cohn when the question was asked when he was sitting there, and then when the question was asked when you were sitting there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BUSSEY, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I ask you all a quick question. If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase investment, your company's investment capital investment?
Just a show of hands, if the tax reform goes through. OK. GARY COHN, CHIEF ADVISER: Why aren't the other hands up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, please raise your hand if you're planning to pick up your own pace of investment in the next year? Same people.
KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIR, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: There are two --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least 70 percent. So, the lights were bright.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HASSETT: The lights were bright, but I saw a lot of hands up.
BURNETT: OK. So, you and Gary Cohn laughed, right, but that is not -- that's a problem. If you are saying they are going to investing all this money and this is how this is going to happen, a bunch of them were just sitting in that room and they were not raising their hands. They were not all raising their hands.
I mean, Chairman, isn't that a real problem? Doesn't that make you just concerned? Because you're trying to do the right thing, but maybe you're not.
HASSETT: Well, first of all, we are going the right thing. And, second of all, there are a lot of hands up, but I didn't have time to count them all. But, for sure, if you look at the literature, when countries tried this in the past, it's increased capital formation in that country.
And even here in the U.S., if we go back and look at times in the past where we have accelerated depreciation or investment tax credits, and it's increased investment. But interestingly, if you go back and look at surveys, it's something that I did, you know, back in my academic life, that if you ask CFOs, well, are you going to respond to taxes, they very often say, no, no, we just look at economic fundamentals other than government policy. But if you look at what they actually do, they respond to taxes a lot and there's big literature that has shown that that's true.
BURNETT: OK. So, if you are going to say raising the hands isn't going to reflect what they are going to do, OK, but --
HASSETT: Well, a lot did raise their hands, though. I mean, yes.
BURNETT: More did when it was asked with you than did with Gary Cohn, because it really was kind of --
HASSETT: They have time to think about it, maybe.
BURNETT: Or they felt pressure, but it still wasn't very many. I mean, I'm just being honest, it didn't look like very many.
But to your point, OK, you are saying what they do. So, we just looked at 2004, right, the tax holiday under George W. Bush, which I know you're extremely familiar with that.
BURENTT: The takeaway then from the CRS was that $312 billion were brought home by 843 companies and they concluded that, quote, much of the repatriated earnings were used for cash flow purposes and little evidence exists of new investment was spurred.
Does that give you pause?
HASSETT: I agree with that conclusion. Yes, and let's talk about that because it helps make our case. The point is that what happened back then is that they had a repatriation holiday, but they didn't lower the corporate rate. So, we didn't give firms a reason to want to invest here. We just let them take their money home.
And so, if you think of that, it's really just almost giving free money to companies for doing nothing. Here, what we're doing is we are cutting the corporate rate to 20 percent and allowing them to bring the money home and they had a reason to want to invest it because now, we are at a 20 percent rate.
Back then, everybody wanted to invest in Ireland because it was a much, much lower rate. And our rate was the highest on earth. And not just Ireland, any EOCD country would have been lower than us.
[19:40:01] So, you got to do both. You got to let them take the money home --
HASSETT: -- and then you got to give them a reason to want to invest. This bill does that.
BURNETT: I mentioned Apple and, of course, you what they have done with, you know, a lot of reporting on this about, you know, moving for tax reasons, right? Seemingly tax arbitrage.
This week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Apple is going to bring some of its billions of dollars back, right? And they are the biggest company in this country, right? I mean, if they're bringing it home, it says a lot.
BURNETT: Here is Secretary Mnuchin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Apple is kind of the poster child of this, so, the CEO of Apple has said to me, when we go to a territorial system, they are going to bring back tens of billions of dollars. And they are committed to invest that money here.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Chairman, is there something in your plan that would force companies to do that? Right? It's one thing that they're going to say they're going to do this. But if you are betting this entire tax cut, helping the middle class and corporations, don't you need some sort of enforcement mechanism, like you better do this?
HASSSETT: Right, and that's exactly what's going on right now in the committees. And so, if you look at the president's nonnegotiables, is that we should have a 20 percent corporate tax rate, to make the U.S. competitive again. But the other thing that we're doing is having a territorial system, where we make it really hard or harder to transfer price to profits to other countries in order to avoid U.S. tax.
And so, those rules, the House has a bunch of rules, the Senate Finance Committee is working on a bunch of rules. They are a work in progress now up on the Hill. But we expect that the final bill will make it much, much harder to move money offshore in order to avoid U.S. tax, while we are making the U.S. an attractive place. And I think that both of those are an essential part of the bill.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate it, Chairman Hassett. Thank you.
HASSETT: Thanks, Erin. It's great to be here. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, breaking news crossing this moment. The special counsel, Robert Mueller, subpoenas the Trump campaign for Russia- related documents.
And big game hunters like Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric seemingly happy tonight about this. The president reversing a ban on elephant trophies from Africa.
[19:46:00] BURNETT: Breaking news, a major development at this hour regarding the Russia investigation. CNN learning that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators have issued a subpoena to President Trump's election campaign. Investigators requesting documents and e- mails from a dozen officials that include a variety of terms related to Russia.
Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT.
And, Pamela, what are you learning about what Mueller's investigators are looking for, these new search terms?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, we have learned that Robert Mueller's team has issued a subpoena to the Trump campaign for Russia-related documents, expanding the search terms. This is according to a source speaking to my colleague Gloria Borger.
The source described a sort of a clean-up subpoena. We know the Trump campaign has handed over a wealth of documents that it has already handed over to the committees. And so, apparently, Robert Mueller's team felt they needed more
information beyond what was handed over initially. And so, that is why the subpoena was handed over, we're told.
Now, the lawyer for the campaign did not respond to this. But we should note, just for context here, Robert Mueller's team has handed out lots of subpoenas throughout this investigation. And so, it's not exactly unusual that a subpoena has been issued to the Trump campaign for these additional records, but it is certainly chilling that, look, they have a lot of interest beyond what has already been handed over.
BROWN: In fact, this is such a wide subpoena. Sort of wide-ranging subpoena that the source my colleague spoke to, it could take months for them to turn over all of these documents, Erin.
BURNETT: Pam, I want to ask about the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He is again accused of with holding crucial information from Senate investigators, information that includes e-mails from WikiLeaks, a, quote, Russian back door overture and dinner invite. And a source connected to the infamous dossier. I mean, these are things that when you hear them, you think these are very relevant, very significant documents.
But Kushner did not originally disclose them.
BROWN: Right. And, in fact, there have been two document productions from Kushner side and they didn't include this sort of laundry list of documents that was released today by the Judiciary Committee. And the missing documents include these communications related to Michael Flynn, as you know, the former national security adviser, including documents about his firing and his registration as a foreign agent. It includes documents about Kushner's security clearance.
You'll recall, Erin, Kushner had to update his security clearance form three times, to include his meetings with foreign entities, including Russians. And he was widely criticized for that. Kushner's people claimed it was a clerical error, but investigators want to know more about that.
The committee also asking for an e-mail chain that we know involved Donald Trump Jr. related to his direct messages with WikiLeaks, in which Kushner did boarded on to Hope Hicks. The committee said that Kushner didn't hand it over, along with communications with Sergey Millian, a Russian businessman who was believed to be source "D" in the dossier. The committee says Kushner was copied on some of those e-mails with Millian, but hasn't turned those emails over.
So, there's really a list here that that Kushner's team is being asked to hand over. His attorney did release a statement saying they plan on, you know, continuing to work with the committees, that they have had a good working relationship and will continue to turn over documents.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Pam. I was writing down this list here, of all the things she says they want from Jared Kushner he failed to hand over.
So, I can talk to John Dean about it, former Nixon White House counsel, and Chris Cillizza is also back with me.
John, I want to ask about the list Pam just went through. But, first, these subpoenas, special counsel subpoenaing the Trump campaign for Russia documents. Obviously, you know, she said you gate lot of subpoenas, but in this one, they have basically new search terms, and large search terms. What does this tell you?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, it tells me that they are studying the material they collected. They are looking at the documents. They're analyzing them, they're cross-checking them and they're discovering things that are missing.
So, they drafted a much broader term, to collect what they think they might be missing or to double check and clean up, as was described, what they already sent out for.
[19:50:02] BURNETT: And, Chris, of course, the president, the White House, all adamant. They were not working with Russia during the campaign. How concerned should they be when you're at this point, you are getting more subpoenas for more search terms related to Russia?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: And just throw one other thing in there, Erin, how about Sarah Sanders today saying, yes, the president believes that this is conspiracy between Democrats and -- that Russia and Democrats are the ones who actually conspired together? I mean, I think they should be very concerned.
I think, you know, the Trump campaign and White House continue to operate as though this is a political problem when it is a political problem, but more importantly, it's a legal question that they face. Bob Mueller continues to move methodically along. We know Don Jr., we know Jared Kushner, obviously, we know Paul Manafort, we know George Papadopoulos, we know Carter Page, they continue to sort of move up the chain no matter what Donald Trump tweets out, no matter what Sarah Sanders says and this thing appears to be getting bigger rather than smaller.
BURNETT: And on that point, John, let me ask you about Jared Kushner, OK? His attorney says, quote, we provided the Judiciary Committee with all relevant documents that had to do with Mr. Kushner's calls, contacts or meetings with the Russians during the campaign and transition which was the request. We also informed the committee we'll be open to responding to any additional requests.
What I'm confused about, this laundry list that Pamela just went through. Emails about WikiLeaks, Russian back door invitation, a source for Trump dossier, all these email things that were forwarded or exchanged, these appear to be blatantly relevant.
DEAN: They're not only relevant, they're omitted, which is even -- it's just indicative, Erin, of the way they have responded to this investigation. They omit things in forms that are mandatory when discovery is undertaken, they don't respond fully. They get caught, they're sloppy about it. They should check this stuff themselves.
I'm surprised that Abbe Lowell let this get by, because it only looks worse for his client by not having responded fully when they say they're volunteering.
BURNETT: Abbe Lowell, of course, Jared Kushner's attorney. Chris, you know, this is a troubling pattern, you hear this with these documents now. But his national security questionnaire that Kushner has amended three times, right, he submitted it, and then first acknowledged foreign contacts were omitted. You'd think when you realize there was something wrong, you put everything on there. But no, there was another one, more than 100 calls or meetings with foreign officials got added in in subsequent revision, and then even subsequent revision, the Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Certainly when you look at this, it does look shady, right? I mean, if you really had nothing to hide, why wouldn't you put it all out there? They keep begging naivety or something.
CILLIZZA: Well, you know, you forget one time, OK. You forget two times, OK. You forget three times, OK? You know, I mean, that's -- you know, there is a narrative that builds up.
Is it possible innocent oversights or misunderstandings? They thought that Mueller wanted something and didn't give it. Sure. It's just -- the more it happens, more it looks like pattern. It doesn't take sort of a conspiracy-minded person to connect those dots.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, hunters who kill for sport now allowed to bring the heads of dead animals into the United States as trophies. Don Jr. and Eric Trump both big game hunters.
[19:57:11] BURNETT: New tonight: big game hunters like the president's sons Eric and Donald Jr. seemingly celebrating tonight. The Trump administration lifting of ban of importing body parts of African elephant parts shot for sport in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Officials suggesting the new roles helped the endangered species. But there are serious concerns.
Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My two young sons, they're hunters.
DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: We fell in love with outdoors and since then, it's been part of our lifestyle. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Trump
administration under fire for removing restrictions on importing elephant trophies, tusks and other parts from Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Africa, 33,000 elephants a year are killed for their ivory. One every 15 minutes according to wildlife experts.
President Obama put the 2014 restrictions into effect because the African elephant population was dropping dramatically.
The Trump administration's decision to reverse the ban has made big game hunters --
TRUMP: That's beautiful.
STARR: -- like the president's sons happy.
Photos of 2011 trip to Zimbabwe showed Donald Jr. holding elephant tail. Their hunt was legal. Don Jr. defended the hunt: I can assure you it was not wasteful, he posted on Twitter. Adding, the villagers were so happy for the meat which they don't often get to eat.
World outrage also sparked in 2015 when Cecil the Lion, a huge male, was killed in Zimbabwe by American big game hunter.
The Fish and Wildlife Service claimed the move now allows countries to put money gained from U.S. big game hunting into their own wildlife conservation efforts and national security concerns.
And there are national security concerns, expanded big game hunting can lead to poaching and millions in illicit revenue that facilitates corruption, weakens governments and opens the door to potential terrorism.
JENNIFER COOKE, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: There are some concerns that some of these groups may be making common cause with Islamist extremists or taking on the rubric of kind of jihad.
STARR: One part of all of this the Trump administration isn't talking very much about is that poaching is becoming so significant and question of where the money is going that some U.S. troops had recently travelled to Africa to try to help local forces there learn how to deal with poaching activity -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Barbara, thank you very much.
And thanks so much to all of you for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime anywhere on CNN Go.
John Berman is in for Anderson and "360" begins right now.