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President Trump Blasts Al Franken, Stays Silent on Roy Moore; White House Press Briefing. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 17, 2017 - 3:00   ET

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


[15:00:03]

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JAMIE JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: And they are not our friends. They are not our friends.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right.

So, you, sir, and your great colleagues at KFILE, you published this. What was it, within 24 hours, he resigned.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, SENIOR EDITOR, CNN KFILE: Yes, we published it yesterday at about 2:00 p.m. They basically gave a comment where he said, even though these comments were as recent as 2016, he said this doesn't reflect my current thinking. I have changed since I joined the administration.

But, you know, by the time I got home last night, I was eating pizza, I looked, and I saw someone report that he had resigned. And we confirmed that shortly after.

BALDWIN: Here's his statement that I guess you all got. And so he's resigned.

Your KFILE investigation revealed that he was hired by General John Kelly, right, when he helmed DHS. He's now President Trump chief of staff, as we mentioned. Does Johnson's resignation -- any potential blowback from the White House?

KACZYNSKI: We didn't get any comment from the White House.

So, initially, he was appointed to this position by Trump to work at DHS, and then it seems like Kelly promoted him to the broader, more important position in about march. And the White House has not responded to basically any questions about it.

BALDWIN: All right. OK. Andrew Kaczynski, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Top of the hour here, as we continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We are waiting for that White House daily briefing to begin. Lots to talk about on this Friday afternoon. The administration will likely be asked to explain, perhaps what we were just discussing is one question, but certainly explain the whopping double standard the president just dropped on himself via Twitter.

While he has stayed silent on whether Alabama candidate Roy Moore should get out of the race after allegations of sex abuse, the president blasted Democratic Senator Al Franken. Franken has apologized to this radio anchor after she accused him of groping and forcing her to kiss him during this USO tour back in 2006.

President Trump spoke directly to this photo right here of Al Franken. This was, as we mentioned, in '06, as he was a private citizen, but clearly doing something no man should ever do to a woman, places his hands right there while she was asleep. The woman's name, by the way, Leeann Tweeden.

So, here now is the tweet from the president of the United States. "The Al Frankenstein picture is really bad. Speaks 1,000 words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 while she sleeps?"

Now, the president has placed himself with these tweets in the exact position he's been trying to avoid, according to a source, under more scrutiny for the sex allegations made against him during his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA LEEDS, TRUMP ACCUSER: He was grabbing my breasts and trying to turn me towards him, and kissing me, and then after a bit that's when his hands started going -- I was wearing a skirt, and his hands started going towards my knee and up my skirt. And that's when I said, "I don't need this." And I got up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Hmm.

CNN White House correspondent Sara Murray in there live for us in the Briefing Room.

What -- remind us what the explanation has been thus far from the White House on the president choosing to go after Al Franken, but staying mum on Moore.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

Quite a disparity between his response when we're talking about allegations against a Democrat senator vs. allegations against a Republican Senate hopeful.

Now, earlier today, Kellyanne Conway, who is an adviser to the president, was on television and basically dismissed the Roy Moore allegations as old news and said that's why the president was not weighing in on those, but was tweeting about Al Franken. But the notion that it's old news ignores the fact that there is still

an election. Alabama voters still have to decide who their next senator is going to be. Now, to that end, sources tell us that Mitch McConnell is preparing a memo for the White House about options going forward in the Alabama Senate race.

One administration official says they expect that one of those options could be to try to press the Alabama governor to delay the election. It is unclear if that's something that Trump would be willing to do.

While he's been pretty mum on the whole Roy Moore issue, Sarah Sanders did issue a statement on behalf of the president, essentially saying, look, we want Alabama voters to make this decision for themselves. We don't want to put our finger on the scale on this.

But you can bet she is going to get many more questions about this today, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We will hear her and see her momentarily, take it live. Sara Murray, thank you so much for that from the White House for us.

We have CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston, and Karoun Demirjian, CNN political analyst as well, who is also a congressional reporter for "The Washington Post."

And so great to see both you.

And, Mark, to you first. Listen, we have been talking about the hypocritical president, right, the fact that he says one thing on Al Franken and not at all on Roy Moore.

[15:05:07]

How do they not say anything on Roy Moore today?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, a couple things.

One is, not only is it hypocritical, but let's go to the straight topic of honesty, if the president is being honest. He was pressed by reporters over in Asia to comment on Roy Moore.

He said: I don't know enough about it. I haven't watched much television.

Now, let's just pause right now. That's outrageous. Whenever the president is traveling, Brooke, the three of us know, our viewers know he's basically traveling with the full complement of the White House.

And if his aides had not told him about what was happening when he was asked about this, then they were negligent in their jobs.

Having said that, not only would he refuse to answer that question when asked on Saturday. He then referred back to the Sarah Sanders statement, again, a statement from Sarah Sanders, not from President Trump. So, as you say, when he weighs in on Al Franken today, which, by the

way, he's more than welcome to do so, there is a double standard, isn't there, where he is going after one person, but yet stepping back, for political reasons, not going after another. And that in itself is very dishonest from the president.

BALDWIN: I mean, Karoun, even the tweet, we can talk about the juvenile nature of calling him Frankenstein, albeit misspelled, and that sort of thing, and taking it to that level.

But, again, is it because you think Al Franken is a Democrat? Is this entirely political? Is this because he's apologized? Why do you think he felt like he could jump in on that, but not Roy Moore?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I can't speak for what the president's thought process was directly.

But it does seem like many Republicans were jumping on this as a way of saying, hah-hah, you, too. The GOP has been under the gun for a while with these allegations about Roy Moore. Before that, it was about President Trump.

It's been an issue where the Democrats have been trying to do claim moral ground and point a finger and say, this isn't acceptable, you can't send people like this to Washington, we won't take it. And then a Democrat ends up in pretty much the same boat.

And so it's almost like you are seeing the GOP, including the president, just this burst of relief that they have somebody to point the finger across the aisle at. Clearly, this is not one party's problem or the other. Sexual harassment, sexual assault does not really know any political limitations.

BALDWIN: Of course.

DEMIRJIAN: But it is rather -- the president does not seem to be thinking very much beyond just seeing Franken's actions in these stories when he makes those tweets, because it's very transparent. Nobody has forgotten what we were talking about a year ago, when it was women coming out and alleging the president...

BALDWIN: Isn't that a huge part of the problem? I mean, maybe file this under the not thinking part. It's like, what he has just tweeted about Al Franken further spotlights what everyone was talking about a year ago.

(CROSSTALK)

DEMIRJIAN: So it's a major blind spot, basically, for him to think that they wouldn't be readily apparent, that, you know, the person who is throwing the stones is in a glass house. Everybody knows that.

PRESTON: Brooke, if I can just add to this.

BALDWIN: Please.

PRESTON: Karen is absolutely right.

Sexual harassment, any kind of harassment, is not blind to politics -- or it is blind to politics. It's not being about a Democrat, not being about a Republican.

The difference between Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, and Donald Trump is that Mitch McConnell, when he learned what had happened, immediately condemned the actions of Roy Moore and has continued to do so.

It has been very uncomfortable for him. It puts him in a very bad situation, right?

Donald Trump hasn't done that at all. And perhaps the reason why, as you have reported and Jeff Zeleny had gotten this information the other night, is that he doesn't have the moral high ground right now.

A dozen women have accused him of doing the same thing, which, to your point of the juvenileness of how he wrote that tweet this morning.

BALDWIN: Yes.

PRESTON: Yes, Al Franken, that picture is very damning, as was the "Access Hollywood" recording that we heard during the campaign.

BALDWIN: I'm just left wondering, as we -- we replayed that "Access Hollywood" clip last hour.

And, you know, we do need to talk about the president here, as the allegations, right, all the women who came forward.

And, Karoun, I'm just wondering -- and, again, of course we can't climb into the hearts and minds of these women and how they're feeling now, but I am left wondering, they have to be paying attention.

Actually, let's go to the White House, Sarah Sanders.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good afternoon.

QUESTION: Good afternoon.

KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Afternoon.

QUESTION: Afternoon.

[15:09:34]

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yesterday, momentum continued to build behind our plan to deliver massive tax relief and job creation for the American people. The House passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and the Senate Finance Committee passed its companion tax reform bill. These were important moments as we move closer to a final vote.

In recent months, we've heard from American entrepreneurs, workers and families from every corner of our nation about how this plan will empower them to build a better life. In Pennsylvania, Suzie Schulman (ph) said that our plan will be, quote, "Incredible for me and other fixed-income retirees", end quote, because tax relief is targeted at the middle class.

In Ohio, Christina Port (ph), a small business owner who raised twins as a single mother while launching her company, said the increase in the child tax credit would help working mothers. She also said, simplifying the complex tax code would ease the burden on entrepreneurs, and allow them to devote more of their time to growing their business, rather than wrestling with their taxes.

In state after state, story after story, we've heard how our plan will profoundly improve the lives of hardworking Americans. The optimism is coming back, because with this tax plan, combined with the president's efforts to eliminate job-killing regulations, Americans feel like their goals are, once again, attainable.

It's a reminder of one of the things that made our country unique to begin with. Our people have always been able to visualize a future for themselves and their children and make it a reality. That's why it's called the American Dream, and this tax plan will make it more attainable for more of our people than ever before.

But for this to happen, we need an economic growth that makes it possible for businesses to create jobs and raise wages. So to get some perspective on how our tax plan is going to do that, I've invited Kevin Hassett, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, to join us in the briefing today. Kevin will say a few words and then take some questions, specific to this topic.

And, as always, I will come back up to take the rest of your questions after that, which I'm sure will all be on tax reform.

(LAUGHTER)

HASSETT: Yes, of course.

SANDERS: So with that, I'll turn it over to Kevin.

HASSETT: Thanks, Sarah. Thanks and it's a pleasure to be here and see so many familiar faces.

You know, last week, I had the honor of Chairing the Economic Policy Committee meeting at the OECD in Paris. And the Economic Policy Committee is one of the oldest committees at OECD and it brings together people, like the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, from countries around the OECD.

And at the meeting, they were going through the staff recommendations of the OECD for creating economic growth in countries around the world and the three main points of the staff recommendations were tax reform, infrastructure, and deregulation. That if -- if the government pursues those things, then they can produce more economic growth.

In fact, there was widespread acclaim for the president's approach towards corporate taxation, in particular, because the OECD has been calling for us to reform our corporate tax code for almost a decade. And so, the idea, right now, that this corporate tax reform is close to the finish line, is celebrated not only by us in the White House, but by people around the world who have recognized that us having a non-competitive tax code, the highest corporate tax on earth, the worldwide system that rewards companies for locating activity elsewhere is bad, not only for us, but for the world economy, because a vibrant U.S. economy is good even for -- for our friends in the OECD.

And with that, I'm -- you know, pleased to see that the House Ways and Means Committee and then the House have passed this bill, and that it's out in the Finance Committee and look forward to the Senate moving forward right after the Thanksgiving break. And I guess I -- I promise -- I'm not good at this. I don't know what the protocol is but I'll start in the front row and then work back.

QUESTION: Perfect.

HASSETT: Yes.

(LAUGHTER) HASSETT: Yes, that's right. I'm just an economist.

QUESTION: Kevin, I know you're an economist, but there is obviously a political component to -- to all of this. You've got at least six Senators up on the Hill, including Ron Johnson, saying that they can't support the bill in its current form or they have serious concerns about it. They can only afford to lose two. Are you confident that you can get this passed in the Senate or could the president run into another situation like he did with Obamacare, that he wins the House and then loses everything in the Senate?

HASSETT: Well -- well, you know, there's an old joke about economists, that there are three types, those who can count and those who can't. And it takes a while for that one to sink in. And the -- the -- the fact is that the president has supported, from the beginning, regular order because he doesn't think that we have to wait until the thing becomes law to learn what's in it, that the right thing to do is to expose the bills to scrutiny and debate.

And Senator Johnson, I -- I met with him yesterday in his office, has some serious concerns and it's appropriate, at this point, in the legislative process to bring those forward then. And, you know, I'm hopeful that people can work it out and that -- that everybody, even Democrats, will end up wanting to vote for it. And -- and -- so -- so I'm not sure about the etiquette for -- for follow-ups. So -- so -- so I'll try to limit people to one because there's a lot of hands.

QUESTION: What makes you think that trickle-down economics is going to work this time when it hasn't worked before?

HASSETT: So -- so trickle-down economics is something that, you know, I guess people who criticize the idea that taxes affect the economy will use to characterize approaches like the one that we're pursuing. But I don't think that the idea that's, you know, celebrated by even the, you know, non-partisan staff at the OECD, that if you have lower marginal rates you get economic growth, is voodoo economics or controversial at all. And -- yes, it -- I mean, the -- the fact is that countries around the world have cut their corporate rates and had broad-based reforms like we're doing on the individual side, and then seeing economic growth result.

I don't think there's anybody who thinks that you'll get no growth or negative growth for this -- maybe there are a few people. But in every economic model I've seen, you get growth, either a lot of growth or sometimes if it's a closed economy -- closed economy model, a little growth, but you get positive growth out of this. And -- and that growth will benefit workers and let's talk about that.

HASSETT: So right now, the way a U.S. firm avoids U.S. tax is they locate activity, say, in a country like Ireland instead of here. And so, if you build a plant in Ireland then you can sell the stuff back into the U.S. And when you sell the stuff back into the U.S., then it increases the trade deficit and doesn't do anything for American workers. But it does increase the demand for Irish workers and drive up their wages.

So, what the president wants to do is cut the rate to 20 percent, and build guard rails around the tax codes so the people can't transfer price everything to Ireland anymore, and if we do that, then the people who benefit will be the workers here in the U.S. who have increased demand for their jobs.

I said no follow-ups if we could help it, I'm going to go back this way and then I'm going to switch sides. I'm sorry, I don't know everybody's name.

QUESTION: One of Senator Johnson's concerns is that this bill does not do enough for medium sized and small businesses. Can you talk about what the bill does do for medium sized and small businesses?

HASSETT: Sure. And -- and the fact is, that I want to remind everybody that the president has really three main non-negotiables for this bill. That there's a 20 percent corporate tax rate, that there's a big middle class tax cut and that the bill simplifies the tax code. And, we believe, after analyzing the progress at the Hill, that both approaches satisfy the three main objectives. So the question then is, moving forward, what do they do about pass-through entities, what do they do about this, what do they do about that? And we at the White House don't want to get ahead of that process.

The president supports regular order because that's really how deals get made and how bills become law. The fact is, it's urgent that we get a 20 percent rate for America's workers, and it's urgent that we get a middle class tax cut for America's workers and the details about, like, exactly when the small business things kick in and out, are things that we're watching them work out up on the Hill.

And we encourage them to pursue regular order because they need to listen to everybody and get the votes they need to make this law. I'll go to the lady right there. I'm sorry.

QUESTION: One of the major differences between the House and Senate bill is the elimination of the non-taxable tuition waivers. So, while they're trying to reconcile their differences on that tax reform bill, what do you foresee, which could potentially move this tax burden to a lot of young Americans?

HASSETT: That's the kind of detail that we're letting Congress work out. The fact is that they're finding the coalitions that they need to pass the bills in the House and the Senate, and we support that process. We support regular order, we support the transparency of this leading debate about issues like this. Sorry, now I said I'd come over here. Yeah, hi.

QUESTION: Kevin, thank you for being here. On one of your TV appearances yesterday, you said that an average family, when this is all said and done, could accumulate a savings benefit of $4000. That's a lot of money. Can you walk us through that?

HASSETT: Sure. And in too, for those of you -- and I see some nerdy looking people out there, so I'm sure that there's people that want to do this, that -- we've got two C.A. reports that go through this in gory detail. And the fact is, that you can get to numbers like that four different ways, I won't try to do that now in the limited time that we have. But the basic idea is that, back when we increased our corporate tax rate from 34 to 35 percent, we were kind of in the middle of the pack of OECD nations.

Subsequently, what happened was that countries around the world found that when they cut the corporate tax, that their economic activity increased and the welfare of their workers improved. And then they very often did it again, a typical country, since our tax increases, cut its corporate two or maybe even three times, and for economists what that does is it gives us enormous amounts of data to analyze, because there are countries that change the rate and countries that don't, and you can compare the experiences of those two types of countries.

There's a big peer-reviewed literature that looks at that, including a paper that's about -- by a German economist, that's about to come out in the American Economic Review, and what we do is, we go through all those papers and we have charts that show, well, if this paper's true, what wage effect you get. And most of the action is well north of $4000, and that's where the number comes from.

I'll go in the middle with the orange tie?

QUESTION: One of the criticisms, Kevin, of the tax reform proposal, is that the corporate tax rate is cut permanently. The individual tax rate phases out after 10 years. Why, in your view, is that such a good idea?

HASSETT: So the president supports permanent tax cuts for the middle class and permanent tax cuts for corporations and that's certainly the objective of planners of this tax bill.

But there are also -- but there are also, you know, Senate budget rules and reconciliation rules that are required to allow this bill to move forward with 51 votes. Of course the hope for everybody is that that, you know, when the time comes to these things to expire that they get extended, as happens, you know, I might add, even for the top marginal rate when President Obama came into office, and so they extended most of the Bush tax cuts. But even the top rate at the beginning which, interestingly, they must have done because they knew that if you were to increase the top marginal tax rate during a recession that it would be very harmful for the economy.

So back then there was bipartisan support for the idea that you should not lift the top marginal rate. And so there should be bipartisan support. There'd be economic growth effects of bringing it down right now.

I'll go back down into the middle there.

QUESTION: Hi (inaudible) One American (ph) News.

The two bills are different in that the House bill repeals or does away with the estate tax and the Senate doesn't. And I know that was a big point for the administration, and Vice President Pence has voiced his support for repealing the death tax as they call it. What are your thoughts on that, and do you think a final bill will include a repeal of it.

HASSETT: I think that, again, that's one of the things that the Senate and House are working out.

I know that the president very strongly favors the elimination of the death tax, and if that is in the final bill I am sure that he will be happy about that, but he's listed his nonnegotiables and those nonnegotiables I cited at the beginning.

I'll go back to the far back (ph).

QUESTION: Thank you, Kevin. I appreciate it.

Can you talk about this moment earlier in the week at the Wall Street Journal event? Gary Cohn was on stage and the moderator asked a group of CEOs if tax reform passes who here is going to increase their investment, and only a couple of hands went up in the room.

Gary Cohn said, why aren't there more hands going up. Can you answer that question? I mean, why aren't there more hands going up in a room like that (ph)? You would assume the CEOs would say, yes, in fact we are going to invest more if tax reform passes. Is the administration missing something there?

HASSETT: So, that's a great question. And I went on a little bit after Gary Cohn, and when they asked that question it was kind of hard for me, because here there are really bright lights, but even brighter there, and so I couldn't quite see how many hands there were. But when I was there it looked like maybe half the hands went up. And I think if you go back and look that it could be that people had time to think about it.

But as an economist if I go back and look at the academic literature, very often people survey CFOs, and they say, hey, if we changed the tax code, would you guys do anything? And they tend to always answer no in surveys.

But if you look at the hard evidence about what they do, imagine if they didn't respond to taxes, then they wouldn't be pursuing their fiduciary duty to maximize profits for their shareholders. And so it would be totally irrational for them to do that. And firms that did act rationally in response to the tax code would put them out of business by taking advantage of the tax code.

And so, the point is the hard evidence is that people do respond. In fact one of my very, very first papers that I ever wrote when I got out of grad school is at the Brookings Papers, where we looked at the 1986 Tax Act, the changes that it made to the business tax code and how it affected investment, and there were very large effects.

Right here in the front, yes?

QUESTION: Yes, yes. Gene Sperling, who was once in your position in another administration, says that this tax plan (inaudible) historic plus $1.5 trillion (inaudible) it's a deficit hole (ph). And he says that basically -- this is in a tweet. I'm just paraphrasing his tweet. He says, it basically doesn't justify that cost for a one hundred million households for a tax increase.

HASSETT: Well, you know, I respect Gene a great deal and consider him a friend, and I disagree with him about that, and I'm sure we'll, at some point, to -- a chance to talk about that.

But here's the way I think about it and what I would say to Gene if he was here, that if you look at the Joint Tax Committee score, in the 10th year they say that the tax bill cost about $170 billion. If you look at the CBO projection to GDP, then in the 10th year GDP is about $28 trillion. And so, the amount of deficit that you're talking relative to GDP in the 10th year is only 0.6 percent. It doesn't take a heck of a lot of economic growth to cover that hole by the tenth year.

And so the idea that -- that right now we have the highest corporate tax on earth generating almost no revenue because people avoid the tax by moving factories to Ireland, that if we fix that, if we repair it and make the U.S. an attractive place again that it's going to blow a hole in the deficit, it's just -- it's just not economically rational.

And I know that the Joint Tax Committee score says what it says and I respect the professionalism of that staff, but the fact is that -- that the OECD has a study, which we'd be able to e-mail you, that says that the U.S. and the corporate tax base is on the wrong side of the Laffer Curve, that we've got such a high corporate tax rate that we're chasing business offshore and losing revenue.

And so the idea that this blows a hole in the deficit I think is just incorrect.

I'll go to purple tie -- the -- yeah.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) want to pick up where, John (ph), right in front of me, left off when he asked about the phase out of the individual side. You're an economist, however you -- the two answers that you gave were both political. One, there is reconciliation rules, and two, hopefully politicians down the lines solve it.

But, like I mentioned, you're an economist so can you not make an economic argument as to why this is good, economically, for people?

HASSETT: Oh, is it good for things to expire?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) is there an economic argument as to why this is good for the country, as it stands right now, to expire within eight years or so? HASSETT: If -- if you lower marginal tax rates, broaden the base, lower rates, get the middle class a tax cut. If you cut the corporate rate -- if you do any of those things they're positive for economic growth, and they're less positive for growth if they expire.

Expensing is kind of a strange thing, in the sense that if you have expensing for a year, if you go back and look at U.S. history, very often in recessions they'll put in expensing for a year to try to stimulate the economy.

When expensing expires it could actually have a short-run stimulus, because people try to buy capital before the thing goes away. But for the most part, permanent tax cuts are far more impactful than things that expire, which is why, if you go back and look at the Obama administration, when they were here during -- during the beginning of the great recession they even extended the Bush tax cuts at the top (ph), because they understood this.

Right -- can I go right here and then I'll come to you. And then that might be the last one because Sarah's standing here (ph).

QUESTION: I actually want to follow up on -- on that.

HASSETT: OK. Sure.

QUESTION: So you all made a value judgment to make the corporate tax cuts permanent and to make the individual tax cuts expire, even though you want all of them to be permanent. What's the -- what's the rational for having corporations have that certainty of knowing that they don't worry about what's going to happen in Washington while families are going to have to worry about what politicians do six, seven years from now (ph)?

HASSETT: Sure, sure, well those are the kinds of things that are being worked out by Congress in order to create a bill that under, you know, Senate and House rules can become law. And the non-negotiables for us are both met in both bills, and we consider that good news, but -- but, you know, the -- the choices that the Senate has to make in order to acquire a coalition to make this law are choices that the Senate has to make, and we don't want to get in front of that process.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) key values (ph) one way or the other, whether corporate tax cuts versus...

HASSETT: I -- I think tax cuts that are permanent, of course, will have -- have larger positive effects. Andrew (ph), I'll give you the last.

QUESTION: Kevin, you've melded politics and economics here quite successfully. And I want to ask you a political and economic question. You've talked about growth covering what the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Tax Committee say could be a deficit hole, a deficit implication of $1.5 billion. That is going to be measurable over time. There's going to be a means by which, either dynamic scoring or static scoring answers that question. And, since it's on the mind of some of your undecided Republican senators, is this administration willing to commit to a review five years in to see if the growth models hold -- are held along your lines, and the deficit implications aren't as large, or if they aren't, to reassess these tax cuts in order not to blow a hole in the deficit?

HASSETT: You know, the -- I have not discussed with the president, I don't think Sarah has, you know, what we're willing to commit to in terms of what we do five years from now. But I can talk...

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

HASSETT: ... but let me -- let me talk about what we can be clear about today, which is that, as the president came into office, you know, the president's opponents were saying that 2 percent growth was inevitable, that we're stuck in a secular stagnation, that the president's policies couldn't deliver 3 percent growth, and that -- that it was a cockamamie idea that -- to assert it.

We've had two quarters in a row of 3 percent growth. If you look at the fourth quarter data it's suggesting, at the Atlanta Fed GDPNow, which is about 3.2 as of yesterday. So it's saying that we're growing at 3 percent. If we take that momentum into next year and add a tax cut, then we're quite confident that one should be able to expect sustained growth at that level or above.

And with that, I think I have to hand it back to Sarah. Thank you so much, for being (ph) so gracious with your questions.

SANDERS: Thanks, Kevin.

HASSETT: Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you, Kevin.

Major, he's right, I haven't spoken to the president about that, but I do appreciate that you know that the president will still be here in five years. So, I like that vote of confidence, that you would know that we will be here to take that review and we'll be sure to raise that with him.

Go back here.

QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.

I have a non-Roy Moore question for you. Can you say definitively -- I want to ask you about the Lebanese -- Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri. Can you see definitively from this podium that he has been not -- not been held hostage by the Saudis? And does the president span -- plan to speak to Prime Minister Hariri at all? SANDERS: I'm not aware of any anticipated conversations. That's something I'd have to check on and get back to you. And I don't have any further comment beyond that at this point right now. And I would refer you to the State Department on specifics though.

Cecilia (ph).

QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.

Do you think if (ph) it's fair to investigate Al Franken and the allegation made by his accuser, is it also fair to investigate this president and the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by more than a dozen women?

SANDERS: Look, I think that this was covered pretty extensively during the campaign. We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.

QUESTION: But how is this different?

SANDERS: I think in one case specifically, Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction.

Major?

QUESTION: So I want to revisit something we discussed yesterday. You said one of the ways that Alabama voters might be able to figure out if these allegations against Roy Moore are true is in the court of law. That's a direct quote from you. There's no criminal means by which that can happen. So were you suggesting that Roy Moore sue the accusers in order to hash this out in court?

SANDERS: I -- I -- I'm -- that's would be something that I would refer to him to make that decision.

[15:30:00]

That's not something that I would be able to advise him on.