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Senator Franken Accused of Forcibly Kissing Woman, Groping Her; Franken, Moore Allegations Revive Trump Accusations; Moore: McConnell & His Cronies Trying to Steal Election; GOP House Passes Tax Plan; Russia Investigation. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 19, 2017 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:34] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): A sitting senator, a disturbing photo and a very public accusation after sexual harassment.

LEEANN TWEEDEN, NEWS ANCHOR: He just mashes his mouth to my -- to my lips. He puts his tongue in my mouth. I was so angry I was in disbelief.

HENDERSON: And President Trump's selective silence. Why he's staying quiet on Roy Moore as the embattled Senate candidate says he's staying put.

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: 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.

HENDERSON: And a House victory for the GOP tax plan.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We've got a long road ahead of us. This is a very, very big milestone in that long road.

HENDERSON: The hurdles Senate Republicans face and why Obamacare is in the mix again.

INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


HENDERSON: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia-Malika Henderson. John King has the day off.

To our viewers nationwide and around the world, thanks for spending your Sunday with us.

Sexual assault allegations hit Congress as one of their own, a current sitting senator is accused. The incident involving Democratic Senator Al Franken reverberating at the White House as past allegations against President Trump resurface. The Franken claims date back to 2006. His accuser, Leeann Tweeden, a radio broadcaster who was on a USO tour with Franken two years before he was elected. She says he forcibly kissed her during a skit rehearsal and also

groped her.


TWEEDEN: He just mashes his mouth to my -- to my lips and you know, it was like wet and he puts his tongue in my mouth and, you know, my reaction, it was just sort of a -- you know, I push his chest away with my hands.


HENDERSON: She also released a photo from that USO tour of Franken with his hands over her breasts while she was sleeping. Tweeden describes her reaction when she first saw that reaction.


TWEEDEN: It's just that mentality that he thought he could get away with it and that it was funny and that it's funny that you can grab someone's breasts while they're sleeping. When I opened that photo when I got home, it was embarrassing. I felt belittled. I was ashamed.


HENDERSON: The Senate majority and minority leaders are both calling for an ethics investigation. Tweeden says she isn't asking for him to resign. His fate will be up to the people of Minnesota, she says, but she did ask for an apology.

In his second statement, Franken did in fact apologize saying, I'm sorry. I respect women. I don't respect men who don't and the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed. While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences. I'm asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken and I will gladly cooperate.

Roughly 12 hours after Tweeden went public, this from President Trump: The Al Frankenstein picture is really bad. It speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 while she sleeps? And to think just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape?

Here to share the reporting and their insights, "Politico's" Eliana Johnson, Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post", Michael Shear of "The New York Times" and "Politico's" Rachael Bade.

Rachel, we're going to -- we'll talk about Donald Trump later in this segment, but first I want to focus on Franken. Some people pointing out that he in fact didn't really apologize. He hasn't necessarily admitted to some of the claims that Leeann Tweeden is making in terms of his behavior during that skit rehearsal. What happened on the Hill this week? What was the mood like? What

were people feeling and saying in the hallways of Congress once this thing landed?

RACHAEL BADE, REPORTER, POLITICO: It's definitely rocked Capitol Hill which I think is at a crossroads about how they're going to handle sexual harassment going forward. For a long time, Capitol Hill has been sort of known as this like boys' club. A lot of members are men, there's a lot of young female staffers, and there's sort of this shroud of secrecy over the Hill where people don't come out and talk about these things.

Congress is not like a company. There's no HR department. Until recently, there was no sexual harassment training. No office that investigates complaints.

And so, this was really not talked about.

[08:05:00] People just moved from job to job if they felt like they were threatened and these people were never exposed. So, now, some folks are hoping that you know, this is the dawn of a new day. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan are now mandating sexual harassment training. There's talk of overhauling this office that deals with sexual harassment complaints that sort of seen as toothless right now.

And now, of course, a senator is being named --


BADE: -- specifically, but a lot of people are still afraid to come forward. I've talked to many women who have stories about various lawmakers and they don't want to name them.


And, Karoun, Representative Debbie Dingell, a lot of people have said, oh, this is a watershed moment, you talk about changing on the Hill, Representative Dingell says no. She doesn't necessarily see a watershed moment on this. A lot of Democrats I talked to in terms of the Franken charges are wondering, is there more? What's next for him?

What are you hearing from your sources on the Hill?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, I think that the watershed part of it, such as a day as this, was the realization this week that this is not one party's problem or the other one, because Democrats have been focusing very hard on Roy Moore and on President Trump, and other Republicans and had to look in the mirror this week and say, OK, one of our own too. This is not a sexual assault, it's no one party or the other. So, that's been kind of the realization watershed.

But yes, in terms of this being a watershed moment where, all of a sudden, everybody is going to embrace every woman that comes forward, no, you have the fear that somebody's going to try to take advantage of this, to try to throw a political bombshell that's not true and thus discredit and make it more difficult for women who have suffered actual harassment and assault to actually be believed in the future, but that's probably coming at some point in the next political cycle.

And then also, you have this thing which is that no one is really talking about themselves yet. Whether it's media, whether it's politics, people are reporting on what's happening other places.

HENDERSON: There's not a lot of deflection --

DEMIRJIAN: I think the one exception is NPR this week because they've had that very high profile resignation, but they've been reporting on their own stories of who else in the organization has been a problem as well. But most places, you do not see Congress saying, hey, we are going to disclose this because we feel like it. Most of the organizations, same deal. So, this is not like it's a sea change.

HENDERSON: It's not a systemic societal change.

ELIANA JOHNSON, REPORTER, POLITICO: You hope, though, in terms of politics, is that this has a sanitizing effect in that I think both parties are being forced to confront the hypocrisy in their ranks with Republicans, you see Christian conservatives who claim to be sort of moral segment of society being forced to confront the fact that many of them are standing by Roy Moore when there are a series of young women who have come out against him.

At the same time, we see Democrats who have for decades claimed to be the champions of women, of women's rights, abortion rights, access to birth control reckoning with their history of standing by President Bill Clinton. We've seen a lot of that, and I do think that it's good for both party to have to reckon with their history of -- on these issues.

HENDERSON: And a lot of people, Donald Trump obviously weighed in on this. We remember this, a very disturbing tape released last year from "Access Hollywood". Here it is.


DONALD TRUMP, THEN-REALITY STAR: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.


HENDERSON: Now, Donald Trump leaned in to this. He went after Franken. Some people surprised that he did this, but this is a president who likes to go on the attack even if in some ways it puts his own record up for examination. MICHAEL SHEAR, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. I think it --

the thing that surprised Washington about that Franken tweet that you showed before was the fact that, you know, most political consultants would tell their, you know, their client, you know, the last thing you want to do is give CNN reason to run that tape again.

I mean, you know, and -- you know, I think the president -- there's a lot of people out in the country who are not fans of the president who think that he, you know, got -- you know, was elected despite all of the charges. It wasn't just that tape. It was a series of women that came forward during the campaign to accuse him of a lot of the same kinds of things that other people are being accused of now and there is a sense that he never fully, you know, had to confront those charges and the fact that he -- now, maybe it was inevitable that in this period in Washington that you know, those questions were going to be raised again about him and his accusers but the fact that he sort of invited it and said, come on, you know, bring it on was pretty striking and surprising even for him.

HENDERSON: And Sarah Huckabee Sanders at a briefing, she essentially said that Senator Franken has admitted wrong doing and the president hasn't and she thinks there's a very clear distinction. That was her reaction, the comparison between Franken and the president.

You talked about the reckoning. Right? President Trump reckoning and of course Hillary Clinton or bill Clinton reckoning and Democrats president hasn't and she thinks there's a very clear distinction. That was her reaction, the comparison between Franken and the president.

[08:10:01] You talked about, Eliana, the reckoning, right? President Trump reckoning and, of course, Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton reckoning and Democrats having to come to terms with that.

Here was Kirsten Gillibrand, a senator from New York, weighing in on Bill Clinton.


REPORTER: Is it your view that the President Clinton should have stepped down at the time given the allegations?

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I would -- yes. I think that is the appropriate response, but I think things have changed today and I think under those circumstances, there should be a very different reaction, and I think in later this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump and a very different conversation about allegations against him.


HENDERSON: Rachael, your take on that?

BADE: I think, you know, clearly some soul searching is going on and definitely merited at this point in time. I think that Democrats are having to look back at Bill Clinton not only just what they thought about him, whether he should step down, but also, you know, how Monica Lewinsky was treated, the victims were treated.

HENDERSON: Right. Juanita Broaddrick.

BADE: But interesting -- right, exactly. So -- but juxtapose that with the president and how he's treating Moore right now. I mean, it's not only awkward because he has his own past but, you know, he's attacking Al Franken and saying nothing about Roy Moore right now, when, of course, all these women are coming out. We hear more and more stories every day and it looks like he has made this calculation that the base is still with Roy Moore.


BADE: We're still weeks away from the election. He could be coming to Washington and he doesn't want to alienate him.

HENDERSON: And we'll talk about that up next. Roy Moore's messaging. The controversial Senate candidate comes on with character witnesses. How the allegations are playing out in Alabama.

But first, politicians say the darndest things with "SNL's" version of Jeff Sessions who's dropping a beat.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I say I do not, you say, recall! I do not!

CROWD: Recall!


CROWD: Recall!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm asking questions. Do you think you can answer them truthfully?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you just say yeb?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you meet with any Trump surrogates about Russia?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I -- I -- I do not recall. You know I recall.



[08:16:43] HENDERSON: Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has a message for establishment Republicans. He's not going anywhere.

Moore is facing allegations from eight different women. He's accused of sexual misconduct, pursuing relationships with teens and allegedly assaulting some young women in the past. He denies any wrongdoing.

His campaign says the claims have boosted his campaign coffers and energized the grassroots. His camp also says the allegations are a highly coordinated political attack mounted by D.C. establishment types who are out to get the former judge who's a fire brand culture warrior.


R. MOORE: This is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama and I will not stand for it. I want to tell you who needs to step down. That's Mitch McConnell.



HENDERSON: Moore's wife doubled down on that, saying attacks from Washington won't impact Alabama.


KAYLA MOORE, WIFE OF ROY MOORE: To the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are. I have been married to my husband Judge Roy Moore for over 32 years. He was a graduate of West Point, he served our country in Vietnam, and he has always been an officer and a gentleman.

After all the attacks against me, against my family, against the foundation and now against my husband, he will not step down.


HENDERSON: Now, we've gotten -- the editorial board from has weighed in on this and here's what they had to say.

Do not let this conversation be muddled. This election has become a referendum on whether we will accept this kind of behavior from our leaders. Do not make your voting decision based on who it will affect on a national stage. Vote based on who it will affect in your own hometown.

There is only one candidate left in this race who has proven worthy of the task of representing Alabama. He is Doug Jones.

Eliana, you've been covering this. Mitch McConnell seems to be running out of options here. The Sessions write-in candidacy doesn't seem like it's going to happen, no help from the governor there either.

What next from Republicans who don't want Roy Moore in the Senate?

JOHNSON: I think that editorial gets to the heart of it in that the narrative that's overlaid on the accusations, this race has become much more than Roy Moore versus his accusers. It's really become the establishment versus Roy Moore and that's been very damaging because people in Alabama, conservatives in Alabama side with Roy Moore.

And Mitch McConnell is running out of options here. He and his team are preparing a memo for White House chief of staff John Kelly laying out the legal options, which range from a write-in candidacy, to potential expulsion from the Senate if Roy Moore wins, but that looks increasingly unlikely.


JOHNSON: He's down eight points in the latest Fox News poll and what we're seeing is that the White House really feels that all of the options laid out by McConnell which they're hoping to get the president to publicly back are fanciful and they want to keep the president out of this. So, it really does look like Mitch McConnell has a series of lose, lose, lose options.

[08:20:01] HENDERSON: And I mean, seeing why this is so hard, your paper has broken this story. There was word from a new accuser this past week.

Here's what she had to say. She was summoned to the principal's office over the intercom in her classroom. She had a phone call.

I said, hello, Richardson recall. And the male on the other line said, Gina, this is Roy Moore. I was like what? He said what are you doing? I said, I'm in trig class.

Karoun, that is why these details from your paper, the reporters there, so damning for his candidacy.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, it's not just cruising the mall for, you know, teenagers which is suspect in the first place, but when you're going to their high school or calling them at their high school to pick them up maybe that should be setting off a pause button in your house. I think that's the x-factor about all of this.


DEMIRIJIAN: For a lot of people.

You know, even if it's -- they're going to have arguments about, you know, legal ages of consent and how mature is a 14-year-old, there's something about going to a high school hit on -- to try to ask somebody out and then there was that -- that same woman, you know, is one of the people that is alleged he forced himself on her in a way she didn't want to happen in the car.

So, if the allegations keep coming, we are just kind of getting into a stalemate situation right here that doesn't seem like it's going to shift that much for the next few weeks except for in the poll numbers, right?

HENDERSON: Right, and we've seen some of that --

(CROSSTALK) DEMIRJIAN: He's pulling these character witnesses who are also starting the side conversation about how anti-LBGT and they're backing him up and Roy Moore has established himself as this central figure.

HENDERSON: Very popular with evangelicals.

DEMIRJIAN: I mean, it's almost religious in its character, right? I mean, because this is the sort of struggle that he is trying to play, but is he going to die before he gets to the end of that story or is he going to see it through?

HENDERSON: And this is way it's landing.

JOHNSON: One would hope that one's wife would stand by -- would stand by him.

HENDERSON: It's appropriate (ph) CNN politics certainly. And this is the way it's landing on Alabama voter here weighing in on this race.


HENRY LITTLEJOHN, ALABAMA VOTER: I don't know for sure if I will vote or not, but I probably, if I vote, I won't vote for the Republican Party. I don't see no reason why that these women should be lying about anything or, you know, I just don't -- I just don't trust him. People with power.

REPORTER: Why will you vote for Roy Moore if you think these women are telling the truth?

LITTLEJOHN: Well, because I want the Republican Party to, you know, our agenda and everything about getting it changed and everything.


HENDERSON: And the polling that we've seen so far, it looks like Jones is up -- Jones is the Democratic candidate there, 50 percent to 42 percent. It was tied a few months ago. A lot of people skeptical about that poll. Your face showing that skepticism.

SHEAR: I'm skeptical too. But I just don't think in the kind of environment that we're in, I'm not sure that I trust what people tell pollsters, you know? So, I would -- I would wonder about that. I -- you know, Mitch McConnell's best hope may be that some of these people stay home, right, that they don't come out to actively vote for Democrats but that they are discouraged enough to stay home and somehow that keeps Roy Moore out of the Senate, if that's what Mitch McConnell hopes for.

I think the really striking thing here to go back sort of to the first segment, was, you know, this is a time when you're dealing with a scandal like this that you in past administrations the president would be taking the lead, right? The president would be setting the agenda. The president would be talking about strategy and what needs to be done and he is, you know, frozen essentially both politically because there's problems for him politically that we've discussed, but also the sort of whole socially thing with his --

HENDERSON: His base and evangelicals, it's the same --


SHEAR: His base, his background and the women and everything else sort of freezes him out of this, so that you have you have a situation in Washington where there's a real vacuum of political leadership as --


JOHNSON: I also think this is a situation where the White House is rightly assessed the involvement by Washington politicians has a galvanizing effect in the opposite way on Republican Alabama voters, and that the White House may be right, that staying out of this is the best thing to do and McConnell may have miscalculated in this --

HENDERSON: Democrats certainly want to stay out of it and not nationalize it. Up next, senators in a shouting match over the GOP tax plan. How the exchange went from policy to personal.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I get kind of sick and tired of it. True, it's a nice political play.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Well, Mr. Chairman, with all due respect I get sick and tired of the richest getting richer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regular order, Mr. Chairman. Regular order --


BROWN: We do a tax --


HATCH: Wait a minute.




[08:29:20] HENDERSON: Republicans in the House have a win in their column. They just passed their tax plan and here is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan taking his deserved victory lap.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is about giving hardworking taxpayers bigger paychecks, more take home pay. This is all given those families who are struggling peace of mind. It's about getting this economy to grow faster so we get bigger wages, more jobs and we put America in the driver's seat in the global economy once again.


[08:29:48] HENDERSON: GOP leaders are hoping this can be their big legislative win after failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and President Trump, he says that Republicans want tax cuts as a big and beautiful Christmas present for Americans.

But several Republicans are voicing doubts about their very different Senate plan which includes dissolving the Obamacare individual mandate and bipartisan tempers flared, of course they did. And the finance committee debated the bill on Thursday night.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH), SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: It would be nice just tonight before we go home to just acknowledge, well, this tax cut really is not for the middle class. It's for the rich.

And that whole thing about higher wages, well it's a good selling point but we know companies don't just give away higher wages.

SENATOR ORRIN HATCH (R-UT), SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I've been here working my whole second career for people who don't have a chance. And I really resent anybody saying that I'm just doing this for the rich. Give me a break.

BROWN: Well, Mr. Chairman --

HATCH: It's not true.

BROWN: With all due respect, I get sick and tired of the richest getting richer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regular order, Mr. Chairman. Regular order. Order

BROWN: We do a tax --


HATCH: Wait a minute.


BROWN: And over and over again. How many times do we do this before we learn this?

HATCH: Listen, I've honored you by allowing to spout off here. And what you said was not right. That's all I'm saying. I come from the lower middle class originally. We didn't have anything. So don't spew that stuff on me. I get a little tired of that crap.


HENDERSON: That is congressional beef.

Rachael -- I want to ask you, I mean this is essentially going to be the argument about this tax plan for the next coming days and into the next year or so if it in fact passes.

Who's got the better side of the argument --


HENDERSON: -- where Democrats and where are Republicans in this fight?

BADE: So just to comment on that clip, it's particularly interesting because Senator Orrin Hatch is considered one of the sweetest and kindest senators. He rarely raises his voice. He writes poetry.

HENDERSON: Yes. And there he was --

BADE: He has this reputation of being mellow and here he is getting angry --


BADE: -- but it highlights how toxic this accusation from the Democrats that the tax bill is going to only benefit the wealthy is rich for Republicans because they are really trying to sell us this middle class tax reduction.


BADE: The problem here is that the tax cuts for individuals expire in 2025 so if you score them, basically they're not going to get as big of a benefit as say corporations are going to see, which are seeing their taxes reduced permanently.

Adding the individual mandate to -- a repeal of the individual mandate to this bill also arouses the far left's ire because they obviously are going to rally to try to protect Obamacare --


BADE: -- so this makes it even more toxic for them. It's going to be brutal.

HENDERSON: Speaking of the far left, here is what Chuck Schumer said about trying to strip out that Obamacare mandate.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Republicans decided to throw the mother of all monkey wrenches into the bill -- repealing the individual mandate. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said it would lead to 13 million fewer Americans without insurance. So we're kicking 13 million people off health insurance to give tax cuts to the wealthy.


HENDERSON: Karoun -- there's Schumer with his take on it and you hear this obviously from other Democrats. This isn't exactly the populist plan that President Trump in some ways promised on the campaign trail.

KAROUN DEMINJIAN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": No, but this is exactly -- when you're looking at this latest twist, right, of repealing the individual mandate it's a perfect example of what they're trying to cater to, right, because it gives them more money to put towards the tax bill, it's supposed to balloon the deficit, right.

By repealing the individual mandate, you bring the government's costs down somewhat so that actually appeases the people in the GOP who are more concerned about raising the deficit than anything. But it certainly alienates the Democrats and potentially moderate Republicans even more than they might have been before because you've basically, you know, instituted something that is going to kick up overall costs for the middle class even if it's not necessarily pure taxes. And like you said, those are only short term as well.

But even if you can make the argument on taxes, if your bottom line is you are paying more out of your pocket because you now have to cover more health insurance costs because you're not getting that subsidy --


DEMIRJIAN: -- that's your bottom line right there.

HENDERSON: And there are actually two plans, of course -- one out of the Senate, one out of the House. And here are the differences. The one in the Senate eliminate -- it eliminates medical in the House, the Senate keeps it. The House eliminates student loans right off, the Senate keeps it. And there's also --


HENDERSON: -- yes. And there's also concerns from Republicans about the elimination of the SALT deductions, state and local tax deductions. And you saw some problems out of the House with that with 13 moderate folks from blue states voting no out of the House.

MICHAEL SHEAR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. This -- I mean this is what happens in every tax fight. It is incredibly complicated. There are -- for everything that you do that makes one group of people a winner, it makes another group of people a loser.


[08:35:01] SHEAR: Part of the reason that you had that fight erupt, or that you can have that kind of fight erupt, is because everybody has ammunition, right. There are ways that you can -- that the Republicans can just -- can point to, you know, parts of the bill that do certain things for --


SHEAR: -- members of the middle class. There's ways that Sherrod Brown can point to things that are solely for the rich.

And what's striking is that the President has and Republicans long called for this simplification. You're going to be able to see everything on --

HENDERSON: On an index card, yes.

SHEAR: -- an index card and file your taxes that way and yet there was an article I read this morning that talked about how like the thing that all of these, you know, kind of lawyers and doctors and insurance executives and people who have these, they're all running to their tax advisors to like, you know, design --

HENDERSON: Figure out what it's going to --

SHEAR: -- complicated new plans to figure out how to deal with all this because it is going to be more complicated.

HENDERSON: And individually, at least the Senate GOP tax plan, it will mean cuts as you were talking about before -- Rachael. In 2019, all incomes will get a tax cut; 2021 some groups will get a tax hike between $10,000 and $30,000; 2027, a tax hike if you're between $10,000 and $75,000.

Eliana -- we saw the President engage in this in a way that he hadn't been before, certainly not with health care.

ELIANA JOHNSON, "POLITICO": That's true, but though I have to say that if you're a smart Republican, you want to be talking about the aspects of this plan that offer tax relief to the middle class. One of those is the child tax credit. It is $2,000 --

HENDERSON: Ivanka Trump, right.

JOHNSON: -- in the House bill. That's big and I think that the administration generally has done an abysmal job selling its legislative initiatives. It did a terrible job on health care.

The House also -- or Congress did an abysmal job on Obamacare. I think that's one major reason that I failed. Nobody was owning that bill. Nobody was out selling it. Nobody -- no surrogates on television while Democrats were pummeling it.

From the White House, on this tax bill, we've seen Gary Cohn go out --


JOHNSON: -- and call it -- say it has trickle down benefits. I haven't seen --

HENDERSON: And the CEOs are particularly happy with it.

JOHNSON: Right. And when the President goes out and says this is going to be a big, big Christmas gift, I don't think that's quite enough in terms of specificity though it's not as bad as the health care thing but we need to see Republicans in Congress and the White House sell this in terms of middle class tax relief and offer specifics.

HENDERSON: And Republicans certainly need this for 2018. Next -- congressional investigators dig into team Trump; their questions on one member's -- one member's memory and another's security clearance.



JEFF SESSION, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Is Ambassador Kislyak in the room? Before I get started here -- any Russians? Anybody been to Russia? Got a cousin in Russia or something?


HENDERSON: That was Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressing the elephant in the room, and pretty humorously on Friday. His joke comes just days after a House panel pressed him on whether he misled congress on the Trump campaign's Russia contacts.

And over on the Senate side investigators now have more questions for Jared Kushner. The Judiciary Committee says what Kushner has provided so far is incomplete. They want more information on WikiLeaks content, a Russian backdoor overture, and dinner invites, plus they want materials related to his security clearance.

Kushner's lawyers have said that no documents are missing and they responded with this on Friday. "I would have assumed that if there were any questions about our productions or exchanges that would have been communicated to me directly before you made this a media event."

Karoun -- Sessions, those jokes seem to be written by SNL.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes. Very good --

HENDERSON: They were pretty good there, pretty funny. Good timing.

What happened this week? Why -- why is it significant? Is what happened this week significant in the larger investigation into Russia?

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, I mean it is. There are multiple episodes this week. On Monday we had the revelation that Don Jr. had been in direct contact over his direct messages over Twitter with WikiLeaks. Then you have Sessions' testimony where he just seemed to have a memory lapse about many different things pertaining to Russia.

Then you have the Senate Judiciary Committee, which by the way, you know, a few weeks ago we were all writing about how they have had a (INAUDIBLE) --


DEMIRJIAN: -- the Judiciary Committee Democrats and Republicans were working together. You have Grassley and Feinstein saying Kushner, you have not produced the documents we asked for. We know that other witnesses, you know, through other witnesses that there are at least three fairly significant contacts that you should have disclosed if you're disclosing contacts with Russia.

Now, of course, Kushner's team says there's nothing there. These are invitations that he dismissed. But the point is, you know, how transparent are they being and the fact that you have Republicans and Democrats working together again to raise the scrutiny, there is this inquiry.

Coming in the post-Mueller charges era, anything that is a contact with Russia or Russian cutout or, you know, somebody that we know was working with Moscow to some degree is a question of does this establish the coordination or collusion, right.

Everybody is counting on every last thing. So to have three different episodes this week that were fairly significant and high profile involving Trump's inner circle -- not that good.


DEMIRJIAN: -- getting into the later stages of the probes.

HENDERSON: Right. And coming up, Mueller is going to interview Hope Hicks. We're told that that's going to happen by the end of the year. And we also got this this morning, the music publicist Rob Goldstone -- and he was the one who set up or helped set up that Trump Tower meeting.

He says this. "I didn't understand anything about that, nothing at all. This meeting happened months before Russia became the hot topic. If this had happened later, sure, I would have been aware because it's all people were talking about -- Russia and Russian interference. Hindsight is great, but it just wasn't being talked about at that time."

He too at some point will talk to Mueller. What do you make of what Mueller is after in conversations and what he'll have with Hope Hicks, with Don McGahn at some point, and then Goldstone as well?

SHEAR: Look, I think, you know, what the -- both the indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and also the surprise announcement of a guilty plea by Papadopoulos -- what that should remind us is that we -- despite the fact that three significant things happened this last week -- that what we're not seeing is probably way more significant than what we are seeing.


SHEAR: And that you know, it is -- it is both a political problem that the administration has to deal with because each week is -- no matter what their message is on taxes or anything else -- it's dominated to some extent by this broad topic of the Russia investigation.

But it's also a legal problem and the legal stuff that we don't know is probably way more threatening for the President than the stuff that we do know. [08:44:57] HENDERSON: And one of the reasons -- I mean it feels like

2016 will never go away -- is because certainly of this Russia investigation and here was Hillary Clinton weighing in on Trump and the legitimacy of his presidency.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that there are lots of questions about its legitimacy. And we don't have a method for contesting that in our system. That's why I've long advocated for an independent commission to get to the bottom of what happened.


HENDERSON: And Trump basically came out and said, Clinton you're a big loser, move on with your life. He's tweeted about her I think 61 times.

BADE: Oh, yes. He loves the fight.

HENDERSON: Yes. He loves the fight. Also she's poking at him, right --

BADE: Definitely.

HENDERSON: -- in terms of what he thinks bothers him so much about this, right, the whole idea of legitimacy.

BADE: Right. Oh, yes. And she can't stop talking about the election herself, right.


BADE: So if this makes her feel better to go out there and say this is not a legitimate election, I think most Democrats on the Hill want to move on from that although they want to focus on the Russia investigation, obviously.


BADE: But just to go back to what you were saying about Mueller and what's going on there, we also saw the FBI issue subpoenas to a dozen campaign officials who are already cooperating on the Russia investigation this week, too. And that also signifies that they are worried about the selective amnesia that we're seeing right now on the Trump administration.


HENDERSON: Yes. This isn't going away.

Up next, our reporters give you a glimpse of tomorrow's headlines today including President Trump's impending return to the scene of his most notorious tweets. Will there be more?

[08:46:34] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HENDERSON: Let's head around the INSIDE POLITICS table to see what our reporters are hearing from their sources and what stories could end up making news.

Eliana -- we'll start with you.

JOHNSON: You know, there is a myopic focus on tax reform right now and for good reason. But I'm really struck by the extent to which there is no agreement between the White House and Congress on what the next agenda item is.

You hear things from welfare reform to infrastructure, to a DACA fix. But I think this is the first time in decades that there is no sense on what comes next on Capitol Hill.

HENDERSON: Well, I'm sure Republicans are probably asking the same questions around the country too.


DEMIRJIAN: We keep talking about the Russia investigation for good reason, little things keep coming out in (INAUDIBLE) relations (ph). But the President's push back to a lot of this focus on his team has been there was too much surveillance. There was -- you know, people were looking at all these people in untoward ways.

And that has created a strange culture around this question of how we're going to reauthorize one of the most key surveillance programs basically that lets the United States government collect intelligence about foreign agents on U.S. soil -- Section 702.

And there's a ticking clock as soon as we get back to congress because they have until the end of the year to reauthorize it but if they're going to be able to actually do it they probably have to do it in the budget.

So we're talking about a matter of days here to reauthorize basically what's the NSA's most important surveillance program. And you don't have a game plan right now, a set agreed plan to actually how they're going to go forward in Congress.

This could be a major problem if this goes off the books. And right now the culture that we're in has so many questions about what the government's looking at or not because of this whole Russia claim. It's actually fairly complicated to get something done. So that's going to be --


HENDERSON: More deadlines and more agenda items.


SHEAR: So this coming week marks the beginning of yet another phase in this presidency which is the return to Mar-a-Lago. The season starts -- the President will be going down for the Thanksgiving break and then will continue to do that for the remainder of the winter.

People would be -- could be excused for thinking this could be a quiet time in Washington and there's certainly a lot of people in Washington who are hoping for that. But if you talk to White House aides they will tell you they worry when the President goes down to Mar-a-Lago because he has a lot of time on his hands and he tends to tweet and he tends to sort of rant about things.


SHEAR: You'll remember that the tweet about President Obama wiretapping him came during a weekend when he was, Saturday morning, when he was at Mar-a-Lago. So we can all cross our fingers for a good quiet Thanksgiving but nothing --


HENDERSON: Yes. Maybe he'll be too busy with turkey and cranberry sauce.

SHEAR: Possible.


BADE: I'm going to complicate the holidays a little more here.

So I'm hearing from my Hill sources that the big four in Congress -- Speaker Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell in the Senate and the Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are quietly sort of negotiating a year-end spending bill to avert a government shutdown on December 8.

Now they are running out of time and they're terribly far apart right now with Democrats still pushing for a DACA fix and a solution for Dreamers as part of this agreement. Republicans are worried that if they increase spending without offsets and do a DACA fix, the far right's is going to totally go off the rails, terribly angry.

I am concerned we might be here on Christmas as well.

HENDERSON: Santa is not going to allow that. That's my prediction.

It's a question asked every election cycle -- will it be the year of the woman? The phrase captures what happened in 1992 when the number of new women elected to Congress set a record.

At least a part of that influx was because of the Clarence Thomas hearings and the spotlight on sexual harassment in the work place. Those hearings had an energizing effect on voters and on candidates.

Well, a similar conversation -- a similar conversation is going on right now. So what about 2018? I reached out to the Center for American Women in Politics and got an early look at their data and their analysis.

[08:54:59] Here is what the scholars there have an eye on so far. As with 2017 there could be a number of firsts in 2018. Arizona and Tennessee could get their first woman senator. There could be a record number of women veterans running for office particularly in House races where the number of women candidates is almost already double what it was at this point in 2015.

Their full report will be online in the coming days and it's definitely worth checking out for a forecast of how 2018 is already shaping up so far.

Thanks for being with us this Sunday.

You'll be able to catch an exclusive interview with Senator Bernie Sanders next on "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER".