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Senate Panel Russia Investigation; Moore and the Senate Vote on Taxes; Charles Manson Dead at 83; Tweets Could Cost Swing Votes. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 20, 2017 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:32:26] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, an attorney for Jared Kushner says the Senate Judiciary Committee is playing a gotcha game in demanding more documents. The committee saying Kushner did not turn over everything he needed in relation to the Russia investigation, including information about WikiLeaks. But Attorney Abbe Lowell says e-mails reveal that the president's son-in-law and top aide was the one trying to warn others in the Trump campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABBE LOWELL, JARED KUSHNER'S ATTORNEY: If you look at the contents of these e-mails, he's the hero. He's the one who's saying there shouldn't be any contacts with foreign officials or foreign entities. That's what the Senate Judiciary Committee should pay attention to and not create some sort of partisan gotcha game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, we are learning more about White House staffers who will be entire viewed by Special Counsel Mueller. Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, is among them. Don McGahn, White House council, Josh Raffel, communications aide to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner are three of the big ones.

Joining us now, Congressman Francis Rooney, Republican of Florida, a member of the Foreign Affairs and Joint Economic Committee.

Nice to have you here, sir.

The words from Abbe Lowell are that Kushner's the hero in this, but also that the Judiciary Committee, your colleagues, are playing, you know, a gotcha game. That this is all politics. There is nothing to see here. That Kushner has been more than transparent. Are you comfortable so far, given the threat that you have called Russia for years, are you comfortable so far with the administration's response?

REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FLORIDA: Well, I can't really say whether he's given them all of his e-mails or not, but I'm sure the committees will get down to it. But I think that it's important that we show strength with Russia, but we also have to have a mature relationship with Russia, like we maintained throughout the cold war.

BERMAN: And, again -- ROONEY: That's why we're beefing up our Ukraine right now.

BERMAN: And, again, I didn't mean to interrupt you, but you are what I would call a Russia hawk.

ROONEY: (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: You've written about Russia for a long time, saying the United States needs to stand firm in the past administration --

ROONEY: Oh, yes (ph).

BERMAN: Including in this one.

And if you take a step back, purely from the Russia side of what we've learned over the last several months, "The Washington Post" counts that the Russians tried at least 31 times to meet with members of the Trump campaign. And there were 19 known meetings. So just purely from the Russian side -- I don't -- you know, forget about collusion for a minute. What do you think the Russians were trying to do?

ROONEY: Well, I think that's the biggest news in this whole deal is that Russia has employed its traditional surveillance and espionage tactics inside the United States and around Europe. I don't think people really realize they were doing all of that. And I think it's important that we understand it and take it into account.

[09:35:03] HARLOW: Well, given that, and that's part of why you wrote just in March of this year in an opinion piece that Russia's one of the, in your words, greatest geopolitical threats. You blasted the Obama administration for trying to have a quote, unquote, reset with Russia. But is that not sort of exactly what the Trump administration is trying to do, if not taking it further? I mean we just heard from the president after this most recent meeting with Vladimir Putin, you know, that friendship with Russia would be a good thing, et cetera, et cetera, still refusing to criticize him. How is this any different?

ROONEY: Well, Poppy, at the end of the day, it's going to be what we do, not what the president says. And what we do is very important, like with the Ukraine right now, selling them those javelin missiles and maybe providing them some more anti-tank protection. You know, that's what we need to do. We need -- Russia needs to know that there's a high cost for further lawyerism (ph) in the Middle East, like in Syria and in the Ukraine.

BERMAN: Well, I assume you also mean part of a high cost is also being willing to stand up and telling them, stop meddling in U.S. elections! Stop trying to infiltrate!

HARLOW: And being called -- called out.

BERMAN: Right. Is that part of --

ROONEY: I don't think anybody likes the fact that they did that.

BERMAN: The president hasn't called it out as strongly, certainly, as you have, or others have, though, would you agree?

ROONEY: No, maybe he hasn't. But I think that everybody realizes that it's a serious issue. He has said some things about it.

HARLOW: Let's move on to the Alabama Senate race. You've been very clear on your position on Roy Moore after these women have come forward, including Leigh Corfman, who we heard from, at 14 years old, talking about what Roy Moore did to her.

Kellyanne Conway, senior White House counselor, went on TV this morning. And just listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So vote Roy Moore?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: OK. Do you read that as saying anything other than Alabamans should vote for Roy Moore?

ROONEY: Well, it depends when the tax bill gets done. I mean I personally think this is a tragic dilemma and have real trouble with two things. One, I have real trouble with a guy like this serving in any public capacity or maybe serving in anything at all. But, second, I have real trouble with telling the Alabama people what to do. The Constitution requires that they exercise their judgment. Now I have my own opinion how I hope they exercise it.

BALDWIN: What is that opinion?

ROONEY: Well, I guess if I could orchestrate the scenario, I would have Roy Moore win and then immediately resign and the Republican governor appoint a decent Republican to take his place. But I don't know that you could guarantee that.

HARLOW: So you'd rather have Roy Moore win than Doug Jones, who the biggest paper in Alabama this weekend said, look, he's a moderate Democrat, he can work with Mitch McConnell and Republicans. You would rather have Roy Moore win and then get replaced than a Democrat win in Alabama, Doug Jones?

ROONEY: I'm not saying I'd rather have Roy Moore in the Senate, but I'd rather have a Republican in the Senate. That -- part of the whole problem we have right now is the -- what is a moderate Democrat? You know, we used to have a lot of them and moderate Republicans and now everything is so unfortunately polarized, it's ripping the country apart.

BERMAN: Well, Congressman Francis Rooney, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. Wish we had more time. We will catch up with you again very soon, sir.

ROONEY: John, thanks for having me on.

BERMAN: All right.

Notorious killer, Charles Manson, is dead, nearly 50 years after the murders that shocked the nation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:56] BERMAN: All right, one of the most notorious, perhaps evil figures in U.S. history is dead this morning. Charles Manson was 83 years old. Manson's followers killed seven people in the summer of 1969, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate.

HARLOW: And the grisly deaths horrified the nation, turning Manson into one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. Stephanie Elam is live in Los Angeles with more.

Good morning, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. Good morning, John.

And, you know, the fact that those murders shocked the nation is exactly what Manson wanted. And now the man who orchestrated those murders is dead because of natural causes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Manson may be the most famous, notorious mass murderer ever.

ELAM (voice-over): The summer of '69 was marred by gruesome murders that shook the nation. Five people killed at the home of Hollywood star Sharon Tate. And another couple murdered the following night.

Manson was the mastermind behind the brutal killings. The leader of the clan that carried out the unthinkable.

He was convicted of conspiracy and murder in 1971, and infamously went down in history.

CHARLES MANSON: I do a lot of things around the world that you guys don't see.

ELAM: Manson was born in Cincinnati in 1934 to a single teenage mother.

MANSON: She got out of my life early. I spent the best part of my life in boy schools, prisons and reform schools because I had nobody.

ELAM: After marrying twice and spending half his life in prison, 32- year-old Manson made his way to Berkeley in 1967. He established himself as a guru in the summer of love, and was quickly sharing a home with 18 women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get these kids, these children, coming into Haight-Ashbury (ph), and here is Charlie Manson saying how much he loves them, and he wants to take care of them. He took full advantage.

ELAM: Manson's passion for music translated into an obsession with the Beatles' 1968 song, "Helter Skelter."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Manson it meant that the Beatles wanted to have a worldwide revolution. Blacks against whites.

[09:45:02] ELAM: Aiming to launch the fabricated war, Manson directed his disillusioned clan to kill. On August 9, 1969, four Manson followers invaded the Hollywood Hills homes of actress Sharon Tate, where they massacred five people. The 26-year-old starlet was eight and a half months pregnant. The next night, the clan brutally murdered Los Angeles couple, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. At both homes, they left behind shocking murder scenes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When those words, "helter skelter," were found printed in blood at the murder scene, that was tantamount to Manson's fingerprints being found at the murder scene.

ELAM: After evidence in the case's mounted and a high-profile trial, Manson and four followers were convicted of nine murders and sentenced to death in 1971, which was downgraded to life in prison when California banned the death penalty.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELAM: So Manson was serving nine life sentences while he was in jail. And he did try to get out of jail, but he was denied parole 12 times.

John and Poppy.

HARLOW: Stephanie Elam for us in Los Angeles. Thank you for the reporting.

President Trump picking fights with everyone from an NFL player to the parents of the basketball players in China, and also a sitting Republican senator. How did those tweets play with key voters in swing states, though? Some new findings, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:50:49] HARLOW: One week. One week of President Trump's tweets and he's taken on everyone and everything from, look at all of that, to his fellow Republican lawmakers, "The New York Times," the NFL, college basketball players and their parents.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) senators, dictators, fueled nationwide debates. But those tweets also might be doing something else. According to some research, albeit research from Democrats, they may be turning off some swing voters.

Joining us now, former campaign manager for President Obama in 2012, Jim Messina. His group just finished some long-term research studying a really important group of voters. These are Obama voters who voted for Donald Trump or a third-party candidate, but mostly Donald Trump.

And you found some very key discoveries. What surprised you most?

JIM MESSINA, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER: What surprised me most was -- so, I'm obsessed with these people who vote for Barack Obama and Donald Trump. And when you look at these people, they care about one thing and one thing only, and that is the economy. It's the economy, stupid.

And they look at this and they have a negative 20 percent approval rating of President Trump. They believe all the criticisms of him, that he goes -- spends way too much time going after other people. But, on the economy, he still has a five-point approval rating --

BERMAN: Positive.

MESSINA: Positive approval rating on the economy.

But when you say to them something very simple, to your earlier point, he's spending all his time on Twitter. He's spending all his time picking fights and he's not focused on the economy, he falls 21 points with these voters. He's doing himself considerable damage.

And, you know, you look at this morning's tweets, you have two tweets. One of them was talking about how great the unemployment numbers are, right? These voters don't believe that. They're not unemployed. They just don't have great jobs --

HARLOW: Enough.

MESSINA: They don't' have enough. Their lives are getting harder, not easier.

HARLOW: Right.

MESSINA: And so as you look and talk to these voters, he's starting to lose them because he can't stay focused on the only thing they really care about, which is the economy.

HARLOW: Help me understand how that -- that would translates into definitely helping Democrats because the reason a lot of these voters switched camps was because the Obama economy wasn't working for them, right? The voters in Kentucky, I was just talking to on Friday, for a lot of them it's Obamacare that they say is hurting them. They haven't seen Trump able to repeal and replace or turn it around yet. So what would not just make them apathetic, but actually make them turn back to Democrats?

MESSINA: Well, the tax bill's a great example, right? You look at the tax bill. Republicans are doubly screwed on this tax bill. They have two problems. First of all, they have to pass it for their donors and to say they did something in the first year. But then they're going to have to go back and defend this. And when you talk to these voters -- you and I have spent a bunch of time in the field talking to these voters -- this tax bill is a nightmare for these voters. They get absolutely nothing out of it. It goes to the people they most think shouldn't get more, which is the rich, and corporations, and, you know, you're looking at these Republicans have to go back to these swing districts, where you and I just spent time, and defend this. It's a nightmare.

BERMAN: Well, unless, unless it works. So, I mean, I was reading your study and the one question I had is, well, what if the economy gets better for these voters?

MESSINA: It -- there's no evidence on either side to believe that this tax bill is going to make their lives better, especially in the short temple before 2018, right? Even the Republicans are saying the benefits of this tax bill are four to five years away. So there is no way they're going to look at this tax bill and say, this make mice life better. The people you talked to in Ohio and Kentucky, those people are not going to think a bill that gives four-fifth of the tax breaks to the richest 1 percent in corporations is going to make their life better.

HARLOW: Except for some of them that told me that they're OK with it. In both Michigan and Kentucky, not everyone, but some of them said to me, we believe trickle down works. And if these corporations get the cuts, that's OK, it's going to come down to us. And part of that is colored by their embrace of the president, regardless of legislative success.

MESSINA: That's exactly right. And it goes back to my research, right, which is still -- he has a positive approval rating on the economy. The moment he loses that, and I promise you he's going to lose it, he is completely dead. And that's why you're watching Republicans run away from him. He became the first president since Richard Nixon who didn't campaign in a Virginia gubernatorial race because he's hurting his party.

BERMAN: Quickly, on the Twitter thing, the lesson, though, for Democrats that you provide here is, don't just say, look at his crazy tweets.

[09:55:01] MESSINA: Right.

BERMAN: That's not enough.

MESSINA: Democrats are -- this is my criticism, right? We are chasing the daily tweets. It's like sugar candy. It tastes great, it gets us all hyped up, but it doesn't do what we need to do. We have got to stay focused on the economy and turn everything back to the economy and make a very simple point. When he wakes up every day and tweets out this crazy stuff, he 'not focused on what you want him to be focused on, which is the economy.

BERMAN: Jim Messina, it's a fascinating discussion. We'll see if Democrats can, you know, use that some discipline that you're talking about right now. Discipline in politicians is not always hand in hand.

MESSINA: It's not.

HARLOW: Thank you, Jim.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

HARLOW: It's a fascinating read.

MESSINA: Thanks.

BERMAN: All right, Kellyanne Conway asked point blank whether Alabama voters should cast their ballots for Roy Moore. Her answer, she wants his vote to pass tax reform. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:05] BERMAN: All right. Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow.

New this morning, the White House seems to finally reveal where it stands on the controversial Alabama Senate race.