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Pentagon: North Korea Launches Missile; Trump: North Korea 'Is a Situation We Will Handle'; GOP Tax Bill Advances after Trump Lobbies Senators; GOP Tax Bill Advances after Trump Lobbies Senators; Pelosi, Schumer Back Out of Meeting Following Trump Insult; Committee Battle Could Mean More Questions for Kushner. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 28, 2017 - 17:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Provocative launch. North Korea defies the world and provokes President Trump by launching a ballistic missile towards Japan. Mr. Trump vows to, quote, "take care of it." Is Kim Jong-un taunting him?

[17:00:45] Not meeting halfway. Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer cancel a meeting with President Trump after he tweets there's no way to strike a deal with them. Flanked by their empty seats, the president calls them all talk, no action. Will the standoff lead to a government shutdown?

On the floor. Holdout Republican senators vote yes on the tax bill, moving it out of committee after President Trump personally threatens them. Are there enough Republican votes to pass it on the Senate floor?

And questions for Kushner. The Senate Intelligence Committee says it won't give up its transcript of Jared Kushner's Russia interview to the Judiciary Committee. And the top Democrat on the intelligence panel says he has more questions for the president's son-in-law. Will he be called before Congress again?

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories this hour, including the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea. Japanese defense officials say it flew for about an hour before plunging into the ocean off Japan. President Trump responded to the missile launch just a little while ago, saying North Korea, quote, "is a situation we will handle." He was joined by Defense Secretary James Mattis who said that the missile went higher than any previous one launched by the Kim Jong-un regime, indicating North Korea's getting closer to its goal of being able to strike anywhere in the world.

And the president is praising the passage of the Senate's Republican tax overhaul bill by the Budget Committee, setting the stage for a full vote on the Senate floor. The president was up on Capitol Hill to pressure Republican holdouts.

He also slammed Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer as, quote, "all talk and no action." They decided not to meet with the president after he tweeted he didn't think a deal with them was possible.

And the president's son-in-law and senior adviser could be facing more questioning about Russia. The Senate Intelligence Committee is refusing to share a transcript of Jared Kushner's interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose leaders have suggested Kushner has not been responsive to their requests for information. Both committees are indicating they may want Kushner to answer more questions in person.

We're covering all of that and much more this hour with our guests, including Senator Dan Sullivan of the Armed Services Committee. And our correspondents and specialists are also standing by.

So let's begin with North Korea's missile launch. CNN's Brian Todd is working this story for us.

Brian, you're learning new information. Update our viewers.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Tonight, military intelligence officials and outside analysts are telling us this is a big deal, a major test of what could be the most powerful missile North Korea has test fired so far.

Just moments ago, Defense Secretary James Mattis said this missile went higher than any they've test fired so far.

Tonight, officials from Washington to Seoul are bracing because they know Kim Jong-un is closer to developing -- to completely, actually, a launch-capable nuclear arsenal.


TODD (voice-over): North Korea's provocative test, the first of its kind since September, shows Kim Jong-un has reignited his ambitious weapons program. U.S., South Korean and Japanese military officials say today's launch was of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the most powerful rocket the rogue nation has,, one capable of entering space and striking its enemies from thousands of miles away.

Sources say it flew east off the North Korean coast and was in the air for about 50 minutes. It traveled about 620 miles, reaching a higher altitude than Kim Jong-un's major ICBM test in July, and splashed down inside Japan's exclusive economic zone, the waters off Japan's coasts where it has the right to fish and explore.

THOMAS KARAKO, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: They're reminding the United States, they're reminding Japan that they have been quite earnest in increasing the range and the capabilities and characteristics of their missile force.

T0DD: Kim's regime has tested missiles this year at a furious pace. This makes 23 missiles launched in 16 tests since February. But the North Koreans had been fairly quiet recently, not testing a missile in more than two months. So why now?

[17:05:08] CHRISTIAN WHITON, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISOR ON ASIA: This could be a reaction to political events like being put on the U.S. list of terror sponsors or recent condemnations of North Korea. It could be shaping ahead of the Winter Olympics in South Korea this winter. Probably more likely it's just part of North Korea's ongoing missile program and their development of missiles that will be able to strike North America.

TODD: Despite repeated pressure from the president and a recent diplomatic Kim Jong-un has made it clear he is not backing down. Instead, the North Koreans have been accelerating every aspect of their weapon's programs, testing a massive hydrogen bomb in September; fine-tuning their rocket fuels and engines; and honing their targeting and guidance systems.

The U.S. believes Kim and his generals could be able to place a miniaturized warhead on top of a missile sometime next year, and experts say they're just a couple of steps away from demonstrating a full-fledged capability to hit the continental U.S. with a nuclear- tipped missile.

KARAKO: The one thing they could do to demonstrate an end-to-end nuclear capability is to put an actual nuclear weapon on the top of a missile into the Pacific and actually detonate it out there. To get there, we think there might be some things to work out, such as miniaturization and reentry so that it actually gets through the atmosphere without burning up.


TODD: Analysts say North Korea's next major provocation may, in fact. be placing a nuclear warhead on top of a missile and detonating it somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in an above ground nuclear test. They say if that happens, when that happens, that will be a game- changer and may, in fact, force the U.S., Japan and South Korea to consider a military response -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very worrisome indeed. Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you very much.

President Trump just spoke out about the North Korean launch. Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He has that part of the story. Jim, the president addressed North Korea, the Republican tax bill and a possible government shutdown.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. President Trump turned his negotiations for avoiding a government shutdown into a reality TV moment, making a show out of congressional Democrats who skipped a meeting at the White House today. White House aides placed name cards in front of the empty seats where Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were supposed to be seated.

Now, without the help of Democrats, the president is still hoping his own party can line up enough votes to pass the GOP tax plan. Even with all that, as you said, Wolf, the president was forced to respond to yet another provocation from North Korea.


ACOSTA (voice-over): In a hastily-called statement, the president insisted he's on top of North Korea after the communist regime defied Mr. Trump's fiery warnings in the past and conducted another intercontinental ballistic missile test.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will take care of it. We have General Mattis in the room with us, and we've had a long discussion on it. It is a situation that we will handle.

ACOSTA: But the president saved his toughest talk for Democrats who backed out of a meeting at the White House aimed at keeping the government running. The White House left the seats for congressional Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi empty.

TRUMP: They've been all talk and they've been no action, and now it's even worse. Now it's not even talk.

ACOSTA: With just ten days and counting until a government shutdown, congressional Democrats are furious with the president after his tweet: "Meeting with Chuck and Nancy today about keeping government open and working. Problem is, they want illegal immigrants flooding into our country unchecked, are weak on crime and they want to substantially raise taxes. I don't see a deal."

Schumer and Pelosi punched back, saying they'll work with Republicans in Congress instead of the president.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Mr. President, it's time to stop tweeting and start leading. If President Trump says he's not going -- interested in cutting a deal, we can come up with a good deal on our own.

ACOSTA: Earlier in the day, the president who wrote "The Art of the Deal" travelled to Capitol Hill in search of finding one. Republican leaders still scrambling for GOP votes to push their tax plan across the finish line sounded exasperated.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: You'll have to ask them why they think it's appropriate to refuse to meet with the president of the United States over something as significant as how we're going to fund the troops and all of the other needs that are addressed by the spending decisions we make every year.

ACOSTA: Stung by Pelosi and Schumer's decision to skip their meeting with the president, the White House fired off a testy statement, saying, "The president's invitation to the Democrat leaders still stands, and he encourages them to put aside their pettiness, stop the political grandstanding, show up and get to work. These issues are too important."

The West Wing's concern over pettiness comes one day after the president leveled a racially-charged attack on Senator Elizabeth Warren in front of Native American war veterans.

TRUMP: Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.

ACOSTA: Warren slapped back at that.

[17:10:08] SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Really amazing people. And President Trump couldn't even make it through a ceremony to honor these men without throwing in a racial slur.


ACOSTA: Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell complained he never turned down an invitation to come to the White House when Barack Obama was in the Oval Office, but former Obama aides are disputing that, saying McConnell would pretend to have scheduling conflicts to avoid being seen with Obama. And don't forget, it was McConnell who once said he wanted President Obama to be a one-term president.

As for Nancy Pelosi, she hit back at those empty seats at the White House earlier today, saying McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan had been turned into props. We should also note, Wolf, the White House is complaining Democrats, they used to gripe about Republican threats to shut down the government. That's true, but the shutdown shoe is on the other foot tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim, there's also some breaking news right now in the standoff between Mick Mulvaney, whom the president appointed to be the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the deputy director, who actually, they went to court court to say the law puts her in charge of the agency. But there's been a major development. Update our viewers.

ACOSTA: That's right. And keep in mind, this is the agency that is designed to protect consumers from financial shenanigans on the parts of big banks and credit card companies.

The White House wanted to put the OMB director, Mick Mulvaney, over there. It turns out a federal judge just in the last several minutes has decided that the White House pick will win the day. Mick Mulvaney will be, it appears, the director of the CFPB over the concerns of Democrats up on Capitol Hill, who point out Mulvaney would really like to see that agency scrapped altogether -- Wolf.

BLITZER: That's a win for the White House.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

BLITZER: From the district court judge. All right. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, over at the White House.

Let's get some more on the Republican tax bill. Our congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly is joining us from Capitol Hill.

Phil, it's over one hundred -- it's over one important hurdle, but it's still not yet a done deal.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it. Wolf, just think back to the day over the course of one hour, the Senate tax proposal went from on the verge of completely stalling out to on its way to a clear path to the Senate floor and potentially passes.

Now, what was the missing ingredient that came into play during that hour? It was the president. Look, if you talk to Republican aides and Republican leaders, they acknowledge the president coming to Capitol Hill at times can make them a little bit wary. When he weighs in on policy discussions, it's not always helpful. That was not the case this time around.

Coming out of that meeting, you can just track through the Republican senators who are on the fence on this proposal. Susan Collins, starting to get very comfortable with the proposal, saying the president gave her commitments on things like health care provisions, that including the state and local deduction for property taxes capped at $10,000 into the Senate proposal.

Senator Bob Corker came out saying he had an agreement related to deficit issues, putting some kind of backstop trigger if the economic growth projections don't pan out.

And Senator Ron Johnson, the senator who went into the meeting, Wolf, saying that he was clearly going to be a "no," threatening the committee process altogether, came out and said, "Yes, I will vote for the bill and move the process forward."

Wolf, sources tell me behind the scenes during this meeting the president and Senator Johnson had a rather tense exchange back and forth, going through the numbers, going through the details of the passthrough issue that he's been so kind of significantly concerned about.

The president finally making very clear this isn't a reason not to vote for this. Move the process forward. For now, that's won the day. But Wolf, as you noted, there's a long way to go. They will likely take this to the Senate floor tomorrow. And while senators are certainly leaning more toward yes than they have been in the past, that doesn't mean they're over the line just yet. Senate aides telling me just a short while ago they've got more work to do. They need to flesh out these proposals. But certainly, where they are now, compared to where they were just this morning, it's a big difference, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly is. All right, Phil, thank you very much. Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill.

Let's get some more on all of the breaking news. Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska is joining us. He's a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Senator, thanks for joining us.

SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R), ALASKA: Good to be here, Wolf. BLITZER: I want to get to tax reform shortly, but let's discuss North

Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. How much closer does this bring North Korea to actually threatening the United States with a nuclear-tipped ICBM?

SULLIVAN: Look, I mean, you know, the intelligence community has been saying it's no longer a matter of if but when they're going to have that capability. And as General Mattis said today, this missile went higher than any other missile.

So they're getting closer, but we're not, you know, just waiting for this to happen here on Capitol Hill or with the administration. You know, one thing we've been working hard on, Wolf, is a much more robust missile defense. And that was in the defense authorization bill that passed the Senate just last week. It was a bill that I authored. But we had many, many Republicans and Democrats. We have -- we're going to get full funding for that. But a key part of our strategy has to be a much more robust missile defense for our nation and we're moving towards that, but this is a very troubling development.

BLITZER: It may be the biggest national security crisis facing the United States right now. How concerned are you, Senator, that North Korea could target your state of Alaska?

SULLIVAN: Well, I've been very concerned. Not just about my great state, which is, you know, certainly in the line of fire and closer than anyone else, but the entire country, which is why, you know, in Alaska we're the cornerstone of our nation's entire missile defense. A lot of the systems that track and would shoot down missiles are based in Alaska, given our strategic location, but this is obviously a concern for everybody. And it's why we've been so focused on it.

[17:15:21] I will say, Wolf, the administration has done a good job, you know, in terms of tightening sanctions, international sanctions, U.N. sanctions. We need to do more, but we've done a lot already. The Chinese need to do more.

But this is a troubling situation and, of course, you know, effective diplomacy needs to be backed up by credible military options. And in my discussions with Secretary Mattis, the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, they're also looking at that.

So these are all the components. More sanctions, credible military options and more robust missile defense that needs to address this very significant threat facing our nation. Every city in America, literally.

BLITZER: Alaska is not too far away from North Korea. Hawaii is even closer. Hawaii is now establishing a monthly test for a nuclear missile warning system, a siren to alert residents of an impending strike. I think it's the first time since World War II they've had this alert system go into place. Should Alaska do the same?

SULLIVAN: Well, look, I think these are the kinds of civil protections that people need to look at.

The good news here, though, is if you look at our efforts on missile defense over the last several decades, it's usually been a partisan issue. It's now become a bipartisan issue in terms of our capacity, in terms of what we need to spend on it, and I think it's because you're seeing a significant threat to Hawaii, to Alaska, but to everybody. Chicago, New York.

So this is something that we're working hard on on the Hill. The administration is fully supportive on it, and it's very bipartisan. We need to implement a much stronger missile defense, and we're doing that.

BLITZER: President Trump has touted his relationship with the Chinese president, President Xi, and he continues to say that Russia could be a very important part of containing North Korea. Are those relationships, Senator, having any impact on Kim Jong-un and his regime? Or is this proof that the president's efforts, at least so far, have not worked?

SULLIVAN: Well, you know, you talk to the experts, and pretty much everybody agrees China is doing more than they ever have with regard to North Korea. You've had two unanimous U.N. Security Council resolutions with China and Russia's support, but my belief, Wolf, is that China needs to do more.

Let me give you one example. They need to cut off the oil to the North Korean regime. Ninety percent of the oil that the regime gets comes from China. They need to take those aggressive actions with regard to energy, in addition to the significant financial sanctions that we've been encouraging the Chinese to undertake, as well.

BLITZER: The Trump administration still has not nominated a U.S. ambassador to South Korea or an assistant secretary of state for East Asian Affairs, which deals with that whole area. Does that affect the administration's ability to handle this current threat?

SULLIVAN: Look, I think it does, and I think that they need to work on that. I'm aware of some of the people that they're looking at. They would be very high-quality candidates, by the way. But, you know, that's both the Trump administration -- it's also here on the Hill. You've had Chuck Schumer, the Democrats delay, delay, delay so many of the members of the Trump administration who need Senate confirmation.

You know, at this point during the Obama administration, almost 66 percent of President Obama's nominees were confirmed by the Senate. Right now, the number is about 33 percent with regard to the Trump administration. Those delays are not helping anybody. They're not helping the State Department. They're not helping, for example, the Department of Interior. The Senate needs to move these nominees out and get them in the federal government to help all of us.

BLITZER: Senator, there's more breaking news unfolding even as we speak. I've got to take a quick break. We'll resume the interview right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:23:18] BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories this hour, including passage of the Senate's Republican tax overhaul bill by the Budget Committee, setting the stage for a vote by the full Senate. President Trump went to Capitol Hill today to personally pressure Republican holdouts.

We're back with Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska. He's a key member of the Armed Services Committee. He supports the tax overhaul bill.

Are you comfortable, though, Senator, with a bill that would add, according to the Congressional Budget Office, $1.4 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years?

SULLIVAN: Well, look, that score by the CBO, Wolf, takes into account -- they estimate that our economic growth with that score would be 1.9 percent over the next ten years. Well, I think that vastly underestimates what we can do in this economy.

You know, one of the things that's so important about this tax bill is we've got to get this economy growing again. We've had a lost decade of economic growth, about less than 2 percent GDP growth. We can get to 3, 3.5 percent growth. I think we can do that. And then we're going to actually -- those deficits won't be such a challenge. We'll have much more of an opportunity for bringing in more revenue.

And, look, that brings another point. Everybody is saying who's going to benefit?

BLITZER: All right.

SULLIVAN: I think the person who's going to benefit the most is the person who doesn't have a job now who's going to get one because of the strong growth we're going to see out of this economy.

BLITZER: What -- what happens if your upbeat assessment turns out to be incorrect and there isn't the kind of 3 percent, 4 percent growth that you anticipate, but it gets back under 2 percent? Would you support what's called a snapback provision, in other words to snap back some of the tax cuts in order to deal with a huge budget deficit?

SULLIVAN: Well, look, that was discussed at the lunch today and, you know, the president came to Capitol Hill, and it was a very good lunch. It was a good discussion. A lot of back and forth. That topic itself was raised by Senator Corker, Senator Lankford, and it's something that I'm certainly looking at because it raises an important point.

[17:25:17] But I think that we're going to get back to levels -- we're already starting to see it -- of traditional levels of growth, 3, 3.5 percent that we need particularly in terms of the middle class. They haven't seen strong growth in over a decade. The tax bill is going to be a key part of that. That's why a lot of people are excited about it. BLITZER: So you're potentially open to that snapback provision?


BLITZER: Did the decision by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to back out of their scheduled White House meeting with the president today help unite Republicans to get this bill through the Budget Committee?

SULLIVAN: Look, I was unaware of that decision during the discussion at lunch. I think what's uniting Republicans is the desire to let middle class families bring home more pay. Put more money in the pockets of Americans poor Americans. To me that's what this tax bill is all about and growing the economy.

I think that's what's uniting Republicans across the board. And I think you saw good momentum at the lunch today, a good discussion. You saw coming out of that lunch a lot of members who had different -- differing views. They're starting to come together. We still have more work to do, but the Budget Committee vote today was an important step.

Schumer and Pelosi backed out of the meeting with the president at the White House after President Trump insulted them on Twitter. He wrote, "Meeting with Chuck and Nancy today about keeping government open and working, problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our country unchecked, are weak on crime and want to substantially raise taxes. I don't see a deal."

They were angry that the president just before this meeting would go and attack them the way he did. Did he do the right thing?

SULLIVAN: Well, look, I've said consistently that I don't think insults of anybody helps move the ball forward. We have a lot of challenges in this country. We just talked about North Korea. I just -- I'm very focused on growing the economy.

To me, you know, we'll have differences, but we've got to come together. So I think they need to come to the table, and we all need to work on this.

You know, a lot of the ideas in this tax bill, Wolf, had previous Schumer, Obama, President Obama's support. So I think that, you know, there are still some Democrats out there on taxes that we might have an opportunity to get to vote positively for this bill.

But to me, working together to solve the challenges facing our country is the number one thing we should be doing in the Senate.

BLITZER: Senator Sullivan, thanks so much for being with us.

SULLIVAN: Great to be on the program.

BLITZER: Thanks. I appreciate it very much.

Coming up, Republicans celebrate as plans for a tax code overhaul clear a key hurdle in the U.S. Senate. Are they on the verge of passing the first major legislation of President Trump's administration.

Plus, the president's son-in-law and top adviser could be facing more questions from lawmakers, probing Russia election meddling.


BLITZER: Breaking news. A Republican plan to overhaul the tax code passes a key hurdle in the U.S. Senate, advancing through the Budget Committee on a party line vote.

[17:32:46] Plus, President Trump takes a swipe at Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer after they back out of a meeting over at the White House aimed at avoiding a government shutdown.

Let's discuss all of that and more with our political experts. And Dana Bash, I'll start with you. President Trump, as you know, he was on camera earlier, addressing the North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile launch. But he couldn't resist hitting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi did not show up for our meeting today. I'm not really that surprised. We have a lot of differences. They're weak on crime. They're weak on illegal immigration. They want the illegal folks to come pouring into our border. They want high taxes. We want low taxes.


BLITZER: The Democratic leaders backed out, as you know, after President Trump insulted them on Twitter. Does this play well for the president?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, for the 30 and change percent of the American people who already support him, because for the most part, it's his base; and this is great for his base to see the president with empty chairs saying, you know, "The big, bad Democrats wouldn't show up to talk to me."

It also plays great for the Democratic base, Wolf. That they are standing firm, that they are not going to the White House. They're not going to be bullied by the president going after them on Twitter.

But base politics doesn't keep the government running. And at the end of the day, we have to focus on December 8, because that is the date that the government will not have money anymore. Because that's the date that it runs out. And these are the conversations that these grown-ups, who are running Washington, were supposed to have and didn't have. That's important to remember. That, you know, as good as this is for both of their bases, at the end of the day, getting things done is really what matters; and you can, you know, blow off legislation that might not be must-pass, but funding the government is must-pass. BLITZER: Yes, avoiding a government shutdown is critically important,

and it requires bipartisan cooperation.

[17:35:00] Jackie Kucinich, the meeting, as you know, was originally set to happen in the Oval Office with the Democratic and Republican leaders. But the White House moved it to the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House, seemingly to set up the optics of President Trump sitting between two empty chairs with placards for Schumer and Pelosi. Was that smart politically?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It just looks silly. I think everybody looks silly in this situation.

But to Dana's point, this plays well with the respective bases, but at the end of the day, these people need to get together and get something done. And I think that Pelosi and Schumer played into the president's hand here by not showing up and making it look like that they are, from his -- from the Republican perspective, just not willing to work with Republicans.

And on the other side, I mean, yes, sure, they couldn't show up, but at the end of the day, I think everyone sort of came away from this looking bad, looking partisan and looking like they're not adult enough to get something done.

BLITZER: Yes. And the stakes are enormous right now.

Matt Viser, Nancy Pelosi responded by tweeting this. And I'll read it. "@RealDonaldTrump knows that his verbal abuse will no longer be tolerated. His empty chair photo op showed he's more interested in stunts than in addressing the needs of the American people. Poor Ryan and McConnell, relegated to props. Sad."

Could this latest drama create yet more trouble for the president down the road when there are some must-do items on the calendar, especially December 8, when the government runs out of money and there could be a government shutdown?

MATT VISER, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Absolutely. I mean, President Trump does not need Democrats. We don't expect him to win Democrats over on the tax reform bill, which is sort of the more immediate discussion, but as you point out, December 8, funding the government, there's a 60-vote threshold in the Senate. He does need Democrats on that. And he has to win over, you know, the Chuck Schumers and Nancy Pelosis in this situation.

So to the extent that it's an antagonistic relationship, where they're not even willing to speak with one another, it doesn't spell well.

The other thing on the table is the legislation around the so-called DREAMers, you know, immigration. As President Trump has suggested that he wants some fix to that. And that's what got us to this point anyway, was a deal between Chuck and Nancy along with President Trump. So if there's going to be any permanent fix on that, they need to talk; and they need to sort of stop playing childish games, as today sort of illustrated. BLITZER: Yes, and Dana, you know, it's been a day of a lot of

surprises up on Capitol Hill over at the White House. But just because the Republican tax reform bill passed the key Budget Committee, doesn't mean necessarily that the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has the votes for final passage on the Senate floor.

You're going to be moderating -- co-moderating with Jake Tapper on CNN's town hall tonight, later tonight. So where does this bill go from here?

BASH: It's going to the Senate floor, but you're exactly right. It did pass the Budget Committee today along party lines. The leadership in the Senate, in the House and certainly the president, they're breathing a sigh of relief that that happened, but look at the screen right now, Wolf. All of those Republicans are undecided. It's unclear if you're going to get any of those Republicans. And you can only -- by you, the president and the Republican leaders, can only use -- afford to lose two. And otherwise it goes down.

So there's so much wheeling and dealing going on as we speak. It happened just to get this bill through the committee. Senator Corker said that he got an agreement to deal with the deficit issue, and that made a lot of Republicans mad on the other side of it. So we'll see if that actually continues.

Senator Johnson, who is very upset that he doesn't think small businesses are getting enough of a tax break, he was really pressured in a pretty remarkable way, we are told, by multiple senators behind closed doors, from the president himself, from his colleagues, to at least move the process forward. So he reluctantly voted "yes" in committee today.

So there's a lot of work left to be done, but they are determined to try to figure it out while they have what they believe is momentum this week.

BLITZER: Yes. They're going to be moving quickly. Trying to move quickly at least. Everybody stand by. There's a lot more unfolding right now. We'll take another quick break. We'll be right back.


[17:43:59] BLITZER: We're back with our political panel.

Jackie, CNN has spoken to a former aide to Democratic Congressman John Conyers of Michigan who says -- says he made three sexual advances toward her. This is yet another accusation against the congressman. Now some members of the Congressional Black Caucus are even urging him to resign. How do you see this thing playing out?

KUCINICH: Well, that is a critical factor, is that the Congressional Black Caucus is now involved and reportedly trying to get -- trying to get Conyers to ease his way out. I mean, this is someone who was a founding member of the CBC, worked with Lyndon Johnson during the Great Society. He does have a very long legacy in the House, and they don't want to see him go out in -- in this scandal. It might -- the damage might already be done.

But all you have to know about how sensitive this is is how Nancy Pelosi answered that question this weekend. This is someone -- she's someone who knows how to answer these questions, and yet it is so sensitive within her own caucus that this is -- that she's had to sort of tread lightly.

[17:45:05] BLITZER: You know, Matt, Conyers has already given up his position as the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, but there are a bunch of other Democrats who say he has lost so much credibility right now. How do you see this playing out?

MATT VISER, DEPUTY WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Yes. I mean, there is certainly a lot of concern on the Hill, not only about the Conyers situation but about sort of other allegations. You know, what comes next in this?

People are very nervous right now, you get the sense, in some of these settlements and sort of what happens, not only with Conyers but everyone else, you know. And so I think there is a lot of worry on the Hill right now.

BLITZER: Have Democrats, Dana, lost the moral high ground on these issues right now? There is also Senator Franken of Minnesota.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are some Democrats I have talked to who fear just that, that they are losing the moral high ground.

The Senator Franken is trying to avoid that by falling on his sword, by doing his mea culpa tour, by saying that he understands that he is now thought of this way. So he is going to try to be a poster boy for making sure that this doesn't happen to other women.

We'll see, but John Conyers is a different story. He is denying these allegations. And so I think the answer to that question will lie in part, at least, in the short term, in what happens with John Conyers.

Will the Congressional Black Caucus, which our Deirdre Walsh is reporting today is trying to sort of gently work their way through John Conyers' emotions and trying to gently convince him it's time to resign, whether that is successful.

And more importantly, we'll see what other shoes drop because it's hard to imagine there won't be more.

BLITZER: Yes, I suspect you're absolutely right.

All right, guys. Everybody stand by. There is more news that we're following right now, including showdowns -- a showdown between two Senate committees investigating Russian election meddling. What does it mean for the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner?


[17:52:06] BLITZER: New tonight, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is refusing to share transcripts of an interview his panel conducted with Jared Kushner, the President's son- in-law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had requested access to those documents as part of its probe into Russian election meddling.

Our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is joining us with details.

Manu, tell us more about this showdown up on Capitol Hill and what it means for Kushner.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could mean that Jared Kushner could be back on Capitol Hill, answering questions from lawmakers. This, despite answering questions from both the House and Senate Intelligence Committee back in July.

Now, you'll recall, Wolf, earlier this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee leaders sent a letter to Kushner, saying he has not been responsive on a number of key issues. Saying, correspondents, those forwarded to him about WikiLeaks, about Michael Flynn, as well as something about his security clearance forms in which he initially did not disclose foreign contacts, were not turned over to the committee.

Now, one other thing that the committee wanted, Wolf, was any transcriptions from the Senate Intelligence Committee interview, as well as the House Intelligence Committee interview from earlier this year. They say that could go a long way to determining whether they would actually call him back for further questioning before their committee.

Well, it turns out that the Senate Judiciary Committee will not be getting the Senate Intelligence Committee's transcript of his interview. The Chairman of the committee, Richard Burr, told us that's not what they do. He flatly said, no, we will not give them a copy of that transcript.

Now, at the same time, Wolf, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee told me earlier today that he does want to bring back Mr. Kushner for further questions. He said there's a lot more that he has to answer.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), RANKING MEMBER, UNITED STATES SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: I believe that there's an awful lot of questions that Mr. Kushner still has to answer.


RAJU: Now, Wolf, that was right in response to the question -- do you want to bring Kushner back for further questions? Clearly, he still does.

Now, the chairman of the committee, Richard Burr, told me separately he did not really see a need, at the moment, to bring back Jared Kushner. But Democrats clearly do.

Now, one of the things that they do want to question him about, Wolf, of course, is that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which Kushner attended with Donald Trump Jr., with Russian operatives as well.

Donald Trump Jr. is still slated to come in and talk to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Burr telling us earlier that he does want to speak to him soon, no date set yet.

But clearly, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., their time before Capitol Hill not over yet. Clearly not over for the Senate Judiciary Committee, which wants more questions answered, particularly now that they're not going to get a copy of this transcript that lays out what he told Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. I thought there was collegiality up in the U.S. Senate. It sounds unusual but, apparently, it's not all that unusual on a sensitive issue like this.

Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill for us, thank you very, very much.

[17:54:56] There's more breaking news we're following, including news details of North Korea's latest missile launch. Is the Kim Jong-un regime getting closer and closer to a nuclear weapon that could strike the United States?


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Missile launch. North Korea fires another ICBM towards Japan, flying higher than any missile Kim Jong-un has unleashed before.

[17:59:59] Tonight, the Pentagon Chief is warning of a worldwide threat, and the President says he'll handle it.

Standoff. The top Democrats in Congress bail on a meeting with the President after he mocks them and warns that he is not likely to cut a bipartisan deal. Is the war of words making --