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CNN NEWSROOM

Vote on Massive Tax Reform Bill Expected Tuesday; "Washington Post": CDC Told to Eliminate Words; Tillerson Confronts North Korean Diplomat at U.N.; Trump Lawyers Set to Meet with Special Counsel; Trump Lawyers Set To Meet With Special Counsel Next Week; Trump Judicial Pick Fails To Answer Basic Legal Questions; Members Of African-American Community Slam Omarosa. 11a-12n ET

Aired December 16, 2017 - 11:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:17] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. It's 11:00 on the East Coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

A final deal for massive tax reform is now on the table. The U.S. Senate and the House coming to terms after some holdouts threatened to derail it.

This brings President Trump a big step forward toward his first major legislative victory. House Speaker Paul Ryan saying the vote could come as early as Tuesday.

Here are some of the key details. Despite a pledge to reduce the number of personal income tax brackets, this bill keeps all seven. Taxes will be lower for many of those brackets. The biggest cut is being saved for corporations, where the tax rate drops to 21 percent from its current 35 percent.

Also in the bill is a $2,000 child tax credit. That's important, because it apparently was a key in moving Senator Marco Rubio's vote from a no to a yes. Individuals will also be able to deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes, and the exemption for the estate tax would be doubled.

Republican senators got their way, and the Obamacare individual mandate will be eliminated.

CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip is following the story for us from Washington, as the President is soon to make his way to Camp David.

So Abby -- it was just six weeks ago that lawmakers got a look at the first draft. There was a lot of horse trading to get the votes they need, including that from Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Corker. Does this White House worry about any other potential holdouts?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House seems pretty confident that they actually do have the votes. That even though there are some senators who may not be publicly saying yes 100 percent I'm supporting this bill, they believe that those people will eventually be in their camp.

One of those is Mike Lee, who has said that he just wants to -- he wants to read the bill before he makes a final decision. But again, he's someone that many Republicans, most Republicans believe will finally come over.

And as you mentioned, Marco Rubio, Bob Corker coming onboard on Friday was a really big deal. Marco Rubio saying definitively he would not vote for this bill unless they moved in his direction on the child tax credit. They did just that.

And Bob Corker dropping some of his opposition to the bill on the basis of the deficit; he's not really talking too much about that. And he said that he'll go ahead and support it.

WHITFIELD: All right. Abby Phillip -- thank you so much from the White House. We'll check back with you.

All right. Right now I want to bring in congressional reporter Lauren Fox. So Lauren -- good to see you. So what did the President perhaps give up in order to get this far in this bill?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, we have to remember that the President is on the verge of a major legislative victory here, something that Republicans in Congress have not been able to give him for the entire year. But with a victory comes some things that you have to be willing to give up on.

And one of those things for President Donald Trump was the corporate tax rate. When they began this debate, excuse me, one of the things that the President wanted was a 15 percent corporate tax rate. That was just too expensive. What they've settled on now is a 21 percent corporate tax rate. That's down from 35 percent.

And one other thing that they did was, as we mentioned earlier, Marco Rubio said he would not vote for this bill without an expansion of the child tax credit. So in a last-minute scramble, GOP leaders gave him an expansion of the refundability portion of that tax credit. That's a major win for Marco Rubio, but something else that Republicans had to give on.

WHITFIELD: So, Lauren -- what about the potential deficit, the nonpartisan joint committee on taxation says this bill could increase the deficit by almost $1.5 trillion. Are there any Republicans openly worried about that? And, you know, saying that just might give them some hesitation over a vote?

FOX: Well, in the beginning of this debate, Senator Bob Corker said that he was deeply concerned about the deficit. He did not want to vote for a bill that added one penny to the deficit. But yesterday in a big surprise he released a statement that said he now plans to vote for this bill. So clearly that's been a big change here.

And I can't actually identify anyone in the U.S. Senate now who's saying that the deficit is going to be what keeps them from voting for this tax bill. So that's, obviously, a major change. WHITFIELD: All right. Lauren Fox -- thanks so much. Good to see

you, appreciate it. >

FOX: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk some more about this with our political panel. David Swerdlick is a CNN political commentator and an assistant editor at the "Washington Post". And Patrick Healy is a CNN political analyst and a "New York Times" editor. Good to see you both.

All right. So David -- you first.

Some say it's not reform, instead just a new plan. So if that's the case, does it still mean this is a victory, potentially, for the President?

[11:05:03] DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it has to be looked at as a political at least victory for President Trump after a year where the narrative, which was really true, that he had not notched a major legislative win was the case.

Now if this passes next week, which by all accounts it looks like it will, he will be able to end the year saying he had a major legislative win.

So I don't see that there's any other way to look at that. The President will tout it. I think Republicans will cheer this going into 2018 when they have to defend their seats in congress.

That being said, you know, the criticisms of the bill remain, that it benefits wealthier earners and investors more than middle class people, that it adds between $1 and $1.5 trillion to the deficit. And as Lauren said, there's really no one out there making the argument that this will be good for long-term for the deficit and what the administration is going to have to bank on now is this idea that this is going to bring economic growth, even though most mainstream economic analyses suggest that it may not do what Republicans say it will do.

WHITFIELD: And then, Patrick -- you know, there are congressional leaders that are saying they have the votes, that this seems inevitable that it will pass. But then remember one of the latest go around for health care reform, John McCain, you know, giving his thumbs down. There could potentially be a moment like this for this bill, no?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think, you know, 48 hours ago it looked like there would be more opportunities for surprise moments; this time maybe not so much.

I mean you see John McCain, who made such a difference, as you said, Fred, on that health care bill, but now he is coming out in favor of this tax plan; so is Bob Corker. Those are two of your biggest deficit hawks that have been out there and they are willing to essentially kind of buy in to the idea that this change in tax rates, certainly on the corporate side and for high end earners, will lead to, you know, from their point of view a kind of stimulus for the economy that will generate revenue.

So in terms of the number of, you know, possible x factors, you know, certainly you've got Jeff Flake from Arizona who's not running for re- election. You've got Susan Collins, who has to have concerns about that repeal of the individual mandate that's being planned, you know.

There are -- certainly, you know, Thad Cochran, you know, and John McCain, they say that they'll be there, but that's still up in the air. Mike Lee is reading. So --

WHITFIELD: But I wonder if it makes a difference that, you know, a lot of these lawmakers are back, you know, in their hometowns. Their constituents will give them an earful potentially this weekend, whereas many of these lawmakers were kind of celebrating before the weekend. But now as of yesterday it's public. And I wonder if that in any way could potentially influence them.

HEALY: It's a little less likely. I mean in terms of one senator (INAUDIBLE) that come out in favor of a bill, coming back on Monday and saying, you know, I've heard this overwhelming shout from, you know, constituents going to change my mind. It's not like the summertime where there are usually those series of town halls where, you know, representatives can leave Washington thinking one way and then come back and feeling such pressure.

So that's a little less likely.

WHITFIELD: David?

SWERDLICK: Fred -- can I just -- can I just add to that? Yes.

So look, even though polls show that a lot of Americans don't feel that this tax bill is actually going to help them significantly or at all, I agree with Patrick. It seems very unlikely to me that Americans, that Republican voters particularly, are going to punish their members of Congress for voting for this, even if it doesn't have some immediate effect.

I think after a year we see that the idea that people voted for President Trump or for their members of Congress just because they thought a tax cut would be stimulative is a little bit thin.

People who are still with the President are getting what they want out of him in terms of some of the culture war issues that he's brought up. Some of the tone change that he's brought in Washington.

He inherited a robust economy from President Obama and it continues to be robust. So if the economy stays good, I don't think people will punish the President for this, even if they, you know, privately think it's not really changing.

WHITFIELD: And that operative word "immediate" because as soon, you know, January and February people just might see a little bit more in their paycheck as a result of all these taxes. But it's kind of the long-term or even -- maybe even midterm.

We're talking 2018, you know, Patrick, where if, you know, voters end up seeing or experiencing that this becomes the massive tax cut for the rich and the big corporations, might Republicans be, you know, feeling it in a different way come midterm elections?

HEALY: They could gain a benefit, Fred. And David just said something that's really important that I want to return to. I mean right now, you know, President Trump for this, you know, first year has been largely like a culture warrior president. I mean really he's focused on these cultural issues. In terms of accomplishments it's really been just Neil Gorsuch getting to the Supreme Court, that's basically been it.

[11:09:54] But now he's going and he's played to his base with his tweets, with his rallies so much of the time. But now if they do get this major tax cut, they'll be able to go more to those kind of traditional country club Republicans, the business establishment that has sort of seen President Trump, you know, sort of sounding off on Twitter the way that he does and this will be, you know, a big fat gift.

And it's a gift, also to David's point, that really the Obama economy, that the series of decisions by President Obama, has led to this much stronger economy that gives the ability of the Republicans to give these tax cuts.

But you can believe it, Fred -- that throughout 2018, the Republicans will be running on this. And it will be likely that some people will gain some benefits, will feel it, and some of that credit will probably go to Republican incumbents.

WHITFIELD: All right. Let me shift gears a little bit.

I want to talk about this CDC moment, the Centers for Disease Control, and what David, your paper is reporting. That the Trump administration has sent the agency by way of someone who is leading the finance office of the CDC sort of a list of banned words and phrases. seven of them including "vulnerable", "entitlement", "diversity", "transgender", "fetus", "evidence-based", and "science- based"; and to eliminate those words from any kind of policies or written material within the CDC.

So, David -- two of your reporters got wind of this by way of anonymous sources who were at that meeting, because this wasn't in an official capacity information coming from the CDC. Why? You know, is there an explanation as to why there is the banning of this kind of vernacular?

SWERDLICK: So, Fred -- I've got to say, first of all, it's a great reporting as always by my "Washington Post" colleagues. If, indeed, this is the direction that the administration is going, and it's coming top-down, it suggests to me, frankly, that this is showing that Republicans who have made political correctness, made hay out of political correctness for years turn out to be the snowflakiest of the snowflakes when it comes to words that seem to offend their ideological sensibilities.

You can disagree on policy, whether it has to do with health policy or transgender rights or any of these other words that are implicated on this list that's being reported out. But the idea -- even if you're against transgender rights or you're against the idea of transgender identity, it is a thing.

So to ban a word like that or to ban some of these other terms suggest something that's almost Soviet in a way. You know, we'll see what happens as this story goes forward.

WHITFIELD: I mean Patrick -- it really smacks of control.

HEALY: right.

WHITFIELD: Control of people's thinking and action and perhaps even dismissal. If you don't see it, then perhaps you don't think it's there.

HEALY: Well, George Orwell wrote, you know, a great piece called "1984" that got at this. I mean sort of the Orwellian language of thought control, of thought police, of words that you could and couldn't say. And as we know from that work, it was a very slippery slope into a really, you know, kind of top-down way of thinking for a society. And that is not healthy.

This is a country that is founded on free speech. It's certainly a country that, you know, has had major divisions and in progress we've tried to look that in the face. People who weren't comfortable with transgender people 20 years ago, I mean the degree of at least if not acceptance, at least sort of understanding that these are fellow Americans and that people should be treated with some kind of respect.

And then for basically the government to come forward and say, well, we're not even going to use the word to describe you is -- it feels Orwellian. And I guess I'd say, Fred -- the question is why.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

HEALY: We still don't know. This is great reporting by "The Post", but you know, you assume innocent until proven guilty -- well that might not be right phrase - - but why, why is this being done?

WHITFIELD: Yes, it's very curious and in the reporting of your paper, "Washington Post", David -- apparently this meeting or this instruction was led by Allison Kelly, a senior leader in the agency, CDC's office of financial services, according to the sources that your reporters spoke to. It is very curious.

All this while, of course, the nominee for the department of Health and Human Services, you know. That confirmation still hasn't happened. So still unclear, you know, who's delivering the message, you know, to this financial, you know, services officer. How did that get disseminated?

All right. David Swerdlick, Patrick Healy -- thank you so much. HEALY: Thanks -- Fred.

SWERDLICK: Thanks -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the North Korean ambassador addressed the United Nations Security Council as both sides accuse the other of escalating nuclear tensions. This as Senator Lindsey Graham warns there's a, quote, "30 percent chance", end quote, President Trump will attack North Korea.

[11:15:02] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

An aggressive warning from North Korea to President Trump today; state media also mocking and referring to Trump as an old lunatic and claiming he was frightened by North Korea's latest missile test.

The comments coming just hours after a strong statement by secretary of State Rex Tillerson to North Korea at a U.N. Security Council meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: As I said earlier this week, a sustained cessation of North Korea's threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin. North Korea must earn its way back to the table. The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved. We will in the meantime keep our channels of communication open.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:20:02] WHITFIELD: All right. I'm joined now by Elise Labott, CNN global affairs correspondent. So Elise -- good to see you. Explain these comments from North Korea today.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Fred -- I mean, I think we have to, you know, just kind of chock this up to the usual rhetoric of North Korea, you know, obviously in particular with President Trump. Kim Jong-Un and President Trump have really gotten under each other's skin and are trading barbs.

I think what was more fundamental and important was that U.N. Security Council meeting yesterday. Secretary of State Tillerson, you know, a little bit stronger of a message than we've seen from him, but still leaving the door open for diplomacy and the North Korean ambassador actually sitting in the hall.

Now, it's very rare for any North Korean official to be addressing the U.N. Security Council. They are always delegitimizing the Security Council.

But there was a U.N. official that visited recently, Jeff Feltman. And he said to the North Koreans, listen, you have to start engaging with the council. You need to start, you know, trying to fix this. And I think even though, you know, the North Korean ambassador was, you know, full of the typical rhetoric, I think the fact that him and Secretary Tillerson and the other members of the council were sitting and addressing each other, you know, while may not have had any breakthroughs, obviously, I think it is significant.

WHITFIELD: And then on Tuesday, you know, Tillerson said the U.S. was ready to start talks with North Korea without preconditions. It seems that a mixed message was also sent. Can the Secretary have it both ways?

LABOTT: Well, I think he's trying to have it both ways. I mean I don't think he means that there's no preconditions for a deal. I think what he was trying to say is there's no preconditions for you and I to have a conversation about starting negotiations.

I mean clearly, the U.S. has its bottom line on nuclear, you know, talks or nuclear negotiation, which would be North Korea has to give up, you know, be willing to talk about giving up its nuclear program.

But I think what he's trying to do is you've seen nothing from the North Koreans about wanting any type of dialogue. I think he's trying to coax them to the table. He knows that the Chinese are looking for that.

The North Koreans have been sending now some signals through intermediaries and through the Russians, you know, asking -- you know, more curious about talks. And so I don't think when Secretary Tillerson says no preconditions he means there are no preconditions for a nuclear deal. What he's saying is, let's just, you know, kind of work towards diplomacy.

And, you know, clearly it was a mixed message and I think what you see playing out is, you know, there are different approaches in this administration about how to deal with North Korea. I mean, everyone has the same goal, but I think the tactics, you know, we're seeing those differences play out.

WHITFIELD: And then, Elise -- you know, Tillerson's comments coming at a rather rare moment at the United Nations when North Korea's representative actually had something to say, and in English.

LABOTT: That's right. I mean, as I said, Jeff Feltman, this undersecretary for political affairs like the maybe third top official at the U.N. is an American, used to be an American diplomat at the State Department. Went there, had 15 hours, Fred, of discussions with the North Koreans.

Now, were there any breakthroughs? No, there weren't. But, you know, for the first time the North Koreans seemed to be engaging him and debating him and talking about these kinds of issues. So when he said to them, you need to start talking to the U.N. Security Council. You need -- if you want to fix this, you need to move towards diplomacy.

And he didn't get any, you know, positive messages. It still looks like the North Koreans are moving ahead on the nuclear program, but at the same time you did see that North Korean ambassador come to the hall, you know, they are always talking about delegitimizing the council, addressing the council in English.

I think that, again, we didn't see any breakthroughs, but I think his presence there yesterday was significant and something that the U.N. may hope to build on. Maybe it's not the U.S. that starts talking with the North Koreans right away. Maybe the U.N. starts to try and coax them to more of a diplomatic stance. We'll just have to see.

WHITFIELD: Yes. There was some inference there, sometimes it's not what you say, but sometimes just how you say it and in which language.

LABOTT: Exactly. Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott -- thank you so much. >

All right. Still ahead, President Trump's lawyers set to meet with the special counsel Robert Mueller and team in the coming days. So what could this mean for the Russia investigation going forward as President Trump refuses to rule out pardoning Michael Flynn?

[11:24:28] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.

The Russia investigation could be headed for a pivotal moment next week. Sources say a key meeting is set to take place between President Trump's private lawyers and the special counsel. Meanwhile, the President's team is hoping the investigation is coming to an end.

CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Sources tell us that the President's lawyers are planning to meet with special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, we're told, as soon as the coming week for what the President lawyers hope will be a chance to find out the next steps in the Mueller investigation.

The Trump legal team, led by John Dowd and Jay Sekulow is hoping that they can see signs that the end is near in Mueller's investigation.

Now, they've had other meetings, but here's why this one is of significance. The White House says that everyone who works there and who Mueller has asked to interview has now gone in for an interview.

One of the last happened earlier last week, when White House counsel Don McGahn sat down for his interview. The White House has also finished turning over documents requested by the special counsel.

There's been no request to interview the President or the Vice President, we're told. We have a statement from Sekulow and he says, quote, "We do not and will not discuss our periodic communications with the special counsel. [11:30:02] And of course, Trump lawyers know that Mueller could still come back to ask for more interviews and for more documents. And it's important to note that there's no requirement for Mueller to give them any information.

They are hoping he's going to show his cards and there's a chance he won't do that. The Mueller investigation is actually moving relatively quickly, compared to typical white collar criminal investigations that often stretch into years.

He's been on the job seven months or so and already Mueller has brought charges against four people, including two who have pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI, but that's not fast enough for the president and his supporters. The bottom line is that the president and Republicans want the cloud of this investigation lifted. Evan Perez, CNN, New York.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks so much, Evan. Let's talk more about all of this. I'm joined now by Tom Fuentes, who is a CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director. Good to see you, Tom.

All right. So, what's the expectation, it's not unusual for attorneys on both sides to have, like, a discussion, but typically what happens after that discussion?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, you're right. It's typical to have the discussion. It's not typical to say what was discussed or any conclusions that were made from it. I think, you know, right now the speculation is that it must be -- the investigation must be coming near to an end.

But, you know, we don't know if we'll find out more along those lines after they have the meeting or not. We may, but there's been very, very little information leaking from the Mueller investigation to know what possibly will come from that meeting.

WHITFIELD: And this meeting comes after the president on the White House lawn, you know, was asked about the idea of potentially pardoning Michael Flynn. This is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: See what happens next week. I can say this, when you look at what's gone on with the FBI and the Justice Department, people are very, very angry. Thank you very much.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, that was difficult to hear, but essentially, he says, you know, he doesn't want to talk about pardons yet and he also said kind of, we'll see. We don't know if the meeting, you know, this coming week after the president said if there's any real correlation.

But if you were on Mueller's team, what do you do with this kind of statement coming from the president when asked about pardons and he says I don't want to talk about it yet, and then he also says we'll see?

FUENTES: Well, the fear for the Mueller team is how much did they need the cooperation and testimony of Michael Flynn? Because if Trump was to pardon him and take away any incentive to cooperate, and they don't have anybody else that's ready to go to testify or provide other information, especially with regard to collusion or obstruction of justice, then, you know, it kind of stops their investigation in its tracks.

Much like more than 10 years ago when Special Counsel Fitzgerald and the FBI were investigating Scooter Libby, who was working for the Vice President Dick Cheney and it was regarding the outing of Valerie Plain, a CIA case officer. You recall in that case, you know, the president, Bush, commuted the sentence.

Meaning he wouldn't pardon him, which would completely exonerate him, but it kept him going to jail and essentially it shut that case down. There was no incentive anymore for Libby to cooperate and provide testimony against anyone else, which possibly could have included the vice president.

WHITFIELD: I wonder in this case, though, because Mueller's team may have learned from precedence, too, that perhaps they already have an expectation of what kind of information to get out of Michael Flynn, before they even cut that deal. So, they may already have all the goods, so to speak, in order to proceed.

Might that be the thinking that, you know, if Michael Flynn doesn't deliver completely on what was promised, Mueller's team already potentially knows whether or not he's kind of changed the deal?

FUENTES: Well, maybe, but again, if the president pardons him, that's it. They are not going to be able to put any other pressure on him, you know, in terms of additional prosecution or possibly going to jail or any of that, so that would be a game changer, and again --

WHITFIELD: And it would certainly look even more -- that would really cement an obstruction building the case.

FUENTES: Well, in one sense, but on the other hand, it would cement that it was a weak case if it's that contingent on one person and that one person is Michael Flynn. So, you could look at that both ways as proof of the president trying to hold the case up or the other way around.

So, I think that we're going to have to wait and see what happens with that, but, you know, again Mueller's team knows what they have and what Flynn can provide, because that would have been part of the deal, but, you know, that might be what they are discussing is what to expect as the case goes forward in that. We just don't know at this point.

[11:35:09] WHITFIELD: Gotcha. All right, very complicated. Tom Fuentes, thank you so much. FUENTES: You're welcome.

WHITFIELD: Still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:48]

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. President Trump's efforts to remake the federal courts are off to a pretty quick start. The Senate has confirmed 12 appellate court judges in the president's first year, a modern record, but some of Trump's nominees have come under fire for their extreme lack of experience or basic legal knowledge.

The latest example is Matthew Petersen, a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission. Here's part of a jaw-dropping exchange with Republican Senator John Kennedy from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Peterson's nomination. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: Can you just raise your hand on this one, if you will, to save a little time? Have any of you not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom? Mr. Petersen, have you ever tried a jury trial?

MATTHEW PETERSEN, DISTRICT COURT JUDGE NOMINEE: I have not.

KENNEDY: Civil?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Criminal?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Bench?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: State or federal court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Have you ever taken a deposition?

PETERSEN: I was involved in taking depositions when I was associate at Wylie Ryan when I first came out of law school. But that was --

KENNEDY: How many depositions?

PETERSEN: I would -- I'd be struggling to remember.

KENNEDY: Less than ten?

PETERSEN: Yes.

KENNEDY: Less than five?

PETERSEN: Probably somewhere --

KENNEDY: Have you ever taken a deposition by yourself?

PETERSEN: I believe no.

KENNEDY: OK. Have you ever argued a motion in state court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Can you tell me what the Dobare standard is?

PETERSEN: Senator Kennedy, I don't have that right away at my disposal.

KENNEDY: Do you know what a motion in Limine is?

PETERSEN: I would probably not give you a good definition at the table.

KENNEDY: OK. Do you know what the younger abstention doctrine is?

PETERSEN: I've heard of it, but I --

KENNEDY: How about the Pullman extension doctrine? You'll all see that a lot in federal court.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: If confirmed, Matthew Petersen would be a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., for a life term, potentially decades after President Trump is out of office.

All right, straight ahead at 1:00 Eastern, we'll break down these nominations, what it could mean for the Trump administration, the judiciary for this country overall.

Meantime, controversial senior staffer, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, is out at the White House. She was tasked with improving African- American outreach, but how successful was she at bridging the gap between the White House and the black community? We'll talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:48:07]

WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. She served as the top ranking African-American in the senior staff of the White House before announcing her resignation this week, but Omarosa Manigault-Newman's discussion of race is hitting a nerve in the black community, where many say she did not represent them. CNN's Randi Kaye takes a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the White House, Omarosa Manigault-Newman's job was to reach out to African-Americans, improve relations, and get their support for the president's agenda. But if you listen to the reaction to her work and her, you might think she did more harm than good.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Truth be told, she's really a pariah in the African-American community. She's always sort of have been the villain and her job as director of outreach in the African- American community was almost a slap in the face to the African- American community.

KAYE: On "The View," co-host Whoopi Goldberg piled on.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I hope you find your people because maybe they are looking for you. She's been so nasty to so many women, and so many women of color.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GOLDBERG: So many women of color.

KAYE: Women like radio and talk show host, Wendy Williams.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you have a nose job?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks like you had a nose job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just looked at before and after -- honey, before and after. Before and after pictures.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, if I can suggest, because the only thing I've had done to my face say little Botox, I would suggest for you some Restalyn, the lines -- they say good black don't crack, she's cracking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would suggest -- and I would suggest a wig that doesn't sit off my head three inches.

KAYE: After she took the White House job, Spike Lee had an especially strong reaction. Slamming her on Instagram, posting this picture of her wearing a clown nose. And despite all her claims she supported President Trump only to help the black community.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I will never forget the people who turn thread backs on me when all I was trying to do was help the black community. It's been so incredibly hard.

KAYE (on camera): Omarosa Manigault-Newman was also known for hostile exchanges with the community, including one at a gathering for the National Association of Black Journalists earlier this year.

NEWMAN: Ask your question, but don't lecture me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go.

KAYE (voice-over): As for her assertion that she saw things in the White House that made her upset --

NEWMAN: I have seen things that made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people.

KAYE: At least one late-night critic simply had enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When she says, "her people" does she mean reality show stars? Because she was not fighting for black people in the White House, my people. Slow down, Omarosa Parks, slow down. You can roll hard with President Trump for a year and then come back to the neighborhood like, hey, that was really weird, right? Anyone else notice that? Was just me? Anyone? And if you're wondering whether black people were buying it, just ask Robin Roberts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye Felicia.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: All right, so much straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. But first, this time of year is all about giving back. The 11th Annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute salutes ten people who have put others first all year long. The star-studded gala airs live tomorrow at 8:00 Eastern Time. Here now is a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): These are everyday heroes. They inspire and change lives every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to make sure they make better choices when it comes to violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you lose your child, the love doesn't go away, it has to find a place. I'm lucky I found a place to put that love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): They are truly what it means to be a hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is people helping people the best way we know how.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they see me, they always feel happy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just give them a chance. They can do anything you ask them to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This Sunday night, CNN presents a very special live event.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper.

KELLY RIPA, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kelly Ripa.

COOPER: Join us live for CNN Heroes An All-Star Tribute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): CNN Heroes An All-Star Tribute live Sunday at 8:00 p.m. on CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:57:03]

WHITFIELD: All right, it's the end of an era on the internet and the beginning of a fierce legal battle over net neutrality. New York and several other states are suing to stop the FCC from repealing net neutrality protections and Democratic members of Congress are also vowing to put up a fight to restore the rules that prevented companies from slowing down or blocking access to online content.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: I'm announcing my support for a congressional review act resolution that will restore net neutrality and undo the evil repeal of it by the FCC. All we need is a majority vote in the House and a majority vote in the Senate and it happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, what does the controversial repeal mean for you? CNN's John Sarland breaks it all down.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN SARLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If the internet is a highway, vehicles are content providers, can't pay more to use a special fast lane. Think of it this way, all content is created equal in the eyes of the internet provider. That's the basic tenet behind net neutrality.

If the internet is neutral, then the internet providers are treated basically by public utilities. Comcast or AT&T couldn't slow down or speed up certain content like Netflix or Hulu.

But if net neutrality ends, some companies are going to be stuck in that slow lane and customers might stop using sites that never seem to load. The rules that made the net neutral were put in place during the Obama administration.

FORMER PRESIDENT OBAMA: This set of principle, the idea of net neutrality, has unleashed the power of the internet and given innovators the chance to thrive.

SARLAND: But now things are going in a different direction. Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC is a former lawyer for Verizon.

AJIT PAI, CHAIRMAN, FCC: Entrepreneurs are constantly developing new technologies and services, but too often, they're unable to bring them to market for consumers because outdated rules or regulatory inertia stand in the way.

SARLAND: To him, repealing net neutrality will lead to innovation that will get the government out of, quote, "micromanaging the internet." The internet providers will have more money, they'll invest more in infrastructure and we'll have faster streaming. While deregulation certainly has earned the praise of the telecommunications industry, on the other side, you have tech companies and consumer advocacy groups.

ALEXIS OHANIAN, CO-FOUNDER, REDDIT: We don't want our internet to look like our television cable. We don't want tiered access. We don't want all the things that have stifled innovation and other industries.

SARLAND: But those who want to keep net neutrality intact, it's a matter of internet freedom. Repeal would mean that internet service providers can choose how affordable and how fast certain content is. That is, they'll be a slow lane and a fast lane.

So, this summer, some big tech giants like Facebook, Google, Netflix, they participated in a day of action to advocate for net neutrality. But really, it's the small companies and the start-ups that have the most to lose if net neutrality ends.

They don't have the deep pockets to pay the toll to access that faster lane. The open question now, will repeal of net neutrality lead to innovation or to a traffic jam?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right. In the fast lane and the slow lane with John Sarland there. The next hour of the NEWSROOM starts right now.