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Senate Democrats Unveil Billionaires' Tax to Help Fund Spending Bill; Pentagon Official Says, ISIS-K Capable of Striking U.S. in Six Months; House Panel to Subpoena Lawyer Who Told Pence to Overturn Election. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 11:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: A new proposal to tax billionaires and a new minimum tax for corporations to pay for President Biden's spending bill.


The president leaves tomorrow for Europe. So, lawmakers are up against the clock once again to strike a deal. And, once again, the White House really seems to be waiting to see if Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will be on board.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, he sits on the Budget and Appropriations Committees.

Okay. Senator, let's try to get through where things stand right now, if you will. You've been a supporter of getting the spending bill over the finish line no matter its size. These two new potential taxes are covering the --

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, yes --

BOLDUAN: Am I wrong?

VAN HOLLEN: No. Look, I support getting this done. They're the two big pieces. We still have the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate. And, of course, we're trying to wrap up the other part of the build back better agenda. There are a number of balls still up in the air, as you just reported, including on the revenue side.

We all agree that we need to make this deficit neutral. We don't want to increase the deficit, which, of course, is what Republicans did back in 2017 with their $2 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthy, but we are trying to resolve these issues.

And you just mentioned two of the revenue ideas that are under consideration right now. One is a minimum tax on corporations of 15 percent. The other is the billionaire's tax. And those we're working through the details now.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It was striking to me to hear that there are these new taxes being proposed now as well as concerns being raised about these new taxes from the likes of Joe Manchin because I want to play for everyone what the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said just last month on September 23rd.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The White House, the House and the Senate have reached agreement on a framework that will pay for any final negotiated agreement. So, the revenue side of this we have an agreement on.


BOLDUAN: He also said on that day, Senator, that it is that simple. But, clearly, it is not that simple. Why is this not yet decided?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, Kate, as you have reported, we have at least one senator who is opposed to the original framework that we thought we had, which is to not only close tax loopholes on corporations, which we are agreed on, in other words, closing down the loopholes that allow multinational corporations to park their profits overseas, but we also thought that there was agreement on raising the corporate tax rate, up to something in the range of between 25 and 27 percent. Our colleague from Arizona does not support that and, therefore, we're looking for other ways.

I should say, Kate, none of these ideas we're discussing now are new, however. I mean, they've all been out there. Many of us have supported these proposals. It is a question though of wrapping up the details. You're right about that, absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Joe Manchin has raised concerns about the billionaire's tax. If that's the case, I mean, is it off the table then?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, it's not off the table. I think he's raised some concerns about implementation. And we're working with him to show him how this would work. But we're also pursuing other ideas, for example, something I proposed for some time is a millionaire's surtax. This is for folks who make over a million dollars every year, you would apply a 10 percent surtax to them.

The House pursued that idea. They included -- they changed the parameters a little bit. So, for example, they said that for people making over $5 million a year, there will be a 3 percent surtax instead of for folks making over a million a year a 10 percent surtax.

So, you can see that there are a number of ideas on the table that could get you the revenue you need to make sure that we can make these investments without increasing the deficit.

BOLDUAN: Just stepping back from the details for a second, President Biden leaves tomorrow for a big climate summit. And he's specifically told members of Congress that he wants a deal, or a framework at least in hand before he goes over there. If he does not have a deal in hand, which includes these climate provisions or some kind of funding towards climate provisions, and he is asking -- how does he ask other countries to commit to action that his own party is stumbling over right now?

VAN HOLLEN: Look, Kate, I think when it comes to climate, we have brought agreement on some very important initiatives.


As you say, there are some loose ends when it comes to the climate. But the last that I saw, we were talking about in the range of $500 billion investments, incentives to move to a clean energy economy. That would be a significant step forward and help us achieve those reduction goals, those emission reduction goals that President Biden has spoken about.

BOLDUAN: But he won't have it in hand. That's the -- it's like if you're going to lead by example, how do you lead by example and you ask other countries to do tough work that's going to be expensive and maybe unpopular in some areas of the country if you can't do it in the United States?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, we're working very hard to pin down agreement on that piece, what I just mentioned, the $500 billion investment in clean energy, energy efficiency. There are other provisions that many of us have worked on, like the clean energy accelerator, which would have a multiplier effect. It's a public-private partnership, something I've worked on for years that's in the bill now.

So, we have a number of things where I think the president will be able to go to the summit and say, I've got a commitment on this piece. I understand that we're also trying to wrap up the other items and we're trying to do that as fast as possible.

BOLDUAN: The tough work continues. Thank you, Senator, for coming on.

VAN HOLLEN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a top Pentagon official warns ISIS-K could soon be capable of attacking the United States faster and sooner than previously thought. Details ahead.



BOLDUAN: Developing this morning, a top Pentagon official with a new warning. ISIS-K, the terror group responsible for the deadly attack at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, could be ready to carry out another attack against the United States in six months, early this spring.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live at the Pentagon. He's following all this. Oren, this is faster and sooner than a lot of people were suggesting. What are you hearing?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is, Kate. This was one of the key questions when the U.S. got troops out of Afghanistan, how long would it take for a terror threat to eminate from Afghanistan once again? Let's remember, of course, that's one of the reasons the U.S. went into Afghanistan after 9/11.

We've heard estimates as to this number before about a month ago. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley said it would take anywhere between 6 and 36 months for a terror threat to come out of Afghanistan again.

But this is much more specific and much sooner, coming from the Pentagon's top policy official, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl. He was speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he said they can't do it right now, specifically ISIS-K, but within 6 to 12 months, so sometime next year, perhaps as soon as spring, ISIS-K could be ready to attack the United States. Al Qaeda, he said, would take a little bit longer.

Now, the assumption, he said, was that the U.S. doesn't take any action against it, although the Biden administration has made it clear they will continue to carry out counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. The problem is, for now at least, that relies on so- called over-the-horizon capabilities, carrying out operations from outside of Afghanistan, and that process isn't fully baked yet. Right now, the U.S. is flying in drones from the gulf. They're Looking at options that are closer but they're not there yet, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Oren, thank you for that report. I really appreciate it.

Also developing right now, Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing tough questions in a Senate hearing. Garland is pushing back on Republican calls to rescind a Justice Department memo which it ordered federal authorities to coordinate with local law enforcement on how to tackle threats targeting local school officials.

Let's get over to CNN's Jessica Schneider. She has been watching all of this play out. Jessica, what's the attorney general saying?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, there's been this persistent back and forth throughout this hearing, Republicans and Democrats. And they're all talking about this memo from Merrick Garland. It was sent earlier this month instructing the FBI and federal prosecutors to meet with local school boards to discuss any strategies to stop threats that some educators say they've been facing when it comes to things like COVID protocols, including mask mandates and the teaching of racial issues in class.

So, Republicans over the past month, they have seized on this memo as a rallying cry. They falsely stated that it's meant to stifle free speech and they're also falsely portraying it as a directive to arrest parents who speak out at school board meetings.

Well, Attorney General Garland, he was questions sharply about this memo, even last week at the House hearing. He's facing another grilling today from Senate Republicans. And this time, Merrick Garland is really coming forward with a much stronger defense of why he sent this memo out, saying that ramped-up threats aren't happening just on the school board front. Here is what he said.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's in a rising tide of threats of violence against judges, against prosecutors, against secretaries of state, against election administrators, against doctors, against protesters, against news reporters. That's the reason that we responded as quickly as we did when we got a letter indicating that there were threats of violence and violence with respect to school officials and school staff.



SCHNEIDER: And the attorney general has actually faced repeated calls from some Republicans not only at this hearing but in the weeks that have gone by, Kate, to rescind this memo. Garland though has specifically stated at this hearing he will not rescind it. He says it was warranted. But, of course, that won't stop the questions from Republicans who have really seized on this issue. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jessica, thank you for that.

Coming up for us, the Congressional committee investigating the insurrection is expected to subpoena the attorney who advised Trump and Pence on how to overturn the election. New video capturing what John Eastman really wanted them to do, next.


BOLDUAN: The House select committee investigating the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is planning on issuing a subpoena for this man, we'll show you, John Eastman. He's an attorney worked for Donald Trump's legal team. And as Woodward and Costa first reported in their book, Eastman was the architect of the legal scheme to try to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the constitution and throw out the 2020 election results, which Pence could not do legally and ultimately decided not to try to do.

Fast forward to last week, Eastman told the National Review in an interview that the legal strategy outlined in that memo was, quote, not viable and would have been crazy to pursue. But a Democratic activist posing as Trump support has now captured Eastman on tape admitting that was indeed the plan. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, I mean, like just, supporter to supporter, like why do you think that Mike Pence didn't do it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, because Mike Pence is an establishment guy at the end of the day. And all of the establishment Republicans in D.C. fought into this very myopic view that Trump was destroying the Republican Party. And what Trump is doing is destroying the inside, the Beltway Republican Party and reviving the Republican Party in the hinterland, right, what they all consider to be deplorable flyover country.

And this uprising that Trump got ahead of, he didn't create the movement. The movement was there and he saw it and got ahead of it.


BOLDUAN: Joining me now, CNN Chief Political Correspondent, co- Anchor, co-Host of CNN's State of the Union, Dana Bash.

Dana, the January 6 committee clearly wants to question John Eastman. That's abundantly clear. But now with this tape out there, I mean, what do they really want to get from him, do you think?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The actual thought behind the memo that he wrote, which you mentioned Bob Woodward and Bob Costa have in their book, which was supposed to be a roadmap for Mike Pence, the then-vice president, to just gavel out the meeting of Congress to certify the election results, as is mandated in the U.S. Constitution and effectively stage bloodless coup in doing so.

And the questions are abundant that the lawmakers would and do have for him, not the least of which is how involved was the president of the United States? And what did he and Eastman and others do with that memo? How far did they go, how far did they push? Because it's one piece of a broader puzzle, which is becoming more and more clear, but it could become even more crystal clear if they got cooperation from the people who they've now sent subpoenas to who seem to have been extremely involved.

And, again, it's not just about January 6, it's the days and weeks leading up to as the president continued to try to chip away at the foundations of democracy, and that is how the votes were set out, how they were counted and how they were certified.

BOLDUAN: And this all speaks to your new special that premieres tonight. I want to play a preview and then we can talk more about it. But to set up a clip, this gets at President Trump's focus on Georgia when pushing his lie about the election. You spoke to the Republican speaker of the Georgia house about the new voting laws that are since the election that have gone in place, putting new limits on the powers of state election officials.


BASH: You understand how it looks from the outside in that the secretary of state, who prevented President Trump from meddling here, is now losing the power that he used to do just that.

STATE REP. DAVID RALSTON (R-GA): His relationship with the president did not factor into my approach to this bill.

BASH: Do you believe that the 2020 election here in Georgia was free and fair?

RALSTON: I believe that a lot of Georgians have concerns that there were issues with it. And I believe that we as a legislature have a duty to respond to those people that had concerns.

BASH (voice over): The new law also allows the state board to take over county election offices and remove local officials if it believes they are running their elections poorly over two consecutive elections.

CAROL ANDERSON, PROFESSOR AND CHAIR OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDIES, EMORY UNIVERSITY: We have seen this before in the era of Jim Crow when there were counties that had sizeable black populations. You saw the state legislature then come in and say, we will control that county election board and install our own people in there.

RALSTON: I find it incredibly offensive when I hear it labeled as Jim Crow 2.0.

BASH: So why is it not?

RALSTON: Because it expands voting. It makes voting more accessible here.


BOLDUAN: Tell me more about what we're going to see in this special report, Dana.

BASH (on camera): Well, let's just start with Georgia. Georgia is one of three states where we traveled, Georgia, Texas and also Arizona. But Georgia, for the reasons you talked about at the beginning is the most telling and the most maybe important example because it's not just about what happened in 2020, whereas a Democrat took the state on the presidential level, Joe Biden, and then the Democrats won two Senate seats and took control of the United States Senate.

And there will be a big race again there in the midterms, but it's the fact that they changed the laws in several ways that make it not just more difficult for some people to access the ballot but also much more importantly for people who put their selves on the guardrails against -- between Donald Trump and the final election votes, those powers have been taken away.


And we talk a lot about that with the people who did it.

BOLDUAN: I can't wait for it. Thank you, Dana. You can watch Dana's special report, Stop the Vote. It airs tonight at 9:00 P.M. right here on CNN.

We are moments away, everyone, from a briefing in New Mexico on the deadly shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's movie. That's coming up right after a quick break.