Return to Transcripts main page

State of the Union

Does Republican Plan Actually Raise Taxes on Middle Class? President Trump Blasts Al Franken, Stays Silent on Roy Moore; Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Interview With White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; Interview With Maine Senator Susan Collins; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Bill Clinton Should Have Resigned; White House: Franken Admitted Wrongdoing, President Hasn't; President Trump's First Turkey Pardon In This Week's "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired November 19, 2017 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Selective outrage.

President Trump criticizes Democrat Al Franken after sexual misconduct allegations.

LEEANN TWEEDEN, KABC RADIO: He just mashes his mouth to my lips.

TAPPER: Now the White House says, believe Franken's accuser, but not the president's many accusers.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Senator Franken has admitted wrong doing, and the president hasn't.

TAPPER: All of this while the president says mum on whether he believes the charges against Republican candidate Roy Moore.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine weighs in on that next.

And Senate showdown. House Republicans pass a sweeping tax bill.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is a very, very big milestone.

TAPPER: Now the fight is heating up in the Senate.



SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: This bullcrap that you guys throw out here really gets old.

TAPPER: Democrats are hoping to kill the bill. Can they convince enough Republicans to join them? Senator Bernie Sanders is here exclusively in moments. Plus, will some lower-income families actually see a tax increase?

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney will explain his view.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is reckoning.

This morning, a scathing new editorial from Alabama's largest news network and the state's top three newspapers is calling on Alabama voters to support Democratic candidate Doug Jones over Roy Moore, saying the election is a -- quote -- "turning point for women in Alabama."

They write -- quote -- "The seriousness of these incidents, including one involving a 14-year-old child, cannot be overstated. Do not let this conversation be muddled. This election has become a referendum on whether we will accept this kind of behavior from our leaders" -- unquote.

It's a conversation that spread this week directly to the halls of the U.S. Capitol and to both political parties, when a woman accused Democratic Senator Al Franken of groping and kissing her without her consent in 2006.


TAPPER: And joining us now is Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine.

Senator, I want to get to taxes in a moment, but I do want to start with the Alabama Senate race, where Republican nominee Roy Moore has been accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl, sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.

You have urged Moore to withdraw from the race, but you also said that, if he wins, the Senate would have -- quote -- "no choice but to seat him."

I do wonder, though, if Moore is elected, I understand he would have to be seated, but would you want the Senate to vote to expel him?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It's too early for me to say what the Ethics Committee recommendation would be.

And, obviously, I came out against Roy Moore very early, in fact, before these terrible allegations were levied against him, because I was concerned about his performance as a member of the Alabama Supreme Court, where he had been removed twice for failing to follow lawful orders and also because of his comments on Muslims and LGBT individuals.

So, these allegations are extremely disturbing, but, under the Constitution, the test on whether or not you seat someone is whether they satisfy the age and residency requirements. So, we would have to seat him, but I hope we don't get there. I think we're getting ahead of ourselves, and I hope that the voters of Alabama choose not to elect him.

TAPPER: Would you rather serve with Doug Jones, the Democrat, than with Roy Moore?

COLLINS: I don't know Doug Jones at all, but I have never supported Roy Moore, and I hope that he does not end up being in the United States Senate.

TAPPER: And just to be clear, and then we will move on from Roy Moore, you believe the women; you think that these are credible allegations that he assaulted -- sexually assaulted a 16-year-old and sexually molested a 14-year-old girl?

COLLINS: I do. I read his explanation.

I listened to his radio interview, and I did not find his denials to be convincing at all. So, from my perspective, these are credible allegations against him.

TAPPER: Now, the White House has not commented on whether the allegations are credible, but President Trump did attack Senator Al Franken after the allegations against him.

They were asked, the White House, this week why are the allegations between -- against Franken different from the allegations, multiple allegations from at least 13 different women, against President Trump.


Listen to how the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, answered.


HUCKABEE SANDERS: Specifically, Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the president hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction.


TAPPER: It's kind of an odd thing to say in some ways. Do you buy the notion that Trump's accusers are not credible because the president denies the allegations?

COLLINS: I did not support President Trump. He was not my candidate for president. And part of the reason why were allegations about how he treated women.

I made my decision before the "Hollywood Access" (sic) tape came out, but I was not a supporter of President Trump for the Republican nomination.

TAPPER: Let's turn to taxes.

You said this week that Republicans made a big mistake when they changed the tax bill to include this repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate, because that -- removing that could raise taxes or payments, health care payments, premiums, for millions of Americans.

If that provision stays in the tax bill, will that mean a no vote from you?

COLLINS: Well, first of all, I think we need to distinguish between taking away insurance from people who already have it, which is what the health care bills that we considered earlier this year would have done, vs. removing a fine on people who choose not to have insurance.

And that fine falls disproportionately, 80 percent, on those who make under $50,000.

I don't think that provision should be in the bill. I hope the Senate will follow the lead of the House and strike it.

If not, I think we need to fix it by passing two bills, the Alexander- Murray bill, which will help to stabilize markets and reduce premiums, and a bill I've introduced with Bill Nelson of Florida that would create high-risk pools that would protect people with preexisting conditions and also help to reduce premiums by 20 percent.

TAPPER: You say that you have data show that...

COLLINS: But the...

TAPPER: ... the premium increase will outweigh any tax cut that a middle-income person might get from this tax bill.

If that data point doesn't change -- I just want to drill in on this point -- will you have to vote no, if there isn't the relief that you're looking for, either by tinkering with this bill or through the legislation you just offered?

COLLINS: The bill is going to be subject to amendment on the Senate floor. And I'm filing amendments myself, in part to provide more relief to middle-income families and to deal with the very problem that you have identified.

The fact is that, if you do pull this piece of the Affordable Care Act out, for some middle-income families, the increased premium is going to cancel out the tax cut that they would get, and that's why it's so important that we pass the two pieces of legislation that I have talked about.

And it's also why we need to restore the tax deduction for state and local taxes, the way that the House did. That will help our middle- income taxpayers get more tax relief.

I also want to keep the tax rate at right where it is, at 39.6 percent, for people who are making a million dollars or more a year, rather than lowering it, as the Senate bill would do.

TAPPER: Senator Orrin Hatch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, got angry at Democrats this week for suggesting that this tax bill is a giveaway to the rich. Take a listen.


HATCH: I really resent anybody saying that I'm just doing this for the rich. Give me a break.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: How many times do we do this before we learn this?

HATCH: Listen, I have honored you by allowing you to spout off here. And what you said was not right.


TAPPER: Let's drill down on the actual issue that they're debating here.

Based on the numbers you have seen, does this tax bill benefit the rich more than it does the middle class?

COLLINS: It benefits people of all tax brackets.

But what I want to do is to skew more of that relief to middle- and low-income families. The Senate bill starts to do that. It doubles the child care -- the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, and it also makes part of it refundable to very-low-income individuals who don't pay any tax at all.

It doubles the standard deduction, so that a couple making $24,000 would pay no income tax at all. So, I don't think those allegations are fair. But, nevertheless, there are provisions of the bill that I would like to see changed.


And keeping that top rate for individuals where it is for people making more than $1 million is one change. And I would also like to see the business taxes, which do need to be reduced in order to incentivize the creation of good jobs and higher wages in this country, but it does not need to be reduced all the way to 20 percent for large businesses.

TAPPER: All right.

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, always a pleasure to have you on. Thank you so much.

COLLINS: Thank you, Jake.


TAPPER: As Republicans battle over the details in the tax bill, will Americans actually see the tax cuts President Trump promised?

The White House budget director is here next.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Right now, it's a tale of two Republican tax plans on Capitol Hill.

This week, House Republicans passed a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax cut, in which -- which Speaker Paul Ryan hailed as a defining moment for our country.


But, in the Senate, Republicans are working to pass a tax bill with some significant differences, including on key points such as the corporate tax rate and state and local deductions.

According to members, President Trump told House Republicans in a closed-door meeting that the Senate would -- quote -- "come around." But there are a lot of lingering questions, including, will middle- class Americans get the tax break that President Trump promised them?

Here to discuss this is the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney.

Thanks so much for being here, Director Mulvaney.



TAPPER: So, you just heard Republican Senator Susan Collins. She's a crucial swing vote.


TAPPER: She says your plan to repeal the individual mandate as part of the tax bill would raise premiums, drive up the number of uninsured Americans.

Is President Trump at all open to the idea of dropping the provision of repealing the Obamacare mandate?

MULVANEY: I don't think anybody doubts where the White House is on repealing and replacing Obamacare. We absolutely want to do it.

If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill, and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that's great. If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we're OK with taking it out. So, I think it's up to the Senate and the House to sort of hammer out those details.

TAPPER: As of now, do you think it's an impediment?

MULVANEY: I don't, actually, because I think you also heard Senator Collins say something very important, which is that, when we get rid of -- if they do get rid of this penalty, the folks who benefit from that are predominantly folks who make less than $50,000 or $100,000 a year.

I think 58 percent of the folks who pay the fine make less than $50,000, and almost 80 percent of the people who pay that fine today make less than $100,000. So, there's actually a benefit to folks if the repeal goes away.

But, again, it's up to the House and Senate to try and hammer through those details.

TAPPER: So, let's talk about this part of it, because the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation analyzed the Senate tax bill, and found that they think that it would effectively raise taxes for lower-income Americans.

Let me read you part of the findings -- quote -- "If the Senate bill becomes law, Americans earning $30,000 a year or below would pay higher taxes beginning in 2021. The projected increase stems from the bill's repeal of the Affordable Care Act's mandate that most people have health insurance."

Now, I understand that some people might argue that eliminating Obamacare subsidies is not the same thing as increasing taxes. But whatever you want to call it, lower-income people will have less money.

So, I guess the big question is, how can Republicans and the White House propose a bill that would simultaneously cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans, while effectively creating more of a financial burden for Americans earning less than $30,000 a year?

MULVANEY: Yes, the bottom line is that the White House, the president is not going to sign a bill that raises taxes on the middle class, period.

However, what you have just read sort of gets down deep in the weeds of scoring these Particular tax bills. And one of the fundamental assumptions of what you have just read is that getting rid of the mandate means fewer people are covered.

Think about that for a second. Getting rid of a mandate that you buy something means some folks are going to start to give stuff up. This makes absolutely no sense. If they don't want it, they don't have to have it.

But changing the mandate doesn't kick people off of policies. For example, most of the folks who are covered by Obamacare writ large are covered by the Medicaid expansion. And the individual mandate would have no impact on that.

So, you have moved down into the details of scoring. It's very difficult to sort of get at what is really going to happen in this complex economy of ours. But the bottom is, if we really believe that whatever comes out of the House and Senate conference committee before Christmas raises taxes on the middle class, the president is not going to sign it. TAPPER: But the bottom line is, we're debating whether -- I

understand that whether or not a subsidy, taking away a subsidy for a family...


TAPPER: ... is the same thing as raising taxes, but the bottom line is, we're talking about thousands of dollars here and there for individual families that can't afford it, while we're talking about people in the higher-income level who are going to get tens, if not hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars of tax release -- relief.

You just heard Susan Collins say that she would like to skew more of the relief to lower- and middle-income families.

Isn't there an obvious path here to have more of this relief go to people who make less than $100,000 a year, and less of it go to the people who honestly aren't wanting, in the sense that whether it's a $1,000 subsidy or a $1,000 tax increase, it doesn't really affect their lives?

MULVANEY: Yes, and I have to smile because, every time I come on your network, we have a discussion about how the proposed tax bill is going to lower taxes on the rich. Then I go on to other networks that will go unnamed here, and the they accuse the tax bill of raising taxes on the rich.

But the bottom line is this, is what the president has been trying to get from the very beginning is focused on two things. How can the ordinary Americans, middle-class, hardworking taxpayers pay less and pay whatever they pay simpler? That's principle number one. And how do we get that corporate tax rate down as low as we can?

That's what continues to drive our interest in this bill. The House bill that passed last week preserves that. Everything we have seen so far about the Senate bill that is taking shape this week coming out of their committee preserves that.

And that's what's driving the White House's interest in this. As long as the House and the Senate stay within the guardrails, we will be OK.

TAPPER: Another finding from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, they analyzed the Senate bill.

They said -- quote -- "Americans earning $75,000 a year or less would also face large tax increases by 2027 because of the Senate's plan to allow individual tax cuts to expire at the end of 2025."


TAPPER: Why are the corporate tax cuts permanent and the ones for individuals sunsetted?


MULVANEY: Just because the way they're scored.

And, again, a lot of this discussion -- and this is what's so hard to explain to folks -- this is where Washington really does speak a different language.

So much of what you're seeing, all of these intricacies about this, this, this expires after five years, maybe this is permanent, maybe this is not, maybe the estate taxes double for another couple of years and then goes away, is to try and shoehorn the bill into the rules of the Senate.

Because of the absurd rules of the Senate that requires 60 votes on just about everything, in order to get the 50-vote treatment we get under reconciliation, we have to follow these very specific requirements of the Budget Act of 1974.

It doesn't speak to the quality of the policy. It's simply trying to essentially manipulate the numbers and game the system so that you can fall into this square peg.

TAPPER: By using gimmicks. By using gimmicks.

MULVANEY: And every major piece of legislation has done it since we have been using reconciliation, not the least of which is Obamacare.

TAPPER: So, you acknowledge that it would cost more than $1.5 trillion?

MULVANEY: Oh, absolutely not.

In fact, I think it costs a lot less than that. In fact, I think it actually generates money. Keep in mind, that $1.5 trillion, in and of itself, is a gimmick, because it's a completely static forecast.

The CBO refuses to give any value at all to the dynamic effects of lowering taxes and letting people keep more of their own money. So, no, this is -- this is -- this is what we live with in Washington, D.C.

We're so detached of the ordinary world and the way the economy works, that we have discussions like this, instead of saying, look, is it better for you to be able to keep more of your money? We think that it is. Is it better to encourage companies to set up business in the United States and hire people here? We think that it is.

Will benefits of doing those things flow to ordinary working families? We think that it will. It's just very difficult to translate those really good policies into these arcane rules in the Senate.

TAPPER: All right, Director Mulvaney, thanks so much for being here. We appreciate it.

MULVANEY: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: President Trump says Democrats could get what they want on taxes if they weren't being such obstructionists. So, Democrats, do they need to play nice and compromise on taxes?

Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, who caucuses with the Democrats, will be here to answer that question next.

Stay with us.




ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I really resent anybody saying that I'm just doing this for the rich. Give me a break.



BROWN: We do...



BROWN: And over and over again...

HATCH: Wait just a second.

BROWN: How many times do we do this before we learn this?

HATCH: I like you personally very much, but I'm telling you, this bullcrap that you guys throw out here really gets old after a while. And to do it right at the end of this was just not right.


TAPPER: High tensions and personal jabs on Capitol Hill this week, as senators battle over the new tax bill.

The future of the legislation is anything but certain. Republicans are struggling to secure the needed votes, and Democrats are doing everything in their power to stop the bill.

Joining me now is a very outspoken critic of the Republican plan, independent Senator of Vermont Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats. He's also the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

Senator Sanders, good to see you, as always. President Trump is accusing Democrats of being obstructionists on the tax issue. He tweeted -- quote -- "If Democrats were not such obstructionists and understood the power of lower taxes, we would be able to get many of their ideas into the bill."

What's your response?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, that's total nonsense.

Democrats have been completely shut out of this process, just as they were shut out of the health care legislation process.

Here is the fact. And Trump should understand this. What this legislation is about is fulfilling the promises, Republican promises, made to wealthy campaign contributors.

There is a reason why the billionaire class provides hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions to Republicans. And now is payback time.

What this legislation is about, Jake, is giving 50 percent of the tax benefits to the top 1 percent, and at the end of 10 years in the House bill, forcing almost 50 percent of the middle class to actually pay more in taxes.

What this legislation is about, absolutely insanely, is repealing the estate tax, a $269 billion tax break, not for the top 1 percent, but for the top two-tenths of one 1 percent, a handful of the wealthiest families in this country, like the Walton family and the Koch brothers family and other very wealthy families.

TAPPER: So, Senator...

SANDERS: And, by the way...


SANDERS: By the way, Jake, one other point.

When they run up a $1.5 trillion deficit, as they will in this legislation, they're going to come back -- and that's what Paul Ryan is saying -- they're going to come back with massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, because they say, oh, my goodness, the deficit and the national debt are too high.

This is a terrible, terrible piece of legislation, and it must be defeated.

TAPPER: So, Republicans' response to the idea that 50 percent is going to the top 1 percent is, the top 1 percent pays a disproportionate amount of taxes.

I do want to better understand your objection to this aspect of the bill. Is it the size of the tax cut going to the wealthy that bothers you or the idea that the wealthy are getting any tax cut at all?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, what the Republicans are forgetting about is, yes, the rich pay more in taxes because we have massive income and wealth and equality in America.

Fifty-two percent of all new income in America is going to the top 1 percent. Duh. Yes, the rich are going to be paying more in taxes. But does anybody watching this program really believe that the major

crisis facing our country, when the middle class is shrinking, when our infrastructure is falling apart, when young people can't afford to go to college, are leaving school deeply in debt, when 28 million people have no health insurance, does anyone really think that the major crisis facing this country is the need to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the very richest people in this country?


TAPPER: A centerpiece of this tax bill is a significant reduction in the corporate tax rate. Is it not true that lowering corporate tax rates would encourage more companies to set up shop here in the United States and discourage them from doing --

SANDERS: It's not true.

TAPPER: It's not true?

SANDERS: No it's not true in this sense.

First of all the Republicans are not telling the truth about the effective corporate tax rate. Nominally it is 35 percent. Effectively it's somewhere around 14 or 15 percent.

Second of all what they are trying to do is pass what is called a territorial tax program which will in fact lower taxes for corporations that invest abroad. In fact, a very serious argument can be made that their legislation will result in the exodus of jobs from the United States, companies going abroad, paying lower taxes there.

Our job right now is to end the on absurdity of one out of five major profitable corporations in America today -- today not paying a nickel in federal taxes. Their legislation would make it worse.

And by the way, what they are also doing is making permanent -- making permanent the corporate tax breaks, making temporary the tax breaks that benefit working families and the middle class. Absolutely crazy.

TAPPER: As you know, the Senate tax bill underwent major (ph) changes (ph) this (ph) week (ph) and it now includes repealing the individual mandate that is part of Obamacare.

Are you and Senator Schumer quickly denounced the move saying that this would throw 13 million off of health insurance? And "The Washington Post Fact Checker" looked at the claim and gave Senator Schumer two Pinocchios for that because this people would be voluntarily going without insurance because they no longer have to pay a fine.

How -- explain to me how is giving people a choice whether or not to give -- have health care and not having a fine anymore, how is that throwing 13 million people off of health insurance?

SANDERS: Well, 13 -- there will be 13 -- we already have 28 million people who are no health insurance. Every other major country on earth guarantees health care to all people. What would happen is 13 million more people would not have health insurance.

Now, some people say well, if I'm 25 years of age and I'm healthy, hey, no problem. I'm not going to buy health insurance. Well, you know what? Twenty-five olds come down and are diagnosed with leukemia, they get hit by buses.

And you know who's going to have to pick up the bill for those 25- year-olds? You are, I am and everybody else in America who is now paying for health insurance.

The studies indicate that when you repeal the individual mandate, what you're going to see is premiums go up for everybody else by about 10 percent because your pool of consumers will be older and sicker. Our job is to join the rest of the industrialized world, guarantee health care to all people (INAUDIBLE) and the absurdity of our country paying twice as much per capita as any other country, not have a situation where 13 million more Americans don't have health insurance.

TAPPER: You've weighed in on the allegations against your fellow progressive Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, saying that you -- quote -- "Agree with the calls for an ethics committee investigation into this deeply troubling incident."

I have a question about this new environment that we're in. A lot of people are re-examining past allegations against folks like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas or President Bill Clinton. Your colleague Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said this week that Bill Clinton should have resigned after it came out that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a White House intern. Do you agree with Senator Gillibrand?

SANDERS: Look, I don't think that at this moment our goal is to look back 20 years or 30 years. Our goal is to go forward and our goal is to understand that we have a real crisis in this country today within the political world, within the corporate world, within the media world where women are being harassed every single day. And our job is to change that culture, but it's not only harassment on the job.

Right now we're seeing the situation in Washington and in states all over this country, a major effort to take away a woman's right to control her own body. Major struggles to take away women's reproductive rights. Women are making 80 cents on the dollar compared to men.

The world has changed and we have not caught up with that and obviously what has got to happen is women have been to be treated as equal citizens, have to be comfortable at work and have to be first class citizens in this country which is now not the case.

TAPPER: Do you think that Al Franken should resign?

SANDERS: I think that's a decision for Al Franken and the people of the state of Minnesota. My understanding is that Al is a very poplar senator. People in Minnesota think that he is doing a good job and his political future will rest with the people of Minnesota.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, Senator Sanders. Always nice to have you on the show. Appreciate it.

SANDERS: Thank you.

TAPPER: President Trump attacking Democrat Al Franken over sexual assault allegations. But what about the president's own accusers? The White House says there's a big difference between Trump and Franken.


Plus, as the president gets ready for his first turkey pardon, could anyone else try to sneak in for a pardon of their own? The "State of the Cartoonion" is coming up. Stay with us.



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

GILLIBRAND: I would -- yes. I think that is the appropriate response.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This was a painful time not only in our marriage, but in our country as I've written about, but it was investigated fully. It was addressed at the time. He was held accountable.


TAPPER: That was Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand saying that Bill Clinton should have probably resigned after the Lewinski scandal became public and Hillary Clinton saying he was indeed held accountable.

My panel is with me now.

Congresswoman Kelly, what do you think? Should Bill Clinton have resigned looking back at it?


REP. ROBIN KELLY (D-IL), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: I think it doesn't make sense to go back to 20 years ago and talk about what should have happened then.

He did -- I think he did pay his penitence and he did go through impeachment so -- but I think to relitigate now doesn't make sense.

TAPPER: What do you think?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT: Well, a lot of the allegations against Bill Clinton were never litigated, were never discussed openly. In fact, Hillary Clinton and her team spent a lot of time putting down the women who were trying to level these allegations.

I think if we're looking back 40 years on a Senate candidate you can look back 20 years on a former president whose wife is still very active as an opponent to Bill Clinton. And let me tell you --

TAPPER: Opponent to Donald Trump.

CAPUTO: I'm sorry. Opponent to Donald Trump.

Let me tell you this also. Senator Gillibrand, I mean, she's my senator.

I worked against her on more than one election. And I used to look at her as just Senator Schumer's, you know, kind of puppet. That's how the Republicans -- I'm on the Republican committee in New York that's how we discuss her but this is not the senator -- the Gillibrand that we know in New York.

This is something very different and she has become an independent voice and people in New York are looking at her differently. Not just because of this, but because of other things she's doing very independently. There's nobody on the north eastern Senate delegation who has done as much as she has for let's say for example the Hurricane Sandy victims and I think she's a real comer for the presidency.

TAPPER: What do you think, Neera?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Here's what -- I will say I worked for President Clinton during impeachment and during the whole process and I do think being a president who was impeached was a punishment for this. I have to say he faced a lot more punishment than the current president who has 16 accusers.

So if you're going to look at people and say we can look 20 years ago at a former president, we can look in the last decade at a current president. And I find it outrageous that Donald Trump won't speak about Roy Moore who's accused of that. (INAUDIBLE) --


TANDEN: And he's -- not last week. Has said very much. He won't (ph) talk about it

CAPUTO: He's not going to speak about it every hour. He's not going to do that.

TAPPER: But he hasn't -- I guess, the White House has said --

TANDEN: Give me a break.

TAPPER: The White House has said just to -- the White House has said that the president finds the allegations disturbing and if true, he should step down, but they haven't said whether or not he thinks the allegations are true.

Amanda --

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I want to go back in terms of the talk about account ability. I think there's an argument that Bill Clinton was held accountable. The question is was Hillary Clinton for her role?

Donald Trump effectively made the case that she was an enabler. She has never fully answered that question. Even that interview with Rita Cosby which I found stunning she said that people misremembered or misinterpreting the history of that.

I mean, she publicly said if she had the chance to cross examine Gennifer Flowers she would crucify her. And then on the campaign trail she said that victims should be believed. Those things don't line up.

So Hillary Clinton hasn't been held accountable for her role. She refuses to answer questions of it and I think that is the reason why she lost the 2016 election because Donald Trump was able to throw that in her face and she did not want to confront it.

TANDEN: This is ridiculous. I'm sorry. This is ridiculous.

CARPENTER: She has a role.

CAPUTO: It's not ridiculous.

TAPPER: Hold on --


TAPPER: -- Neera and then we'll come to you.

TANDEN: Hillary Clinton should be held accountable for the sins of her husband but Donald Trump's own sins, no one's going to hold him accountable for.


CARPENTER: -- a great column today.

TANDEN: Excuse me. If you're going to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for what her husband did then why can't you say Donald Trump --

CARPENTER: I do all the time.

TANDEN: -- has 16 accusers. And --


CARPENTER: You need to tell that to someone else.

(CROSSTALK) TANDEN: Let's have a proceeding about it.

CARPENTER: (INAUDIBLE) with someone else not me.

TANDEN: Let's have a proceeding about it. Let's have a proceeding about it.

TAPPER: Just to be fair Amanda does say it all the time about Donald Trump.

TANDEN: Exactly but -- OK. So -- but for Republicans at large --


TANDEN: -- why do we have to say, what is the process for adjudicating the women today who are making these accusations?

KELLY: And also when Trump's bus ride came out Melania took up for him and no one's holding her accountable.

CARPENTER: Well, she's not running for office. If she was running for office that would be an issue.

KELLY: But she said --

CAPUTO: But she's also not running in opposition.

TAPPER: Right.


TANDEN: Hillary is not running the opposition either.

CAPUTO: All these people (INAUDIBLE) claim to attack --

TANDEN: I know you would like her to be running the opposition but she's not.

CAPUTO: Well, I know you'd like us to believe that she's not but she definitely is --

TANDEN: How? How?

CAPUTO; By funding organizations and raising money and all her former staffers attacking Bill -- Donald Trump every day. Passing along this fallacy of this Russia investigation. She's --


TANDEN: The fallacy of the Russian investigation.

CAPUTO: Absolutely.

TAPPER: We've gone off the rails a little bit here. Let's turn back to the issue of sexual harassment. So President Trump had done a pretty good job of being disciplined in terms of not saying anything about Roy Moore while the White House put out the official line that I said earlier but when it came to Al Franken he could not resist and he went on to Twitter and he attacked Al Franken and obviously saying that the allegations against Franken were credible.

When the White House was asked, well, what's the difference between the many accusers against Donald Trump and the one accuser against Al Franken not that numbers matter but there does seem to be a double standard.


This is what the Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary said.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Specifically Senator Franken has admitted wrong doing and the president hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction.


TANDEN: I think it's ludicrous. He's basically saying never admit to it and there's a new standard. It's ridiculous.

It's like I'm glad Senator Franken is going through an investigation. I think we should an investigation for Donald Trump and then myriad of accusers he has faced. And the fact that he wants to attack other people when he has faced accusations that are the same, you know, multiple numbers of accusations is ridiculous.

I don't know how Republicans defend this.

KELLY: Also he did admit it on the bus.

TAPPER: So the "Access Hollywood" tape.

KELLY: That's right. I mean, he admitted that he did.

CAPUTO: I love the way people want to paint that as an admission instead of a joke. I get that. You know, I understand it feeds into your narrative.

TANDEN: What about the 16 women?

CAPUTO: I get that. Listen, I don't believe anybody's allegations.

TANDEN: You don't believe the 16 women?

CAPUTO: Hold on one second. I didn't say that. I said I don't believe allegations in the final weeks of a political campaign should be believed just absolutely and automatically.

TANDEN: Let's investigate them. CAPUTO: Let me tell you this. If the people of Alabama have their choice and I think that if these allegations against Moore are true then he should step down.

TAPPER: Do you believe them?

CAPUTO: I don't know that I believe anything that comes out of people's mouths in the last five weeks of a campaign.

KELLY: But also I think when you said it's a joke, that that's part of the problem too that men think this is a joke. And that's -- that's a problem.

CAPUTO: But you can't point this me too stuff at everyone.

KELLY: I'm not saying you. No. I'm not saying you think it's a joke. But --

CAPUTO: This -- the problem with --


CAPUTO: -- the problem with this me too stuff is it always goes too far. It always goes too far.

CARPENTER: What's going too far?

KELLY: Unless it happens to you.


CARPENTER: If there's any good to come out of this, I hope there's a consensus one day that sexual abuse, harassment, et cetera is disqualifying for federal office or any other political office. I hope that's what comes out of this and there's a fair standard applied to Republicans, Democrats, progressives, libertarians across the board. That would be the best thing.


TAPPER: Michael just said something -- Michael just said something interesting.


TAPPER: You think it's -- you just said that you think it ludicrous for Al Franken to be thrown out of the Senate.

CAPUTO: Absolutely.


CAPUTO: Absolutely.

Because, first of all, I think that the -- first of all I think that the Senate can investigate. They can do whatever they want. I think the senator has done good things for his side of the aisle. He's been an advocate for the issues that matter to women. And I think, you know, to bringing up something from far in the past, it's not that far, it's over 10 years.

CARPENTER: He's a grown man.

CAPUTO: I get that. I get that. And he has apologized for it.

I'm not a big Al Franken fan, even though, you know, he's a deadhead. I like that. But, you know, I'm not a big Al Franken fan but I think throwing people out of office for this kind of thing unless it's something that's litigated, something they're found guilty of, I think that's overkill.

And I -- listen, here's what's going to happen next. As this me too thing goes forward, what's going to happen next there's going to be charges filed or accusations made against Trump campaign people or Trump White House people. Right now they are calling --

TAPPER: You're speculating or you know something?

CAPUTO: I'm speculating.


CAPUTO: I'm speculating.

This is what's going to happen because this has to have -- this agenda is pointing eventually towards Donald Trump. Neera is doing it and other people are doing it.


CAPUTO: This is all about getting to Donald Trump and if they're willing to throw Bill Clinton under the bus, you know they're going for Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Do you think Al Franken should resign?

KELLY: I think that's up to the people of Minnesota. And I do think we need to have the ethics investigation first.

TAPPER: What do you think?

CAPUTO: I mean, he's not up until 20. I just think there should be a fair standard applied to everyone. I think it's outrageous that a sitting senator who is a grown man did this while on a USO tour with lots of other people around. I think he should be so ashamed and embarrassed.

He should resign.

CAPUTO: I think he is.

KELLY: He is. CARPENTER: But I want (ph) to (ph) -- he's going to continue to be a senator I think he needs to have a public, you know, explanation and go through the interview process, go talk to that woman. But, yes, I think he should step down because I want standards reinforce for the places like the United States Senate.

CAPUTO: Like a special election?

CARPENTER: Yes. I want --


CARPENTER: I think the governor of Alabama should remove him from the race. I want standards.


CAPUTO: The people of Minnesota --

KELLY: It's not just the Republican, Democrat or independent --


KELLY: It's a problem if Hollywood, D.C. --


KELLY: -- and in between, people that just go to work every day. It's a problem for them too.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here.

The conversation will continue no doubt as President Trump gets ready for his first thanksgiving in office. Will he use his presidential pardoning power for more than just the turkeys? That's the subject this week's "State of the Cartoonion."



TAPPER: Welcome back and happy Thanksgiving week.

This week President Trump will make use of his presidential pardoning power to absolve two lucky turkeys right before Thanksgiving. It's a time honored tradition for the White House. The roots go back 70 years.

But this year there might be a few people who are feeling a little envious of the poultry. And that's the week -- that's this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): It's President Trump's first Thanksgiving at the White House. TRUMP: Hello, everybody. Good food, good food.

I love to eat the food we have in here.

TAPPER: But before the big meal the president has a big job. The annual turkey pardon.

TRUMP: Please mention turkey (ph), OK. (INAUDIBLE) I talk turkey (ph).

TAPPER: A tradition with roots dating all the way back to Harry S. Truman. This week President Trump gets to save two plump birds from Minnesota. Turkeys are generally picked for the honor for their beauty, for their plumage or tail feathers, their beards or snoods.

Of course, this will not be President Trump's first pardon, that honor went to Sheriff Joe Arpaio who have been found guilty criminal contempt of court and a court order to refrain from racially profiling Latinos.

TRUMP: I mean, he knows borders, right? Amazing guy. Tough guy but he's an amazing guy.

TAPPER: Which makes us wonder who else might be watching the proceedings this week with longing. Perhaps Donald Trump Jr.


TRUMP: My son is a wonderful young man. He took a meeting with a Russian lawyer.

TAPPER: Or Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chair.

TRUMP: I've always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man.

TAPPER: What about former National Security adviser Michael Flynn?

TRUMP: He's a general. He's -- in my opinion, a very good person.

TAPPER: We should note that Flynn initially failed to disclose that he was lobbying for Turkey, but that was the government of turkey, not the bird. Either way, we will all be watching with interest.

TRUMP: Hillary accidentally bumped into me and she very simply said pardon me. I don't think so.


TAPPER: A big breaking story. A president fired and replaced. He has just hours to step down. But will he go quietly? That is next.