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Trump's Economic Policy Team Takes Shape; Trump to Discuss Leaving His Business; Trump and Romney Dinner; No Charges in Charlotte Police Shooting. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 30, 2016 - 13:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Wolf Blitzer. It is 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. And wherever you're watching from around the world, thank you for joining us.

Up first, Donald Trump vows to separate himself from his businesses to focus on the business of running the country. Earlier today, the president-elect tweeted, I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15th to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country, in order to make America great again.

Trump's announcement comes as his economic team is starting to take shape. His pick for treasury secretary former Goldman Sachs partner, Stephen Mnuchin. Mnuchin led the company that bought failed subprime lender IndyMac for pennies on the dollar. A good investment on his part. He's also a Hollywood movie producer whose films include "American Sniper" and "The Lego Movie."

Trump's pick for commerce secretary is billionaire Wilbur Ross. Ross has made a career of resurrecting dying companies. His company, however, also owned the Sago mine in West Virginia where 12 miners were killed in an explosion a couple months after his corporation took it over. Ross is also a critic of free trade deals.

Correspondent Phil Mattingly has the latest on the president-elect's cabinet picks. And Senior Political Reporter Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill for us where vice president-elect is paying a visit.

Manu, what do these selections of Mnuchin and Ross signal about these economic policies?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Brianna, it sounds like they're going to move a pretty aggressive economic agenda next year, including and namely on taxes. Both Mnuchin and Ross have been aggressive proponents of significantly cutting taxes, including corporate taxes. Expect it to be a centerpiece of that agenda.

And as well Mr. Ross, that billionaire investor, has been a sharp critic of China. So, this is something, of course, Donald Trump railed on time and again on the campaign trail. Significant things that clearly the Trump administration plans to move forward on in the new Congress.

Now, also, Mr. Mnuchin talking about doing a sweeping tax package, that would include a child tax credit, helping with families on taking parental leave policies as well. That child tax credit policy is part of a larger overall sweeping package that they want to enact.

But to do that, Brianna, it will take a significant amount of support, both from Democrats and some Republicans. Not an easy task, but the -- Donald Trump is putting his team in place to enact what he wants to do -- push through. A big economic agenda at the beginning of the new Congress.

KEILAR: And, Phil, this other announcement, an announcement of an announcement I guess you could say, that Donald Trump is saying he's going to totally get out of his business.

Is he really going to do that? Because some people say the only way for him to get out of his business totally and to not have a conflict of interest is sell off his interests and to not have his kids running it. And we're not getting a sense that that's going to happen.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's been no indication that's the pathway he's going to take.

Look, in terms of what we learned from the tweets this morning, we learned that there's going to be a news conference, which he hasn't had in more than 120 days. So, that was the news.

In terms of actual details on what he's going to do to address the conflicts of interest, everybody still has a lot of questions.

And I think the idea that we're all trying to work through right now, and, frankly, when you talk to Trump advisers, they acknowledge their ethics lawyer's working on this or also trying to work through is this is something without precedent.

This is something we haven't seen at a level of office like this before. Coming in with an international company, with a number of different ties, with close ties to business leaders in all sorts of countries that the United States does business with, has key foreign policy relationships with.

So, they're trying to figure all of that out now. One key thing to keep an eye on, Brianna, and you kind of hit the nail on the head with this. He said -- the president-elect said repeatedly that he wants to hand his businesses off to his children.

If he does that, his children on the transition team. His children have taken part in calls with foreign leaders. And his son-in-law is a key crucial adviser, both throughout the campaign and during the transition. That would not eliminate conflict of interest at all. No matter what his role is so long as his kids are involved.

So, I think there's a lot of questions here. No clear answers here. But as his advisers have said repeatedly, voters put the president- elect into the White House knowing all of this existed. So, this idea that he's going to step back entirely end connections to his businesses, I don't think you're going to see that, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, I don't think so. You called it a legal thicket earlier. And I thought that was a really good description.

So, Manu, big meeting with the vice president-elect on the meeting. Tell us -- on Capitol Hill. Tell us about this.

[13:05:00] RAJU: Yes, this afternoon, he's meeting with Republican leaders, including House speaker Paul Ryan, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, showing how significant of a role that Mike Pence is playing as a liaison with a lot of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill as they try to put together an agenda to push forward in that first several months of the new Congress.

There is a lot of business that they need to get through on the House and Senate side. First of all, coordinating how to deal with the repeal of Obamacare and also see whether or not they can get any kind of support for a bill that would actually replace Obamacare. Something they would need Democratic support for. No guarantee there.

But also, I mentioned taxes. How to move forward on taxes. And Paul Ryan wants to move forward with a significant overhaul of Medicare. And then, you add to that, makes a whole list of confirmations that need to take place in the Senate early next year, including over a Supreme Court nominee, whenever that comes down from Donald Trump.

So, a lot of things that they need to coordinate which is one reason why Pence is up here continuing these meeting on Capitol Hill and is significantly showing his role in this administration about what that agenda will look like in the beginning of the new year -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Manu Raju, Phil Mattingly, thank you, guys, so much.

President-elect Donald Trump's pick for treasury secretary says tax reform is going to be a top priority. He is promising, as you heard Manu said, the biggest overhaul of the tax system since the Reagan years.

Anthony Scaramucci is a member of the presidential transition team, executive committee. He is also a founder and partner of Skybridge Capital.

Sir, thanks so much for being with us, again, and joining us from New York to talk about these very important economic plans. I want to talk to you about during the campaign when we heard Donald Trump criticizing Hillary Clinton and her ties to Wallstreet.

Now, he has chosen a former Wallstreet banker for treasury secretary. What do you say about that to people who say it's a contradiction? And do you think it will matter to Americans?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FOUNDER AND PARTNER, SKYBRIDGE CAPITAL: Well, first of all, I don't think it matters to Americans. But I want to address the contradiction a little bit. Steven was there and left in 2002. So, for the last 14 years, he hasn't had anything to do with Goldman Sachs. Moreover, he built two other successful businesses. So, he's been successful at an investment bank. He's been --

KEILAR: And running a hedge fund.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, he's been successful running a hedge fund. He's also been successful as a Hollywood movie producer.

And last, but not least, he's been super successful as a financier where the president-elect gave him that responsibility in mid-June. And I think he did an amazing job of putting that thing together.

So, he's incredibly well organized. I've known him for a long time. He also was a major author of a lot of the tax and economic policies that are on our Web site. He will be the person at the front edge of the administration, bringing tax policy to the Hill.

And the president-elect has known him 20-plus years and has an enormous in him and his capabilities. He's a commercial guy, but he's also an astute political person and a great relationship person.

So, I think what the American people want in a job like that, Brianna, is someone that knows the market, someone they can trust to help guide the United States and our market stability. Somebody that understands the need to have a strong dollar and to also have a fair, free trade policy.

Somebody said, earlier when I was listening to the show, that Wilbur Ross is against free trade. That is categorically not true. All we are suggesting from the Trump new administration is that we get the trade deals to be more fair to the American worker and to the middle class. And that's all we're looking for. And we wand free trade.

KEILAR: Well, let me ask about that because you're -- I want to tell -- I want to talk to you about something that Stephen Mnuchin talked about for tax reform. This is what he said on CNBC.


STEPHEN MNUCHIN, FORMER PARTNER, GOLDMAN SACHS: Any reductions we have in upper income taxes will be offset by less deductions, so that there will be no tax, absolute tax cut, for the upper class. There will be a big tax consult for the middle class.


KEILAR: OK. So, explain this to us because when Donald Trump ruled out his tax plan to reduce the seven tax brackets down to three which would certainly the top tax bracket and others. And he -- corporate tax reduction. Analysts looked at that and they said the people getting the biggest tax cut are actually going to be the wealthiest.

Here, you have Mnuchin saying something entirely differently. That it's going to be offset by a cap, it seems in mortgage deductions, by some changes, perhaps, to the charitable deductions. How do you square that when that's not what we heard during the campaign?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I think they're both sort of right because if you're looking at it superficially, the margin's tax rates for the wealthy are going to go down.

But what Stephen was trying to say today is that through the elimination of some of these deductions, which might be a cleaner way to do the taxes and they offer more simplification and less labor on the accounting side, you're going to try to even it out for the wealthy.

And so, they may not necessarily get a tax cut, but they'll have a way simpler process to do their taxes.

[13:10:00] What the president has mandated, what he suggests to everybody on his economic team, is that he really wants to help the middle class and the working-class families. That's where we have to provide the relief so that they can go out and do the things that we want them to do which is spend their money, build their homes, create great education for their children.

And so, one of the things that we have to do with our tax policy is just make it easier to understand and send a signal to everybody. Working-class people, middle-class people but also CEOs in the (INAUDIBLE), that America is open for business. And we're going to also repatriate money from off the shore of the United States. Bring it back here. Deploy that capital, Brianna, which will create jobs and more opportunities.

So, I think they're both right. But I just think there's a little bit more derivative nuance in what Stephen is saying.

KEILAR: So, is it -- the rich will not --

SCARAMUCCI: -- and it's a very exciting time for all of us.

KEILAR: -- so the rich will not actually get a tax cut then? Is that what you're saying?

SCARAMUCCI: If you look at the way the current --

KEILAR: Because that's what he's saying.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, that is correct. If you look at the current plan the way it is structured -- you can go to to the Web site. What you'll see is the tax relief is really going to come to the corporations where the tax rate will be reduced from 35 down to 15. Makes us globally competitive.

And then, to the middle and the lower classes, in terms of where the brackets are, there will be a reduction in the bracket. But through the elimination of some of these deductions to the wealthy, they'll be at a revenue neutral position.

KEILAR: All right. Anthony Scaramucci with the president-elect's transition team. We certainly really appreciate you explaining some of that to us as we try to figure it out.

SCARAMUCCI: Your accountants -- your accountant's not going to like that, Brianna, but you're going to like it.

KEILAR: All right, we will see. We will see if that's the case. All right, and we will talk about it once it's underway and we'll see if this is -- these are the details that it sticks to, Anthony. Thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this now with David Nakamura. He's the reporter -- he's a reporter for "The Washington Post." They have more than one. He's not just the reporter. And CNN Political Analyst Jackie Kucinich. She is also the Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast ." There is only one of those though, I should say.


KEILAR: OK. So, you heard what Anthony is saying there. This is going to be a big effort for tax reform. Is this really going to happen and is there really not going to be a tax cut for the wealthy? Because that seems -- it's completely different from what we were expecting.

NAKAMURA: Both sides in Washington have talked about restructuring the tax code for a long time and there hasn't been the political willpower to come together across the aisle. Now, you have Republicans taking charge across the board. Something that that Paul Ryan really wants to get moving.

But the question, of course, is how you do it. And I think there's going to be a lot of skepticism about the tax cut, both for the corporations and for the wealthy, even if they eliminate some of these deductions which has been talked about before by President Obama as well.

KEILAR: Well, how do you talk about limiting or capping the mortgage deduction? I mean, that is -- people bank on that. And they don't like change. People do not like change.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that's where the resistance is coming from is members hearing from their districts saying, you can't do this. And so, the problem -- one of the problems with tax reform is the sacred cows, right? No one really wants to give up something that will benefit their district, their people. So, that is going to be the pull and the tug on the Hill that we're going to see, you know, over the next year.

KEILAR: And maybe they'll be able to do it. But it would be something that we've not seen the will, as you mentioned, to have done before.

Let's talk about Donald Trump. He's making this announcement. He put out a tweet on this that he is going to be leaving his business totally. The question is, is he really going to do that? Because some people say, many people look and they say, look, unless he sells his interest in this and his kids aren't running it, you're not totally leaving the business because they're his advisers.

NAKAMURA: We've -- as your reporter said earlier, we don't know all the details. What we do know is that the children are involved in this news conference on December 15th that the president-elect said will happen. That gives an indication they're probably going to have a role in the business going forward.

And, look, I was just up at Trump Tower the last two days. He loves his businesses and he's talked about how great they are all the time. And I think it's very -- he sent signals that whatever sort of machination he comes about to sort of say he's removed from the business, you know, his family, children, can certainly be involved. I think that'll continue to raise questions and potentially investigations down the line.

KUCINICH: But is that is he doesn't care, I don't care about the businesses, that is what he told "The New York Times." That isn't the case. And that's why he's leaving it. He's not giving it to someone else. He's not putting a trustee to head it while he's president. He's passing it on to his kids.

And -- but that -- there is going to have to be some sort of bright line or it is going to be a headache. Because even the appearance of impropriety isn't good. It still casts a shadow and could do so over his presidency. I mean, he actually really wants to get stuff done.

KEILAR: And that's the -- I was listening to a Democratic operative who said, Republicans who are insisting that this isn't a big deal are not doing Donald Trump any favors to reinforce that thought. Because this is what is going to be the thing you would expect that comes up over and over --


KEILAR: That an issue is made of, and I mean we just see even now some of the conflicts, and it's sort of this thing that just keeps churning.

NAKAMURA: Any decision he makes in the White House, regardless of whether he's, you know, thinking of his business or not, is going to be interpreted that he is thinking about his business. It really complicates this.

KUCINICH: And he -- well, any travel his children do while they're still linked like this, any travel his children do, and they -- if they're, you know, doing anything with foreign governments, that's going to be seen as a potential conflict.

KEILAR: Right.

KUCINICH: And this is very large and very small. It goes down to even taking out a hotel room at the Trump Hotel and seeing if that could curry favor.


KUCINICH: It really is very complicated and, frankly, unprecedented.

NAKAMURA: And foreign governments are going to want to be doing this. They're going to be wanting (INAUDIBLE) favor, so they're --

KEILAR: Oh, sure. And we saw that even with the Clinton Foundation. Bill Clinton himself admitted probably some people are, sure, some people are trying to get access --

KUCINICH: And this is exactly why this is important.

KEILAR: And we're seeing that.

OK, so I want to talk about Mitt Romney, because I just wonder, who is going to get secretary of state, such an important position? And he's been discussed now for some time. With so much internal conflicts over this, including some opposition from Donald Trump's top aides -- should say General Petraeus also in the running -- but Donald Trump met with Mitt Romney last night, astounding, in public, having dinner. What's our read on this?

KUCINICH: The campaign says that they're just getting to know each other. They didn't really know each other well before this. And this is allowing them to sort of feel each other out, talk about global events and everybody had a good time. But I don't know many people who think that this is going to go, who are close to Romney, who are around Romney, who think he's going to be offered this. Because whether Donald Trump is parading him around and hoping to humiliate him, or, you know, whether he's going to choose someone whose closer to him, it just doesn't -- it is, it's curious as to why -- (INAUDIBLE).

NAKAMURA: There's also been a sense, though, that -- there's also been a sense, though, that Donald Trump himself is intrigued by this, by this team of rivals --


NAKAMURA: Making amends to some degree. You know, bringing in someone who disagreed with him into -- you know, into the fold. And, you know, the public nature of this, sort of going out to dinner at his own hotel, another one of his properties, you know, and having dinner, and knowing the -- allowing the press, which they haven't always done at these dinners, in to see it --


NAKAMURA: And to make the governor available for comment afterward was remarkable and sort of the stage craft, which, you know, Donald Trump's always thinking about. And so that, you know, leads one to say, it will be humiliating if he doesn't get the job. On the other hand, what does it say that they're doing it this publicly?

KEILAR: Well, it will be humiliating if he doesn't get the job. But you saw him grovel? Is that the -- maybe is -- is that accurate to say that because you had Mitt Romney, who once said Donald Trump was a con man, just effusive with praise for him and then also saying that he commends him on sort of bringing about inclusivity on the day that he tweets about how people should go to jail for burning the flag.

KUCINICH: My, my how things have changed.

KEILAR: Certainly.

KUCINICH: But this isn't -- this isn't something that doesn't happen with Mitt Romney. I don't want to be too harsh here, but he is someone that has known to change his mind.

KEILAR: That's right.

KUCINICH: And perhaps this is just another chapter in that part of Mitt Romney's career. But certainly parading him around like this is just -- it's unusual and, as you said, stagecraft. This is very much "The Apprentice" secretary of state edition.

KEILAR: Yes, it certainly is.

All right, David, Jackie, thank you guys so much.

And coming up, no charges filed in a deadly police shooting that sparked protests across North Carolina and the nation. We will talk about why the officer was cleared in the killing of Keith Lamont Scott.

And then, later, inspired by ISIS. Law enforcement sources now revealing new details about the man who went on the attack on the campus of Ohio State University.

Stay with us.


[13:22:30] KEILAR: Officials in Charlotte, North Carolina, are calling for calm in the wake of the district attorney's decision not to charge a police officer in a fatal shooting there. The killing of Keith Lamont Scott two months ago led to sometimes violent protests.


ANDREW MURRAY, CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC DISTRICT ATTORNEY: After a thorough review, and given the totality of the circumstances and credible evidence in this case, it is my opinion that Officer Vinson acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott. He acted lawfully. Let me be clear, I have not and will not condone violence or property damage as a means of expression. But the fact that criminal charges are not appropriate under the law in this particular case does not mean we can dismiss the concerns expressed by those who raise their voices to raise the consciousness of this community.


KEILAR: Dashcam footage show as plain-clothed officer with his weapon drawn on Scott as he gets out of the car. The prosecutor said at least three officers reported seeing Scott holding a gun as he stepped out of a vehicle and refused to obey commands to drop it. Scott was shot four times by that officer.

CNN correspondent Brian Todd joining us now from Charlotte. We also have CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Laura Coates here with me in Washington.

Brian, give us the very latest on what you are hearing from where you are.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the bottom line from District Attorney Andrew Murray was that Officer Brentley Vinson felt under immediately threat from Keith Lamont Scott, threat that he was going to be killed by Mr. Scott. And the D.A. laid out findings and evidence which he says point to the fact that he believes that the officer was in eminent danger.

First and foremost, the D.A. says that when the officers approached Scott in his car, Scott was sitting inside his car just before the shooting. He says that Scott saw them. That he reached for his gun. That he ignored commands to drop his gun. Ignored at least ten commands to drop his gun.

The D.A. said that Scott took a deep breath, then exited his vehicle with his gun in his hand and stepped back and assessed the officers. The D.A. says that Mr. Scott actually looked at Officer Vinson, then looked at the other officers, then looked back at Vinson. At that point, according to the D.A., Vinson said he thought he was in imminent danger of being shot, so he fired four shots at Keith Lamont Scott. Three of those shots actually hit Scott. So that was really the bottom line from the D.A., that the officer felt he was in imminent danger.

[13:24:59] Now, to the claims by Scott's family that Mr. Scott did not have a gun, the D.A. said that is unequivocally not the case. That they showed video evidence showing that he had a gun in a holster on his ankle as he entered a convenience store just minutes before the shooting and that had another piece of video shows that he had a holster on his right ankle just moments before the shooting.

Also to the claims by some that the white officers on the scene shot Keith Lamont Scott, the D.A. said, every piece of evidence they have shows that is not the case. That only for shots were fired at Keith Scott and that all four of those bullet casings came from Officer Vinson's gun.

Now, I asked the D.A., did Keith Scott ever raise his gun toward the officer? And the D.A. said he did not, from every that they've got, every indication they've gotten from the officers on the scene, that he did not actually raise his hand. But he said that, none the less, Officer Vinson felt that he was in imminent danger and he said he had to fire those shots, Brianna.

KEILAR: It was a really good question that you asked, Brian. I thought that really gave some clarity to what the district attorney was thinking.

And then, Laura Coates, we then heard the D.A. talk about reaction time. That actually for Scott to have lifted, if he were to, lifted his hand and point the weapon at the officer, that research shows that at best it would be a tie. So that he was trying to make the point that the officer was very much at risk. I know that you see some issue with that.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that is an issue. Not because it undermines the D.A.'s ultimate conclusion, but all this is done in real time. When an officer is confronted (ph) with a threat, if it may be lethal threat or otherwise, they have to, in real time, make decisions. Now, the fact that they're able to use documented evidence or statistics to talk about reaction time, may or not have been a factor in this officer's decision to actually shoot Mr. Keith Lamont Scott. The issue is not whether statistics show it was reasonable. It's whether in real time he was reasonable.

And, you know, I have to say, based on what the D.A. did lay out, objectively speaking, based on what he said, was true, and if it, in fact, was true, the officer may have, in fact, perceived a reasonable threat. Not simply because he had his arm down to his side and there was a gun that we seem to be -- there was a gun in the actual picture, but because he failed to obey an order to drop that weapon. And that contributed to the officer's perception of lethal force.

KEILAR: Let's listen to the D.A. talking about Scott's gun.


MURRAY: Mr. Scott's gun, a Colt 380 semiautomatic, was recovered at the scene. It had one round in the chamber, the safety was off, and the gun was cocked. Mrs. Scott has maintained in interviews with investigators and the media that Mr. Scott did not have a gun.


KEILAR: That was -- that is something that stood out to me, that you had family members, you had witnesses who insisted that he actually had a book and they say there was no book.

COATES: Right.

KEILAR: We found no book in the front seat. We found no book in the back seat. And, furthermore, the D.A. talks about a number of people giving accounts to cameras, and then saying to law enforcement, actually, you know what, I wasn't there. I didn't see it.

COATES: Right. And what you have now, remember we had that excruciating audio footage from the wife who is saying, he doesn't have a gun. He has a TBI. And then you have these sort of statements being undermined by people in the community who speak one way in front of the media and social media as well, and then before an FBI agent had a very different story. And when you have this inconclusive -- and I mean an absence of video footage showing his hand or a weapon in his hand, all you're left with is a battle between the credibility of the officers on the scene and people who are saying they're eyewitnesses. And when the eyewitnesses turned out to have given false narratives, I don't want to call it a lie, but perhaps a false narrative, and you have three officers at least who are saying --

KEILAR: But if they're saying they saw something that they didn't see --

COATES: Yes, that they didn't see --


COATES: We're calling it false. It wasn't (ph) a lie.

KEILAR: All right. I'll let you go with that (INAUDIBLE).

COATES: We're going to call it a lie for a second. But, you know, you have this battle -- this credibility. And who's going to win? An officer is going to be deemed more credible than somebody who is promoting a lie of some sort. And so when you have that inconclusive data, all the prosecutor has to do is now rely on the officers. And what I did like about what the D.A. said, Brianna, which most people have not been pointing out, is the fact that he was trying to not only dismantle this theory that they were going to be lax in their investigation, but also there was a lot of racial baiting that was going on throughout the course of the coverage when it first happened because people were saying it was a white officer, et cetera, and that --

KEILAR: It was a white officer and they believe it was solely the black officer.

COATES: It was solely the black officer and that officer came forward saying it was him. so they were trying to not only do an effective analysis of the investigation of what happened, but also to try to alleviate concern.

KEILAR: Yes. Well, they are bracing to see the after-effects of this.

Laura Coates, thank you so much.

COATES: Thank you.

KEILAR: Thank you to Brian Todd as well.

[13:29:48] And coming up, decision day for Democrats in the House. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was maybe in danger of losing her role as the top Democrat in the House in these uncertain political times. Did she hold off the challenge and what's next for the Democratic Party? That may be the real question.