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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
White House Blames Obama For Flynn's Security Clearance; Pentagon Opens New Probe Of Flynn's Russia Payments; Warner: No Evidence Trump Admin Did "Due Diligence" On Flynn; White House Denies Covering Up For Flynn; DHS: Secy: Threat From Electronics On Planes Keeps Him At Night; President Trump Signs 29th Executive Order; Candidate Trump Mocked Them; WH Dodges Questions On How Tax Plan Benefits Trump; Aired: 7-8p ET
Aired April 27, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OutFront next, breaking news. The White House blaming the Obama administration for General Flynn's security clearance as Flynn is under new investigation tonight. Plus the White House war room. Steve Bannon with a white board in his office checking off the big wins. Wait until you hear what's getting the big X. And Senator Elizabeth Warren calling out President Obama really nastily. Let's go OutFront. Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett.
OutFront tonight, new documents show Trump's disgraced former national security advisor flagrantly disobeyed orders, taking payments from Russia after being warned not to take money from any foreign government. The new document show Flynn was warned about receiving such payments in 2014, Flynn then proceeded to take the payments from at least two countries. Tonight, the White House is actually blaming President Obama. Refusing to admit that Trump and his team failed to vet Flynn. Here's the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECETARY: He was issued a security clearance under the Obama administration in the spring of 2016. The trip and transactions that you're referring to occurred in December of 2015.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: But this doesn't excuse by why the Trump administration didn't vet Flynn themselves. Let's remind all of ourselves that will Flynn was hired by Trump as his top national security advisor, one of the most important posts in the entire White House. Flynn was of course also fired by Obama, something that should have raised alarms when Trump was hiring him. So, why is Sean Spicer passing the buck when it comes to Flynn? When our Jim Acosta followed up, there was this fiery exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: General Flynn came in and he walked through the door with just the clearance that was conducted by the Obama administration? That doesn't make any sense. SPICER: Sure it does. The same way that when you applied for a credential to the White House Press Briefing Room, when you were here --
ACOSTA: I'm not the National Security Advisor.
SPICER: Hold on. Just listen. Hold on. Let me explain the answer to you, Jim. Calm down. The kids have gone --
SPICER: And I'm trying to answer it, Major. This is the answer. When you apply -- hold on, listen -- when you applied to come here to this briefing room as a member of the press, you apply and you fill out certain forms with the Secret Service to have your background run. Everyone in the government goes to the same SF86 process every single person. And so, why would you rerun a background check on some who is the head of the department - Defense Intelligence Agency that had and did maintain a high-level security clearance? That's it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Jason Carroll is OutFront tonight at the White House. And Jason, you know, the White House response today pretty stunning. I mean, just to make this clear, right? Sure, you have a White House clearance, right? Because you went through that process. But you work at CNN because they made sure you're not a liar and a cheater and a plagiarizer and all those other things. That that wouldn't have been picked up in the formal vetting process as all.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, let's just be clear here. I mean, the critics of this administration say what they're trying to do here is at best a real stretch, trying to blame the previous administration for a vetting process that should have taken place during this this administration. And just for our viewers, just to remind them of what's happened here. Once again, back in 2014, Flynn was the one who was apparently warned, look, don't take any more foreign money.
The very next year in n 2015, he allegedly did just that, accepting $45,000 from R.T. T.V. which is basically an arm of the Russian government. Then in 2016, he got a security clearance, right? So the White House is basically saying, look, he got this security clearance in 2016, if there are any problems, look at the previous administration, the president was asked about that, asked to weigh in and here's what he said or in this case did not say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any regrets about Michael Flynn?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
CARROLL: Well, the defense department inspector general is investigating this and the top democrat -- one of the top democrats, Elijah m Cummings basically very critical of the way the White House has handled this. He says, look, we're not getting all the paperwork we need in this investigation. White House says that they are getting all this information and you also accuse the White House of a cover up. Sean Spicer weighed in on that as well saying, "he was taken aback by the accusation. He says it's just not true."
We should also point out that Flynn's attorney has weighed in on this, Erin and had said that Flynn provided both documents and information about this R.T event and provided a briefing about it before and after. But you can't escape the irony in this because Flynn was the one out on the campaign. You remember this, Erin. You kept shouting, lock her up, lock her up at a lot of these rallies in reference to Hillary Clinton and now he's facing these serious legal problems of his own.
BURNETT: All right, Jason. Thanks very much. And of course there were payments from the Russia today and also from Turkish government. The big question still here is, why did General Michael Flynn accept payments from foreign governments after he was warned not to do so? Especially governments like Turkey and Russia? Jim Sciutto is OutFront.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, new documents show that fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was warned, he was prohibited from receiving payments from foreign governments.
LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Thank you so much for inviting me and having me here.
SCIUTTO: This, one year before he accepted tens of thousands of dollars from Russian state television for this speaking engagement in Moscow in 2015. The documents released by the House Oversight Committee showed that the DIA informed Flynn that he could not receive "consulting fees, gifts, traveling expenses, honoraria, or salary from foreign governments during his retirement." Despite the warning however, the DIA told the committee in a letter it could not locate any record or relating to Lieutenant General Flynn's receipt of money from a foreign source. And the DIA did not locate any records of Lieutenant General Flynn seeking permission or approval for the receipt of money.
ELIJAH CUMMINGS, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE OF MARYLAND: And we have no evidence, zilch, that he obtained permission from the secretary of the army and the secretary of state to accept any foreign government payments as required by law.
SCIUTTO: The inspector general of the Department of Defense has launched an investigation. In a statement to CNN, the inspector general's office says the probe will cover "if Lieutenant General Flynn accepted payments in violation of the emoluments clause implementing laws or Department of Defense regulations.
FLYNN: I'm going to be provocative here.
SCIUTTO: The Kremlin funded news agency Russia Today or R.T. paid Flynn $33,750 for his appearance in Moscow in 2015.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael Flynn. SCIUTTO: Interviews last year, Flynn acknowledged accepting payment
but denied the source was the Russian government.
FLYNN: I didn't take any money from Russian if that's what you're asking me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, then, who paid you?
FLYNN: My speakers bureau. Ask them.
SCIUTTO: Now, Representative Cummings says the White House is refusing to release documents related to their pro.
CUMMINGS: Honestly did not understand why the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn. I don't get it. After the president fired him. For lying.
SCIUTTO: So what's key about this DOD investigation is it's examining the possibility and not only that will he broke army regulations but that he broke the law. Not just administrative penalties possibly here but legal penalties, and one more point about the White House denial here. Yes, Flynn got a security clearance under the Obama administration but the fact is the most senior national security officials go through additional vetting when they take positions in the White House. That, the responsibility of the new administration, the Trump administration.
BURNETT: All right. Jim. Thank you. OutFront tonight, the top democrat on the intelligence committee Senator Mark Warner. And Senator, thank you for being with us tonight. I mean, these new documents show General Flynn was warned about this, warned against accepting foreign payments. What do you make of them?
SEN. MARK WARNER, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, General Flynn was basically relieved of his command or in effect fired by the Obama administration. And in leaving, he was warned, as any other retiring military officer that you can't accept payments from foreign governments without reporting them. Unfortunately it appears that he received those payments and this was fairly public knowledge that he went to Russia.
What I find so troubling is, he then became part of the Trump campaign, became part of the Trump administration, the Trump administration had to fire him because he didn't fully disclose these contacts with the Russians. Yet there seems to be no evidence that the Trump administration did appropriate due diligence before they brought him into this very senior position, albeit shortly, in Mr. Trump's administration and that raises a real concern to me.
BURNETT: And I want to ask you about that vetting. First though, the big why here, Senator. Why do you think Genera Flynn accepted payments from foreign governments after being warned not to?
WARNER: Well, that goes to a lot of the questions around some of these individuals that have been affiliated with Mr. Trump's campaign and then some with the administration. There seems to be a bit of reckless behavior. And in the case of General Flynn, you have not only the receiving from Russia, sitting next to Vladimir Putin at a dinner in Moscow that you would know -- he would know that was going to be publicly reported. But you've also seen that General Flynn was taking payments from Turkish interests as well, that only after they were exposed did he go back and retroactively register, so this is a pattern of behavior we've now seen twice from General Flynn.
It's one of the reasons why in terms of the overall investigation into Russian activities and potential conflicts or involvement of people involved with the Trump campaign and Russia, General flynn is very high on the list of people that will ultimately want to come in and talk to our committee.
BURNETT: A very high. So let's talk about this issue of vetting that congressman Elijah Cummings, you know, today said the White House is covering up for Michael Flynn. Those were his words. Sean Spicer, the press secretary was asked about those very words and here's how he responded this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPICER: I was frankly taken back by his comments today because they're frankry not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A coverup or that's not true? Who's right?
WARNER: I'm not going to characterize until we get more facts, but I do know with any administration, if you're hiring someone new, even if they've had prior clearance, you do a new review, particularly when you're somebody as senior as a national security advisor. And let's face it. This was an individual that the Trump administration finally let go because he did not reveal not only the money but some of these prior contacts with Russians.
So this will this play out but it's just one more cloud and I would think the administration who denies any wrongdoing would actually want to work with us and the congress to try to clear this and a lot of these other clouds up.
BURNETT: Yes. So on that front, Senator, you know, Sean Spicer is putting the vetting blame for Flynn on the Obama administration, which I think you're alluding to. He says the Obama administration vetted Flynn. They're the ones who gave him the top security clearances, so it's their fault. Not the Trump administration's fault. Does that add up to you?
WARNER: Erin, that doesn't really follow any logical sequence. General Flynn was relieved of his duties as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He then became a private citizen. He perhaps retained some of those clearances, but one would think then, when he got involved with the Trump campaign and then was hired on into the Trump White House as national security advisor, that -- I can tell you in my office we would do a normal vetting before you'd hire on somebody in that senior a position. BURNETT: Senator, before you go, the Homeland Security Secretary
Kelly spoke in an interview this afternoon. He said ban on laptops on planes could expand to all flights. Frankly he sounded very scared about the risk here. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This thing could expand and I'm looking at it three, four, five, six times a day. It is the thing that keeps me awake at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You've been briefed, Senator. Do you agree?
WARNER: Well, clearly we've seen evidence that terrorists are able to in effect load explosives into something as small as a laptop computer. And we've had this restriction on certain airports coming out of the Middle East. We've -- I've raised question what would preclude a terrorist from taking that laptop and driving to a Paris or Rome or going to London and then climbing on a plane to America. So, I understand General Kelly's concerns and we've got to take those concerns appropriately.
I think we're all going to have to realize that those who want to do us harm come at us in very different asymmetrical ways. We've got the world's greatest military but too often whether it's terrorist threats, whether it's Russian threats, you know, it may not break down into the kind of classic. It will be this asymmetrical kind of threats that we're going to have to stand guard against.
BURNETT: Senator Warner, thank you so much. I appreciate your time tonight.
WARNER: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: Pretty sobering conclusion there. And next, Steve Bannon using a giant white board to keep track of Trump's accomplishments. What's on it? Plus, new questions tonight on how much Trump's tax plan benefits him even as his treasury secretary says it can't guarantee the middle class won't pay more. And Jeanne Moss with the international battle over who is the best Trump impersonator.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, just the other day I was having dinner with President of China, President X.I, President 11.
BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump signing yet another executive order, this one to protect whistle blowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is his 29th since taking office, the most orders at this point in a presidency since Harry Truman. But regardless of topic, Trump talks about all of these orders in the same glowing and grandiose terms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Doesn't get much bigger than that. Right? It's a big thing.
It's a biggy. We're going to do something I think very, very special, will never have been done to the extent that we're going to be able to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OutFront now, senior editor for The Atlantic, Ron Brownstein, CNN National Political Reporter Maeve Reston and former adviser to four presidents including Reagan and Clinton, David Gergen. Ron, 29 --
RON BROWNSTEIN, THE ATLANTIC SENIOR EDITOR: Yes.
BURNETT: -- executive orders.
BURNETT: Big, great, special.
BURNETT: Going to be 29 such descriptions.
BURNETT: OK. Are they all of those things or are they -
BROWNSTEIN: No. I think there are three categories, right?
BROWNSTEIN: I think you have some that there are as much more smoke than fire. For example, when he signed the executive order, mandating the government to begin to work on building his border wall, well, here we are a few weeks later and the reality is you can't do a lot of work without congress appropriating the money which is why they're having the fight over the continuing resolution. There's a second category where they've been stopped by the courts, right? So that's like the sanctuary cities and the travel ban.
BURNETT: Travel ban.
BROWNSTEIN: But there is a third category primarily in areas where they are reversing or beginning the process of reversing Obama decisions where they have had impact. Withdrawing from the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Trade partnership. Authorizing the keystone pipeline, beginning the process of reconsidering President Obama's fuel economy and carbon regulations.
BURNETT: Those will real.
BROWNSTEIN: Those are real when he signed just this week. Then government review national - all the national monuments approved since 1996. Now, in many cases, there's a lot of real estate to cover. There will be legal fights but yes, that -- in those areas he has - he has some bite and he is reversing policy.
BURNETT: So, 29 in 98 days, as I said, Harry Truman. So that's 72 years, no one has done this many. But what you got to love about Donald Trump is that there's always a record of what he thought about something before he did it himself. Here he is talking about executive orders when President Obama was the one with the big signature.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nobody ever heard of an executive order that all of a sudden Obama, because he couldn't get anyone to agree with and he starts signing them like they're butter. So, I want to do a way with the executive orders for the most part. He goes around signing all these executive order. It's a basic disaster. You're supposed to get together and pass a law. He doesn't want to do that because it's too much work, so he doesn't want to work too hard. He wants to go back and play golf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right, David. I'm not going to there on the golf issue. Just the (INAUDIBLE) to say Trump, Obama on number of times playing golf. But what changed on the executive orders?
DAVID GERGEN, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Listen. I think Ron had the right categories. I would just have that fourth one. Some of these executive orders are actually instructions, they're not orders. They're instructions to study. And they go out to the cabinet agencies (INAUDIBLE) but they're not - they don't really count. But I think the larger point is this, most historians do not judge executive orders to be a mark of or a measure of success by a president.
Franklin Roosevelt in his first 100 days signed 99 executive orders, 99. But nobody - no historian really remembers though, what they point to are the 15 major pieces of legislation that were enacted and transformed to provide a direct help to American workers and change the political landscape. And Trump himself is I think you're quote suggest says that he has believed all up until now that executive orders are actually a measure of failure.
GERGEN: But if you really knew how to negotiate with congress, you know how to cut a deal, you wouldn't have so many executive orders. So, I think that's where we are.
BURNETT: Which means, it brings me to the new article you have which is talking about this very issue, this failure with congress. Steve Bannon you say has this giant white board, Make America Great and blazing on the top, right? Every category of -- all the promises made and then promises kept. And you write, in the final hours of the first 100 days, the promises kept with a red X including abandoning the massive pacific trade deal which Ron just mentioned. The column without a single red X legislative accomplishments. That's the issue.
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: And I think - yes. That's the issue. And it's, you know, I mean, Steve Bannon is the keeper of the torch of the campaign promises within that west wing. And he has four columns under Make America Great Again and that one column has not a single X in it. And it just shows you - I mean, how there was a lot of naivete I think on the part of, you know, people who had never been in government before, Trump himself, about how difficult this was going to be. And you hear that over and over again through every interview that you do about the first 100 days. When in fact, we all have to remember that, you know, republicans are in control of every branch of government at the moment.
BURNETT: RIght. Legislation should have been a shining victory here.
RESTON: And perhaps they will have, you know, a last-minute health care victory. You know, people say that that's going better now. But it has been a great disappointment for them.
BURNETT: So, yes -
BROWNSTEIN: I was going to say roughly. It's kind of paradoxical. I feel felt that the reason we're seeing more unilateral executive action is because unified control of government has been so rare. We've only had a 12 of the last 48 years after it being much more common through the 20th century. But here we are in a situation where they do have unified control of government and they're still struggling to get their arms around building.
BURNETT: Fighting against each other.
BROWNSTEIN: Intro-Party consensus and so, he is moving on a kind of administrative but the sheer fact that he's able to over -- to begin to overturn so many Obama efforts through the executive branch shows how transitory this is. It really is writing in sand to kind of try to make your legacy through executive action because the next president can undo it.
BURNETT: So -
RESTON: A lot of those like EPA executive orders for example were very important to his donors. I remember talking to a lot of them at the beginning of the 100 days, they were happy about some of those EPA rollbacks and others.
RESTON: So, we will see where that goes.
BURNETT: Final word, David.
GERGEN: Well, I think, listen, I do think we have to acknowledge that he has done some -- I think Ron is going down this path, that he has signed some executive orders, not only have bike but do fulfil promises to his base who is in the campaign and showed action. I think that's one of the reasons he's continues to hold the affection and support of his base as well as he does. But I think when you look at it overall in terms of comparing that record and making that the heart and soul of his first 100 days and say, that's what I've accomplished, it amounts to not very much.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all, three of you, appreciate it. And next, how Trump could save tens of millions of dollars from his own tax plan? As his own administration struggles to guarantee that the middle class won't actually pay more. And President Obama once called some workers on Wall Street fat cat bankers. Now he's happy to take a $400,000 check from them. Is he a hypocrite? Elizabeth Warren is weighing in.
BURNETT: Tonight, the White House dodging questions about how much President Trump's tax cut plan will benefit the wealthy like himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe it is a fair question for anyone to ask how that plan personally affects the president and his family?
SPICER: I think the president's plan right now is something that every American should worry hopefully about how it's going to help them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it a fair question to ask?
SPICER: I don't -- that's up to every individual to ask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. So how could the plan affect Trump's bottom line? Ryan Nobles is OutFront.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump, the campaigner repeatedly called for taxes to drop. But admitted wealthy Americans like himself need to pay more.
TRUMP: For the wealthy, I think frankly, it's going to go up.
NOBLES: But now President Trump's tax reform proposals could do the exact opposite.
STEVEN ROSENTHAL, TAX ATTORNEY: He's going to be benefitted greatly by the reduction and rate on that income.
NOBLES: Steven Rosenthal is a senior fellow at the tax policy center and he studied Trump's taxes and businesses. He points to several areas where their proposal could help the president's bottom line. The biggest, a reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to only 15 percent. The Trump organization, which the president is no longer in charge of but still has a stake in is made up of hundreds of what are called pass through companies, Trump wines, Trump suits and ties and his wide portfolio of gold courses, resorts, real estate properties all fall under that umbrella.
ROSENTHAL: The enterprise is comprised of 500 or more pass-through entities.
NOBLES: The pass-through tax category allows business owners to claim corporate profits as personal income, thereby only being taxed at one level. It was created to help small businesses but large companies like the ones Trump owns are now taking advantage of the policy. Based on Trump's 2005 tax return, the only one CNN has access to, 109 of his $150 million in income came through these pass through. That year. Trump paid $38 million to Uncle Sam an effective rate of 25 percent. Dropping it to 15 percent would give the president and people like his son-in-law and top advisor Jared Kushner who runs a similar group of companies, the potential to save millions.
ROSENTHAL: Coincidental or not, he's now very sympathetic to the argument that past due income should be reduced from 39.6 percent to 15 percent.
[19:30:03] RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's not all. The Trump tax reform plan also calls for the elimination of the alternative minimum tax, a system designed to make it more difficult for wealthy taxpayers to underpay. Without the AMT, Trump would have only paid a little more than $7 million in 2005, a savings of nearly 31 million bucks.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised that wealthy earners won't be able to game the system by claiming the lower rates.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We will make sure that there are rules in place so that wealthy people can't create pass-throughs.
NOBLES: Rosenthal, though, is not so optimistic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it will work at all. I think it will be a complete disaster.
NOBLES: It's important to keep in mind that there's still a lot about this topic that we still don't know. The president refuses to release his tax returns and the details behind this tax plan including what deductions and loopholes will be eliminated, Erin, have yet to be revealed.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you so much, Ryan. Obviously, that's crucial when you think about all the deductions out there, right? Mortgage, state and local taxes, the devil is in those many billion dollar details.
OUTFRONT now, Stephen Moore, former economic advisor to Donald Trump's campaign and senior economic analyst for us. Austan Goolsbee, also here, economics professor at the University of Chicago, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama.
So, Steve, you know, this whole issue of whether Trump's going to pay more or less, or how this is going to work out that Sean Spicer didn't want to answer. I asked actually Trump about this when he came out with, you know, the first iteration of his tax plan during campaign. He did answer the question. OK? He said -- well, let me play it for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You, will you pay more money? Will it be millions and millions, hundreds of millions, how much more will you pay?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will probably end up paying more money, but I think the economy will do better, so I will make it that way. But I will probably end up paying more money. I believe in the end, I might do better because I really believe the economy is going to boom, beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You just saw an analysis there, Steve, with a pass-through benefits, with the AMT going away, even in that one year, he would have paid tens of millions of dollars less.
STEPHEN MOORE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ECONOMIC ADVISER: Well, first of all, I don't agree with one word of that analysis. And, by the way, the Tax Policy Center is one of the most liberal groups in the country. I mean, they have a very liberal bias.
Just take that quote you just played, Erin, with your interview with Donald Trump, what he was saying is let the economies going to do better. As the economy does better, businesses do better. They're going to have a lower tax rate but they're going to pay more taxes.
I was thinking, you know, when you were playing that analysis of the report, I was thinking, gee, 50 years ago if all the people went up to John F. Kennedy when he wanted to do this big tax cut and say, you can't do that because Joe Kennedy, your father, is going to get massive benefits.
I mean, the idea here is to try to make a bigger economy with more jobs, so that we have more prosperity.
One other quick thing -- I looked these numbers up last night based on our conversation yesterday.
MOORE: You know, the Congressional Budget Office, which I think Austan would agree is an honest out rider here, they say that the benefits from cutting the business tax rate, 70 percent of those benefits flow to workers, not people like Donald Trump.
BURNETT: All right. Let me just ask you, Austan, first about the point that Steve is making there. Do you think it matters what Trump pays? Is that not relevant? I mean, look, if everyone is going to get a tax cut --
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Look, I do think it --
BURNETT: -- does it matter if he gets a tax break, too?
GOOLSBEE: I think it matters and I think it matters, the American people in the polls say it matters, because they care whether -- they want to know what the motivations are of their political leaders. If you don't think that it matters for people's personal benefit, then why are there any conflict of interest laws at all? Because you might say, well, who cares if it's a conflict of interest as long as they do something that is in the broader spectrum of good.
But I think in this case, Donald Trump has unfortunately shown too many times that he appears to be acting very much n the interest of his own family and himself. So, I think what he pays does matter.
BURNETT: So, Steve, this is where it negotiation dicey, right, because if everybody was getting a tax cut, maybe you could make more of an argument that he doesn't matter that he's getting one, too. Maybe not.
But here's problem -- today, the treasury secretary, the guy who's in charge of the plan, came out, did an interview with George Stephanopoulos, and couldn't even guarantee that middle class Americans would get a tax cut. Frankly, it was a really stunning answer.
Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Can you guarantee that no one in the middle class is going to pay more?
MNUCHIN: That's our objective, absolutely.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it a guarantee?
MNUCHIN: I can't make any guarantees until this thing is done and on the president's desk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Steve, come on.
MOORE: Well, I think what he was saying there, Erin, is we don't know what the final bill will look like. I guarantee you this. If up double the standard deduction, Erin, that's a big tax cut for middle class people.
[19:35:02] I mean, the average middle class family is going to save, you know, $2,500, $3,000 from that on their taxes. That is a big deal. So, I think --
GOOLSBEE: Erin, can I make --
MOORE: By the way, one of the quick things -- sorry --
BURNETT: Hold on. No, no. Go ahead, Austan.
BURNETT: Let Austan jump in on that point first.
Go ahead, Austan.
GOOLSBEE: Look, I would just make two observations. The first is, under the Trump plan, they plan to abolish the head of household filing status. So, there are a whole bunch of single parents who are going to see their taxes go up. Even with that change in the standard deduction.
And the second thing I would observe is that if you create this pass- through loophole that sets pass-through income to 15 percent, you will literally make it so that a hedge fund manager who made $1 billion income in the year will pay a lower tax rate on their income than a single person making $38,000 a year. That's just a fact. That's crazy.
The middle class tax rates should not be higher than the rates on billionaire hedge fund managers.
BURNETT: Quick final word.
MOORE: Austan, I agree with you. I agree with you on that point, actually. And I think you've got to fix this. I've made this argument to the Treasury.
What you have to do is basically say these businesses, these small business past-throughs, they get the tax cut if they reinvest the money, Erin, into the company. If they take it out, I agree with Austan, they shouldn't be paying a lower tax rate than everybody else.
What we hope to achieve in this tax bill is to get companies to reinvest in their companies so that they have more money for hiring more workers, paying higher salaries and building more factories and things with that nature. But, Austan, you're right, if they take it out, they should not be paying a lower rate than the worker. I agree with you on that.
BURNETT: I'm going to leave it for once on a note of agreement that you both agree on that. Let's see, by the way, if he'll close the carried interest loophole. He said, he promised he would do that. So, we'll see if that happens. Thank you both.
And next, Barack Obama offered $400,000 for one speech to Wall Street. He's taking the money and he's taking heat from Elizabeth Warren.
They didn't like Donald Trump then and they don't like him now. Our special series, "Red, Purple and Blue" tonight goes blue.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he's failed. He's failed. In accordance to what he' promised, he's failed at this point.
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[19:41:23] BURNETT: Tonight, President Obama under fire from a top Democrat. Senator Elizabeth Warren calling out Obama for being paid $400,000 for giving a single speech to Wall Street.
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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I was troubled by that. One of the things I talk about in the book is the influence of money. I describe it as a -- you know, a snake that slithers through Washington.
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BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, the former senior advisor to Obama, David Axelrod.
And, David, you heard her words. Was President Obama bitten by what Warren calls the Wall Street money snake?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Erin, first of all, let me stipulate -- I'm here as a senior commentator for CNN, but I can't divorce myself from the fact that I worked for the president. I've known him for years.
AXELROD: I have a high regard for him. And I think he has to be judged on the basis of the job he did as president.
He's never going to serve in public office again. And, you know, because you covered these precincts, he passed a financial reform that was reviled by many on Wall Street as too tough. That law created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the chairman that he sought out to help create that agency was Elizabeth Warren.
So, I don't think his willingness to take on Wall Street is in question.
BURNETT: So, you know, obviously, you know, you mentioned covering. And I remember those times, and I guess some of the things that are causing people to sort of do a double take here is because of what he said during the financial crisis. I mean, he slammed the banks relentlessly and mercilessly when he was fighting for Dodd-Frank, as you point out.
Comments like these. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.
I will not go back to the days when Wall Street was allowed to play by their own set of rules. The rest of us are not bailing you out ever again.
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BURNETT: When you hear all those things -- do you hear any hypocrisy at all or not?
AXELROD: Well, again, you know, my ear may be a little different than others. What I hear is a president who followed through with policies that were very tough on the offenses that we saw, and sought out allies like Elizabeth Warren and installed her in government to help fight for consumers and fight for the broader economy. So, I think people will judge on the basis of that record.
BURNETT: Now, before you go, David, Obamacare is on the table again tonight.
BURNETT: Yes, it is. OK?
So, President Trump might go for another vote to try to repeal it in the House before his 100-day mark. House Democrats are now threatening to shut down the government if Republicans go ahead with the vote.
Who do you think has more to lose in this situation, Democrats or Republicans?
AXELROD: Well, I think the people who have the most to lose are consumers of health care who rely on the Affordable Care Act, tens of millions of them who have coverage today, who didn't have it before and people who have more consumer protections today than they had before. They're the ones who stand to lose the most.
But as a political matter, I think the president is not in a good place here because he has -- it looks as if he's just trying to get a deal to put a win on the board. And that's not the way you should deal with it.
BURNETT: Right. This is just the House, right? This isn't even a real repeal, just so people understand.
AXELROD: Yes, the moderates in that -- he made a deal with the most conservative members of the House in ordered to try to move this bill forward. Moderate Republicans in the House are incensed by that and we've already heard from moderate Republicans in the Senate is that they don't accept this.
So, I think his chances of success are small here and you have to wonder why he wants to take that risk again.
[19:45:07] BURNETT: All right. David Axelrod, thank you so much.
AXELROD: Erin, good to see you.
BURNETT: And next, they said never Trump and they still mean it now more than ever.
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KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you think the president has any insight into your life?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMAEL: Absolutely not. And I don't think that he cares to.
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BURNETT: And for some people, they want a whole lot more of Donald Trump. Here's Jeanne Moos.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do have a favorite part about Trump that I love to do and that's when he --
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BURNETT: Democrats lashing out tonight, calling President Trump's first 100 days a failure.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Some people have asked me what grade would I give him. F.
REP. JOHN SARBANES (D), MARYLAND: He's going to point to the fact that he has drained the swamp and people laugh out loud.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: This is a fight for the soul of our democracy.
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BURNETT: That message is a rallying cry in states where Trump is only getting less popular. We've shown you Trump voters this week. We've shown you those in the middle. And tonight to a blue state with Kyung Lah.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across California's fields --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm nervous.
LAH: -- and its cities --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hundred days of "I can't believe this is happening".
LAH: --- to the East Coast states of Maryland and Massachusetts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, staying out of World War III seems to be the number one priority.
LAH: The blue states where Donald Trump overwhelmingly lost, 100 days into his presidency, fear that they're losing their country, but promising a fight.
The state of California, the largest, bluest state in the union, leading the fiercest opposition.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think he can be impeached soon enough.
[19:50:00] LAH: At Millie's coffee shop in the heart of liberal L.A., I meet Alex Martini.
ALEX MARTINI, PHOTOGRAPHER: He frightens me, Trump frightens me.
LAH: For the first time in this millennial's life she's afraid the president will hurt her. She is on Obamacare.
MARTINI: With type 1 diabetes, specifically, I cannot physically survive without insulin, and without health insurance, this device is almost $4,000. It is almost embarrassing to be an American.
LAH: I head 400 miles north to California's Central Valley. Trump's immigration policies sowing fear in the fields that feed America.
(on camera): How many people have their papers?
ERIC ROMAN, FARM WORKER: Nobody. Just me. They're scared to go out, scared to go to the store because they think immigration is crawling around.
LAH (voice-over): Farmer Joe Del Bosque, the son of Mexican migrants, couldn't get enough workers this year, problems that escalated after the election.
JOE DEL BOSQUE, FARMER: When he talks about mass deportations, that makes me nervous. Putting a wall on the border, that makes me nervous.
LAH (on camera): And that affects your bottom line?
DEL BOSQUE: It does, because we can grow the crops but then we can't pick them.
LAH (voice-over): Three thousand miles away lies Baltimore, Maryland, a majority black city where only 12 percent voted for Trump.
On a stormy morning, I meet Melissa Bagley, Baltimore born and raised.
LAH (on camera): Do you think the President has any insight into your life?
MELISSA BAGLEY, NON-TRUMP VOTER: Absolutely not, and I don't think that he cares to.
LAH (voice-over): Baltimore's challenges, unemployment, crime and budget short falls. Bagley has lived three all of them.
BAGLEY: The fact that young black boys are falling like flies and I've given birth to five of them, my city is screaming out for help.
He spoke about being a president for all. I said wow. But he's failed. He's failed according to what he promised, he has failed at this point.
LAH: On the other side of Baltimore works Dr. Crystal Watkins- Johansson, neuropsychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University. An economic world away, but she too feels shut out.
CRYSTAL WATKINS JOHANSSON, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY NEUROPSYCHIATRIST: From what I hear and what I see I don't think that I'm represented at the table.
LAH (on camera): You don't see yourself at the table? What happens to you in four years?
JOHANSSON: I think that's where the anxiety comes from, is because we don't know.
LAH (voice-over): Anxiety felt from urban Baltimore to idyllic Massachusetts. Every single congressional district in this state voted for Hillary Clinton, a liberal unity awakening activism.
Greenfield, it's Sunday and Reverend Corey Sanderson is calling on his progressive Christians to be the country's conscience.
COREY SANDERSON, CHURCH PASTOR: The truth is out there.
LAH (on camera): Do you see the church as a force of resistance?
SANDERSON: Yes, I do. I do. He may be underestimating the power in the people and in the -- in the sense of resistance against what he's been doing.
LAH (voice-over): After the service, as church members share pastries and coffee, I meet Kendra Davis, age 21, a music student, whose personal crisis collided with Trump's election.
KENDRA DAVIS, STUDENT: I actually had an abortion in January this year. I don't want that to be taken away from other women in the future throughout his Presidency.
LAH: Just days after her abortion, she joined the women's march in her town square to defend choice.
LAH (on camera): Does he factor into some of this thinking.
DAVIS: He factored in definitely because I was scared once he became president he would make abortions illegal. It was disappointing to me he was part of my decision.
GLORIA DIFULVIO, VALLEY ACTION GROUP: Some of us have been here since November.
LAH (voice-over): Gloria DiFulvio started this grassroots opposition group in Hadley.
DIFULVIO: I don't know if it's because we have this moment where we almost had our first women president and so now we're kind of pissed off.
LAH: Angry but also realizing she had become complacent, even on her most personal issue, gay marriage.
DIFULVIO: The Supreme Court decision came out and that was really special.
LAH (on camera): How are you today different than before November 8th?
DIFULVIO: I'm way more involved. I am not falling asleep again.
LAH (voice-over): A repeated refrain of determination across three blue states to derail a presidency.
Kyung Lah, CNN in California, Maryland and Massachusetts.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos on the art of impersonating Donald Trump.
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[19:55:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The great thing about Trump is he creates new material every single day.
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BURNETT: Can there ever be too many Donald Trumps? No way. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gentlemen and lady, start your impersonations.
Eleven Trump imitators competed at Los Angeles comedy club, the Laugh Factory.
GLEN GRIFFITH, TRUMP IMPERSONATOR: I want to assure everyone here I have no Russian ties. They're all made in China.
MOOS: Riffing on the president's words.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The media has been so unfair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believe me.
MOOS: Aping his gestures, clapping, pointing, pouting, even breathing like him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, I mean, you know.
MOOS: Among the judges.
DARRELL HAMMOND, COMEDIAN: Look at this.
MOOS: Former "SNL" star Darrell Hammond.
HAMMOND: Love my neighbor, ask myself, and like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
MOOS: Hammond noted that instead of laughing, Trump does --
HAMMOND: A sort of reverse meow laugh, like --
MOOS: Most of the jokes were in the groaner category.
GRIFFITH: I was very reluctant to drop the bomb on Syria, after all, she's been such a tremendous help on my iPhone.
MOOS: It's the delivery that counts.
JOHN DI DOMENICO, TRUMP IMPERSONATOR: I love signing, tweeting and saluting. No one salutes better than me, nobody.
MOOS: The impersonators tend to break Trump down into body parts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a lot of it is the squint and the lips, those are the two big piece.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he does a weird kind of good side eye thing like --
DI DOMENICO: But the good thing is everything is within the same lexicon, you know? Everything is tremendous, fantastic, incredible or a total disaster, lightweight loser --
MOOS: John Di Domenico is no loser. He won with his jokes about replacing Obamacare.
DI DOMENICO: And it is going to be Trump first-aid kits.
MOOS: One impersonator not in this contest was Anthony Atamanuik. ANTHONY ATAMANUIK, HOST, "THE PRESIDENT SHOW": Then bring in the
arms. This is the key. The arms --
MOOS: His fake Trump now hosts an entire show on Comedy Central. For impersonators, it's not the wig, it's what's under it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the way he stops and digs, like he's going to come out with something, you know, and, all of a sudden, he says, terrific.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
TRUMP: Terrific, terrific.
DI DOMENICO: Tremendous.
MOOS: -- New York.
BURNETT: What would they all do without him?
Thanks for joining us. Anderson is next.