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China Names New Seven-Member Leadership Committee; Two Republican Senators Fiercely Rebuke Trump. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 25, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


[00:00:01] XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through translator): I wish to present to you the other six members who have also been elected to the standing committee of the political bureau.

Comrade Li Keqiang. Comrade Li Zhanshu. Comrade Wang Yang. Comrade Wang Huning. Comrade Zhao Leji. And Comrade Han Zheng.

[Xi Jinping]

TRANSLATOR: Comrade Li Keqiang served on the political bureau of standing committee of the 18th CPC central committee. While all the others were members of the political bureau of the 18th CPC central committee. You can learn more about them from the media.

[Xi Jinping]

TRANSLATOR: Here on behalf of the newly-elected central leadership, I wish to express our heartfelt thanks to all other members of the party for the trust they have placed in us. We will work diligently to meet our duty, fulfill our mission, and be worthy of their trust.

[Xi Jinping]

TRANSLATOR: Over the past five years, we have set out a broad agenda. Some tasks have been completed, while others need more work. This party congress has set new goals and new tasks. We must make coordinated efforts to see them through.

[Xi Jinping]

TRANSLATOR: With decades of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. IN this new context, we must get a new look and more importantly make new accomplishments.

The coming five years between the 19th and the 20th party congress is a period in which the time frames of the two centenary goals will converge. Not only must we deliver the centenary goal, we must also embark on a journey towards the second centenary goal.

As I look ahead to the next five years, I see several important junctures and sign posts.

[00:04:46]

[Xi Jinping]

TRANSLATOR: In 2018 we will mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of reform and opening up. Reform and opening up is a crucial move as it's shaping China's future. Forty years of reform and opening up has made it possible for our people to lead decent and even comfortable lives.

We will review our experience and build on the good momentum to continue modernizing China's system and capacity for governance and make determined efforts to comprehend certain (ph) detailed reform and open China still wider to the world.

We will see that reform and opening up complement and reinforce each other. It is my conviction that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will become a reality in the course of reform and opening up.

[Xi Jinping]

TRANSLATOR: In 2019, we will mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. We will act on a new vision for development and strive for sustained and healthy economic growth that benefits people in China and around the world.

We will continue our efforts to accomplish all the tasks laid down in the 13th five-year plan, develop new blueprints for China's future and see the flourishing of all our endeavors.

These efforts will contribute towards a more prosperous and strong People's Republic.

[Xi Jinping]

TRANSLATOR: In 2020, we will establish a moderately prosperous society across all matters. This is a society to be enjoyed by each and every one of us. On the march towards common prosperity no one must be left behind.

We will mobilize the whole party and the whole country in a resolute push to deliver on our pledge and eradicate poverty in China. The aspirations of the people to live a better life must always be the focus of our efforts.

[00:10:00] We must remain committed to a people-centered philosophy of development, strive to ensure and improve living standards and make steady progress towards enhancing our people's sense of fulfillment, happiness and security and towards realizing common prosperity for everyone.

I have no doubt in my mind that our people's lives will see further improvement year after year.

[Xi Jinping]

TRANSLATOR: In 2021 we will mark the centenary of the Communist Party of China for the party which fights for the eternal well-being of the Chinese nation. The centenary only ushers in the prime of life. As the world's largest political party the CPC must behave in a way

commensurate with this status. It's history makes this abundantly clear that the CPC is capable of not only spearheading a great social revolution, but also, imposing a great reform on itself.

We, as its members, must always have a youthful spirit and forever be the servants of the people, the vanguard of the times and the backbone of our nation.

Exercising full and rigorous governance over the party is a journey to which there is no end. We should never entertain the idea of taking a breather, or halting our step.

In fact, we must continue to rid ourselves of any virus that erodes the party's fabric. Make great efforts to foster a healthy political environment of integrity and generate waves of positive energy throughout our party, which can then build into a mighty nationwide force, driving China's development and progress.

[Xi Jinping]

TRANSLATOR: The Communist Party of China and the Chinese people have gone through trials and tribulations. These experiences have taught us that peace is precious and development must be valued. With confidence and pride the Chinese people will be steadfast country in upholding our country's sovereignty, security and development interests.

[00:14:57] We will also work with other nations to build a global community with a shared future and make new and greater contributions to the noble cause of peace and development for all humanity.

[Xi Jinping]

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: We have been listening to Chinese President Xi Jinping introducing the new five members of the standing committee of the politburo who are replacing five members who are retiring. President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang will stay on.

What is notable about these five new members of the standing committee, they are aged between 60 and 67. As many people have pointed out there is no obviously successor to Xi Jinping --

ISHA ESSAY, CNN ANCHOR: -- which may indicate --

VAUSE: -- which means -- all indications are that he intends to stay on in the top job for a lot longer than that five-year term.

Let's go to James McGregor. He's the chairman of Greater China APCO Worldwide -- a private consulting firm. And James is one of our experts on all things there in the Middle Kingdom.

James -- ok. So what we have here, this new standing committee, these new five members taking place alongside Xi and Li. And really what do you make of all of this? If you look at the people who have been named here it seems that there's a few have been handpicked by Xi. There's one outsider -- I think Han Zheng. He's a politburo -- sorry, he's the political secretary from -- well the public secretary rather from Shanghai and a bit of a survivor. But apart from that -- they all seem pretty loyal to Xi Jinping.

JAMES MCGREGOR, GREATER CHINA APCO WORLDWIDE: Well, we certainly don't have a team of rivals here. We've got a team of advisers. I mean, you know, as we've seen throughout this party congress, it's all about Xi Jinping. It's all about his power. So the future of China now rests on his wisdom and his good health because it is all about him and his form of market Leninism, I guess is what you could call it.

If you look at the people that are on the standing committee with him, these are people that are mostly advisors, really, it's kind of a mix. It doesn't look like it's the normal give and take between party elders and getting their people on or getting other people on.

These are his people. I mean -- you know, Li Zhanshu has been an advisor to him for a long time and he's kind of his foreign affairs guy.

Wang Huning is kind of -- they call him his pen. He's the new authoritarian philosopher who has really exposed a philosophy of when you devolve power to the provinces and the cities for economic development it helped with economic development but it started splintering the power of the center and really unraveling the party through corruption. So he has been a big advocate of a strong state central Leninist power that Xi has put together.

Han Zheng has done his whole career in Shanghai. He was always looked at somebody from the Jiang Zemin clique when they simplified these things through cliques.

But I think he's there because Shanghai is important. It is probably a connection to the Jiang Zemin group of people. He also knows how to run the most sophisticated city in China.

Wang Yang will be the face for trade and foreign business and investment. He's been known as a reformer. He's an open-minded guy.

But none of these people -- and this other guy is kind of new. Zhao Leji is the head of the organization department now. He's going to be taking over for Wang Xi Shan on party discipline. He's the only one young enough to be a successor and he's not the successor type.

So this is the team of advisors for Xi Jinping. And now that he's got Xi Jinping's (INAUDIBLE) in the new era in the constitution he will remain in some form of power probably until he dies, unless something happens. That doesn't mean he's going to be the -- carry all the titles. You've got to remember Deng Xiaoping, in his latter years, when he was still in charge was head of the China Bridge Association.

And so the guess would be that Xi Jinping will stay on as party secretary and then become party chairman and then somebody else would become the President after five years. That's kind of the going guess right now.

But we're into a new game here. It's very, very interesting.

VAUSE: And Xi Jinping will also hold the strings, if you like, behind the curtain.

It was interesting to listen to him speak then, Xi Jinping. He talked about, you know, celebrating 40 years of reform and opening up. He talked about the great rejuvenation of China will become a reality. That sounds like making America great again with Chinese characteristics.

MCGREGOR: Absolutely. When he came in with the China dream it was all about making China great again. And actually if you look at since Deng Xiaoping it's been all about making China great again. But he's the one that really has this nationalistic focus on it.

[00:19:55] And you know, his first move when he became the leader five years ago was to go to the museum for this exhibition of road to rejuvenation, where the only foreigners that were -- that are mentioned positively are Marx and Lenin.

You know, all the other foreigners were exploited who came to China and made to go backwards. So he has this narrative of China was great, the foreigners ruined and the party has brought it back. And hopefully he will moderate that kind of rhetoric and that kind of victimization because that's not going to help China get along with the rest of the world.

I mean right now China has got a very strong position with Xi and given the chaos in Washington and also the dysfunction in Europe the world is looking for leadership.

And he could really have a leadership role but he's got -- he's got to look at what's good for the whole world not just China. And I'm not sure whether this governing system is capable of doing that.

SESAY: And James -- this is Isha. To follow up on that, as you look at the Xi we have seen over the past five years who has now moved to the forefront on the world stage with the vacuum on the global stage created by the U.S., what are the issues you see him stepping up to tackle if you will?

MCGREGOR: Oh my. Well, you know, it's all about -- again, it's all about China. You've got this one belt, one road to go through Central Asia and around through the South China Sea into the Indian Ocean, into Africa, to the Middle East, eventually ending up in Europe.

It's about settling the periphery of China so these -- you know, China looks at economic development coming through infrastructure. It's about having neighbors who are both compliant and complacent. And also to build a strong navy, you know, bases, through into Europe.

That's what they will be doing over time. The problem is China doesn't have a lot of friends right now. Because there's been so much of a strong stance and, you know, even in the foreign business community, American business community which used to be China's best friend on Capitol Hill is now there, pushing for America to have a policy of pushing back because you've got this made in China 2025 initiative.

It is basically aimed at replacing foreign companies in China with Chinese companies and then beating them globally. In all of the really future tech sectors from cloud computing to artificial intelligence, new materials, silicon chips, you name it.

So I don't think their stance is to, you know, as Bannon puts it, economic warfare. Their stance is for China to be strong and on its own. I don't think they've looked at the repercussions for the world on the way it's making the world view China.

And again one belt, one road could be very beneficial for these countries but if it's put out -- if these countries that end up way indebted to China on loans and really locked into China on trade and then they have to carry out China's bidding that could be a problem too.

So hopefully now that Xi has consolidated power he will look out to the world and find a way to have more of -- you know, they always talk about win-win here. Maybe we could actually see some real win-win -- real win-win policies and plans.

VAUSE: James -- quickly, with this move by Xi, it seems pretty clear that China will not be evolving into a western-style democracy any time soon because Xi certainly has his own vision of what he sees for China in the years to come.

MCGREGOR: Oh this is -- he has brought it back to a Leninist system really where it's completely top down in the party. You listen to the top. You don't argue. You don't debate policy at lower levels. It's all coming from the top and actually it's now coming from Xi Jinping's thought.

So everything depends on this man. And, you know, one that (INAUDIBLE) strong-man, one man authoritarian rule can get things done and can go haywire very quickly too. It does all depend on him and his wisdom and now his stability and actually his health because if something happened to him, there's a vacuum below him.

You know who's going to stand up and be trusted to lead China. So this is -- we're into as he says in his -- in the constitution, we are into a new era right now in China.

VAUSE: It is. It is uncharted territory.

James -- we know you'll be staying with us in the next couple of hours as the story develops and we learn a little bit more about how this playing out? The implications. So we really appreciate you staying with us there on just another lovely day in Beijing, by the looks of things -- a little bit of pollution there behind you.

James McGregor -- thank you so much.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: It's really striking the calm ordered fashion of what's been playing out in Beijing. Compared to what we've been seeing, you know, in Washington in the last five months.

SESAY: What a day. It was quite a day, you know, this past Tuesday and as you can say the past nine months.

Let's take a quick break.

[00:24:56] And when we come back, we're going to delve into some U.S. politics and those two Republican senators who have been saying "enough" to President Trump, calling him reckless, outrageous, undignified. Will more follow? That is what we shall be asking.

Stay with us. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: Well, there have been stunning developments in Washington, all of it unfolding as President Trump was trying to put on a show of party unity to sell his tax reform plan.

But even before he got to Capitol Hill, he picked a new fight with a fellow Republican -- Senator Bob Corker. Mr. Trump went after him in a tweet storm saying in one that Corker couldn't get elected dog catcher in his home state of Tennessee.

A nasty tweet came after the Senator, in a round of morning television interviews, criticized President Trump.

SESAY: Well, following the Twitter attacks, Corker who is not running for reelection told CNN bluntly Mr. Trump has failed to rise to the presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: The President has great difficulty with the truth. I don't know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard -- the debasement of our nation will be what he will be remembered most for. And he's obviously not going to rise to the occasion as President.

But hope that staff over there would figure out a way to control him. World leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue. He purposely is breaking down relationships we have around the world that have been useful to our nation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think he's as a role model to children in the United States?

CORKER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't?

CORKER: No. Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret supporting him in the election?

CORKER: Let's just put it this way, I would not do that again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wouldn't support him again.

CORKER: No way. No way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Wow. Well, the Trump/Corker fight --

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: Yes. Well, the Trump/Corker fight alone would have been a huge story but then this happened. Senator Jeff Flake announcing Tuesday that he too won't be running for reelection also delivering a stunning rebuke of the President saying he is degrading the country and urging fellow Republicans to stand up to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: -- that we hold are not ours. We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exulting our worst impulses turning it against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us and calling fake things true and true things fake.

And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard won and vulnerable they are.

[00:30:00] This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more and I say the sooner the better. Because we have a healthy government, we must also have healthy and functioning parties.

We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man and always look for the good.

Until that day comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it, because it does.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Joining us now, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson; John Thomas is a Republican consultant, also a CNN political commentator and Michael Genovese, political analyst and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University, thank you all for being with us. SESAY: Welcome, everyone.

VAUSE: What was a very big day.

And, Michael I'd like to start there. We seem to ask this question a lot.

But has there ever been a day like this, with two senior senators criticize the president in such stark terms, a (INAUDIBLE) party adding to a growing chorus of Republican voices speaking out against the president from their own party?

MICHAEL GENOVESE, LEGAL ANALYST: Well, not in our lifetime. And this was significant because in the past, when the president was criticized during a campaign in the primaries, he was criticized by the losers -- sore losers, perhaps.

Then the Democrats criticized him -- and you expect that; it's partisan. Then the media criticized him and they said, well, he had tried to inoculate himself by saying it's the fake news.

But this is a case where inside the family they went after the president. And so the president has been outed. He's been exposed. And the Republicans now have no excuses. They know what he is. They've called it by name. They've done it within the party leadership.

Three major Republicans going after him. And so there is no more ambiguity. We now know what he is and Republicans, if they're going to support him, know now what they're supporting, a person who attacks war heroes, who goes after Gold Star families, who says I just grab them by the blank.

And so the question is, will Republicans continue to be enablers?

Or will they stand up?

We need more Republicans of characteristic to stand up to him.

SESAY: John, Im going to bring you in because I saw you shaking your head as did our viewers at home. I take it you disagree.

JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do disagree.

SESAY: Why?

THOMAS: First of all, it's amazing how the people who are criticizing him from within their own party. If you look at their approval ratings, Jeff Flake had a 17 percent approval rating in his own state. He was hated by his own constituents. He's upset that he went up against the president and the president won in this feud and now he's burning the place down.

SESAY: Does it make anything he said any less true just because he's down in the polls? THOMAS: Well, it's not just polling, it is a reflection of I think it's that he's bitter, he's angry, he doesn't like the president's style. And I think he means it. I'm not saying he wasn't sincere in his criticisms.

SESAY: But were his criticisms inaccurate?

THOMAS: I think a lot of them are. He doesn't like the president's style. But the president, as far as Republicans are concerned, is getting things done on the Supreme Court, on the economy, on underemployment.

So you may not like his style but we're happy with the results so far. And it's not surprising that you see bitter politicians that can't get reelected. A U.S. Senator probably has a large ego and losing his powers is a pretty big blow.

VAUSE: I just can't remember three senators all, one after another --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- sitting president.

THOMAS: And you're right, John. But here's the difference because typically when sitting U.S. senators know they are about to lose and have to resign, it's because they were hugging the president; in this case he is having to resign because he distanced himself from the president.

VAUSE: I think the jury's out on where Flake was in his popularity and his ratings. But I want to get to this internal war within the GOP, the civil war because if this truly is now open warfare within the GOP, it would seem the president and his allies are the ones who are claiming victory by forcing Flake out.

This was the headline on the alt-right website, Breitbart.

"Jeff Flake retirement another scalp for Bannon."

That's a reference to Steve Bannon, the president's former strategist.

Dave, despite this criticism and this rebuke from two senior Republican senators, was this a good day for Donald Trump?

DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so. I think it's clear that Donald Trump has become a cancer that's eating at the Republican Party. Breitbart's a mouthpiece on behalf of Donald Trump and Steve Bannon is the spinmaster and he's always going to spin whatever the news of the day is in Donald Trump's favor. That's just the reality.

But I think this is going to have a massive impact if we look at the midterm elections in 2018. You're right; Jeff Flake was taking a nose dive in the polls. But even Kelly Ward, the Republican, who was challenge Jeff Flake, she is losing to --

[00:35:00]

JACOBSON: -- the Democrat Christian Cinema as of today, according to 538. So -- and he was arguably or that seat is, I think, one of the most vulnerable seats for Republicans and Democrats are obviously --

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: -- it opens it up to a robust primary perhaps better challengers than even Kelly Ward. So it might, in fact, put the seat back in --

JACOBSON: But here's the issue. Like the Republicans have a 52-seat majority when it comes to the Senate. So obviously Democrats are going to target Arizona. You're right. Obviously there's going to be a healthy primary on the Right.

But at the same time, Republicans are going to be vulnerable. This is a state where Donald Trump just won by 4 percent.

THOMAS: I'm not as concerned about losing majorities. But what I am concerned about is Trump's legislative agenda between now and the midterms because you have got --

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: -- it's troubling because you've got these people who have nothing to lose except settle scores. John McCain, Corker, Jeff Flake. And may rebuke the president's agenda on tax reform if they fundamentally agree with it just to give a screw you to the president. And that's very likely. It might happen.

JACOBSON: John, you're a Republican; you can count. Clearly Donald Trump isn't of that mindset because he's engaging in open warfare with the Republicans but he only has a 52-seat majority.

(CROSSTALK)

THOMPSON: -- teaching Republicans a lesion that if you cross me, say goodbye to your seat.

SESAY: Michael, I think it's interesting as I listen to John and I hear the way he frames it, that this is just about people who were petty; these were people who just don't like president's style.

It gives us insight into the way a number of other Republicans on Capitol Hill see this, as in what Jeff Flake and what Corker have said have no real validity.

And as a result, Michael, we're not seeing them coming out and standing by Flake and Corker. So to your point, this is a moment to choose, even the president.

GENOVESE: This is a sign of the president's strength and weakness. The strength is that he's still popular within the Republican Party. He still controls a lot of votes within his base. And even Republicans who don't like him feel they have to stick with him. They don't want to be primaried. They don't want to have to go through an expensive challenge before the general election.

And so right now, the political arithmetic still goes to the Republicans standing with the president. But I think today was a big day. Today opened a door and it created the possibility that other Republicans now have a safe passage if they want to go after the president.

VAUSE: So Flake is retiring. And some have questioned the wisdom of that because really, is he just empowering the president?

Wouldn't he be better off at least standing and proving the fact that the base is rabid and there's this fever which he talked about. But he's made this decision and someone said that's opening the way for the people he loathes to take over the party. And that raises the question of who those people are.

Flake was a moderate while Roy Moore, a favorite to win the Senate seat in Alabama, Dave, he is the gun-toting former judge who believes the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality is worse than the Supreme Court's ruling which endorsed slavery back in 1857. He's questioned whether President Obama was born in this country. He says Muslims should not be allowed to sit in Congress.

So Dave, if this trend continues, if you lose moderates like Corker and Flake and you replace them with someone like Moore, what will this party look like in the coming years?

JACOBSON: Well, I think you're going to continue to see this splintering. But the fact is Jeff Flake is -- was more moderate, I think, tonally. But he --

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBSON: -- but wasn't like a Tea Party extremist radical. So I think that's the question, are you going to see more of the Moores? I think it's plausible that are. Alabama is a state that Donald Trump won by over 20 points. Obviously the polling is neck-and-neck at this point. But I think in a special election you'll have lower turnout that we would in a presidential year.

And it's most likely the Republicans are going to maintain control of that seat. As a Democrat, obviously, I wish that's not the outcome but that is the reality, at least as of today.

That being said, I do think you're going to continue to see the splintering particularly because Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are backing these fringe (INAUDIBLE) candidates.

THOMAS: But I think the fundamental difference you're seeing is it's not so about much Roy Moore's views on social issue; it's establishment versus antiestablishment. That is the war that's going on within the party.

The final thing I'll say about Arizona is I think it's a good thing at the end of the day because Flake would have lost and would have drained a lot of resources from McConnell and others that the Republicans would have used to defend important seats, to go after, to support Flake and eventually he would have lost that seat anyway.

SESAY: To your point, back to David's point of these fringe candidates, if you will, that are being endorsed by Bannon, can they win elections?

Could they win general elections?

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBSON: I don't know that a Kelly Ward can win a general election against the Christian Cinema. And you've got a state like Arizona and then you've got another Republican who's vulnerable, Dean Heller in Nevada, a state that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

If Democrats pick up those two seats, then it's a 50-50 split. And there's no longer -- you've got the --

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: How's the president doing?

How's the economy doing?

There are things larger at play. But you're right, the standard playbook has been that you want more moderate candidates in these swing races.

[00:40:00]

VAUSE: I just want to play an interview that we had on CNN a little earlier with a Republican from Idaho, Representative Risch, I think it's James Risch, he was specifically asked why would he call out the president for not telling the truth and this is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMES RISCH (R), IDAHO: We have a president who has a very unique personality and a very strong character. And if you indeed publicly fight with him, he's going to fight back.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: But when he lies about something and you know it's a lie, shouldn't you speak up?

RISCH: That's your job.

BLITZER: That's your job -- you're a United States senator. You're an equal branch of the -- a coequal branch of the U.S. government.

RISCH: Well, if I went around criticizing a statement that was made by the president or anyone of my fellow senators or anyone of the congressmen up here or people in Idaho who hold public office, and I stood up and talked every time they talked and said I don't like this, I don't like that, I would be busy all day long.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: So he won't call out the president for what others see as lying or falsehoods or whatever. This was also today. There was this show of unity. In between the attack from Corker and the attack from Flake, Donald Trump met with Senate Republicans, had lunch with Mitch McConnell, talking about this tax reform plan.

Later Donald Trump tweeted, "So nice being with Republican senators today. Multiple standing ovations."

Actually did get three, apparently.

"Most are great people who want big tax cuts and success --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: -- "for the United States."

Michael, to you, you have James Risch, the lawmaker from Idaho, refusing to stand up to the president, refusing to call him out, doesn't think that's his job.

You've got the Senate leadership of Republicans senators meeting with Trump to today to get this tax cut through.

Did they make a Faustian bargain of how much they want this tax cut and how much they are willing to put up with Donald Trump to get it?

GENOVESE: Well, it's kind of a devil's bargain. And Senator Risch demonstrated the moral vacuum that exists now, that Republicans won't even criticize -- some Republicans won't even criticize the president, even when they know he is way out of bounds.

And so that corrosive effect that it has on our politics, on our culture and on our people, it's evident when you hear a senator saying, I'm not going to say anything. I'm not going to criticize. I'm going to keep my mouth shut.

His job isn't to keep his mouth shut, it's to do the right thing. And but Trump has a power over the Republican party still that is threatening, that is frightening to some Republicans and that threatens their very political existence.

SESAY: John Thomas, Dave, we're almost out of time but very quickly, for all of this, this fear, people trying stay in line, you're not getting anything done on Capitol Hill.

THOMAS: I think we're close.

VAUSE: But no cigar.

THOMAS: Yes. But I think the senator makes a good point that is the job of the press, is to hold people accountable. If politicians had to hold all the other politicians accountable, that's all they would do all day.

(CROSSTALK) SESAY: But it is the President of the United States.

THOMAS: But it's a slippery slope.

Where do you stop?

If that's your role, Democrats aren't doing it, either.

Why aren't Blue Dog Democrats criticizing Bernie Sanders for his crazy economic solutions?

Why?

Because it's not their job.

VAUSE: You say it's the press' job to hold the president accountable?

Let's go to the FOX News' alternative website in their alternative universe and see what the top story of today was. Look at this.

There was not one mention -- it was actually a little bit down in the left-hand column. "Jeff Flake still finds --"

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

THOMAS: But to their credit, it was a pretty big story --

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBSON: -- Donald Trump propaganda --

(CROSSTALK)

JACOBSON: -- the president, A, is held to a different standard than everyone else, number one.

And number two, results matter and Republicans haven't gotten anything major legislatively done through the Congress. So we'll see if they can actually deliver on this because to date, they haven't gotten anything done.

VAUSE: David, John and Michael, good to have you on with us. Thank you so much.

SESAY: Thank you all. Thank you, thank you.

And that does it for us here at CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Follow us on Twitter at #CNNNewsroomLA. There you can find highlights and clips from our show. (INAUDIBLE) and a live World Series edition of "WORLD SPORT" are up next.

SESAY: And then we'll be back with another hour of news from right around the world, you're watching CNN.