Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

House Republicans Unveil Plan to Overhaul Tax System; Interview with Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; Ex-DNC Chair: Clinton Secretly Controlled DNC Before Nomination. Aired 4:30- 5p ET

Aired November 2, 2017 - 16:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:32:46] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are giving them a big, beautiful Christmas present in the form of a tremendous tax cut. It will be the biggest cut in the history of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And we're back with the politics lead.

President Trump today pushing his tax cut and without one major legislative victory under their belts, President Trump and Republicans might need this gift to come through. House Republicans on the fast track to make this happen unveiled their plan today. Leaders say they want legislation passed by Thanksgiving. That's three weeks from today.

And if that tax bill does not become law, some Republicans are openly fretting that might lose the House to Democrats. How much of a fight might they have on their hands, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren is here to answer that.

But, first, the plan itself with CNN's Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the Republican Party, a moment, political and policy, urgency.

REP. KEVIN BRADY (R), TEXAS: This is in America, this is our opportunity to make tax reform a reality, and deliver the most transformational tax cuts in the generation.

MATTINGLY: A wide ranging overhaul of the U.S. tax code, a top remaining Republican legislative goal of the year, with no shortage, potential roadblocks ahead.

(on camera): You've been blunt throughout, this isn't easy, there's a reason it hasn't been done in 31 years.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Thirty-one years, yes.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Speaker Paul Ryan in an interview with CNN making a clear cut guarantee.

(on camera): Can you guarantee that all middle class taxpayers will see a tax cut? I know your model --

RYAN: That's the entire purpose for this. This tax bill gives the average family of four about $1,200 tax cut. I think that's going to be helping people who are living paycheck to paycheck. So, absolutely. I think this is a game changer for our economy.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): A 429-page tax overhaul, the product of weeks of intense negotiations, now public and drawing support from the president.

BRADY: It's serious, it's serious.

TRUMP: I really believe we'll have it done before Christmas. I consider that to be one of the great Christmas presents.

MATTINGLY: It's a bill that dramatically cuts the corporate and small business tax rates, nearly doubles the standard deduction, increases the child tax credit and collapses the number of individual tax brackets from seven to four. But it's also rife with potential problem areas. Northeastern Republicans already staging a mini-revolt over the repeal over the state and local tax deduction for income.

[16:35:00] And powerful interest groups like realtors and homebuilders vowing to oppose the bill over its lack of home-buying credit and $500,000 cap on the mortgage interest rate deduction for new home purchases.

All as Democrats, many of whom pledge to oppose the bill before it was even released, attack proposal for favoring corporate cuts for relief for every day Americans.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Big, wealthy corporations count far more than kids in this bill.

MATTINGLY: But Republicans are holding firm, driven by political imperatives, leaders will hope eventually somehow --

RYAN: We're doing it.

MATTINGLY: -- allow them to achieve a once in a generation goal.

RYAN: We're going to get this done. Why? Because the American people deserve this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And, Jake, you referenced the speed with which they're moving. They plan on moving this through committee next week. The House floor, the week after that. The Senate will be moving it through their committees concurrently on that week. And as you noted, they want this done, at least from each chamber, by

Thanksgiving, signed into law by Christmas. That's speed that you just simply can't imagine for major legislation like this, but why are they moving it this quickly?

One senior GOP aide put it like this: the longer we leave this out there, it's just going to get whacked, hell, he said, we'll get whacked. They understand. This is complicated. This is rife with potential problems, and that's why they're going to try to move as fast as possible, Jake.

TAPPER: Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill for us, thanks so much.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. She serves on the Banking Committee in the Senate.

Senator Warren, thanks for being here.

So, Speaker Ryan, you heard him say $1200 in savings a year for the average family of four. He's also saying middle income folks will -- that will allow them to pay for gas for a year, pay down debt, renovate their homes, save for retirement.

Now, I know you oppose the part of this bill that goes to wealthier Americans and corporate America, but could you support the part that will help middle income Americans?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: So, look Jake, if they really wanted to sit down and write a tax proposal that would help middle income families, I would be all on this. For 20 years now, I've been fighting for help -- for median income families, for middle class families, for working families, for paycheck to paycheck families.

But that's not what this is about. This is a tax proposal that will raises taxes on some people who are middle class, and what it mostly does is the middle class part is to distract attention from the fact that they're planning to give away $2 trillion in tax giveaways to a handful of giant corporations.

Number one on the list, do you know who's going to make the money out of this? It's projected to be Wells Fargo. You remember Wells Fargo, the group -- the bank that cheated it's customers by opening fake accounts for them.

The next group that's going to make out big are going to be foreign investors, wealthy foreign investors who are going to walk away with about $700 billion in tax benefits.

And the third big group, multinational corporations, who will be given bonuses in effect for building their factories, for putting their jobs everywhere except America.

Let's face it. This is a tax proposal that is just a payoff to rich donors, to the Republican Party. What we need is we need something that really works for middle class families and this isn't it. TAPPER: Well, Republicans argue that it's geared towards the middle

class because it maintains maximum 401(k) contributions. It nearly doubles the standard deduction. There's a new family tax credit. It caps the mortgage deduction, half a million dollars. Aren't those all things good for middle Americans that you could get behind?

WARREN: But here's the problem, Jake, when they give away $2 trillion to giant corporations, they're going to blow a hole in the debt. And the minute they blow a hole in the debt, the Republicans are going to come back to the American people and say gee, so sorry, debt really jumped, what's going to happen now is we got to cut Medicare and we've got to cut Medicaid and we've got to cut this and we've got to cut that, oh, we got to cut infrastructure.

Look, if the Republicans really think that they've got $2 trillion to spend, I got some ideas on how to spend it. How about we really put that money into infrastructure investment that will create good jobs right near America right now? Or, how about if we just forgive the outstanding student loan debt and let those young people get out there and start their businesses and keep working? Or, how about if we just write a check for $18,000, $17,000 to every family in America that makes less than $200,000?

That's what you could do with the $2 trillion that the Republicans are shoveling out of the door to giant corporations. This isn't about trying to help the middle class. This is about trying to help the big corporate donors to the Republican Party and then put a pretty face on it.

TAPPER: Do you disagree with the notion that a lot of these corporate tax reduction will not only help big corporations, it will also help smaller corporations and cause economic growth that could help middle class Americans in terms of jobs, in terms of wages?

[16:40:12] WARREN: So let's look at part about jobs and wages. This has been the big Republican lie for decades now. They have argued that, hey, if we just cut taxes for those at the top, somehow, it's going to trickle down and benefit everybody else.

And the reality is, it just isn't true. When the George W. Bush tax cuts went through in the early 2000s, corporations made out great. And what happened to hard-working families, flat wages. When the British cut taxes, cut the corporate tax rate by 11 points, what happened to wages? They actually went down.

Look, this is a point in America when corporations are making record profits. They have cash, they have plenty of money. If they wanted to make investments here in America in jobs here in America, they could do it. The idea that if we just give them a couple of trillion dollars more of taxpayer money, that somehow they're going to make everybody else rich, it is an insult to hard working middle class families. That argument is so wrong.

TAPPER: I want to ask you one other question, Senator. We learned today from former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile that the Clinton campaign in her view did rig the presidential nominating process by entering into an agreement to control day-to-day operations at the DNC. The Clinton campaign controlling the party's staffing, strategy, finances, communications, and that agreement was entered into in August of 2015, a year before she defeated Senator Bernie Sanders. This must shock you.

WARREN: Look, this is a real problem, but what we've got to do is Democrats now, is we've got to hold this party accountable. When Tom Perriello was first -- Tom Perez was first elected chair of the DNC, the very first conversation I had with him is to say, you have got to put together a Democratic Party in which everybody can have confidence that the party is working for Democrats, rather than Democrats are working for the party.

And he's being tested now. This is a test for Tom Perez. And either he's going to succeed by bringing Bernie Sanders and Bernie Sanders' representatives into this process and they're going to say it's fair, it works, we all believe it, or he's going to fail. And I very much hope he succeeds. I hope for Democrats everywhere, I hope for Bernie and for all of Bernie supporters, he's going to succeed.

TAPPER: Very quickly, Senator, do you believe with the notion that it was rigged?

WARREN: Yes.

TAPPER: All right. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you so much. Appreciate your time, Senator.

Much more on the revelation that the DNC was reportedly basically an arm of the Clinton campaign months before she won the nomination. We're going to talk to a former member of Bernie Sanders' presidential senior campaign staff next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're back with the "POLITICS LEAD." As we just mentioned, former Democratic Party Chairwoman Donna Brazile is accusing her party of rigging the 2016 primary election in favor of Hillary Clinton, almost a year before Clinton actually defeated Bernie Sanders to become the Democratic nominee. Brazile says the Clinton campaign kept the party financially afloat with a loan and fundraising dollars but in return, they took complete control of the party's messaging and strategy and staffing. At a time when Bernie Sanders was giving Clinton an unexpectedly tough primary challenge. We have our panel with us and as luck would have it, Symone Sanders was the National Press Secretary for Bernie Sanders Campaign and you just heard Elizabeth Warren, Senator Elizabeth Warren say that she agrees that the process was rigged.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, we have -- folks who work on Senator Sanders' campaign have said far long time that somebody, some fingers were on the scale where --

TAPPER: They're saying that Hillary owned the scale. That's -- SANDERS: And maybe she did own the scale. But look, we fought a

hard-fought campaign. What happened and what Donna Brazile details in the political article, it was wrong. And whether the other candidate was Bernie Sanders or was Papa Smurf, it should not have went down, and no one should condone this. And that is why absolutely we have to continue to hold the party accountable. But I do want to say, and I think it's important to say that no one "stole the election from us." There were lots of -- look, Hillary Clinton maybe she owned the scale, but we still, we fought a hard-fought race, but we did make some calculations that caused us not to emerge victorious. Whether it's helpful and it was helping us not emerge victorious, absolutely.

TAPPER: Josh, I want to show you something then Candidate Trump tweeted in May of last year, Bernie Being is treated very badly by the Democrats. The system is rigged against him. Many of his disenfranchised fans are for me. I don't know about that last part, although certainly, some went to Donald Trump, but that tweet aged well. It turns out, he was right.

JOSH HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He was absolutely right. You know, it's funny -- I love Donna Brazile but this is sort of like this classic gambling in Casa Blanca type moment. I mean, of course, the thumb was on the scale for Hillary Clinton. Everybody in Washington knew that the DNC was basically an arm of Hillary Clinton's primary campaign. Bernie Sanders and you all did an excellent job of pointing that out throughout the course of the campaign, and I think most of the American people had come to that conclusion long before Donna Brazile had actually written this out in this article. So you know, look, if a vice chair didn't know what was going on, OK. I think she probably did, either way, I think we have now revealed what we've known all along.

TAPPER: Now, Josh, now the counterargument is that the Sanders Campaign signed the same agreement that the Clinton Campaign signed, which is the same one that the Obama Campaign signed and Clinton did fundraise with the DNC and gave him the financial lifeline to stay afloat and Sanders didn't raise money for the party.

[16:50:17] JOSH GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: True, although, I don't think that exculpates the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz from having put a thumb so heavily on the scale that Hillary Clinton may or may not have owned. But it wasn't just the fundraising, it's also -- look at the debate schedule. There were -- there were hardly any debate at all, and some of them were Saturday night against college football game at times when people were almost guaranteed not to tune in and watch. The Democratic establishment was four square behind Hillary Clinton I think in that Democratic primary, in part because Bernie Sanders wasn't even a Democrat before that race. So there were some reason why they might have been more inclined in that direction.

SANDERS: But that doesn't make it right.

GREEN: What's that?

SANDERS: Yes, but that doesn't make it right.

GREEN: No, no, and it doesn't. And that's exactly the point I mean.

SANDERS: And to one additional point. I would just like to note the agreements were similar, but it clearly wasn't the same. The Clinton Campaign's agreement had all kinds of other things packed on to it about who they could hire, how they -- you have to run a press release, like, there were other things. And so, that is not the agreement that our campaign signed, and Bernie Sanders did not raise money for the Democratic Party in the way that Secretary Clinton did because that's not how we raise money. Small dollar donations, you all remember. The average donation was $27.50, but I do not want to continue to relitigate the 2016 primary. We -- Democrats need to be united like Senator Warren just said because we are fighting against things such as tax reform, this crazy tax reform bill, the Republicans on the Hill are literally trying to take abortion rights away from women before they even know they're pregnant. These are all things that we need to be united on.

TAPPER: Let's talk about tax reform. The bill is being received enthusiastically by most Republicans it seems, Josh, but we do hear people like Senator Bob Corker expressing concern about what it's going to do for the deficits and debt. Is it a sure thing do you think?

HOLMES: I think the process is not an unimportant piece of this. The House has unveiled their bill today, I think largely successfully amongst the House Republicans.

TAPPER: That's not where the concern is, right.

HOLMES: No, but then we're going to move to the Senate. And the Senate has actually been going through this process for the last week and a half to talk to their members about a little different approach. Now, they've been talking both chambers and the administration so I think they're largely on the same page, but there are going to be some differences and they're going to have to iron that out over the next six weeks. I think they're remarkably on the same page and I think that this is as close to a legislative unified front that we've seen from the administration and the Republican leaders in Congress as we've seen today.

TAPPER: Is it possible they might lose three votes -- three Republican votes in the Senate?

GREEN: Sure, absolutely. And the most unified is not a very high bar to clear in this administration for this Congress. But the other factor here is that if you look at outside groups, business groups, there are some that are vehemently against this bill. I was on my Bloomberg terminal today being a Bloomberg reporter and the stocks of Home Builder were getting crushed because of the loss of the mortgage interest deduction, property tax deductibility, and that has engendered a lot of opposition among groups who Republicans would like to be supportive of this bill and instead have come out and said we're foursquare against it.

HOLMES: Here's the magic of tax reform though. The reason it hasn't been done in 30 years is that every time you cut some taxes you raise other taxes, somebody is going to lose, right? There is always a winner. There's someone right now who's making billions and billions that's paying zero percent taxes. Those people don't want this thing to change.

SANDERS: But under Donald Trump -- but under this tax plan that the Republicans had put forth, they are clear winners, the wealthy, and the middle class hurts. I mean, in this tax bill, what we currently see now, they are cutting things like tax credits for students loans and adoption and adding a 529 for fetuses. Like what is going on there?

TAPPER: What do -- what?

SANDERS: For -- exactly, exactly.

TAPPER: But -- no -- but --

SANDERS: They're adding 529 for fetuses, unborn babies and they cut tax credits --

HOLMES: It sounds like a school savings --

SANDERS: Well, then need to -- people need to read this (INAUDIBLE) bill. And you talked about united front, are they going to talk to the Democrats? I mean, bipartisan in Congress really means you're going to talk to the other side since tax reform is so hard and you try to get everybody --

TAPPER: You think they're going to -- is there a strategy -- I mean, there are ten Republicans -- ten Democratic Senators from states that Trump won who are up for reelection next year. Are they going to try to get some of them?

HOLMES: Yes, they should try and honestly, they should -- the Democrats should listen. I mean, they're in -- they're in a tough spot by opposing this sight unseen.

TAPPER: All right, Symone Sanders, Josh Holmes, Josh Green, thank you so much. I appreciate you one and all. For just hours away from President Trump departing for his first trip to Asia, the White House is already sending a strong message about the language he might use when it comes to talking about North Korea, that's next, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: And we're back with the "WORLD LEAD." A day before President Trump leaves on a two week trip to Asia, the White House is defending his aggressive language on North Korea in the past, such as the North Korea will be met by fire and furry and Kim Jong-un is Rocketman. National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster says he does not expect President Trump to soften his language while he's in Asia. McMaster rejected the idea that in fact -- that Trump's language is what's to blame for inflaming tensions with the rogue regime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, UNITED STATES: Inflammatory is the North Korean regime and what they're doing to threaten, to threaten the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The White House also says the President is considering redesignating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. North Korea had been removed from the list by the Bush administration in 2008 after agreeing to verification measures. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook @JAKETAPPER or as the Twitter address, Tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That is it for THE LEAD today, I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.