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Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Faces Allegations of Initiating Underage Sexual Contact; Republican Senate Tax Plan Revealed. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 9, 2017 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:04]

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, we are told that Schiller actually said that Agalarov did not offer these women to be sent to then private citizen Trump's hotel room in 2013, and that Agalarov -- but the person, the Russian who did make that offer was in the group with the Agalarovs.

Now, Schiller testified he could not recall the identity of this person who did make this offer. But this offer was made. Schiller took it as a joke. But it fills in one piece of this puzzle that people are looking at as they try to understand what's real and what's not real in this dossier that's gotten so many attention, Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Manu, thank you for setting this whole thing up.

Let me bring in a couple of voices, David Chalian, Chris Cillizza, Gloria Borger.

And, so, Gloria, let's -- or David Chalian, let's take Keith Schiller at his word that these women were offered up, that they rejected them, that this was seen as a joke, right, by the then private citizen Donald Trump.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes.

BALDWIN: If that's all true and you have still this Russia cloud hanging over the White House, how does this fit in to everything else that's going on right now?

CHALIAN: Well, it gives us a couple of things to look at here.

One, as you know, we have heard this term many times in the last year about kompromat, right, how Russians would want to gather compromising materials on someone and potentially make them vulnerable to blackmail or what have you.

This perhaps was an opportunity of doing that. If this Russian participant in the meeting was like, hey, I can send five women to your room, this seems to be a way potentially to infiltrate Donald Trump's world there during his visit to Moscow and see if they could gather some damaging material to hang on to. The other -- beyond the Russian, potential Russian tactic there,

Brooke, remember, Donald Trump has called the salacious allegations that we have never reported because, as Manu said, they have not been corroborated, complete trash, total trash. And Keith Schiller seems to back that up entire in his account.

But it does again to fill in the picture of even how some of that material made it into this Steele dossier to begin with.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Brooke, the thing that strikes me about this is the name Agalarov raised by Keith Schiller, Emin Agalarov, someone who sort of mentioned this to him.

The Agalarov name, of course, was affiliated with the meeting, the Don Jr. meeting in Trump Tower. Rob Goldstone, who was the intermediary on that, represents Agalarov as an agent. And so you see this name coming back, somebody who is a very, very wealthy Russian who met Trump during the Miss Universe, who has continued a relationship with him and with the Trump family.

And so you see that this person sort of comes in and out, in and out of this picture.

BALDWIN: Chris Cillizza, stand by. I'm going to come to you next when we get through this.

Let me just introduce this next story, this other breaking news here on CNN, because we are also learning that -- this time from Capitol Hill where lawmakers are now reacting to this pretty damning new report about Alabama's Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Roy Moore, allegations only. This is where we are right now.

But several senators, including the majority leader, have said that Roy Moore should step aside from this race altogether if these allegations reported in "The Washington Post" are in fact true. "The Post" is reporting that Moore has been accused of initiating sexual encounters with multiple girls decades ago, including at the time a 14-year-old when Roy Moore was 32.

Let me show you a tweet coming in from Senator John McCain. This is what he has now said. "The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step a side and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of."

And when CNN reached out to Roy Moore, the controversial former state chief Supreme Court justice, this is part of a multiparagraph statement from his side.

"Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today's 'Washington Post' alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake. National liberal organizations know their chosen candidate, Doug Jones, is in a death spiral. And this is their last-ditch Hail Mary."

They go on: "Judge Roy Moore is winning with a double-digit lead, so it is no surprise, with just over four weeks remaining in a race for U.S. Senate with national implications, that the Democratic Party and the country's most liberal newspaper would come up with a fabrication of this kind."

[15:05:03]

And they close with this line: "The garbage is the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation."

Chris Cillizza, we are getting new reaction now from Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Hang on just for one more second. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: The allegations, if true, he needs to step aside.

QUESTION: How concerned are you going to be that this is going to hurt the Republican Party?

THUNE: Well, I think if he does what he should do, does the right thing, and steps aside, I don't think it will hurt the Republican Party.

QUESTION: Is there a chance for Luther Strange to come back?

THUNE: You will have to ask him that question. I think our folks are looking into what the laws allow for in terms of Alabama when it comes to replacing candidates on the ballot. But a lot of things have to happen before that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Reaction coming in from Capitol Hill.

Chris Cillizza, what say you?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: OK. Sorry to jump the gun.

But, look, I worked at "The Washington Post" for 10 years before I came to CNN. I know the people who reported this story. To dismiss it as fake news is just go -- I urge people, even if you hate "The Washington Post" and you hate CNN, go read the story, because they talk to 30 people.

The four women are all named and were interviewed multiple times. They went to the court records to check regarding the mother of the woman who is the lead of the story who said they met at the courtroom, that the mother was indeed at the courtroom that day.

This is not to me. I just -- to me, Brooke, Roy Moore, you don't get to just say fake news when it is allegations this serious and this detailed. I think what you hear from Republicans, John McCain, notable

exception, what you hear from Republicans is if these allegations are true, Roy Moore should resign. Well -- or step aside. I don't know how we get there if Roy Moore is going to continue to say this is all fake news and the national Democratic Party.

What you heard from John Thune in that clip you just played is a wish at the moment, which is, if Roy Moore does the right thing, he will step down and this won't be a problem.

Maybe Roy Moore will under pressure. But I would tell you this. Remember, Roy Moore owes exactly zero to John Thune, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of the Republican leadership, all of whom endorsed against him during the Republican race with Luther Strange.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: It is not as though Mitch McConnell can just dial up Roy Moore and say, Roy, for the good of the party, you need to get out.

Roy Moore may do that on his own. But this is not the situation where the establishment Republican Party is going to have its way simply because it's the establishment Republican Party.

BALDWIN: Yes. No, it is an 11-page report. It's detailed reporting. And to your point, "The Post" talked to 30-plus people, including women involved.

CILLIZZA: Right.

BALDWIN: So, just to reiterate, "The Washington Post" obviously standing by the reporting.

Gloria Borger, what's happening behind closed doors? To have Senator McCain -- and, again, these are allegations, right? To have Senator McCain say, excuse yourself, like step aside, do you think that that is harbinger of things to come?

BORGER: Yes, I do.

BALDWIN: You do.

BORGER: Look, as Chris points out, none of these people like him. The leadership didn't endorse him. And their candidate lost.

But let's put all of that aside, given the nature of the charges, and what these women are saying. I think what's going on behind closed doors is that they are trying to figure out what to do next. There is no process in the state of Alabama.

So, if they wanted to try and get another Republican elected, according to Adam Levy of CNN, who has looked into these things, they would have to get a write-in candidate on the ballot.

BALDWIN: A write-in candidate.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Well, remember Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, where she had to teach everybody to spell her name, et cetera?

But they just don't have sort of a process in place for this. So I guarantee you that Republicans are sort of trying to figure out next steps here.

While this plays out in public, privately they have to figure out who they would want to write in. Would it be Luther Strange? Would it be somebody else? And how they would organize that in the 11th hour.

BALDWIN: David Chalian, the number of seats in the Senate is a mighty thing, especially if you are -- depends who you are talking to and depends on how the shift in numbers could go.

What are you thinking as far as what both Democrats and Republicans might be thinking?

CHALIAN: So, on that point of the Senate math, Brooke, how many times have you and sat here, watched a Senate vote, and kept saying, they can't afford to lose more than two, because many of the things they are trying to do are with Republican votes only on 50-vote threshold?

[15:10:01]

BALDWIN: Yes.

CHALIAN: And so if indeed somehow Democrats were able to pull out a victory in Alabama, that then means you can't lose more than one vote on a given issue.

It becomes particular math. There's no doubt about that. But in the larger picture, let's look at the context that this is taking place. On Tuesday night, we saw sweeping Democratic victories across the country in elections.

This race, if you don't remember the few weeks back, there was a FOX News poll that had the Moore-Doug Jones race, the Democrats vs. Republican in Alabama in this special election, tied. That was crazy and eye-popping. And there have been some other polls that suggest that Roy Moore really was in a lead.

But this race was shaping up as potentially competitive, bizarrely so in Alabama, because of how controversial a candidate Roy Moore is. So there a are couple things going on here. One, Democrats will start sensing a potential real opportunity to try and make an investment here.

Two, as you noted before, this gets us back to the whole notion of sort of the Bannon wing vs. the establishment inside the Republican Party. If indeed Bannon put everything on -- he left the White House and said mission number one is Alabama. Get rid of Luther Strange, get Roy Moore to be the nominee.

If Ray Moore implodes as the nominee now, I don't know how the Bannon strategy is going to continue to have a lot of followers if indeed he's proven McConnell point that you are not necessarily putting the best candidates forth. That to me seems it's going to exaggerate, not assuage necessarily, the internal Republican Party divide going forward.

CILLIZZA: And, Brooke, if I can just add, David is 100 percent right.

BALDWIN: Yes.

CILLIZZA: One other thing about just national Republican branding in this.

That John Thune quote that you played just a minute ago is very revealing in that he says essentially -- he's asked how could this hurt the national Republican Party. And he says, no, if Moore does the right thing and steps aside.

So the counter of that is if Moore fights this, you have this fight day in, day out. You have questions every Republican senator will be asked from this second until the second Roy Moore drops out, wins or loses, something, before now and December 12. They will be like asked every day, do you support Roy Moore? If he does win, should he be seated? Should the Republican Party try to withdraw his nomination?

It just creates -- for a party that is already reeling, as David noted, from across-the-board losses that are attributable in every circumstance except New Jersey to Donald Trump, they now have this on top of it.

They knew Roy Moore coming to the Senate was going to be a problem because of the number of controversial things he has said and will say. He's even more politically -- and that does not, should not lessen the charges here, which should take precedence. But politically speaking, this is problem.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: Sorry, Gloria, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Hang on. Hang on just a second, Gloria, because let me add another layer. As we have all been talking about national implications, Jason Carroll has just been seated next to me.

And so this signals to me that you have more.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.

I literally just a few moments ago got off the phone with Richard Wells. And he says that...

BALDWIN: Who is that?

CARROLL: Well, he is the stepfather of one of those who alleges when she was 14 years old, Moore had two inappropriate encounters with her back in 1979.

And when I asked him about what had happened, he said that his stepdaughter is a very strong woman. He said that the family stands by what was reported in "The Washington Post." He said that women are oftentimes stronger than men. And this is an example of that.

I also asked if he felt at any point that there would be any sort of fallout from these allegations that are being made. And he says, "We are not worried about any fallout, not any fallout at this time."

So I just wanted to add that sort of wrinkle. Once again, just to recap in 1979, this woman says when she was 14 years old she had two encounters with Moore, that they hugged and kissed. And then at another point, he asked her to put her hands on his genitals.

These are allegations you have heard over and over again that Moore and his campaign have repeatedly denied. But this is one of those family members now coming out, just literally getting off the phone not more than 10 minutes ago, basically saying that they stand by the allegations that were reported in "The Washington Post."

BALDWIN: Thank you for sharing that. Jason Carroll, thank you very much.

And as more and more of these reports of sexual harassment by powerful men are coming to light, there is no better time than now to talk about this. My friend and colleague Alisyn Camerota will be hosting a live CNN town hall on precisely this, "Sexual Harassment in America." Do not miss this, 9:00 this evening on CNN.

Let's move on, because we're getting some more news just into us here. Senate Republicans have just released their own version of how to overhaul the nation's tax system. And it is quite different from that of the House bill, which could lead to a dramatic showdown there on Capitol Hill.

[15:15:10]

Let's go straight to the man who has been in the thick of the weeds on all things taxes, Phil Mattingly.

All right, Phil, so what are the biggest differences on the Senate version vs. the House?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

So, you need to -- Brooke, if you go back to kind of where the agreement was always supposed to be, the nine-page framework, administration, House and Senate, there were going to some top lines that were always supposed to be the same. For the most part, this plan actually accomplishes that thing.

But the differences here, as you note, could be very big and potentially very problematic, depending on how they actually shake out over the course of the next couple of weeks. First, look at the individual side. The House has four brackets

basically with the top bracket of 39.6 percent. The Senate has seven brackets. They're doing that in part for revenue reasons, but their top bracket would be 38.6 percent.

Then you look at the corporate rate. And, Brooke, you know this is a very big issue president. And he has made very clear 20 percent is his red line. That's what he wants the corporate rate to be cut down to.

The Senate gets to 20 percent, but unlike the House, which is immediately, the Senate phases that in. There's a number of different areas as well, whether it's the home interest rate deduction, which the Senate leaves untouched. The House caps it for new mortgages at $500,000.

The state and local tax deduction, which has been a huge issue in the House, because they have a lot of Northeastern Republicans, the Senate bill repeals it entirely. Basically, there are a lot of differences here, Brooke, is what I'm trying to say.

But the top-line framework stays mostly in line. Here's the big question going forward. How do these two chambers, how do both Republican parties actually reconcile these differences? And as you get deeper into the Senate proposal, which we are learning more and more about, as Senate finance aides kind of hammer this stuff down, the in-the-weeds details, as we all know very well, will determine whether or not this passes or not.

Combine that with the political imperative of wanting to do something, anything legislatively to end this year, and certainly Republicans right now feel they are in an OK place. But as one Senate GOP aid told me just about 30 minutes ago, we feel good about where we are. But the land mines right now are about 10 at a time in front of us over the course of the next couple of weeks.

So that's the baseline they're starting from right now.

BALDWIN: Wow.

MATTINGLY: I will also note, while we're talking about the Senate bill, the House is almost about to take its major -- first legislative step forward. The Ways and Means Committee is about to pass -- or sorry -- approve that legislation. Be on the House floor next week.

It's moving quickly. But as we always know, the details really matter in this, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And just 10 seconds. They're still hoping to get this all down by Christmas?

MATTINGLY: That's the plan. Biggest Christmas present ever, I believe, is what the president said.

(LAUGHTER)

BALDWIN: OK. Phil Mattingly, thank you so much.

So, Phil just outlined so well, right, the biggest differences between the House version and the Senate version. And the devil in the details and how do you recognize the differences in the two.

So let's debate these versions of the plans and really just what it means for you. That's coming up next.

Also ahead, President Trump puts the art of the deal into action. He once really criticized China for their trade practices, and now he says it's not their fault. So what's the point of all of this here? We will talk more about his big trip to China and how it might impact negotiations with regard to North Korea.

You are watching CNN on a very busy Thursday.

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[15:22:21]

BALDWIN: Got some more breaking news for you from Capitol Hill.

Senate Republicans have just released the details of their tax plan.

Phil Mattingly just ran through some of the differences and highlighted where the senators stand vs. members from the House.

So, Alexis Goldstein is with me, senior policy analyst for Americans for Financial Reform. Peter Morici is with us, professor of international business at the University of Maryland.

Welcome, welcome to both of you.

And let's talk taxes.

And, Peter Morici, just to you. Phil just went through some of the biggest differences between the way the Senate sees things vs. the House. And my question to you is, how will they reconcile their differences and get this thing through by the end of the year? Is there enough middle ground?

PETER MORICI, FORMER DIRECTOR OF ECONOMICS, U.S. INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION: I think there is. The essential structure of the two bills is the same. I mean, they are going to eliminate -- they're going to lower the corporate income tax to say 20 percent.

The question is the kick-in date. With regard to mortgage interest, they could split the difference. Most of this stuff comes down to just adding the two numbers together and dividing by two.

My feeling is that this is passable, unless you have a couple of prima donnas in the Senate that say, I have to have it this way. With only 52 votes, that could hold it up.

BALDWIN: Alexis, how do you see it?

ALEXIS GOLDSTEIN, AMERICANS FOR FINANCIAL REFORM: I think that this is a disaster for the American public.

I think it's going to be vastly popular. You have seen majorities on both sides, Republican, Democrat, they don't want to see tax cuts for the wealthy, they don't want to see tax cuts for mega-corporations.

In both the House and the Senate, that is what this is looking at. We're talking about slashing rates for corporations, at a time when they are doing really well. Right? Trump likes to brag about how good the stock market is doing. Big corporations are not hurting right now.

But one in four Americans are going to see a tax increase if the House version of this bill passes by 2027. So this is basically taking the money out of hardworking Americans in order to give it to the ultra- wealthy, to Wall Street and to big corporations.

I think that this is going to be hard for them to pass because it's not going to be very popular.

BALDWIN: Peter, I want you to respond to that. But let me just add some of what -- obviously Alexis comes from one perspective.

But when you look at the latest CNN polling, the majority of Americans don't like the plan as it stands right now; 31 percent are in favor of it. So how do they sell it?

MORICI: I think it's going to be a very difficult sell.

There's really two plans here. There's corporate tax plan, which is not at all independent on raising taxes on individual families to finance. They have a $1.5 trillion budget to work with. They put $1 trillion into the corporate tax and business tax side of things.

On the personal side, most people win. But you have got a basic problem. When you want to simplify the tax code, which the House wants to do, and eliminate a lot of exemptions and deductions and so forth, have to have more money than $258 billion, which they've chosen to spend -- excuse me --$270 some-odd-billion odd which they have chosen to spend -- by lowering the rates overall.

[15:25:05]

For example, people in places like Connecticut and New York, some of them are going to see their taxes go up. Now, I have an important question in that regard.

(CROSSTALK)

MORICI: Hold on. Hold on, Alexis.

Is it really appropriate for a waitress in Alabama making $35,000 a year to send taxes to Washington for a New York attorney that makes $2 million or $3 million a year to enjoy the benefit of a bigger public sector, to say we want a bigger public sector?

Because, basically, the rest of the country is subsidizing the public sector in about seven or eight states.

BALDWIN: So, Alexis, you want to respond?

GOLDSTEIN: So the rest of the country is right now going to be subsidizing the ultra-wealthy if this tax plan goes through.

Let's look at the estate tax. They are talking about in both versions either eliminating or doubling the exemption. And what that means is, if you're watching this at home, if you don't expect to die with more than 5.5 million to pass onto your children, this doesn't impact you.

But if you have more money than that or you're a couple and you expect to have more than $11 million, right now, you will be taxed on that. But the GOP wants to double that. They want to be able to not have to be taxed on $22 million when you pass away on the estate tax.

They also want to do things like take away the state and local income tax deduction. So that means, if you are a hardworking American in New York or California or another state where you have local and state taxes, you no longer get to deduct that off of your income taxes, and you're probably going to see a tax hike.

And, again, this is data that is coming from the Joint Committee on Taxation. This isn't from a think tank. This is from the government bipartisan group that looked at the House version of this plan and said one in four Americans were going to see an increase in this.

And there are all kinds of deductions we're not talking about. The Student loan interest deduction, right now, you can deduct up to $2,500 on your student loan interest payment. They wanted to eliminate that in the House version of the plan.

So there are all these different deductions right now that are on the chopping block. And, again, if you look at those one in four Americans who are facing potential tax increase, that's going to bring in about $99 billion in revenue, but they're going to immediately have to hand that over because the top 1 percent are going to see $100 billion worth of tax breaks.

So this is basically taking money out of the hardworking Americans in order to give to richest. And, again, Brooke, as you mention, that is just not popular. That's why you are seeing that 31 percent, which I'm actually shocked it's that high.

BALDWIN: OK, Peter, I know you want to respond. We are out of time.

MORICI: We will do it again.

BALDWIN: But these are two obviously -- and we wanted it -- very different perspectives. Even as it stands now, they are going to have to do some negotiating.

MORICI: I like Alexis, by the way, personally.

BALDWIN: I know. I like Alexis too. And, Peter Morici, we've talked for years. GOLDSTEIN: We're all friends.

BALDWIN: I appreciate both of you. To be continued on that.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you.

Coming up next here, more breaking news, this involving comedian Louis C.K. and the abrupt cancellation of his new movie premiere set for tomorrow.

Back in a moment.

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