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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Senate Tax Bill Clears Hurdle, Challenges Remain; Interview with Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana; Libyan State Media Cites Trump to Discredit CNN Story; Trump Goes After Roy Moore's Opponent; North Korea's Latest Missile Launch Potentially Puts Washington, D.C. In Range; Trump Surrounded By Empty Chairs Slams Dems For Ditching Him; Judge Rules Trump's Pick Should Lead Consumer Watchdog Agency. Aired on 7-8p ET
Aired November 28, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: -- timely debate on tax reform. That's coming up, 9:00 P.M. Eastern. That's it for me. Thanks for watching. "Erin Burnett Outfront" starts right now.
[19:00:13] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: "Outfront" next, breaking news. North Korea firing what could be its most powerful missile yet, one that could reach Washington, D.C.
Plus, the president's reality show. Today, Trump staging a White House meeting like an episode of "The Apprentice" playing roulette with a government shutdown.
And Trump going after Senator Elizabeth Warren, raising questions about what he said about his own heritage. So, why did he say he's of Swedish descent when he actually isn't? Let's go "Outfront".
Good afternoon. I'm Erin Burnett. "Outfront" tonight, breaking news, North Korea with a record breaking missile launch that potentially puts Washington, D.C. in range. Kim Jong-un launching a missile late today, one that Defense Secretary Mattis says went higher than ever before. The Intercontinental ballistic missile traveled about 620 miles, airborne nearly an hour before landing in the Sea of Japan.
And tonight, President Trump responding, saying the United States will, "Take care of North Korea."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you probably have heard, and some of you have reported, a missile was launched a little while ago from North Korea. I will only tell you that we will take care of it. We have General Mattis in the room with us, and we've had a long discussion on it. It is a situation that we will handle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: We will handle. Well, Will Ripley has been inside North Korea 17 times, knows that regime better than any other reporter. He's "Outfront" in Seoul tonight, and Will, just moments ago, another warning from North Korea. An official telling you that another nuclear test could be coming, even after the one we just saw hours ago?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Because what we saw was this missile launch. This demonstration to the Trump administration by North Korea that they have in their arsenal a missile that could effectively, and you heard the defense secretary say this, reach anywhere in the world, including anywhere in the mainland United States, New York, Washington, Chicago.
What this North Korean official reiterated to me, something that he told me also back in October, the North Korea still feels they have more to prove here, and what they need to prove is by conducting an above ground nuclear test. It would be their seventh nuclear test. North Korea's foreign minister has made this threat, a senior diplomat in Pyongyang told me that threat should be taken literally, when I interviewed him just about a month ago, and then this official once again saying today the North Korea is not done demonstrating to the United States what their capability is.
Also saying they have no interest in diplomacy until they have proven that they have rounded off their nuclear program in their words, Erin.
BURNETT: Right, So sounds like no interest in diplomacy until they have proven they can strike a U.S. mainland cities. I mean, that would be the clear message there. Well, I mean, the timing of this test, the one that we just saw of this missile that would possibly be able to strike Washington, D.C. was unusual because of the time of day, right? This happened a couple hours ago in the middle of the night.
RIPLEY: That's right. They rolled this missile out around 3:00 A.M. local time. There was almost no advanced warning, as far as we know. The only indication that a missile launch might be coming was from radio chatter detected by the Japanese within last few days. So this is North Korea showing the United States that they can launch an intercontinental ballistic missile with very little notice which obviously is very troubling if the U.S. were going to try to do some sort of pre-emptive strike. They simply wouldn't have time to do that if a missile already fueled up was rolled out and launched.
Also noteworthy, you know, this has happened just after North Korea was placed back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But I would say that this probably has less to do with that and more to do with other strategic reasons for this regime. They didn't launch the missile when President Trump was in Asia, they didn't launch the missile during ongoing naval drills. They like the element of surprise, the maximum impact here. And they like to do these things when the world is least expecting them to do it.
BURNETT: Will Ripley, thank you very much. Obviously, a dire warning tonight.
Let's go straight to the State Department now. Michelle Kosinski joins me. Michelle, experts saying, this could be -- and this is a pretty significant thing to say, giving the ramp-up in testing we have seen, this could be the most powerful missile yet from North Korea. MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, just one more step incrementally towards them reaching their goal of being a nuclear state. We see them with each launch over the past several months change something or advance some of the technology, moving forward. So even though when there's a pause in these launches like we have seen here for two and a half months, that gives the administration sometimes some cause for optimism, saying that they haven't done anything in a little while, that sanctions appear to be working. Then we see something like this.
So what we're hearing is that this one flew higher and farther than others in the past. Leading U.S. officials to believe that now they do have the capability with these ICBMs to hit, as Secretary of Defense Mattis put it, anywhere in the world. So obviously, that does include the mainland U.S. and where we sit right now.
[19:05:06] So we heard those words from President Trump and Secretary Mattis. What we heard from the State Department just after is still talking about diplomacy. I mean, I think that might indicate the immediate way forward for the U.S. response, talking about still pressuring other countries to put additional pressure on North Korea and ending the State Department's statement by saying they're still committed to looking for a peaceful path forward to solving this problem.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Michelle Kosinski from the State Department tonight.
And now, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On The World", Gordon Chang, and Spider Marks, retired U.S. army major general. Gordon, let me start with you.
Look, you heard this layout from Will and Michelle. Higher, farther, most powerful in terms of the missiles we have seen from North Korea. Flying in the air for more than 50 minutes. No advanced warning. How close are we to the day when North Korea has the ability to strike the United States mainland with a missile?
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, " NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": Well, I think they probably could do that now. But if we're talking about a missile with proven capability, which they feel is reliable, you know, probably nine months from now. But we're talking a pretty short timeframe, because the North Koreans have been able to make much better progress than anyone thought. This missile flew for 53 minutes, at least six minutes longer than the one they tested on July 28th. You know, as Will Ripley said, they did this at night, giving us very little warning. And so, you know, we have got to assume that within half a year, nine months, they'll be able to destroy the American city of their choice. And because of the state of American missile defense, there's very little we could do to stop a missile in the air.
BURNETT: Spider that's a pretty terrifying analysis.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I need to tell you, Erin -- I'm sorry, go ahead, Gordon. CHANG: No, no. Sorry, general.
BURNETT: Go ahead, general. Go ahead.
MARKS: Erin, my view is that what we have seen is, look, there are three elements at play here. Number one is distance of the missiles. Number two is accuracy of the missiles, and number three is the ability to re-enter into the atmosphere without falling apart or burning up. What we have seen, at least what we have seen to date, is a level of accuracy to go 3,000 miles in the air and 600 miles towards Japan and then land within the exclusive economic zone of Japan. It's quite significant. That's skinning the cat pretty closely. Were it to be any closer, more toward the territorial waters, that would be an act of war, which would in fact have some repercussions to the north.
BURNETT: I mean, is what you're saying general that they're showing they do have the ability for very specific aim?
MARKS: I have to tell you that the Intelligence Community several months ago indicated that, look, the nuclear capabilities that the North had demonstrated were far ahead of schedule than the Intelligence Community had estimated. Missile development is far more advanced than the Intelligence Community had estimated.
So I think to Gordon's point, we have to assume now that the miniaturization of nukes and the ability to marry the nuke on top of a missile should be proportionally advanced if we miss those two, we have probably missed this. And we have to assume they've got a capability right now, and so any future missile launch, we have to assume is nuclear tipped and could strike the United States.
BURNETT: And Gordon, and one that we may not know before it's coming. Because as they just showed, they could do this in the night, and no one even knew. So you wouldn't even know that it was on its way.
MARKS: No, we would.
CHANG: Yes. You know, the mobile missiles that North Korea has tested have rode to the test sites on the back of Chinese launchers. And United States has yet to take that into account. China has made North Korea a real threat. Because we're not worried about North Korea's longest range missile, the Taepodong-2, because that takes weeks to transport, assemble, fuel, and test. We can destroy it with nothing more sophisticated than an F-16, but when you got mobile missiles, they can do all sorts of things, and we cannot, with any degree of assurance, kill them on the ground.
BURNETT: Spider, let me ask you, the president today, his response. OK, when he first heard about this, the breaking news, said the United States would handle it, right? Those are the words he used, take care of North Korea. This is language, frankly, you know, it was reminiscent to me of what we have heard him say before. We looked, and indeed, he has. Here is President Trump going back to February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: North Korea, we'll take care of it, folks. We're going to take care of it all.
North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of.
We'll handle North Korea. We'll be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything.
I will only tell you that we will take care of it.
It is a situation that we will handle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: February 16th is the first time he said that, general. And I see you sort of smiling, but obviously, in that time, we have had 23 missiles fired from North Korea. But where's -- what is he handling? Where is the handling?
[19:10:04] MARKS: Exactly. The issue is the level that the North has been able to achieve in their development is quite astounding. And we've been witness to that. So at the end of the day, the United States in cooperation with South Korea can handle the challenge, but it's going to -- we have increasingly decreased -- we have -- excuse me, we have decreased the number of options that we have available. We're right now talking about a military option almost exclusively to, "handle the problem." Were we to continue to impose economic sanctions and really throw a blanket over North Korea that was punishing and the Chinese agreed to that, that would be a timeline of six, seven, eight months. Gordon's already laid out for you the inevitably of a capability that's going to exist in that amount of time.
So economic solutions, diplomatic solutions can be put in place, but they're not going to be sufficiently aggressive in a truncated amount of time for the United States to, "take care of it."
What we're doing is we're monitoring it, we're watching it, we're developing our anti-missile capabilities, our terminal high air altitude air defense capabilities are very aggressive and quite good, and we can monitor these shots. We can see them when they launch at night, Erin. We've got the capabilities, intelligence, both signals intelligence and imagery intelligence to track this, but this can be done, but we have narrowed the options in terms of handling it.
BURNETT: And the question, of course, general, is whether our missile defense would be able to do anything about it with the warning they would get after a launch, still.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both so very much. I appreciate it.
MARKS: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, President Trump producing a sigh show while ripping into Chuck and Nancy. Is he playing games with life and death issues affecting millions of Americans? Plus, the Senate tax plan getting closer to becoming law. Is Congress about to pass a bill that helps the rich get even richer?
And Trump not able to stop talking about Pocahontas, but of course, that means the spotlight also turned closer to home, and he has a few questionable takes on his own family tree.
[19:15:53] BURNETT: Tonight, Trump's reality show, the president today ripping into Democratic leaders for canceling a meeting with him at the White House. That meeting was cancelled by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi after the president tweeted, and I quote, "Meeting with Chuck and Nancy today about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our country unchecked, are weak on crime and want to substantially raise taxes. I don't see a deal!" Of course, the deal he's talking about was intended to keep the government running past the December 8th deadline, which is, of course, next week.
President Trump always the showman, an executive producer at heart, did not waste an opportunity to turn this situation into political theater, complete with empty chairs and name cards for Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi.
And if you think this looks familiar, yes, well, on the left is the president today, and on the right, the tight shot, almost the same one of the president from "The Apprentice".
The board room from today with the empty chairs, same sort of set-up from "The Apprentice". The president with ample space on each side. They're all jammed in and his plenty of space. The only difference today was nobody was technically fired.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi did not show up for our meeting today. I'm not really that surprised. We have a lot of differences. They're weak on crime. They're weak on illegal immigration. They want the illegal folks to come pouring into our border, and a lot of problems are being caused, although we've stopped it to a large extent, as much as you can without the wall, which we're going to get.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The president also leaving no doubt that he's pointing the finger for a potential government shutdown right at Schumer and Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If that happens, I would absolutely blame the Democrats, if it happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Jeff Zeleny is "Outfront" from the White House tonight, the scene of that "Apprentice" like meeting. Jeff, the president certainly seemed to orchestrate every bit of today.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it definitely started with that tweet that he sent out this morning that put things into motion there. And the Democrats in one respect called him on it. And in this case, tweets have consequences.
But the reality here is, the political math of Washington, the president and indeed Republicans need Democratic votes in the House for that end of year spending bill. So at some point after these antics are over, indeed from both sides of Pennsylvania avenue, there's plenty of childish behavior, I think, to go around, and the fact that, you know, voters out there are electing people to do their work, the reality is that they need Democratic votes more than likely on this end of year spending bill. So that is something that is still going to be playing out.
You know, the December is going to be a key month here for so many things. But that spending bill is so important.
But Erin, I was struck by watching this, first and foremost, Democrats never sit next to the president because they are not in power. The Republicans would be sitting next to him, normally, and the meeting was supposed to be in the Oval Office, as you said earlier. Of course, there are no place cards in the Oval Office. So it was moved to the Roosevelt room, some staging there, no question. It's the president's prerogative to do that, but at the end of the day, nothing that happened there actually advanced to ball toward keeping the government open.
And the president said Democrats will own it, we'll see about that. Because Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell know that Republicans indeed need to keep the government open because they run the government, and one more thing, Erin. Senator McConnell said that he would never refuse a meeting from President Obama. Actually, we found out that he refused a couple. I remember one back in 2010, he declined to come here to the White House to meet with President Obama. He said he was too busy for that. So, again, a lot of antics today, not much progress on anything.
BURNETT: He said he couldn't imagine ever turning down a meeting at the White House. As Jeff points out, facts show he did so indeed at least twice.
ZELENY: That's right.
BURNETT: "Outfront" now, Dana Bash, Chief Political Correspondent, David Drucker, Senior Political Correspondent for the Washington Examiner, and Margaret Talev, Senior White House Correspondent from Bloomberg News. Thanks to all.
David, you know, look, putting the scene there of the tight shot and the board room and the space next to the president, next to "The Apprentice", this was clearly choreographed by him. You know, the tweet that he sent out, you know, there's going to be no deal, sort of betting they weren't going to come, then the empty seats. He knew what he was going to get.
[19:20:11] DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: He did. And I think that there was nothing wrong with the stagecraft that the president rolled out. It's something we have seen before in politics. And who knows. It might actually work. But it was very interesting, Erin, because the last time the president had the leadership down to the White House, he double crossed the Republicans, his allies, and he forged a deal with Democrats. And he immediately met with a lot of blowback from his base. So it seemed like he was trying to set this thing up to not land him on the wrong side of his voters. I'd also point out that while everybody needs to participate on the Hill on keeping the government open, because Democrats don't run the House or the Senate, technically, they're not necessarily going to be on the hook if the government shuts down. I think they know that. And that's why they can afford to play a little hardball.
BURNETT: Right, which is -- that's of course the scary thing, whether the president realizes it or not. And Dana, look, he baited Pelosi and Schumer with that tweet, right, when he said, you know, meeting with Chuck and Nancy. Then he ends with, I don't see a deal, right? It sort of put them in the position of he's going to say that, right? If they come to the meeting after a tweet like that, they look pretty weak. But if they didn't come to the meeting, they also risked looking weak. Did they fall into Trump's trap?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, in some ways, yes. But here's the unfortunate reality now, which isn't that different unfortunately from what was happening yesterday and the day before. And that is everybody is playing base politics. And by that, I mean what Donald Trump did just like David said, was try to very aggressively avoid what happened the last time the bipartisan leadership came to the White House. Where the president really wanted to make a deal, and he just did it right then and there with the Democrats, undercut the Republicans, which did get him a deal and got him some headlines about getting things done, and that kind of thing, but it got him in a whole lot of trouble with the base. This did the opposite. Standing up to Chuck and Nancy, sending out the tweet, having the stagecraft as he did, pretending that they would actually sit next to him in the first place, all of that perfect for the base. The base, which is, you know, the group that still believes in him.
Same goes for the Democrats, Erin. The Democrats also are all about making sure that their base knows that they are standing up to Donald Trump, that they're standing up to Republicans, that they're united in doing so, and so this even though I think all of them look childish, in this sort of raw politics prism of this, it worked for both of them.
BURNETT: I mean, and Margaret, that's the thing, you know, to Dana's point. Schumer and Pelosi, right? We look again at that stage craft, and then Pelosi tried to fight back, and frankly, you know, the same sort of childish language that the president used. She tweets "@realDonaldTrump now knows that his verbal abuse will no longer be tolerated. His empty chair photo opp showed he's more interested in stunts than in addressing the needs of the American people. Poor Ryan and McConnell, relegated to props. Sad!" Obviously, trying to be like Trump.
But there's the point Margaret. They did appear to be props. McConnell and Ryan, right? Fighting him on things like Roy Moore, and here they are, basically, you know, playing the game, being his puppets today. Was there any winner?
MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes. Everybody in the situation is a prop to the president's political move. And I think the Democrats concluded that they weren't going to win whether they went to that meeting or not, so they might as well try to draw a line in the sand and discourage this sort of behavior. If you go to the meeting after the president says there's no point for the meeting, after the president has already laid down a marker and said essentially it's going to be Democrats' fault if there's a shutdown, OK, what's the point in going to the meeting? So they figure if he's going to attempt to sort of blame them no matter what anyway, better to draw the line in the sand and push back a little bit. While Ryan and McConnell sort of did what any Republican leaders would do and went along with the president in terms of blaming the Democrats. You can imagine what a terribly frustrating position it was for them since --
TALEV: -- they're actually hoping to just have a meeting with the president and the Democrats and see if there was anywhere to go.
BASH: You think they moved over when the cameras left? You think they move over and sat in those chairs?
BURNETT: I don't know -- looking at that shot, you know, it looks like he likes to have plenty of space, whether there's a chair there or not. Maybe they just removed the chairs.
BURNETT: David, the president had other wins today. And this was a significant one. He won the battle over who runs the consumer protection agency. Mick Mulvaney, right, called the agency a joke, says he wants to eliminate it.
BURNETT: He is going to be the acting director. That judge ruled. How big of a win is this?
DRUCKER: Look, it's a big win. And I don't think it's surprising. It's an executive agency, and I think Trump was going to have the upper hand in the court here.
And look, if there's one thing that Trump has been very successful at doing, and he's done very aggressively, it's a lot of deregulation. And it's the kind of deregulation that any Republican president would have done, any one of Trump's competitors would have been just as aggressive here. The Republicans never believe in the CFPB. They held up the appointment of a director for several months. In fact, Elizabeth Warren is only in the Senate because Republicans blocked her appointment by President Obama so she ended up running for Senate. This is something that should have been expected. I don't think it's that big of a deal politically.
[19:25:23] BURNETT: So Dana, it may not be a big deal politically. I'll tell you something that may be, the tax reform bill, right? Passed the Senate Budget Committee. If he can get that win, obviously, overall, that is huge. Party line vote in committee, but it was not assured. Now he's got that. Does that mean, Dana, game over? Tax reform is in the bag?
BASH: No. Not at all. Not even close. Because even the two senators who voted, who were on the fence before this committee meeting today, voted yes with promises. The promises have to be kept throughout this process. And the Senate Republican leadership, they're hoping to get this vote done this week, Erin. And it is still unclear whether or not they have not just those two but maybe about a dozen, half a dozen to a dozen other Republicans who have a whole host of issues and many of those issues, if you fix one side, then it causes problems for another. So it's going to be legislative jujitsu for the next two days.
BURNETT: Well, and it's pretty interesting when you say that, if you do something for one side, it causes problems for the other. I remember that happening with, oh, right, Obamacare. And that obviously ended up in failure. Thanks to all three.
And tonight, Dana along with Jake Tapper are going to host a crucial debate, four senators going head to head on tax reform. Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, and Maria Cantwell, they are live at 9:00 only on CNN. You'll see Dana there.
And next, the Senate's tax plan heading for that vote. So, you hear Dana laying it out. Is this all going to come down to the person who torpedoed Obamacare, the Obamacare repeal, John McCain?
And Trump siding with accused child molester Roy Moore, and attacking his opponent. He says he's soft on crime and immigration. So what is Doug Jones? Is he an extreme liberal like the president says? The facts coming up.
[19:30:19] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Breaking news: the Senate Budget Committee voting along party lines to pass their tax bill. This means that bill is now headed to the Senate floor, a step closer to becoming the law of the land with big changes for almost all Americans. There are still doubts, though, about whether Republicans are going to get enough Republican votes to pass it.
Brianna Keilar is OUTFRONT, covering every detail of this.
And, Brianna, Republicans obviously passing a huge hurdle. There were real questions whether this would get out of committee. It did, now going to the Senate floor.
Where do things stand there?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It did. And we're looking at a vote before the entire Senate later this week.
But this was a big hurdle, as you said, getting out of the Senate Budget Committee, and then just looking at a number of Republicans who had looked like they were on the fence when it came to this bill. You had a couple of them in the committee.
Bob Corker of Tennessee who was worried this would add to the deficit, saying he feels after a talk with President Trump that he got assurances it won't. He voted this out of committee. You also had Ron Johnson who was worried that small businesses would not get the same tax breaks that corporations would get, saying that he was also getting assurances, helping clear that major hurdle.
And then looking towards this vote before the full Senate, Susan Collins, another Republican who had been really iffy on whether she might support this, sounding much more optimistic. She wanted to see more in the way of property taxes being deducted. And she, after lunch that the GOP senators had with President Trump, felt that she had some assurances.
So, now, you're looking at a procedural vote tomorrow in the Senate, a full vote, the big deal vote here at the end of the week, Friday would be the expectation for that.
But that's not the end of it, Erin, because there is some big differences between the Senate bill and between the House plan. The state and local tax deduction, the estate tax, the number of tax brackets.
KEILAR: There's so much to be hammered out so that's still something that could hang this up.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much, Brianna.
Well, the president went to Capitol Hill today to meet with Senate Republicans about the tax plan, later raving about how well the meeting went. Here's how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a good day today. We had a phenomenal meeting with the Republican senators. We had -- it was very special, that meeting. In many respects, I wish you could have been inside that room. It was very, very special. The camaraderie, somewhat of a lovefest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. He's a member of the Senate Budget Committee.
And you were there, sir. I see you smiling.
It was special. It was very, very special. It was somewhat of a lovefest. Was it a lovefest?
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA), BUDGET COMMITTEE: Well, I wouldn't call it a love fest. There was a lot of self-love in the room. But I wouldn't call it a lovefest.
We had -- we had a very professional discussion, lighthearted at times. It's clear to me from the meeting that everybody on my side of the aisle is trying to get to yes.
The president demonstrated a pretty clean grasp of the details of the bill, which I appreciated. He'll have plenty of time for questions. I asked the first question.
I asked point blank, I support the idea of getting rid of the affordable care mandate in our bill. I don't think it's right to punish people for not buying insurance they can't afford. But I asked him in light of that where he stood on Senator Alexander's bill. I heard the president say he would be supportive of that.
We had a very frank discussion. I thought it was a productive meeting. I wouldn't call it a lovefest, but it was a productive meeting.
BURNETT: So, in other words, sounds like you're saying you were glad you could get it done, but there are still areas of sincere disagreement.
KENNEDY: Well, Erin, the difference between where we are right now with tax reform and where we were with health care is night and day.
KENNEDY: I mean, at this point, on health care, it was -- it was dysfunction junction. I mean, people were mad and slamming doors and giving ultimatums. It's not like that on tax reform.
Then you have a lot of folks, and this will continue until we vote, offering ideas, trying to improve the bill.
BURNETT: So --
KENNEDY: Nothing wrong with that. But we need to vote, and we need to vote this week. I thought we should have voted last week when we got the bill out of the Finance Committee. I thought we should have kept going.
I was in the minority on that. I'm not fussing at Senator McConnell. I think he probably would have liked this to keep going, too, but we are where we are and we need to go vote. It's time to vote.
BURNETT: All right. On this issue of time to vote, right, this is going to be a huge change for every single person watching, right? Their taxes are going to change and that's a big thing. Their personal finances are going to change. One of the things --
KENNEDY: This will be a generational vote, if you will.
[19:35:02] BURNETT: It is. I mean, so the stakes are incredibly high.
BURNETT: The promises have been incredibly high as well.
BURNETT: One of them -- this is tax reform. It's about closing loopholes, right? It's about getting rid of all the kind of, you know, underhanded dealing that seems to be in the system, right?
BURNETT: I wanted to ask you about one of the loopholes.
BURNETT: Both the House and Senate are going to keep this one. It's carried interest. It helps some of the wealthiest people in this country and it was something that the president of the United States vowed to close. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would take carried interest out, and I would let people that are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year pay some tax because right now, they're paying very little tax.
We are, as an example, getting rid of carried interest, which is the darling of Wall Street.
We're getting rid of carried interest provisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: They're not. It is a loophole that benefits the wealthy, Senator, as you know. Two of the wealthiest men in the world, Americans, benefitted from Steve Schwartzman, worth more than $12 billion, Henry Kravis, worth more than $5 billion, both of them donors to Trump's inauguration fund.
Is this cronyism at its best?
KENNEDY: Well, let me -- let me make a couple points. Number one, I think our bill will simplify the tax code. Right now, it's 10 million words. You can stand on the thing and paint the ceiling. That will be simpler. Number two, it's not a perfect bill. My guess is you will see an
amendment on the floor that will address this carried interest loophole, if you will. And so, I have --
BURNETT: But if you can't get it in the bill itself, how would it get through in an amendment?
KENNEDY: I happen to agree with you on that.
KENNEDY: But I just speak for me, personally, I'm not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
I think this bill will add at least half a point, maybe a point, to gross domestic product. I think it's going to increase foreign direct investment by 50 percent. I think it's going to help middle-class Americans.
The last time anybody around this place did anything to help ordinary people was like never. And I think this bill will do that.
Can you point to things in it that you'd like to change? Sure, I can.
KENNEDY: There are a couple things I would like to change. But overall, I think it's going to be good for the American people, but you're right. This is a once in 25-year effort.
BURNETT: Yes, it is, and look, one of the things you say, this is going to help middle-class Americans.
KENNEDY: I do (ph).
BURNETT: That entire premise is built upon this corporate tax cut that's going to cause money to come home, foreign direct investment also, as you -- as you are betting on, and that that is going to increase wages, right?
The president has specifically said the typical American household is going to get a $4,000 raise because of this bill. OK? And today, the president again promised all this money is going to come home to do that. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Money offshore that's stagnant, that companies are just not able to bring it back. So, I think it's going to be a number over $4 trillion. Corporate will be able to compete now against the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Senator, $4 trillion, of course, is a lot of money. Apple alone, Apple, $250 billion of that is their money. They have had that money overseas.
For example, recently, they had it in Ireland. Taxes were zero there. They went up to 12 percent, and guess what? Apple went and moved somewhere else, where they are zero percent.
The chair of Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, when I asked him about that, he said you all were working on rules to enforce, to make sure these companies were going to bring this money home and were going to actually use it for things like wage increases and not just give them -- you know, take their word on it.
Are you putting enforcement mechanisms in there?
KENNEDY: I suspect there will be enforcement mechanisms through rules promulgated by Treasury.
But let me answer your question. The critics of this bill pretend that tax policy has nothing to do with economic growth. And I don't know what planet they parachuted in from. Nobody who says that is in good faith.
Now, I will be the first to admit that it is complicated. And tax policy impacts your economy, so does demographics, so does how your trading partners are doing, so does monetary policy, but this is what I believe.
And if you want, I'll cite you a couple studies, but this is what I believe. I believe that the American economy is not where it ought to be. And I think Democrats and Republicans can agree on that.
I believe that we tried everything possible to get it back to where it ought to be. We tried monetary policy, lower interest rates. We tried stimulus spending. We've done quantitative easing out the wazoo.
[19:40:01] What we haven't done, which is what we should have started with, is allowing business women and business men and ordinary Americans to keep more of the money they earn because I happen to believe -- some disagree with me -- they can spend the money better than government can. We are a consumer-driven economy, 70 percent of our economy is consumer-driven.
KENNEDY: If you let people keep more of their own money, they're going to invest it, and/or they're going to spend it. If you let business people keep more of the money they earn --
KENNEDY: -- they're going to spend not all of it, but a lot of it on new plants, machinery, equipment, software. It's going to create new jobs, it's going to increase productivity, and wages will go up. I believe that.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, sir. I wish I had more time to talk to you about that "Wall Street Journal" forum last week when they were asked that and not many raised their hands. But this is a conversation I hope between us to be continued. Thank you, sir.
KENNEDY: You bet.
BURNETT: And next, Republican Roy Moore scrambling for support in the wake of sexual abuse allegations, and so is his Democratic opponent. The high stakes campaign entering the final days.
And a baseless Trump tweet causing an international incident. And in this case, human lives are at stake.
BURNETT: New tonight, the real world consequences of a presidential tweet.
[19:45:03] President Trump's jabs about fake news are now having a real effect on human lives. This weekend, Trump tweeting: CNN International is still a major source of fake news, and they represent our nation to the world very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them.
These are words, and they are now impacting human lives. Here's how. Last week, our own Nima Elbagir from CNN International filed a report on human slave auctions in Libya. Human slave auctions right now in Libya. Let me show you part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One by one, men are brought out as the bidding begins. Four hundred. Five hundred. Five-fifty. Six hundred.
They admitted to us there were 12 Nigerians who were sold in front of us. And I -- I honestly don't know what to say. That was probably one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It's one of the most unbelievable things she's ever seen, and perhaps many of us have heard happening now. It gives me goose bumps to hear it.
And tonight, a Libyan media outlet is questioning that report with an article titled, "Trump says CNN lies. What about the slavery report from Libya?"
Just take a moment to think about that. It just sort of defies belief.
I want to bring in former ambassador to NATO, Nick Burns.
Nick, it leaves me speechless to even think about this. He tweets that, and you now have in Libya, Trump says CNN lies. What about the slavery report from Libya? Where you just saw 12 human beings sold at slaves.
AMB. NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, Erin, you're right to be angry because these tweets, these persistent tweets by president Trump attacking CNN and other media news outlets, it's un-American. It's contrary to the First Amendment of our Constitution.
And it's having a pernicious effect right now because as you say, the Libyan Government of National Accord and perhaps the Libyan media are now going to see these reports should be doubted. I have read through your reports and they seem to be highly credible. They need to be investigated.
But if the Libyans get off the hook by saying, well, President Trump believes that CNN is fake news, then there's a major disaster where we're letting down our obligation to help people avert human slavery. And as you know, Erin, slavery and trafficking of human beings is a real problem in war zones, and Libya is a war zone.
So, I think what President Trump needs to do is order the State Department to work in the United Nations Security Council to pressure the U.N. government -- the U.N.-backed government in Libya of National Accord to investigate these charges. It's the least that the Trump administration should now do given the irresponsibility of his tweets.
BURNETT: I mean, Nick, that article, the headline of which I read, let me read it again, Trump says CNN lies, what about the slavery report from Libya?
It's from Libya 218. That's the news organization. And then it goes on in that article to suggest that International Courts could start to sue CNN for its reports. Reports like this one.
That's a game changer. If you're going to talk about something like slavery that has been exposed, that the response would be to sue and to shut that sort of thing down, is that what the president wants?
BURNS: Well, I think he's really playing with fire here. And I can't, Erin, remember a single American president who's launched such an attack on the American press, in this case CNN. It endangered the lives of CNN journalists overseas if people think that somehow this is a disreputable organization because the president attacks it. It's contrary to our views and interests, contrary to what we want the world to see in the U.S., that we're a democratic society, that our government can be questioned by the press.
And in this case, and you have gone to the heart of it, there are human lives at stake here, people are being trafficked and perhaps even sold on a slave market, a modern slave market. If America should stand for anything, it's against that.
BURNETT: Yes, look, I have been in a country where when you say you work for CNN, people -- they think you work for the CIA. I don't know if the president realizes how important a free press is, how precarious it is, and how important that the leader of the free world back it. BURNS: That's exactly right.
BURNETT: We can only hope he's saying this out of cluelessness as opposed to something much more sinister.
Ambassador, thank you.
BURNS: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, Roy Moore and his supporters making some extreme claims about his challengers. So, we went and fact checked them. That's next.
And President Trump's changing family ties. Should he be challenging anyone's self-proclaimed ancestry?
[19:52:51] BURNETT: President Trump going after Roy Moore's opponent in the Alabama Senate race. He's called Doug Jones a puppet, weak on crime, immigration, and the Second Amendment. The attacks part of an effort to shift the focus from the sexual abuse allegations against Moore, including from a 14-year-old. That, of course, would be pedophilia -- allegations that Moore, of course, has denied.
CNN's Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In what has turned into a grueling, high-stakes race, the president has made clear he preferred the prospect of an accused child abuser in the Senate than a Democrat like Doug Jones.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell you one thing for sure, we don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones. I have looked at his record. It's terrible on crime. It's terrible on the border. It's terrible in the military.
MARQUARDT: Trump has emphasized that Moore has denied all of the accusations, but those views are repeated by supporters of Roy Moore, like conservative activists Ann Eubank.
ANN EUBANK, CONSERVATIVE ACTIVIST: Conservatives do not believe in open borders, and conservatives believe that a child's life is more important than a woman's choice.
MARQUARDT: Today, Jones defended those accusations.
(on camera): How do you respond to the president and Roy Moore and his supporters who say you're terrible on crime, terrible on immigration?
DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I tell people to look at my record. And see what I have done. You know, as a former assistant U.S. attorney, a former U.S. attorney, we have prosecuted tons of people.
Look at my record. Don't just listen to a tweet. Don't just listen to somebody make a statement.
MARQUARDT: When it comes to crime, Jones made his name as a U.S. attorney, prosecuting one of the most tragic attacks in Alabama history: the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 that left four young girls dead, two members of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted.
Jones is more conservative than many Democrats in Washington, but for Alabama, he's about as left as they come, under fire from many Alabamians for his views on abortion.
JONES: I am a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body. And I'm going to stand up for that.
MARQUARDT: Moore supporters jumped on Jones for saying he wouldn't back legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks. Later walking it back, saying late-term abortions should only be for medical emergencies.
[19:55:04] On immigration, he has criticized the president's plan for a wall on the Mexican border and has supported the so-called DACA program for the children of undocumented immigrants.
He calls himself a Second Amendment guy, but has called for more stringent background checks for gun buyers. All positions that Trump and Moore have seized on and which columnist John Archibald says Jones hasn't done well in communicating to potential voters.
JOHN ARCHIBALD, COLUMNIST, AL.COM: I don't think he's really done a good job of coming out and saying this is what I stand for in a way that the people of Alabama, as a majority, can understand.
Clearly, I think what he believes and his campaign believes he needs to do is sit back and hope that Roy Moore implodes. I think as we get closer to Election Day, that's probably not going to be enough.
MARQUARDT: Well, Roy Moore is clearly not imploding, and his passionate base of support will turn out to vote in this special election two weeks from today. If Doug Jones is to win, he needs moderate Republicans, white women, and African-Americans all to turn out in large numbers. And that, Erin, will be a real challenge.
BURNETT: That's a tall order. Thank you very much, Alex.
And also tonight, the White House silent as criticism grows over President Trump calling Senator Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas at an event that was to honor Native American war heroes from World War II.
Trump's son Don Jr. firing off his tweet after Warren called that a racial slur, saying, quote: Really? Interesting, out of curiosity, what would you pretend calling something you're not for financial gain? Other than fraud, of course.
So, what about Trump's own claims of heritage?
Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.
TRUMP: They call her Pocahontas.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump's attacks on Senator Elizabeth Warren for claiming she's part native American, raising some questions about what Trump has said about his own heritage. In the 1987 autobiography, "The Art of the Deal" Trump claimed his grandfather Friedrich Trump was Swedish. He wrote, Fred Trump was born in New Jersey in 1903. His father, who came here from Sweden as a child, owned a moderately successful restaurant.
Turns out, his grandfather was not from Sweden but Germany. In 1990, Trump was vague about the issue, telling "Vanity Fair": my father was not German. My father's parents were German, Swedish and really sort of all over Europe.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP: When I met with him in 2015, we tried to unravel this.
CARROLL: Michael D'Antonio, author of the book "The Truth about Trump", gave us a recording of his exchange with Trump about his heritage.
D'ANTONIO: There was a short period of time when your dad and then you talked about being Swedish, instead of being German.
TRUMP: Well, there is some Swedish in there someplace.
D'ANTONIO: Do you think he was sensitive to --
TRUMP: It could have been. I never asked him that question. I mean, it could have been. But my father was German.
CARROLL: The family lore that Trump talks about is similar to Warren's own description of how she says she learned of her heritage.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: My brothers and I learned from our mother and our daddy and our grandparents who we are.
CARROLL: In 2016, one of Trump's cousins said the family hid its German heritage in part to make it easier to sell apartments to Jewish tenants. That cousin, John Walter, telling "The Boston Globe", you don't sell apartments after the war if you're German.
When reached by phone, a representative for Walter told CNN he would not discuss the family heritage.
In 1999, Trump was grand marshal of the German American parade in New York City and in recent years, has spoken openly about his German roots.
TRUMP: My grandfather Frederick Trump came to the United States in 1885. He joined the great gold rush, and instead of gold, he decided to open up some hotels in Alaska. I'm a proud German American. Enjoy the parade.
CARROLL: D'Antonio says given Trump's own revised history --
D'ANTONIO: It's hypocritical for anyone whose own story about his background has been confused at best and manipulated at worst, to criticize anyone else who may have been mistaken.
BURNETT: I mean, obviously, open about it now. But his version has changed over time of what he's claimed -- of course, as he criticizes her. You actually have the census.
CARROLL: Right. So, this is a copy of the census report from 1910, which shows Trump's grandfather being from Germany. I think a lot of people looking at this would say, look, a lot of this can be settled by doing what a lot of folks do at home. You go out, you get the DNA test. It will solve a lot of your problems.
But Warren and Trump disagree on a lot of other issues, so I'm sure they would find something else to argue about. But at least with this case, it might help solve this issue.
BURNETT: Although maybe they agree on this. Maybe neither one want the DNA test.
CARROLL: Both of them agreeing that might be a first.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Jason Carroll.
And thanks so much to all of you as always for joining us.
"AC360" with Anderson starts now.