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Sen. McCain Says He'll Vote Yes On Tax Bill; Trump Claims Tax Bill Would Cost Him Money; Trump's Anti-Muslim Retweets Spark Outrage in U.K.; State Department Shared Security Concerns After Trump Retweets; Sessions Just Met With House Intel Committee. Aired 12:30- 1p ET

Aired November 30, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:02] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: But everything about the body language and the words tells you they're going to get there.

PERRY BACON, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Yes. This is a big. This is a thing. This is a huge bill that changes the tax cut as we know it. It also has -- on Obamacare repealing it. It also, in some ways, helps Republican voters as far as Democratic voters in some ways that I think they're useful for, you know, party bill of the Republican Party.

So this is -- and also for Donald Trump, we've talked all year about how he can't get anything passed and none of his -- and it's stall. If he passes a huge tax reform which we're now two-thirds of the way through which is now of course the House bill, some of big (INAUDIBLE) of the Senate bill. So this is not over if that passes tonight. And I shouldn't promise that bill will pass tonight because of what happen last time. But it seems like we're pretty close here.

Corker seems like he's also getting on board in Langford and a few of that hold outs are getting on board as well.

KING: A very wise man who's watched the last 10 months. You know, as I was reading Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the number two Senate Republican --excuse me -- today saying this is not Obamacare. Here's where this is different from Obamacare.

But the Obamacare experience should make everyone hesitant, makes the biggest question for me is will they actually have an old school conference committee where the House and the Senate have to resolve the differences. They're not huge but they're still -- there's a differences between the two pieces of legislation.

As of now, we don't have a final Senate version yet. So we don't even know the final version or will the speaker, can the speaker go to his House members and say we have to take what the Senate passes so that we can make this.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, I think as we think about what kind of actions House members and senators will take and how these two different bills will come together. The underlying dynamic in all of this really is that members really, really want to get to a yes on this issue. And that is different from what we saw during the health care debate.

Obviously, McCain, Murkowski and Collins who we, you know, just saw earlier, those were the three no votes. And now they are striking a much more positive tone or they are saying that they have gotten to a yes.

It's because it's the end of the year, it's because the issues are very different. And on tax reform, I think the Republican lawmakers, really, really do believe that this is something that they can have a win on. And I think when sort of the intent is there and the wish is there to get to a yes, that is very different.

I remember covering health care and hearing so frequently in private conversations, you know, I would be happy if this debate actually just were over. If we were done just with the health care, let's move on to something else. That is not the tone that we're hearing now.

KING: I should know for the record, Speaker Ryan today said we're going to conference if the Senate passes its bill which is now a, OK. I won't say it's better. I would say a luck but it's likely that. He says we're going to conference and that's what he says at the creature of the institutions. That's the plan, you're going to negotiate. The question is we'll see if that actually happens if the clock is ticking.

And part of that is the President's role in all of this who very much wants a win. He does not have a big signature legislative win. The only big bill he assigned this year is the Russian sanctions bill that he doesn't like.

Listen to the President last night. He's on the road telling the tax plan and he says that you might think because you are hearing this talk this benefits the wealthy, you might think it benefits me. But the President says it doesn't.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is riddled with loopholes that let some special interests, including myself in all fairness. This is going to cost me a fortune this thing. Believe me. Believe -- this is not good for me.

Me, it's not so -- I have some very wealthy friends. Not so happy with me, but that's OK. You know, I keep hearing Schumer this is for the wealthy, well, if it is my friends don't know about it.


BACON: It seems that got read the newspaper that was --

KING: We don't have a final version. But we know that the tax plans would repeal the alternative minimum tax. They're trying to cut taxes on so-called pass-through businesses which the Trump organization is a pass-through business. It reduces a repeal to the estate tax depending on where they get it. This would benefit the President of the United States. JULIE PACE, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPODENT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: This is why it's a Republican tax cut. When you strip out the all details, there are two, you know, a fundamental difference between when Democrats ready do tax reform and Republicans try to do it. Democrats try to raise taxes on the wealthy, Republicans look for ways to actually try to pull out some of these things that can impact the wealthy because they think that will help stimulate economic growth which is behind this.

So, the President is not being accurate in that statement. There are a lot of ways that he -- people like him, people who run big corporations would benefit. And, again, the theory behind it for Republicans is that that will help stimulate economic growth which will then benefit other Americans and other tax bracket.

KING: Right. And let's just show people how this tax plan -- who gets them -- where does the money go? Where does the money go?

You see the 2019 equation versus the 2027 equation. You know, 6 percent of it goes to people who make a between 30 and 40 grand a year, 14 percent of it goes to people making over $100,000 a year. 12 percent of the $75,000 to $100,000 a year.

And so the weight goes more -- you know, you're cutting corporate taxes that that's where the money is going to go. My question is I guess the Republicans are gleeful now because they think they have momentum.

The Democrats thought they had the imperative going to 2009. We better pass Obamacare so we can go to the voters and say we did something. Are Republicans going to pass the tax cut plan and go to the voters and say we did something and have the same results?

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, they obviously might. I mean, you know, what we don't know yet if, for example, what is the impact going to be on American health care.

[12:35:06] If we don't, you know, stripping out the Obamacare -- adding new Obamacare provision to this adds a whole lot of uncertainty here. They might very well -- they wanted in 2018 because I don't think these changes will affect enough the bill. I think it will maybe for 2019, for 2018. But still, I mean, at least when we talked to Republicans they say that they don't really have an option here. They got to pass this thing.

You made a point about conference. I really want to see who gets appointed to that conference (ph). Which concerns are being reflected in that conference? Because you still have a lot of Republican divisions on some pretty core aspects of this including how quickly the phase in the corporate tax cuts. Watch to see who Speaker Ryan picks just about on that conference.

KING: It's a very important point and we will continue to watch. First, the Senate has to pass it but, again, developments moving that way today. Up next, President Trump's anti-Muslim retweets ignite a feud with the British Prime Minister. Did he also put Americans around the world at risk?


[12:40:26] KING: Welcome back. Three taps, that's all it took for the President of the United States to ignite an extraordinary diplomatic clash with one of our closest allies. Allies who are now calling for him to be strict with his twitter accounts. Some say if he comes to London he should be thrown in jail. The London mayor even going so far to call for a cancellation of President Trump's, yet to be scheduled visit to the U.K.

Three taps putting a highly inflammatory trio retweets in the President's timeline, featuring three anti-Muslim videos we don't feel we need to even show you. Those videos first published by deputy leader of a far right extremist party in Britain. Three tweets led to back and forth between President Trump and the British Prime Minister Theresa May which culminated today with this rebuke.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The fact that we worked together does not mean that we're afraid to say when we think the United States have got it wrong. And to be very clear with them and I'm very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.


KING: Now, retweeting a hate group is reckless and reprehensible, but the President shrugs it off. As does his staff which is also dealing these days with reports that the boss is back to telling visitors he doesn't think President Obama was not born in the United States who know that isn't his voice wrecking about sexual assault on the Access Hollywood tape.

This is from Missouri last night. And to be clear, very clear, the President here is talking about tax cuts. But it's a bit of a glimpse into his mind set.


TRUMP: It's all right. Hey, look, I'm president. I don't care. I don't care anymore. I don't care.

Some of my wealthy friends care. Me, I don't care. This is a higher calling. Do we agree?


KING: Remarkable. Again, it's the special relationship, but if you look at the British Prime Minister, members of the parliament no matter which where they come from on the British ideological spectrum, essentially, you know, some at a loss for words, some using words we won't repeat at lunch hour here in the east coast and morning on the west coast about the President of the United States. And what he has done here essentially giving a platform to a hate group to millions of people because of his twitter following.

KNOX: And the last time British Prime Minister when African-American president like this, it was in a movie "Love" actually I think. And it's remarkable. I mean -- and there serious follow on effect to this. Because Teresa May ultimately is answerable to her voters. Her voters are basically appalled by this.

Donald Trump just made it harder for her to work with him. It's certainly harder to take political risks to do the things that he wants. Obviously, the commonalty interest with Great Britain isn't going to change. There is still a special voice there. There are ton of things that the U.K. and the U.S. -- they're never going to could be sundered on.

But this does make it harder for Theresa May in the medium and long- term. In the short term, it's great. She gets to go on television and at the head of a united political class in Britain, condemned the President.

At a time when, in fact, British politics is sharply divided over the question of leaving the E.U. and how to manage that rather, how to manage leaving the E.U. So it's a remarkable moment.

KING: And back here, I want to read you a little reporting from CNN's Elise Labott and Abby Phillip that after the President did those retweets, there were a lot of conversations at the State Department concern. Concerned that this would stoke anti-U.S. sentiment across the Muslim world and perhaps put American embassies and Americans who live overseas at risk.

And those that close concerns were passed on to the White House. The White House officials said the White House did receive warning that Trump's tweets could spark unrest in the Muslim world putting embassies at risk.

PACE: Tweets have consequences. And that is one thing that this President really hasn't gotten his head around. Tweeting -- retweeting those videos as President of the United States is an incredibly inflammatory thing to do.

You have Americans all around the world in majority Muslim countries and we have seen reactions to other videos, other cartoons that have been published in newspapers. Imagine the reaction potentially to the President of the United States doing that. Fortunately, we haven't seen anything on that scale yet, but, yes, obviously the State Department should be worried about Americans who are in some of these places.

KING: And I want you to listen here. The Prime Minister is in Jordan. She's on a trip in the Middle East. She was asking -- we played this on earlier where she said she disagrees with the President on this, forcefully so. She was asked the question what would happen if anybody on your team retweeted something like this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prime minister, would you sack one of your own cabinet ministers if they retweeted right wing propaganda like Britain First?

MAY: I have absolute confidence that my cabinet ministers would not be retweeting material from Britain First.


[12:45:09] KING: And we've cut a little short there. But there's a lot of laughter in the room. It's essentially saying, you know, give me a break. Nobody around me would be so reckless and irresponsible.

BACON: And probably fired if they were.

KING: In the context of the President of the United States.

BACON: It's also we had two presidents that's been a long time. A previous here since been a long time saying we are not in a war against Muslims, we're in a war against terrorists. And now we have this president, who in his words, indeed continually suggest that he does not believe on some ways that against Islam. He's not believed Muslims are -- he wants to ban them in some ways to talk about them in the campaign. I think that is also the signal has not settled, and the signal has been repeated in a lot of different ways at this point that he has a negative view about Muslims that is very problematic.

LEE: And to point out the obvious, you know, there is no apparent rhyme or reason or a clear, you know, event that sparks President Trump to retweet these things. No issue or no event related to immigration or a border crossing that led him to do this.

And I think it's worth spending some time on what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. She said whether it's a real video, it was a part of what she said in her response to this and questions about these retweets, as though the legitimacy is not important, as though that were a side note. And I think it's important to point out that that is an alarming thing for a White House spokesperson to say.

And, you know, watching that video of the President saying I don't care anymore. I'm President now. That's just another reminder that this is how he conducts himself and this is what he really fundamentally believes. And he believed this throughout the campaign which is that when he is unleashed, when he is not restrained is when he is happiest and when he feels like he is in his most natural state.

KING: And so you have a President of the United States either oblivious to what he's doing or deliberately retweeting hate mongering. Hate mongering. I could you even worse. You have these reports, well-documented that he's telling some visitors I never should have said Barack Obama was born in the United States. I should have stuck with the he wasn't.

Visitors saying that that wasn't his voice, so there was somehow doctored the Access Hollywood tape, which have led to a lot of commentary out there. Most of it from people who were established Trump critics, but is the President's, you know unwinding? Is the President unraveled? Some questioning his competency for office, some questioning his mental health to which the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says.


SEN. MITCH MCCONELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Those accusations are absolutely outrageous. I mean, I do speak to the President on a virtually daily basis and I'm involved with him all the time on all these issues. And that kind of accusation is totally baseless and outrageous.


KING: Is it just the sign of our times that people are writing things like that and the Senate Majority Leader has to answer to them, or is it something else?

KNOX: I mean, we've watched the 2016 campaign, right? We're all familiar -- I mean, that was a pretty wild ride. There was the bit about how he didn't like soldiers who were captured. There was the attack on the Mexican-American judge. I mean, I don't know that this is a break from past practice (ph).

KING: The Attorney General of the United States Jeff Sessions right there, walking out of a closed door meeting of the House Intelligence Committee. He was there to discuss the Russia election meddling investigation. Some of the meetings he was involved in, some of his prior answers to Congress. You see him not taking questions there. The Attorney General of the United States will discuss that issue in a moment.

Also as we go to break, a grave reminder here from the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.


ELAINE DUKE, ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The terror threat in our country equals and in many ways exceeds the period around 9/11. We are seeing a surge in terrorist activity, because the fundamentals of terrorism have changed.


[12:53:14] KING: Welcome back. There are major developments on two fronts in the Russia election meddling investigation which, of course, we know is often the source of President Trump's anger.

Word, first reported by CNN, the presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner was interviewed this month by the special counsel's office, with a major focus on the conduct of former Trump national security adviser, Michael Flynn. And today the President's Attorney General just left a closed door meeting with one of the House committees investigating Russian meddling.

CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill. He's been following that hearing a lot going on. Manu walk us through it.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes. That's right. About three hours, Jeff Sessions was behind closed doors meeting with the house Intelligence Committee, facing a lot of questions and he also face publicly during several other hearings that he had.

Now I'm told by a source familiar with Session's testimony that he really did not reveal much more than he did publicly when he said that he could not disclose some of his private conversations with President Trump specifically around the James Comey firing. And also, John, questions as well about his contacts with the Russians during the campaign season.

Similarly, he said that he could not recall some of those episodes. So, unclear about how much more members of this committee going behind close doors than what Sessions said publicly.

KING: And, Manu, help us put into context this new information we're learning about Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn.

RAJU: Well, Michael Flynn, a major focus right now for specials council's investigation. The fact that he went -- Jared Kushner went behind closed doors earlier this month.

It was significant because in large measure we're told that he did speak about Michael Flynn. It was asked about him during the course of that 90-minute conversation for a significant amount of time. But also the special counsel wanted to know about Kushner's role in the Comey firing.

[12:55:01] So significantly, John, that's still the focus for Mueller according for his part of his own investigation. John.

KING: Manu Raju for us live on Capitol Hill, appreciate the reporting. We'll keep context which we'll find out if we learn more about what the Attorney General said behind closed doors. Appreciate it very much, Manu.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS today. Thanks for joining us, hope to see you back right here tomorrow. Wolf Blitzer's up after a quick break. Have a good day.