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Senate Republicans Continue Push for Tax Bill; New Report Indicates President Trump Contacted Republican Senators Requesting an End to Russia Investigation. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired December 1, 2017 - 08:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Corker making very clear he needs a solution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody has seen the bill. It's not the way the Senate is supposed to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump phoned several top Republicans in the Senate to wrap up the Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the president gets frustrated because he doesn't think he did anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president aggravated that he is not getting credit for his accomplishments and still annoyed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House is considering a plan to replace Tillerson.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want Rex Tillerson on the job, Mr. President?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's clear that he's not getting the support from the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill here once again helping us through the Friday with a lot of news. Thanks for being here.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Happy to be with you.

CUOMO: The Senate Republican tax bill hit a $1 trillion snag. Republicans are scrambling to make big chances to their plan to win over deficit hawks. What is now clear to several Republicans is that this plan is not what was promised. It's not going to pay for itself and it doesn't look like in its current configuration it will reduce the deficit. Those were the big problems from the Trump administration.

HILL: The president's frustration with senators may be about more than just taxes. "The New York Times" reporting President Trump may have pressured the head of the Senate committee this summer to end its Russia investigation. We have it all covered. Let's begin first with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux who is live on Capitol Hill with our top story. Suzanne, good morning.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. President Trump tweeting about this really make or break moment for his administration and Republicans trying to get some sort of legislative achievement here. They have a $1 trillion problem, and that is how to pay for the tax cut plan. Senate Republicans jockeying essentially what to keep in, what to take out, and whether or not they have got those votes.


MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: We are on the cusp of a great victory for the country.

MALVEAUX: The battle over the Senate Republican tax bill hitting a snag in the 11th hour. Retiring Senator Bob Corker withholding his vote Thursday after a new report by the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the bill would increase the deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years and would not produce enough revenue to offset the cost of the plan. Corker demanding a trigger to automatically raise taxes if the bill fails to generate as much economic growth as promised.

But the Senate rule keeper declaring such a proposal would not be allowed as written. A showdown unfolding on the Senate floor as a group of Republican senators huddled around holdouts, Corker, Jeff Flake, and Ron Johnson.

SEN. ANGUS KING, (I) MAINE: I submitted a very simple amendment that simply said send the bill back to the Finance Committee and have them report back a deficit neutral bill, a bill that doesn't blow a hole in the deficit. To call this a circus would be an insult to circuses.

MALVEAUX: Republicans now scrambling to appease deficit hawks. Senator Lindsay Graham acknowledging Corker's concerns are real but adding failure is not an option, as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes. This as Senator Elizabeth Warren demanding to see the Treasury Department's economic analysis after Steve Mnuchin promised the American people this.

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We think there will be $2 trillion of growth, so we think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by $1 trillion. That's a large number.

MALVEAUX: The treasury's inspector general launching a probe after receiving this letter from Warren questioning whether Mnuchin misled the public or refuses to release the report because those analyses would contradict the treasury secretary's claims. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It's almost criminal.

It's a lethal attack on the middle class.

MALVEAUX: Democrats continue to hammer the GOP tax plan, asserting the bill will hurt lower-income Americans while benefiting the wealthy. The Congressional Budget Office predicts those earning less than $30,000 will be worse off by 2019, and those making less than $75,000 worse off by 2027. Removing the Obama individual mandate would also result in 13 million fewer Americans having health coverage over the next decade.


MALVEAUX: And a significant development this morning just within the hour. Senator Steve Daines of Montana releasing a statement he was one of the holdouts, now saying that he is a yes vote on the tax plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying that the vote will resume at 11:00 this morning. Some of the changes, possible changes they're considering is reinstating the alternative minimum tax for some corporations and wealthy individuals, also raising the corporate tax rate above the 20 percent after several years. It's far from certain whether or not that is going to satisfy enough lawmakers to push this through, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Suzanne, thank you very much.

Once again, we are seeing the president getting in his way a little bit here with his own goal. He desperately wants a win with taxes, so does the GOP, but what he has promised is getting in the way. Is this really set up to help the middle class? We don't know.

[08:05:03] And there's another story he's got to deal with. "The New York Times" is reporting that the president pressed top Senate Republicans to end their Russia investigation last summer. Joining us now on the phone is CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, co-author of the "New York Times" report. Maggie, always good to hear your voice.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (via telephone): Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: What do we now know?

HABERMAN: We know over that over the summer -- we already were aware that the president had a very contentious phone call with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell where he started railing that McConnell had not done enough to protect him from the Senate probe. My colleagues wrote that story at the time.

What we've learned since is the president called the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and suggested that this ought to be brought to a close quickly. He had a similar conversation with Roy Blunt aboard Air Force One, and according to our sources he has made other calls to senators where he has suggested the same thing, other Republicans. These calls were met with alarm even as Republicans who received them

or knew of them downplayed them, saying essentially he called on something else, and I did not quite feel pressured, but he did bring it up. His aides will say this no different than what he says publicly, but, Chris, as you know, the sense of pressure and the sense of propriety as somebody who could end up being, if not a focus himself, have his relatives at stake in this is very questionable. This is a norm for him not to reach out to people on the Senate side who are involved in this, not a law that prohibits him from doing it, but it's not a norm we have ever seen somebody break like this before.