Return to Transcripts main page


Senate Passes GOP Tax Bill After Last-Minute Changes; Flynn Cooperating With Russia Probe Pleads Guilty To Lying; Russia Investigation Wearing On White House Despite Spin; Senate Passes GOP Tax Bill After Last-Minute Changes; Flynn Cooperating With Russia Probe Pleads Guilty To Lying; Report: Dem Congressman Accused Of Sexual Misconduct. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired December 2, 2017 - 07:00   ET



[07:00:00] MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The tax cuts and jobs act as amended is passed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a momentous occasion for the Republican Party. It's something that will literally help millions of millions of young people in our society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's the bill as it's written. Here's the modification that are in it. I can read one word, it's called add this language. Can you tell me what that word is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flynn pled guilty to repeatedly lying to the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guilty plea, an acknowledgment of criminal culpability is a shattering moment for the Trump presidency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a devastating event for the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we should wait until we see all the facts and all evidence before we come to a final judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just going to make this as plain as possible to the CNN viewers. When one of the main homeboys turn snitch, a bunch of people about to go to jail.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Saturday. Breaking news overnight, a 51-49 Senate vote on tax cuts. I'm Victor Blackwell.

CHRISTIE PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christie Paul. So glad to have you with us. Listen, not one Democrat voted for it, only one Republican voted against it and along those partisan lines, the GOP moved closer to scoring its very first major legislative victory of the Trump-era.

BLACKWELL: Well, the estimate is that it will cost over one trillion dollars, at least add that amount to deficits over 10 years. Now, the benefits -- according to Republicans -- it will fuel economic growth and boost the middle class. But Democrats say that the economy is already growing and lining the pockets of the rich, will not help.

PAUL: So, the GOP tax victory follows some really critical news of the day. Yesterday, really, in the last 24 hours, former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI, and in exchange, he's expected to tell the truth about any cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia.

BLACKWELL: Let's stay on Capitol Hill, though, where Republicans are celebrating that tax vote. Democrats slamming the GOP for last minute changes to the bill.

PAUL: CNN's Phil Mattingly, following every detail from the Senate chamber.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For Republicans long frustrated by the legislative process unable to achieve a cornerstone domestic legislative achievement like the repeal and replace of Obamacare, they are now on the brink of one. The U.S. Senate voting 51 to 49, to pass the Republican tax overhaul plan. That means both the House and the Senate have passed their own versions of this. It's one step closer to being signed into law to being sent to the president's desk and to becoming that major legislative achievement of 2017 -- that they so desperately sought.

Now, Democrats, very opposed to this tax plan from the beginning. Unified in their opposition on the floor and furious about the process, a process that led Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, to know he had the votes at 10:00 a.m. on Friday morning and still not releasing the bill until 8:00 p.m. later that day. Democrats waving legislative texts with handwriting on them making major, major substantive changes, saying they hadn't seen the bill, there hadn't been enough hearing. Well, I asked the majority leader about those complaints. Take a listen.

Is this how you envisioned passing such a large legislative bill?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Just to (INAUDIBLE) the regular order, the Democrats had plenty of notice. Chairman Hatch can attest to all the multiple hearings, markups, open a (INAUDIBLE) process. Everybody had plenty of opportunities to see the measure. You complain about the process when you're losing, and that's what you heard on the floor tonight.

MATTINGLY: Now, guys, that isn't the final step. The Senate still has to take another vote, so does the House right now. The next step will be both chambers will have to reconcile their bills, which do have significant differences in various parts, but the framework of the two is the same. And if you talk Republican officials at the White House, in the Senate and the House, they believe the Senate was by far the biggest hurdle. They are on the right path. It's only just matter of time.

Now, like anything else, things can spin out of control very quickly in the legislative process, particularly something so complicated as taxes. However, keep in mind, they have does this -- both passed the House and the Senate -- in a matter of weeks. It is very clear, they are on the pathway to sending this to the president's desk likely by the end of the year. Phil Mattingly, CNN, Capitol Hill.

[07:05:14] BLACKWELL: Phil, thank you so much. Now, let's go to the White House where we find CNN's, Abby Phillip. Abby, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I've been waiting for somebody to say it. I might as well be the person to do it. Really, a major accomplishment, a high for the president, but still the news a flip.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There's a lot going on here with the White House really scrambling to figure out what to do about this Flynn news, which is a huge blow to the administration. The national security advisor pleading guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI. But at the same time by the end of the day, they are rejoicing overcoming much closer to fulfilling a legislative promise that the president made to his supporters on the campaign trail. The first time that they've been able to say that in this administration.

Now, the president and his aides have really been stung by the failure on health care over the last several months. So, making it work on taxes is the number one priority right now. And they also know that with the Flynn investigation going on, it only gets harder and harder for them to have political capital, so this is a key moment for them to do this before that investigation starts to overshadow even more what is going on here in Washington.

The president, not saying much on Twitter and the Flynn news but he is talking about tax reform, tweeting that "We are one step closer to delivering massive tax cuts for working families of America." He thanked Mitch McConnell and Chairman -- Senator Orrin Hatch for sharpening the bell through the Senate. He says, look forward to signing the final bill before Christmas. There are only a couple of more days left -- a few more days left for the president to make that promise come true. A few hurdles left. The reconciliation process will be a significant one for this bill given the differences, but they are in fact, closer than they have ever been. Victor

BLACKWELL: All right. Abby Phillip, we'll see what happens next in this conference committee. Thanks so much.

PAUL: All right. Well, let's break this down. Kelly Jane Torrance, Deputy Managing Editor at The Weekly Standard with us now; as well as here Asawin Suebsaeng, Political Reporter at The Daily Beast. Thank you, both for being here. We certainly appreciate it.

I wanted to ask you -- and can we share the video here? We've got video of John Tester from Montana as he is looking at this tax bill, and on the side, there you see all of that writing? Those are some of the modifications that are going to be discussed in this conference committee. Kelly Jane, do we know what some of those modifications are? We can't read them from that piece of paper, but I'm assuming that there is something trickling out that will talk about what is vulnerable and what is not when it comes to compromising and reconciling this bill?

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR AT THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It's incredible, isn't it, Christie? No, I mean, I've been struggling all morning to try to find out what exactly is in the bill that was passed at about 2:00 a.m., and it's impossible to know. You've got handwritten changes, and as you mention, you can't even read some of the handwriting. So, when I have to admit when I see footage of your reporter asking Mitch McConnell how this was done, and Mitch McConnell says this was a normal process. This is not a normal process; you do not normally see handwritten changes on the sides of the bill.

And, you know, it's interesting because all -- a lot of those things are little pet projects too because each senator is a very powerful -- every Republican senator right now, each one is actually quite powerful given how close the Republican majority is. And I'm actually surprised in a way that more senators didn't try to get their pet projects in. If you look at what some of the senators got in, it's quite amazing and I'm surprised -- hey, why didn't all 51 decide to play hardball and get something in that bill?

PAUL: They might think that it's going to be so scrutinized, they were trying to be careful about that. So, Asawin, I want to ask you. There are a lot of people sitting at home right now, they are hearing this has passed, they know it's going to be reconciled now. What would you say to them about what you might know regarding what's on the table to pass and to get cut?

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, POLITICAL REPORTER AT THE DAILY BEAST: Well, before we get to that, I much, like Kelly Jane, would like to make out the san script or whatever language was written in the margins of this legislation to actually get what the nuances -- the new nuances of this tax bill are. Having said that, from the perspective of the Trump White House and the people I've been talking to and there for weeks if not months about this tax legislation, there has been a creeping feeling of political denialism -- one could say -- within this administration about getting this through.

In terms of do, they like all the policy details that have been laid out? No, of course, not. Republicans aren't overjoyed with this tax bill. It's not a huge tax reform bill. They want it as a tax cut bill that by their own public estimation is not perfect. Having said that, the White House knows and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill knows that they cannot go into the 2018 midterms having to offer their donors, having to offer their conservative base essentially nothing. They failed to kill Obamacare, and if they fail to deliver a tax cut, they go into 2018 with Republicans and voters wondering, what is the point of having you control everything if you can't even do these two things that you've been promising us for nearly a decade?

PAUL: Asawin, you make a good point. And Kelly Jane, I want to ask you about that. He made a point that they're going to into this, they have to get it done. A lot of what he just said sounds a lot like what Democrats were saying about Obamacare at the time. It's not a perfect bill, but we've got to get it through.

TORRANCE: Yes. I remember Nancy Pelosi famously saying, we need to pass the bill to see what's in it. And it's -- you know, the Republicans almost seem like hypocrites because they never stopped pointing that out and its starting look that same thing when we don't --

PAUL: But the Democrats are pointing it out now with Republicans when they did it first. So, it's hypocritical both ways around.

TORRANCE: Exactly. I mean, neither party is perfect, and both parties will do what it takes to get re-elected. I mean, that's really what it's about. It's not about let's change the tax code and make it more fair for, you know, lower and middle-class Americans. It's about, hey, what do I need to do to make sure that my party gets enough seats to keep control in the midterms.

PAUL: OK. I'm sorry, I wanted -- I just have a couple of seconds left, but I want to get to this sound from Senator Rubio -- Senator Marco Rubio, this was in February of 2016. Let's listen together here.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The next president of the United States will not be able to complete one term without dealing with the national debt. It is a ticking time bomb. It is the most predictable crisis in American history.


PAUL: Asawin, how do Republicans reconcile that statement with the debt that they're talking about now?

SUEBSAENG: It's very simple -- through spin. I mean, deficit hawks who are going to lose out on this. I'm sorry to say, in terms of policy, yes, they might have a nagging feeling in -- near the middle or the back of their mind. But in terms of politics, they're just going to continue dodging questions about it.

PAUL: All right.

TORRANCE: So, Bob Corker is the only one who can say he did not vote for this bill because it adds a trillion dollars to the deficit.

PAUL: And that was his reasoning for that "no" vote, no doubt about it. Thank you so much. Kelly Jane and Asawin Suebsaeng, we appreciate you both being here.

SUEBSAENG: Thank you so much.

TORRANCE: Thanks, Christie.

PAUL: Sure. Stick around, we have more with them here as well.

BLACKWELL: All right. As we've been talking about this morning, Michael Flynn and his guilty plea to lying to the FBI, what is he telling investigators about other people in the president's inner circle? That really could decide the next steps in the Russia investigation. We'll take a look at that, next.


[07:16:58] BLACKWELL: 16 minutes after the hour now. This morning Russia is reacting to Michael Flynn's guilty plea to lying to the FBI calling it a sack of smoke and empty and labeling the Russia investigation an attack.

PAUL: But Flynn's actions could have far-reaching consequences for the Trump administration here. Experts say investigators are hoping to get more information from the former National Security advisor. We're going to talk about that in a little more in-depth in just a moment.

BLACKWELL: First, though, let's take a look at what got Flynn into trouble. To start with CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto has that for us.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The ongoing Russia investigation has reached President Trump's innermost circle. Trump's former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, said that he is cooperating with the special counsel's probe into possible cooperation between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government. Flynn pled guilty to repeatedly lying to the FBI, including making false statements about his December 2016 conversations with Russia's then-Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.

According to the statement of offense, Flynn lied when he told the FBI he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak. On the same day that President Obama expelled Russian diplomats from the U.S. and boosted sanctions on Moscow in retaliation for Russia's meddling in the presidential election. Flynn also sought Russia's help during the transition to block a U.N. Security Council vote that the Obama administration was abstaining on.

The White House said, "Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn." However, court documents make clear that Flynn was not acting alone. According to prosecutors, Flynn communicated with senior members of the president's transition team about the conversations, and in at least one instance was directed by transition official to reach out to Russia.

CNN has learned that the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is the very senior member of the presidential transition team identified in court documents. Kushner directed Michael Flynn to contact the Russian ambassador and other countries regarding the U.N. Security Council vote on Israeli settlements, this according to sources familiar with the matter. Flynn's guilty plea belies President Trump's repeated denials of any contacts or involvement between his campaign and Russia.

In your view, has the president lied about what communications his team had with Russia? REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, abundantly, and frequently,

and in about -- just about every way. But most significant in denying that this happened, saying it's a hoax.

SCIUTTO: After the court proceeding, Flynn went immediately to the home of his son Michael Flynn Jr.

Michael Flynn Jr., central to Michael Flynn Sr. is thinking in this case. We reported recently that Flynn Sr. was concerned about the legal jeopardy his son might face. He has not mentioned, not charged in any of these documents, and it certainly raises the question as to whether cooperation from Flynn was in exchange partly for protecting his son. Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


[07:20:10] BLACKWELL: Jim, thanks. Let's bring back now, Kelly Jane Torrance, and bring in Paige Pate, CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney. Paige, good morning to you. Good morning again to you Kelly Jane.

TORRANCE: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: Paige, I want to talk with you. Just days ago, CNN reported that Mueller's team question Jared Kushner in early November, specifically about Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador. Well, now that Flynn says he was directed by very senior transition officials to have those conversation, and sources tell CNN that official was Kushner. How does that change your read of that Mueller interview with Kushner?

PAIGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Victor, it's not uncommon at all for federal prosecutors and agents like this to know everything they can about the case before they sit down and talk to potential targets or subjects of the investigation. And they will often people in that interview room, look, we know more than you do, so be careful about what you tell us and make sure it's true.

And so, I'm certain that when the investigators were asking Kushner these questions about those conversations, they already had some idea of what Mr. Flynn was going to say about them. So, I think a lot depends on reviewing the transcript if there is one of those conversations, those interviews with Kushner, and whether or not he made a false statement to one of the investigators. Because if he did, as we've seen with Flynn and others, that's a federal crime.

BLACKWELL: Kelly, so Flynn says that a very senior member of the transition team told him to have those conversations. And it takes us back to the question that we asked when we learned about the Don Jr. Trump Tower meeting, and we learned about the communications between Don Jr. and WikiLeaks, what did the president or then-candidate or president-elect know and when did he know it? We know that President Trump was very involved because he had a small team, some would say micromanaging, is it plausible that these conversations would happen and Donald Trump would have no idea about them? TORRANCE: I would say it seems unlikely, Victor. But with President

Donald Trump and candidate Donald Trump, you can never say anything absolute, right? This was not a campaign that was a normal campaign. And you would think that a guy would know what his son-in-law is up to, if his son-in-law is running his campaign, and, you know, getting someone like Michael Flynn who President Trump was also very close to, you know.

Notice that Michael Flynn is one of the few people that Donald Trump has really stood behind, and, you know, he really likes the guy. And, you know, I was just talking to Asawin in the green room earlier, he said that Donald Trump had actually sent him a written note saying stay strong in the days leading up to Flynn's guilty plea. So, you know, you don't know what the president knew or what he didn't, but it seems, you know, a normal person, it would be highly unlikely they don't know what their son-in-law is instructing their top national security official to do.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We really don't know how long Mr. Flynn has been cooperating with the special prosecutor here, and how much he knows about these communications. Let me get to you, Paige, about this Logan Act, that's an 18th-century law that essentially says there's one government at a time and makes it illegal to intervene on the business of the sitting administration, especially for incoming administrations. Is this something that is really at play here?

PATE: Oh, I think so. I really think this is the heart of the case now. And what's interesting is: no one's really been effectively prosecuted under the Logan Act before. I mean, it's on the books, it's been there a long time, as you noted, but no one's really been convicted and sent to jail because of a violation of the Logan Act.

BLACKWELL: But wouldn't it suggest that it's possibly off the table here when there is -- with the case of General Flynn -- so much that can be on the table?

PATE: Yes, and I think what Flynn ended up entering a plea to, the false statements, was an attempt to cover up for this potentially nonexistent crime. So, I don't think they had any idea -- Kushner, Flynn and the others -- that they may be violating the Logan Act until after the fact. And then, they took these steps: talking to themselves, lying to investigators to try to cover up what may never have been prosecuted anyway. So, I think the Logan Act is important here. But I think you're right, I don't see any prosecutions under the Logan Act going forward.

BLACKWELL: You know, Kelly, two people I've been thinking about of the last 16, 18 hours: Rick Gates and Paul Manafort. What does this potentially mean for them, in this game of let's make a deal, who can you offer if we're flipping up? How does this potentially, I guess, jeopardize their value in any potential deal that they might have wanted to make. If you've got Flynn who was there during the candidacy, during the transition, and then in the White House, he seemed to be far more valuable.

TORRANCE: Now, it's an excellent point, Victor, and he is more valuable, especially since now it's been -- become clear that he is providing names of people very close to the president, who instructed him to talk to Russia. And I have to say though, I mean, how credible is Michael Flynn as a witness? It's a good question I think.

[07:25:06] I mean, how did this guy, who was, you know, in the government before, he was the head of DIA, how did he not know that his conversations with top Russian officials would not be overheard? Of course, America spies on its Russian officials just like the Russians spy on American officials. And it's kind of incredible to me that this man did not consider when he called the Russian ambassador on his cell phone that this would be overheard.

And that's why it's shocking that he thought he could lie about it to the FBI, and you have to wonder, can you trust this guy? He seems kind of -- kind of ridiculous and not really a serious guy. And again, keep in mind, this was the national security advisor for a month of United States, and he's someone who doesn't even seem to understand how the national security apparatus in this country works.

BLACKWELL: Paige, let me take that to you. I mean, how reliable is a liar?

PATE: Well, that's a great question. I mean, I think in every federal case, you're going to see people who've cut deals with the government, and, of course, the other side. In this case, lawyers for Kushner, Trump and the others will attack that person's credibility. I mean, they were so supportive of Michael Flynn before, but now he's going to be somebody you can't trust at all according to them. And he has cut a deal, and that's fair game.

They can say, look, he'll say whatever the special counsel wants him to say, otherwise, he's going to face much more serious criminal charges. So, he does have that issue of credibility, but I think it helps him that he entered a guilty plea because he's come forward now in front of a federal judge and said, look, what I did back then and with other people around me was illegal. It was a crime. So, admitting that actually helps his credibility to some extent.

BLACKWELL: All right. Paige Pate, Kelly Jane Torrance, thanks so much.

PATE: Thank you.

TORRANCE: Thank you, Victor.

[07:26:49] PAUL: So, tax reform passes the Senate. Coming up, the next steps for this bill and what it means if it becomes the first major legislative victory for the Trump-era.


[07:31:31] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: 31 minutes past the hour. It's good to have you here, I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell, good morning to you. PAUL: Then, some breaking news this morning I want to share with you, the Senate passes its version of major tax reform overnight.

BLACKWELL: Vote is 51 to 49, all Republicans voting yes except for one, Senator Bob Corker, he had joined every Democrat, voting no. It's an important victory for President Trump that would promise to give Americans a huge tax cut for Christmas.

PAUL: Course, on top of this in the last 24 hours, we've got a guilty plea by President's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who admits that he lied with the FBI about his contact with the Russian ambassador. His plea signals that he may flip on others members of the Trump administration as well. CNN's Abby Phillip has been following every development here and a lot going on obviously. This is a monumental vote though for the Trump Presidency, so far, when we're talking about tax reform.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was narrow but really crucial victory for this administration, especially coming on the heels of a very tough day for them. They started out with the news of an indictment and a guilty plea from Michael Flynn, to lying for the FBI -- lying to the FBI at the beginning of this administration.

Really an extraordinary moment for the President, but at the same time you heard very little from him throughout the day on that subject. Instead, we heard from him about taxes, he tweeted around 3:00 in the morning right after this bill successfully made it through the Senate that we are one step closer to the delivering massive tax cuts for working families across America.

He thanked Mitch McConnell and Senator Orrin Hatch for shepherding the bill through. And he said, look forward to signing the final bill before Christmas, that is the self-imposed deadline that Republicans have given themselves to get this done.

But partly because they want to be able to say that in this first year, the President has accomplished something on his laundry list of things that he promised the American people when he was elected. They weren't able to get health care through, so taxes is next phase thing. At the same time, with the Flynn investigation, really going full steam ahead and getting closer and closer to the President. The time is running short for them to have political capital to really get things done. The more of this investigation goes on, the more it becomes a cloud over President Trump's administration.

BLACKWELL: All right, Abby Phillip for stare at the White House. Abby, thank you. And let's now take at the timeline of General Michael Flynn's contact with Russia, just to give us in better context.

Starting in December of 2016, it was the twenty-second. General Flynn asked Russian Ambassador Kislyak to postpone the Security Council vote. And then, on December 29, President Obama announced new sanctions against Russia, and Flynn asks Kislyak not to retaliate. And December 30th, Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will not retaliate against the U.S. sanctions.

PAUL: January 20th, 2017, President Trump is inaugurated. And on January 24th, Flynn lies to FBI investigators about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Now, then, two days later, January 26th, then acting Attorney General Sally Yates warns the Trump White House that Flynn was lying about calls with Kislyak. January 30, as the President Trump fires Yates after she refuses to defend his initial travel ban.

BLACKWELL: And on the 13th of February, General Flynn resigned after misleading Vice President Pence about his calls with Kislyak. And now, a course what happened yesterday, Flynn's bombshell guilty plea, it's thrown the White House into a really difficult position despite the President's effort to make this investigation go away.

But ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's admission to lying to the FBI about conversations with Kislyak is the first in what could be, some are expecting a domino effect. Signaling more fallout that could be in the works as Flynn cooperates with the special counselor's team.

[07:35:29] PAUL: It despite Flynn's arrest, a Russian politician is calling the probe a "sack of smoke". CNN's Clare Sebastian joins us now from Moscow. Clare, what are you hearing about the conversations that are happening in Moscow regarding this news here in the U.S.?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, it's interesting that Russia very much in look separate things with the White House this morning. Denials, dismissals and frankly, distancing themselves from this. The Kremlin have not responded to our request for comment. We (INAUDIBLE) a contact with the foreign ministry, that spokeswoman text in me last night simply to say, what has this got to do with us?

An interesting echo there -- of again their responds from the White House. But we have as to say had from a couple of prominent politicians, one of them tweeting this morning that this was the U.S., as you say, inflating a sack of smoke can calling the whole Flynn affair, "empty". And others saying that Flynn was just a guy they got their hands on, that the real object of this attack.

He said, was Donald Trump, so very much again, something that we've heard from the White House that hinting that this is simply a witch hunt, an attempt by Trump's enemy to use the Russia card to discredit him. So, you know, very much silence or dismissals those who are speaking about it are roundly dismissing it this morning.

BLACKWELL: All right, Clare Sebastian for stare in Moscow. Clare, thank you.

PAUL: So, this morning there are new sexual harassment allegations, this time against Nevada's Democratic Congressman Ruben Kihuen. According to BuzzFeed, a woman who worked as Kihuen's finance director claims that he made frequent advances that he propositioned her despite her repeated rejections. And she claims he touched her thigh without consent on two separate occasions during his 2016 congressional campaign. A Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi among other leading Democrats are calling for him to step down. Congressman Kihuen didn't deny the woman's allegations and put out this statement, here's what he said, "I sincerely apologize for anything that I may have said or done that made her feel uncomfortable. I take this matter seriously as it is not indicative of who I am. I have spent my 15 years in public service fighting for women's equality, and I will continue to do so." Now, Kihuen was first elected to Congress last year, previously served in Nevada's State Senate.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, a massive win for the GOP, after Senate Republicans passed their reform plan, but there is another step that conference committee before it gets to the President. And still, the concerns over Michael Flynn and the Russia investigation lingering, former national security adviser pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI and we're learning more about Flynn, and what he said to the Russian ambassador.


[07:42:49] PAUL: So after years of trying diets, there's a man who met a doctor and his prescription, adopt a dog. And it completely turned his life around, here's this week's "STAYING WELL".

ERIC O'GREY, LOST MORE THEN 150 POUNDS: My name is Eric, I was 340 pounds. Taking insulin for type two diabetes, in addition to about 15 other medications, and I just felt miserable all the time.

When I hit rock bottom one day, I was on an airplane, they had to delay the airline by about 45 minutes until they could get a seat belt extension. That caused me to feel very embarrassed.

I found a doctor and she prescribed for me a whole food plant based diet and she also told me to adopt a shelter dog. Adopting a dog forced me to get outside every day. So, I had to take Petey on walks for half an hour twice a day. Suddenly we had friends and we were talking to people.

The doctor provided me, whole list of recipes and I learned how to cook. And what I was craving change entirely. So, in just about ten months, I dropped from 340 pounds to 185 pounds. After Petey passed away, I stopped going on walks. I started feeling that another dog was looking for me and I started looking at all the shelters. He looked at me when -- it do look on his face was like, dude, let's get out of here. By the end of that summer, we were running half marathons together. It's been seven years, my weight hasn't fluctuated after down more than two pounds. I believe that Petey completely saved my life.

ANNOUNCER: "STAYING WELL" brought to you by Aleve, all day strong, all day long.


[07:49:00] PAUL: With of its thousands of North Koreans there, as they pack the nation's capital. They were celebrating the successful launch of their latest missile. Soldiers and onlookers were (INAUDIBLE) to a fireworks display, see it there. This is in Pyongyang yesterday. The rogue nation fired off a missile Tuesday, remember. It was higher and longer than other they've tested in the past. Then minute its flash into the water, east of Japan, a North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un is boasting this latest technology has the power to hit the U.S.

BLACKWELL: Well, a lot has happened in the last 24 hours in Washington, let's start overnight. Senate Republican leaders rounded up the votes needed to pass the GOP tax reform plan that happened just before 2:00 a.m. Eastern.

And in the Russia investigation, the President's former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to one lying to the FBI. A move that may implicate even more people in the President's inner circle potentially. Here with me to discuss, CNN Political Commentator Andre Bauer and Democratic Strategist Robert Zimmerman. Gentlemen, good morning to both of you.



[07:50:01] BLACKWELL: All right, let's start with taxes here and Andre, I want to start with you this tax bill got by 51-49, Bob Corker peeling off and voting with the Democrats against it. The Joint Committee on Taxation says that at least the most recent version they saw, that this would add a million -- I mean, a trillion dollars. I'm sorry, trillion dollars with the deficit by 2027. How is this fiscally responsible, fiscally conservative?

BAUER: Well, I -- like that so many conservatives believes that growth will make that up, but I'm amazed that the deficit hawks that have not been worried even under the former Bush administration and in the Obama administration where we went from eight trillion to 20 trillion. I never heard of these people squawking, raising cane, and worried about it. Now, the sudden, we were trying to give Americans more their money back, everybody is concerned.

I say is, quit spending so much money as a government, we need to continue to throttle back on what the government continues to provide in goods and services only necessities. Government has grown out of control and we need to scale the effect but finally, the American people are going to get keep more of their money. Hopefully, we'll repatriate money that has been overseas for quite too long the time. And we need to do things to make American companies want to stay in this country.

And if we don't pass things like this, we're going to see more countries do exactly what's been done in the past. They go places like Ireland, where they are rewarded by a much lower tax system. And so, we need to address this unless we want to see more companies continue to find other opportunities not to pay any tax at all.

BLACKWELL: Robert? ZIMMERMAN: Well, this -- Victor, I could -- if I could just point out to you, Andre, this tax bill does not address the very issues you're talking about. In fact, it's rather a unique moment in American history where that Senate Republicans and the House Republicans have passed the tax cut that remains very unpopular with the American people. That actually result in raising premiums, health care premiums for average Americans. And in fact, puts in tax cut that will expire within ten years. So middle-class Americans are not receiving the benefits but corporate America is.

Let's remember when we've had tax cuts in the past, whether it was under the Obama presidency or the Reagan presidency or the Kennedy presidency, in this is in severe economic recessions. This is the time with the economy is moving well.

That's why you see, every evenly Joint Committee on Taxation, the Penn-Wharton -- the Penn-Wharton analysis that was done. Plus the first, the tax foundation which the Republicans use. All say, this will not create the growth to make up for the deficit it's creating, that's why it's creating a trillion dollar deficit. And ultimately hurting middle-class working Americans because the middle-class is going to pay this service, this deficit.

BLACKWELL: All right, we don't have much time but I want to move to the guilty plea from former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn. And Robert I'll start with you on this win, now, the President's lawyer, they working to White House Ty Cobb says that Flynn's guilty plea clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion. Your assessment of that statement from Cobb?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, Cobb also suggest to referred to Flynn as an Obama appointee when he fails to point out that President Obama fired General Flynn and told President Trump not to hire him. So, the White House is not just in a spin mode, quite frankly, you could use Dramamine to go through -- just to handle their spin.

They're facing a real day of reckoning here because obviously with every analysis, this investigation is not stopping with General Flynn. He took directives from higher-ups and the fact that the President continues to try to interfere with the Russian investigation, tries to stop it. And that, so many has members of this administration have been caught lying and lead the out information leaves a lot of important question that have to be answered. There are serious issues here affecting the very credibility, the possible of future existence of the Trump presidency.

BLACKWELL: Andre in front of the curtain here, we hear from Ty Cobb and several of the employees there at the White House. And Trump allies that's -- this doesn't speak to anything or anyone beyond General Flynn, but sources close to the White House and the President who are unnamed, say that -- or not they given their names, say that, they are concerned, that this is a red flag for them. What's your degree of concern after this guilty plea from Flynn?

BAUER: Well, I don't want to just dismiss it and say there's no concern. I mean, evidently, there was some reason he took the plea, whether it was something to do with his son. I don't know the specifics but I wouldn't dismiss it and say that there's no concern. Definitely, there's a concern for me, I want to see this pass, I want to see the country move on. But I also, go back and say, well, there some contacts that I saw from Hillary Clinton, and (INAUDIBLE) campaign that I think, really ought to be addressed if will continue open this up.

But as an American, I'd rather see it put to bed and move forward but if we going to open it up, it ought to be wide open on both sides who had contact, what they did to influence on election and how that change the election that we experienced last year. Is -- I think, everyone wants to know everything that happened but sometimes, almost like in the Nixon era, where it's just better to move forward than to continue this, where we're not moving forward as a country.

[07:55:07] BLACKWELL: Yes, but --

ZIMMERMAN: Andre, it's better --

BLACKWELL: The Nixon era ended with the resignation, that's how they moved forward.

ZIMMERMAN: Andre, its better Andre, to get the facts than to try to spin this about Hillary Clinton.

BAUER: Well (INAUDIBLE) of Bill Clinton. Why going to have me in our speaking fee for a few minutes. -- (INAUDIBLE)

BLACKWELL: All right.

BAUER: There's a lot of things --

ZIMMERMAN: Here we go.

BLACKWELL: All right, Andre Bauer and Robert, so, when we got a (INAUDIBLE). We'll continue to come, good to be with you. We certainly will continue the conversation, thanks so much.

BAUER: Thanks.

PAUL: Within the next hour, President Trump is going to head to New York in the midst of this political victory as well as the firestorm. He's praising his first legislative win on tax reform, it is a big one. The question is will he respond to his former national security adviser's guilty plea in the Russia probe? We have details just ahead.


ANNOUNCER: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as amended is passed.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: This is a moment as occasion for the Republican Party.