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NYT: Trump Denies He's Angered By Mueller Charges; House GOP To Unveil Tax Reform Bill Today; Michigan Teens Charged In Rock Throwing Death; HLN Original Series Looks at Polygamous Families. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired November 2, 2017 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:30:00] SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It kind of opens the door. And in my view, a president ought to be defending our institutions and talking about imperfections if there are things in the immigration system or their justice system that we could improve.

But that's a far cry from saying our judicial and criminal justice system is a laughingstock. I mean, that just -- it just doesn't get us anywhere in terms of the unity and the ability of our country to deal with these kinds of problems.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Senator, let's get to what his has consumed you for the past few days and your colleagues in Congress -- some of them on your committees -- and that is the top attorneys -- the top dogs on the legal side from Facebook, Google, and Twitter came to Hill for the last two days and they testified. And as you noted, you were upset not to see the CEOs of those companies taking these hard questions.

But I want you to listen to your fellow senator, Dianne Feinstein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't think you get it. You have a huge problem on your hands. You bear this responsibility. You've created these platforms and now they are being misused and you have to be the ones to do something about it, or we will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: You fix it or we will on all of this, you know, Russian disinformation campaign, the ads, et cetera.

Do you get the sense that these companies take it seriously, that they are going to fix it, or do you think Congress is going to need to step in here in a big way?

KING: Well, I think they're starting to get it.

One of the -- the fellow from Facebook said they've now put 10,000 people on -- working on some of this verification. They're going to double that number in the next year. That's a significant commitment. I think they were late to understanding how they were being used and misused. And the important point here is this was a massive, serious, and ongoing Russian effort to divide our country, to undermine our democracy, and of course, in 2016, to elect -- to try to tamper with our elections.

And I don't think they fully understood the way they were being used. My sense is they do now understand that.

The question is what do we do about it? What can they do about it, technically for example --

HARLOW: Yes.

KING: -- by having disclaimers on ads and those kinds of things. But also, what do we have to do as a citizenry to better understand what it is that's being thrown at us.

HARLOW: We have to go but quick answer here. Will you be satisfied until Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sanberg, the head of Twitter, head of Google comes and testifies?

KING: I think they have to come.

HARLOW: OK.

KING: I think they have to talk. This is policy for them. They should be here.

HARLOW: Thank you. We appreciate it. Senator Angus King -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, on the eve of a really high stakes trip to Asia the cloud of Russia seems to be distracting the president. In fact, his chief of staff says it is. The president says he isn't.

We're going to talk to a Republican congressman, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:36:10] CUOMO: President Trump telling "The New York Times" he is not upset, he is not distracted despite what reporting, even from his own chief of staff says, and that he doesn't have anything to worry about because he is not under investigation. Nothing that has come out has anything to do with him or his campaign.

Now remember, former campaign chairman Manafort and another high- ranking campaign official, Gates, they will be in court again today to discuss their bond, once again reconfirming that people in this campaign are in trouble.

Let's bring in Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah, a member of the House Intel Committee. Always good to have you on the show, Congressman. Thank you for taking the opportunity.

REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT), MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good morning, sir.

CUOMO: So, what is your sense of perspective here about what we've learned about the special counsel's probe to this point? Do you feel that there's nothing to be concerned about here?

STEWART: Well, I don't know if there's nothing to be concerned about, especially for those individuals who are under indictment. I mean, if they've done what they're accused of doing, if they've laundered money and had other illegal activity they obviously should be held accountable.

I'll tell you this. I don't know if the president's distracted. I think he's focused on much of the same thing as Congress. Let's get tax reform done. Let's move forward with some of these very urgent issues the American people are impatiently waiting for us to do.

I suppose, Chris, it's a bit of a distraction in this sense. It makes it hard to communicate your message because, you know, this is the way you and I started our conversation talking about the investigation, once again. But we really are concentrating on trying to do the work.

CUOMO: Well, right, but part of the work is figuring out how Russia interfered in the election and if anybody coordinated their efforts with their own, right? You care about that, don't you?

STEWART: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, you and I have talked about that. I've been talking about that for about a year.

I think the president is sincere when he says there is no collusion, and he would know that if there wasn't. And as a member of the Intel Committee who's been looking at it again, for more than a year, there just simply aren't any ties at all to this president on Russian collusion. And even my Democratic colleagues would admit that now.

CUOMO: Now --

STEWART: They quit talk -- just very quickly.

CUOMO: Sure.

STEWART: They quit talking about it over the last couple of months because they realize that there aren't any direct ties.

Now again, Manafort and others have been indicted but it's for things entirely unrelated to this president and the campaign.

CUOMO: Well, right, except for -- look, what is the check on that? The check on that is we don't know what Mueller has on Manafort and Gates. We know that there's such a thing called a superseding indictment, right? He can add to charges.

And put up the graphic of the different people who are in the campaign which I think should qualify as connected to the president. One of them is his son-in-law, one of them is his son. And these are the faces that we know about who have misled about contacts with Russians. Most notably, Papadopoulos, who you guys wanted, you know -- not you, but the campaign and Trump supporters want to dismiss as a coffee boy. He clearly wasn't a coffee boy and has admitted that he lied to the FBI about contacts with Russians.

Don't those count as being related to the president as members of his campaign and his family?

STEWART: Chris, let me say -- let me say this to you and I say this as fairly as I can and as sincerely as I can.

CUOMO: Yes.

STEWART: Perhaps there's something that we just haven't seen yet, but I really don't think so. We've been looking at this a long time, the Senate's been looking at this a long time. Maybe the special counsel has found something that just we have no idea about. But again, I just don't -- I just don't think so.

And these things that we've seen there, if true, they're obviously illegal. If true, they are -- they were committed by individuals who had ties to the president. But if you're laying awake waiting for this president to be impeached because of collusion, I just think --

[07:40:00] CUOMO: Why make that the bar? Why make that the bar? Why -- who says that's the bar?

I mean, look, let me just bait it a little bit.

STEWART: Well, that's --

CUOMO: If that's Hillary -- if this were Hillary Clinton, who keeps getting brought up by analogy by defenders of the president here, I wonder if you'd feel the same way, Congressman, that this list of people, including family members, misled Congress and others about meeting with Russians in the context of Russian interference in the election, which is unquestionable, set by the President of the United States who continues to question what they did?

I wonder if you'd feel the same that ah, you know, it's a little murky. I don't think there's really anything there. Would you have the same disposition?

STEWART: Well, let's remember that was the original intent of the investigation, to look at Russian interference in the elections, if there was any collusion. So that bar wasn't set by me, that bar was set by a legal standard saying this is the purpose of this investigation.

CUOMO: The legal standard is coordination, really.

STEWART: Well --

CUOMO: It's a material difference because collusion is kind of a fancy word for conspiracy. Collusion doesn't exist in the -- as you know -- STEWART: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: I do not mean, in any way, to speak down to you. You understand this much better and I respect your presence on this show.

But it doesn't exist. You're not going to see a collusion charge. That's why I push away from that word.

But this indictment and the plea deal with Papadopoulos is filled with the coordinated. And that's what you want to see here is did the campaign allow itself to be susceptible to Russian influence. That's meaningful, is it not?

STEWART: I agree. I completely agree with you whether you use coordinated, collusion, frankly, interference. They're all elements that we're looking at in this. But once again, there's no accusations of illegal activity by this president.

Actually, let me correct myself. There's all sort of accusations about that. We've heard thousands of them over the last year. There's no evidence of illegal activity by this president.

CUOMO: Yes, I just don't know that that's the bar. I think that there are a lot of other things you should be concerned about that we have to correct going into the next campaign cycle. But let's our fact analysis on that there --

STEWART: OK.

CUOMO: -- because we've run out of what we know and there's no reason to go any further right now.

On the tax side, the president said something that was very interesting yesterday. He said wouldn't it be great to get rid of this individual mandate in health care, which is its own, you know, very nice thick bed of weeds that we don't have time to get into today. He said we could fund more tax cuts.

You and so many others have said on this show and to other media outlets our charges in health care have nothing to do with taxes. This is about fixing that.

And I've always tested that, right? I've always said no, I think you guys are trying to fund your tax cuts.

The president just said exactly that. Is it the truth that that's why you want to pull money out of the health care system is to put it into tax cuts that, to this point --

STEWART: No, yes.

CUOMO: -- are much better for me than they are for that household that's making $85,000 a year?

STEWART: Yes, you know, I didn't hear the president's comments so it's hard for me to respond to that. CUOMO: That's what he said.

STEWART: But there is this. There are some overlaps. There's no question.

There's some overlaps between tax policy and health care. There just simply are because you've got to fund both of them. But to me, and I think to most members of Congress, we look at these as very, very different challenges.

Our efforts in health care were because we really believed that Obamacare had hurt --

CUOMO: Right.

STEWART: -- millions of Americans and that we could do better.

Our policy on tax policy is really -- is really quite simple. The tax code is too complicated. We want to simplify it.

CUOMO: Yes, but you don't have to have cuts to simplify the tax code.

STEWART: That's right, but that brings me to my second point, and that is why think the American people deserve to keep more of their money.

And the third point is the most important, and that is the economic growth that we are convinced will happen because of this. That's the --

CUOMO: Why are you so convinced?

STEWART: Because history shows it and many, many studies show it. I've talked about --

CUOMO: But history also doesn't show it and many, many studies. You know it's an open question, economically.

STEWART: Well --

CUOMO: Again, I'm not telling you anything you don't know. This is a political point, not an economic point.

STEWART: OK. So, history -- I suppose you could draw different conclusions from different times of history. There's no doubt. But at least, as you said, it's an open question.

Our argument is, and I believe this, that if we simplify -- allow people to keep more of their money and, most importantly, achieve that economic growth through business -- through allowing businesses to become more efficient to reinvest, that makes a real difference to families.

Here's what it means. Average family of four making $52,000 a year, it means $4,000 dollars a year. Not in tax cuts, but in economic growth from upward pressure on wages. In the fourth year it means $7,000 a year. That's the most important

thing we could do for the American people.

CUOMO: It could, but that's a play -- it's a play on projections. And in either scenario, even though we haven't seen the meat on the bones and that's a fair pushback.

I don't know the details yet. It will be great when you guys release them. I know it's been delayed for reasons --

STEWART: Yes.

CUOMO: -- that are somewhat nondescript.

I'm still going to do better. I'm in the top tax bracket. I'm going to do better than this family and I don't understand why that is.

I mean, look, selfishly, I'm OK with it, right, because we're all self-interested.

STEWART: Yes.

CUOMO: But you said it was a middle-class tax cut. It is not overweighted to the middle-class and it could be. Why not? Why include people like me at all if you're going to make it about the middle-class?

[07:45:08] STEWART: Two things on that. One is I disagree with you. I think that -- I think that we -- now look, it may change when we get to the Senate.

The House plan is not to reduce the highest bracket at all. And I was one who argued for that, partly because of this conversation you and I are having.

CUOMO: Well, you're giving -- you're giving back on the estate side and other sides that are going to be advantageous. And corporate changes --

STEWART: Sure.

CUOMO: -- will also benefit those people who own --

STEWART: Sure.

CUOMO: -- those companies.

STEWART: Sure, there are some benefits.

So again, two things. We're not reducing taxes on the highest incomes, but even if we were, why is that an argument against reducing taxes on everyone else? I mean, some people want to --

CUOMO: Because you've got to pay for it. So you make people like me pay, which fuels my dislike of politicians --

STEWART: We trim down --

CUOMO: -- right? We're all going to have some reason -- but really, no, right, because you want to get rid of the estate tax and there are other changes.

Again, we don't know the details yet but the argument would be this. This is going to be expensive and a lot of members of your own party are going to push back because they're going to say you're going to balloon the deficit again --

STEWART: Yes.

CUOMO: -- with tax cuts.

Don't do that.

STEWART: Well --

CUOMO: And one of the way you don't do that is by keeping the rich where they are and helping those who need help.

STEWART: Well, I would just say -- look, I don't think you can design a tax policy that wouldn't, at some point somewhere along the way benefit someone who's wealthy. I just don't think you can. I suppose maybe in some world you could, but I'm telling you in the real world it's very, very difficult to do.

The second thing is they pay such an enormous proportion of taxes. That makes it that much harder.

And the third thing I --

CUOMO: To whom much is given, much is expected.

Look, this is a longer conversation and I promise you this, Congressman. When we get the details on what it is you are welcome on this show and nobody will give you more time to make the case to the American people about why it's the right bill.

STEWART: We appreciate it. You know what, we'll know. I'm going to a meeting a nine and we'll have the policy then. We'll come back and we'll talk about it again.

CUOMO: Whenever you want.

STEWART: All right. Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: Thank you for taking the opportunity and be well -- Poppy.

HARLOW: So glad you did that. They could -- they were considering keeping the tax rate at 39 percent for people that make over a million bucks a year. I don't think it will be in there today but that's exactly what you could do. Thank you, Chris, for that.

All right. So, five Michigan teenagers accused of throwing rocks from this highway overpass, but one of them struck and killed a 32-year-old father riding in a van. Those teens in court today.

Our Jean Casarez following this story -- Jean.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, while investigators right now are trying to see if any of the teens actually ever threw something over the overpass before. The fiance of Ken White is just trying to understand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMIEE CAGLE, FIANCE OF KENNETH WHITE: He was the love of my life. We had a special kind of something and he was the best father. And I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him but now I don't have that chance.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Amiee Cagle still can't believe 32-year-old Ken White, her fiance and father of their child, won't walk back into her life.

White was killed on October 18th after a rock thrown from an interstate overpass crashed through the windshield of a van he was riding in. Ken was in the passenger seat, coming home from work.

Five teens have been charged in his death.

CASAREZ (on camera): This is it. This is where it all happened. Prosecutors say rocks started being thrown over this overpass, hitting cars, one crashing through a passenger side windshield.

DAVID LEYTON, PROSECUTOR, GENESEE COUNTY, MICHIGAN: The gaping hole in his chest is about the size of the rock.

CASAREZ (voice-over): David Leyton is Genesee County's elected prosecuting attorney. He has seen the autopsy photos.

LEYTON: It was bad. I haven't seen anything this bad, ever.

CASAREZ: He tells CNN the investigation has shown one of the teens allegedly spoke incriminating words right after the rock went through the windshield.

LEYTON: They realized something dire had occurred. One of the individuals actually uttered the word "dinger."

CAGLE: He didn't deserve to die like that.

CASAREZ: It wasn't easy for Leyton to make the decision to charge these teens with second-degree murder.

LEYTON: My heart hurt when I had to make this decision. When you read the reports they sound like adults, but when you see them they're clearly children.

CASAREZ: Even though he doesn't believe they intended to kill, he argues they knew the potential consequences of their actions.

LEYTON: This is not a prank, this is not the actions of a kid, and this is second-degree murder.

FRANK MANLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY REPRESENTING MARK SEKELSKY: My client is a kid. He's petrified.

CASAREZ: Defense attorney Frank Manley represents one of those teens and says all of them are normal high school students.

MANLEY: Because everybody's charged with the same crime people tend to believe that they did the exact same thing, and I think time will tell that that's not true.

CASAREZ: Amiee says she supports the serious charges and will attend every court hearing in this case.

[07:50:00] CAGLE: All I want is justice, and for him to just be taken away so fast and so brutally, I feel like, is just wrong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CASAREZ: Defense attorneys, this morning, are going to be asking for psychological exams to be given to their clients, these teens.

And, Chris, when I spoke with Amiee -- any of us could be Amiee --

HARLOW: Yes.

CASAREZ: -- and any of us could be Ken White. We all drive on freeways.

CUOMO: That's a good point, and the question is could any of us be one of those boys. That's what they're going to have to assess.

Jean, thank you very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, one husband, three wives, 24 children.

HARLOW: Wow.

CUOMO: How's that sound? You're looking at the family that inspired the HBO series "Big Love."

Why are we doing this story now? Because they are central to a big documentary that we have coming up on HLN tomorrow night. This is a story you're going to want to hear.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:55:00] CUOMO: You know, we tend to think we know everything these days because of the Internet but, you know, there's still some secrets and one of them is buried along the border between Arizona and Utah.

There's a community there that you will not believe exists. It's a sect of the Mormon Church known as FLDS, led for years by so-called profit Warren Jeffs. You remember that name. He's now behind bars and with good reason.

But if you think the group is gone, these extreme polygamists, you are wrong.

Now, we have a very interesting take on this with our next guests. They say that Jeffs has done a lot of damage to a lifestyle that they embrace willingly.

Take a look at the Dargers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Valerie and Vicki are more than sister wives, they're twins. Alina is their cousin. Alina and Vicki courted Joe at the same time and shared their wedding day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really grew to love her.

VICKI DARGER, MEMBER OF PLURAL FAMILY: We had our jealousies. I certainly had my share of mine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just smile and it has been a beautiful growing expanding lot of love. I wouldn't trade it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Joe, Vicki, Valerie, and Alina Darger, part of the family that inspired the HBO series "BIG LOVE," part of the next episode of this new HLN series that we're calling "INSIDE WITH CHRIS CUOMO" --nothing subtle about that title -- they join us now.

It is good to see you all again. Thank you for being here this morning.

JOE DARGER, MEMBER OF PLURAL FAMILY: Thanks for having us, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Let's start off with the main subject of this documentary. I want your take on it and I want you to talk to the audience about it.

They're going to say no, this doesn't exist anymore. That guy is gone, those people are gone. That's not the truth.

What do you want people to know about the reality of who they are and what they're about?

J. DARGER: Well, the reality is that we have families like ours that are continuing to be criminalized and you have people that are left over.

Even though Warren Jeffs is in jail the people that he hijacked and took over and have kept them in fear -- still isolated and still in fear, and there's still problems, and there's still that real fear that they deal with and the implications of how Warren Jeffs ran that community. CUOMO: All right. So, what we see as wrong about what's going on is, you know, the obvious coercive nature of it. That's it unfair it's wrong, it's victimization.

You say a line has to be drawn between what that is about and what you are about. How so?

And any of you can answer, by the way. You know what I mean? The question is to any of you as you want, whether it's Valerie, Vicki, Alina, Joe. Any of you can answer.

ALINA DARGER, MEMBER OF PLURAL FAMILY: Well, the line has to be drawn simply between what's going on that is harmful and hurtful, and then a line between good and loving families that are doing their best to live and support their family.

And what's been going on down south, down where Warren Jeffs' sect lived, there needs to be a line drawn. People need help and things like that need to stop.

CUOMO: Right, and I know that for you guys it's all about volition. It's about being voluntary, it's about being a choice.

But you guys are in a legal pickle. Alina, talk to me a little bit about that. Plural families, as you call them, or -- you know, whether it's bigamy or polygamy, arguable illegal and for good reason looking at the case law. How do you see it?

A. DARGER: Well, I see it that the law has actually caused some of this to happen with Warren Jeffs and the Warren Jeffs sect. Having a portion of society that's criminalized and pushed to the -- marginalized and pushed to the edges of society allowed Warren Jeffs to come in and play on people's fears about criminalization, and then further victimize them.

If you can bring families into the light and let plural families become part of regular society, you can shine a light on that. People don't have to live in fear of government and doesn't allow a perpetrator like that to continue that abuse in the dark and in secret.

CUOMO: Now, Vicki, let's build on that idea because while this society has lots of arguments about what marriage is it seems that they all agree that it's supposed to be two people, you know. Whether those can be two of the same sex or different sex or what it is, we'll fight about all day, it seems, in this country, but it should be two.

What do you say to that?

V. DARGER: Well, we're not looking in our -- in our personal lives. We're not looking for government sanction for our marriages. We actually are fine with not having a legal marriage certificate. We just actually just would like just the freedom to be as consenting adults to live as we choose to.

And there are actually laws that take care of any other injustices or crimes within polygamist or any other family situations where they happen everywhere.

CUOMO: Well, Valerie, let me bring you in.

J. DARGER: I don't think -- I don't think --

CUOMO: Go ahead, Joe.

J. DARGER: I don't think you can focus -- well, I don't think you can say that we just allow consenting adults between two people. I think there are all kinds of people that have different arrangements in today's society.

And to say if you have more than one person you're somehow a criminal or that's inherently bad is wrong, and I don't think that really hold the muster on the way things are today.

CUOMO: Valerie, why? (Cell phone ringing) Why is it -- why is it better to allow this?

It must be one of the 24 kids that you have trying to get you, Joe.