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CBO Scores Tax Bill; Trump's Speech in South Korea; Democrats Dominate Races. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 8, 2017 - 13:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 9:00 p.m. in Riyadh, 2:00 a.m. Thursday in Beijing. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.

Wake-up call. Exactly one year after his election, President Trump facing a wave of Democratic wins across America in what one Republican calls a rejection of Trumpism.

Don't try us, said the president with a stern warning to North Korea as nuclear tensions rise. And just in, Kim Jong-Un's regime now responding.

Plus, unusual requests. New word that President Trump urged the CIA director to meet with a conspiracy theorist over Russia's meddling in the presidential election. You're going to hear why.

But up first, Democrats dominate. They're celebrating the party's first big election victories of the Trump era. Meanwhile, the president on his overseas' trip faces a shifting political landscape back home.

The Virginia governor's race was a major win for the Democrats. Ralph Northam defeated Ed Gillespie by a wider than expected margin. Northam won by nine points in what was predicted to be a close contest.

President Trump was quick to distance himself from the losing GOP candidate. He tweeted this, quote, "Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don't forget, Republicans won four out of four House seats. And with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win even bigger than before."

But a Virginia Congressman and Trump supporter blamed the loss on the president's divisive rhetoric.


REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: You have to give credit where credit is due. Democrats showed up last night. There's no question about it.

So, I think, when you look at those factors, you can certainly attribute some things to, perhaps, the candidate and Gillespie as well, too.

But there was an overwhelming thing that was looming large and that was -- I think it was the divisive rhetoric.

Look, you've heard me on here say that I support the president, not blindly. If I agree with him, I say it. And I think that last night was a -- was a referendum. I don't think there's any way that you can look at it in a different way.


BLITZER: All right, let's get some perspective on the election and the political road ahead from our panel. We have our CNN Political Analyst David Gregory and Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

All right, you just heard Congressman Scott Taylor say this was a referendum on Trump. And he's very blunt. He's a Trump supporter but says, you know what? Things have to presumably change.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. We heard that from Senator -- former Senator Rick Santorum last night, during our election coverage. I think that Donald Trump may tweet that Ed Gillespie didn't embrace him enough, didn't bring him into the state.

But I think what Ed Gillespie tried to do was the Trumpism without Trump, as Steve Bannon called it. Except when you're trying to do that, you ought to do it in a place where the president's popular. And he's not popular in a lot of states, including Virginia last night.

And in the exit polls, we saw that 57 percent of those people who went to the polls said they disapproved of Donald Trump's performance. And half of the voters said Trump was a factor in their vote. And by a two to one margin, they went for Northam.

So, it's a problem.

BLITZER: Yes, and Gloria's right, Trumpism without Trump, David, in Virginia clearly failed.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a blue state. It's trending more blue. We've seen a history of the party in power losing the governor's race that comes after they get elected. So, all of those forces were against the Republicans.

But the narrative that had already been written, had Gillespie pulled it off, and closed strong, although he ended up with a pretty big margin that he lost by, was that he was able to thread the needle. And this was going to be the prescription for how you run in the Trump era as a more moderate Republican.

So, it didn't work. What do we know? We know that Democrats came out big. They voted scared. Every big Democrat in the country said, you'd better vote or else.

So, for them, it was going to be waterloo, if they had not prevailed. And Republicans are divided. So, when you see all these retirements and people who -- Republicans speaking out against Trump, they have to have some place to go.

And that represents more of the middle of the electorate. It represents suburban, more mainstream, more corporate Republicans like outside of Richmond in Virginia. Those are people who voted Democrat last night and that's what could reverberate.

BORGER: You know, if I'm a suburban Republican Congressman right now, I'm scared.


BORGER: And that's why we're going to see more retirements of those kinds of Republicans in the House. And I think it's not too early to say that the House is really in play right now.

BLITZER: Really?

BORGER: Because if you -- yes. If you get these kinds of retirements where you've got moderate Republicans retiring, and you've got this kind of enthusiasm on the Democratic side, you know, nothing so organized as a political party like an enemy.

[13:05:08] And we saw that in the Republican election -- in the election in 2016, and now we're seeing it with Democrats.

Because while they have their own disagreements, and we know there are a lot, what we saw last night was unity against Donald Trump. So, he can try and play it any way he wants. But this was a rejection of him.

BLITZER: The speaker, Paul Ryan, was reacting this morning. Let me play a clip of what he said. Listen to this, David.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It doesn't change my (INAUDIBLE) it emphasizes my (INAUDIBLE) which is we have a promise to keep. We have a promise to keep. We've got to get out (ph) with keeping our promise.

And one of our chief promises we made when we ran for all this, all of us, whether it's the president or Congress in 2016, was everybody would -- would do tax reform and tax cuts. If anything, this puts more pressure on making sure we follow through.


BLITZER: He says it puts more pressure on the Republicans to follow through and get their tax cuts passed. But it's also going to put a lot of pressure on some moderate Republicans maybe to reconsider those tax cuts.

GREGORY: Yes, I think that's right. And I think -- look, achievement is a key part of what Republicans have to run on. And say, this is -- we've got power. This is what we did. This is what we did for you. And so, tax reform is a big part of that.

Health care is something that could ultimately hurt them. If look at the exit polls again in a state like Virginia, and people were more favorable about the Obama era, Obamacare. So, that could hurt Republicans as well.

But there's the intangibles. There's the cultural effects, the divisiveness of President Trump. A kind of cultural arsonist in our political culture. That's the part that is splitting apart the Republican Party and that is uniting the Democratic Party.

But what a mid-term race, a special election does not create is the president against someone else. And until we see what that looks like, then it's a different kind of dynamic. Then, it can purely be a referendum on what has not yet been done. And that can hurt Republicans right now.

BORGER: And, you know, I think that happens in presidential years.


BORGER: And so, for now, the Democrats don't have a standard bearer which is probably good, at this point, for them.

And what they had in Northam in Virginia was a more moderate Democratic candidate who fit the state. And so, the decision the --

GREGORY: It didn't necessarily fit where the Democratic party appears to be going.

BORGER: Exactly. So, the -- that's the decision that the Democrats have to make which is, do you actually get candidates who fit their districts or fit their state or are you going to require cookie cutter candidates who go to the left.


BORGER: And say, this is a litmus test for all our Democratic candidates. And unless you're -- and unless you adhere to that, you're not going to run on the Democratic -- for the Democratic Party.

GREGORY: And to Joe Biden who's going to kick off his book -- big book tour and there's going to be a lot more groundswell, I think, for him.

BORGER: Yes. Could be.

BLITZER: When does that book come out, do you know?

BORGER: November. In the middle of November.

BLITZER: In November. All right, well, this is November right now.

BORGER: It is? Oh, my god. Next week. I think it comes out next week.

BLITZER: All right. We'll be anxious to hear what he has to say. All right, guys, --

BORGER: It's a personal book about his son.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, thank -- well, I'm sure, when he does interviews, --

BORGER: You think?

BLITZER: -- there will be other subjects that'll come up as well.

All right, thanks so much for that.

To President Trip's Asia trip now and his stern message to North Korea, quote, "Don't mess with us." The president staying away from his fire and fury and little rocket man rhetoric but still offering this very strong rebuke of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope I speak not only for our countries but for all civilized nations when I say to the north, do not underestimate us and do not try us.

The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer. They are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.

North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned. It is a hell that no person deserves.


BLITZER: After the speech, the president went to -- traveled to China to begin discussions there about North Korea, as well. We're going to have more on that in just a moment. But what was the response to the president's speech in North Korea? Our Will Ripley is in the capital, Pyongyang.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, President Trump's speech in South Korea really hitting a nerve on a very sensitive issue here in North Korea, human rights. Something that the north has tried to defend itself against, long-standing allegations of widespread human rights abuses in this country, with political dissenters being imprisoned in gulags and forced to endure subhuman conditions.

[13:10:00] The north fires back. They say that they have created a safe, predictable, collective society.

And, in fact, they say it's the United States that is chaotic and dangerous and violating citizens human rights, an argument many around the world would find laughable. But that's the narrative that the North Korean government tells its citizens here. I'll read you a portion of an article that was put out in North Korea's leading newspaper ahead of Trump's speech, because there still hasn't been any official response to the speech itself.

But this article does touch on this important issue of human rights, saying, quote, "The U.S. should not impudently style itself as a human rights judge but mind its own poor human rights records in its land where racial discrimination, gun-related crimes and all other social crimes prevail."

And I can tell you, that is the same argument that has been thrown back at me many times over the years which I had asked North Korean officials here about these allegations of human rights' abuse.

And North Koreans also, before and after the president's speech, saying that they really aren't taking his words very seriously, trying to downplay the impact of the speech. Telling us, quote, "We don't care what that mad dog may utter because we've already heard enough."

They say the situation on the Korean Peninsula is the most tense it has ever been since the Korean War. A very bold statement. And they say they are completely justified to continue their nuclear and missile tests at a time and place of their choosing, especially given the fact that there are dozens of U.S. warships in the Pacific Ocean right now, preparing to engage in another round of joint military exercises -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Will, thanks very much. Will Ripley in Pyongyang, North Korea.

As Republicans race to finalize their tax bill, a big setback just in involving the price tag. We'll speak live with a House Republican in charge of the process to get -- we'll get his response.

Plus, President Trump directing the head of the CIA to meet with a conspiracy theorist about whether the DNC e-mail hack was an inside job. You're going to hear what happened during that meeting.

And trying to convince Democrats to support the Republican tax plan. President Trump revealed a phone call he had with his personal accountant about how the plan impacts him personally. But do the facts add up?



[13:16:09] BLITZER: There's breaking news coming in from Capitol Hill. The Congressional Budget Office has just released its report on the Republican tax bill, what it will cost, the deficit will increase dramatically.

Let's quickly go to CNN's Phil Mattingly. He's up on Capitol Hill with a special guest.

Phil, go ahead. Update our viewers. PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, thanks a lot,


I'm here with Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, the individual who's been running the show here now on day three. I think we're on hour 22 of this markup process.

But I want to start with what Wolf was just talking about. We saw the CBO score and a JCT score about what it would add to the deficit. It's over the $1.5 trillion target you guys were shooting for. Now, you've not the Senate. You've got some space here. But will you get it back down to 1.5 trillion by the end of this markup?

REP. KEVIN BRADY (R), WAYS AND MEANS CHAIRMAN: The answer is yes. Well intend -- well, before we take it to the House, to the rules committee, to go to the floor, yes. It will be within our budget instructions of 1.5 trillion. It's not unusual to have amendments take it up or down as it works through the week. And those amendments aren't scored necessarily at the time. But they inform us of how and ultimately we will get to the Senate's instructions.

MATTINGLY: I want to talk -- you guys have made a lot of promises in terms of what this will do in terms of a tax cut. And if you look at the Joint Command Taxation analysis, on average, across the board, there's a tax cut. No question about it. But also, in that same analysis, as soon as 2019, individuals making between $70,000 and $100,000, 11 percent of them would see a tax increase. Are you comfortable with that right now?

BRADY: Well, one thing the Joint Tax made clear is that there is tax relief in every income bracket. And as we continue to work through the bill, as we continue to look at these provisions, at the end of the day I'm confident we're going to have tax relief at every income level for many, many Americans.

MATTINGLY: But every income level isn't every American. There's kind of an understanding right now that people will see their taxes go up in some areas.

BRADY: Well, I can tell you this, I think every American will be better off. Here's why. Because that measures the wages, you know, and the taxes of it. What we're trying to focus on are paychecks. They've been stagnant really if you look at the Joint Tax, almost 20 years. People are just living paycheck to paycheck. So this is both about getting tax relief, getting jobs back to America, getting those paychecks growing, as well. All of that's important, especially that middle class family (ph).

MATTINGLY: This is something I've been told behind the scenes. You've been talking to your members about the boost in economic growth, the boosts in wages. That's a tough thing to show, a tough thing to sell, especially before a dynamic score. Are you confident that that is absolutely going to happen? You can promise right now that that will happen?

BRADY: You know, I -- I absolutely believe it will. And here's why. Look, we're struggling, up until recently under the president, Trump, we've been struggling at less than 2 percent growth. It has hurt so many families. Now we're at 3 percent. You can already tell the optimism and the feeling. So if we continue to grow the economy and we can compete and win around the world so those jobs come back to America, families are going to be better off, communities are going to be better off.

MATTINGLY: Let me talk about deficit real quick. Speaker Ryan this morning was talking about how the $300 family credit that you have in that phases out currently after five years will essentially be defacto permanent because everybody's going to want to kind of re-up that at some point or another. You're doing it solely for budget reasons. But that will most certainly add to the deficit. Are -- how is it possible when Senator McConnell says this bill will not add to the deficit at all? Are you confident that that is accurate?

BRADY: So Congress will have to decide in five years whether they keep this enhanced family credit. As you know, (INAUDIBLE) we've not just made larger, we've doubled the number of Americans who get help for the first time with the child tax credit. The new family credit adds even more features to it. So we think that's important. We've sunsetted (ph) it in five years so Congress can take a look at the impact. You know, I'm hopeful they'll take a look at it in a positive way. But we're going to give them that option.

MATTINGLY: One more detailed question. Individual mandate raises a lot of money but it also commingles health care in with tax reform, which is a little bit complicated. You haven't said where that's going yet. Is that something that will end up in this bill before it's all said and done?

[13:20:04] BRADY: So no decisions have been made. We did see one of the scores today from the Congressional Budget Office about it. We asked for a score about what it would do related to tax reform. So we're listening to members. Certainly listening to the president and others. No decision has been made yet.

MATTINGLY: Last one and I'll let you go. We've always known the senate is going to have, at least in some elements, a different looking bill than you have. How can you convince your members to vote for something that could ultimately change or look very different when the opposite chamber gets a shot at it?

BRADY: So I think this process is a healthy one. We're going to look to improve our bill at every step of the way. We hope the Senate passes their best version of tax reform as well. What I'm confident of, we will reconcile and find common ground in the end.

MATTINGLY: All right, Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.

BRADY: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: I know you have to go vote.

BRADY: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Wolf, 22 hours and a lot of Diet Cokes later, still working through the tax reform markup.

Back to you.

BLITZER: Yes, these next 48 hours will be critical indeed. Please thank the chairman for all of us. Thanks, Phil, very, very much.

Let's get some reaction from Senator Mazie Hirono. She's a Democrat from Hawaii. She's joining us from Capitol Hill, a member of the Armed Services Committee, Judiciary Committee.

So what do you think of what the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee had to say about the Republican tax bill?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: Well, their tax bill will add $1.7 trillion to the deficit. And so there's no accident that the budget that the Senate passed over the objections of the Democrats cuts $1 trillion from Medicaid and half a trillion from Medicare. So they're going to have to go after what some people described as entitlement programs. And the programs that are in that bucket would be Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. So when the chairman --

BLITZER: But you know the president --


BLITZER: Senator, President Trump, during the campaign and since taking office, he has promised the American people that there will be no change, no cuts to the entitlement program, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He's told that to Republican members of the Senate and the House. What are you saying, they're still going to go ahead and disavow what the president is promising?

HIRONO: The president promises a lot of things but he does the exact opposite. And note that I believe that he supported the Republicans budget plan which calls for cuts in Medicaid and Medicare. So what the president says and what he actually does are two very different things.

BLITZER: All right, let's talk -- get to some other important issues while I have you, senator.

North Korea. What did you think of the president's speech last night before the South Korean National Assembly?

HIRONO: Considering that he's been engaging in a lot of fiery rhetoric that has not helped the situation at all with regard to North Korea, he was quite subdued and some would say even rational. But he was speaking from a -- written remarks.

I think it's a really low bar when we expect the president, when we -- when we are thankful that he didn't go off the rails in his remarks to one of our most important allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

BLITZER: Do you see any evidence, senator, that his working with the Chinese leadership to squeeze the North Koreans is paying off? HIRONO: There are some indications that these efforts are having an

effect. But, frankly, we need to really shore up and strengthen Tillerson's efforts to have a diplomatic resolution to this crisis that we're facing with regard to North Korea. And, of course, we know that the president has undercut his own secretary in that regard.

BLITZER: He suggested that the diplomatic back channel route was a waste of time.


BLITZER: Although he did say last night in his speech he's open to some sort of diplomatic solution. He hopes there will be a diplomatic solution but North Korea has to give up its nuclear weapons. Is that at all realistic? Do you think North Korea will give up that nuclear program?

HIRONO: That is why a diplomatic resolution, diplomatic efforts need to be strengthened. We don't even have an ambassador to South Korea named yet. If the president considered this part of the world to be that important, which it is, we should at least have the ambassador to South Korea named. I have called for it. Others have called for that to happen. And, so far, nothing.

So, once again, we're grateful that he didn't add, you know, more rhetoric that did not help the situation during his trip. So we're grateful for that. But I don't know how long he can keep that up because, you know, the next tweet could just undo the perspective that he showed and that the restraint even that he showed in his remarks.

BLITZER: Yes. Even while he's in China right now, he's tweeting. But let me -- and I'm going to get to that in a moment. But -- in fact, let's get to it right now. Look at this tweet he just put up there. Congratulations to all of the deplorables and the millions of people who gave us a massive 304/227 Electoral College landslide victory. This on the one-year anniversary of his win. What's your reaction to that and to the Democrats' impressive wins last night?

[13:25:12] HIRONO: I think, once again, the president does not pay attention to reality. And he used this trip as yet another opportunity to call attention to himself.

And what happened in Virginia with Gillespie going after the Trump votes and being very divisive in his campaign, which was repudiated by the voters in Virginia who said health care is what they cared about most, which says to me that the voters of Virginia understood the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats want to protect their health care. Republicans want to take the health care away. And they figured out that difference. And that has a lot to do with the results.

Not to mention that they were very motivated. The Trump voters apparently were not motivated. I hope as motivated.

I hope that this is some kind of a course correction for our country that we're going to come together and the people who speak to the actual concerns of our voters, such as health care, such as infrastructure, job creation, that those are the people who are going to prevail after, of course, we organize and take nothing for granted. And I'm hopeful that this is a sign of good things to come in the 2018 elections.

BLITZER: Because New Jersey's, even though they've had a Republican governor for the last eight years, Chris Christie, pretty much a Democratic state. Virginia has gone Democratic in the presidential elections in recent cycles, including Hillary Clinton winning it last year. So if you're a Democrat, you don't want to draw too many lessons from what happened last night, right?

HIRONO: No, the lesson is that we need to stay the course and we need to make sure that people understand that it is the Democrat who want to protect their health care. It is the Democrats who want to make sure that we're not doing tax -- so-called tax reform that gives all the goodies to the richest 1 percent of the people in our country and more profits to corporations, which will not result in increased wages.

That hasn't happened before. So you have the Republican chair of Ways and Means saying, well, I believe that is going to happen. It hasn't happened before. So, you know, that's not reality.

What's going to happen is there will be more profits for the richest people in our country and corporations and none of that will trickle down to the people who might get a little bit of tax relief. But you already said that -- in the -- down the road, this is really going to hurt.

And then for a state like Hawaii, when you have massive cuts to recover that $1.7 trillion that will be added to the deficit, that means states like Hawaii will have less resources from the federal government. We're going to need to cut education programs, social service programs, other perhaps that the people of Hawaii depend on. They and our families.

BLITZER: And that's the breaking news this hour, the Congressional Budget Office estimating that the Republican tax plan, as it currently stands, will explode the deficit by $1.7 trillion, the national debt.

All right, senator, thanks so much for joining us.

HIRONO: Thank you.

BLITZER: Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

HIRONO: Aloha.

BLITZER: Up next, the CIA director raising eyebrows after meeting with a conspiracy theorist that was President Trump's idea. We have the details.

Plus, as the president visits China, three UCLA basketball players arrested for allegedly shoplifting there. Is there any chance the president intervenes? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)