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CNN Exclusive: Special Counsel Interviews Senior White House Aide Stephen Miller About Comey Firing; Ex-Trump Bodyguard Testifies He Rejected 2013 Russian Offer To Send Five Women To Trump's Hotel Room In Moscow; House Panel Passes Tax Bill, As Senate Unveils Own Plan; Breitbart: McCain, McConnell Helping Push Moore Out Of Race. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired November 10, 2017 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I mean, that Michael Flynn would be, you know -- a lot of Americans have a second job. I mean, I say this, you know, rolling my eyes. $15 million to essentially kidnap a guy and turn him over to the Turks?
MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: And this was a recurring issue where there wasn't -- if it was freelancing, there was no protection between the principal, the candidate and the people who were doing such freelancing even when they are in a low level. Flynn was not low level, but when we're talking a Papadopoulos, there was no way to screen that or vet those folks and keep that away from the candidate. And that's going to plague them as well.
FRANCO ORDONEZ, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: Just to build on what Lauren was saying, it's just amazing how much continues to come out of this investigation. This is just information that's kind of leaking. Think about what's really -- what happened with the power that Mueller has, the depth. We're just learning this is growing and growing of an investigation and what could be coming out is, I think is beyond our imagination anyway.
CARL HULSE, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You know, to me it's classic. We've talked about Manafort and Flynn. A lot of it it's about money. There seems to be a real rush to cash in, you know, at this time to take advantage of it.
You know, he's out of the military trying to make some money and -- but that fall it's a little bit to born ultimatum like, you know, to be sort of like a weird movie.
KING: It is born out to be more or something like that. If you look -- and again, if you picked up the Hill on Election Day, November 8th, 2016, there was an op-ed by a guy named Michael Flynn, said the force of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gulen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven. In this crisis, it is imperative that we remember who our real friends are."
That is on the morning of Election Day. Donald Trump's national security adviser for the campaign. A man who -- once the election was clear, it became national security -- he's putting this in a newspaper and the newspaper had to go back later and put an amendment on this, the online version when Flynn had to disclose and he didn't virtually put in his forms that he was consulting with the Turkish government and making money during the campaign.
HAM: Also, Erdogan isn't our front (ph).
HAM: It's another thing that we --
KING: The President thinks he is.
HAM: Yes. But I would like the way that he is parsing that part on him as well. It shows some interesting judgment. We already know that he was being paid by this interest -- I mean, it's just going to get worse for him.
KING: And to your point about this investigation, this is, again, this could will be about something that Michael Flynn did that it's not connected to the Trump campaign, even though he was in the Trump campaign. It's just by a judgment on the candidate's part, by a judgment on the team's part. They were warned about Michael Flynn.
But we also know that the Special Counsel has spoken out with Stephen Miller, he was a key domestic policy adviser. He try to put the President inside that when hope hicks gets back from this long Asia trip, the Special Counsel wants to talk to her. The President keeps hoping, this goes away as we are in November approaching Thanksgiving and beginning to think about 2018. This is with us for a while, correct?
ORDONEZ: No doubt. I mean, they are tapping on the inner circle. I mean, you just rattled off the names. I mean, I think that's part of the reason why we didn't see this much anticipate in meeting with Putin. I think the administration understands that this is a dangerous situation.
I think in the past Trump would have just gone ahead and had the meeting and said who cares, with this investigation. But I think they're realizing that this is more than just a new sense. This is a real risk.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: And as they approach the midterms, this will not go away. Republicans who are running are going to continue to be asked about this. Republicans who aren't running are going to continue to be asked about this on Capitol Hill. These Republicans are going to have to make a decision about what they are willing to, you know, stick behind the President for and how long.
KING: And to that point on Capitol Hill, most people say the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation is more credible, it's more bipartisan. But the House Intelligence Committee investigation just picked up this pace of interviewing some pretty interesting witnesses in recent days including Keith Schiller who came into the White House, his director of Oval Office operations, but he is more known as the President's security and body guy for Years Back When Donald Trump was still in the real estate business. And he said in his testimony that, yes, that infamous dossier has, when Trump went to Russia for the Miss Universe pageant, that there was some hanky-panky.
Schiller says no, there was no such thing, but he does say that somebody in one of the meetings who he described as either a Russian or a Ukrainian business person offered to send women up to Trump's room and then he said go away. And that he joke with the then- candidate, to then citizen Donald Trump about it and they both laughed it off as a joke. I don't know that I want to talk about the substance of that, but what does it tell you, Carl, in the sense that a lot of people going to roll their eyes at the House Intelligence Committee? Are they getting back on track or are they just checking box?
HULSE: I do think you're right. I mean, I think, you know, f you talk to people, things come out. And so, they're making some headway there. I still think that that committee itself is much more polarized on this than in the Senate Intelligence Committee, but they're doing some work. And they're turning up a few thing.
It is very interesting that offer was even made over the Russian. It does kind of go back to that dossier. That there's some credibility with some aspects of that for sure.
KING: Some -- well, pieces of it at least are true or the idea of a true. Although he was pretty adamant that never happened. That he waved that off and, you know, said get out of here.
HULSE: Stood outside (INAUDIBLE).
HAM: I think the thing that continues to play them and be risky for them is -- I remained unconvinced that there's this giant global conspiracy that they knew about and have managed to keep quiet for all this time even though they're incredibly reckless.
[12:35:11] So I don't buy that part of it. But if you are talking to three or four different investigations, many of them being illegal to safe things that are inconsistent to various investigations and you are group of people who's not terribly discipline, you will end up getting yourself in more trouble. So I think that remains a problem for them.
KING: We'll keep an eye on those. When we come back, the House has a tax cut plan, the Senate has a tax cut plan. Is that good news for the President or bad news?
[12:40:02] KING: Welcome back. Big moves in both the House and the Senate in the tax cut debate, raise this interesting question. Is that proof of progress or problems as Republicans rush to achieve one of their big policy goals this year? The House Ways and Means Committee approved its version of the tax bill. The full House expected to vote next week. And the Senate released its own plan. Now there are some key differences between the two. The House version, for example, cuts the number of brackets from seven to four. The Senate keeps seven, but lowers the rates of it. The Senate would repeal the property tax deduction, bad news for home owners and high tax state. But it does keep other popular deductions.
The House bill kills like for Medical care, student loans. It also keeps the estate tax, but fewer would have to pay it. And while both plan/the corporate tax rate, the Senate plan waits a year before that new corporate tax rate would take effect. GOP leaders say all will be fine in the end. Meaning, once the House and the Senate pass separate plans, they'll negotiate a compromise. Well, count Rush Limbaugh among the skeptics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, AMERICAN RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: We're exhausted. Ten years, no results. Now, the Senate Republicans are torpedoing tax reform. The stock market's down 200. Yes, we ought to delay these corporate tax cuts until 2019. We don't want to phase those in.
This is pure Trump sabotage, that's what's going on. And if it's Trump sabotage, it's you being sabotaged, you who voted for him. That's what ticks me off."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It is refreshing, isn't it? The love and the trust of our congressional Republican leadership and the conservative talk radio crowd out there.
You know, look, you can write off what you hear from Russia's chatter, but if you are a conservative in the country and you turn on talk radio whether it's Rush, or Mark Levin or anybody else with local boys, this skepticism is real. They remember the Obamacare debacle, they don't trust Mitch McConnell and they think somehow they're going to mess it up again. Are they right? Is this going to be the old way it used o work? House passes, Senate passes, conference committee of wallah or?
FOX: Well that's a hope. That's what members will tell you. You know, there's a conference committee for a reason. We're going to work out our differences there.
But members of the U.S. Senate Republicans are feeling the pressure. They remember that they fail on health care. They know that they can't do it again. And remember they failed on health care because they lost three votes. It's not as if they lost 20.
And so, a lot of members are feeling like they're going into this, they're going to vote for whatever they need to be voting for. But they're not so sure about, you know, Senator Bob Corker and Senator Jeff Flake who offered some concerns about how much of the debt and deficit this bill could, you know, drive up. I think that's what a lot of members are very worried about. KING: So it is the political imperative that we have to do something or else we are wiped out in 2018 overcome very legitimate policy concerns whether you are the state and local income tax guys for the states or the deficit guys from another state and, help me, you've been around as long as I have. What was the last time there actually was a conference committee, a real conference committee the way it's supposed to work that passed major legislation. I don't remember.
HULSE: I think there's still as a few, but it's really rare. I wrote a front page New York Times story, not too long about the death of conference committee. So really don't happen to me. A couple things going on here. I think that they could actually pass a tax bill.
In congressional terms, these are not irreconcilable differences, not at all. There's a real hope that they can do it. They better do it before the Alabama election, by the way, because if they lose another Republican seat, that's going to make it even harder.
But, you know, Rush Limbaugh talked about betrayal of Trump. He came says, it's my voters who are being betrayed in high tax New York and that, you know, we're going to --
KING: If you are on the ballot in 2018, all politics is local kicks in --
HULSE: And you're going to increase the taxes of my policemen, firefighters, nurses who voted for Trump. So, they are the ones that he thinks is being betrayed.
You know, I don't if they can get this done. But this is not health care. There's a lot more momentum behind this. Among all members, Susan Collins wants to vote for a tax cut.
HAM: Yes. I would say that's what I'm hearing from the Hill, that this is a very different temperature negotiation than the last one and there was always a recognition that there were going to be two bills that they've been talking to each other with that in mind. There's three independent groups of tax foundation, joint committee for taxation, tax policy, senator (ph) who said this would provide tax relief. The structural change in the House bill would provide tax relief to all income levels.
So I think they have something to pitch here. It does look different in the Senate. It will look different in the Senate. This is -- dream the impossible dream. This is what governing can look like. We're very early in the process but from what I hear, people feel like they are in a better place, that voters trust Republicans more on taxes than they do on health care which is helpful. And that the idea is simplification in getting fewer tax brackets in lower taxes obviously something that sells fairly well.
KING: And during the trip, there was criticism of the President who said, you know, and called into a meeting a Democrat and said, worry about the Senate bill and not the House bill. But overall, yesterday, to Rush's point, you know, why would they delay the corporate tax. [12:45:04] The White House obviously wants that as soon as possible. Yet, they've said very nice to, Mary Katharine's point, said complimentary things about the Senate plan thinking let's just keep this moving. Keep the train on the tracks. We'll worry about the details a little later.
ORDONEZ: No doubt. I mean, I think really I -- you know, I agree with Carl that I think this does have an opportunity to pass. I mean, I think there are measures that they are willing to work in. I think there are measures that Democrats are actually willing to work with.
And, you know, Paul Ryan was saying earlier that this has to pass. He said trust me. We are going to get this across the finish line.
KING: They said that about Obamacare too.
HAM: But I think Virginia scared them --
HAM: -- into action and not into inaction.
ORDONEZ: Well that's my point. It's like Virginia and New Jersey, after that it's imperative for them to be -- even people who are close to on the Trump administration, to the campaign are saying look, the anger with Washington has more to do with the lack of progress in Washington including Congress than anything Trump is doing.
HULSE: But it could cost them some seats next year in blue states if they stick with that state and local tax, eliminate that deduction. People will lose seats or retire over that.
KING: Well it's fascinating. If they want to get it done this year, they don't have that much time left in terms of the counter. If they want to get it done this year, we'll see if it carries over.
Up next, Steve Bannon goes to war at the Washington Post. All establishment Republicans looking directly at Steve Bannon are saying, we told you so.
[12:50:33] KING: Steve Bannon loves to be in the middle of a storm and I guess you could say at least he is consistent. That is Donald Trump on the infamous Access Hollywood tape bragging about conduct that if true, would be felony sexual assault.
And now, in the allegations against the Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, there are four women who risk their reputations to say on the record that Moore pursued them when they were in their teens and he was in his 30s. Now imagine if it were a Democrat on that Access Hollywood bus or if the Washington Post story was about a Democratic candidate. But this is about Donald Trump and Roy Moore, so the alt- right shows Bannon says what you see, hear, or read doesn't matter. It's just a media hit job, he says.
Last night, in addition to defending Moore, he bragged of how he helped the Trump campaign through the Access Hollywood storm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: They were telling some guys going to go on 60 Minutes and cry on Ivanka's shoulder, and other people, you know, do this and do that and apologize and apologize and apologize. They don't care about this. They don't care about locker room talk. They care about their country, right?
I said, we double down now, right? You're Donald Trump and they're not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was talking about then and this is now Bannon's Breitbart website putting its focus on the establishment Republicans urging more to consider stepping down not on the accounts of the four women. Senate Republicans are joining the course to keep Roy Moore out of the United States Senate. That's the headline on Breitbart, "Republicans declared the Judge Moore guilty. McConnell-McCain lead establishment efforts to push Roy Moore out of Alabama Senate race."
My issue here and Democrats are quite happy with Steve Bannon in recent days. I'm not sure they processed that with Breitbart News, but Democrats are really happy with Steve Bannon these days. I don't want to go back to Access Hollywood. It's not locker room talk. He is President of the United States. The American people had their say on that one.
In this case, do Steve Bannon, despite any personal look, he might have destroy more or for his own investment in that race, do they any attention to what happened on Tuesday where you had all these Democratic women when, yes, there was no backlash women in the presidential election. but study the results from Tuesday, all these Democratic women winning, you see the gender gap and the suburbs was off the charts in favor of Democrats. Do you really want to invest your alt-right, integrity right now in defending Roy Moore in this climate?
HAM: Well I think there's a genuine like a fundamental disagreement about whether this is worts. Look, he was right about Trump. He made the calculation that you're Trump and you can get away with this and he did. Now, can Roy Moore do the same in this case? I don't know. Perhaps in Alabama, but I would argue that will not work in Virginia.
And the question is will it work in the Rust Belt when they really did changed the game using these different character as Trump. I'm not sure Trump works for everyone in every place. But Bannon will argue yes it does. You just have to fight harder.
Now I will say, there's a process (ph) where the reason that Bannon can say this is all just a hit job is because the media has not been trustworthy on some of these issues in the past. If you look back to the Rolling Stone rape case, to the different (ph) cross-case, for those folks were railroaded, if you want to talk about Senator Waitress Sandwich who was the Lion of the Senate because much of the media here kept quiet about these things over the years or Bill Clinton or what have you, there is reason to wonder.
I mean, just like two weeks ago, NBC covered up the Weinstein thing and Ronan Farrow was very good in reporting because of -- there -- somebody's friendship with Weinstein. But there is a part of this where the media has been untrustworthy on these issues. This story is well-sourced. It has contemporary in these reports. It has four women with their names on it and we need to think about we want to gauge believability and to me this lies in that category.
KING: And if you think about not the fight today, but the long-term trajectory of your movement or your party, one would think you would be paying attention to what the people in the democracy think. This is intensified. Look, the establishment doesn't like Bannon. Bannon doesn't like the establishment. The whole Roy Moore story is now part of this.
The Senate Leadership Fund which is, actually the friends of Mitch McConnell, said, while Senate Republicans fight for @realDonaldTrump's tax reform, Bannon's @BreitbartNews is arguing the age of consent for teens." And then Josh Holmes to the former McConnell aide who is part of that Senate jury find was quoted calling your newspaper saying, "This is what happens when you let reckless incompetent idiots like Steve Bannon go out and recruit candidates who have absolutely no business running for the United States Senate." I'm not quite sure he meant there.
HULSE: Well, this is -- it's a bad situation for Mitch McConnell in one way with this hanging over him. But it's a good argument for him against these attacks from Steve Bannon. This is exactly what Mitch McConnell has been saying about Steve Bannon, though he refuses to say his name, by the way, and is now referring as an element in the party.
[12:55:09] But the --
KING: On Baltimore (ph) --
HULSE: But they're going to push candidates who can't win general elections or have trouble or going to cause trouble or get in trouble. And so, I think this is going to make, you know, some of the people who might fund some of these candidates. Take a look and go wait a minute, maybe we should do this. This was Steve Bannon's first big shot in the war. And it seems to be kind of misfiring.
FOX: When you talk to Republicans on the Hill, they're very concerned about the fact that they look at 2018 and they think they have a pretty favorable map. And if all the sudden, you having to put in so many resources to defend candidates that are -- who have already won in states like Mississippi, you know then it becomes very difficult for Republicans to go out and be Democrats on the line. And I think a lot of the Republicans (INAUDIBLE) this is a waste of resources.
KING: But now, so take care. There's an election and then there's a bigger issue about this. This man belong with us in the United States Senate. We'll see what plays up.
Thanks everybody coming in to Friday. Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. I'll see you here Monday. I'll still hope you get up early on Sunday morning, 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Be here for that.
Wolf Blitzer in the chair after a quick break. Have a great weekend.