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Roy Moore Defeats Trump-Backed Candidate In Alabama Runoff; IRS Shares Info With Special Counsel In Russia Probe; President Trump To Unveil His Tax Plan Today; Pulse Of The People. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 27, 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. RON JOHNSON (R-WI), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: -- see there's an awful lot of stereotypes of individuals. You know, what exactly -- you know, how the press portrays them is not necessarily the individual that they are.

So, you know, I've never met Judge Moore. I'm looking forward to meeting him and hoping we can work together and really address these serious challenges facing America.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yesterday was not a good day for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. His candidate, as we said, lost, and he had to abandon the vote on your health care plan known as the Graham-Cassidy bill.

So do you still have faith that Mitch McConnell is the best leader?

JOHNSON: I certainly have faith that in some point in time we can pass Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson. I think we've proven the concept. We just simply ran out of time and that's unfortunate.

The process was rushed. I think people were concerned about that. They had legitimate concerns but we were up against this artificial clock in terms of budget reconciliation but we can do it again. And so, it's an excellent concept.

Even Lisa Murkowski, I think, issued an excellent press release --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

JOHNSON: -- in terms of her reservations. But really, just turn the money over to the states, let Alaskans decide. I'd say that would be true for 50 states as well.

So --

CAMEROTA: Yes, that doesn't -- though -- I mean --

JOHNSON: -- I'm looking forward to moving forward on that.

CAMEROTA: But Senator, that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of Mitch McConnell.

JOHNSON: Well, listen, I said Leader McConnell has got a -- he has to herd cats. There's nothing easy about it. I don't envy his task. What we're -- what we need to do is concentrate on the shared goals and purposes, first of all, of the American public. Growing our economy -- that's tax reform -- a pro-growth tax reform.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare that's causing a great deal of harm to a lot of people. Benefitting numbers, but we can -- we can keep the good parts of Obamacare in terms of coverage. But we certainly need to repair the skyrocketing premiums.

So, these are difficult problems, tough challenges. It's hard to lead in this type of a scenario.

CAMEROTA: Today, your committee, Homeland Security, holds a hearing on worldwide threats. What do we need to know?

JOHNSON: We have enormous threats facing this nation. They're growing, they're evolving and metastasizing.

We'll have the director of the FBI, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and also Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security. I'm sure we'll be asking her a lot of question exactly on how they're responding to Puerto Rico.

Marco flew down there with the Coast Guard. He reported back to the Senate yesterday. We all are taking this very seriously.

I've talked to Elaine Duke about doing the CODEL down there. She said please hold off, it's such a disaster area. We certainly don't want to be distracted. We're going to respect that.

But we'll be asking a lot of questions of Elaine Duke to find out, you know, the extent of the damage and really, what the step-by-step triage is going to be for responding to the desperate needs.

I hope every American keeps those individuals in their thoughts and prayers.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, and we'll look forward to hearing what comes out of that hearing.

Senator Ron Johnson, thank you very much for your time.

JOHNSON: Have a good day.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

Let's get over to Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Boy, and a big part of helping Puerto Rico is going to be waving that Jones Act, making goods cheaper for Puerto Ricans. Will Congress act on that? We'll find out later in the show.

A CNN exclusive now.

The IRS sharing information with Special Counsel Bob Mueller for the Russia investigation. How about the president's tax returns? Might those be in the mix? Next --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:35:10] CUOMO: All right, now to a CNN exclusive.

The IRS is sharing information with Special Counsel Bob Mueller and his team in the Russia investigation.

CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez live in Washington with more.

Evan, what you're tracking down, if people did the proper reporting of income. Taxes are going to be part of the equation. But what does your reporting suggest about the scope of where Mueller is headed?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, right now we know that the IRS is now sharing information with investigators working with the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Now, this comes after the two sides were somewhat at odds for months over the scope of Mueller's investigation into the Russian meddling.

Mueller's investigators wanted information on several people associated with the Trump campaign, including Trump former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, the former National Security adviser.

Now, we're told that sources -- by sources that the IRS had concerns because of what they saw as far-reaching and broad requests for information from Mueller's investigators.

In the case of Manafort, that scope includes possible tax and financial crimes that date back to January of 2006. Now, that's 10 years before the Russian meddling in the presidential election last fall.

CAMEROTA: Evan, as we understand it your reporting indicates that the dispute somehow centers on that July raid of Paul Manafort's home. What do we know?

PEREZ: Right, that raid which has turned out to be somewhat controversial. Now, there was some tensions between the IRS and the special counsel behind the scenes of that FBI raid which occurred on Manafort's home in Alexandria, Virginia.

Multiple sources tell us that the IRS didn't participate in the July raid because of the IRS's objections that the search would interfere with a separate IRS investigation of Manafort.

Now, we're told that the IRS and the FBI initially were cooperating in their own Manafort probe well before last year's election and before Mueller was even appointed.

The special counsel's office went ahead with the search of Manafort's home only with FBI agents carrying it out. Now, that's unusual for the IRS to sit out a search and an investigation that centers on tax and financial matters. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And the guys went in there guns ablazing

also, too, by all descriptions, like they were going after a drug kingpin.

PEREZ: They sure were.

CUOMO: So what does all this reporting mean about the special counsel's investigators and having access to the tax returns? Could that lead them to wanting the president's tax returns?

PEREZ: Yes, that's the big question that's been sort of knocking around here in Washington for months. It's not clear whether the special counsel has asked for or obtained the president's tax returns.

Sources say that if Mueller's office does have Trump's returns then the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees this investigation, likely would have had to sign off on this given the sensitivity surrounding the matter.

As for Manafort and Flynn, given what we know about the scope of those investigations it's much more likely that Mueller already has obtained those tax records. Tax returns are among the most protected government documents, Chris, even if it's being shared with other government agencies.

CAMEROTA: Evan, thank you very much for all of that exclusive reporting.

CUOMO: All right.

So let's discuss what's going on here, some other big headlines and, of course, what we've been experiencing within our cultural recently, with Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland. He is the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

Congressman, good to have you on the show, as always.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): It's good to be with you.

CUOMO: Looking for taxes, maybe the president's taxes. Are you OK with these moves?

CUMMINGS: Well, I think that we always have to be careful with the privacy of American citizens.

But again, we have a situation here where Mr. Mueller is going back 11 years regarding investigating Manafort. And certainly, there may be some financial crimes, maybe some avoidance of paying income taxes -- things of that nature. So there are certain records that they should have -- that is, Mr. Mueller should have.

On the other hand, I think the IRS, in its hesitancy to release all of the information they initially wanted -- I think that's the kind of question that we Americans would hope for. But at the same time, we want to make sure that everybody obeys the law and pays their taxes. CUOMO: True, but obviously, you know, you wind up getting cross- purposes. Is this about finding out what happened with Russian interference or just finding out who did the right and proper reporting and accounting for taxes, you know, 10-15 years ago? So it will be tricky. We'll see were Mueller goes.

CUMMINGS: Yes.

CUOMO: That's not within your purview.

CUMMINGS: And it may be -- no, but it may be tricky. But keep in mind, when Rosenstein signed off on all of this part of the order was to investigate any matters that may -- that may directly or indirectly come out of the --

CUOMO: Right.

CUMMINGS: -- investigation. And so, it's pretty broad here.

[07:40:02] CUOMO: Right.

CUMMINGS: But again, average Joe Blow is -- I mean, if he avoided taxes, believe me, the IRS would be all over him, and so Manafort is no different.

And so again, as you probably know, when they begin to investigate you they -- it's like a ball of yarn. It just keeps going and going and going and they may run into all kinds of things. And so we're just going to have to wait and see.

CUOMO: Kushner's e-mail -- six current and former Trump-related staff using private e-mails to do government business. That's the suggestion.

Why does this matter to you?

CUMMINGS: It matters because we have always been guardians of classified information.

If you don't know what I'm talking about just look at what happened with Hillary Clinton when she did something similar and we spent two years and probably millions of dollars investigating her e-mails.

Now, not only do we have Mr. -- you know, the chief of staff, Mr. Priebus. We also have Mr. Kushner, we have Ivanka, we have Miller. All of these six or seven people in the White House who were using unofficial means -- that is, devices -- to communicate in doing official business with those unofficial --

CUOMO: Right, and I get the concern.

CUMMINGS: -- communication devices.

CUOMO: In terms of the analogy to Clinton, wasn't that about the server and her control of that information, and her ability to destroy or secrete or selectively disclose information, which you couldn't do if it's your Gmail or an AOL account? You could just contact -- you know, ISP - the provider there and you're going to get the information. Isn't this fundamentally different?

CUMMINGS: Well, keep -- well, keep in mind, one of the things that Hillary Clinton did that we have not heard from Mr. Kushner yet, is she said release all of my e-mails. I don't -- let the world see them and release them immediately. As a matter of fact, I'd join in with other members -- all the Democrats on our committee and said yes, let's release them right away.

Now, I'm waiting for Mr. Kushner, and Ivanka, and others, and certainly Mr. Bannon, to say that to the American people and to the Congress. They haven't said it and I would guess that they're not going to say that.

And by the way, back in March, Mr. -- former Chairman Chaffetz and I wrote to the White House and asked were there any people in the White House --

CUOMO: Right.

CUMMINGS: -- using unofficial devices for official business and they said no.

CUOMO: Right.

CUMMINGS: That was in March.

CUOMO: That's a -- that's a different -- that's a different -- that's a different issue about disclosure and consistency. We know you're going to look at all of them.

Let me get your take, quickly, on what's been going on with the president and certain athletes in the NFL and the NBA.

He says this has nothing to do with race. It's about respecting the flag. His spokesperson says it's about him reinforcing the morality of what we're for, not expressing views of what he's against.

What do you say?

CUMMINGS: I say that the players have a right to do what they're doing.

You know, it seems as if when African-American people protest anything, it seems like people say oh, they shouldn't be doing that.

The fact is that these players are mainly -- they're men, many of them African-American, and they see what is happening to people who look like them being harmed, when unarmed, by police, and they see it over and over again. And I -- you know -- and for them to take a knee so that others might live, I think that's what they're trying to do.

And keep in mind, as I have talked to a few of the players they said that they found that taking a knee -- they didn't call anybody any names, they didn't go out and riot. They just -- they took a knee, saying it's not that we have anything against police in general. We just want to make sure that people are treated fairly -- all people -- and there's just one form of justice and that form of justice is for everybody.

CUOMO: All right.

Congressman Cummings, always appreciate your perspective on NEW DAY. Thank you, sir.

CUMMINGS: My pleasure.

CUOMO: All right.

So, President Trump is looking for a legislative win. Health care does not seem like it's going to go his way, at least not right now.

So next is his tax plan. He says this is the first real reform in decades. Is it? We give you the details, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:47:17] CUOMO: It is time for "CNN Money Now."

President Trump is going to unveil his long-awaited tax plan. There are big questions. We're desperate for details and we have chief business correspondent Christine Romans on the hunt in the Money Center -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there.

Well, sources telling us there might not be many details. Here's what we do know.

Expect tax cuts for business, the corporate rate slashed to 20 percent. Individuals -- those seven tax brackets collapsed down to three. Now that would actually raise the lowest rate but the plan also doubles the standard deduction, meaning low-income earners could pay no tax.

It also cuts the top rate to 35 percent. Still, details are fluid, especially about that top rate.

You know, the president has said he's open to raising taxes on the rich and according to two Republicans briefed on the latest plan, it asked the tax-writing committee to raise more money from the top, something many conservatives won't like.

So we'll likely get few details on how to pay for the plan or the fate of the deductions. The White House has said only three deductions are safe -- the charity deduction, mortgage interest, and retirement savings.

Also, no word yet on how exactly it will help the middle-class. A recent CNN poll found that nearly 40 percent of Americans think their tax bill will end up staying about the same. So, guys, this is something companies want very, very badly. They want to lower, Alisyn, that corporate tax rate. The question is, is this going to be true tax reform or will this be tax cuts -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: You will answer that for us at some point, I'm sure, Christine. Thanks so much for breaking that down.

So, President Trump sending more resources to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. What do voters think of the president's response? I sat down with a panel and I get the pulse of the people, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:52:48] CAMEROTA: What do the people who voted for President Trump think of his hurricane response?

On Monday, I sat down with Trump voters from Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and New York State for one of our signature panels and a candid conversation about the hurricanes, health care, and North Korea.

Here's our latest pulse of the people.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: How many people are satisfied with President Trump's hurricane response? All of the three hurricanes that we've seen? You guys are satisfied with it?

Mark, what's your problem?

MARK O'BRIEN, REGRETS VOTING FOR TRUMP: You know, when you think of the most recent one in Puerto Rico, there are U.S. citizens there. Why isn't he touring, in a helicopter, the damage and destruction in Puerto Rico? I think that's what he needs to be doing.

JORDAN JACQUAY, REGRETS VOTING FOR TRUMP: I have a mixed review on what he did with Texas, with Florida, and now with Puerto Rico.

I think that the hateful stuff about the first lady wearing heels is ridiculous media.

But also, ridiculous media is in Texas -- the president -- oh, you're a great crowd. I'm glad you came out today.

CAMEROTA: You thought he gave more of a campaign rally.

JACQUAY: I thought he gave more of a campaign response.

All three places are suffering, and all three places are America, and all three places need our help.

KATHY GIBSON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: We all due respect, Jordan, you haven't been on the ground in Florida and I have.

We have supplies and things ready to go when we get the OK from first, the Puerto Rican governor, and we have to be able to have secure ports to airdrop into. That is a problem right now. They're about probably this close to maybe martial law because people are running out of everything.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. The situation is dire. And do you think that President Trump has spoken enough about Puerto Rico and what's happening?

GIBSON: I would like to hear him say more but I also understand why he is not on the ground because when you have a lawless situation you don't throw your president into that.

PAYTON ISNER, REGRETS VOTING FOR TRUMP: Yes, but he has such an influence on Twitter if he tweeted here's how you can donate, here's where you can drop off stuff, here's the FEMA site. If you're in Puerto Rico where you can go, these kind of resources, you can get out to tons of people.

But instead, he's talking about the NFL, or he's talking about NASCAR, or NBA and things like that, so it takes away from it.

[07:55:00] O'BRIEN: And let's not forget the majority of those NFL players, especially J.J. Watt, has raised millions and millions of dollars for Houston, Florida.

Trump, himself, donated a million to Houston. I'd love to see him donate a million to Florida and to Puerto Rico.

CAMEROTA: Health care. How many people are confident that the Republicans are going to get a health care bill done?

(LAUGHTER)

How many -- your confidence is overwhelming.

Payton, do you blame the president for some of this?

ISNER: No, I don't necessarily blame the president. I think it lays at the feet of Congress, for the most part. He has a responsibility to bring people -- the Republican Party together.

CAMEROTA: And has he done that?

ISNER: No. I think when he was elected president he thought that Congress had a plan already and that they had worked behind the scenes to create one, and when he got there he realized that they really didn't have one.

O'BRIEN: I do put it on him, meaning he was in charge. He's got the House, he's got the Senate, he's got the votes.

But from some reason he just couldn't hunker down and say all right, how do I get this done? I need your help. Let's make it happen.

JACQUAY: I don't fault the president as much as I do Congress. But I also think that repeal and replace was more of a slogan than it was a plan.

And you can't replace Obamacare with something that's not going to cover preexisting conditions. You can't do things like that and that's why, so far, the Republicans have been unsuccessful.

O'BRIEN: The slogan -- I just started thinking you're fired, make America great, repeal and replace. Slogan doesn't cut it for me anymore. He's had nine months.

ISNER: There needs to be a discussion between not just Republicans, but Republicans and Democrats.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

ISNER: And we need a long-term, permanent solution that handles all these issues, and it doesn't need to be done under the table and it doesn't need to be done in the back rooms of Congress.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about foreign policy. What's your biggest concern about North Korea?

JACQUAY: The biggest concern of North Korea is Kim Jong Un is off the charts as far as the norm of any political leader in the world and his wanton disregard for anything of the norm is very frightening.

CAMEROTA: Are you comfortable with President Trump's rhetoric?

JACQUAY: No, I'm not comfortable with President Trump's rhetoric but we have to use all options necessary, politically, economically, diplomatically, and if necessary, militarily to protect ourselves, our allies, like South Korea and Japan, from someone who is, by all means, a crazed leader -- a lunatic.

ISNER: If we launch a military action I don't know how many people would die in Japan or in South Korea. And so, the one thing I'm concerned about Trump is, is that he's going to get so obsessed with this military action he's not really going to think through what it actually means to act on military action.

GIBSON: This man is mentally unhinged. He has been told from the time he was an infant he's a God and can do no wrong. He has had no parameters and nothing in his makeup shows that he would have any guilt about killing anyone of us.

O'BRIEN: But when they were describing the North Korean leader there's a lot of people in this country and around the world who would say that's Trump leading our country.

AMAPOLA HANSBERGER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: It is unjustified to compare President Trump to a communist leader. I have a communist leader in my country that rooted us out over everything we owned. There is no comparison between President Trump and any communist leader in the world.

O'BRIEN: She doesn't realize that's not what I was comparing Trump to. That's what people are saying in our own country. CAMEROTA: And -- but you're saying that that's fair or not fair?

O'BRIEN: I'm just saying that's what people think.

CAMEROTA: Do you think that? I mean, do you see -- some people think that he is volatile, and has a hair-trigger response, and fires off tweets without thinking about it. Do you see any of that?

HANSBERGER: No, I do not. I think that he's trying something that hasn't been tried before.

CAMEROTA: Which is what?

HANSBERGER: Harsh rhetoric. It's harmless to call someone "Rocket Man" or it -- that's harmless.

O'BRIEN: I'd rather him be quiet and hunker down at the Pentagon or wherever he needs to be with our military leaders, which I'm sure he's doing. But he doesn't need to tweet, he doesn't need to come out and call him "Rocket Man" or whatever. Why give him -- why poke?

GIBSON: Appeasement never works. It never has.

JACQUAY: We remember back in the thirties that appeasement doesn't work with Hitler, with Mussolini, with the empire of Japan.

But I also think Donald Trump -- in some manner, President Trump thinks he's President Ronald Reagan. I can see Ronald Reagan using the term "Rocket Man" for Kim Jong Un -- I can.

But I also see Ronald Reagan as someone who would have already been dealing with the Chinese, dealing with the Russians, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, trying to get everything done that could be done before a military option. And I'm not sure President Trump has those credentials or has that ability with foreign leaders.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: So, listen, I mean, we shot this on Monday. That's when they were calling on the president to do more. I'm sure they will be heartened that the president, yesterday, came out and said he will be doing more and he will be going to Puerto Rico now.