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Senate Hearing Invitations; Bureaucracy Impeding Puerto Rico; Votes for Health Care; Tax Plan without Key Details; NFL Player Issues Challenge; Louisville Coach Placed on Leave; Puerto Rican Musician Asks for Help. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 28, 2017 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Find the right places to be and what markets to place the ads and what states to put them, because that's a high degree of election sophistication.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: That's really a very excellent question, Chris, because we do know that less than 100,000 votes in those primary states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio. And 100,000 votes turned the tide in this election. And the targeted fake news went predominantly to those states.

Now, how did Russia gain that sophistication? They gained that sophistication with help. I -- my hunch is that Cambridge Analytica (ph) could have been one of those. It could have been any number of campaign consultants. But, frankly, our U.S.-based campaign consultants that have taken their talents and skills to foreign countries to assist them in their election (ph) and I think we've got to look far and wide to determine who -- who was engaged with the Russians in that regard.

CUOMO: Key questions. We'll be following the outcome of the hearing and doing our own reporting. And thank you for hearing the call from San Juan's mayor. We need better infrastructure down there. Whatever we're doing, it's got to be more. So, thank you for hearing that call as well.

SPEIER: I'm going to make that call. I'll make that call.

CUOMO: Appreciate it. Thank you, congressman. Let us know how we can help on our side.

Alisyn.

SPEIER: All right. Very good.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, President Trump's tax plan. Who benefits the most? Who get hit the hardest? We're going to talk to a member of the Senate Finance Committee about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:35:19] CUOMO: All right, the San Juan mayor just told us that bureaucracy is getting in the way of helping people. That there's a lot of supply down there, but it's not getting to people because of red tape.

All right, let's bring in someone who can make a difference there and can talk to us about taxes and health care, Republican Senator John Thune. He's a member of the Finance Committee and chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

In no way am I suggesting that what's happening in Puerto Rico is your problem. But, senator, you can be part of the solution. Is there anything you can do to help massage this urgency that we need to abandon normal protocols that might be counterproductive and get help to people down there in Puerto Rico. When people in power pick up the phone, you know what can happen.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Right. Right, and I agree with that totally, Chris. This is a humanitarian crisis. It's an emergency. It needs to be treated as such. And I think, you know, when you've got extraordinary circumstances like this, you need to take extraordinary measures.

And so I think these requests that the mayor of San Juan and the governor of Puerto Rico are making for some waivers and for getting assistance down there as quickly as possible, we need to move heaven and earth and do everything we can to assist the people who are suffering down there. And this is only going to get worse with time.

So some of those steps are being taken. But there's more that we can do and we're trying to find out exactly what that is and, obviously, that's with input from the leaders down there.

CUOMO: Yes. And, senator, I'm asking you because you're a well-liked, well connected guy down there. If you want the office to get in touch with us and say, here's what we found out. This is the word that you need to get out. This is what needs to be pressured --

THUNE: Exactly.

CUOMO: Let us know and we're happy to work hand in hand to get more help down there.

We get that protocol has a place, bureaucracy has a place. Sometimes it becomes more of a hindrance than a help.

THUNE: (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: All right, so let me ask you about health care while I have you as well.

THUNE: Yes.

CUOMO: Senator, the president -- I get optimism. I even get truthful hyperbole, a phrase that the president authored early on in one of his books as a citizen. But I just don't get the math. You don't have the votes for the Graham-Cassidy bill. That's what Graham says. That's what McConnell says. That's why you didn't have the vote. I mean what's the president talking about?

THUNE: Well, I guess you'll have to ask him. You know, maybe he's thinking prospectively, Chris, because we have --

CUOMO: No, he said now, we've got the votes, we just ran out of time.

THUNE: If we -- well --

CUOMO: We got the votes and he was talking about one senator was in the hospital, but he's not in the hospital. I mean is he on the same page with you guys, I guess that's my question?

THUNE: Well, if we -- if we had the votes, we'd be voting right now, I can assure you.

So, no, the votes aren't there for this. And maybe at some point in the future they will be. But for right now, you know, we're doing -- we're focusing, shifting and pivoting to tax reform. But eventually I think we will come back to health care reform and at some point maybe we will have the votes. But the folks who count the votes up here right now know that we don't. And that's why we're not voting.

CUOMO: So people are watching this, right, and this is the kind of thing that makes them feel like, you know, we can't trust these guys. We can't trust what's coming out of our politicians because it's always some part of a game and advancing perspective. What do you say to people about what to believe?

THUNE: Well, I think a lot of politicians generally, Chris, speak in aspirational tones. They're optimistic. They're hopeful. They want to see good things happen. We all do.

At some point that meets reality. And reality in the United States Senate is the need for 50 votes. And so what -- where we are right now is we're at 48, 49. Eventually maybe, if we continue to develop and work this, we'll end up with the 50 votes that we need to move it forward.

We agree that something has to be done because the markets continue to implode and premiums continue to sky rocket and sky rocket. That's not going to change. So there is something that has to be done. The question is, you know, what is when. And the what, I think, is in the works and the when will be when we have 50 votes. But we don't have those today.

CUOMO: All right, senator, thanks for the candor on that. Never easy, you know, to go in and say something different than the president. We know that can come with political cost. But the people need the truth.

Taxes. The president's big promise during the campaign was, I'm going to take care of the middle class. I know the rich usually win, but not with me, because I don't need their money and I'm not afraid to take them on.

This has a lot in it, this plan. There's still a lot more that needs to be explained. But going after the AMT, getting rid of that, going after the estate tax, getting rid of that, cutting the bracket for the rich, that doesn't help the middle class. Why lead with that? THUNE: Well, it's a comprehensive tax reform bill. And so there are

lots of moving parts. You saw yesterday the release of the framework, which I think has a number of measures that are targeted at middle income taxpayers in this country, the lowering of rates, the doubling of the standard deduction, the expansion of the child tax credit are all designed to bring much needed relief and put money in the pockets of working families in this country.

[08:40:04] But it is a comprehensive bill that looks at all aspects of the economy. And one thing we know right now is the economy has been sort of sputtering along, growing at 1.5 to 2 percent. We want to see that growth rate get back up closer to 3 percent. When that happens, you get higher wages, better paying jobs.

And so you also have to reform, when you're doing middle class tax relief, you also have to reform business taxes to make them more competitive in the global marketplace. And that translates into, according to the Congressional Budget Office, better paying jobs for people in this country.

So it's all part of a package. The Finance Committee, and you mentioned I serve on that committee, the Ways and Means Committee in the House will have to fill in the details.

I will tell you this. The president and his team and our leadership have made it very clear that we want to maintain the progressivity in the tax code. When the president says he doesn't want a tax cut for rich people, he means that. And there are ways in which you can -- you can -- you can do that. And it will be up to us to figure that out.

CUOMO: Getting rid of the AMT and the estate tax, though, doesn't exactly deliver on that promise. And, look, that's a statement against interest for me. You know, everybody wants a tax cut. But there are people who need it a hell of a lot more than I do.

All right, senator, thank you very much. You're always welcome on the show.

THUNE: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: As we get the details, we'll dive more into this as deeply here as anywhere, I promise you that.

THUNE: All right.

CUOMO: Be well, senator.

THUNE: Thank you.

CUOMO: And let us know how we can help with these efforts to change the bureaucracy in Puerto Rico. We'll be in touch with the office.

Alisyn.

THUNE: We'll do. Thanks. CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, a strong message from an NFL star amid the feud with the president. The challenge that Michael Bennett issued to America during CNN's town hall. That's next in our "Bleacher Report."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:45:41] CAMEROTA: NFL player Michael Bennett challenging Americans to treat people better during a town hall right here on CNN last night.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

Tell us what he said, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

You know, today's "Bleacher Report" brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

And Anderson Cooper moderating that town hall last night on patriotism, players and the president. And Seahawks star Michael Bennett, well, he had a strong message for everyone in the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BENNETT, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS DEFENSIVE END: You know, I would like to challenge every America that's watching this show to treat people better. That's really what it's about. It's about treating people like human beings. That's the first step. The first step is to recognize and see somebody as an equal being when you recognize them. There's no way that a person, a woman should feel less human than a man. There's no way that a black person should feel less human than a white man. Everyone should be seen equal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Well, after 16 seasons at Louisville, Hall of Fame Coach Rick Pitino has been placed indefinite, unpaid administrative leave after his basketball program was target in a federal investigation into alleged fraud and corruption in college basketball recruiting. Now, on Tuesday, ten men, including a top Adidas executive and four college assistant coaches were charged with bribing young athletes to influence their choices in schools, shoe sponsorships and agents.

Now, this is the third scandal Pitino has gone through at Louisville. Two years ago a woman alleged that an assistant hired her and other women to strip and have sex with Louisville recruits and players.

Now, Pitino's lawyers say he did nothing wrong, calling his apparent firing a regrettable rush to judgment. And, Chris, he still has seven years, $55 million, left on his contract. So this could be a very expensive separation for the school.

CUOMO: Yes, because -- well, depends. It depends on how this is negotiated by the two sides because very often those contracts have moral clauses in them about what would be a fireable offense. So we'll have to see how this plays out. It's going to take a long time.

Thank you very much, Andy. Appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.

CUOMO: So, Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi is giving America the song of the summer, "Despacito." Now he's sending out a call for help for his devastated island after Hurricane Maria. We're going to have -- look, there he is. Good looking even early in the morning and he has an important message to help Americans that are just an island away, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:50:50] CAMEROTA: OK, so it was the smash it song of the summer. It's called "Despacito" and, of course, you've heard it. Here it is.

(VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK, this video was filled in Puerto Rico. And you can see how vibrant the La Perla neighborhood is in this video. But, of course, it looks very different today after Hurricane Maria's devastation. And you're seeing it there on the other side of your screen.

So joining us now is the man behind the hit son, Luis Fonsi. He's also Puerto Rico's tourism ambassador. He's trying to raise money to help everyone there.

Luis, great to see you here.

LUIS FONSI, PUERTO RICAN SINGER, SONGWRITER, ACTOR: Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

CAMEROTA: I mean it's such a happy song. It's so upbeat.

FONSI: Yes.

CAMEROTA: What is it like for you now when you remember back to the days that you were shooting that video and you see the devastation of what that neighborhood looks like today?

FONSI: You know, it's so tough to see those pictures, the before and after pictures, of La Perla. You know, so important -- first of all being from Puerto Rico, loving my island, having my family there, I'm already devastated. But on a professional level, it was so important for this song and this video and now we see the picture and it's like, ah, what do we have to do to get, you know Puerto Rico back on its feet, La Perla back to looking like it looked on the video.

So, yes, we're here. We're crying out for help. We're trying to do as much as we can to come together and really help the island.

CAMEROTA: I mean in some ways it was your song that -- I don't want to say put Puerto Rico on the map, but it certainly heightened awareness about Puerto Rico and how rich it is and you and the music there, and (INAUDIBLE) and all that stuff --

FONSI: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: Because it was such a hit. And you say you shout out to Puerto Rico in it (ph).

FONSI: Yes, absolutely.

CAMEROTA: And then now to see that it's devastated. Have you been home yet?

FONSI: I have not, but I'm going there in a few days. I'm in the middle of tour. Obviously we can't cancel shows. But I have a two-day break early next week and I'm going straight to Puerto Rico with a plane full of goods, with some great friends, great athletes, and we're going to do as much as we can.

And it's like I always say, it's the first of many different efforts that we have to do and that we're going to do probably for the next year or so because it's going to be a long rebuilding process and I want Puerto Rico to know that we're here. That we have their back. And I want everybody else to know what's going on because we need a lot of help.

CAMEROTA: What are you hearing from your family and friends there?

FONSI: Well, first of all, communication is probably the biggest, you know, frustration. It's so hard to get in touch with them. I finally got in touch with all my family. I want to say about two days ago. All of my staff --

CAMEROTA: That's a long time since the hurricane.

FONSI: Yes. We had probably like a week without hearing from them, or at least not directly.

CAMEROTA: So you knew they were alive?

FONSI: Yes, of course.

CAMEROTA: But you hadn't spoken to them directly.

FONSI: Yes. Everybody's fine, you know, thank God. But it's not the same thing to talk to your cousins and your aunts and your grandma and just know that they're OK, especially because we're traveling so much and my staff is all from Puerto Rico. It's been a tough week.

CAMEROTA: And what's the situation where water is running low and food is running low and electric --

FONSI: And fuel.

CAMEROTA: And fuel.

FONSI: Yes, they just -- you know, they tell me the lines just to get $20 of gas, they're talking seven, eight hours. People sleeping in their cars so they can get gas, so they can get water. No batteries. It's hard. You know, their -- they -- and they know it's going to take long. And people are starting to get frustrated. They're starting to lose their patience. So we want to make sure that everything gets distributed quickly, that we get help --

CAMEROTA: That's a problem, as we've learned today. That is a real problem.

FONSI: Ys.

CAMEROTA: They're really struggling with that because of red tape and bureaucracy.

FONSI: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So where are you -- where do you begin? How are you going to help? When you land there next week, what do you do?

FONSI: You know, there's so much to do. And I think the first thing is just getting the goods there, making sure they get distributed. You know, I'm making a personal financial donation. And I just want -- again, I want to use sort of our media power that we have as entertainers to get the word out there and to try to get help and get people who really know what they're doing to help out.

And not only to San Juan, but to all the -- all the different towns. And that's the problem. Puerto Rico, you know, it's not just San Juan. You know, we want to make sure that everybody gets the water distributed and all the goods.

CAMEROTA: What are you calling on our viewers to do? You want contributions?

[08:55:03] FONSI: Yes, of course. They can visit, you know, the first lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rossello (ph) has a website, an amazing website called united4puertorico.com, in Spanish it's (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE). You guys can make your donation. The money is going to the right place, I promise you.

CAMEROTA: They can also go to cnn.com/impact if they want go through CNN to do it.

But what's it going to be like for you when you see what your, you know, beloved homeland is like next week? I mean I know you've seen pictures.

FONSI: Yes.

CAMEROTA: But do you think that it will ever look the way you remember it?

FONSI: I'm optimistic. And I think it will. You know, I think there's something about people from Puerto Rico, we're very happy and we're not going to give up. And it's beautiful. The island is so beautiful. The beaches are always -- will always be there. The music, the happiness will always be there. It's going to take a while. It's going to take a lot of patience and a

lot of help. But I do feel that eventually it's going to be even better than it was before.

CAMEROTA: Luis Fonsi, thank you very much for coming with your message.

FONSI: Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: And, obviously, we'll be watching next week when you go home.

Thanks so much for being here.

FONSI: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: We have "The Good Stuff" for you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: We call this the best stuff today. It's great for Alisyn and me because we're sitting next to Fonsi, who stayed with us for "The Good Stuff."

FONSI: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

So listen to this one. Great story. A youth football team honors a World War II veteran. Take a look at the picture. You can see the team. They stopped playing. They went to shake the hand of Bill McNamara (ph). It turns out the coach got wind that he's a veteran and he was there watching the game. He encouraged the boys to go and thank the 94-year-old for his service to this country, to teach them something that's much more important than anything that they're going to learn on the field, and to say it to his face, and to the entire crowd. And they all erupted in cheers because they showed that these kids need to learn to honor people not just playing.

FONSI: Wow.

CAMEROTA: That's beautiful. Ninety-four year old.

CUOMO: More "Good Stuff."

CAMEROTA: What? A double "Good Stuff."

[09:00:00] CUOMO: The NEW DAY family has grown in an important way. My producer and pal, Rosalie Napali (ph) just tied the knot. Look at Ryan. A good looking man. Boy, did he trade up. That's Mrs. Rosalie Chian (ph)