tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN December 20, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
happening now, breaking news. celebrating tax cuts. after a volatile year in office, president trump is savoring his first big legislative victory in a congress controlled by his party, but will the unpopular tax bill come back to haunt republicans in the mid-term election? getting played? a key republican senator skips the back-slapping event over at the white house after she reluctantly agreed to vote for the tax bill. was susan collins given promises that the republican and the republican leadership aren't prepared to keep?
maligning mueller. as the president's allies ramp up their attacks on the special cou counsel, a top democrat is now warning that any attempt to fire robert mueller would be an abuse of power. is there a growing risk that the russia investigation will be shut down? and luck of the draw. we're following a stunning twist in a consequential election recount in virginia. a race that appeared to have been decided by a single vote is now suddenly tied. tonight, we're learning the unique way the winner will be decided. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in t"the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news on the republican tax bill, now heading to the president's desk, and what comes next with a possible government shutdown looming over the next 48 hours, or so. tonight, the president invited republican lawmakers to the
white house to celebrate final passage of the first overhaul of the tax code in three decades. republicans sending a message to middle class taxpayers that relief is on the way. but top democrats are blasting the $1.5 trillion bill, warning that big business and the wealthy will benefit most. and they're mocking the president's success in pushing through legislation that's unpopular with the american public. also breaking, a new warning about threats to the special counsel's russia investigation and possible moves to shut it down. tonight, the top democrat on the senate intelligence committee, mark warner, is demanding that lawmakers in both parties draw a clear red line and declare that any attempt by the president to fire mueller would be a gross abuse of power. and we're also following a cliff-hanger election recount in virginia that will determine which party controls the statehouse of delegates. earlier, the democrat had declared victory by a single vote. but tonight, a three-judge panel declared a previously uncounted
vote for the republican was valid. and now the statehouse race is tied and the winner will be determined by the luck of the draw. this hour, i'll talk with senator richard blumenthal. he's a key democrat on the judiciary committee and the white house director of legislative affairs, mark short, and our correspondents and specialists are also standing by. first, let's go to our senior white house correspondent, jim acosta. jim, this is certainly a long-awaited, much-needed win for the president. >> reporter: they wanted one, they needed one, and they got one, wolf. president trump celebrated the passage of his first signature legislative achievement over here at the white house with republicans in charge of congress, the easy part was passing this tax cut plan. now comes the hard part, selling it to americans who aren't buying that this package is relief for them. the president who promised if elected americans would be winning so much they would be sick of it finally scored a victory. >> it's always a lot of fun when you win. if you work hard and lose, that's not acceptable. >> reporter: gop leaders delivered on their tax cut plan
promise, after a last-second glitch forced the house to vote on the package a second time. but house speaker paul ryan vowed taxpayers won't view the bill as a mistake. >> the message to the families in america who have been struggling paycheck-to-paycheck, your tax rates are going down and your paychecks are going up. this is the kind of relief that americans deserve. >> reporter: the tax plan does offer modest cuts to middle class families, but there are far bigger gains for the wealthy and large corporations, while creating uncertainty in the nation's health care system, by repealing the mandate to buy insurance and obamacare, and adding more than $1 trillion to the deficit over ten years. the president relished the idea of taking down obamacare. i hate to say this, but we essentially repealed obamacare, because we got rid of the individual mandate, which was terrible. >> reporter: the gop bill also spares the so-called carried interest loophole, preserving a massive break for billionaire investors, something white house economic adviser, gary cohn blamed on congress. >> we would have got carried interest. we've been trying to get carried
interest. we probably tried 25 times. >> and what -- >> we hit opposition in that big white building with a dome at the other end of pennsylvania avenue every time we tried. >> reporter: democrats are accusing republicans of raiding the treasury to award their contributors. >> there are only two places where america is popping champagne. the white house and the corporate board room rooms. >> reporter: now republicans are to sell their plan at a critical time, with the upcoming republican elections looming next year. >> absolutely. we're looking forward to it. my view of this, if we can't sell this to the american people, we ought to go into another line of work. >> reporter: a new cnn poll finds a big majority of americans now wants democrats in control of congress. >> is laid upon the table! >> reporter: that maybe house speaker paul ryan is not guaranteeing that he's sticking around after 2018. >> i'm not going anywhere anytime soon. i'm so focused on getting our agenda done. on questions way down the line, i'll address those way down the line. in the meantime, we've got a lot
of work to do. i'm here to stay. i'm not going anywhere. if something changes down the road in the future, i'll address that down the road. >> reporter: other distractions won't help the gop, from the president's son, donald trump jr., claiming sources inside the u.s. government are trying to sabotage his father -- >> there is, and there are people at the highest level of the government that don't want to let america be america. >> reporter: -- to the russia investigation and its impacts on members of the trump family, like the president's son-in-law, jared kushner. >> i'm telling you that he deserves scrutiny. you know why? because he was involved in the transition and involved in meetings that call into question his role. okay. well, then, if he's innocent of that, then that will come out, as mueller examines all the facts. and if he's not, that will come out, too. >> reporter: still the president said the prayers should go to the media heading into the holidays. >> so with that, i'm going to ask brren carson, you can stay you want, because you need the prayer more than i do, i think. you're the only ones.
maybe a good solid prayer and they'll be honest, ben, is that possible? >> reporter: now, there is no word on when the president will sign this tax bill. it could happen down at mar-a-lago, with his winter retreat. white house officials aren't ruling that out, even if his ritzy resort may not be the best backdrop for signing this bill, that is supposed to be helping working families. there's also still the matter of preventing a government shutdown at the end of the week. the white house and gop leaders are confident they'll get a short-term spending bill that will keep the government running into january. and wolf, it's important to point out the president said, essentially, obamacare was repealed with this tax cut bill. that is not exactly the case. there are key provisions in obamacare that are still the law of the land, including that provision that protects people with pre-existing conditions. wolf? >> reporter: jim acosta reporting, thank you. susan collins was conspicuously absent from the celebration tonight, even though her "yes" vote was certainly pivotal in helping get the tax bill passed. let's bring in our congressional correspondent, phil mattingly. phil, promises were made to senator collins to assure her "yes" vote. where does that stand?
>> reporter: yes, it's the promise that basically got senator collins over the finish line when it came to the tax bill. the idea that along with specific provisions in that bill, two specific pieces of health care legislation. one that would fund the cost-sharing is subsidies in the affordable care act. another one that would provide $15 billion for a reinsurance fund, would move forward after the tax bill was done. most notably, by the end of the year. there was the promise senate majority leader mitch mcconnell made susan collins. that is a promise, wolf, that will be unfulfilled. senator susan collins and senator lamar zandalexander put out a statement earlier today saying because of the state of the short-term funding process, they will now not try to push forward on that. they recognize house republicans are deeply opposed to the idea, were threatening to potentially have a government shutdown over the idea itself. they are now pulling back. wolf, they will try again in january. but, again, this underscores the point. senator susan collins supported the tax bill in large part because of this promise. and as of this moment, she's not going to get what she asked for,
wolf. >> and she said, in that statement, she was promised by the majority leader that he would support passage of these two important pieces of legislation before the end of the year, to mitigate these increases. all right, so we're going to get back to that. congress still, also, as you know, phil, has to address this looming government shutdown, where the deadline is friday to pass some sort of temporary spending bill. any chance the lawmakers won't be able to reach a deal on that, and the government will shut down? >> wolf, you know as well as anybody that something can happen. when it comes to talking to republicans and democrats who are involved in this process, they will agree on one thing, there won't be a shutdown. they're just not totally sure how to get to that point right now. house republicans are meeting downstairs in the basement of the capitol trying to map out the way forward. the tax bill has been a hurdle for this. democrats not willing to really talk about the way forward until they get a solution there. what i'm told from inside that meeting, according to two people that are in the room, house republican leaders trying to
coax their members along, saying, look, we can't step on what we just did on taxes. we can't have the fight right now. agree to a short-term funding bill through january 19th. potentially add the disaster supplemental for puerto rico and texas and florida, for hurricanes. and then just get out of here. now, keep in mind, wolf, just a couple of days ago, senate majority leader mitch mcconnell wanted to attach a litany of major items on to that. most notably, a lengthy reauthorization of the children's health insurance program, at last. a reauthorization of a key surveillance program that lapses at the end of this year. right now, there are open questions about what can actually get done, if all of those things will be punted into next year. as we know right now, house republicans pushing for that short-term solution, just to get them to january, we'll have to see where senate democrats and senate republicans end up there, wolf. >> phil mattingly reporting for us from capitol hill, thanks very much. let's talk about all of this and more with a key member of the trump administration, we're joined by the white house director of legislative affairs, mark short. mark, thanks very much for
coming in. >> thanks for having me. >> is there going to be a short-term spending bill passed so the government doesn't shut down? >> wolf, i don't think anybody's advocating for a shutdown right now. i think congress will do the right thing and we'll get a short-term continuing resolution to get us into january. i think you'll see a large vehicle coming together in january that has the spending bill and some of those other priorities that phil was mentioning a minute ago, that the leader mcconnell has, but also some of the democrats have. >> but none of those provisions that he's talking about, the children's health insurance program, continuing some of the intelligence, surveillance programs, some of these other things that some wanted to attach to this temporary spending bill, it's going to be clean, there's not going to be anything there? >> i think there'll be short-term patches in each of those programs, wolf, that basically provide a 30-day patch, and a longer extension that comes in january. >> listen to what the president said today about obamacare. because he suggested for all practical purposes, even though you couldn't repeal and replace it, he suggested it's dead. listen to this. >> when the individual mandate is being repealed, that means obamacare is being repealed.
because they get their money from the individual mandate. so the individual mandate is being repealed. so in this bill, not only do we have massive tax cuts and tax reform, we have essentially repealed obamacare. >> well, that's not exactly music to the ears of senator susan collins, the republican senator from maine, who says she got that commitment from mitch mcconnell to go ahead and find these other subsidies, so that people would be able to still -- to deal with obamacare. >> right. so there's a couple of important issues there, wolf. one is even senator collins has said that the individual mandate is the most onerous part of obamacare. that 80% of the people paying that penalty are earning $50,000 or less. so this is consistent with our promise to provide tax relief to middle-income families. separately, we had a conversation with senator collins in good faith where she said, i can get to a point of accepting the individual mandate being in the tax bill, but i want to have a provision, as you said, the cautionary reduction
is reauthorized. as you'll recall, what happened in the previous administration, it was ruled by the courts that those cautionary reductions were not ever appropriated by congress, and therefore, illegal. the obama administration continued to pay them, we felt they were illegal, and we stopped. but in order, because of the grander amount of the tax relief bill, repealing the individual mandate, we felt that was a transaction to make with senator collins. we look forward to fulfilling that commitment. the president has said when that bill gets to his desk, he will sign it. >> she said in that statement she released, i am very pleased the majority leader committed to support passage of two important pieces of legislation, the legislation you're referring to, before the end of the year to mitigate these increases because of the elimination of the individual mandate. there will be increase in premiums people have to pay for obamacare, but that commitment is not going to be lived up, at least not yet. >> well, let's keep a couple things in mind. the obama administration was paying cautionary reductions and premiums continued to go up. so the assumption they'll
necessarily go down with all -- >> but with all of these people no longer having to buy for healthy people, the cost is going to go up. >> i think there's a principle about being forced to buy something that you don't want, and it's the reasons why republicans took -- >> i understand that. but the purpose of the individual mandate would be to ensure there's enough money for elderly people, for example, to get good rates. >> keep in mind those cautionary reductions actually go to insurance companies. and the provision, as it's been amended, will make those payments in 2019 and 2020, not 20 2018. so waiting until january will not impact when those payments will be made. >> so susan collins wasn't played? do you think she was played to get her vote, even though she might not necessarily get what she was promised? >> no. we negotiated with her in good faith. we are anxious to complete that. the president has agreed that he will sign -- >> will the president make sure he gets what he want? >> the president has assured that when that bill gets to his desk, he will sign it. >> but not just sign it.
saying, we made a promise to susan collins, we will deliver. >> wolf, we have been and we will continue to do that. >> jeff flake, the republican senator from arizona, he says he supported the tax bill because he got a promise that the so-called d.r.e.a.m.ers, the children who were brought here illegally by their parents and have grown up here in the united states, the daca provision, as it's called, that they will be allowed 700,000, 800,000 to stay. is the president committed to jeff flake to make sure that the d.r.e.a.m.ers will be allowed to remain in the united states? >> we are committed to getting resolution on the daca situation. but i also hope that jeff flake voted for the bill, in part, because he's always been somebody from limited government and lower taxes. i think he liked actually the bill, too, but, yes, the president has always been consistent, ever since he sent to congress his decision back in october to say, this program also is unconstitutional. i can't keep it up. i'm giving you six months to come up with a solution, so i can sign into law a way to make sure that these daca recipients stay here. >> so the president will live up
to the commitment to jeff flake and make sure that those 700,000 or 800,000 d.r.e.a.m.ers will be allowed to have legal status here in the united states? >> wolf, as you -- as some has been reported, general kelly and i have been sitting down with many of the senators working on this on a bipartisan basis to talk about a path forward. we have been entering into those negotiations and are anxious to complete them. >> but it will happen? is that what you're saying? >> wolf, we are doing everything we can to make it happen. i cannot grruarantee to you wha congress will do when. i work hard at that and i'm working hard to get it done. >> you're the director of the legislative affairs. you know that the president, when the majority leader in the senate, they make commitments that aren't necessarily fulfilled, that will raise questions down the road to other republican senators. can they really trust the word of the republican leadership? >> i don't see any reason not to trust the word of the leadership. leadership has lived up to its word. we'll continue to live up to our word. we're living up to the word we made to the american voters last year, when you look at the things that the president committed to doing. repealing the individual
mandate, providing tax relief, rolling back regulations and making sure america is safer abroad. >> let's talk about a commitment that the president made often, including to me, during the campaign. a commitment that there would be no cuts to social security, medicare, and medicaid down the road. even though paul ryan and a whole bunch of other conservative republicans, they want entitlements. it's called entitlement spending to be on the cutting board. listen to the president during the campaign. >> save medicare, medicaid, and social security without cuts. have to do it. get rid of the fraud, get rid of the waste and abuse. but save it. people have been paying in for years, and now many of these candidates want to cut it. >> i'm not going to cut social security like every other republican. and i'm not going to cut medicare or medicaid. >> that was during the campaign. the president still committed to that? >> the president has the same commitment, wolf. >> he's not going to cut social security, medicare -- you know a lot of the -- and you work with these republican lawmakers.
a lot of them say, there's going to be a huge deficit, as a result of the tax cut, maybe $1 trillion or $1.5 trillion. the next step has to be finding ways to reduce that deficit and a big chunk of the federal budget, as you know, are those entitlement spending, that medicare, medicaid, and social security -- so they're looking for ways to reduce, at a minimum, the rate of growth of those programs. >> the president remains committed to looking for ways to get rid of waste, fraud, and abuse. but he is not looking to make cuts to the programs. he's made that clear. i do think that you will see an effort on welfare reform that we think is important and will save money, too. but wolf, when we submitted a budget to congress last year, we submitted a budget over ten years that balanced. we will do so again. this administration remains committed to making sure that we are not piling on debt to the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. >> you know you're going to upset a lot of your republicans on the hill when they hear the president still committed to no cuts in social security, medicare, and medicaid. you're smiling, but you know they're going to be upset when they hear that, including the
speaker, he's wanted to do so for a long time. maybe not affect people in their 50s or 60s, but people in their 40s and 30s, they're not going to get the same benefits as some of the older people. >> we have a great working relationship with the skpeepeak and there's a lot of projects we're working on together. >> let's talk about this children's health insurance program. not a whole lot of money, but 8 or 9 million people kids get their health insurance this way. is the president committed that it will be funded for the duration of the next year? >> the president's committed to that, absolutely. and we believe that that's going to be involved in january, wolf. it's a position that actually -- >> what's taking so long? because in several states, they're already running out of money? >> the republicans are looking to add that to the cr right now. frankly, i think the democrats had a position that said, there are a lot of things we want to get done. we're running out of time, let's do this in january. >> because that's only -- in the scheme of things, it's not a lot, $3.1 billion to get it done and make sure these kids have health insurance. >> and as you know, wolf, in the senate, that requires 60 votes. right now, republicans have 51 or 52 --
>> yeah, but the democrats will support the children health insurance program, as well. >> no, they will support it, you're correct, but they want other things added to the cr as well, not just -- >> well, why not just have a clean bill on the -- >> we're not objected to that -- >> you would support them? >> yes. >> and not include other extraie extraneous stuff? you agree the president would support that and sign it into law right away? >> he has supported it, he has. >> let's talk a little about the next step. where do you see the next step? you're the legislative director, is it going to be infrastructure, welfare reform? what does the president want to achieve next? >> well, i want to try to relish at least a couple of hours of today. but i think we're going to quickly move into making sure that the government stays funded. as we move into january, you will see the president looking to roll out infrastructure plans. you'll probably see the administration working with speaker ryan on a welfare reform package. i think you're also going to see us look to try to solve the question you raised earlier on daca. we want to make sure that the border is secure, but also making sure that there's a legislative solution for those daca recipients.
>> well, you're going to encourage a lot of people out there when they heard you say the president totally supports making sure those d.r.e.a.m.ers will have legal status and will be allowed to stay in the health insurance. you've reassured a lot of people saying the children's health insurance program will continue, the president's totally onboard with that and the president's onboard with susan collins. >> great to be on cnn -- >> a lot of our viewers will be happy, mark, with what they heard from you. >> thank you so much. >> merry christmas and a happy new year. >> same to you, sir. just ahead, we'll get democratic reaction to the tax bill and the president's claim that it repeals obamacare. senator richard blumenthal is standing by live. and why is another top democratic senator now sounding the alarm tonight, warning that the special counsel's russia investigation may be in very serious danger? >> any attempt by this president to remove special counsel mueller from his position or to pardon key witnesses in any effort to shield them from accountability or shut down the investigation would be a gross
abuse of power and a flagrant violation of executive branch responsibilities and authorities. ( ♪ ) more people shop online for the holidays than ever before. (clapping) and the united states postal service delivers more of those purchases to homes than anyone else in the country. ( ♪ ) because we know, even the smallest things are sometimes the biggest.
even the smallest things was supposed to be a wake reup call for our government?sh people all across the country lost their savings, their pensions and their jobs. i'm tom steyer and it turned out that the system that had benefited people like me who are well off, was, in fact, stacked against everyone else. it's why i left my investment firm and resolved to use my savings for the public good. but here we are nine years later and this president and the republican congress are making a bad situation even worse. they won't tell you that their so called "tax reform" plan is really for the wealthy and big corporations, while hurting the middle class.
(digital chiming) (static hissing) (digital chiming continues) it's probably nothing. move along. (avo) and verizon is the most awarded network ever. that's why more people count on it. data received, bb-8! (digital growling) (avo) and more droids should, too. when it really, really matters you need the best network and the best unlimited in the galaxy. see star wars: the last jedi, now playing. tonight, the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee delivering an urgent new warning about possible moves by the president and republicans to shut down the special counsel's russia investigation. let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, manu raju. manu, very strong words from senator mark warner on the senate floor.
>> reporter: yeah, that's right. we caught up with him right after he made those remarks. asked him why he decided to do this today. and he says he has concern about what he views as a coordinated effort to undermine the special counsel's investigation by trump allies, both in the media and elsewhere, who have tried to discredit bob mueller. and he said that he wanted to go to the floor of the united states senate, make these remarks to raise concerns and convince republicans to join him and say that, look, we will not stand for this, particularly if it happens next week, when lawmakers are back home over the christmas holiday during their end of the year recess. mark warner making these remarks, wolf, just moments ago on the senate floor. >> firing mr. mueller or any other of the top brass involved in this investigation would not only call into question this administration's commitment to the truth, but also to our most basic concept rule of law. it also has the potential to
provoke a constitutional crisis. in the united states of america, no one, no one is above the law. not even the president. congress must make clear to the president that firing the special counsel or interfering with his investigation by issuing pardons of essential witnesses is unacceptable and would have immediate and significant consequences. i hope my concerns are unfounded. in many ways, i hoped i would never have to make this kind of speech. but there are troubling signs. it is critical that all of us, as elected officials and as citizens speak up against these threats now, before it's too late. >> reporter: now, just a few days ago, wolf, i asked warner's counterpart on the senate intelligence committee, the republican chairman, richard
burr, if he has any concerns about these efforts to discredit mueller and whether or not he's concerned about efforts to fire mueller and he did not go there. he actually swatted those questions away, called it speculation, saying, we're going to deal with our own investigation. any issues dealing with rob mueller, the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, can deal with, as well. and one other point where the two men are converging in their investigation, warner said he doesn't want to bring back some of these senior trump associates back for interviews for members -- interviews actually that the senators can interview since they've already interviewed with the staff intelligence committee. richard burr has not made that same commitment when we've asked him about it. he said, we'll bring back people if we need to bring back people. >> so you're also learning about another high-level trump nominee that might be in jeopardy. >> reporter: yeah, that's coukt
mcfarland. i'm told that her nomination will be sent back to the white house as soon as this week when the session for the year wraps up. that's because her testimony from earlier this year to the senate foreign relations committee appears to be at odds with the special counsel robert mueller's plea agreement that he reached with michael flynn, the former national security adviser. now, k.t. mcfarland was a deputy under michael flynn, and according to the documents that were unsealed earlier this month, the michael flee plea agreement, there was an unnamed senior transition official who had a conversation with michael flynn about sanctions on russia. a conversation that would occur between flynn and sergey kislyak. now, when k.t. mcfarland was asked about whether or not she had any conversations with michael flynn about kislyak, when she was asked by senator cory booker during the confirmation proceedings, she said she was not aware of that. it turns out according to that court document, she is the unnamed senior official who did have a conversation with michael
flynn about sergey kislyak. now, she has not yet can explained this discrepancy. she has not provided any amended testimony to the senate foreign relations committee. and as a result, senators are not going to agree to quickly confirm her nomination this week. that means they're going to send it back to the white house. and the white house will have to make a decision, wolf, on whether or not to renominate her next year. but i'm told from senators that her chances of confirmation are exceedingly grim, especially if she does not answer these questions. wolf, that would make her the second nominee who has been essentially derailed by the special counsel's investigation. the other one, sam clovis, for a seminar level usda job. he had to withdraw from the position after it was revealed he had campaign conversations with that foreign policy adviser, george papadopoulos. papadopoulos, himself, also pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi, wolf. >> all right, manu, thanks very much. manu raju up on capitol hill. joining us here in "the situation room," senator richard blumenthal. he's a democrat on the judiciary and armed services committee. senator, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you, wolf.
>> do you agree with your democratic colleague, senator warner, that the firing of special counsel robert mueller, in his words, or other top investigators, for that matter, could lead to a constitutional crisis? >> it certainly could. i agree with him totally. in fact, more than could. it will plead to a constitutional crisis. if there is a firing of robert mueller or pardons, both would cross a red line. and undoubtedly lead to a fire storm, much as there was in the saturday night massacre when richard nixon tried to do the same. >> well, we know that some of the president's supporters are encouraging him to fire robert mueller, but he keeps saying that he has no such intention. why are you so concerned about this when the president says he doesn't have any plans to fire mueller? >> the president really is proceeding on two tracks. on the one hand, he's saying, as he did on sunday, or earlier this week, i have no plans to fire robert mueller. on the other hand, he has encouraged this chorus of subservient defenders in the
congress, principally on the republican side, to attack the fbi, fbi agents, and the deputy fbi director to attack the investigation itself, and mueller personally and others around him. so this kind of concerted and coordinated attack on the special counsel is an indication that there is coordinated effort. and senator warner's warning today was powerful and eloquent. and i think it will attract a lot of support. >> what type of action is senator warner referring to? what does he have in mind in setting this red line, if the president were to fire mueller? >> i think that there would be a legislative effort to protect him. there is legislation that i have helped to lead. it's bipartisan. and i think there would be legislative effort there. there also very likely would be an effort to court to stop it. because the regulations actually prevent the president. they bar him from firing robert mueller right now, under the
regulations, without just cause. the problem is a lack of enforcement mechanism. that's what our legislation tries to correct. >> well, the president could tell the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, to fire mueller. >> and then it would be rod rosenstein's decision whether he wants to cave, and in effect, subvert the rule of law. because this effort is not only to sabotage the investigation and stop the fact-finding that is uncovering the truth, but also to sabotage the rule of law. and we know, wolf, indisputably, the intelligence community is in total agreement that the russians attacked our democracy to help donald trump. the question is whether there was collusion by the trump campaign with the russians. the order came from the top, from vladimir putin. >> that's what the u.s. intelligence community has concluded. i know that. donald trump jr., the president's son, he spoke yesterday and he said that high-level fbi officials, in his words, helped create the russia
dossier, as an insurance policy against the president, if the president, president trump, won the election. and he also said people in his words, at the highest level of government, are part of a rigged system against his father. what do you make of that? >> i think, again, donald trump jr.'s statement is part of a coordinated campaign to raise doubt, to subvert the credibility of the investigation, references vaguely to the highest levels of government and the denial of the opportunity for america to be america are not only vague, but also damaging to robert mueller's investigation. and he is conducting this investigation methodically and meticulously. and it has produced already two convictions. major criminal justice events, and indictments. >> yeah, he suggested, donald trump jr. suggested that high-level officials were -- i think he was referring to one
fbi agent named peter strzok, who was sending sort of, all sorts of e-mails to another fbi official, you know, in which they were very negative, as far as donald trump is concerned. let me read to you. i want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in andy's office, that's an apparent reference to the deputy fbi director, andrew mccabe, that there's no way he gets elected, but i'm afraid we can't take this risk. it's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you're 40. when robert mueller learned of o this, these e-mails from peter strzok, he was demoted, moved to hr, some unrelated position. but you understand the concern? >> i fully understand the concern. but let's recognize, robert mueller took swift and decisive action, because he recognized the danger of attacks on his investigation and there is no evidence, none, that the views
of these fbi agents and one of them actually was a lawyer, had any impact on the investigation. there's no evidence that the investigation has been in any way affected by those two fbi employees. >> i want to just switch gears and get your thoughts on the -- what mark short, the white house legislative director, just told me. he said, if there's legislation, clean legislation, that would extend the children's health insurance program, the c.h.i.p. program, as it's called, the president would support it. he would sign it into law, if it's clean, it doesn't include extraneous measures. would you support a clean bill like that, to keep children's health insurance going for about 8 or 9 million kids? >> i support extending the c.h.i.p. program. children's health insurance serves a vital need in connecticut and elsewhere around the connecticut. but we also need a d.r.e.a.m. act and an act extending -- >> but why not just have a clean bill, get the c.h.i.p. passed in
a bipartisan way, and then on the d.r.e.a.m.ers, the daca legislation, you work it another venue along those lines? why do you have to bring all of that together and endanger both? >> both should be clean. and we should do both. and we should do both by the end of the year. we should not leave washington, d.c. without fulfilling -- >> but what if they can't do it by the end of the year, they do it in january, let's say. you support that? >> i would support doing the d.r.e.a.m. act pbefore the end f the year. i think it's a fundamental obligation. there should be an extension of government funding. there should be a supplemental funding for disaster relief, for puerto rico, and florida and texas. there should be a variety of measures. and i support the d.r.e.a.m. act, as a condition of what we do going forward. >> as a condition, what, to support short-term spending bill to keep the government operating? >> there's bipartisan support for the d.r.e.a.m. act. and there's no reason that we can't come together and do it,
along with c.h.i.p. funding. these are basic tasks that we still have time to do. >> but on the c.h.i.p. funding, you would support a clean bill, simply funding the children's health insurance program for another year, what, about $3 billion. you would let that go forward and keep some of those other issues in separate legislation? >> i would support funding the c.h.i.p. program to go forward -- >> because you heard mark short say the president would support that as well. >> and i'm very encouraged. at the same time, the president has said that we've repealed the affordable care act. a totally bogus and fictional claim in the tax bill. i believe mark is telling the truth, as he sees it, but i want to see it from the president. >> why not introduce legislation, you, and i'm sure you could get a lot of colleagues, democrats and republicans, to pass a clean c.h.i.p. bill, keeping children's health insurance going. >> one of our strengths, wolf, has been that we join together and we are unified as democrats.
and we need a strategy, not just to achieve c.h.i.p., but for the d.r.e.a.m.ers, for the community health centers, for disaster relief. each of these tasks is a fundamental obligation. and we need a strategy that combines them, not just pick one of them or a couple of them along with a continuing resolution that enables the government to keep going. >> you heard mark short -- i've got to leave it at this. you heard him say, the president want to keep the d.r.e.a.m.ers. he wants legislation to allow the daca legislation to go forward. he supports the c.h.i.p., the children's health insurance program, and he wants to live up to the commitment to susan collins to make sure that that -- that those subsidies for obamacare continue. we should also see what happens when -- >> when the president says, i'll believe it. >> we heard mark short say it. thank you very much, senator blumenthal, for coming in. just ahead, more on the russia investigation and the democrats' growing fears that the president and his party will try to shut down robert mueller's probe. and will the president still see the tax bill as a pbug win on
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correspondents and our specialists. and david swerdlick, enormous celebration at the white house. everybody was smiles. a great day. but lack ook at the cnn poll. 55% of american public, according to our cnn poll, oppose the gop tax reform bill. 33% favor it. 11% unsure. how are republicans planning on selling this and changing those numbers? >> well, there's two things, wolf. one, yes, it's unpopular overall, but republicans know that if you look in the cross tabs, it's more popular among republicans and far less popular among democrats. so republicans are going to focus on republican voters on their base, first, to get their base enthusiastic and work from there. the nrsc just released a statement that they said they were going to pressure democrats, which is this idea that, look, we all voted for this, democrats voted against a tax cut that's going to put more money back in americans' pockets. that's the message they want to get out in front of before the democrats can. >> ron brown, listen to the
president tout another aspect, another important part of the tax bill that was passed today. listen to this. >> when the individual mandate is being repealed, that means obamacare is being repealed, because they get their money from the individual mandate. so the individual mandate is being repealed. so in this bill, not only do we have massive tax cuts and tax reform, we have essentially repealed obamacare. >> ron, is that really the case? >> no. i mean, repealing the individual mandate is a blow to obamacare, but it's not a fatal blow. you still have the medicaid expansion, which provides most of the coverage increases that we've seen since 2010. you still have the subsidies for individuals to buy insurance, and you still have the fundamental changes in the insurance regulations that require, for example, insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions at the same price. ironically, what the main impact of repealing the individual mandate, which is something that barack obama, by the way, did not run on in 2008.
he wanted the plan without it, to begin with. the main impact of sit to pull healthy people, wolf, as you noted, out of the pool. and what that does is increase the prices for insurance next year for older people with greater health needs at a time when the republican coalition centered on whites over 45. so, you know, in a strange way, the biggest loser in removing the individual mandate will be many people, particularly in these interior states, who tend to vote republican. >> you know, rebecca berg, senator susan collins, the republican from maine, she voted for the tax bill, she said in part because she was promised that two obamacare stabilization bills would come up, mitch mcconnell promised her, would come up before the end of the year. that doesn't look like it's happening. was she played? >> well, she and senator lamar alexander, who's been leading the committee working on this issue, wolf, released a statement today trying to put that to rest and say, this is still coming. but originally the plan was to make this part of the year-end spending bill, which now, we
believe, is going to be pushed until next year for congress to deal with. they're kicking the can down the road. and so senator alexander and senator collins released a statement saying, we have received assurances from republican leaders, including mcconnell, including speaker paul ryan that they are going to come back to this. that they are still going to support this compromise. so they believe that it's just a matter of time. >> phil mudd, i want your thoughts on what's happening up at the united nations tomorrow. the u.n. general assembly is going to have a big meeting and there's a resolution to condemn the united states' for the president's decision to recognize jerusalem as israel's capital, to move the u.s. embassy to jerusalem from tel aviv. listen to how the president react in advance of that >> for all of these nations that take our money then vote against us at the security county u sell, vote against us potentially at the assembly, they take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of
dollars then vote against us. let them vote against us. we'll save a lot. we don't care. >> what do you make of the tone, the substance of that warning by the president? >> we don't care. are you kidding me? why do we give people money, wolf? is it because they vote for us in a resolution in the unit ued nations that relates to israel and jerusalem? if a child is dying because of can disease, because he didn't have food. if there's a place that's divided by civil war and the american people can send money u to help a mother raise a child, are we to say because that country doesn't vote with us in one resolution, that we won't help that child? i think the president speaks with emotion, not with thought. he's already told us in one way what he thinks. when he sent missiles into syria, one of his comments was, i'm par frizing, you know children are dying. children will die if americans
don't provide vance with the europeans, the japanese and others to other countries divided by things like civil war and damaged by disease and poverty. are we not going to provide money to that child? i don't think that's going to happen, wolf, and i don't think the president thought through what he was saying. >> you know, ron, the president really meant that threat? say a country like jordan, a close friend of the united states, which getzes hundreds of millions of dollars or egypt. you think the president would really cut that kind of aid to coup t countries like egypt and jordan if they vote for this tomorrow? >> i think it's unlikely that he would go that far, but the direction ally what he said is s reflective of what he said of his view of the world. which is that essentially, the united states relations with other countries are transactional. what can you do for us as opposed to the u.s. playing a lynch pin role in providing the
o architecture of global security. it is an approach that increasingly america first, youryou know as people have argued, america alone. particularly in asia, where the decision to withdraw from the trans pacific trade deal created more areas for china to insert. while i doubt he is going to cut off egypt if it opposes this, the direction of those comments i think reflect the general kind of foreign policy he has and will continue to pursue. >> we'll soon find out what he means when roll call takes place. let them vote against us, the president said wooechl save a lot. we don't care. everybody stand by. there's more breaking news. a cliff hanger race comes down to the luck of the draw with one state house at stake.
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the impact could be who controls this house in virginia. >> that's right. right now, it stands that republican have a one-seat lead in the house of delegates and ta race now a tie after a three-judge panel in richmond decided that one ballot that wasn't counted should count, drawing the race into a tie. that means the ultimate winner could come down to this. a film canister that virginia state board of elections alcorn telling me they'll use film canisters like this. put the names in, put them in a receptac receptacle, maybe a hat or a box. pull out the name, open it up and whoever's name comes out first will be the winner of the election. the winner of the election, republican or democrat, will then decide who controls one house of the legislature there in virginia. it will be one of the most watched lot draws in american history. >> there are national implications here.
>> there are, when you take into account this decision could change the course of numerous policy decisions in virginia. and it really shows just how divided the country are. there are numerous examples of very close races all across the country. it really shows us how important every vote counts and this is certainly happening in virginia b u this could happen anywhere in the country. >> the democrats really did well in virginia. >> on election night, we didn't eck pecht there to be any chance the democrats would have any shot at taking control of the virginia house of delegates. republicans have been in control for more than two decades. it was a landslide victory on the legislative side, coupled with the democrat wip iing the governor's race. this could mean a historic shift in how virginia handles policy and their legislature in the coming years. >> let me see that again. this is going to be it. >> a film canister. this is something that millennials -- >> when are they going to use this and determine who's going to be the leader in the house of
delegates? >> they have to figure it out. this is unchartered territory. many of the officials involved in this have never dilt with this, but james told me they hope to have something decided next week after christmas, but not before. >> thanks very much. that's it for me. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, president trump takes a victory lap after republicans pass their tax bill. but does this win have staying power? plus, the top democrat in the senate's russia probe warns the president in no uncertain terms, don't even think about firing robert mueller. and the senator behind the covert program to track ufos is speaking out tonight. is he a believer? let's go "outfront." and good evening. i'm jim shuuto in for erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, the president claims a major