'This Week' Transcript 12-3-17: Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Adam Schiff

A rush transcript for "This Week" on December 3, 2017.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: The Russia investigation reaches the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel you betrayed your country?




MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as amended is passed.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The president one step closer to his biggest win yet.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We passed, in the history of the country, the largest tax cuts, and reform.


STEPHANOPOULOS: As Senate Republicans pass that 479-page plan.



ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

It was the most seismic move yet in the Russia investigation. Never before has a special counsel reached so deep into a White House so early in a president's term. The big ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS starts right now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: The Russia investigation reaches the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel you betrayed your country?


STEPHANOPOULOS: Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle with a guilty plea from Michael Flynn. What information did Flynn give up to get his deal? Was he speaking with Russia at the president's direction? Will his testimony incriminate the president and others in the White House? All the fallout from Mueller's latest move with our legal experts and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as amended is passed.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The president one step closer to his biggest win yet.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We passed, in the history of the country, the largest tax cuts, and reform.


STEPHANOPOULOS: As Senate Republicans pass that 479-page plan.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: The American people have a right to know what is in this proposal.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Who will benefit? Who gets burned? What does it mean for the wealthy, the middle class, the deficit, and our economy? And will the GOP pay a price or get a boost with voters? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joins us live. We'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter THIS WEEK.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

It was the most seismic move yet in the Russia investigation. Never before has a special counsel reached so deep into a White House so early in a president's term. The big ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS starts right now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: The Russia investigation reaches the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel you betrayed your country?


STEPHANOPOULOS: Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle with a guilty plea from Michael Flynn. What information did Flynn give up to get his deal? Was he speaking with Russia at the president's direction? Will his testimony incriminate the president and others in the White House? All the fallout from Mueller's latest move with our legal experts and the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as amended is passed.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The president one step closer to his biggest win yet.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We passed, in the history of the country, the largest tax cuts, and reform.


STEPHANOPOULOS: As Senate Republicans pass that 479-page plan.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: The American people have a right to know what is in this proposal.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Who will benefit? Who gets burned? What does it mean for the wealthy, the middle class, the deficit, and our economy? And will the GOP pay a price or get a boost with voters? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joins us live. We'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter THIS WEEK.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's THIS WEEK. Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning. For President Trump Friday must have felt like a scene straight out of Dickens. “The best of times,” Senate Republicans delivered Trump's biggest victory yet, passing the tax vote with two votes to spare. “The worst,” just hours before when the White House learned from TV reports that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had cut a deal with Robert Mueller.

It was the most seismic move yet in the Russia investigation. Never before has a special counsel reached so deep into a White House so early in a president's term. The big question now, is Flynn's plea the beginning of the end of Mueller's investigation or the beginning of the end of Trump's administration?

It all depends on what Flynn knows, what he tells, and how the president responds. He was once a Trump favorite.


TRUMP: We have a great general with us, General Flynn, General Mike Flynn.

General Flynn, another man who is just so incredible. I love General Flynn.


STEPHANOPOULOS: On the short list for vice president, a star at the convention.




STEPHANOPOULOS: But after that subdued and stunning court appearance on Friday, General Michael Flynn may now be Trump's biggest fear. The trouble began just four days into Trump's presidency when Flynn was interviewed by the FBI about contacts with Russia. Flynn was asked about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the transition. Did he discuss sanctions imposed by President Obama for election meddling and lobby Russia on a U.N. resolution critical of Israel?

Flynn denied it then. But in Friday's plea agreement, he admits he was lying. And according to court documents, Flynn coordinated those contacts with others on the transition team, getting direction at one point from a very senior member, identified by ABC News as the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Overnight, The New York Times reported that it wasn't just Kushner. K.T. McFarland, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer, and Tom Bossert among those on the president's transition team who knew about Flynn's outreach to Russia, according to emails obtained by The Times.

But did Trump himself know? Did he direct Flynn to have those contacts with the Russian ambassador? Back in February, the president denied it.


TRUMP: No, I didn't direct him. But I would have directed him if he didn't do it, OK?


STEPHANOPOULOS: Will Flynn contradict the president? And if there was nothing wrong with Flynn's contacts, why did he lie about them to the FBI? Just two of the key questions yet to be answered.

Number three, did Flynn promise incriminating information on President Trump or others in Trump's inner circle? How much does he know about other contracts between Trump's team and Russia, especially during the campaign? And why was the president so reluctant to fire Flynn, and seemingly trying to protect him?

Just two days after Flynn's January interview with the FBI, acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Despite that warning, Trump did not fire Flynn for another 18 days. At the time, the White House said Flynn was fired for lying to the vice president, who repeated those lies in public.


PENCE: I talked to General Flynn about that conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States's decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The day after Flynn's firing, that infamous meeting with FBI Director James Comey, who says that President Trump told the vice president and others to leave an Oval Office meeting so he could ask Comey to let the Flynn investigation go.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I understood him to be saying that what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to Flynn's account of his conversations with the Russians.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Trump denies that account. But did Trump want Comey to drop the investigation because he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI? Just yesterday Trump appeared to say yes. Here was the tweet: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI.”

So let's talk about this now with two legal experts, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, also our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams.

And I take -- we were just talking before, as you were watching the piece, you both agree that this tweet in and of itself, not that damaging?

DAN ABRAMS, ABC CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't think that this is going to be a huge piece in the investigation. In fact, I don't think the president's tweets in general are going to be a particularly important focus. I mean, when you're coming on the heels of this deal with Michael Flynn, the two things that they're focusing on, I don't think it's what happened in the transition, which is what the plea is about. It's about what happened during the campaign. And it's about what happened after that in terms of possible obstruction of justice.

And I think those are going to be the two focus points.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're a former prosecutor, as well, General Mukasey, when you saw that plea agreement, relatively narrow plea agreement, what did you make of it?

MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: What I made of it is that a lot of the heavy breathing and a lot of the speculation is completely unwarranted. That plea agreement does not, to me, indicate that there is very much else there. When you have a witness who can put other people into criminal behavior, you can do one of two things. You can either immunize them if they're not willing to disclose their information, you can either give them immunity, in which case they have to testify truthfully, or else they -- if they don't testify, they go to jail for contempt, if they testify falsely they go to jail for perjury, or else you can make them plead guilty to participating in the same criminal conduct that you're trying to prove up against the other people you're after, because that's the most convincing...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But we have been...

MUKASEY: … evidence of the existence of the conspiracy. Either one of them is true.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We thought that Robert Mueller had -- could have gotten Michael Flynn on several other counts, not reported.

MUKASEY: That's right. He made that clear in the document.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So didn't he have to get something significant in return?

MUKASEY: No, not necessarily.

ABRAMS: I think that is a very generous way to view it. The bottom line is, if you take it out of this investigation and just put it into the context of any investigation like this, Flynn is considered the smaller fish who they're cutting a deal with to potentially testify against bigger fish, period. And, you know, you can hope he won't have anything else. But, he did offer a proffer.

He basically told them, here's what I can give you. And they thought to themselves, this is important enough for us to cut a deal on a small fry indictment here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Six months in jail.

ABRAMS: Yes, a plea.

MUKASEY: With all due respect, that's completely speculative. And if -- tease it out, if he testifies at trial to a whole lot of the sort of things that Dan was just suggesting, then he's going to get cut to ribbons. I mean, you pleaded guilty to this patty-cake charge and now you're telling us you knew all this other stuff?

STEPHANOPOULOS: But now we have...


ABRAMS: That happens in every case. I mean...

MUKASEY: No, it's not what happens when there's a good prosecutor in charge.

ABRAMS: Of course, it does. I mean, the bottom line is whenever you cut a deal with someone, they're going to get attacked for cutting a deal when they testify, by the defense. Every case. And so to suggest that, oh, he's going to get attacked because he cut a deal on a small-fry plea, that's what happens.

MUKASEY: He's not protected. Under the terms of this agreement, he's not protected against anything other than what he's pleaded guilty to. So he has still got a Fifth Amendment right with respect to everything that took place...


STEPHANOPOULOS: But that means Robert Mueller has leverage over him, doesn't it?


STEPHANOPOULOS: He could come back with other charges.

MUKASEY: He could come back with other charges, sure. But what's the point of simply taking a plea when you can come back with other charges?

STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you think this is not that big a deal, how do you answer that threshold question, why would Michael Flynn lie to the FBI?

MUKASEY: That is the question. And, understand, he was being investigated by the FBI before the change of administrations. He is being investigated by the FBI -- or being questioned by the FBI.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But he lied about these contacts.

MUKASEY: Understood. But he -- he is being questioned by the FBI before the change in administrations, when the FBI is still under the direction of the Obama administration. I don't know what he thought was going on at the time. But there are people in this world who would lie when the truth would do. We have all encountered them. And this is -- looks pretty much like one of those cases.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dan, it certainly seems from the agreement that Robert Mueller has Jared Kushner in his sights.

ABRAMS: Yes, I mean, look, I think that if you're Jared Kushner right now, you're very nervous. But I do think we have to come back to this, the fact that we're talking a lot about the very facts of this agreement, which relate to the Jared Kushner and the rest of the people you mentioned in the transition period. That's not the focus, meaning, you know, we talk about this Logan Act violation, right, the notion that private citizens are talking to a foreign government...

MUKASEY: Happens all the time.

ABRAMS: … when they shouldn't be. There's not going to be a prosecution here under the Logan Act.

MUKASEY: We agree on that.

ABRAMS: You know, the bottom line is, there's either going to be a prosecution for what happened during the campaign, or there's going to be, you know, issues related to that, or after this occurred with potential obstruction of justice.

And so, I think that that's where Kushner has to be concerned, is what happened in the campaign itself with regard to communications with the Russians.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That is one big concern. And I want to walk through the possibility of obstruction with you, General Mukasey. So the White House knows that Flynn is vulnerable to blackmail. Take 18 days to fire him. The day after he's fired, the president meets with James Comey and says, I hope you can let this go, according to Comey.

That, on its face, is not a problem to you?

MUKASEY: No, for numerous reasons. Number one, Comey is not the guy who decides whether charges are going to be brought. That's decided by a prosecutor. I understand that Comey has got a history of telling people that charges aren't going to be brought with Mrs. Clinton. That's not his function.

Secondly, the investigation is being conducted by people in the field, not by James Comey. And third, the president says several days after, or at about the same time, I want you the chase down anybody around me who you think has done something wrong. Add all that up, what it sounds like is, he said, look, this guy has gone through a lot. He has been fired. He has served his country. Give him a break.

ABRAMS: The notion that Trump knew and was thinking, oh, well, Comey doesn't make the decisions about the FBI and if the people in the field, I think, presumes a level of knowledge and awareness about exactly what the role of the FBI was in the context of this that maybe didn't exist at the time.

This was -- if it's true, this is the president talking to the guy he thinks is running the investigation about what he hopes will happen. Whether that's a crime or not is a separate question. But the notion that, oh, well, he would know that Comey isn't the one making the decision, to me, is -- you know...

MUKASEY: I'm not suggesting he would know. I'm suggesting that it's not obstruction because Comey doesn't make the decision. I agree, he probably didn't know.

ABRAMS: And if there is obstruction, by the way, I think it won't just be Comey. It will be piecing together...

STEPHANOPOULOS: It will be a pattern of behavior.

ABRAMS: Exactly. And that would be part of the reason they've cut these deals.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you both very much.

Let's bring this now to Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Schiff, thank you for joining us, again.

You just heard the discussion here with General Mukasey and an Dan Abrams. You have been following this for quite some time, investigating it on the House Intelligence Committee. Were you surprised by the plea deal on Friday?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: I wasn't surprised by the plea deal. The fact, though, that it was cabin to one offense with essentially multiple lies and that one offense does tell me as a former prosecutor that given the much broader universe of potential liability here that Bob Mueller must have concluded he was getting a lot of value in terms of General Flynn's cooperation.

General Flynn, obviously, not a minor character here. So I think this is very significant. I think the fact that in his factual basis for the plea, he sets out that he wasn't acting as a rogue agent. That, in fact, he was acting with the knowledge and at the direction of people who were senior members of the transition team. I think probably all of which, ultimately, ended up in the administration is very significant. And I think it indicates to me, at least, that this is not the end of it by any means.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What about that tweet yesterday from the president who we know have been told that according to the White House it was drafted by his attorney John Dowd, not the president but the tweet right now still stands.

SCHIFF: Well, to me, George, actually it is more significant if it's coming from the lawyer. The president has shown every ability to prevaricate and dissemble on this subject, but the lawyer is going to take not only the president's account into play, but also other that he has interviewed. And this means that what the attorney is saying is consistent between the president and the staff. The president knew he had lied to the FBI, which means that when he talked to the FBI director and asked him effectively drop this case, he knew that Flynn had committed a federal crime.

So, to me, frankly, it's more serious coming from the attorney than it would have been just coming directly from the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We also have this report in The New York Times today showing emails during the transition, which indicated that many others knew about these conversations that General Flynn was having with the Russian ambassador, including K.T. McFarland email where she says, "if there's is a tit for tat escalation, Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown the USA election to him."

The White House is saying that's she was interpreting the Democrats view of these matters. What do those emails tell you about the possible case the Mueller has?

SCHIFF: We have to remember the context here, which I think goes a lot to explaining why Flynn lied, and that is the Russians had just helped Donald Trump in the presidential election. And immediately thereafter, President Obama sanctions Russian over their interference in our election and you have Flynn, one of the president's top people, basically telling the Russians don't react to the sanctions imposed over your help of our campaign. We're going to take care of this, and then lying about it.

So, I think it's that context that is so significant.

And the fact that he wasn't doing this on his own, that others within the top of the transition were knowing of it. And indeed, the president might have been knowing of it.

The best way to explain the president's reaction when he ultimately did fire Flynn and the fact that he wasn't upset with Flynn and the fact that he wait so long the fire him in the first place, and that what he was really upset was the press exposing the lie would suggest, I think, that the president was knowing of exactly what Flynn did.

And the question I think for Bob Mueller and for us in congress is was this directed by the president? And if so, what are the consequences of that?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if Michael Flynn were to testify that these contacts with the Russians were directed by the president? What would that tell you, because we all know that during transitions administrations have contacts with foreign officials all the time.

SCHIFF: Well, what that would tell me is that one of the reasons that he was intervening, the president that is, with James Comey was that he knew that this would come to light and that he wanted to protect Mike Flynn lying on his behalf. And then you do get very close to a case of obstruction of justice.

So, I think that's the significance of this context in which the president was intervening.

The more that he was involved in directing this, in being knowledgeable of it, I think the stronger the potential case of obstruction becomes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We did see the president come out yesterday and say one more time, bottom line, no collusion. Let's take a look.


TRUMP: What has been shown is no collusion. No collusion. There's been absolutely -- there's been absolutely no collusion. So we're very happy.


STEPHANOPOULOS: His attorneys are starting to take it step further. Jay Sekulow to The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker laying the groundwork that collusion, even if it were shown, is not a crime.

SCHIFF: WEll, any time the president has to deny something three times in a row raises a profound question about whether it's true.

Now here I think you see the most palpable evidence of a collusion in terms of violating the Logan Act.

Now, I agree that's not likely to be prosecuted, but let's look at that, you have the Trump transition conspiring in private with the Russians to subvert the bipartisan policy of the United States, which was to sanction Russia over its interference in our election.

And so the question becomes if they're willing to work secretly and privately at odds with U.S. policy during the transition, were they willing to do it during the campaign? And what we have already seen is that the Russians, through intermediaries, approached members of the Trump team, including Padopoulos, including the president's son, and said, we possess dirt on Hillary Clinton. And we would like to have a relationship with your campaign. And the campaign responded, we would love to have that.

And days after this meeting at Trump Tower, for the very first time, Julian Assange announces he has received the stolen Hillary Clinton emails.

So, it certainly appears that what the Russians decided was that the way to help the campaign was not to giving these emails necessarily directly to the campaign, but publishing them so that the campaign and the Russians and the campaign could maintain some form of deniability.

Now, how explicit that agreement was, if there was a meeting of the minds, would be a conspiracy that Bob Mueller will have to investigate.

But we're also trying to get to the bottom of it, so we can give a full report to the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bottom line, do you believe that Michael Flynn will incriminate President Trump?

SCHIFF: Well, I do believe that he will incriminate others in the administration, otherwise there was no reason for Bob Mueller to give Mike Flynn this kind of a deal where even in a factual basis, you can see there are other crimes that could have been charged. Whether that will lead ultimately to the president, I simply don't know.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Schiff, thanks for your time this morning.

SCHIFF: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: For breaking news alerts on Michael Flynn and the Russia investigation, download the ABC News app now.

And when we come back, the senate passed that the GOP tax plan in a late night Friday session. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joins us live.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY: This is great day for the country. It's been 31 years since we have done comprehensive tax reform. We have an opportunity to make America more competitive. At the end, it was not a single Democrat who thought this was a good idea. And so we're going to take this message to the American people also, a year from now.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell there early Saturday morning after the senate did pass President Trump's tax bill. He joins us now. Senator McConnell does join us live now from Kentucky this morning.

Thank you for joining this morning.

Senator, congratulations.

Is this a done deal? Is the conference report going to pass?

MCCONNELL: Yeah, we'll be able to get to an agreement in conference. I'm very optimistic about it. And we think this will make a big difference in getting our economy moving again and providing jobs and opportunity for the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the the big questions is how much it's going to cost. I know you believe the that this bill will eventually pay for itself. That is at odds with what the Joint Committee -- Joint Tax Committee says and other independent analysts. I want to show that right now.

The Joint Tax Committee says this will be about a $1 trillion addition to the deficit, others say it's even more. Even the conservative Tax Foundation says it will add about $500 billion to the deficit.

I know you believe it's going to pay for itself, but what evidence do you have to back that up?

MCCONNELL: Well, let me point out there are a whole lot of economists who think that it will pay for itself. And let me tell you how that is done. The economy would have to grow 0.4 percent over the next 10 years to fill this gap that you're referring to. That is not a dramatic improvement. We think you're going to get a lot more growth than that. So, I'm confident this is not only revenue neutral to the government, but actually it's very likely to be a revenue producer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be your confidence, but it also may be misplaced. You know, we have seen those independent analyses. We've seen the official scorekeeper for the congress, the Joint Committee on Taxation, say it is going to add to it.

So what if you're wrong?

MCCONNELL: Well, look. I don't think we are wrong. And even Senator Corker, who ended up in the end being somewhat skeptical, along the lines that you're talking about, had originally agreed to a budget with a $1.5 trillion deficit over ten years, but he was also convinced that a 4 percent growth rate was pretty darn achievable, particularly when you consider the way we are incentivizing businesses to grow and expand.

And we also, by the way, doing a lot the to keep our jobs from going overseas by making sure the business tax rates are competitive in this global economy. And of course we didn't leave behind the middle class either. The average taxpaying family is going to get $2,200 tax cut. We double the standard deduction. We increased the child care credit. This is very much oriented toward not only middle class tax relief, but also making sure our jobs are still here, and the jobs are in the United States rather than somewhere else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Except as you know, senator, many of those individual tax cuts expire after several years.

MCCONNELL: Well, that will depend on what the congress decides to do six years from now. Many of these tax relief measures, in my judgment, if there still a Republican government, will be extended.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if that happens, then the cost is even higher.

As you know, the Democrats hitting you on the process. I want to show this video that went viral over the weekend from Senator Jon Tester of Montana.


SEN. JON TESTER, (D) MONTANA: It's the night we're going to voting on the tax bill. I just got the tax bill 25 minutes ago. This is the tax bill. See how thick it is? Here's the modifications that are in it. I can read one word, it's called add this language. Can you tell me what that word is? If you can, you have better eyes than me.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you know the answer to that, senator? Do you even know who wrote that addition to the bill?

MCCONNELL: Look, the Democrat -- if the Democrats were going to disqualify senators from voting on a bill that had some minor insertions, none of them would have been able to vote on the the bill, because this is fairly often the case. There's no hide the ball here. This was an open process. The vast majority of the bill has been online for two weeks. There were always in big bills like this some last minute adjustments, some of them done actually by hand.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There were no hearings on the bill.

MCCONNELL: Oh, yeah, there were tons of hearings. Over and over and over. The Democrats went to them. The Democrats had the opportunity to offer amendments in committee. They had the opportunity to offer amendments on the floor. For example, they were complaining about our repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare in this bill, but none of them offered an amendment to take it out.

They had plenty of opportunity.

They decided it was important to them politically to oppose this tax measure and take that to the American people. And we're prepared to do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're prepared...

MCCONNELL: Because we think the country's been underperforming. And we believe this will get the country performing better, providing jobs and opportunities for vast numbers of people who have been displaced during the Obama years.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You may be prepared to do that, but as you know right now the bill is tremendously unpopular. It's underwater. You have warned in this the past against single-party bills and the damage they can do to a party. You warned about it in Obamacare. We saw that for the Democrats after they passed Obamacare. They got wiped out in the 2010 elections.

Aren't you concerned that could happen to you in the mid-terms?

MCCONNELL: Well, look, we're trying to do what we think is important to the country, for the country, a combination of regulatory relief what the administration has already been doing in a significant way, backed up this kind of comprehensive tax reform, we think will produce results, results that we will certainly be able to talk to the American people about in the fall of 2018, and in 2020 as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no concerns at all.

One final question on this. Senator Collins, as you know, Senator Collins did vote for the bill. She said that she was assured there would be both no Medicare cuts and then she would get other health care bills that she supports, including that Alexander Murray bill, passed as well.

Are you confident that those bills will pass and must they pass first before you're guaranteed of Senator Collins' vote?

MCCONNELL: Well, she can speak for herself, but I've committed to Senator Collins to offer Alexander Murray and another bill that she and Senator Nelson from Florida are offering to one of these year-end bills that we'll be doing in the next couple of weeks. The president is committed to signing it. And we intend to keep our commitment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about those votes coming up. The government, as you know, runs out of money this Friday. Democrate, a growing number of Democrats saying they're not going to agree to a deal to keep the government open unless the children of undocumented immigrants are protected. Are we headed for a shutdown?

MCCONNELL: That's a ridiculous idea. There is no crisis. The president has given us untilMarch to address the issue of undocumented children who came into the country very legitimate case here through no choice of their own, and are in a kind of difficult spot. But there's no emergency. The president has given us to March to address it.

I don't think the Democrats would be very smart to say they want to shut down the government over a non-emergency that we can address anytime between now and March. That's an very untenable position.

We need the fund the military. We need to make sure the Children's health Insurance Program, which is expiring, gets to panel before tend of the year. We have another supplemental for Puerto Rico, and for Florida, and for Texas. All of that will be in this package that we'll dealing with at some point here in the next couple of weeks.

I can't imagine they want to shut down the government over an issue that is not an emergency.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Republicans have a majority in the House and the Senate. Can you keep a government -- can you keep the government open on your own?

MCCONNELL: Look, there's not going to be a government shutdown. It's just not going to happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. We'll take to it the bank, but see if that happens over the next couple of weeks.

I want to switch subjects and talk more now about this plea agreement we saw from Michael Flynn on Friday. You heard Congressman Adam Schiff say that he believes the fact of that deal shows that Mueller has information that will incriminate, at minimum, others in the White House. What is your read of it?

MCCONNELL: Well, look, the Russian investigation in the Senate is being handled by the Senate Intelligence Committee. And there are developments obviously going on through the special counsel's office. You've just spent a whole segment talking about them. I'm not sure I have much to add. But from a Senate point of view, we have got so far a bipartisan investigation of what may or maynot have happened during the campaign. The Russia investigation, handled by Senator Burr and Senator Warner of Virginia, and we look forward to getting their report.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Several reports that President Trump has been upset with the Senate investigation, called you and other senators trying to get it ended as quickly as possible, trying to curtail it. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democratic Senator, Dianne Feinstein, said this is inappropriate interference in your investigation.

What did the president say to you about this? And how did you respond?

MCCONNELL: Well, I don't think the president said anything to me on this subject that I considered inappropriate, so I have no criticism of the conversations that we may have had about this or other issues. He hasn't said anything to me that I thought was inappropriate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Has he tried...

MCCONNELL: And the investigation is going forward in the Senate on a bipartisan basis, that's the way I felt we ought to handle this. And I think Senator Burr and Senator Warner are doing just fine.

STEPHANOPOULOS: so, the president has not tried to curtail this investigation?

MCCONNELL: He has not said anything to me that I think is inappropriate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Next week, we have that special election in Alabama. Roy Moore, who you believe should step aside, the Republican candidate. You've said you believe his accusers. If he wins, will you insist on referring his case to the Senate ethics committee?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think -- we're going to let the people of Alabama decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate. And then we'll address the matter appropriately.

I have already said in the past that I thought this was a matter that would have to be considered by the committee. Ultimately, it would be up to them to make that decision. And they'll make it, depending upon whether Judge Moore ends up coming to the Senate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe that Judge Moore should be in the Senate?

MCCONNELL: I'm going to let the people of Alabama make the call. This election has been going on a long time. There's been a lot of discussion about it. They're going to make the decision a week from Tuesday.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you are prepared to take action if he is, indeed, elected?

MCCONNELL: The ethics committee will have to consider the matters that have been litigated in the campaign should that particular candidate win.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you making a recommendation to the ethics committee?

MCCONNELL: Look, they decide what to go forward.

This is a very balanced committee. It's the only committee in the senate that is an even number of Democrats and Republicans. Neither side can take advantage of the other. In fact, I was chairman of the ethics committee 25-some odd years ago when I had to make the recommendation to expel the chairman of the finance committee Senator Packwood over a case of sexual harassment.

So, the Senate has been sensitive to these matters for a long time. And the ethics committee will handle this in the regular ordered way that we do this in the Senate. And I'm confident they'll come up with the right conclusion.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You have had a consistent history on this.

Final question, then, you said you believe Roy Moore's accusers. What about the president's? At least 10 women have come forward accusing him. Do you believe them? And should that be investigating?

MCCONNELL: well, my job is to be the majority leader of the Senate. And we have jurisdiction over these matters when there is a Senator accused of wrongdoing, for example, we have two other ethics committee cases right now, Senator Franking and Senator Menendez. So, we will handle it in Senate when it comes to Senators' alleged behavior.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator McConnell, thanks for your time this morning.

MCCONNELL: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is up next. We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The Roundtable is here ready to weigh in. We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are back with The Roundtable. I'm joined by the editor of Bloomberg Business Week, Megan Murphy; Jen Psaki, former White House communications director under President Obama, now a contributor at CNN; Republican strategist Alex Castellanos; the CEO of NewsMax media Chris Ruddy; and Charles Blow, columnist for The New York Times.

Welcome back to you all. Let's begin with that big news on Friday, Megan Murphy, that plea deal hit pretty hard. We've heard a variety of readings on it now so far in today's program. What is your read?

MEGAN MURPHY, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK: Well, look, therea re several things that are baffling about this. Anybody knows that when you go in to be investigated by the FBI, you go to have a conversation with them, the first thing they tell you is it's a felony offense if you lie in this interview. And now we have two people connected with the administration who seem to have done just that.

Look, I think Dan was correct earlier in looking at the analysis on this. There's plenty of evidence to show that there were contacts, that there was outreach, after the victory with Russian officials. But the issue here is not going to be a Logan Act prosecution, it's not going to be looking at that, it is squarely going to be on an obstruction case. And that is the issue I think they're going to be dialing in on is, after these contacts were revealed, whether it was through the press or otherwise, what was done? What panic in certain level of the administration may have led them to be lie or be disingenuous about the extent of those contacts? And how far up it leads? It is very serious in bolstering that case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it seem like, Chris Ruddy, that so much is focused on these early days of the administration, a new administration coming in. On the same day, you have George Papadopoulos saying he lied to the FBI. President Trump calls in the FBI director at dinner and says how about some loyalty.

This is the day after he fired Michael Flynn, he calls the FBI director in again and says can you let the Flynn thing go.

This seems on its face to be a big problem.

CHRIS RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX: It's interesting. I have spoken to the president quite a bit about it recently, and he see this is as something that will go away pretty quickly. You have the quote from him earlier. And he says to me, look, there was no collusion. And none of the things we're really talking about -- you have two indictments, you have another two plea agreements, none directly relate to collusion. And the president says, look, I wasn't involved. There was no collusion. And people are saying even if there was it's to the a crime.

You know, at the end of the the day, my view is that -- Robert Mueller poses an existential threat to the Trump presidency. He's gotten four major -- two convictions, two plea agreements. Lightning speed. I mean, during the Clinton years, it took Ken Starr and Robert Fisk four years.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and that leads to the other question, are the president's lawyers -- and I want to ask you about this, because we have heard varying views of how the president's mood behind the scenes -- I talked to several people yesterday, you saw him, and said he is in a great mood. You said the same thing over Thanksgiving weekend. Yet, a lot of that seems dependent on the counsel he's getting from his lawyers saying Flynn -- I mean, Mueller is going to be done real, real soon.

RUDDY: Well, I don't know what they're smoking.

First of all, look, Mueller put together 16 heavyweight prosecutors, seven of them were donors to both Hillary or Obama's campaigns. We already know the lead FBI agent in the campaign had to be removed because he was spending -- sending out disparaging message about the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: About the Clinton investigation. And then removed from the Mueller...

RUDDY: Well, no, he cleared Hillary in the email server investigation, and then he's put in charge of the investigation of the president. And the president was tweeting about this this morning. You get a picture that this investigation is out to get the president, it's not a good group of people. And I'm actually concerned, you know, that they're not going to be fair at the end of the day.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Charles Blow, it sounds like, at least, there are some inklings there of laying the groundwork for getting rid of Mueller.

CHARLES BLOW, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Which would be a disaster. I'm not even sure that that is even a tenable position. I don't think -- I think his counsel would counsel him against that.

But one thing that's interesting to me, the president keeps talking about, the only part of this he denies is collusion. But there are four different avenues that are really important. One is collusion, but another is conspiracy, another is obstruction, another one is pathological, consistent lying, the coverup. And all of those, the latter three are criminal and really dangerous to this presidency.

And I am always interested when he speaks, he only speaks about collusion, that there is though collusion. But never says, there was never a conspiracy, never says he never tried to obstruct, never says we never tried to cover it up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Jen Psaki -- let me bring this to Jen, because you served in the Obama White House. They never faced a special counsel. But one thing as a -- from a communications director I think you would wonder about, is the president's continuing to tweet through this.

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: That's right. And I'm sure that many White House aides were banging their heads against the wall or putting their faces in pillows or what have you last night and this morning.

The fact is President Trump's view on this is completely biased. He has a stake in the outcome here, and it's relevant only because of that. So, he has no idea where this is going to conclude.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he knows what he did.

PSAKI: Well, he knows what he did. And his aides may -- and some of his aides who were involved may know what he did, but he doesn't know when it will conclude. And the fact is that his statements out there shouldn't be taken as a fact or a basis of where the status is.

RUDDY: I love how we're...

PSAKI: Let me finish the point I'm making here. Mueller -- it's clear what Mueller is doing is he's working from the outskirts in. Papadopoulos, if it's mob movie, he's probably mob player number seven. But Flynn is unique, because Flynn was there during the campaign, during the transition, and he was there in the early days when the period of obstruction of justice may have possibly occurred.

So, we don't know the conclusion from Mueller. It could be six months. It could be a year. We're not sure. But nobody has been given even a clean bill (inaudible) collusion at this point.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree with Chris that this is an existential threat, perhaps?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't see yet -- all we have seen is charges for tax evasion and lying to the FBI. You know, only in Washington is it an industry that people go to jail for covering up crimes they don't commit as a standard procedure.

But combined two converging currents, the Mueller investigation, looking for that obstruction of justice charge, and then Alabama. Roy Moore coming to the Senate possibly in a week. And he becomes the face of the Republican Party for the next year when we're already in danger of losing the House. It's likely we'll do that without him, lose the house. Trump gets impeached. We're closer to impeachment now I think than we think.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because you think -- because you think Republicans are in danger next year.

And let me bring that to you, Megan, and then to you as well, Chris. I wonder, it does seem like this Senate tax bill is going to pass, that the conference committee is likely to get the votes. They've taken the tough votes already. Hard to see them pulling back.

Now, I wonder if once that's done, first big legislative victory, perhaps the last big legislative victory, you start to see more pulling away from the Republicans from President Trump.

MURPHY: Well, let's contest the first point of this and whether this is a legislative victory, because it is a deeply unpopular bill. And I want to just bring up something the Senate majority leader...


MURPHY: Definitely legislative but not political. And one thing Senate majority leader -- which we should really press on, their own analysis, independent analysis shows that this will not be -- do much for economic growth, less than 1 percent over the next 10 years. Not only their model, but a top economists survey by the University of Chicago, the 10...


STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, he's saying 0.4 percent is going to be enough.

MURPHY: There is no survey that shows it will generate the kind of economic growth they need to make it pay for itself. It just doesn't exist. So where does that leave them, with faith. With faith that tax cuts for corporations and for the wealthiest members of this society is actually going to be the juggernaut that drives manufacturing job growth, and most specifically, wage growth in this country.

That's why so many families feel left behind. There is no factual basis for that assumption. In fact, when we talk to CEOs, they say exactly the opposite. They say they're going to use that money for M&A, to pay down debt, and for share buybacks, and to give more incentives to wealthy executives.

So a deeply unpopular bill. Roy Moore coming to the Senate.


MURPHY: We can agree to disagree on that, but it's a deeply unpopular bill. Roy Moore coming to the Senate. A president who continues to face a roiling Russia investigation. They can call this a victory, but I'm not sure it's...


RUDDY: I think you're all living in a bubble. You're guilty of everything that the New York elites accuse the president of. We have the president with the highest consumer confidence in 17 years, the highest Gallup business confidence in 10 years, the highest stock market ever in history. He has had relatively good approval numbers when you consider the barrage of media attacks.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Wait a second...


STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on one second...

RUDDY: … massive, massive stimulus, $3 trillion coming into the economy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: High consumer confidence, highest stock market in history, lowest unemployment in more than a decade, and the president is 37 percent, what does that tell you?

RUDDY: Well, because you guys don't give him a break, I mean, he and I have chatted about this, considering they've thrown the kitchen sink at him and he's still standing at 38, I think after this tax bill, it's actually going to be a watershed, because $3 trillion in offshore money, forget about the individual and corporate tax rates, $3 trillion of all that Apple money is coming back into the economy.

It will be three times the Obama stimulus. It will propel his re-election. It will drive the economy for the next 10 years. We're not talking about that. We're accusing him of crimes like...

MURPHY: Where do you think that 3 trillion is going to go?

RUDDY: We're accusing him of crimes like obstruction and conspiracy where Charles has no evidence of any of this.

BLOW: Who accused anybody. Don't say that. Don't say that on national television.

RUDDY: Yes, you just said earlier...

BLOW: No, I said...

RUDDY: Let's go rewind the tape.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He said four possible avenues (ph)...

BLOW: No, I can say this myself. Don't lie on me on television. What I said was what he doesn't -- there are four prongs to this investigation, three of which he does never -- he never denies.

RUDDY: What you said evidence of...


BLOW: I never said -- don't lie. I don't like that. I don't...

RUDDY: We'll rewind the tape.

BLOW: But however...

RUDDY: George will do it for us.

BLOW: However, this idea of this tax break is fascinating to me, because basically, it's an article of faith, right? It's basically saying, we're going to make rich people richer, and we're going to hope that that makes them happy. And when they're happy, they'll create jobs. And if they don't, we have no fallback. We have no way to soak up a $1.5 trillion in debt that we're creating.

CASTELLANOS: How often -- so if your economy gets bigger, if you get a bigger paycheck, that's a good thing, but if everybody else's economy gets bigger, that's somehow bad in America. Democrats have built this house that, OK, we're going to trickle down government. We're going to grow Washington's economy and politically and artificially stimulate everybody else.

This is a big change. We're getting money into every business and corporation that hires anybody in America. We're going to grow the economy naturally and organically. We're projected for 3 percent growth...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you were just saying this was going to hurt the Republicans.

CASTELLANOS: No, not this tax cut. I think Roy Moore is, and the Mueller investigation. But this tax cut is going to be a big boom. It comes also with deregulation. You've got gas in the tank and you've unclogged the fuel lines.


PSAKI: Here's the problem with the tax bill as you have described it...

RUDDY: Tell me how often you have argued for a smaller paycheck when you negotiate? Is anybody going to say we'll work for a business? Raise your hand.

PSAKI: Here's the problem, tax cut -- taxes are going to go up on people making less than $75,000 a year. There are winners and losers in every bill, and every bill...

CASTELLANOS: That's 10 years from now.

PSAKI: … for Democrats and Republicans. The winners here are corporations. Donald Trump is somebody who ran as the populist and is going to fight against them. The middle class is the ones who are going to lose.

Now this second thing that is -- nobody is talking about...


PSAKI: Let me finish. Nobody is talking about enough here is that Republicans have very overtly talked about how this is going to be their justification for destroying the social safety net, for cutting Medicare, for cutting Social Security benefits. That's going to happen next. Do you think in eight months that people around the country are going to be thrilled about this? Never mind that it's already unpopular and Republicans are losing support...


MURPHY: And, Alex, your own numbers do not show that. The (INAUDIBLE) numbers, if anyone came and said it is going to jump-start 3 percent or 4 percent growth, let me see them. I've looked for them.


CASTELLANOS: … who said the Affordable Care Act would make health care more affordable. So I'm not too concerned about the studies. I'm sort of -- human nature, economic growth is generally a good thing.

I'll tell you the real threat to Trump, though. Economic success may not help him. Churchill was kicked out of England after the war because you don't need that stressful a leader in your soup every day making demands on your country. Prosperity, those suburban voters who are in a more prosperous America now, they didn't vote Republican in Virginia. They may not in 2018.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're already nine years...

CASTELLANOS: I don't know that economic success helps him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're already nine years in to an economic recovery. It was a pretty slow one, that's for sure, but you all seem to be both banking on having another nine years. That has just never happened before.

RUDDY: I would say it was a faux recovery, and that's why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders did so well. The underlying economy has not been doing so well in the Midwest, and a lot of other -- there has been no income growth in this country for almost 20 years, real income growth. So there are problems that I think Donald Trump is trying to address.

I think if he gets rid of the state and local deductions, in the short term, that will be devastating for the Republicans. They must keep that in, in the conference committee. We could lose the House...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Keep the state and local deductions in?

RUDDY: Yes. I definitely believe...

MURPHY: Chris, let me just -- let me just talk about that point. In terms of wage growth, this tax bill does not boost wage growth. This tax cut is dependent that incentivizing corporations and cutting taxes on the rich will trickle down to the poor. No analysis has ever been shown that that actually happened when you do it.


CASTELLANOS: … Washington will.

RUDDY: When JFK did his cuts, when Reagan did his cuts, when Bush did his cuts, they all said it was going to lead to economic disaster, just like you're saying. Every one of them was followed by five to 10 years' worth of growth.

STEPHANOPOULOS: George W. Bush's? We ended up having the biggest recession in 50 years.

RUDDY: Well, it took about -- in 2008 was largely due to the increase in the interest rates, we went from zero to over 5.5 percent. It had nothing to do with the tax cut.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wish we had more time, but we don't. But thank you all. We'll be right back.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. In the month of November, four service members died overseas supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out “World News Tonight.” And I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.