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White House Calls for Curbing of Israeli Settlements in West Bank; U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Condemns Russian Action in Ukraine; Interview with Representative Adam Schiff; GOP Efforts To Repeal Obamacare Hit A Wall; House Rolls Back Obama Gun Background Check Rule; Republicans Advance Pruitt To Floor Despite Dem Boycott. Aiired 8-8:30a ET
Aired February 3, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is warning Israel about new settlements in the West Bank.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The dire situation in eastern Ukraine demands strong condemnation of Russian actions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran continues to be a rogue nation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are very clear are not going to sit by and take --
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an unnecessary and frankly harmful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are learning more about the deadly raid in Yemen that claimed the life of a Navy SEAL.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The operation was authorized properly. These things happen in war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Friday, February 3rd, 8:00 in the east. And we begin with Trump administration's foreign policy. The White House hitting Russia for its military moves in Ukraine for the first time, and warning Israel about new developments and settlements in the West Bank, all long-established approaches that were actually used by the Obama administration.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. Trump also taking the page from the Obama playbook with Iran, threatening additional sanctions over last week's ballistic missile test. Is that what "on notice" meant? Day 15 of Donald Trump's presidency. Our coverage begins with Jeff Zeleny at the White House. What do we know? JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. President Trump
is still forming his foreign policy, so it is far too early to say exactly what a Trump doctrine would look like. But this morning there are similarities between the previous administration and this one, and many differences between candidate Trump and President Trump.
ZELENY: President Trump telling Israel not so fast with settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The White House releasing a statement warning Israel that the expansion of existing settlements behind their current borders may not be helpful in achieving peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Those words sounding similar to the Obama administration's approach to the settlements.
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.
ZELENY: And far different from the tone Mr. Trump took on the campaign trail.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Israel, our great friend and the one true democracy in the Middle East, has been snubbed and criticized by an administration that lacks moral clarity.
ZELENY: But the White House noting that president Trump has not taken an official position yet and will continue discussions when he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two weeks.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia.
ZELENY: And tough talk coming from U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, condemning Russia for a recent surge of violence in eastern Ukraine.
HALEY: We do want to better our relations with Russia. However, the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.
ZELENY: Haley's rhetoric far stronger than the president's posture so far on Russia. But Thursday's remarks coming as no surprise to the White House. Sources tell CNN they signed off on Haley's speech.
Meanwhile today the White House could announce additional tougher sanctions on Iran following Sunday's ballistic missile test. These sanctions expected to be similar to actions by former president Obama. Mr. Trump also not ruling out military action.
TRUMP: Nothing is off the table. I haven't eased anything.
ZELENY: Foreign policy center stage on Rex Tillerson's first day as secretary of state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm the new guy. ZELENY: Speaking with foreign leaders from Israel, Germany and
Mexico, but also doing damage control after the president's tense phone call with Australia.
TRUMP: President Obama said they were going to take probably well over 1,000 illegal immigrants who were in prisons, and they were going to bring them and take them into this country. And I just said why.
ZELENY: Republican leaders alarmed by the president's tone toward a longstanding U.S. ally.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: The relationship between the United States and Australia is of the most greatest importance. And I'm concerned about the effect of this difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Coming up this morning in about 30 minutes, the first jobs report of this presidency. And the reaction from the White House will be interesting to watch because during the presidential campaign Mr. Trump always said the unemployment rate was far higher than the government said it was. This will be his first unemployment rate since taking office, so we'll be watching for that reaction. By the end of the day, the president is heading to floor for his first weekend retreat vacation as president at Mar-a-Lago.
CAMEROTA: OK, it will be interesting everything that happens today, Jeff. Thanks for previewing that.
So top Republicans are shifting their stance on Obamacare, saying it should be repaired, not repealed. Republicans also doing something controversial on gun control. So let's bring in CNN's Phil Mattingly live on Capitol Hill. What's the latest, Phil?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. When it comes to the Affordable Care Act and the Republican efforts to try and repeal and replace it, there's no question it was going to be hard, particularly getting the team, getting the Republican Party to coalesce around a repair plan.
[08:05:08] But they're also having language problems. As you noted, the idea of do you repair Obamacare or repair the health care system. The messaging appears to be an issue. Take a listen to what Paul Ryan had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I'd say there's just a miscommunication or a misinterpretation of what we're trying to say. Our job is to repair the American health care system and rescue it from the collapse that's in. And the best way to repair our health care system is to repeal and replace Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Alisyn, as you heard, repair the system, not the law. Again, still big questions about what the actual replace plan is going to look like, but repeal and replace still the strategy.
I want to also bring your attention to something where the House is moving forward on, and that's a particular provision, a rule put in place by the Obama administration at the tail end of their final days in office requiring the Social Security Administration to forward criminal background checks names of anybody who was listed as unable to handle their own benefit payments. And the rationalization for this was to cut back on their ability to buy guns. That rule has now been blocked by the U.S. House. The U.S. Senate is expected to focus -- to vote on it soon. And I will just tell you guys the reason why is not just because of the NRA or issues like that. The ACLU also had a lot of due process concerns here. But if you want to see action, there are things that are actually happening on Capitol Hill even if the Democrats don't always like it. Chris?
CUOMO: Boy, oh, boy, it's such an interesting context that it comes down to mental health. We don't do enough about it, then when we do do something, it something that just causes another fight. Phil, thank you very much.
Joining us now Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House intelligence committee. Good to have you.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: So the Trump administration seems to suggesting the following -- you were weak, the Obama administration was weak, our foreign allies and our adversaries knew it and they took advantage. I am strong and will lay the groundwork for our supremacy and then they will do what we say. Do you believe that that is the right approach, and that it is working?
SCHIFF: I don't think it's accurate or the right approach. And frankly I think it goes beyond that, Chris. It's not just our enemies took advantage of America, but if you listen to the president's statements at the prayer breakfast yesterday, everyone in the world was taking advantage of America, they were all playing America for the fool. We're the victim of an international conspiracy of friend and foe alike. This I think explains why he had such a hostile interaction with the Australian prime minister, one of our dearest friends.
So I think his worldview is actually far darker than that. But this is also I think a trend we're seeing in the early days of this administration, which is blame everything on the last guy that was in the office. That kind of thing is only going to last so long. They really have to take responsibility for their own foreign policy, and I don't think merely talking tough with our friends as well as our enemies, everyone except Putin apparently, is a very good strategy.
SCHIFF: You just had Nikki Haley following through on their thought, it is that they're setting the ground rules that America is not joking around anymore. Nikki Haley goes into the U.N. and says, Russia, until you get out of the Crimean peninsula, we'll keep the sanctions in effect. That's tough talk. Saying about Ukraine that the new violence there, that's a concern for us. This country has been quiet on Ukraine. There's been some talk but not enough action. John McCain asking for the weapons that the Obama administration would not give to Kiev to defend itself. That could be an opportunity to be stronger, no?
SCHIFF: Absolutely. I would say that Nikki Haley's statement was probably the best statement of the administration thus far. Admittedly it's a pretty short list. But yes, I like everything about what she said.
There's still the question, though, about whether the president really subscribes to that policy. And at the same time she was making that statement, the administration was sending a different signal to Russia by a small relaxation of the sanctions on Russia. That was a symbolic measure, a largely technical measure, but the symbolism I think was exactly the wrong direction.
So what does that mean? Does that mean we're following the Nikki Haley policy, or does that mean Donald Trump still thinks Russia is our friend? I would love to see us pass legislation to provide weapons to the Ukraine, to the leaders in Ukraine. To provide for their own defense is something I advocated during the Obama administration, I disagreed with during the Obama administration. Will the president support that policy? That has yet to be seen. I'd like to see the president say a few things that Nikki Haley said.
CUOMO: Another thing for you to chew on for us this morning. You said the president had a tough call with the prime minister of Australia.
[08:10:03] I agree with that. The reporting supports it. Administration officials back that up. The president put out a tweet this morning calling that fake news. One of his counselors referenced as an attack of the existing refugee policies and vetting in the United States a massacre in Bowling Green that never happened, and called out a ban for six months of Iraqi refugees, that never happened. How do you deal with those types of bold face inaccuracies?
SCHIFF: That's exactly what they are. Apparently, according to the Trump administration, fake news is synonymous with any bad press they get. So if they get bad press, it's fake. At the same time they demonstrated a ready willingness to event facts at will. Certainly Kellyanne Conway's talking about a non-existent massacre in Bowling Green, and I love how on social media people are saying "where were you when this event never took place?"
SCHIFF: And then you have, you know, frankly, the falsifier in chief, Donald Trump himself, perpetuating this fabrication that millions of undocumented immigrants voted in the election. You couldn't have something more supremely false than that. That was the single most disturbing thing in the early days after the election that the president would put out this fiction.
So I think you just have to confront it. And I want to applaud you and I want to applaud the media that are not going to normalize this propagation of patently false information coming out of the White House. They are trying to bully everyone, including the media, and they're trying to set different media outlets against each other. And I think it's very destructive.
CUOMO: There's a bigger problem. There's an old adage, you can't convince somebody of the truth if they are intent on believing a lie. And I think part of the problem here is political. The base that got Donald Trump elected does not like you. They don't like your party, they don't like what you represent. And they would rather believe him in the hope that he will make their life better. So they will support him even though they don't believe what he's saying because they don't like you. How can you win these people back? They matter.
SCHIFF: They absolutely matter. There are going to be some people that can't be won over. You're right. They are going to believe whatever this president says because they want to believe it. I don't think you can persuade those people.
But those aren't the majority even of Trump voters. The vast majority of people I think that voted for Donald Trump voted for him because they were worried about the economy, they were worried about the fact that they weren't living the life they hoped and expected and they had even less prospects for their kids. Those are people we can talk to. Those are people we need to talk to. Those are not people I think that are ready to believe anything merely because Donald Trump says it.
I think we have to continue to call out this administration when they're saying things that are patently untrue. I think we have to speak to people we didn't speak to in the campaign. And I think, frankly, these ought to be natural Democratic voters. When you look at the actions of the administration, all the Wall Street people they're filling the positions with, the fact that they want to roll back the Dodd-Frank regulations that got us into that horrendous recession and really jeopardized people's economic futures, we are the party that do represent those voters. And we didn't make the case in the election. We're going to have to do better.
CUOMO: Got to offer better, not just oppose. Always good to have you with us, congressman. Look forward to seeing you again on NEW DAY. Alisyn?
SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.
CAMEROTA: All right, Chris, we're following some breaking news out of Paris. A man wielding a large knife rushed soldiers near the Louvre Museum, causing one soldier to open fire. The suspect reportedly screaming "Allah Akbar" during the attack. He was seriously wounded. A second speck also under arrest. A terrorism investigation is now under way. Paris has been under a state of emergency since the November, 2015, terror attacks that left at least 130 people dead.
CUOMO: Still under a heightened state of emergency there in France, and now we know why.
Repealing and replacing Obamacare, that was the bread and butter of President Trump's campaign when it came to domestic policy. Now top Republicans say another R is more workable, "repair." Let's dig deeper with a GOP senator. What is going to be your reality when it comes to getting insurance if your employer doesn't give it to you? Next.
[08:18:13] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Despite Republican promises to repeal Obamacare, lawmakers are still struggling to agree on a replacement plan.
So, let's discuss this and more with Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso.
Good morning, Senator.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, (R), WYOMING: Good morning, Alisyn. Thanks for having me.
CAMEROTA: Great to have you. So, is the plan to repeal Obamacare over?
BARRASSO: Oh no, absolutely not. I am committed. Even though Obamacare cannot be fixed, health care in America has to be fixed. And I'm committed to finding long-term solutions to help patients get the care they need from a doctor that they choose at lower costs.
CAMEROTA: Got it. But it sounds it shifted, the language at least has shifted to instead of wholesale repeal, repair what you have.
BARRASSO: Well, we need to repeal the Health Care Law and replace it with things that actually provide relief for the people that have been hurt by the Health Care Law. I mean, that's how I look it as a doctor who's practiced medicine for 25 years. So many people in my home state in Wyoming that had insurance that they like, prices went way up. It was canceled because of the Obamacare regulations.
We want to get the decisions out of Washington. I want patients to make those decisions, put the decisions at the state level, give much more freedom, flexibility and choice there than Washington dictating. People are tired of the bureaucracy, tired of all the headaches and the hassles that has come with the Health Care Law.
CAMEROTA: Because it sounds like some of your colleagues, like Senator Lamar Alexander are using different language today. Let me read it for you so that you can see what he's saying. He said, "I think of it as a collapsing bridge. But in the meantime, we repair it. No one is talking about repealing anything until there's a concrete practical alternative to offer Americans in its place." So, he's talking about repairing it right now, not repealing it.
[08:20:03] BARRASSO: Well, he and I met with a number of state insurance commissioners just this week along with a large group of senators to talk about how we can make sure that anyone that has insurance today doesn't lose it tomorrow. But, provide a safe transition to those people so they can get affordable care. But right now there is general agreement that Obamacare has failed, insurance markets across the country are collapsing.
And we will -- and other insurance companies are saying they don't want to participate in the exchanges either. I want health care for people that they can use, even those that have Obamacare. We see so many of them, the deductibles or co-pays are so high that they can't even afford to use the --
BARRASSO: -- even the insurance that they've gotten from Obamacare, even if they're getting subsidies --
BARRASSO: -- to pay for the premiums.
CAMEROTA: And so senator, you've always done a good job of laying out the issues and the problems with it as you see it. When will you all have a plan?
BARRASSO: Well, as we also said, we're not going to bring down a 2700-page bill to the floor of the Senate. We want to do this, as we've said, piece by piece, step by step, and that's what we're working on now. To make sure we go through the steps we have to get our secretary of health and services in place so he can work through the regulations. That have actually made the Health Care Law worse than it was as written. So, he can do some things there. Legislatively we're going to be able to do some things as well. But we are committed to a long-term solutions for health care.
CAMEROTA: Senator, I want to ask you while I have you about what's going on with gun control in the house. There's just been this measure to lift a gun control restriction that will now allow people with severe mental illness to get their hands on guns. How does that make sense?
BARRASSO: Well, I don't look at it this way. You know, I'm a strong proponent of our second amendment rights. You know, it's interesting. This was a rule that President Obama came out with in December, long after he was a lame duck president. If this is something he was so committed to, you would have thought sometime in the previous eight years he might have come out with such a regulation.
CAMEROTA: Well, sure but about the steps --
BARRASSO: But it just came out within December and --
CAMEROTA: But what about the substance of it? I mean why allow if there's one point of agreement, bipartisan point of agreement that everyone has said from gun enthusiasts to gun control activists, its keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. These sounds like it would make it easier for them to get their hands on guns.
BARRASSO: Well, I don't view that way at all. I look at this from the stand point. This is going up against people with social and people who get social security checks, people who make financial decisions and is putting the social security administration in a point where they would then be determining who is reported in ways in terms of our second amendment rights.
CAMEROTA: As I understand it, it involves 75,000 people with mental disorders so severe that they cannot work and that they have someone else manage their social security benefits. How does it make sense to let them have guns?
BARRASSO: Well, this is a new change by President Obama, a midnight regulation on his way out the door. It should be subject to a full debate, discussion, and the houses voted on it yesterday and voted to repeal that rule.
CAMEROTA: If someone has a mental illness so severe that they cannot work, should they be able to have a gun?
BARRASSO: Well, the question is if somebody able to have a gun at the same time they're receiving social security disability benefits.
BARRASSO: And you could take a look at how those decisions are being made. With up until last month --
CAMEROTA: Disability for a mental illness.
BARRASO: -- for seven, eight years of President Obama's term, it was fine. And how he come out with a midnight regulation at this point --
BARRASSO: -- that maybe even members of his own party don't support seems like just another thing that President Obama has done while leaving the White House to try to gum up the works as he leaves.
CAMEROTA: Senator, are you comfortable with somebody having a mental disability and having a gun?
BARRASSO: You can take a look at what the constitution says which is what I do as a physician who spent lots of time working with patients with all different backgrounds. There are clearly people who have been labeled one way or another, and I'm not comfortable with this late midnight recommendation by the president as he's leaving office.
CAMEROTA: Senator, I want to ask you about Scott Pruitt. As you well know, Democrats did not show up to be a part of that vote. I know that you disagree with that strategy. But they say that this --some of this committee -- some of these cabinet posts have been rushed through without the proper background vetting, without the proper questions being answered. What do you say to your fellow Democrats?
BARRASSO: Well, at this point when President Obama was elected President Obama by the state, he had his full cabinet in place as did Bill Clinton.
And now at this point, Donald Trump has only few members of his cabinet in place because the Democrats have been obstructing every step along the way for so many cabinet appointees. It is their play book. Chuck Schumer has called the play and committee members have been doing this for a number of committees.
[08:20:16] I'll tell you, it seems like the Democrats want political theater. The EPA needs a new administrator and that's what we did in the Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday. We said that if they don't want to show up, fine, we suspended the rules. He has been voted out, approved by the committee and he will be going to the floor of the United States Senate because the EPA needs an administrator.
Scot Pruitt answered over a thousand questions more than any other EPA administrator anywhere, ever. And yet the Democrats don't like the answers to his questions. Donald Trump won the election. Scott Pruitt is the right person. He has a history in Oklahoma of protecting the environment as well as strengthening the economy and fighting for states' rights.
CAMEROTA: Senator Barrasso, we appreciate you being on "New Day." thank you.
BARRASSO: OK. Thanks Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Let's go to Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, what the president of the United States matters and has implications. Proof, the President of France taking aim at President Trump, he's telling other leaders there may be no future with this administration. We discuss why. Fareed Zakaria is going to give you the bottom line next.