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Obamacare Bill Being Kept in Secure Location; Who is Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; Officers by Dad, Marching Band Teachers by Night. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired March 3, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[07:32:04] SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We're here today because I would like to read the Obamacare bill. If you recall when Obamacare was passed in 2010, 2009, 2010, Nancy Pelosi said you'll know what's in it after we passed it. The Republican Party shouldn't act in the same way. We want to see the bill. We have many objections.
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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, there was a sense of theatricality to it but this was real. Senator Rand Paul was protesting outside the room where members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee were privately hammering out details for the Obamacare bill and he wanted to see it and there's all this talk of hey, go to this room, and people going there but no bill.
Let's bring in CNN political analyst and reporter for the "Washington Post," Abby Phillip, and CNN political analyst and author of "How's Your Faith," David Gregory.
It is only funny because it is true that it wasn't just Paul. He did it in a big way. He wanted journalists there. He wanted to make a scene out it and it worked.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: There's Steny Hoyer.
CUOMO: Steny Hoyer went into it. I think he was on Facebook Live doing it.
CAMEROTA: Let's watch it. Just for a minute. This is also funny. So he's looking for this secret room. He's going for room to room to figure out where the Obamacare replacement bill is. Watch Steny Hoyer.
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REP. STENY HOYER (D), MARYLAND: That's not democracy. That's not good for our people. I know, Mr. Lincoln, you are as upset with your party as I am.
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CUOMO: Steny Hoyer is a Democrat but he's talking to a bust of Lincoln. This was real, though, about what's going on. And it gets to the truth of the matter of -- one of two things are true. Either they are so worried about this plan getting picked apart before they can sell it or they do not have a finalized working understanding of how to replace the ACA. Which do you think it is?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It could be a third thing which is this is why people hate Washington because they go around talking to --
CUOMO: Well, that could be true regardless of what the answer is.
GREGORY: I think there's an element of both of that. I mean, there's obviously -- the specter of Republicans, not just Democrats, complaining about this whole process is kind of a communications breakdown among the Republican ranks on this.
You know, I think perhaps bill is not completely ready yet and I think they understand -- the Republican leadership understands as soon as it is put out there Newt Gingrich is on last night on another network saying look, within 24 hours this thing is going to be scrutinized so heavily that they're going to have a sense of what's good in the bill, what's bad in the bill, what needs to come out so I think they are deliberately trying to keep that out of the public eye.
Look, the big issue here is Republicans. What they're talking about is a replacement plan is will it really cover the same amount of people.
GREGORY: And do you end up creating a new subsidy. A new entitlement which is going to absolutely freak the conservatives out. And they may have to really -- I talk to Republican here last night who said, you know, look, conservatives may just have to swallow hard and take it and even if they object it because this is what the president may actually want.
[07:35:01] CAMEROTA: But, Abby, why are they hiding from Rand Paul?
CAMEROTA: I mean, I understand Steny Hoyer. They don't want Democrats to see it if it's not fully baked yet. But why are they hiding from Rand Paul?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There are a lot of Rand Pauls both in the House and the Senate. There are people in the Republican Party who are not comfortable with a lot of the things that the Republicans are going to have to do in order to get this bill passed and Rand Paul is really principle among them. He is one of those sort of libertarian-leaning conservatives who's going to resist a lot of the things that are necessary to sort of create structure around the health care industry so that it doesn't collapse if they pull the rug under Obamacare.
And so, you know, House leaders working on this bill in conjunction with the White House are trying to get something together that they can -- that cobble together enough support just -- it might be just enough support really and they can't do that if every single day bits and pieces of this bill are out there being torn apart.
That being said I think, you know, Rand Paul has a point that doing this in secret does not bode well for the process. And I think that it's going to create political problems in and of itself for Republicans who, you know, a couple of years ago who are facing constituents saying, how dare you sign a bill that you haven't even bothered to read.
PHILIP: And this -- I think this is going to be -- this issue in and of itself is going to come up again. No doubt about it.
GREGORY: The question is, can the president overcome this so he can get on to bigger issues that he wants to accomplish like tax reform which also have some controversy? Like a big infrastructure spend. Because you can spend all of your time being torn apart by Obamacare between the conservatives who say we just want to repeal it, not replace it, and those who are in the process of replacing it by creating a new subsidy, a new entitlement, which really affect most of the conservatives.
CUOMO: But it goes to the center of your economic profile as a family.
CUOMO: This could very well winding up being right up there with your mortgage as the biggest part of your nut. We just had on a pretty fair broker, I think, Republican senator Shelly Moore Caputo, and she said yes, I'm familiar with the details, I feel good with where we're going, and then she said Medicaid expansion, West Virginia she is the senator from.
CUOMO: Those poor states needed money to be given by the federal government to them to expand their coverage of poor people. You cannot have Medicaid expansion the way it is right now with tax credits to individuals unless you almost double the cost of Medicare.
CUOMO: But she said yes, I think that Medicaid expansion will stay the way it is and yes, you're going to get tax credits for people. I don't know how they sell that.
GREGORY: You see, that's a huge federal subsidy, right?
GREGORY: I mean, expansion of Medicaid on top of new tax credits. No, that becomes a huge issue. CAMEROTA: Abby, David, thank you both for very much. Great to talk
So the other top story we're following is this, that U.S. officials say that this man is a top Russian spy. However, Moscow says their ambassador is a, quote, "world-class diplomat." Who is Sergey Kislyak. We have a life report from Moscow, next.
[07:41:41] CAMEROTA: U.S. intelligence officials say the Russian ambassador who met with several Trump campaign advisers is a top spy and spy recruiter. Moscow denies that characterization, so who is Ambassador Sergey Kislyak?
CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Moscow with more. What do we know, Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, good morning, Alisyn. The topic certainly doesn't go away here. President Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, today said that it was sad that the outfall of all of this -- that is going on in Washington is impacting the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Russia at this time. And this is the narrative that we continue to hear in Moscow that Kislyak was a seasoned diplomat and he was doing exactly as Russia wanted him to do.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Sergey Kislyak is a 66-year-old veteran of both Soviet and Russian diplomacy. He spent many years in the United States and has been ambassador in Washington for nearly a decade.
SERGEY KISLYAK, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Our job is to understand, to know people. I personally have been working in the United States so long that I know almost everybody.
ROBERTSON: Current and former top officials say U.S. intelligence consider him one of Russia's top spy and spy recruiters in Washington but Russian officials scoff at the idea he's a spy master.
MARIA ZAKHAROVA, FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN: Please stop spreading lies and false news.
ROBERTSON: Trained as an engineer Kislyak his diplomatic teeth in the Cold War and his first posting to the U.S. came as Mikhail Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet system. During his four decades as a diplomat Kislyak held several key positions, serving as the first Russian representative at NATO and the Russian deputy foreign minister. He became Moscow's man in Washington months before President Obama took office and the attempt to reset U.S.-Russia relations.
An expert in the complex world of arms control Kislyak helped negotiate an arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and Russia during Obama's tenure. Speaking at Stanford University Kislyak sounded gloomy about the relationship.
KISLYAK: Most probably we are living into the worst point in our relations at the end of the Cold War .
ROBERTSON: And is often blamed the partisan atmosphere in the U.S.
KISLYAK: We have become kind of collateral damage in the fight between the two parties here.
ROBERTSON: But recently Kislyak actively engaged the Trump team. Sitting in the front row at an invite-only foreign policy speech given by Trump in April, and just this week attending the president's address to Congress.
ROBERTSON: And so what we've heard from Sergey Lavrov, Russia's Foreign minister, weighed into this today, he is quoting President Trump saying that all this attention that's focused on Sergey Kislyak, this is, in his words, quoting President Trump, "a witch hunt," Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Nic. Appreciate that insight.
Let's develop our understanding some more, this man in the middle of the Russia connections. What do we to make of the seriousness of all this? Let's bring in Steve Hall, CNN national security analyst and retired chief of Russia operations at the CIA, and Mike Rogers, a CNN national security commentator and former House Intelligence Committee chairman.
[07:45:10] Now, Mike, Alisyn and I have been unable to move past the story that you told us about your meeting with Kislyak and just how you negotiated the space of dealing with somebody at arm's length when you believe that he's the spy of the Russian government. I mean, relate to people your experience and why this was all seen as standard operating procedure.
MIKE ROGERS, NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Yes. And I'm not convinced he is a spy at all. I want to make that very clear. I think he is a very good, very polished diplomat for the Russian government. I don't think he's a spy. I do think he's got a lot of spies working for him here in the United States. So I think we need to put that into perspective.
Listen, he is a very skilled diplomat. So he meets with lots of officials including U.S. senators even over the Iran deal when that was all in process, many U.S. senators and House of Representative members were meeting with the ambassador and others of the Russian government so that is in it of itself not a problem. I mean, those meetings should occur and have to occur.
You always have to understand when you're dealing with the Russians, you know, if you pick up a snake, you're going to get bit and so you have to have a little bit of an arm's length conversation with the Russians when you're going through. They're always going to look for their best deal in this relationship and if they can go a little farther they probably will. And that's -- that is if you know that going into a diplomatic meeting with somebody like the U.S. ambassador from Russia then I think you'll be on solid ground moving forward.
CUOMO: Now, Steve, first of all, thank you for getting up so early to be on with us but I mean, this is your wheel house. This is what you dealt with. Let's put to the side the whole discussion of why the attorney general didn't disclose and what he should do. Let's just put all that to the side for right now.
When you hear about these meetings what are the relevant questions and considerations from your perspective?
STEVE HALL, NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I would absolutely agree with Mike, I doubt seriously that Kislyak is actually a staff officer for either the Russian intelligence services. He is a very accomplished ambassador and to a certain extent the question as to whether or not he's a formal intelligence officer is a bit moot because importantly he is well connected back in Moscow. You don't get to be the -- the Russian ambassador to the United States without knowing guys like Lavrov, the minister of Foreign Affairs, and Putin himself and being well connected.
He is clearly, as Mike was indicating, also very well connected in the United States. It does appear that he was simply doing his job as a good, aggressive ambassador will, taking advantage of the contacts that he has. But context is important here. What were the Russians up to? What were they planning last year?
Well, we know from the intelligence -- from our own intelligence services that the Russians were planning an influence operation aimed at increasing the likelihood that Donald Trump would be elected as president. There can be no doubt that Ambassador Kislyak was part of that because that was the Russian policy. So that's -- he might not have played a strict intelligence role but there's no doubt that that was -- that he was part of implementing the Russian policy.
CUOMO: Is this serious to you or not, Mr. Hall?
HALL: Well, yes, I -- yes, the entire question of, you know, how exactly did the Russians implemented this plan, again, which the intelligence community has said that they were doing, how did they do that and critically was the Trump campaign aware of or even worse involved in, and that's what we need to get to the bottom of.
Kislyak's role cannot be denied in this because again he's the senior Russian representative here in the United States. Yes, it's of critical importance.
CUOMO: So if you hear a retired CIA chief, you know, who deals with Russia saying that, Mike, it kind of sheds light on why there's so much concern about whether you can really get to the truth of these questions in a politically compromised process. You know, we keep cleaning on the fact that well, you've got three different congressional investigations, you've got the FBI do whatever they do. But as you well know very often when you have a lot of something going on, you have nothing going on. Do you believe these questions matter and need to be removed from the politics of the process as much as possible like the 9/11 Commission did?
ROGERS: I mean, I believe all the politics should be taken out of this. Russian information operations been around for a very long time. They were there when I was an FBI agent, they were there when I was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. I disagree that there's a certain conclusion that they wanted a particular candidate.
What we do know is that early on I think they were trying to embarrass one particular candidate and thought that that would be helpful to them by weakening the next U.S. president going in. I think that was their original intent in this information operation. And we have to remember, they have been engaged in information operations against the United States for a very long time. Predates Steve's time in the CIA and certainly my time in the FBI.
[07:50:02] What we do need to do is allow these investigations to happen and there's two things. And we're conflating everything together I think. And that's the problem. Yes, there should be a special look at the information operation targeted at the United States in the election cycle. It wasn't to hack the election. It was to try to, A, create a little chaos in the election and as we can see that part has been probably spectacularly successful and that -- we need to focus on that.
Meetings with the Russian ambassador in it of themselves are not inappropriate. This other piece is something that we're going to have to be concerned with as we move forward in the United States.
CUOMO: Gentlemen, I appreciate it today and we will need you going forward. Have a good weekend and thank you -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. Attorney general Jeff Sessions recusing himself from any investigation involving the Trump campaign and Russia, but that's not far enough for some Democrats. They want him to resign. Senator Richard Blumenthal joins us ahead.
CUOMO: All right. An important story for you here. Two New Orleans police officers who happen to be brothers are using their love of music to help young people in their community. So you have Officer James Caire and Detective Sergeant Gregory Johnson are going beyond the call of duty by enforcing the law by day and volunteering by night as high school marching band instructors.
[07:55:11] CNN's Nick Valencia has this really good story.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The beginning of the day for Officer James Caire and Detective Sergeant Gregory Johnson usually starts the same way. Both say being police officers in New Orleans has been a lifelong passion. But over the last few years, it's something else that's really brought them closer together.
When they're not on the job, both volunteer teaching band students at McDonogh 35 High School in New Orleans. Officer Caire leads the percussionists. While Detective Johnson is over the color guards.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hear you because you're picking up your feet also.
VALENCIA (on camera): We know what the kids get out of it, incredible mentors. But what do you get out of it?
OFC. JAMES CAIRE, NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT: My joy is to see a kid go to college on a scholarship or partial scholarship, or anything that will help him or her and their family.
DET. GREGORY JOHNSON, NEW ORLEANS POLICE: Just seeing them here and not in the street and not having to deal with them on the other side of the law, that's, you know, what I get out of it.
CAIRE: Always a plus.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Officer Caire says his life has become intertwined with the lives of the students he mentors. Two years ago, he recruited his brother to come along for the ride. Everyone seems to have benefited.
JOSEPH THEOURE, MCDONOGH 35 HIGH SCHOOL COLOR GUARD: Come do this after school, put in work with this, stay out of trouble, off the streets with everything going on in New Orleans.
CYDNEY NEAL, MCDONOGH 35 HIGH SCHOOL COLOR GUARD: It's just like meaningful because he's just like nice and treats you with so much respect. And the fact that people are saying things about police, it's not true.
VALENCIA (on camera): It makes you think differently about cops?
JOHNSON: I can remember plenty of days I was beat on the porch right here in this same spot.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Ever since they were little kids, the two brothers have loved music. Standing outside of the inner city New Orleans home where they grew up, Officer Caire says it's right here where it all started.
CAIRE: The local high school is right around the corner. Some days they'd be out practicing trying to play what they were playing.
VALENCIA: It's the discipline music taught him that he now tries to impart on his students.
CAIRE: A lot of times they want to say I want to be great. You have to put the work in.
JOHNSON: They're saying it's beyond the call, but it's just something natural.
VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, New Orleans. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CAMEROTA: What a great role model he is.
Well, now shifting gears to this murder mystery. This shocking murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey. It was back in 1996 and it remains unsolved today. And to this day, dogged investigators continue to work that case.
This is the subject of tonight's episode, HLN original series, "How It Really Happened."
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also found tracks and marks on the little girl's back and neck that he thought pointed to a stun gun being used in the case, that perhaps she'd been taken from her bed and kept quiet because she'd been stunned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the stun gun is one of the best clues left behind by the killer as far as a clue, but it also may explain why JonBenet did not cry out when she was first abducted. I am convinced that a stun gun was used.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lou detailed 10, 11, 12, 13 points that led him to believe that an intruder had committed this homicide and not an inside job by any one of the three family members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: I mean, it's been 20 years. That one, as we all remember, gripped the nation. It was around Christmas. It was so shocking, that she was so young. And I can't believe that investigators still have not cracked the answer to this.
CUOMO: Oh, I can. Because I do the interview with the people who have been looking at this for 20 years, one of them is a cop, one of them is a writer, another one is a reporter.
CAMEROTA: Yes. What do they think?
CUOMO: And -- two things. This is the most amazing thing. 20 years they've spent, they each come to different conclusions and I found them equally compelling.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.
CUOMO: So it's really worth watching. It is still the murder that people say they want to know more about, more than any other one when they're asked. You can catch "How It Really Happened" with Hill Harper tonight at 8:00 Eastern on HLN. It's a good watch.
All right. A lot of news. What do you say?
CAMEROTA: Let's get to it.
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JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I have recused myself.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: It would be better for the country if he'd resigned.
SESSIONS: I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: That's not true.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Democrats are lighting their hair on fire to get you to cover this story.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, do you still have confidence --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Total.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: What we've seen so far, scary, very scary.
MARIA ZAKHAROVA, FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN: Mr. Kislyak is a well- known world-class diplomat. Stop spreading lies.
CAMEROTA: It was more than Jeff Sessions and Michael Flynn who met with this ambassador.