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Republicans Roll Out Obamacare Repeal; Lawmakers React To Obamacare Repeal Bill; Opponents Vow To Fight Travel Ban; Comey "Incredulous" Over Trump Wiretap Claim. Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired March 7, 2017 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The Republican plan to replace Obamacare, it is here but not everyone in the party is on board. What does the plan -- what does it mean for your health coverage?
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And the president's new travel ban is now in effect. Are we in for the same kind of chaos and can the new ban withstand legal challenges on the way? Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.
ROMANS: And I'm --
BRIGGS: Trumpcare --
BRIGGS: -- is trending this morning.
ROMANS: Is it? Oh my gosh, it's only 5:30. I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour. After years of fervent promises to repeal and replace, the Republican plan to dismantle Obamacare, it is at the starting gate, but just the starting gate. Republican leaders still have a tough job rallying here support on their own side.
Here's the headline of the plan. It eliminates the individual mandate, replacing it with a new set of initiatives including the replacement of Obamacare subsidies with refundable tax credits to encourage people to buy insurance on the open market. It would also eliminate the Medicaid expansion. Instead, states would receive a set amount of money from the federal government every year.
BRIGGS: Although the bill might be branded as repeal, it keeps several popular components of Obamacare. Now, children can remain on their parent's plans until the age of 26, and it allows people with preexisting conditions to continue their coverage through the most popular provisions of Obamacare. But one change already getting pushback, insurers would be allowed to hike premiums for people who let their coverage lapse for any reason. Some feel up to 30 percent under this new bill.
President Trump signaling support for the effort with a tweet from the POTUS account. "House just introduced the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Time to end this nightmare." ROMANS: And the White House adding, "Today marks an important step toward restoring health care choices and affordability back to the American people. President Trump looks forward to working with both chambers of Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare." The president and Republican leaders have their work cut out for them with factions in both chambers already expressing reservations.
BRIGGS: Republicans start their public sales pitch for the repeal bill this morning with an 11:00 a.m. news conference by the chairman of the committees that drafted the measure. House Speaker Paul Ryan out front defending the plan, saying it will drive down costs and give Americans access to affordable health insurance.
But key Republicans holding out, including the former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, Jim Jordan, who cited the taxes the bill keeps in place through a year-long transition period. Jordan telling CNN, "I don't see any significant changes here. It's significantly the same thing to me so it sort of doesn't change my position. We put on President Obama's desk a bill that got rid of all the taxes and a Republican Congress is going to put on a Republican president's desk a bill that keeps taxes in place?"
ROMANS: On the Democratic side the minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, who helped pass Obamacare eight years ago, slamming this bill. She says, in part, "Republicans will force tens of millions of families to pay more for worse coverage. Republicans have decided that affordable health care should be the privilege of the wealthy, not the right of every family in America."
BRIGGS: On any other day, President Trump signing a new revised travel ban would have been our top story, but not today -- further down a bit. Opponents vowing another long legal battle against this version of the ban. People, now, from six countries -- Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen banned from obtaining visas for at least 90 days. Admission of refugees into the U.S. suspended for 120 days.
But there are key changes this time. Among them, the new version drops Iraq from the list of banned countries. Also, travelers can be granted waivers to come to the United States with that decision being made on a case-by-case basis. The new version also removes language prioritizing the admission of religious minorities and exempts citizens of the six banned countries who are green card holders or have valid visas.
ROMANS: Also, in an effort to avoid the chaos of the first rollout, the revised ban will be phased in March 16th. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says other countries are also being looked at for extreme vetting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We've -- the list will be expanded but there are countries out there that we will ask, like Iraq has done by the involvement of their prime minister, to cooperate with us better to get us the information we need. There's probably 13 or 14 other countries, not all of them Muslim countries, not all of them in the Middle East.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Trump signed the executive order away from the view of reporters and news cameras after more than three weeks now of repeated delays. The first version, of course, was blocked by federal courts.
BRIGGS: Joining us with the latest on the travel ban, CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett, live in Washington for us. Good morning to you, Laura. What are you hearing about possible legal challenges to this new executive order?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, yesterday, immigration advocates seemed to say look, this new travel ban may remedy some of the process issues from the old one. For instance, people now have more notice that it's happening this time around, for sure, but they say it still suffers from legal flaws because it discriminates against those from six Muslim-majority countries.
[05:35:12] Now, the government, obviously, has the exact opposite position. An administration official stressed to reporters on a call yesterday that the executive order was not a Muslim ban in any way, so a pretty strong statement from the administration -- Christine.
ROMANS: The administration, Laura, failed when it faced the first set of legal challenges. Can new challenges be fought back or do they leave themselves exposed here?
JARRETT: Well, what they've done here by narrowing the executive order is they've made it a lot more difficult to figure out who exactly is going to be able to sue. They've carved out green card holders, as you mentioned, visa holders, dual citizens, and they have this case-by-case waiver situation. So the government says those lawsuits -- all those ones in the past -- are essentially moot now, and we're going to find out pretty soon if they're right about that.
BRIGGS: A lot of attention on hearings these days. This morning, one for associate attorney general nominee Rachel Brand. If confirmed, she would oversee the Civil Division at the Justice Department. You'll be there at that hearing. How is the travel ban expected to play in?
JARRETT: Well, this was one that may have been able to go under the radar on a normal day, but she is going to oversee, if confirmed, the Justice Department lawyers that handle all of the travel ban lawsuits. So you can expect a fair amount of questioning, I think, from senators about her independence from the president on this issue. But you may also hear senators start to dig in on this new information that we heard for the first time yesterday from the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that over 300 terrorism cases that are currently being investigated by the FBI were committed by people who came here as refugees.
ROMANS: All right, Laura, nice to see you this morning. You have a very busy morning ahead of you so get some coffee, get some rest. We'll see you very soon. Thanks, Laura. JARRETT: Thanks.
BRIGGS: Also, a confirmation for Jeff Sessions' number two at the DOJ --
ROMANS: That's right.
BRIGGS: -- and that's incredibly important because Sessions has recused himself --
ROMANS: That's right.
BRIGGS: -- from the Russia situation.
ROMANS: Absolutely. All right, we're going to get more on all the political news and all of the machinations in Washington in a moment. Plus, North Korea's latest missile launch prompting action from the U.S. to the Far East and what the White House allies are doing to address this growing threat. We are going to go live to Seoul.
[05:41:40] ROMANS: An Obamacare repeal bill and a revised version of the travel ban all in the same day. Let's call it an embarrassment of riches for our political discussion. Joining us this morning, political analyst Ellis Henican. He writes the "Trump's America" column for the Metro Papers. Good morning, my friend.
ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning. I'm embarrassed.
ROMANS: All right. More access, lower prices, affordability, quality. Not everybody's going to be happy.
HENICAN: It's going to be wonderful.
ROMANS: It's going to be wonderful -- they've got to sell it. How do you -- what are the problems in selling this to other Republicans?
HENICAN: OK, the first thing to remember is that you can get worse coverage cheaper, right? If you provide fewer benefits it can cost less and so maybe that's kind of where we're going. But from the point of view of the Republicans, there are really two factions here, right? Moderate Republicans are worried about are we going to throw off some of the 20 million new people --
HENICAN: -- who got coverage through Obamacare.
BRIGGS: Which we don't know yet. It has not been scored. We don't know the cost or the coverage.
HENICAN: We don't know the numbers. You're absolutely right but we're going to find that out pretty soon, I think. But on the --
BRIGGS: Hopefully by Wednesday. HENICAN: But on the more conservative side of the party, right, they have questions about how much it's going to cost, whether there's going to be any entitlement reform in here, whether tax credits will apply and who exactly is going to get them, and frankly, how much money it's going to cost in the end.
BRIGGS: Right. The Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee faction concerned about cost and tax credits.
HENICAN: That's right.
BRIGGS: Then you have four Republican senators that are concerned about the Medicaid expansion, most notably Rob Portman who has 700,000 people --
BRIGGS: -- who are covered by that.
HENICAN: No, you're right.
BRIGGS: Positives, though, OK? There's no mandate, individual --
HENICAN: That's right.
BRIGGS: -- or an employer. You can stay on your parent's coverage until 26. What else is there that conservatives --
ROMANS: Preexisting conditions.
BRIGGS: -- love about this?
HENICAN: Yes, the preexisting conditions. That may --
ROMANS: That's big. That's big.
HENICAN: -- be the very biggest of all.
ROMANS: Well, that's almost, many people say, is what made Obamacare, Obamacare. That for the first time in history --
ROMANS: -- you weren't -- you could get -- you had to buy -- you could get insurance --
HENICAN: That's right.
ROMANS: -- if you had cancer.
HENICAN: Christine, the old system was cruel, right? I mean, if you had some kind of illness you really were stuck in the job that you had or you couldn't find coverage otherwise. But listen, this is complicated stuff and it is very difficult to come up with a plan. There's a reason it took seven years for the Republicans to come up with a plan. To find a way to satisfy all the constituency, Dave, that you just mentioned, that ain't easy.
BRIGGS: It gets through the House. Do you think it gets through the Senate?
HENICAN: The Senate seems like it's going to be tough at this point, right, because of the exact pressures that you're talking about. Assume the Dems are all going to be --
BRIGGS: But can you oppose -- once it's repealed it's very difficult for a Republican to stand up and oppose a bill that gets coverage for Americans --
HENICAN: You're right.
BRIGGS: -- and hundreds of millions.
HENICAN: And don't forget all those town hall meetings with Congressmen across the United States --
HENICAN: -- we've seen over the past couple of months.
HENICAN: That's an indication of the public reaction out there. This is something that affects real people's lives. This isn't just some ideological argument.
ROMANS: Oh, no, no, no. This is a -- this is a very big deal. And, you know, a lot of people can't understand their own health care. I mean, they can't understand what it's going to cost when they go to the doctor.
ROMANS: It's a very opaque system anyway, trying to understand the politics of an entire health care system. You can see why this is so fraught with misinformation and anxiety. Let me ask you something, quickly --
ROMANS: -- about James Comey, the director of the FBI, because we haven't really talked about it.
HENICAN: He's mad.
ROMANS: He's incredulous.
BRIGGS: He's incredulous.
HENICAN: Well, excuse me, incredulous. That's a better word.
BRIGGS: That's the word of the day, Ellis.
HENICAN: A better word, thank you.
ROMANS: I have seen that word more in headlines and banners in the last 24 hours than I have ever. Where does this go from here, this spat between the FBI and the Executive Branch here?
[05:45:00] HENICAN: Well, the first thing to remember is that the president cannot simply replace the FBI director. He serves with a fixed term in order to protect him from things like this. So he's been leaning on Sessions, the attorney general, trying to get the Justice Department to say hold on a second, this Obama phone tapping at Trump Tower has no evidence to support it.
BRIGGS: But this fire was started by these tweets. Who can put it out? Who can stop this once and for all and say this did or did not happen?
HENICAN: I think it's a delay strategy. I think the only thing that the president could do at this point is, as he is doing, say hey, congressional committees, you guys just go and investigate this. Come back in many months later and maybe by that time we'll all --
ROMANS: But nothing from the congressional committees, so far, has said we will investigate this as a part of our other investigations into Russia's influence.
HENICAN: Delay is the strategy.
HENICAN: Delay is the strategy.
BRIGGS: And we'll hear from Sean Spicer, 1:30, on camera. We'll hear from --
BRIGGS: -- Kevin Brady and Greg Walton, who wrote an interesting article selling this new health care plan on "The Wall Street Journal" --
ROMANS: That's right.
BRIGGS: "The Bill You've Waited For." Ellis Henican, thank you. Appreciate it.
HENICAN: Glued to CNN all day, by the way.
BRIGGS: Plenty of coverage, Ellis.
ROMANS: It's only Tuesday.
BRIGGS: Well, a tough break, figuratively and literally, for the Cleveland Cavaliers last night against the Miami Heat.
ROMANS: Hines Ward explains in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Hines.
HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, guys. Yes, the Cavs just signed big man Andrew Bogut hoping he could give them the size they need to get back to the championship. But only 58 seconds into the game Bogut's playing defense. (Video playing) Well, he collides with a Heat player and then he hobbles to the ground. Check him out here. Collides with it -- oh, that looks awful. He had to be helped into the locker room and was diagnosed with a fractured left fibula. Now, terrible news for the Cavs because Bogut could be out for the rest of the season. So after the game, LeBron James said that he witnessed the injury up close and personal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: I heard a break. As soon as he -- as soon as the collision happened I heard a break and when I went over to him and he said it, I already knew. I heard it. I heard it crack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: Now, U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe will no longer kneel during the Anthem for games with the national team. The U.S. Soccer Federation passed a policy that all players and staff must stand for the Anthem. Now, last year, Rapinoe knelt during the matches shortly after Colin Kaepernick started his Anthem protest. She released a statement saying she respects the new rule and also believes that we should all use our platforms for equality.
And finally, Mariners' outfielder Leonys Martin turned 29 yesterday so his teammates gave him the gift that keeps on giving. A Mariachi band followed him around all day on Monday during spring training. Now, out in the outfield, during batting practice -- I'm talking about everywhere, guys. And he was loving it, too. The birthday boy was even sporting the giant sombrero. Hey, but get this, though. Martin is Cuban so I'm sure where the Mexican Mariachi band came from but I think it should become a new birthday tradition for the team, guys.
BRIGGS: I think the Mariners ought to do their homework, my friend.
ROMANS: That's awesome. I would love that. We need a Mariachi band just walking around here all the time.
BRIGGS: For your birthday.
ROMANS: For my birthday.
ROMANS: All right. Hines --
BRIGGS: Thank you, Hines.
ROMANS: -- I needed that, my friend. Thank you.
BRIGGS: It's our producer, Rashad's, birthday. We should have had a Mariachi band. ROMANS: I know, I know. So we're just going to -- can we get him some donuts or something?
BRIGGS: Yes, donuts it is. All right, time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Our friend, Alisyn Camerota --
ROMANS: Good morning.
BRIGGS: -- joins us this morning. Hey, Ali.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Hey, guys, great to see you. As you can see, Chris is just right behind me still getting ready. We have so much --
BRIGGS: Oh, no.
CAMEROTA: We have so much news for you this morning, I barely know where to start and I don't know how we're going to fit it all into three hours. We have the details of the Republican replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act. We have Congressman Jason Chaffetz on to talk about that and more. We have the revised travel ban to dive into, and then we have all the fallout from President Trump's claims about illegal wiretapping. So we have all that and we have some all- star panels on to analyze it for us, so we're going to be doing that in 11 minutes.
BRIGGS: All that and a gun show from Chris Cuomo.
ROMANS: I know. I peeked at your rundown. It looks really -- you're right, it's an all-star panel. It's like trying to drink water from a fire hose -- all this news flow. All right, nice to see you, Ali.
CAMEROTA: You, too.
ROMANS: Talk to you soon. Silicon Valley may not like many of President Trump's policies but its investors are loving life right now. Wow, a lot of many being made in tech. An early start on your money, next.
[05:54:00] BRIGGS: Dialogue about North Korea now underway at the highest levels following that country's latest round of missile launches. President Trump speaking with the Japanese prime minister and the acting president of South Korea. This, as we learn North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally supervised the missile test and may have wanted to target American military bases. All this, as a special U.S. defense system is being deployed to South Korea.Joining us live from Seoul this morning, CNN's Alexandra Field. Good morning.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there. Good morning, Dave. This will all be a subject of discussion for the U.N. Security Council which will be talking about North Korea in a meeting that will be held on Wednesday of this week.
It was this morning here in Seoul that we saw news from North Korea's State News agency saying that Kim Jong Un, North Korea's dictator, had personally supervised the launch of those four missiles and that the launch involved a North Korean military unit tasked with striking U.S. bases in Japan.This, of course, has prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to reach out to his counterparts in South Korea and Japan, assuring the support of the U.S.
[05:55:05] At the same time, we are now seeing the first pieces of a U.S.-designed missile defense system arriving in South Korea. This is a system that is designed to protect against and counter the threat of a nuclear-tip warhead from North Korea. It is a controversial system that has raised objections from some neighbors in the region, like China, which opposes having a U.S. missile defense system so close by. But U.S. and South Korean officials say they are moving to deploy that system as quickly as possible.The U.S., South Korea, Japan, and even China, have condemned North Korea's missile launch.
At the same time, diplomatic tensions have reached a new high between North Korea and Malaysia. North Korea has now announced that no Malaysian citizens can leave the country. Malaysia has announced that no North Korean citizens can leave the country. All of this has to do with the continuing spat over the murder of Kim Jong Nam. That is the half-brother of Kim Jong Un.
Malaysian police say they want to speak to three North Korean citizens in connection with the investigation. They believe that those men are holed up inside the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur and police are saying they have all the time in the world. They have sealed off that embassy and they will wait there for years, they say, if that's what it takes for these men to come out -- Dave.
BRIGGS: Always the question of how we hold North Korea accountable, other than strong condemnation. Thank you, Alexandra. We appreciate it.
ROMANS: All right, 56 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on CNN Money this morning. U.S. stock futures are barely moving. Yesterday, the Dow fell 50 points.
Snap's Wall Street honeymoon may be over. Remember, this is the IPO. Its parent company tanked 12 percent yesterday, ending the day below the opening day price of $24. Now, when it did have its IPO it soared 44 percent about the IPO price on the first day of trading and jumped again on Friday, but now it is below that $24 mark. Critics have been concerned about Snap's user growth, its valuation, it's, frankly, just hype. It only began making money two years ago and it's is still struggling to turn that revenue into a profit.
Silicon Valley not a fan of President Trump's revised travel ban. Top executives from tech companies were quick to speak out against the executive order. Ridesharing company Lyft's co-founder says his company -- the company still stands firmly against this order. Lyft's co-founders will meet with the ACLU tomorrow to talk about it.
Uber, Lyft's chief rival, also spoke out against the order. It said, "Our sentiment has not changed. President Trump's immigrant ban is unjust and wrong." More than 100 companies joined a legal fight last month against the original travel ban. That list included heavyweights like Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft.
Now, Silicon Valley may not like many of Trump's policies but investors in Silicon Valley don't seem too concerned. Look at this. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google -- so-called FANG -- get it? F- A-N-G.
BRIGGS: I'm just picking up on that.
ROMANS: They -- look at this. They are -- Facebook up 19 percent this year. Amazon, 13 percent. Netflix, 14 percent. Google's parent, Alphabet up seven percent. Look at Apple shares. Apple shares up 20 percent. A lot of these are widely-held stocks. Apple is the best performer in the Dow this year. But these tech stocks are thriving. Even as their CEO's are speaking out against Donald Trump's immigration policies, they -- apparently, investors love what could happen in terms of lower taxes and a better environment to operate in and make more money.
BRIGGS: Tech stocks, bank stocks --the market continues to boom.
ROMANS: It sure does. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.
BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is Obamacare gone if we repeal all those taxes, those mandates, those subsidies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've already seen some Republican opposition to it, saying it doesn't go far enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are going to come far short of the coverage numbers that Obamacare provides.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's no question that something happened. Is it surveillance, is it a wiretap?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If it's true, it's earth- shattering.
ROMANS: FBI Director James Comey incredulous after Trump's allegations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no reason for us not to have trust and confidence in Director Comey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This revised order will bolster the security of the United States.
KELLY: Unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege when national security is at stake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to welcome our viewers
in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, March 7th, 6:00 here in New York.
And up first, let the health care battle begin again. We have the plan to replace the ACA. Was the president able to keep people's coverage as he promised? The simple answer is no. Many are criticizing from both parties. We have the facts and the experts to explain what's in this proposal and what it could mean to you.
CAMEROTA: All of this as President Trump continues his unsubstantiated claims that former President Obama illegally wiretapped him during the campaign. FBI chief James Comey is reportedly "incredulous" over Mr. Trump's allegations.
It is day 47 of the Trump administration so let's begin our coverage with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She is live on Capitol Hill -- Sunlen.