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Republicans Divided Over Health Care; A Day Without a Woman; Interview With Virginia Congressman Dave Brat. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 8, 2017 - 15:00   ET




SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Especially the governors, who were left on the sideline last time and who have such an important role in administering health care when it comes to Medicaid.

The idea that anyone talks about when the score was issued, there will be a score in all due -- in all good time. But the other thing is, let's be honest. The irony of the score is that the CBO was way off the last time. I don't think that we're waiting to -- that that's a big issue to us right now.

QUESTION: Doesn't the cost matter, though?

SPICER: Of course cost matters, but look at how off they were last time.

If you're looking to the CBO for accuracy, you're looking in the wrong place. They were way, way off last time in every aspect of how they scored and projected Obamacare.


SPICER: No, but neither did they.

Last time, if you look at the number that they projected would be on Obamacare, they were offer by millions. The idea that we're waiting for a score, it will be scored, but the idea that that's any kind of authority based on the track record that occurred last time is a little farfetched.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: I want to now bring in our political director, David Chalian, who is joining the panel.

If I were at the CBO, I would be in bed with the cover over my head right now, because of the way he just completely took that organization down.

David, I'm old enough to remember when Republicans loved the CBO because it tells the conservatives the thing that matters most to them, which is, how much is it going to cost taxpayers? DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And we will get that information, right?

There is going to be a score. It will impact the conversation. What is so interesting to watch now is two days now in a row from that podium Sean Spicer is trying to de-emphasize what that impact will be.

BASH: To his credit.

CHALIAN: Well, certainly. He's certainly trying to lay the groundwork.

I don't know if it will have a huge success for him, because as you know, Dana, from covering these congressional battles for years, the CBO is sort of that referee that comes in when all the ban and forth is going on between the two parties.

They come in and they put a number on it. That number then of course appears in everybody's talking point and each side tries to spin it, but it is the referee, the neutral arbiter to say this is how much it's going to cost, this is how many people are going to be covered and people take that to the bank.

BASH: That's right.

Nia, for people who are sort of again listening to the alphabet soup in Washington, why it matters for this health care replacement is because Republicans who the president and the leadership, the GOP leadership, need to pass this care very much about the cost they haven't seen yet.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure, they do, but we also have voters, right?

Republicans so far if you look at the polls support Donald Trump something like 90 percent. And a lot of those voters voted for him even though he was promising all sorts of big-ticket items, a wall. He promised Mexico would pay for it. I don't think people really believe that.

He promised infrastructure spending, a trillion dollars, promised not to touch entitlement reforms -- or entitlement at all. I'm not sure. It's going to be interesting to see what people like Laura Ingraham, what people like Rush Limbaugh, what their take on this is as well.

Laura Ingraham was an alternative network yesterday talking about this and wasn't too pleased with it. And Donald Trump was sort of tweeting back at the television about this.

But I do think, CBO, they've already said there's no authority. And what was interesting in that exchange is that the reporter said is there any other sort of organization that you would believe that would have the authority on the cost of this? Sean Spicer never answered.

So I think the authority in some ways, they're trying to set up the authority essentially being Donald Trump and the Republicans who are trying to sell this plan.

BASH: It's so interesting. You just mentioned the other network, the president is now trying to deal with, I will say it, the F-O-X-, FOX, not being completely on his side at all now. We will talk about that in a little while.

But I want to quickly put you guys on hold and go over to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, who just talked to the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who just came back from the CIA -- Manu.


Actually him with a group of other senators going through reams of intelligence about this ongoing investigation into Russia and Russia hacking during the election.

One of the things that Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the committee, said is he has a lot of questions because he saw data that suggests that Russia was trying to put out information aimed at helping one candidate and hurting another candidate.

Take a listen.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Just came back from the CIA, where there were four senators, and we got a chance to look at some of the raw intel product.

In many ways, we have got even more questions now. We have got more information we have got to get access to. I know as the committee gets into this next stage of listing who we want to have conversations with, but the main thing is that we're all committed, there were both Democrats and Republicans there today, to keeping this bipartisan.


The American people deserve to hear all of the facts. A lot of what we saw today was the evidence underlying how Russia manipulated the news, how it hacked into the DNC and John Podesta and leaked out in favor of one candidate against another candidate.

But I think these efforts, beyond even the whole question about whether there were contacts between campaigns and the Russians, but this underlying assault on our democracy, I think Americans need to know about this and going forward be guarded in terms of what information they take in.

And these same tactics are being used now in the French elections that are going on even as we speak.

QUESTION: You say that you have new questions now. Can you give us a sense of your top couple of new questions?

WARNER: I'm just going to leave it at there are things that -- footnotes where you have got to go and get the underlying source documents. We've got more questions.

RAJU: You say there was these news stories that suggest they were trying to help one candidate over the other. Is there anything that suggests that the Trump campaign was involved in coordinating that release of information?

WARNER: At this point, I'm not going to get into that part of the discussion. That's part of our investigation.

It's always been about misinformation. It's been about the hacking and selective release of e-mails and it's been about whether there's been any contact between either campaign and the Russians prior to the election.


RAJU: Dana, I also asked him later does he agree with the assessment from the top Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that he has not seen any evidence yet of any contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign associates?

He would not comment on that. So there's really -- I'm not going to get into anything about the evidence specifically that I have seen. He also was critical of Donald Trump suggesting he had been wiretapped by the former president of the United States. He would not say if any evidence he saw today was from any wiretaps.

And, of course, Dana, this comes as both Lindsey Graham and the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee are trying to get information from the Justice Department over this issue of wiretaps and whether it happened, even Graham telling me earlier that he's willing to subpoena the Justice Department if they do not comply with his request -- Dana.

BASH: Manu, great get. I know how hard it is to move around the very large Capitol campus and you are everywhere always. You're the best. Thanks, Manu. Appreciate it.

I want to bring our panel back in.

And, Elise Labott, I want to turn to you. You just heard from Mark Warner, again, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who just saw the raw intelligence over at the CIA. Square that or can you with just what Sean Spicer said in the briefing, which is every time anybody has gone and looked at what really happened and gotten the intelligence, they come out and say nothing really happened.

That's not certainly not what Mark Warner said.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: What Sean Spicer is saying when they look at the intelligence there's no "collusion" between the Trump campaign and members of the Russian government.

I think that, look, 17 national intelligence agencies of the U.S. government have determined that Russia attempted to meddle in the U.S. election. But, by and large, there's an understanding or an assessment that they did it on behalf of helping Hillary Clinton.

That's different, as Sean Spicer has said, from collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Now, in my opinion, I think it's going to be impossible to conclude whether that influence that the Russians by all accounts tried to make into the election actually swayed voters.

We don't know. Unless everybody -- every U.S. voter in the U.S. who voted for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is going to be able to explain why they voted the way they voted, I think that's impossible to tell.

So the only question in terms of this election is whether that meddling or that collusion took place. That's what I think the Senate Intelligence investigation might look at. Those are larger questions that Senator Warner is talking about, about Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

There's evidence to believe they're trying to do it in the French election. There's a German election coming up. Are they supporting those kind of right-wing anti-E.U. candidates behind the scenes? We know in France they're supporting Marine Le Pen, who is a right-wing candidate.

So I think there's bigger questions about Russian interference not just in the U.S., but across Europe. And what are the questions for U.S. policy? This president has still never said he believes that Russia tried to meddle in this election and could have more nefarious aims abroad.


So, I think there are definitely different questions out there. And, again, you can't conflate the meddling and the collusion.

BASH: David Chalian, what was your takeaway from what you heard from Mark Warner?

CHALIAN: First and foremost, this issue isn't going away, right?

This issue will be with us, I think, for a long while throughout the duration of the Trump administration most likely. And I think not just Mark Warner, but the Lindsey Graham-Sheldon Whitehouse here is sort of calling President Trump's bluff, right?

It's sort of -- and giving an opening here for...


BASH: Reiterate for our viewers what that request was.


The request was of the FBI and the Department of Justice to provide the warrants that were requested in court for the wiretaps, right? It's not entirely clear. Does a court have to sign off to release that because it's done in a secret court, as you know?

But, nonetheless, there's this now invitation that Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, Republican Lindsey Graham, oversight over the FBI in this scenario, comes in and says, hey, send us what you have on that, send us the request, send us the court ruling authorizing the warrant.

And this is now an opportunity for Jim Comey to say, well, there is none, right? He doesn't want to necessarily talk about it, but they now have provided them an opening to say there was no wiretapping because they're requesting the proof that there was. President Trump will have to answer for that.


HENDERSON: Yes, President Trump, what will he say if this comes back and they say there was no wiretapping? What does the White House do?

They have spent days essentially saying -- standing by President Trump's tweets and saying, oh, it's up to Congress. So it will be interesting to see, is this president embarrassed? He seems to not necessarily embarrass easily. Does he walk it back?

Does this I think send a signal to him that words matter and he can't just spout off on Twitter just because he feels like it at 6:30 in the morning?


BORGER: One quick thing is that one other thing that Senator Warner said is he just came out and said Russia hacked into Podesta's e- mails.

Well, is then saying Russia equals WikiLeaks? It seems to me that he was.

BASH: That's an excellent point.

Hold that thought.

I want to bring in April Ryan, who is a White House correspondent for American Urban Radi -- Radio Networks, rather, on the White House lawn there.

April, we watched you in the press briefing ask Sean Spicer about Congressman Elijah Cummings, who is meeting as we speak with President Trump. It's a long time coming.

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes, it's a long time coming.

Well, actually not, Dana, because we're only a little bit more than a month-and-a-half out from this presidency in totality. So, not longer after this president became president, so he watched Congressman Elijah Cummings on television and talking about the issues of prescription drugs, the high cost of those drugs. And the president literally reached out and told his staff, hey, call him. And he placed the call to the congressman in his office and they talked. And they tried to work something out. Their schedules did not mesh.

And then, if you remember the first solo press conference, President Trump...

BASH: Yes, we remember.


RYAN: Yes.

He talked about the Congressional Black Caucus and then he went into this thing about Congressman Cummings and Senator Schumer told him not to meet, when that wasn't true. Congressman Cummings basically said he had scheduling issues and he really wanted to meet with him.

And with the congressman today, he's bringing the president of Johns Hopkins, as well as another congressional leader, to talk about this. And I wouldn't be surprised if Congressman Cummings talks about some other issues that have been very pressing in the news lately as well.

BASH: Fascinating.

Gloria gave the president props for reaching out. And this is the same situation even more so, because it's somebody from the other party. And you're right. It is only a month-and-a-half. It just feels a lot longer.

RYAN: It feels a lot longer.


BASH: April, thank you.

Everybody else on the panel, thank you as well for your insights.

And up next, a leading member of the Republican Caucus is speaking out against the new health care proposal and he will join me live. Congressman Dave Brat. What will it take to get him on board?

Plus, rallies and protests nationwide to support A Day Without a Woman. We will take you there live and hear from women who say it's a protest without a point.



BASH: President Trump will meet tonight with conservative Republicans resisting his Obamacare replacement bill.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer says the Trump administration is preparing for a full-court press to get those Republicans and others on board.


SPICER: But make no mistake. The president is very proud of the product that we have produced.

We are out in full sell mode all around the country talking about how we think this is the best way to solve the problem that the American people face and why we believe that the solutions that we put forward in this bill are the right ones and that will benefit them.


BASH: But one House Republican group is taking a very hard line stance against the health care bill. And they have got the numbers to really make a difference. More than 30 Republican conservatives, many with Tea Party support, are part of the House Freedom Caucus, and that's enough to make the White House nervous.

In addition to tonight's meeting, I should say, we learned that some Freedom Caucus members were invited to the White House next week to go bowling.

Let's talk over all of that with Republican Congressman Dave Brat from Virginia.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining me.

First question, are you going to the White House tonight or maybe bowling next week?

REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: Yes, I think we may go bowling next week. That's the rumor.

BASH: OK. So, you're bowling with the president.


What are you going to say about his health care bill?

BRAT: Yes.

Well, he ran on a repeal of Obamacare. And we're with him on 100 percent. We want to see a repeal, right? That's what we promised for the last six years. And that's the issue, that the term in D.C. repeal doesn't mean repeal.

Well, Donald Trump has a big heart. He wants to do the right thing and cover everybody. But he also has said during the campaign that the states are the true laboratories, right, when it comes to education, when it comes education.

So D.C. is like herding cats, trying to get Texas to agree with California, et cetera, on a particular product. He's a businessman. And the heart of capitalism if innovation and diversity of products, right? So, if different states want to go different ways, let's do that. There's no hangup on preexisting conditions, taking care of people, not pulling the rug out. Trump says he wants to cover everybody. He's got a big heart. We want to help him do that. But about 5 percent of the folks are about 50 percent of the costs.

And so there's ways to handle that, but we want the states to handle it. We will fund it. We will fully fund it, block-grant stuff to the states. And then people can deal with it how they wish.

BASH: Congressman, you probably heard the clip from Sean Spicer as we were coming to you about saying that the president is in sales mode or selling mode right now. And he was responding to a question about whether or not, when he's having meetings such as the one that you will likely attend, whether or not he is listening to suggestions for changing or not?

The response was, no, he's in sales mode. So do you see any scenario where you will be a buyer?

BRAT: I don't think whoever said that has got it quite right.


BASH: That's the president's spokesman.

BRAT: Yes.

With Trump, I listen to what Trump says. And yesterday he tweeted out we're in negotiation mode. I doubt he's changed in a day. So, there's the president and then there's the spokesman. And we're negotiating. And we want to get him to a big win.

And when he hears the American people speak up, which they are nationwide, right? The base is lighting it up like you have never seen on any issue before. And we don't want him to own a federally run health care program with a new entitlement and raising taxes again. That's not the way he wants to go if you want to light this economy on fire, which is what we want to do in the second budget with tax reform.

And we're all behind him. We want him to be successful.

BASH: Congressman, I want to play for you something that the House speaker, the leader of your conference, said today about opposition from people like you.

BRAT: Yes.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think what you're seeing is, we're going through the inevitable growing pains of being an opposition party to becoming a government party.

And in being an opposition party, we had divided government; 64 percent of our members -- 64 percent have never known what it's like to work with a Republican president, to have unified government. So, it's a new feel. It's a new system for people.

But it's all the more reason why we have to do what we said we would do and deliver for the American people and govern and use our principles. That's what this is.


BASH: Congressman, you're a relatively new member. And, as he just pointed out, 64 percent of your caucus has not been around when you can govern because you don't have a fellow Republican in the White House.

BRAT: Right.

BASH: It sounds to me like he's basically saying that you guys just don't get how to legislate and governing is different from throwing flames in the minority.

BRAT: Couldn't be more wrong, Dana, the characterization.

I agree exactly with what the speaker said. The speaker is a free market guy who for six years said we are going to repeal Obamacare. We are not repealing Obamacare. And so just go through -- number two, we're not getting rid of the regulations, right? That's the most big cost driver there is in Obamacare.

We're not getting rid of that. That's part of Obamacare. We're not getting rid of the silver, bronze, platinum plans. That's part of Obamacare. We're changing the subsidies into a new tax credit. We're getting rid of the mandates, but we're turning it into a tax penalty.

That's all Obamacare. So, I agree with the speaker. If he wants to fully repeal Obamacare, we're 100 percent with him. This isn't throwing bombs. This is doing what we promised the American people we would do. And he made that promise for six years too.

So we're in full agreement with everything he's run on. Yes.


BASH: OK. So, are you saying that the House speaker is breaking that promise with this bill, and the president as well, because he's on board?

BRAT: I'm saying it's very hard to do some of this because of the Senate rules.

And so if Trump really wants to close the deal, he needs to go to the Senate and get at this parliamentarian issue, so we can rid of the regs. The insurance regs are the issues. Eight years ago, Obama only paid attention to coverage, nothing to price reduction, nothing to free markets and reducing the cost of premiums.

That's why we have a disaster and we're in a death spiral right now. We don't want to make that same mistake and have Trump own a disaster. So, you have to have markets. We do not have that until phase three in this.

And that's not good enough. That's when you need 60 votes in the Senate. So, the best thing Trump can do to assure victory and a win is go to the Senate, clear up this regulation piece, get rid of them, and then it's a home run and it's a win-win-win.


BASH: I think that's easier said than done.

But I want to mention to you something that my colleague Deirdre Walsh, who I know you know in the halls there, is reporting about what happened inside the Republican meeting, when the number three Republican, Steve Scalise, said to members, it's a very clear choice, members like you.

You either choose to support the Republicans and the president, or you choose to support Nancy Pelosi, because you're going to be responsible for taking this down.

What's your response to that?


If he said that, that's not serious. You can amend the process. Trump said, here is the bill, we have got a wonderful bill, now it's time to negotiate, yesterday. We're going to make some changes to the bill. It will done in two or three weeks. We will make the big fixes.

You got to talk with the Senate on getting rid of the insurance regulations. That's the big fatal law, and then get rid of the mandates, get rid of the tax increases, get rid of the federal components, block-grant it all to the states, cover everybody.

We want to cover everybody. We don't want to pull the rug out from anyone. We're going to get it right. And it's not that hard to do. We just follow our promises that we made to the American -- ask the American people what they feel about our promises in the Republican base right now.

And every conservative group is lighting it up across the country. They want us to fulfill our promise that we made for the last six years.

BASH: Congressman Brat, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

BRAT: Always good to be on. Thanks, Dana.

BASH: Thank you.

And up next, we're going to going to take you live to Los Angeles, where one of the dozens of rallies is being held today as part of the Day Without a Woman strike. The protests forced some school districts to close because of a lack of teachers.

I will be joined live with two moms from one of those districts who are on opposite sides of the debate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We support women. We have to support women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just feel like it wasn't necessary to close the entire school system down for the women's day. If they wanted to call in more substitutes, we can call the guys in for the day.