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Trump Warns of 'Bloodbath' if Healthcare Bill Fails; White House: No Regrets about Wiretap Accusations. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired March 8, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the repeal bill that we have been waiting for.
[07:00:04] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got elected based on the fact repeal and replace Obamacare. Many of you people are in the same boat, so let's get it done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a very serious charge.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's not a question of new proof or less proof. Nothing has changed.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No regrets from him...
ACOSTA: ... about raising this accusation?
SPICER: Absolutely not.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: I want to make sure you're all clear on this. I do not know if there is an investigation.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I find that very, very disturbing.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, welcome to your NEW DAY.
Up first, President Trump warning House Republicans there will be an electoral blood bath in 2018 if they don't go along with his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The president's warning comes as two House committees formally begin marking up the bill today.
CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, the White House insists the president has no regrets about his wiretapping allegation against President Obama. House intel committee leaders say they will investigate that claim, and they have officially set a date to begin hearings on Russia's alleged meddling in the presidential election.
It is day 48 of the Trump administration, and CNN has every angle covered for you, starting with Sunlen Serfaty live on Capitol Hill. Good morning, Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Alisyn.
Today is such a critical day on Capitol Hill for the fate of this healthcare bill. Two House committees are now starting to mark up this bill later this morning. They are preparing to work well into the evening, trying to get to a final product that can potentially House -- pass on the House floor.
But there is still certainly an avalanche of criticism coming from many Republicans, and even the power of the bully pulpit hasn't been able to twist many arms just yet.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to take action.
SERFATY (voice-over): President Trump convening with top House Republicans, warning them they could face a blood bath in midterms if they don't repeal and replace Obamacare.
TRUMP: There's going to be no waiting and no more excuses by anybody.
SERFATY: But divisions in the GOP over their replacement bill could derail the proposal only one day after its release.
SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: This is not the repeal bill we've been waiting for for all of these years. This is a huge opportunity that's been missed.
SERFATY: Conservative lawmakers dubbing the American Healthcare Act Obamacare Lite, some calling for a complete gutting of the plans for fundable tax credits and Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: The first thing Republicans are bringing forward is a piece of legislation that says we'll repeal it but keeps Medicaid expansion and actually expands it, that keeps some of the tax increases. That is not what we promised the American people we were going to do.
SERFATY: Senate Republicans finding fault elsewhere. Four GOP senators will oppose any bill that doesn't protect Medicaid enrollees in their states.
The president promising to put his weight behind the replacement. Unsurprising since he campaigned on a full repeal.
PAUL: I think the repeal bill probably won't pass unless we take replacement off of it.
SERFATY: The president tweeting at one of the bill's most vocal conservative opponents, Senator Rand Paul, Mr. Trump writing, "I feel sure that my friend Rand Paul will come along with the new and great health care program." And Republican leadership is rallying around the bill. House Speaker
Paul Ryan confident they'll get the votes.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have a few weeks. We'll have 218 when this thing comes to floor, I can guarantee you that.
SERFATY: And the number of votes needed to have that House majority is actually 216, as opposed to 218 because of a few vacancies right now. And while Speaker Ryan seems confident there. Others just don't agree. This bill frankly faces a very steep climb in the House once it eventually does get to the House floor. It faces an even steeper climb when it potentially faces the Senate -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Sunlen, thanks so much for explaining all of that to us.
Now to the continuing fallout from President Trump's stunning accusation that President Obama had the Trump Tower headquarters wiretapped during the presidential campaign. Republican lawmakers who will investigate the claim say they have seen no evidence thus far.
CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with more. Good morning, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, you know, the White House staff has been trying to work the message on this, but it's been very tough because of the lack of evidence. And now it's starting to look extremely likely that members of Congress are going to use their time and resources to investigate the president's wiretapping claim made on Twitter over the weekend.
JOHNS (voice-over): White House press secretary Sean Spicer making clear the president doesn't plan on backpedaling his unsubstantiated claim that former President Obama wiretapped his phones during the election.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Will the president withdraw the accusation? Does he have any...
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Why would he withdraw it until it's -- I mean, until it's adjudicated? That's what we're asking.
ACOSTA: No regrets from him...
ACOSTA: ... about raising this accusation?
SPICER: Absolutely not.
JOHNS: Still offering no evidence. SPICER: It's not a question of new proof or less proof or whatever.
The answer is the same.
JOHNS: Despite denials of wiretapping from former top intelligence officials.
[07:05:03] JAMES CLAPPER, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR: There was no such wiretap activity.
JOHNS: Spicer continuing to insist on an investigation.
SPICER: There is a concern about what happened in the 2016 election. The House and Senate Intelligence Committee have the staff and the capabilities and the processes in place to look at this in a way that's objective, and that's how it should be done.
JOHNS: Now the House Intelligence Committee moving forward with public hearings on Russia's interference in last year's election.
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I want to conduct as many of these hearings in open in the public, and as you know, that's a little rare for the intelligence committees to do.
JOHNS: The committee's chair, Representative Devin Nunes, inviting officials from the national's top intelligence agencies to testify beginning March 20. The top Democrat on the committee, Representative Adam Schiff, confirming the alleged wiretapping will be part of the investigation.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. President, we accept. We accept. We will investigate this.
JOHNS: Despite three top Republicans saying they haven't seen any evidence of it.
NUNES: As you know, I think that a lot of that was maybe a little bit -- the multiple tweets were perhaps a little bit strung together.
JOHNS: Nunes even implying that the president's allegation-filled tweets were maybe questions instead of outright declarations.
NUNES: The president is a neophyte to politics. He's been doing this a little over a year. And I think a lot of the things that he says, you guys sometimes take literally.
JOHNS: Meanwhile, President Trump's pick for deputy general refusing to say whether a special prosecutor should investigate Russia's election meddling.
ROSENSTEIN: I'm simply not in a position to answer the question, because I don't know the information that they know, the folks who are in the position to make that decision.
JOHNS: If confirmed, Rod Rosenstein would head any Russia probe after embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself for failing to disclose two meetings he had with the Russian ambassador, during his confirmation hearing. Something Senator Al Franken took issue with.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MICHIGAN: It's hard to come to any other conclusion that he -- that he just perjured himself. I think he should come before the committee and explain this.
JOHNS: Not to be forgotten, another controversial topic here at the White House. The state of Hawaii has now filed suit against the administration's newly-revived travel ban, the attorney general of the state of Ohio. Hawaii says it's still not OK, and he says it was put into place with discriminatory intent -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Joe. Appreciate it.
Let's bring in Virginia Republican Representative Scott Taylor. Member of the House Appropriations Committee, and he also served in the Iraq war as a Navy SEAL.
Always a pleasure to have you on the show, sir.
REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: Good morning, Chris. How are you?
CUOMO: I'm doing well. So are you going to vote yes on the president's health care replacement bill. Or do you think I can get to 216 or even 218 as he suggested?
TAYLOR: Well, you know, I just got it, so I'm still reviewing this right here. But I'm certainly leaning in that way, but we'll see what happens. I don't think that the end product is going to reflect exactly what it is right now, as you well know. There will be amendments and movement with the mark up and we'll see how long before I make that final decision.
But I'm certainly leaning in that direction, just because that was certainly a campaign promise. And there's a lot of folks out there that want to see it repealed and replaced in a way that helps their families.
CUOMO: So what do you think in here is better than what is there right now?
TAYLOR: Well, there's absolutely things in there that puts it back on some personal responsibility, of course, with folks. And I think it's important to say, Chris, look, there is no one who is going to care more about your healthcare than you or your family. So I think it's important that it's not just a one-size-fit-all government solution that's mandated on the people, but they have a little more say in it. States have a little more say in it, of course.
But there are several things that I like in this. But again, I'm still reviewing everything. And you did ask the question if we think that -- if I think that we'll come up with 218 votes. And I do think that, in the end, we will come up with 218 votes. And you know, the sausage still has to be made. And I think people will come to the table on both sides. At least I'm certainly hopeful on both sides, but I think that, in the end, we'll come to 218.
CUOMO: There seems to be a struggle. There's certainly one within your party now, about you know, is this conservative enough? Is it Obamacare Lite. But it also seems to be one fundamental proposition that people don't want to own, which is that in its current form, if this becomes the law, you will have people, especially as you get into the low income levels, lose coverage. You will not have the promise kept of the president, who said, "I want everybody to have their coverage." This plan does not call for that. Will you own that proposition?
TAYLOR: Well, let's keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there today who don't have coverage now and that always gets lost. And there's also -- there are also a lot of people who lost coverage under Obamacare. So it's not -- you know, it's not just, oh, my God, well, when Obamacare came in, everyone has coverage. That's not true.
You know, there are people, what we are trying to do, as we talked about before in this program, is make sure that folks, everyone has access to it. And I understand that access itself is not the same thing as coverage, but that's true with Obamacare, as well, too. We want to make sure that more folks have access, more folks aren't losing their plans, more folks have a little more choice. Again, you -- there's no one is going to care more about your health care than you.
CUOMO: I hear you.
TAYLOR: Your family.
CUOMO: I hear you, but if I don't have the money, access doesn't matter. This plan is going to have less money in it for people by the current reckoning, and you're going to have people who have care right now that won't anymore.
TAYLOR: That's an excellent point. Because I know my own family members who don't have the money have access to the exchanges to the ACA but they can't afford it and the ambulance we plans were terrible. You'll have similar problems that you had with the ACA and quite frankly you had a lot more problems with the ACA. We're trying to make it a lot less problems.
It will not be a perfect system. There is no perfect system. But we want to make sure that we cover more folks. We want to make sure that they have access, that we don't leave folks who are behind, of course. and Republicans want to take care of people that aren't able to take care of themselves. And they want to make sure that people that can contribute do contribute.
CUOMO: When the money comes out of the exchanges, the Medicaid expansion exchanges, and gets put more on the states and they don't have the money.
CUOMO: It might be the state, not the federal government that directly takes people off the rolls. You're going to have people not have coverage who has coverage now. I don't understand why you guys don't dance around that, because you don't want this to be an entitlement anyway. Why not just be honest about it and say, "Yes, we want access. People are going to lose coverage, but we think, on balance, it's still better but we own that reality." Why not?
TAYLOR: The thing is, we're putting it back. I want to see the states have more say in it. I don't believe that the federal government should control the things and make sure that you have one size fits all as we have seen. There's only one insurer. I do want to see states step up because they know better than Washington does. We are trying as best we can.
And we want Democrats to join in. We want Republicans on all sides to come in and make sure that we do this the right way. It's so important to families that are out there. Not just the ones that -- like, that we're concerned about, the poor folks, because we do want to help them, absolutely. But we also have to be concerned about the working females out there that are getting crushed under taxes and premium increases and making very tough decisions for their families.
CUOMO: Wo we'll see if this is better and not just different as the details come in. We'll have you back on to discuss that.
Let me get a quick tape from you on this wiretapping situation. Sean Spicer, the press secretary says yesterday in response to a direct question that no, the president has not reached out to the FBI about the wiretapping.
Why would the president of the United States not get the answer to the question that he has? Unless this is all just a distraction to -- you know, to keep people not focused on the Russia question surrounding his administration? He can get the answer to the question faster than anybody else. Why wouldn't he pick up the phone and call the FBI if he cares so much?
TAYLOR: I think that he should. I think that he should call the FBI and try to find it out. Now, if he -- if he feels as though that he needs to go around, and he needs Congress to exercise their oversight, then let's see. And then, you know, people out there can judge whether he was correct or not with his tweets or not, saying that there's a wiretap. It is a big accusation. I understand that.
And it shouldn't be taken lightly on both sides. So -- and I understand Devin Nunes will put it in there in the investigation. So, yes, he should pick up the phone and try to find out what he can, but if he doesn't feel as though that is sufficient, then let Congress exercise that oversight. And then, of course, we could be on the program and talk about whether he was right or wrong with those public hearings.
CUOMO: I welcome that conversation, as any that you want to have about the interests of the American people. Scott Taylor, thank you as always.
TAYLOR: Thank you, sir. Have a great day.
CAMEROTA: OK. A couple of important headlines now. Four people are dead following a devastating crash involving a train and a charter bus in Biloxi, Mississippi. This bus was bringing 48 senior citizens to a casino when police say it got stuck on the tracks at a crossing as a freight train approached.
And just two months ago a soft drink delivery truck got stuck at the same crossing and was also hit by a train. Federal investigators are on scene, trying to determine the cause.
CUOMO: At least 7 deaths now blamed on intense wildfires that have scorched more than a million acres across the country. The fires are forcing evacuations in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Florida. Five of the deaths happening in Texas. Three ranchers were trying to save their cattle, lost their lives. As many as five firefighters have been injured so far battling the flames.
[07:15:14] CAMEROTA: Nike has created a brand-new product for Muslim women athletes. It is called the Nike Pro hijab. It's a lightweight head cover with tiny breathable holes. And it is opaque to meet the requirement for hijab-wearing women. Nike said they began working on this prototype in response to complaints from some Muslim athletes about competing in a traditional head scarf. The final product will be available for sale in Spring 2018.
All right. So asking the tough questions during the confirmation hearing of the deputy attorney general. What did it get us in terms of any truth or any insight? Is Sheldon Whitehouse, the senator, getting the answers that he wants about the investigation into Russia? He joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSENSTEIN: As far as I'm concerned, every investigation conducted by the Department of Justice is an independent investigation. We prosecute tens of thousands of people every year, and every one of those defendants deserves an independent prosecutor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[07:20:08] CAMEROTA: That was President Trump's nominee for deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, yesterday responding to Democratic calls for a special prosecutor to oversee those investigations into Russia's alleged election hacking.
Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was one of the senators asking the questions. He's a member of the Judiciary Committee. He's also leading a congressional subcommittee investigation into Russia's alleged interference into the election. Good morning, Senator.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: Good morning. How are you Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: I'm doing well. It sounded like Mr. Rosensteen would not commit...
CAMEROTA: Rosenstein. Thank you. Would not commit to naming a special prosecutor. Were you satisfied with his answers?
WHITEHOUSE: Yes, I'm satisfied with that. This is a guy who's now the U.S. attorney for Maryland. He's not even in the main justice building, and until he's confirmed, he's not going to be read into whatever is going on. And I think he's entitled to go over there and get briefed up and find out what's going on before he's forced to make a decision about whether there should be a special counsel or not.
I suspect that once he gets a look at that, he'll see that a special counsel is probably a good idea. But he is, I think, entitled to take a look around before he's asking to make that decision.
CAMEROTA: You were peppering him with all sorts of questions about whether or not communications, intercepted communications would be relevant to the investigation. And for a while there it sounded like he was dodging a little bit and saying, "I don't know. I haven't looked into this. I'm not sure."
Did you feel as though he was being straight with you? And did you get the answers you wanted?
WHITEHOUSE: Yes, I did. I thought that, you know, under the circumstances, he's obviously going to be cautious. And it's awkward for him to be dealing in hypotheticals. But I thought I laid down the markers that I needed to to hold the Department of Justice within the boundaries that it needs to behave in down the road. And I continue to have confidence in Rosenstein.
CAMEROTA: All of this is important, because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any investigation into alleged Russian interference or alleged ties between the Trump team and Russia.
Do you believe that Attorney General Sessions perjured himself during his confirmation hearing?
WHITEHOUSE: I don't think we can know that yet. I think there's circumstantial evidence that needs to be developed about what the content was of the communications between him and the Russian ambassador. And whether he communicated that content back to the Trump campaign.
You could imagine a set of circumstances in which the Trump campaign gave him talking points. He was a message boy from them. There was a content that related to the relations between USA and Russia, favorable to Russia, that would encourage them to support the Trump campaign. And then he returned back to the Trump campaign and said, "Done it. You know, mission accomplished her."
And if that were the case, it would be really, really hard to believe that he didn't remember that. If it was just a casual courtesy meeting, then forgetting it or not being truthful about it may be a little bit more understandable.
But we need to get to the bottom of those questions. And that's why I asked those hypotheticals of Rosenstein to point out that, in fact, these were questions that needed to be answered in any legitimate investigation, and we don't have those answers yet.
CAMEROTA: Well, Senator Al Franken has gone further publicly than you have in terms of what Jeff Sessions did during his confirmation hearing. He was on with our Jake Tapper yesterday. Let me play that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: It's hard to come to any other conclusion that he -- that he just perjured himself.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So you think he perjured himself. What do you think the penalty should be? Do you think he should re-sign?
FRANKEN: I think he should come before the committee and explain this.
Of course, no one asked him about the Russian ambassador. He's the one who volunteered that information that he didn't speak to anybody; and it turned out he had -- he had met twice with the Russian ambassador, once a private meeting. And he had seven weeks to just notify us.
This is about the Russian government hijacking our election. And this is about whether there was any collusion in that interference by the Trump campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So Senator, if you're not willing to go so far as to say you believe that Jeff Sessions perjured himself, how are you going to figure out what those conversations and meetings were that he had with the Russians?
WHITEHOUSE: I agree with Al that Attorney General Sessions should come back before the committee.
Think of it this way, Alisyn. Had he given a truthful answer at the time, would there have been follow-up questions? Of course there would have been follow-up questions. It have taken over the hearing. People would have said, "What? What did you say in those meetings?" We would have asked questions about what his aides had notes on from those meetings. What communications did you have with the Trump campaign about those meetings? All of those questions would have followed in the logical course. He should not get the benefit of his false statement not having to answer the questions by not knowing what the truth is. And that's, I think, where he's disrespecting the committee, by avoiding what are logical follow-up questions had he told the truth.
[07:25:28] CAMEROTA: So Senator, last week you and Senator Lindsey Graham met with FBI Director James Comey. Did you speak to him about President Trump's accusations that President Obama's White House had Trump Tower wiretapped?
WHITEHOUSE: We described to him the investigation that we were embarked on. We gave him the date of our first hearing. We told him that, by the time of the first hearing, we'd like to know for sure, have a public statement from the Department of Justice, about whether they are investigating the Russia-Trump connections and the wiretap matter we -- I don't know that that actually came up. But it's certainly going to come up today, because we have a letter going out requesting some of the background information that would have been developed, had there been any such wiretaps.
CAMEROTA: Are you going to get that public statement that you asked for?
WHITEHOUSE: By the 15th, he said he'd have an answer for us, so we'll be standing by for that.
CAMEROTA: Did he say...
WHITEHOUSE: It was an awkward -- it was a bit of a difficult day for him, because it was the very day that Jeff Sessions resigned, so it wasn't clear whether he knew at that point -- I'm sorry, recused. And it wasn't clear whether he knew that he was going to recuse himself. But because this related to that matter, it wasn't really clear who the boss was at the Department of Justice at that particular moment that we talked to him.
CAMEROTA: OK. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thanks so much for all the information.
WHITEHOUSE: You bet.
CAMEROTA: And we look forward to seeing what your investigation comes up with, if anything. Thanks for being on NEW DAY.
WHITEHOUSE: Thanks, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Let's get over to Chris.
CUOMO: All right. A wild story to tell you about. Marines, active duty and veterans, part of an online group accused of sharing explicit photos of their female counterparts. We're talking to a veteran who helped break the case open, ahead.