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Conservative Leaders "Hopeful" After Trump Meeting; Lawmakers Debate 22 Plus Hours Over Obamacare Repeal; U.S. Stocks Riding An Eight-Year Rally. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired March 9, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: -- stranger than fiction. Suzanne is home. She's healing, her kid's OK, and that boy is wrong. They weren't just in the right place at the right time; they did the right thing.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But they also super human strength.

CAVETT: Well --

CAMEROTA: Thanks for sticking around, Dick.

CAVETT: Mothers who lift cars off their babies, it happens.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we see that too.

CAVETT: The gods smile on us sometimes.

CAMEROTA: Time now for CNN NEWSROOM with Poppy Harlow and John Berman.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Dick Cavett, our favorite "NEW DAY" anchor. Thank you to you, sir. Let's get started.


BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow. So glad you're with us.

High drama, high stakes in the wee hours overnight. After hours and hours and hours of discussions, the Republican plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare passed its first legislative test, but there might not be enough hours in the day to convince some wary conservatives. You might say that while the plan cleared a hurdle, it is now hitting a pretty big wall.

BERMAN: And there is a new Republican senator on that wall. Tom Cotton, a rising star among the party's conservatives with an open plea to House Republicans this morning. Pause, start over, he says. Get it right, don't get it fast. Now, the President, he doesn't want Tom Cotton on that wall. He

doesn't need Tom Cotton on that wall. The President is launching a big persuasion push to win conservative support, but he also might be launching a new plan for evasive action if the bill fails. Just allow ObamaCare to collapse, he says, and then blame the Democrats.

We got a lot to cover this morning, a lot going on. We want to begin with Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill where there's still action going on.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, and they went through the evening as well. You notice that it was the House Ways and Means Committee that went for 18 hours overnight. Well, now Energy and Commerce, that committee is still going on now. It's 23 hours and counting, of course, the debate over this new plan for the health care of our citizens here.

One of the things that happened is that Democrats have been using all kinds of delay tactics, really just to prolong the process. We're talking about a hundred amendments as well as bringing up Trump releasing his tax returns, even debating the efficacy of the health of artificial tanning. This while Republicans are really trying to fast track this legislation.

We heard from House Speaker Paul Ryan who is going through a critical test right now to make sure that he can actually lead his own party in pushing this through when he is trying to project a sense of confidence.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We are going through, what I would call, the sort of typical growing pains from being an opposition party fighting Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to a governing party. What I think is happening is people are getting a little confused about what you can and cannot put in what we call a reconciliation bill.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Let me insert a point --

RYAN: These are members of Congress, so they know what a reconciliation bill is.

CARLSON: Well, well. We were finding that some don't.


MALVEAUX: Well, all the focus, all eyes on the House. It really is going to be a major battle on the senate side. That is where they are going to have to get all the Republicans really to be on board. The Democrats united against battling this.

And we heard from a key conservative, Tom Cotton, this morning who sent out this flurry of tweets here. I just want to read a couple to you.

"House health care bill can't pass Senate without major changes. To my friends in House -- pause, start over. Get it right, don't get it fast."

"GOP shouldn't act like Dems did in O'care. No excuse to release bill Monday night, start voting Wednesday. With no budget estimate!"

And then he goes on to say that, "What matters in long run is better, more affordable health care for Americans, not House leaders' arbitrary legislative calendar."

And as you know, this is critical because if they lose more than three votes in the Senate, the legislation dies -- John, Poppy.

HARLOW: Exactly. Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill. Thank you very much.

The White House, this morning, trying to gain some traction here on this bill. Getting bogged down, though, in a distraction many would say of their own making. The President's claim that former President Obama ordered a wiretap inside of Trump Tower, still standing without any evidence to support it. And now some nimble footwork, some tap dancing from the Vice President.

Our Sara Murray joins us from the White House with more. Good morning.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning, Poppy. Well, President Trump may not be getting the backup he had hoped for on this wiretapping claim. His Vice President, Mike Pence, was asked directly about this in a local news interview. Listen to how he answered the question.


JOHN KOSICH, REPORTER, NEWS 5 CLEVELAND: Yes or no, do you believe that President Obama did that?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, what I can say is that the President and our administration are very confident that the congressional committees in the House and Senate that are examining issues surrounding the last election, the run-up to the last election, will do that in a thorough and equitable way.


MURRAY: So a little bit of dodging there by the Vice President. Now, the White House has not offered any evidence to support President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped by President Obama when he was a presidential candidate.

[09:05:02] And Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, said there was no reason to believe the President is the target of an investigation. Instead, they have kicked this over to Congress, asking the House and Senate to look into this question of whether President Trump was, in fact, spied on. Two senators say they are going to do just that, asking the FBI and the Justice Department for any evidence that could support this claim. Back to you guys.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray for us at the White House. Thanks a lot, Sara.

Let's bring in the best political analysts in the history of television. Hyberbole. I'm teasing as well.

We have Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for "The Chicago Sun- Times"; Margaret Hoover, CNN political commentator, Republican consultant; and John Avlon, a CNN political analyst, editor-in-chief for "The Daily Beast."

Lynn Sweet, let's talk about health care, shall we? Because right now, if you are the Republican House leadership, you have some members of your own party, perhaps many members of your own party, lining up against this bill. And then you have groups like the AARP, the American Medical Association, all kinds of hospital organizations, lining up against this bill. Is it too early to call this a botched rollout? And if not, who botched it?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Let's just say it's a bad rollout because Republicans only have 21 votes they could lose. Suzanne mentioned that there were three votes in the Senate. So even though the Republicans are in control, they didn't do the homework to address some of these concerns beforehand, and that's the problem now.

John, if you want to call it botched, I'm not going to argue with you. It certainly could have been better because every question that you are hearing now and that we may discuss in this segment was 100 percent anticipated, could have been addressed maybe in the form of a revision in the bill and a pre-negotiation rather than have the internal dissent within the governing Republican Party that you're seeing right now.

HARLOW: I mean, if you look at the travel ban as an example, not exactly apples to apples, Margaret Hoover, because that was an executive order, but still, you see what happens when you don't talk to enough folks about how to implement things. How did they or do you think they did not see it coming?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually got to pushback about this narrative. I think there are too many parties at the table to please everybody. And Paul Ryan and congressional leadership were all talking with themselves, and they knew who the haters were going to be.

And frankly, the haters are part of, you know, this term, this conservative industrial complex, right? A play on Eisenhower's military industrial complex.


HOOVER: But there are. There are all these oppositional conservatives who just can't take yes for an answer. They're making, you know, perfect the enemy of the good, and they are actually just sort of permanently poised in this attack mode against whoever is in the White House. And 63 percent of them haven't even been in Congress with a Republican president before.

So it's like they can't take yes for an answer. This is their one chance to fix the bill that they all campaigned and got into office to fix, and they can't say yes. So the issue, I think, is not that they didn't share it. I think the issue for Republican leadership is, frankly, deploying the President to corral all these sort of stray cats to just say yes.

HARLOW: So he's going to try to do that. I mean, he's going to hit the road.

BERMAN: Well, yes, he's out there and he's got this persuasion plan. He's going to Kentucky, you know, home state of Rand Paul.

HARLOW: Yes. They're going to bowl with John Berman. They're going to go bowling.

BERMAN: Yes, they're going to go bowling. And what's better than bowling to convince anyone of anything?


BERMAN: But, John Avlon, not only --


BERMAN: I mean, to me, it feels like there's a new army here in this battle all of a sudden this morning. When you get the likes of Tom Cotton, Republican Senator from Arkansas, who is something of a hero among some conservative factions, saying, you know, not I'm for it or against or I'm against it. I'm just -- I want it to slow down.

Slow this thing down, you know, he says in this tweet, "And my friends in the House, pause, start over. Get it right, don't get it fast." It seems to me that go slow may actually be a more dangerous argument against Paul Ryan and the plan than some of these conservatives who are just saying don't do it at all.

AVLON: Well, start over is not exactly a ringing endorsement for the nucleus of the current bill. That said, you know, here we are halfway through the first 100 days of a presidency, and there still needs to be a resounding legislative win put on the table.

And as Margaret pointed out, you know, the conservative industrial complex coming after the bill, that's somewhat predictable. But it's a larger problem of the conservative movement's own making because they spent eight years focusing on what they were against rather than delineating what they were for.

And for all the talk about repeal and replace, the emphasis was always on repeal, never on replace. And now, they've got the responsibility of governing. And in the immortal words of George W. Bush, it's hard work.

And Donald Trump is not being deployed because he's trying to be contained by the administration. So you got a lot of countervailing forces and a very muddy message halfway through the first 100 days of this administration.

HARLOW: So, Lynn, I will say there is something that we're going to see more than, arguably, we saw from the Obama administration in some very key moments, and that is outreach.

I mean, they're going to go bowling. They're going to come over to the White House; the President is going to meet with these folks that don't like it. He's going to head out across the country in just a few days and try to supersede folks.

This is the art of the deal guy. And we are reminded of one of the lines in that bestseller. Let me read it to you, "The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood and then you're dead."

[09:10:10] How does he walk this fine line? Can he be the king of deal making on this one?

SWEET: This is not a real estate deal because there are millions more parties to it that will be impacted. This is not just a Trump deal where it's one party to another. And I say this because government deal making is not the same as running your own family-owned business deal making.

One of the most complex parts of our lives is our insurance policies. No matter where you get it from, it's hard. President Trump himself said he just discovered how complex the insurance issue is, whether or not you change something big or small.

So he could go and talk and, yes, take people out to dinner or bowling or whatever, but he needs a sense of what it is he wants. Now, is he just going to job it out to Paul Ryan and say I'm for whatever you want? You want your house bill passed, and that's what I'll pressure your members for.

But this is something where the many different constituencies within the Republican Party have their issues, you know, as we discussed, whether it's the conservative industrial complex or even moderates who just want a price tag on the different elements of the bill. They don't have it now. So that's why it's going to be harder to make this deal because he's swimming in a new pool here.

BERMAN: You know, if want to make a bowling metaphor here, there's a 7-10 split. I mean, he's trying to clear the 7-10 split and I know --

HARLOW: I don't even know what that means. I don't even know what that means.


BERMAN: I know, Poppy, that, you know, it's successful. When there's a pin on either side of the alley and you try to get both of them, it's next to impossible.

SWEET: John, he'll use two balls at the same time.

BERMAN: Well, no, but what's so interesting that something John and Margaret were saying, you guys don't seem convinced that the President really is being deployed full force to sell this?

HOOVER: Well, he's about to take a couple of trips. Here's the thing. This is a process, right?

This is the starting point in the negotiation, is the Republican House bill, OK? If they pass it out of the House, we all know what happens in the Senate. Right?

The Senate changes it and waters it down and fixes it so that they can get all the votes they need. So Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and the more centrist Republicans can actually go for it.

HARLOW: Work it, yes.

HOOVER: I think Trump is going to get engaged. This has to happen. Like, if he wants to have a successful presidency, he has to pass this first legislative sort of proposition, and that is the Affordable Care Act repeal.

HARLOW: So, John Avlon, before we go, how are you feeling on this this morning? Is this TrumpCare or is this RyanCare?


AVLON: I think it's hilarious how people are trying to wriggle out of having it attached -- their own name attached to it. I mean, you know, the administration doesn't want to call it TrumpCare because they feel it will sort of add a stink to the overall odor of the administration. They don't want to associate with themselves. They're saying it's complex, this health care. And certainly, Paul Ryan doesn't want to see it either.

I think that speaks to the confidence they have in the bill and the concept. If nobody wants to own it, it's homeless, and that usually means it dies an ignominious death on Capitol Hill. So if the king of branding doesn't want to touch it, watch out, folks. There's some problem with it right at the heart.

HARLOW: All right. Lynn Sweet, Margaret Hoover, John Avlon, thank you all very, very much.

BERMAN: It will take Earl Anthony to nail this 7-10 split. Another bowling reference for --


HARLOW: Is that what you do all weekend?

BERMAN: I'm just saying, if there are bowling fans who watch. If you're a bowling fan and you watch the show, tweet us. (LAUGHTER)

HOOVER: Tweet time.

HARLOW: I'll be waiting for those. Still to come, President Trump turns up the heat on conservative groups balking at the GOP health care bill. Did he win them over? We are talking to one of those leaders who was in the Oval Office yesterday with the President.

BERMAN: Plus, who leaked the CIA secrets for hacking cell phones and televisions? New developments in this new investigation.

And a major shift in the U.S. battle against ISIS. This morning, Marines on the ground in Syria.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: On a closed door meeting at the White House last night, the president putting the heat on conservative groups, who are opposing right now the Republican plan to replace Obamacare. Sources tell CNN the president criticized them for calling it Obamacare Lite and warned they could be helping the other side.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So joining us right now is a man who was inside of that meeting, Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity. Nice to have you here.


HARLOW: So this is the president who is the ultimate dealmaker. This is "the art of the deal" guy. Did he sell you on this last night?

PHILLIPS: We appreciate the president taking the time to discuss this legislation. We have the same goals, to fully repeal Obamacare. We want to see this bill get to where it actually does that. It was a good discussion last night. We appreciate him taking the time to actually include and to talk to us on this.

HARLOW: I hear you. But to my question, did he sell you? If you were one of the folks voting on this, would you vote yea or nay right now?

PHILLIPS: No, not yet. The biggest problem are the tax credits. It's replacing the subsidies in Obamacare with another entitlement. It doesn't lower cost. In the end, frankly, it doesn't improve health care for a lot of lower income Americans who had long wait times under Obamacare right now.

BERMAN: So did the president give you any indication he was willing to budge on the tax credit or budge anywhere else?

PHILLIPS: Well, there are some areas where we're discussing it, moving up the Medicaid phase out of the expansion of Medicaid from 2020 to 2018. That's a positive step if that actually happens. Allowing some of the reforms certainly with (inaudible) Food and Drug Administration drug approval process. There are some areas where we are working toward a point where

we would like to support this. The big problem, though, right now are the tax credits. I'm telling you it's another subsidy and it doesn't go all the way to repeal Obamacare, which Republicans in the House repeatedly promised to do. This bill doesn't yet do that.

BERMAN: And no movement on tax credits as far as you can tell right now?

[09:20:03]PHILLIPS: No, not yet. And certainly, again, you have a subsidy from Obamacare, if you keep those tax credits, it's another subsidy, another entitlement. That's not what Republicans promised in four consecutive elections, 2010, '12, '14 rand '16.

And 88 percent of House Republicans serving right now voted to fully repeal Obamacare. They need to go back to that and keep their word. It's the House that's really holding this thing up right now, the House leadership.

HARLOW: You're holding back a little bit in your language, perhaps because it's breakfast time. You said, sir, and I am quoting you, you detest this bill so much that Republicans will have, quote, "The shortest lived majority in the modern era if they don't toss this law on the ash heap of history." What are the consequences then for Republican members who would vote for this bill as it stands now?

PHILLIPS: They're not going to be fully repealing Obamacare if they vote for the House plan that was put forward just a couple days ago. They're going to be breaking their word to the American people. We want to help them get to a point where they're fully repealing this law.

I do believe it will have a devastating impact on their chances of keeping the majority. The American people heard them election after election promise to unambiguously end this law and they need to do it because they need to improve the health care that Americans are getting. They're not going to do that with this current House legislation.

BERMAN: Will you hold it against those members who do vote for it, the leadership who continues to push it and the president if he continues to support it? Will you hold it against them?

PHILLIPS: We want to work with them and make this bill better. I think it's the American people, especially the House guys will have a problem with. They have promised this in four consecutive elections. The American people rewarded them with majorities. I think it's the American people who will have a problem with.

We'll certainly be disappointed if they don't actually get to it a full repeal, but we're hopeful they're going to do that. We really hope we can see these tax credits moved out so you have a genuinely full repeal of this law.

HARLOW: So what do you make of Republican lawmakers like Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas this morning tweeting a number of things, incredibly critical not only of this bill but of House Speaker Paul Ryan. Just to read you one of them, "What matters in the long run is better, more affordable health care for Americans, not House leaders' arbitrary legislative calendar." He says, slow it down. Is he right?

PHILLIPS: I'm not suggesting slow it down. What we're suggesting is let's have a genuine full repeal of Obamacare. That's what we're suggesting. Let's get the language right. The language came out. It took about two and a half months to get actual language. We have that now. It's not where Republicans in the House have promised in four consecutive elections they were going to be.

There were not many Republicans out there saying what they're saying now in the leadership on Obamacare in recent elections. They need to keep their word. This is what Americans get frustrated about in Washington.

When they hear these guys talk in election time in unambiguous terms, we're going to make health care better especially for low income Americans by actually giving better health coverage and then they don't do it.

I think that's who they'll have a problem with, the American people. We want to help them get there. We appreciate the president meeting with us last night. There are some areas that hopefully can move the right way certainly on ending the Medicaid expansion earlier, moving that up to 2018 from where it is now in the House bill right now which is 2020.

But the central problem right now are these tax credits, which is another form of entitlements which they promised to do away with when they said they would repeal Obamacare.

BERMAN: All right, well, they're in there right now. We will continue to see where you go on this. Tim Phillips, Americans for Prosperity, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate your time, sir.

A federal criminal investigation under way into the Wikileaks release of alleged CIA hacking tactics. The FBI trying to track down if there is a mole releasing this stuff. Where are we on the investigation? A full report ahead.



HARLOW: Guess what today is? The full market turns eight. It's been great for your portfolio likely. What does this really all mean?

BERMAN: How do you like Legos? It means $10,000 invested eight years ago is worth $35,000 right now, a whole lot of Legos. The opening bell just moments away. CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is like a third grader. This eight-year bull market, it started in not a very happy or celebratory mood. Remember March 9th, 2009, you had hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs. On that day was the low.

The stock market rose and rose and it had a wonderful return. Look at this, 230 percent for S&P 500, 220 percent over for the past eight years for the Dow. The second longest bull record in history. The fourth highest or strongest.

The Trump rally is only the very, very far right of your screen, this has been a long-term run. Some big names, names that may maybe you've known. Netflix might be in your portfolio. If you bought that in 2009, holy smokes, about 2,500 percent. Hindsight is 20/20. I'm not saying I recommended stocks to on that day.

I was in the fetal position. Amazon 1,300 percent, Starbucks 1200, and apple 1,000 percent. Some of those are in your portfolio. About half of Americans are invested in the stock market. There will be some people who will say this is not fun for everyone, right.

And look, Donald Trump has won the election on people who don't feel like they've seen a 250 percent return on their money over the past eight years.

HARLOW: And companies that are hoping he'll do what he said when he was running. Did you bring us some forks?

ROMANS: I have forks.