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Battle Over Obamacare; Waiting for Answers; Signature Trademarks; Growing Inferno. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 9, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Battle over the bill. Lawmakers crank up politics over health care legislation that affects millions of Americans.

The investigation into Donald Trump's wiretap claims heats up. Senior republicans in Congress, say they will subpoena intelligence agencies to get answers.

And, prospects for diplomacy with Pyongyang, looking dim after top U.S. official describes North Korea's leader as irrational.

Hello, and welcome to viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster. This is CNN Newsroom.

We'll get to the stories in just a moment. But first we got some breaking news for you out of Hawaii. Because, now the first U.S. state is taking President Trump to court over his new travel ban. It's asking for an emergency order to halt the ban which would restrict travel from six Muslim majority countries.

Mr. Trump signed the executive order on Monday. It keeps people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. All refugees will be banned for 120 days. And the order is due to take effect on March 16th.

Now, it's after 3 o'clock in the morning in Washington where two congressional committees are still meeting as republicans try to push through an ambitious bill to replace the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.

The marathon sessions are happening in part because democrats are using procedural delays to slow down the process. The controversial health care proposal unveiled on Monday hasn't been a smash success, let's say. A number of high profile lawmakers have slammed it including many conservatives.

President Trump is lobbying those opposed to the plan on Wednesday night. he invited one group of republican critics to the White House to go bowling hoping to win them over. Many republicans are framing the health care debate as one of fiscal responsibility. While some democrats say another case of pitting haves against have-notes. Take a listen.


PETER ROSKAM, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: What we're saying is we think we got a better pathway. We think we got something that is going to deal with pre-existing conditions. We think that we got something that's going to mitigate costs. We think that something is going to take off burdensome mandates that have created pressures on employers who are begging for mercy in my district.

We think we have something that is going to be reasonable in its, in its approach as it relates to cost and there is an invitation to do the right thing by a wide range of people.

BILL PASCRELL, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: This bill, amounts to showering money on a remarkably small number of remarkably wealthy men and women in America, while taking away the health care and increasing costs on millions of working families.


FOSTER: Well, republican leaders are brushing off dissent within their ranks as the growing pains of being the majority party.

CNN's Phil Mattingly has our report.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: House Speaker Paul Ryan is not so subtle pitch to still skeptical or even outright opposed members was simple. This is exactly what you campaigned on.


PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I have no doubt we will pass this because we are going to keep our promises.



MATTINGLY: Even as he acknowledge that despite those promises and the full-on support of President Trump, he still has problems inside his own party.


RYAN: What you are seeing is we are going through the inevitable growing pains of being an opposition party to becoming a governing party.


MATTINGLY: Sources tell CNN, GOP leaders blitzed their members behind closed doors today. With house majority whip, Steve Scalise placing a split screen slide on a projection screen of Trump and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The question Scalise's asked, whose side are you on? GOP aides realize it will take more than that as conservatives continue to threaten to sink the bill altogether.


MO BROOKS, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: It is a lump of coal. Ultimately it's going to result in the demise of our country or at least contribute to our debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy.


MATTINGLY: Among those who need persuading, Senator Ted Cruz, despite unfounded allegation tying his father to the assassination of JFK.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... shortly before the death, before the shooting?


MATTINGLY: And this unflattering tweet about his wife Heidi is dining tonight with President Trump at the White House, but lobbying no doubt on the menu. And with good reason. On the other side of the aisle...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I am not -- I'm simply asking for retribution with regard to a parliamentary inquiry.


[03:05:00] MATTINGLY: There is no help on the way, as democrats today spent hours criticizing the bill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it cover more Americans? No. Does it cut the deficit? No.


MATTINGLY: Mocking the process and the president at the same time.




MATTINGLY: As well as components for maintaining pre-existing condition protections to allowing kids to stay on their parents' health care until the age of 26.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a lot of plagiarism in this bill. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: The democratic efforts falling short of derailing any aspect of the GOP plan underscore that the GOP leaders, from Trump on down. The issue is their party. And they simply aren't there yet.


RYAN: Look at what this does, look at -- this is a conservative wish list.


MATTINGLY: So obviously now the big question is, can Speaker Ryan, can the White House get those wary conservatives on board. And the reality is, they've got time. While the committees are moving forward right now. They still belief that there are opportunities to sway these members before it gets to the house floor.

And frankly, they need to do just that. If they decide to vote against this bill as a block, to put it simply, it goes down. And that's why you've seen house republican leadership, the White House, the president himself really kind of start a full court press. Don't expect that to end any time soon.

Instead, expect it to ramp up. When I've talked to both House leadership aides and senior administration officials, they say Get ready, the president is going to be on a new campaign trail. The president will be making phone calls. And the president will also be meeting face to face with some of this skeptical or downright opposed members of Congress.

He believes he has the power, he has the bully pulpit to shift them around.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, Capitol Hill.

FOSTER: Well, it's a complicated issue. That's pretty clear. Let's bring in Peter Trubowitz for some clarity on this. He's director of the United States Centre of the London School of Economics. Do you feel that this has been rushed out, a bit like the travel ban was rushed out?

PETER TRUBOWITZ, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES CENTRE AT THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Yes, it has that feeling right now. I mean, normally in a rollout like this, you would have your party completely behind you. Or at least most of the party on board. And right now he is getting hammered in the Senate. There's four senators who have come out, very uncomfortable with the Medicaid provision that's in the proposed bill.

And he's having problems with the conservative caucus inside the Republican Party in the House. So normally you have those folks lined up. You'd expect the opposition on the republican side.

I mean, if the vote was held today this bill would lose. He would not able to get the 50 votes that he needs in the Senate. Now these are early days. And maybe, maybe, you know, he is able to cobble together the coalition. I think the big question here, how much political skin is Donald Trump prepared to put in.

FOSTER: Speaker Ryan was suggesting these are early days of, you know, republicans in Washington haven't been used to having a republican. Many of them haven't had got used to get idea that having a republican president. So they're getting used to this idea.

But is he also getting used to getting idea of having to work with those in the Senate, for example. And actually have chats with them before rushing these things out?

TRUBOWITZ: Yes. Well, I mean, I think one of the things that's very unusual about the way this bill has been presented. Normally, it would be scored by the Congressional Budget Office and priced out of what's this is going to cost to average Americans. That has the not been done. And, both Speaker Ryan and -- the house majority leader, are trying to push this thing through as quickly as possible before, before the Senate goes on recess the House.

FOSTER: And when you talk about the budget committee, is that based on the fact that, it's very difficult to decide what you think of this bill. You don't know what it's going to cost?

TRUBOWITZ: Exactly. And so -- so, for lawmakers, especially those in the Senate who are worried or come from states that their voters could really get hurt by a -- by rolling back Obamacare. They need to have it priced out. They need to know what the range.

Different options what it would cost. And that normally takes CBO a little while to work through. And so there is a, there is something of a pattern here. The travel ban was pushed out. The original one with, it almost seemed like very little legal input.

The Pentagon budget, the increase, the 10 percent increase in Pentagon spending came out before a strategy was in place...


TRUBOWITZ: ... for the allocation of it. And here is a case where you just haven't had the plan scored which is unusual.

FOSTER: So this is the first test of whether he can get any agenda through Congress as well, isn't it?

TRUBOWITZ: So for him it's a big deal. I mean, I think he has fair amount riding on this. This is the first legislative test. Everything else has been executive orders.

FOSTER: This just also being -- if Trump is outlined a backup plan. And this is the, you know, if it fails, you can blame the democrats.

TRUBOWITZ: I think the democrats will take that deal. So, you know, I mean, if Obamacare is what's left after all of this, right now, it's -- majority of Americans like Obamacare. It's not an overwhelming majority. [03:10:00] Many republicans are opposed to it. But nevertheless,

Obamacare has gotten traction. And I think that's really the dilemma for a lot of republicans. It's easy to repeal in the short run. But, you know, if the alternative proves to be very unpopular with their constituents, they'll pay for it in the midterms.

FOSTER: OK. Peter Trubowitz, thank you very much indeed for joining us...

TRUBOWITZ: Good to be here.

FOSTER: ... today. Now, staying with the U.S., the CIA is bracing for the possibility that WikiLeaks could spill more of its secrets. U.S. spy agencies says documents published on Tuesday could seriously damage its ability to protect Americans against terrorism.

Officials tell CNN the documents appear to be authentic. WikiLeaks says the CIA can spy on people through their phones, tablets and smart TV's. And those hacking tools may be stolen by criminals and foreign spies.


SEAN SPICER, UNITED STATES WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He its extremely concerned about this. About these allegations. About this, this -- about the potential that something if this were true, would have on our national security.


FOSTER: Now, for some, that concern seems a little disingenuous. They say Donald Trump praised, encouraged WikiLeaks during his presidential campaign when the information was damaging to Hillary Clinton. But one democrat says the president can't have it both ways.


ADAM SCHIFF, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, there is a difference between the hacking and the leaking through WikiLeaks during the campaign. But both were wrong. Both were serious injuries to our national security.

And the one case you had Russia, a foreign adversarial power stealing documents and publishing them to help Donald Trump and to hurt Hillary Clinton. And Donald Trump applauded WikiLeaks for doing that. Applauded them for being either a winning partner or as the Russians would call a useful idiot in their campaign to undermine our democracy.

Both are wrong. Both should be condemned. And the president has a lot of explaining to do about why one, with Russian involvement, help is OK. But the other isn't.


FOSTER: Here's Vice President Mike Pence says the latest White House official dodging questions about Donald Trump's claim that former President Obama wiretapped him. Senior republicans in Congress say they're prepared to subpoena U.S. intelligence agencies to get answers.

CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Members of the Senate intelligence committee taking their search for evidence in the Russian election hacking probe directly to CIA headquarters to examine a trove of classified information.


MARK WARNER (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: In many ways, we've got even more questions now. We've got more information we've got to get access to.


SCHNEIDER: Democrat Mike Warner, vice chair of the committee won't say if he's seen any evidence that President Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russians. But says he did see details today of Russian interference.


WARNER: 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.


SCHNEIDER: Republican Senator Susan Collins will examine the evidence next week. She also wants the president to prove his wiretapping claims.


SUSAN COLLINS, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I would look for him to the turn over any evidence that he has, supporting his tweet from this weekend about surveillance. That would be helpful to our investigation.


SCHNEIDER: The White House still offering no evidence as Press Secretary Sean Spicer continues to field questions about whether President Trump is tied to the Russian hacks.


SPICER: It is interesting how many times this fake narrative gets repeated over and over and over again. And yet, no evidence has ever been suggested that shows the president has anything to do with any of the thing that have been. It's a recycled story.


SCHNEIDER: Senators Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse sending this letter to FBI Director James Comey and acting Deputy Attorney Dana Boente, seeking copies of any warrant applications and court orders related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump campaign or tower.


LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: When it comes to surveilling an American citizen the only way you can do it lawfully. Any president has to obtain a warrant. If there's no warrant then that check that box.


SCHNEIDER: Meanwhile, FBI Director, James Comey still refusing to publicly comment on Trump's wiretap allegation. But he did allude to the high legal bar for securing a warrant at a cyber-security conference in Boston today.


JAMES COMEY, UNITED STATES FBI DIRECTOR: The government cannot invade our privacy without good reason. Reviewable in court. That's the heart of America.


SCHNEIDER: Sources tell CNN, Comey was incredulous after President Trump's tweets and directed his staff to ask the Justice Department to tamp down on the allegations. That hasn't happened. But Comey believes his job is secure.


COMEY: You're stuck with me for about another six and a half years.


SCHNEIDER: And FBI Director Comey just one of the notable names requested as a witness for March 28 House intelligence committee public hearing.

[03:15:03] And republican Senator Susan Collins also leaving the door open to the possibility of requesting President Trump's tax returns as part of the Senate committee's investigation.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

FOSTER: Now, the Trump organization is leaving its mark on China again. Up next, why Trump insiders say their latest business move is part of a defense strategy. Plus, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. lashes out at North Korea's

leader after the country's latest provocations. What she said about Kim Jong-un.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Don Riddell with your CNN World Sport headlines.

Barcelona have made Champions League history by becoming the first team to overturn a first leg four goal deficit, and knocked Paris St- Germain out to reach the quarterfinals. Barcelona with 2-nil up at half-time. Courtesy of the header from Luis Suarez goal.

But going into the 88th minute they found themselves 5-3 down on aggregate, needing three goals to go through, and they got them. Thanks to Neymar's free kick and a penalty. Followed by Sergio Roberto's most dramatic of 95-minute winners to see the quite extraordinary victory.

Away from those historic scenes in Barcelona. Borussia Dortmund also overturned a first leg deficit to knock out Benfica going into their match, 1-nil down. Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took matters into his own hand and he scored a hat trick to send the Germans through to the last leg.

Away from the Champions League and in the English Premier League, Manchester City missed out on the chance to go second and closed the gap on the leader Chelsea after being held to a frustrating goal destroyed home to Stoke. Man City's boss Pep Guardiola (Inaudible) team couldn't afford any more slipups in their pursuit of Chelsea who are 10 points clearer of the chasing pack with their 11 games left.

City showed signs of scoring when David Silva came off the bench be he couldn't make the difference.

That is a quick look at your sports headlines. I'm Don Riddell.

FOSTER: The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is talking tough about North Korea's missile launches and its erratic leader. Nikki Haley spoke after a Security Council meeting on Wednesday. She said dealing with Kim Jong-un isn't easy and she explained the need for the THAAD missile defense system being set up in South Korea.


NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Tell me why we wouldn't do the THAAD in light of 24 ballistic missiles, in light two nuclear tests, knowing that we are going to protect our allies. We are not going to leave South Korea standing there with the threat of North Korea facing them and not help.

[03:19:56] We have not seen any goodwill at all coming from North Korea. I appreciate all my counterparts wanting to talk about talks and negotiations. We are not dealing with a rational person.


FOSTER: Let's go to Paula Hancocks for the latest from Seoul. Because this is off the back of the Chinese idea that a deal could be done potentially between North Korea and the U.S.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Max, it is interesting what the ambassador has said. It's a slight departure from what we've seen from previous U.S. ambassadors and officials. now in the past the U.S. obviously has criticized the nuclear missile program, and what the country is doing as a whole.

But this is a direct criticism of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong- un, and that would not play with North Korean officials. The standing of the North Korean leader within the country is one of a demi god. He is to be revered. And it would not go down well to see a U.S. official actually criticizing the North Korean leader in this way.

So that's an interesting point. And certainly I don't think we are going to see any kind of response like that from South Korean officials.

Understanding that it is something that is simply not done with North Korea. But it's also interesting to hear that she has suggested that negotiations are not on the table at this point. There has been much speculation, as to whether or not negotiation would be possible.

Quite frankly, because the Trump administration has not outlined its North Korean policy yet. So people, and experts still feel like they're guessing as to what exactly U.S. President Trump will do about North Korea. Max?

FOSTER: So, is this, how do you think China will react to that. You know, they tried to get involved with this. Try to calm things down as they call it. And now Americans, basically saying this THAAD system is going to go ahead. That's it.

HANCOCKS: Well, certainly China is furious about THAAD. This is the missile defense system that the U.S. has started to bring into South Korea already. On Monday night those first pieces of THAAD arrived here in South Korea. And there has been a lot of regional resistance to THAAD. Not just in China. Also in Russia and clearly in North Korea.

And also some political opposition parties here in South Korea, and obviously the residents who are going to be living next to this system as well. So it's not just China this anti-THAAD. But what we heard consistently from U.S. and South Korean military in recent years.

At least is that they believe they need this missile defense system to counter the threat of ballistic missiles from North Korea to be able to shoot down the short and medium range that may potentially be flown from North Korea to South Korea in any potential conflict.

FOSTER: OK. Paula, thank you. We're going to stay with China. Because the Chinese government is granted preliminary approval for 35 Trump- related trademarks. The Trump organization says it filed four trademarks as a defense

signature effectively preventing anyone else from opening business under the Trump name.

Our Matt Rivers joins us from Beijing with more details. And the term conflict of interest is being bandied about.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Max. We know that lawyers for Donald J. Trump filed in total 39 different trademark applications with the Chinese government in April of 2016. As you just mentioned, 35 of those applications were granted preliminary approval. Four of those applications were rejected, although the Chinese government does not discuss its deliberations as to why they were rejected publicly.

Now these trademarks are for Donald Trump's name. And Donald Trump's name, both his full name in English, his last name in English. And four different iterations of his name in Chinese translated into Chinese. And the trademark supply in a wide variety of industries, Max. Some that you would expect. Things like construction, spas, cafes, restaurants, bars, but something you might not expect, including animal training, bodyguard services.

Those are just two that stood out to us a little bit. And this does tend to happen here in China quite a bit. If you are a famous person, if you are a company with a big brand you often file what's called protective trademark applications in order to protect your intellectual property rights here in China. That's not unusual.

But of course, Donald Trump is not your standard famous person. He is of course the President of the United States which brings us to conflict of interest. Ethics lawyers say by granting these trademark approvals the Chinese government could be interpreted as giving a gift to Donald Trump.

That of course would be banned by the United States Constitution. That's what ethics lawyers say could be of conflict interest here. That said, the Trump organization says this is just the continuation of a long standing practice of their company to protect intellectual rights here in China, and that there are no different than any other company.

So, right now, moving forward. There is a preliminary approval that has been granted. There is a 90-day period for these trademark applications to be objected to by people, both here in China and around the world. But if no objections are raise, Max, then these trademarks will be certified in the late May, and early June.

[03:25:09] FOSTER: As you say, it's not uncommon. There's a, you know, there's lot of counterfeiting in the country. So businesses do tend to do this sort of thing. And perhaps the idea that he is the U.S. President is just, you know, a more a proactive way of responding to that sort of counterfeit measure.

But there will be concern whether they're in China. That you know, perhaps, he is getting this favorable treatment. Will there be any backlash within the country? RIVERS: Well, in terms of here in China. I don't think there is going

to be a lot of backlash within the Chinese public. Frankly, I don't think within the Chinese public there is a lot of interest in this.

But where you are going to see this kind of arguments play out is on Capitol Hill. You hear democrats on Capitol Hill in the United States, saying this is a clear case of conflict of interest. And you are going to hear Donald Trump, and the Trump organization, say that this is just continuation of a long standing practice and they have the right as an organization to protect their intellectual property rights.

This is a very, very complex legal argument that will take place, frankly with people who know a lot more about the legal system than you or I, Max. But it really begs the question. This is going to have to be discussed. And it's a very interesting question that its now raised.

FOSTER: Absolutely. Matt, in Beijing. Thank you.

U.S. republicans keep pushing their health care bill, meanwhile. But the opposition is growing even within their own party. We'll have more on that.

Plus, Donald Trump promised to repeal Obamacare was a winning campaign strategy but some Trump supporters may be having second thoughts about possibly losing their health insurance.


FOSTER: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Max Foster. Let's update you on our top stories this hour.

Hawaii the first U.S. state to file a legal challenge to President Donald Trump's revised travel ban. It restricts travel to the United States from six Muslim majority countries. A federal judge will hear that challenge on March 15th. Just hours before the order is supposed to go into effect.

The U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is dodging questions about whether he believes Barack Obama wiretapped Donald Trump. Mr. Pence says it should be up to Congressional committees to look into that matter. The vice president joins a growing list of republicans avoiding the question.

Iraqi troops got 300 meters into the old city of western Mosul in an operation to capture a government complex. Officials say they killed 139 ISIS fighters and destroyed car bombs, mortar launches, and anti- aircraft weapons. Mosul is the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq.

Three days of mourning have been declared in Guatemala for 21 people killed in fire at a youth center housing victims of violence. At least 19 of the dead were teenage girls.

An official says the blaze started when residents set fire to a mattress. Human rights groups criticize the center in the past saying it had poor living conditions.

Marathon committee meetings are going on right now. Well past 3 in the morning in Washington as republicans try to fast-track legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. The all-nighters are happening in part because democrats are using procedural delays to slow things down.

The republican's health care proposal unveiled on Monday hasn't been a smash success. Many conservative republicans say it doesn't go far enough to undo Obamacare.

But House Speaker Paul Ryan says he is confident the legislation will be passed.


RYAN: This is the team sport. And this is something where I talk to the president twice yesterday. He had dozens of members down at the White House yesterday. We're working hand in glove with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary Price, this is an all-hand on deck.

Because you know what, we all ran on repealing and replacing Obama care. We know if we do nothing, the system collapses. We know that if we just repealed it, the system collapses. This is why we have to pass it with something better.

RON DESANTIS, (R) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: I've been reviewing it Monday night, Tuesday night, today. When you review it, it doesn't really make a lot of sense because it's written in legislative jargon. So you got to do a lot of work to really understand what it's doing. So I'm working through all of that.

I think the two impressions I have right now. There are some good things in there for sure. One is, it doesn't really fully repeal Obamacare which we promised for six years we would do. And then two, I'm not seeing how it's going to really drive down the cost so people can afford this coverage.


FOSTER: Well, repealing Obamacare without an adequate replacement will impact countless Americans including some who voted for Donald Trump.

Our Miguel Marquez spoke with one Trump supporter who survived cancer, thanks to Obamacare.


BROOKS: This is the largest welfare program ever proposed by republicans.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some republicans outright rejecting the plan to replace Obamacare. Democrats too. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL DOYLE, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: This is what you've come up with? This is a bad joke.


MARQUEZ: The bill under fire from both sides. Americans like Tiffany Koehler.


MARQUEZ: You're a conservative republican.


MARQUEZ: Not your typical republican caught in the middle.

Could you have afforded chemotherapy without Medicaid, being on that program?


MARQUEZ: And it was only that expansion of Medicaid that allowed you being on that program.


MARQUEZ: She doesn't like Obamacare's individual mandates like many republicans she'd prefer market solutions to health care. But...


KOEHLER: When we all want to survive and make America great again, as he would say, you know, but we can't do that if we are struggling to pay bills.

MARQUEZ: Three years ago, she had employer-based insurance. Then lost her job. She went on Obamacare for $400 a month. Then decided to take a chance.

KOEHLER: I may need your help.

MARQUEZ: She ran for office, and lost. Then, some really bad news.

Cancer, stage 4, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.


KOEHLER: My prognosis was poor. I wasn't supposed to survive.

MARQUEZ: By that time she couldn't afford insurance, qualifying for Medicaid, Wisconsin expanded its coverage under Obamacare but rejected federal fund to pay for it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [03:34:59] MARQUEZ: Was it difficult to go to rely on the government for health care?

KOEHLER: Well, not necessarily. I -- it was life or death for me.

MARQUEZ: The American Cancer Society estimates today there are some 1.5 million Americans with cancer on Medicaid.

DICK WOODRUFF, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY VICE PRESIDENT Anyone who is in the Medicaid expansion, who are the really the lowest income Americans, and many of them are cancer patients as well. Including childhood cancer patients are going to be losers.

MARQUEZ: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates the GOP plan will gut more than half trillion in federal Medicaid spending over a decade. For people like Tiffany Koehler with a pre-existing condition, her health care costs already over $1 million.

KOEHLER: People have to -- be able to get to their doctors, people have to be able to get their medicine. And out of any country in the world, we should be doing it. We should be doing it right.

MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


FOSTER: Well, the leading hospital and doctor groups in the U.S. are lining up against the republicans health care bill. The American Medical Association, and Children's Hospital Association are just a couple of the many groups who say they're worried that millions of most vulnerable patients could lose their coverage.

The republican bill would eliminate funding for expanding Medicaid, which provides health care for the lowest income families. When the White House spokesman was asked about the groups refusing to support the new plan, he suggested those organizations were getting, quote, "paid off" under Obamacare.

Planned Parenthood is also strongly opposing the bill. The republican plan would strip all federal funding for the group despite its providing health care services like cancer and diabetes screening, as well as birth control.

Anderson Cooper spoke to the Planned Parenthood president earlier.


CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD: I know that Paul Ryan, Speaker Paul Ryan said we are being defunded. But truth is we are not in the federal budget. We don't have a line item in this budget.

What he is actually doing and what he is saying in this legislation is that the millions of folks who countered us now for preventative health care, birth control, cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood would no longer be able to come to Planned Parenthood. That we wouldn't be reimbursed for that care.

It's also really important to understand from this legislation, it remind folks that -- actually abortion services are not paid for by the federal government. So, actually what they would be blocking women from getting from Planned Parenthood is the very services that help prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. And that's birth control which is our specialty.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Have you gotten assurances from moderate republicans who might be opposed to Planned Parenthood to funding being tied to, or tied to this bill? Have they told you they would try to oppose it in its current form?

RICHARDS: Absolutely. I mean, moderate republicans all across the country. And even, you know, traditional conservative republicans who believe that the government should be in the business of telling people where they can and can't go to for health care are in opposition this bill.

And that includes millions of our on patients. You know, we see millions of people across the country, including many of the states, where -- where President Trump has supporters. Half of President Trump's own supporters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood.

And this is what I think Congress is missing. This is, women's access to health care is not a partisan issue. Women need it from all walks of life. And the real irony, Anderson, is that we are now because of the good work of Planned Parenthood and a lot of others we are at an all-time low for teenage pregnancy in this country. We're at a 30-year low for unintended pregnancy in America.

It's because more women are getting access to family planning, and good birth control, including a Planned Parenthood health centers. And we need to double down on that progress and not roll back the opportunities for women in America.


FOSTER: We continue to follow progress of the bill. Now slavery is outlawed in every country. But up to 45 million people are held against their will around the world.

Just ahead, how you can fight against this crime, as we mark Freedom Day on March 14th. Plus, hear what freedom means to so many people like this student.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom, the ability to fulfill your potential and all your dreams regardless of where they lead.



FOSTER: The battle to retake Raqqa, Syria from ISIS could be just weeks away. U.S. officials tell CNN the marines equipped with heavy artillery are being deployed to northern Syria. The artillery will add tremendous fire power to U.S. backed fighters as they edge closer to the ISIS stronghold.

One U.S. official says military of intelligence indicates some ISIS leaders and operatives are trying to get out of the city ahead of the assault.

Antiquities believed more 2,000 years old are being found inside tunnels dug by ISIS in Mosul. In Iraq, meanwhile, the relics date back to the Assyrian period in the 8th century B.C. Iraqi officials say they include inscription on walls, sculptures, pottery, fragments, and remains from a king's palace.

Part of the site was excavated in 1990s. But it was covered over in the early 2000s due to lack of resources and security threats as well.

Now, as we have been saying, March 14 is my Freedom Day. CNN is partnering with young people around the world for a student-led day of action against modern day slavery. Driving my Freedom Day is a simple question. What does freedom mean to you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me means the ability to write, read, and act, speak, believe the way you want to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means the right to resources and tools we need to succeed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My definition of freedom is ability to have independent thought, to learn and to interact with others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The freedom to me means being able to stand for people who can do it for themselves.


FOSTER: We want to hear what freedom means to you, too. Post a photo, video using the hash tag My Freedom Day and we'll have a look.

Now a statue of a defiant child in New York is getting a lot of attention. Its named fearless girl and it's staring down the legendary symbol of Wall Street, which is the big grunting bull, which represents a profitable stock market of course.

[03:45:10] Now fearless girl was placed there as part of campaign to increase the number of women on corporate boards.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we do need more women. We need to acknowledge women's rights in, in the work place, in government, in society.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think by bringing more diversity whether it's racially, or across gender, I think is going to be really good. Leadership and award.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really important to have something like that in the middle of all this, just showing that women are here, women are capable of doing anything that a man can do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we've come a long way. America has come a long way. We can do better. Absolutely better. Having more women on the boards should not be a question we ask in 2017, right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it empowers young women and girls to say you that can do anything you want to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No matter what, no matter how big that bull is, women can defy all odds.


FOSTER: Now it didn't take long for life to imitate art either. Photo of a 5-year-old girl posing near the fearless girl. The statue has gone viral. Look at this. Some on social media has said, a powerful pose, complete with a superhero costume represents everything. The statue stands for a confident young woman ready to take on the world.

Now, massive grass fires are burning in the heart of the U.S. And they are moving so fast that patrolman got caught right in the middle of one. Incredible video. Still to come.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good day to you. I'm meteorologist Pedram Javaheri at CNN Weather Watch here.

The mild temperatures still firmly in place around the southeastern United States. And you notice a little pattern change around the northern tier of the country where we've really seen a lot of warm temps in recent days. It looks like we get a shot of winter coming back early this weekend. Pretty brutal one if you ask me.

Even for this time of year where temps drop off significantly. And potentially it could be a long lived pattern here that keeps us cold around the northern part of the U.S. and eventually even tries to bring the southern part of the U.S. into cold air early next week.

So, we'll watch that carefully. With all this said, there is a chance to return to some snow showers. Generally light. Say about 5, maybe 10 centimeters tops for a lot of these cities. But when you consider the temps that we will see on Thursday in the nation's capital, at 20 to what we will see Saturday at 3, yes, a dramatic difference in store.

[03:50:03] Even New York City going down to below zero after spending time in the teens earlier in the week.

But here's what it looks like in Chicago, we go at 4 degrees. In Denver, a very mild day at 20, Los Angeles, sunny skies, a little bit of a heat wave building around the southwestern U.S. And watching a couple storms barreling around the northern portion of the U.S., at least the northwestern area.

And notice, they're almost all out of California now, and into Oregon and Washington State. Down towards the Caribbean, we leave you with Nassau at 27, with partly cloudy skies.

FOSTER: Well, even though it was a festive color, it wasn't what you want to see coming out of your faucet. This is what people in the small town in Alberta, Canada found when they turned on their water. The man says a chemical used in water treatment got into public distribution lines. He says the main lines are being cleared now. But he advised people to flush out the colored water before taking a drink. And it can't be in the shelf.

Now in the heart of the U.S., Kansas is dealing with the largest grass fire the state has ever seen. The governor has declared a state of emergency to help the affected areas. But earlier this week, Kansas patrolman got this video on the dash-cam driving right through another fast moving wildfire burning in the state.

Frightening situation. With more on the fire situation in the U.S., let's go to Pedram, he's at the CNN weather center. Hi, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: OK. Great to see you, Max. You know, it's incredible to think how we've moved away from what occurred in California just a few years ago to know what's happening around the Midwestern United States in the central U.S. as well.

And if you take a look at the fire conditions across parts of Kansas, in particular. And Max was just talking about this particular region out of the Comanche and Clark Counties. Combine that area that's a historic fire in that, it has consumed over 500,000 acres of land. About 200,000 hectares of land.

And then you combine the entire State of Kansas. It's a whole another story. You put the state together it's incredible. Because we've consumed over 650,000 acres of land in that state. That is almost the size of the entire State of Rhode Island of how much land has been consumed because of the fire weather conditions that had been prevalent across this region.

In fact, so expansive. You go up 22,000 mile into space. Look down from the weather satellites you can pick up the thermo signatures, you can clearly pick up the smoke going in from one state into the other, being into Oklahoma eventually into Kansas, as well.

And the moisture content that is increasing. That is excellent news. I always say the weather will always have the upper hand, and fire fighters can only do so much. If you have windy conditions, if you have dry conditions the fire cannot be stopped and at least we're getting some moisture coming into the forecast and some thunderstorms popping up as well.

A lot of this just east of where the biggest fires are. But anything is relief. And a forecast that brings your temperatures down 20 degrees is also a relief. (Inaudible) drops from the 80's to the 60's. Oklahoma City also a significant drop that bring them back down to normal temperatures.

And what we have had powerful wind now across the Midwestern U.S. and parts of the northeastern U.S. as well. Look at this wind. Near hurricane force, some areas exceeding hurricane force. That actually delayed over 1,500 flights out of the United States on Wednesday afternoon.

And the pattern change now is going to be for much colder temperatures around parts of the northern U.S. And Max, it has been exceptionally mild for a long time around parts of the U.S. And it looks like it will actually get a little shot of winter here for a lot of people going into this weekend.

FOSTER: Amazing. Pedram, thank you very much indeed.

Now I want to bring you a story about the Azure Window of Malta, it is no more. Sadly, the limestone arch, it was backdrop in the first episode of HBO's Game of Thrones, of course, and it was featured in the movie "Clash of the Titans." It was popular spot for tourists to capture the perfect picture.

It collapsed though into the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday during a storm. The Maltese prime minister posted a photo of what it looks likes now and called the flattened scene, heartbreaker.

Now, Melania Trump has largely kept out of the spotlight lately despite her somewhat low profile. Her approval ratings have started to soar, though.

Our Jeanne Moos has been looking into that.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hail to the chief. Hail to the chief's wife.


MOOS: She is doing better than the chief in the polls. Of course she is less visible. Though, she hosted an international women's day luncheon. The White House wouldn't let the press stay for her speech.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right this way, guys.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Your excellences, esteemed to represent entities.


MOOS: Melania Trump is now held in high esteem by 52 percent of those polled by CNN, ORC, now it's compared to only 36 percent before the inauguration. Tweeted one fan, "She has given class, elegance and a reference for God back to this country." Grumbled a critic, "Easy to have a great approval rating when no one ever sees you or hears you speak."


[03:55:00] M. TRUMP: Our Father who art in heaven.


MOOS: Though, we've heard her pray. And read Dr. Seuss to kids at a New York hospital.


M. TRUMP: Your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet.


MOOS: We hear a lot about shoes full of Melania's feet. As a former model she is under a fashion microscope. Oh, no she didn't. Melania Trump wears one dress two days in a row. Even her body language with her husband is micro analyzed. Leading to calls to free Melania. Blink twice if you want us to save you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know who I always look for like the truth, not Melania but I look at her in the eyes. Look in her eyes and you can see in her eyes she's like you guys don't know what he is capable of.


MOOS: Comedians take their shots, so do cartoonists. I will now be the first lady instead of the third wife. But her approval still jumped 16 points. It turns out men favor her more than women 58 to 46 percent. Tweeted one guy, this just in, "Old white republican dudes approve of ex-model wives." But Melania is climbing in the polls.

Her way.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

FOSTER: Her first lady. Thanks for watching. I'm Max Foster. Early Start is up next for viewers in the United States. For everyone else, though, I'll be back with more news after this short break. You are watching CNN.