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House Committee Approves Portion of Obamacare Repeal; V.P. Pence Dodges Questions on Trump Wiretap Claims; Spicer: Many Stories on Trump-Russia Ties 'Fake'. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 9, 2017 - 06:00   ET



REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I have no doubt we'll pass this.

[05:58:554] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look through it, it is Obamacare in a different form.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some powerful groups in the healthcare industry are lining up to oppose the GOP replacement plan.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is very proud of the product that we have produced.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let it be a disaster. We can blame that on the Dems.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The president has asked Congress to look into whether or not his campaign was wiretapped. I will take up that challenge.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: What we have right now is accusal [SIC] with absolutely no basis in fact.

SPICER: There is no reason that we have to think that the president is the target of any investigation.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Be careful what you wish for.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Thursday, March 9, 6 a.m. here in New York. We begin with breaking news. A small victory for Republicans in the healthcare battle. The House Ways and Means Committee approving its portion of the bill to repeal Obamacare. Eighteen hours of debate going on. A long night, obviously, on Capitol Hill. Not over.

Look how beautiful it is when the sun comes up. Inside... ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Outside it's beautiful.

CUOMO: Outside beautiful, inside ugly. The Energy Committee still debating right now. These are live pictures. It was an all-night marathon session.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my goodness. President Trump making his pitch to skeptical conservatives, but if this new bill fails to make it through Congress, the president says he has a Plan B. Sources tell CNN that he will keep Obamacare and blame it on the Democrats.

It's day 49 of the Trump administration, and CNN has every development covered, starting with Suzanne Malveaux, live on Capitol Hill -- Suzanne.


Well, absolutely right. High drama on the Hill. You have those two House committees in these marathon debates overnight, one of those committees wrapping up about 5 a.m. this morning after 18 hours of debate passing it, but another committee still in session at this hour.

Democrats are using some tactics to delay the process of bringing up Trump and the tax returns, as well as debating tanning; while Republicans are trying to fast track the legislation.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): As opposition grows to the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Trump coming up with a back-up plan. Sources inside an Oval Office meeting with conservative and Tea Party say the president announced if the plan fails, he'll allow Obamacare to fail and let Democrats take the blame.

TRUMP: Let it be a disaster, because we can blame that on the Dems that are in our room; and we can blame that on the Democrats and President Obama. But that's not the fair thing to do for the people.

MALVEAUX: The president telling these skeptical right-wing groups he is, quite, "open" to discussing some changes for the American Healthcare Act, like moving up the rollback of Medicaid expansion to 2018 instead of 2020.

The president also chastising them for their opposition, according to sources. The president claiming they're, quote, helping the other side.

RYAN: Good afternoon.

MALVEAUX: Conservatives opposing the bill, backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, argue the proposal doesn't go far enough in getting rid of Obamacare.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: I believe when you look through it is Obamacare in a different form. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a lump of coal.

MALVEAUX: Ryan claiming otherwise, pitching it to his own party Wednesday.

RYAN: This is a conservative wish list. It repeals Obamacare's taxes. It repeals Obamacare's spending, Medicaid expansion and the Obamacare subsidies. This returns power from Washington back to doctors and patients.

MALVEAUX: But the backlash is also coming from the nation's leading hospital and doctor groups, concerned about the more than 20 million Americans currently enrolled in the system. The American Medical Association writing, "We cannot support the American Healthcare Act as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage."


MALVEAUX: He says that he's confident that he has the votes to get this bill passed, but it's going to be his first real test of leadership, to see whether or not he can get those moderates and conservatives on board.

Also, a big task for President Trump, who's going to be wooing some key members of Congress next week. He's inviting them to the White House for an exclusive pizza and bowling party to see if he can convince them -- Chris, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: If that doesn't work, I don't know what will, Suzanne. It works on us.

MALVEAUX: A little pizza will do it.


CUOMO: Works with my 10-year-olds and my 11-year-olds at birthday parties. Who knows how well it will transfer?

Let's bring in our political panel. CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston; CNN political commentator and senior columnist for "The Daily Beast," Matt Lewis; and CNN political analyst and deputy culture editor of "The New York Times," Patrick Healy.

Preston, you have the shortest introduction, so you get to go first. Let's talk about the state of play on each side.

You have the carrot and the stick being done by the White House. You've got the bowling and pizza party. Come on in; if you don't like it, that's fine. But then you also have him saying Trump is going to have football stadium events in states where he won by 10 to 12 points. He's going to dare people to vote against him. That would be the stick. How is it playing out?

PRESTON: Well, we'll see how it does play out, but I will say this. When he says that he's going to dare people to vote against it, he's not necessarily talking about Democrats. He's talking about Republicans.

CUOMO: Right.

PRESTON: And he's talking about doing it sooner rather than later, meaning we're talking primary challenges. And we do -- you talked a little bit about this yesterday. There is an outside group of former Trump aides that has said they will do anything they can to get his agenda through. This is part of his agenda, meaning you can see, potentially, ads running against Republicans who are not supportive of this bill.

CAMEROTA: Matt, it's interesting to have this insight into how President Trump is beginning to sell the bill. So he invited in these conservative groups. There was Heritage; there was Tea Party Patriots. And he basically just started, you know, what -- whatever, romancing them in some way and also saying, "But if it doesn't work, I'm going to go to these red states where I won by 10 to 12 points, and we're going to have these big stadium-sized period events," as Chris read. That sounds effective.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's highly effective. If you take Donald Trump and unleash him, whether it's the charm offensive or the stick, the carrot or the stick, it could be very powerful; and it's a matter of time. How do you allocate his time? Is that a good use of his time?

[06:05:13] But look, this is a guy who, No. 1, in person Donald Trump is very charming. No. 2, he's the president of the United States. We forget how big of a deal that is. If you meet a president it's a big deal. He's also a celebrity.

So I think he can move some of these votes through charm, but he's also more popular with the Republican base than most of the senators and congressmen are in their home district. So if he goes out on the hustings and starts criticizing them publicly, he could probably move some votes that way, too.

CUOMO: All right. So this is ongoing right now. You had the House Ways and Means. I think they finished at about 4 a.m. in the morning. They got the votes there, so that was the first step that the White House needed to get the agenda going. The Energy Committee is still debating right now. We're actually trying to grab one of them when they go on break to tell us about what's going on.

And then what do we see reflected, Pat, in what the Democrats were doing? I was watching some of it last night. I did not hear better ideas coming out of the Democrats. I did not hear them scrutinizing the plan with facts and figures.


CUOMO: They were just delaying and they were saying, "This is just wrong." Is that the tactic?

HEALY: It's tactics. It's exactly that. I mean, their problem, though, is that they want to try to win the arguments on details, on policy, this number of people would be stripped of healthcare, if this reform goes through. This is what would happen to your premiums without these subsidies.

But these points, Donald Trump, President Trump has the bully pulpit. He has these rallies. He has television. He knows effectively how to communicate, so if Democrats are just going to get up in the House and the Senate and hold these sort of press conferences that people are just watching on C-SPAN they're not really -- they're not fighting toe to toe, where the president has all of these levers and all these tools.

Now the question, though, is that President Trump ultimately, to get this through, he doesn't need Democrats. He needs these sort of recalcitrant Republicans, and it's still unclear to me that people like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, even some of these House Freedom Caucus members, they've had problems with President Trump for months now.

And he can go to Maine and Colorado and Ohio and shout to the rafters and get his base, you know, rallied, but what are these -- some of these Republican House members and Republican senators, they haven't -- they haven't been that close to him from the beginning. So his ability to sort of pull them over, pull Democrats over, may be a little limited there.

CAMEROTA: Do you agree that it won't hurt them?

PRESTON: Well, there's going to be some of them -- Susan Collins, Pat is absolutely right. They're not going to be hurt. The question is, when you go down into the Deep South, perhaps, will he go into some of these districts and, you know...

CAMEROTA: Where they're more vulnerable.

PRESTON: Yes, right. Well, more vulnerable within their own base.

CUOMO: But doesn't he have the biggest stick of all without having to be a bully? Which is this is what we all campaigned on. This was the -- this was a real binding agent for our base.

LEWIS: That's what he was saying, Steve Scalise -- I think it was yesterday he went before Republican, you know, the Republican congressman and said, You're either for Nancy Pelosi and Obamacare or you're for repealing Obamacare. This is it. This is your one shot to repeal Obamacare. If you don't do it, you are for Obama-Pelosi.

HEALY: The problem with this, this is what tripped up Democrats for decades. Is they got sort of close on healthcare reform, and then they said OK, "This is our kind of one shot to get it." And then they became incredibly divided over what that health reform, you know, package looked like. And this was a major problem in the '90s. They sort of felt like we've got the energy. We the votes and the energy all ran on it. But they couldn't agree in the Senate and the House, you know, the

Clinton White House in terms of what that final package is.

CAMEROTA: What we're seeing, to your point, very similar things happening now that played out with Obamacare. Let's get it done fast.

LEWIS: Right, right.

CAMEROTA: We have the momentum right now. Let's get it done fast. We'll worry about the details later.

PRESTON: Which is, you know, and we've heard this over and over and over again that David Axelrod likes to say, is that the dog finally caught, you know, the car and doesn't know, necessarily, what to do.

You know, I think one of the biggest arguments for those Republicans who are against Obamacare is your guest yesterday, who said, "We passed Obamacare several times through the House and through the Senate and sent it to Obama's desk. It never got signed. Why aren't we going with that bill? All of a sudden, why are we doing this new bill now?"

CUOMO: So -- so where does that leave us? Right now, let's say they get the votes in the Energy Committee right now, right? So he's going to have the first step on each side. Then what? What happens next?

LEWIS: Well, I mean...

CUOMO: This is the reconciliation process.

LEWIS: They want to do this. So there's three phases, but they want to do this before, like, April 15 for two reasons. One, if Republicans go back home on recess, there's going to be protests and town halls; and they could lose people that Donald Trump has been corralling. The other reason is that this has to be done during reconciliation. And at some point, they actually have to deal with the budget.

CUOMO: Or else?

[06:10:06] LEWIS: Well, no, if they -- they have two shots at reconciliation, right? Seventeen and 18. So they basically need -- there is a -- time is not on their side. That's why they're rushing this through. And that's why this is very tenuous.

HEALY: And Paul Ryan has made it clear that he believes, ultimately, they're going to have to have the votes in the House and that they want it done by April 15. This point, exactly. They want House members to go back and say, "We did our job. Now the pressure is on the Senate."

CUOMO: But they're afraid of counter pressure at the town halls, like what we were seeing earlier. And they lose a budget window...

HEALY: Right.

CUOMO: ... if they don't get it done.

HEALY: Right. They lose a budget window, and House members, we've got to remember, all of them are up for re-election.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but I mean, we've heard from the House Freedom Caucus yesterday, and they don't see that.

LEWIS: And if they lose the reconciliation window, then it's 60 votes in the Senate, not 51; and that's a totally different ball game.

CAMEROTA: OK, panel, stick around. We have many more questions for you.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence now added to the list of the administration officials offering no proof of President Trump's claims that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign. Mr. Pence dodging the question during an interview last night.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pressing the FBI now for any evidence. CNN's Sara Murray is live in Washington with the latest.

Hi, Sara.


Well, you're right, still no proof coming out of this White House about the president's wiretapping claim. Nothing to back that up. Instead, the White House is saying we're going to leave it up to the Hill to look into that. Well, two senators, a Republican and a Democrat are now saying we're going to do just that.


SPICER: There is no reason to believe that he's the target of any investigation.

MURRAY (voice-over): The White House attempting to clarify President Trump's unfounded claim that former President Obama ordered wiretapping of Trump Tower during last year's election, marking yet another day of distraction stemming from tweets over the weekend.

SPICER: The tweet dealt with wiretaps during the thing (ph). The other is an investigation. They are two separate issues.

MURRAY: Vice President Mike Pence dodging questions about his boss's wiretapping accusation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has alleged that the former president committed a felony in wiretapping Trump tower. Yes or no, do you believe that President Obama did that?

MIKE PENCE (R), 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 are examining issues surrounding the last election, the run-up to the last election.. We'll do that in a thorough and equitable way.

MURRAY: Now Trump's claim may be backfiring, inspiring a bipartisan group of lawmakers to look for proof.

SCHIFF: Be careful what you wish for.

MURRAY: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse penning a letter to the Justice Department and the FBI asking the intelligence agencies for evidence, writing we would take any abuse of wiretapping authorities for political purposes very seriously. We would be equally alarmed to learn that a court found enough evidence of criminal activity or contact with a foreign power to legally authorize the wiretap.

GRAHAM: The president has asked Congress to look into whether or not his campaign was wiretapped by the Obama administration. I will take up that challenge.

MURRAY: Meanwhile, the investigation into Russian meddling in the election continues. Four senators taking their search directly to the CIA to review raw intelligence.

WARNER: We've got even more questions now. We've got more information we've got to get access to.

MURRAY: As the Trump administration continues to forcefully deny any collusion between Russian officials and their campaign.

SPICER: The president has made clear he has no interest in Russia; and yet a lot of the stories that come out with respect to that are frankly fake.


MURRAY: Now sources tell CNN that President Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, actually did have a conversation with President Obama's former chief of staff, Dennis McDonough.

So far, though, no conversations we are aware of between President Trump, former President Obama. We will see if the two of them talk that out.

Back to you guys.

CUOMO: All right, Sara. Thank you very much.

We're going to get deeper into the president's wiretap claims. The vice president saying they trust the answers will come from congressional investigations, but no one can get the answer faster than they can. The president and the White House are a call away from the truth. So is this all just a distraction? The facts, next.



[06:18:23] SPICER: There is no reason that we should -- that we have to think that the president is the target of any investigation whatsoever. The one question dealt with whether or not the tweet dealt with wiretaps during the thing. The other is an investigation. There are two separate issues, and there is no reason to believe that there's any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice.


CAMEROTA: I'm sorry, what?

CUOMO: I don't know. That was a -- that was a very skillful answer.


CUOMO: I don't know what he's talking about.

CAMEROTA: That was White House press secretary Sean Spicer trying to clarify what is and what is not under investigation about the president and Russia and wiretapping. Now that was moments after an aide you'll see here had come in and handed Spicer a note. From whom, unclear.

CUOMO: Apparently, had arrows going all of these different directions. Which led him into this complete mine trap.

CAMEROTA: It's because first he said no, there is no federal investigation then. Oh, no, that's not what he said.

CUOMO: See? That's how good it was.

CAMEROTA: First, he said Donald Trump could be under federal investigation. First, he said he could be under investigation. Then a note came in. He was like, "I'm sorry, let me clarify. Yes maybe no. No, yes. Yes no."

Let's discuss with our political panel. With have Mark Preston, Matt Lewis and Patrick Healy. So Preston, that was incomprehensible.

PRESTON: Incomprehensible. And here's the situation they got in. By Donald Trump putting that tweet out on Saturday morning, he's acknowledging that he's being investigated but by them...

CAMEROTA: The FISA -- foreign surveillance...

PRESTON: And now we saw this mental, verbal linguistic gymnastics yesterday where they then try to walk it back and say, "Oh, no, no, that's not true." So they really put themselves into a corner by that tweet on Saturday in many ways.

[06:20:10] CUOMO: Look, what's going on here at this point, with the wiretapping and the absence of proof and the allegation made by the person who could get the proof most easily leads you to believe that we're in the realm of distraction right now. And the problem that they're having is how do they keep the high ground if all of these suggestions -- hey, was there a wiretap? They had to have a basis for it.

We don't know that he's named in any investigations yet. You know, they're clinging to the unknown right now, but this was very confused. Right? Or is that just the selective reading by...

PRESTON: It's very convenient.

CUOMO: Did you get it?

PRESTON: Not really.

LEWIS: I think what they're saying is that, rather than going to a FISA court and having some sort of probable cause that Barack Obama actually sneaked into Trump Tower personally and planted a wire, that's my -- that's how -- my -- what I'm getting from this.

CAMEROTA: I like the visual. It's very -- it's very weird. I don't think it's a -- I don't think it's an intentional distraction. A lot of times we talk about how Donald Trump will send out a tweet to distract from another scandal. I think this was actually a case of a guy who woke up Saturday morning and tweeted -- and read something.

CUOMO: Well, there was a phrase.

HEALY: But do we want the intentional distraction or do we feel comfortable with the fact that...


PRESTON: I'd rather have the intentional distraction.

CUOMO: But at least -- at least it shows some type of planning on their part. But I'm not completely sold on your point. There was -- there was a phrase in that tweet that doesn't get a lot of attention. "I just was told" or "I just found out." From who?

HEALY: Something...

CUOMO: What was he told? If it wasn't these crazy articles, what was it?

HEALY: We all remember from the campaign Donald Trump tweeting, "Something strange is going on," hearing these reports about -- and, you know, there is no -- the president does not fact check himself. I mean, we know that now about him. He gets up in the morning especially. He sends out these tweets.

CAMEROTA: But first -- but first the part about Breitbart or FOX News or whatever. That is where he gets his information. We know because we can corollate -- there's a report on Sean Hannity or FOX News, and then he tweets about it.

CUOMO: So you're thinking that...

HEALY: He's not calling it -- I'm sorry...

CUOMO: So Alisyn is saying -- you can't interrupt Alisyn. The -- when he says, "I just learned," you're saying our best bet right now is that it's tied to those outlets.

CAMEROTA: Breitbart report.

CUOMO: Not that some official came to him?

CAMEROTA: That's my read of it.

HEALY: And I agree with you. The question is you have the president of the United States who has -- who has access to the attorney general of the United States and the FBI director who, if he really has questions about whether this is true, he can go to those people and ask.

CUOMO: One call. Spicer said he didn't call.

LEWIS: Remember, during the -- during the campaign...

HEALY: ... holding onto the high ground here. The FBI director, as my "Times" colleagues and other have reported, fairly quickly came out and said, "This isn't" -- this came out behind the scenes. "This isn't true" and asked the Justice Department to deny it.

PRESTON: But that's critical that Comey came out and did that. Because he...

CAMEROTA: Behind the scenes. He can't come out publicly.

PRESTON: No, he can't come out publicly, because you cannot talk about an ongoing investigation, right? So what you do is you go -- you back channel it through sources, and you have him basically saying that "I have no idea what he's talking about." And we have James Clapper coming out, the former DNI head, saying, "I know nothing about this."

CAMEROTA: Let's get to what's happening today, because Lindsey Graham, Senator Lindsey Graham is actually trying to deal in reality. And he's going through the normal processes of trying to get to the bottom of this. Here's what his plan is.


GRAHAM: The president has asked Congress to look into whether or not his campaign was wiretapped by the Obama administration. I will take up that challenge, and we sent a letter to the Department of Justice and the FBI, asking them for any information that they may have used to obtain a warrant. I expect them to come forward as to whether or not a warrant was obtained or solved.

MANU RAJU, UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And will you subpoena this information if they don't comply?


CAMEROTA: Matt, does the future of the republic rest in the hands of Lindsey Graham?

LEWIS: Possibly. I mean, maybe not in this instance, but down the road. I mean, Lindsey Graham and John McCain and a few others have kind of been the voice of reason and the Republicans. And it's sort of quaint, though. And they're like, going through these proper channels to do things.

During the campaign you might recall, Donald Trump was asked like, "Where do you get your -- I think it was foreign policy intel> And he said, "I watch the shows." And I think that's what it was. I think it's Breitbart and FOX News or whatever. That's where he -- or Mark Levin's radio show. And whereas Lindsey Graham is saying, let's -- maybe we get a subpoena for this.

HEALY: As we all know, and as I think has been pointed out, Lindsey Graham has been New Orleans, longtime ally or friend of the president. We all know, and some of the people watching Lindsey Graham, he likes to make mischief. He does. He likes to get to the bottom of things.

CUOMO: It's a great match up right now, because you've got the great distracter and the mischief-maker.

HEALY: Exactly. He's saying, "I want to take this on and ride it all the way home." He does have serious subpoena power. He is a serious senator. He can follow it.

[06:25:00] CUOMO: What does it mean? What's the relevance of Obama former chief of staff, McDonough, talking about Reince Priebus? What does that mean? What do we think that dialogue is about? What can it yield?

PRESTON: Well, first of all, it had to have been an incredibly uncomfortable conversation, right, between these two men. I don't know what Reince Priebus and Dennis McDonough can do. I mean, I think the bridge is burned, and there's a big gap there. And if I'm Barack Obama, I have no desire now to try...

CUOMO: Called him bad or sick.

PRESTON: Right. I would have no -- by the way, let's just go back to he was never born in the United States. Right?

CAMEROTA: So they have made amends -- the birther stuff, they made amends during the transfer of power. And, in fact, Donald Trump said, "I will call upon him, and President Obama said, 'I hope he will call upon me. They have not spoken as we understand it.'"

CUOMO: I don't remember Obama saying, "All is forgiven."

CAMEROTA: No, no, but they made nice.

CUOMO: Obama is. No, we probably make too much of this whole thing. I don't think Barack Obama sneaked in and planted a wiretap.

CAMEROTA: Good, because you don't want to suggest it. I'm not saying it didn't happen...

Preston: Did Trump just tweet that now?

CUOMO: No proof that he didn't.

LEWIS: Barack Obama does seem to be running a sort of shadow campaign against Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: Based on what? What do you mean?

CUOMO: A lot of reporting, you know. Whether it's -- whether we're going to talk about the leaks from career bureaucrats, whether the story about Valerie Jarrett holing up inside Obama's Washington mansion, whether it's the Eric Holder, and he's tapped Eric Holder as sort of looking at redistricting. I think Obama is a young active guy. He's living in D.C., and I think he probably is going to be pulling some strings to try to maybe help defeat Donald Trump.

HEALY: Well, President Trump -- President Trump is as involved in this. I think it's former Obama aides. He -- he has made his decision that this Russian story line narrative of his campaign is not going away. The legitimacy questions are not going away. He can't count on Congress to sort of solve the problems.

So who is going to? He's going to Obama. And this is all some scheme by, you know, those nasty Democrats who lost an election. And as we know, he will -- he will tweet about anything.

LEWIS: Both things can be true.

Donald Trump is paranoid, yes, but I think Obama probably is working behind the scenes.

CUOMO: Hold on. Did you give us the :he may be paranoid but it doesn't mean that people aren't after him"?



PRESTON: It's day six. We're all talking about it. It takes one telephone call to the attorney general or to Jim Comey. The attorney general has recused himself. And he still hasn't done it.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

CUOMO: Why you saved that for the end, I have no idea. That was the best point. It's true, and you talk about...


PRESTON: I even forgot I said it.

I'm glad I said it. That's on my count.

CUOMO: That's how twisted this all is.

All right. So U.S. Marines deployed to Syria in the fight against ISIS. Yes, there are more American boots on the ground. What are they being called? What are they going to be doing? The reality, next.