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More Opposition to GOP Healthcare Bill; U.S. Marines Join Fight Against ISIS in Syria; Bull Market Turns Eight; Bathroom Bill Advances in Texas; Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 9, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:51] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The GOP divided over healthcare this morning. Republican Senator Tom Cotton sharing his thoughts on Twitter saying, "House healthcare bill cannot pass Senate without major changes. To my friends in the House, pause, start over, get it right, don't get it fast."

Joining us now, senior editor for the "Atlantic," David Frum, and CNN political commentator and former White House communications director for President Obama, Jennifer Psaki.

Great to have both of you here.


CAMEROTA: So, David, let's start with that. This roll out of the Republican plan has been met with lots of opposition already on both sides. Conservatives don't like. Doctors' groups and hospitals don't like it. Whose fault is it that this isn't going more smoothly?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, "ATLANTIC": Well, it may be a fault, it may be an opportunity, because the Trump administration has Republicans have built a beautiful exit ramp for uncomfortable Republicans. What this -- to put this in its simplest terms, what this bill does is it preserves the basic mechanics of Obamacare and feeds through it a lot less resources. That hurts people in rural states and older people.

Who do those sound like? Republicans. So if you're Senator Rand Paul, if you're Senator Tom Cotton, this bill is an attack on your community. You need an exit ramp. You can't say, as a Republican, say I'm opposed to it because there aren't enough resources but you can say I'm opposed to it because it preserves the mechanics of Obamacare, so you attack from the right in order to get off at the left.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, but your guys are saying -- on the right are saying, no, there are still too many giveaways in this. There's still too much government control. What we want to do is give power back to people, allow them to spend their own money more efficiently and effectively, and by driving up competition, which is a big question mark, we don't know how they're going to drive up competition, that will lower the cost. That's the goal. FRUM: You talk to politicians all the time. What they say --

CUOMO: Every damn day.

FRUM: What they say they're doing and what they're actually thinking as they do it are very different things. Rand -- let's take Rand Paul. He's got counties in southeastern Republicans -- in southeastern Kentucky where you got 60 percent, 70 percent, in some cases over 80 percent of the vote. And those counties have some of the highest rates of Medicaid take-up in the country.

[07:35:03] In some cases 1 in 5 people. In the most Rand Paul loyal counties 1 in 5 people has gotten Medicaid because of the Affordable Care Act. He needs a way to explain to his national audience why he is voting to keep Obamacare or he needs an excuse for voting to keep Obamacare to protect his people, and saying it's not rigorous enough, it's not ideological enough, is the perfect excuse. When they tally the votes they don't care why you voted to keep it. They only care that you voted to keep it.

CAMEROTA: Jen, this is your wheelhouse in terms of communications and what the White House should have been doing. Should they have been courting conservatives before this plan was announced?

PSAKI: Yes. You never want it to be a surprise to people that you are going to rely on for their support when you put a major piece of legislation out, and even though the Obamacare fight in 2009 was a long road we did a lot of work gathering support from a lot of the groups, the hospitals, the nurses, Democrats, before the bill was even rolled out. So what they're seeing here is the strongest opposition to a major piece of legislation in the first couple of months of a presidency I think in recent memory and probably because there's some fatal flaws to it.


CUOMO: But, Jen, that's not the -- that's not the perception. The perception is that you guys jammed it through because you had the numbers, you didn't work with anybody, and that's why the ACA was left lacking. That a lot of the things that could have been fixed then weren't because you wanted to just get it through with the numbers and it all culminated in the famous "let's pass it then you can read it" line.

PSAKI: No -- well, people could have read it but it didn't pass in the first couple of months. It took months and months and months and months, then it was called dead on rival or dead multiple times, so I don't know that that's exactly an accurate description.

It is true that no matter who was elected president, even if Hillary Clinton had been elected, there would have been some fixes to Obamacare because there were some fixes that were needed but the problems we're seeing now are that nobody knows how many people will lose coverage. Nobody knows how much it will cost. People are worried governors -- Republican governors and Republican senators about Medicaid cuts. People are worried -- you know, so there's a lot of potentially fatal flaws in the legislation that's moving through right now.

CAMEROTA: Jen, I want to stick with you for another second because this is also something you know well. The -- President Trump as you know has accused the Obama White House of wiretapping Trump Tower. We now understand that since the Twitter storm on Saturday that there were -- there have been actual conversations between President Trump's chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and President Obama's former chief of staff, Dennis McDonough. We have heard through the reporting that President Obama was irked. That's a shocker. You know him. What do you think the response in Obama world is to all of this?

PSAKI: Well, I'm still very close to a number of people who work for the president still. Him of course. I worked for him for 10 years and I can tell you he is a pretty Zen, calm and collected guy and he had a -- he reacted not that strongly to situations that were far worse than some unhinged tweets so I don't think the reporting is accurate in terms of what his response was. It was more like an exasperated eye roll.

Now what is true is that our tactics that we use when I was in the White House were to response forcefully and strongly when there was inaccurate information put out and you are seeing people who are close to the president who worked for him come out strongly in reacting --

CUOMO: I haven't heard anybody from the Obama team say there was no surveillance done of Trump or any of his people by the White House. You know we've heard some push back from his people about FISA warrants, but we haven't heard categorically there was nothing of this nature done. Can you say that?

PSAKI: Chris, as you have been covering extensively this week, it wouldn't have been called for by the White House or done by the White House, and even as a senior aide that I was in the last two years I wouldn't have been briefed by any actions of the Department of Justice, the FBI and others, but there are a number of people who would have known, whether it was Clapper, Comey, others who have spoken out forcefully on this and those were the --


CUOMO: Comey has not spoken out. It was his guy supposedly, though. He hasn't said anything.

PSAKI: There are reports who have been but Clapper has, and those are individuals. There was a separation. That was a cardinal rule in the White House I worked in. A separation. We didn't interfere in Justice investigations or things they were looking into that should be the rule now but I would not have been briefed and those people in the White House wouldn't have been briefed even if this was the case.

CAMEROTA: Yes. David, we're almost out of time. Where are you with all this wiretapping? What's next?

FRUM: I think Senator Lindsey Graham has it exactly right. We need an investigation because the real thing that -- the question, I don't think anybody takes seriously the idea that President Obama was personally wiretapping Donald Trump but we are curious about is did the U.S. intelligence authorities think that people in Trump Tower were engaged in improper conversation with the Russians, yes or no?

[07:40:03] That's a really important question. And President Trump opened that door inadvertently but the country needs to walk through that now that he's opened.

CUOMO: The phrase hoisted on his own petard comes up. He raised this allegation and now they're going to look at even another level of involvement.

CAMEROTA: David, thank you. Jen, thank you. Nice to see you both.

PSAKI: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. A very important story for you to be watching. We all say that we care about our fighting men and women, well, now comes this report. U.S. Marines are going to be joining the intense fight against ISIS in Syria. What we know about how many. What this mission is called. They're in a support role. Does that mean they're not in harm's way? Unlikely. We have a report from the Pentagon, next.


CUOMO: All right. Breaking news out of Syria. U.S. Marines are being deployed to help U.S.-backed local forces in the intense fight against ISIS. That means fighting men and women from the United States are on the ground in Syria.

Let's get to Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr live with breaking details.

No fanfare, no big announcement about this, but this is one of those situations that Americans care about very deeply. How many of our men and women are going to be there and what are they going to be exposed to.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The numbers are growing, the danger is growing, Chris. This is Donald Trump's plan to accelerate the U.S. fight against ISIS. More troops on the ground, more risk for them. U.S. Marines with their artillery and howitzers now in northern Syria, on the ground to back up local forces there that are fighting their way towards Raqqa, the capital -- the so- called capitol of ISIS. They are trying to get that city back. The last time the U.S. did this kind of operation in Iraq they came under fire from ISIS.

[07:45:08] So you have Marines on the ground in northern Syria. That is not all. There are about 100 Army rangers in another location. Further west in northern Syria, they are very visible. They are there to try and keep the peace, if will. Basically be a very visible presence to keep fighting from breaking out again, and as CNN reported back in February, the Pentagon and the White House are very much thinking about putting additional troops on the ground in Syria. They may put some Army troops in Kuwait. Have them on standby and move them up into Syria.

Accelerating the fight against ISIS but this also raises the risk to U.S. troops on the ground. It means they will have to have air cover. They will have to have back up forces ready to come in if they get into trouble -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, Barbara, thank you very much for all of that breaking news. We will check back with you.

Here's another interesting story. The number of undocumented immigrants caught trying to cross the southwest border plummeted last month. Customs and Border Protection data show a 40 percent drop from January to February. That is way beyond seasonal trends.

President Trump's supporters say this is proof that his tough talk and his policies are already paying off. Immigration experts say it will take months to figure out if this decrease is part of a lasting Trump effect.

CUOMO: Time for a special birthday edition of "CNN Money Now." The bull market turns eight today. Chief business correspondent Christine Romans in our money center.

Christine, put this rally into perspective for us. We saw a big and long sustained drive after the '87 crash.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. So look, perspective important stocks, right? A major milestone right now for this stock market. This rally started back on March 9th, 2009. You remember that day? A horrible day.

When this rally started the labor market was shedding half a million jobs a month. Home prices were crumbling. Foreclosures everywhere. The sheriff putting locks on the front doors across America. Congress had just approved a huge stimulus package. It was the bottom of the recession but the economy turned around.

The stock market roared back and now you guys eight years later the S&P 500 up 250 percent. The Dow up nearly 220 percent. This is not the longest or the strongest bull market ever. It would be four more years of gains to beat that mark. That 1987 to 2000 bull run. But if you invested $10,000 in March 2009, if you had the guts to do that, you would have $35,000 today. If you bought these stocks you have a lot more than that.

Guys, look at this. The big names out there that are likely part of your retirement account, Netflix up more than 2400 percent. Amazon up 1300 percent. Starbucks and Apple, you can see, those were really good investments eight years ago -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: I hope I bought those. I really should.


CAMEROTA: Christine, you've got to give me some tips. Thank you very much. All right. So there was this 20-hour debate in the Texas state house

over this controversial bathroom bill. Is that a preview of what will happen in state houses across the country? We debate ahead.


[07:52:22] CUOMO: A committee in the Texas Senate has advanced a so- called bathroom bill. This came after a 20-hour debate. What does the bill do? Well, it requires all Texans to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in public school and in government-funded buildings. The legislation will now go to the full Texas Senate for a vote.

Joining us to discuss, CNN political commentators Angela Rye, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Ben Ferguson, host of "The Ben Ferguson Show."

Ben, what is --


CUOMO: What is the policy's strength? Why do you need this bill?

FERGUSON: Well, there's a couple different reasons. One, we've seen in the state where there have been a lot of people that have abused the transgender bathroom rule or changing room rule in this state. Specifically there's been four different men that have been arrested going into different Target stores and filming some young girls, others women who were busted. All of them had the same alibi. I identify as a woman today. So that sparked a lot of this.

You also had a young girl that was filmed in a Ross Department Store over Christmas just right around the corner from where I lived. Again the man said to the manager when he was busted, I identify as a woman today. And so what the Texas legislature said after a very -- a lot of concerned parents, a lot of concerned mothers, came out is we don't need this in our state, we don't this in our locker rooms and schools, we don't need this in our bathrooms in our public buildings, right?

This is a problem where people are exploiting it to their advantage. And we want it to be very clear.

CUOMO: Right.

FERGUSON: If you're born a boy or a girl, you go to that bathroom or locker room. And that's -- and there's overwhelming support in the state for this.

CUOMO: All right. Now the safety is going to be the issue. You'll notice Ben did not mention that it happened in a locker room or in a school bathroom.


CUOMO: They don't have any cases of that. And there is the question of, is this kind of predatory behavior existing anyway or is it being introduced, as Ben suggests, by this bill? What's your counter?

RYE: Well, a couple of things here. I think we have to acknowledge that sometimes, particularly in conservative-leaning state legislatures, they create solutions for problems that don't exist, and I think that this is one of those cases. Ben talked about a lot of people experiencing this and then he named four cases. So I think the reality of it is --

FERGUSON: But there's more than four.

RYE: So, Ben, I'm talking. For one example, you know, we don't know what the economic impact is going to be of immigration reform in this country. Why don't you focus on what the economics of this are. If 70 CEOs write to your state governor and say this is a bill we don't need and we're telling you we're going to pull out because we don't support LBGTQ discrimination especially when it's state sponsored, we will pull out of this.

[07:55:09] Imagine what would happen if South by Southwest leaves Texas? Right? They started this week. What happens next year?

CUOMO: Well, that's what happened in North Carolina. Right?

RYE: Absolutely.

CUOMO: But, you know, look, that doesn't --


CUOMO: That doesn't go to the main heart of the policy argument either. If it's about safety, then you shouldn't care who is going to pull out of the state. But if it's about politics and it's about tolerance and it's about what the people in Texas want to say is OK -- you know, we heard a FOX guy the other day say, what if I don't want to live in a country that doesn't look like the one that I grew up in? If that's what this is about, that's OK, but it could come with a price, right, Ben?

FERGUSON: Well, and I think the citizens of Texas are making it very clear that they're OK with doing what they believe is the right thing and losing money. They're not afraid of losing businesses that are forcing their ideals or mandating their ideals on a state. And if we -- if there's money that will be lost, and there will be money that is lost. That was a large part of the debate you saw in Austin in the Texas state legislature. And a majority of parents here have said they're fine with losing this money because they're not going to dictate what is safe and what is -- what they want for their children at the hands of these executives.

CUOMO: Do you really think it's about a safety issue, Ben? I mean, the numbers --

FERGUSON: I do. I do. They're not just samples.

RYE: Right.

CUOMO: The numbers just aren't really there. But you also don't really need the numbers.


CUOMO: You could try to do something like this on the basis of a morality play or a tolerance play and then you'd get into different types of jurisprudence. But where are the numbers that show this as a security issue?

FERGUSON: Well, I gave you four examples that were just highlights of where this has been an issue.


CUOMO: Right. But none of them were -- none of them were bathrooms in schools.

FERGUSON: Here's the thing.

CUOMO: None of them are locker rooms in schools. Those numbers don't exist.

FERGUSON: Because you haven't had this very long in most of the municipalities. If you --

CUOMO: But how do you know it's going to happen? If you want to prescribe the behavior because of the risk --

FERGUSON: You've seen it happen --

CUOMO: But you haven't seen any evidence of the risk, how do you make that connection?

FERGUSON: Again, that is not accurate. And I'll give you a perfect example.

CUOMO: Please.

FERGUSON: You just dealt with the issue with a student in Texas who was using the locker room of another gender and it brought up massive issues with parents who said, I do not want my daughter in a locker room with someone that is a boy or a girl that's in a locker room, vice-versa, switching it over.

CUOMO: That's not a safety issue.

FERGUSON: It is a safety issue for those parents. And you should respect that.

CUOMO: No, it's not.

FERGUSON: I also want to say --

CUOMO: It's not a safety issue for the parents. It's their idea of what they want their kid around.

FERGUSON: Chris, Chris -- CUOMO: It's about their tolerance level, not their safety.

FERGUSON: That is your opinion. No, no, no, no. When you have a young child that is in a room with someone of the opposite sex and they are changing in their shower room --


CUOMO: With a young person of the opposite sex.

FERGUSON: -- that is a --

CUOMO: You guys like to say that it's grown men who are going to be with 12-year-old girls. That's what you like to say, Ben, but that's not the case.

FERGUSON: When a 17-year-old -- Chris, Chris, I understand you disagree with me. But you actually need to be tolerant and listen to the other side of this. And the tolerance of this is this, if you're a 17-year-old male and say that you're a girl and you go into a girls' locker room, that is a safety issue. And the majority of people in Texas agree with me on that one.

RYE: No, it's not.

FERGUSON: It is a safety issue.

RYE: No, it's not.

FERGUSON: It's not just a moral issue. It also is a safety issue.

CUOMO: All right. So that's the argument.

FERGUSON: You don't want your daughter, your son being someone they're switched in that way on that issue. Let me say one other thing, though.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

FERGUSON: You just brought the number. You said this isn't a big issue because there's not a lot of cases here.

CUOMO: Right.

FERGUSON: Why not use the same logic on the basic issue of there are so few cases here that you're talking about that would even be influenced with a certain number of people that can't use the locker rooms they want to use, even though they're not that sex, why should society change completely for so few numbers, to use your same logic?

CUOMO: That is a fundamental question -- that's a fundamental question that has triggered equal protection arguments throughout our nation's history and it will do it once again now.

FERGUSON: But -- CUOMO: Well, hold on a second. Respond to Ben's point here and then

I want to give a quick take on a different issue. But his take is, the parents don't want it, they think having a 17-year-old boy with a 17-year-old girl in a locker room is a safety risk. Is that what it's about?

RYE: So a 17-year-old boy who identifies as a female is not a safety risk. And what this demonstrates as Ben just has is that there is a lack of tolerance, there is a lot of bigotry surrounding this issue. There's an internet meme going around that says, it's not about bathrooms just like it was never about water fountains.

And so we have to acknowledge, it is a moral issue, it is a tolerance issue. And the fact is, morals are not on their side. This is inhumane to do this to people who don't identify in the way that these parents who don't have any documented evidence of any type of safety issue pushing this off on these kids. It's just -- it's unreasonable.

CUOMO: They don't have to like it, but that doesn't make it OK to prescribe it.

Let's leave it right now. Ben, I appreciate you putting out the argument as always, my friend. Thank you very much, Angela Rye.

RYE: Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll talk about this more.


CUOMO: There's going to be a lot of states that'll try to do it. We're following a lot of news. What do you say? Let's get after it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no doubt we'll pass this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look through it, it's Obamacare in a different form.

CAMEROTA: Major healthcare groups lining up in opposition to the GOP's plan.

SPICER: Make no mistake, the president is very proud of the product that we have produced.

SCHUMER: Trumpcare is a mess.

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we have right now is --