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Source: Intruder Breaches White House Grounds; Pence Promotes GOP Health Care Plan In Kentucky; Intruder Breaches White House Grounds; Source: Manhattan U.S. Attorney Won't Resign, Will Make Trump Fire Him. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired March 11, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:02] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much for being with us this morning.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We certainly appreciate your company. Fredricka Whitfield going to take you through the next few hours as we continue to watch this breaking news to see if we can get some answers about how he was able to get so close.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Lots of questions still. We're going take it from here. Thanks so much, Victor and Christi. Good to see you this morning.
All right, we begin with that breaking news. This intruder breaching security at the White House making it all the way to the residential entrance. President Trump was inside.
Officials say a man carrying a backpack was arrested by the South Portico entrance to the executive residence just before midnight last night after being discovered by a Secret Service officer. The White House was placed under security condition orange, one of the highest levels of security for the Secret Service.
Let's begin now with CNN's Ryan Nobles in Washington there on the White House property. So tell us more about what's believed to have happened -- Ryan.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Fredricka, we are still piecing together all the information that's coming from our various sources in the administration and within the Secret Service. But what we've been able to drill down is that a man was arrested after gaining access to the White House grounds. We believe from the east side of the White House.
He made it all the way up to the South Portico entrance of the White House, which if you're looking where I am right now, I'm on the north side of the White House. It would be on the complete opposite end. This is a well-known entrance into the White House.
This is where the president would exit and enter if he were leaving on a trip to get on Marine One. It's also a place where presidents often greet guests that come to the White House through that entrance.
It's also very close to the White House residence where President Trump was at the time that this man was arrested. We're told the man did have a backpack with him. We don't know the contents of that backpack.
We also don't know what his motivation was. The White House was put on an orange level security, which is one of the highest security levels that the White House can go to. But after the man was apprehended and the grounds were searched, the security situation was put back to normal.
But Fredricka, I can tell you I've been here since about 9:00 this morning and there was really no sign that anything had happened here in the past 24 hours. It was a relatively quiet morning before we heard these reports come out.
So the White House is back to operating at normal, but this was certainly a major security breach that happened here last night.
WHITFIELD: We understand also Donald Trump tweeting about the health care GOP plan even in the midst of perhaps all of this early this morning in terms of the amount of time that you're been at the White House.
Let's also bring in, Ryan, Tom Fuentes, a senior law enforcement analyst, and CNN law enforcement analyst, Jonathan Wackrow. Thanks to both of you to join us here.
Tom, let me get your impressions on what we've learned by way of Ryan's reporting, CNN reporting, about the security breach. What are your concerns here?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think as Ryan mentioned, this took all night before Secret Service made a public announcement for that. There's a very good reason. They would want to get off-duty personnel in as quickly as possible to supplement the manpower at the White House and at the perimeter of the White House to keep it secure.
If they make an announcement right away that we've caught someone, even if it's not a major conspiracy, it could prompt copy cats to come out running right away, to get in the news as well. So I think the Secret Service would want to make sure they have this well in hand.
That it's not part of a larger conspiracy, that there aren't additional attackers on their way, and they'd like to have that advantage of having their security in place before the sun comes up so that they can have the extra advantage of security at the White House.
WHITFIELD: And then, Jonathan, when something like this happens, we know there have been a number of breaches of security in the last administration. This now as far as we understand the first happening while this president is in the White House. What is your view on the likely precautions being put into place or heightening security by way of Secret Service or any other body right now as a result of this breach?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So the point that was just made, we want to make sure that this isn't an organized group that's trying to test the security measures at the White House. That this wasn't, you know, really a dry run for a more coordinated attack later on.
But I will say that the Secret Service has, you know, multiple layers of protection that are in place. We actually saw that with the arrest being made outside of the White House.
Since the well-publicized breach in 2014, the Secret Service has revised their protocols and layered their defenses of the White House when the president is there and when he is not there to mitigate this type of vulnerability.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan, let me go back to you. Have you learned anything new in your reporting?
NOBLES: Yes. Fredricka, just in the last few seconds here, I've gotten a statement from the U.S. Secret Service which confirms our reporting.
[11:05:01]Let me read it to you, "On March 10th, 2017 at approximately 11:38 p.m. an individual scaled the south grounds fence line of the White House complex. Secret Service uniform division officers arrested the individual without further incident.
This is new information that we're receiving. "A backpack carried by the individual was screened and searched as a precautionary measure. The backpack was found to be free of any hazardous materials.
Following the established protocols, the south and north grounds of the White House complex were searched by Secret Service uniform division officers. Nothing of concern to security operations was found."
And we're also being told that the Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was fully briefed on this incident. They've not told us the name of the suspect in this statement, but they have confirmed what we didn't know and that backpack did not contain any hazardous materials.
Also -- they're also confirming the fact that he did scale a fence in order to gain access to the White House grounds and we're being told that it happened on the south grounds of the White House complex.
So that information just coming to us here from the U.S. Secret Service confirming our reporting that an intruder did indeed gain access to the White House grounds last night.
WHITFIELD: And Tom, you know, what are the benefits or even potential pitfalls that come with the urgency in which the U.S. Secret Service reports publicly that there hasn't been a breach in security?
FUENTES: Well, their concern there is that you don't want to put this out in public and have people who have no involvement whatsoever suddenly get a major brain wave that, what a great idea, I'm going to go fence jump at the White House and get on television. So they don't want to have copy cats come out, especially in the middle of the night before they have enhanced screening in place by calling in people. They want the advantage of daylight if possible before this goes out public. They want to make sure they don't have a larger conspiracy.
So they have to worry about people that may be involved in the plot already and are still yet to come over the fence and people that have nothing to do with it, but may hear about it in the media at midnight, 1:00 in the morning and then come racing to Washington to be part of the activities.
So that's their concern with that. Also we don't know yet the security measures that have been put in place, other than the person being able to scale the fence, the rest of the measures may have worked fine.
The sensors and alarms and cameras, may have been operating adequately to inform the officers at the building to watch for this guy. He's on his way or he's circling the building and get him before he actually makes an entrance like the last jumper did a couple years ago.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And then, Jonathan, we know the suspect has been apprehended. What kind of line of questioning is likely happening right now? What's the process as far as you can tell?
WACKROW: What the Secret Service is going to do now is they're going to interview the individual and ascertain the means, opportunity and intent for this individual to cause harm. Why was he there? What was he doing?
You know, to the point earlier, is this part of a larger organized attack or is this a lone individual that's doing this. But what it speaks to is back in 2014, there was a protective panel, mission panel that recommended raising the level of the fence.
And, you know, it's now 2017, that action still hasn't happened. There's been, you know, a lot of reasons why. A lot of it is bureaucratic between, you know, Congress, DHS and other entities trying to figure out the best optics of the fence.
Here we're seeing again that there's been a breach of the White House, it's because the fence isn't large enough. It's not an adequate defense. This has been identified years ago and it still isn't mitigated.
It only put the Secret Service in a bad position once again where they have to use other means to stop threats other than the primary, you know, asset, which is the fence line.
WHITFIELD: OK, and Ryan, back to you, if you could explain this 16- acre White House property there and that south side of the White House and the access of the general public, but at the same time, the kind of security in place. Can you kind of paint a picture, give us a lay of the land of potentially the route this suspect may have taken? NOBLES: Yes. I should point out it's 18 acres. I said 16 before. I'm sorry, I left two acres out. Yes, it is 18 acres. Essentially if you take a look at the White House, if you've ever been to Washington, this is obviously one of the top tourist destinations, I'm standing on the north side of the White House.
This is what you'd see if you were on Pennsylvania Avenue. Of course, to great fan fair, they have just reopened tours to the public at the White House. They were initially closed down while the Trump administration got its bearings and Melania Trump was able to prepare for those.
So if you come here to Washington to take a tour of the White House, you would enter from the east side, through the east entrance, by the Treasury Department.
[11:10:07]According to the statement, the suspect gained entrance from the south side of the White House, which would be if you are looking at the Washington Monument, if you're at the Washington monument and looking over towards the White House, that's where that South Portico is. You get a pretty good view of it from the Washington Monument. That's a pretty famous entrance. That's where the president --
WHITFIELD: It's where Marine One lands.
NOBLES: Yes. In fact, just a few days ago the president greeted the prime minister of Israel was at that spot. So we this often so the idea that this person could have gained entrance and we don't know exactly how far he made it across the White House grounds, but it would be a significant distance to get all the way up to that point and then be only a few hundred yards away from where the president was in his residence at that particular time is pretty astounding.
It harkens back to that incident that happened back in 2014 where someone scaled the fence, was able to get all the way across the white grounds and actually enter into the North Portico and get inside the White House before being apprehended.
That's what led to this kind of beefed up security around the White House with the fences being raised and the greater uniformed presence around the White House. So it's not as if the Secret Service hasn't worked on preventing incidents like this from happening. But apparently there are still the opportunity for something like this to take place.
WHITFIELD: Tom, what question do you have now as the investigation moves forward?
FUENTES: Well, my question would be for Congress and the other authorities. You know, deciding to increase the security perimeter at the White House and actually doing it are not necessarily the same thing. And so at this -- if the recommendations to make the White House safer in every way have gone unheeded and no changes have been made and they're still discussing it and all of that, why?
WHITFIELD: Jonathan, questions you might have? WACKROW: I absolutely agree. Listen, you're putting the agents in a very difficult position. I think in this case, this is a successful ending. The defense structure of the White House prevailed. The circles of protection around the White House, you know, proved its value. The first line of defense, though, is that fence line and it's inadequate. It's been determined to be inadequate. It needs to be resolved right away and that means DHS and Congressional funding now to initiate that change.
WHITFIELD: OK, and again, Ryan, that suspect getting just within a few hundred yards away from the president who was in the White House at the time. But as we know, there was no contact, direct contact between that suspect and the president. The president is OK, right, Ryan?
NOBLES: Right. The president was not harmed at all in this incident. He was made known -- he was made aware of the fact that it took place soon after but in no way was he in any harm.
And Fredricka, as you just pointed out about the increase security, there's still an open debate about that because this is the people's house. It's not necessarily easy to get a tour of the White House. You have to get -- you have to be brought in by a member of Congress.
This is a place that people love to come to as tourists in Washington. It's one of the most popular destinations. There is a delicate balance here that I think administration and the government is trying to balance here between the safety and security of the head of state. But at the same time giving access to this taxpayer funded entity that Americans should have access to.
WHITFIELD: All right. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Keep us posted as you get more information. Ryan, Jonathan, and Tom, appreciate it.
All right, meantime, all of this happening while right now Vice President Mike Pence is in Louisville, Kentucky where he is pitching the Republican's plan to appeal Obamacare. We'll monitor this and bring it to you live as it happens. Straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. We are following this breaking story to you as the Secret Service now confirming a breach of the security at the White House. An intruder making it all the way to the residential entrance on the side -- south side of the White House there. The president was inside at the time.
But we understand there was no contact made between the suspect and the president instead hundreds of yards separating them. Official saying a man carrying a backpack was arrested by that south entrance to the executive entrance just before midnight last night after being discovered by a secret service officer.
The White House was placed under security condition orange, one of the highest levels of security for the Secret Service. In our reporting, we're also learning the Secret Service used canines to go through the ground, surveil as much as they could including the first lady's garden there near the south entrance.
Ryan Nobles is there on the White House grounds and helping to bring us the details of this. Also joining us again, senior law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, as well as Jonathan Wackrow. Good to see all of you back with us.
Ryan, if you could, fill in the blanks for the latest information that we're learning about this breach.
NOBLES: Well, Fredricka, we now have official Secret Service confirmation that a man did jump over a fence on the south side of the White House and make it all the way to the South Portico entrance of the White House at around 11:38 last night.
That would have left him only about 100 feet away from the president who was in the residence at the time. The man was apprehended with a backpack. Now inside that backpack were -- what Secret Service is describing as no hazardous material.
The man was arrested and put into custody. Now at in no time was the president in any danger, but he was alerted to the fact that this incident did take place. The security level here at the White House was raised to level orange, which is one of the highest security levels at that time.
[11:20:04]And then according to the Secret Service the grounds were completely searched on both the north and south sides to make sure there was no other threats.
But by this morning everything was back to normal. I was here at around 8:45 this morning. It was business as usual. You will not have known that something had happened here late night.
But this again yet another major security breach at the White House after a number of security enhancements have taken place here to prevent something like this from happening -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And Ryan, you said it seemed like a pretty normal morning when you got there at the White House. In fact, no one noticed that President Trump tweeted in the 9:00 or so a.m. hour really calling attention to health care and the GOP plan. This while the vice president is in Louisville, Kentucky to detail that GOP plan.
But back to this breach on White House grounds, Tom, what are your greatest concerns about this especially it was 2014 when a suspect got frighteningly close to penetrating the White House. The president at the time, Obama was not in the White House. But you can't help but draw some parallels here. What are your concerns?
FUENTES: My concern, Fredricka, is that, you know, we're going to go another couple of years with DHS and Congress mulling over what possibly should happen and what kind of security enhancements and should the fence be raised and all of these issues, and then at the end of the day do nothing.
That's the problem with this is that they have all these discussions, but they need to lead to perimeter enhancements, additional security. You know, there's other safety issues with that, not just the president.
But if this individual had pulled a gun out of his backpack, the Secret Service would have had to have opened fire on him and then you have bullets spraying across the yard of the White House out on to the streets beyond.
E. Street, 16th, Pennsylvania, depending on which side of the building they're on. That's a hazard because if you end up with a gunfight on the outer perimeter of the White House, it's dangerous for anybody who may be out. In Washington, D.C., 11:30 at night is not that late on a Friday night for people to be out.
WHITFIELD: So then Jonathan, would you be able to give us a sense or kind of paint a picture potentially of what may have preceded the moment when the Secret Service actually made the arrest? Might they have had him in view for a period of time trying to assess who that person may be as opposed to whether that person was unobserved for a long period of time before being apprehended?
WACKROW: Let me just take you back for a second. By the fact that when Ryan reported that the White House had an elevated security condition, I think Ryan reported that it went up to a condition orange, what that indicates that is that the White House went into a very comprehensive building defense posture where multiple tactical teams were deployed not only on the south grounds.
But remember part of the protected methodology is to ensure 360 degrees of coverage of the White House at all times. At times of an elevated threat, that has to be fortified. So you had tactical teams going on the north and south grounds to mitigate this threat. You had all of the sensors and alarms were probably going off.
So once the person came over the fence line, those sensors start going off. Uniformed division officers and the emergency response team at the White House deployed into those areas. That individual, you know, made it very close to the diplomatic reception room entrance which is right there at the South Portico.
However, what's really important to understand is that there is a security structure on the outside, but on the inside there's also a very comprehensive security posture when the residence -- when the White House is at a condition orange.
So this internal layers of security that are very comprehensive, especially when the president is there. Ryan reported it was only a few hundred yards away from where the president would be. I would say that the president was very, very safe at that moment.
The Secret Service has a comprehensive plan both on the outside the White House but also on the inside. In the event that all of the defensive measures were bypassed on the outside, if that individual ever did get into the inside of the house while the president was there, there's a whole new layer of defensive posture that is in place.
WHITFIELD: Lots of assurances of many layers outside the perimeter of the White House, within the perimeter and then within the White House itself. All right, Gentlemen --
WACKROW: I don't want to lose sight that this was a very big breach. I mean, to get that close to the diplomatic reception room that actually has to be investigated immediately as to why multiple layers were circumvented to even get that close.
[11:25:07]WHITFIELD: We are very glad to hear that the suspect did not come into contact with the president. The president is OK, but it is very troubling to know that this person was able to get as close as he or she was.
Tom Fuentes, Jonathan Wackrow, and Ryan Nobles, we'll check back with you. Please don't go far because right now on the tiny screen, on the big screen, you're also seeing the vice president there who was pushing for this GOP plan. He is Louisville, Kentucky. Let's listen in right now.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President wants you to know that our administration will be the best friend America's small businesses will ever have. (Applause.)
And the President and I know that small businesses are the engines of the American economy. As President Trump said in his joint address to Congress just last week, we're going to "restart the engine" to create jobs and prosperity and growth in America like never before.
You know, I grew up in a small business family, just a little bit north of here in Columbus, Indiana. I went to work at my father's gas station when I was only 14 years of age. I was actually what was called a gas station attendant. If you're under the age of 30, I'll explain to you after the program exactly what that was.
But as the world also knows, the President grew up in a family business, too. We both know the sacrifices that are required to make a business work. And more importantly, we know that when small business is strong, America is strong. And this President is going to fight every day to make that a reality. (Applause.)
President Trump wants to help you become stronger than ever before. He made a promise to you and to the American people -- and as I like to say, this White House is in the promise-keeping business.
Just look at what we've done over the past month-and-a-half. On day one, President Trump went straight to work rolling back reams of red tape. He actually instructed every agency in the federal government to find two regulations to get rid of before issuing any new regulations on job creators in America. (Applause.)
The President has taken decisive action to protect American jobs and American workers by taking measures to secure our border, to build a wall, and end illegal immigration once and for all. (Applause.)
The President authorized the Keystone and Dakota pipelines at last creating thousands of American jobs and building on America's energy infrastructure. (Applause.)
Businesses -- and if you haven't noticed already, businesses have been already reacting to President Trump's vision, his "Buy American, Hire American" vision with optimism and investment around the country.
From coast to coast, literally since Election Day, companies have been announcing that they're keeping jobs here. They're creating new ones. Last month alone, the economy added an amazing 235,000 jobs in the month of February. This economy is coming back and coming back strong. (Applause.)
And most importantly of all, the top priority the President gave us: to work with members of Congress and make sure that the Obamacare nightmare is about to end. (Applause.)
I'll tell you, it's amazing to think about -- virtually every promise of Obamacare has been broken. We all remember the promises that they made back in 2010 when this was signed into law. They told us the cost of health insurance would go down -- not true. They told us that if you liked your doctors, you could keep 'em -- not true. They told us that if you liked your health plan, you could keep it -- not true.
Here are the heartbreaking facts. Today, Americans are paying $3,000 more a year on average for health insurance than the day Obamacare was signed into law. Last year alone, premiums spiked by 25 percent, and millions of Americans have lost their health insurance plans and lost their doctors.
And in one-third of the nation's counties, Americans only have one insurance company to choose from, which essentially means they have no choice at all. The truth is the American people are struggling under Obamacare every day, and so are small businesses like those so well represented here.
You all know exactly what I'm talking about. The truth is Kentucky is a textbook example of Obamacare's failures. Here in the Bluegrass State, premiums skyrocketed by an average of 24 percent last year, with some plans spiking by 47 percent.
[11:30:00] Nearly half of the state only has one health insurer to choose from. And next year, Humana, headquartered right here in Louisville, is pulling out of Kentucky's Obamacare exchange.
Today one-third of the state is on Medicaid. As your governor has said over and over again, it's unsustainable and Medicaid here in Kentucky is threatening to bankrupt this state. Folks, this just can't continue and I promise you it won't.
Since the day that Kentucky helped send President Trump to the White House, his top priority has been to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that actually works. We've already made incredible progress. The House released its repeal and replace bill on Monday and it already passed with unanimous support from two committees in Congress.
One of which Congressman Guthrie sits on and Congressman, I just want to thank you for your strong support to repeal and replace Obamacare. Now, I know that not every politician in Kentucky supports our plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. I know your former governor has been defending Obamacare all over America and he might even have something to say about my visit here today.
And I welcome the debate. I really do. Steve Bashir is actually a friend of mine. We worked together when I was governor of Indiana to promote jobs and growth all across Kentucky. I'm awfully proud of those Ohio River bridges, aren't you?
The great story about collaboration between our two states. The Abraham Lincoln Bridge and the Lewis and Clark Bridge I believe are going to support economic growth across this region for generations. But your former governor is wrong about Obamacare.
Obamacare has failed the people of Kentucky. It's failed the people of America, and Obamacare must go. Now, the plan the president outlined in his joint address to Congress is the plan we're working on. We're going to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all and we'll replace it with health care reform that will improve the lives of every American and strengthen our economy.
The truth is ordering every American to buy health insurance, whether they wanted it or not, was never the right solution for health care in this country. So we're going to start out. We're going to repeal the mandates and taxes and penalties of Obamacare. We're going to end Obamacare's individual and employer mandates. We're going to get rid of more than $500 billion in Obamacare's tax increases.
And we're going to give Americans more choices. We'll expand health savings accounts. We'll give Americans a tax credit that will help people buy plans that they need at a price they can afford. We'll make sure that Americans with pre-existing conditions still have access to the coverage and the care that they need.
And to all the parents here, we'll make sure you can keep your kids on your plan until they're 26 years of age. And most significantly in my view, we'll give states like Kentucky the freedom and flexibility with Medicaid to meet the needs of your most vulnerable in the way that works here in Kentucky.
The bill moving through the Congress today is going to give governor and states all across the country the chance to reform Medicaid so it will better serve the underprivileged in your state with better coverage, better health, and better outcomes just like the governor said.
Uniquely designed for the people of Kentucky. A little bit like we did in the Hosier state not too long ago. You know, I'll never forget being here for Governor Bevin's inaugural address. Anybody else remember that sunny day?
As I was sitting listening on, I remember hearing the governor say that he announced his intention to reform Medicaid using some of the same conservative principles that we used in Indiana. He said then that he was inspired by Indiana's reforms, but he was pretty sure Kentucky could do better than Indiana. I'd like to see him try.
In fact, President Trump truly does believe that giving states like Kentucky, like Indiana, like every state in the union, the resources and flexibility to improve their health care programs and Medicaid is the American way to meet the needs of our most vulnerable. We're going to make it happen.
[11:35:01] It's competition between the states that will give the American people better health care choices. Under President Trump's leadership, we're actually also going to finally allow Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines the way you buy life insurance, the way you buy car insurance.
President Trump and I both know the way to lower the cost of health insurance is to create a national marketplace and give Americans more choices to buy the insurance they want, not the insurance that the government mandates them to have. Folks, let me be clear.
This is going to be a battle in Washington, D.C. and for us to seize this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all, we need every Republican in Congress and we're counting on Kentucky. President Trump and I know at the end of the day after a good and vigorous debate, we know Kentucky will be there and we will repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.
Let me say one more thing. Despite some of the fear mongering by those on the liberal left, I want to assure the people of Kentucky who might be looking on this morning, we're going to work with the Congress and work with our agency at Health and Human Services and we're going to have an orderly transition to a better health care system that makes affordable high quality health insurance available for every American.
In a word, we're going to make the best health care system in the world even better. Now, while I came here to talk about Obamacare, it's really just the start of what our administration is doing to make America great again. Let me give you a quick preview before I head back on that airplane. First off, after we get this done, we're going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms.
We're going to keep slashing through red tape and rein in unelected bureaucrats so they can't cripple the economy from the comfort of their metal taxpayer-funded desks in Washington, D.C. We're going to do a little bit more like we did with those bridges. We're going to rebill America so we have the best roads and bridges and highways and airports that America has ever had.
But making America great again doesn't stop just there. This president has no higher priority I promise you than the safety and security of the American people. He's working every single day to protect our nation and our way of life. This is a president I can tell you who appreciates the men and women of our law enforcement community and he is standing every day with those who protect and serve our country in law enforcement.
President Trump as I mentioned is also taking steps to strengthen our borders, to enforce our laws. As the president said, we're working through Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in close concert with law enforcement in every community, and we're taking in his words the gang members, the drug dealers and the criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens off the streets of Kentucky and off the streets of our country.
And while we talk about those that serve in the uniform, as the proud father of a United States Marine, let me tell you how grateful I am that in President Donald Trump we have a commander-in-chief who will rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy and give our soldiers, sailors, airmen m airmen, Marines and Coast Guard the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission and protect our nation.
And by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of United States, President Trump kept his word to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court who will keep faith with the constitution and he'll be a justice who will uphold the God given liberties that are enshrined in our Bill of Rights.
My friends, let me tell you President Trump is a man of his word and he's a man of action and I believe he will make America great again. You know, I think we've come to a pivotal moment in our nation's history, I truly do. In this moment we need every freedom-loving American to join with us in this effort to make America great again. We need all of you to stand up, to speak out, and let your voice be heard.
[11:40:07] There's no time like the present. We need you to tell the world that we can do better. We can do better on health care. We can do better with a growing economy. We can stand tall and strong in a world again. We can restore this country. Put it back to a path to a brighter future and I know we're going to do this. I truly do.
One of my favorite verses in the old book is from the Book of Jeremiah. It's hung over the mantel of our home from before I was elected to office now more than 16 years ago. Now it hangs over the mantel in the vice president's residence in Washington, D.C. It reads for I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you. Not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.
You know, in November, the people of Kentucky voted to give America a president with the strength and the courage and the vision to make America safe again. You voted to give us a new leader who I believe will make America prosperous again and give us a fresh start on health care and economic growth.
So I truly do believe with all my heart that with your continued faith and support and with God's help together we will make America great again. Thank you very much for being here on this Saturday. God bless you. God bless the United States --
[11:41:33] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Vice President Mike Pence there making a big push for the GOP health care plan there in Louisville, Kentucky promising this is a plan that would make more flexibility. He also encourage that it would allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines.
And of course, he also then pivoted to taking a stand -- this administration taking a hard stance on crime and even employing that this administration has a real commitment towards rebuilding the military. It really ran the gamut. But the primary focus is the GOP health care plan.
Let's talk more about all of this in a big push, CNN contributor, Wesley Lowery, also a political reporter for the "The Washington Post" with me as well as David Swerdlick, a CNN political commentator and the assistant editor for the "Washington Post" as well as I believe, is Dan Merica with us also? CNN producer who is there traveling with? All right, everybody is on board.
All right, good to see you and at least hear from you gentlemen. All right, so you've got this big sell taking place first from the House speaker, you know, Paul Ryan earlier, you know, with kind of like a big board trying to layout the pie chart. You've got the vice president.
And then even this morning you have Donald Trump who tweeted out Republicans, you know, Republicans are coming together to get the job done. David, why this approach? Does Vice President Pence make the more convincing argument on the road?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the approach, Fred, is because Republicans in Congress and the White House, Republican leadership rather still have to convince some of the members in their caucus, particularly members of the Freedom Caucus, who are further to the right that the bill that House leadership and that the White House wants is the right bill. Not everybody has signed on to it.
Vice President Pence's speech I thought was pretty effective in part because it was heavy on criticizing Obamacare and listing out some of the other accomplishments in the first 50 days of the Trump administration and fairly light and fairly short on talking about the specific selling points of the new plan.
He very briefly mentioned tax credits, (inaudible), but a lot of it was criticism of Obamacare and you mentioned the president's tweet. The president's tweet was sort of similar. He said Obamacare was imploding. A line he used in his speech last Tuesday night to joint session of Congress. That's the emphasis I think the administration wants to put on this.
WHITFIELD: And then Wesley, the argument is, is it imploding, especially when there are critics of this new GOP plan that say actually maybe upwards of 11 to 15 million people would lose their coverage as a result of this plan? So how does this White House combat that? How do Republicans on the Hill combat that?
WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Of course, it's going to be really difficult as we see the president as well as the vice president messaging around this. Much of their conversation is going to be about the Affordable Care Act as opposed to now the Republicans repeal and replace bill.
In part because the more conversation had about the current bill on the floor, the more confusion and perhaps frustration there will be among people who otherwise might have supported or said previously they supported repealing the Affordable Care Act.
What we've seen is now the polling has gone through roof. In fact, what we know as Obamacare has never been more popular. In part because it has become clear to voters across the country, that one, previously there was not a comprehensive Republican plan to handle this.
But second now what has been put forward would in fact impact them, Trump voters more than other people felt many of them standing potentially to lose their medical coverage. And so I think there is some real concern.
[11:45:03]In fact, what we have seen is the more Republicans seemed to be explaining their plan, whether it be Paul Ryan as well as a few other advocates, the more anxiety has been created.
WHITFIELD: So, Dan, traveling there with the vice president, you know, prior to the vice president's arrival, reportedly many Kentuckians actually liked the Affordable Care Act, were benefiting from it. So why was this the best venue?
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER (via telephone): It's interesting when you listen to his speech, it was as much politics as it was policy. He basically said we're counting on Kentucky to deliver this repeal bill and said this is the best chance Republicans are going to have to repeal Obamacare.
One quote that really stuck out with me is him saying President Trump and I know at the end of the day, after a good and vigorous debate, we know Kentucky will be there. That is a not so subtle pointed statement to Senator Rand Paul, who has been openly critical of the bill.
What was also interesting is you had Governor Matt Bevin, who appeared with Pence at the round table and spoke before him at this event. And Bevin got in a little bit of trouble on Friday for saying that he wasn't solely behind this bill and he aligned himself more with Senator Rand Paul.
Bevin said of course there are going to be disagreement. I mean, this is a process trying to clean up his previous statements. So I was struck by how political this event was in addition to being policy based.
WHITFIELD: David, how undermining is that, that that kind of dispute and cleaning up would be done publicly?
SWERDLICK: Well, I think, you know, to that point, if the president is effective at putting that pressure on Senator Paul, Governor Bevin, over the course of the next several days or potentially weeks that might have an effect that might change the outcome of how he might vote.
But what I've seen in Senator Paul frankly is that he's most comfortable when he's in this sort of maverick stance not quite going along with the Republican line maybe until the last minute. If you go all the way back to the Republican primary debates when he was still in that race, he looked uncomfortable when he was towing the party line.
He looked most comfortable right before he got out of the race when he was sort of revisiting his libertarian roots and challenging Donald Trump, then Candidate Donald Trump. I wonder how far this sort of standoff between them last. Obamacare is popular in Kentucky more so than in most red states.
WHITFIELD: Wesley, this Medicaid expansion issue is pretty sizable. I mean, is this going to be the sticking point for Republicans in terms of what they are on board or not?
LOWERY: You know, it's going to be interesting. When we remember the campaign trail, this was something that Donald Trump made one of his promises. During the speech, you know, Vice President Pence said that this is going to be a White House that keeps promises.
Well, Donald Trump made some specific promises about Medicare and Medicaid as well as not just the expansions but the access to people across the country. What I think is interesting, Kentucky is a good example of this, is that Obamacare, the term doesn't pull particularly well, but the things included in it, the actual Affordable Care Act pulls even much better.
And so I think there's going to be a real question. Once voters and people start realizing what exactly Obamacare is, what it means and what it includes, people who otherwise might have voted for Donald Trump because of the promise to repeal and replace might have some second thoughts.
So it's going to be really interesting to see how the White House attempts to maneuver this issue moving forward.
WHITFIELD: All right. Wesley, David, and Dan traveling with the vice president, thank you so much, Gentlemen. Appreciate it. We'll talk much more about this throughout the afternoon. We'll have much more right after this.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. More now on our breaking news, an intruder breaching security at the White House making it all the way to a residential entrance. President Trump was inside. No contact between the suspect and the president.
Officials say a man carrying a backpack was arrested by the south entrance to the executive residence before midnight last night and after being discovered by a U.S. Secret Service officer, he was apprehended, she was apprehended.
The White House was placed under security condition orange, one of the highest levels of the security for the U.S. Secret Service. Let's check in again with CNN correspondent, Ryan Nobles, who is live for us at the White House. So Ryan, what more can you tell us about how this discovery was made? How the suspect was apprehended?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, we know that the suspect did jump over a fence on the south side of the White House. We don't know exactly where he jumped over that fence. Could have been on the east end of the White House, maybe over by the Treasury Department, that's of course where you would enter into the White House if you were u coming on a tour of the White House.
And he made his all the way up to that South Portico entrance, which is one of the most famous entrances of the White House. That's where the president enters and exits when he's leaving on a trip on Marine One.
That would place the suspect to only a few hundred yards away from the president himself, who was in the residence at the time. As you mentioned, they did raise the security level here at the White House to Level Orange, which is one of the highest security levels at the time before the suspect was apprehended and arrested.
They were also able to get his backpack, which he had with him, and x- ray that backpack before it left the ground. They had a bomb team checking out that backpack and it was determined that there were no hazardous materials inside that backpack.
The suspect is currently in custody. We do not have his identity yet or his motivation for trying to get here on to the White House complex, but Fredricka, once again, this is another security breach here at one of the most secure buildings in the world.
[11:55:07]This of course not too long after the famous incident right behind me where a suspect breached the wall and got all the way into the North Portico entrance. So once again, you can expect to hear some major calls for an update to the security procedures here at the White House after this latest incident.
WHITFIELD: Right and that time, it was President Obama, but he and the family were not in the White House at the time. All right, Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. Appreciate that. Keep us posted.
Meantime, we have other breaking news we're following, also, a source now saying high profile U.S. attorney for Manhattan, Preet Bharara, has indicated that he will not submit a letter of resignation and will instead make President trump fire him.
CNN justice reporter, Laura Jarrett, joining us now on the phone with more on this. Also, CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, also with us. So, first, Laura, to you. We know that the Attorney General Jeff Sessions had asked what all 44 U.S. attorneys general to clean out their desks, resign and now, you have this information that Preet Bharara says no, fire me.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER (via telephone): That's exactly right, Fredricka. He said you will not see a letter of resignation from me. Instead, President Trump will have to fire him. This is despite being explicitly told otherwise.
Last November, you'll remember, he had a very public meeting in Trump Tower with president when he was then president-elect and was promised that he would be able to stay on. And so, we are now told by sources that he felt blindsided by the move yesterday and wasn't given no notice whatsoever -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And so, that reassurance, Preet Bharara, he went to the television cameras after leaving Trump Tower last fall saying that at the time, that you know, the President-elect Trump before his inauguration said he wanted him to stay on along with another U.S. attorney general. In fact, here's that sound of that moment when he came out of Trump Tower.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PREET BHARARA, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: President-elect asked because he is a New Yorker and is aware of the great work -- (inaudible) discuss whether or not I'd be prepared to stay on as a United States attorney to do the work as we have done it independently without fear or favor from the last seven years. We had a good meeting. I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on. I've already spoken to Senator Sessions. He also asked that I stay on so I expect I'll be --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, that was November, Laurie, any idea what happened since then?
JARRETT: Well, that's exactly right, Fredricka. The question is, what changed, right, because we've seen the president last night came out and said that despite the fact that the attorney general asked for letters of resignation from all of the remaining 46 U.S. attorneys who were presidentially appointed, he made an exception for two.
Two members who were already serving or will be serving in his cabinet if confirmed. One including Ron Brownstein, who had his confirmation earlier this week and he said despite the fact that he was asked for his letter of resignation, he will not be accepting, so, the question is what happened with Bharara, and why was he not part of that exclusion as well.
WHITFIELD: He is known as one of the nation's most aggressive outspoken prosecutors of public corruption and Wall Street, which only, you know, widens the array of questions of why now. Laurie Jarrett, thank you so much. We'll check back with you. Appreciate that. We have so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right after a short break.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We are following breaking news, a source says the high profile U.S. attorney for Manhattan, Preet --