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Lawmakers Demand Evidence of Trump's Wiretap Claim; GOP Battles Over Healthcare. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired March 13, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If he's making that up, it's a real problem. If it's true, it's an even bigger problem.
[05:58:43] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All he has to do is pick up the phone. They certainly should know whether the former president of the United States was wiretapping Trump Tower.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump advisor Roger Stone admits messaging with the alleged DNC hacker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you like better? The one who says that Russia is evil, or the one who says, "Let's talk"?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The relationship with the Russians cries out for investigation.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: When you're a governing party, everybody doesn't get what they want.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: We're looking at about 15 million Americans losing their insurance.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: If they vote for this bill, they're going to put the House majority at risk next year.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, March 13, 6 p.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off. Our friend Poppy Harlow is with us. Always a pleasure. Thank you.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good to get up early for you.
CUOMO: Yes, every day.
All right. So up first, lawmakers demanding evidence of President Trump's claim he was wiretapped by former President Obama. Republican Senator John McCain calling on Mr. Trump to prove his claim that phones at Trump Tower were tapped during the campaign or retract that claim.
HARLOW: Right. And the House Intelligence Committee is giving the Justice Department until today -- that's their deadline -- for the DOJ to provide any evidence of this claim.
All of this as the battle over Obamacare heats up. Are any Republicans willing to say at this point how many Americans will lose coverage with their replacement plan? Paul Ryan certainly wouldn't yesterday.
We are now 53 days into the Trump presidency. Let's begin our coverage this morning at the White House with Joe Johns. Good morning.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy.
Plenty of doubt and skepticism here in Washington, D.C., this morning about whether the Justice Department is going to be able to come up with anything responsive to this request, because past and current officials of the government who should have access to the right information have already denied the president's claim. But it is an important moment because of how it could affect the president's credibility going forward.
MCCAIN: The president has one of two choices. Either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve.
JOHNS (voice-over): Pressure mounting for President Trump to provide proof of his unsubstantiated claim that former President Obama wiretapped phones at Trump Tower during last year's election.
MCCAIN: I have no reason to believe that the charge is true, but I also believe that the president of the United States could clear this up in a minute.
JOHNS: And now one of the president's top advisers alluding to alleged monitoring that she says may have involved more than wiretapping.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their -- certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera.
What the president has asked is for the investigation into surveillance to be included.
JOHNS: All of this as the House Intelligence Committee is calling on the Justice Department to present evidence today to substantiate the president's wiretapping claim. SCHIFF: I don't expect we're going to see any evidence. Either the
president quite deliberately, for some reason, made up this charge, or perhaps more disturbing, the president really believes this.
JOHNS: The committee has also been looking into possible ties between Trump's campaign and Russia, as former campaign advisor and longtime confidant Roger Stone admits to a private Twitter exchange between him and Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who claimed responsibility for breaching the Democratic National Committee's computer network last summer and whom U.S. officials believe is actually a front for Russian military intelligence, a tool used to meddle in last year's election.
Stone telling "The Washington Times" his conversations with the hacker were "innocuous and perfunctory," noting they happened after the DNC was hacked.
It comes as the White House says it was unaware that now-fired national security adviser Michael Flynn was lobbying to help the Turkish government during the U.S. presidential campaign.
JOHNS: Also today a bit of a mild post for this administration. The president holds his first cabinet meeting. All but two of his nominees have been confirmed -- Poppy and Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Joe. Appreciate it. Let's bring in our panel of CNN political superstars: David Drucker, also senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner" and host of the podcast "Examining Politics"; Jackie Kucinich, Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast"; and David Gregory, the author of "How is Your Faith?"
To set the table, let's play this sound of Kellyanne Conway with what seems to be a more expansive claim about the potential wiretapping against our president. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: What the president has asked is for the investigation into surveillance to be included in the ongoing investigation that the House and Senate intelligence communities are already doing. And that's actually how they've agreed to do that. And I think that's smart, and here's why.
What is the investigation about? It's about the campaign's connection to Russia. And by the way, Director Clapper, Jim Clapper, who worked for President Obama, was on television a week ago Sunday. And he was being asked about the wiretapping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
CONWAY: And he said -- he said no one under his purview, but that leaves a lot of people in a big administration, the Obama administration. But he also clearly said that he had not seen a connection between Russia and the campaign. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. David Drucker, let's just remind people: first of all, this isn't just about chasing what Kellyanne said when it comes to the Trump campaign. But more importantly -- and John McCain said this himself -- the answer to the question of what was done to President Trump during the campaign, if anything, is a phone call away for him. And if he doesn't want to make that phone call, is any of this, absent proof, more than a distraction?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it's all white noise. And the problem here is, from the beginning, that the president has the nation's highest security clearance. He can make a phone call or two and figure out exactly what's going on, because they have to tell him. And he either doesn't want to do that, or they haven't figured out how to do that.
And let's keep in mind here that, when Kellyanne Conway talks about what this investigation is about, No. 1, it's always been about Russian meddling in the election. It's not been about Trump's connections to Russia, actually.
No. 2, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees under Republican leadership have always said from the beginning, before Trump made his accusations against the former president, that it was going to include the leaks that have damaged Trump administration. And so they didn't need the president to come out and make these accusations to get this into the mix.
HARLOW: Right. But now she's doubling down on it. Many other Republicans were trying to walk as far away from it as they could. Or at least say, yes, the American people deserve evidence. She's doubling down, saying it could have been much more broad than even the president tweeted.
David Gregory, to you. Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat, but who sits as a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said here's the real risk, is that you have a sort of "boy who cried wolf" scenario. Big picture, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: If six months from now, the president should say that Iran is cheating on the nuclear agreement, if he's making that up, it's a real problem. If he's not making it up, and it's true, it's an even bigger problem, because the question is, would people believe him? Would American people believe him? Would people around the world believe him? And that has real-world consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Is he right? Does it have real-world consequences or is that just, you know, politics at play?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, without a doubt, it has real-world consequences. I mean, it's shocking that we have to spend time talking about the fallout of the president of the United States not telling the truth. And what the consequences of that are for the leader of the free world to risk America's credibility; and to have his advisers spreading more of this distraction about why there was surveillance for which there was zero proof whatsoever.
It does have ramifications, both within an administration and as to rely upon intelligence, has to have a working relationship with his national security team and the intelligence agencies around the world around, you know, the administration in the U.S. And then to be able to enlist allies around the world based on claims that America would make about a threat to allies or against a threat to the United States.
So this is very serious, and that you have to have Senator McCain saying that President Trump should either retract this or get to the bottom of it. Again, it's ridiculous that we're at this level. And I think there's an attempt by the administration to just keep piling on the notion of an investigation by saying, "Well, we should include all of this surveillance, because there's got to be some equivalence here and, in addition to the potential contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Again, when they should be saying, "We want to get to the bottom of whatever Russia tried to do in the campaign, because it's not just about us; it's not just about President Trump. It's about an attempt to undermine democracy moving forward.
So Jackie Kucinich, in terms of the important reporting here now, we have deadlines. They have proof deadline today. You have Comey coming on next week. He's going to be asked about wiretapping and a lot of other things.
But what is the risk here that you wind up having ahead of the FBI saying, "I don't know what the president is talking about. He never called me about this. If he had, I would have told him there's nothing there"?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Comey has shown a willingness to do this. Let's not forget: he did this -- this whole situation with Alberto Gonzales and -- and John Ashcroft. So he is not afraid to come out and sort of speak truth to whoever is in the White House or whoever is above him in power.
So the White House -- there is no proof of this -- has to be a little nervous about this. There is a deadline today for the Intelligence Committee and to get the Justice Department to give them proof. Adam Schiff yesterday, the ranking member, said he wasn't optimistic that anything would be delivered.
But you know, as David said, the fact that we're still discussing this is perplexing, not to mention let's not forget what was going on that week. Was this just a distraction to -- to take the heat off of Jeff Sessions? When all of that was breaking with -- what he told -- when he testified? It just -- it doesn't make sense why the Trump administration would be directing everyone back to the Russia-Trump connection. It just doesn't -- it doesn't make sense. HARLOW: So let me posit this. And David Drucker, I wonder what you
DRUCKER: I like positing.
HARLOW: Don't you, at 6 a.m. on a Monday? I do, too.
Let me ask you this. Here's the thing. When we look at CNN's polling of what voters, what people care about, it's not Russia. They care about the economy, No. 1, and that's where this president won this election.
Does it actually behoove the administration some way, somehow to drag out this Russia stuff? Because then you don't have people talking about the issues that really matter in terms of the Democrats. Does it hurt them to not focus on Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare: here's how you're going to get hurt. Instead we're going to talk about Russia, Russia, Russia.
DRUCKER: Well, look, when the president came out with this Obamacare, the bill hadn't been released, and so we didn't have something to distract from.
And as we have seen with the president's poll numbers, they're actually in a pretty good place for him. They're in the mid- to upper 40s. and that is since he went, you know, live with his Twitter tirade about wiretapping. And I -- but I do think what the president likes to do is to sow chaos and distrust in U.S. type institutions, because if people don't -- can't trust institutions, they should only trust him, at least for his base. And as long as his base...
DRUCKER: No actually it doesn't. And Democrats hate to hear this, and I've talked to them about this. But I mean, Democratic activists. I think Democrats on the Hill get this. The best way to try and beat President Trump politically is the normalize him. Talk about issues. Talk about healthcare. Talk about jobs. Try and poke holes in the president's agenda, and stop focusing so much on all of these wild goose chases that the president gets off on. If there's something there at any time, it will all benefit them.
CUOMO: Quick word, David.
GREGORY: Look, the Republicans are leading this charge on Russia, as well. John McCain is the most outspoken about this. You can walk and chew gum at the same time. They can focus on the issue; and there are going to be Democrats, like Adam Schiff and others, who keep the pressure on in the intelligence area.
CUOMO: The Democrats to a man and woman believe that this Russian inquiry is going to yield something. They believe it is of the upmost importance. They're not going to relent.
HARLOW: All right. Thank you, guys.
Republicans are bracing today for a Congressional Budget Office analysis, a CBO analysis. It really matters. It sounds wonky, but it really matters, because it puts a price tag on how much this healthcare plan will cost and frankly how many people will be covered by it and who will not be insured.
It comes as there are these growing concerns within the party about whether or not this can actually make it to the Senate.
Our Suzanne Malveaux is live from Capitol Hill with more. Good morning.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy.
Obviously, very wonky, but House Republicans are really trying to push this through as quickly as possible through Congress, but the Congressional Budget Office report could very much slow it down. And we'll talk about the cost of this plan. We'll also talk about how many people are impacted.
It is estimated that 15 million Americans potentially will lose their healthcare coverage over the course of ten years under this new plan. Republicans anticipating this are already trying to downplay this potential.
RYAN: I can't answer that question.
MALVEAUX: House Speaker Paul Ryan can't answer how many Americans will lose healthcare coverage under his plan to replace Obamacare.
RYAN: You dramatically increase the access to healthcare, but we're not going to make an American do what they don't want to do. You get it if you want it. That's freedom.
MALVEAUX: Proponents of the American Healthcare Act arguing their plan will yield more choices and lower prices.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process that we're going through.
MALVEAUX: So far, no Republican is able to back the president's campaign promise that no American would lose coverage under the new plan.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am going to take care of everybody. I'm -- I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody is going to be taken care of, much better than they're taken care of now.
MALVEAUX: But clearly, not all Republicans are on the same page.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: If we get what we got from Ryan, Obamacare Lite, he will not have the votes.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: This country better be careful. We're not losing the soul of our country, because we play politics and we forget people who are in need. MALVEAUX: Some conservative lawmakers warning supporting a rushed
bill could put the Republican majority at risk come midterm elections.
COTTON: Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote.
MALVEAUX: Likely to influence how House Republicans vote: how much the bill will cost. The Congressional Budget Office set to provide an estimate as early as today. But Trump's budget director preemptively casting doubt on the CBO.
MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Sometimes we ask them to do stuff they're not capable of doing; and estimating the impact of a bill of this size, I believe, isn't the best use of their time.
MALVEAUX: Ryan addressing the dissension within the GOP.
RYAN: When you're a governing party, getting consensus among your wide, big-tent party, not -- everybody doesn't get what they want.
MALVEAUX: Well, the CBO score will come out. It is expected to come out later today. House members will not be back in session until tomorrow.
Also tomorrow, President Trump will host a group of about 40-plus conservatives of the House Republicans for pizza and bowling at the White House to try to woo them to his side to support this legislation. And then Wednesday this goes before the House Budget Committee, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Suzanne. Thank you very much.
Something for you to watch at home. Have you heard any Republicans say, "Nobody will lose coverage under this plan. I promise"? If you haven't, there's a reason. And when the CBO report comes out, we'll see what it shows, what the price tag is and who loses on this. We're on that.
[06:15:11] And also, we've got Steve King on the show. He said something that has a lot of people shaking their heads. We'll tell you what, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COTTON: I would say to my friends in the House of Representatives, with whom I serve, do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate.
RYAN: When you're a governing party getting consensus among your wide, big-tent party, not -- everybody doesn't get what they want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: What's unusual, though, is that everybody, to be such a big part of the same party...
CUOMO: ... within the GOP, you have real people at odds over this plan to replace Obamacare.
OK. The big factor is going to come as early as today. That's when the Congressional Budget Office -- you'll hear CBO -- they're going to score the plan. What will it cost us? And who's going to lose.
So let's bring back our panel: David Drucker, Jackie Kucinich and David Gregory.
[06:20:05] David Gregory, CBO matters. As Poppy put it, you know, properly, it sounds wonky and insider.
HARLOW: Matter of fact (ph).
CUOMO: But this is the reckoning. This is the reckoning. Is it more expensive than Obamacare? And who wins and who loses? How big a deal?
GREGORY: I think it's a really big deal for a couple of reasons.
One, you have a problem in the Republican Party on two different levels. One, you've got conservatives that don't like the expansion of it, essentially, a new entitlement, which is -- runs counter to their conservative values. Ideologically, too. You have the prospect of a lot of people being dumped from Obamacare, being left without insurance and Medicaid and most vulnerable in the population. And that leaves them scared politically, as well.
Then there's a third imperative, which is they've to get this done. They've got to find a way. So I do think we're in the middle of a process where there is going to be more negotiation. Paul Ryan's not shutting that down. And if it's dead on arrival in the Senate, it's going to have to look different.
But there's a huge political imperative for Republicans to get this done. It's a gateway to other achievements, and politically, it was one of their major promises.
HARLOW: Let's take a moment to listen to what Paul Ryan said about this, because he's sort of undercutting whatever the CBO is going to come out with even before they scored this, which is exactly what the White House did last week. Asked on CBS yesterday morning about this and how many people would be covered or would not be covered, he said, "I can't answer that question. It's up to people." And then here's what he said about the CBO.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RYAN: The one thing I'm certain will happen is CBO will say, "Well, not as many people will get coverage." You know why? Because this isn't a government mandate. This is not the government makes you buy what we say you should buy, and therefore, the government thinks you're all going to buy it. So there's no way you can compete with, on paper, a government mandate with coverage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Do you read this, Jackie, as he, the White House, et cetera, are sort of preparing for a fight with the CBO, trying to, the White House, trying to delegitimize them last week? And now Paul Ryan says, "Of course it's not going to, because we're not forcing everyone to buy it."
KUCINICH: Everybody loves the CBO if they're not in power, and I think that's kind of what we're seeing right now. They try to use it for their own purposes. And in this case, it's not going to help the Republican argument.
Listen, particularly this gives more weight to conservatives who already hate this bill. They're going to use this. They will, and the Democrats are going to use this to bludgeon this bill and say it's not right.
And Paul Ryan initially was saying, "This is your bill, and you're going to like it." And now it seems like he's going to have to negotiate with conservatives and it's also not helping that you have the White House saying something else. They're saying that, "Oh, yes, maybe we can work around the edges as far as when Medicaid expansion starts to freeze or end."
So there really are a lot of competing positions here having to do with one bill within the Republican Party.
CUOMO: David Drucker, that was spin, what Ryan just said...
DRUCKER: Of course.
CUOMO: ... limiting it to the mandate. That's the good news for Republicans in this, is that you won't -- "We won't be forcing people. The CBO is going to say there will be less than that."
That's not the issue. The issue is that you cut money out of Medicaid. Poor people can't get care. I don't care if you give them a health savings account. I don't care if you give them a tax credit. If you don't have the means to make up the short fall between what it costs and what you're given, you're not going to get care. That's the reality. Ryan doesn't want to own it.
And frankly, we don't hear anybody in that party owning it. Except Portman and some of those senators on the GOP side, who has a new set of friends called the Democrats.
DRUCKER: Right. Look, Republicans are trying to square a really difficult circle here. And that is how do you deliver all the things people like about Obamacare: the pre-existing conditions prohibition, keeping your kids on your insurance until they're 26 years old, things like that, without all the things people don't like about Obamacare? The mandate, forcing people to buy insurance, which by the way, never worked. Obamacare has not been actuarially sound.
CUOMO: It's been better than it was before.
DRUCKER: It's one of the things that make it...
CUOMO: The rate of increase is better than it was before.
DRUCKER: Yes, but if Obamacare was working so great, Republicans would have left it alone, because people would have liked it.
The point is, when you're trying to deliver goodies and you're not trying to -- and you're not trying to include all the things that make goodies possible, you're in a really tough place.
But at the end of the day, they can call this Ryan's bill. This is the president's deal. And in fact, it's his first big deal. Either he's going to get this done by negotiating with Republican, whether with carrots or sticks, or he's not. For him, that's the real test.
HARLOW: All right. So changing topics, as someone who's going to be on this program a little bit later, Representative Steve King of Iowa, who has been known for saying controversial things, over the weekend tweeted, lauding what the far-right candidate said. Let me just read it to you here.
Wilders is his name. "Understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's baby."
So why does this matter? This guy, Wilders, is running to be the next -- the next prime minister.
CUOMO: He's like baby Trump over there.
CUOMO: He has the blonde hair. He talks about kicking people out of the country. You know, he's keyed on a lot of those problems.
[06:25:06] HARLOW: Right. And he has talked very -- he has praised him before. But after he tweeted this, David Gregory, guess who tweeted agreeing with him? David Duke.
GREGORY: Yes, well, this is just openly an ignorant thing to say. The idea that other people -- you know, we don't need other people's babies to stand up for western civilization. How many children of immigrants does Congressman King think are fighting in the United States armed forces and have for so many years in this country? Does he not understand what America is?
So I'd be interested to hear his explanation for what he means. What has happened, however, is other Republicans have been, frankly,
disgusted by this comment and so has set off another round of questioning about Republican values within the Republican tent.
CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much for that.
And coming up on NEW DAY we have him on here. Steve King is going to come on. He's going to tell you what he meant when he said what we just read. That will be in the 8 a.m. hour.
HARLOW: Meantime, police and protestors clashing in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, last night. This is after this new documentary has come out, raising new questions about the death of Michael Brown and what happened in the hours before it. This is newly-uncovered video that the American public has never seen before. We'll dig into that, straight ahead.