Return to Transcripts main page


Ryan not Budging on Bill; Spicer to Address CBO Report; Breitbart Releases Ryan Audio; White House Press Briefing. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In the House Intelligence Committee, remember, led by Republicans, warning the Trump administration, we may have to result to what they're calling, quote, "compulsory measures" or a compulsory process. That sounds like a subpoena if they can't provide this evidence. So things are escalating quickly if I could quote a movie line there, Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You can and you did.

ACOSTA: I just did.

BALDWIN: Jim Acosta, thank you. Those are two -


BALDWIN: Two notes. We expect much more. We'll take it.

And, of course, we'll be listening to whether or not they let CNN ask a question finally.

Jim, thank you.

ACOSTA: Yes, that would be nice. Yes.

BALDWIN: Let's go to Capitol Hill now, to our CNN congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, who's covering that - that end of, you know, Pennsylvania or Constitution Avenue.

Talk me through so far about Speaker Ryan, what he's saying, staying the course, and even to Jim's point about this thing may not even make it out of the House depending on how certain members are feeling.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: First and foremost, I'm trying to grab relevant movie quotes to match up with Acosta right there. I'm feeling out of line a little bit.

Look, Brooke -

BALDWIN: Good try.

MATTINGLY: In speaking with House leadership aides, they realize one really crucial component here, every change you make to this bill, every action you take to the bill that they've been moving forward, causes a reaction. So if you change the structure of the refundable tax credit to address some of the conservative concerns, all of a sudden those subsidies, those coverage numbers become even harder to come by. It's the same thing with the Medicaid expansion that conservatives would like to trim back to 2017 or 2018 from the current level of 2020. If you do that, those coverage numbers drop further and then you have to worry about moderate Republicans. They will flee in mass if you do that.

And that's why, in talking with leadership aides, they have made very clear, the structure of this bill, as it currently stands, is the structure that's going to move forward. Now they have to figure out a way to assuage conservative concerns and try and bring on the requisite number of votes to get this passed. That won't entail significant changes.

What will it entail? Well, you're going to see a lot of behind the scenes action up here on Capitol Hill over the next couple of days, trying to get individuals comfortable with the plan. But a lot of this weighs on the president himself. He's going to have to be on the phone. He's going to have to be meeting with these conservatives. A lot of them are going over to the White House tonight for pizza and bowling. This is all part of a process. You're going to see public rallies from the president on Wednesday trying to sell this process. He will be crucial to this going forward.

I will note, Brooke, changes will occur in this bill as the strategy is laid out by the speaker, as the strategy has been laid out by the majority leader. But those changes will come in the Senate, where people are - I've been talking to them all morning, very uneasy about the CBO score, very uneasy about the House process itself. But the Senate floor is where they have kind of targeted these changes to occur, be an amendment process. If they can get the bill through the House, that's what they're telling people, we have to get it through the House first, though, and I think that's the big question going forward, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much, Phil. Stand by. We're all standing by for this Sean Spicer briefing there at the White House.

But let me just go ahead and bring in a couple of voice. And, Gloria and Mark, I have you here sitting next to me, so let me just begin with you first.

Sort of a similar question I asked Jim on this, you know, post CBO score, and Phil brought up great points, just looking in terms of the long game, but the short game from Sean Spicer, what does he - what does he say?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he tries to spin it the same way he did the - in previous days. And I think he may take the Paul Ryan line, which is, the reason you have fewer people covered is that we're no longer coercing people into buying health insurance.

BALDWIN: The individual mandate is gone. BORGER: The mandate is gone. We're not forcing you to buy stuff you

don't want to buy. So, sure, we're going to have less people. When, in fact, the reason that number is so high is because of Medicaid expansion and because they are cutting back on the Medicaid expansion and eliminating it by 2020 as the bill now stands and that's the real reason.

There is a difference to me, and I don't know what you think about this, Mark, but, you know, between Trumpism and Ryanism, Donald Trump has said, I want everyone covered.

BALDWIN: A campaign promise.

BORGER: Paul Ryan has said, no, no, no, we, as Republicans, want to give you the choice. If you don't want to be covered, we're not going force you to do it. That is a real ideological conflict here that at some point they need to resolve. This bill is not Donald Trump's bill. This is Paul Ryan's bill. It is.

BALDWIN: Even though they're not outwardly saying that in the far right, and we'll get to that with the Breitbart audio -

BORGER: And it may come to that. It may come to that. Yes.

BALDWIN: Yes. Go ahead, Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you know, and just to key off what Gloria said, Paul Ryan being a very pragmatic conservative, right?

BORGER: Yes. Yes.

PRESTON: A very pragmatic fiscal conservative, Donald Trump being still the candidate running for president, making promises that are very hard to keep in many ways. You know, as we move forward, clearly there are going to be changes right now, but Paul Ryan's been in Congress long enough, not only as a member, but began as a staff member -

BORGER: Right.

PRESTON: To know that compromise comes when there's a little give, there's a little take. So if he's not going to give right now, it's still early in the game. But as Gloria has said earlier, and I think we all agree, the bill that we see right now is really the skeleton of what is eventually come out.

BALDWIN: What will eventually - right.

PRESTON: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: I think that's so important to say over and over again.

PRESTON: Right. This -

BORGER: Yes. PRESTON: This is not going to be done in the next, you know, 30, 60 days, as much as you're hearing these grand pronouncements by Donald Trump and others. But here - but here is really the dirty trick in this for Republicans, and they don't want to talk about it yet, and we haven't spent a whole lot of time is, politically, this is a loser right now for Republicans. They're talking 14 million people being knocked off the rolls by the midterm elections. You're talking another 24 million, you know, within, what, by 2022, 2024 is it?

[14:05:25] BORGER: Right.

BALDWIN: Twenty-four -

BORGER: Twenty-six.

PRESTON: 2026.


PRESTON: Donald Trump has got to run for re-election. If not him, a Republican does. You're going to have a very angry Democratic base.

BALDWIN: The political fallout is a huge piece of this and that's why we've got, you know, Phil Mattingly and folks like that on The Hill.

But back on Paul Ryan, it's interesting you saying maybe Sean Spicer will echo the Paul Ryanisms on this whole thing. But then, at the same time, you have to cut to this audio that's been released by conservative right-wing website Breitbart. You know where I'm going with this. Let me just - if you haven't heard it, this is released audio. This is Speaker Ryan speaking, criticizing the then nominee Donald Trump. Roll it.


REP. PAUL R YAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER (voice-over): His comments are not anywhere in keeping with our party's principles and values. There are basically two things that I want to make really clear. As for myself as your speaker, I am not going defend Donald Trump, not now, not in the future. And you've probably heard, I disinvited him from my first congressional district GOP event this weekend. A thing I do every year. And I'm not going to be campaigning with him over the next 30 days. Look, you guys know I have real concerns with our nominee. I hope you appreciate that I'm doing what I think is best for you, the members, not what's best for me.


BALDWIN: OK, David Gergen has now magically appeared, so I have a panel of three.

So nice to see you, sir.


BALDWIN: We're waiting for this briefing. But, you know, you've heard this audio from Speaker Ryan from a couple of months ago. No love loss between him and then candidate or nominee Trump. Do you think the far right, who are irked with this iteration of the bill, are trying to make Speaker Ryan the fall guy?



GERGEN: I think there's intrigue going on in Washington. They'll making it all the way into the White House. Are Steve Bannon's fingerprints on what Breitbart put out there? We don't know that. But I think their calculation is that this bill - the Ryan bill, they're now call it, it's not Trumpcare, they made very clear it's not Trumpcare, maybe they're going to call it Ryancare, is in real trouble. It could very easily go down. And they want to push the blame off on Paul Ryan. They've never liked him very much.

BORGER: But that's a danger to themselves, obviously.


BORGER: Because the president has said, this is going to be one big, beautiful negotiation.

BALDWIN: That's right.

BORGER: You're going to love this.


BORGER: Everyone's going to - it's going to be great in the end.


BORGER: And so they have tethered themselves to this bill. The question is, of course, whether the president, and he's capable of doing anything, will say, you know what, I don't really like this bill very much. It's not the bill I envisioned. At some point, does he kind of pull back on it? I think it may be very late for that.

BALDWIN: Well, where - on that, though, where is President Trump in all of this? You know, he's not answering questions and I don't know if that's because they don't want to put him in front of folks like us because we'd ask other questions about allegations of wiretapping, or if it's because he just doesn't have quite the intimate, wonky knowledge as a Speaker Ryan does. Go ahead.

PRESTON: Right. I think that's it. And, look, tomorrow night you're going to see Tom Price, the Health and Human Services secretary here.


PRESTON: Here on CNN answering questions. We've seen Mick Mulvaney, who is the Office of Management and Budget director, out there talking about it. I think Donald Trump, who's strategic standpoint is being very smart not to walk out and to be asked questions that he can't necessarily answer. But, you know, going back to Breitbart, which is very interesting, how much does Steve Bannon control that website.

BALDWIN: Pulling the strings still.

PRESTON: Pulling the strings. He has hired a woman by the name of Julia Hahn (ph), who is the one who chronicled all of the angry Breitbart articles, wrote all of them last year. And in one of them she wrote that Paul Ryan and Hillary Clinton, quote, "share a progressive, globalist world view which is at odds with Trump's America first approach." She's now in the White House right now working with Steve Bannon.


BORGER: And, remember, there was all this concern early on, why hasn't the president signed on to this bill?


BORGER: Why hasn't he embraced this bill? And then it took about, what, four or five days for the White House to come out and say, yes, yes, the president embraces this bill.


BORGER: And Paul Ryan had to say it, because I think there has been a debate - I know there has been a debate inside the White House about how much to embrace this bill. But -

BALDWIN: Well, you called it an orphan bill the other day. It was so appropriate.

BORGER: Right. It was an orphan bill, right.


BORGER: And so now they're kind of stuck with it. They're stuck defending it. And you have Paul Ryan and Donald Trump really thinking very differently about health care reform and they're kind of in this arranged marriage right now and it's really not working out.

BALDWIN: Arranged marriage and orphans.

Quickly, David, and then we're going - we're going to take a break.

GERGEN: I don't -

BORGER: I mind (ph). I don't know.



GERGEN: I imagine though - I image that on the surface they'll try to keep Ryan in play and the president will put his arm around him and embrace him and (INAUDIBLE) went down.

[14:10:04] BALDWIN: Yes.

GERGEN: Even as he's being knifed underneath the surface.


GERGEN: But their dilemma is this. In order to cure the problem with the bill, they would have to put so many provisions, it would be so much more expensive, they can't get their Republicans to vote for it. So they're got - they're between a rock and a hard place on how you solve this. This is what every single president of the seven who've tried it run into, these kind of problems. Very difficult.

BALDWIN: It shipwrecked a lot of people along the way.

PRESTON: You know -



PRESTON: And when you look at the competing forces at play right here, it's very simple, we know of three. We have the centrist Republicans, we have the conservative Republicans, we have the Republican establishment. We won't even put Donald Trump in the mix. Wait till the Democrats have to start weighing in beyond them being unified where you have the real liberal side of their caucus who will refuse to sign on to anything, and the more centrist of the Democrats saying we have to do something. You are going to see an incredible war that takes place in Congress.

BALDWIN: I was remembering - and I know we have to go to break and we'll continue the conversation, but then President Obama, in his waning days, saying to Democrats when he was up on Capitol Hill saying, don't rescue. He said call it Trumpcare -

BORGER: Right.


BALDWIN: And don't rescue them.


BALDWIN: Let me ask all of you to sand by and as all of you to stand by, please, as well, as we're still watching and waiting to hear from Sean Spicer on this snowy Tuesday there in Washington, give that daily briefing. We'll be right back.


[14:12:54] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Keep anyone away.

Good afternoon. I'm hope - I'm glad to see everyone made it safely in. As you may have seen last night, the president met with D.C. Mayor

Bowser and Metro General Manager Wiedefeld about the preparation for the storm.


I hope -- I'm glad to see everyone made it safely in.

As you may have seen last night, the president met with D.C. Mayor Bowser and Metro General Manager Wiedefeld about the preparations for the storm. The president continues to closely monitor the impact of the storm throughout the northeast. The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs has been in touch with state and local officials in the path of the storm to provide guidance and support.

As the storm continues to track the east coast, heavy to intense snow, sleet and strong winds could result in significant travel impacts and possible coastal flooding. Again, the president encourages everyone to listen to their state and local leaders and public safety officers and follow their warnings and closure notices. They are working around the clock to ensure the safety of our citizens and their families.

In light of this storm, the schedule for today changed a bit. Obviously, German Chancellor Merkel's visit was moved to Friday. We'll continue to provide you updates on -- on the update -- on the schedule as we grow closer to Friday.

Today, the president had lunch with the deputy crowned prince and minister of defense of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This afternoon, the president with swear in Seema Verma as the administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. The president looks forward to having the spectacularly qualified and experienced Administrator Verma finally on board, especially as we continue to lay the ground work for a historic reform of our healthcare system.

Laster this afternoon, the president and Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Tom Price will have a call with the CEO of Anthem Health Care, Joseph Swedish. He will then have a phone call with Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McCarthy to further discuss the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare with The American Health Care Act and a series of much-need regulatory reforms to accompany that.

The president was glad to see the National Federation of Independent Businesses announce their support for the American Health Care Act. NFIV has previously identified healthcare, along with small business taxes, as their two business priorities and the president's healthcare agenda will address many of their concerns for small businesses.

TONER: All right, next question please.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from the line of Barbara Usher of CBC. Your line is open.

QUESTION: Thank you. That's BBC, actually.

Mark, I -- I also have three short questions. So, if you allow me two follow-ups as well.

My first question is about the meeting with the foreign minister of the UAE today, this week there's been also a meeting with the Saudi Arabian foreign minister. And both have been closed press.

Can you tell us why the Gulf foreign ministers have closed press and others do not it seems? I mean, is there some particular reason for that?

TONER: No, not in particular. You know, like we did official photographers this morning. We usually work that out, those kinds of protocols with the -- the visiting dignitary or counterpart.

I'd had to frankly look into it to understand or to get a better clear understanding of why there was no photo spray. But I don't think it was any kind of particular reason why we didn't do it two individuals.

Next question? I mean for you, Barbara. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Helpful. Just two other quick questions.

One is there are reports that the Russians have deployed military forces to the Egyptian base near the Libyan border, presumably or possibly to -- as part of their effort to support Haftar in Libya. Are you aware of that or is the U.S. of that? And does -- do you have any concerns about this?

And then I have one quick question about Lieberman after that.

TONER: I'd have -- with respect to Russian airplanes in Egypt, I'd just have to refer you to the Russians to speak to that. I don't have any -- any official (ph) details on that.

What was your final question? Sorry, I apologize.

QUESTION: It's about Lieberman, the -- the foreign minister of Israel. It's been reported that he presented to Mr. Tillerson and State Department officials his land-swap plan, which has been around for some time. And I wondered if you could confirm that and whether that was seriously in the mix of options being considered going forward.

TONER: I can't confirm that. And, you know, I wouldn't get into the specific details of the options that we're looking at. Except to say, and as we've said, you know, over the past week or so, that we are looking at different options, but we're talking to both sides. Hence the reason for Greenblatt's trip to the region to hear perspectives, to hear ideas on a way forward to get back to a place where we can proceed with -- or get to a place where we can consider getting negotiations back up and running.

But as to specific details on the components of that, what that might look like, I -- I just can't speak to it at this time. Next question?

OPERATOR: Will come from the line of Michelle Kosinski of CNN. Your line is open. QUESTION: Hi, thanks, Mark. A quick question.

So, you said that you're not sure if the secretary is going to fill that seat with a report. But if he were to do that, that would be someone handpicked that -- that he chose?

Or how -- I guess what's the protocol for that process at this point? Even if you don't know if that seat has been filled, how was plan laid for potentially filling it?

SPICER: I think Speaker Ryan is well aware of the manager's amendment. I think as we've noted multiple times from the podium, when people have ideas that are constructive or supportive and when we hear about members we have engaged with and the house and he is not (inaudible) Senate and Mulvaney talking about the president himself, vice president, part of the reason we are engaging with these individuals is to hear their ideas, to talk to them about not just the content but the approach, what can go in, what can go out, how we deal with the different phases, as Mike (ph) was asking, when we go.