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Doctors Risk Lives to Save Syrians; White House Walks Back Wiretapping Claim; Republicans Sell Health Care Plan; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:34] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Time now for the "Five Things to Know For Your New Day."

Number one, a massive nor'easter hammering the northeast and mid- Atlantic states with snow, sleet, ferocious winds. Tens of millions of people in eight states under a blizzard warning for hours to come.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: This as the storm is creating whiteout conditions, forcing more than 5,000 flights to be canceled today. Officials are asking folks to stay home, stay off the roads.

CUOMO: The Congressional Budget Office, the CBO, estimates 14 million more Americans will be uninsured by next year if the GOP plan passes.

HARLOW: And the House Intelligence Committee giving the Justice Department an extension until Monday to provide any evidence of President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped by President Obama. That's the day that the committee begins a hearing into Russia's medaling in the election.

CUOMO: GOP leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan, finally criticizing fellow Republican Steve King for his insult-hurling tweet about immigrants. The Iowa Republican doubling down, standing by his comments.

So, for more on the "Five Things to Know," you can always go to for the latest.

HARLOW: All right, the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer appearing clearly walking back the president's wiretapping claim. Why the reversal, of course, and why now? We will debate.

CUOMO: It's all about quotes.

But first, almost 5 million Syrians have fled their country. Those left behind, life for them can be unbearable. There is a charity, though, that's on the ground providing medical care as a civil war rages around them. Here's the story.

[08:35:06] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO (voice-over): According to the United Nations, about 4,000 people have died so far in Syria's civil war.

DR. AHMED TARAKJI, PRESIDENT, SYRIAN AMERICAN MEDICAL SOCIETY: It's like really waking up from death. You can't see a lot because the dust is all over the place. You see blood on your clothing and you don't know if it's yours or somebody else.

CUOMO: Dr. Ahmed Tarakji heads Syrian American Medical Society, a medical relief organization providing care on the ground.

TARAKJI: Our goal is to heal Syria and relieve the suffering of the people.

CUOMO: The organization has a network of 110 medical facilities with a team of 1,700 doctors. And charity says hospitals are prime targets during air strikes.

TARAKJI: The response to that, we created mobile clinics where people are being treated outside the hospitals.

CUOMO: The medical team also provides psychiatric care, especially to children.

TARAKJI: Children inside Syria have seen a lot of suffering. What do they do to suffer this? Our hope is that if we are able to heal those children, then the future will be better.

CUOMO: The long-term goal is to rebuild hospitals and communities, and rebuild the lives of the Syrians.

TARAKJI: We want to stand for our humanitarian values that we all share and believe in.



[08:40:08] CUOMO: The Justice Department now has until Monday. It was supposed to be until today, but the House Intelligence Committee says we'll give you more time so you can give us evidence that supports President Trump's unsubstantial claim that he was wiretapped by President Obama.

So, we're seeing as an -- as a tactic, the White House is now walking back the president's claim, saying he didn't literally mean wiretapping when he said wiretapping.

HARLOW: It was the figurative form.

CUOMO: Whatever.

Let's discuss. CNN political commentator Jennifer Psaki, and former communications director for the Obama White House, of course. Also with us, U.S. CNN political commentator Jack Kingston, former senior advisor to the Trump campaign and a former Georgia congressman.

Congressman, I know you're former, but you still serve the deference. And when you did the job, you owned what you said. If you say wiretapping, you do not later get to say, I didn't meant wiretapping to mean not wiretapping. You own what you say and you either prove it or you apologize. Isn't that how it is supposed to work?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Somewhat. I would say this, Chris, I do think, when you're talking to intelligence committee members, wiretapping means wiretapping. But I would say this to the normal American out there that doesn't follow intelligence jargon to the jot and tittle of wiretapping could broadly mean surveillance. So, to me, I think that mincing of the words isn't as important as perhaps the accusation and the possibility that it happens.

HARLOW: Well, congressman, so let's just go through the definition of wiretapping used as a noun, an act of using a listening device to conduct surveillance typically over a phone line. Used as a verb, use of a listening device to conduct surveillance on. This is not really intelligence jargon.

KINGSTON: Well, surveillance is intelligence jargon and I would say surveillance would include the wiretapping and --

HARLOW: In his three -- but he didn't use the word surveillance. In his -- in his three tweets he used wires tapped, wiretapping, and President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. Those are his words.

KINGSTON: Well, where I think he may have been eluding to is "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," "McClatchy" and "The Guardian" had all run articles about wiretapping. So I think that to use the term wiretapping in reference to them probably isn't that outlandish. It's not that much of a stretch. But I do think for the normal American out there, you know, surveillance is basically, was somebody spying on Trump --

CUOMO: You know why they --

KINGSTON: And were they in the administration?

CUOMO: You know why the --

KINGSTON: I think that's what the intent was (ph).

CUOMO: You know why the normal American is so angry, Jen Psaki, because you can't trust what anybody says once they get into office. That is what ushered in part of the Trump enthusiasm. He was supposed to be different. I'm going to tell you how you would say it. I'm just going to say it plain. Some people won't like it, but I'm just going to come to you with the truth. And then we get this now with Sean Spicer with the quotes, wiretapping doesn't mean wiretapping. What they really want is proof. And isn't it true, Jen Psaki, that the president could lift the phone, make a phone call, get the answer and declassify anything he wants with more authority in that regard than anyone else in our government and put this to rest?

JENNIFER PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's absolutely true. And I don't think there's a great mystery when you see events like this play out as to why government and Congress has a low approval rating and why the American people are scratching their heads and thinking, what's happening here? I don't even understand why this accusation was possibly made.

Look, I think this is the case where you have not just Sean Spicer, the press secretary, but you have the vice president of the United States contorting themselves, trying to back away from what President Trump accused -- put out there as an accusation a week ago. This is reaching now a laughable point. I don't think anyone thinks a couple more days is going to provide more information or insight here. And I think it's time that we all stop giving so much credence and so much, you know, oxygen to these absurd calls for investigations, internal or external, from this president.

HARLOW: So, congressman, not only is Chris absolutely right in, you know, the president could have put this to rest on the Saturday that he tweeted it by picking up the phone, declassifying everything and putting it out there, if the evidence exists. Comey, the FBI director, is going to be asked about this point blank we know on Monday. He's going to answer when he testifies and Monday is the deadline for any evidence. So what's the play for the White House after Monday if there is no evidence put forth?

KINGSTON: Well, I think that there will be something that's out there. We do know that there was a FISA request in June and that there was one in October, and that there was a computer that was being watched for whatever reason. And I use the term watched loosely.

But, you know, I think there is going to be something that comes -- comes of this. But I also think one of the things that the president wants to get to is who are the leakers, because how do you find out about the Flynn conversation with the Russian ambassador if there isn't somebody who leaks it.

[08:45:14] CUOMO: Oh, the leaks, look --

HARLOW: You tap the Russian -- I mean --

CUOMO: But the leaks are a legitimate thing. Flynn wasn't tapped as far as we know.

HARLOW: No, the Russian ambassador was.

CUOMO: The Russian ambassador was. But leaks are a legitimate issue. It's just they're a separate issue from this. And words that could come back to haunt, congressman, Sean Spicer, this morning, didn't like that I was reporting on a politico story from a document from the OMB that did an analysis, a forward-looking analysis, of what the CBO might come up with, and they actually came up with a higher number of uninsured than the CBO did and he said, please don't cite a false and misleading story. False and misleading will come to bear fruit or not this Monday when it comes to this story about wiretapping, true or false?

KINGSTON: I'm not sure that it will. I can say this, and -- and in terms of intelligence and in terms of Congress in general, the goal posts are always getting moved by both sides. Whatever the findings is, they're going to -- something is going to find something good. It's like that Clapper interview two weeks ago. If you were a Republican, you said, ah-ha, there was no collusion. If you're a Democrat, same interview, you would say, ah-ha, there was no wiretapping because he would have known about it. So I think whenever you have a hearing, whenever you have a witness, people talk -- take away what they want to hear.

HARLOW: Or if you're CNN, you play both of those Clapper bites back to back, like we did.

Guys --

KINGSTON: And -- and you're very tough on -- on your guests --

HARLOW: We're --

KINGSTON: And ask tough questions and it's part of a good process.

HARLOW: Part of the job.

Thank you both. Jen, sorry, we sort of skimped you on time.

CUOMO: You'll get yours next time, Jen.

HARLOW: You'll get yours next time.

Thank you, guys.

PSAKI: Thank you.


HARLOW: How does the GOP health care plan recover from this CBO report? Is it dead on arrival? Will they make changes to get it through the Senate? We're going to get "The Bottom Line" with Mark Preston, next.


[08:50:50] HARLOW: All right, however you want to say it, the Republicans have a tough road ahead in terms of selling this health care plan as it exists, not only to Democrats and to some of the American public, to their fellow Republicans, especially in the Senate. Let's got "The Bottom Line" with CNN's senior political analyst Mark Preston.

All right, the CBO says 24 million more Americans will not have health care. Next year, just next year, 14 million more won't have health insurance. I mean how devastating overall is this? Because Mick Mulvaney just told Chris, you know, you've got it totally wrong. This isn't devastating.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, so let's look at two tracks, right, there's a political tract and then there's the human factor, right? The human factor is just unbelievable. The fact that you're going to have folks out there who have coverage right now that are not going to have coverage. They're not going to be able to afford coverage. And, quite frankly, if you look at some of the models, some of the coverage outpaces what some of these people actually make.

The political track now, though, is Republicans who are pretty well positioned right now to take really full control of Washington in 2018 right now are going down this really slippery slope where they could have a lot of problems in the mid-term elections. And then Donald Trump is running for re-election in 2020. Can you imagine what his prospects are going to be if more people are off of the rolls?

CUOMO: And they have a little bit of a tough sell, I think, Pop, with the good and the bad news that's good news, which is part of that won't have insurance number are young people who don't have the mandate anymore and so they don't have to buy anything and the Republicans are using that --

HARLOW: And are probably proud that they're not forced to pay a penalty.

CUOMO: Right, and the Republicans are saying this is good news.


CUOMO: But that also adds to the bottom line on this because those young people are what bring costs down by spreading the risk in the -- in the pools for coverage.

HARLOW: That was the big problem with Obamacare.

CUOMO: And that's why they put in the mandate. So even the good news --


CUOMO: Could play as bad news. How do they deal?

PRESTON: Right. And go one step further on that. What if you're a young person, 23 years old, who gets in a car accident without insurance.

CUOMO: God forbid.

PRESTON: Who's going to pay for that, right? Who's going to pay for that? Well, that's going to fall on our backs, right, because, I mean, the person needs to get coverage no doubt. But you're -- but you're right about the fact that the coverage could be good news/bad news. I think what was devastating was the Chase analyst that you had today, not Democrat, not Republican, on air today saying that this bill is absolutely flawed. There are some good parts to it, but it needs to be fixed. I think what's lost in all this white noise right now is that the current system is flawed as well and it needs to be fixed.


PRESTON: And I think that --

HARLOW: It is -- that is lost.


HARLOW: I mean the fact that Aetna calls it a death trial (ph). Humana is out. A lot of people only have one provider to choose from.


HARLOW: They can't afford it. They're not getting covered. I mean that -- that has been lost. The onus also on Democrats, what are they going to do to fix the existing plan.

PRESTON: Right. And they haven't offered any solutions.

HARLOW: Right.

PRESTON: You know, that's -- you've got to wonder where the anger towards Washington is where we know it is very intense and fierce right now, when is that anger going to turn on both parties and say, you know what, we're sick of politics, we're sick of the fact that you folks are only trying to take care of yourselves and keep your office for another two years, another six years and get something done for us.

CUOMO: Well, what they say is, well, we have a plan. Our plan is the ACA. But they are watching and enjoying right now the difficulties that the Republicans are having.


CUOMO: But you're saying the onus will be on them to step up and say, we're not just going to say, you didn't fix it well, we must be productive in finding a better way than what exists right now?

PRESTON: Well, they're elected to do so. And you have to wonder, with all this anger, though, Chris, at some point, are people going to say, you know what to the Democrats, you need to work with the Republicans to get something done.

CUOMO: Obstruction (INAUDIBLE) the last two cycles.

PRESTON: But -- correct. But if you're Donald Trump, you can't go out there and say, you know what, let's let this all just collapse and then -- and then we'll do something (ph).

CUOMO: But he did say exactly that.

PRESTON: It's exactly what he said and that's not the way -- how Washington should work. But, unfortunately, it's the way it does work.

CUOMO: Which gets us to another point, right? This is a big point where the word of the White House matters.

PRESTON: Right. CUOMO: And they are at best tap dancing on things and at worst just flat out misleading people on a regular basis about things that don't matter.


CUOMO: Now this does matter. How big a deal is credibility?

PRESTON: Huge, but it's -- but it's normally just on this issue. To your point, Donald Trump, you know, for, what, the 50 days he's been in office, 60 days he's been in office, it seems like every day he says something that's misleading.

HARLOW: All right.

PRESTON: Unfortunately.

HARLOW: Mark Preston, nice to have you here.

PRESTON: Thank you.

HARLOW: Getting ready for the big town hall tomorrow night with HHS Secretary Tom Price. We'll be watching. Thank you.

PRESTON: Thanks.

CUOMO: What do you say, time for a little bit of "Good Stuff"?

[08:55:00] HARLOW: I could use that.

CUOMO: All right, coming up, next.


CUOMO: "Good Stuff." All right, prom, such a special event for all high school kids. I never got to go to one. But for nine-year-old Beckett White (ph) --

HARLOW: I do not believe that.

CUOMO: It's true, I went to military school -- it's an experience he never thought that he would get to have. Why? Well, Beckett was diagnosed at the young age with stage four cancer. He got the last diagnosis just last June. So a high schooler from his town took it upon herself to ask this little man to the prom.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to take Beckett because what if he never gets to. I want him to be able to do the things that I got to do.


CUOMO: Sad, but beautiful and powerful. Kaylynn (ph) says she knew Beckett's story because he's in her little sister's class. So, with a Hamilton-themed prom proposal -- prom-posal, Kaylynn asked Beckett to the dance and he accepted.

HARLOW: I love that.

CUOMO: Isn't that great?

HARLOW: All right.

CUOMO: Great -- great move by Kaylynn and, please, enjoy, little man. We want to see the pictures.

HARLOW: Indeed. Please send them.

Also, looks like we have a loyal new viewer to this program.

CUOMO: The president?

HARLOW: I think that's not a new viewer.


HARLOW: Loyal viewer, for sure, but a loyal maybe new viewer who took NEW DAY to late night last night. Look.


STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Conway's microwave comment heated up online. So today she explained to CNN's Chris Cuomo why her claims may have been a little off.


COLBERT: Yes, OK, Chris, OK, Inspector Gadget had all sort of tools at his disposal, Gadget Skates, Gadget Copter. Kellyanne Conway has only one move, go-go-alternative facts.


[09:00:03] HARLOW: There you are on late night.

CUOMO: You know, you got those laugh or cry moments going on here on a regular basis.


CUOMO: Were you a Gadget girl or no?

HARLOW: Of course.

CUOMO: Yes, you did watch?

HARLOW: Gadget Gidget.

CUOMO: Gadget Gidget. All right.

HARLOW: There you go. Time to go to the real Inspector