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Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; No Evidence Trump Tower Was Wiretapped; Interview with Mark Cuban. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired March 15, 2017 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Can Donald Trump sell the health care plan the same way he told himself to voters? And is he even willing to try?

THE LEAD starts right now.

President Trump in his element, hitting the campaign trail, expecting to sell a health care plan tonight, one that he's not yet willing to put his name on, leaving the House speaker to deal with the fallout in Washington.

Paul Ryan is going to join us live in just minutes.

No evidence. House Intelligence Committee leaders, including one Trump supporter, saying there is no proof the president's told the truth when he accused President Obama of wiretapping him at Trump Tower.

Plus, this town is run by elephants and donkeys, but today we have a shark, Mark Cuban talking to us about President Trump's taxes, his leadership, and what he thinks the president is really worth.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Topping our politics lead today, President Trump is taking his act to Nashville, as he tries to sell his Obamacare repeal and replace plan, the plan that his White House does not want us to call Trumpcare. Perhaps that's because back in Washington support for the plan looks increasingly shaky, especially after the Congressional Budget Office report that says 24 million fewer Americans will have health insurance under the Republicans' plan, as House leaders face the dilemma of moderates and conservatives in their party who each want to make changes that might alienate the other bloc.

For its part, the White House wants to negotiate, but some prominent Trump supporters now seem prepared to call the legislation a failure and hang it around the neck of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

CNN correspondent Sunlen Serfaty is live on Capitol Hill.

And, Sunlen, the president gave a speech in Michigan today. Did he even mention the health care plan? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did not, Jake. Not

one single word about health care today at his first of two stops today.

And, frankly, this is a time when the president needs to be out fully selling his health care plan. Opposition is growing up here on Capitol Hill, especially opposition among Republicans.


SERFATY (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump hitting the road, and Vice President Pence working Capitol Hill, facing the same ominous question.

QUESTION: Are you concerned this doesn't have the votes to pass, Mr. Vice President?

SERFATY: With the Republican health care plan hanging tenuously in the balance.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: They don't have our votes, but more importantly they need to discover they do not have your votes.

SERFATY: Opposition in Congress is growing by the day.

REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: I am leaning no because I don't think the current bill can pass in the Senate. I think that the bill has to be strengthened.

SERFATY: The House bill in its current form can only afford to lose 21 Republican votes. According to CNN's latest whip count, already, 18 House Republicans have said no or are leaning that way. And Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's bill faces an even steeper climb in the Senate.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I don't think anyone believes its current form would pass in the U.S. Senate.

SERFATY: Sources tell CNN privately the White House is encouraging leadership to make more changes now, acknowledging the current House bill cannot pass in the Senate.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: They aren't only writing a bill for 218 votes in the House of Representatives. They have got to be writing a bill that gets 51 votes and Republican votes in the United States Senate.

SERFATY: A senior Republican aide telling CNN the White House is -- quote -- "definitely looking at pretty big changes to the Ryan bill." But Speaker Ryan is standing firm.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We want to listen to our members, and make improvements to the bill, so long as those improvements don't make the bill harder to pass.

SERFATY: Pushing ahead with his bill with little or no changes. RYAN: This is why we have a three-part process. You can't put

everything you want in that bill, like, say, interstate shopping across state lines. And, so, this bill is what we can pass through reconciliation.

SERFATY: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham today completely crushing that promise to pass more legislation later on.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Slow down, get it right. You're not going to get 60 votes to buy insurance across state lines. That is a fantasy in the Senate. If you think that's supported to health care reform, it's never going to happen in the Senate.


SERFATY: And to give you an indication of just how intense all the movement here up here on Capitol Hill on all of this is, you have Vice President Pence who will be spending the majority of his day up here right now meeting with individual members, trying to sell this bill.

Later, he meets with the full Republican Conference. We have Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He's set to hold an evening press conference with the latest, all this going into a hugely significant day up here. Tomorrow, Jake, you have the House Budget Committee, who will start to mark up their portion of the bill. That's essential because that is potentially the last step before this bill reaches the full House floor -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill for us, thank you so much.

And House Speaker Paul Ryan will join me live in just a few minutes to discuss the House Republican health care bill. Stick around.

As difficult a task as President Trump might be having pitching his health care bill to voters, it is nothing compared to convincing skeptics, even those in his own party and his administration, of the veracity of his wild and apparently false charge that President Obama had him wiretapped at Trump Tower during the election.


This morning, leaders of the House Intelligence Committee reaffirmed that they have seen absolutely zero evidence proving President Trump's claims.

This comes as right now FBI director James Comey is briefing members of the Senate Judiciary Committee behind closed doors.

CNN's Manu Raju joins me now live from Capitol Hill.

Manu, do we know the focus of this meeting?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the reason for this meeting is because of frustration voiced by the Senate Judiciary chairman, Chuck Grassley, that he was not getting enough information about what the FBI was doing in its investigations, including any investigations that are ongoing about Russia and its ties to the Trump campaign.

Now, Grassley had threatened to hold up the number two nominee at the Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein, to be the deputy attorney general if he didn't get a briefing.

So, as a result, James Comey here behind closed doors in a classified setting with Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee. We will see if they answer the key questions that some members on the Judiciary Committee were hoping to get today. Is there actually an investigation ongoing into the Trump campaign?

That answer did not come by this afternoon, a deadline that apparently Comey gave to Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat on the committee. We will see if he does it in this classified briefing that's happening right now, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Manu, earlier today, we heard some rare agreement from Democrats and Republicans on the fact that there doesn't appear to be any evidence for the president's wiretapping charge.

RAJU: Yes, that's right, the House Intelligence Committee making a pretty strong statement, including the Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, who actually has not gone as far as he did today by saying he does not believe that Donald Trump was wiretapped under the orders of Barack Obama.

I asked him, what gives you that confidence? Take a listen.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: We don't have any evidence that that took place. And, in fact, I don't believe just in the last week of time, the people we have talked to, I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.

President Obama wouldn't physically go over and wiretap Trump Tower.

So now you have to decide, as I mentioned to last week, are you going to take the tweets literally? And if you are, then clearly the president was wrong.


RAJU: Now, the committee actually asked the Department of Justice to provide any information by this past Monday to support President Trump's claim. They did not get that information. Now they want it by next Monday, which is when Comey and other top officials will be testifying in a public setting in the House Intelligence Committee.

If they don't get that information there, they said they may subpoena for that information. That is something the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee also is threatening as well if they don't get that information about any evidence of wiretapping, Jake. TAPPER: All right, Manu, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman

Nunes and the ranking member, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, they seem to have very different views on whether it can be ruled out that there was any communications between members of the Trump team and campaign and Russia.

RAJU: Yes, and that's a central aspect of this ongoing House Intelligence Committee investigation.

Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman, really batting down the idea of any contacts, something that his Democratic counterpart really is not there quite yet. This is our exchange from earlier today.


RAJU: Is there anything you have seen in the evidence so far that suggests that there were any conversations between people affiliated with the Trump campaign, people, Russian officials who are not the ambassador to Russia?

NUNES: Not that I'm aware of.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You know, I wouldn't answer that categorically as my colleague.

And we're not privileged to talk about the contents of the investigation, but I think we need to be very precise when we talk about this. And I just don't think we can answer that -- answer categorically and not in this forum.


RAJU: Now, one area that Adam Schiff is concerned about, Jake, are contacts that apparently occurred between Roger Stone, a Trump adviser, and Russian officials, a Russian hacker, apparently during the campaign season.

That is something Adam Schiff raises significant concerns when I asked him about that at the press conference. But Devin Nunes said he's not so concerned. He said he barely knows who Roger Stone is. So it shows some disagreement along partisan lines on this investigation and we will see what they eventually can agree upon and eventually decide to disclose, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Joining being me now is former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Senator Sanders, thanks so much for joining us.


TAPPER: So, earlier today, both the chairman and the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said that they know of no evidence that President Trump was wiretapped during the Obama administration. What's your reaction?

SANDERS: I am not shocked.

I mean, I think we have a president who says things time and time again that have no basis in fact, and there is no evidence behind them.


I think it's a very sad and dangerous state of affairs, Jake, because the day is going to come when some tragedy is going to befall our country and the world, and people are not going to believe this president.

So, I would hope that the advisers to the president tell him, you just can't say anything you want to say if it's not true. And that's got to change.

TAPPER: Do you think President Trump needs to retract the statement and apologize to President Obama?

SANDERS: Among many other statements.

You know, time after time, what he says is factually untrue. He lies. And I say that not with any political partisanship here. It's just a fact. You cannot say anything you want to say which is not backed up by evidence. And he does this time and time again.

This is dangerous, because there will be a day when something real happens. He's going to tell the American people, and people are going to say, it's just Donald Trump. He's lying again. Who believes him?

Bad stuff.

TAPPER: Senator Sanders, stick around. We have got lots more to discuss, including, of course, the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

That's next. Stay with us.


[16:15:04] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back.

We're back with former Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Senator, let's turn to health care, the debate going on right now on Capitol Hill.

A lot is being made out of the Congressional Budget Office estimate that there will be 24 million more uninsured Americans within a decade if the Republican plan goes forward. But the CBO also says that a portion of those 24 million will be individuals who want out of the insurance market who voluntarily drop out and who are only buying insurance now under threat of penalty. Theoretically, why shouldn't Americans have the freedom to not buy

health insurance if they don't want to?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, theoretically in my view, Jake, the United States should join every other major country and guarantee health care to all people as a right. Now, it is understandable that if you're young and you're healthy and you don't have a lot of money, you would say, "Well, you know what? I don't need to buy health insurance." But on the other hand, you can get hit by a bus tomorrow, end up in bankruptcy having your credit rating destroyed.

So, I think what most Americans believe, certainly people all over the world, health care is a right. Now, it is disturbing also is that while it is true some may voluntarily drop out, the other truth is that older people, according to the AARP, people are making about $26,000 a year will be forced to pay $7,000 a year more than they are currently paying for the same health care. In other words, the cost of health insurance for older people is going to rise precipitously.

And many of those people are going to drop out, not voluntarily. It's just that they cannot afford the health care they need. Imagine being 60 years of age and not being able to afford the health care that you need. That is part of what the Republican program is.

Bottom line is, though, that our goal should be to provide health insurance to all people, not to throw 24 million people off of health insurance, raise rates for older people, defund Planned Parenthood, decimate Medicaid -- decimate Medicaid and take people getting opiate treatments off the treatment they're currently getting.

This is not, Jake -- we should be clear about this -- this is not health care reform. You don't throw 24 million people off of health care and call it reform. This is tax reform providing $275 billion in tax breaks for the top 2 percent at a time of massive income wealth and inequality.

It is a grotesque and ugly plan. Let me conclude by saying this. If you are old and you have no health insurance, you're 55, 60 years of age, and you have no health insurance and you're sick, you will die. You may die because you can't get to a doctor when you should.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about that, senator. Because you've said if this repeal and replace plan goes forward, thousands of Americans will die. Where do you get that estimate from?

SANDERS: I get that estimate from the fact that studies have been done that people who do not have health insurance, who do not go to the doctor when they should, who do not go to the hospital when they need to go, in fact die. And thousands of people die every year because they don't have health insurance. And if you throw 24 million people off of health insurance, there is no doubt that many thousands of people will die.

Look, Jake, I have talked to doctors in Vermont and all over this country who see patients, who walk in the door, and they're really sick. And the doctor says, why didn't you come in when you first had your symptom? And the patient says, well, I have a high deductible or I didn't have any health insurance, I didn't want to come in. Sometimes it is too late to treat those people.

TAPPER: Senator, you know in many states, Obamacare is in dire straits. The governor of Minnesota, liberal Democrat, said the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable.


TAPPER: According to HHS, in 2017 there is going to be nearly 25 percent decline in the number of insurers participating in Obamacare compared to 2016. Don't Democrats own this bill that in many states is failing?

SANDERS: No, I think what the American -- look, what you're saying is true. No one, certainly not me, that the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, has many serious problems. Deductibles are too high, premiums are too high. We still have too many people that don't have health insurance. It's too complicated. It's too bureaucratic.

Let's sit down and address those issues. There are many people under the Affordable Care Act cannot afford their health care, that's true. Let's deal with that.

The solution is not to throw 24 million people off of health insurance and substantially raise premiums for older workers and furthermore to cut Medicare -- to cut Planned Parenthood, to defund Planned Parenthood and throw millions of people off their choice of health care right now.

TAPPER: Senator, let me ask you. You talked about the high deductibles.

[16:20:01] Republicans say many of the people who were mandated to get insurance under Obamacare and right now currently count as individuals who have health insurance were basically not able to get any access to health care --

SANDERS: That's right.

TAPPER: -- because the deductibles are so high. So, in effect, they're counted as having health insurance, but really they had no access to care.

SANDERS: Well, that's a very pair point, Jake. That will be made worse by this so-called Republican plan. What the Republicans will say is, OK, you have health insurance, but what you have is a catastrophic plan and you have $10,000 deduction.

So, the point is this is one of the crises that we face now. It will only be made worse under the Republican plan. And that is that people today have very, very deductibles, which prevents them from going to the doctor when they should.

Furthermore, let me add to that, that many rural areas in this country, you can have a great insurance program, but you can't find a doctor because we are medically underserved and we don't have enough primary health care physicians.

TAPPER: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

SANDERS: Thank you.

TAPPER: Even the White House is now signaling that the House Republican health care bill will not get through the Senate in its current form. So, what is House Speaker Paul Ryan to do? He'll join us live in just a few minutes.

Plus, from taking a part NBA rest to taking on President Trump, what does Mark Cuban think about the new information about Mr. Trump's taxes and much more? He'll join us live, next.


[16:26:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

The money lead now. Today, we are getting a glimpse and I do mean a glimpse at President Trump's financials after tax reporter David Cay Johnston mysteriously received a couple of pages of Donald Trump's 2005 tax returns through the mail, according to him. He presented the pages to MSNBC last night. They show, in 2005, Mr. Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on a reported income of 150 million.

Joining me now to talk about it is investor, one of the hosts of "Shark Tank", owner of the Dallas Mavericks, star of billions and "Sharknado 3", Mark Cuban.

Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.

MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: Thanks for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: So, what do you make of the returns?

CUBAN: He had a good year, right? And that's what you can say about it. I mean, anybody who makes $150 million, you applaud them and you say congratulations, and you know how well they did that year and really doesn't tell you anything else.

TAPPER: He paid an effective tax rate of 25 percent.

CUBAN: Right.

TAPPER: Turns out, we looked at some of other people whose tax returns we've seen. That's a higher rate than Mitt Romney paid in 2011. Higher than Bernie Sanders --


CUBAN: So, if you know you're going to have a big windfall, like he sold a big building that year, you're going to aggregate all your expenses to push down. And because of the alternative minimum tax, you can only get it down so low in certain circumstances. So, really comparing rates is apples to oranges. There is really not a purpose in doing that.

TAPPER: You have been a very vocal skeptic of President Trump's claims to be a billionaire, much less a ten times older. If he made $150 million in 2005, is that the tax return of somebody who might be worth a billion dollars

CUBAN: Don't know, right? I read somewhere that he sold a building with his Japanese partners that year. You know, he might have gotten an advance from "The Apprentice" that year. I mean, you manage things like -- my attitude has always been you let your winners ride and you only sell when you need to.

So, I've had some years where I've had huge numbers and other years where, you know, my income was far less. So, you can't really tell because you try to manage, too, what your taxes are going to be in a lot of respects.

TAPPER: You mentioned the AMT, the alternative minimum tax. A lot of people out there might not know what that is. President Trump wants to get rid of t. He would have paid much, much less than 25 percent if the AMT didn't exist.

CUBAN: Yes. I mean, you know, you can argue both ways. It's kind of annoying when you have to write that big check when you think you have offsetting deductions. But, look, I don't have a problem paying taxes. I don't have a problem where tax rates are for personal taxes. I'd like to see corporate taxes much lower. I'd like to see inversions from companies moving be far fewer.

So, yes, so, from a corporate tax perspective -- I agree with him. I like what he's doing from that perspective and we'll see what he does on the personal side.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the trump administration. You obviously were a big supporter of Hillary Clinton. We're about seven weeks into the Trump administration. What do you think?

CUBAN: No leadership skills, no management skills, not very good communication skills, but he's obviously had an impact on the economy so he gets credit for that. People believe in what he's doing on the tax front. They believe and I agree on the reduction of regulation. Not all regulation, EPA, I don't agree with. Simplification of doing business I agree with.

Reducing some of the bureaucracy and the lobbying rules -- there's a lot of positives that are positives for business. But you still have to look at the bigger picture because even though he's put out these executive orders, even though he's signaled the intent to do all these things and the market has believed in it, any leader, particularly the president, has got to lead and he's got to get these things passed.

And we're seeing the difficulties of his communication skills with what we're seeing with Obamacare versus Trumpcare. TAPPER: Well, let's talk about, you said no leadership skills, no

management skills, no communication skills. Let's start with leadership skills. Where are the leadership skills wanting in your view?

CUBAN: Well, the first thing you look at is the leaks, right? I think in any organization --

TAPPER: From the White House, ones from the White House?

CUBAN: From the White House, right?


CUBAN: So, any organization -- I've been in take over scenarios, companies where I purchased where there's been bad culture, right? You've got to sit down and where people disagree with you, you've got to say look, there's going to be issues but let's discuss this. Let's communicate so you don't have to communicate with the public. If you have a problem, have that problem with me and tell me and let's resolve it. That's not what he's done.