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Travel Ban 2.0 Blocked; GOP Health Bill in Trouble?; Trump Doubles Down. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 16, 2017 - 04:00   ET



[04:00:09] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to fight this terrible ruling. We're going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, President Trump promising to push back after his new travel ban was blocked by a federal judge. How will the administration make its case?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The White House sensing trouble with the Republican health care plan. What's the president saying as the House speaker acknowledges the bill will have to change to pass the House?

BRIGGS: President Trump doubling down on his claim he was wiretapped by President Obama despite the House Intel chairman offering a much different take.

Good morning, everyday, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: Nice to see you bright and early this morning.

BRIGGS: And you.

ROMANS: It's 4:00 a.m. in the East. I'm Christine Romans. This is Thursday, March 16th. Welcome and good morning, everyone.

Let's begin this morning with the president vowing to appeal a federal court order that blocked the 2.0 version of his travel ban. Blocked again. At a Tennessee rally, the president declaring he will go to the Supreme Court to overturn the order by Hawaii Federal Judge Derrick Watson. That order issued by Watson just hours before the president's travel ban was to take effect.

BRIGGS: The Justice Department also slamming the order in a statement, saying it, quote, "strongly disagrees with the federal district court's ruling which is flawed both in reasoning and in scope."

Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny on the road with the president has the latest.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, as the White House and the Justice Department begin crafting its legal strategy on what to do next in the wake of another federal judge putting a restraining order on the president's travel ban, President Trump minced no words Wednesday night in Nashville, at a campaign style rally. He aggressively went after that judge. He even expressed some regret about making changes from that first ban to the second ban. He called it a watering down.

Listen to what he said.

TRUMP: A judge has just blocked our executive order on travel and refugees coming into our country from certain countries. The order he blocked was a watered down version of the first order. That was also blocked by another judge and should have never been blocked to start with.

ZELENY: Now, at that fiery campaign style rally which was paid for and organized by his re-election campaign, not the White House, he went aggressively after the travel ban ruling, as well as on health care and other pieces of his agenda, almost trying to create that magic he had during the campaign.

But the realities of governing now so much different. The president sounded as though like he was still on the campaign trail from a year ago. But this latest judge's ruling makes it clear that governing is so much more difficult than campaigning -- Christine and Dave.


ROMANS: All right. So, why did the court rule against the Trump administration's travel ban again? In a 43-page ruling, the federal judge in Hawaii made it clear the new measure did not pass legal muster, citing several examples of Trump surrogates, suggesting it was essentially a revamped Muslim ban.

Listen to presidential adviser Stephen Miller suggesting last month the plan will be implemented despite any legal setback.


STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Fundamentally, you're still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country, but you're going to be responsive to a lot of very technical issues that were brought up by the court and those will be addressed. But in terms of protecting the country, those basic policies are still going to be in effect.


BRIGGS: Late last night on an unusual and unsolicited move, five Republican appointed judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal signaled their legal support for the president's travel ban. The judges say in part, "Whatever we as individuals may feel about the president or the executive order, the president's decision was well within the powers of the presidency." The Ninth Circuit is the court that shut down the administration's position on the first travel ban. It would consider any appeal from the Justice Department of the Hawaii judge's ruling.

ROMANS: So, how is this legal setback for President Trump's travel ban being received overseas?

CNN's Ian Lee is tracking the latest developments live for us from Cairo this morning.

Good morning.

Another judge at odds with the president of the United States who has been adamant that he wants to ban immigration, legal visas and immigration for a time from these countries.

IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Christine.

Yes, it's really been a mixed bag when you look at reactions from the region. Many of those countries, those six countries affected by it have come out against this ban with Iran as going as far as implementing a quid pro quo by banning Americans with some exceptions. But when you look at the rest of the region, for the most part, countries have been relatively quiet when it comes to the ban, probably not wanting to invoke the ire of the White House.

[04:05:05] We do see though the big difference in this new ban is Iraq has been taken off, and this comes after intense lobbying from Baghdad to get them removed. It did create a big of an awkward and potentially dangerous situation for U.S. troops who are currently fighting alongside Iraqi forces against ISIS in Iraq.

We did hear from Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. He met with President Trump Tuesday and called the president a true friend of the Muslims. Now, when you look at individuals yesterday here in Cairo which is home to many refugees from Syria, from Yemen, from Somalia, Sudan and Libya, there was a lot of confusion and anxiousness as they were trying to talk to the U.S. embassy asking what this means. As we know, at the 11th hour last night, the federal judge in Hawaii blocked that ban.

ROMANS: All right. Ian Lee for us from Cairo with the reaction from the region -- thank you, Ian.

BRIGGS: The Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare may be in trouble. The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, claiming he has the votes to kill the Republican health care bill. A CNN head count found 19 Republican votes against the measure or leaning no. Speaker Paul Ryan refusing to commit to bringing this bill to the House floor next week.

ROMANS: Last night, President Trump telling Fox News that negotiations will be needed to keep Republicans unified behind the bill and that its trademark deal-making could save the day. At his rally in Nashville, the president blamed Democrats for the bill's troubles.


TRUMP: Just remember this, if we submitted the Democrats' plan, drawn everything perfect for the Democrats, we wouldn't get one vote from the Democrats. That's the way it is. That's how much divisiveness and other things there are. So, it's a problem.


ROMANS: Today, the Republican health care bill heads to the House Budget Committee.

I want to bring in CNN's Sunlen Serfaty with the latest from Capitol Hill this morning.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

Well, the uphill climb the House bill is facing is getting steeper by the day. Here is where we are with the math of all this, which is extremely important. The House bill in its current form can only afford to lose 21 Republican votes. And according to CNN's latest whip count, already, 19 House Republicans have said no to it or that they are leaning that way.

Now, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan Wednesday evening, he would not commit to bringing the House bill to a full House vote next week. Instead, he largely deferred when he was asked about the schedule. He deferred to the majority leader, saying he is he one that sets the schedule here. And notably in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Paul Ryan refused to say whether he believes this bill can pass in its current form right now.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have consensus and we are fine-tuning our consensus, going to the goal line with our president to get this done. And then it goes over to the Senate and they start over over there.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: You have consensus. So, if it came up in the House this afternoon, it would pass?

RYAN: Well, it's not coming up this afternoon. It's going through the legislative process. That legislative process has not been finalized. That's -- so that's kind of -- no offense, kind of a goofy question or faulty premise. This goes to four committees, we've gone to two so far.

SERFATY: Now, the mechanics of what happens next will start moving along today. This morning, the House Budget Committee will start marking up their portion of the bill when and if it gets through that committee. Next stop is the Rules Committee. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan indicated that will happen likely early next week or at some point next week. And this is the committee that's very important because this is the committee where they would potentially make tweaks and changes that we are starting to hear about from White House aides and from the speaker himself.

So, very clear this is inching along very slowly on Capitol Hill. But very clear some changes of some magnitude will need to be made -- Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: Indeed. Thank you, Sunlen.

Overnight, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended the Republican health care bill at a CNN town hall. Price faced tough questions about repeal and replace, including one from a cancer survivor enrolled Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.


BRIAN KLINE, CANCER SURVIVOR: Medicaid expansion saved my life and saved me from medical bankruptcy. Now, I earn $11.60 an hour at my retail job and, obviously, I cannot afford to pay for cancer care out of pocket. My life really depends on having access to my doctors and medical care.

TOM PRICE, HHS SECRETARY: It's important to appreciate that the program itself, it may have worked extremely well for you and that's wonderful, and we need to keep those aspects of the program in place. But the fact of the matter is that the program is having extreme difficult providing the care that's needed for all of the individuals on it.


[04:10:00] BRIGGS: Price seemed to narrow the scope of his recent promise that no one will be, quote, "financially worse off" under the Republican plan. He told a woman concerned about a spike in premiums for older Americans that he doesn't believe she will be worse off financially from a health care standpoint.

ROMANS: Hmm, but not a money standpoint. The health care standpoint.

BRIGGS: Right. Yes, different tune.

ROMANS: All right. The Trump administration releasing its budget blueprint later this morning. You can expect deep cuts to government agencies, but huge boost to military spending. The State Department facers a 28 percent budget cut. This is according to a preview of the budget, the president's budget provided to us by administration officials. That includes a 38 percent cut to foreign aid. Officials inside the EPA tell us they are expecting at least a 25 percent cut.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney says the Department of Housing and Urban and Development will also on the list, but he wants to move money around the agency by eliminating some programs. He says there are programs there that can't justify their existence and so, they will no longer exist.

The cuts will create some room to spend big in other areas, mostly the Pentagon. President Trump wants to increase military spending by $54 billion. The administrator will also ask for a modest $1.5 billion to start building the border wall, a down payment really on the border wall investment. Mulvaney says that will increase over time.

The release this morning will not be a complete budget. This is a blueprint that sets the White House priorities on spending. The full budget is expected to ready by May. That will include revenue projections and any changes to entitlement spending.

It's fascinating, because when you look where they are trying to cut the budget, it's the very smallest part of the budget that they're trying to cut. There's no touching entitlements there. The president promised on the campaign trail he would not touch Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. There are many critics who say, oh, they are touching Medicaid when you look at --

BRIGGS: With the health care bill.

ROMANS: With the health care bill that they are --

BRIGGS: For this budget, I mean, major opposition awaits that in Congress.

ROMANS: Sure, absolutely.

BRIGGS: Marco Rubio said we do the budget. So, pumping the brakes on the president's plan.

President Trump, though, not backing away from his wiretapping claim. Hear what he said that contradicts the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.


[04:16:09] ROMANS: With top Republicans turning on him, President Trump is doubling down on his evidence-free claim that he was wiretapped during the campaign by President Obama. Mr. Trump appearing on Fox News hours after the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee called the allegation wrong. The president insisting he has proof that he'll reveal by the end of the month.


TRUMP: I have been seeing a lot of things. Now, for the most part, I'm not going to discuss it because we have it before the committee and we will be submitting things before the committee very soon that hasn't been submitted as of yet. But it's potentially a very serious situation.

Wiretap covers a lot of things. I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.


BRIGGS: Top Republicans aren't buying it. Listen to Devin Nunes, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, making it clear he considers the president's claims baseless.


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


BRIGGS: Frustration with the Trump administration is building among Republicans. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, accusing the Justice Department of lying to lawmakers when he promised to share information about potential investigations involving Russian the White House.

ROMANS: A global manhunt this morning for two of the four suspects indicted by the Justice Department for the hack of Yahoo in 2014. Two of the accused are believed to be Russian spies. Justice officials laying out a range of criminal activities in a 39-page indictment, including spying on executives, a spam operation and using Yahoo accounts to target other services like Google's Gmail. Really a remarkable case laid out there.

Two of the four suspects are in custody. One arrested in Canada. Another in a twist has apparently been arrested in Russia for spying on the U.S. The other two men are still at large.

BRIGGS: A huge win for the Justice Department.

ROMANS: It really is fascinating. And timing of all that and how -- they really lay out what is this -- the government-linked operation to use criminal hackers to get all that information.

BRIGGS: The first of many such arrests.


All right. Election results in the Netherlands to tell you about, dealing a blow to the populist wave sweeping Europe. We'll go there next.


[04:23:00] ROMANS: Welcome back.

Dutch voters carving their path and steering clear of the so-called extremist trends running through Europe. While the votes in the parliamentary elections are still being hand-counted, some decisions appear clear. The ruling party appears in line for a victory and says the Dutch people have voted against the populist movement which many there believe gave rise to Brexit and even Donald Trump. For more on the votes and what it could mean for Europe, I want to

bring in CNN's Hala Gorani. She's live for us in the Netherlands.

So, this populism that has swept through, the ruling party saying it's a wrong kind of populism, and the people have rejected it?

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, of course, why would the world be fascinated with the election results of a country of 18 million? That's because, after Brexit, the shock of the Brexit referendum in the U.K. and the surprise of the Donald Trump election victory in the United States last November. This was the first best test of 2017, the first of many elections on this continent where you had a far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-European Union politician personified by Geert Wilders who, according to many polls, could have become the largest party in the Netherlands.

That did not happen. The status quo prevailed. The party of the current incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte, got the most number of seats, projected at 33. The parliament here is about 150 seats.

Now, this is an election where loss of seats for the biggest party in the Netherlands is considered a victory and where the status quo is considered the biggest possible news. That's because Geert Wilders did not manage to get that number of seats, that biggest percentage of the vote that would have signified that the Netherlands, the first test after the election of Donald Trump, perhaps would have been the next domino, the next domino to fall in this populist wave.

That being said, the prime minister won. Why? Well, he did sort of drift to the right in his rhetoric. He embraced some of this anti- immigrant rhetoric that was something that Geert Wilders made a central plank in his platform.

[04:25:07] So, it is something that is resonating. It is a strategy that's worked for him politically. The next big test, Christine, is in France in April where you have the National Front Leader Marine Le Pen polling extremely well. So, that's where everybody is going to be looking to next.

Back to you.

ROMANS: So fascinating. The existential questions happening in Europe right now.

Hala Gorani in the Netherlands for us -- thank you. Nice to see you this morning.

BRIGGS: Various Trumps all around the world.

President Trump, though, won't go down without a fight after his second travel ban meets the same legal fate as his first.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We're going to fight this terrible ruling. We're going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.


ROMANS: This morning, a defiant President Trump promising to push back after his new travel ban was blocked by a federal judge. How will the administration make its case?