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Trump Warns GOP On Health Care; GOP Senators' Mixed Prognosis For Repeal Bill; Judge Gorsuch Returns To Senate Hot Seat. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired March 22, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:30] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a last-minute push for votes on the Republicans' health care bill. The House is set to vote tomorrow. Can the president and Republican leadership avoid falling short?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And the president's Supreme Court nominee vowing to remain independent if he is confirmed. What else Neil Gorsuch said during his 10 grueling hours of testimony and what's on tap for him today. Gorsuch -- I keep saying his name wrong.

BRIGGS: Gorsuch.

ROMANS: Did you hear how Chuck Grassley says his name?

BRIGGS: I heard a "zorch" the other day --

ROMANS: A couple of the --

BRIGGS: -- I believe on "JAKE TAPPER" but I'm not sure.

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START, I'm Christine Romans -- Neil Gorsuch.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Thirty minutes past the hour. Tom Cole, Republican congressman, said Trump was "spectacular" yesterday making the sell -- we'll see. We are now one day away from a vote that could change the face of health care in this country. President Trump bringing his patented brand of hard sell to Capitol Hill, trying to coax reluctant Republicans to vote for the American Health Care Act repealing Obamacare.

At an all-hands, closed-door meeting for House Republicans, the president said, "A lost just is not acceptable." He called out Mark Meadows by name. Meadows, the chairman of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus. Trump predicted Meadows and the Caucus will get on board. Hours later the president repeated that call for party unity at the National Republican Congressional Committee dinner.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people voted for historic change and they also voted for serious action. The American people gave us clear instructions. It's time to get busy, get to work and to get the job done. These are the conservative solutions we campaigned on and these are the conservative solutions the American people asked us, as a group, to deliver.


ROMANS: The House Rules Committee takes up the Health Care legislation this morning at 10:00, but the vote is set for tomorrow. House leaders still have some work to do. CNN's ongoing whip count currently shows 26 GOP lawmakers opposed or leaning against. Only 21 can defect without killing that measure.

BRIGGS: If Obamacare repeal does manage to pass the House this week, how will it fair over in the Senate? Well, the measure is set to bypass committees and go straight to the floor. Predictions by key Republican senators of the bill's fate there are, indeed, mixed. Second-ranking Republican leader John Cornyn says the House should OK the repeal bill on Thursday. The Senate will take it up next week and approve it. He says if they pass it, we will pass it.

ROMANS: Oh, but other Senate Republicans not so sure. Alaska's Lisa Murkowski said of the tight schedule, "Wow, pretty aggressive." Senator Bill Cassidy, a physician, also said he would prefer not to vote next week. Senators already on record against the bill in its current form are Tom Cotton, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul. Republicans can afford only two defections in the Senate.

BRIGGS: All right. To help us break this down let's get the latest from Washington. "CNN POLITICS" digital managing editor Zach Wolf joins us.

ROMANS: Good morning, Zach.

BRIGGS: Hey, Zach, bottom line, does the president have the pull here to get this over the goal line?

ZACH WOLF, DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR, "CNN POLITICS DIGITAL": We'll see. This is the -- this is the first big legislative test of his presidency. This is D-Day for Donald Trump, so far, since he's been in the White House. Everything kind of follows after this bill. After health reform comes tax reform, et cetera, and it moves, so he really needs to make this happen and he's trying. He went up there, he talked to all the members. He went and raised money for them last night. It's not for lack of trying if they can't find the votes here.

ROMANS: So now, he has done -- for the first time in his presidency, he's done that thing that presidents do where they put their political on the line --


ROMANS: -- in -- for some legislation. Now we see if it works.

WOLF: That's right, and it's the first time we've had a president who wrote a book called "The Art of the Deal." He tried to make a deal on Capitol Hill and you see them kind of tweaking this bill on the edges and adding in little things for New York lawmakers here and pointing out people there. It's the -- how the sausage gets made is never pretty. BRIGGS: Yes. We mentioned that he called out Mark Meadows and said I'll come after you. Some say he was lighthearted in this meeting. We can't really gather that. But what will he do? What will President Trump do if, in fact, he can't these members -- 30-plus no's according to Mo Brooks on "DON LEMON" last night. What can he do, ultimately? Is there negotiation that can happen?

[05:35:05] WOLF: Yes, I think they can -- they can still do some stuff. It will be hard at this point to start adding new stuff to the bill. They've kind of tried to find the sweet spot of an area where they cannot turn off too many moderate members of their caucus while not, you know, offending too many conservative members of their caucus. I think this is probably the spot where they think they can find the votes. It's not clear if they'll find them or not. And if they can't get this passed tomorrow they can either pull the bill and go back to the drawing board or they can move on and do tax reform instead.

ROMANS: Yes. If they pull the bill and go for it and switch to tax reform, that would be a -- I mean, it would be a real legislative loss for this president. Who else can he lean on? I mean, you've got Paul Ryan who's been doing the work here behind the scenes and trying to be a cheerleader of how the president and his role in all this, but who else can he lean on to lean on these Republicans?

WOLF: I don't know that there's anyone left, really. They were kind of -- all pistons are firing. They've got everybody working the phones. It's not -- it's not -- like I said, it's not for lack of trying so I'm not sure that there's some silver bullet out there. You know, when you have the president go to Capitol Hill -- and that's a big deal -- when he drives up the -- up the hill to Capitol Hill and sort of hat in hand and says you guys have to vote for this, that's the -- that's the thing.

ROMANS: There is like an array of a powerful lobbyists who are against it. You know, AARP is working it.

BRIGGS: No doubt about that.

ROMANS: I think Club for Growth.

BRIGGS: Conservative and liberal groups.

ROMANS: You know, Chamber of Commerce -- right.

BRIGGS: So at the heart of this is not just the president's pull -- his sway with Congress -- but his overall credibility. And the Washington -- excuse me, "The Wall Street Journal" has an interesting editorial this morning taking aim at just that, reading, "The president clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims. If Trump doesn't show more respect for the truth, most Americans may conclude he's a fake president." How does his credibility impact his entire agenda at this point?

WOLF: Well, first, I think we should say you don't expect to read that kind of thing --


WOLF: -- in "The Wall Street Journal" of all places, so that makes it all the more incredible. I think if people can't trust the president they're not going to vote for his priorities. I mean, he came into office promising to do all these things. He's having trouble with this first really big thing. It kind of sets a bad spot, you know, for the rest of his agenda but also for, you know, his place as a -- as a world leader, I think.

ROMANS: You know, it's so interesting because you talk about a world leader, you know. The beginning of that editorial started with if North Korea were to fire a missile that lands 100 miles from -- a rocket that lands 100 miles from Hawaii and the president said that, would anybody believe him? And the "Journal" editorial says we're not sure, and that's really something when you think about what this country could face. You know, what kind of --


ROMANS: You know -- I mean, the markets would call them exogenous shocks, you know, and that's something that -- one of the reasons why I think the stock market has been a little -- a little bit, you know, funky this week. All right, Zach, thank you so much. Nice to see you bright and early this morning.

WOLF: Thank you.

ROMANS: Speak of stocks, the stock market set to make a turning point this morning. Unrelenting optimism over President Trump's policies colliding with the realities of Washington. That has caused fear to come back into the market and it sent the Dow down 238 points. The S&P 500 shedding one and one-quarter percent. This marks the first drop of more than one percent in the last 161 days. We're talking, you know, that hasn't happened since early October. Nasdaq was the biggest loser, down almost two percent.

Those losses are driven by techs. Some of the hottest names this year suffering from big losses. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google -- those FANG stocks all having big losses. Just a dent though, really, in the big gains since the election and the rally could easily get back on track. But if the health care bill stalls that could be a sign that tax reform would be difficult and that -- that is the big prize for investors and companies right now. They are operating on the assumption that they will have a goody bag of lower taxes sometime soon.

BRIGGS: And that's what many feel on Capitol Hill is the real reason President Trump wants health care overhaul, so he can get the tax reform. That he really hasn't gotten down into the details of health care, he just wants to get to tax reform, so we shall see.

One grueling day of testimony deserves another. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch heads back to the hot seat today. How did he end a full day of sharp questioning from Democrats? We'll find out next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:43:35] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: If anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity or the motives of a federal judge -- well, I find that disheartening. I find that demoralizing.


ROMANS: Disheartening and demoralizing. That made --

BRIGGS: Reiterating that.

ROMANS: That made some headlines. Another long, grueling day of questioning ahead for the Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. He faced a 10-hour grilling from senators at his confirmation hearing with Democrats challenging his ability to maintain independence from President Trump.

BRIGGS: All right, let's go live to the CNN center and bring in Michael Moore, the former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Good morning to you, sir.


BRIGGS: Sports analogy warning, a lot of punches thrown from Democrats. Did any of them connect?

MOORE: Right. I don't really think they did. I think that, you know, when you had Sen. Franken, for instance, talking a lot about a dissent that Judge Gorsuch wrote. He tried to make a big deal about this frozen trucker case. I'm sure we can talk about that. I don't know that that really is something that's going to derail this train. I think it's likely that the confirmation moves forward but nothing that's happening right now in the confirmation hearing is happening by itself. It's not happening in isolation. There's always other things in play right now.

You've got the FBI director coming out saying that the president, who nominated this particular Supreme Court Justice -- you know, he's saying that he's under investigation for his Russia contacts. You've got the president with sort of a complete lack of trust and a void of credibility that's growing out there. That's going on at the same time. And you've also got Merrick Garland's situation, where Judge Garland sat for months and months and months and was never even afforded the opportunity of a hearing. And all that is sort of moving as an undercurrent throughout this confirmation.

[05:45:15] So I don't know that it's necessarily as much as what -- about the questions that they're asking the judge as it is the other things that are play during the hearing.

ROMANS: You know, he, again and again, tried to leave a little bit of mystery -- MOORE: That's right.

ROMANS: -- saying, you know, he's not going to hypothetically talk about cases that he's -- that he's not working on. He's not going to give you a look into how he would rule on something out there. Let's listen to how he worded that.



GORSUCH: I have offered no promises on how I'd rule in any case to anyone, and I don't think it's appropriate for a judge to do so. I'm not in a position to tell you whether I personally like or dislike any precedent. My personal views, I'd also tell you, Mr. Chairman, belong over here. I leave those at home.


ROMANS: So, a straight-laced jurist who follows the law and is not going to give you a peek into his heart right here and, certainly, letting everyone know he's not -- he's not owned by the President of the United States.

MOORE: Well, that's true, but I mean, I think also, in reality, we know that he never would have been sitting in that chair in front of that committee had there not been some discussions about his judicial philosophy and the way he's thought and ideas that he may have, in particular, whether that happened with the president or White House counsel, or the chief of staff at the time.

But remember, too, he's been through a confirmation hearing before. He had to get there to get on the bench to serve in the capacity he's in now so he knows how to answer these questions, and there's a whole process that goes through the confirmation hearing. You have somebody sort of coach you, and they script answers, and they talk to you about the questions you can expect, so these things aren't flying off the cuff. These are well-crafted answers.

I think he's acquitted himself well. I don't want to sound like that I'm a total cynic about what he's doing but he's a very smart man and he's certainly well-qualified, and I think he's answering questions in a way that he knows will be acceptable to the committee. In fairness, too, I do think those are the kind of answers that you want to hear from a judge.


MOORE: You want to know that they're not going to lean one way or another -- that they're going to look at the facts of the case. That they're going to look equally at both the rich and the poor in a case, the big man and the little man, the company and the worker. You want to hear all of those things and know that there aren't these preconceived notions going in before a case is heard by the court. So I think he's saying the right things. I think that he has a long record of opinions that people can look at. I do think, though, if we're talking about things that he wrote in a dissent, like in the frozen trucker case that we talked --

BRIGGS: Right.

MOORE: -- about a little bit ago, I don't know that that's necessarily as strong an arrow in the quiver of the Democrats as maybe they would hope.

BRIGGS: Yes, quite a performance by the Denver native.

MOORE: Right.

BRIGGS: You said you do think he gets confirmed. Is that through 60 votes or the nuclear option changing the rule that's enforcing him with 51?

MOORE: You know, again, I think that if you look at him and you took all of the things that are going on, on the side of this confirmation and all of the other things that are at play on the stage, I think he would likely get confirmed. I think the way that Merrick Garland was treated was terrible and I think that maybe will come back haunt him.

BRIGGS: But how, Michael? With 60 votes, will Democrats cross over? Will he get those eight Democratic votes?

MOORE: I think he likely will because I don't know that -- I don't think that we want -- and I think the Democrats need to be careful about this. I don't know that you want, especially on this judge with his record and his accomplishment, I don't know that you want to push the Republicans to invoke --


MOORE: -- the nuclear option at this point. We could end up a lot worse, let's put it that way.

BRIGGS: Choose your battles wisely.

ROMANS: All right. Michael Moore, nice to see you this morning. Thanks for getting up early for us.

MOORE: It was good to see you both. Thank you.

ROMANS: A lot in his wheelhouse going on right now. Nice to have him here.

BRIGGS: There is, indeed. All right, time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joining us --

ROMANS: Good morning, sir.

BRIGGS: -- certainly to talk a little bit about Gorsuch, I would imagine.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Yes, we're going to get in there a little bit about it. I mean, you know, you're hearing Mike Moore, a very smart guy -- great career as a prosecutor, himself -- and the idea of the Democrats given him the votes sounds like it would make sense. You know, Gorsuch seems like he's comporting himself well.

But then you have Elizabeth Warren saying that the entire thing should be put on hold until the FBI investigation into the president and any potential Russian connections is completed. That is highly unlikely but it is a nod toward a heavy recalcitrance -- a reluctance within the Democratic Party to move on anything as part of the GOP agenda. Many believe -- and Chris Matthews, our colleague over at MSNBC, saying it's not his turn. It's still Merrick Garland's turn. How much of that will play into the Democratic deliberation process? We'll have to see on that.

I think the bigger story for us this morning is this macro look at the shot to the president's credibility because of what we've seen over the last couple of weeks. Really, what he started with this bogus --


CUOMO: -- wiretapping charge. What's his ability to close on health care if his credibility is injured? What's his ability to motivate the agenda in general? We'll see -- we've got some good voices on it.

[05:50:08] ROMANS: And, you know, he has used the stock market as a barometer of confidence in him --

CUOMO: He got his first down day, right?

ROMANS: Yes, yes, a big down day because of exactly that point you're talking about. All right, Chris Cuomo, nice to see you. Talk to you on "NEW DAY" in about 10 minutes.

Apple -- speaking of money, Apple dropping the price of one its most popular products. You will not find a discount on Apple stock, though. Wow -- you won't believe how well the stock has done this year. We're going to get a check on CNN Money Stream, next.


BRIGGS: Breaking overnight, a failed missile launch by North Korea. Military officials with the U.S. Pacific Command confirming the test took place at the Kalma ballistic missile site on North Korea's east coast. CNN's Will Ripley tracking the latest developments live from Beijing. Good morning to you, Will. What do we know?

[05:55:15] WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Dave. What we know, according to the U.S. Pacific Command, is this missile exploded just seconds after takeoff. A setback for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but it still gives his missile scientists valuable information that they will use for future missile launches. And we do expect him to launch more missiles, possibly very soon, as they usually do this time of year when the United States is engaged in joint military exercises with South Korea.

China says that that is a provocative action. They want to see the United States stop. They're calling for cool heads in the Korean Peninsula and negotiations with the North Koreans in a statement just put out a couple of hours ago here in Beijing. They said they're very concerned about the escalating tensions here which included a flyover of a U.S. bomber with Japanese and South Korean fighter jets, a very short distance from North Korean airspace.

That flyover happening around the same time that North Korea put out a new propaganda video with simulated graphics showing them blowing up a U.S. bomber and also a U.S. aircraft carrier. That's the kind of threat that North Korea likes to make. They say that they will strike at U.S. forces if provoked.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson now back in the U.S. after his visit to Asia, here in China -- also, South Korea, and Japan. He said a preemptive military strike is not off the table but right now, many sources at the State Department think that they're looking at heightened sanctions to be enforced by China, but many question whether sanctions will work. They haven't so far -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Boy, a crucial meeting ahead between President Trump and President Xi. Thank you, Will.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. Stock futures pointing lower. Big losses in Europe and Asia right now. The Dow, yesterday, 238-point drop. Investors nervous about the prospects of tax reform and they're realizing how slowly Washington moves. So this puts a lot of weight on the Obamacare repeal bill and the Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court confirmation, and the president's credibility to get these through smoothly. If these do go through smoothly, perhaps the rally can resume.

Today, President Trump's pick for Labor secretary will get a confirmation hearing. Alexander Acosta faces lawmakers. He is currently the dean of Florida International University Law School. He's been through three Senate confirmations before for positions under President George W. Bush. He is President Trump's second pick after Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination following several hearing delays. Puzder is also stepping down now as CEO of CKE Restaurants, the company that runs Hardee's and Carl's Jr.

Apple unveiling some new products in an effort to juice sales and get some buzz. A new bright red iPhone will be available for a limited time starting Friday. The models commemorate Apple's 10-year partnership with Red, a charity that helps fight AIDS. Prices start at $749. For even less than that you can get a brand new iPad. Apple rolling back prices on its newest generation tablet. The 9.7-inch iPad with a brighter retina display, $329. That's the company's lowest price for a new iPad to date.

So a price drop on its products but not on its stock. Dave, look at this. This stock, $138 a share. It's up 20 percent this year. The company now has a market value of nearly $750 billion. And if you're an Apple shareholder check out Paul LaMonica's article on "CNN MONEY." A really good story about the -- about the direction of this company.

BRIGGS: Every time you think that stock has peaked --

ROMANS: Yes, against it.

BRIGGS: -- they crush a new ceiling.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. Have a good one.


TRUMP: They want a tremendous health care plan. That's what we have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thursday will be the day, repeal and replace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am still a no vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill is still in effect.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: In politics, if you get 85 percent of what you want that's pretty darn good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody is above the law and that includes the President of the United States.

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I'm asking you a question. Please answer our questions.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: If Judge Gorsuch can't achieve 60 votes in the Senate, could any judge?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have serious questions about Mr. Manafort and his relations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question of credibility hangs over this White House.

TRUMP: They never correct it. If it's fought by one-hundredth of a percent I end up getting Pinocchio's, right?


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, March 22nd, 6:00 here in New York.

The president returning to his signature threat to sell his vulnerable health care plan to doubting Republicans. You will be fired if you don't vote to repeal and replace the ACA. But the question is, does the president have the credibility and the respect of his colleagues needed to get his health care or any initiative done?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: At this point, the president does not have the votes for it to pass. CNN's latest whip count has at least 19 Republicans voting no and another seven leaning against it. So, with so much at stake for the president's legislative agenda, there's this blistering "Wall Street Journal" editorial out this morning that assails President Trump's credibility and suggests that most Americans may conclude that he is a fake president.