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Trump Intensifies Pressure Ahead of Health Care Vote; Supreme Court Nominee Stresses Independence from Trump. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired March 22, 2017 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare.
[07:00:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are not the votes to pass this bill.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's going to be a price to be paid with their own voters.
JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Anyone who criticizes a federal judge, I find that disheartening.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: How do we have confidence that you won't just be for the big corporations?
GORSUCH: A good judge doesn't give a whit about politics.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How bad is the White House's credibility issue?
SPICER: There is no collusion. We had to talk to Mr. Manafort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how you could convince anybody that your campaign chairman is somehow a limited role.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY, with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY.
We begin with President Trump's deal making getting tested like never before. The GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is facing a critical House vote tomorrow. The president is warning skeptical Republicans to get on board or risk losing their seat.
At this point Mr. Trump does not have enough votes for the measure to pass. CNN's latest whip count has at least 19 Republicans voting no and another seven leaning no.
CUOMO: And it was an odd reaction from the Republicans they need to change their vote or get on board. They seemed to enjoy the show of Trump, but didn't change where their head is. And then this morning, another blow, the White House's credibility: a
blistering "Wall Street Journal" editorial, of all places, suggesting most Americans may conclude Mr. Trump is a fake president.
It's day 62 of the Trump presidency. We've got it all covered. Let's begin with Suzanne Malveaux, live on Capitol Hill. He didn't need to entertain them. He needed to change their minds. How much progress did he make?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly seems like he has a long way to go still. There are competing narratives this morning here on the Hill. At 10 a.m., we're going to see the Republican bill go before the House Rules Committee.
At the same time, Chris, we're also seeing former Vice President Joe Biden joining Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats to celebrate what they are calling now the seventh anniversary of the signing of Obamacare. All of this while the president is pushing for the legislation to be passed as quickly as possible.
TRUMP (voice-over): There really is a crucial vote for the Republican Party and for the people of our country.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): In the most important political test of his presidency yet, President Trump in full sell mode, twisting the arms of skeptical Republican House members to vote "yes" on the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
TRUMP: The American people gave us clear instructions. It's time to get busy, get to work and to get the job done.
MALVEAUX: The president testing out his own brand of deal making in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. GOP members giving Trump a standing ovation. Party loyalists gushing.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president just came here and knocked the ball out of the park.
MALVEAUX: Alternately using humor, threats and public shaming to sell the American Health Care Act to his own party. The president warning House members they could lose their seats next year if the bill doesn't pass.
SPICER: I think there's going to be a price to be paid, but it's going to be with their own voters.
MALVEAUX: President Trump even calling out the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, for publicly denouncing the bill. The president cautioning Meadows, "I'm coming after you," but Meadows and others are still a hard "no."
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: There still are not enough votes to pass this particular bill.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: The president did a great job, and I appreciate the president. But the bill is still bad.
MALVEAUX: Even after tweaks were made to the bill to appeal to more conservative and moderate Republicans.
REP. TOM GARRET (R), VIRGINIA: What I don't get is the impetus that this must be done right now, and Thursday is some sort of do or die day. It's not.
MALVEAUX: And the House needs 216 votes to pass. Republicans cannot afford to lose more than 21 Republican votes. By CNN's count, there are 19 "nos" from Republicans, seven that are on the fence, and the leadership on the Senate side, Republicans including Senator John Cornyn, who I spoke with yesterday, are expressing confidence. They do think that it's going to get through the House. It's far from certain. But they are eager to get their hands on this bill next week -- Chris.
CUOMO: Suzanne, appreciate it, as always.
Joining us now, Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas. He's chairman of the House Rules Committee, supports the GOP health care plan.
Good to see you, Congressman, as always.
What are you saying to your brothers and sisters who left the president's audience saying, "That was fun, but this bill is still not enough"?
REP. PETE SESSIONS (R), TEXAS: Well, the bottom line to this is we've faced many, many tough times and tough votes before. We've had them, and we've voted, and we've passed them. Things really turned out quite well. In fact, this is a matter of whether we're going to keep Obamacare as we know it, or whether we're going to get a bill that is better.
And I believe the American people are going to have an opportunity; some 30 million Americans who today do not have an opportunity to receive tax credits or tax advantages will find that that $8,000 that they can use to buy their health care with their families will be well-received and well-used.
[07:05:10] CUOMO: Pete, I know that there are a lot of people not just in your caucus but in the party in general who believes these are not the best set of ideas. Yet they want more time. Why not give it more time?
SESSIONS: Well, certainly, Chris, that's a good -- good question. You and I over the past few weeks have been vetting the ideas that came out. As you know, this was a compromise bill. This was not the one we originally started with, nor was it the one I wanted.
But just because it's not what I want doesn't mean that it's not two- thirds of a good bill that has then become a compromised material that we're going to have to work on.
So I believe we can pass it. Is it better than what we have today? Absolutely. Will it save the American health care system? Yes. Is it going to be something we're going to have to work with for quite some time? Yes also.
CUOMO: But again just the idea of time, you know, I mean, when you ask somebody to do something they don't want to do, right: "Hey, look, just swallow this one. Believe me, it's better than the alternative." Usually, the end of that is "Take your time. Come back to me." That's the part you're not giving people who are on the fence, people who aren't as willing to make a compromise as you are. You're kind of hitting them twice: This isn't what you want and you've got to decide right now. Why?
SESSIONS: Well, OK, Chris, what do we need, an extra week?
CUOMO: I don't know. You're hearing, like, at least they want open debates. You know, they want to bring this out onto the floor again. They want to be heard. You know what they're asking for.
SESSIONS: Yes. What they don't want is they don't want to vote on the bill and that's desperately what several senators do not want who are leading the -- the big cheerleaders to defeat it here in the House.
The bottom line is this is the first vote. We will then have a Senate series of votes, and then it will go to conference. And then we will have a final package. And this is what is not being sold, really, I don't think by enough people. This is the first vote to continue the process. The Senate will then have their chance, and then we can go to conference and make a final determination. This is not the last vote.
CUOMO: I know that the people in the party on the House side don't want to lose control to the Senate. How likely is it that the vote gets postponed because the votes aren't there?
SESSIONS: I don't think it will happen at all.
CUOMO: You think Thursday is definitely the day?
SESSIONS: Thursday is definitely the day. We're going to be on today at 10 a.m. We're going to do our work. We're going to move forward. We're going to do those things that are necessary. It will be on the floor tomorrow.
CUOMO: The idea of the president's closing the deal, how much of a difference do you think he's making with this recent spate of hits to his credibility? How much has that affected his influence with the party members?
SESSIONS: I don't think that has influenced anybody. I think actually, when the president speaks about the voter that is back home, they spoke very clearly all across the country, many times a voter that we have not seen before. I think the president has great clout behind that idea, and I think all the members should take heed to that.
CUOMO: Right, but Pete, you are literally a Boy Scout.
SESSIONS: I am.
CUOMO: And you come at a lot of things. You have your own ideas. Some agree, some don't, but there's an integrity principle. You seem to have a two-fer going against Trump right now. One is, he's gotten caught several different times saying things that just aren't true. And he is not known as a policy wonk. So he's trying to sell a bill that he probably doesn't understand that well to a group of people who have a lot of reasons not to believe him. That's a tough combo. How's it playing out?
SESSIONS: Well, it is a tough combo. And that's why we are where we are today. It could be that this bill runs into problems as we get on the floor. I think that people actually will realize it's the first part of the process, not the end of it, Chris.
Everything you've said is absolutely correct. But members also are having problems with people back home, and that's the problem. It's the people back home, who are being very vocal, who are in a lot of these conservative groups that do not understand the bill, because it has not been sold properly to them. And that's the real problem. Not the president. Not whether they do or don't want to vote. The people back home are not sold on what we're doing yet.
And that's -- that's partially my fault also. I've tried to take the time to explain to the American people why we're doing this, but we recognize it's back home voter. Not Washington D.C. voter.
CUOMO: And you're seeing it two ways back home, right? You have certain people saying, "This isn't going far enough; I wanted repeal and replace." And you have other people saying, "I'm going to lose my coverage under this. You better not take my coverage away. Otherwise, I'm coming for you." Those are two big strong pieces of medicine.
SESSIONS: Well, they are, except only one is proven. That is nobody is going to lose their coverage and be able to keep your same doctor; you'll be able to keep your same plan.
The addition to this, Chris, is the uncertainty with the Medicaid portion.
[07:10:14] SESSIONS: Because of that uncertainty, we have not carefully explained the difference between a tax credit, which it should be enough to cover a person to have a regular health care plan, as opposed to a Medicaid plan, where many times you can't find a doctor.
So it's really a matter of giving confidence of the American people. And I will confess, perhaps at the very top, there's a lack of understanding of how to sell this bill. CUOMO: Well, look, you don't have the benefit of the bully pulpit
either, and that takes us back to the president. You know, when you're going to take money out of the system, it's hard to justify how you get more out of it. That's something that has to be argued and argued at the top. That was a big selling point for Donald Trump to a lot of people in your party. This guy knows the art of the deal.
And now you have "The Wall Street Journal" come out this morning and, again, not a publication that is predisposed to attacking Republicans. And they say he clings to his assertion about wiretapping like a drunk to an empty gin bottle. OK? And if Trump doesn't show more respect for the truth, most Americans may conclude he's a fake president. I don't think either of us have ever seen anything like that about a president out of "The Wall Street Journal." How badly damaged is the credibility?
SESSIONS: It does hurt, and Chris, it hurts a lot, not only for my party but for people perhaps to have a sobering look at what others are saying.
But what lies before us right now is a huge question about whether we would keep a piece of legislation that diminishes America's economic ability and value in the world.
And the reason why the stock market has roared back is because of confidence that we can make changes that are fair.
And that is what I sell about this bill, Chris. It is still a fair opportunity for the 30 million Americans who never had any help on their health care. They're the people that get up to work. There are people that are small business owners. They are the Trump voter. And this is a great benefit in helping them. And, by the way, if they show up at a hospital today, they get the most expensive care; and that is called an emergency room. And the taxpayer pays for that.
So we're really trying to be what's called market based. And Chris, I can look at the camera and tell you that we're going to do better notwithstanding where the president is with "The Wall Street Journal." The American people want and need a better health care bill now, and I'm going to help that.
CUOMO: Pete Sessions -- Pete Sessions, we'll see what happen if there is the vote on Thursday. Appreciate your perspective on NEW DAY, as always -- Alisyn.
SESSIONS: Yes, sir.
CAMEROTA: Other big news, Chris. President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, stressing his judicial independence during a marathon second day of questioning, Gorsuch repeating his criticism of President Trump's attacks on federal judges, calling them demoralizing.
Day three of his confirmation hearing gets underway soon. So let's bring in CNN's Joe Johns. He's live at the White House with more. What do we expect, Joe? JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, as confirmation hearings go, this one certainly could be considered relatively uneventful, except for one very important thing. That is all about the man who nominated Judge Gorsuch: President Trump and his continuing feud with the federal judiciary.
JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: There's no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge.
JOHNS (voice-over): Supreme Court nominee Justice Neil Gorsuch promising senators he's not a political puppet.
GORSUCH: I can assure you I am nobody's rubber stamp.
JOHNS: Insisting he will hold anyone accountable, even President Trump.
GORSUCH: Nobody is above the law in this country, and that includes the president of the United States.
JOHNS: Judge Gorsuch criticizing the president's series of attacks on federal judges.
GORSUCH: When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity, the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening. I find that demoralizing. Because I know the truth.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Anyone including the president of the United States?
GORSUCH: "Anyone" is anyone.
JOHNS: President Trump seemingly responding to the nominee's statement at a Republican fund-raiser last night.
TRUMP: Somebody said I should not criticize judges. OK. I'll criticize judges. To keep criminals and terrorists the hell out of our country.
JOHNS: Judge Gorsuch emphatically stating he has not revealed to President Trump how he would rule on some of his most controversial actions like his travel ban.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: And a Republican congressman recently said the best thing the president could do for his Muslim ban is to make sure that he has Gorsuch on the Supreme Court before the appeals. Get to that point.
[07:15:00] GORSUCH: Senator, a lot of people say a lot of silly things. My grandfather...
LEAHY: Let's say he wants -- this congressman wants you on the court so that you can uphold a Muslim ban.
GORSUCH: Senator, he has no idea how I'd rule in that case.
JOHNS: And what about the president's campaign promise to appoint anti-abortion justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: In that interview, did he ever ask you to overrule Roe v. Wade?
GORSUCH: No, Senator.
GRAHAM: What would you have done if he had asked?
GORSUCH: Senator, I'm going to walk out the door.
JOHNS: Meantime, Democrats seizing on the judge's decisions they say favor big business.
GORSUCH: If you want cases where I've ruled for the little guy as well as the big guy, there are plenty of them.
JOHNS: Minnesota Senator Al Franken aggressively questioning Judge Gorsuch for ruling in favor of a trucking company instead of a driver they fired for abandoning his cargo.
FRANKEN: It is absurd to say this company is in its rights to fire him because he made the choice of possibly dying from freezing to death, or causing other people to die possibly by driving an unsafe vehicle. That's absurd.
JOHNS: As you can see there, members of the Judiciary Committee taking full advantage of the opportunity to try to get Judge Gorsuch on the record on some of the hot-button legal issue of the day, often with limited success. Questioning yesterday went on for ten hours. and more is expected today.
Chris and Alisyn, back to you.
CUOMO: Joe Johns, appreciate the reporting, as always.
So the health care fight, a big deal. The president says he wants a big win. Pushing the vote, it's supposed to come to a head on Thursday. What if they don't get it passed?
Now how are the Democrats playing this to advantage? Is sitting and watching not enough? Next.
[07:20:57] CAMEROTA: At least 26 Republicans so far tell CNN that they are voting, or at least leaning against the GOP's bill. That is supposed to happen tomorrow. So despite that reality, Republicans say they are planning to go through with a vote. What are Democrats doing about it? Let's ask. Joining us is Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois.
Good morning, Congressman.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: Good morning. I just want you to know despite the president's visit, I am still a no.
CAMEROTA: Thank you. Glad we got that out of the way so it's not a surprise, but let's talk about this. President Trump has 24 hours to basically sway 26 Republicans. If this vote does indeed happen tomorrow, what do you think is going to happen?
QUIGLEY: Well, I'm hearing the vote is going to happen, no matter what. That Speaker Ryan is intending to put the bill on the floor, whether he has the votes or not, and let the chips fall where they may. At this point in time, our mission is to let the public know what this bill will do. And hopefully, that awareness, that pressure of coming from the public will have pushed moderate Republicans against supporting the measure.
CAMEROTA: Look, I know that Democrats say that they want to work with Republicans to fix Obamacare. But some of your ideas are non-starters for Republicans.
For instance, you want to strengthen the individual mandate. You want to make sure that young healthy people buy in in order to make the finance -- the money work, Obamacare. But Republicans don't want any mandate. So how is that a willingness to work with Republicans and compromise?
QUIGLEY: Look, we always say we've got to find a way to do this. What's interesting is, despite the fact that, initially, they call this sort of bill socialism, they're now keeping so many of those provisions: allowing you to keep your kids on your insurance until they're 26, right? Eliminating caps, pre-existing conditions. These all cost money.
It's still our contention the best way to do this is to modify the subsidies, increase tax incentives to allow people to stay on those programs,, to provide options for people who want to stay on those exchanges. The alternative is what the Republican option is, which is a nonstarter for us, and that's kicking 24 million people off of care, hurting the poorest Americans and senior citizens at the same time.
CAMEROTA: Yes. So how is that common ground? I mean, so how -- where do you find common ground, given those two positions?
QUIGLEY: Well, for the last seven years and today is the anniversary of the bill being signed into law. As appropriate, I can tell you all the Republicans have done is try to undermine the bill. They try to defund it or repeal it 66 times.
So where for seven years has been the effort to try to accommodate any sort of Democratic input on the measures to strengthen this? Medicare Part D, when passed by President Bush, was tweaked three times with bipartisan cooperation. There hasn't been a single overture by the Republicans to look at any sort of compromise. I don't know exactly right now what that effort would be. We're telling them publicly what our options would be, but we're not hearing anything in return, other than this extreme measure.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, I want to switch gears because I know that you're part of the select committee of intel where Director Comey testified this week about the possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
There is new reporting this morning. This Ukrainian lawmaker produced what he says are new financial documents that he says are evidence that Paul Manafort, the former chairman of the Trump campaign, was laundering money that he got from the Ukrainian leader, Yanukovych, through some offshore accounts in Kyrgyzstan to try to cover up the ties between himself and Putin or Russia.
Where does the investigation stand from the FBI looking into all of this?
QUIGLEY: I think the FBI has to complete their investigation. So does the House and Senate intel committees. Just further evidence that this investigation needs full cooperation from the White House, from my Republican colleagues. It's going to need a tremendous amount of resources to complete. [07:25:18] As you can see with just this note, this is an investigation that can take place on several continents.
You know, I was in Ukraine in 2014 and met this gentleman with a congressional delegation. This is Yanukovych's former chief of staff. He knows a tremendous amount of U.S. -- about U.S. involvement with Ukraine and vice versa. These are the kind of people that we need to have testify to explain exactly what took place.
CAMEROTA: And are you getting full cooperation from the White House and from your Republican colleagues?
QUIGLEY: Frankly, I expect nothing but obstruction from the White House or distraction from the White House, as we witnessed with the president's statement about wiretapping Trump Tower.
I think cooperation from my Republican colleagues in the House and Senate is possible. They just need to recognize that this is going to take resources. It's going to take subpoena power and understanding that this is going to take cooperation and involvement across the seas.
CAMEROTA: So the wiretapping accusation, you believe, was nothing but a distraction from what?
QUIGLEY: From a bad news cycle from investigations about Russian involvement in our democratic process. And, frankly, if I could speculate, the president was reading something on Breitbart and tweeted about it, and now we have this distraction, this costly, amazing insult on our allies and the intelligence community.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Mike Quigley, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.
QUIGLEY: Good morning, thank you. CAMEROTA: Chris.
CUOMO: All right. New documents leading to growing scrutiny of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Now members of Congress saying they want him to testify about his alleged ties to Russia. The details next.