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GOP Health Care Plan Collapses, Ryan And Trump Pull Bill; 3 Ex- Trump Advisers Offer To Testify On Russia. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 24, 2017 - 21:00   ET



[21:00:02] DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: and you add Phase Three, which I think we would have gotten, it became a great bill. And I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because now they own Obamacare, they own it, 100 percent own it.

And this is not a Republican health care, it is not anything but a Democrat health care, and they have Obamacare for a little while longer, until it ceases to exist, which it will at some point in the near future. And just remember, this is not our bill. This is their bill.

Now, when they all become civilized and get together and try to workout a great health care bill for the people of this country, we're open to it. We're totally open to it.

I want to thank the Republican Party. I want to thank Paul Ryan. He worked very, very hard. I will tell you that. He worked very, very hard. Tom Price and Mike Pence who is right here, our vice president, our great vice president. Everybody worked hard. I worked as a team player and would have loved to have seen it pass.

But, again, I think, you know, I was very clear, because I think there wasn't a speech I made or very few, where I didn't mentioned that, perhaps the best thing that could happen is exactly what happened today, because we'll end up with a truly great health care bill in the future, after this mess known as Obamacare explodes.

And I never said, I guess I'm here, what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare. You've all heard my speeches, I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days. I have a long time.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, joining us from the North Lawn, CNN Sara Murray. Sara, it really looks like the president is so far keeping a stiff upper lip. Maggie Haberman told us in the last hours that, she (inaudible), she -- that he was very measured in his conversation with her privately. Are you getting a sense of how he's handling this defeat?

SARA MURRAY, CMM WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a little bill stunning, Anderson, for a president that we've seen willing to publicly fume about really any slight, including by involved members of his own party. But, that certainly not the president we saw today. I do think his aides are even insisting that he's OK with this defeat. I mean, he obviously wanted a win. This White House certainly needed a win in such a difficult week.

But I think part of the stem is from the fact that he did what -- he did health care first, because he felt like this is what they needed to do first. This is what Republicans ran on for seven years. This is what the House speaker said they should do first. But it's not really Donald Trump's first passion.

He would much prefer to move on to tax reform and I think he certainly feels like now he has given health care shot, they made to attempt and they can move on to priorities he personally is more invested in.

COOPER: The White House seems poised to steer the blame away from the president, obviously, and the Republican Party. Basically -- I mean president keeps talking about the Democrats are at fault.

MURRAY: This is an impressive bit of politics right here, Anderson, to see the president come out today and say repeatedly, this is the fault of Nancy Pelosi. This is the fault of Democrat, because we couldn't get anyone on board. The reality is, the White House didn't work all that hard to get Democrats on board for this legislation. They knew that there was really no chance they were going to convince Democrats in the House to support any kind of repeal and replace for Obamacare.

But I think you're beginning to see this blame shifting, and it is telling to see the president out there blaming Democrats rather than offering sharp words to Paul Ryan. A number of people have said this is sure to strain his relationship with the House speaker, but that's not what we heard from the president today. We heard him take pains to layer praise upon the House speaker and make sure to try to place this blame squarely on the Democrats.

It will be interesting to see, though, Anderson, how this plays out in some of these future negotiations, how comfortable the president is trusting Paul Ryan when we get to things like tax reform.

COOPER: Sara Murray, thanks very much.

Let's go now to the Capitol where CNN's Phil Mattingly has more on how things came on unraveled. There's no shortage, Phil, of fingers being pointed right now base on your discussions with folks. Walk us through the behind the scenes of the relationship between the speaker and the president. What happened?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, lines up allow us what you were just hearing from Sara. The speaker return the favor publicly today praising President Trump, praising his team for everything he's done. I think an interesting element here is kind of how their relationship has grown throughout this process.

Anderson, I'm told not only did they meet in person today for that lunch, for 90 minutes, but they actually spoke by phone four different times today. Over the course of the last two weeks, they've been talking by phone multiple times a day, every single day. And I'm told repeatedly, their relationship, person-to-person is actually in a good place.

I think there are a lot of concerns, though, on the staff level. I think there's a lot of concerns about who the points of contact are over at the White House, who can actually speak for things over at the White House and some concern that maybe -- at various points in this health care negotiation that undercut what Republican leaders on Capitol Hill were trying to do.

The interesting thing going forward, Anderson, and I think Sara talked a lot about what the next steps are going to be, what the agenda items are going to be is if this relationship continues to stay in a good place or if it devolves. As of now, it seems like it's the former.

[21:05:10] COOPER: It's obviously early. Is there any sense, though, on Capitol Hill right now how damaged Republicans truly are?

MATTINGLY: Look, it's not good for them anyway you cut it. And I've been talking to a lot of Republicans, both lawmakers in the immediate wake of this happening and a lot of staff members as well, a lot of people over in the Senate who are waiting for this bill to come over next week.

I think it's a little bit of a wait and see mode, but they recognized there will be very real political damage back home in their districts. You think about the fact that they've promised this cycle after cycle after cycle.

The big question becomes where do they go from here? When they get to tax reform? When they get to infrastructure? Is the decision by House Republican, particularly the most conservative ones that, "Hey, we've put our hands on the stove, we've gotten burned a little bit, now we all need to get to work together." Or, do they decide to keep moving in this direction where they sync (ph) bill and what I've heard repeatedly is does this force President Trump to start working with Democrats, to start reaching out to Democrats?

That is not what conservatives on Capitol Hill want. That could be what happens going forward if things don't change and get better in the relations between the White House and Capitol Hill, Anderson.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly. Phil, thanks very much. Long day for you.

Let's bring in the panel. Joining us this hour, CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, Daily Beast Senior Columnist Matt Lewis, former Ted Cruz Communications Direction Amanda Carpenter joining the panel as well as everyone else.

Matt, we haven't heard from you. What do you want to talk about?

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: All right. Not a great day, but I do think that, you know, look, there's this conventional wisdom that says that this is catastrophic and it's humiliating. I think that Donald Trump says, who says? Who say it is has to be? Abandonment is an underrated political tactic. What happened today is really bad for one day, but it could have been worse. For one thing, this thing could have dragged on for weeks or months. There could have been fights in the Senate, and then it could have gone down in flames.

The other option is they could have passed this really bad bill, then they would have truly owned it. And then when premiums went up and when people got kicked off of their health insurance, they would have paid the price in the midterms and maybe in four years. So, yes, it's a bad day. Sometimes it's better to pull the band-aid off.

COOPER: I guess -- I mean, Amanda, and I think to a point you made earlier, Jason, which is why after seven years of talking about this is the first thing they come up with a really bad bill? I mean, Jason was saying earlier, they should have had something on day one for President Trump. Here it is.

AMANDA CARPENTER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SEN. TED CRUZ: Yeah. Well, here's what happened. No one expected Trump to win. He didn't have a real repeal and replace plan. He outsourced that to Paul Ryan, but then Paul Ryan depended on Trump to deliver -- to take care of the politics.

President Trump did not take care of the politics. He did not deliver the conservatives, because no one understood that the conservatives were dead set on real repeal. There's been a debate throughout the campaign over we would do repeal or repeal and replace. It was not a sealed done deal that everyone wanted to do repeal and replace simultaneously. The Freedom Caucus has always been against that and that played out in spectacular fashion, and they learned it the hard way today.

LEWIS: And, you know, one of things that's worth mentioning too is the last time we had a situation like this, when George W. Bush became president. You had even people like your former boss, Jim DeMint, who would go into the Oval Office, and George W. Bush said, "You know, you have to support this amendment or it will be blood bath (ph)". And even Jim DeMint before he kind of learned that lesson went along with things. I mean, he didn't vote for No Child Left Behind, but things like amendments to it, right?

CARPENTER: But that's because playing the outside game.


LEWIS: And that is my point is that now this Freedom Caucus would -- there is an infrastructure that's been built up by the conservative movement in the past decade. These guys are tougher. They've joined together and they're going to be much harder.

JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: There's a fundamental miscalculation here, though, which was they've shown that they can organize as a bloc. They show that they could have real power as far as impacting legislation. They could have been the group -- LEWIS: Yeah.

MILLER: -- who could put this over the top and they could all be celebrating this weekend so we've taken the first steps to repeal and replace Obamacare. But, again, no one's going to come up to them being throw them high-fives --


LEWIS: Now they got to own it.

MILLER: Freedom works and exists 10 years ago.

CARPENTER: Yes. I think the leadership thought that Trump could deliver from that. He was doing videos saying, "Please call your congressman." He has no grassroots organization to get people to lobby in favor of the bill. Everyone, I saw leadership aides saying, "Watch Trump's Twitter, he's going to go after people like he did to Rand Paul." It amounted to nothing.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Because he didn't -- OK. He didn't really love this bill. He didn't even really like this bill.

MILLER: It wasn't his bill.

BORGER: What? It wasn't his bill?

MILLER: It wasn't his bill.

BORGER: Well, it was his bill. It actually was his bill, but this is -- this Freedom Caucus is that reason John Boehner is off somewhere the night having a nice grass at Merlot, right? I mean, they did this to John Boehner. They got rid of John Boehner. That was it.

And this is going to come back to Donald Trump again and again if he wants to do infrastructure, if he wants to do tax reform. So now the question is, what are the limits of presidential leadership for Donald Trump?

[21:10:04] Has he run into this now? Or is he going to go after this guy? I mean, I don't know what he does next.

MILLER: He needs to get back on the road and start going after Senate Democrats, which is where -- if I were this administration, I would put him on the road going to Indiana, talk about Joe Donnelly and I would start talking about tax reform.

COOPER: But, David, how rooted is the president just because of his low poll numbers? I mean, does that have an impact on his ability to twist arms?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO REAGAN, FORD, CLINTON AND NIXON: He's wounded. I think it's worth pointing out that other presidents have had a hard time with health care reform. Now, we've had seven who've tried it. You know, Bill Clinton had a Democratic House and Democratic Senate and with this health care with Hillary and they couldn't get it on the floor. They couldn't get it out of committee.

Now, this happened, you know, over a year into his presidency. He already had other accomplishments. Trump is gotten hurt because this is the first big test right in his presidency.

COOPER: Right.

GERGEN: And so he emerges from this week with a cloud over his credibility, right over the whole question of wiretapping. He's got a cloud now over the relationship of his team, his associates with the Russian and where is that investigation going.

And now he's got a cloud over his capacity to govern, the capacity to make a deal. He ran as the deal maker, you know, the great deal maker, the closer what you, and he failed miserably for that and I think he does have to go back.

I think Amanda is right. He has to go back to fundamentals, like not outsourcing your ideas to somebody in the House of Representatives. It got to come from you, something you're passionate about. He just sort of went along for the ride on it.

COOPER: But, I mean, John, is he -- is that the kind of leader he is? I mean, it is, you know, on the campaign trail, he was never talking about the details of health care reform or really any kind of details. You get the sense that as a leader, much like perhaps Ronald Reagan, he had sort of broad-brush ideas and we've kind of leave the details.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ronald Reagan was the governor of a very complicated state. People often try to make Ronald Reagan to be the sort of --

COOPER: Jeffrey Lord is not here, so I --


KING: Well, the people often describe this and the Democrat is all part of this. This is he's village aide (ph) who came to Washington. As you say it's not George W. Bush, you know, he's the village aide who came to Washington. He'd been the governor of Texas.

ANDERSON: Also, everyone who would --

KING: You know, and so it's a different environment. Look, this is new for President Trump. He's never been a politician. He's never been the CEO of a government enterprise. He's been the CEO of a business enterprise, but not something big and far-flung and he inherit it. He's run a family business, where loyalty to Donald Trump is a premium.

The Republican Party is split into so many different fractions now and they have legitimate policy fights of this. Is it -- some of this is politics. Some of this is I don't like the speaker or I don't really like president, or he's really not my pres, you know, that's not my Republican Party.

But most of this, what we saw today was they have real honest to god differences that Mark Meadows has a very different view to federal governments ruling health care you know, than Leonard Lance in New Jersey does. It's just hard to resolve and the president -- if they were going to do this first, the needed to do more work before him. So the broader question we make things too complicated sometimes.

I agree with Matt. We can overdo this. We can overdo this. However, the president's brand was, I'm a deal maker. I am going to fix a broken Washington. He needs to win at some point.

His voters are very loyal to him. Republican voters are going to be mad at their Congress because they have been waiting for seven years for this opportunity. Trump voters are different than Republican voters. I think they give this president more grace. They understand he's new to this and they understand the establishment is dysfunctional a very long time. But his brand is, "I'm different."

Barack Obama's brand was, "I'm new, I'm different, I will fix a broken Washington." When he couldn't do that, that's when he started to lose the middle of the electorate. Donald Trump never really had the middle of the electorate, but he has his people at some point your brands offer. I'm not going to write an obituary right now, but he needs a win.

COOPER: Brian?

BRIAN FALLON, PRESS SECRETARY, HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: He needs a win and the normal way to go get one would be to make cause with Democrats. Let's go back what Phil Mattingly said. He said he's going to announce, suddenly he start to look to maybe leverage some sway over these recalcitrant House Republicans by maybe dangling some ideas out at Democrats.

I think it's probably too late for him to do that. If he had come out of the box and suggested some ideas on repairing the Affordable Care Act, I think it would have put a lot of pressure on red-state Democrats to actually work with him.

Similarly, if he came out of the box and propose the infrastructure proposal that he talked about during the campaign, it would have been a ton of pressure on red-state Democrats to work with him.

Instead, he's uniting them. They're all united, probably against the Supreme Court pick, even on an issue where they should feel pressure to work with him on a Supreme Court pick. They are largely lining up against him. And so, I don't think they're going to be there to try to triangulate against this House Republicans in the Freedom Caucus.

BORGER: Well, you think if he had chosen to do infrastructure first that --


FALLON: The base would have said resistance, #resistance. BORGER: Yeah.

FALLON: We have to oppose Donald Trump at every turn. Don't give him any wins. But there would have been a ton of middle of the road Democrats that were staring at 2018 reelection race that would have said, "You know what, I've talked about this proposal. I have to at least hear him out." And it would have split --


LEWIS: Barack Obama and Donald Trump were both elected as sort of change agents, and both of them could have tried to transcend their parties. I think President Obama, you know, made a mistake by pushing through Obamacare and in a very partisan party-line fashion.

[21:15:02] Donald Trump, similarly, could have triangulated and sort of, you know, transcended partisanship, but he also chose to go to his base.

CARPENTER: Yeah. I will say this quickly. Donald Trump has to deliver a win for Republicans soon, because he needs political cover on these Russia questions. If he doesn't deliver a win for Republicans that they can go home and tell constituents this is why I'm with the president, if he doesn't give them the policies, he won't have political protection on the other issues already. And McCain, Lindsey Graham are ready to throw him under the bus. They will throw him under quicker if they don't win on health care or tax policy very soon.

MILLER: When he cares everything, I think tax is, is a place to go and get it. Neil Gorsuch is another win that he's going to get. And, again, when we talk about the economy, really what got Donald Trump in the presidency in the first place, 48 percent of the American people, I think the economy is moving in the right direction, highest number it's been since 2003. That is what is going to give this president --

BORGER: What about the deficit then?


FALLON: He's on the idea that he's going to get things done on health care and tax reform, and now that -- it looks like it's not happening.

GERGEN: Tax reform.


GERGEN: This puts a real cloud over his capacity to get tax reform done. They were counting on as much as $500 billion --

BORGER: Trillion.

GERGEN: -- you know, of improvement in the economic outlook to the government that they wouldn't have to make up for in the tax bill. With that disappear, the climb for tax reform is going to be really hard. It's going to be easier to get corporate, but personal, hard, really hard.

COOPER: Lot more to talk about when we come back. Our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us talk about the idea that without big changes in today's ban in legislation Obamacare will explode or implode, which why the Republicans are saying is it in what critics death spiral or not? Stay with us for that.


COOPER: You heard the president say that he thinks it's the best plan given today's setback is to wait for the Affordable Care Act to, in his words, implode and explode. And those that it will, practically you're talking a faith among Republicans. Here's the phrase they use a lot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all know that Obamacare is in a death spiral.

[21:20:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's absolutely undeniable that Obamacare is in a death spiral.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (D) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Death spiral, "Obamacare is in a death spiral." Death spiral, it's a weird term. It's kind of gruesome.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Death spiral if you will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Death spiral in health care system.

TRUMP: Let Obamacare explode. It is exploding right now.


COOPER: Well, the idea that Obamacare is teetering on the brink of collapse has been debunked a number of times. Most recently, the Congressional Budget Office is scoring in their replacement bill. It concluded that neither the replacement, nor the existing law, Obamacare will send insurance markets into a death spiral.

We talked about it earlier joining with Vermont Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.


COOPER: What is your opinion on this Republican notion that Obamacare is going to explode, that it's going -- that it's in a death spiral, that it's going to explode?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Well, I think the evidence suggests that that is not the case. But on the other hand, what is fair to acknowledge is deductibles in many cases are too high. Premiums are too high. And while Obamacare has slowed down the rate of health care increase, it is going up much too fast.


COOPER: Let's get more perspective now from our own health care expert, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

So we just heard politicians on both sides to the aisle give their take into Obamacare. I want to take a minute just step away from the politics of this from a doctor's perspective. What are you seeing regarding Obamacare?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, every hospital in America takes care of a certain number of patients who are referred to as indigent care patients, patient who -- either under insured or uninsured. And that was the situation for a long time. What you saw over the last seven years is simply more patients had insurance.

Now, what that means practically in the hospital, first of all, the hospital is more likely to get paid, more likely to get reimbursed, but also patients were, you know, more likely to come in earlier in the course of their disease until waiting quite late in the course of their disease. If you prescribed medications, because of prescription drug coverage they could get those medications.

In my case, I'm a neurosurgeon, so if I scheduled surgery, I'd run into situations, Anderson, where patients would -- they come and they'd have this problem, they needed surgery, but you wouldn't see them again because they knew they wouldn't possibly be able to afford the operation. So -- or they would, you know, it would put them in bankruptcy.

So, now, that sort of situation has changed. I think primarily in indigent care hospitals, but I think, again, all hospitals, I think, have been impacted by this in some way.

COOPER: What is the greater medical community thing to the Affordable Care Act?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting. If you ask the greater medical community and they poll on this, say what percentage of doctors across the board will give this an A-grade, the Affordable Care Act, an A-grade, it's very low, 3 percent, 3.5 percent or so will actually give an A-grade. You can see the numbers there, you know, quarter or so give it a failing grade.

So, it's not to say that people thought this was perfect by no means. Those aren't great grades. But they still, when asked, the follow up question, do you want to get rid of it, they overwhelmingly said no. They didn't want to get rid of it. There were changes they said that needed to be made, specifically in terms of lowering cost, specifically in terms of decreasing the paperwork. The sentiment has been among a lot of physicians that we've talked to that we're just being asked to do a lot more with a lot less.

We were 22,000 primary care doctors short, even before Affordable Care Act was implement, and then you added millions more to the insurance and now were stretch even thinner, so all of that was going on as well. But still on balance, the idea that people had health care insurance that they get their care that when you recommended something to the patient they were going to carry through on it because they have insurance that overall was a more positive sentiment.

COOPER: All right, Sanjay, thanks very much. Stay with us. Now, I'm bringing the rest of the panel.

I mean, I guess my question is what happens -- I mean, clearly, the government is not, you know, President Trump is not going to be encouraging more people to sign on for Obamacare, so what happens until -- what happens moving forward?

KING: If you take the president at his word today, we wait a little bit here. I think one of the interesting challenges is, he's right, the Democrats passed Obamacare so they "own it", fine. But he's President of the United States now. The Republicans controls the Senate. The Republicans control the House of Representative, so a lot of these problems, especially with the options, where there's only one insurer where you coverage a lot of those are in rural areas. A lot of those are Trump voters.

And so when these members of Congress, who, again, the Republicans, who have promised for six, seven years now to repeal and replace Obamacare, first it was repeal, replace came later, but when they go home now, their constituents can't vote against Barack Obama. They can't vote against a Democratic member of Congress.

This is -- the Republicans own this, they're responsible forming government now. They don't own how Obamacare got here, but they do own where we go from this day forward just by the simple fact that they ran the government. And, again, you know, if people are stuck in traffic, they blame the politician now. It may not be fair, but they blame the guy who is in office now and that is a fundamental thing that the Republicans have to come to grips with.

Now, will they wait a while? Clearly, they will. The speaker's are not in a mood to touch this again right away. The president may clear today at him.

[21:25:06] BORGER: You know, it's such a huge, massive bill. And I think what happen to the Republicans here and their problem going forward is they got stuck on the replace part. If they had just had a vote for repeal and said, "We're repealing it and over the next two years, we're going to replace it and give people a little time to kind of figure out what the right bill was."

Talk to the insurance industry, get the stakeholders together, get your party together, get, maybe, some Democrats together and say, "Look, we're repealing this two years from now. We voted to do it and we're going to work out how we're going to do it and we're going to let you know gradually so we don't surprise you." That might have worked a little bit better than this.

Now, I think they're stuck with figuring out some kind of incremental things that they can do to fix the problems with Obamacare, because --

LEWIS: The problem with the repeal though was they worry that you actually been -- would have the death spiral. That insurance companies would say, "Hey, let's get out of this." And, you know --

BORGER: But they wouldn't repeal it. They would vote to repeal it, replace is not happening for a couple years.

LEWIS: The sequester, the notion that people would work together if you force them to work together, if you give them a deadline, I'm not convinced they actually would have a bill, two years later. But they might still have been on this a bit.

BORGER: OK. But there might have been a lot of pressure, and there might have been more stakeholders in it. And that's, you know, that's all I'm saying. There had to have been a better way to do it. I know its Monday morning quarterbacking to get that.

CARPENTER: That should have been the starting point. Repeal the bill and then that forces everyone to have the conversation of what you do next.


CARPENTER: This is exactly what Congressman Brooks was proposing last night on CNN. Essentially, let's break this thing, and then everyone else has to buy into the fix. That's the strategy.

MILLER: We lost our opportunity for an outright repeal in 2013. That was our chance when we (inaudible) on outright repeal, still would have President Obama there, but I think now the fact is, let's look at President Trump here for a moment.

What he said on the campaign trail, just an outright repeal and just leave it alone, that would really cut against kind of this populist brand and with his voters who need to have a repeal and replace. And I think that's one of the things with the president people have to keep in mind.

He's very much views himself as a problem solver, someone who's solutions oriented. And just an outright repeal, I don't think we can do it. So now they've got to get it right but before that, we got to go and get some wins.

CARPENTER: Here's the problem, the leadership wanted to do and Trump wanted to do this simultaneously. Other people wanted to do it in two steps, so make sure you got to repeal it. It's the same argument we have over border security all the time, right?

Everyone, lot of the Democrats wants to do comprehensive immigration reform, conservative say no, secure that border first and then maybe we'll talk about the other stuff. Same thing with Obamacare, repeal this bill first and then we'll talk about the other side. GERGEN: There are many good ideas around this table about what ought to be done in the interim, and President Trump has made it very clear he doesn't want to do anything big. But I want to go back to John's point, and that is it's extraordinary to have a president as he did today basically said to say, "Well, we failed, and therefore we ought to let the existing system, you know, collapse."


GERGEN: And a lot of people will suffer in the meantime, but that's not my fault. It's the Democrats' fault.


GERGEN: When you take over the presidency, you often inherit problems from your predecessor's policies that you've then got to clean up. You know, Barack Obama inherited George W. Bush's, you know, Iraq war. And, you know, Richard Nixon inherited the Vietnam War. They didn't walk away from those. But, in fact, when Roosevelt got elected, he didn't walk away because Herbert Hoover had these terrible policies. He tried some things, and by the way, he failed several times.


GERGEN: And it seems to be -- well, I just want to go back to this point. I think Donald Trump has a moral responsibility to people who might be suffering in this country. He cannot simply walk away.

FALLON: And to David's point, in addition to inheriting the Iraq war, he also inherited the Bush tax cuts and we did try it for a bit part of two years to explained and contextualized at the state of economy owed in some part of Bush's economic policies that we're at after about two or three months, because then it becomes the incumbent party's problem.

And here the Republicans own every lever of power. It's going to be impossible for them over the next two year to try to blame the Democrats, also because Democrats to the extent that there are failures that arise in the system now. They've going to be willing to work with him on a one-of basis on practical solutions.

Elijah Cumming went to the White House a couple of weeks ago to talk to President Trump about reducing the cost of prescription drugs. He is there willing to work with the president if he's willing to do it. The president's want taking his (inaudible) going home that's why the Republicans --

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. We're going to have more from the panel, also, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to weigh in as well. We'll be right back.


[21:33:25] COOPER: Well, the breaking news, in case you've been in a cave. A major defeat on Capitol Hill, the GOP health care bill collapsing after House Speaker Ryan and President Trump decided to pull it this afternoon. They admit they did not have enough vote, Republican votes. Back in February, President Trump praised the GOP plan, but also made a surprising confession. Listen.


TRUMP: We have come up with a solution that's really, really -- I think very good. Now I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.


COOPER: A couple people maybe knew. We're back with our panel. Sanjay, I mean you've seen the effects of Obamacare every day as a doctor. From a patient perspective, from the medical community's perspective, what was the most controversial change being mulled over by Republicans?

GUPTA: You know, in my opinion, I think, and this maybe a more nuance on, but this essential health benefit thing that came up over the last couple of days something that people didn't pay a lot of attention to, I think was by certainly the most important provision that they were thinking about removing from this new plan.

Remember, Anderson, it's called the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." People forget that. The patient protection is part of it. It was a big deal. And this idea that you could buy insurance plans before the Affordable Care Act went into place that just weren't very good insurance plans. That if you actually got sick or you got in an accident, they may not cover your emergency room visit. They may not cover your ambulance ride. They may not cover an operation you need in the hospital. And that's what you have insurance for. That's the sort of the nature of insurance.

And keep in mind, also in 2009, 62 percent of bankruptcies in the United States were because of medical expenses. And many of those people had insurance. They had health care insurance. It just wasn't adequate insurance.

[21:35:04] So the idea that you once again make these, what are called skinny plans or junk plans, put them out there, I think was really concerning. I think for the medical community and also for patients that you thought you were insured, but when you needed it, it wasn't there for you.

COOPER: David Gergen, I heard you said earlier that this was shaping up in your opinion to be the worst one -- first 100 days of any presidency. Do you stand by that?

GERGEN: I do. I did have noted some (inaudible) and you forgot William Henry Harrison. He was a general--

COOPER: Again, that sounds like a Jeffrey Lord here.

GERGEN: Exactly. I mean, he was the general who refused to dress properly on a cold, bitter day and rode his horse down Pennsylvania Avenue, came down with pneumonia and died. He had 97 days, a very quiet final 100 days.

But, you know, it's hard to think of any other president, certainly in modern times, but I can't think of any other president. Every -- we've had a lot of presidents, Anderson, stumbled in the first 100 days.

Bill Clinton had some stumbles. He slipped on some banana peels. But, you know, Jack Kennedy had his bay of pigs. There -- it open happens in United States. But we've never had this kind of major legislative catastrophe on top of all the kind of investigations that are under way. And the attacks on his credibility, which I think are eroding trust and belief in him.

And so, he's come out of this very battered, I think, as president. He's not the same -- he doesn't command the heights the way he did when he came in. That's not to say he can't recover. It is to say he's had a terrible 100 days.

COOPER: In terms of, I mean you've worked in White House as -- for Republicans and Democrats. In terms of recovering from something like that, is it a shake-up of staff? Is it--

KING: They need a David Gergen.


GERGEN: That was -- then they'll have the worst 1,000 days. Listen, I think he is on the -- I'm not sure he needs to the name, to change the people, but he clearly needs to change the structure so that there's an orderly structure of governing within the White House.

COOPER: A lot of chiefs of staff I've talked to had say there's too many people, senior advisers who can get the president's ear in one way or another and not clear portfolio.

GERGEN: What -- the structure that have worked best for a president over time is a pyramidal structure, in which the president is on top. There's a chief of staffs right there, right underneath the president. Everything comes through the chief of staff, all the paper, all the coordination to ensure that the president gets a, you know, the wide spectrum of views and judgments that he needs in order to be a good, effective president. It means you have to bear down as president. You've got to read. You can't do this by outsourcing things, as Amanda made the point earlier.

And I do think -- I think he's got to do a lot of things to put it back on track, and it starts with getting new, you know, I think he's got a better national security team.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break.


COOPER: More breaking news. Three former Trump advisers have volunteered to talk with Congress about their possible collusion or contacts with Russia. Plus, House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes sparks a new controversy. We'll have the details of that.


[21:41:55] COOPER: In other breaking news, three former advisers to President Trump during the campaign have volunteered to be questioned by Congress about their possible collusion with Russia, including former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort.

Also today, House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes unexpectedly canceled his committee's next public hearing, which is planned for Tuesday, receiving (ph) calls by his critics for an independent commission. All week long, tension obviously has been ramping up between Nunes and the Committee's Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff.

On Wednesday, Nunes essentially went rogue bypassing committee members in briefing the White House on intelligence report, he said, suggests President Trump and his associates' communications may have been picked up incidentally by legal surveillance. Democratic Congressman Jim Himes is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. I spoke to him earlier.


COOPER: Congressman, Chairman Nunes is raising a lot of eyebrows for an interview where he said that he had "duty and obligation" to brief President Trump because he was "taking a lot of heat in the news media." I wonder what your reaction to that is.

JIM HIMES, (D) HOUSE OF INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE MEMBER: Well, there's a couple of obvious reactions. Number one is it's not the chairman of the intelligence panel's job to stop the heat from the media headed in the president's direction.

Secondly, it is the chairman of the intelligence committee's job to oversee an objective investigation of what Director Comey of the FBI told us they are also investigating, which is the possibility that there might have been, as he put it, links or coordination with Trump associates and the Russians. Of course, his act, as well as his act today, canceling an open hearing with some witnesses this week sadly sums up to an awful lot of efforts to slow down and obstruct this investigation.

COOPER: That's where -- I mean the idea of canceling the open hearing, which supposed to take next Tuesday with Clapper, Sally Yates and others, you think that's to basically kind of try to slow things down or kind of, I guess, continue this idea of keeping heat off the White House?

HIMES: Well, there's no doubt in my mind what happened. Monday's hearing at which the FBI director acknowledged the investigation at which the FBI director and the NSA director said there was absolutely no evidence to support Trump's contention that there was Obama wiretapping in Trump Tower, that was a pretty ugly hearing for the White House.

I imagine that the chairman got a heck of a lot, shall we say negative feedback from the White House on that hearing. And so, consequently, I think he was probably pressured into not allowing that to happen again, which is a real tragedy, not just for the investigation, but for the American people.

COOPER: I mean, do you think there will be open hearings with those individuals, because now he's saying he wants to bring in Comey and the head of the NSA, Mike Rogers, back for a second hearing next week, but obviously behind closed doors so that theoretically they can have sort of classified or sensitive information to discussed.

HIMES: Well, I mean, I can tell you two things about that. Number one, we're not aware of any particular follow up that is urgent with Director Comey and Admiral Rogers.

Now, obviously, they may want to say things that they can't say in open hearing. But, again, as Democrats, we were not told that there was anything particularly urgent.

[21:45:01] And second, what a remarkable coincidence that that closed hearing would be scheduled or attempted to be scheduled, because I'm not sure it's going to happen, low and behold, right on top of the hearing that had been scheduled and in where the witnesses had agreed to would be appearing before us.

COOPER: You know, when I spoke to you earlier this week, you told me you were "shaken" by the chairman's behavior with briefing the president. At this point, do you have confidence in Chairman Nunes's ability to actually lead this investigation?

HIMES: Well, this is now the third or fourth time that Chairman Nunes has done something that has called into question whether he is acting as an impartial chairman of an investigation or whether he's acting as a member of the Trump transition team, which he is. And obviously, he would -- he should -- he really has to choose one of those two roles.

Now, it's profoundly troubling to us, but here is the thing. We're in a bit of a box because I have to believe that those people who may have something to hide, those connections that might exist, they would love nothing more than for the headline to read, Democrats walk away from the investigation and that the investigation shuts down.

So, we are going to remain dogged at here. We are producing witness lists. We are, you know, demanding evidence. We're going to keep working here and just hope that the chairman eventually comes to decide that he will, in fact, lead an objective investigation.

COOPER: We also learned today that Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Carter Page, they've all said they will come and testify in front of the committee. Earlier this week, you're telling me, you certainly wanted them to do so. Do you know what sort of how you plan to go about that with them or you're not even gotten there?

HIMES: Well, we're in the process now of developing witness lists and that will be a preliminary witness list because, of course, once you've interviewed people you may learn things that cause you to want to interview others. But we are in a process of developing that lists. Those names will certainly be on it along with many others. And, obviously, it's a step in the right direction if we don't have to actually subpoena somebody but they come voluntarily. So that's actually a little piece of good news and what was otherwise a tough day for the investigation.

COOPER: All right. Congressman Himes, I appreciate your time. Thanks.

HIMES: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Well, just ahead tonight, Paul Manafort's offer to testify about his Russian connection. Council (ph) says he's pushing back on fresh allegation over ties to Russian oligarch. Details on that, ahead.


[21:51:07] COOPER: As we said, three former advisers of President Trump during the campaign have volunteered to be questioned by Congress about their possible collusion with Russia, including former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. Roger Stone and Carter Page are the other two.

In a letter to CNN, Mr. Page where I quote, "I would eagerly welcome the chance to speak with the committee to help finally set the record straight following the false evidence, illegal activities as well as other lies distributed by certain politically-motivated suspects in coordination with the Obama administration, which defamed me and other Americans."

When I spoke to Mr. Page recently he told me that his contact with Mr. Trump basically amounted to go into some Trump rallies.


COOPER: Did you ever briefed Donald Trump as a candidate or as a president elect?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: President Trump said absolutely 110 percent accurate. I never briefed him. And in reality --

COOPER: Did you ever meet him?

PAGE: I never shook his hand. I've been in, you know, many rallies with him from Arizona to North Dakota to many in New York.

COOPER: Rallies?

PAGE: Rally. You know, which is meeting, you know.

COOPER: So that 100,000s of people who have been to rallies --

PAGE: Not all of these. I mean, I'm not, you know, I've been in smaller rallies meeting with that, yeah.

COOPER: No, no. I'm saying there are hundreds or tens of thousands of people who have been to Donald Trump rallies, can they say they've been in meetings with Donald Trump?

PAGE: I've been in smaller ones as well, but -- yeah.

COOPER: What's the smallest? I mean, have you actually been in a meeting where foreign policy was discussed?

PAGE: Anderson, listen, they were just often discussed in rallies, et cetera, as well.

COOPER: I know. But, you know, if I go to a rally of Donald Trump, it doesn't mean I'm an adviser for Donald Trump or it doesn't mean I'm going to a meeting with Donald Trump. I happen to be at, I'm in a rally. So you went to a bunch of Donald Trump rallies?

PAGE: Yeah. And things like that, exactly.


COOPER: Meantime, the White House has been trying to minimize the role that Paul Manafort played in the campaign saying it was minor despite working on it for several months. This week, Manafort denied press allegations against him over his ties to a Russian oligarch. CNN's Drew Griffin tonight reports.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The latest connection between a close Trump associate and Russia was dug up by the Associated Press, reporting at 2005 memo in which Paul Manafort already working for a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaska, was pitching a plan to greatly benefit the Putin government.

Manafort confirmed to CNN he did work for Oleg Deripaska, but he rejects the Associated Press interpretation that he was pushing the political interest of Vladimir Putin, including, "Influence politics, business dealings, and news coverage inside the United States."

"I have always publicly acknowledged that I worked for Mr. Deripaska and his company, Rusal, to advance its interest." Manafort told CNN through a spokesman, adding, "I did not work for the Russian government." Once, again, Manafort writes, "Smear and innuendo are used to paint a false picture."

A spokesman for Deripaska told CNN, "Manafort provided investment consulting services, but declined to provide any additional details." Manafort and his Russian billionaire had a major falling out.

Court document show Deripaska funneled nearly $19 million into a Manafort business venture registered in the Cayman Islands in 2007. They invested in a Ukrainian telecom company. The deal went south and according to a legal filing, Deripaska's company said, Manafort simply disappeared.

White House Spokesman Sean Spicer this afternoon downplaying any connection this has to the president.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was a consultant. He had clients from around the world. There is no suggestion that he did anything improper or -- and, but to suggest that the president knew who his clients were from a decade ago is a bit insane. He was hired to do a job. He did it. That's it, plain and simple.

[21:55:02] GRIFFIN (voice-over): It's just the latest Russian headline headache for the Trump administration. CNN has reported the FBI is already investigating possible connections between Trump campaign officials, including Manafort and Russian officials.

Manafort was fired by the Trump campaign on August 19th. That was the same day the FBI announced Manafort was involved in another investigation and another possible connection to Russia.

This time it was his consulting work with the pro-Russian former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who eventually had to flee his own country seeking refuge in Russia with Vladimir Putin. The government of Ukraine opened an investigation into possible corruption and money laundering charges against Yanukovych and his political party after Manafort's name appeared on a ledger of $12.7 million in secret payments.

Manafort denies he ever took money illegally from anyone in his worldwide consulting business. He denies he pushed any Russian agenda while working in Ukraine. And he now denies that connection with Russian billionaire had anything to do with a plan to enrich Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


COOPER: And we'll see if Mr. Manafort does end up talking to lawmakers. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Thanks for watching. It is time to hand things over to Don Lemon. "CNN Tonight" starts right now. Have a great weekend.

[22:00:10] DON LEMON, "CNN TONIGHT" HOST: Breaking news indeed, the Trump administration reeling from a massive defeat at the hands of members of its own party. This is --