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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump And Ryan Pull Health Care Bill In Defeat; Trump Blames Democrats For GOP Health Bill's Failure; Trump On Health Bill's Defeat: "Let Obamacare Explode"; Trump Upset Kushner Was Skiing As Health Bill Floundered; Health Care Bill Pulled, Votes Not There; GOP House Intel Chair Cancels Hearing In Russia Investigation; Interview with Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 24, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:09] KATE BOLDUAN, HOST, "OUTFRONT": "OutFront" next, breaking news, the president tonight lashing out at Democrats and threatening to let Obamacare, "Explode after a shocking and embarrassing defeat." Did the closer blow it?
Plus, why was Jared Kushner skiing in Aspen as his father-in-law's health care bill was going downhill? And he calls them the failing "New York Times" and dishonest "Washington Post," so why were they some of Trump's first calls after the vote got pulled?
Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. "OutFront" tonight breaking news. The art of no deal. President Trump in a stunning defeat abruptly cancels the vote on the Republican health care bill facing what would have been an embarrassing loss on the House floor. For Republicans, it was a seven-year promise. For Trump, it put his reputation as a master deal maker on the line. Moments ago the President in the Oval Office defending his defeat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never said -- I guess I'm here, what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare. You all heard my speeches. I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days. I have a long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But of course the president did promise to repeal and replace not on day 64, on his first day, actually.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will also repeal and replace the total disaster known as Obamacare. We're going to stop it day one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: The other man whose reputation is on the line tonight, House Speaker Paul Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I will not sugar coat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard. Obamacare is a the law of the land. It's going to remain the law of the land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Sara Murray is "OutFront" at the White House. Sara, the president has always called himself the ultimate deal maker. He couldn't get this one done. So what is the White House saying tonight?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the White House is trying to shift a lilt bit of the blame here. You're absolutely right, Kate, he campaigned on this, he insisted that he was the man who could get things done in Washington that other people could not. And we know that behind the scenes there was a lot of frustration among the president and his top aides about being unable to coax Republicans into agreeing to this deal, but we saw a very disciplined president today not blaming members of his own party. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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. This is not anything but a Democrat health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Now the reality is, and this was a political defeat for this White House in a week where they certainly needed a win. Perhaps the worst week of his presidency so far. But if you trust senior administration officials tonight, they say he's not all that perturbed by it. In fact, he's sort of happy to have health care behind him ready to move on to other things, Kate.
BOLDUAN: How far is it behind him? Sara, great to see. Thank you so much. So what went so wrong for the Republican party today? Sunlen Serfaty is "OutFront" on Capitol Hill.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump and House Republican leaders tonight are grappling with a staggering health care defeat. The GOP's long-promised plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act pulled from the House floor after leaders determined the proposal lacked enough support to pass.
RYAN: We came really close today but we came up short. I will not sugar coat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard.
SERFATY: It was a stunning turn of events coming less than 24 hours after the President issued an ultimatum to House Republicans to move forward with the vote or he was ready to move on to other items on his agenda.
TRUMP: Well, I think we have to let Obamacare go its way for a little while and we'll see how things go. I'd love to see if you will but it can't. It's imploding and soon will explode. And it's not going to be pretty.
SERFATY: The decision to call off the vote came after House Speaker Paul Ryan left the capitol to visit the White House and deliver message in person to the president that Republicans did not have the votes to pass the plan.
[19:05:04] While the president refused to hint at what his next step would be if the vote didn't succeed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you rush it, do you think?
TRUMP: We'll see what happens.
SERFATY: What ultimately happened is rank and file members of the president's own party never fully got on board. With leaders losing votes from more moderate members with changes to the proposal aimed at swaying conservatives. That included a late revision to eliminate the 10 essential health benefits required to be part of insurance plans under Obamacare.
REP. LEONARD LANCE (R), NEW JERSEY: Suppose that was added to move in the direction of the Freedom Caucus. I'm in what is known as the Tuesday group, and I do not think that that is a good amendment.
SERFATY: Tonight Speaker Ryan and President Trump both making it crystal clear that they are not going to try again on repealing Obamacare anytime soon. They are now saying that ear going to move on to other items on their legislative agenda. First up, very well could be tax reform. But, Kate, that is as complicated as what they just attempted and failed at.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Amazing how things changed today. Thank you so much, Sunlen. I'm going to bring in the panel with me tonight, will be with me unless they leave me, for the entire hour. Mark Preston is here, senior political analyst Caitlin Huey-Burns is the National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics. Nia-Malika Henderson is CNN's Senior Political Reporter. Jeffrey lord is here. He's Reagan White House Political Director. Doug Hyde, of course is the Deputy Chief of Staff of Communications for then House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Keith Boykin was a White House aide in the Clinton White House.
All right. A lot as changed since we spoke last. Mark, this is embarrassing to say the least for the Republican Party. For this president, how bad is this so?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's very bad right now. Look, it's very bad because they had seven years to try to craft something together. It's very bad because they tried to legislate off a campaign slogan of repeal and replace instead of saying we're going to go in and fix and make better, which literally they probably could have done. And it's bad really going forward because every bit of legislation now is going to be viewed at least in the near term through Donald Trump's inability to cut a deal to get things done.
BOLDUAN: And what the President said tonight when he faced cameras, when he faced reporters, he says basically this wasn't on me, this is all Democrats. Can he really say -- can you say with a straight face tonight, Jeffrey Lord, this is the Democrats' fault as the president is trying to tonight?
JEFFEY LORD, FORMER REAGAN WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, Obamacare is their fault. But --
BOLDUAN: No, no. He wants to say this, where they are today, is Democrats are at fault.
LORD: Let me partially agree with my friend Mark over there.
BOLDUAN: You should partially answer my question.
LORD: Well, I am. This is the Republicans' fault. This is Speaker Ryan's fault. I mean, I like Speaker Ryan. But let me give you two speakers, Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi, the contract for America with Newt Gingrich and Obamacare, which should be called Pelosicare. They were speakers of the House. They got their programs through. They got it done. Speaker Ryan, great guy, just didn't get this done. Mark is correct. They had seven years to do this. They should have had this all road tested. They should have ...
BOLDUAN: So it's not the president's fault at all.
LORD: Well, I mean, any president would have walked into this for the first time, but no, it's the legislative body's fault, absolutely. They're the ones in charge of the House. Not the president.
BOLDUAN: Keith? President Trump --
LORD: He promised you wouldn't laugh.
BOLDUAN: Well, sorry. He lied. President Trump says this is on the biggest losers tonight are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. This is on Obamacare. This is on Democrats. It's your fault.
KEITH BOYKIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: President Obama deserves an apology from President Trump because he has been criticized for being too professorial, couldn't make a deal. He cut a deal to make Obamacare happen, something that this guy couldn't do. The buck stops in the Oval Office, not somewhere else. He refuses to take responsibility.
And frankly, the reason why he's responsible is because he is engaged, he's demonstrated a careless, casual, reckless indifference to the mechanics of governing. He hasn't even tried to learn how to do his job. He's so busy out campaigning in Kentucky and Tennessee. He hasn't bothered to do the substantive work to be the president of the United States.
BOLDUAN: Well, Nia, to Keith's point the president himself acknowledged today but it's been an interesting experience for him. He has learned a lot, a lot about the arcane rules of legislating was one thing he said. But also I can't get off of this. This is a president who said he is the ultimate deal maker.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.
BOLDUAN: He spent years criticizing President Obama for not being able to close a deal. Found this doozy from 2013 when the government shutdown stuff was all happening. Listen to what then just Donald Trump had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You have to get everybody in a room. You have to be a leader. The president has to lead. He's got to get Mr. Boehner and everybody else in a room and they have to make a deal and you have to be nice and be angry and be wild and cajole and do all sorts of things. But you have to get a deal. And unfortunately he's never been a deal maker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:10:05] BOLDUAN: Why does it seem that he did not take his own advice?
HENDERSON: he didn't. That's why it seems like he didn't take his own advice because there weren't those moments, certainly initially in getting people together, getting a coalition together, getting sort of outside interest groups together, the doctors' groups, AARP, Club for Growth, all of those groups let alone the House Freedom Caucus, let alone bringing Ryan in, in, you know, the beginning days and try and figure out what this deal look like. They wanted this done quickly and in some ways that was Ryan's design.
They are talking now -- Spicer today said over and over again that this president left everything out on the field. That must have been a really small field because he didn't really do much, right? He went out a couple times to Kentucky -- even in those speeches it wasn't eve an full speech about health care, right? There was a line in there --
HENDERSON: -- or two about health care, but he never was really all in on this, didn't take Obama's sort of advice in terms of how he approached it, eight-month period, lots of speech, lots of long interviews about health care and making the sale.
BOLDUAN: So if President Trump could have done more, Doug. You were in the House of Representatives --
DOUG HYDE, FMR. DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR MAJORITY LEADER ERIC CANTOR (R): Yes.
BOLDUAN: -- on how many times that they worked to repeal and replace -- or repeal Obamacare. How much blame does Paul Ryan deserve?
HYDE: Well, I think the lion's share goes to two different spots, one the president, because he is the only new dynamic in this. We had Republicans who were passing bill, sometimes not passing bills. We were pushing for a Senate, we finally got a Senate. That wasn't enough. We needed a president. We've got a president who's the great negotiator. That's part of it.
But the other is we talk about seven years of trying to replace this.
HYDE: It's not just about Obamacare. It's about how we struggled to reopen the government, it's about how we -- had to pull the farm bill from the floor. Time and time again Republicans couldn't pass legislation, we couldn't govern ourselves and I can tell you, having observed these creatures in their native habitat, it's very tough to get people who don't want to follow you, it's very tough to lead them and that's why Republicans are stuck where they are, they'll be stuck tomorrow and there aren't real answers out there for where we go next at this point. That's what's troubling is we have to answer the question of whether or not we can govern ourselves and we don't know that yet.
BOLDUAN: And they also need to answer to constituents. Caitlin, I truly do wonder, and Paul Ryan didn't have an answer when Dana asked him about today.
CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right.
BOLDUAN: What do lawmakers say when they go back to their districts tonight?
HUEY-BURNS: Exactly. To Doug's point, what this did today was really embolden the reluctant crew, right, and emboldened the House conservatives, that they got a victory tonight. They have no incentive now.
BOLDUAN: Any case this helps Republicans?
HUEY-BURNS: For them, but not for the larger party -- the party at large that wants to get things done. These are Republicans who are in very safe districts. The threats of primary challenges, of losing their seats really rang hollow among a lot of these Republicans who, yes, Trump won their districts but they outperformed Trump in many cases, far outperformed any rivals that they had in those races.
So, I think this is what people were concerned about was emboldening these types of folks. So, when you get to things like tax reform, they can hold their line too. They got a victory.
BOLDUAN: Tax reform is going to be so much easier.
HUEY-BURNS: Oh, yes exactly. BOLDUAN: UpFront next -- that's the last line. Why is the president fuming at hi son-in-law right now? It may have something to do with this picture.
Plus, why this picture is taking on new significance at this hour. And the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee abruptly cancelled the hearing on Russia as Democrats accuse him of doing Donald Trump's bidding.
[19:16:41] BOLDUAN: Breaking news, a group of House Republicans defying their leaders and Donald Trump, torpedoing the president's long promise vow to repeal and replace Obamacare. So who's to blame? Phil Mattingly is "OutFront" live on Capitol Hill. So, Phil, you've been there all day. What are the new details that you have right now about what's happening? What's happened behind the scenes as Republicans were meeting today? Where are they placing the blame?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now we're a lot of fingers pointed but most of them are pointed at the House Freedom Caucus. And look, the Freedom Caucus doesn't necessarily apologize, actually doesn't apologize at all for what they did in this process. They had specific things that they wanted and made clear they were willing to call leadership's bluff and hold out to get those. But I'm told behind the scenes the recriminations, the anger right now is strong. You just actually have to look on Twitter to see it.
Adam Kinzinger, Illinois, Republican tweeting out "The House Freedom Caucus just single-handedly saved Obamacare." This is something that carries over. I think that's the concern I'm hearing from advisers really on both sides of the debate inside the Republican conference. They want to do big agenda items going forward.
They're moving on past Obamacare. How do they actually work this out? Is this a harbinger of things to come? Because the freedom caucus feel emboldened? Or do they recognize if they've kind of touched the stove a little bit and need to come together and try to get things done?
Kate, I will tell you this. When members, we're told explicitly by Speaker Paul Ryan that President Trump was not bluffing that they were done with the repeal and replace and moving on, nobody even responded. It was that jarring of a moment. We'll see if they learn from that or if it's just kind of what we're going to see going forward consistently, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Wow. Phil, thank you.
"OutFront" tonight, Republican Congressman of Ohio, Mike Turner. He was planning to vote no on this bill. Congressman, thanks for coming in.
REP. MIKE TURNER (R), OHIO: Sure. Thanks for having me.
BOLDUAN: So, congressman, simply put, how do you describe what happened today?
TURNER: You know, I was in conversations with the white house and the Speaker's Office including conversations today trying to modify this bill. In the end, as you know, that this bill would result in the coverage of many people in my community losing their health care coverage. That was a bridge too far.
In addition, with the concession that was made to the Freedom Caucus of removing essential health care benefits which included as you maternity care and other care that everyone believes was essential, this became a bill that I just could not support.
BOLDUAN: But here's the thing, congressman. I mean, Republicans right now have the keys to the kingdom. You control all of Washington. So did the party squander a huge opportunity here today?
TURNER: Well, as you know, they don't control everything. It takes actually 60 votes in the Senate to get a bill through. And as a result of that --
BOLDUAN: They sure control the House.
TURNER: -- the bill was going -- yes, this bill was going through contortions and pieces were moving through procedural modes to try to get it through ultimately through Senate. Because of that, this piece, which was supposed to be part of larger pie --
TURNER: -- certainly, you know, had contortions that in the end resulted to people losing health care benefits that I could not support.
BOLDUAN: Interviews that I seeing as the President says and Speaker Ryan says now Obamacare is the law of the land. They're not bringing this up in the near future. Can you just leave this after campaigning and promising for cycle after cycle and move on to something like tax reform now?
TURNER: I mean that's going to be the decision of the speaker and of the president. I'd be surprised. It certainly is a process that's worthy of continuing.
[19:20:08] It's not this bill. And I think, you know, if they do a post-mortem they're going to find that there are some serious flaws in the bill and perhaps we need to move forward with a bill that can protect the American public, ensure that I'm not voting to cut health care benefits to my constituents, and a bill that people see real savings and reductions in health care premiums and quality of care for the future.
BOLDUAN: The message from the White House to Republicans not supporting this bill has been pretty clear. It's basically good luck trying to tell your constituents at home you essentially stood in the way and allowed Obamacare to stand. Here's what Sean Spicer just said today from the White House about Republicans that don't support the bill. Listen to this congressman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They're the ones who have to go back and answer to their constituent why they didn't fulfill a pledge they made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So, what do you say to your constituents tonight?
TURNER: Well, I didn't campaign with President Trump and I certainly didn't pledge to support whatever he brought to the House floor. I pledged to support something that would maintain the quality of care of people who need medical care and not result in cuts in benefits. That's not the bill they brought forward, so I'm very comfortable going back to my constituents and saying I'm for repeal and replace, I'm not for this bill, I don't think they are either.
BOLDUAN: Everyone this week was calling the president the closer. He couldn't seal the deal, that's plain and simply what happened. What does it say about the president?
TURNER: Well, I think, you know, this says less about the president than it does about the process. You know, this is isn't closing the deal. This is what the is the process. You know, many times when legislation is going forward --
BOLDUAN: But congressman this is a little bit about the deal. I know it's not about a business deal, but this is a deal. This is how you guys get votes in the House. You cut deals. That's exactly the deal making that's been going on for the past week at the White House and the Capitol. He couldn't get it done.
TURNER: Well, you know, I had this specific conversation with the vice president and that is this, is that, you know, I'm a business lawyer, I work with entrepreneurs like the president and I certainly understand negotiating tactics. But legislation isn't a, you know, that's my final offer. Legislation is a process. Even this was only going to be a piece of a larger process. Certainly hope the president becomes engaged. I certainly hope that we get a bill that can be passed but what we know is that this bill couldn't even pass the Senate. So regardless of whether or not it stopped here, it certainly wasn't a bill that was going to his desk.
BOLDUAN: Does the president need to lean some lessons how business deals are different than deals in Washington?
TURNER: Well, I think the president needs to engage in the conversation.
BOLDUAN: Not engaged in it enough right now.
TURNER: Well, you know, he's been negotiating and engaged in why you should be for this bill, not necessarily the question of what's wrong with this bill. And I can tell you any bill that cuts health care benefits from my community, my community won't support and I certainly won't support.
BOLDUAN: Congressman Mike Turner, thanks for your time. A wild day in Washington.
TURNER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Let's see what happens next.
TURNER: Great, thank you.
BOLDUAN: "OutFront" next, Jared Kushner on the slopes of Aspen while his father-in-law and Republicans were sweating it out over health care. The president not so happy. And Trump said if the health care bill failed there is no plan B. So what's next? And why does this picture matter tonight?
[19:27:4] BOLDUAN: Tonight, President Trump fuming and a source says it's directed at an unlikely target, his son-in-law and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner as Trump and his top aides scrambled to win over skeptical Republicans to support the health care bill, Kushner was skiing in Aspen with his wife, Ivanka, and other members of the family, a source saying Trump, quote, upset that his son-in-law and adviser was not around during this crucial week." Athena Jones, "OutFront" at the White House for us now. So Athena, what else are you hearing about this?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate, that's right. Well, it's important to state that Jared Kushner is one of the president's closest and most trusted advisers. You often see pictures of him in the room, in the Oval Office during meetings, various important meetings, meeting important officials.
But in the end, this Trump source, a source close to Trump, said the president was upset that Kushner, his son-in-law, his senior adviser, was not nearby, was not here during what turned out to be a crucial week. And it was a crucial week. It was supposed to be a week that ended with a big win for the White House, another campaign promise kept. In the end, it ended with this huge loss that this young presidency now has to recover from.
I should note it was not clear entirely what specific role Kushner would have played in all of this, attempts to win over the votes of Republican members of the House. He doesn't have experience on Capitol Hill or in Washington. But it seems pretty clear that the president wanted to have one of his closest advisers nearby and is upset that Kushner is out in Aspen for the past week or so with his family. There were pictures -- the paparazzi have caught pictures of he and his wife strolling through the streets of Aspen, enjoying ice cream with their children, winding down ski slopes but the president would have liked to have Kushner her by his side on this big and ultimately disappointing week.
BOLDUAN: Athena, thank you so much. All right, let's get back to the panel right now. Keith, you worked at the White House, the Clinton White House. If you're a senior adviser to President Clinton are you away on a week you think your biggest legislative fight will go down?
BOYKIN: That's softball question. Obviously, no. You want to be there. This is a guy, you know, Donald Trump went to the mat to make sure he could get a security clearance for this guy. And there are a lot of people like myself who had questions about the nepotism violation of having a son-in-law in this position. And here he is in this crucial moment, the most crucial moment so far of the president's young administration and he's absent. He's AWOL. That's unacceptable, but what do you do? Fire your son-in-law? He's got an unpaid position. What are you going do in this situation?
Donald Trump has to create an environment in the White House of a real structure of government. He hasn't done that. He has to start behaving like a real chief executive of the White House or the presidency of the country, not like the CEO of the family business like he's been doing.
[19:30:05] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Doug, do you read into this that he wasn't around and the president is fuming? Does this -- does this signal the president was taking this seriously or at least wasn't sweating it, thought he had a win here?
DOUG HEYE, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR MAJORITY LEADER ERIC CANTOR: I think as Athena pointed out, he's not really well-versed. Jared Kushner isn't on Capitol Hill. This speaks to Trump and the presidency. Ultimately, Donald Trump is his best advocate with Republican members. Jared Kushner was not going to be the one to get that past the finish line for Trump.
But this speaks why Trump needed to be out there more aggressively than he is. Perfect example is the appropriations committee chair, Rodney Frelinghuysen, a moderate from New Jersey. There's a Trump golf course in Rodney Frelinghuysen's district. He needed to hear from the president and he didn't. The president needs to work the phones harder on this on whatever the next issue is that they face.
BOLDUAN: If he doesn't know how to say Frelinghuysen, if he can't say it three times fast, he should now.
Speaking of pictures, there are some pictures in Aspen, let's talk about other pictures from the week.
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENATOR: Good.
BOLDUAN: Yet, every White House, Democrat, Republican, says the president can walk -- say with me, walk and chew gum at the same time. But in the hours before a crucial vote, is this the president hanging out in a cab of a big rig, is this the narrative picture you want out there, Jeffrey Lord?
LORD: He's with truckers. Go for it.
BOLDUAN: Full stop.
LORD: Better than skiing in Aspen, I would say.
LORD: But I would add before I ever chose to get between the president's son-in-law, I would skinny dip in my physobius (ph).
BOLDUAN: I have a mental image I'm going to pass on right now. Thank you so much, Jeffrey Lord. Over to this side of the table, quickly, Mark, save me. The White
House and the president -- the White House said that the president gave this his all. The speaker gave him that as well, said that essentially he left it all on the field. There were lots of meetings -- yes, at the White House. The president went over the Capitol.
But Nia pointed this out earlier, when it came to the public push, changing public opinion on this, those two big campaign rallies that he had, we tallied it up. He spent seven out of 42 minutes talking about health care one. Five out of 37 minutes at the other.
Do you think the White House will regret that?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: If they don't now, they should regret it because it all goes back to casting forward and how are they going to operate when they're trying to get other very difficult things done.
You know, we talk about tax reform and how easy that's going to be. That's going to be extremely, extremely difficult to do. And, you know, if there is a positive for President Trump to take away from this, if there is a positive, is that he learned a lesson very early on about legislating in Washington and working with 535 free agents is a lot different than trying to negotiate a deal with one person over real estate.
BOLDUAN: And something that I found amazing about how this wild afternoon played out, the media and some of the very outlets that the president loves to hate on, were some of his first calls after this -- after he pulled the vote, after they decided to pull the vote, and it seemed even before some lawmakers, some of his own party knew that the vote had even been pulled, what does that say to you?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, you know, I mean, this idea that Trump hates the media, I mean, it's always not been quite true. I mean, he's a consumer of cable news and "The New York Times," maybe more than any other president we've seen, certainly the cable news part of it. So it's not surprising one of his first calls seemed to be to Robert Costa of "The Washington Post ", second to Maggie Haberman and Robert Costa live tweeting about this --
BOLDUAN: While he's on the phone.
HENDERSON: While he's on the phone with him. I do think a lot of people on the Hill found out through those tweets. Again, it goes to his sort of priorities, he should have been reaching out to those folks first, but he was thinking about himself.
BOLDUAN: I think I saw a quote one lawmaker said, it's on Twitter so it must be true! (LAUGHTER)
BOLDUAN: That's where we are today.
Caitlin, the president is not -- he had a big discussion about this last night because of the final magazine article. He's not one to admit fault. Did you see and what you heard from the president today this afternoon that this is on him at all?
CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, REALCLEARPOLITICS: No. In fact, what was startling to me was how disciplined this was. Yes, he talked to two reporters then made a statement, but he kind of said, no, Paul Ryan's great, Freedom Caucus guys, sure, we get along, this is the Democrats' fault, and kind of shrugged it off, which, you know, may be a reflection of how little time he spent invested in this fight, just given the amount of days involved. But it was also quite startling to kind of say, well, we'll just move on.
BOLDUAN: Surprising. He's known to freelance when he's at rallies and go after people when something's really bothering him. Why wasn't there freelancing today? He didn't blame anyone in the Republican Party.
PRESTON: Right. He was shocked. I mean, I think that he thought --
BOLDUAN: Is that a compliment, though, a testament to him, though, that maybe he's just letting it roll off and he's like I've got many more battles to go?
[19:35:05] HENDERSON: But he also sounded like a bystander president, right?
BOLDUAN: That's interesting.
HENDERSON: I mean, it sounds like he's going to be fine with premiums going up and just fine to blame the Democrats as people might lose their health care, and that's bizarre. He's not going to take responsibility.
LORD: I really think he believes, OK, this is going to collapse on its own weight, let the Democrats get the --
BURNETT: Are you comfortable with the president saying I believe -- the president believes that Obamacare is horrible and it's hurting Americans, you're OK with the president and the party saying it's hurting you and we're going to let it?
LORD: Look, we've got the other side saying this is a huge success, so, OK. Let's see.
BOYKIN: The other side is saying it needs work to fix it, but the Republicans have been sabotaging it for the past seven years, any kind of fix to it. But this is a guy who needs to take responsibility again. You can't just continue to pass the buck to everybody else, Jeffrey, and to say that --
LORD: But it's your bill. This is what you wanted. You got it.
BOYKIN: No, no.
BOLDUAN: Jeffrey, you own Washington right now, like please? Republicans own Washington right now.
BOYKIN: Republican president, and about to have another Republican Supreme Court justice, potentially. You can't tell me the Republicans can't get through a bill --
LORD: I want to speak for the Freedom Caucus or as I call them the Reagan caucus. These are the guys are making the old Reagan argument about pale pastels versus bold colors. They're the bold color guys, they're the Reagan guys.
BOLDUAN: I hear you. But my question has been about the president, though, not about the Freedom Caucus at this moment.
LORD: Well, I think the president as party leader, he plunged into this, he did do his job.
BOLDUAN: Where does the buck stop?
BOLDUAN: Where does the buck stop?
HEYE: Always with the president.
BOLDUAN: Even if he doesn't acknowledge it?
HEYE: Even if he doesn't acknowledge it. We know that the buck stops there. But that is why you seek that office.
But Republicans in Congress still need to try and whether they do it piecemeal or coming back in six months with a big plan figure that out. And the problem is, it's not just Freedom Caucus members who are nervous about this. It's moderates.
And so, what happens operationally, every time we have a tough vote is this pendulum effect of where we go to the right to get some of the Freedom Caucus members, we lose some moderates, swing back to the left, swing back and forth that we lose our moral center on these things.
BOLDUAN: Moral center. Two words that don't exist right now in Washington. I'm not listening to --
BOLDUAN: I love you, Jeffrey.
BOLDUAN: He's in the penalty box. Jeffrey Lord, stand by.
OUTFRONT next, the president has bragged quite a bit about getting things done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will make a great deal and lots of great deals for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, I ask, what happened today? And will it impact President Trump's new priority, tax reform?
Plus, three former Trump advisers now coming forward, offering to answer questions about their alleged ties to Russia.
[19:41:52] BOLDUAN: Breaking news: President Trump already looking ahead after being dealt a defeat on health care. President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan both saying, next up, they want to tackle tax reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We'll probably be going right now for tax reform, which we could have done earlier but this really would have worked out better if we could have had some Democrats support.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This does make tax reform more difficult but it does not in any way make it impossible. We will proceed with tax reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Let me bring back the panel right now.
Doug, can you really walk away from health care all of the discussions they're having right now and move on to tax reform? It's no easier.
HEYE: It's no easier, but in the short term, there's nothing else they can do.
HEYE: They need to lick their wounds, walk it off and live to fight another day even if they're fighting with themselves, which is ultimately one of the big problems that Republicans have. It's not Nancy Pelosi who really defeated this. It's the friendly fire coming from Republicans. And what's frustrating to so many of them is this should have been a
good week for Republicans. We should have focused on Neil Gorsuch nomination.
HEYE: The one thing that unites us. But instead, we focused on Russia and --
BOLDUAN: Neil, who?
HEYE: Exactly. We focused on Russia and a disaster that happened last night and on the floor today.
BOLDUAN: So, what's the impact do you think of this on that? This defeat in health care make it harder or easier to get tax reform across the line?
LORD: Maybe a little harder. But I've seen presidents of both parties get defeated and then they rebound. And as I was saying off camera, remember that Donald Trump also wrote "The Art of the Comeback" and "Never Give Up." So, he'll back -- he'll back on those things.
BOLDUAN: Take his own advice from "Art of the Deal" --
LORD: He'll be back on that. But, you know, President Reagan suffered a big defeat at Reykjavik. I was there. The headlines were terrible. A year later, there was Gorbachev in the East Room signing the agreement Reagan wanted.
BOLDUAN: But he worked in like the slimmest amount of time, a year later? I mean, it's only been 64 days and look what happened.
LORD: Right, right. I mean, you're going to get bad PR. I mean, this is a fact, when you have a defeat. But you quickly pick up your socks and you move on to the next -- and you get a victory.
BOLDUAN: Everyone acknowledges Obamacare needs fixing. In any alternate universe, is there a possibility that this defeat could possibly open it up that Democrats and Republicans could work together? I saw a tweet from Chuck Grassley that said -- stop laughing, Nia -- these things need to be done in a bipartisan fashion or am I delusional?
BOYKIN: I think you're delusional. I think it could happen in secret if there's a way to do that in Washington, D.C. But the honest truth is that these people don't want to work together and the Republican Party is now weakened because of this and they know that Trump can't get a deal. The Democrats have no incentive to want to work with them because of that.
But tax reform is going to be a very difficult haul, because not only do you have to deal with your caucuses but the different interest groups.
BOLDUAN: Yes, you thought interest groups on health care were bad, just wait.
BOYKIN: Everybody has a cause they want to save in the tax code.
BOLDUAN: There was -- we found out today there was a question, was there a plan B. There had to have been. Amanda Carpenter said I hope there's a C, D, E, and F.
[19:45:03] HENDERSON: Z, she said.
BOLDUAN: There's no plan B. Does that surprise you?
BOLDUAN: Why? I would think they had something in their back pocket.
PRESTON: I mean, honestly, I'm still thinking of Jeffrey Lord jumping in, in sort of --
BOLDUAN: The skinny dipping.
PRESTON: Here's the reason why I'm not surprised. Two reasons to be serious. I think Donald Trump, President Trump, thinks that when he issues an edict that it is set in stone, it is gold, it happens. That's how he's lived his life. That's how he's lived his business life and he thought he could carry that to Washington, D.C.
In addition to that, I think that Paul Ryan was probably forced in some ways, even though he did it himself, he was forced in some ways to speed up a process that they clearly weren't --
BOLDUAN: Would tax reform, quickly, would tax reform gone, do you think it -- I mean, would tax reform have gone better here first?
HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, needed Obamacare first because they needed the savings from Obamacare.
BOLDUAN: That's what they said.
HENDERSON: I mean, that's what I said. I mean, I think this is going to be tedious. It's going to a slog. It's going to be boring, and there's no sense that this is the way Trump wants to operate, that he wants to get in the weeds and learn policy and talk about policy and sell policy. So, I don't know.
HUEY-BURNS: There's a reason it hasn't happened in 30 years, tax reform. And on health care, Donald Trump never really campaigned on the merits of the bill. It was always framed in political terms. Vote for this or else. Vote for this or you'll lose your seat.
Never talked tact actual bill and it was unpopular.
BOLDUAN: But what he Donald Trump didn't know about health care policy, I would argue he would know a lot more though, maybe, about tax policy. Again, I might be living in a delusional world.
Coming up, OUTFRONT next, the top Republican of the intelligence committee abruptly cancels a hearing on Russia. Democrats are asking, is he doing the president's bidding?
We'll be right back.
[19:50:27] BOLDUAN: More breaking news tonight: a major development of the House investigation into possible ties between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. Three former Trump advisers, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort say they are now willing to talk to the House Intelligence Committee, but that committee is in turmoil tonight.
Today, Chairman Devin Nunes abruptly calling off a hearing next week and Democrats are fuming.
Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill with more on this.
So, Manu, are the former Trump campaign advisers, who are these advisers that they now say will talk to the committee?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, there are three of them. Paul Manafort, the former head of the campaign, as well as Roger Stone, a longtime Trump associate, and Carter Page, who was onetime a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign, all saying -- telling the committee privately they're willing to have these conversations. Even Carter Page telling me earlier today he's willing to have a public hearing to testify to clear his name.
Carter Page firing off a pretty angry letter to the committee saying that he believes that his name has been essentially dragged through the mud, he wants to set the record straight and he said he's eagerly awaiting his chance to talk before the committee. The question is, will that be public? We don't know that yet.
Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee, would not commit to that, said he would wait to see what these three witnesses would want to say before the public may have a chance to hear them, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Well, speaking of public hearings, why is Chairman Nunes canceling what was to be a public hearing next week?
RAJU: Well, he said because he wanted to have a private classified briefing with the two men who did testify publicly earlier this week, that's FBI Director James Comey and Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency. He explains his decision earlier today in a press conference. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: The committee will ask Director Comey and Admiral Rogers to appear in closed session and will postpone the previously scheduled March 28 hearing, in order to make time available for Director Comey and Admiral Rogers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: But, Kate, this has infuriated Democrats who believe canceling this hearing will squelch public debate and public understanding of the Russia issue as well as any campaign contacts, any coordination that may have occurred between Trump officials and Russian officials.
And, of course, this comes after Mr. Nunes decided to privately brief President Trump over findings that he secretly found out from a source about some communications that may have appeared in the intelligence reports but over Trump officials that he believes were improper. And Democrats, of course, were unhappy that he privately briefed Trump before talking to the committee, even as the committee was investigating Russia and Trump campaign contacts.
So, all this come as some of the members of the committee want Mr. Nunes to step down as the chairman of the committee, but right now, he's not showing any signs that he will do just that, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Manu, thanks so much.
OUTFRONT with me now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. He sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks so much for coming in.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
The Democrat -- the top Democrat Adam Schiff on the panel, he called the chairman's decision to cancel this hearing next week a serious mistake. What do you call it?
SWALWELL: I call it further obstruction. And, you know, Kate, it's so disappointing because Russia attacked our democracy this past election. We're the committee that's charged with getting to the bottom of it. And up until this week, Democrats and Republicans have gone down this investigative road together.
We had a very productive hearing on Monday where we learned more about the Trump/Russia ties and the FBI director confirming a criminal investigation into the campaign was under way and surprisingly, Chairman Nunes took an exit from that road to go help the White House, and we were left without knowing what the evidence is that he took to the White House and wondering, is the credibility of our committee going to stand?
BOLDUAN: Nunes says he's not helping the White House, he just felt a duty to inform the president of what he's uncovered. But, again, he hasn't even received material to show you what he thinks he may or may not have uncovered.
But I want to talk more about the canceled hearing next week. Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Carter Page, they're not going to be at this hearing but they are going to testify now, they have agreed, to the committee. All of them agreeing today and announcing they will testify before the committee.
What do you want to hear from them when they come before you?
SWALWELL: These are some of the most relevant witnesses to Russia's interference and the deep personal, political and financial ties of people in Donald Trump's orbit. So, we are hoping that will testify in public and without any conditions.
Now, with Paul Manafort, of course, he was the chairman, had a $10 million contract reportedly with a Putin ally and he was a part of the change in the Republican Party platform that had always stood for Ukraine and against Russia and they took that out this past summer.
[19:55:10] Carter Page, senior foreign policy adviser to the president, a month after Russia's interference campaign appearance appeared and, of course, Roger Stone, a self-described dirty trickster reveals before John Podesta's e-mails are hacked that Podesta is about to spend his time in a barrel. It's important that the American people hear what they have to say.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, I want to ask you about health care. But real quick, do you want Nunes to step down from the chairmanship?
SWALWELL: He needs to find an on-ramp back to the investigation. And if you think --
BOLDUAN: So, you're not there yet?
SWALWELL: Not there yet.
SWALWELL: We need to see the evidence he took over to the White House.
BOLDUAN: OK. So, let's talk health care. Here is what the president said just today after house Republicans pulled the bill. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: He also said Democrats need to reach out. Those are his words. Your response? SWALWELL: He also said that Democrats defeated it and he's right. We
defeated it because we heard the American people, we fought for them, and today we won for them. And what we can do next is work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act.
Right now, we're seeing in a few places the individual marketplaces don't have enough competition. We can work to fix that. We can put back into place the --
BOLDUAN: You're confident you'll work with Republicans on this?
SWALWELL: Well, they need to come to us. They took on this enterprise without including Democrats at all. So, I hope they take a lesson here.
BOLDUAN: Staring contest is what this looks like.
Congressman, thank you very much for your time.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
"AC360" starts right now.