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Trump's Health Care Ultimatum; What Today's Vote Means For Tax Reform; Nunes And Schiff At Odds Over Evidence. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 24, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:25] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN HOST: President Trump tells House Republicans he'll walk away if they don't vote for and pass the health care bill. Will the tactic work to bring conservative and moderate Republicans under one roof as his clock ticks away? EARLY START has live team coverage right now. Welcome back to EARLY START, I'm Dave Briggs. "It's My Way or the Highway" reads the "New York Post." My way, of course, being President Trump.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: That's right. I'm Christine Romans. It is 30 minutes past the hour. There's a lot of good stuff in the papers this morning because there's a lot of good stuff or bad stuff happening in Washington, depending how you look at it. It's a political version of win or go home. President Trump laying down an ultimatum to House Republicans. Talks are over. Vote on the health care bill today and pass it or you will be stuck with failing Obamacare and be forced to explain why you didn't vote to repeal it.

All this after leaders postponed the vote scheduled for Thursday when it became clear they just did not have the votes. Both the White House and House leaders are said to be frustrated with the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus after both spent the day trying to "grind them down," apparently Dave, to no avail.

BRIGGS: Yes. Now a familiar trend emerging with the White House laying the groundwork to place the blame on others if this bill fails. A Republican source says Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told his members to vote their conscience.


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS: Realistically, I'm still optimistic. I don't put grades or numbers on anything. I know that would make for, you know, a better headline. But I'm still optimistic that everybody is negotiating in good faith to try to get there.


ROMANS: So, the vote just hours away. Big questions. Will the president's ultimatum force the Freedom Caucus to fall in line? Would the president really reject a vote later if Republicans can't round up the votes today? And what might be the fallout if the dealmaker president can't close the deal here? Our coverage begins this hour with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live on Capitol Hill where it is early, Suzanne, but there is already so much happening. SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is early and it really is a frenetic place at the -- at the -- on the Hill here because we are talking about late last night members of Congress working and then early in the morning. In about 90 minutes or so is when the bill is going to go to the House Rules Committee. That is where we expect that it will debate various amendments for about three hours and vote about 10:00, and then it will go to the full House. We will see, very much, a similar dance, if you will, and hopefully, we'll have some sort of result by dinnertime.

But the stakes could not be higher for this president -- for members of Congress, particularly Republicans, who have made this their signature legislation for seven years now, pushing to repeal and replace Obamacare. It became very clear yesterday after 24 hours of shuttle diplomacy, some secret negotiations, and public shaming, if you will, that the president was tired of this. That he was done with the negotiations.

He sent a team of advisers -- top aides here on the Hill, including -- we saw Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and, of course, the OMB director Mulvaney, who delivered the message to the Republican caucus saying that if this does not pass you will be stuck with Obamacare and that this is something that must happen. That the time for talk is now over.

House Speaker Paul Ryan emerged from these meetings -- these series of meetings -- and he still did not have a sense of where this vote would go.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it's collapsing and it's failing families, and tomorrow we're proceeding.


MALVEAUX: There was more bad news from the Congressional Budget Office, a new score that had now been given to the Republican legislation, saying that it is now most costly, this plan. We're talking about cutting the federal deficit by $150 billion over the course of 10 years. That is much less than the $337 billion that was cut under the original plan. And also, they still estimate some 24 million people would be out of health care coverage insurance over the course of 10 years.

As it stands now, Christine and Dave, we are looking at 216 as needed to pass on the House side, this legislation. Republicans cannot lose more than 21 of their own members voting no. Our latest CNN whip count is now 31 no's or leaning no, so it is anyone's guess whether or not this will actually even go through and whether or not there could possibly be another delay. But as it stands now, they will vote and it does not look like it will pass.

ROMANS: All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us bright and early this morning. Ninety minutes to go before, really, the events begin this morning. Thanks, Suzanne.

[05:35:03] BRIGGS: All right, so let's bring in our panel. "CNN POLITICS" reporter Eugene Scott with us right here in New York. And, in Washington, political economist Greg Valliere, chief strategist for Horizon Investments. Thank you, gentlemen, for being here. Look, no one should count out Donald Trump, now President Trump. He has always proven critics wrong. We point that out.

Now, "The Washington Post" has an interesting take on this, this morning. An editorial from their board suggesting this might be a way to, in a sense, pivot. "Obamacare could use some reforms, but neither the public nor the actual state of the health system demands a destabilizing repeal. Thursday's setback provides Mr. Trump opportunity to adopt new course, moving away from intransigent conservatives and pragmatically working with Democrats as well as Republicans to improve the health care system without depriving millions of people coverage."

Greg, again, nobody should count out President Trump but what is the likelihood of that happening -- working with Democrats, fixing Obamacare?

GREG VALLIERE, POLITICAL ECONOMIST, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: Well, in a perfect world that would be great to have the Republicans go to the Democrats and say let's fix this thing. But it's not a perfect world and the Democrats have become more partisan, threatening to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee who looks to me pretty qualified.

I think the interesting angle here, guys, is if Trump fails tonight or in the next few days, what does he do to change the subject? Does he say we're going to stay on health care or does he move on to taxes? Does he say something outrageous? He has a pattern of changing the subject and I think that's going to happen again.

ROMANS: I mean, change the subject, potentially, to tax reform and, you know, the going -- the going conventional wisdom, Greg, was that if he can't get this it's going to hurt him on tax reform. But others are saying if he can't get this he's going to be doubling down on tax reform.

VALLIERE: Yes. He really needs that badly and I do think action will start in the committees. I just don't see a tax reform bill making it until late this year, at the earliest.

BRIGGS: All right. We had little as for a window into Donald Trump's thinking -- into his strategy -- so we always quote the book, "The Art of the Deal." And this one he says, Eugene, "I never get too attached to one deal or to one approach." My question to you is that type of philosophy -- is that an asset here or is that a liability because it could be an asset in terms of how he negotiates, but a liability in terms of not owning this legislation? Which is it?

EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes. Well, that's interesting. When you were quoting that I was thinking about the fact that some have argued that he was never really attached to this particular legislation, right? And so the desire to have him renegotiate it further or just go back to the drawing board is something that some lawmakers have been pushing from like day one. I think we saw Tom Cotton very early come out and say we don't have to rush this, there's no deadline. The problems that exist in Obamacare, the problems that exist with this replacement plan, we can fix. Things don't have to be done by today.

ROMANS: I think so much of this is such a political imperative that they thought they won the election by saying they were going to repeal Obamacare.

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: But what they didn't understand is that people hate change, which is why they started hating Obamacare, but they hate changing their change even more. Look at this Quinnipiac poll on the health plan for the Republican approval. Seventeen percent approve of the GOP plan. Disapprove, 56 percent. No, Obamacare is not as popular as Democrats would have wanted --

SCOTT: Sure.

ROMANS: -- but changing it again and more uncertainty is even less popular.

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: I think that's the bottom line politically.

SCOTT: Yes, and I think what's really interesting, in addition to 56 percent of American voters disapproving of this replacement plan, more than 60 percent disapprove of just how Donald Trump's handling it altogether. And I think people are very frustrated, including some people who voted for Donald Trump, with what they see him doing to what they think is take away their health care.

ROMANS: Can I ask you something, Greg?


ROMANS: When I keep hearing conservatives talk about this is Republican welfare expansion, what is it that the ultraconservatives want to see about health care in America? What is their worldview that is -- that is holding this up?

VALLIERE: Well, the ultraconservatives, Christine, I think really don't want government involved in health care, period. I think they would like to cut way, way back. They have a long history of demanding 99 percent of what they want. It's a major reason why John Boehner is now retired. They are so rigid and so inflexible. And the next big story we'll all be talking about -- all four of us -- later in the spring -- is the debt ceiling. They're not going to vote to raise the debt ceiling and then we're going to have a big crisis on that in the next two or three months. They're a very, very intransigent group.

BRIGGS: Of course, we could, in about 14 hours, be talking about an amazing comeback for President Trump --

ROMANS: You're right.


BRIGGS: -- and scraping away those last few votes. If it's not that, Eugene, two questions emerge. One is, of course, who gets the blame here? Is it Paul Ryan, is it that Freedom Caucus? And then, what stops them from coming back and trying it again in a week, in two weeks, in a month?

[05:40:05] SCOTT: Well, I don't think they will not retry it if it doesn't pass. I definitely think people will retry it -- Republican lawmakers -- if this doesn't work because they've just spent seven years -- I guess almost eight years now --

BRIGGS: Right.

SCOTT: -- criticizing it and so they can't just walk away.


BRIGGS: And what about the blame? Who do you think gets it?

SCOTT: You know who -- the right thing would be for the president to take it because he would have taken the victory.

BRIGGS: Right.

SCOTT: And the reality is when you go -- when you say I fixed this, if it falls apart he's backed it. He has come out and said --

BRIGGS: You're not suggesting he'll take the blame for this?

SCOTT: I'm saying that there will be people -- do I think that he'll own it? Are you asking me do I think he'll own it?

BRIGGS: Right.



SCOTT: I think -- I think he will be blamed for it.

BRIGGS: All right.

SCOTT: I don't think he'll take the blame for it.

ROMANS: He'll own it if it passes.

SCOTT: He'll own it -- my point is he'll own it --

ROMANS: He won't own it if it --

SCOTT: -- if it passes because he'll take the victory if it passes. So it failed, logically, he should take the blame.

BRIGGS: All right. Will it pass? Bottom line, prediction.

SCOTT: I don't think so. I don't think so but it could. But I don't think so.

ROMANS: All right. Greg, will it pass?

VALLIERE: Even if it -- even if it passes in the next few days in the House, it is dead on arrival in the Senate.

ROMANS: Wow. Could they reschedule a vote? Could they punt it to next week, Greg?

VALLIERE: Sure, absolutely. And by the way, on Trump taking blame, he will find a scapegoat. It won't be him.

ROMANS: Fake news.

BRIGGS: Fake news.

ROMANS: The media.


ROMANS: Maybe the media.


BRIGGS: The Freedom Caucus. It will be a fascinating day in politics. Greg, Eugene, thank you so much for weighing in on it.

ROMANS: Guys, thanks for coming on so early with us on a Friday morning. It's going to be fun, Greg.

VALLIERE: You bet.

ROMANS: Thanks. All right, let's talk about this a little bit more. Let's dig into the numbers here. The poorest American families could lose federal benefits worth one-third of their income if this House Republican health care bill becomes law. That's according to a new report from the Urban Institute and the Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center.

Here's what it would look like four years into the Republican plan. The average family earning less than $10,000 would lose about $1,400 in government subsidies. We're talking about the poorest cohort of American families, so having to spend that on insurance would be a net reduction of more than 30 percent of the family's income.

On the other side, families earning $200,000 a year would gain more than $5,000 in tax credits compared with the Obamacare subsidies because wealthy families don't get Obamacare subsidies. The good news for those in the middle, families making more than $50,000 a year will generally be better off.

BRIGGS: There's some good news there, indeed.


BRIGGS: Top officials on the House Intel Committee now disagree over how much evidence really exists linking the president's associates and Russia. We'll hear from both sides next.


[05:46:35] BRIGGS: The investigation into the Trump administration's ties to Russia is triggering a very public dispute between Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Adam Schiff, the committee's ranking Democrat. Listen to each of them describe the evidence they've seen of possible collusion between the president's associates and the Kremlin.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't feel comfortable talking about particular evidence that the FBI's looking at or that we're looking at. But Ido think it's appropriate to say it's the kind of evidence that you would submit to a grand jury at the beginning of an investigation.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: This new evidence of collusion from Schiff, he said you have no idea what he's talking about?


RAJU: You haven't seen any new evidence of collusion?

NUNES: Not that I'm familiar with, no.


ROMANS: Now, Nunes has apologized for rushing to tell the president his communications may have been incidentally collected by U.S. intelligence agencies before he told members of his own committee. Nunes will not say where he received that information. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi among the growing number of Democrats now calling for an independent, nonpartisan commission to handle the investigation now of Russia's election meddling.

BRIGGS: All right. Time for a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo has his hands full of health care this morning.

ROMANS: Good morning.

BRIGGS: Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Yes, you know, you're dead on, as always. I've been listening to you guys this morning. On point, as usual.

BRIGGS: Thank you, sir. CUOMO: Look, this is a big moment. They pushed off the vote. I think they have to look at that objectively as a smart move, right? You don't want to set yourself up for failure. The big question now is, for all the hype being put on Trump and his reputation for the art of the deal, the question is does he want to make a deal? Does he want to own this plan? There seems to be a lot of side indications that the White House isn't comfortable with this. They don't think it's a winner. So, we're going to talk about the politics.

We're also going to talk about the policy. Remember, a big part of the recalcitrance here is that for years Republicans have been selling the notion that Obamacare is the worst thing ever, so the challenge now is to make something better. They have two different groups within their own party who don't think they've met that burden. So, we have Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price. Everybody should know he's one of the architects of this.


CUOMO: He was one of the only legislators, Christine and Dave, as you know, to come up with an alternative when he was in office in that regard. What does he have to say about why this is the right plan? We're getting after it.

ROMANS: And the two groups who don't think that this does better -- they think, for wildly different reasons they don't think it's better.

BRIGGS: And if something's going to fail you want it to fail on a Friday night, right Chris? I mean, that's the time if there ever is one.

CUOMO: That's generally when I fail.

BRIGGS: You know what I mean? No coverage goes through the weekend -- the document dump.

CUOMO: I'm just going to be a lump with a glass in my hand somewhere.

BRIGGS: That's quite an image. Thank you, Chris.

ROMANS: I needed that. Chris Cuomo, thank you, sir. I needed that. Investors have paused the Trump stock market rally as they wait for lawmakers to vote on health care. The tone turning a little more optimistic this morning. We're going to get a check on CNN Money Stream next.

BRIGGS: Can you picture it now?



[05:54:05] ROMANS: All right. New this morning, two significant arrests, we're told, in the London terror attack. It comes after another victim of the attack passed away, bringing the death toll now, sadly, to four. Among them an American from Utah celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary. His wife was injured also.

We're also learning new details about the attacker who authorities say was known to police and inspired by ISIS and British-born. Let's go live to New Scotland Yard in London and bring in CNN's Nina dos Santos who has been pouring through these details that you've received from Metropolitan Police. What can you tell us?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, thanks very much, Christine. Well, we can tell you the birth name of Adrian Russell Ajao. That's his -- the other name of Khalid Masood, the 52- year-old Westminster attacker who, as you just said, has now claimed the lives of four victims after a 75-year-old man from south London passed away in the hospital overnight thanks to the injuries that he sustained as result of that attack.

[05:55:02] We know that 16 raids have been taking place and searches across properties right across the U.K. Five are said to still be ongoing and there's a huge amount of material that police have managed to recover from that -- 2,700 items of evidence. A lot of it also computer data, as well. They're going to be going through cyber sites to these investigations, a huge component of terrorist investigations. They're going to be trying to piece together who Khalid Masood really was, who he was interacting with. Remember, he's a Muslim convert but what was the story toward radicalization. They're appealing to anybody who knew himto come forward and give any evidence.

And also, witnesses are a huge part of this investigation. The Metropolitan Police have appealed to any witnesses who were on the scene on the day to continue to give the Metropolitan Police further photographic video evidence that they have. They say they've been contacted by 3,500 witnesses, 1,000 of whom were on the bridge when the attack happened.

Now, speaking of what happened on the bridge, as you quite rightfully point out, the victim tally has risen overnight to four and we did learn yesterday that an American citizen, Kurt Cochran from Utah, 54 years old, sadly perished in this attack. He was celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife who was injured but she thankfully survived, Christine.

ROMANS: Oh, just tragic, and our thoughts and prayers are with those families. There are still people who are wounded. Thank you so much for that. Nina dos Santos in London for us this morning.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, the Kremlin denying claims by Ukraine that it was behind the shooting death of a former Russian lawmaker. Denis Voronenkov was gunned down outside a Kiev hotel in broad daylight. Just the latest in a line of Vladimir Putin's critics to be injured or killed. Ukraine's president is blaming Russia, calling the fatal shooting a terrorist attack. Moscow says that claim is absurd.

ROMANS: All right, it's about that time in the morning, almost 6:00. Let's get a look at your money this morning. Wall Street feeling hopeful ahead of the House vote on health care. The market has stalled in the past few days as uncertainty in Washington gripped investors. Futures moving higher right now and global stock markets are mostly higher as well.

A stunning statement from Ford. Ford is expecting profits to drop 50 percent this quarter. Ford says it expects sales to decline around the world, plus it says costs for materials like steel are rising and exchange rates are unfavorable. It forecasts a big drop in sales in the Asia Pacific region. It also expects Brexit to hurt its European operations which finally swung to a profit last year. Ford only forecasts a modest profit decline for the full year.

After much speculation about who would replace him, Disney CEO Bob Iger sticking around until 2019. The company says Iger will stay at the helm until July of that year. That will mark 14 years with the company. Iger says Disney's best days are still ahead and he looks forward to naming a successor. Translation, the company does not have a successor at the moment. That's not worrying Wall Street. The stock ticked higher on the news. They're bullish on Iger. Shares of Disney are up more than 20 percent over the past six months.

It also allows Iger to enjoy the success of a couple of more "Star Wars" films. Those follow "Rogue One" which was basically a feature- length teaser for the next two films. There will be a film in December with another one next year. Interest continues.

BRIGGS: Yes, they're betting big on "Star Wars."


BRIGGS: And, President Trump betting big on health care. Before we go, we asked @EarlyStart, on Twitter, will this health care bill pass? Eighty percent say no, it will not.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go with our plan. It's going to be terrific.

ROMANS: President Trump laying down an ultimatum on health care.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: People are being threatened and being bribed to vote yes.

MEADOWS: I am still a no. I'm desperately trying to get to yes.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is the only train leaving the station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill keeps getting worse and worse.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Tomorrow we're proceeding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have the votes? Do you have the votes?

NUNES: It's a judgment call on my part.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Congress must create an independent, bipartisan commission to expose the Trump- Russia connections.

SCHIFF: We continue to get new information that, I think, paints a complete picture.

RAJU: You haven't seen any new evidence of collusion?

NUNES: Not that I'm familiar with, no.

SPICER: The president feels very confident that he will be vindicated.


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

CUOMO: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Friday, March 24th, 6:00 here in New York.

And up first, President Donald Trump issues an ultimatum to the House, vote or keep the ACA. But there is growing concern that Trump does not think this bill is a winner. The House is set to vote this afternoon. It was supposed to happen last night, it didn't. Will they repeal and replace? The leaders are bracing for a showdown because the word is they don't have the votes. Remember, the House was supposed to be easier sell than the Senate.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Well, CNN's whip count at the moment has 31 Republicans voting no or at least leaning no.