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GOP Health Care Plan Collapses; Trump Blames Democrats, Says Obamacare Will Explode; Americans React to GOP Health Care Bill Failure; Aired 11a-Noon ET

Aired March 25, 2017 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:23] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. It's 11:00 on the East Coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Welcome.

"Do not worry?" That's the message from the president, tweeting just moments ago, "Obamacare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great health care plan for the people." This coming one day after a huge defeat, moments of reckoning, revolt and reflection.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is something that certainly was an interesting period of time. We all learned a lot. We learned a lot about loyalty. We learned a lot about the vote- getting process. We learned a lot about some very arcane rules in obviously both the Senate and in the House. So it's been certainly -- for me, it's been a very interesting experience.


WHITFIELD: President Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Republicans licking their wounds today after pulling their long-promised bill that would repeal and replace Obamacare. Ryan and Trump abruptly cancelling that vote to avoid an embarrassing loss on the House floor.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: We're a 10-year opposition party. We're being against things was easy to do. You just had to be against it. And now in three months' time we tried to go to a governing party where we actually had to get 216 people to agree with each other on how we do things. And we weren't just quite there today.


WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now, CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.

So, Suzanne, the GOP campaigned and won elections promising to repeal and replace Obamacare. House Speaker Ryan emphasizing Obamacare is now the law of the land. So where does the party go from here?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Fred. Well, that really was a stunning admission from the House Speaker Paul Ryan. But this weekend, Republican lawmakers, they're at home with their constituents with voters having to answer those very tough questions, how was it that they were not able to get their own legislation to the full House floor for a vote, that it was rejected and pulled before it even happened? And one of the things that we're seeing here is the Republican Party is deeply divided. It is in disarray.

The House Freedom Caucus, the conservatives who were very much in opposition of the repeal and replace plan, felt emboldened this weekend that they were able to kill this bill. In the meantime, you have the moderate Republicans, many who I've spoken to, who quite frankly are relieved that they did not put their signatures on a bill that potentially would have kicked off millions of people off an affordable health care plan. At the same time, they're very much concerned that their party is being taken over by the right, leaning too much towards the right.

Their big challenge now is to make sure that these two groups in some way can come together on some issues, some legislation they can pass, potentially infrastructure, tax reform, immigration reform, things like this. And they also need to find some common ground with Democrats. Here is how many of the Republicans saw the outcome of yesterday's battle.


REP. ANDY BURR (R), KENTUCKY: We all need to kind of reflect on this moment and recognize that in a diverse legislative body, you know, you have to come together at some point and recognize that 80 percent is not bad. It's a step in the right direction.

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: From the beginning of the process, I think that the way it was set up did not bring the disparate parts of the conference together. So we need to start from the beginning making sure that all of the concerns are addressed.

REP. STEVE WOMACK (R), ARKANSAS: This is going to be an ongoing leadership challenge for the governing majority.


MALVEAUX: And Fred, Democrats are now putting Republicans on notice. They feel emboldened. They say that they are preparing now for the filibuster of President Trump's Supreme Court nominee. They are also targeting 15 Republicans for the midterm elections in 2018 from highly competitive districts. Those people who actually voted to advance the repeal and replace Obamacare plan in various committees leading up to yesterday, that they are in trouble, and they are also emphasizing, too, that they feel that the president and Republicans are still very much accountable for repairing in some way the damage that they have identified, the mistakes through Obamacare. Take a listen.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You're confident you're going to work with Republicans on this? REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, they need to come to us.

They took on this enterprise without including Democrats at all. So I hope they take away a lesson here.


MALVEAUX: And Fred, what many people are looking at here is a very short window of opportunity for the president to push forward, for Republicans to push forward those big-ticket items in the first 200 days of President Trump's presidency, if you will, his term. And that is dwindling very quickly, Fred.

[11:05:10] WHITFIELD: All right. And we heard President Trump saying tax reform, perhaps that's next, somewhere within that 200-day window. We will see.

All right, Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much, appreciate that.

So the bill's failure came 24 hours after the president issued an ultimatum to House Republicans to move forward with the vote. But now the president is blaming Democrats, as you saw there from Suzanne, for being shortsighted.


TRUMP: Obamacare is exploding with no Democrat support. We couldn't quite get there with just a very small number of votes short in terms of getting our bill passed. A lot of people don't realize how good our bill was because they were viewing phase one. But when you add phase two, which was mostly the science of Secretary Price who was behind me, and you add phase three, which I think we would have gotten, it became a great bill. Premiums would have gone down and it would have been very stable. It would have been very strong. But that's OK.

But we're very, very close. And again, I think what will happen is Obamacare, unfortunately, will explode. It's going to have a very bad year. 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. 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.


WHITFIELD: All right. Placing blame there, but again, in a tweet this morning the president kind of intimating that there may be another effort somewhere down the line.

Ryan Nobles at the White House for us. So, Ryan, where does the Trump administration stand on the most important item on which to push?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fredricka, it's an interesting position that the White House has this morning. They're saying in two sentences in this tweet that, A, Obamacare is likely to explode, but then at the end of the tweet saying, "Don't worry, we've got it under control." Usually when you tell something -- someone that something is going to explode, that emotes a degree of worry. But the White House believes they have it under control.

And really the agenda at this point, Fredricka, is to move away from health care and talk about some of the other issues that there is perhaps more broad Republican support on. And among them, tax reform. And that's something the president talked about yesterday. Take a listen.


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 Democrat support. Remember this, we had no Democrat support. So now we're going to go for tax reform, which I've always liked.


NOBLES: And tax reform, that appears to be something that Republicans all support. But the type of tax reform, well, just like health care, there is some differences of opinion, especially on the Senate side of the Congress. So we'll have to see how that all works out. But to a certain extent we're seeing a Donald Trump get the reality and learn the reality of what Washington is really like. It's much different than a private corporation.

And it was interesting because even though he's been very critical of both "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times," he took the time out to call two reporters from both of those outlets yesterday to spin his take and his role in this whole health care battle. And this is what he told Robert Costa, the great reporter from "The Washington Post," yesterday, at the end of the interview, and perhaps it gives us a glimpse into what this has been like for him, "Just another day, just another day in paradise, OK?"

So that's where the White House is today, Fredricka, ready to take on that next battle here in Washington.

WHITFIELD: OK. Meantime, President Trump's biggest rival, when he was candidate, you know, Trump, Hillary Clinton, she tweeted fairly recently, "Soon to come out of the woods." And then now with a new tweet following the defeat of that GOP health care, here is another sentiment from Hillary Clinton. What does this mean?

NOBLES: Yes. Yes, and as you see there, Fredricka, she put out a -- a pretty lengthy statement saying that today was a victory for all Americans and also saying that the fight is not over yet. And this was just one of a series of tweets from Mrs. Clinton where she also gave examples of Americans who have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act, basically encouraging her supporters not to give up the fight, that this is a battle that is worth engaging in, that they've won this stage of it but there is still more to come.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. All right. Let's talk about all of this now with CNN national

politics reporter MJ Lee, Julian Zelizer, he is a historian and professor at Princeton University. Also with me CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali.

[11:10:02] Who's on the phone with us? We don't see him but we're going to hear from him.

So, MJ, you first. Some mixed messages, right, because yesterday we heard from Donald Trump who is quick to place blame on the Democrats. But then in that tweet this morning, he's saying we actually will be taking a stab at it again and don't worry. So what's to make of the messaging from the president?

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, I thought the blaming of Democrats was pretty interesting since the reality is that the Republicans who were behind this bill including President Trump, they actually never really courted the Democrats. They knew that the task of repealing and replacing Obamacare was not one that Democrats were going to get behind. So we never really saw the White House or Republican leaders trying to get any Democrats on board.

Having said that, I think the reality right now is that it is going to be very difficult. And I think both the White House and Republican leaders are going to hesitate before attempting this again. You know, we saw for a couple of months this process play out where Republican leaders tried to get their own members on board, a plan that a lot of folks were already aware of, because this was a bill essentially that was out there before. And they simply couldn't get the two different factions to come together behind this bill.

And they spent a lot of political capital on this legislation. So I'm not sure that we're going to see them try to go at this again any time in the near future.

WHITFIELD: So, Julian, there may not be a concerted effort on repeal and replace anytime soon, but is it your feeling that Donald Trump or Republicans on the Hill will somehow try to undercut Obamacare in other ways?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Yes, I think in some ways they're going to go back to plan A, which means as soon as he was inaugurated, he issued an executive order basically instructing agencies not to do much to have this program work well. And so what we usually see from conservative presidents including Reagan and Bush is that when you can't dismantle a program, you try to weaken it, you try to undercut it.

And my guess is that's a little bit of what he's signaling with that tweet. It's not going to explode on its own necessarily, but I don't think this administration is going to help the program do well. So that's probably going to be where they focus their effort right now as they move on to other issues.

WHITFIELD: And maybe that new sentiment from him, "do not worry," is to make up for the fact that there was some criticism that perhaps he sounded like he was lacking compassion yesterday when he said just let it explode, kind of forgetting that there are people, you know, who are counting on health care plans.

So, Tim, we can't see you, but we can hear you, hopefully. I want to play some sound from CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.


DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think when you add up the totality of it, you said this was the worst week of his presidency, I actually think this may be the worst hundred days we've ever seen in a president.


WHITFIELD: So, Tim, do you agree with that? Worst 100 days, or now we're at 64, 65 days, but worst you've ever seen, Tim?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it's certainly in the running. Donald Trump made a huge strategic -- he took a huge strategic risk yesterday. He decided to put on display his ability to craft a governing coalition.

Don't forget that Speaker Boehner, everybody remembers Speaker Boehner, he went into retirement because he couldn't coral the Republican caucus.

Donald Trump made a promise, he went out there and he said, you need an outsider. Washington is paralyzed, what's needed is someone like me, and I can make it work in Washington. And yesterday -- the day before yesterday he threatened Republicans. He said, I'll -- you know, I'll remember you if you don't work with me.

WHITFIELD: You're going to pay for it.

NAFTALI: And I'm -- and what happened is he played chicken with the House Freedom Caucus and he blinked. That's going to hurt him down the line. It's going to hurt him with tax reform. And that's why I think David Gergen said that. Donald Trump has weakened himself and his presidency because of the number of bad rollouts and incompetent actions that his White House has taken.

So yes, of course I put that in the same league as some of the worst 100 days. Ronald Reagan had a tough start, too. But Ronald Reagan had a sense of the programmatic changes he wanted to make and he also had some Democratic support. Donald Trump hasn't even been able to persuade people that he understands the details of the great social changes he wants to make. And he's not -- until today he's not really reached out to Democrats to form a coalition.

So the real challenge for Donald Trump, let alone the Republican Party, is to figure out how you get enough votes to pass bills in Washington. That's I think why a lot of people are saying that he has started in the most incompetently way possible.

WHITFIELD: And you mentioned, you know, John Boehner, even from retirement, John Boehner said it's not going to happen, repeal and replace, and now here we are, a day after the vote was pulled.

[11:15:05] So, Julian, you know, Sean Spicer, Paul Ryan, they're saying that the president did everything in his power to support this bill. Take a listen.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has been working the phones and having in-person meetings since the American Health Care Act was introduced. He's left everything on the field when it comes to this bill.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: The president gave his all in this effort. He did everything he possibly could to help people see the opportunity that we had with this bill.


WHITFIELD: So, Julian, you also wrote on that the blame game, you know, really won't work this time. And then there's real criticism about how hard the president did work to try to gain support.

ZELIZER: Yes, I mean, I think this is a harder one for him to escape by blaming other people. His leadership style and his strategy was on display literally until the final hours. And he made many mistakes. He didn't really anticipate the level of opposition from the Freedom Caucus. At one point he said, I don't want to talk about little things, he didn't use that language, during a meeting with them, not realizing it's the little things that matter in legislation.

The night before this was going to come up for a vote, he did all kinds of maneuvers that actually expanded the number of opponents with moderate Republicans in this bill. And let's not forget, a lot of the time leading up to this debate was consumed by Russia, was consumed by tweets, was consumed by things that come out of his own actions which distracted him from selling this bill and from laying the groundwork for a victory. So all of that is on him. That's where the buck stops.

And I think this is a case where it will be hard for him simply to blame others and shift attention away for his failures. And a loss in Washington is always devastating. Because then your opponents smell blood. From the Freedom Caucus to the Democrats, they are now prepared to take him on on issue number two.

WHITFIELD: And it's interesting, because he looked very defeated yesterday, of course, you know, sitting behind the desk there. And he also admitted to learning lessons even about loyalty. But then you juxtapose that with his tweet this morning, "Obamacare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great health plan for the people, do not worry," I'm not sure if the lessons were learned. We'll find out.

All right, Julian Zelizer, Timothy Naftali, MJ Lee, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it. ZELIZER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: See you again.

NAFTALI: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And across the country, meantime, Americans are speaking out about the failed health care bill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know when the word compromise became a dirty word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so happy that they failed today and I hope they will continue failing. I believe we should improve Obamacare.


WHITFIELD: Up next, we'll take you to Columbia, South Carolina, where Senator Lindsey Graham is getting ready to face vocal voters at yet another town hall.


[11:22:01] WHITFIELD: Americans are reacting to the stunning collapse of the Republican health care bill. And many voters who support Obamacare are relieved that efforts to repeal and replace failed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This health care had nothing for women. And it didn't cover maternity. I don't know what these men were thinking. There was so much wrong with it. And if they want to change it, they need to take a year to go through it very, very carefully.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm happy that it didn't pass. Let's just -- it didn't pass, we'll leave it the way it is for now. If you can't agree behind the scenes, leave it alone. Let it just be what it is until you can do something better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy with the existing Obamacare as it stands. I think they need to focus on bigger issues and, you know, keep this plan going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a defeat for the Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel that it's a minor victory. But I feel that we need to continue to press and continue to stay organized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of like karma. You know. They're rushing everything, they're not really thinking it through.


WHITFIELD: Wow. So Obamacare and the GOP's failure to repeal and replace it will likely be a big topic of a town hall that's expected to get under way next hour.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is hosting the event and will take questions from residents in his home state.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is there. So, Polo, a few weeks ago when Graham held one of these town halls, it was quite the raucous meeting. What's the expectation today?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, you and I remember very clearly what took place in the first few minutes of Senator Lindsey Graham's last town hall in his home state. And as you remember, things got very tense, very quickly. And that is -- that could potentially happen today, especially after the senator's comments moments after yesterday's news broke where the senator -- where Lindsey Graham essentially said that they should allow the ACA to not only collapse but then of course replace that.

So many people who we've spoken to here in South Carolina don't feel like that is the option, that they should necessarily abandon the needs of so many people here in South Carolina.

The event here not expected to start for another hour and a half. So we hit the streets of downtown Columbia to see what people are talking about this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't like the bill that was proposed. So I was glad. On the other hand, you know, they need to do something to fix the existing system, which they didn't do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like the Obamacare at all. I think that it was -- it was pushed through. And, you know, now Trump is trying to push through something, but at least he's honoring the other votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are some things about it that might -- you know, could be better. But I think that's up to Congress to -- you know, to put aside, you know, the bipartisanship and everything, to kind of work on how to improve the plan instead of just trying to repeal and replace it.


SANDOVAL: At least three people there that you just heard from giving you a good idea of what people are talking about this morning in light of yesterday's decision to essentially table or at least shelve this attempt to repeal the ACA.

[11:25:09] Having the chance to speak to some of those folks who are already lined up to make their way inside the venue to hear from Senator Graham, I can tell you, Fred, that not only Republicans but Democrats here. You have not only the more moderate Republicans who perhaps may really identify more with the senator's ideals but you may get some resistance from some of the more conservative base and of course from some Democrats. But there is a consensus here that this current law needs fixing but not necessarily should be repealed. So we'll see what direction things may take a little later today.

WHITFIELD: All right, interesting indeed. All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much, we'll come back to you, especially when things get under way there.

SANDOVAL: You bet.

WHITFIELD: All right. With the health care bill dead in the water now, President Trump and his aides try -- ties, rather, to Russia are thrust back into the spotlight. Up next, why Congressman Adam Schiff is doubling down on his call for an independent commission to investigate the Kremlin's role in the 2016 election.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Congressman Adam Schiff is calling for an independent commission to investigate Russia's meddling of the U.S. election and Trump's possible ties to Russia. The ranking member expressed his concerns about the current investigation in his weekly address.


REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Congress should establish an independent commission that has the staff, resources, and single minded focus necessary to investigate this matter. Most important, as the events of this week demonstrate, an independent commission will be able to conduct its work insulated from any political interference.


WHITFIELD: This comes after a week of drama on Capitol Hill over the investigation. CNN's Jessica Schneider has details.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The House Intelligence Committee has become the center of a partisan fight. The top Democrat and Republican now pointing fingers at each other as they investigate Russian meddling into the election and President Trump's wiretap allegations.

Now the focus shifts to what new information Chairman Nunes has that he's not yet sharing and what three Trump associates will say when they go on the record.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone are already under FBI investigation for their contacts with Russians known to U.S. intelligence. Now they say they'll go before lawmakers. Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's campaign chairman, resigned amid questions about his previous lobbying for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. His spokesman said Manafort looks forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues to discuss the facts. Campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, denied allegations that he secretly met with Putin associates. He told the committee, "I will look forward to engaging with you in the interests of finally ending this ruse."

And the attorney for Roger Stone, a former adviser to Donald Trump, says Stone is anxious to talk. Stone told CNN, "I acknowledge I am a hardball player. I have sharp elbows. But one thing isn't in my bag of tricks -- treason."

Former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is also under FBI investigation but his spokesman had no comment on whether Flynn might make a similar offer.

Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes suddenly cancelled next week's open hearing with former director of National Intelligence, Retired General James Clapper, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and former CIA Director John Brennan. The ranking Democrat of the committee accusing the White House of meddling in the process.

SCHIFF: There must have been a strong pushback from the White House about the nature of Monday's hearing. It's hard for me to come to any other conclusion why an agreed-upon hearing would be suddenly canceled.

SCHNEIDER: Nunes wants the FBI director and National Security Director Mike Rogers to come back next week in a closed session. Nunes refuses to disclose what new information he has and where he got it but he says it revealed incidental collection of communications by President Trump and his associates.

REPRESENTATIVE DEVIN NUNES (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: You can ask me every single name that exists on the planet and I'm still not going to tell you who our sources are.

SCHNEIDER: Schiff, calling for an independent investigation, saying he's concerned that Nunes may have shared investigative information with the White House.

SCHIFF: To take evidence that may or may not be related to the investigation to the White House was wholly inappropriate, and of course, casts grave doubts into the ability to run a credible investigation.


SCHNEIDER: The House Intel Committee expecting information from the NSA over the next few days on the issue of unmasking. It's the process of revealing the names of Americans in reports when they're otherwise hidden. Chairman Nunes says they want to know why these names were unmasked and if any additional names were revealed. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

WHITFIELD: All right, let's discuss all of this now with my panel. Julian Zelizer is back with us and also Steve Hall, a CNN national security analyst and retired CIA chief of Russia operations. Good to see you both.

So Steve, let me begin with you. CNN's Manu Raju asked Congressman Schiff if Chairman Nunes should step aside. Listen.


SCHIFF: To take evidence that may or may not be related to the investigation to the White House was wholly inappropriate and of course, casts grave doubts into the ability to run a credible investigation and the integrity of that investigation.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Do you believe that he can still run this committee or should he step aside?

SCHIFF: Ultimately that's a decision that the speaker needs to make and I think the speaker has to decide just as well as our own chairman whether they want a credible investigation being done here, whether they want an investigation that the public can have confidence in.


[11:35:08]WHITFIELD: So Steve, do you believe Nunes compromised this investigation by going to the White House and talking to them first?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it certainly to me seems like he may have neither done that. Of course, much depends on what he said and the information that he had and we don't know a whole lot about that. I think Ranking Member Schiff is right, it's extremely concerning, and probably gets very close to compromising.

But I would go one more than that and I think Ranking Member Schiff has also said this, you know, it doesn't really matter whether it's Nunes or somebody else. I think the politics and the partisanship is so baked into the oversight committees with this particular topic.

I mean, after all, we're talking about the presidency of the United States. I don't really see how it's possible that the House Oversight Committee could really meaningfully get to the bottom of this. We do need some sort of independent mechanism to do that.

WHITFIELD: All right, so Julian, Nunes cancelled that public hearing scheduled for next Tuesday, no longer an open hearing, including James Clapper, Sally Yates, and John Brennan. They were all expected to testify and people would be able to make up their minds for themselves. Is this an all about of protecting the process, or is it an issue of protecting certain individuals who are being investigated?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, I think at this point, closed hearings, and to have these kinds of conversations with the president undercuts the perception that this is anything but a partisan process. That doesn't help the Republicans and it doesn't help President Trump because it just raises questions about whether things are being hidden. There doesn't seem to be any good reason to cancel the hearings. This is exactly what Congress is supposed to do and I think we are at a point where the public wants to hear from principal players and understand kind of what happened and what's going on.

And if the key people being investigated say there is nothing to hide, I think it's to their benefit to say that. And so I think at this point the original concerns about the committee being simply a partisan tool are starting to come to fruition. And I think Speaker Ryan really needs to step in and make sure that doesn't happen.

WHITFIELD: And back to Chairman Nunes who says he felt obligated to brief the president on the Russia investigation, take a listen to what he said.


NUNES: I felt like I had a duty and an obligation to tell him, because, as you know, he's been taking a lot of heat in the news media, and I think to some degree there are some things that he should look at to see whether in fact he thinks the collection was proper or not.


WHITFIELD: That sounds like Nunes is still on Trump's transition team instead of being chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. So where is his allegiance to this bipartisan committee and investigation?

HALL: I mean, that statement I think is just outrageous. I mean, it's difficult to imagine. What pieces of information would Nunes have said I need to take to the president whose team is the very subject of this investigation?

Now, there's a lot of chaff going on, Fred, about masking, was this illegal collection and all that sort of thing. But, you know, I think it's nothing more than just chaff at this point. Hard to imagine what Nunes was thinking when he said, yes, I think I'm going to take this to the president.

WHITFIELD: All right, Steve Hall, Julian Zelizer, thanks so much, Gentlemen. Appreciate it.

All right, still ahead, authorities in Ukraine are investigating a shocking murder committed in broad daylight. The victim, a well-known critic of Putin, details on that coming up.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Starting today, passengers from ten different airports located mostly in the Middle East will not be allowed to bring laptops and tablets as carry-on items on flights headed to the U.S. Those items must be checked. The electronics ban is one of the strictest security measures since 9/11 and it's because of fears that terror groups are trying to hide explosives in devices such as laptops.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey. So Jomana, Turkish Airlines is one of the biggest airlines affected, how are they handling this new ban?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Fred, we were at the airport earlier today. We spoke to passengers there. It did look like this ban is being enforced and things were going smoothly. You know, speaking to travelers, some were a bit frustrated.

They see this as more of an inconvenience and then, you know, you had others who didn't seem too bothered with this as long as it have to do with safety and making them more secure. Take a listen to what one passenger told us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems it's a lot of hassle. We had to check extra stuff in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think I feel more secure, but I think if we have to take safety precautions, we need to do what we need to do.


KARADSHEH: Well, and then as you mentioned, Fred, you've got airlines, like Turkish Airlines that is impacted by this. They're really concerned about what impact this is going to have on business. They're worried that they're going to lose passengers because of this.

So they're trying to come up with these innovative ways to make it less stressful for their passengers and more convenient. One of the things that Turkish Airlines is doing, they say that they're going to introduce next month, early next month, uninterrupted internet service on their flights to the United States and the U.K.

They are impacted by this electronics ban and one other thing they're doing is they are introducing this service where passengers have the option, rather than checking in these devices, that they would carry them up until the boarding gate.

[11:45:03]And right before getting on the flight, after having gone through all the security measures they have to go through, they would hand it over to an airline representative, who will put it in bubble wrap and put it in a shatter-proof case and hand it back to these travelers once they land.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, that certainly indicates added resources for the airlines and airports as well. All right, Jomana, thank you so much from Istanbul.

All right, still ahead, Senator Lindsey Graham getting ready to take the stage at a town hall to answer your questions over the GOP's failed health care bill. We'll take you live to Columbia, South Carolina when it begins. Stay with us.



WHITFIELD: All right. Are you in the madness? Guess what, Florida is heading to the College Basketball Elite 8 after an overtime thriller. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." There a lot of folks have bags under their eyes because folks had to stay up last night and watch.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, we finally got some good games. It's called March Madness, but we hadn't really seen much madness. There are 59 games in NCAA tournament with no overtimes, no buzzer beaters until last night.

Florida-Wisconsin playing an epic game. This was by far the best game in this tournament so far. Walter hits this three to tie the game and then he gives Packer's quarterback, Aron Rogers discount double-check celebration.

And Rogers was in the stands of Madison Square Garden cheering on Wisconsin. Game goes overtime. Then there is 4 seconds left, Florida down two, Guard Chris Tiuza (ph) goes length of the floor into the buzzer. They're going to take on their SEC rivals, South Carolina.

As the voice of college basketball, Dick Vitale, he's known for his signature catch phrases and enthusiasm and our own Coy Wire, he caught up with the hall of famer to find out where all that positivity comes from.


DICK VITALE: Hi, everybody. I'm Dick Vitale, I'll tell you this, you're going to be awesome baby and we're all defensive makers.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You have an illustrious career as coach, a commentator, selected in the Nine Halls of Fame. Why do you think you've been so successful?

VITALE: My mom and dad were uneducated, fifth grade education. But they taught me two things in this world that I take it with me every day of my life, number one, never ever believe in can't, don't allow can't to be part of your life. I lost my eye as a youngster and I thought it was the end of the world, and my mother kept saying, you can do anything anybody else does. And something I say at the dinner table, be good to people, people be good to you.

WIRE: I want to talk about passion because you're the epitome of it. You bring so much excitement every day at work, but sometimes we have off days. What advice do you have out there for some who may want to give themselves a kick starter, a jump starter, if you will, when they are feeling a bit down?

VITALE: You know, Coy, we all feel down. We all have things we go through tough times. You pick up the pieces. You find out a lot about people, Coy, not when they're getting the championship trophy, not when people are telling they're the best of the best. You find out a lot about people when they have to deal with tough times and adversary, and that's where the champ really stands.

Nobody gets it done without a team. You have to have people that share in your success and share in your growth. I can run. I can jump. I can shoot. I'm here because all of my life has been about having a passion of what I do and having a sense of pride at what I do.


SCHOLES: You've got to love Dick Vitale. Passion is something he definitely has. You never see him without it. Fredricka, it's these times when we look at the old CNN anchor bracket standing.

WHITFIELD: Please don't do this to me.

SCHOLES: This is not pretty. You are not --

WHITFIELD: I think I've had one good year.

SCHOLES: You had Maryland winning it all.

WHITFIELD: Last year. I'm going to for a little hometown familiarity.

SCHOLES: I f it would have happened, besides all the kids that go to Maryland you would have probably been the only person winning and picking them.


SCHOLES: They're not doing too hot. Me neither I had Arizona winning it. I was hoping that they would have the home-court advantage when they got to the final four, but it did not happen. They're out. We are down to the elite eight. We have two games tonight, Oregon, Kansas and Xavier.

Xavier, we didn't have the true Cinderella or the small school from the small town winning games. Xavier, an 11th seed, still alive. We've got the assistant coach his dad. You want to root for the underdog, root for Xavier.

WHITFIELD: I do like to go for the underdog.

SCHOLES: As most do.

WHITFIELD: Although my underdog is barking bye-bye. OK, Andy, thanks so much. Appreciate it. All right, we have so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. Stick around.



WHITFIELD: All right. Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka whitfield.

All right, do not worry, Obamacare will explode? That is the message from President Trump today, tweeting, quote, "Obamacare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great health care plan for the people. Do not worry."

This less than 24 hours after the president orders Paul Ryan to yank the Republican health care bill from the House floor, immediately following Trump mostly blamed the Democrats.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Obamacare is exploding. With no Democrats support, we couldn't quite get there. We're just a very small number of votes short in terms of getting our bill passed. A lot of people don't realize how good our bill was because they were viewing phase one.

But when you add phase two, which is mostly the signings of Secretary Price who is behind it, and you add phase three, which I think we would have gotten, it became a great bill. Premiums would have gone down, and it would have been very stable. It would have been very strong, but that's OK.

But we're very, very close and again, I think what will happen is Obamacare, unfortunately, will explode. It's going to have a very bad year. I think the losers --

Tim Naftali, Polo Sandoval