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Graham Addresses Budget, Health Care, Trump/Russia Investigations; U.S.-Led Coalition to Investigate Reports of Civilian Deaths; WH Points Finger After Obamacare "Repeal & Replace" Failure; Schumer, Democrats to Oppose Gorsuch Supreme Court Nomination; Toronto Schools Ban Student Trips to U.S.. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 25, 2017 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Let me tell you about this. Medicare is $705 billion this year. We're spending more on Medicare than the Defense Department by a good bit. Let me tell you, the highest amount you pay in Medicare premium is $486. The average person pays $109 a month in Medicare premium. 16 percent of the money we pay we spend on Medicare comes from the patients. The rest of it comes from the federal government. That's why Medicare and Social Security are going to bankrupt the country.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to Senator Graham there in a town hall in Columbia, South Carolina, as a member of the Budget Committee. Also talking about how, as it stands, the president will not be getting the support on the proposed outline of President Trump's budget. He's been talking about a lot of things.

One day after the failure of the Republican health care bill, GOP leaders are hearing firsthand from the voters. Right now, you see Republican Senator Lindsey Graham holding the town hall in his home state, South Carolina. Graham wasted no time addressing the health care failure, and the FBI investigation of Russian meddling into the U.S. election and its potential ties to the Trump campaign.


GRAHAM: Here is what I think about health care. Obamacare is a disaster and it's going to explode.



GRAHAM: We are down --


GRAHAM: We've learned that the FBI's investigating Trump campaign operatives for potential ties to Russia. Here is my belief -



GRAHAM: It goes wherever it goes. No politician should stand in the way. We should let the FBI do their job and what happens, happens.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Polo Sandoval is in South Carolina covering this for us.

Polo, another town hall for Graham and another crowd of fireworks, holding up the red and green placards. Red indicating "I don't agree," green, "I'm with you."

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Fred, what's interesting when he's tackled some of the topics, you see a lot of the red cards, especially when it came to, for example, the next potential -- what he spoke to yesterday's development yesterday in Washington and lawmakers choosing not to vote on the legislation that would repeal and replace Obamacare. But when we saw the green cards, when he was talking about what comes next, the next possible solution. We heard from the South Carolina Senator how he would like to essentially reach across the aisle to some of his Democratic colleagues to try to find a solution. Take a listen.


GRAHAM: I don't think one party is going to be able to fix this by themselves.


GRAHAM: So here is what I think should happen next. I think the president should reach out to Democrats, I should reach out to Democrats, and we should say --


GRAHAM: -- let's take a shot at doing this together because it ain't working at doing by ourselves.


SANDOVAL: Obviously, there are people who are not worried about having their voice heard inside the venue here. We're going to keep tracking this. Of course, there are several other issues he's tacking, for example, immigration, and what could be the next issue in Washington, tax reform. People talking about that here in South Carolina as well -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much.

Senator Graham also talking about the investigation into the Russian involvement in the 2016 election and President Trump's wiretapping claim. Take a listen.


GRAHAM: I have legislation that I think would get 80 votes, if we can ever have a vote, that would punish the Russians for interfering in our elections with sanctions beyond what we have for their interference in Crimea. I want to vote on that just as soon as we can.


GRAHAM: Let me tell you why.


GRAHAM: The Russians are trying to interfere in the French election at the end of April. So I want to vote at least in committee in the Senate before the French elections to let the Europeans and the Russians know that we care about what the Russians did in our own backyard.


GRAHAM: The Germans have their election in September and I hope we can pass the bill and put it on the President Trump's desk by September to punish the Russians so they won't do it again.

As to the investigation, we've learned two things. We've learned that the FBI is investigating Trump campaign operatives for potential ties to Russia. Here is my belief --



GRAHAM: -- it goes whenever it goes. No politician should stand in the way. We should let the FBI do their job and what happens, happens.


WHITFIELD: Let's discuss all of this with our panel, CNN political commentators, Mike Shields and Ryan Lizza; CNN contributor, Salena Zito, a reporter for the "Washington Examiner," also Bob Baer, he's a CNN intelligence and security analyst and a former CIA analyst.

Good to see all of you.

Senator Graham says no politician should stand in the way of the Russia investigation.

Ryan, Congressman Schiff is calling for an independent investigation. He believes that Nunes compromised the committee by informing the president that there may have been evidence of communication between Trump associates and the Russians. What do you make of this and particularly on the heels of Senator Graham's comments.

[13:05:33] RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Graham has been one of those, along with John McCain in the Senate, that has also been interested in an independent commission. I think Nunes after frankly a pretty good start between him and Schiff and a hearing on Monday that despite some of the normal partisanship actually answered a lot of questions and was off to a good start. But the actions since last Monday I think have -- have damaged and raised a lot of questions about whether that is the proper forum to really get to the bottom of what happened.

Now, the truth is the FBI is the main institution with the most resources that is investigating, you know, the most interesting allegations here. So whatever committee or commission investigates this, the FBI is going to do its work. But I think Nunes going to the White House -- look, I know. I report a lot on this, and I know Nunes talks to Trump. I think that has damaged --


WHITFIELD: He was formerly on the transition team.

LIZZA: Yeah, he was an adviser. Nothing necessarily wrong with that necessarily, but it means he needs to be really clear about running a fair and independent process. And I don't think this week showed that he did that with going to the White House, holding a press conference, sharing the information with the president before people on the committee. So that committee has some problems right now.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, so Senator Graham sounds like he lacked the confidence in the House Intel Committee as a result.

LIZZA: Yeah.

WHITFIELD: In fact, his words were, you know, the House Intel Committee is about to fall apart.

So this is what is at issue here. This is Congressman Nunes on Friday talking about the process of the investigation. This is partly what is at issue here.


REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This is not a -- not an easy process. Because the -- you know, there is politics on both sides of this, and I'm trying to navigate as best as I can.


WHITFIELD: So, Bob, is this investigation compromised largely because of what Nunes did, despite his apology and explanation?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY ANALYST: I think it was compromised right from the beginning. This shouldn't be a partisan investigation. This was a counter-espionage attack on the United States into out -- the DNC e-mail. As McCain said, it's a cyberattack, as he described it. We need an independent investigation, if not special prosecutor, simply because a crime was committed. There may have been Americans involved in collusion with the Russians. That is certainly not clear at this point. And I think we need somebody that's completely trusted by both sides to look into this and somebody who is discreet because so much of this information is top secret, intercepts, metadata and the rest of it. And once you throw the stuff into the committees, it's impossible to manage. I've never seen it work.


WHITFIELD: And, yeah, highly anticipated would have been the hearing, public hearing, next week now. Now, you know, Nunes has said it will be a private hearing. And Congressman Schiff is blasting Nunes for delaying this with these former top intelligence officials, saying this in a tweet, "Chairman just canceled open Intelligence Committee hearing with Clapper, Brennan and Yates in an attempt to choke off public information."

Now we're talking about, Selina, the hearing taking place but behind closed doors.

SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. I think the American public at this moment, especially when you're dealing with the Russians, they want to see something this transparent and open. Despite all of the lack of trust and expertise and institutions at this moment, the FBI is still hold -- is still held in high regard by the American people. And I think that is the investigation that people will most be paying attention to, to see what the outcome is.

[13:09:59] WHITFIELD: Mike, what does it mean in your view, when you have former Trump camp folks, from Paul Manafort to Roger Stone, Carter Page, voluntarily saying I will come. Likely they would have been subpoenaed. But does it send a different message? Does it shape the testimony that they volunteer?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, because what they're saying and what the Trump people have said all along this whole thing is trumped up and not true.

Look, a lot of this is about partisan politics. And you had a Senator who said he had transcripts of evidence and said, later on, actually I didn't mean that, I have no evidence. You have the former CIA director under Obama saying there is a lot of smoke but there's absolutely no fire, not even a camp fire, and a lot of people are looking for it. As you saw Senator Graham, who has been bullish that there should be an investigation, saying there's exactly no evidence yet. He's right, there is an FBI investigation, and that should carry on. The rest of what you see is politics. When you have an Intel chairman saying we should have a closed-door briefing, it's not as though the Democrats won't be in there. It's going to be bipartisan. But it's intel, and he wants it to be closed door but, of course, that's become a political football for the Democrats to use this and try to attack the president and the Republican.

I think we have to keep in mind how much politics are in this story when there is literally, to this date, no evidence of any of this. If you hear the person who showed up at a Lindsey Graham's town hall with what sounded like a scripted question, "There is ample evidence that there was wrongdoing and how do you feel about that," that's sort of the Democrats are trying to take this. WHITFIELD: Mike, doesn't it send a message when it's public, you hear

James Comey, and then suddenly the same committee is going to handle testimony and value testimony coming from the Intel community and then it becomes closed. It doesn't send a different signal?

SHIELDS: I think you have to ask the Intel Committee why they keep meetings open and closed. It's intelligence. It's something they have to make decisions on about what is going to be -- I mean, one of the issues that has come up is we had people apparently unmasked for partisan political purposes that have been investigated, not because they were tied to anything, but because there were partisan reasons for it. Maybe one of the things Chairman Nunes is doing is saying let's try to stop the circus act here and try and have an actual hearing. Democrats will be in there. So it there's something they think things need to be shared with the word, they can walk out and they can share it.


WHITFIELD: Quickly, Salena.

LIZZA: Fred, can I just make one point?

WHITFIELD: Go ahead.

LIZZA: I disagree with Mike a little bit. Here is my reading of what happened here. I think Nunes and Schiff started a broad investigation, what they called a scope. And I think other players thought Nunes made a big mistake here by having this investigation cast such a wide net. And I think on Monday, when Comey and Rogers testified, a lot of Republicans and the White House thought, wait a second, this investigation is getting a little out of hand, it's getting a little too close to the White House, and you started seeing a ratcheting back from Nunes, and trying to close things down a bit. That's how I interpreted the events of the week.

WHITFIELD: OK, thank you, guys. We'll have you back. Bob Baer, Ryan Lizza, Salena Zito, Mike Shields, I appreciate it.

Just moments ago, Senator Lindsey Graham also addressed the failure of the GOP health care bill and the future of it. We'll talk about that next.


[13:17:47] WHITFIELD: We're monitoring live picture of Senator Graham there hosting a fiery town hall in Columbia, South Carolina, where he was inevitably asked about the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.


GRAHAM: Bottom line is with Obamacare is that middle class families have deductibles and premiums that have skyrocketed because somebody else is getting it for free. That ain't health care reform. That's just restriction of income. (BOOING)

GRAHAM: And I'm not going to sit on the sidelines and watch working people get clobbered in the name of helping the poor.


WHITFIELD: Meanwhile, the president is issuing a new message today after yesterday's stunning health care bill failure on Capitol Hill, tweeting, "Do not worry." The president 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, despite analysts at the CBO saying that enrollment in Obamacare are steady and prices are stabilizing.

Let's bring back my panel, Ryan Lizza, Salena Zito. Also with me, CNN media analyst, Bill Carter.

Ryan, you first.

Your reaction to Senator Graham. Are these town halls and these listening posts, are these effective, particularly as the Republicans try to get back on track with an agenda?

LIZZA: I have to say I was listening to Graham's town hall before we came back on now, and he really is one of the most interesting politicians in Washington. He's a South Carolina Senator. South Carolina is one of the most conservative states in the country. He's way to the left in terms of the South Carolina Republican Party. And he gets up in front of the crowds and depends the EPA, which is not popular among almost any conservative audience these days. So you have to give him some credit.

He also made the point he wants to try and do a bipartisan health care bill to save what both sides really agree are some problems with Obamacare, although I'm not sure he's where most Democrats are on that issue.

And then on Trump's tweet, I have to say, Fred, I really think it's irresponsible for the president of the United States, who swears an oath to faithfully execute the laws, to talk about a massive federal law collapsing and allowing it to collapse. That's not what you're supposed to do as president. He's going to have to make some very important decisions through his HHS secretary on Obamacare. And just letting it collapse and hurting people does not sound to me like a responsible policy, just because you couldn't get legislation through Congress to fix it the way you wanted.

[13:20:42] WHITFIELD: Yeah.

So, Salena, does it send a conflicting message, yes, there is disagreement from the president and Paul Ryan, but to almost sound like he's sounding prophetic, it's inevitable, it's going to fail, too bad for you, it doesn't make it sound like he has too much compassion for those relying on health care. ZITO: Yeah, Obamacare for Republicans and Democrats has been a thorn

in the side for a lot of politicians, right? I think that Graham has it right, having talked to people who voted for Trump and didn't vote for Trump, in the past 24 hours. That idea to reach across the aisle and put something together that benefits everyone in a much better way than Obamacare does is a smart move, and that's what voters want. Trump is not a very ideological politician and so a lot of people voted for him wouldn't have necessarily voted for a Republican. A lot of people voted on that merit of getting things down. What Senator Graham is talking about in that town hall is what a lot of voters told me after the bill went down.

WHITFIELD: And on the issue of listening, then, Bill, there was a Quinnipiac poll that show there was 56 disapproval for this plan, yet the House was still scheduled to have this vote until the last minute. It didn't. How big of a misjudgment was that? I mean, does this underscore there is not enough listening to or reaching out to and responding to what is being said?

BILL CARTER, CNN DIGIAL MEDIA ANALYST: I don't think that was even mentioned by anybody supporting the bill that there wasn't any popular support for it. There really is sort of an ideological element that has driven the Obamacare repeal and replace movement, which does really track very well with reality. People who have it, a lot of people like it, some don't. But they don't want to be without it. You can see that reflected in these polls. They were being ignored. And the president said, I'm the only one who can fix this. He should have been paying attention to the fact that it touches so many lives.

I think it will be an interesting opportunity for him, if he does say maybe we shouldn't let it explode, as Ryan was saying, because that's dangerous and silly in a way because it's not going to help if people are losing their health care. He could say to the Democrats, hey, maybe we get together and fix things and we both look good.

LIZZA: Look, and --

WHITFIELD: Go ahead, Ryan.

LIZZA: -- I think he's got the politics completely wrong. All of the messaging since the defeat yesterday in the House is, this is Obama and the Democrats, they own this legislation. That works maybe in your first year of office, but eventually people start to say that, no, you're the president, Republicans control the Congress, you're in charge, you have to fix this issue.

WHITFIELD: Except, Salena, was the message sent that this president likes to delegate, and perhaps did not take the leadership role all of this. A, it protects him to say someone else did it. But, B, it comes with you're the president, you're the leader, aren't you supposed to be one to demonstrate what you -- what the conclusion is, what you want to get done?

ZITO: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, people voted for him because they wanted him to take the lead. And he should have had a stronger voice, should have owned it the entire way through, and shouldn't have outsourced it to the House. This is something that he campaigned on. This is something that was very important to his voters. If he's going to take this on again, he's better served by taking it basically under his arm and driving through the -- through the field. It -- this is something that they expect him to own and win.

Look, campaigning is rough. Campaigning is nothing on governing. That is really tough. And this is where he needs to show that he's more than a businessman, that he can govern with skills that he has.

WHITFIELD: Do you feel like, Bill at this point - I mean, he talked about lessons learned. He didn't talk about governing. Is that one of the lessons learned that it's another thing to campaign and another thing to govern?

[13:25:19] CARTER: I don't know. This is a guy who goes on instinct, which he said publicly, that he goes on instinct all the time.

It's one thing to say you're a leader, but if you say, this is on me, and I alone can do it, and then you back off and say, well, I don't even know the details of this. He didn't know the details of this extensively. At some point, you have to step up and say, I need to take charge and I'm the president and I'm the president of everybody, not just the people who voted for me.

WHITFIELD: All right, Bill, Ryan, Salena, thank you, all.

LIZZA: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: See you soon.

Still ahead, Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, planning a nuclear showdown over the president's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court. Is this a war Schumer cannot win?


[13:30:42] WHITFIELD: The U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition confirms it is investigating allegations that hundreds of civilians have been killed in recent air strikes.

CNN's Barbara Starr has details.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: One of the most widespread allegation that's U.S. aircraft strikes in Mosul, Iraq, may have caused up to 200 or more civilian deaths.

What the U.S. military is saying is they are aware of these allegations from social media, from activist groups, from Iraqis, and they are looking into it.

This was an area in west Mosul, heavily populated. There were a number of air strikes over recent days. There had been social media reports and videos emerging of civilians killed in the area. The U.S. military says it was bombing in the area but it trying to get fidelity, did it bomb these buildings, were civilian casualties caused. They're looking at a recent strike near a mosque near Idlib, Syria. Civilians said to be killed there. They are looking into yet another case of a school building bombed north of Raqqa, Syria. More than 30 civilians were seeking shelter in that building. It is said they are looking into those allegations as well.

No final answer on any of these, but a number of investigations now underway. And the U.S. military insists, if it is said to be found responsible, it will take that responsibility.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


WHITFIELD: All right, straight ahead, no deal for Obamacare's replacement. The president says let it explode. What people are saying.


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel 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, not thinking it through.



[13:37:23] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Two months two his presidency and Donald Trump is dealing with his biggest setback to date, the failure of the president and his fellow White House Republicans to pass the GOP health care plan. On Friday, the president blamed Democrats for the defeat and went as far as to claim he never promised to repeal and replace Obamacare in his first few months of the job.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I never said -- what, I'm here 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare -- you've all heard my speeches. I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days. I have a long time.


WHITFIELD: Actually, the president is on record multiple times saying he would ask Congress to send him a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare immediately after taking the oath of office.

With me now is CNN congressional reporter, Lauren Fox.

Lauren, good to see you.

How is this failure likely to play out on Capitol Hill and with Trump supporter?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yesterday, emerging from the meeting, Republican members of Congress were disappointed with the fact that they were not able to deliver the votes to President Trump on this bill.

One thing we have to remember, this is the vote that was going to catapult them and had catapulted them to win the House, Senate, and the White House. And members back home are going to be able to be deeply disappointed to hear the Republican Party was not deliver to them.

We have to hear some bites from members -- folks back home who are who are very disappointed with the president.


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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm happy that it didn't pass. Let's just -- if it didn't pass, 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: Obamacare, as it stands, I think they need to focus on bigger issues and keep -- keep this plan going.


FOX: As you can hear, constituents back home are very divide over what should happen to the Affordable Care Act.

And I think what we can expect moving forward is that members of Congress are going to move to Trump's next agenda items, tax reform, infrastructure. We shouldn't be expecting that health care will be front and center any more. Some Republicans are warning that if something is going to be done on Obamacare at this point -- Senator Graham said earlier at a town hall, they'll need Democratic support to get it across the finish line. I think everyone realizes Republicans are deeply divided on this. And exactly what to do moving forward is going to fall to bipartisan support.

Thank you.

[13:40:20] WHITFIELD: All right. Lauren FOX, thanks so much.

The president himself saying yesterday that next on the agenda, he will likely tackle tax reform.

For more of our reporting go to on all of this.

Still ahead, Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, says he is confident Democrats can block a vote on Neil Gorsuch, the president's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. What are the Democrats planning? We'll discuss next.


[13:45:26] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome. In the chaos of the collapse of the health care bill on Capitol Hill, is the declaration of war against U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. The Democrats, led by Senator Charles Schumer, say they will filibuster the nomination which means Republicans, needing only 60 votes to confirm his nomination, well, there are just 52 Republicans.

Here is Schumer's explanation.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: You can bet, if the shoe were on the other foot and a Democratic president was under investigation by the FBI, the Republicans would be howling at the moon about filling a Supreme Court seat in such circumstances. After all, they stopped the president who wasn't under investigation from filling a seat with nearly a year left in his presidency.


WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in our legal guys to talk it, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, there front and center; and Richard Herman, you don't see him, but he's with us criminal defense attorney and law professor, joining us on the phone.

Avery, you first.

Does a filibuster from the Democrats come with high risks?

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: There is some risk on it. You heard 20-hours-worth of Neil Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary and it was kind of like watching Jimmy Stewart without a heart. And the bottom line is, yeah, they've got 52 votes, they need eight Democrats. And the fact is they can't make the 60. But what may be cooking now is there may be a dirty deal. And that is if Gorsuch replaces Scalia, you've got a conservative for a conservative, the deal may be to flip a couple of Democrats, let them be confirmed and let them be blocked, as part of the deal, the next nomination who will be more liberal than this candidate.

WHITFIELD: So picking the battle.


WHITFIELD: So, Richard, if there is a filibuster, Republicans will change the rule, instead of the 60 needed, they will need 51. What message will that be sent on behalf of the high court if that's done? RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR (voice-

over): It's the same message that the Democrats did when they issued this nuclear judgment before. Gorsuch is in. There is nothing the Democrats can do. They're not in power. There is nothing they can do.

He makes a very good point. The president of the United States and his administration are under federal investigation for possible treason. That's a pretty powerful statement to make. And now you're going to enact -- you're going to appoint a Supreme Court justice who will be on the bench for 50 years? I mean, really?

But is a filibuster the way to stop that? I don't think so. And Schumer cannot win a filibuster. He will lose the filibuster. Mitch McConnell, from Kentucky -- by the way, Kentucky won last night. He is this close because of what happened with the health care bill. He'll do the nuclear option this fast. This week he'll do it. So that will be a simple majority. And if there is another appointment by Trump during the tenure, whether it's a year left or he goes the balance of the four years, if he gets another appointment, that, too, will be on simple majority and easily passed.


HERMAN: And the Democrats will have nothing to do. It's a dangerous slippery slope right now. And in the end, Fred, there is nothing the Democrats can do by a filibuster to prevent Gorsuch. He's going to be the next Supreme Court justice.

WHITFIELD: Avery, hearing -- confirmation hearings continuing next week. What, if anything, could Neil Gorsuch do to lose support even among the GOP?

FRIEDMAN: I don't think he can win it. There is no way the Republicans will get to 60. The only way it happens, it would be an absolute deal with the devil, and that would be Chuck Schumer making it. And that is, I'll give you a couple of Democrats but you make sure that for the next nomination, if it's Ginsberg retires or Kennedy retires or Breyer who retires, we get our candidate in. I don't think there will be a nuclear option. I think it's going to be a worked-out deal, dirty, clever, but I think Gorsuch gets in.

[13:49:46] WHITFIELD: Richard, are there potential surprises that comes with Neil Gorsuch? While conservatives feel he is a great replacement for Justice Scalia? There were some surprises that pertain to John Roberts, that maybe you don't always know exactly what you're getting.

HERMAN: John Roberts, and Rehnquist and sever justice who you would think would go along a certain party line and, yet, show their independence on the bench. But Gorsuch, he is a strict Scalia student and he may be more conservative than Scalia.


HERMAN: So Republicans will get what they want, the balance of the Supreme Court, the way it was with Scalia at a minimum. And there's nothing that I don't think Gorsuch can do in the next week that he will prevent it and there's nothing the Democrats can do. They really haven't laid hands on him in the questioning that he's been confronted with. He's stalwart in his responses. He's a brilliant guy. And there's really not much that you can do to block his nomination and certainly a filibuster, again, Fred --

FRIEDMAN: Sure, you can.

HERMAN: -- it's going to be an absolutely horrible future for the Democrats the if Mr. McConnell pulls this nuclear option.

And I disagree with Avery. I think he will pull it because the Republicans have had enough and they have egg on their face on this health care bill that was the mainstay and foundation of winning the presidency and all of the congressional seats that they won --


HERMAN: -- and they got completely humiliated. So I think they need something.

WHITFIELD: Quickly, Avery, why do you disagree on so much of that?

FRIEDMAN: Because there has to be a deal. How can Mitch McConnell get -- he's not going to change the rules? It's as dangerous for Republicans as it is for Democrats. So he's got to work a deal with Schumer, and Schumer is going to say there is no deal. But the best way of getting someone to replace someone like Ginsberg is have a compromise now, a deal with the devil.

WHITFIELD: Richard Herman and Avery Friedman, always telling it as you see it. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

HERMAN: Thank you. Take care.

FRIEDMAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Straight ahead, Canada's largest school system telling students, sorry, no field trips to the U.S. Why Toronto is worried about their students and staff crossing the border.

But, first, we have this week's "Away" series. "CNN Money" shows us how to wind down from the hustle and bustle of visiting the Big Apple.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City is packed with people. Almost 8.5 million residents live here and a record 60 million visited last year. It's also one of the top spots for business travelers in the U.S.

So need a little reprieve from all the hustle and bustle? How about hanging out with some of New York's quietest residents.

Meow Parlor is a cat cafe in downtown NYC, and five times a month, it turns into a yoga studio for kitty yoga.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a good way to have a break from the chaos after traveling, after flying. Yoga is a great way to loosen up a little bit, relieve some of those sore travel muscles, but at the same time, it's definitely a unique, like, attraction.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: The class starts with a warm- up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of let your body be nice and soft, nice and relaxed.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: And as you get more daring with your moves, so do the cats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes, they like to sit and watch us. Sometimes, they're running through the mats and climbing on people. You never know what's going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: These cats aren't just here to play. They're rescues and up for adoption.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's really why we're here. These cats are all up for adoption. Some of them are special needs and some have been through a lot, so it's nice to find that connection.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love traveling. It's a little bit like research.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As an art director, I get to create the scene.

Love that.

We chose this as the location because we wanted to contrast rough desert with these metallic flairs of light and textures in the clothing.

Oh, my god, that looks amazing.

They have very cool architecture that we're not able to get in a lot of other places.

When the camera starts going, everybody gets into this work mode and there are very specific jobs for every person on set.

Those earrings are great.


(LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The photographer, stylist, make-up artist, even the model has a vision of how she wants to present herself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started my career in New York City, and moved to San Francisco about three years ago. It's a great opportunity to sort of be bi-cultural.

I travel about once a month for work, and when I travel, the locations we choose are not always easy to get to.

When I arrived, I was already thinking about I really wanted to make this shoot typical and fun for everyone involved.

I don't know, maybe.


[13:50:11] When I saw the red car, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to bring a little more to the shoot.

The upgrade was clearly marked so it was effortless.

Everything about my job is extremely visual. Showing up in an awesome car is going to affect everybody on set.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As an art director, my team is extremely special to me. You need people who jive with you creatively. And it can be really hard to find that. So once you do latch on --


-- not only do we create an amazing product together, but we also enjoy each other's company and get inspired by one another.



[13:56:14] WHITFIELD: Information just in on the London terror attack. A British counterterrorism official tells CNN that he does not see a direct ISIS hand in this week's deadly attack. Khalid Masood was active on the encryption messaging service WhatsApp? just minutes before the attack but the official says there's no evidence he was communicating with ISIS at any point. Masood drove an SUV onto a London sidewalk Wednesday killing four people and injuring dozens more just outside of parliament, killing one American as well.

Also, at this hour, Scott Depo (ph), of West Virginia, is getting ready to hear from Vice President Mike Pence. He's meeting with small business owners. He may address Obamacare and the Republicans' failed replacement plan. We'll bring that to you live as it happens. More fallout now over President Trump's revised travel ban, which two federal judges have blocked temporarily. The ban seeks to temporarily restrict travel from six nations, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria. Now Canada's largest school system says it will not allow students or staff trips to the U.S. Nearly 250,000 students are affected.

Let's bring in Paula Newton.

Paula, the school board calls it a difficult choice. What's the greatest concern here?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The greatest concern, Fred, as far as you and I can relate to, you get to the border, you have a school bus full of children, and one or two of the staff cannot proceed. And remember, they go through an international border, like everyone has to. And it was a difficult decision. A quarter of a million students are in Toronto. And a lot of trips to the United States, these are traditions that have been in place for decades.

And we could hear from John Malloy, the director of education, the Toronto district school board, and, Fred, in this statement, you could actually feel the kind of difficult decision this was. He said, "We do not make this decision lightly but given the uncertainty of new travel restrictions and when they come into effect, we strongly believe our students should not be placed into these situations of potentially being turned away at the border."

And, Fred, he points out the travel ban is still stuck in court but that doesn't mean that, anecdotally, Canadians haven't been hearing about people turned away. And for that reason, they wanted to avoid the headache. And, again, these are a diverse population trying to get over the border, even if they were born in Canada, and perhaps other questions that border authorities want to securitize, and school boards want to avoid that. Other school boards have done the same thing. And also, the Girl Guides, the equivalent of the Girl Scouts, they halted temporarily all trips to the United States.

WHITFIELD: So, Paula, what's the Department of Homeland Security saying about Canadians entering the U.S.?

NEWTON: Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, General John Kelly, was here a little while ago and he was listening to many people talk about this anecdotal evidence, we went to the border, we were turned away. And his point was, I'm comfortable with the level of security we have with the border. He says that if they're being stopped, it's because they have additional concerns, it's not about race, religion, or the language that they speak. Having said that, a lot of teachers, parents, school board administrators are not taking chances.

WHITFIELD: Paula Newton, thank you so much, from Ottawa. Appreciate it.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

One day after the failure of the Republican health care bill and some GOP leaders are getting an earful from voters.

Just moments ago, Senator Lindsey Graham wrapped up a town hall in his home state of South Carolina.