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Hundreds of Civilians Dead in West Mosul; New Details on Trump's Deal-Making Stumbles on Health Care; Trump Upset Kushner was Skiing as Health Bill Died; Interview with Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham; Laptop, Tablets Banned on Some Flights Headed to U.S.; Trump Says "I'm President, and You're Not". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 25, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Dropped bombs that may have killed hundreds of civilian people in the northern city of Mosul. That charge comes from a local official on the ground in Iraq.

We know U.S. Central Command as confirmed that air strikes did happen in this area but they are now investigating the specific days when as many as 200 civilians were reportedly killed. Military officials are not ruling out the possibility that ISIS fighters intentionally surrounded themselves with civilians using them as human shields.

A few minutes ago we got a full update on what we know so far from CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Let's listen.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Good evening, Ana. It's a confusing picture, it's very serious. The U.S. military taking it very seriously tonight.

A short time ago, the U.S. Central Command, the coalition, announced it is opening a formal assessment into whether on March 17th, in west Mosul, it may have dropped bombs that killed a significant large number, perhaps, perhaps hundreds of civilians. So issue right now, nobody knows exactly what happened.

All of this began to emerge over the last couple of days as social media activists in the area began to report large numbers of civilian casualties due to bombings in west Mosul where there is very tough fighting against ISIS.

The picture has been pretty murky because there's so many conflicting reports, and the U.S. doesn't have anybody on the ground there that can put eyeballs on the situation and really verify it. But the Pentagon, the coalition today, a short time ago, said that they've been able to determine that, yes, they did conduct the air strikes in one of these areas where the allegations have emerged from on March 17th.

CABRERA: Iraqi officials on the ground are reporting that there were civilian casualties on March 22nd, 23rd. What more do you know about multiple incidents now? STARR: Well, there may well be, that is -- you put your finger on it.

This is the problem that investigators are already struggling with and have been looking for several days. The allegations of all of this when they have started emerging on the ground over the last several days pointed to a range of days between March 16th and March 23rd where people on the ground were indicating that there had been bombings, there had been fighting and there had been a significant number of civilian casualties.

So that's between March 16th and March 23rd. Just over the last week or so. So far what we are hearing from the U.S. side is they've looked at that 16th to the 23rd, they can only verify right now that they believe they conducted strikes on the 17th in the area corresponding to the allegations of civilian casualties. The Iraqis are looking at a broader range of dates. And the U.S. is still looking, it should be said, to see if they can still match up any other U.S. air strikes or coalition air strikes that may correspond with some of these allegations. So a very confusing picture, but something that is being taken extremely seriously.


CABRERA: Again, that was Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon. On phone with us now from Turkey is our correspondent Jomana Karadsheh.

Jomana, what is this -- what's the news on the ground there? How is it playing among the region?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, the news is slowly spreading, these allegations of civilian casualties as a result of these air strikes. As you heard from Barbara's reporting, Ana, this is the third incident of allegations of civilian casualties as a result of air strikes. Three incidents so far this month that the U.S. military is investigating. There were two incidents in Syria over the past 10 days. And now these reports out of Iraq, out of western Mosul, making it the worst incident and we did hear from Iraqi officials today, the Defense Ministry also saying that they're investigating this incident.

And, you know, Ana, there has been a lot of concern about civilians who are trapped in western Mosul. The U.N. was estimating that possibly they're looking at hundreds of thousands of people, potentially civilians, who are trapped in that part of the city. And what happened basically after Iraqi Forces recaptured the eastern portion of Mosul from ISIS, Iraqi Forces who are backed by the U.S. and U.S. air power have been pushing into the western part of the city.

Now this is very complex. It's a very complex urban environment. This is the old part of the city. It's known for its narrow and densely populated street which really has raised the concern about civilian casualties and the concerns that ISIS might use civilians as human shields there.

[20:05:14] So with at least two investigations by the U.S. and the Iraqis into this western Mosul air strike, we'll have to wait and see what the investigation reveal, Ana, but at this point, based on what local officials are saying, it would seem that many, and as possibly as 200 civilian lives may have been lost.

CABRERA: Tough to see these pictures, too. Jomana Karadsheh, thank you very much.

With me now, CNN military analyst, and former Armor Division commander in Iraq, retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

General, I know you led military missions there in northern Iraq. What's your reaction to these allegations that U.S. air strikes may have killed hundreds of civilians?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, a couple of things, Ana. First of all, I'll tell you that I've been involved in these kinds of reports as a commander when aircraft in the area that I used to command would strike targets and we received reports of collateral damage and in some cases fratricide. And I got to tell you, the commander right now on the scene, both the U.S. and the Iraqi commander, probably have a very tight feeling in their gut. They want to find out what happened.

And it can be a series of various things. When you're talking about western Mosul, I've been on that ground walking that ground on several occasions. It is a very tight quarters. A lot of very narrow serpentine streets and very tough city elements to go through, a lot of houses packed together. ISIS has been there for years. So a close quarter fight.

It's also tough, confusing battle. You know, we're talking about this with good lighting in our rooms and talking conversationally right now but in a combat situation, it's a whole lot tougher to figure things out. And then thirdly, you have to understand that ISIS' strategy is at times to actually put civilians in harm's way.

Now having said all those things, the military will go through an extensive investigation on this issue to find out what happened, why it happened and how to prevent it in the future. Could be a number of things. Was this an accidental strike? Was the bomb released on the wrong target? Was there bad coordinates given by the ground forces to the spotter that was relayed back to the air force and they hit the wrong building?

Were human shields placed either in this building or near this building and were there reports of ISIS fighters on top of the building drawing fire toward that? And then finally, was it collateral damage? Was one strike hit against an ISIS target, and nearby there were civilians?

That's what the kinds of things the investigation is going to point out, and truthfully, as you know, American coalition forces always attempt to avoid civilian casualties. So when something like this happens, it's devastating and all things stop until we figure out what happened.

CABRERA: You just laid out a whole bunch of scenarios, possibilities, things that the investigators will be looking into.

General, in these air strike missions, help us to understand how the communication works from the ground to the air, for example, who tells the bombers what's a target, what's not, how do they ensure no civilians are in a targeted area? That sort of thing.

HERTLING: Yes, well, first of all, you're in the middle of a fight in a city. That's the toughest kind of fighting environment. That's first. Secondly, what you have is primarily Iraqi forces giving targeting data to their advisers and assisters, the special operators or special forces, U.S. special forces that are with them, and they relay to the aircraft that they're dropping the bomb.

So you can see that relay chain is already very difficult. You're talking about inside of a city where you have to pinpoint the target. Either by grid coordinates where you're saying this is the location on the map, hit this target, or you're doing what's called laser spotting, where you actually do a laser point to the building and the weapon actually fires to that laser spot on the building. And then you don't know really sometimes if there are Iraqi fighters on top of the building. I've seen this multiple times with al Qaeda, where they will be on top of the building and they will put a lot of civilians inside the building so if they get hit, if the fighters get hit, they can use the damage and the killing of the innocent civilians as a messaging and a propaganda tool.

So you can see, there are all sorts of things that can happen in this kind of tough fight. Oh, by the way, the enemy is not wearing uniforms so as the Iraqi Security Forces go in with their Special Forces advisers, with aircraft dropping weapons, sometimes from 5,000 feet and above, all of those things are tough, and you're dropping it on an enemy that is not easily identifiable. Excuse me. So all of those are the fog and friction of the battlefield that's occurring in Mosul right now.

CABRERA: Thanks for laying out the challenges for us, great information.

Retired General Mark Hertling, thank you very much.

Coming up, historian Douglas Brinkley on why he says there's a smell of treason in the air when it comes to the investigation into Russia's meddling in the election.

[20:10:07] Plus, Jared Kushner on the slopes of Aspen while his father-in-law and Republicans sweated it out over health care. And apparently the president is not happy.


CABRERA: We have new details now on what led to the staggering defeat of the GOP's health care bill. For the first time, we are hearing from sources inside the crucial last-minute meetings between the president and members of Congress. What was on the table, how involved was the president, and where did it all go wrong.

CNN White House correspondent Athena Jones has details -- Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Ana. Well, the White House has indicated that tax reform will come next, but one of the big questions is what are the lessons they learned from the failure of this Obamacare repeal effort that they can apply to future legislative efforts? One senior administration official told me that going forward we can expect to see the White House play a more active role on the front end with legislation, in shaping the language and strategy for selling it.

[20:15:09] But the other big question is how the president's own sales pitch might change. We've heard from the White House in recent days that he was all in on this bill, that he spent a lot of time working the phones, meeting members of Congress face to face, to try to sell the bill. But if you talk to some members of Congress, they had some issues with the president's sales pitch approach. Among them, he didn't offer a strong enough rationale for why members should vote yes on this bill apart from the political one. To give him a legislative victory in this first 100 days.

Members also said that he didn't seem to be abreast, kept abreast of the nitty-gritty policy details of this bill. There were members of the House who had specific concerns about specific policy measures and the president wasn't able to address those.

My colleague, Dana Bash, reports that two sources confirmed that in a meeting on Thursday night, with the House Freedom Caucus, a member wanted to talk about one of these policy details and the president said, forget about the little stuff, although he didn't say stuff. He used a four-letter word, also starting in S.

A GOP congressional aide said he didn't -- the president didn't particularly care or particularly know about health care, and that if you're going to be a great negotiator, you have to know about the subject matter.

There was also a tense moment in a meeting with moderate House Republicans when Congressman Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania told the president that he was a no and the president responded by saying, "Why am I even talking to you?" So according to some members of the House, the president's own sales pitch may also need to be revised a bit going forward -- Ana.

CABRERA: Athena Jones reporting. Thank you. Let's talk over all of this with my panel. Joining me, Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian, and Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief of the "Chicago Sun-Times."

Lynn, so sources tell Athena Jones and our colleagues the president didn't want to talk details. One person saying he didn't even care or particularly know about health care.

How does President Trump get through tax reform then? Because that's going to last a lot longer than three weeks probably and will need a lot more attention to detail, won't it? LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Well, it

would if you want to negotiate on the same grounds that the person you're talking with. This isn't a transaction where you could say, I'll give you this favor or that favor necessarily if you don't know and don't understand what the ask is. This is, when you write legislation, a few words make a difference and I know, and I know you and Doug know, and the people in Congress know that how you write things can put a -- is the favor that you might do for somebody, and if you don't understand what you're giving away or what you're being asked to do or how the piece is put together, it makes use less of a skilled negotiator.

Now I don't know how this is going to resolve itself. Certainly President Trump, himself, had the light bulb finally go off when he said fairly recently that, oh, health care is complicated. And then he said on Friday, oh, we just learned that there are arcane rules in Congress. Yes. You know, presidents come and go. These rules stay. It's just what you have to work around and Congress, if you want things done, you have to know how to navigate to get to the number of votes you need which in the House on Friday was 216.

CABRERA: Douglas, is this the president's failure? Is he expected to know every detail or is he supposed to focus on the big picture and then leave some of those specifics up to Congress?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, the president doesn't need to know every detail, but it is a buck stops here world we're living in. And that's what presidents have to assume responsibility.

I remember John F. Kennedy in the Bay of Pigs, he came public and took the blame even though all the fingerprints were on the previous Eisenhower administration. We've seen a lot of reporting that how often Donald Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago, he's worried about Jared in Aspen, why are you going to Florida and hanging out all the time if you don't have your major first legislative initiative in the bag?

And that kind of curtain was pulled back on us this week. I mean, here are conservatives, the Freedom Caucus, just telling, you know, Trump, take a hike, you're really not our leader. You have moderates just didn't -- you know, not listening to him. So he's coming off starting next week as a rudderless. He's not seeming to be the leader of the Republican Party right now.

CABRERA: Now people are kind of just pinging off in all different directions. Yet, Lynn, the president didn't seem too upset that the bill failed. Let's listen to what he said after the bill was pulled yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The best thing that could happen is exactly what happened today because we'll end up with a truly great health care bill in the future after this mess, known as Obamacare, explodes.


CABRERA: Is this the best thing that could have happened, his words? Is this what the president wanted all along, Lynn?

SWEET: Well, for someone who doesn't want to do homework and doesn't want to learn even some of the big -- the big policy implications of what you're doing, this takes it off of his desk right now.

[20:20:12] And he says he wants -- he wants Obamacare to explode. The next thing to watch for, by the way, if we could look around the corner, is what HHS Secretary Price and the Medicare-Medicaid director Seema Verma do because just recently they sent a letter out to every governor saying we want to help you make Obamacare work when it comes to Medicaid. Let us know of any waiver you want from the rules, we'll make it work. So this to me is the next question.

Does Trump know enough to force an explosion of Obamacare or will he work with governors to give them the latitude to make it work? So even to have a furtherance of this discussion if he was here and we were interviewing him, you have to know a little bit about how these dominos fall and how one piece affects the other. He also said on Friday, Obamacare, implode, explode, well, which do you want, sir?

CABRERA: I want to turn to the Russia probe now. We'll see where health care goes from here.

But, Douglas, you wrote something rather provocative. You said, quote, "The smell of treason is in the air." What do you mean?

BRINKLEY: Well, I watched, like all of us did, the hearings last week and there is James Comey, the head of the FBI, basically have -- telling the world that he has a federal criminal investigation on a sitting president. What is that investigation? In the end, it's treason. People don't like using the T word but what's being looked at is whether Paul Manafort and General Flynn, Roger Stone, and others, and including the president, had somehow tried to turn our elections, damage free and fair elections. That's our nation's great export.

And if it turns out that there's meddling in that regard done by the Trump campaign, then it is a serious problem for this White House. What do we do about it? Donald Trump should call for an independent committee, something like a 9/11 Commission, to look at it, and let's get a public hearing and get this out of the way. Otherwise it's just going to eat away and eat away at his presidency. He's now operating at 37 percent approval numbers. That probably could go down to 33 percent after the health care debacle, and so he's got two-thirds of the country not pulling for him right now while he has a criminal investigation going on by the FBI. This isn't good. He needs to clear up the situation.

CABRERA: Lynn, there is this growing chorus calling for an independent commission to investigate the potential Trump-Russia ties. Why not from the Republican side so much? We're hearing it mostly from Democrats. What are Republicans saying as their reasoning not to go there? SWEET: Well, the reasoning not to go there is that they don't want to

further undermine President Trump. So I'm not surprised that the strongest calls come from Democrats, but the important turn of events this week that Republicans may even have to acknowledge in the coming days is that when the House Intel Committee chairman Devin Nunes went to the White House to give a briefing to the White House about things he learned as the Intel Committee chairman, without telling his members first, or discussing it, that -- that seems to have eroded his credibility as the chairman of the committee.

I don't know if Speaker Ryan is going to replace him. He has that power. But now the Republicans have created their own distraction and have raised the question of the own independence and credibility of their own committee looking to it. So we're -- right now we're talking about this mainly being a democratic process. When you have separation of powers, I've never heard, maybe historian Brinkley could tell me, where a chairman of an Intel Committee goes to the White House to share findings before any conclusions or briefing to his own panel, Doug, tell me, is this as historic as it seems to me? And, again, potentially something that may even undermine the intel -- Republican-led intel committee's probe by pulling the carpet out himself, which made them to call for a special prosecutor?


CABRERA: Doug, you have some perspective there then we got to go. Go ahead, Doug.

BRINKLEY: Yes. This is sort of unprecedented move. It shows the kind of desperation that Republicans are feeling with this issue. The only way -- Robert Frost, the great poet, you say, "The only way out is through." The only way to put Russia-gate behind the Trump administration is to have an independent committee.

They should be doing it. Donald Trump should say, I can't stand that treason is circling me. I'm going to clear this situation up right away. Instead, there's obfuscating, hiding, secrecy in it. It starts smelling like guilt.

[20:25:11] CABRERA: All right. We'll leave it there, Douglas Brinkley and Lynn Sweet. Thank you.

SWEET: And thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, why is the president fuming at his son-in-law? It may have something to do with this picture. That story next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: President Trump apparently has a bone to pick with his son- in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. While the president and his top aides scrambled to win over skeptical Republicans for this health care bill, Kushner is doing this. He was skiing in Aspen with his wife, Ivanka, some other members of the family. Now a source says Trump is, quote, "upset" that Kushner was not around during this crucial week.

[20:30:01] Let's discuss. Joining us CNN political commentator and conservative contributor at "The Hill," Kayleigh McEnany, Dean Obeidallah, whose phone is ringing right now, a "Daily Beast" contributor, host of the "Dean Obeidallah" show in Sirius XM.

You know, I'm glad that sort of thing doesn't just happen to me. We're all human here.


CABRERA: Shake it off, Dean.

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR: I'm ready. It was my alarm to remind me to come over here to go on.

CABRERA: It was your alarm?


CABRERA: You weren't late. Kayleigh, let's get to it. If you are the senior adviser to the president, are you gone during this crucial time?

MCENANY: Look, I think it's important to get some context here because the Trump children have gone on this spring break to Aspen forever. This has been like an annual tradition dating back to the fact that their mom was a competitive skier in Aspen. So this is a real family trip, quality time. And I think everyone deserves a break. I mean, I don't blame Jared for taking time out to be with his family. In fact, that makes me like the guy more, that he puts his family before his job or at least puts them on the same level.

CABRERA: I can hear where you're coming from. I'm a parent.


CABRERA: And it is a tough balance. But, again, not everybody is a senior adviser to the president. Does the fact that he is a family member make it more challenging for the president in terms of reacting?

OBEIDALLAH: I'm sure it does make it much more challenging when you're -- the president is your father-in-law. I think it does. But I'll be honest, if he was going to come back and lobby for this GOP Trumpcare bill, that 17 percent favorability by the Quinnipiac poll, Jesus could have come back and would not have gotten this. And I say that in the idea that Jesus is about caring and compassion, and Jesus would have never lobbied for this bill in the first place.

Jared Kushner could have come back and lobbied every day. He has very limited contacts with the members of Congress. There's no history of being on the hill. I don't even know what he could have done.

To me, this is more about Donald Trump lashing out and not taking responsibility the way he'd lash out at Democrats in the presser right after this didn't pass. He blamed the Democrats. Zero Republicans voted for Obamacare in the House. Zero. They passed it still. The problem, Donald Trump could not get Republicans to rally around his signature bill is his own problem. Jared being there or not does not matter for this.

MCENANY: I don't think he's blaming Jared. You know, the White House has denied this, by the way. And also, we know that people are intentionally leaking things to try to make the Trump administration look bad or contentious.

CABRERA: But did President Trump take responsibility for the bill's failure?

MCENANY: Absolutely. I think that he realized this is hard work. You know, trying to come to Washington and drain the swamp which we haven't had someone do. It is hard to come in and take on the establishment who is established, meaning they have roots down in this town, to buck your own party. It is hard work. And it's going to be messy. It's going to be a tough legislative process. It's not going to be pretty.

I expect we might see more votes like this because that's the way you go to Washington and you take partisans out of it and you accomplish moderate reform that isn't super liberal and isn't super conservative, but it's right in the middle and it's what we need.

CABRERA: What do you think about that idea? I mean, first of all, he didn't accomplish anything here.

MCENANY: He didn't. But it's a long process. It's a long process. And I think in the end, you will see Democrats come around because Obamacare is on a death spiral. And in the end, you are going to get meaningful health care reform, not hyperpartisan liberal health care reform, that was only passed because of a corn husker kickback in the Louisiana purchase that Obama had to shell out deals to people to get passed.

CABRERA: I would assume you agree that the fact that this didn't pass is actually a good thing.

OBEIDALLAH: I think -- you know, I think so because I think the Trumpcare plan honestly at its core was not good, was going to gut $800 billion to Medicare, target the most vulnerable Americans, the disable especially were going to suffer under this, the elderly were going to pay higher premiums. You had a tax cut for the rich. It was not a good plan at all.

Obamacare is not perfect. I needs help. Everyone says it. There's different ways -- there's different remedies out there that's saying what can we do in a bipartisan fashion? I don't know if they'll address those. But to me, Donald Trump is like I'm moving on. And I hope that Obamacare -- he tweeted, I hope it explodes. There are 20 million people who get their coverage through Obamacare now, either the marketplace or Medicaid expansion. Don't wish them ill. You're the president. Say I want to help you, I want to make things work for you. That's what we all want as Americans. And again, I keep getting back to this idea, be better than this partisan figure that Donald Trump is.


CABRERA: Did he make a mistake, Kayleigh? Can you admit that he make a mistake with that message of let's watch it explode?

MCENANY: No, he's stating a fact. I don't -- he wasn't saying I hope it explodes, he was stating I know it's going to explode. You have Humana dropping out. There are already one-third of U.S. counties with one insurer. What good is a subsidy if you go to your exchange and there isn't a health care plan there? What good is insurance if you go to your doctor and they say, I don't take Medicaid? Obamacare is exploding. It's a fact. It's not a wish. It's a fact. And the president stated realism.

OBEIDALLAH: Look, Obamacare needs health. But the Congressional Budget Office this week came out and said it's not a death spiral. That's actually an economic term. It's not. It's exploding. It's sustainable. It is stable. The head of the CBO is a man picked by Republicans in the Congress, a guy Tom Price, Trump's HHS secretary, loves the guy. So we're not -- this is not completely I'd say exploding in the next short term. Things can happen.

This administration could do things to make it explode and move it up even quicker. And that's the real fear right now.

[20:35:02] They could implement regulations that would really undermine Obamacare. But we shouldn't be playing politics with people's health care. There are people who live and die on this. This is not politics. This is personal.


OBEIDALLAH: For so many Americans.

MCENANY: Absolutely. So why are Democrats playing politics with it?

CABRERA: How are Democrats playing politics with it? How you see it?

MCENANY: Not a single Democrat came to the president or was willing to engage in a discussion with the president --


CABRERA: Did the president reach out to Democrats?

MCENANY: He wanted to speak with them. They said we're not voting for this, categorically. Just like they said we're going to filibuster the Supreme Court nominee. They don't want to come to the table. You have to come to the table.

OBEIDALLAH: So they did not reach out to Nancy Pelosi, they didn't reach out to them. Again Obamacare --

(CROSSTALK) CABRERA: Do you think that this -- you think the fact that this did not pass had anything to do with the protests that were against it? The protesters --

OBEIDALLAH: Sure. I think -- it definitely did because it was not just Freedom Caucus far-right people who opposed it. There were middle -- Republicans in the middle including four Republican members of Congress from New Jersey where in New Jersey if you're a Republican, you're not far right. You're moderate. They were moderates like Rodney Frelinghuysen and Chris Smith were like we can't do this because it is going to adversely affect the average person in New Jersey, my home state. So it wasn't just far-right Republicans. There were moderate Republicans who was standing up and saying this is wrong.

CABRERA: Lot of people at the town halls, too.

OBEIDALLAH: Very animated.


OBEIDALLAH: No protests in favor of Trumpcare. They were against taking the benefits away. Obamacare is not perfect. It needs some help.

CABRERA: Absolutely. We got to go. Thanks both of you.

MCENANY: All right.

CABRERA: Good to see you both, Kayleigh and Dean.

MCENANY: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, Democrats celebrating as the Republicans concede defeat, but if Obamacare needs fixing, do they suddenly need to work with President Trump? We started down that road in this conversation. We'll continue it right after the break.


[20:40:47] CABRERA: Congressional Democrats are literally jumping for joy over the collapse of President Trump's health care plan. When the health care overhaul was defeated, this was the reaction by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. She kicked off her shoes, she leaped into the air outside the Capitol. She called it a victory for our country.

Democrats also had a field day on Twitter, take a look at this. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez tweeted, "Hey, Republicans, don't worry, that burn is covered under the Affordable Care Act."

Joining me now, New Mexico Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Thanks so much, Congressman, for joining us. Congresswoman, I should say. I know you've said that it isn't a time to gloat. Do you feel like the celebration could do any harm to the Democrats' cause? REP. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, I certainly hope

not. I mean, they were I think really focused on the victory of so many of our constituents and so many Americans including in my own home state, New Mexico participated in town halls, were calling, were incredibly fearful for the losses that would be under -- that they would suffer with the Republican health care plan. So I certainly understand that reaction, but it's also a time to reflect that we do need to continue to work on health care issues that we don't have quite right in this country and I worked on health care for 30 years.

So I know, unequivocally, I was clear about how complicated it is, and clear about how much work it's going to continue to take us to really get it right all across the country.

CABRERA: Did the president or Speaker Ryan reach out to you specifically to ask you what your thoughts were on their immigration bill? Excuse me, their health care bill?

LUJAN GRISHAM: No. I had no contact from any of my Republican colleagues or my Republican colleague that represents the southern part of the state and given that we're a Medicaid expansion state, and stood to lose so much that it would really financially devastate the state, I'm not sure we could have recovered. More than $11 billion in health care revenue over a 10-year period, all of our rural hospitals were at risk of closing, all of our community providers.

We already have a behavioral health system in collapse because we've got a governor that already took that flexibility that they were proposing more of in the Republican health care bill, that you don't have to pay for behavioral health services, you don't have to pay for addiction services. So we know unequivocally just how terrible that would be and devastating and no one reached out to me.

CABRERA: And yet Obamacare is not perfect. We've heard that from a lot of people. And we are seeing premiums go up, deductibles are really high for some folks. What is the plan from the Democrats' side in order to fix what isn't working within the current health care system?

LUJAN GRISHAM: Right. Well, you know, with any of reform, to let it be stagnant is a huge problem. And I'm actually going to take us two places backward first. One, premiums were escalating in this country for so many which is really how we got the onset of many Med plans or just catastrophic plans. People couldn't afford prevention or routine care. We saw that pre-Affordable Care Act.

Two, Republicans say and so many folks tell me that they really want this private market insurance aspect to continue and that we want that private market, free market aspect to work in this country for Americans who choose insurance coverage. Well, that's what the Affordable Care Act is. That was a Republican plan. It came from the Heritage Foundation. States like mine looked at that plan for at least a decade before Congress decided that that was a path forward.

And initially, it, in fact, had public options for states to try and it included the health care co-op. So a non-profit aspect of private health care delivery. And one more thing. Republicans spent seven years defunding many of the provisions that would have stabilized premiums further and kept those co-ops, the non-profit experiments, around in so many hard-to-serve states including New Mexico which would mean you would have more providers on the exchanges.

[20:45:06] So this is purposeful, right? So that you created more leverage to just throw the whole thing out. So Democrats have a whole series of ideas and I would say that there are Republicans who have been prevented from bringing their ideas. We shouldn't have insurances companies that have got a 30 percent administrative overhead. It's outrageous that continues. We should be negotiating drug prices. We shouldn't let insurance companies self-identify what their losses are so that they can figure out then what their premiums are.

There's a whole host of issues. There ought to be lots more transparency, no surprise billing. We could do any number of things and quite frankly those bills have already been submitted in Congress but they never get a fair hearing or any debate.

CABRERA: Well, we talked all about health care during this segment but I'd love to have you back on to talk about immigration as well as I know you've been working on that issue as well. And that's something important to you and your state.

Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us.

LUJAN GRISHAM: You're very welcome. I'd love to come back on, Ana, any time.

CABRERA: All right. Talk to you soon, then.

Coming up, the terror threat impacting airline rules. Why devices larger than a smartphone are now banned as carry-on items on some flights from the Middle East to the U.S.


[20:50:31] CABRERA: Beginning today passengers headed to the U.S. from nearly a dozen airports in the Middle East and North Africa aren't allowed to bring laptops, tablets or other items like that as carry-on items. This new rule stems from fears that terror groups are perfecting techniques for hiding explosives inside electronic devices.

CNN's Rene Marsh reports.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an unprecedented move, the Department of Homeland Security is demanding international flights from 10 overseas airports in eight mostly Muslim countries ban almost all electronics larger than a cell phone from the cabin of a plane. The U.K. following the United States lead will now ban large electronics from the cabins of certain flights, too, indicating there is intelligence that's creating concern. PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It's clear that with these

new restrictions the United States is essentially saying that they do not have full confidence in these airports, in these various countries to stop bombs getting on planes.

MARSH: Tonight, sources tell CNN the electronic ban was not prompted by specific plot, but in part by new intelligence. A U.S. official tells CNN al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen was perfecting techniques for hiding explosives in the batteries of electronic devices. The information was obtained over recent weeks and months.

The Department of Homeland Security said the intelligence, quote, "indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative method to undertake their attacks including smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items."

DHS pointed to the February 2016 mid-air bombing of a Somali passenger plane as proof of terrorist groups' continued efforts to target commercial aviation. Sources say a sophisticated laptop bomb blew a hole in that aircraft, but U.S. intelligence has known for years terror groups have been working to perfecting conceal explosives to smuggle onboard, so why such a drastic ban now?

CRUICKSHANK: One scenario is that the new administration in the United States has re-evaluated the entire threat stream to passenger aircraft taking into account of all the intelligence that has come in over the last several years.


CABRERA: Rene Marsh reporting. Our thanks to her.

Coming up, "I'm president, you're not." Jeanne Moos on the new Trump quote setting the Internet on fire.


[20:57:17] CABRERA: Finally tonight, no one could argue with President Trump when he told "TIME" magazine, "I'm president and you're not." But it's the kind of quote that sure is quotable.

CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on reaction, pro and con.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "TIME'" cover, "Is Truth Dead" pays homage to a 1966 big question cover, "Is God Dead?" But do you know what isn't dead? Donald Trump's ego.

As we saw when he met with trucking CEOs, the president isn't shy about blowing -- his own or anybody else's horn. Consider how he ended the "TIME" magazine interview on the question of his credibility. "I can't be doing so badly."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I'm president and you're not. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm president, you're



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And you are not.

MOOS: The quote ignited Internet mockery. "I'm a narcissist and you're not. I'm rubber and you're glue." Some thought President Trump sounded Peewee Hermanesque.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're an idiot.

PEEWEE HERMAN, COMEDIAN: I know you are but what I am?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you are but what am I?

HERMAN: I know you are but what am I?

MOOS: But the president's supporters like a man who knows what he is. Alpha male president commented one. "Oh, Trump, this is why we love you."

(On camera): I'm president and you're not. Does that remind you of anyone?

CHEVY CHASE, ACTOR: Good evening. I'm Chevy Chase, and you're not. Good evening. I'm Chevy Chase.

CROWD: And you're not.

MOOS: One critic reacted to the "TIME" interview by tweeting, "Days without embarrassing the U.S.? Zero." But others brought up Barack Obama's presidential pronouncement on a Jimmy Kimmel "Mean Tweets" segment back when it looked like Trump would lose the then candidate tweeted, "President Obama will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States."

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Well, @realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as a president.

MOOS: Well, we all know who got the last laugh. Actress Sally Field captioned this photo "Eastbound and demented." But he's the trucker- in-chief and we're not.

Jeanne Moos, CNN.

TRUMP: If I ever fell, would they be happy?

MOOS: New York.


CABRERA: Thank you, Jeanne.

That's it for me. We could all use a good laugh especially on a Saturday night. Right?

Coming up next here on CNN, back-to-back episodes of the CNN original series "THE EIGHTIES." I'm Ana Cabrera. I'll see you back here at 5:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow. Have a great night.