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ObamaCare Rollback Bill Dies without Vote; Ex-Trump Aides to Testify before House Committee; U.S. Military Investigating Civilian Deaths; Putin Greets Le Pen at Kremlin; London Terror Attack; Egypt Frees Mubarak. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired March 25, 2017 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Donald Trump defeated by his own party. The president drops plans to reform health care, at least for now, after failing to get enough Republican support.

And British investigators make two significant arrests on Friday following this week's terror attack in London.

Plus allegations that American air raids may have killed hundreds of civilians in Iraq and Syria recently.

What is the Pentagon saying about it?

Hi, everyone. Thank you very much for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier in Atlanta. And CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


VANIER: It was a stunning loss on Friday for U.S. President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. The Republican's high-profile bill to roll back ObamaCare suddenly died before it could even come to a vote. CNN's Phil Mattingly has the details.



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The pressure, the arm twisting, the ultimatum, they have all fallen short.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard. All of us, all of us, myself included, we will need time to reflect on how we got to this moment, what we could have done to do it better.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): House Speaker Paul Ryan deciding to pull the Republican ObamaCare repeal and replacement plan hours after traveling to the White House to tell President Trump directly he didn't have the votes to pass it and warning, one source said, that the loss on the House floor could be big.

RYAN: ObamaCare is the law of the land. It's going to remain the law of the land until it's replaced. We did not have quite the votes to replace this law. And so, yes, we're going to be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): A jarring realization less than 24 hours after the president himself made his final offer, vote now or he is prepared to move on.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think we have to let ObamaCare go its way for a little while. And we'll see how things go. I'd love to see it do well but it can't.

And but again, it's not a question of, gee, I hope it does well. I would love it to do well. I want great health care for the people of this nation but it can't do well. It's imploding. And soon will explode.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Democrats taking a victory lap.

NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Frankly, I thought they might have accomplished something in the first couple of months. I think their mistake really was they were so focused on embarrassing the Affordable Care Act rather than trying to improve it.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The health care setback, a stunning turn of events from the cautious optimism of the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How you feeling this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Feel great, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you guys think you're going to get the votes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We'll get it done today.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And even a few hours after that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) how are things going?

What are you hearing from our (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: Going great. Just continue talking to the members, getting them ready as we move forward. Always confident.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But sources tell CNN the votes simply never materialized and it became clear that the leaders were actually losing votes based on the compromise designed to bring conservatives aboard.

The deal on the table would strip the 10 essential health benefits required in insurance plans by ObamaCare, something moderate Republicans already wary of the bill were telling leaders was simply a bridge too far, sources said. This is all happening as the debate on the bill was ongoing, leaving

members to question what, if any, path forward existed and leaving the president to answer questions about a looming failure of his first and biggest legislative push.


TRUMP: We'll see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you rush it, do you think?

TRUMP: We'll see what happens.


MATTINGLY: And Cyril, just to take you behind the scenes a little bit, in the course of the evening, as Republicans met behind closed doors, the message from their leadership was this, "Trump is done. It's time to move on."

And that is a jarring message -- stunned silence is what I'm told that message was met with. Think about it this way. These Republicans, these members, many of them came to office on the promise of repealing and replacing ObamaCare. That is now not just delayed, that is completely off the table.

VANIER: And it's definitely not a good position for Trump and even Paul Ryan to be in, 60-odd days into this presidency.

What happens next now that the health care bill is dead?

MATTINGLY: Well, it's a great question. Speaker Ryan made very clear and the president has said this multiple times over the last couple of weeks the next item on the agenda is tax reform. That's what they're looking forward to moving on to.

But that is not easy either. That is complicated and very complex and splits a lot of members in their own conference as well. I think the biggest question right now is whether it's on the agenda of tax reform or infrastructure or trade deals is will this Congress and this White House figure out a way to work together and --


MATTINGLY: -- actually get things done?

There was a lot of optimism when they started on January 20th. I can tell you right now, the optimism is certainly at a presidential career low at the moment.

Will it recover?

I think that's an open question right now -- Cyril.

VANIER: It will be interesting to see what they focus on moving forward. Phil Mattingly, thank you very much. So how does this play out politically going forward?

Larry Sabato is the director of the Center of Politics at the University of Virginia.

First things first, Larry.

Did this bill fail because of strategy or substance?

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Cyril, it was both and a lack of preparation by Republicans; after seven years of consistent opposition to ObamaCare and four consecutive elections, where ObamaCare was the central platform of virtually every Republican candidate, it's staggering in a way.

VANIER: So what does that tell us actually about the Republicans -- I was going to get to that -- that they've had all this time to prepare for this and this is where they end up?

SABATO: The Republicans, being anti-government or being pro-small- government, are comfortable being the party of no. They have a lot of trouble getting to yes, even for their own president.

So, again, it's unprecedented to have a president and Congress of the same party and have a new president's central proposal, the first big proposal, to fail at the starting gate. It's easier to get it out of the House than the Senate. They couldn't come close to getting it out of the House.

VANIER: And what about Donald Trump failing in his first major legislative effort?

And it's clearly not a good look for the president. But he says -- and he's right -- he has got a lot of time left on the clock, a lot of time left in his presidency to revisit this.

So how important do you think this is in terms -- the wider terms of his presidency?

SABATO: Well, it puts pressure on him to produce -- and relatively quickly. He's right and you're right to note that he's on day 65, 66 and they're 1,461 days in a single presidential term. So there's a long, long way to go.

But we paid close attention in the beginning because, often, these early signs suggest both successes and failures in the future.

VANIER: Now the president is blaming the failure of this bill on the Democrats. Some analysts will blame it on parts of the Republicans. When you're essentially responsible for a bill, it is always a gamble politically to blame it on someone else.

Who do you think the voters are going to blame, do you think?

SABATO: Well, the history of this is very, very certain. Voters blame the party in control of the White House and Congress. Their assumption is that, when you control everything, you are responsible for what happens and doesn't happen.

So the blaming of the Democrats is kind of an automatic reflex among the Republicans. But let's remember they don't have the ability to do anything. And when ObamaCare was voted on in the first piece of President Obama's administration, all Republicans opposed it. So they're just returning the favor.

VANIER: And what about his idea that -- and this is what he said earlier on Friday -- ultimately, this is going to set him up for an even more successful bill or better bill for Americans because "ObamaCare is failing" -- those are Trump's words -- and so Democrats are going to rally behind him because they'll have no choice but to revisit ObamaCare and therefore he will end up with bipartisanship support for a bill. And he'll end up with a better bill.

SABATO: There is a zero chance of that happening and here's why. Never, at least in my lifetime, has the base of the Democratic Party been so activated and so totally opposed to a president even in the early stages of his administration. That is not going to fade. If anything, it's growing with time.

So Democratic politicians who, after all, depend on the Democrats and their state and their constituencies to re-elect them, are not going to help Donald Trump at any point in his presidency.

VANIER: All right, Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, thank you so much for joining us on the show.

SABATO: Thank you, Cyril.

VANIER: Now the names of several Trump campaign associates have repeatedly surfaced in allegations about the campaign's links to Russia. Now a House committee investigating those ties could hear from former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort, as well as two other former aides, Carter Page and Roger Stone.

All three say that they are willing to testify but for the moment we don't know when that might happen. A public committee hearing set for next week has been cancelled by Republican chairman of the committee, Devin Nunes.

He was already under fire for briefing President Trump on sensitive information before he shared it with his own committee. Democrats on the panel are furious; one even accuses Nunes of trying to obstruct justice while another is suggesting that he caved to strong pushback --


VANIER: -- from the White House.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIF.: One of the profound take-aways over the last couple days is we really do need an independent commission here because the public, at the end of the day, needs to have confidence that someone has done a thorough investigation untainted by political considerations.


VANIER: The U.S. military is investigating whether it was responsible for the deaths of 300 nearly Syrians and Iraqi civilians in three different sets of airstrikes this month. CNN's Barbara Starr has more from the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: One of the most widespread allegations that U.S. airstrikes this month 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 airstrikes over recent days. There have been social media reports and videos emerging of civilians killed in the area. The U.S. military says it was bombing in that area but it is trying to really get fidelity.

Did it bomb these buildings?

Were civilian casualties caused?

They are also looking into 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 Raqqah, 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 to be responsible, it will take that responsibility -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


VANIER: And the Trump administration has approved final construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The move reverses the decision made by Barack Obama to block it because of environmental concerns.

The pipeline will bring crude oil from Canada to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Mr. Trump says it will boost jobs and energy independence; environmentalists meanwhile say it's part of a larger process that would increase greenhouse gases and damage sources of fresh water.

(MUSIC PLAYING) VANIER (voice-over): British police are looking for answers in the aftermath of the terror attack in London. We'll have the latest on the investigation after the break.

Plus a chat at the Kremlin. Russia's president warmly greets the far right lead who wants to run France. That's all coming up.




VANIER: Welcome back.

Two members of Britain's Parliament have been honored by --


VANIER: -- the queen for their actions in the aftermath of Wednesday's terror attack in London. Tobias Elwood (ph) was an impromptu first responder for one of the victims, trying to save the life of a policeman, who later died.

And Ben Wallace helped to coordinate the government response to the disaster. Meanwhile just two of the 11 people arrested so far are still in custody. Authorities are working to determine how the attack came to be and how the perpetrator was himself radicalized.

The investigation has homed in on the attacker's past two homes in Birmingham, England. Our Nic Robertson paid a visit to both.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Number 4, Khalid Masood's home last year, nondescript but large, plenty of rooms. A tranquil, respectable neighborhood and despite his violent past, the soon-to-be killer didn't break the calm here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You never really seen him. The only way I would probably see him is if I was leaving my house and he just happened to be outside, whatever, he was cleaning his car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of the times I remember him wearing a Muslim, Islamic wear. Also his wife, she was covered. Just her face was uncovered.

ROBERTSON: And the children, daughter, was she covered?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember a boy and a girl and a girl was wearing a scarf also on her head.

ROBERTSON: What sort of age?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Primary school age, 6, 7, I would say. ROBERTSON (voice-over): Then for no apparent reason, everything changed. Around Christmas last year, neighbors say they saw Masood out here on his driveway, packing a moving van, taking his family away from this quiet suburban street.

And this is where he moved to, a shabbier, less prosperous neighborhood right next to a busy main road, at the same location armed police raided the night after the attack. Four people arrested on suspicion of preparation of a terrorist act.

Their landlord describes the low-rent rooms they were snatched from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are seven-bedroom flats, which they have been turned into seven individual rooms with seven individual facilities between the rooms. So every room is separate to another.

ROBERTSON: So you might call them bed sets?


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Downstairs, the Mini Mart owner remembers Masood as a fitness fan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And police guy come, showed me his photo as well. And I say I know him. He's come plenty time in my shop and buys frankfurts (ph), sweets and cashew nuts (INAUDIBLE). And I know him now.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): This is the official police photograph of Khalid Masood, who they say used to be called Adrian Russell Ajao (sic) and Adrian Elms. What happened to bring the changes, unclear.

Police still searching for clues, more raids, more arrests, many, many questions unanswered -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Birmingham, England.


VANIER: Pope Francis is warning European Union leaders that the E.U. risks dying without a new vision based on its founding principles of solidarity. He spoke at the Vatican on Friday on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. That document started the political project that became today's European Union.

The pope said that the rise of populism and the current economic and migration crises can be overcome.

All right, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is reaffirming her support for dropping E.U. sanctions against Russia. She met with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Friday and said he represents a new vision for the world, a vision she says is also represented by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Mr. Putin told Le Pen that she represents a fast-growing element of European politics and he says Russia has no intention of influencing the French election but reserves the right to meet with French political leaders. Egypt's jailed former leader is again a free man. Hosni Mubarak left a military hospital on Friday, according to his lawyer. He was in detention six years following his overthrow in the 2011 Arab Spring. He was handed a life sentence after hundreds of protesters we killed.

But earlier this month the 88-year old was acquitted. Our Ian Lee has more on that.


IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the kind of applause reserved only for a strong man. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's modern pharaoh, ruled the country for three decades. His feared state security service kept the peace.

Then, on January 25th, 2011, enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mubarak is a tyrant. (INAUDIBLE).

LEE (voice-over): Millions of Egyptians took to the streets across the country, demanding the president resign. Hundreds died in clashes with police when violence didn't work. Mubarak offered concessions the last time the country saw him a free man. Egypt's spy chief Omar Suleiman (ph) --


LEE (voice-over): -- announced the president's resignation the following day.

No one saw this coming, not even the CIA. Congress held hearings how the U.S. spy agency missed the signs that led to the upheaval in the Arab Spring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we are not clairvoyant.

LEE (voice-over): Eighty-three-year-old Mubarak reappeared months later in court, frail and bitter, charged with killing 239 protesters and corruption.

"All the things that have been said are not true," he said defiantly.

Egyptians were glued to the live proceedings, local press called it the trial of the century. A judge ultimately called Mubarak an accessory to murder and sentenced him to life in prison.

But the jubilance would be short-lived. Political turmoil and a failing economy persisted. Meanwhile, appeals courts lightened his sentence; eventually a judge cleared him of killing protesters; for corruption, a fine and time served, 2011's anger replaced by 2017's apathy.

"It's fear, security has an iron grip on this country. Taking to the streets isn't an option," says this man.

This woman says, "The revolution didn't change things but made it worse. Enough politics."

While this man says, "Mubarak should be free. During his time, life was better."

But now the painful irony; for thousands who took to the streets in 2011 to protest the president, they now wallow in prison while Mubarak is free -- Ian Lee, CNN, Cairo.


VANIER: North Korea is ready to carry out another nuclear test, that's according to two U.S. officials. They are telling CNN that Pyongyang could conduct its sixth underground nuclear test at any time. They say satellite imagery shows a potentially significant change at a test site.

Two tunnel entrances have been dug out and weeks of activity involving vehicles, personnel, equipment suddenly stopped, a similar pattern we've seen just before the previous tests.

We're going the take a very short break. When we come back we'll check in on the big coming-out party in China for this panda; the name, Bao Bao. Stay with us.




VANIER: Bao Bao the panda is enjoying her public debut in China. She was born in America and the 3-year old moved to the land of her ancestors last month. She has been quarantined since. She is getting used to a new language, a new diet but her handlers say she is adjusting much better now and, as you can see, the appetite is back. So that's good news.

All right.


VANIER: Let's bring you the latest on what's happening in Australia.

Hey, Derek.


He's (sic) got a bit of culture shock there from America to China.



DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I want to take you off the coast of New Zealand. On a lighter note, did you know that there is a private charter airplane that not goes from one location to another, it's a circular flight, Cyril. It's called the Flight to the Lights.

You go check out the aurora australis, which is known as the Southern Lights and this is a 128-passenger airplane. The cost of the airfare, about $2,800 U.S. per economy seat. But look at the views. A once- in-a-lifetime experience. I think I'd do it.


VANIER: The price tag is a little steep but that is amazing.

And you are in the middle or you're looking at it from a distance?

You're looking at it from a distance. But it's overhead. It's the impacting magnetic fields.

VANIER: All right. That is amazing. Thank you very much. Derek Van Dam from the CNN International Weather Center, thank you.

And thank you for watching. I'm Cyril Vanier and I'm back with the headlines in just a moment.