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Blame Game Ramps Up Over GOP's Failed Obamacare Repeal; Top Dem Demands Independent Probe Into Trump Contacts; U.S. Military Investigating If Airstrikes Killed Iraqi Civilians; 15 Inmates At Large After Tunneling Out Of Prison; 1 Dead, 15 Hurt In Nightclub Shooting; Russian Police Detain About 500 People In Protests. Aired 3- 4p ET

Aired March 26, 2017 - 15:00   ET



[15:00:02] SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: -- didn't pass because it didn't deal with the most fundamental flaw in Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump tweeting today that it's the fault of conservative Republican groups.

REP. MARK MEADOW (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I can tell you, no one has been more self-critiquing than my, than me.

REP CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: This conversation should be more about the people whose lives are going to be impacted by our decisions on their health care. We did not have enough of a substantive discussion.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: But ultimately, I don't think you can blame this bill on any single faction in the House of Representatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's probably plenty to blame to go around.

MEADOWS: This is not the end of the debate. It's like saying Tom Brady lost at halftime.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "CNN Newsroom" starts now.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again and thank you so much for watching this Sunday. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. The finger pointing in our nation's capital is an overdrive in a wake of that failure of the Republican health care bill. And there's plenty of blaming pass around.

This morning President Trump saying the Democrats, the conservative Freedom Caucus and other GOP groups were at fault for the bill failure tweeting they saved Planned Parenthood and Obamacare. CNN White House Correspondent Athena Jones is covering this for us.

So, Athena, a Republican source telling CNN that the President and Speaker Ryan did speak yesterday for more than an hour. And that their relationship is stronger than ever. And I understand that Paul Ryan's people say that they spoke again today?

ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred, that's right. They did speak again today. But let me give you the back story on that conversation today. Yesterday morning the president tweeted out what was effectively a promo for a Fox News show that was airing at 9:00, the show of Judge Jeanine Pirro.

All day Fox had been promoting that new wiretapping details that would come out. Those details didn't really emerge in terms of new news on that topic, but what did emerge is Judge Jeanine Pirro in her opening statement last night in her show called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to step down as House Speaker because of his failure to deliver the votes for this repeal effort.

That, of course, raised a lot of questions about what the president was talking about, was that a coincidence? And so we learned today through my colleague, Ali Malloy, speaking with Paul Ryan's spokesman, who said that Paul Ryan and the President spoke again today and that the President was clear his tweet had nothing to do with the speaker. They are both eager to get back to work on the agenda. And that's the message we have been hearing from the White House the last several days. The president when asked whether he has confidence in Speaker Ryan, whether he's doing a good job says, yes, they have not been putting the blame on the House Speaker for this failure.

We heard more of that from the Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, speaking on "Fox News Sunday" this morning. Watch.


CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS: So does he want Paul Ryan to step down or no?

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: No, he doesn't. And he's talked to Paul Ryan yesterday for about an hour. He believes what he said in the Oval Office on Friday. He doesn't blame Paul Ryan. In fact, he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard. He enjoys his relationship with Paul Ryan. He thinks that Paul Ryan is a great Speaker of the House.


JONES: So very kind words coming from the chief of staff and others in the White House. But the big question here, Fred, going forward, I mean the proof is in the pudding, can the White House work well with Speaker Ryan and with the entire Republican Caucus in the House and in the Senate in the end to get done some of the big things they want to get done. And we'll just have to wait and see if they can.

WHITFIELD: All right, Athena Jones, thank you so much from the White House. Appreciate that.

Let's discuss all of these with our panel now, CNN Political Commentator, Jeffrey Lord, also with me Robert Zimmerman who is a Democratic strategist and the Democratic national committeeman. Good to see both of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to be with you.

WHITFIELD: Jeffrey let me say again with you -- hello, hello. Let's begin with you Jeffrey. The president likes to call himself the closer and to make deals. Should he be to blame for not closing this deal on health care?

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think this is over by a long shot. As I think I heard somebody say this is like saying Tom Brady has lost at halftime. There's a long way to go. I'm looking over here at a Trump book called "Never Give Up."


LORD: Which he is pretty relentless.

WHITFIELD: Right. Well, nobody doubts that he is persistent but he has already placed blame on the Democrats at first. And then he talked about conservative, you know, groups on the hill. Should he be accepting some of the blame because some of the criticism is he didn't even know much about the details of the plan. He didn't get out and campaign on behalf of the plan.

LORD: Right, in all candor here, what is happening in the Republican- controlled House is the current or modern version of what has been going on in the republican party since Teddy Roosevelt split with William Howard Taft or Barry Goldwater and the Republican moderate or Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

In other words, you have conservatives on one hand and the moderate Republicans or establishment on the other side.


[15:05:03] LORD: And over the years, this is has come forward in issue after issue after issue after issue. Today it's health care. But it has been many, many, many other issues. This has been a longstanding battle. And clearly, it's going on still.

WHITFIELD: But, do you see him changing his strategy? I mean, if he's going to move forward on tax reform or infrastructure or if even comes back to health care, do you think this was one of those lessons that he's going to have to reach out more, be more, you know, have a more of a conciliatory, you know, tone as opposed to the way he runs his business by delegating and essentially threatening people?

LORD: Yes, I mean, it's -- it is different to some degree, but I really do have faith in him. He's a good negotiator. But, you know, some of these things are going to take time. And clearly, the thing that astonishes me, that -- and this has nothing to do with the President, these folks were there in Congress most of them for seven years after Obamacare was passed and they kept voting to repeal it, you would have thought that they were have all been together, Republicans, conservatives, moderates, et cetera have a consensus bill and we're standing on the steps of the capitol the day after inauguration to say, here's our package, we're ready to go. That was not case and I -- that was a huge mistake.

WHITFIELD: OK, Robert, real quick.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Fred, yes, if I can point out, this has everything to do with the President. Not only has his antics and his behavior put him at a record low, 37 percent approval rating, he supported and put up the bill that only had support of 17 percent of the American people. And when you've got Republicans in congress claiming that Republicans no less claiming that his bill was a glorified tax cut for the very rich, it show that this President neither understood the concepts of health care nor he spend the time to build a coalition, not just amongst Republicans, not just amongst Democrats, but even amongst Republicans.

And so I think, very frankly, well, I understand Jeffrey is trying to give the President to pass this at the end of the day, this is all about Donald Trump and his failure to lead and to spend at least 17 days on health care and over promising along the way.

WHITFIELD: And some of our CNN reporters have learned that some of those members of Congress who were in the room with the President said that he couldn't even articulate, really, you know, what the plan was all about.

Meantime, there has been conservative media that has been very critical, you know, Paul Ryan saying that he needs to step down. Well, the Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, had this to say earlier.


MULVANEY: I've been in the room with -- in the Oval Office with the President, with the Speaker more in the last couple of days than I ever thought. I've never seen the President for a second trying to blame Paul Ryan.


WHITFIELD: So, Robert, how does this kind of set the stage for the relationship between the President and the House Speaker moving forward?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, let's understand, first a little bit of history when Donald Trump engaged in racist comments about a sitting federal judge over one of the lawsuits, Speaker Ryan called him out for text -- classic textbook definition of racism. So they have a long intense relationship, Donald Trump has said, many occasion, he felt that Paul Ryan did not want to see him win. So it was not a healthy relationship going in.

But now that you have the President and he is obviously where it has to lead and unite, engage in Twitter rants where he's attacking other Republican members of Congress where he is promoting Judge Jeanine's television show where Judge Jeanine calls for Paul Ryan's removal, and it is worth noting that while he's now saying he wasn't trying to do that --

WHITFIELD: All right.

ZIMMERMAN: -- where is the text from Donald Trump, in fact, pointing out that he supports Paul Ryan did not agree with Judge Jeanine?

WHITFIELD: Well, at least according to our Athena Jones learned that, you know, the two of them did have another phone call or, you know, conversation today trying to make sure that they are -- or I guess that the President is in support of Paul Ryan. So, I mentioned the reporting we've been seeing from our own folks, you know, Dana Bash, Jim Acosta, trying to describe what has been happening in the room, you know, prior to trying to get this bill pass before it was pulled.

And I mean, this is some of what was said, that reportedly, you know, President Trump, you know, said, why am I even talking to you when it was Representative Charlie Dent you said, you know, he wasn't necessarily on board. I mean, some very colorful language being used, Jeffrey, so it really sets the stage --

LORD: I bet there was.

WHITFIELD: Yes, that paints the picture that the President was unable to really articulate what the bill was all about and that he really wasn't willing, you know, to convince or do any arm twisting for those who are in the opposition that he wanted to talk to a course of people who are already on board. How is he going to govern this way?

LORD: Well, I'm not sure that all of that is accurate, but I really do think he had roll up his sleeves. I think he has the ability to be -- to reach back to a Democratic President Lyndon Johnson who was very much in the trenches and never hesitated to talk to people.

[15:10:03] If you notice, Senator Paul among other things Senator Ryan Paul said that he talked to the President's three times in one week and the Vice President twice, that is not the mark of somebody who is unwilling to get his hand dirty hear. So I do think you'll see a lot more of that.


ZIMMERMAN: Well, you know something, Jeff? If the strategy is going to be the over promise, remember, he was doing Trumpcare on day one. It was going to be more extensive coverage at a lower price. And, of course, the bill cut funding to cover issues like chemotherapy, psychiatric care and prenatal care.

So, it's the overpromising and the failure to really understand the details of the bill that became the problem. But if you think this was fun, just whether we see how it's going to get Mexico to pay for that wall. I'm looking forward to that. WHITFIELD: All right, Jeffrey Lord, Robert Zimmerman, we're not done. This is just the beginning we'll talk again. And we'll talk about the --

LORD: All right.

WHITFIELD: -- investigation into Russia's meddling in the U.S. election.

The President's White House Chief of Staff doubling down now say the House Committee has a handle on things. And a special panel is not needed? We'll discuss that, next.


[15:15:11] WHITFIELD: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus weight-in today on the going investigation to Russia's role in the 2016 election and rejecting growing calls for independent panel to take over the probe right now?


PRIEBUS: I think we let the House committee do its job and see what they come up with. I mean -- and by the way, they're not going to come up with anything. We've already been told. I mean, I have been on this show. I'm not making this stuff up. Every single person that has been briefed by the Intelligence Community has come back to the sticks and told the press, we have been told, there's no --

WALLACE: You say stick is a reference to microphones?

PRIEBUS: -- there's no truth to the allegation that there is some sort of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.


WHITFIELD: All right, this as three former campaign aides are volunteering to testify in front of that committee. One of them, Roger Stone, and he's speaking out today, defending his controversial contact with an online hacker.

Last week stone admitted to communicating with Gucifer 2.0, an online outfit who claims responsibility for hacking the Democratic National Committee. Nevertheless, Stone continues to deny any collusion with the Russian government.


ROGER STONE, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: The inference that my communication, actually my exchange with Guccifer 2, which is entirely on Twitter both public and private in which I have now made entirely public, constitutes collusion with the Russians is absurd.

Number one, I don't concede that Guccifer 2 is a Russian agent. Go online, there are more theories about that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, "THIS WEEK": Our intelligence officials believe he was.

STONE: I understand. I also said there were no what -- that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Just because the intelligence services say something as we know from history does not make it clear.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're confident these investigations are going to turn up no information that contradicts to your account?

STONE: Well, let's finish with Guccifer. My communication with her is entirely public. It is it is benign (ph).


WHITFIELD: All right, panel is back with us now, Jeffrey Lord and Robert Zimmerman. So, Robert, let me begin with you.


WHITFIELD: Roger Stone says he is being completely transparent. And when he does go before that committee, what would the questions be that you would have for him?

ZIMMERMAN: You know, I have to tell you, if they were filming a movie about dirty tricksters, they would cast Roger Stone in a Joe Peche role. He's a want to be basically who wears a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back.

I mean, the big question of course is -- not only his -- why is Roger Stone talking to Guccifer in the first place? What is the rationale? How did he know that John Podesta was going to be in trouble? Let's be clear, when Reince Priebus says -- as in just in that clip you show that he's perfectly comfortable that Chairman Nunes' Intelligence Committee conducting hearings, of course he is, because Chairman Nunes is brining his information down to the White House and showing to the president. That was clear this week.

WHITEFIELD: And he's on the transition team so there is trust.

ZIMMERMAN: There's trust, absolutely. But there's no trust for an independent investigation. There's no trust for Chairman Nunes to conduct himself in a professional manner. That's where you got people like John McCain and Congressman Adam Schiff calling for an independent investigator. And quite frankly, we need a special prosecutor.

WHITEFIELD: And so, Jeffrey, you know, Roger Stone was also saying that, you know, Intel is wrong, that this Guccifer 2 is not a, you know, Russian asset. Is he going into this already disparaging U.S. Intelligence, is that a problem?

LORD: Well, I don't know. You know, the thing is Roger -- I've known Roger Stone for decades. And I have known he's controversial, but I can tell you one thing, Roger is not -- he's not treasonous. That's for sure. He is the ultimate patriot. You can agree or disagree with him, but committing treason is never something that Roger Stone would do, number one. Number two, a bit of news here, I was contacted last night by one of these individuals, Carter Page, who sent me a letter that he is now --

WHITEFIELD: Who is also volunteering to testify?

LORD: Yes. And he was asking Congressman Schiff, it's an open letter to Congressman Schiff and Congressman Nunes asked him to be testifying -- that he testify. He says he's been defamed. And I had that published today at which is the website for the American Spectator. So, he is very insistent that he wants to be called -- as I think Roger Stone is as well and Paul Manafort.

So, it will be very interesting. And frankly, I think they aught -- really open this wide open. Find out who are doing the leaks here. Let's get all those Obama folks, President Obama himself, let's get everybody in here. John Podesta, who allegedly had ties to Russians. Let's get the whole barrel in there and see what's in it.

WHITEFIELD: So, Carter Page, the former, you know, campaign -- Trump campaign a policy adviser.

[15:20:04] You know, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes really has been a lot of hot water for him going to the White House before, you know, talking it over with his committee. This is what has been said about all of his behavior this morning by Adam Schiff, his colleague in the Intel committee.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) RANKING MARBOR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: My complain with the chairman is taking whatever information he has to the White House when the White House is the subject in a way of the investigation. I think the chairman has to make a decision whether to act as a surrogate of the White House as he did during the campaign and the transition or to lead an independent and credible investigation. I hope he chooses the latter. The country really needs to have an independent, credible investigation in the House.


WHITFIELD: So, Jeffrey, I know you just said, let it all out there. Everybody needs to be on board. But, is there already a problem, because of Nunes's behavior, that it shows that he can be cannot be impartial.

LORD: I remember just a couple of weeks ago, Democrats were saying, "Well, Donald Trump is the president. All he has to do is pick up the phone and ask people what's been going on in these investigations. He has every right to do that."

WHITFIELD: Well, as it pertains to the wiretapping that's for him, you know, with his accusation about wiretapping, be it to be.

LORD: I said that there would problems because they would immediately say he's trying to influence the investigation. In essence, this is exactly what just happened. WHITFIELD: That was different. Yeah, that was different because he was making an accusation speaking as fact, when really he could have -- which was, you know, the call by many, he could have made a phone call to find out what's really at the bottom of it. Is it happening, et cetera, but he didn't do that.

ZIMMERMAN: But, Jeffrey, we did find out. We did find out Jeffrey.


LORD: -- that he's getting.

WHITFIELD: Well, right. And -- go ahead, Robert.

ZIMMERMAN: I would just say, we did find out Jeffrey. It was been now confirmed by the FBI, by the Department of Justice, by the intelligence community that President Trump was in fact lying when he said he was wiretapped by President Obama. So, there's no basis and any reality there and done a wiretapped without quotes, with quotes, however you want to spin it, it was a lie and it was scandalous.

WHITFIELD: Right. I mean --


WHITFIELD: -- James Clapper, you heard that from James Comey. You know, James Clapper, James Comey, all of them have said, you know, it's not, but Reince Priebus continues to asked that to President Trump.

ZIMMEMAN: But, Fred, the bigger issue was now Chairman Nunes is now proposing that his hearings be held without being public, that to be held confidentially. And that also to make all of us concern, because he's trying to choke off public information as Congressman Schiff said. He is trying to diminish the public's right to know and public -- and what's in the public discourse. And we have to ask the question why. And the bottom line is, he demonstrates the time. And, again, he's not fit to chair this committee.

LORD: I certainly would agree we need to get it out there. And I'm sure that Bob would agree that it was time to get President Obama to testify in public and every member of his White House staff and administration that touched classified information that was leaked.


WHITFIELD: That's probably not going to happen, Jeffrey.

ZIMMERMAN: Nor should it happen Jeffrey, you want to deflect, but at the end of the day, this is about why Donald Trump --


WHITFIELD: Yeah. You already heard from Comey. You already heard from, you know, Clapper and then Brennan upcoming, too. So -- ZIMMERMAN: On top of what we've heard from the attorney general live before his committee when he was up for confirmation hearings. Carter Page has lied as well about this relationship with Russia. So, we've had the series of these individuals not told the truth about their contact, so we have the right to know the answers.

WHITFIELD: All right. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Jeffrey Lord, Robert Zimmerman, always good to see you.

LORD: Thanks.

ZIMMERMAN: Good to be with you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, Iraqis are forced to be human shields in booby-trapped houses while ISIS snipers and bombers launch attacks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We're being fired on and Islamic state would not let the families out. We went out in the middle of the night. People were killed, but thank God we manage to skip.


WHITFIELD: Straight ahead, more on the investigation to civilian casualties in Mosul.


[15:28:28]WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

This just in, the U.S. says it will be deploying additional troops to Iraq to help in the recapture of the city of Mosul from ISIS fighters. The additional forces are being described as being in the low hundreds.

The U.S. central command also releasing a statement today on the investigation into civilian deaths in Iraq saying they are investigating exactly what happened and, "will continue to take extraordinary measures to avoid harming civilians."

There are allegations that air strikes between March 17th and the 23rd killed potentially hundreds of civilians in West Mosul. The "Los Angeles Times" reporter who visited the scene of one of the biggest air strikes describes what she saw.


MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE, REPORTER, LOS ANGELES TIMES (voice-over): There were some areas where homes were just completely destroyed in the rubble, so we had to sort of pick our way through. And we could see parts of people still stuck under the rubble, hands, feet. There were some remains that were wrapped in blankets. Most of them that they had retrieved they put in body bags, in these blue body bags and they unzipped some of those because they wanted to show us that some of these victims were women, including at least one pregnant woman and children. There were some babies as well.


WHITFIELD: CNN Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon is in Erbi, Iraq, not far from Mosul. I'm also joined now by Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. He is a CNN Military Analyst and a former Army Commanding General. Good to see both of you.

Arwa, I want to begin with you. What are you hearing about this investigation there in Iraq?

[15:30:07] ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's obviously still ongoing, but this is what we have been able to put together when it comes to at least one of the strikes that took place.

According to one of the local counterterrorism commanders, and it was in his neighborhood that this happened, they were trying pushing forward, and as this was happening, a truck that they believed was and certainly appeared to be a suicide truck bomber was moving toward forces and that is when at least one of these air strikes was called in.

The strike did hit the truck and in the process, and the size of the explosion that was then generated, that seems to have caused some of the homes in at least this one area to collapse. We spoke to an eyewitness who lived a few houses down from where this all took place, describing a pretty terrifying scene. And he said that as he was fleeing with his family, they could hear people screaming, "Please save us, we're still alive."

According to him, in this one particular house, there were at least six families that were taking shelter because the families can't leave. ISIS is holding them hostages. Sometimes the best that they can do is try and get together in what they believe is going to be, perhaps, the strongest structure. But as we know, only too well, it's almost impossible to try to protect yourself in these circumstances.

WHITFIELD: It's a horrible situation. So, Mark Hertling, what do you make of this news just in that U.S. troops, more U.S. troop to be heading to Mosul? What would be the assignment? The number in the low hundreds, what do you envision here?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This has been anticipated for a long time, Fredricka. It's considerations for additional requirements for advising the assist soldiers as the forces continue their efforts within Mosul. And the battle for West Mosul is going to continue to be a tough one, especially in the northwestern region.

I've spent a lot of time in that city, in the (inaudible) area where the operations are now ongoing, are going to be very tough. But as they get more and more forces into that area, they're going to have more and more requirements for advice and assist missions. So this will require more U.S. soldiers contributing spotters and also as in counterterrorism experts with some of the forces that really aren't used to doing those kinds of things.

The U.S. forces will not be deployed as entire units. They will be employed in one or three or five to each one of the Iraqi forces they support.

WHITFIELD: And so, Arwa, will they be welcomed to see more U.S. troops there? And what are they facing once they deal in West Mosul? Describe what there up against?

DAMON: Well, first of all, the U.S. military presence, it's not all that visible to the Iraqi population. When it comes to the Iraqi military, they have always been asking for more support and presumably this is also happening as part of a broader agreement between the U.S. and the Iraqi government. But they definitely do want to see more support.

The challenge of western Mosul is that the civilian population is still there. It's very densely packed. Some of the streets, especially in the old city are so narrow. You can't drive a vehicle down them. And, here's one thing that's really important, again, keep reminding all of our viewers, the civilian population was not able to flee.

ISIS is holding them hostage, almost every single home into this part of the city. And, in fact, in the parts of the city that's already been cleared, they have families in them. And that's what makes this so difficult.

Plus, the type of enemy that the Iraqis are facing, ISIS, is far fiercer, far more sophisticated, far more equipped, better equipped than anything that the U.S. military faced.

WHITFIELD: And so, Mark, you know, you know, while it's Mosul right now and ISIS being on its heels, do you see that potentially Syria is next, particularly that de facto capital of Raqqa?

HERTLING: I think ongoing operations are continuing. In fact, I know they are in and around Syria for the same kind of preliminary actions that have been occurring over the last few months encircling Mosul, the same thing is going on with Raqqa. But truthfully, Fredricka, I believe that there's a lot more work to be done inside of Iraq.

There are pockets of resistance along the Tigris and Euphrates river valley that have not been cleaned up. Mr. Al-Badi (ph) knows he's got to get forces in there once he gets the major cities clear. But I think you're going to see problem areas in Kirkuk province, especially around the town of Fallujah in the (inaudible) mountains and even back down in Diyala.

This fight is not close to being over yet. The major cities are going to be regained soon, but there's still going to be the insurgency of ISIS in the regions. WHITFIELD: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, Arwa Damon, thanks to both you. Appreciate it.

All right, straight ahead, President Trump's health care plan failed keeping Obamacare the law of the land, the words of the House speaker. But what does that mean for you? We'll discuss.


[15:35:10] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now what I would like to see is a statesman on both sides of the aisle getting together and fixing the problems with Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The good thing because he's going to wait until Obamacare fully collapses and then we're going start fresh with a whole new health plan.

UINDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think the current healthcare system is in any way ideal, but removing it without putting a stronger thing in place will inevitably cost lives.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. The failure of the Republican's health care bill has left the future of Obamacare hanging in the balance. This morning on CNN "State of the Union," former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, says he is planning to introduce new legislation and it will include the possibility of a Medicare for all programs.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Obamacare has serious problems. Deductibles are too high, premiums are too high. The cost of health care is going up at a much faster rate than it should.

[15:40:06] Ideally, what -- where we should be going is to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people as a right and that's why I'm going to introduce some Medicare for all single-payer program.


WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now is Senior Writer for CNN Money, Tami Luhby. Her latest piece online, "Saving Obamacare is now up to Trump." Also with me is Lisa Zamosky, a health care journalist and deputy health care editor with Politico. All right, good to see both of you, ladies.

So, Tami, let me begin with you. Is a Medicare for all programs a logical suggestion for the future?

TAMI LUHBY, CNN MONEY SENIOR EDITOR: So this is one of Bernie's, you know, favorite platforms. He introduced it last year as part of his campaign for president, but whatever you think of the merit of single- payer, it comes with one big problem. It will cost nearly $1.4 trillion and require the taxes be raised. I don't think that Congress is really in the mood for that right now.

WHITFIELD: So Lisa, what are your thoughts on Sanders' proposals? Sanders is not one who usually proposes higher taxes.

LISA ZAMOSKY, HEALTH CARE JOURNALIST: Right. And I do agree with what Tami is saying. I mean, I think politically, while it does make sense and he's absolutely right that we are the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee universal access to health coverage, I think politically, particularly at this point and coming off of this bill failing, I think it's a politically very difficult move to expect is going to happen.

WHITFIELD: All right, in the meantime, Tami, Speaker Paul Ryan said Obamacare is here for the foreseeable future, so you have probed insurers and people out there, what is it that most insurers like about Obamacare?

LUHBY: Well, they initially thought that, you know, Obamacare would be good for their businesses. But right now, you know, as we know, it's a troubled program. A lot of people I've spoken to don't think it's in a debt spiral, but there are things that the Trump administration has to do.

They don't necessarily want Obamacare to survive per se, but there are 20 million people on it and it may not look so good for them if they all of a sudden, you know, do things that kick millions of people off of their health insurance. One of the main things that insurers want right now is for lawmakers to appropriate money for the cost-sharing subsidies, which it lower the premium -- lower the deductibles and co- pays for millions of people on the exchanges.

They also want better risk protections in the program so that they can have more protection for dealing with a lot of high costs sickly enrolees, a lot of people in Obamacare right now are sicker than the insurers expected. And they also want to make sure that the individual mandate is not weakened further. That's what requires everybody to get insurance. And that's what brings them a lot of healthy younger people onto the exchanges, which is what the insurers need.

WHITFIELD: So, Lisa, are these things that the Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Congress can achieve, can tackle, would want to address?

ZAMOSKY: Yeah. It's, you know, the administration definitely has broad authority at this point to either bolster the markets, and as Tami said, too, definitely the cost-sharing subsidies and whether or not they're going to continue allowing those to flow to insurers is a huge issue. And if they decide to stop those, I think you will see a mass exodus.

We're coming up along, you know, over time when insurers have to say whether or not they're going to participate in the marketplaces for next year. I think that's something that has to be clarified pretty quickly.

The individual mandate is something that was pulled out of the GOP bill that just failed. It is not a favorite on the part of American voters. It is not a favorite of the Republican Party. But it does pose a real problem for insurers if they choose not to enforce it. And there's definitely been indication that they don't want to.

But without that, you really signal to consumers that it is fine to go without health insurance until you're sick and you need it, because the law still requires insurers to, you know, give you a health plan if you sign up for one regardless of your health condition. And I think that a lot of insurers without that assurance would be unlikely to continue in selling in the market places.

WHITFIELD: Right, the risk there that, too, might contribute to costs being driven up. All right, Lisa Zamosky, Tami Luhby, thank you so much. Appreciate that.

LUHBY: Thank you.

ZAMOSKY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, a large tunnel and inmates at large now. How prisoners dug their way out?


[15:49:12] WHITFIELD: CNN's "Believer" explores all kinds of different spiritualities. In tonight's episode, Reza Aslan speaks with two former top trainers in the churches scientology. Eventually, they were excommunicated, but they continue to follow their faith independently. The catch, they had trouble keeping in touch with their friends and family.


REZA ASLAN, CNN HOST, "BELIEVER": Anyone can just leave the church if they want to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, certainly you can.

ASLAN: You can. But, what if you have a daughter or son remain on staff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My daughter disconnected from me.

ASLAN: She disconnected from him when he left?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Doesn't call me, won't talk to me.

ASLAN: Does you try to reach out to her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, but it's just, you know, it's a wasted effort.

ASLAN: You say you get declared, boy, that's it, boy, the ax has fallen.


[15:50:02] ASLAN: Did you introduce here to scientology?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, sure. You know, I've been a scientologist since before she was born.

ASLAN: Before she was born?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, yeah. So, she sort of grew up with it, you know.

ASLAN: Did you know that that was going to happen?


ASLAN: Can I ask you why you felt it was, considering the consequences, so important for you to say your piece?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, all I can say is really it's a point of integrity. I couldn't be in the organization and see the things that I saw going on and not know that there was something wrong. What's more important, you know, that or some personal pain and discomfort and familial, you know, rejection or something, you know. And I chose the religious aspects of it as being more important.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Reza Aslan joining us now. So, Reza, is what, you know, he experienced something most members of scientology and/or if excommunicated?

ASLAN: Well, we've heard a lot about people who leave the church, leave scientology all together and then have to essentially disconnect with their family members who are still in the church. But this is what's different this time, Fredricka, is that these people are devout scientologists. They have left the church, but not the religion.

In fact, they believe that they are the true scientologist, that the church has essentially become corrupted. It's lost its way. They see themselves as a reformation within scientology.

And so in this case, this gentleman left the church and had to disconnect with his daughter, but he did so because his faith as a scientologist compelled him to do so, which is quite a different story.

WHITFIELD: But then, what is this about a copyright issue, that some who want to continue to follow the state or honor it, but then they are told they can't do it because of copyright laws.

ASLAN: Well, the church says that you can't be a scientologist outside of the church. If anybody leaves the church, they can no longer continue to practice scientology. Now, every church, of course, tries to maintain control over orthodoxy. They're the want who want to say what the religion is or is not.

What makes scientology unique is that they've actually copyrighted and trademarked the material necessary to practice scientology. So for them, they're saying not only are you an apostate, but you are violating copyrights and trademarks, and so therefore, just practicing this religion outside of the church is against the law. Now, obviously, these people would disagree with that.

WHITFIELD: And so what did you learned about scientology that you want people to really understand more thoroughly?

ASLAN: Well, I think everybody has an opinion on scientology. We all know about the accusations of corruption and abuse and those things are absolutely true. But I think few people understand what the religion actually is. What do you do? Why do people become scientologists? What is it about?

For the first time you're going to get to see an auditing session. I get audited on T.V. For the first time you're going to get to see me actually be trained in becoming an auditor. So, I think a lot of the mystery and confusion about scientology as a religion, not as a church or institution, is going to be cleared up a lot for a lot of people. It's quite fascinating.

WHITFIELD: Well, that is fascinating. And why it suppose they were willing to allowed that to be publicized, because we also know there's great secrecy about, you know, scientology, at least that's what many followers have said.

ASLAN: Well, these scientology reformists are essentially saying that they want to come out of the dark now. They've been practicing scientology independently in the small groups around the world for almost 20 years now and they feel like it's about time for them to come out and just simply say, "We're scientologists, too. We agree with you about the problems with the church, but we are people who follow the religion. We are the true inheritors of L. Ron Hubbard."

WHITFIELD: Reza Aslan, thank you so much. We look forward to "Believer" airs tonight, 10:00 Eastern Time after CNN's "Finding Jesus." Thank you so much, Reza.


[15:55:] WHITFIELD: A look at our top stories right now. A search is under way for several people after a shooting inside a pack Cincinnati nightclub overnight. A 27-year-old man was killed, 15 others were wounded. Police say the early morning shooting stemmed from a dispute that happened earlier.

Russian police have detained about 500 protesters in Moscow for holding, "an unauthorized demonstration," according to state media. A prominent Russian opposition figure was among those detained. The group is upset with government corruption. Russia's prime minister is accused of taking bribes. Organizers said similar demonstrations were planned in 100 Russian cities today. And a group of inmates at a prison in Mexico are on the run after staging a brazen escape. They broke out, Thursday, through a huge tunnel under a prison wall. The breakout happened Thursday, about 200 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border in Ciudad Victoria. The tunnel was sealed with concrete on Saturday.

The next hour of the CNN Newsroom starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happening now in the Newsroom. Health care fail and the ensuing blame game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people who are to blame are the people who would not vote yes.

LEE: This bill didn't pass because it didn't deal with the most fundamental flaw in Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump tweeting today that it's the fault of conservative Republican groups.

MEADOW: I can tell you, no one has been more self-critiquing than my, than me.

DENT: This conversation should be more about the people who's lives are going to be impacted by our decisions on their health care. We did not have enough of a substantive discussion.

MULVANEY: Never once I see him blame Paul Ryan.

COTTON: But ultimately, I don't think you can blame the defeat of this bill last week on any single faction in the House of Representatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there's probably plenty of blame to go around.

[16:00:01] MEADOWS: This is not the end of the debate. It's like saying that Tom Brady lost at halftime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CNN Newsroom starts now.


WHITFIELD: Hello, again. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.