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What's Next for Trump After Health Care Defeat?; Dems Blast Devin Nunes for Canceling Russia Hearing. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 27, 2017 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were very close. It was a very, very tight margin.

[05:58:40] SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: You can't threaten and intimidate and say, "I'll walk away." It's more complicated.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: There's no reason to gloat here. This program needs reform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This place was a lot more rotten than we thought.

STEPHEN MILLER, POLITICAL ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP: The failure of this bill doesn't solve the problems of Obamacare.

REINE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I don't think the president's closing the door on anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman Devin Nunes facing calls to recuse himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's zero reason to cancel Tuesday's meeting.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: The events of this week call out the need for an independent commission.

PRIEBUS: They're not going to come up with anything. President Trump is going to be proven correct.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, March 27, 6 a.m. here in New York.

Up first, President Trump defeated on health care and trying to turn the corner this week. The president now blaming those hardline conservatives after initially pointing a finger at Democrats.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Reporters' phones were burning up all weekend with all the spin and the blame. It's playing out in public. But is that going to get the White House the win that it so desperately wants? What are they going to focus on next? And are they willing to work with Democrats? Those are the two big questions. We have them covered for you.

Here we are on day 67 of the Trump presidency. Let's begin with Sara Murray, live at the White House.

Sara, what do you know?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.

Well, the White House certainly needed a win last week. That is not what they got. Today, they're going to try to regroup, refocus, this time they're saying on tax reform, but there's little indication that will be any easier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): The White House desperate to move forward after a bruising defeat on health care.

PRIEBUS: We're moving on the tax reform. We've got the budget coming up.

MURRAY: The Trump administration turning its focus to the next battle: cutting taxes, which could prove even more challenging. That after failing to deliver on the president's promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, despite Republicans having control of the House and Senate.

SCHUMER: If you analyze what went wrong with ACA, if he repeats them in tax reform, they'll get nowhere.

MURRAY: This as the finger-pointing intensifies.

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: I think there is plenty of blame. I think what happened is that Washington won.

MILLER: I think the House moved a bit too fast. Eighteen days is simply not enough time for such major landmark legislation.

MURRAY: President Trump shifting the blame from Democrats to the conservatives who who stood in the way of the bill, tweeting they "saved Planned Parenthood and Obamacare" as his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, is leaving the door open to bipartisan compromise.

PRIEBUS: If Democrats come on board with a plan down the road, we'll welcome that.

KASICH: They've got to reach out across the aisle, and Democrats have to say, "We will work with you to improve and fix this plan for people."

MURRAY: Meanwhile, a longtime member of the House Freedom Caucus, Ted Poe, is resigning from the group over its role in defeating the bill. Poe writing in a statement, "Saying no is easy. Leading is hard."

House Speaker Paul Ryan also under scrutiny in the wake of the health care defeat. President Trump tweeting to his supporters to watch a FOX News program which began like this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House.

MURRAY: The White House is insisting that Trump didn't know the FOX host would make these comments and that the commander in chief is standing by the speaker.

PRIEBUS: He doesn't blame Paul Ryan. In fact, he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard.

MURRAY: Republicans also gearing up for another fight: over Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch, with Democrats vowing to filibuster his nomination.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I applaud the Republicans obeying the rules that currently exist and not changing those rules. And the rules right now, for good reasons, are 60 votes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now one of the other changes coming to this White House, we're expecting the president today to announce a new American Innovation Office. This is going to be led by his son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner. It's designed to make the federal government a little bit leaner and meaner, adopting more solutions from the private sector.

Back to you, Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sara. Thanks so much for all that reporting.

So President Trump's first legislative loss comes after months of promising major wins if he were to be elected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We don't win anymore, folks. But if you elect me, we're going to win. We're going to win so much. We're going to win with our military. We're going to win on trade. We're going to win at the border. We're going to win so much, you are going to get so sick and tired of winning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: We are tired, but it's not from winning. Let's discuss with our panel. We have CNN political analyst David Gregory; White House bureau chief for "The Washington Post," Philip Rucker; and associate editor and columnist for Real Clear Politics, A.B. Stoddard.

A.B., great to have you here in studio with us.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR/COLUMNIST, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: To be fair, is there a deal-maker on Earth who could have wrangled the House Freedom Caucus and the moderates, the moderate Republicans, together to pass this in 17 days?

STODDARD: Right. That -- that is the question. Steve Bannon and Donald Trump in the White House thought because of Donald Trump's immense popularity in the district of those Freedom Caucus members, those fiscal hawk conservatives who have been such a pain in the side of House Speaker Boehner and then House Speaker Ryan, that they would be swayed by Trump's popularity with their voters. And that was the wrong call. If they had been actually watching this group, they would have known that they still would have been the problem at the end.

Seventeen days is not going to do it. Maybe a year and a half wouldn't have done it. But the idea that it was going to be a quick win, that Trump was going to hold -- remember -- an emergency session of Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare; it was going to happen on day one, week one was really misguided. And they didn't really work on a path to sort of bring outside pressure to bear. And that was the complaint about Speaker Ryan. Did he go get enough stakeholders to the table to bring pressure on those 30 members?

CUOMO: Well, just like everything in life, timing is everything. Right?

David, you had two different things going on here. You had -- they tried to do it very quickly, this 17-day number. And then you had the larger timing question of "What have you the been doing for the last seven years other than complaining about the current la?" And Mulvaney, the head of the OMB, talked about that. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[07:05:08] CHUCK TODD, HOST, NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS": Why didn't you have a bill that could pass in that seven years or why didn't you acknowledge that you needed more time?

MULVANEY: Here's the hurry. There's a lot to be done. We needed to get rid of Obamacare. We needed to fix the system so we could help folks back home and then move on to tax reform so that we could help people get back to work. The president wants to do a lot of things and is not willing to do what other politicians would do.

This president is not like any other president that you've ever seen before. He will not do things the same way. It will be different.

CUOMO: Mulvaney talks fast, but these things take time. Put up a graph here for the audience of how long things have taken in the past. Right? This was 17 days, but it didn't happen. Ninety-six, welfare reform. Remember, that was Clinton's push. Fifty-six days. A hundred and six days for Medicare Part D.

Affordable Care Act...

CAMEROTA: Look at that. Obamacare took 187 days. You know, that's interesting, I think, Chris, because Republicans always say, you know, they rushed that through; Democrats rushed that through. But look at the difference between 17 and 107.

CUOMO: Right. I think the word they use more often is "forced" that through. And it was two different bills. I mean, these were complicated things. This would have required two reconciliation bills also.

But David, the idea of timing, could they have done this a different way? Could they have come prepared with something, or was this inevitable?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYSIS: I think one of the pieces of the forensic study, the obituary here of this Trump effort to repeal and replace is that they weren't so committed to replacing. And the conservatives in Congress, particularly the speaker, was much more tepid on that idea, of "Well, we have to have something to replace Obamacare with." They really just wanted to repeal it.

Remember former Speaker Boehner, who said they'll never have a replacement bill, because Republicans have never agreed on what to do about health care reform and extending those who don't have insurance, extending insurance to them. That was a fundamental problem. And the White House came in really light, really unprepared on what replacement actually would look like. And I think, then, it was also a lot of presumption that Paul Ryan had complete control over the caucus and that Trump could threaten because of his electoral win, to say, "If you don't get on board with what we want to do, then I'll exact some kind of revenge." And they were wrong.

CAMEROTA: So Philip, now the -- the question is how to move forward, and President Trump sent out this tweet about who he basically blames for this: "Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus with the help of Club for Growth and Heritage have saved Planned Parenthood and Obamacare."

So it sounds like he's laying the blame at their feet of that most conservative branch.

PHILIP RUCKER, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, he's certainly not laying the blame at his own feet. But look, this is what the White House is trying to do. They're trying to regroup. I was over there yesterday meeting with some of the senior advisors. And they say, "Look, we're humbled by this. We knew there were mistakes in this process. But we're moving forward."

They're trying to learn some lessons. They're tweaking their processes. I don't think in the future, as they start to look at issues like tax reform and the infrastructure plan, that they're going to trust the House as much to take the lead. I think the White House is going to try to develop its own plan and really take the lead on its own strategy for how to win over some of these Republican members and, most importantly, try to persuade some more moderate Democrats to join them at the table.

CUOMO: A.B.... GREGORY: I think we need to add something here. This is not pure being humble. This is someone who ran on a messiah complex. This is someone who says that "I am the change. I am a leader. I know how to get things done. All these other people are incompetent. He ran as a messiah." So to say he's been humbled -- I'm not saying that Philip is saying this. I'm saying that this notion that they knew what they were getting into. There were people in the White House who understood what are the politics of the town really like. But they couldn't have their way with him. The president wouldn't listen and wanted to burn everyone in the process.

And so I have questions about how humble the president is going to be at the end of all this.

CUOMO: We've seen zero humility, because he wants to push the blame away. That's his own calculation. Let's be honest: You can't find anybody close to him to say he understood this bill. That he had his arms around it, that he wanted to fight for it as a signature thing. So he wasn't really invested in the way maybe he needed to be from beginning. The facts prove that.

Do you think the right Poe reference for what this means about the caucus, Ted Poe leaving, is to use the "nevermore" line from Edgar Allan Poe? Or "The Telltale Heart."

STODDARD: Right.

CUOMO: What is going to be the future of the Freedom Caucus. Do you think the idea of Ted Poe leaving is a sign that that's it, nevermore; you're never going to hear from them again? Or is this going to be the steady beat inside that party that Trump has to deal with or he'll lose every time?

CAMEROTA: Nice allusion.

STODDARD: I think there are some faint-legged Freedom Caucusers that could follow Ted Poe out the door. But there's a hardy center that believes that this -- they wield even more power than they did last week.

This budget fight, do you think they're going to vote for a debt ceiling increase when their old friend, Mike Mulvaney -- Mick Mulvaney, who used to be a member of the caucus and never voted for a debt ceiling increase, comes to them and says, "You've got to vote to raise the debt ceiling"? No, no, no.

[06:10:04] This Planned Parenthood battle, this budget battle coming, which precedes any kind of real, you know, mileage under their feet on tax reform. This is going to be a tough couple weeks and months ahead. And it's really -- I think the Freedom Caucus has dug in. And I don't see them backing down.

CAMEROTA: But Philip, tax reform, everybody likes tax reform. Right? That's one that should be easy. They should hit that one out of the park. But of course, there's a domino effect. I mean, health care and the failure of that has a ripple effect. RUCKER: It certainly does. You know, one area you could look at for

some possible action here would be tax reform is really hard to get done.

You know, one area you could look at for some possible action here would be the infrastructure plan. It's something that Democrats in the broad scheme, at least, support. It's $1 trillion in new roads, all sorts of other projects that Trump really wants to dig in and try to do.

He's got his own people at the White House trying to develop, through the American Innovation Office, how to do it, how to find private partnerships with businesses to get those roads going. That could possibly be a little easier to get through Congress than tax reform just because tax reform is such a complicated issue. There's a reason that years and years and years have gone by and it hasn't been done.

CUOMO: Well, that's about -- you know, the ambition of reforming the code of changing fundamentally the way we take in taxes. That hasn't been done in a long time.

But you could tailor something to specific industries, to specific middle-class families that they may get some purchase on. That's what they're thinking about now, how to retool it.

Let me ask you about something, though, Philip, while we have you. You interviewed Kushner. What is this new innovation role that he has? How much weight do you put it behind what it can actually achieve?

RUCKER: Well, it potentially could be quite influential. He's going to have this office that he's having in the White House. Kushner is going to have far-reaching authority throughout the federal government to overhaul the bureaucracy, to focus on areas like Veterans Affairs; to look at opioid abuse. They're bringing in New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to chair a drug commission. That's going to be announced later this week.

This office is basically going to be an internal think tank at the White House where they're going to be dealing with CEOs like Tim Cook at Apple, Elon Musk at Tesla to come up with ideas from the private sector for how to fix the federal bureaucracy.

And for those watching the palace intrigue of the White House, the important thing here is it signifies the really expanding power of Jared Kushner. Thirty-six years old, the president's son-in-law. He's now a shadow diplomat and focused on this innovation project, too.

CAMEROTA: Well, so many voter would welcome some progress on those things that you've just outlined.

Panel, thank you very much.

RUCKER: Thank you. CAMEROTA: Coming up on NEW DAY, we want to let you know that Texas Congressman Ted Poe, who resigned from the House Freedom Caucus after that health care defeat, will join us live.

CUOMO: All right. So we're going to take you inside an odd situation. Devin Nunes. He submarined his own committee. The idea of an independent investigation is now compromised, but Democrats are not really trying to push him out. Why? Interesting answer ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:17:02] CUOMO: So can House intel chairman Devin Nunes truly lead an independent investigation into allegations of anything, really, after what we just saw here, let alone with Trump and Russia? The question comes after he abruptly the hearing where intel leaders from the Obama administration would have testified.

Let's bring back our panel: A.B Stoddard, David Gregory and joining us now, Philip Mudd, CNN counterterrorism analyst, former CIA counterterrorism official.

David, first question here is do we see cancelling the hearing as another brick in the wall of his resistance to this? Or do you think this is just process at play?

GREGORY: Well, it may be a little bit of both. But I think he's got a lot of recovery work to do to try to get back hold of some independence in all of this. He cannot be a cheerleader for the White House. He cannot be out there ahead of the committee trying to, you know, win the political arguments in this fight. He's got to be able to pull back, use the independence that he's got as chair of this committee and go where it takes him, or it should be taken out of his hands. And there should be some kind of select committee.

So this is where the integrity of their committee, the intelligence committee and of House leadership needs to take hold here. If you want to get to the bottom of these questions and if you're the White House, despite how dismissive they have been, and how they want to go to war with these things. You've got to let this play out in a responsible way. And what the congressman did, in the course of this last week, it was not responsible.

CAMEROTA: Phil, some of the people in Mr. Trump's campaign, who are said to have those dubious ties to Russia -- Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Carter Page. They have volunteered to testify. Will we ever hear from them?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I'm not sure we'll hear from them. I don't think we should. I think this is like my NCAA basketball bracket. It's hosed up from the day one. I lost on the first weekend.

But, you know, here's the point. Let's step back for a second. There's a real critical point we're missing, we're blowing through. The purpose of this from the outset was, I though, to understand Russian involvement in our election and more important to have the Congress ask an appropriate question. Is there a congressional role in ensuring, when we go into the next elections, that we could protect candidates and the American people so we can vote free and fair.

For example, I think Congress ought to be looking at whether they provide cyber protection for candidates like the Secret Service provides physical protection.

Instead, what are they doing? They're calling witnesses. Who can call witnesses, who can ask witnesses for things like their cell phones, their travel records? Who has the investigative tools and also can walk across the street to the Department of Justice and potentially ask that someone be considered for prosecution? That's the FBI. They've already told us they're investigating people.

The bottom line: the FBI should be looking at people. The Congress -- the Congress should be looking at elections, and they're not. They're engaged in a political game.

CUOMO: You agree with that, A.B.? I mean, I heard that from another prosecutor this weekend. What did you think Nunes was going to do? He's a politician. Of course, he's going to cover for his own. In some part, they always do. That's the perspective from the law enforcement on this. Fair one?

STODDARD: I think Phil is right. I mean, it sounds good, but it's a catch-22. The congressional responsibilities of oversight of the executive branch. And so if members of Congress feel that they need to, especially after James Comey, with all due respect, performance in 2016. He broke a lot of rules. He really hurt his credibility on both sides. He was investigating Trump while investigating Clinton but making these public declarations about her. Really injected himself into the political process.

I think, actually, that members of Congress feel that it's their job to find out what's going on at the DOJ and make sure, as a separate branch, and a coequal branch that they're monitoring and providing oversight of the executive branch's investigation.

So that's when it gets confusing, even though Phil is right that it would be better if there were clear distinctions the FBI could do all that investigation about the associates' relationships and possibly collusion while the Congress focused on cyber security, which is actually a really pressing bipartisan issue.

CUOMO: We haven't heard anything about Russian interference out of any of these committees. They're talking about is Trump dirty on this? And the Trump side is saying, "Are these leaks dirty?" I mean, they're at cross purposes politically.

And that whole -- and that whole cyber meddling thing is getting lost.

CUOMO: Right.

STODDARD: And that long-term is.

CAMEROTA: You know, interestingly, David, though Devin Nunes has been compromised by lots of accounts, you're not hearing Democrats calling for him to step down as chairman. We had Congressman Jim Himes from Connecticut on NEW DAY last week. He basically made the argument that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. And that they like working with chairman Nunes, despite this hiccup and that they don't know how they would be able to work with a different chairman.

CUOMO: Saulwell City (ph) had a bad day. But he's also had good days. He ran to the White House with information. Went around his own committee. And he came up with a crazy story about it and that was just written off as a bad day in politics.

GREGORY: Well, look, you know, they've got to figure out whether heads need to roll. I'm not sure that that solves the bigger problem. This was an attack on the United States. That's what John McCain called it. And attack on the United States. Russia using its influence to manipulate our election. And they don't want to stop here. They don't want to stop in the U.S. There are other elections in Europe that they'd like to interfere with.

This is a larger problem that Congress should be getting a hold of, that the FBI should be investigating. That the president of the United States whomever that president is, must be worried about.

And so we've got to find a way to pull back and look at this in a competent way and not an overly partisan sort of way. You know, it's on both sides, like you said, Chris. I mean, you heard Senator Schumer yesterday on ABC. He was saying, "Well, before we start, you know, confirming Gorsuch, let's just wait a few more weeks on this Russia investigation." I mean, that's highly political, as well. It's got to be taken out of that context as much as it can. So they can be some overall understanding, because everybody's a stakeholder here. Everybody.

CUOMO: Elizabeth Warren wanted to -- she tried up that trial balloon last week. She said no Supreme Court until we figure out the Russian thing. Who knows how long that would take? Probably won't happen.

Phil Mudd, it has been reported that Donald Trump has been at some Trump property, like, one of every three days...

CAMEROTA: Mar-a-Lago.

CUOMO: ... since he's been president. I mean, he moves around a little bit, but mostly Mar-a-Lago. But that's a political question, how voters feel about his vacation versus work schedule. Do you want to know who goes to Mar-a-Lago and who has this now apparently unique access to our president?

MUDD: Sure, I do. I mean, if you look at the transition of the president from the private sector to the public sector, we pay his paycheck. And there's a responsibility for people like me at low levels, when I was at the FBI or CIA to explain what I was doing and why to the Congress. As the people's president, the man who lives in the White House, which we all paid for. We ought to know who he's talking to. I don't know what the secret it. I think one of the things we're seeing in this president, and you saw it earlier in the show today, when you had that segment showing how little time was spent on trying to negotiate that bill. As a president who's not realizing the responsibilities, whether it's negotiating with the Congress or opening up his records, including his tax records, visitor records, that now he's responsible to us.

And I think this is another example. I don't care if he travels. I think we ought to pay for it. If he wants to go to Mar-a-Lago, fine. I don't care if he plays golf. But I think we ought to know who he's talking to. I think that's a fair question

CAMEROTA: Panel, stick around. We have many more questions for you, including the strategy on ISIS. Because dozens, possibly hundreds of innocent civilians were killed by a U.S.-led air strike targeting ISIS in Mosul. How did that mission cause so much collateral damage? We have a live report from the Pentagon next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:28:55] CAMEROTA: The Pentagon and Iraqi officials now investigating the collateral damage from a U.S.-led coalition airstrike targeting ISIS in Mosul. Dozens, possibly hundreds of civilians were killed in that strike. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is live in Washington with more. Do we know how this happened, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the answer is not yet, Alisyn, because U.S. military and the Iraqis now investigating all of this to try and ort out exactly what did happen on that street, in that neighborhood in western Mosul.

What we do know is that an airstrike was called in on that block where we've seen such devastating damage, some 60 bodies or more now pulled from the rubble. And the airstrike was called in. Houses collapsed. But what exactly called all of this collapse, all of this damage? We don't know. The Iraqis are saying they don't see evidence of an airstrike on the buildings. The U.S. knows that it did call in an airstrike. There may have been a suicide bomber there in a truck. Those explosives might have caused the secondary explosion and all of this devastation. It's all under investigation right now.

And I think one of the things that needs to be underscored is, it is ISIS that is holding civilians hostage in these areas.