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Severe Storms Shift to Southeast; Interview with Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio; Why Did Kushner Meet with Former Russian Spy? Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:05] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump addressing the war on terror at a White House reception last night. The president telling a group of senators the U.S. is, quote, "doing very well" in Iraq and that, quote, "soldiers are fighting like never before", end quote. The president, however, made no mention of the U.S.-led airstrike that killed more than 100 civilians in Mosul. A top U.S. commander in Iraq said there is a fair chance that airstrike caused their deaths, but he said ISIS may have put the victims in harm's way.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: British Prime Minister Theresa May formally submitting the U.K.'s request to leave the European Union. The two- year withdrawal process is set to begin when May's letter is presented to the European Council president. Scotland could throw a monkey wrench into the Brexit plans. Lawmakers approving a plan for an independence vote from the U.K., preferably before it leaves the European Union.

CAMEROTA: Your future in online privacy is now in President Trump's happened. The GOP-led House voting to repeal internet privacy connections approved by the FCC in the Obama administration's final days. Opponents say if the measure is overturned, broadband providers can collect and even sell user data without permission. The privacy rules were intended to give consumers more control over their online personal information.

CUOMO: Severe storms rocking the Texas panhandle and now working their way east.

We've got CNN meteorologist Chad Myers with the forecast.

Oklahoma was on watch, and now it moves.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It does move into Missouri and Arkansas. We had 14 tornadoes yesterday, some on the ground for quite some time. It moves farther to the east today as we would expect. That's how storms do, when they move from west to east along with the jet stream.

So, we're going to get them again in East Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, maybe all the way up to about St. Louis or Memphis later on this afternoon. Now, nothing popping by 4:00. So, you look up and say, oh, it's sunny. That's great.

No, that isn't great because that sun is the heat for the storms. That energy will pop up later on this afternoon by 6:00 or 7:00. The storm could be severe. Some will rotate. Some will have tornadoes on the ground in that area right there.

Keep your NOAA weather radio on if you have one. The storms continue tomorrow -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Good to know, Chad. Thank you very much.

MYERS: So on Friday, as you know, the health care deal was dead, but last night, President Trump said he is resurrecting the health care fight. What does the Freedom Caucus think about that? We'll ask one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus, Congressman Jim Jordan, when he joins us next.



[06:37:44] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that we're all going to make a deal on health care. That's such an easy one. So, I have no doubt that that's going to happen very quickly. I think it will, actually. I think it's going to happen.


CAMEROTA: All right. That was President Trump telling a bipartisan group of senators that the battle over health care is not over despite saying that it was last week.

So, when will we see another attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare?

Let's discuss this and more with Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. He is a chairman emeritus and founding member of the House Freedom Caucus.

Good morning, congressman.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Good morning. Good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.

So, is there a new deal for health care?

JORDAN: That's what we're working on. We want to put together a plan that actually repeals Obamacare, that actually lowers premiums and, frankly, one that hopefully more than 17 percent of the country approves of.

So, we're working hard at that. We've never stopped working at achieving that goal because that's what the American people sent us here to do. CAMEROTA: And are you working with the president on this?

JORDAN: We had a number of meetings with the White House last week and the weeks leading up to last week.

CAMEROTA: I mean since the -- since it failed, are you back at the drawing board with the president?

JORDAN: We're back at the drawing board with every member of Congress, every Republican, and we haven't talked -- I haven't personally talked with the White House this week, but we are working with everyone we can to get accomplished what the American people sent us here to accomplish.

CAMEROTA: And how is that going to work, Congressman, because, look, you in the freedom caucus are the ones who basically are getting the blame for it falling apart last time. So, what's the new deal going to look like that makes everybody happy?

JORDAN: We have always been focused on those regulations, which are driving up the cost of premiums. I have said all along, even CBO said premiums are going to increase over the next three years under the current plan the proposal brought last week.

So, let's get out those regulations. Let's do all we can to lower premiums for the American people. That's what we've always focused on in particular. We've talked about some of the essential coverages that were mandated every plan offer. And we've talked about this thing called community rating that we think is real important to get rid of that regulation if you are ever going to bring down the cost and bring back affordable insurance for middle class families.

CAMEROTA: As you know, your colleague, Congressman Ted Poe, quit the Freedom Caucus last week because he felt --


CAMEROTA: -- that you guys were just too entrenched and too intransigent about finding any compromise in terms of health care. Is the Freedom Caucus fracturing?

[06:40:00] JORDAN: No, I don't think so. Look, every member is entitled to their opinion, their voting card.

And Ted is a good friend. I serve on the Judiciary Committee with him. He wants to do something different now, not a part of the group, that's fine with him.

We've always had that. We've had people come and go over the couple of years that we've been in existence. That's just a part of the legislative process in my judgment.

What I do know is what we told the American people. What I do know is the legislation that was brought forward was not a full repeal of Obamacare. Was not going to lower premiums and didn't unite the country, didn't unite our party, and, frankly, only had the support of 17 percent of the country.

So, let's change that. Let's put together the kind of bill that we -- I think that the American people expect us to put together, that they sent us here to accomplish. Let's focus on that. That's what we're doing.

Quit blaming everyone. Quit saying -- you know, let's just get back to work, do the responsible thing, and put together a piece of legislation that we can all be proud of.

CAMEROTA: Well, Congressman Ted Poe didn't get the impression that you all in the Freedom Caucus are interested in uniting with your colleagues. In fact, he felt that you all are just an impediment. I mean, that you are the caucus of no. Let me play for you what Congressman Poe told us.


REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: I got the opinion that there's some members of the Freedom Caucus, they would vote no against the Ten Commandments if it came up for a vote. It is so easy to sit back, cross your arms and say, no, not going to support that. And then what do we have? We have a situation where we are not making positive changes in the country.


CAMEROTA: What's your response?

JORDAN: Well, Alisyn, there's a little bit of difference between the Ten Commandments and a piece of legislation that only 17 percent of the country approves of.

So, I would just say look at the four corners of the document. Look at the legislation itself. What did it do? What didn't it do?

It didn't repeal Obamacare fully. It didn't lower premiums. It wasn't supported by the Republican Party. Every major conservative organization in the country opposed and only 17 percent of the country like it.

So, there is frankly a big difference between the Ten Commandments and piece of legislation that only 17 percent of the country approves of.

Let's fix that legislation. Let's do what the president said. Let's get a deal put together, but one that accomplishes what we were sent here to accomplish. That's always been our focus, that continues to be our focus, and we're going to be hard at work making sure we accomplish that.

CAMEROTA: And you feel confident that moderate Republicans and maybe even some Democrats are going to like your new proposal?

JORDAN: I think we had a good conference yesterday with the entire Republican members of the House there, talking about ways forward, ways to move forward and accomplish what we all campaigned on, what we were elected on in 2010, 2014, and 2016.

So, look, I'm an American. You got to be an optimist. I'm always an optimist. I think people can get to the right kind of agreement that accomplishes what the voters sent us here to accomplish.

CAMEROTA: OK. Congressman, I want to move on to what's going on in Iraq. In particular, the air strike, the tragic air strike in Mosul that ended up killing civilians, many of them women and children. I want to play for you what President Trump said about this last night.


TRUMP: We're doing very well in Iraq. Our soldiers are fighting and fighting like never before, and the results are very, very good.


CAMEROTA: I don't know. I mean, Congressman, that struck many as insensitive. He didn't talk about the airstrike that killed civilians.

JORDAN: Well, look, I mean, the fight we're in against these terrorist threats and against the enemy all over the world is serious, it's real, and it's difficult. Obviously, when you have tragedies like -- you know, these kind of things happen, you are concerned about it, but what I do know is we've got to stay on the offense and do the best we can to deal with this terrorist threat.

I've not looked at all the details and I've not got all the full reports. So, I can't comment much more than that, but --

CAMEROTA: But, personally, do you think that the president should address the fact that this airstrike went terribly awry from all the evidence?

JORDAN: Again, Alisyn, I have not seen the details of what took place and what happened in this situation.

CAMEROTA: But you know that civilians were killed. I mean, that seems --

JORDAN: And it's always tragic when those kind of things happen, but I want to see the details before I comment any more on what took place there.

CAMEROTA: One last question, when the president says our soldier are fighting like never, what does that mean?

JORDAN: I think the American soldier is always fighting to protect our liberties, protect our freedom and accomplish the mission. I mean, I think they're the greatest fighting force in the world, the greatest fighting force in history, and we owe them the utmost gratitude. So, I think that's probably what the president is referring to, just how much thanks we owe to the American veteran and to our soldiers on active duty who were serving our country's interest and protecting all of us. I think that's what he is getting at, and I think that's appropriate for the commander in chief.

CAMEROTA: I mean, there are a few confusing things in his statement, because, of course, we technically ended combat missions in Iraq.

JORDAN: Yes. Again, I want to see what took place in the incident you are referring to before I comment further.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Jim Jordan, thank you. We appreciate it.

JORDAN: You bet. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much.


CUOMO: All right. Coming up, we have new details on Jared Kushner's meeting with a Russian banker with clear ties to Vladimir Putin.

[06:45:07] Why would he take this meeting? Next.


CUOMO: Boycott averted. The U.S. women's hockey team agrees to a four-year labor deal with USA Hockey, meaning they will play in the world championships.

Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report" -- Coy.


The women were simply looking to be treated as equals to the men's team. Financial terms weren't released, but we know they were hoping for $68,000 a year in salary, whereas before some reports stated they only made about $1,500 for USA hockey.

They were also seeking benefits that the men's team already has -- access to like child care, disability insurance and parental leave. The women liked the deal they saw, so, we will now get to see them defend their gold medal as they take on Canada in the first round of the IHF World Championship Game.

Big win for Team USA. Let's get another one.

South Carolina men's basketball is in the final four for the first time ever, thanks to their leader coach Frank Martin, who just may be the most interesting man in the world -- aside from Chris Cuomo, of course.

[06:50:06] Francisco Jose Martin, born in Miami to Cuban exiled parents, raised by mom, he worked at Dairy Queen at age 12 to help her out.

Then he worked as a bouncer in college. He will focus on coaching hoops instead. The coach is still a tough dude and hasn't forgotten the lessons he learned like always know your surroundings.


FRANK MARTIN, SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH: I don't know who you are. OK, some of you guys are like brand new to the party here. Back in my bouncing days, I knew exactly who you were because I wouldn't let you through the door if I hadn't seen you before. But --


WIRE: Alisyn, I have a flight to Phoenix tonight and coach Martin, who I will interview tomorrow, he will know who I am. I'm not going to mess around.


CAMEROTA: Very readable from the audience. Thank you very much.

WIRE: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: All right. Did Jared Kushner know that he was meeting with a known spy and Putin crony when he met with a Russian banker? Details next.


CUOMO: All right. We now know that President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner met with a Russian banker with ties to Vladimir Putin. Why did he take any bank meeting, and why would he meet with a banker who is a former spy?

Let's discuss what CNN contributor and senior editor at "The Daily Beast", Michael Weiss.

[06:55:03] I love the graphic behind you with the people with the Russian connection. It keeps getting more and more people keep getting added.

So, I can't ask you and expect an answer did he know who he was meeting with. But I've got to tell you, in reading your piece, it seems that if you did any research into this guy, it would be impossible to avoid who he is.

So, let's start with this. Should Kushner have known that he was not meeting in the name of Gorka with an ordinary banker?

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. Anybody on the transition team should have said to him not only was this guy appointed chairman of the bank because he came from a, quote, "law enforcement background," but Vladimir Putin, by presidential decree said he was -- wanted somebody who had a security portfolio behind him.

And this guy's specialty in working in several banks was in personnel, human resources, which is, of course, a KGB modus operandi, to work with people. Absolutely.

And even beyond that, you don't have to go to New York City to understand VEB two years ago, their deputy representative in New York was arrested by the FBI.

CUOMO: That's the bank you're talking about, by the way, VEB.

WEISS: Right, right, was arrested by the FBI for being a Russian spy, running and cultivating sources and assets here in Manhattan. OK? And on the website of VEB, he still, this guy, listed as the deputy representative of New York. He is serving 30 months in an Ohio prison for being an SVR agent.

You could Google your way through this. You don't need an expertise. You don't need to be read into any classified briefing. So, you know, it's severely incompetent.

CUOMO: And Russia isn't making it any easier to explain away. They say we didn't know about any meeting with the bank.

WEISS: Right.

CUOMO: Oh, and the meeting that they had was Jared Kushner, head of Kushner development. That was a little zing into the side also.

WEISS: Yes. But, I mean, VEB is a state-owned bank so meeting with the bank, even leaving aside the KGB portfolio of the chairman, you're still meeting with Russian officials, right? They wear several hats or have different --

CUOMO: So, they would know. They're just trying to add to the intrigue, which is what they do despite whatever forgiveness they get from the Trump administration.


CUOMO: So, Michael Weiss is the advisor, and he hears that the Russian ambassador has asked Jared Kushner to take a meeting with this banker.

WEISS: Right.

CUOMO: What do you go and say to Jared Kushner?

WEISS: Well, either I would say don't do it because number one the bank is under a sanctions regime because of its role in facilitating the invasion and annexation of and parts of Ukraine. Number two, if you are going to do it, we need to have a serious conversation about what you disclose.

You know, the idea when you are -- by the way, there's no such thing as an ex-spy in Russia. Even Putin is on record saying that everyone is an FSB officer for life. So, the idea is you do not want to unwittingly or inadvertently disclose information that could be used against you or that could frankly just help the Russian national interest.

They're not going to come up to you and say, right, so tell me classified secrets. It's about loosening you up, getting to know you, kind of teasing information out of you. Somebody like Jared Kushner, who might not have the experience or wherewithal to deal with a trained intelligence operative, could very well let something slip.

Remember he was on the transition team presumably at the time that he met with the banker, the senior executives. And we don't know, by the way, Chris, if he met with them only once or several times because he won't say. The bank says, yes, this is our traveling road show. But, again, that's P.R.

CUOMO: Now, people want to dismiss meetings as just pro forma. People meet with Russian officials all the time within the U.S. government. There's nothing wrong with that, unless you can say that the meetings had some malintent behind it or afterwards.


CUOMO: What would be the questions that you would have for Kushner?

WEISS: A, did he know the guy's background? B, what was discussed during the meeting? Was there any mention of sanctions? Remember, this is what did Mike Flynn in because he was discussing sanctions on the phone with the ambassador.

CUOMO: So, what if he says, yes, sanctions came up, but I didn't make him any promises.

WEISS: Well, you could say that, but then why were you discussing sanctions with the chairman of this bank who, by the way, financial institutions in Russia are not just financial institutions. They are arms of the Russian foreign ministry. I mean, we know this because U.S. Treasury has designated VEB and several other banks for facilitating this role in Ukraine.

CUOMO: So, you say taking the meeting with the bank alone --

WEISS: Was a bad idea.

CUOMO: -- was a mistake?


CUOMO: You don't care what happened as a result of the meeting. The meeting itself was a mistake.

WEISS: If you absolutely wanted to do it any way, or you felt that you had to do it, again, be forthcoming and disclose this information in advance of being called before a Senate Intelligence Committee.

CUOMO: Because --

WEISS: The fact it's leaking in the media just goes to this notion that the Trump people have something to hide.

CUOMO: So, this is something different than meeting with the Russian ambassador.

WEISS: Right.

CUOMO: Michael Weiss, thank you very much. We direct everybody to "The Daily Beast." You have a great write-through on this.

WEISS: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thanks to you our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is going to be next.

For our U.S. viewers, we have some headlines. What do you say? Let's get after it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation certainly has ground to a halt.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Did they ask you to cancel the hearing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's evidence of a cover-up. What it says, we don't want that testimony.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I appreciate your agenda here. But the reality is, no, no, hold on. No, at some point, report the facts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have great confidence in Devin Nunes. I want him to say.