Return to Transcripts main page


Michael Flynn Omitted Russia Income; FBI Says New Bombs Might Not be Found by Airport Screeners; Trump Voters on First Month of His Presidency; Vice President Pence Says Congress Crafting New Health Care Legislation Now. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 1, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] MATIAS FERREIRA, SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER: Given, you know, something on a golden platter.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ferreira graduated the academy president of his class, an honor given to him by his fellow recruits. And now in uniform again, he is an inspiration to the community he serves.

FERREIRA: I tried to get myself involved in everything I can to help somebody's bad day turn into a good day.

GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. We do have breaking news tonight. A new revelation about former Trump National Security adviser Michael Flynn who was fired last month after less than a month on the job. He initially failed to include payments from a Russian broadcaster in his financial disclosure form, we've learned. Now a form he filed yesterday does have that new information.

I want to bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles outside the White House.

Ryan, what more are you learning?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is quite a bit of new information that we're learning about the former National Security adviser, Michael Flynn, as you mentioned. This comes with a batch of -- a variety of these financial disclosure forms that were filed by numerous White House staffers. And Flynn was in that group. And it tells us a lot about his finances in 2016. He made about $1.5 million in 2016.

But as you mentioned, Ana, what will certainly be scrutinized are three different sources of income that Flynn received from Russian sources. These were three different speeches that he gave. One to that Russian television network, RT, which is a state-owned television network, another to a cargo company and another to a cyber security company. And what's interesting about these three particular disclosures is

that they were left off a prior report that Flynn had filed in February and then they were added on in this March report which he officially signed on March 31st just yesterday.

What we know about each one of these speeches is that he was paid at least more than $5,000. He has to report it if he is paid more than $5,000. And we know through Democratic sources who have had access to this material that Trump made as much as $45,000 in that speech to RT.

Now we've known about this speech for some time. What we had originally been told was that Flynn was paid money through a speaker's bureau, but now these financial disclosure forms tell us that he was actually paid directly from RT.

Now why is this a big deal? Well, we know that Flynn has offered up the opportunity to receive immunity in exchange for his testimony not only to the FBI but to those two different intelligence communities, the intelligence committee in the House and the intelligence committee in the Senate in their investigation into Russia's attempt to meddle in the American election.

So you can bet that these particular speeches will be scrutinized even more now that we've learned about them and you can bet that Democrats who have been critical of the way the Trump campaign handled itself in 2016 will bring this as part of those accusations that they have against the Trump administration -- Ana.

CABRERA: Ryan Nobles, thanks for the quick work there and getting us that information. We appreciate it.

I want to bring in our intelligence and security analyst, Bob Baer.

Bob, you know very well why people in Michael Flynn's position are not allowed to accept money from foreign governments. How big of a deal is this?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Mistrust of the Russians and the word is that RT is an intelligence front in many ways. And so are these two other companies. They're very close to the Kremlin.

What was the purpose? Was it just speeches? And, also, he is under the emolument clause as a former general and he cannot take money from a foreign government. In saying that RT is a news organization isn't going to wash. And then lying on these forms -- not even sure he's lying but just forgetting to put stuff down isn't perjury. I don't think the FBI is going to come after him. I'm not sure but he's certainly worried if he's asking for immunity if he crossed some line.

But, you know, there's also the question of what did he tell the Russian ambassador when he called them. The call led to his firing. What did he say during this call? Was it classified information? Or was it just, you know, passing time with the guy? We simply don't have that. But you can count on the FBI is going through this very carefully and deciding what to do with it. CABRERA: What could be the penalty in this case?

BAER: Well, you know, the Espionage Act is horribly written, and this isn't a case of espionage, but it's something his lawyers have to fend off against right away. Perjury is a slap on the wrist. The last thing we need is a political scandal of this magnitude right now and I think Flynn is beginning to understand the danger he's in, and that's why he's coming forward and going through his records and saying, look, this is all benign.

[20:05:08] We're just going to have to wait. The FBI is clearly not talking about this.

CABRERA: Wow. Well, it is another piece of the puzzle. Bob Baer, thank you for weighing in.

Let's talk more with our panel about the political side and the fallout from this. Joining us CNN political commentator and host of "The Ben Ferguson Show," Ben Ferguson, and former chairman of the Washington, D.C. Democratic Party, A. Scott Bolden.

Ben, the president has worked very hard to defend Flynn at every turn. Given this new information now is it time for the president to distance himself?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so. I think Flynn is in a situation where there's no downside for him personally after listening to his lawyers to ask for immunity because he understands that there is very much here an appetite on -- for some, on the Democratic side to get someone in trouble officially and say, look, this is a bigger and broader indictment of the Trump administration.

I think reality for him, he understands he's not sitting in the best place right now and he's going to be on the defense, so why put yourself at more risk? Any smart lawyer, I think, would tell somebody in his situation after having to resign and maybe even admitting some of this money that he did make off these speeches that were public speeches. People knew about them. There was video, there was audio of them. You know, when they're out there, you should put those on the disclosures. So from his perspective, I think it's probably the right move. But I don't think the White House needs to distance themselves at this point from him.

CABRERA: So, Scott, as Ben just mentioned, the speeches are out there, why not report these payments on the first form?

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, WASHINGTON D.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, let me just use this in the words of Mike Flynn. The only people who want immunity are people who are guilty. Now let me put my white collar criminal defense hat on and as a former prosecutor he's got two forms. The first form he fills out, he leaves it off. The second form he fills out, he adds it when he's no longer in the position. That is a fact that we list as a bad fact when we look to see whether someone has committed a bad act or crime. The intent there is that you didn't want to disclose it and, remember,

at the bottom of these disclosure forms every government disclosure form is that you've sworn to tell the truth, that everything on that form is accurate and, if not you will be suborning perjury essentially and there's a statute there and you can get up to a year in jail as well as fines. So why would he not disclose it?

That will be investigated. That's part of why they've asked for immunity and remember about immunity, immunity means that you think you may have done something wrong or, better yet, you believe law enforcement --


FERGUSON: Not entirely true.

BOLDEN: Please let me finish. Law enforcement look at what you did may feel or believe that you've done something wrong. So immunity is a prophylactic. But again, in Mike Flynn's own words, if you want immunity like Hillary Clinton, then you believe you've done something wrong. Legally wrong.


FERGUSON: With all due respect -- with all due respect there have been an awful lot of people, and you as a lawyer I think should know better than to imply --

BOLDEN: I probably do. I probably do.

FERGUSON: Let me finish. Let me finish. You should know that there are many people that have asked for immunity that have given testimony that did nothing wrong and were never indicted. So for to you imply that every person in America, in history that's ever asked for immunity is guilty of a crime is pretty egregious especially from a lawyer because I bet you --


BOLDEN: I'm using Mike Flynn's own words.

FERGUSON: Let me just finish. If you were the lawyer for Mike Flynn or anybody else in the situation, I would hope as a good lawyer, as a good counselor that you would counsel them to ask for immunity. But to imply as a lawyer that everybody that asks for immunity is somehow guilty that is absurd and I think it's irresponsible especially from somebody who has a degree and is as a lawyer --

CABRERA: Ben. Ben.

BOLDEN: Please let me jump in here.

CABRERA: Ben, those were words that both the president said on the campaign trail.

BOLDEN: Exactly. CABRERA: And we also heard Michael Flynn say just that as well in an

interview. But let me -- let me broaden the conversation and not just focus on Flynn right now because, Ben.


CABRERA: When you look at the president and how he has handled some of the allegations and just this investigation into the Russian meddling in the election, do you feel like he is taking this investigation seriously enough? He calls it phony. He's called it a scam. Does someone usually ask for immunity during a fake or phony investigation?

FERGUSON: I think you have to separate what Flynn has done from what the White House and the fact is Flynn now is only thinking in his best interests. The White House is completely different on this issue than maybe Flynn is.

CABRERA: Well, the White House should be thinking of the interests of the American people, right? And if Russia --

FERGUSON: Right. And I think they realized --


CABRERA: And tampering in the election, that's not -- that's not phony, is it?

FERGUSON: Let's be clear about this. There are a lot of people that hack into a lot of things and they hacked in when Obama was there but no one was claiming they were trying to have influence over the Obama administration. The fact is here the White House is saying there are plenty of investigations going on.

[20:10:03] We will cooperate with those investigations and we will answer questions. And many of the people around Trump at the very top have said they are more than happy to testify, have offered up in transparency this week. The only person that's asked for immunity is someone that had to resign and is now playing defense for their own personal reasons. That's completely different.

Every administration official and those around the Trump administration have willingly come forward and said we are more than happy to be investigated. So I think they're taking this very seriously. I also think they're being transparent at the White House over this, and there is politics that's being played with this.

Democrats want to beat up this White House and as long as they can keep the Russia issue going on, they are winning political points from the American people. And that's why they're so focused on it.


BOLDEN: Ana, let me just say this, Republicans and Democrats are very concerned about these Russian hacks, these Russian fake news, and all of these contacts between the Republican administration or Trump and the Russians, whether there was collusion or not or changed the results of the election. That's a Democrat and Republican issue.

But I will tell you this, I think the White House is very concerned about this because with immunity if he is granted it, even queen for a day immunity where he comes in, tells everything that he knows and that no law enforcement agency can use it against him if he's later prosecuted, look for others who are going to be interviewed to seek the same immunity if they are put under oath.

And while there may be some bravado with the White House right now, I've got to tell you what he's going to say, Flynn and others are going to say if they get immunity, I'll be honest with you as my colleague just said, he's on his own right now. So you don't know whether he's going to play ball or he's going to play bad in the sandbox.

I'd be very concerned if I was the White House but more important I'd be concerned if I was Michael Flynn because asking for immunity regardless of what you think about it means that either they think they've done something wrong or that the government could think they've done something wrong. Keep looking and keep watching --

FERGUSON: Or Democrats are just trying to find something wrong.

BOLDEN: And Republicans are looking, too, Ben. This is an American issue.

FERGUSON: I agree.


BOLDEN: This is an attack on our democracy. It has nothing to do with Republicans or the win of the White House. It really doesn't.

FERGUSON: That's just not true. Look at some of the statement from Democrats.

BOLDEN: So you stop talking about that along with all your colleagues. This is an American issue.

CABRERA: I mean, regardless of any of the political personnel who are investigating, James Comey with the FBI has said he is looking into it. So I think you can put partisan politics aside and look at just that investigation alone.

BOLDEN: Exactly.

FERGUSON: No, I'm fine with that.

CABRERA: But hopefully find answers.

FERGUSON: But let's be clear, there are some Democrats who have made some pretty intense, outlandish statements who are very clear that their whole motive here is political. I'm not saying the FBI is political here at all. What I'm saying is, if we're going to talk about this being a true investigation, then many of the congressmen and senators and Democrats who are out there saying things and implying things that they just don't know to be true just to score political points is very irresponsible as well.

BOLDEN: I don't know exactly what you're talking about.

CABRERA: All right, got to leave it there. Ben Ferguson and A. Scott Bolden, we've got to go, guys.

BOLDEN: With the NSA and Nunes are the companies that are on to the White House.

CABRERA: Got to go. Thank you both.

BOLDEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: Tomorrow morning on "STATE OF THE UNION" Congressman Adam Schiff will join CNN's Jake Tapper to talk about the future of the House Russia investigation. Of course Adam Schiff is the ranking member on that intelligence committee and where does it go from here. He will respond to this breaking news as well on Michael Flynn. That's at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific only here on CNN.

Straight ahead, a dangerous threat to commercial flights just uncovered. The CNN exclusive next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:17:38] CABRERA: This is a report you will only see on CNN. New information that may impact the next commercial airport and airplane flight you take. The next airport you use. It's about terrorists, ISIS and other groups who may have found a way to get bombs on an airplane even through the most sophisticated screening equipment.

Let's discuss with CNN safety analyst and former FAA safety inspector, David Soucie.

And David, this is what we're hearing specifically from the FBI that terror groups overseas somehow got their hands on the exact same type of bomb screening machines that are used in these airports and they're learning how to fool them. How huge of a development is this?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It's very big, Ana. And it depends on which particular machine they received. But if they've got a machine that tests for incendiary devices, the things that we've been testing for over the years, that's not that big a deal. They already know that we have that capability. What's bigger is the fact that if these -- if they have the machine that was able to test these most recent laptop bombs, those kind of things that are much more sophisticated, that can be a very difficult thing to overcome because now they'll be able to look through all of the safeguards and the things that we put in place to mitigate those types of bombs from coming into the United States.

CABRERA: How do you see airline security in the United States responding to this?

SOUCIE: Well, security is reactive. It's very reactive so as soon as there's new intelligence it can be upgraded and changed. And that is what happens. And there's other mitigating strategies that they can use, namely don't let the laptops onto the airplane and that can be very inconvenient for most travelers. However, if it's necessary that would be the next step until they can figure out a way to overcome or to detect the undetectable at this point.

CABRERA: So different machines, different techniques.

SOUCIE: Right.

CABRERA: Would we be able to see some of the changes if they were to make some tweaks?

SOUCIE: You will absolutely. There's some you will see and there are some that you won't. There's a few that you get procedurally. There'll be things that change as part of the way that the security works as you have certain screenings on certain passengers. So as you move it through you have not do the same thing for every passenger because obviously that could be detected by the terrorists and they would adapt to that mechanism. So you have to continually change it, continually upgrade it, continually respond and assess whether what you're doing is working or not and then improve that.

[20:20:02] So as I said it's very -- it's a very reactive type of security measure. And that's really all they can do. They can look for it, they can get the information, the intelligence like they have now, about the fact that they have these screening machines. But now there's another level, there's something else that has to go and that can get very expensive as well and difficult to react to quickly.

CABRERA: We don't know the details about how these terrorist groups may have gotten their hands on the screening equipment. Do you hear of that stuff being stolen? Is that something that can go missing? Help us understand what this screening equipment really is.

SOUCIE: Well, the screening equipment, I can't really tell too much about what the screening equipment is. However, what is missing, there's no full set of security equipment that's missing right now. It's all serialized, catalogued, and very well taken care of. What the difficulty is when parts or pieces of the equipment can be purchased like replacement parts, for example.


SOUCIE: And those purchased parts are brought together and then it can be reassembled. And that's I think where the biggest threat would be at this point.

CABRERA: Very interesting. David Soucie, we appreciate your expertise. Thank you for coming on.

SOUCIE: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Good to see you.

Still to come, his approval ratings are one measure. They've hit new lows this week. But what do his supporters think of President Trump's performance so far?


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Sixty plus days into the Trump presidency, what grade do you give President Trump?


CABRERA: They'll tell us next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:25:48] CABRERA: President Trump's approval ratings dipped again this week reaching as low as 35 percent. Some are calling that a danger zone, but what about his supporters? You may recall some of the voter panels CNN brought to you during the course of the presidential election. Well, CNN's Alisyn Camerota this week circled back and met with some of his most-diehard supporters in Hartford, Connecticut. She wanted to know how they view Trump two months in and here's what she heard.


CAMEROTA: So here we are 60 plus days into his presidency and we want to get your grades and your impressions of how President Trump is doing.

So, Toni, let me start with you. What grade do you give President Trump? An A already. Based on what?

TONI DIBARTOLO, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: I feel that he's trying very hard. I feel he's already getting stuff accomplished.

CAMEROTA: Such as?

T. DIBARTOLO: Well, I feel that he is trying to, like, loosen up the restraints on business and I know he's trying with the health care but he -- I know that didn't work out as well as we had hoped.

CAMEROTA: It didn't work out at all.

T. DIBARTOLO: Yes, well, it's true, but it will go up again and they'll have to adjust it a little bit.

CAMEROTA: OK. Pax, what grade do you give the president?


CAMEROTA: Based on what?

HART: The TPP, the Keystone Pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline, the travel restriction, fantastic. And I know it's --

CAMEROTA: Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. Hold on.

HART: Yes. CAMEROTA: The travel ban hasn't gone into effect. The travel ban has

been shot down by two courts.

HART: It's in place. He took the initiative. He did it which is exactly what he said he was going to do. Every single thing that he's done is exactly what he said he was going to do.

CAMEROTA: But health care, some people put in the loss column. The travel ban is not yet in effect. The budget has not gotten a hearty agreement from lots of people. He says he'd get rid of DACA right away, he's not done that, for the Dreamers. He said that he would get rid of the Iran nuclear day on day one. That has not yet happened. The wall hasn't been built. Yet he hasn't defeated ISIS in 30 days.

SARA MARIE BRENNER, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: Normally we give presidents 100 days. And I don't think this president even got a weekend.

CAMEROTA: How long realistically will you give him to accomplish some of those things?

BRENNER: I think we need to see where we are in two years. You know, see where we are midterm.

CAMEROTA: OK. Josh, what grade do you give the president?


CAMEROTA: Based on what? What accomplishments do you think he can hang his hat on?

YOUSSEF: Well, you know, I think it's premature to ask that question, I mean, 60 some odd days into his presidency. He has a four-year term. If you read the "Art of the Deal," you see the similar in the business world you see similar pressures and opposition and defeat and he just keeps coming back and coming back.

CAMEROTA: Sara Marie, what grade do you give the president?

BRENNER: I give him an A.


PAULIE DIBARTOLO, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: I give Donald Trump, President Donald Trump an A. And to be honest with you, if I had a marker I would put a plus next to the A.

CAMEROTA: What do you base that grade on?

P. DIBARTOLO: Well, we see that he's working with Ford Motor Company to build three plants in the United States and a major league investment in the United States as opposed to moving those jobs or keeping those jobs in Mexico. All right. That's huge.




W. BAER: I don't give anybody an A.

YOUSSEF: Business people are negotiators, are by nature people that bring opposing parties and different people and factions together and that's what he's attempted to do.

CAMEROTA: Why wasn't he able to close the deal on health care?

YOUSSEF: Because politicians are dividers.

CAMEROTA: But isn't Donald Trump the master deal maker that was going to be able to bridge that divide?

YOUSSEF: But if you're talking to an empty chair, I mean, what divider? There's nothing that you can -- there's no bridge across this gulf.

T. DIBARTOLO: I'm just really surprised at how much opposition he's getting from the right as well. I'm very disappointed. I'm very conservative.

CAMEROTA: You mean, again, the House Freedom Caucus, the most --


CAMEROTA: The most conservative?

T. DIBARTOLO: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: They should get onboard?

T. DIBARTOLO: Definitely. Without a doubt.

CAMEROTA: How has your life changed or has it changed in these past 60 plus days since President Trump was elected?

HART: There is just this very quiet restoration of law and order and security. We're addressing illegal immigration, we're starting to do deportations. We're not playing this kind of shell game with -- with radical Islamic terrorism. We -- there's somebody in the Oval Office that is on it.

CAMEROTA: But what has he done specifically, tangibly? What has he done in the past 60-plus days to fight ISIS?

[20:30:02] HART: Well, I mean, we have -- you know, there was an attack that was done in Mosul.

CAMEROTA: That went terribly awry.

HART: That one was considered bad. But I know that we have somebody who was going to be very aggressive and not let up on this. W. BAER: It was like people laughing, literally laughing in his face

about the prospect of him being elected and he got elected. And we don't know how -- as far as the votes and fraud and everything else. My assumption is that he probably would have gotten elected by a higher number than the results actually showed.

CAMEROTA: But are you saying that you believe that there were three million to five million illegals who voted?

W. BAER: I know that in New Hampshire. I've seen it. I've seen bus loads of people --

CAMEROTA: Again, this is where we could come back at you.

W. BAER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: When you say you've seen it, do you mean a dozen or do you mean three million? There's a difference.

W. BAER: Obviously there's only 1.5 million in New Hampshire. So I don't think three million people --


CAMEROTA: Well, the number that President Trump said was three million to five million illegals in California.

W. BAER: Well, I don't doubt that.

CAMEROTA: No, he said in California.

W. BAER: Extrapolating based on what I've seen with my own eyes, bus loads of people coming in whether they're illegal, meaning they came into the country illegally or they're illegal voters. They came over from Massachusetts into New Hampshire.

CAMEROTA: So to be clear --



CAMEROTA: I care. Because just to be clear, you saw with your own eyes bus loads and bus loads of people coming from somewhere other than New Hampshire to vote. You saw that.

W. BAER: Well, I know Josh has seen it and yes, I've seen it, too.

CAMEROTA: Josh, did you see bus loads and bus loads of people coming in from somewhere else?

YOUSSEF: I wouldn't characterize it as bus loads and bus loads.

CAMEROTA: What have you seen?

YOUSSEF: But I've seen cars coming in from out of state that are full, from -- without a state plates. I live right across the street from the polling place in my ward. It's noteworthy to consider when eight or 10 people get out of two or three cars.

CAMEROTA: And you think that people from Massachusetts are driving across the border to vote in your ward?

YOUSSEF: I believe that's the case, yes. And whether it's Massachusetts or Maine or some other state there are people coming across, and it's not fair to wholesale characterize it as voter fraud because maybe they're borrowing -- I mean, you --

CAMEROTA: Maybe they are. Billy, are you sticking with your -- that you've seen bus loads or no?

W. BAER: I have seen bus loads. Yes, I guess I can't cite the bus loads that I've seen and where I've seen them. On television I've seen it.

P. DIBARTOLO: Basically as far as I'm concerned, if the -- I'll say the alt left, the loons on the left and the ultra right conservatives would stay out of his way everything would be perfect. Let's face it, he's been taking attacks from both sides from the beginning. OK. I don't know if you read his book "The Art of the Deal" but I've read it before. He goes into things long term. He's not a short-term guy. He's willing to stick in the game for 10 years to get things done.

Donald Trump, first of all, they are not going to wear him down. He is the master of wearing everybody else down.


CABRERA: Still to come, now you've heard what Trump supporters think of the job he's doing. Up next you'll hear how political pros view the Trump presidency. 71 days in. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:37:05] CABRERA: You just heard from some of Donald Trump's biggest supporters. They gave him a good grade so far despite the setbacks, controversies swirling around his administration and even with the Russian investigation casting a cloud over the White House. The failure of the health care bill, a travel ban held up in federal court, many of the people who voted for President Trump give him an A.

Let's bring in our political commentators Nina Turner and Ben Ferguson joining us to discuss further.

Ben, President Trump's approval rating is in the mid-30s. Yet you just heard from those supporters, what grade would you give the president?

FERGUSON: I would give him an A right now. I think he's done a really good job on many of the things he said he was going to deliver on.

CABRERA: Like what? FERGUSON: Not only national security issues and specifically dealing

with ISIS, but also starting the border wall, and the funding that comes forth, the first billion this year, $2 billion next year for that. He's also been very focused I think on issues of trade. And also American manufacturing. So on those issues, outside of Obamacare repeal and replace, which has certainly been a tough issue so far for him, the other issues most of the supporters see as him delivering on his promises.

Wall Street seems to be liking him overall. Businesses seem to be liking him. And American workers really seem to be liking him. So I think he's going to be just fine.

CABRERA: Ben, the economy is up. Things are looking good in that department.


CABRERA: But some of those things you just ticked off as accomplishments haven't actually come to fruition. The wall hasn't started to get built. The funding for the wall hasn't been approved. The travel ban -- you talked about dealing with ISIS and the travel ban is again held up in court in terms of dealing with terrorists. How do you see him dealing with ISIS? What steps has he actually taken there?

FERGUSON: Well, one, I think he's made it very clear that he's beefing up our military and is advocating in his budget request that he's given out that he is going to spend a lot of money on rebuilding our military. I also think the fact he put Mad Dog Mattis in there also was a key sign that we are going to go after the offensive on taking on ISIS. And if you look at the wall, for example, one of the things that we have to be clear about is you don't get just to start building the wall the day after you become the president. He's been in there now for not very long. I mean, we're talking January 20th.

He has decided to put the budget request in. He's been going through the motions. Many governors and many border states have been supporting him on this as well, and so it does take time. But there's no implication or -- you know, that he's not going to be able to get that done. Asking for the funding that he needed, putting out those requests for proposals, you've got literally hundreds of businesses right now that are actually putting in those requests from the Department of Homeland Security for those bids to be part of building that wall project so this is the government -- slow pace of government working at a pretty fast pace on something like this.


FERGUSON: So it's not as if he's going to walk out there and lay a brick on this. That would be meaningless. He's doing it the way the government works. So I would give him an A on that and most of his supporters would as well.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, Nina, I mean, to the bigger picture point, you know, there have been a lot of fixation on the Russia-Trump investigation up on the Hill. But Ben gave him an A. We heard from all of those supporters of President Trump who have given him an A.

[20:40:06] Do you think this could be an example of the Washington elite being out of touch with everyday Americans like those we just heard from?

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the Washington elite on both sides continue to be out of touch. But, you know, I'm not surprised. I don't think many people would be that supporters that President Trump's diehard supporters would give him a good grade. They see him as being on their team. And that's what any commander- in-chief or any elected official that the people who voted for them tend to support them and are more lenient on them.

But I would give the president an I, an incomplete. And as a college professor I would give him that because you cannot executive order your way through the presidency. And so although it has not quite been 100 days yet, a lot of the things that President Trump promised on the campaign trail have not come to fruition just yet. And he made it seemed like they would come to fruition right away. So we still have lots of work to do in this country to really push people to the level that they need to be and for the president to fulfill his promises, and number one of those promises was the promise to make sure that he would make health care better in this country for those -- for the citizen of this country and that has not happened.

CABRERA: It's interesting, Ben, because when we talked back during the election cycle you were not a Trump supporter at all.


CABRERA: What was it that changed your mind?

FERGUSON: Well, I think there's two things. One, early on in the primary, I was for Ted Cruz. And after Ted Cruz bowed out I put my support behind Donald Trump. And the reason why is because I think he had a good understanding of what the American people wanted and I also did not trust Hillary Clinton. And so I was on the never-Hillary train and Donald Trump for me gave me some things that I could sink my teeth into. Specifically there was two issues. National security was number one for me. Obamacare was number two for me. And repealing and replacing it.

So there is work still to be done on health care. I'm a realist here. In the 17 days when they tried to get it done were probably in the arbitrary deadline was not a good play. I think Paul Ryan rushed it. I think they have to go back and start all over on this. But we're still not even to the 100-day mark in this administration. And on the other issues, he's been delivering whether it'd be the Keystone Pipeline, whether it'd be American jobs and bringing manufacturing back, he's done the things and the funding requests for the wall to actually build a wall. He's also done that not just for this year but also advancing it for $2 billion in year number two.


TURNER: The taxpayers were not supposed to be the ones paying for that wall which I think the wall is ludicrous. And in terms of the Affordable Care Act, i.e., Obamacare, Republicans have seven years to come up with a good idea that would not take away health care from Americans but to make it better. Seven years. Notwithstanding President Trump but Republicans had seven years to repeal and replace it with something stronger and better. And they never --


FERGUSON: I agree with that.

CABRERA: I want to talk about something other than health care because we have talked about that a lot. But this week there will be a vote on President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. So when we talk about that incomplete picture right now in terms of accomplishments with Donald Trump this could be one that he gets. A win perhaps in his column.

Nina, is this the time that you see Democrats should filibuster? There's been a lot of talk about that. Or should they let this one slide?

TURNER: No, they should stand strong. I mean, Republicans changed the rules of engagement for President Obama who was still president at the time he was trying to push through his nominee. And the Constitution doesn't say you get 7 1/2 years or seven years and eight months, he still has the time. And they refused to even bring it to the floor to vote Judge Garland up or down. So I -- the Democrats need to hold it strong on this.

FERGUSON: Yes, are you saying that the Democrats should actually just hold him up just because they didn't get their way? You have no other reason to hold him up? No legal rulings, not the fact he's had a 97 percent unanimous decision above him after a court case had gone through his court?

TURNER: Are you telling me -- but Ben --


FERGUSON: Let me finish this real quick. The last time he came through not one single Democrat when he was being approved for the Tenth Circuit opposed him or said anything negative about him. You look at his judicial record and they say what you're saying is you're just playing politics for trying to hold him up because you're not happy about it, saying political. Not about the man he's record, not about his court cases. Not about the Constitution. That seems a little bit shallow politically.

TURNER: But the same thing, Ben, can be said for Judge Garland. The same thing. His record and what Republicans did by stripping away. No, listen to this, Ben. We might not agree on this but this is the point. They took away President Obama's constitutional ability to be able to bring to the Senate a judge that should have been voted up or down and they did that for purely political reasons and it was not right.


[20:45:04] FERGUSON: Because there was an election coming that was very close.

TURNER: But President Obama got -- he was supposed to have eight years, not seven years and eight months. Eight years. But he didn't get that.

FERGUSON: Have Democrats in the past --

TURNER: He didn't get that respect so that was purely political. Democrats have some very real concerns about Judge Gorsuch and they have every right to ask the questions that need to be asked.


CABRERA: We need to leave it there but the bottom line is what we're hearing from both of you is that each side held up the Supreme Court nominee for both presidents, and it does speak to where we are with the country right now.

Nina Turner and Ben Ferguson, thank you both for sharing your thoughts.

Up next with his first attempt ending in outright defeat President Trump is now promising to go another round on health care. He says good things are coming and the person who could help get him there, not this it guy, but Democrats. Is he being serious or is this all part of an elaborate game of sorts? We'll explain, next live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[20:50:17] CABRERA: Obamacare is the law of the land. Those were House Speaker Paul Ryan's exact words after the Republican healthcare bill crashed and burned. There were no signs Republicans were ready to take another shot at a repeal. But the White House seems to have other plans. In fact here's the vice president speaking today.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even as we speak, I'm told the members of Congress are forging ahead working to craft legislation that will usher in the end of Obamacare.


CABRERA: Let's talk with Avik Roy, he's a former policy adviser to Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio, and the president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity.

Avik, what do you think about what we just heard from the vice president that they're going to take this second round of repealing and replacing Obamacare?

AVIK ROY, PRESIDENT OF THE FOUNDATION FOR RESEARCH ON EQUAL OPPORTUNITY: Well, Ana, I can tell you what's absolutely happening, there are conversations going on behind the scenes in the House of Representatives, in the Senate, in the White House, and between those different institutions trying to see if they can forge a deal that can get this bill out of the House. It can't get out of the House without some meaningful modifications, the Freedom Caucus has said what they want, now it's up to the leadership and the moderates to see if they want to agree with that.

CABRERA: So basically you're saying everybody is going to have to go to the right if this is going to happen?

ROY: Not necessarily. I mean, one of the things that I've been writing about at "Forbes" and elsewhere is that there are ways to tweak this bill such that moderates can get what's important to them, which is more people having health insurance, while the Freedom Caucus get what's important to them, which is fewer regulations and therefore lower premiums for health insurance.

You can do those things at the same time, actually, if you make premiums lower more people can afford them. So that's the deal that could be struck. I guess the question is whether that deal is the deal that will be struck. The Freedom Caucus has taken its stand about deregulation, now the question is, will leadership and the moderates play ball with them and do something on the subsidy side so that all sides can get what they want.

CABRERA: Remember, there was only 17 percent of Americans who supported that last bill that Republicans put out there. Do you think there is any real will to tackle healthcare again?

ROY: I do think there is a will. I mean, most of these Republicans, all of them in fact, ran on repealing and replacing Obamacare and they are hearing from a lot of their constituents, from a lot of outside groups, from a lot of conservative pundits, that to give up after debating a bill for 18 days makes absolutely no sense.

My personal view is that when you hear people like Paul Ryan saying that Obamacare is the law of the land for the foreseeable future and the president saying he wants to negotiate with Democrats, what they're do 100 percent is a negotiating ploy. They're trying to scare the conservatives to get back to the table by saying if you don't agree with us, we're going to negotiate with Democrats. But we know that not a single Democrat is going to vote for repealing Obamacare so there's not really an obvious legislative solution that brings Republicans and Democrats together at this point.


CABRERA: And what you just said, I mean, there are conservatives who might be in the Freedom Caucus taking that threat seriously then?

ROY: I don't think they're taking the threat seriously, but they do feel a certain amount of pressure, all this stuff about how they're the hell no caucus and can't agree to anything and have move the goal posts. I think they feel a little bit of pressure from that and are trying to be more explicit about what they're for which is a constructive stuff in their favor. So if you're more constructive and you say what you're for, then that gives other people the ability to say, OK, how much of that do we want to take or not take and go from there.

But at the end of the day, Ana, the real thing that matters is how many people are going to have health insurance? Is this thing going to solve our long term debt and deficit problems, that remains to be seen.

CABRERA: And will people be paying less for health insurance.

ROY: Absolutely.

CABRERA: And still get what they are at least getting right now or more which would be ideal, right, that we'd pay less and get more.

ROY: Yes.

CABRERA: That's kind of possible --

ROY: And the devil is always in the details. Yes, the devil is always in the details with healthcare.

CABRERA: I know.

ROY: And so, you know, we can all sit here in theory and say well, you know, conservatives want this and moderates want that, and the White House wants that, but until we see it in actual legislative language with numbers we can't really evaluate what it is. And I think you're going to need more than 18 days or 30 days to get this done. The Democrats took 14 months from the time Barack Obama was inaugurated president.


ROY: Until the time the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. They should take at least as much time to work through what they want to do.

CABRERA: It's not simple but hopefully we'll be talking down the road about some solutions.

Avik Roy, thank you again. And we'll be right back. Stay with us.

ROY: Thanks, Ana.



[20:58:53] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Peter was the most important disciple of Jesus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He singles Peter out from the rest of the disciples by saying he's the one that Jesus trusts to be the rock of the heart of the movement. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was Jesus' best friend. He was his brother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Headstrong, stumbling, confused, questioning. Jesus loves Peter not in spite of his failings, I think sometimes but because of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of you is going to betray me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is it? Who is it?

ANNOUNCER: Peter. A loyal follower. Or unfaithful coward. FINDING JESUS, new episodes tomorrow at 9:00 on CNN.


CABRERA: Don't miss it. "FINDING JESUS: Face, facts, Forgery," tomorrow night again at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

Thanks for being with me tonight, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. "THE AXE FILES" with David Axelrod starts right now. Have a great night.