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Source Possible Break Through in Health Care; Judge Targeted by Trump Assigned Deportation Case; Interview with Rep. Dina Titus. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 20, 2017 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:01] MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: -- time suggested to members, if we don't get this done this time, you all are going to be stuck with Obamacare. Clearly, that thinking has shifted, and we know that especially Vice President Mike Pence has been very involved in speaking to members and members of the industry to try to do this for a second time.

Now, I did just get off the phone with Congressman Cole, Tom Cole, and he has always been a supporter of the Health Care Bill. And he tells me that in his discussions with his colleagues in the house, the sense that he gets is that differences have narrowed and that this thing is very much alive.

And he said that members seem cautiously optimistic, and the cautiously part especially pertains to leadership. Because many members of leadership feel like they have been burned too many times. So they don't want to get ahead and promise something when they're not sure if the votes will be there this time.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We don't know exactly the parameters of the deal, this so-called "breakthrough".

LEE: Right.

BERMAN: But we do know what they have been discussing broadly speaking for the last few weeks, and it has to do with essential health benefits. It has to do with the so-called community rating, which is really pre-existing conditions. States requiring that people treat people, offer the same prices essentially for health care no matter what your pre-existing condition.

LEE: Right. And here is the essential sort of tug-of-war that's still going on. We know that conservatives want to repeal as many of the title on regulations as possible, and there are actually some members who will not settle for anything less than a full, wholesale repeal of the bill. And then there are the moderates who fear that taking away some of those essential benefits, taking away some of the basic protections that are in Obamacare simply will not work and will not be accepted by their constituents.

So, whether or not that tug-of-war actually ends up, you know, resulting in a deal, it's still a question.

BERMAN: All right, MJ Lee, stick around with us right now. We're going to bring in some more people to talk about what could be a breakthrough. We're joined by Margaret Hoover, a CNN political commentator and Republican Strategist. Rebecca Berg, a CNN political analyst, national political reporter RealClear Politics, and Jeffrey Lord, CNN political commentator contributing editor for American Spectator.

Rebecca, let me start with you because you have your sources on Capitol Hill also. Talk to me about the pressure within the Republican caucus to get something, anything, done over the next couple weeks.

REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's some very acute pressure, John, from the White House, from outside the White House in terms of these Republican constituents clamoring for some sort of deal. And the pressure is really on the house freedom caucus at this point.

One of the greatest signals of this I think has been the way Chairman Mark Meadows, chairman of the freedom caucus, has been talking about healthcare over the past week or so. Last week when he was home in North Carolina, he gave an interview to a local radio station and said he thought something had to happen on health care within the first 100 days that this was alive. He stressed that discussions were ongoing with the vice president and with leadership. And so, he has been signaling that this is very much still in progress.

The house freedom caucus just doesn't want to be saddled with the blame for this, and after the bill fell apart the first time, of course, we all know that the president pointed to the house freedom caucus and the conservatives and said this is on you. So now they're really scrambling to get something together here.

BERMAN: You know, Jeffrey Lord, I remember the day before the first bill fell apart, you told me, essentially, that it probably wasn't worth getting it through. It probably was worth backing away from it.

If this does get done in the house and only the house, Jeffrey, in the next, you know, eight or nine days, how big of an accomplishment would that be?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure, a three two one, one two three or --

JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, John, just a couple things. Number one, I was just appalled they have this ready to go, that they have (inaudible), they had seven years to do this. I don't know what they would do, you know, by the time that they should had it done.

Secondly, there was no question the president wasn't going to give up on this. I mean that's just not in his nature. I do know that Mark Meadows has worked very, very hard in getting this accomplished.

BERMAN: All right, Jeffrey, we're having -- I'm having some hard times with your audio. My control room will let me know if everyone else is as well. Margaret Hoover, let me go to you though with this. Because I know you talked to members of the so-called "Tuesday Group". This is a lot of more moderate Republicans who had issues with this first version of the bill to say the least. Those issues were on essential health benefits. Those issues were about the community rating.

You know, McArthur, the head of the Tuesday Group, he may be willing to go forward with this deal, but the Charlie Dents' of this world, the Leonard Lances' from the Jersey of this world who really were skeptical about this. Can you win them over with that agreement on this, and what about the Senate, Margaret?

HOOVER: Well, I mean look, the Senate's an entirely different question. The real Trump crux of the matter is as you've mentioned, can the Tuesday Group get on board? And I think the key with the Tuesday Group is a lot of them are from, you know, districts that Hillary Clinton or won by or narrowly were Republican. And they need to be able to look their constituents in the eye and say you're not going to lose your coverage.

And one of -- as we understand, the keys to this potential truce or deal is that states that choose to sit out of the Obamacare pools can then -- will then be forced to at least create high-risk pools for individuals who don't have health insurance.

[10:05:11] So people like Charlie Dent and moderates in the Republican Party can look their constituents in the eye and say you still have choices in your health care, which is frankly not the case now and won't be the case in the future if Republicans do nothing.

So, look, this could be a Congress, but let's not kid ourselves here. If this isn't coming from leadership, if Paul Ryan doesn't put this on the calendar for a vote -- and by the way, nothing is happening on Capitol Hill right now. They're in recess, and this isn't scheduled.

So, again, this is sort of background noise driven from the grassroots up, not top down. And I'd be very surprised if something comes forward in the next week, for as much as I hope that it does and feel that it needs to.

BERMAN: Well, and MJ Lee what about that? You did speak to Congressman Cole, who is close to leadership. He may have a sense. Does -- did he seem optimistic that this is more than just chatter that this could get to the floor?

LEE: Yes. I mean he says that it is definitely true that these conversations have been taking place then. And we've been reporting that all week as well. I think the tricky thing about the scheduling, though, for next week, you know, we have logistical issues, is that the Congress has to be focused on the more important issue of funding the government. I don't know how much political capital they're going to be willing to spend on something like health care when they have that pressing issue to deal with.

And to Margaret's point just about whether or not this has to come with leadership. Yes, leadership has to set the schedule. And as of right now, we don't have a house bill schedule. We don't have any guidance from leadership saying that anything could be different next week. And I don't know after such an embarrassing failure of the bill having to be pulled from the house floor just a month ago, they're going to be even more cautious next time about the possibility of bringing it up again.

BERMAN: You know, Brian Fallon and Rebecca Berg is with us last hour as this news was breaking. And his reaction was basically, bring it on.

He had the sense that Democrats would be fine with the idea -- they're not going to support this bill by any stretch of the imagination. But if Republicans back a bill, you know, again, we don't know the exact parameters of it -- but that did in some way, you know, cut back on essential health benefit guarantees, did in some way cut back on the community rating guarantees. So that would be something Democrats would be eager to run against going forward, Rebecca. Do you see it like that?

BERG: Right. From the messaging standpoint, this could be really a gold mine for Democrats. Because they can pick and choose, you know, Republicans have eliminated this coverage for this person, et cetera. And that really will sell in an election setting, especially when you consider that any of the changes we're looking at here will likely only begin to take effect by the next election cycle.

And so, people won't be able to see necessarily in their own lives any of the changes for the positive. But they might be seeing some changes for the negative. If you recall the CBO report and some of the predictions that were included in that, it showed premiums actually going up in the short term and then over time going down. And people losing coverage in the short term over time that effect lessening.

And so, Republicans certainly have to worry about what are the short- term effects and how can those be spun politically?

BERMAN: Jeffrey Lord, hopefully in full stereo this time. You told me just now that you were appalled that Republicans didn't have a health care/Obamacare repeal and replace plan available on day one. Two-part question here, isn't that a little bit on President Obama. I mean -- excuse me -- isn't that a little bit on President Trump, a man that, you know, you back thoroughly? Isn't he a little bit responsible for not having something ready to go on day one? And part two, does he need this, you know, within the first 100 days, which would be by next Saturday, to be able to sort of say these first 100 days were a success?

LORD: Well, number one, he wasn't anywhere near eye of the presidency or anything else in government for the last seven years until the very, very end. So I mean, it's just, this was in the court, if you will, of Congress. And Republicans in Congress kept saying they wanted to repeal it. Well, ok, they should've had their act together. But secondly, yes, this is important I think, for the first 100 days.

You know, I'm always sort of skeptical of these 100-day stories just in general, because this was something from the FDR era. It's not in the constitution by any stretch, and presidents in the end are judged by the entirety of their administration, not by their first 100 days. Still, in all, it's going to provide a lot of fodder here for stories. And so, yes, in that sense, it would help if it got done.

BERMAN: All right, Margaret Hoover, Rebecca Berg, MJ Lee, Jeffrey Lord, thank you so much for being with us. Big news again, a possible breakthrough in the appeal to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Some other news right now. The very judge that candidate Donald Trump criticized during the campaign with what some called racist insults has been assigned now to a federal lawsuit on key aspects of President Trump's immigration crackdown.

[10:10:09] You might remember last year when the president, then Candidate Trump, questioned whether the Indiana-born Judge Gonzalo Curiel could objectively oversee the Trump University lawsuit because of this the heritage of the time. Some top Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan said that was a racist remark. CNN's Rosa Flora as joined us now, also Joe Johns at the White House.

Rosa, first would you explain to us this case of the dreamer that was deported.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez is 23 years old. According to his attorney, he came to the United States at age of nine, and he filed for DACA protection status in 2014. And then he gained a second DACA protection status in 2016 that doesn't expire until 2018. Now, here is where the dispute comes.

On February 18th, his attorneys allege that Montes Bojorquez was hailing a cab in a boarder town in California ad he was picked up by immigration. His wallet was somewhere else. It was in the car of a friend. After a few hours, he gets taken to an office- the deportation office and then gets deported to Mexico.

Now, DHS says that none of this happened, that they to not have record of that pickup and that deportation.

Now, here is where both parties do agree. They do agree that Montes Bojorquez was picked up on February 19th and deported on February 20th, deported by immigration officials on February 20th.

And so, we come back to this lawsuit and why Judge Curiel is involved in this. Because we know of course, if you're scratching your head and thinking we have immigration courts and those are separate then U.S. district courts. You're absolutely right, but this lawsuit, John, is a FOIA lawsuit because Montes Bojorquezs' attorneys are alleging he was never given processing documents of that deportation, and they need those processing documents.

BERMAN: All right, Rosa, stand by. I want to bring in Joe John at the White House right now. This case, as Rosa says, Joe, is in front of Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Remind us of his relationship, shall we say, with the president. JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Gonzalo Curiel is in his mid-60s. He's a federal judge, southern district to California, and he's best known as the judge who handled the Trump University cases that just recently settled for around $25 million. It was a class-action suit.

During the course of that litigation when it was active and when Donald Trump was running for president, he repeatedly criticized the judge and claimed the judge might be biased or at least have a conflict of interest because of his Mexican-American heritage, even though, in fact, the judge was born in Indiana and went to law school there. Listen to this exchange between CNN's Jake Tapper and Donald Trump June of last year.


JAKE TAPPER: If you are saying he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: No, I don't think so at all.


TRUMP: No. He's proud of his heritage. I respect him for this.

TAPPER: And he can't do his job because of that.

TRUMP: Look, he's proud of his heritage, ok. I'm building a wall. Now, I think I'm going to do very well with Hispanics. Do you know why I'm going to do well with Hispanics, because I'm going to bring back jobs and they're going to get jobs right now. They're going to get jobs.

I think I'm going to do very well with Hispanics, but we're building a wall. He's a Mexican.


JOHNS: Mr. Trump was also very active on twitter criticizing the judge, and we have some examples of that. I have a judge in the Trump University civil case Gonzalo Curiel. San Diego was very unfair. I should have easily won the Trump University case on summary judgment, but how the Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is totally biased against me. Even though I have a very biased and unfair judge in the Trump U. case in San Diego, I have thousands of great reviews and we'll win the case."

So, now, Judge Curiel, having settled the Trump University cases, has moved on. He has another case on his docket, which is certainly going to test the Trump administration's evolving position on DACA. And when Donald Trump was on the campaign trail, he said he wanted to throw it out. Now, of course, he apparently is beginning to soften his views, John, back to you.

BERMAN: All right. And Joe Johns on at the White House and Rosa Flores as well, thank you both so much. We have more breaking news this morning. Sources tell CNN that Bill O'Reilly's walking out the door at fox news with tens of millions of dollars. Details of this new settlement.

The mixed messages of the Trump White House and the Iran nuclear deal certifying it and criticizing it all within a 24-hour period. Where does it really stand?


[10:19:01] BERMAN: In just a few hours, President Trump will hold a news conference with a key NATO ally. You can expect he will face questions on the Iran nuclear deal.

The administration seems to have been a few different places on that deal in just the last 24 to 36 hours. Tuesday night, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran was in compliance with the agreement. Then the White House said it would launch a 90-day review of the agreement. And then the secretary of state said this about the agreement.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The JCPOA fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran. It only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.


BERMAN: All right, joining me now is Congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada. She serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Representative, thank you so much for being with us at the time of the Iran nuclear deal. You were skeptical, yet supportive. So, let me ask you, the administration wants to launch a 90-day review of it. Is there inherently anything wrong with just taking a look at the deal right now?

REP. DINA TITUS, D-NEVADA: Well, you're right. I did have concerns about it, but I thought in the long run this was the way to go to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power or at least postpone it.

[10:20:09] Now the problem is we're getting all these different mixed signals as you showed. President Trump during the campaign says the worst deal he's ever seen, he was going to roll it back, another thing he was going to do on day one. Then Secretary Tillerson says its working. Now we're going to study it.

These are just sending the kind of mixed messages that cause the world uncertainty and can lead to mistakes that could have longtime economic and geopolitical ramifications around the world.

BERMAN: Do you think its working?

TITUS: I think it is working. I think there is evidence that it's working. We can never not pay attention. We can never not keep a close eye on it, because we -- there's no reason to assume that Iran will always do as it says it will do. And there are other things besides the nuclear problem that we have to keep an eye on and keep sanctions in place regarding things that are non-nuclear but are bad actions that Iran might be involved in.

BERMAN: They're a state sponsor of terror. You still agree with that comment, yes?

TITUS: Exactly.

BERMAN: All right. There is breaking news this morning. CNN's getting word just within the last hour that there may be some kind of a breakthrough on the other side of the aisle on the Republican negotiations to repeal and replace Obamacare. Some of the factions the Republican Party may be coming together to put bill -- forward a bill that would reach some compromise on essential health benefits and maybe the community rating changing that.

If Republicans can get this through, first of all, can you ever see yourself voting for such a measure? And second of all, how would you work against that politically after the fact?

TITUS: Well, I'm not sure they're going to come with that deal. We aren't even in session and there's a lot of talk about in this. Look at the fiascom the last time they thought they had a deal. They couldn't even get their own members on board

Republicans know that this is a bad arrangement. It certainly would be bad for Nevada. Under the last deal, 44,000 people in my district would have been thrown off of Medicaid and lost insurance.

I can't imagine anything they can come with these high-risk pools, these are things that have been talked about a long time, going to block grants that won't keep up with inflation or cover increased number of people who might have all been on Medicaid. I can't see that this would be feasible, and I certainly can't support it, and I don't believe any of the Democrats would support it.

BERMAN: Any concern that it will pass?

TITUS: Well, you know, the president wants some kind of victory, keeps coming back to it. People have been in their districts these two weeks and they've heard a lot from their constituents.

I guess those on the extreme far right say you've got to repeal and replace. They hate Obamacare, but there are a lot of people in the middle who are realizing that it's provided some good services. So, I'm not sure it will pass.

BERMAN: So, representative, you're from Nevada, a state with a very large immigrant population.

TITUS: Right.

BERMAN: There is word of this case overnight that possibly the first dreamer has been deported from the United States. Now, there is some dispute about whether or not he had crossed the border then come back in. There is some dispute about his exact status at the time because of such a measure. But what's your view of this case as you understand it, and what's your view of the so-called dreamers what their status should be going forward?

TITUS: Well, you're absolutely right. I have a very large Hispanic population and Asian population. And so, we are concerned about immigration reform.

I think you have to protect dreamers. They came over here as children, no fault of their own. They grew up in this country. It's the only country they know. They're as Americans as you or I, and they need to be protected. Some kind of bridge policy that keeps dreamers protected while we look at comprehensive immigration reform.

But you send them back to the country of origin, they don't have any family there, they don't have any jobs there. They would be totally lost. So, I think that we need to keep in place the DACA protections. We have a lot of people with those applications that came about under the Obama administration. And even move towards DACA which was to protect some families and parents of those children to keep people together, not split them apart.

BERMAN: If this gentleman left the country then came back in, do you agree that that would aggregate the agreement that he would have, you know, broken the law as it were, that people under DACA are supposed to get approval before leaving the country?

TITUS: Well, that's right. And I'm going to leave those details to the judge to determine because I think the information coming out from that case has been rather mixed.

BERMAN: All right. We'll wait to hear more on that. Obviously, one of the judges that will hear it is Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Any reaction to that sort of political irony that he will weigh in on this case?

TITUS: Well, it sounds like poetic justice on that.

BERMAN: It is interesting. Although I do think it is notable, and we should note, that no one ever questioned whether or not the judge heard the Trump case fairly before certainly Donald Trump's lawyers didn't at the time and no one has questioned his fairness going forward. So irony maybe, but not any kind of legal questions there.

Last question on Bill O'Reilly, because it is in the news right now and it's a cultural moment. Bill O'Reilly out at Fox News, CNN just reported he's getting a tens of millions dollar settlement on the way out there. Do you have a comment on what message that sense?

[10:25:17] Well, I'm glad he's gone. He should have been gone sooner. The help culture that station was one where women were discriminated against and harassed since for years, and getting paid as you go out the door kind that would sounds the kind of puts a stamp on it that, you know, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

BERMAN: All right. Congressman Dina Titus from Nevada, great to have you with us, thanks s much for your time.

TITUS: Thank you. Thank you.

BERMAN: Again, the breaking news we did just get into CNN, tens of millions of dollar settlement between Bill O'Reilly and Fox News. We're going to have new details about this payout next.