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U.S. & S. Korea Conduct Joint Military Drills; Sources: White House Hopes to Review Health Bill Before 100 Day Mark. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 20, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:18] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, right now, the U.S. and South Korea are holding joint military flight drills which are going to escalate tensions with North Korea.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is at an air base where those drills are taking place.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Max Thunder, a massive air exercise between the U.S. and South Korea. There is about 80 aircraft involved, more than 1,500 personnel.

Now, we're told it's routine: It is annual. The lieutenant colonel in charge of it said that it has been planned for months, and they don't have a specific enemy in mind when they're carrying out this exercise.

But, of course, with what is happening on the Korean peninsula, that right now, means that this is very much in the spotlight. We know that North Korea has blamed the United States for pushing to almost the brink of war. There is rhetoric on both sides being very strong at this point.

But from this point of view, the people who are involved in this particular exercise say that it's just important for them to be able to know how to work with each other in case of a war. We're being told that this is as close a simulation as you can get to a possible war situation.

Now, of course, North Korea does not like these military options. They see this as a practice for invading North Korea. The U.S., though, says that they are defensive. China doesn't like them either. They have even suggested to the U.S. and South Korea that if they actually hold these drills, then North Korea may suspend their nuclear and missile program.

It's not a new suggestion, and it's not a suggestion that the United States accepts.

Paula Hancock, CNN, at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Our thanks to Paula for that glimpse there.

Well, back here at home, is it possible the GOP plan for health care reform is now back on the table? President Trump says he wants an agreement by the end of next week. Can that happen?

That's next on NEW DAY.


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[06:37:35] CAMEROTA: Sources tell CNN that President Trump is trying to revive the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare before he hits the 100-day mark. But today is day 91, and Congress is still on recess.

So, let's discuss how this is going to work with Errol Louis and Ron Brownstein.

So, Errol, the president has said that this is an ongoing negotiation. He wasn't done, obviously, with his effort to try to repeal Obamacare, but he wants to get it done by next week. How is it looking?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think that's going to happen. I don't think there's going to be a repeal or a replacement or even a rebranding of it. He is simply out of time. That particular goal I think is going to elude him.

CAMEROTA: They cannot come up with a plan next week? They can't unveil a new plan next week?

LOUIS: I would be surprised if they did. I mean, look, they could try. If you think about the complexity of this, which is what kept the plan from getting done in the first place, you have got, you know, 13 states that Trump carried to have a Medicaid expansion. What are you going to do with that? Are you going to unravel that? That's at least 13 conversations with governors, I would think.

What are you going to do? Are you going to take on a fight with the pharmaceutical industry at this point? Are you going to start those kind of discussions?

This is a battleship. This is a sixth of the economy. You're not going to get a snap answer to it. The only possibility I could see would be if there's some sort of very light rebranding of it where they sort of, you know, call it something new or announce a plan to do something over the next year or two and then call that having sort of redone Obamacare, that's about as far as you can get in just nine days.

CUOMO: So, Ron, the conventional thinking is that the White House is not big on strategy, but they are heavy on tactics. That's what this seems like. This seems like a mechanism to shift responsibility, which seems to be a big instinct of the White House on health care.

Well, we gave you inspect next week. You didn't do your job. You wouldn't come back. Congress stinks.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, right. And, look, it is entirely possible that before 2018 and before certainly 2020 that President Trump ends up running against both parties and their failures in Washington in many ways it was an independent county who ran as a Republican. But on health care, as Errol said, they have structural problems. I

mean, there is probably a way to move the bill far enough to the right to get it narrowly through the House and bring back enough of the freedom caucus members to pass it in the House. That's what Tom DeLay always did when he hit a dead-end in the house for many years.

The problem is that you then leave the bill in a position where it becomes even more implausible for it to get through the Senate.

And the core problem remains, and Errol touched on it, which is that the Affordable Care Act of the 20 million people who gained coverage under that were not all Democrats.

[06:40:05] And in many of the states that President Trump carry, particularly these interior blue collar states, a large portion and in some cases a majority of the people who gained coverage were the those blue collar, lower income, non-urban whites at the core of his coalition, and it is very difficult for governors in states like Arkansas, Ohio, Nevada to name three with Republican governors who have raised the question of you simply cannot -- they cannot accept the level of Medicaid cuts that the house bill proposes. Fourteen million people losing coverage under Medicaid, cutting it by $900 billion. That is just a structural problem in terms of moving forward.

CAMEROTA: All right. Well, President Trump is a lot more optimistic than you two Debbie downers. You two Debbie detail downers. So, here is what President Trump said this week.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to have a big win soon because we're going to have health care, and I believe that's going to happen. You know, there was no, like, loss with health care. This is just a constant negotiation. The plan is getting better and better all the time.


CAMEROTA: There's a lot to unpack there, Errol. Number one, there was no loss. It's an ongoing negotiation. That is how obviously we know President Trump sees things. He has tenacity in terms of one loss doesn't --

LOUIS: An complete success.

CAMEROTA: Yes, yes. He says he is getting better and better all the time. Do we know what's happening behind the scenes of who is leading this charge?

LOUIS: No. In fact, other than that statement, I have not been aware that there is any kind of ongoing conversation because, you know, the questions about what do you do with -- do you try to revive high risk pools? That's a big, broad, serious conversation. That is not something that will be done and it never gets reported. This is going to have to be a public discussion. This is going to have to be a big public campaign that the president wages.

Emphasis on the word "public", they are not going to quietly cut some deal to change one-sixth of the U.S. economy. It doesn't work that way.

CUOMO: Look, what we're seeing here is, Ron, what we're seeing here is this is another example of the president running something down when it was to his advantage and now having to own it. Obamacare is a disaster. Obamacare is dying on the vine. Now you fix it. You deal with it. You get nothing done because it was never as simple as that.

But what is simple is the need for him to figure out how to work with Congress. You could have a shutdown deadline if your face as an operative political principle as soon as they get back from recess. How could that play out?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, it's the same dynamic as we saw in health care, which is the first step. Once you essentially decide that you are not going to make any serious policy or substantive effort to involve the Democrats, what that does is essentially give a veto to each faction of the Republican caucus in the house because the majority is not big enough to with stand a serial defection from either the center or the right.

That is the situation they are back in, I think, on the continuing resolution to keep the government open at the end of April. On health care, just worth nothing that before the bill did not come to a vote, 17 percent of the public said they supported it. It faced significant opposition in particular from older voters, people 50 to 65, who are in fact the big losers under the legislation.

The fact that Republicans had such a near miss I don't think it's going to make them more enthusiastic about wading back into the swamp.

CAMEROTA: Ron, Errol, thank you both very much.

CUOMO: Serena Williams, dominant. Now making an announcement about a new phase of her life on Snapchat. There is more than one reason fans are going to go wild. What is it? Details in the bleacher report.


[06:47:23] CUOMO: The Thunders' Russell Westbrook had a huge game against the rockets, but he was not happy after the team's loss. Understandably.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report". What do we know?


Yes, superstar Russell Westbrook, he's been a one-man show all season long. No different last night. The show even started before the game.

Check this out. Look at Russell Westbrook and what he was wearing when he walked into the arena. Don't know what to call that other than a fashion statement. Westbrook ending up with 51 points, but he took 43 shots. He was ice cold in the fourth quarter when James Harden and the Rockets took this game over. The Rockets would win 115-111.

Afterwards Westbrook didn't really care to hear about how many points he scored.


REPORTER: When you look at your line at the box score, how do you grade your line?

RUSSELL WESTBROOK, THUNDERS: I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about the line. We lost.


SCHOLES: Westbrook and the Thunder down 0-2 really need a win in game three tomorrow night if they want to get back into the series.

All right. Serena Williams sending the sports world into a frenzy yesterday after posting this picture to Snapchat with the caption "20 weeks." She quickly deleted this picture causing plenty of speculation that she is pregnant.

Serena's agent confirming the news she is in fact expecting. If she is 20 weeks, that means she won the Australian Open while pregnant.

Serena turns 36 in September. She's engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Guys, she will miss the rest of the 2017 season. But the WTA confirming they expect Serena to return in 2018.

Congrats to the couple.

CAMEROTA: Yes. That's awesome. Good for her.

As Chris just pointed out, both of us look like that, but that's just from a burrito.

CUOMO: She would be able to beat me in tennis holding her child and her next three children.

SCHOLES: Me too, Chris.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

CAMEROTA: All right.

The White House is attempting to clarify its statements on just where the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson is, where it's heading, where it was heading, why it's also confusing, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:53:22] CUOMO: The USS Carl Vinson, that's the massive ship we were told was headed towards North Korea. We just got word that it is extending its deployment by 30 days. As it does now head towards the Korean peninsula. That's not where it was headed originally.

This extension comes as conflicting statements from the Trump administration about that path are causing more confusion.

Let's discuss with CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Star and CNN military analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

General, unless this is very clever manifestation of the "we don't like to tell people what we're doing," does this make any sense to you that we were told an armada was headed that way, and it was going in the opposite direction?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I wouldn't put it in the clever category, Chris. I think Maggie Haberman last hour said it best. It's a clear decision not to clarify. That to me relates to a word called quibble, which I'll introduce to you this morning, meaning it's an invasion of the -- evasion of the truth.

You know, integrity is a big deal on the international scene and with our friends and foes alike. To me this was not a good move, and it showed some confusion within the administration.

CUOMO: And, Barbara Starr, what are the facts? Was there any question by anyone that these ships were on the way in any period other than imminently?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me just take you behind the scenes one more time on all of this. It all began with a press release written by the navy out in the Pacific that was very poorly worded that indeed left the implication it was headed directly for the Korean peninsula.

[06:55:07] But reporters within hours came to understand that it would stop first and do these exercises off Australia.

So, you know, sort of known if you followed it in detail, but I think Mark's point is critical. No matter what the real answer is, no matter what the technicalities are it added to confusion with the allies in the region, perhaps at a time when that wasn't a very useful way to proceed.

CUOMO: Tactically it would be the first show of strength that was a function of delayed action. But to remind people, here is what the president of the United States said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier that I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: There was no illusion there. That's the timing. But now, there's something else, Barbara Starr. We're told time and again by the United States president that, boy, these politicians screw up all the time. They always want to tell you what they're going to do. They always to show their hand. That's bad military strategy. That's why Trump said he knew better than the generals.

What did he just do in that statement?

STARR: Oh, I think it's huge and I think it's not been noticed nearly as much as it should be. The president of the United States talking about sending powerful submarines, more powerful than an aircraft. What is he talking about?

Submarines are one of the most critical covert capabilities of the U.S. military. They lurk under the ocean off North Korea. They are capable not just of firing Tomahawk missiles if ordered to attack North Korean targets, but these are essentially covert spy ships. They can listen, they can monitor, they can intercept North Korean communications. They can help conduct electronic warfare, which could theoretically jam North Korean missiles upon launch. They can put Navy SEALs ashore covertly.

This is something it's all an open press, I'm not giving any secrets here. But this is something that the U.S. Navy does not like to talk about publicly. And I don't know that I can recall a president articulating powerful submarines, more powerful than an aircraft carrier.

It's a great message of deterrent perhaps in the region. It's a message to North Korea. It's a message to China.

But it's a heck of a thing for the president to talk so openly about what is a covert operation.

CUOMO: What do you make of that, General? Do you think he let the politics get in front of the strategy here?

HERTLING: Yes, I think it's a lack of understanding what the capabilities are. To Barbara's point, each ship in the Navy arsenal has a different mission. You know, one is not more powerful than the other. They're all equally powerful, and they can all do certain specific jobs.

But in this case, you're talking about submarines that are all over the world. No one really knows where they are except the navy, as they report them. In the case of --

CUOMO: They know now.

HERTLING: No, they don't really, Chris. You say off the coast of Sea of Japan or Korea. Where is that? That's a pretty big bathtub you've got there.

CUOMO: Gives you a better sense than I don't know. HERTLING: It does. When you are talking about the carrier battle

group, the carrier strike group, you are talking about a ship and its component ships that were 3,500 miles away. The president said they're going on their way now.

It's going to take a while to get there. They don't just magically appear off the coast. So, if they knew the commander's intent, in this case the commander being the president, to get off the shore, they should have started moving right away.

Let us finish this exercise first and then we'll get there. No, that's not what happens in a national security crisis. I think the messaging or I would almost put it in a marketing campaign status was really off base on this one.

CUOMO: General, thank you for the analysis.

Barbara Starr, thank you for advancing the reporting as always.

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

For our U.S. viewers, we have the authors of a new book that takes the deepest look yet at why Hillary Clinton lost. Let's get after it.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is directing an interagency review of the deal.

TRUMP: We are sending an armada. Very powerful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sailing in the other direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have a big credibility problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cable news king who seemed untouchable is off the air for good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bill O'Reilly is not going to be regarded favorably in history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of women don't talk about these things, because if you make too much trouble, your career is in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are watching a major moment now in American life, in American culture.

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