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Another Run at Health Care; Curiel on the Case; U.S. Seeking Arrest of Julian Assange; LeBron Leads Historic Cavs Comeback. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 21, 2017 - 05:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Another health care push from the Republicans, the optimism and skepticism appears about equal. Are Republicans pushing too hard to give president Trump a win before the 100 day mark?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And they meet again, the same judge who Donald Trump assailed over his Mexican heritage last year will hear a case involving the president's immigration policies.

[05:00:04] Will the White House respond?

Good morning and thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Christine Romans. It's 5:00 in the East. Welcome to EARLY START.

BRIGGS: You're still Alison Kosik, right?

KOSIK: I am.

BRIGGS: Good to here.

KOSIK: All right. I want to tell me where have you heard this before?

Republicans insisting they're nearing a breakthrough on the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. But the devil, always in the details. And getting enough Republicans on the same page remains the big challenge, especially since most House members, they haven't even seen the reworked bill.

The leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, and the head of the more moderate Tuesday Group, Tom MacArthur, have been working on a compromise agreement that they believe will deliver 18 to 20 new "yes" votes from Republicans.

BRIGGS: But a Republican House member, familiar with the talks, tells CNN, he's skeptical the Freedom Caucus can actually deliver those votes. President Trump sounding hopeful a deal will get done here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The plan gets better and better and better, and it's gotten really, really good. And a lot of people are liking it a lot. We have a good chance of getting it soon. I'd like to say next week, but it will be -- I believe we will get it and whether it's next week or shortly thereafter.


BRIGGS: Many are questioning why the GOP would attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare again, just weeks after the flaming out on the issue, much of the disagreement centering on whether to gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

KOSIK: No comment from the White House after it was announced Judge Gonzalo Curiel will hear the case of a California man he claims he was illegally deported to Mexico. If Curiel's name sounds familiar, it's because he is the same judge who was attacked last year by then- candidate Trump for his handling of the Trump University lawsuit case.

Mr. Trump claimed Curiel could not be impartial because of his Mexican heritage. Mind you, he's from Indiana. The lawsuit was ultimately settled.

BRIGGS: Now, Curiel, who was chosen randomly, will preside over the case of 23-year-old DREAMer Juan Manuel Montes who claimed he was protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. Montes tried to sneak back into the U.S. on February 19th, and was caught by Border Patrol agents.

Now, his lawyers claim he was improperly deported one day earlier. But Homeland Security officials dispute that, insisting Montes left the country without preauthorization, and therefore voided his status.

All right. Let's bring in Zach Wolf. He's the managing editor of, talking all things D.C.

Good morning to you, Zach.

KOSIK: Good morning, Zach.


BRIGGS: Let's start with the ongoing health care discussion. We're told the House Freedom Caucus, the conservatives on the right, and the moderate Tuesday Group have been talking while at recess. They're not back until next week.

What are you hearing? We've seen no text yet about this potential MacArthur amendment that would change this bill?

WOLF: Well, you said it right there. We've seen no text yet. So once we start to see details, I think we get a little bit closer to being able to say "yes", this is a possibility, no, it isn't.

I think if you want to see Obamacare repeal, this is exactly what you want to see, these two sides talking to each other, trying to get something done. You have pressure being applied by the White House, by the leadership. Let's get this done.

But at the same time, I don't see that the puzzle pieces have changed really on the table. I don't understand exactly how with what we've seen they can get something past where they couldn't before because the fundamentals really haven't changed.

KOSIK: Yes. I mean, if you think about it, right now, we're just dealing with the House. We haven't begun to think about the Senate. Never mind we -- no one's really seen the language of this bill, and then you have the president sort of coming up against this first 100 days.

Why this urgency to get this done next week when it really doesn't seem really that way. Is it more of the president needing to show an effort for his base, or is there really something there going on?

WOLF: I think there are a couple of things that play. Optically, this is a president who knows a lot about optics and is obsessed with them. And when we get to this moment where everybody takes a gut check and looks at what he's accomplished, he said last week he's accomplished more than any other president. I don't think that's true, but he wants to have a "W" in there. He wants to have something to point to.

And the other thing is if you want to let legislation through, you don't want to let up pressure. You don't want to think, OK, we're just moving on, even though it was a threat when they tried to pass it before. If you're going to have any movement, you have to have bits of movement, baby steps.

BRIGGS: Of course, this is very dangerous politically. For one if it passes the Senate, it's a big loss and also, you have to fund a government. That could happen. A government shutdown could come on his 100 days if he doesn't get this done. What are the stumbling blocks to funding the government deadline a week from today?

WOLF: And that's something they really need to figure out here.

[05:05:03] You know, there are ways in Congress they can agree to punt the ball down the road. I don't think anybody in Congress really wants to see a government shutdown as opposed to during the Obama administration when some people in the Freedom Caucus were, you know, called other things then, but some Republicans were sort of tempting that and wanted to see it, that you don't see that now.

So, nobody's really kind of seriously talking about that threat yet. It's on the horizon though. They have one week to get it done, and that's a real deadline.

BRIGGS: But as for the demands, it appears the president wants funding for the border wall in this bill and Democrats it sounds like from listening to Chuck Schumer, they want to fund the changes as it relates to Obamacare. Are both sides amenable to those demands?

WOLF: Well, they're going to have to figure out a way forward. You know, it's not -- this is kind of the way the sort of shell game or horse trading here at the last minute is always what you see. It's also interesting to me they're not here right now and Paul Ryan is off in London. So you don't really have the alarm bells yet.

KOSIK: It's interesting to see. Capitol Hill can barely handle one issue let alone two issues.

BRIGGS: And he said he wants both yesterday. Both next week.

KOSIK: Ask for everything and see what you get. Let's switch gears a little bit. Kind of a fascinating plot twist with Judge Curiel. So, this federal lawsuit is on his desk. That's going to look past the aspects of elements of President Trump's immigration policies.

Well, now, that judge is going to be haring that case, but this is the same judge who candidate Trump criticized in a racist fashion about the Trump university case. Interesting and ironic.

WOLF: Interesting, ironic. You put it exactly right there. It is a plot twist.

This is like a -- it's like a Hollywood movie. If you went to central casting and said which judge should we find to hear the undocumented -- you know, the DACA case, you'd get the guy that -- well, Donald Trump sort of criticized his Mexican heritage or said he had Mexican heritage back during his campaign. It was a huge deal at the time.

So, this is exactly who you'd pick. This guy was picked randomly. We should also point out he's never been anything but above board in the Trump University case which was settled after Trump was elected.

So, we'll have to see what happens here, but it's just one of those things you've about got to shake your head.

KOSIK: Any chance you think the judge will recuse himself from this case?

WOLF: I don't think so. He didn't recuse himself from the last case, so why would he here?


BRIGGS: That sounds very unlikely.

All right. Zach Wolf, we'll check in with you in about 30 minutes. Thank you.

WOLF: Sounds good.

KOSIK: All right. President Trump is going to be visiting the Treasury Department later today and there he's going to be signing executive orders targeting the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The president will direct Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to review regulator's authority on banks in trouble. He'll also ask him to label insurance firms, private equity companies and hedge funds as risky, and he will direct Mnuchin to review tax regulations from last year, looking for ones that are too complex or burdensome on taxpayers.

The main reason stocks have climbed since Trump was elected, but the biggest prize is tax reform and the treasury secretary, he's giving reassurance to investor. At an event Thursday, Mnuchin said this, "Whether health care gets done or health care doesn't get done, we're going to get tax reform done. We hope that this won't take until the end of the year. It will be soon, very soon," end quote.

Mnuchin says it will cut for both individuals and businesses. It is a very lofty target there.

BRIGGS: It is indeed. And four people who advised him in the campaign wrote, forget about health care. Give us a simple tax reform bill. Not individuals, just corporations and small businesses --

KOSIK: There is no simple tax reform.

BRIGGS: You're right about that. Nothing simple about our tax code.

Well, we have breaking details from Paris this morning on the gunman who left policeman dead in the terror attack, days before the national elections. We're live in France.


[05:13:19] BRIGGS: Breaking overnight: a second suspect in connection with Thursday's deadly shooting in Paris surrendering to Belgian authorities and there are new details about the gunman who shot and killed a police officer on the Champs-Elysees. Authorities say the attacker who was killed by police was well known for his radical Islamist activity, all this as the French prepare to head to the polls for the first round of presidential elections. One of the candidates with some stunning comments this morning.

Let's go live to Paris and get the very latest from CNN's Melissa Bell.

Good morning to you. What are we learning this morning, Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we learned what we didn't know last night, which is the second suspect had been look for by French authorities. And this from last night in the wake of the attack here on the Champs-Elysees, what connection is there between that man who's now handed himself into Belgian authorities and the attacker, the French national who pulled up outside that police van last night and began shooting at police with his automatic weapon. This is one of the unanswered questions so far.

Lots, of course, attention on the man who carried out the attack, the French national, as you say, known by authorities for his radicalization, how closely was he being watched? That's one of the questions. Not only that has yet to be answered, but also that is almost certain to play in to the presidential poll.

We've already been hearing in the last hour or so from the far right, Marine Le Pen, in very inflammatory terms, not only repeating her pledge that if she's elected she'll round up those 10,500 people who are being actively watched by security services for suspicions of terrorist activity and shipping them out of the country, regardless, of course, of whether they're French or not. Incredibly controversial proposals that she's been making for sometime.

She has now been speaking adding to that saying we are at war.

[05:15:02] We need to act as though we're at war. This is a war on France, not for what we do, she said, but for who we are, and our response needs to be raised to the height of the threat.

She was accusing previous governments of having failed to take this terrorist menace seriously. It happened coming so close as it did, the timing of this attack, Dave, could prove crucial in perhaps pushing those undecided voters toward Marine Le Pen.

BRIGGS: Yes. It could have dramatic impact on those elections.

Melissa, thanks so much. Great reporting.

KOSIK: The turmoil in Venezuela spiraling out of control as opposition groups to President Nicolas Maduro planning to follow Thursday's mass demonstrations with more sit-ins and marches. They blame Maduro for a staggering economic crisis and now the government is blaming the opposition for hiring armed bands to attack a women's and children's hospital.

Stefano Pozzebon is joining us live now from Caracas with the very latest.

So, something hitting the wire now. You know, we heard yesterday about the government seizing a general motors plant and now we're hearing about Maduro investigating a telecom company there. Bring us up to date.

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN FREELANCE REPORTER: Yes, Alison. You're right. Maduro yesterday was on state television to address the nation in which he announced an investigation on the mobile company, Movistar, which is a subsidiary of Spain's television.

Maduro's attacking them for being part of what he alleges is an international coup, an international campaign against him and in particular, he attacked them for sending millions, he said, up to 2 million SMS and messages to protesters to gather on the street and galvanize on yesterday and the day before when the opposition took to the streets to protest once again.

And it's not the first time a company enters into hard waters of Venezuela. As you correctly say, Alison, just a day before, General Motors announced cease of operations after its plant was seized in the city of Valencia, and last year, Coca-Cola ceased production because of shortages of soda and soft drinks.

KOSIK: (INAUDIBLE) are incredible of these protests day after day. Does the opposition feel like they're getting any traction at this point? POZZEBON: It feels like the opposition -- it feels like that it has

finally managed to find some momentum after the latest drive to try to oust Nicolas Maduro through a referendum. It was blocked by the Supreme Court. So, what happened in the last two weeks?

The Supreme Court has announced on a sentence on the 29th of March, so just in the beginning, right at the end of last month. They announced that they were taking powers out of the parliament and trying to oust parliament from powers. It's a conflict of powers from different branches of the state.

That's caused a lot of international and internal rage and a lot of strong opposition against it. And the opposition now feels that he has the ball in his hand and tries to get the momentum going to reach a new cycle of general elections.

KOSIK: All right. Stefano Pozzebon, thanks so much for your report.

POZZEBON: Thank you, Alison.

BRIGGS: Looks like days, just hours ahead in Caracas.

Meanwhile, Giants quarterback Eli Manning breaking his silence in an alleged role of a fake memorabilia scam. Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report" when we come back.

Hello, my friend. We'll be right with you.


[05:22:57] BRIGGS: All right. Let's talk some sports now. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning strongly pushing back against allegations he was involved, Alison, in a memorabilia scam.

KOSIK: Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Good morning.


Yes, in 2014, a memorabilia collector sued Eli Manning, Giants owner John Mara and others, alleging that they engaged in a scam to sell him fake game used item. Yesterday, Eli angrily denied those accusations.


ELI MANNING, GIANTS QUARTERBACK: I have never done what I'm I accused of doing. I have no reason nor have I ever had any reason to do nothing of that nature. I have done nothing wrong and I have nothing to hide.

And I know when this is all done, everybody will see it the same way. I think my track record of how I've handled myself since I've been in New York since 2004 speaks for itself. I've tried to do everything with class and be a stand-up citizen, and that's what I have done, and, you know, that's being attacked right now. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Eli finally addressing the acquisitions for the first time in three years after the plaintiff recently filed a motion to compel testimony included an e-mail from Manning to a team equipment manager. Now, in that e-mail, Eli asked for two helmets that could passed for game use. Eli says that email is being taken out of context. The civil case is scheduled to go to trial in September.

All right. LeBron James leading the Cavs with the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history last night against the Pacers. Indiana came back on a mission, opening up a 25-point halftime lead.

But you can't ever count out LeBron. He played every minute of the second half, leading Cleveland all the way back. LeBron finishing with 41 points as the Cavs win, 119-114, to take a command 3-0 lead in the series.

All right. Finally, don't expect Tiger Woods back on the tour anytime soon. Tiger announcing on his website yesterday that he has had his fourth back surgery to try to alleviate pain. Tiger said, quote, "When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf, and living without the pain I have been battling so long."

[05:25:05] Tiger has taken part in just three tournaments for the past two years. The recovery period, typically, six months, which means Tiger will likely not play the rest of this season. Guys, that leads us to wonder, will we ever see Tiger back on the tour competing at the highest level.

BRIGGS: Do you think? What do you think?

SCHOLES: I mean, I think he's going have that moment. He's going play in the Masters and he's going to be in contention. Will he win, I don't know. Everybody wants to see him atop the leaderboard.

KOSIK: I think he wants to feel better. Back pain is no joke, the girl with the bad back.


BRIGGS: I won't hold my breath. Thank you, Scholes. Have a good weekend, my friend.

SCHOLES: You too.

KOSIK: Thanks, Andy.

Are Republicans making another mistake with the health care push after flaming out on their first try? That depends who you ask. That's next.


BRIGGS: Can Republicans actually get a health care deal done in the next week?