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Trump and GOP Race Against The Clock For a Legislative Win; Egyptian-American Aid Worker Released From Cairo Prison; New Health Care Proposal Keeps Some ObamaCare Provisions; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Paris Terror Attack; German Police Make Arrest in Bus Attack; Officials: U.S. Prepares Charges Against Julian Assange; Jeff Sessions "Amazed" Judge 'On An Island' Halted Travel Ban. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 21, 2017 - 06:00   ET


[06:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- to avoid a government shutdown, they need to pass a spending bill to keep the Federal Government running. So it is day 92 of the Trump presidency.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House. Give us the latest, Joe. Oh Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's another attempt to salvage a measure of success after all the recent failures on health care here during the administration. Important to say Donald Trump very much needs a win and he needs it now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a good chance of getting it soon. I'd like to say next week.

JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump pushing hard for a legislative win before his 100th day in office next week, reviving his health care effort that failed weeks ago.

TRUMP: 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.

JOHNS (voice-over): Republicans want to help the president deliver on one of his key campaign promises as Democrats remain skeptical that a deal will be reached.

NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: You can put lipstick on a sow and call her Monique (ph) and she's still a pig. That's what this bill is. It's the same terrible bill.

JOHNS (voice-over): A draft proposal published Thursday by Politico maintain several provisions of ObamaCare including the ban on rejecting patients with pre-existing conditions and guaranteed covered for maternity care. But it would allow states to seek waivers from many of these mandates if they show it would be in the public interest. Concessions aimed at placating both moderates and conservatives.

PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Difficult to do. We're very close. And it basically make good on the promise that were made.

JOHNS (voice-over): This effort comes at the same time Congress faces a deadline next week to pass a massive spending bill to avert a government shutdown.

TRUMP: OK, I want to get both. Are you shocked to hear that? I think we want to keep the government open, don't you agree? So, yes, I think we'll get both.

JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump asking Congress to include $1.4 billion to begin building his controversial border wall. The Trump White House does have one victory they will celebrate today. The Washington Post reporting that the Trump administration was instrumental in securing the release of an Egyptian-American aide worker imprisoned for three years on unproven charges, along with her husband and several other humanitarian workers.

The news comes after Trump publicly embraced Egypt's president at the White House, despite the authoritarian leader's history of human rights abuses.

TRUMP: We are very much behind President el-Sisi. He's done a fantastic job at a very difficult situation.


JOHNS: The freed Egyptian-American and her husband are both expected to be here at the White House to meet with the president as early as today, according to a report in the Washington Post. This weekend, the president is expected to remain here in Washington, other -- unlike some other weekend when he's gone out to Mar-a-Lago hoping to rack up some more wins before the first 100 days in. Back to you.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Joe Johns, thank you very much. Joining us to us to discuss now is A.B. Stoddard, Associate Editor and Columnist for "RealClearPolitics" and CNN Political Analysts David Gregory, and Patrick Healy.

David Gregory, this is a very confounding situation. We understand why health care is necessary with his domino effect of CBO scoring and showing savings to he could move on to tax reform, move on to infrastructure, but are you hearing about anybody who has seen a plan outside of this tight group? Something that would show proof that there is some kind of momentum here?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, that was the word I was looking for. Nothing I am hearing that shows any kind of momentum that breaks the disagreement just within Republican ranks to move this farther along. I mean, I think, you saw the debate over health care before it crashed and burned over replacing and repealing ObamaCare. I don't think you're going to be able to gin this up in a few days and get it across the finish line, despite whatever conversations were happening.

Even that the description of what they are talking about is frankly so complicated to me. I don't know how the system and the insurance market actually works in that circumstance. So I think trying to thread the needle on this while you're trying to engage Democrats and what's always a difficult negotiation over keeping the government open is a lot to accomplish here in a few days.

CAMEROTA: But A.B. -- I mean, we hear, you know the president is bullish on this, and then also we do hear that the Freedom Caucus, that Mark Meadows of the Freedom Caucus, is sort of, you know, confabbing with the moderate Tuesday Group, as they call themselves, and the congressman Tom McArthur. And maybe they have something up their sleeve where they have reached a compromise of some kind?

[06:05:04] A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST OF REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, they have put it on paper and they have told the White House that they think that they can scratch off another 18 to 20, I believe, yes votes. And that obviously would get them there. I think the desire is there. I mean, that sort of the one thing that binds the whole conference and the White House is that they feel that this is a seven-year promise that they really have to deliver on. Beyond just what Chris was referring to which is the sequencing of finding the savings from this bill and then moving on to tax reform getting to the budget battle, all that stuff.

So, I think that it's heartening they have been at it. But while they have been talking on moderates on Tuesday Group, the conservatives are really driving all these changes, remember that. You know, Charlie Dent was one of the leaders of the Tuesday Groups, says he has seen the language and nothing about it has changed his mind. And to me that says they're still in a sticky wicket in terms of how much coverage you'd take away, and how much you mess with the community rating, which means do sick people pay more, or people with pre- existing conditions.

And it doesn't really sound -- if you look at the combination with the spending battle debate, like they can really get over the finish line in time. This would be fine if President Trump would be willing to just sort look the other way and sign a plain vanilla bill on government funding next week. But at the last minute, he is kind of asking for a lot about wall funding and stuff and not only Democrats opposed but Republicans as well. That could make it much more challenging.

CUOMO: What I've seen, they have a basic understanding in the White House that if the government shuts down, that's on Congress, Patrick. So, maybe there's a little bit of a calculation there but, you know, A.B. uses a curriculum analogy and it's probably a good one because you have a game going on here where all of these people around you in different directions and nobody knows the score, which is often the American experience of cricket.

And I spent a lot of time last night working to phones. I couldn't find any Republican, forget about Democrats, who say, yes, I've seen something. I'm more comfortable now because dot, dot, dot. No one.

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No one. I mean, there's such questions about just someone point about whether, you know, the Republicans are going to come together around waivers for states if they sort of push this through and may be able to win over at least some conservatives in the House by offering, basically saying OK, we're keeping all of the goodies from ObamaCare in this reform bill. But all your -- we'll give you all this sort of new waivers to go and I think you're going to look at a lot of members of the Freedom Caucus who are going to say this is a lot of swiss cheese here. You know, there's sort of hopes that we'll get waivers to get out of any kind big government health care plan.

But we don't know, but here is the thing Chris and Alisyn, that we're seeing in the House coming back on Monday and Republicans are going to be asked to carry water for President Trump on trying to get tens of billions of dollars for a wall for-- it's not a down payment and then finally sort of a wall. They know that that's going to be enormous fight. And the idea that they're going to be able to sort of do this two-track kind of picking off Republican votes to get the health care, you know, bill through.

As they're trying to make this wall happen, hat you're going to have total Democratic opposition. It's just -- as A.B. said, doing these two things at once, it usually just doesn't work.

CUOMO: And not just in the House. You know, and that assumes, you know, you still have the whole senate to deal with. They have an entire different list of oppositions.

CAMEROTA: I mean, David, if there's one thing we've learned over the years is that when it comes to, you know, passing and continuing resolution for spending, it goes until 11:59 on the night before the government would shutdown and here we are again in this -- the final hours of this week.

GREGORY: Well, and it usually takes -- when you do get a big spending bill, you've got some compromise on both sides. And I think Chris is right. The White House, I'm sure has made a calculation. They don't want to shut the government down but they can put more pressure on Congress.

But the issue with the wall that all of a sudden the wall that Mexico is suppose to pay for, now the administration is asking for tens of billions of dollars for it. It's really going to be a nonstarter for Democrats.

And the health care bill as complicated as it is, if you think about how it's going to be implemented, who it effects and how you keep spending for premiums down if you allow certain waivers, this requires a lot of time to really kind of campaign on and build up. And the idea that they're going to come off this loss and just jam this through, I just don't see that's possible. Even if they get scratch off the votes in the House and then they

still have to go to the Senate.

This strikes me as a White House that is running in a kind of frenzied way to get to this 100-day mark with some real accomplishments here. And that's not a way to govern.

HEALY: And they're trying to get real accomplishments, you know, by next Saturday, the 100-day mark. But what they're looking at is a double defeat on health care. I mean, they lost the first time. They're going to come back looking like they're just kind of rush jam something through the system.

[06:10:02] And they have two knocks against them on health care which that make sense will that ever happens.

CUOMO: You also have the he versus they issue. We keep saying they here because this isn't something that's really owned and spearheaded by the president. He has merely exercise the bully pulpit here as many expected him to use as primary mechanism. But we did maybe just see that, A.B. Stoddard, with the release of an Egyptian-American. Three years, she had been in Egypt, arguably held wrongfully after the meeting between the president of the United States and el-Sisi, the leader of Egypt. That should be a notable success for the president, no?

STODDARD: Yes. There's a huge -- I mean, this is something that the Obama administration was trying to do anytime you obviously bring an American home from prison where she was wrongly charged and held for years with lots of mysterious charges and delays and trial and all the stuff because of Sisi's crackdown on those kind of civil society groups over there. She started a group that was helping children. And this is something that they've worked on since the visit of Sisi to the White House.

As you know Obama did not have him to the White House. Trump was there being very warm and full of praise for Sisi, did not mention human rights violations in Egypt. And it's going to be a big victory lap for him when they come home. The family is thrilled. And this is definitely a good win for him at the end of a week where people are questioning him, calling President Erdogan in Turkey and congratulating him on a referendum that people see as dangerous over there in terms of a creep forward dictatorship.

And of course, the question about where the USS Carl Vinson was actually headed, whether it was towards Indonesia or North Korea. So, they'll be very happy at the White House today.

CAMEROTA: Yes. This is a big win that they can certainly tout. Thank you, guys. Stick around. We have many more questions for you.

But we have breaking news right now. The investigation intensifying in France after ISIS claims responsibility for the attack in Paris that left a police officer dead and two others wounded. Could the terror attack influence that country? Presidential election now just days away.

We have CNN's Melissa Bell. She is live in Paris with all of the breaking details. What have you learned Melissa?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, what's emerged this morning is a much clearer picture of what went on just down on the Champs- Elysees last night that a second suspect had been being looked for by French police this after a tip from Belgium authorities. Now, what we've also had confirmed this morning is that that man who has been looked for, that second suspect beyond the attacker was killed of course immediately after carrying out his attack here on the Champs-Elysees that that second suspect has handed himself in to Belgian authorities.

Still, Alisyn, a number of significant questions remain. We're hoping to get more answers over the course of the day when we hear from the Paris prosecutor a little bit later on, Francois Mollins. In particular, the Paris -- the man who was killed here last night, the man who carried out the attack, we believe, reporting suggests that this was a man who was on the radar of authorities.

However, what we've now had confirmed to us by authorities is that he was not what the French called (inaudible). I mean, he was not on that list of people under surveillance.

Now, why does that matter? Because we are at the end in the final leg of the very important presidential election race one that is more controversial, more difficult to call than anyone can remember. Marine Le Pen in particular, the right alt-right candidate has been calling for those who are on the list to be shipped out of the country. So, whether or not the man who care carried out this attack was under active surveillance is likely to prove very significant or we're seeing that rhetoric in this campaign being ramp up as were heading to Sunday's vote. Chris.

CUOMO: A continuing problem. You have so many people there who are on the list. What don you do? How do you categorize? Big questions pressing forward. Melissa, thank you very much.

So, were also following breaking news this morning out of Germany. German prosecutors arresting a 28-year-old man linked to last week's bomb attack on a bus carrying that soccer team from Dortmund. Three explosive devices, shattered windows and injured player on the bus. Official say the German-Russian citizen bought team stocks in hopes of making a big profit after the attack.

CAMEROTA: All right. Up next, the White House trying to crackdown on leakers, and they are taking steps to arrest, perhaps, the most infamous leaker Julian Assange. That's next.


[06:18:24] CUOMO: The United States is planning to go after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. CNN has learned that the Justice Department is preparing charges to seek the arrest of Assange who's holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is live in Washington with more. What do we know?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN PRODUCER: Good morning Chris. The Justice Department probe of Assange and WikiLeaks dates back to at least 2010 when Assange first gained attention for obtaining thousands of files revealing U.S. secrets stolen by the former army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning. For years, prosecutor struggled with whether the First Amendment prevented the prosecution of Assange. And certainly during the Obama administration determined it would be difficult to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks, as you recalled, wasn't alone in publishing documents stolen by Manning. Several newspapers including the New York Times, did as well.

However Chris, and this is pretty significant. The U.S. view of WikiLeaks and Assange began to changed after investigators found what they believe proves that WikiLeaks played an active role in helping Edward Snowden, the former NSA analyst who run up fleeing to Russia disclosing massive cash of classified document. It appears the current administration has taken a stronger position that charges can be brought against Assange.

Take a listen to CIA Director Mike Pompeo last week.


MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service.

[06:20:02] Julian Assange is kind or not the slightest bit interest in approving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom. They have pretended America's First Amendment shield them from justice. They may have believed that but they're wrong.


PROKUPECZ: Assange just currently sitting in the Ecuador embassy in London and is untouchable as long as he remains there. And Ecuador does not change its stands on Assange's extradition which appears unlikely to happen. Alisyn and Chris?

CAMEROTA: Shimon, thank you very much for all that reporting. Let's bring back now our panel. A.B. Stoddard and David Gregory, joining us also is CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd.

So interesting, Phil, to hear from CIA Director Mike Pompeo there say -- I mean, just how pernicious he thinks that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are after hearing President Trump who said things like, "I love WikiLeaks", "Look at all this exciting information", "It's coming out of WikiLeaks." And it was about, you know, Hillary Clinton during the campaign.

So, what do you think about WikiLeaks? And do you think that they will be able to make the case that the First Amendment doesn't apply here for Julian Assange's protection?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERROSISM ANALYST: I think we're going to look at this portrayed as a political decision that is cracked on the leakers. The critical question which we're just talking about 30 seconds ago is whether the case changed not the politics that is, instead of just revealing information, did the Justice Department, the FBI and others determine that Julian Assange was actually directing people like Edward Snowden. I wonder if there's new intelligence that drove this.

In a broader sense too, Alisyn, I think the horse is out of the barn on this one. Look, in the past, leaks used to be somebody calling the New York Times or CNN. Now, we're getting to a new age of transparency where a 28 year-old, a 35-year old says, "I don't believe in government. I'm going to dump a bunch of data unto a web site try to do it anonymously and reveal tens of thousands of documents." I don't think this is going to change. I think it's the wave of the future.

And If I were that CIA director, I would be critical, what happen with WikiLeaks but I'd also be internally saying, how do we take advantage of this over the long term because this isn't going to change.

CUOMO: But David Gregory, Pompeo and the movement here as some higher ground, don't they -- I mean, pernicious something being wicked and that is one thing. Nefarious something being illegal and a breach of people's privacy, that's something else, right?

GREGORY: Yes. And just the hypocrisy as worth just sitting with for a moment, because it wasn't just the candidate but also people around him who were all too happy to benefit from the work of WikiLeaks as long as it hurt their political opponent. And that was just so incredibly irresponsible. Now, that they run the government, they see how pernicious WikiLeaks can be. But to Phil's point, the questions is whether the case has changed and whether there are statements that Assange has made or evidence that has come to light of a conspiracy.

I think what's interesting is if you look at the cases not as WikiLeaks as an organization like the "New York Times", but were they somehow working with those who are breaking the law to get information and then publishing that information. Were they working with a non -- you know, with a state actor like Russia to hack information and then publish it?

That I think it would be evidence of conspiracy which would go beyond where the Justice Department was under President Obama which was to file charges against Assange and WikiLeaks was the same as going after a major news organization for producing leaks of material that would be classified. And they thought they would run amuck of the First Amendment and so doing.

Maybe this administration wants to push the envelope on that alone or maybe they've got something specific on Assange. We'll have to wait and see.

CAMEROTA: A.B, let's talk about something else. The administration is now -- has been working on and that is the travel ban of the six or seven Muslim majority countries. So, a judge in Hawaii blocked it. And now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is speaking in a rather dismissive way about that judge. So let me play that -- what he said on the radio show.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are confident that the President will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So, this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional powers.


CAMEROTA: So the judge is not a cast away on an island somewhere. He is in our 50th, you know, Hawaii, a state. So, A.B. -- I mean, this is the first time that, you know, obviously we've heard the administration sort of criticize judges.

STODDARD: Right. I don't think that people were surprised when President Trump went after Judge Curiel and other judges once he was in office who are blocking the travel ban. But it is surprising for the Attorney General of the United States to do that himself.

[06:25:08] You can see in this administration as we mentioned before this kind of, you know, freak-out over the 100-day mark and the need to try to convince the base they're really accomplish things by next Saturday, April 29th. And so, for the Attorney General to be criticizing not a ruling, which is fine, but a judge -- and talking about how he is living on an island somewhere as if Hawaii is on a state on the "Mark Levine Show", really shows that they're splitting a lot of energy in trying to convincing the base that they are doing what they, you know, they're trying to fulfill those promises.

And I think he made a mistake. I mean, it's just not appropriate at all for Jeff Sessions as attorney general to be criticizing judges. And you saw them try sort of walk back the Hawaii part in the statement that, you know, he loves Hawaii in those parts of state and a relative born there or something. But really in the end, he really needs to stay on decisions and away from judges -- federal judges.

CUOMO: Who loves Hawaii more than Jeff Sessions?

GREGORY: That's right. I mean, but it wasn't a mistake, right? He just got caught.


CUOMO: This is something that hunted (ph) Sessions, by the way. You know, a lot of the stuff about his past and how he was came down to this that he could casually say things that were very offensive. And that's what this was. He doesn't like the outcome of it. But there's no indication that he was talking about Fiji. You know, and just happened to say Hawaii, you know, he did it on purpose and he got caught. He doesn't like the outcome.

GREGORY: Well, I just going to say substantively he may be quite right in terms of, you know, whether in appellate court is actually holding --

CUOMO: But that wasn't his point. He was being derisive (ph) of the form. That's what he was doing. Of course, they could win the case. GREGORY: Right. No, I get it. but I'm saying it's A.B.'s point. I think there's a kind of return to first principles of the administration. They were trying to make an argument in the White House whether it's reviving a lot of talk of the unfair trade practices in Canada, steel imports. They're trying to go back to some first principles here that's going to gin up the base and get back to more the nationalist tone that we saw out of the box from these guys.

They want to go back and say what we countered is defeats, we're not necessarily defeats. We're doing better. And it looks a little fanatic in their attempt to do that.

CUOMO: We kept you out of that because you would express some doubts is to whether or not Hawaii was a state.


GREGORY: I know Gilligan and Skipper live there. It's OK. I got it.

CUOMO: You would be the professor in that mix by the way.

CAMEROTA: That's hilarious. Thank you panel. Thank your very much. We have a lot to get to including this. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will be live on "At This Hour" 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

CUOMO: That will be a good interview. Kate Bolduan will bring you that one.

Anti-government protesters flooding the streets of Venezuela's capital. More demonstrations expected this weekend. There is a lot of unrest going on. We're going to take you live to Caracas. It's a situation you need to know about.