Return to Transcripts main page


Accomplishments and Failures of Trump Presidency So Far Examined; President and Congress May Make Second Attempt at Health Care Reform; Congress Returns With Budget, Health Care Battles Looming; Trump Dismisses New Polls As "Fake News". Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 24, 2017 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last thing we can afford is to send a message to the world that the United States government is only partially functioning.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, April 24th, 8:00 in the east.

Up first, President Trump begins a crucial week with his 100th day milestone now in sight. Congress faces several battles with major deadlines. First they have to pass a spending bill by Friday night to keep the government running, and the president insists it must include more than $1 billion to start on his promised border wall.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And on top of that pressure, for some reason the White House decided to push health care for this week to make it an ultimatum, make a demand. Why? And is there any chance it gets done? All this in the context of two national polls showing President Trump's approval ratings hit historic lows. Day 95 starts a critical week of this presidency. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House. Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. Five days to go, and the White House and congressional Republicans seem to be getting a reality check on the limitations of power. Apparently settling on a strategy to do whatever it takes to keep the government from shutting down, though the president's messaging on his desire to get a border wall seems to be getting in the way.


JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The president has been pretty straightforward about his desire and the need for a border wall. He'll do the right thing for sure, but I would suspect he will be insistent on the funding.

JOHNS: The White House setting up a showdown with Congress just five days before a potential government shutdown, demanding that a $1.4 billion down payment for President Trump's border wall be included in this week's must pass spending bill. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The Democrats do not

support the wall. The burden to keep it open is on the Republicans. The wall is, in my view, immoral, expensive, unwise.

JOHNS: Democrats scoffing at the demand as some Hill Republicans speculate whether the fight is worth the political capital.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I think that's a fight worth having and a conversation and a debate worth having for 2018.

REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: Once the government is up and running and stays up and running, then we have to fight this out over the next year.

JOHNS: President Trump insisting that American taxpayers need to foot the bill for the wall now, but eventually at a later date, Mexico will be paying, a very different message than his campaign bluster.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people will not pay for the wall.

Mexico will pay for the wall, 100 percent.

JOHNS: Vice President Mike Pence ending his overseas trip a day early to help out on Capitol Hill. Despite the president's attempt to downplay the importance of the 100-day mark, Trump's jam-packed schedule proving the administration thinks the milestone is significant. Officials telling CNN the president is expected to sign a flurry of executive orders this week culminating with a major rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday to mark his 100th day in office.

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He is fulfilling his promises and doing it at breakneck speed.

JOHNS: White House officials are trying to prove the president is taking action, given the lack of legislative accomplishments.

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: We're talking about historic accomplishments by this administration in the first 100 days, but all anybody wants to talk about is health care.

JOHNS: Despite the touted efforts to revive the battle to repeal Obamacare, officials now say there is no expectation of a vote before Friday.

PRIEBUS: It's a marathon, not a sprint. So we're hopeful for this week, but again, it's not something that has to happen in order to define our success.

JOHNS: Trump's budget director also downplaying expectations for Wednesday's big announcement on tax reform.

MULVANEY: What you're going to see on Wednesday for the first time is here's what our principles are, here are some of the ideas we like, some of the ideas we don't like.


JOHNS: And diplomacy is expected to be back on the menu here at the White House late in the day. The president expected to have dinner with about a dozen diplomats from the U.N. Security Council, including the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, Joe.

So there are these two new national polls to tell you about. They show President Trump's approval rating hitting an historic low. There's this ABC News/"Washington Post" poll shows 42 percent Americans approve of his job so far. An NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows only 40 percent do. This is the lowest approval rating for any recent president at the 100-day mark.

So let's bring in our panel. We have CNN political analyst David Drucker, CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston, and senior political writer for "FiveThirtyEight" Perry Bacon. Great to have all of you here. So David, what do these poll numbers that we just see there mean for him trying to get stuff accomplished this week?

[08:05:00] DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it means that he still has an opportunity to try and get things done because he hasn't lost his base and he hasn't lost his party in Congress. But I think as we look at these poll numbers it's important to understand where different groups of Americans are on the president. I think that for so many Americans that put their trust and faith in him and voted for him, what you find is that even though a lot of what he's done so far has been symbolic and executive oriented, it means so much to them.

CAMEROTA: We just heard from them.

DRUCKER: We did. It means he's trying. He hasn't given up. And he hasn't given up on them and he hasn't forgotten them. But I think we're going to see that so much with his 100-day rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, while the rest of us are at the White House correspondents dinner, which we do every year, and there's nothing elitist or wrong about it in my view. I think the contrast is going to be good for the president's purposes.

On the other hand, because the president has continued to go after his detractors and after his Democratic opponents in a way that he does, it means that he is doing nothing to diminish the loss of faith in institutions or the hyper-partisanship and polarization that certainly didn't begin with him but has continued and been exacerbated which him, and that's not necessarily a good thing for the country.

CUOMO: Some context, Perry Bacon, in terms of this resolve and holding on to their initial inclination about what to do in the election. Let's put up the Clinton numbers from the poll also. OK, so would you vote the same way? Trump voters 96, Clinton voters 85 percent. Now, what does that mean to you, that she has a smaller number of resolute voters than he does? PERRY BACON, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, "FIVETHIRTYEIGHT": It would

tell me I think that people since Hillary Clinton lost regret voting for her because she was a losing candidate. My guess is you ask who they would vote for, they might say a third party candidate, maybe I could have voted for Bernie Sanders or a different candidate to vote for.

I do think these numbers overall still for Trump, there are two things that are important here. The first is when you're in the 40s, it suggests when you're a new president, you have a chance to reach out to the other side. You have a chance to build up a new coalition. You have a chance to sort of restart. And he's not been able to gain any of the voters who have not voted for him at the beginning versus Obama and Bush had higher approval ratings compared to how much they won of the vote in 2009 and 2001. So he hasn't grown that coalition.

The second thing is members of Congress care first and always about being reelected, and when you're talking about a president in the 40s, Republican members of Congress are going to be nervous if I'm aligned with this guy it's going to cause me to lose in November 2018. So if his numbers are down it will make it harder for him to get Republicans to move with him and do things that are controversial, like health care.

CAMEROTA: Maeve, meanwhile the president is planning to do or promising to do a lot of big things this week just before the 100-day mark, including tax reform that he says he will announce something on Wednesday. What do we know?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I think the administration at the same time has been downplaying a little bit what that announcement will entail. As I understand it from my sources, that is a bill that is still very much in flux in terms of what the actual pieces are. But clearly they want to make it, they want to remind American voters that that was a huge priority of Trump's during the campaign and that he is still very committed to it and is outlining a plan.

And what I have also heard is that they are doing a better job this time within the White House of trying to get people on board, members of Congress, at an earlier stage, which they did not do as well with the health care bill to kind of smooth that ride over the next couple of months as we head toward a potential tax reform bill. But still a lot of big hurdles ahead for the White House on that.

CUOMO: It's interesting, when you take a look at where he's doing well in the poll issue by issue, let's put up the numbers, the less he talks the more he just allows things to take their ordinary course of having the government work, the better he does.

Military action in Syria, 62-33 support that. North Korea, 46-37, interesting what would motivate that tightness there, we don't really know. Is there another number? Those are the two. So we have those two. And you'll see throughout the poll if you take a look at it online, the cross tabs show if he just lets things get done by the people around him and keeps it pretty formal it's OK. It's when he goes outside of that and free lances and tweets and opines he gets in trouble. David, do you think that's a lesson that makes its way to the White House?

DRUCKER: I think it should. I think there's a difference between disruption and implementation. I think that there's a lot of political value in coming to Washington as he has and saying that I'm not going to be locked in to the old ideas.

[08:10:00] Both parties I think Republicans and Democrats have been sort of used up in old ideas that they have pedaling for 30, 40 years. They may be good ideas but I think they're exhausted. But if you want to get anything done in Washington, there's a certain way you go about it. And so I think where we've seen him do well, whether it was the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch or a more conventional approach to foreign policy, the lesson here is it's OK to have new ideas and disruptive ideas. In fact it's politically beneficial. Some of htem may be accepted and some may be opposed. But there is a way of getting things done. We like to call it blocking and tackling. You want to have a spread offense, fine. You want to run up the middle, fine. What do you need? Either way a good offensive line that can block. And I think that's where this administration has been lacking is experienced blockers and tacklers who can take Trump's at times disruptive or different ideas or different way of doing things and implement them in Congress so that they have lasting power, because executive orders are only as good as the next president.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that. Go ahead, Maeve.

RESTON: I was just going to say one of the things we do know about the way that Trump governs is that he likes to take on everything himself. He is not always the best delegator. He likes to have people in the room who invite conflict and fights back and forth over policy. And I think that sometimes that slows the process down, but that is the way that he likes to govern, and so that may be some of what you're seeing in those numbers there.

CAMEROTA: Perry, his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, was on the Sunday shows yesterday, and he said this president is achieving things at breakneck speed, that's his quote. He's talking about the executive orders. I know that David says they are only as good as the four years you're in office. Maybe that's all the Trump administration needs right now because that gets you another four years, if people like them.

BACON: I think the Trump administration has two big accomplishments. First David referred to it, Neil Gorsuch. And the second one I would say is Trump talking about immigration all the time during the campaign relentlessly. And one data point we have is very firm is the number of people trying to cross the border has went down a lot in these last two months. It appears that Trump's rhetoric saying don't come here, we don't want you, essentially is working. So he has two big accomplishments.

The problem with what Reince Priebus said is of course the two things that Trump spent the most time on his first two months, the Muslim ban and the health care bill, were both failures. When your first 100 days, if you were like getting close to accomplishing things, if the health care bill had passed the House but was waiting in the Senate, that would suggest maybe in day 130 Trump might sign a health care bill. We're not anywhere near that. You have the first 00 days wasted on some level with basically 40 days of health care plan that did not succeed. So you have two big successes, you also have two big failures.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, panel.

CUOMO: Appreciate it. It's interesting. The Senate is back. The House is back tomorrow, they are on recess. Remember, that puts even more question marks around this idea that they would get health care reform done before the 100-day mark, especially with the shutdown looming. So how reasonable is that expectation? We're going to take a look at it.

CAMEROTA: Plus you have to see this, a firefighter rushes to save a four-year-old girl after she fell out of a moving bus. What was going through his mind? And how is she? We're going to talk to him live.



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so the Senate is back working in Washington today. The House returns tomorrow, and they're going to come back to some big asks on multiple fronts. They got the shutdown looming. They have to get that done, but you have this ask for the funding for the wall in there. Will that cause disruption?

And there was this new mandate thrown in by the White House, trumpeted by the president that they have to get health care done in the House as well. The president tweeting "Obamacare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought."

Joining us now Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, the chairman of the House Rules Committee. We know you're just getting back to work tomorrow, Congressman, but it seems you're working all the time. And this was certainly being generated. The political reality, will we see a vote in the House this week on health care?

REP. PETE SESSIONS (R), TEXAS: Chris, I think it's unlikely and the most important reason why not is because we've not had a chance to explain to the American people about what that health care plan should be.

Secondly, you watched over the weekend Tom Price, the secretary of HHS very clearly lay out his ideas of making health care available to as many people as possible and really fixing health care.

And I have yet to see that plan that does both those things, and so I think that the delay, the tactics, the opportunity for Congress to get closer to that activity we need a health care bill that allows people to take their tax credit to work. We need to reduce the number of people who might be uninsured and if we do that, we come up with a plan that goes from let's say 17 or 20 percent of the American people support up to 80 percent support. We can do the right thing. We can fix health care.

CUOMO: All right, I want to ask about that specifically, but just give me a little bit of insight. It seems that nobody thinks that a vote could get done this week for exactly what you're talking about. Not for politically jaundiced reasons, but we don't know what it is. We haven't worked it out yet.

There are no details, in all like serious, significant issues. Why the pressure to get it done this week? Why set the president up for what seems to be a sure disappointment?

SESSIONS: Well, that I don't understand. What I can tell you is this week we know that we've got to make sure that the government gets funded. We knew this last December when we set this date. This is the week that we have to get that done and we will. We will get that done.

We will get it done in a way that will take the house, the Senate and the president work together. The president needs a sense of understanding not only about how we work, but why we're doing this and funding the government is bigger necessarily than any one piece part.

CUOMO: All right, so the political intrigue will continue. Somebody did the president a disservice by telling him to push for this, this week when there was no reasonable expectation of that.

[08:20:02]Now let's get to the specifics. If you're going to give me a tax credit, you got to give it to me wherever I go because just because I have a job it shouldn't punish me in terms of getting my health care.

And if I can't take that tax credit to work, well, then you are really cutting out a huge part of the population that you say you want to help. So what is motivating the resistance to allow that tax credit to be able to go to places of employment where people can pool as employees and get a health care plan?

SESSIONS: Chris, I think that there's a debate that's going on inside members of Congress and that is how do you best reduce the amount that it costs to provide insurance to people? And members of Congress have not made the translation yet.

That that goes instead of a person having an individual policy to a group policy, and once we make that translation and understand that if we truly want to follow, as Secretary Price said, to fix the issue and provide as many people with health care.

Then that means the most cost-effective form and that is being able to take your tax credit to where you can put that, pool that with other people --

CUOMO: Cost effective -- SESSIONS: -- and cost effective and you reduce the number of people

who are uninsured. It is the right way. What keeps us from that, I don't know.

CUOMO: Well, let's talk about first --

SESSIONS: The plan.

CUOMO: -- because cost effective -- OK, that's one thing but ain't the cheapest way, Congressman, if you want to show that you pulled the most money out of this situation that is not the cheapest way to do it. It sounds like the motivation on some part of the side of your aisle is we want to pull as much money out of this and show as much tax savings no matter who it hurts because we have to par lay that into our tax plan and into you are infrastructure plan. Fair criticism?

SESSIONS: Well, it's correct, as you know, that some $800 billion that would be pulled out of health care, comes directly out of Medicaid and disabled funding and that is why we've been unable to move forward.

But the way you look at this is if you want to fix health care just not just get through the issue is to fix it is that you allow everybody the same pre-tax opportunity through the tax credit. It not only fixes the system, it reduces hugely the number of people who were uninsured.

If we add in the number of people who can bring their tax credit to work, overnight, we change health care, and this is where the Democrats failed, because they wanted to go to where a person would have their individual policy.

The individual policy is dying in front of us. This is where I believe we will end up cutting the final deal to allowing health care to be fixed, and when the fix occurs, the American people, including those on Medicaid and with disabilities, are far happier.

CUOMO: Well, look, that's going to be the key. That CBO score that showed at least 10 million people would be knocked off the Medicaid rolls at some point because of the tax savings of the money being sucked out of the plan, that's going to matter.

Let me ask you something here, while I have you. The shutdown bill, everybody is saying we don't want to shut down the government, but this border wall is not the analogy you hoped it would be.

The president is saying I want $1.4 billion, with a "b" for the ball, the first installment. That's a real wall, not an analogy wall. Do you think that has to go to get the government to continue running?

SESSIONS: Well, let me say this, Chris. I have yet to see the plan from the White House or the secretary of Homeland Security that shows where and what that wall would look like. We have taken the immediate, as a result of the president's quick actions, we have taken the huge pressure off our border circumstances, but long-term we have to protect that border.

I would have anticipated it would have been in the long-term plan of his infrastructure package. Several weeks ago this man came to us, putting pressure on us to produce the results, it would be a Republican only bill. I'd like to see us fund the government.

I'd like to see this be a circumstance where we understand what the wall would mean and where. In Texas it is difficult because the question is, where would you put the wall, block Texans off from the river, would you put it back a mile?

We don't know enough about the actual plan even though Republicans at least are for securing our border, and I think we can get there with operational control.

CUOMO: Tick tock, tick tock. Can you get it done before the end of the week and if not --


CUOMO: -- does that wall plan have to go?


CUOMO: All right, Congressman Sessions, appreciate you being on NEW DAY as always, sir -- Alisyn.

[08:25:03]CAMEROTA: Well, new poll numbers show President Trump's approval rating at an historic low but his supporters have no regrets at all about their votes. Why do we see such a dichotomy in the country? We have a debate you don't want to miss next.


CAMEROTA: President Trump does not like some new polls this show him with historically low approval ratings in his first 100 days. The president says just now, "The two fake news polls released yesterday, ABC and NBC, while containing some very positive info were totally wrong in general election."

Let's discuss with our CNN political commentators. We have Simone Sanders and Jeffrey Lord. Great to see both of you.



CAMEROTA: Great to see you. Let's look at these two polls that Mr. Trump does not like. This is the ABC news poll, shows him with just 42 percent approval rating, the NBC shows him even lower at 40 percent. That is lower than any president at the 100-day mark in recent history. What do you think is going on with all voters that is reflected in these polls, Jeffrey?

LORD: Well, I think that his base is sticking with him. Ali, shall he's going to be here in Pearisburg, Pennsylvania on Saturday night, and I can tell you there is a lot of excitement already here on the ground. So I think his --