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Report: Freedom Caucus Supports Health Care Amendment; Trump Unveils Tax Cuts but Few Ways to Pay for It; North Korea Briefing Underway with Senators at White House. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 26, 2017 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. After holding on for weeks and essentially stopping the Republican and President's efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, the House Freedom Caucus says it is endorsing this new amendment that would end the deadlock and could deliver the party the votes it needs, at least on the conservative side.

[15:35:00] The proposal would allow states to apply for waivers that could gut several core Obamacare provisions to protect those with pre- existing conditions. This change is aimed at bridging the gap between the more conservative faction and moderates within the party. There's still no guarantee that moderates in the house will go along with this whatsoever.

The bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate. And while health care progress is inching along on Capitol Hill when it comes to taxes and tax cuts and tax reform, the Trump administration is taking the reins over at the white house. Earlier today, we saw Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and President Trump's chief executive adviser Gary Cohn unveiling their tax proposals but officials tell CNN this is all about the headline they wanted leading up to Saturday, essentially saying Trump cutting taxes in the first 100 days. Let's begin there. Adrian is with me, Democratic strategist and former director for Hillary for America. Andre Bauer is here, CNN political commentator and former lieutenant governor of South Carolina and Ana Navarro, Republican strategist. Clearly, I didn't get the black memo. I'm looking over at all of you --

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It has nothing to do with Trump. Believe me, I'm not in mourning.

BALDWIN: You're recovering. Let me begin with you just on this mega, you know, proposals outlined with Mnuchin and Cohn and the briefing and how they're saying this is great for the economy. My question to you, where is the President in this mega rollout? Would you have liked to have seen the President front and center on this today?

NAVARRO: Well, I suspect he doesn't know the details. We've seen time and again he's not a detail-oriented kind of person so he may not be the best person to roll out something like a tax reform proposal. I think he's behind the scenes being a producer, being the executive producer like he was in "The Apprentice." They are going to kill us with headlines and proposals.

BALDWIN: Is your head spinning?

NAVARRO: My head's been spinning for so long, it's stopped spinning. But they are trying to distract us from the fact that we're coming upon 100 days and that he has got no big legislative victories that he's done some of the things he's promised to do. Donald Trump earlier this week said 100 days didn't matter. It was a stupid metric. And then he tells you something doesn't matter to him and it's stupid, it matters a lot to him and it's a little, you know, worm burrowing in his head. And it's working. We're talking about the senators getting on a bus, we're talking about tax reform, we're talking about Canada, NAFTA, we're talking about everything other than the fact that we're coming upon these 100 days.

BALDWIN: Respond.

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I get nervous with her all the time. Look, he made this promise when he ran. This is one of his key things. And he's a business guy. He sees how bad taxes -- if you don't believe it, New York right now is advertising, we've reduced our taxes and regulations, come on back because so many businesses have left. It's not anything out of the ordinary to say, hey, we want to spur growth, we want to spur development. The way you do it is lower taxes.

BALDWIN: On Ana's point, there are a lot of headlines and they keep touting these executive orders. He's considering reviewing, you know, potentially unlawful federal overreach in the states. The President is considering travelling to Saudi Arabia and Israel. It's a lot of considering and reviewing to do things but where is the doing of the things?

BAUER: Well, he's a big picture guy. We're 97 days in now. They are laying out a plan on things they want to achieve. And make no mistake, it's like a kid that goes into a candy store. He's going to ask more than he can get. He's a business guy. And then he'll negotiate back and get some of what he wanted. No one is going to give him everything he wants but the American people want tax relief, businesses want tax relief. At least now we're engaging in a conversation to have some type of change that will be progress for this country.

BALDWIN: I'm looking at you and I met you for an event covering the campaign and obviously, you were in Hillary Clinton and, listen, people didn't pick your candidate. They picked -- or I should say -- depending on popular votes, we won't go there. He won, but these are outsiders that have come into Washington that

are talking taxes, talking health care, you know, border wall proposals, sanctuary city federal funding. I am just wondering you have these outsiders dealing with things that they don't really -- they are not Washington people.


BALDWIN: I'm just wondering, you have these outsiders dealing with things that they don't really -- they're not Washington people.

ELROD: Right.

BALDWIN: Is that helping or hurting them?

[15:40:00] ELROD: Well, look, I think what you're learning here and what we're seeing here, Trump is desperate for a victory. He's desperate for -- we're at day 97. He's desperately looking for a victory. What you are also learning and what many of his voters are now learning, Washington is Washington. The Republicans have full control about the house, Senate and the presidency and they still cannot -- he still cannot tout any legislative victories. He's desperate for something and he's learning that this is very difficult.

BALDWIN: Let's give him credit for apparently, he's going to head this meeting at the Eisenhower executive office building, you have all of these senators being bussed to this mega auditorium that's turning into the fact that the President will be dropping in. Does he know the details on North Korea?

BAUER: I have no idea. He probably should have generals that know it better than him. But again, he sends a message not just to the United States senators but to the world, we're concerned about it, we are united. We have all of the senators or most of them showing up to have a meeting and to have a discussion to look over the information we have and we're taking it very seriously. I appreciate every senator from both parties showing up. Senators but to the world, we're concerned about it, we are united. And I think it makes people like Kim Jong-Un go, wait a minute -- he may not get together on a tax policy or something else but when it comes to defending our borders and making sure this world is a safe place, they are united on that front.

BALDWIN: How do you see this whole bus to the White House scenario playing out?

NAVARRO: I see it as Donald Trump, the executive producer of "The Apprentice," putting on a TV show. But I also think, look, he's not going to be running the North Korea briefing. This is going to be run by General Mattis, by Tillerson, by McMaster, people that are respected, you know, certainly Mattis and McMaster are as former generals. And I do give -- and this is hard for me to do. But I do give Trump some credit for reaching out even to some of his opponents and harshest critics. A few nights ago, he had Lindsey Graham and John McCain in the White House having dinner. He has done a better job reaching out. You know, he's had Ted Cruz. He's had Marco Rubio over for dinner. He may be doing this part of the thing better than even President Obama did it, who wasn't very good at the schmoozing, not even within his own party. Trump has been doing that, not achieving many results yet. He had the freedom caucus over for bowling and the next day they came out and said we're not supporting your health care --

BAUER: But they are back.

BALDWIN: But they are back. They are. NAVARRO: But he continues doing that and he understands production.

Event production. That he understands. I think that's what we're seeing today.

BALDWIN: All right. Last -- just last word from you. She gives him some credit on that. Where do you give him some credit?

ELROD: Look, it's hard to give Donald Trump really any credit, from my standpoint. But I think he clearly is trying to reach out and bring people to the White House but that's what you do as President.

BALDWIN: But President Obama was criticized for not doing it enough.

ELROD: Yes, but he did quite a bit of it. So again, we're coming up on 100 days. Donald Trump is desperately trying to achieve any legislative victory and it's left to be seen what will happen.

NAVARRO: I think he should get credit for unifying the Democratic party.

ELROD: That's a good point.

BALDWIN: Thank you all so much. So, nice to see every one of you.

Coming up next, President Trump speaking out not to talk about health care tax reform but to sign a new executive order about federal land. What he's doing to roll back another one of President Obama's final acts.


BALDWIN: There was another surreal moment today. The President teasing a sitting governor about his weight loss during a public event.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Governor LePage of Maine who, by the way, has lost a lot of weight. I knew him when he was heavy and now I know him when he is thin and I like him both ways, OK? Done a great job.



OK. The remarks came before President Trump signed an executive order aimed at rolling back federal protection for many national monuments. He's targeting a 1906 law signed by Teddy Roosevelt giving Presidents unilateral power to create national monument. He now wants that law to be reviewed.


TRUMP: We're returning power back to the people. We've eliminated job-destroying regulations on farmers, ranchers and coal miners, on auto workers and so many other American workers and businesses. Today I'm signing a new executive order to end another edge egregious abuse of power and to give that power back to the states and to the people where it belongs.


BALDWIN: Republicans had complained that President Obama overused the law just days before President Obama left the office he approved a 1.3-million-acre national monument in Utah. Pueblo Indians consider this land sacred. So, nice to have you on.


[15:50:00] BALDWIN: This -- I understand that we're talking about Obama and what he did just before he left office but this went as far back to Bush 43.


BALDWIN: Is this really about land or just entirely political?

HUEY-BURNS: Two things. I think what the President is trying to do is first signal that he's ready and willing to kind of unravel the past President's agenda, particularly when it comes to climate and on the other hand, he also kind of going to traditional conservative roots. Republican lawmakers were asking for the government -- federal government to get out of the land saying people in Utah know how to use the land better than they do. So, in some ways this is a sign that Trump is being a traditional conservative Republican here. What's important to keep in mind, though, is that this order, like many executive orders, is a review. Right? It's a review of these monuments. You're not sure what they're going to do after the review.

BALDWIN: All these executive orders, you remember back when regular Donald Trump was criticizing President Obama, called him a dictator because of all of these executive orders he was signing off on. Your point of the review, we saw education Secretary Betsy De Vos to review a potential federal overreach in a state education.

I'm wondering, do you think his base -- we know critics say zero, no significant legislative achievement in the first 100 days. How does his base feel about all these EOs.

HUEY-BURNS: We've seen that his base is still very supportive of him and the thinking behind that for a lot of his supporters is, look, he campaigned as someone who's going to shake things up, change Washington in many ways and do things differently than before. They're going to give him a little more leeway, a little more running time really for him to implement some of the things he wants to do. On the other hand, you have people who supported him either as an alternative to Hillary Clinton. You also have a lot of people who want to see some tangible job progress in their communities. So yes, executive orders can do certain things. A lot of these are focused -- Republicans are making the argument that, yes, Obama did a lot of these. These executive orders Trump is pushing out is unraveling some of those. At the same time, we're seeing he's not able to make legislative accomplishments yet and that's typically how we judge Presidential terms.

BALDWIN: Interesting you say jobs and I immediately thought back quickly to the briefing today and listening to Secretary Mnuchin and Gary Cohn and the others say this is all about Trump tax cuts, Wall Street tax cuts. How do you see it?

HUEY-BURNS: Democrats are certainly making that argument of, look you said you would drain your swamp and yet you're filling your cabinet with people like this. As we head into 2018 and mid-term elections are in everyone's mind in Congress, that's going to affect whether Democrats get on board with whether this becomes legislation. That's the other thing to keep in mind. Today's proposal is a proposal.

BALDWIN: They said they're having robust conversations with leadership on The Hill.

HUEY-BURNS: Haven't seen the language yet and again there are a lot of Republicans who are not going to be able to swallow this because of what it does for the deficit.

BALDWIN: Caitlin, come back.

Next here on CNN, we are getting breaking news involving North Korea which by the way is the focus of that mega briefing with all those U.S. senators at the white house right now. We'll have that update for you when we continue.


BALDWIN: Breaking news here on CNN, the U.S. is considering placing North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, according to a senior U.S. official and apparently one option the U.S. is weighing. North Korea was dropped from the state sponsored terror list in 2008. Keep in mind, this is all happening as that entire Senate is getting its intelligence briefing right now on north Korea. The senators were bussed to Capitol Hill. We know that the President did stop by for that meet, was in there for more or less 14 minutes. We will take you there live and see what happened inside, coming up.