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New Republican Health Care Bill Likely To Fail in House; President Trump's First 100 Days Reviewed; Interview with Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2017 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is front and center on our national security radar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All scenarios are on the table, so it really is all up to North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go and win, folks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it comes to felt care, once again Republicans have fallen short.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say to Republicans in the House, you will pay a huge price in the 2018 elections if you vote for it.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is more work than what I previous thought. I thought it would be easier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, April 28th, 8:00 in the east. President Trump warns that a major conflict is possible with North Korea. And despite those ominous words, the president says he hopes diplomacy prevails. Is Mr. Trump escalating tensions with his comments?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And was it intentional or is this something that the White House is now going to have to walk back. So you have the president's talk about passing health care. That's fallen short again, too. There will no vote in a new bill that's going to come today or potentially any time soon. The president making a very revealing admission about the presidency. What did he say? We're going to tell you.

We have a lot to cover on the eve of President Trump's 100-day milestone. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House. Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. The president was surprisingly blunt in his statement, warning that a face-off with North Korea is possible. But at the same time, his top diplomat suggesting direct talks with North Korea are possible, too. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.

JOHNS: A sobering message from President Trump warning about the possibility of escalation with North Korea in a new interview with Reuters, cautioning that the U.S. would love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult. Mr. Trump praising China's president for putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop their nuclear tests.

TRUMP: I have established a very good personal relationship with President Xi, and I really feel that he is doing everything in his power to help us with the big situations.

JOHNS: And even offering a surprising insight almost empathizing with North Korea's dictator.

TRUMP: His father dies. He took over a regime. So say what you want, but that's not easy, especially at that age. I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit. I'm saying that's a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he's rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he's rational.

JOHNS: These remarks coming as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicates a potentially major shift in diplomatic policy, telling NPR the administration is open to direct talks with North Korea as long as the agenda is right.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: All scenarios are on the table. So it really is up to North Korea. We're not looking to pick a fight, but don't give us a reason to have one.

JOHNS: The North Korean threat just one of the challenges the administration is facing as it reaches the 100-day milestone tomorrow. Domestically, despite a furious push from the White House, Republicans now conceding they don't have the 216 votes necessary to move forward with their bill to repeal Obamacare.

NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: What you see in the GOP haste to pass the bill and Trump trying to cram it down in the last 100 days, I think President Trump is really making fools of members of Congress of his own party.

JOHNS: Democrats threatening to pull their support for today's must pass spending bill to avert a government shutdown if Republicans were to move forward with a health care vote. President Trump telling Reuters, "If there is a shutdown, there is a shutdown." This as a new "Washington Post" interview sheds light on President Trump's reversal on pulling out of NAFTA.

TRUMP: I decided rather than terminating NAFTA, which would be a pretty big shock to the system, we will renegotiate. JOHNS: The president telling "The Post" he was all set to terminate

the trade deal and looked forward to it until he abruptly changed his mind on Wednesday after being persuaded by advisors and the leaders of Canada and Mexico. And 14 million American jobs depend on the trade deal. President Trump reflecting on the presidency and realities of governing.

TRUMP: I loved my previous life. I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. I actually -- this is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Now approaching the final hours of the first 100 days, the president is going back on the road to Atlanta to deliver an address to the National Rifle Association. Also tomorrow on the 100th day, he plans to go to Pennsylvania for a big campaign style rally. Alisyn and Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Joe, appreciate it.

So the tough talk with president Trump provoking a response from North Korea, his ominous comments. So America's top diplomat, though, is saying that the U.S. is open to direct talks with the reclusive regime. How does this mixed message play? We have CNN's Will Ripley live in Pyongyang, North Korea, the only western TV journalist there. What are you hearing?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, North Korean officials tell us they really do believe this could go one of two ways. There could be some sort of dialogue or it could devolve into an all-out war, and they say they are prepared for both options and they're going to do it on their own terms. There is this new commentary this morning from North Korea saying, quote, "In case a war breaks out, the U.S. will be held wholly accountable for it no matter who made the preemptive attack."

For the past couple of week we have seen here in Pyongyang we have seen repeatedly that this is a regime with something to prove. From that massive military parade on April 15th when they unveiled more missiles than ever before and had those carefully choreographed, goose-stepping soldiers, to this huge live fire military drill that we saw earlier in the week where there were hundreds of pieces of long- range artillery fired simultaneously with North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un preceding over all of it.

Then there is this new propaganda just released showing an simulated missile attack on Washington, hitting the White House, the capital, and what appears to be the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group. All of this, this country trying to send a message that despite mounting international pressure from the U.S., the U.N. security council, and perhaps even China, it is now indicating a willingness to work with the United States, they will not back down. They will not be intimidated. Chris, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Will, thank you very much. So it has been a tumultuous first 100 days. I think that's fair to

say for President Trump. Let's analyst what he's saying now and how he's feeling on the eve of the 100th day. We want to bring in our political panel. We have CNN political analyst David Gregory, CNN national political reporter Maeve Reston, and reporter and editor at large for CNN politics Chris Cillizza. Great to have all of you. Maeve, I want to start with you because you have a new piece on CNN.com about these 100 days. Give us the headlines.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: We just really wanted to look at the evolution of Donald Trump over these 100 days. In the early days, you would have people saying that it was just absolutely craziness and chaos. The fact that he has surrounded himself with, constantly with new groups of people, sort of adding to his knowledge and really getting a sense of the job. And on Capitol Hill this week it was interesting talking to a lot of people about his evolution. They do feel a little more comfortable with the White House now.

CAMEROTA: Congress is feeling more comfortable with the president's style?

RESTON: Yes. They think that the mechanics are working a little bit better. They are feeling a little bit more confidence in his leadership on national security.

CAMEROTA: And yet let me read a piece from your piece because I think this is really telling today. In the final hours of the first 100 days, the promises kept were marked with a red x, including abandoning a massive pacific trade deal, TPP, the column without a single red x, legislative accomplishments.

RESTON: There is certainly as we have all seen this week has been an obsession with this benchmark of 100 days, a flurry of activity around executive orders, some of which amount to a blue ribbon commission, basically.

But in Steve Bannon's office he has this giant white board that he keeps all of the campaign promises on. When Trump completes something, there is an x. Legislative accomplishments, zero. And as we saw with the health care vote, the White House was really trying in these last two weeks to get people talking, to get health care moving again, and that effort fell through. So it's going to be an interesting rally in Pennsylvania, tomorrow, Saturday night, with President Trump where he'll be going back essentially to the state where he laid out his 100 day agenda, and a lot of that is still not established.

CUOMO: So, David, the president could say the 100-day mark doesn't matter, but obviously it does. But equally in importance is validation. What do you see in doing these interviews? Do you think this was some kind of therapy for the president, that he wants to talk, he wants to be understood, he wants to be validated?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Nobody advising the president, especially this president, who is all over the place, would say, you should sit down and do all these interviews. That would really be a good idea. He's clearly doing them because he wants to do them, because it is a kind of therapy for him. I mean, he is so incredibly transparent in terms of, wow, I thought it was, you know, look, I like to work hard. I had a great life. Boy, this is really a lot of work. And you know the history between China and North Korea is really complicated and I didn't know that and thankfully President Xi told me.

I think he is working this stuff out as he goes along, and he wants to do it in these interviews. He wants legitimacy. He wants to be liked. But I do think he's kind of working all this out in his head. And he's used to doing it all on a stage. The presidency is just one big stage for him. And it's kind of incredible.

[08:10:00] And it is a window into where he is pragmatic, where he listens, and it is also appalling that he has allowed himself to think, oh, yes, I could have said all these things and I didn't know any of these things and it is surprising how hard the presidency is.

CAMEROTA: We have some of that sound you are referring to. He just gave an interview with Reuters and they just released this audio. So listen to the president on his feeling of approaching the 100th day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, I loved my previous life. I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. I actually -- this is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of a -- I'm a details oriented person. I think you would say that. But I do miss my old life. I like to work, so that's not a problem, but this is actually more work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Your thoughts, Chris Cillizza?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, EDITOR AT LARGE, CNN POLITICS: He had spent the last few decades playing the role of Donald Trump, right? That's all he did. He was the brand manager of himself and his eponymous corporation. Now the job is very different.

David's point about appalling is I think interesting. The kernel that helped elect Donald Trump more than anything else is the fact he had never served in elected office before. He wasn't part of this system. He had given money, sure. But he wasn't part of it. That same kernel is what makes him say things like I didn't realize it would be so hard because he didn't have any understanding of the parameters of what the job could be like. Some of that is I don't think he thought he could possibly win. But I think is lot of it is based on the fact that he has never done anything like this before. Being a reality TV star and being at this point in his life a face of this company he built as opposed to a day-to-day details manager is not the same thing. He could choose everything he wanted to do in his life. He did it when he wanted to do it. He didn't do stuff he didn't want to do. That's the opposite of being president.

CUOMO: Maeve, there seems to be two possibilities in this newfound vulnerability that we're seeing in the president. One is he really didn't know these things. He didn't know how hard the job was. He didn't know what the realities were of the issues. Or equally likely is he knew damn well that he was miscasting what China was about, that he was miscasting how easy repeal and replace was, that he was going after President Obama for wanting to golf too much when he knew he was going to golf every chance he got. And now he has to own the realities, and now people are rewarding him for that saying well, at least he figured it out. What's your take on that?

RESTON: Well, I don't think it was a fair statement that he didn't actually think he was going to win and have to face all of these realities in the presidency. But I think that it's also true that he -- you know, his management style in the private sector was completely different than what, you know, normal presidents do. Like he likes to pit people against each other, create conflict, you know, in terms of having an audience. So many of the people that I talk to said, you know, that there is half a dozen aides sitting in the room, and one of them said it is like church, that they say he'll talk about his electoral victories and whatever affirmations he wants that day, and they respond and nod.

And I think that that gets that sort of what we're talking about here, which is that there's still such a strong obsession with his image and how he's portrayed and that that is really important in the perception of the first 100 days.

GREGORY: Even if you're right, Chris, so what is the alternative? The alternative is not better, right? If he said things that he deliberately didn't know -- by the way, you could read about the presidency. But to be fair, a lot of presidents become students of the presidency when they're president. But my point is that if he has flipped into more reasoned and reasonable positions, I think that's probably the best of the alternatives, even if you're still right, which he was being deliberate in what he didn't know.

And then the other point I would throw out there, it is very interesting. I have been up close to President Obama and President Bush. President Bush had great appreciation and understanding of the presidency because of his father. And yet he led a war in Iraq where his interagency process broke down to such degree, even though he had a level of experience and the people around him had experience. Obama in his first 30 days, I had mentioned previously this morning, said to people, reporters, he said, you know, turns out, 30 days in, turns out I'm pretty good at this job. So there was a level of arrogance and he got humbled over time by the job. So this transparency about, wow, this is harder than I though, is the other side of the coin.

CUOMO: I'm just saying the media should be slow instead of quick to reward Donald Trump for candor and vulnerability when he intentionally miscast issues to further divisions and build himself a base that allowed him to ascend in his own party.

(CROSSTALK)

[08:15:08] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Chris, I think both of those -- ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, that's your theory. That's your

theory.

CILLIZZA: Can't both of those things be true, that he did those things and also didn't -- legitimately didn't understand the challenges of the job?

CUOMO: Yes.

CILLIZZA: Yes, he said, yes, I can solve health care probably knowing that he probably couldn't. But he also didn't understand the parameters of the job.

The one other thing I'd say, I think our tendency is the first 99 days are going to be predictive of the next 99 days. To say that NFL is a week to week league that you can beat the Patriots one week and you lost to the Browns --

CUOMO: Any given Sunday.

CILLIZZA: -- the next week.

I think this is a day-to-day presidency. The reflective, emotive Donald Trump today, my guess is tomorrow night in Harrisburg will turn into the campaign Donald Trump.

So, you know, the harder edged Donald Trump. It's just -- it's hard to draw broader sweep conclusions about the guy because what he does at 8:00 in the morning versus what he tweets at 8:00 at night are often at odds.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Even a successful CEO would be more strategic and visionary than he is. He's been transactional, pragmatic, sometimes in a good way, but reactive.

And his whole chaos theory and crisis management around this 100 days is ridiculous. They are rushing tax policy -- health care policy just around the 100 days. Take your time. You know, there might be good ideas there. Build consensus, take your time.

Even if he thinks were all spun about the 100 days, which we are and he is, they'll be time.

CAMEROTA: You're saying the country doesn't need a big reveal like on "Celebrity Apprentice", for the 100 days. You don't actually need something that --

GREGORY: I do.

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: Don't underestimate that, the idea of a big reveal. Remember this, guys, formative experiences prior to being president of the United States were as a reality star. I feel like there is a lot of -- I wonder what's he going to be on next week's episode sentiment in how he runs the government. CUOMO: Look, we just saw it in the interviews. Maeve is right. I

mean, look at the -- let's put Jeff Mason video up there from "Reuters".

CAMEROTA: From "Reuters".

CUOMO: He interviewed the president and this is what the president wanted him to see during the interview. He could have showed him lots of stuff, he showed him the electoral map, and he said all that red, that's me. You see how I won the Electoral College? Do you see how well I did?

He is about the sell.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: And that is what he -- when people have been to the Oval Office, that is often the first topic he talks about. You know, in the health care debate when he brought in the members of the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group, he would quiz each of them about how much he won their districts by. It shows you how he's still stuck in that November mindset.

GREGORY: It is that -- but that is also a little Lyndon Johnson, too. I mean -- I'd almost rather he talk to the portraits.

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: On that note, panel, thank you very much for all of the insight.

CUOMO: All right. So, in some of these interviews, the president went farther in a provocative way about North Korea than he has in the past, which raises this issue: who is he messing with here? How dangerous is North Korea? How real is the possibility of a conflict?

We have a lawmaker who was just in the Korean Peninsula. Their take, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

[08:21:52] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, there's a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right. That was President Trump warning in a new interview with "Reuters" that a military conflict with North Korea is possible.

Let's discuss with Republican Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. He just returned from his first trip to the Korean Peninsula.

Good morning, Congressman. REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Good morning, Alisyn. Thanks

for having me on the program.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you, particularly today, because you just got back on Monday from your first trip to the Korean Peninsula. You saw this all with your own eyes, as this tension seems to be ramping up. What was your take on how dangerous North Korea is at this moment?

DENT: North Korea is a very real threat. I suspect if they were ever to engage with us, it would be in an asymmetrical way. They have been involved with cyber. Obviously, they're developing their short term medium range missile capability. They've got the nuclear program.

I do not believe they would necessarily launch a conventional attack against South Korea, because that is a conflict they would lose, and Kim Jong-Il, while he is erratic and brutal, I don't think he is completely irrational. His regime would collapse.

I don't think he has the ability to sustain a long-term conventional fight with us.

CAMEROTA: Kim Jong-un, of course, the son of Kim Jong-Il.

So, is it your impression, though -- it is very hard from all these thousands of miles away to know whether the threat is imminent. Has something changed? Is this sort of the standard saber-rattling that North Korea does from time to time, to get attention, or has something changed this week?

DENT: Well, my sense in being on the Korean peninsula is the South Koreans have heard this before. I think they are less alarmed than maybe we are and our friends and allies. They have seen it before.

So, I -- but, yes, the threat is real. I think they all try to analyze this guy and they realize this is a man who's killed members of his family, so no one can be sure of what he will do. But we do know that he does want to survive. So, I don't think he will take any actions that will lead to the demise or the downfall of his regime.

CAMEROTA: What about President Trump? What about President Trump's tough talk? Do you think that is effective in terms of getting Kim Jong-un's attention and having him back off?

DENT: Well, I believe President Trump has actually been pretty effective in trying to get the Chinese to re-engage in a more constructive manner, and I think we have been partially successful in that regard. The Chinese and the Russians who are enablers of North Korea, they have very damaged relations with that regime itself.

But I see the Chinese actually moving in a more constructive way than they had. So -- but I don't think the president is incorrect to say that there is a potential for conflict on the Korean peninsula. That's true. But we're all trying to avoid that.

CAMEROTA: Look at this new CNN poll. I just want to show you how the American people are feeling right now, in terms of whether North Korea is an immediate threat, 37 percent say, yes, they believe it is an immediate threat, 49 percent believe it's a long-term threat, 13 percent believe not a threat. So, clearly, this is on the minds of Americans.

But as you stand here today, you tell Americans what about this threat?

[08:25:05] DENT: Well, I tell the American people that the North Koreans -- they are a nuclear power. We can't tolerate that. They're developing this short and medium range missile capability is unacceptable.

The purpose of my trip to South Korea was frankly to ensure that we can move our troops -- we are trying to move our troops out of Seoul and points North towards the demilitarized zone and move them down south to Camp Humphreys, out of the line of artillery fire, because we know the North Korean regime strategy. They intend to shell Seoul, a city of over 20 million. They could kill thousands of people if they were engaged in a conventional attack.

And so, that's -- but it's a real threat. I tell them, we have to be very vigilant, and the status quo was unacceptable. This notion of strategic patience has not been affected and I think it's appropriate that the administration is engaging the Chinese in a more aggressive way on this issue.

CAMEROTA: I want to shift gears to health care. As recently as Sunday, the chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said that there could be a vote this week on the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. You said yesterday that you were not going to be on board with the so-called new and improved version of that bill.

What went wrong? What was wrong with it in your eyes?

DENT: Well, the bill that's before us and the amendment that's been offered in my view don't change the fundamental dynamics of the bill. The amendment does not address in any way the concerns I raised previously, that there is not a soft enough landing for people who are on Medicaid in states like mine that have expanded.

There is a lack of affordability for too many Americans. They're not going to be able to afford insurance, low and moderate income Americans aren't going to be able to afford insurance on the exchanges on the maximum credit of $4,000. And, of course, too many people are going to be losing coverage.

Those are my underlying concerns that the new, revised version really doesn't address those concerns, and that's why I'm opposed to the bill.

CAMEROTA: So, I mean, Congressman, look, it just feels as though there is no way to bring all of these different factions together. I mean, how are you ever going to find something that suits the conservative Freedom Caucus, the moderate Tuesday Group, Democrats, your constituents? I mean, how -- where are you in terms of optimism of finding something today? DENT: Well, I'm not terribly optimistic right now. I think we need

to change the paradigm.

Here's what we should do. We should try to work this bill from the center out. Let's go focus on the problems that we all agree are there.

We know the individual market is broken. It was in bad shape before Obamacare. It is worse now because of Obamacare. Let's focus on the individual market.

There are taxes that add to the cost of health care in Obamacare that I think both Republicans and Democrats feel should be removed. So, let's focus on those areas of agreement. Let's try to do this in a bipartisan manner so that we could have a durable, sustainable reform.

We as Republicans shouldn't make the same mistakes the Democrats did. In 2010, they muscled Obamacare through and we have been fighting about it ever since. We as Republicans I believe should try to take a different approach.

If we try to muscle a bill through, we will be fighting about it as well forever. And I think we got -- we need a durable, sustainable solution. And I think we should figure it out there's a bipartisan path forward.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Charlie Dent, nice to talk to you. Thanks so much on being NEW DAY.

DENT: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Chris?

CUOMO: Senator Bernie Sanders now a major leader for the Democratic Party, sounding off his take on President Trump's tax wish list, on the posturing on North Korea, and what does the senator see as the huge hypocrisy. The senator makes the case to you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)