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GOP Trying to Round Up Health Care Votes; Trump Defends Praise of World's Strongmen; Violent (and Non-Violent) May Protests. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired May 2, 2017 - 04:30   ET



[04:31:22] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: House Republicans pushing hard for a new health care bill. The drama now. What about coverage for people with preexisting conditions. Is the president hurting his own agenda with his comments on this bill?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And President Trump defending his move to praise the world's authoritarian leaders. But does that send the right message as he gets set to speak with Russian Vladimir Putin?

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And it's only Tuesday. I'm Christine Romans. A lot going on. It's a little after 4:30 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin with this. The health care drama on Capitol Hill. The administration going all out this morning, straining for every last vote to get a bill through the House. Vice President Mike Pence, a former House leader himself, walking those capitol hallways. That image there is a sure sign there's work to be done before the Obamacare repeal and replace bill is ready for a vote. Moderates remain the focus. Republican leaders hope they can sell those unhappy with the bill and the fact that if it passes, it could be significantly reworked by the Senate.

BRIGGS: Although the White House keeps touting progress and suggesting a vote is near, the whip count is awfully tight here with many members on the fence including some on the whip team itself. The White House has its work cut out.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has more from Capitol Hill.



Well, there certainly was some hopeful and optimistic rhetoric out of the White House early on Monday that they could get this bill through this week. But that has given way to a harsh and stark reality up here on Capitol Hill. Put simply, they simply don't have the votes for this bill yet.

We had Vice President Mike Pence up here on Capitol Hill last night, trying to save this bill, meeting with members. And as he left Capitol Hill, he was asked by reporters, do you have the votes? And he answered with just two words, "Stay tuned", which really speaks to the fluidity of this at this moment.

On Monday, we saw a slew of House Republicans stand up against this bill, say they anticipate voting no against this bill and that's really put it in some serious jeopardy. According to CNN's latest whip count, 21 House Republicans say they'll vote against the bill, meaning that Republicans can only afford to lose two -- just two more Republican votes or this bill will ultimately fail.

And, of course, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has not scheduled a vote on the bill, which speaks to where it is this moment and later this morning, the full Republican conference will meet, which give us the truest indication of where this is all headed -- Dave and Christine.


ROMANS: All right. It certainly promises to be interesting.

As GOP leaders are struggling to round up these votes, President Trump once again addresses the issue of preexisting conditions. But again, seeming to miss a key component of the bill.

The president told "Bloomberg" the bill is, quote, "not in its final form right now. We are protecting preexisting conditions and it will be every bit as good on preexisting conditions as Obamacare. I want it to be a great deal for the people."

BRIGGS: But experts and advocates disagree with that claim, at least as the measure stands in its current form. It does still require insurance to provide policies to people with preexisting conditions. But it would allow states to opt out of several key Obamacare insurance reforms, including regulations that prevent insurers from pricing patients right out of the market.

ROMANS: A lot of raised eyebrows over President Trump's latest comments about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. No sitting U.S. president has ever met face to face with the North Korean leader.

But listen to Trump's response when he was asked by "Bloomberg News" whether he is willing to be the first.


[04:35:06] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would be absolutely -- I would be honored to do it. If it's under, again, under the right circumstances.


BRIGGS: Of course, it's that word "honored" that really outraged people around the world.

So, what are the right circumstances for a face to face meeting between President Trump and the North Korean leader? Reporters posed that exact question to White House spokesman Sean Spicer.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We've got to see their provocative behavior ratcheted down immediately. Those are -- there's a lot of conditions that would have to happen with respect to behavior and to show signs of good faith. Clearly, the conditions are not there right now.


BRIGGS: All right. Let's go live to South Korea and bring in CNN's Alexandra Field.

Alex, good morning to you. We understand there is new reaction from Seoul to all of this. What are you hearing?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dave. And official here's in Seoul skipped right over the word honored. Not making any comments, it seems, on that particular phrase. They circumstance is led become to more familiar territory, reaffirming and pointing out it's been the longstanding position, they say, of both South Korea and the U.S. that the door would be open for talks with North Korea should North Korea set itself on a path toward denuclearization, and you did hear Sean Spicer in the White House briefing room trying to lay out some of the steps that would be necessary in order to facilitate the kind of conversations that the president is now talking about, saying that he, in fact, would be open to.

There has been some mixed messaging from the administration since President Trump took office more than 100 days ago about where the administration stands when it comes to talks with North Korea. It seemed that when Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the region and when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also traveled to the region, that talks were not something that were on the table. Both of them saying conditions were not right. We are seemingly getting more clarity on that now with officials in Washington now explaining that certain steps would have to be taken. But that the door would then remain open to conversation, which could lead to denuclearization. That at least is the goal.

You heard the Trump administration laying out their policy a little bit more clearly over the last few days, saying that they are going to lean on the idea of stricter economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts in order and trying to force cooperation and deescalate the tensions. That, however, of course, as the threat of military action does seem to stay on the table, Dave.

BRIGGS: Alex, we're also hearing U.S. bombers in the region. Is that a routine exercise or reaction to what we're seeing?

FIELD: Well, the North Koreans certainly reacted to it. They see the presence of two bombers to be once as a provocative action from the U.S. military. South Korean officials are saying that these bombers are a show of strength of the alliance that should serve to send a message to Pyongyang to cut it out, when it comes to the barrage of provocations you've seen from them recently, including a failed missile launch just in the last week.

U.S. officials are confirming that they did send two bombers out here. Those bombers were flying over the peninsula as part of training exercises with both the South Korean air force and also the Japanese air force. And, of course, Dave, we can point out that we haven't seeing these ongoing military exercises, also involving the USS Carl Vinson, that's the aircraft strike group that's in the waters off the Korean peninsula. And U.S. officials have said repeatedly that the presence of these assets are meant again to send a message of deterrence directly to North Korea. But it isn't just deterrence. U.S. also building up its defenses, now telling us that THAAD, that controversial missile defense system is, in fact, operational and ready to intercept missiles that could come from North Korea, Dave.

BRIGGS: And to your point, Japan really appearing to change their military action in the region.

Alex Field live for us, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Concern about another controversial strongman and the problems its causing the White House. President Trump's decision to invite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to Washington was not expected or planned. That's according to a senior administration official. We're told the State Department did coordinate the phone call between the two leaders and briefed the president beforehand.

BRIGGS: The White House defending the decision to invite Duterte as part of an overall strategy to rein in North Korea and defend America's security. For his part, Mr. Trump believes a meeting is called for because Duterte has, quote, "a high approval rating in his country." The Philippines leader can -- says he cannot make any definitive promise to visit the U.S. because he's currently tied up.

ROMANS: President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin set to speak by telephone this afternoon. It will be their third conversation since Trump took office and their first since Putin denounced the U.S. for its missile strike against Syria last month.

[04:40:06] All this amid-questions over ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. The FBI and several committees on Capitol Hill are investigating.

BRIGGS: The White House has turned down multiple offers to receive ethics training for its staff. According to a letter written by head of the Office of Government Ethics, the administration refused help with a new executive order establishing a White House ethics pledge. The letter says the OGE learned the president signed the pledge order through media reports. The ethics office also pointing out they were not consulted when First Daughter Ivanka Trump was hired as a presidential adviser. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters last month she would follow all ethics restrictions that apply to federal employees.

ROMANS: All right. Could President Trump break up the big Wall Street banks? The president said so yesterday. He said he's considering it.


TRUMP: We are looking at that. There are some people that want to go back to the old system, right? So, we're going to look at that. We're looking at it right now, I mean, as we speak, and Dodd-Frank is going to be very, very seriously changed so the banks can go back to loaning money.


ROMANS: That old system he's talking about is a depression era law that separates consumer lending from investment banks. The original is called Glass-Steagall. It was repealed back in 1999, and some have complained they think it contributed to the financial crisis.

Now, the president often talks about reviving Glass-Steagall, reviving that law on the campaign trail and that announcement yesterday initially sent bank stocks reeling, but then they recovered. While candidate Trump may have been tough on Wall Street, President Trump is no question pro-business. Bank stocks have been some of the best performers since the so-called Trump bump. Wall Street likes Trump's talk of tax reform and deregulation.

In fact, investors are so confident his politics are good for business, fear is at a decade low. Wall Street's fear gauge, we call it the VIX Index, it plunged to a ten-year low. And I can tell you, there's the conference yesterday, the Milton Conference.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: When Sean Spicer took the podium and said, "We are going to have a 21st century Glass-Steagall, we're going to look into the 21s century Glass-Steagall," the bankers there were not concerned. They were not concerned at all.

BRIGGS: Not taking it seriously. Again, not taking the word seriously.

ROMANS: No, not taking it seriously. They're concerned about his unpredictability. But the president, but they think he won't do anything to hurt profits. And yesterday, it's interesting. There were some viewers who thought that we were being too pro-money, when we talk about, you know, how he's so pro-business.

I want to be clear. This is a president who won championing the little guy. Bankers and Wall Street investors have been the clear beneficiaries of the early days of the Trump campaign. That's just a fact.

BRIGGS: That's not translated to GDP growth.

ROMANS: Not yet.

BRIGGS: Enormous growth in jobs either.

President Trump offering another salute to his populist predecessor in the White House, Andrew Jackson. But there was a flaw in President Trump's off the cuff history lesson. Listen to what he told CNN contributor and "Washington Examiner" reporter, Salena Zito, in an interview on SiriusXM.


TRUMP: I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn't have had had the Civil War. He was -- he was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. And he was -- he was really angry that, he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, "There's no reason for this."


ROMANS: Andrew Jackson died in 1845. The Civil War didn't start until 1861.

Overnight, President Trump tried to clarify with a tweet. President Andrew Jackson who died 16 years before the civil war started saw it coming and was angry, would never have let it happen.

It's unclear to put it mildly what Jackson would have or could have done to stop it. He was a southern slave owner himself. History has not been kind to his legacy. He was the president over the Trail of Tears, right? We were talking about, changing, putting a woman on the $10 bill, there were a lot of people that said, maybe it's time for Jackson to go off the $20 bill as a slave owner and the architect of the Trail of Tears. And it's just unclear what he could have done to prevent the civil war 16 years earlier.

BRIGGS: But the question from that interview is, was there was a realization that Andrew Jackson was not alive during the civil war? He said with regard to the civil war, was he saying the conditions that led to it? I'm trying to understand.

ROMANS: You're trying to find more clarity than the president's comments than exists.

BRIGGS: All right. I'll stop.

All right. Up ahead, Jimmy Kimmel, emotional and grateful as he describes the events that saved the life of his newborn son. The late night moment you don't want to miss, ahead.


[04:48:54] ROMANS: Violence and vandalism broke out at May Day protests across the country Monday. In Portland, Oregon, dozens arrested as self-described anarchists smashed windows and targeted police officers with incendiary devices, including fireworks, smoke bombs and Molotov cocktails. Police in Seattle say five people were arrested in protests downtown, including a 26-year-old who threw a rock as Trump and anti-Trump demonstrators faced off.

BRIGGS: In nearby Olympia, Washington, police say the protests turned into what they called a riot with people in the crowd throwing rocks and bottles and using slingshots and pepper spray against police officers. A more peaceful protest in Las Vegas with thousands of union members walking along the strip chanting labor slogans. Protests in New York are also largely peaceful. Police say at least a dozen people were arrested for civil disobedience outside the Park Avenue offices of J.P. Morgan Chase.

So, why all the protests on May Day? It's also International Workers Day, which has been celebrated on May 1st for more than a century.

[04:50:00] The FBI helping Dallas police investigate a shooting rampage. The suspect found dead after injuring two people. According to police, the gunman opened fire on a civilian and then the paramedic who came to treat that person's gunshot wound. They later found the suspect dead inside a nearby home along with another victim. Police say the incident began as a dispute between two neighbors.

ROMANS: All right. College is expensive -- news flash -- and only getting more so. I'm going to tell you how much money your low cost centers are going to need. That's next.


BRIGGS: Every president makes changes to the Oval Office and president Trump is no exception. Some people seem concerned about one gadget he installed. Here's what he told -- the president told CBS News.


DICKERSON: Gadgets you gotten installed here since you came?

[04:55:01] TRUMP: Well, everyone thinks that -- this is very ominous right here. See this? These are phones. These are, you know, very secure phones. But this is a very ominous looking because of the red button.

DICKERSON: What does that get you?

TRUMP: Well, it gets you a Coke or a Pepsi. One of the other. Any other cola companies I should mention, right? But it gets you something. But every time I press that, people -- I like to have fun with people.


ROMANS: It gets you something. Maybe a health care bill.

BRIGGS: We got a red button. It's for coffee.

ROMANS: Hold it up. You get the banner on the way. Hold it up.

BRIGGS: Here's our red button. We got one for coffee and it works. Thank you, Veronica.

Hey, Trump inspired EARLY START.


ROMANS: I don't get anything when I hit that button.

BRIGGS: No, it's mine.

ROMANS: OK, you take your button.

All right. Fifty-five minutes past the hour.

FOX News co-president Bill Shine the latest casualty of the sexual harassment scandal that plagued the network. FOX chairman Rupert Murdoch announcing Shine's resignation in a statement Monday. Shine had been with FOX News Channel since its inception back in 1996. He was closely allied with Roger Ailes, who was forced out as FOX News chief last summer. It comes on the heels of Bill O'Reilly's departure following reports he paid settlements to five women for alleged sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

Late night host Jimmy Kimmel tearing up during his monologue, revealing his newborn son's health scare and thanking the alert nurses who figured out something was wrong when Little William, he calls him "Billy", was born April 21st.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": They did an x-ray and his lungs were fine, which meant his heart wasn't. So, now, more doctors and nurses and equipment come in. It's terrifying thing.

You know, my wife is back in the recovery room and has no idea what's going on. And I'm standing in the middle of a lot of very worried looking people kind of like right now, who are trying to figure out what the problem is. They did an echo cardiogram, which is a sonogram of the heart, and found that Billy was born with a heart disease.

It's hard to explain. Basically, the pulmonary valve was completely blocked and he has a hole in the wall between the left and right sides of his heart.

On Monday morning, Dr. Starnes opened his chest and fixed one of the two defects of his heart. He went in there with a scalpel and did some kind of magic that I couldn't even begin to explain. He opened the valve and the operation was a success. It was the longest three hours of my life.



BRIGGS: Kimmel says his son needs another surgery in three to six months and possibly more treatment as a teen. He made a plea to both sides of the aisle in this health care debate that all Americans should be cared for, especially those with preexisting conditions.

ROMANS: Look at that beautiful family. We wish them well.

I mean, you have a healthy child, you're absolutely terrified. You have a child with some kind of medical issue, you just feel so helpless.

BRIGGS: Look, the nights I spent in the NICU, exponentially the worst nights of my life. Crying, you know, never sleeping, any parent who has been through that can relate to what Jimmy is talking about. And the emotional argument this health care debate, one we don't often hear enough.

ROMANS: Yes. You think you live in a country where you can get that kind of treatment, and it's a reminder as they are tweaking health care reform, fix it. Everybody deserves to have -- a baby deserves to have good health care.

Let's get a check on the money stream this morning. Global markets higher while U.S. futures look a little mixed. NASDAQ, though, this is the star sitting at the highest levels in history, boosted by Apple, Netflix, Amazon shares also at the highest levels in history.

The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting on interest rates today. No hike is expected and that leaves tech stocks on this amazing winning streak. This has also been the best earnings season in six years. In fact, really good earnings season, really good stock market action and Wall Street's fear gauge, it's called the VIX Index, the lowest in a decade.

Investors are ignoring everything except the Trump policies they like, tax reforms, deregulation, and now, infrastructure. And the president is happy to take credit for the mood. Something else he takes credit for, the jobs numbers. Something he isn't is taking credit for Friday's weak report and economic growth. The president said in an interview yesterday, that number is a holdover from Obama. The other ones that are good, those are because of him.

BRIGGS: Right, 0.7 percent not good.

ROMANS: Sending a kid to college, you're probably going pay $57,000 to do so. That's according to a new CNN Money analysis. It found that for the 2016-2017 school year, a full degree could cost as much as $104,400 for a private university. So, if you don't have millionaire grandparents or a trust fund, you need to start saving now, as much as you can in a 529 college fund.

And one of the things I advise people as soon as your kid is out of diapers, take the diaper money, put it into a 529 plan.