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Preexisting Conditions At Center Of Health Care Fight; Comey In The Hot Seat; Outrage In Baton Rouge; New Information In Police- Involved Shootings. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 3, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] REP. STEVE KING (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: -- back in the early nineties, and that's actually more scary to me than Obamacare itself was. And there's not a way to, I think, look at this objectively and think that the people that refuse to do anything to fix Obamacare -- and that's all the Democrats in this Congress -- their objective is a complete socialized medicine program. We want to get away from that. We want to get two or three (ph) markets.


KING: We want to give people choices. And I want them to be able to buy catastrophic insurance, sell insurance across state lines --


KING: -- expand their health savings accounts, and I want to limit this abuse that's coming in lawsuits so that we can see our premiums go down on the medical malpractice. That lowers premiums and that's an -- that's a Republican objective. Everything I've said here is a Republican objective.

CUOMO: Congressman Steve King, look forward to seeing how you come out on this in the vote. Let us know. Give us heads-up if you can.

KING: It's anybody's guess now, Chris. Thanks.

CUOMO: All right. Appreciate you being on NEW DAY -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Well, FBI Director James Comey heading to Capitol Hill this morning where Senate Democrats want to grill him. One of the grillers joins us next.



HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was on the way to winning until a combination of Jim Comey's letter on October 28th and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me but got scared off.


[07:35:05] CAMEROTA: That was Hillary Clinton giving her own personal postmortem on what she thinks cost her the 2016 election, naming FBI Director James Comey's letter as the key factor, or one of them. This morning, Director Comey will face the Senate Judiciary Committee, so how is that going to go?

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He serves on that committee. He will be questioning Comey. Senator, thanks for being here.


CAMEROTA: What did you think of Hillary Clinton's assessment there, that were it not for the letter that Director Comey sent to Congress on October 28th outlining what he thought might have been new material on Anthony Weiner's laptop, that she would have won the election?

COONS: Well, it's certainly striking that at the time there were ongoing investigations against both candidate Trump and candidate Clinton and that the FBI director chose to comment on one but not to comment on the other. And I am interested in hearing from the FBI director what lessons he's learned from the consequences of that decision.

I'm less interested, really, in relitigating the 2016 election than I am in figuring out how we secure our next elections from foreign interference and what lessons the FBI director and the FBI as an organization has learned about the deviations from their historic practice of not making comments on investigations, particularly those that are explosive so close to an election.

CAMEROTA: So, will you ask him, this morning, directly, if he thinks that his letter was to blame for the -- Hillary Clinton's loss?

COONS: Well, I'm confident that question will be asked, Alisyn. I'm one of the more junior members of the committee. By the time it gets to me I suspect that question will have been asked four or five times. I will ask him about why he chose to comment on one and not the other and, in particular, how he sees the future of the FBI and what they're going to learn from the impact it had.

Look, Alisyn, in an election that was a close as 2016, there's a lot of different factors that determine the outcome, and I don't think it's possible to point to one specific thing and say this determined the outcome of the election. There were just 160,000 votes across three states that ultimately determined the outcome and Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote --


COONS: -- by three million votes. But it's important for us to understand why the current FBI director chose to insert himself in the last days of the election in the way he did.

CAMEROTA: Look, you don't get much time questioning him so what is the burning question, when it comes your turn, that you want to ask him? COONS: Well, as I said Alisyn, what Iwant to ask him will probably already have been asked several times. What I would ask if I were the first questioner, why did you choose not to comment on the ongoing investigation into candidate Trump and potential collusion with Russia, but you did choose to comment in the waning days of the election on what you thought might be new evidence. This difference in how you treated one candidate -- one campaign versus the other is pretty striking. And what lessons have you and the FBI learned about that impact on the election?

CAMEROTA: All right. Let me ask you about something else that's going on, on Capitol Hill, and that's the budget deal that was just agreed on that does fund the government -- keeps it open through September. The White House thinks that you all -- you Democrats -- are spiking the ball and they are not happy about what your response has been. Let me just play for you OMB Director Mick Mulvaney talking about this.


MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: What they really didn't get is this, and this is what they wanted. They wanted a shutdown, we know that. They were desperate to make this administration look like we couldn't function, like we couldn't govern. I don't anticipate a shutdown in September but if negotiations -- if the Democrats aren't going to behave any better than they have in the last couple of days it may be inevitable.


CAMEROTA: What's your response to that, Senator?

COONS: (Laughing) I'm sorry. That's pretty hard to square with reality. President Trump is the one who actually tweeted earlier this week that the government needs a good shutdown in September. I don't think there's any Democrat who wanted a shutdown. What we wanted is what we got, which was a good balanced bipartisan negotiation where the Senate Republicans and Democrats work together to keep the government functioning.

There's no funding for a big new wall that the president wanted and insisted on but that both Republicans and Democrats didn't see the wisdom in funding. There's no cutoff of funding to Planned Parenthood. I'm personally thrilled that there's $860 million in new money invested in fighting opioid addiction, a terrible scourge that's affecting every state in the country. And I'm encouraged that we're continuing to invest in medical research.

So I, frankly, think the president ought to be taking a victory lap and saying that he played a role in getting a great deal done instead of having his OMB director wag his finger at Democrats and say that we somehow were lusting after a shutdown. I just think it's silly.

[07:40:00] CAMEROTA: Well, on the topic of that border wall they also say that you got it wrong. That, in fact, you Democrats did approve money for border security and they are using that to beef up the wall.

COONS: We did approve money for border security. It is expressly not for the construction of a 2,000-mile new wall. And frankly, I think we're dithering here. We did pass a big partisan immigration reform bill here two years ago that I voted for that would have invested in upgrading border security. It did not fund, nor did this new deal fund building a 2,000-mile big, beautiful wall as President Trump talked about in his campaign. President Trump threatened to veto this deal if it didn't include his vision of a border wall. It doesn't include his vision of a border wall. We'll see if he vetoes it. I don't think he will.

CAMEROTA: Senator Chris Coons, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.

COONS: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Chris --

CUOMO: All right. There is confusion and outrage in the case of Alton Sterling. We're going to tell you why his family is demanding answers in a live report from Baton Rouge, next.


[07:45:15] CAMEROTA: So, heavy rain is expected to soak several states that are already reeling from severe floods. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast. Hi, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Alisyn. It is going to be a rainy day in flooded areas across the country. This weather is brought to you by Xyzal, the allergy medicine for continuous 24-hour allergy relief. We will see significant rainfall in places that already have rivers to their record or to their major levels around record flooding here from Arkansas through Missouri, all the way back down even into Louisiana.

By 1:00, raining from Little Rock up to Missouri, up to St. Louis where the Mississippi and the Missouri are all -- both of them are right at that record level or very close to that major flood level. New flash flood warnings this morning already because of the new rain coming down and the potential for tornadoes, the potential for some flooding, and also for some wind damage across parts of Louisiana today -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, appreciate it. Thank you very much, Chad.

So, the family of Alton Sterling is reacting to media reports that the Baton Rouge police officers who shot and killed him will not face federal charges. State charges are still pending. The family saying they're angry the Justice Department did not notify them before this happened. CNN's Nick Valencia spoke to Sterling's family last night. He joins us in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with more. Good morning, Nick. What do we know?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Last night we spoke to Sandra Sterling who is, effectively, the mother of Alton Sterling and she was inconsolable. We spoke to her just moments after she heard the news, just like everybody else. She could barely put together a sentence.

The problem with all of this is that there's been no official announcement from the Department of Justice. No one has been told here officially from the DOJ. The Sterling family was supposed to be the first to know. They did not find out through the DOJ, they found out through the media reports like everybody else. We spoke to the governor's office this morning. They say they were anticipating at least a six-hour heads-up from the DOJ. That has not yet happened.

Over the course of the last 10 months this community has gone through so much. There's a lot of angst and tension here in this community. Last night we saw some of that outside the Triple S convenient store where 37-year-old Sterling was shot and killed. The video that emerged from that shooting is haunting and disturbing, to say the least. We understand that the officers involved in this shooting have been put on paid administrative leave. State charges are still pending.

Still no official word, as I mentioned, Chris and Alisyn, but if there's any indication of what is expected to happen here in Baton Rouge later, there are barricades that have been put up around the federal courthouse. Those barricades were not there yesterday -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh boy. All right, Nick, thank you very much for the update. And we do have major developments in three police-involved shootings. Why are these getting such little media attention? We'll explore that.


[07:51:25] CAMEROTA: So we're following three major developments on three separate police-involved shootings. First, "The Washington Post" is reporting that the Department of Justice will close its investigation into the shooting death of Alton Sterling without charging the officers. This report has not been independently confirmed by CNN.

Meanwhile, there's another big story that you'll remember, this one from South Carolina. Former officer Michael Slager pleading guilty to federal civil rights charges in the 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott. You'll remember that Slager shot Scott in the back as the unarmed man was running away from Slager. This was after a minor traffic stop. And then, in Texas, a police officer is fired after allegedly shooting into a car and killing this 15-year-old boy. Police say the car Jordan Edwards was in drove away from the officer when he opened fire.

So are these cases getting enough attention? Let's discuss with CNN contributor and "Washington Post" political reporter Wesley Lowery, and CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander. Gentlemen, great to have you here. We'll talk about the coverage --


CAMEROTA: -- in just a second, but let's just quickly, Cedric, talk about the outcome of these cases because these -- some of these are cases that gripped the nation and, you know, just say back in 2015. So let's talk about the Slager thing. Slager pleaded guilty but he pleaded guilty to this federal civil rights charge which was "deprivation of rights under the color of law." Why not murder?

ALEXANDER: Well, I mean, in a case such as this, certainly he's going to have an attorney that's going to look out for his best interests, so whatever deal got negotiated worked for both the prosecution and for Slager as well. But I think at the end of this, the most important thing is find some resolve.

What's going to be interesting, Alisyn, is what kind of sentence Officer Slager is going to receive and what the outcome of that may be, but this will come to an end. That was a long, drawn-out case as you remember. If I remember correctly, I think there was a hung jury, initially, a few months back so this has come to resolve because this case has been certainly of great interest to all of us across the country.

CAMEROTA: OK, and as we just reported also, the Alton Sterling one which had been reported no charges there. Wesley, as you know, Alton Sterling is a little complicated. He had a gun on him.

WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes. So this was one of several cases last year that went, you know, viral. It got a lot of media attention in which the person killed had a gun. Alton Sterling, the day following Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Later on, Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, Sylville Smith in Milwaukee.

Now, the question here is whether Alton Sterling was reaching for that gun at the time of the shooting. The video seems to suggest that perhaps he was not and also raises questions about the police interaction. Whether or not they escalated it or could have deescalated it. But that said, this has been a case that people have been anxiously awaiting for. We have to remember that this caused massive unrest in Baton Rouge, massive protests, and eventually, later on, the assassination of police officers in an incident that, you know, may or may not have been related to the unrest.

And so because of that people have been really waiting for this information and, in fact, the city of Baton Rouge for the last week has been under the impression that imminently this decision was coming. And so there's really been some tension as we've been awaiting for the Department of Justice decision. This is one of the first times that Jeff Sessions is -- Donald Trump's Department of Justice -- is weighing in on one of the issues.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And by the way, we should also mention that there were two police officers who were shot. This was just this week on Tuesday. This was in Chicago's south side. Two vehicles drove up and began firing indiscriminately at the officers. So the point of all of this is that these -- lest anyone think that suddenly these sorts of shootings on both sides have gone away, they haven't. This is still happening but they're not in the news cycle.

[07:55:20] And Wesley, you tweeted about this. You said, "Three big police shooting stories today. Slager plea, no charges for Baton Rouge cops, Texas cop fired. Almost no cable news play, combined." So what's your theory?

LOWERY: Of course. So, I think it's a combination of things, right -- and those tweets were sent, in fact, before the manhunt started for Chicago so that's now, in fact, four major stories. If this had been a year or two ago we would be looking at live coverage of the manhunt in Chicago, you know, and waiting for these decisions elsewhere, and I think there's a combination of things.

The first is that, you know, in this case -- in these cases the only new case here is the Jordan Edwards case -- the 15-year-old killed in Texas. The Walter Scott case, we've seen a lot of coverage of. The Baton Rouge case, we've seen a lot of coverage of. And in this new case, the Jordan Edwards case, there has been no video released yet. Video is a big driving factor in our attention span. We remember the Walter Scott video because we watched it on Loop for days and weeks. We remember the Alton Sterling video because we watched it on Loop for days and weeks, so that's part of it.

But the other reality, too, is that we currently exist in a news cycle where it's all Donald Trump, all the time. I mean, in fact, because they're creating so much content, so much is happening. Is there going to be a health care bill? Is there going to be a taxes bill? Is the government going to shut down? James Comey, Sally Yates -- I mean the world is ending. Forget the North Koreans and the Russians and Vladimir Putin.


LOWERY: But the reality is it's so difficult for us -- all of us -- and I don't want to throw any stones from glass houses -- to focus on basically anything else. But the reality is, as you said, these shootings have not stopped, you know. "The Washington Post" -- we've been tracking fatal police shootings in real time for the last three years and what we've found is that three people are shot and killed every single day. That has not decreased. That has not changed. This is not happening any less than it was happening in 2014 or 2015, we are just perhaps paying a little less attention to it.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, look, this is the issue, is that we have to make decisions every day in every newsroom about what we're going to devote our attention to. We have three hours. It sounds like a lot but it goes fast, particularly when you're dealing with government shutdown, health care that affects all Americans, North Korea, Russia, all that stuff.

And so, Cedric, I mean, arguably, all of the stuff that I've just delineated affects more Americans than these police shootings but it's -- we don't want to give the impression that these aren't important stories as well. What do you think the balance is?

ALEXANDER: Well, these still are very important stories and I think, for all of us, we can't forget the local issues that are still very important to people in local communities. Certainly, the national issues get a lot of attention. We get it -- national and international issues, but these issues between police and community continue to be out there, continue to be of grave concern. And even if you take the case with Chicago, which is absolutely horrible -- two police officers who were shot, who were severely injured last night in Chicago, that certainly, for many people across this country should be major news and those subjects that were involved need to brought to justice quickly --


ALEXANDER: -- because attack upon police officers is an attack upon all of us whether you're in Chicago or any other city in America and it's just totally unacceptable.


ALEXANDER: So I think there has to be a balance between nationally, internationally, but we can't forget, Alisyn, here the importance of also giving attention to these very important local issues.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. Gentlemen, we really appreciate you bringing them to our attention and talking about all of them this morning with us. Thank you for that.

We're following a lot of news this morning, including Hillary Clinton's very revealing interview, so let's get right to it.


CLINTON: If the election had been on October 27th, I'd be your president.

CUOMO: President Trump lashing out as his former opponent ahead of FBI Director Comey's testimony.

CLINTON: I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Sally Yates is prepared to testify that she gave a forceful warning to the White House regarding Michael Flynn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a big difference between a forceful warning versus a heads-up.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And how is health care coming, folks. Well, I think it's time now, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've supported not allowing preexisting illnesses to be discriminated against. This amendment torpedoes that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been making important progress on this bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president cut a tremendous deal for the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was not winning in the Republican point of view.


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

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Wednesday, May 3rd, 8:00 in the East.

President Trump and Hillary Clinton sparring over the outcome of the 2016 election. The president responding on Twitter last night after Hillary Clinton talked about who she believes is to blame for her defeat and that includes FBI Director James Comey.

CUOMO: In two hours, Mr. Comey, himself, will be grilled by senators about his actions in the final days of the campaign and Russia's meddling in the election. All of this as the president pushes for a vote on repealing Obamacare.