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House Vote On Health Care Set For Today; High-Risk Pools Won't Match Obamacare Protections; Was FBI Director Comey Playing Politics; Prince Philip Stepping Back From Public Life. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 4, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And the Republican leadership says they do at least have -- or at last had the votes to pass it. Momentum shifted when two influential moderates who had been no votes flip into the yes column with meeting -- after meeting with the president and getting new commitments on coverage for people with preexisting conditions.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Now, we've certainly seen this movie before but Republican leaders have been saying since the first repeal and replace effort they wouldn't bring health care to the floor unless it could pass, so it certainly seems likely they at least believe they have the votes this time.

So let's bring in CNN's Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill with the latest.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eight billion dollars -- that was what it took for Republicans to finally get over the hump -- the hump that has basically been the inability to pass the thing they've campaigned on year after year after year, cycle after campaign cycle after campaign cycle, repealing and replacing Obamacare. We've seen multiple failures over the course of the last two months. Today, there will be a vote on their replace and replace plan.

Now guys, that $8 billion comes in the form of an amendment that was directly targeted at trying to assuage the major concerns that had help up this latest version of the proposal up to this point. That is, price protections related to those with preexisting conditions.

Now, those regulations in Obamacare have been considered extremely important and they are very, very popular. So much so that the idea that states could opt out from them altogether left a lot of Republicans, particularly those in moderate and centrist districts -- those who will face very real electoral problems in 2018 -- not willing to come on board, at least until Wednesday morning. That's when President Trump and two previously no vote members came together to agree on an amendment to send $8 billion more to a fund to try and help finance any premium increases that those individuals might see.

Now, that, in and of itself, being enough to get members to the requisite 216 votes they need is a bit of a surprise, but there was a full court press from President Trump, Vice President Pence, House leaders going member by member. The undecideds, the no's, the leans, yes's, and no's to try and get them to a place where they can actually finally pass this bill. They say they're there. I'm told they are right on a razor's edge. They are very, very close one way or the other but the feeling is they wouldn't put it on the floor if they didn't think they could pass it. At least at this point in time, they think they can pass it.


KOSIK: OK, Phil Mattingly, thanks very much.

And despite what GOP lawmakers claim, experts says pumping $8 billion into high-risk pools won't match Obamacare's protections for preexisting conditions. So how do high-risk pools work? If states opt out of the requirement that insurers have to cover everyone, that will wind up jacking up premiums for Americans with preexisting conditions. So in theory, the pools are designed to help the sick afford coverage. But critics say that the new funding is not going to go far enough, especially if many states wind up applying for these waivers.

Giving you an example here, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates an adequate high-risk pool would cost $25 billion per year and that $8 billion would cover only a few hundred thousand people. Thirty-five states ran high-risk pools before Obamacare and Republicans defend them as a way to cover the sick separately and lower premiums for healthy consumers, but these pools have a checkered past. They were typically underfunded, they charged high premiums, and they had long waiting lists.

If you look at 2011, the pools covered 226,000 people. That's a fraction of the Americans who have these preexisting conditions. And premiums only paid for half of the $2.6 billion they racked up in claims, forcing states to cover the $1.2 billion difference. So this $8 billion injection is on top of the $130 billion that the GOP already planned to provide states to help lower the cost of the new bill.

BRIGGS: All right, let's bring back CNN contributor Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. Good morning to you, sir.

KOSIK: Good morning.


KOSIK: Thanks for getting up early.

ZELIZER: A pleasure.

BRIGGS: All right. So let's call it the upped in increase $8 billion. Not a lot of money when you consider health care in this country. Here's how the press secretary, Sean Spicer, defended what this means for this health care bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If someone chose not to have coverage for 63 days or more, and they were in a state that opted out, and they had a preexisting condition, and they were put into a high-risk pool, then we've allocated an additional $8 billion over five years to help drive down those costs. So for someone to know how many people that is, what number of states are going to -- are going to receive a waiver -- ask for and receive a waiver -- is literally impossible at this point.


BRIGGS: All right, sir. We are hours away from what looks like a House vote. What's the political calculation for those moderate Republicans that are undecided that hold the weight of this White House on this vote?

ZELIZER: There's part of them that want to help the GOP deliver the White House a major victory and Republicans could start saying they're legislating. On the other hand, without information, without knowing exactly what this is going to do, and with 12-step explanations from Sean Spicer to the basic argument that people with preexisting problems are going to lose their coverage, they are nervous. They are thinking about those town halls and going back and hearing the yelling and hearing the screaming. So that's what they're trying to balance.

[05:35:22] KOSIK: There seems to be -- this is a rush job. It feels like a rush job. But you hit it distinctly, saying you know what, there -- we've got Congress going on recess tomorrow until the 16th. "The Wall Street Journal" had a great editorial saying that Republicans --

BRIGGS: Yes, they did.

KOSIK: -- have campaigned for this for seven years on repealing and replacing Obamacare. That if they can't follow through now the public "will conclude they're either dishonest or feckless and then wonder if they deserve their jobs. Another failure would add to the dysfunction narrative of the Trump administration, and there's no telling how the president would react." So they want to go back with something but what if this something is really worse, possibly than what Obamacare offers? How do they explain that to their constituents?

ZELIZER: Well, it could be very costly. They could have to explain to constituents why you're going to lose benefits that you like. Why are you going to lose parts of this program that you like? And even worse, they can't say with confidence that this is going to get through the Senate. That's the worst scenario. You vote for this, you take the political heat and then, in the end, you don't even get a bill. And that's why many moderate Republicans in the House are actually angry with Tom MacArthur, who chairs this Tuesday Group of moderates and saying you shouldn't have made a deal with the Freedom Caucus on this.

BRIGGS: You know, but perhaps strengthening Republican argument is -- the news today that Aetna would be pulling out of Virginia, that Iowa could, next year, be left without a major insurer across most of the state, so to their point, Obamacare is in big trouble.

But I do want to pivot to the big story on all the national papers, which is James Comey. His hearing yesterday, which he said it makes him feel "mildly nauseous" that he may have had an impact on this election, but he also talked about Bill Clinton and the importance he played in all of this. Here's what the acting FBI director said.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: And then the capper was -- I'm not picking on the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, who I like very much -- but her meeting with President Clinton on that airplane was the capper for me. And I then said you know what, the department cannot, by itself, credibly end this. The best chance we have as a justice system is if I do something I never imagined before -- step away from them and tell the American people look, here's what the FBI did, here's what we found, here's what we think, and that that offered us the best chance of the American people believing in the system.


BRIGGS: OK. So earlier this week, Hillary said to Christiane Amanpour if the election was on October 27th she would have wonthe election. Based on what James Comey said, did Bill Clinton cost Hillary Clinton the election?

ZELIZER: I think there was more to it than that. There were problems with the Democratic campaign. There were problems with what Hillary Clinton did, meaning the fact she was vulnerable because of this also suggests this wasn't the best campaign in the world, so we have to balance it with that. But look, even with Comey's statement, the other question that everyone's wondering is why was he not so strong with this other investigation into Russian meddling and potential contacts with the Trump administration -- with the Trump campaign, which is equally important for the credibility of him to the FBI and to the election.

KOSIK: But he stands firm in how he handled it.

BRIGGS: Right, yes.

KOSIK: He says if he had to go back he wouldn't have changed how he handled it.

ZELIZER: Well, he could stand firm but I think the questions will remain, and I think that's really what people want to understand in terms of why one issue came to light and the other did not just days before the campaign. But I think many people will also conclude that Bill Clinton, once again, hurt Hillary Clinton's political success and standing.

BRIGGS: Hard to think of a more consequential FBI director with one notable exception, of course.


BRIGGS: But, wow, is James Comey at the forefront of this election? It is amazing. Julian Zelizer, we appreciate you being with us.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

KOSIK: Thanks so much for getting up early.

BRIGGS: Great to have you. All right, former national security adviser Susan Rice declining to testify at a Senate committee hearing next week on Russian interference in this election. A source familiar with Rice's discussion tells CNN Rice, at first, thought the invitation from the Judiciary Committee was bipartisan, but when the ranking Democrat on the panel said he had not signed off on the request Rice decided not to testify. The source says Rice considered the invitation simply an attempt to divert attention from Russian election hacking.

KOSIK: OK, breaking news this morning coming out of an emergency meeting of the royal staff at Buckingham Palace in London.

BRIGGS: After a storm of speculation online, the palace has just made an announcement about the royal family. We want to quickly bring in CNN international anchor Max Foster, live for us at the palace. Max, what are we learning this morning?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, he's retiring, effectively. Prince Philip, at the age of 95 -- he's going to be 96 next month so he's had a pretty good run, but he's stepping back from public life. We will see him occasionally we're told, but from the autumn he's not going to carry out any more public engagements, which is quite a significant change in British life, actually, because he's been alongside the queen for nearly 70 years. They're going to have their 70th wedding anniversary later on this year and for the first time she's going to be stepping out entirely on her own.

[05:40:25] She's stepped back a bit, as well. Handed over some of her charities to younger members of the family. She's not longer traveling long-haul but she is going to stay in public life, but her partner's stepping back, so quite a significant moment in the royal story today.

KOSIK: Anything change in his history -- in the prince's health, rather, over the past, let's say, few weeks? I know that he's been in failing health over the past few months, but did something -- did something happen to cause him to step back from public life?

FOSTER: It doesn't seem to be so. I mean, certainly over Christmas, they both had heavy colds and they missed a crucial church service which they always go to. A lot of concern at that time but he bounced back from that. And even yesterday, he was out opening the new cricket stand and he looked really well. He's incredibly well for his age. But he made this decision, we understand. The queen is supporting it. He's still going to be associated with all of his charities but he's not going to be out and about supporting them. So he's well -- he's just old, basically and he's retiring. Royals don't normally retire so that's something new that we've got happening now. But at the age of 95, you know --

KOSIK: I want to be -- I want to be bopping about like that at 95, I think.

BRIGGS: No kidding, he's doing awfully well. Max Foster, thank you. It certainly comes as a relief to millions worldwide after the false rumors that continued to spread on Twitter --


BRIGGS: -- so it's probably good news to some. Ahead, Stephen Colbert responding after a viral campaign to get him fired over a joke about President Trump. Hear Colbert's "apology" next.


[05:46:10] KOSIK: Welcome back. The Federal Reserve didn't raise rates this month but may have to slow down the pace if the White House' policies fail to boost the economy. No rate hike was expected, however, recent disappointing data hasn't shaken the Fed's confidence in the U.S. economy. The central banks downplayed Friday's weak GDP numbers, calling the sluggish growth transitory after its latest two- day meeting.

After more than a decade of keeping rates near zero, the central bank is boosting them. But, Fed Chair Janet Yellen and policymakers are waiting to see if the Trump administration can pass any of its economic policies this year, and that includes tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and deregulation. A stimulus could even speed up the pace of the hike but, for now, the Fed is on course to raise rates at least two more times this year. Investors do expect the next increase to happen at the June meeting.

BRIGGS: President Trump plans to commemorate today's National Day of Prayer by signing an executive order which would allow churches and other religious organizations to become more politically active. The religious liberty order directs the IRS to use maximum enforcement discretion over the Johnson Amendment. Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment has barred tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Now, the president's order also provides regulatory relief to organizations that object on religious grounds to providing Obamacare mandates like contraception to their employees.

KOSIK: President Trump vowing to broker peace in the Mideast as he welcomed Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House on Wednesday. The president said he'd like to step in as a mediator but he wants Abbas to stop payments to Palestinian terrorists' families and help end what he called incitement, violence, and hate. In classic Trump form, the president suggested this wouldn't be so hard.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would say something that I think is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years, but we need two willing parties. We believe Israel is willing, we believe you're willing, and if you both are willing we are going to make a deal. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: President Abbas expressed hope Mr. Trump could help bring peace, praising the president for his negotiating skills.

BRIGGS: Simply the art of the deal, Alison. The president back in New York City today for the first time since taking office. He will hold talks with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The two leaders exchanged heated words in a February phone call which briefly strained the relationship between the two allies.

Tonight, Mr. Trump delivers a speech onboard the USS Intrepid to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, a World War II naval conflict where American and Australian forces halted an advance by the Japanese. He has not been back since taking office but no reports that he'll go to Trump Tower, which is a big surprise to everyone. Had to do his --

KOSIK: He's headed to his place in Jersey.

BRIGGS: Yes, his golf club there. All right, let's check in with Alisyn Camerota with a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Good morning to you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Oh, hi guys. This is hot off the presses.

BRIGGS: Your scripts are here.

CAMEROTA: From Rashad (sp).

BRIGGS: The goods?

CAMEROTA: He's telling me what he have on the show.

KOSIK: He looks so spiffy, doesn't he?

CAMEROTA: I know. Rashad is the best-dressed man --

KOSIK: I know he is.


CAMEROTA: -- at all of "NEW DAY."

BRIGGS: A wicked bow tie.

CAMEROTA: OK? I just want to shout out to Rashad. I've never seen this outfit before. Every day he wears a new outfit.

BRIGGS: Suspenders.


BRIGGS: I mean, I didn't know that was still going on.

CAMEROTA: The whole works, OK? He brings it, Dave.


CAMEROTA: I think this is a lesson to you to up your game.

BRIGGS: All right, I'll get some pointers tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: OK. Rashad, thank you very much for this. OK, here's what's coming up on the show. We have Senator Kennedy. He is the man who had the most notable moment yesterday in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Director Comey that has now been dubbed the "Weiner Statute." We're going to explain what was behind that.

[05:50:04] We're also going to give you an update from Baton Rouge about the Alton Sterling death and the fact that there are no federal charges in that police-involved killing. Where are the protests this time? Has something changed? Where is Black Lives Matter? We have Marc Lamont Hill on, on what the difference is this time around. All of that when Chris, Rashad, and I see you at the top of the hour.

KOSIK: OK, Alisyn.

BRIGGS: You're suggesting a bow tie tomorrow or no?

CAMEROTA: And suspenders, yes.

BRIGGS: OK, I will seek my boss's permission. Thank you, Ali. We'll see you in a bit.

KOSIK: All right. Apple is spending $1 billion on its latest venture and it could help you out. We're going to tell you what the new project is on CNN Money Stream, next.


BRIGGS: "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert responding to the online backlash after his stunning rant against President Trump during his monologue on Monday night. Now, Colbert's remarks criticized as lewd and offensive. He began last night's show, though, with a mea culpa of sorts.

[05:55:15] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": I'm still the host. Now, folks, if you saw my monologue on Monday you know that I was a little upset with Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine. I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don't regret that. I believe he can take care of himself. I have jokes, he has the launch codes, so it's a fair fight. So while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.


KOSIK: And those words, which I'm not going to repeat --

BRIGGS: Please don't.

KOSIK: -- made reference to Trump, they made reference to Vladimir Putin and a sex act. The friend Colbert referenced is his CBS colleague John Dickerson. President Trump abruptly ended their Oval Office interview after being pressed on his claim that Obama wiretapped him. So you have many thinking Colbert was a little over the top there. Show some respect for the president. And even though the president hasn't shown, some would say, much respect for, let's say, women in his comments about --

BRIGGS: Right, you make a good point.

KOSIK: -- female body parts.

BRIGGS: He may have seeded higher ground on vulgar language with that video -- that "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" video. But you do wonder if this was a Democratic president and a Republican comedian what the outrage would be. But again, your point is a very valid one --

KOSIK: Thank you, Dave.

BRIGGS: -- about that tape.


BRIGGS: All right, Google investigating a very sophisticated phishing attack that targeted Gmail users. The worm appeared as an email invitation prompting the user to open Google docs, allowing access to email accounts and contacts. Google says it stopped the attacks in an hour and that roughly one million Gmail accounts were affected. Officials say contact information was accessed and used in the attack but no other information was exposed, Alison.

KOSIK: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. U.S. futures and global markets are higher this morning. Wall Street ended the day slightly lower despite another round of strong earnings. The Nasdaq is down after two days of record highs, and bank stocks got a boost after the Fed -- the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged.

Lots of tech news to tell you about today. Tesla founder Elon Musk says the company is on track to launch its first mass-market car. Tesla reporting heavy losses though, despite doubling its revenue, and that's because the electric car company is spending heavily to launch its model 3, Tesla's first non-luxury vehicle priced at about $35,000. Production of it beginning in July.

Facebook closing in on two billion users. The social network had 1.8 billion active users at the end of 2016. That's up 27 million from last year. Sales also grew more than 50 percent, so Wall Street -- yes, Wall Street's happy. Investors like that Facebook keeps growing its user base while creating more advertising. We did see the stock rise 2.5 percent after hours.

Apple putting $1 billion into a fund to bring manufacturing jobs to the U.S. Apple CEO Tim Cook boasting the company has already created two million jobs in America and he plans to hire thousands more in the future. Never mind $250 billion sitting in an offshore --

BRIGGS: Yes. They find a billion in the couch cushions --

KOSIK: Exactly.

BRIGGS: -- at Apple.

KOSIK: All right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now. We'll see you tomorrow.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, May 4th, 6:00 here in New York.

And we do begin with breaking news. An announcement from Buckingham Palace about the royal family. Prince Philip, the husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, is stepping down from public life.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now, there are obvious questions about why and his health, but all we know is that the 95-year-old appeared in good health when he was seen in public just yesterday. Now back here at home this is the day the big vote in the House of Representatives on the president's health care bill. So let's start with what we know about Prince Philip and then we'll get into the action back here at home. We have Max Foster live at Buckingham Palace. What do we know, Max?

FOSTER: Well, Chris, he's effectively retiring at the grand old age of 95. He has had some concerns about his health in recent times. Over Christmas, he was taken out of action because he had quite a heavy cold. But he was, as you say, out and about yesterday, opening the cricket ground and if you look at these pictures you can see how well he is.

This is what we know from Buckingham Palace. They've just made the announcement. "His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh has decided that he will no longer carry out public engagements from the autumn of this year. In taking this decision, The Duke has the full support of the Queen." So it was his decision.

Bear in mind they've been married for 70 years now. They'll have their anniversary later on this year. We always see them together so it is a big moment in British and royal history, really. He's going to be stepping out of the picture. The Queen, though, does carry on.