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Prince Philip Retiring from Public Life; House to Vote Today on GOP Health Care Bill; Comey to Testify Before House Intel Committee. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired May 4, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is breaking news.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, May 4, 6 a.m. 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.
[05:59:01] 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?
MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, he's effectively retiring at the grand old age of 95. He has had some concerns about his health in recent times. At 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 a new 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. She stepped back a bit in terms of royal engagements. But we're going to see her on her own, effectively, out in public, which is quite a difference for, you know, the symbolic heads of this country and the people we look to often in times of crisis. So it's a moment.
But we will see them out in a couple of hours, we're told, at a church service here in London. So continuity is still with us still, although over time, the story and the narrative is changing.
CUOMO: Continuity indeed, Max Foster. Ninety-five years old. God bless him. All right. Let us know whatever details come out. Appreciate the reporting this morning.
British government Prime Minister Theresa May just put out a statement reacting to this news. So for that, let's get to CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, live outside 10 Downing Street.
What's her take on this?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, good morning, Chris. It was just yesterday that Theresa May actually visited with the queen, dissolving Parliament. The official way to dissolve Parliament, according to No. 10 here, no indication whether the pair actually discussed this in advance.
But the statement that Theresa May's office has putt out is one of support, one of thanks, one of gratitude that she says her office says Prime Minister Theresa May said, "On behalf of the whole country, I want to thank and offer our deepest gratitude and good wishes to His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, following today's announcement that he will stand down from public duties in Autumn. From his steadfast support from Her Majesty the Queen to his inspirational Duke of Edinburgh Awards" -- which is a big deal in this country -- "and his patronage of hundreds of charities and good causes, his contribution to our United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the wider world will be -- is one -- will be of huge benefit for us in years to come."
Again, it's part of the message of continuity that we're hearing from Buckingham Palace and a reminder from the British prime minister here of how much this country has to thank Prince Philip for -- Chris.
CAMEROTA: OK, Nic, thank you very much. We'll take it back here.
Obviously, we need some more information about what's behind this decision. But he certainly looked robust yesterday.
CUOMO: He's old. I mean, he's 95 years old.
CAMEROTA: And he doesn't look or act 95 years old.
CUOMO: At some point he probably wants to, you know...
CUOMO: ... shut it down, take it easy. I mean, it is interesting. It will be interesting to see what the popular reaction there is. You know, there's an interesting generational growth away from, you know, the royals there. I mean, they're still respected, you know, but things have changed over time. It will be interesting to see what the popular reaction is to this.
CAMEROTA: All right. Now to the other big story here in the U.S. House Republicans could give President Trump a much-needed legislative victory. In just hours, the House is set to vote on a revamped GOP health care bill.
CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with more. What do we know about this, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, it really is a remarkable day. The White House now just hours away from, yes, what could be a defining moment for this administration. This president promised again and again to repeal and replace Obamacare. It could also be a defining moment for House Republicans who have waited seven years just to get this one idea across the finish line.
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks to President Trump's leadership, Congress is going to vote to repeal and replace Obamacare.
JOHNS (voice-over): The crucial House vote on the GOP's amended health care bill just hours away after a last-minute breakthrough gave House leadership confidence to bring a vote to the floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to pass it. Let's be optimistic about that.
JOHNS: President Trump brokering a deal with two Republican holdouts on pre-existing conditions, a popular provision that is not guaranteed in the Republican bill.
REP. BILLY LONG (R), MISSOURI: There were both yeses on the bill.
REP. FRED UPTON (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I support the bill with this amendment that's going to be included.
JOHNS: The amendment adds $8 billion over five years to an existing $130 billion fund to finance high-risk pools in states where patients with pre-existing conditions could be charged higher rates, though experts say the new funding falls far short of the protections guaranteed under Obamacare. The White House insisting otherwise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody with a pre-existing condition under Trump- care, they're going to be fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On behalf of Democrats, we discussed it. This latest back-room deal is nothing more than a Band-aid on a catastrophic injury.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: They have made it -- put this forth to make it look like, "Oh, we've improved the bill." No. It doesn't improve the bill. This is an insult to the intelligence of the American people.
SPICER: Democrats denouncing the vote without an updated cost and impact analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO's last estimate projected 24 million people losing coverage by 2026 under the last GOP bill. Prominent groups like AARP and the American Medical Association also fiercely lobbying lawmakers to oppose the bill.
[06:05:15] The Republicans looking for a win after failing to secure funding for the president's border wall than the spending bill passed by the House on Wednesday.
Despite this, the White House trying to spin the appropriations bill as a win. Press Secretary Sean Spicer bringing images of a border fence already under construction as evidence that funding was secured, even though the bill expressly restricts border security money being used to construct a wall.
SPICER: There are various types of walls that can be built under the legislation that was just passed. It allows us to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's not a wall? It's a levee wall?
SPICER: That's what it's actually called. That's the name of it. It's called...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's fencing. Not a wall.
SPICER: No, no.
JOHNS: A reminder. This is a do-over. We've been here before. Assuming the House passes a bill, whatever language gets through is likely to be dramatically rewritten by the United States Senate.
The president, for his part, is expected to be in town for the vote. Then he heads to New York for the first time since he took office and an event with the Australian prime minister aboard the USS Intrepid -- Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: All right, Joe. It looks like there's going to be a little bit of a debate over what a wall is also. We may need some official definition for that.
Let's bring in our panel: CNN political analysts Abby Phillip and David Drucker; and associate editor of Real Clear Politics, A.B. Stoddard.
A.B., let me start with you. So this is the day. No CBO score. A lot of talk about how to thicken out high-risk pools. What do you see here?
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, I do think they are going to put this up for a vote, because they have the count. And that's significant. I think it's a really great moment for the House leadership and the White House. President Trump met with more than a dozen lawmakers, pressed really hard on this.
What happens from here won't be so great, because it will go over to the Senate and become a totally different bill. When it comes back to the House, the very people who designed this fix to get it through the House are probably going to bail. These conservatives and the House Freedom Caucus are probably not going to like what comes back from the Senate.
So this is just a first step in a very long process. But it will allow the leadership and the White House to say that they got this promise delivered, that they -- they did an Obamacare fix. It's not a repeal.
Many problems ahead, but I think they're very relieved now that they were able to deliver on this promise.
CAMEROTA: Abby, let's talk about what we know about what's changed, what's in the bill, this new bill. What the new amendments are. So here's the Upton Amendment. This has been added. OK? And this deals with the pre-existing conditions. So now $8 billion over five years will be given, I guess, to the states for those high-risk pools, if governors don't want to honor the pre-existing...
CUOMO: It's on top of $130 billion. So they just added to it. There's all this concern that this costs a lot of money. We used to have these pools before the ACA. They did not work well. People were exposed to higher costs. They went to Obama. Some of these same GOP Congressmen went to Obama and said, "Can we have more money for the high-risk pools?" So...
CAMEROTA: So is this what is going to get it over the finish line?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think it just gave them a way into saying yes to the bill. A lot of these members really want this off their plates.
But to Chris's point, the amount of money is probably not fully going to resolve some of the problems of high-risk pools, especially when a lot more people are probably going to be in them. So the cost that they probably need is maybe twice as much as the $8 billion that they put in.
Some Republicans are looking for some way to kind of get this monkey off their back so they can move on. A lot of them expect it to change pretty significantly in the Senate and maybe even come back in a way that is a little bit more palatable to them. We still haven't dealt with some of the big issues like Medicaid, which will be a huge, huge problem in the Senate.
So you know, I think this vote is just going to be a symbol of just how long this process has been and how bruising it's been for the Republican Party. Many of them just want to move on before they go to recess.
CUOMO: So David Drucker, it seems that the basic proposition is, "Look, we want to take money out of this system." That's what the GOP wants. They want money, they want a big-dollar amount that they can say we can apply to our tax cuts.
And they seem to want to do that without owning that less people will have coverage, and vulnerable people are going to be exposed by this. And that's going to be millions and millions of people. Is there any other reckoning?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, Republicans, Chris, look at this a lot differently. They've never thought that Obamacare worked well. They look at the problems with Obamacare today. And we saw possibly the last Obamacare insurer pulling out of the state of Iowa this week. And so they see a lot of big problems that they need to fix. And they've never agreed philosophically with Obamacare, but really, this vote that's going to happen today -- and I do think it will pass -- because after the experience they had in March, they weren't going to call the vote again unless they were as sure as sure can be, other than watching the vote get across the finish line.
[06:10:18] But really, this has become so much bigger. This is no longer about health care, really, even though this is going to possibly affect millions of Americans' health care. This is about whether or not House Republicans and President Trump can actually run the country, whether they can use their majorities and govern.
What the implosion of the American Health Care Act showed in March was that these guys could not find consensus. They couldn't use what they earned in the election to actually change anything or get anything done. They looked feckless, and they looked disorganized.
And so with today's vote, even though this is a long road yet to go and even though the Senate may do things to this that may be problematic for the House, and it could be a long, drawn-out negotiation. By getting this through today, they're able to say to themselves, especially with tax reform upcoming, maybe we can find a way to govern. Maybe we can get things done. And that's really important to them, heading into 2018.
CAMEROTA: A.B., I don't have to remind you of how the Republicans hammered the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi during Obamacare for saying, "Well, we have to pass it to see what's in it." They couldn't quite articulate exactly what was in the sort of voluminous pages of Obamacare. And now, here we are these years later, and there's no CBO score. So they're willing to take the vote without a CBO score.
STODDARD: It is remarkable, and it speaks to what Abby and David have been talking about, which is the rush to get the monkey off the back and head over to the Senate and be done with it and say -- and claim a victory.
Look, there are a lot of problems with this new amendment. A lot of problems with the underlying bill. The underlying bill that was scored in March will raise premiums. People will lose coverage. The Medicaid expansion will be cut back by 2020. So the underlying bill remains a problem. That we can talk about why the people, what has happened to pre-existing conditions, what the waiver ability, if you will, does to people who are sick and who are vulnerable. What it will do to their costs. But that's not going to be the bill. Whatever passes today is never going to be the American Health Care Act. And so you can look at this on two sides. Dump it on the Senate and not worry what's in it. But really, why make a Republican when you only have 24 seats that you can lose before Democrats take over the House next year.
Why make a Republican take a stand on a vote that is going to cut coverage, sky-rocket premiums for older people. Affect the Medicaid expansion that has helped so many vulnerable states, particularly with opioid addiction. Why do this? And so this is really a purely -- you're right, a purely political exercise.
Getting a CBO score, which is the proper thing to do, it is now something I think they're willing to skip, because they don't want to hear what's in it. They don't want to wait for one, because they'll lose more members. But if I'm a member in a tough district, I say, "You know what? I can't vote for it until you give me a CBO score.
CUOMO: Well, the ads are going to be done any way you look at it, David, I mean, right? You know, no matter what you do in the Senate, that's what we're going to see here. What do you -- let me take a little look into the future, David? What can we tell about how this may go from what we're seeing with the spending bill as it goes into the Senate? Right? I mean, very different proposition in terms of the policy impact, but in terms of the process, there may be a little bit of an echo.
DRUCKER: Yes, it's going to be -- first of all, we're going to get a CBO score before it is voted on in the Senate, because they have to make sure it satisfies these reconciliation rules that allows Republicans to get around a Democratic filibuster.
So Republicans are going to vote for this in the House. They're going to get their CBO score just after the vote. And then what Republicans will end up doing is putting this on the floor in the Senate for a huge what we call voterama where possibly hundreds of amendments will be voted on or at least opposed to this thing.
But I really think that McConnell, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, is going to find a way to get this thing on the floor and through the floor. But I think what Republicans, Chris, really need to do, and this gets to A.B.'s point. They need to find a better way to talk about this bill if they believe in it.
They have been arguing about what this does or does not do to pre- existing conditions. Understandably, because people are concerned about that. But if they really believe that this is going to lower premiums and increase access to quality health care for Americans that don't have enough choice and access, they need to start telling Americans how that's going to work and what benefits they're going to get. And if they can't do that, it raises a lot of questions about the bill and whether or not they're just simply trading one bad health care system for another.
CUOMO: But you've got to remember the numbers aren't in favor of that argument. Because you're dealing with people on the individual market. You have problems, especially in states that didn't go with Medicaid expansion or you don't have enough choice and you have rocketing premiums and deductibles. There's no question about that. But that population is very small in comparison to the number of people with pre-existing conditions and certainly those on Medicaid. So you'd be making an argument where the numbers of the people you'd be helping is much smaller than those you'll be hurting.
[06:15:07] CAMEROTA: Abby, hold that thought. We're going to take a quick break and come right back to you, because we have other news to talk about right now. FBI Director James Comey testifying about his influence on the 2016 election. And why he considered the Justice Department compromised in the Hillary Clinton e-mail case. Will there be more bombshells today? NEW DAY, right after this.
CUOMO: FBI Director James Comey defending his decision to reveal their investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail use just days before the 2016 election. Comey is going to be back on the Hill today to testify behind closed doors time time with the House Intel Committee.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, live on Capitol Hill with more. What do we know?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.
We know that FBI Director James Comey faced a real grilling on Capitol Hill yesterday, that he insisted he has no regrets on his actions and decisions leading up to November election. That in fact, he would do it over again.
[6:20:07] This despite the ongoing debate and even the charge that he, in part, cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.
JAMES COMEY, DIRECTOR OF THE FBI: It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. But honestly, it wouldn't change the decision.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): FBI Director James Comey defending his decision to notify Congress about his investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of her private e-mail server just 11 days before November's election.
COMEY: I don't think many reasonable people would do it differently than I did.
MALVEAUX: A move that Hillary Clinton says cost her the presidency.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: If the election had been on October 27, I'd be your president.
MALVEAUX: Comey insisting he decided between the lesser of two evils. COMEY: You stared at speak or conceal. Speak would be really bad.
There's an election in 11 days. Lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing, in my view, would be catastrophic.
Reporter: Democrats demanding answers as to why Comey decided to speak out about the Clinton investigation but stayed silent about the investigation into Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia, which was also ongoing.
COMEY: Everything that we did that I did was, in my view, consistent with existing Department of Justice policy. That is we don't confirm the existence of investigations except in unusual circumstances.
REP. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: There were two presidential candidates under investigation by the FBI at the time, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. And I suggested to Director Comey that the right thing to do would have been to comment on both investigations or neither.
MALVEAUX: Comey specifically citing the private meeting between Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch as the moment he lost faith in the Justice Department's investigation.
COMEY: 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."
MALVEAUX: Director Comey's nearly four-hour testimony also revealing new details about top Clinton aide Huma Abedin's handling of classified e-mails and how they ended up on the laptop of her husband, disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner.
COMEY: His then-spouse, Huma Abedin, appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding e-mails to him, for him, I think, to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of state.
MALVEAUX: These revelations coming as CNN learns that President Obama's former national security adviser Susan Rice has declined to testify before a Senate inquiry.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't know why she won't come before the committee today to tell us what she did or didn't do. But we'll deal with her later.
MALVEAUX: Rice's lawyer explaining in a letter that the decision was based on the fact that the leading Democrat on the Judiciary Committee did not support the request, a circumstance she called a significant departure from the bipartisan invitations extended to other witnesses.
MALVEAUX: And Comey will be back on the Hill to testify again this time -- along with NSA director Mike Rogers. It is going to be behind closed doors. Expect it to last about three hours or so. And muchly anticipated, the former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, will also be testifying on Monday -- Alisyn, Chris. CAMEROTA: Suzanne, thank you very much.
So let's discuss it with Abby Phillip and A.B. Stoddard and CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd. Great to see all of you.
So Abby, there was a lot of information that came out in James Comey. I mean, some people thought that this was going to be sort of pro forma. No, there were headlines that came out of this. We'll just boil down Suzanne's piece for everybody.
He felt mildly nauseous that he had swayed the election. So we never heard him before talk about what he -- how he personally felt about his influence and what happened. Releasing that letter, sending that letter to Congress. That as you heard him, the Lynch-Clinton meeting is what compromised the DOJ, sort of spurred his action. The Russians still trying to influence American politics and that he would make the same decision if he had to do it all over again. What did you hear?
PHILLIP: He had a lot that he wanted to get off his chest. I was really struck by what he didn't say, which was that so much of his behavior was motivated by a fear that the department would sort of undermine itself. That leaks would really reveal things that were part of the investigation that could be kept secret and should have been kept secret. Especially that very, very last one.
He wasn't sure how long it would take them to go through the e-mails. He thought it would take a lot longer than it did. It ended up taking three days. And in retrospect, a lot of people looked at that, and you said, well, you should have just waited and found out what was in those e-mails before you came out publicly.
But the reason he didn't wait was because he was very, very sure that he -- the information would come out one way or another. There were a lot of agents within the FBI who wanted the bureau to be much tougher on Hillary Clinton. They were disappointed that she wasn't charged. And -- and James Comey as the leader of that division was dealing with that internal politics at that time.
CUOMO: Another headline that he came out, about leaks. Leaks seem to be somewhat of an obsession with the administration, is that journalists will not be treated as criminal recipients of information when they get classified leaks, which is an important reminder of the protection. That's certainly been the U.S. government policy in the past.
[06:25:13] Now, Phil Mudd, what do you make of Comey's justification? And as much as he said, "I think I was doing basically what the bureau has always done in disclosure and when we make a move." I don't remember anyone in the bureau ever doing what Comey has done.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Zero sympathy. If that man wanted crocodile tears, it ain't going to happen. Let's be clear. You're talking about October 28. That's not the date that we ought to be talking about. That date is July when he chose -- spoke publicly, as he said, about the case. He not only spoke about the case. He became America's high school principal in chief by talking about his personal views on Hillary Clinton. She was -- what was the phrase he used --
Look, here's the deal. If she didn't break the law, it's not clear to me why the FBI director feels like he should use the power of the office to pass judgment on an American citizen. When he decided to speak in July, he himself set the trap. He set himself up to determine then, on October 28, since I spoke before and said it's closed, now I've got to speak again and explain why it's open. It's his fault he's in this. And don't give me this "I'm so sorry it is such a difficult job."
Zero sympathy. Zero, Chris.
CAMEROTA: A.B., Director Comey goes again today in a closed-door session. So where does this leave us in terms of politics and -- on the Hill and with everything in this whole basket of the 2016 election and Russia and the FBI and the leaks?
STODDARD: Well, I do think that he made it clear he doesn't want to talk about the Russia investigation until it's over. We don't expect James Comey to follow normal policy or conduct of an FBI director, because as Phil points out, he hasn't in the past. But he's probably going to be as mum today on Russia. I mean, maybe in the private setting, he'll say more.
But I don't think we're going to learn more. With regards to what the president has done to criticize Comey and his -- Comey and his tweet yesterday about it being a bogus investigation and made it clear. He made it clear yesterday it is a real investigation. The Russians were -- you know, made a -- decided on a preference for Trump. Tried to help him. China is not hacking us. Russia hacked the election. They're still doing it. They will do it again. They were effective. They'll do it again because it worked.
So that will give Republicans more steel in their spine, talking about why they continue in Congress to pursue this investigation, why they have to. So I think that will make it -- you know, help it sort of be more bipartisan. There were certainly lots of fodder there yesterday about leaks. And Abby is right. There's a lot of concern that probably Hillary Clinton would win, particularly in New York.
There were leaks coming out of New York FBI that he was worried about in terms of the investigation that involved Weiner at the end that could make it look like he was trying to protect Hillary Clinton. Now, that -- you know, that's the kind of thing that there is a leak investigation. So people will get very excited and be asking him in closed session about that.
He made it clear, especially when asked about Rudy Giuliani, that if there was interference, you know, there would be steep consequences for that. So there's a lot to go on. And I think, actually, both sides came away, pretty satisfied he has been chastened enough and this is something that they have to continue to pursue in a bipartisan way.
CUOMO: If this concern was that he doesn't come across like he was trying to protect Hillary Clinton. He succeeded. That's for sure. Because I don't think anybody feels that's what was going on.
So this could have been some headlines that would have been unmitigating a lot of what President Trump was saying about Hillary Clinton during the election. He got in his own way and said something about the prospect for peace in the Middle East that you probably haven't heard a president say before. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's 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 are willing. If you both are willing, we're going to make a deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Abby Phillip, what have we not understood about how easy it is to have peace in the Middle East?
PHILLIP: This is really incredible, especially since just a week ago he was saying that being president is so much harder than he thought it was going to be.
I think with Trump, a lot of times he is not aware of how much work has been put in by past presidents and by decades of American foreign policy and hundreds and thousands of experts on certain issues. And he believes, as he said in the campaign that, "I, alone, can fix it. This is that in action.
He deserves the opportunity to give it a try like every president has. But I think that it's pretty safe to say it is not easy, and he will find out how difficult it really is.