Return to Transcripts main page


Prince Philip Stepping Down from Royal Duties; House to Vote Today on GOP Health Care Bill; Comey to Testify Before House Intel Committee; Interview with Rep. Michael Burgess. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 4, 2017 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: ... family. Prince Philip, the husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth is retiring from public life.

[07:00:08] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So we are expecting to see the queen and the prince at any moment as they attend a church service.

Meanwhile, there is another big story happening here in the U.S., the House of Representatives voting today on the GOP new health care bill. But first, we want to go to CNN's Max Foster. He is live at Buckingham Palace with all of this breaking news. Tell us what this means, Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Prince Philip, effectively, at the age of 95, 96 next month, saying he's going to retire. He's stepping back from his public life. We'll see him occasionally, but he's not going to have a public role any more. And this is Prince Philip being himself. He makes his own decisions.

Just listen to the statements from Buckingham Palace: "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."

He effectively just doesn't want to do it anymore, but they're not doing what it means for the country. Most people haven't known a different monarch apart from the queen, and Prince Philip has always been by her side. That's not going to be the case anymore. She's going to be out there on her own, and then you wonder what does that mean.

So President Trump, for example, will be coming later this year for a state visit to the U.K. You wonder who will be accompanying Melania Trump. She'll have the pleasure of Prince Philip and his pretty frank comments. He's known for his gaffes, of course. And then you wonder, you know, perhaps if Prince Charles's son will step into the role.

You'll see Prince Charles next to the queen. It's all part of the transition, continuity of the royal family and the head of state. But also moving forward. So I think it's part of a much bigger story but a big moment here in the U.K.

CUOMO: All right, Max, thank you very much. What a run. Ninety-five years old. And remember, this is an announcement that he's in failing health or something like that. He's just deciding to take a little bit more time to himself. So Prince Philip and the queen are right now attending a church service in London following the big announcement.

For that, let's get to Frederik Pleitgen at St. James Palace in London with more -- Fred.


Yes, that St. James Chapel is where they're attending that service. And really, only a few minutes ago, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were driven through the gate that you see behind me. And obviously, at that point in time, there were many, many people here. And as usual, also many bystanders, many tourists wanting to get snapshots, especially, of course, on this very important day.

And I think one of the things people are talking about is that it's significant for Prince Philip to announce on this day that he would be stepping away from public life and then go immediately to the next public event here at this chapel. He's attending a service for the Order of Merit. It's a very important order here in this country for people who have done exceptional service for this country. It's handed out by the queen.

But obviously, she's here with Prince Philip. One of the many public events that he still does attend and will continue to attend until autumn.

And it's interesting, because I was reading up a little bit on Prince Philip and all -- many of the things that he does. Apparently, he's a member or on the board of some 780 organizations. And the palace says that he still will be active in many of his organizations, but just not anymore in public life. So a very active figure and certainly a very defining moment here for this country -- Chris.

CUOMO: Seven hundred and eighty organizations that he's involved with. That is impressive.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: No wonder he is tired.

CUOMO: I know what he's praying for in there right now. More time.

CAMEROTA: I mean, obviously, when we first heard the announcement, it was worrisome. Maybe something had happened.

CUOMO: Thank God that's not it.

CAMEROTA: He looks completely robust from the video that we saw yesterday. Now, he's at this church mass. We will follow that.

CUOMO: But you get it. You'd rather make a transition from a good place. You know what I mean? Why not?

CAMEROTA: Go out on a high point.

CUOMO: Good for them. All right. So now let's get back to the big news here in the U.S.

Republicans are going to vote on the health care bill, even though they don't know yet from the CBO what impact it will have on all of you. Lawmakers are expected to vote in just hours on this revamped bill.

CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more. There's still a lot of hand-wringing about this, but it looks like it's going to happen. At least in the House.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's the way it looks, quite frankly, Chris, because the House leadership scheduling a vote really signals they believe they have the support they need to get this thing over the finish line for the White House. It would be just a defining moment.

The first legislative step in fulfilling one of the president's key promises. Also a defining moment for House Republicans who have been waiting seven years for this day.


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.

[07:05:06] 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.

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: Back on health care. Assuming that House bill passes today, it goes on to the Senate where it's like to get a dramatic rewrite. The president, for his part, expected to stay in town for the vote this afternoon. After that, flies off to New York for the first time since he was sworn in at a meeting with the Australian prime minister -- Chris and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thanks so much for all of that news.

Joining us now, we have a great panel here in studio, in part. We have CNN political director David Chalian; CNN Politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza; and associate editor of Real Clear Politics, A.B. Stoddard, who's not here, but we will have you up here soon, A.B.

OK, so Chris, what has happened with the health care plan to get it, we think, possibly over the finish line?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: The big thing is they took $8 billion and said, "We're going to put this in here, because it addresses the issue of what you do because you're not mandating people be covered on pre-existing conditions." That won't cover the whole cost. But it mitigates worries by some members.

The other thing that they did. I think this is somewhat smart. If you think you have 213 hard yeses and you have about five or six maybe yes, maybe no, call the vote. Because those people are never going to get off the fence until you say the vote is on Thursday afternoon whenever. So I think it's a risk. I think that they are taking this risk, because they believe the alternative, which is letting it fail again with no vote is worse.

That they promised their base for seven years. From the second President Obama introduced Obamacare until now that, if they got into power, they would repeal and replace. To not do so twice in the first 105 days of the Trump presidency. They think it's worse than voting on a bill, passing it with the expectation the Senate will change it.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, they've done the head count. They think that they have...

CILLIZZA: They think they can get to the number. I would say look they are about 18 or 19 hard "no's." So it's going to be relatively close. This is not going to be 270 yeses for Republicans.

CUOMO: So part of the sell we're hearing, David, is they're going to Trump personally. They're going to Congress and say, "I know you don't like this." I get it. But vote yes on it, so we all survive. Make good on our promise and then we'll send it to the Senate.

How does that help those same Congress people in 2018 when the ads start being run. First of all, you didn't repeal and replace Obamacare. You did something short of that, and you have millions of people who are less covered, and you lied to us about pre-existing conditions. What's worse?

CILLIZZA: You said he said that we all survive. They're not all going to survive. There will be people that lose their seat over this vote. I guarantee you because of exactly what you're saying. This is such an easy issue, as the Democrats learned in 2010 to advertise on to pick one piece out, hammer...

CUOMO: Seven out of 10 say don't mess with pre-existing conditions.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And it's not a popular fix. The overall, we've seen as this has been debated over the last couple months, that this is not a popular fix.

[07:10:09] So I do think that what you are finding is, as Chris is saying, the political imperative of delivering on the promise may win on the day-to-day, but it does not mean that there's not political peril for some of these members who are going to vote for it.

CAMEROTA: A.B., how much elbow grease do we think the president applied to the reluctant Republicans?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: I think he's good at it. I really do. And I give him credit for taking the time to meet with at least 15 members. He's actually put a lot of energy into this.

And I think he doesn't let them leave without, you know, without a yes. And I think it's easy when a group of 17 members goes into a room. But I think when Billy Long and Fred Upton went in there, and Fred came up with the $8 billion, I mean, Trump probably said whatever it takes, whatever it takes. And they both came out to the driveway, and they were yeses.

This is -- this is -- look, what the president has been unhelpful when he gives interviews and talks about things in the bill that aren't there, it gives Republican leadership fever. It actually messages up the process. But I think he brought some votes over the line yesterday. And he's going to take credit for delivering on a vote if they win today. And it is -- it's all -- whatever he was saying in those meetings is what they've been saying to their rank and file. It's all about the "W." We have to survive.

If this votes out of the House and goes to the Senate where it will changed, at least we live another day. We can't -- we can't just keep telling people at town halls every time we go home that we can't get it off the House floor. And so it really doesn't matter what's in the bill. It's all about just starting the process.

CUOMO: But does that make sense?

CILLIZZA: Remarkable. A.B. Is right.

CUOMO: At these town halls, by the way, they have people yelling about them, saying, "Hey, I know some people in the individual markets are getting beaten up with their premiums." But there are reasons for that. "Don't take my care. Don't drop me off Medicaid. Don't take away pre-existing conditions."

CILLIZZA: Yes. I think there's real political peril here. To David's point, when you vote on a bill that is not scored by the CBO. It will be scored. It has to be scored before the Senate votes on it because of complicated Senate rules. Point being, you could vote on something that's going to increase the deficit. That's going to have fill-in-the-blank millions of people likely to be uncovered. Just take those two numbers. I could write the political ad that would be successful there. He voted for a bill that added to this deficit that lefts these people...

CUOMO: Forget the Senate and then the future that he negotiated bill is what they remember?

CILLIZZA: They are hoping that. They're between a rock and a hard place. They actually understand it to some extent. They believe that it is -- it's like go back to James Comey. Bad versus catastrophic the way he cast his decision.

Bad is voting for a bill that has not been scored that a lot of people haven't read to A.B.'s point, they don't know what's in it. Catastrophic is their mind. They're making a gamble. In their mind, it's not passing something, because they believe their base would say what was the last seven years for? CAMEROTA: We have to pass the bill to find out what's in the bill. I

have heard that time and again of Republicans lampooning Nancy Pelosi for doing that, and the idea that they're in the same place.

CHALIAN: Let's also remember. What were the headlines when the bill did first get its first score? It was that 24 million people we going to be without insurance. That hasn't changed. That may -- we may learn it's gotten worse.

So the Republicans are still, as you said, they're hoping maybe whatever comes out of the Senate is remembered as yes. That's the thing. They got out of the thing America didn't like. They replaced it with something. That's what they're looking for. I don't think that in politics that it's going to be so easy. Because you're casting a difficult vote. I urge you all.

Look at the vote breakdown today. Look at the members who voted. If you're in a competitive district, most likely, you're not voting with leadership on this today. It shows you what a tough vote this is.

CUOMO: And yet now, so Trump has to deal with a different state of play when he goes into the Senate. He's got less leverage. He's got a different political disposition here. He's got a different vote reality. And they're already saying that they think that this is a hot pile of garbage, what's going on in the House?

STODDARD: Right. And once it gets into the Senate and senators like Rob Portman from Ohio. And Lisa Murkowski and Shelly Caputo from West Virginia start talking about that Medicaid expansion and how they don't want it to be cut off properly in the next couple years and how much it's benefitted their states and their populations.

And this bill gets even boomeranged back from the right, which gave it more flexibility at the states, the ability of states to waiver out. And that's the threat to pre-existing coverage -- condition coverage. It moved more to the left. Then Trump is going to come back to the House members when -- when it comes back to a negotiation and tell them that it's great. And those House Freedom Caucus conservatives are going to say it's not. It's too much government involved in health care. It's too much money. It's too much of entitlement. It's exactly what we were trying to undo.

[07:15:09] And so there is going to be a boomerang effect where he's going to be working now on the other side. And the members who are being told by leadership, get it out of the House to send it over to the Senate. We are saying why -- why put my vote on the line, as David was pointing out, when we only have 24 seats we can lose in the House next year and it will flip to Democratic control, just for a bill that's going to come back where you don't even have the House Freedom Caucus. You're letting them get their bill off the floor, but we're not going to have them, and we need a bill that the president can sign.

So it really -- those divisions between those factions are real. And that process is not going to be made any better in the Senate.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much. It will be very interesting to see what happens in the next hours. Thanks for being here.

Meanwhile, FBI Director James Comey defending his decision to reveal the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail use just days before the 2016 election. Comey will be back on Capitol Hill today to testify behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live on Capitol Hill with more.

What do we expect, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, potentially more grilling, but it's going to be behind closed doors. It certainly happened yesterday, and he adamantly defended his actions before the election, saying that, in fact, he would do it again, despite this 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 its 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 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.

MALVEAUX: Democrats demanding answers as to why Comey decided to speak out about the Clinton investigation but stayed silent about the investigation into the 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: Comey will also join director of the NSA Mike Rogers. They'll both be testifying, and it's expected to last about three hours or so, specifically on the motivations behind their actions. And also, muchly-anticipated, the former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, to testify on Monday -- Chris.

CUOMO: That will be a big day. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much.

House Republicans are hoping to deliver a "W" today. I mean, that's what it's about. This is about the president and the GOP being able to say, "We did it. We told you we would change Obamacare, and we did it." Now what's the effect of that? That should matter just as much or more. We're going to talk to a Congressman who says he's voting yes. Let's ask him why and what he thinks happens today and what it means for you.


[07:23:45] CUOMO: A vote on Donald Trump's health care bill is hours away. Our next guest supports the deal, but does he think it's going to pass today?

Let's ask Republican Congressman Michael Burgess of Texas. He discussed his health care deal with President Trump yesterday.

So what do you think? The vote comes today. Do you think it passes?

REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: I don't think the vote would come today unless it was going to pass. Make no mistake. I'm not -- I'm not on the whip team. I don't count the votes. I try to get the policy right. And that's been my job in this process.

CUOMO: How do you feel about voting on a bill without a CBO score and not really understanding its impact on the population?

BURGESS: Well, you have a CBO score. Remember, this bill is the bill that was marked up in our committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, a month ago. This is the bill that was on the floor several weeks ago. The speaker hit the pause button, because he wasn't sure he had the votes.

The -- so the bill text has been -- base bill text has been out there for a long time. It's substantially similar to a bill that passed in December of 2015 that was also a reconciliation that did pass the House and the Senate, was vetoed by President Obama.

So as far as all of the concepts being brand-new, that's not accurate. And the bill was read in its entirety. The whole 120 pages of the energy and commerce jurisdiction. It was read during the markup. That was one of the requests of the Democrat in the markup. And -- and that was accomplished.

CUOMO: So you're not...

BURGESS: So it is not -- it's disingenuous to say the bill hasn't been read, because of course, it has.

CUOMO: I never said it hadn't been read. I'm saying that the CBO hasn't rescored it. So you're saying you're comfortable voting "yes" on a bill that you know is going to take tens of millions of people off of coverage and that has pre-existing conditions not being guaranteed as covered?

BURGESS: Let's take those two things individually.

CUOMO: Please.

BURGESS: Because they are different.

First off on the CBO score, yes, the CBO coverage numbers were, to say the least, disappointing. I do disagree with the derivation of some of those numbers. I don't think they've accurately predicted human behavior. Why would someone who's getting, basically, a Medicaid policy in an expansion state, if the individual mandate is lifted, now suddenly they say, "Well, I just don't want this anymore," and they'll leave coverage?

Remember, that Medicaid expansion will continue for at least two years on the -- under the bill that the Republicans will have on the floor today. On the pre-existing conditions. And do -- do remember that this does

not affect people in the large group market, in the employer insurance market. There is no change. People in Medicare and Medicaid, there is no change.

If a state passes a waiver from essential health care benefits and community and can demonstrate to the secretary of Health and Human Services, that they have a shared risk in place in their state, those are states where the potential for that exists and that's what that last amendment, the $8 billion that was added by Mr. Upton and Mr. Long, that's what it was to accomplish, was to provide additional premium support for the narrow segment of the individual market who allowed insurance to lapse then gets a tough diagnosis in a state that has requested a waiver. That is going to be, by definition, a small population but a very sympathetic population. And we wanted to make certain they were covered.

CUOMO: It's not that thin. Right? I mean, first of all, the number of people with pre-existing conditions, depending on how you define it...

BURGESS: Let's just go through the numbers. Seven percent of the population is in the individual market. The state would have to request a waiver? Are states going to request a waiver? I honestly don't know. I have had no governor contact me and say, "Tell me more about this waiver situation."

CUOMO: That's not the great -- that's not the great measure, though, Congressman. Governors have said if you cut their money, which is what you're going to do, they will be forced if they can't afford it, which they're saying they can't, to take the waiver and try and find a way to make it work. So you can't say you're going into this not thinking that states won't take the waiver.

BURGESS: Chris, the money is not going to be cut. In fact, it will be increased with the addition of the $8 billion that the Upton amendment brings us.

CUOMO: You're talking about the high-risk pools. I'm talking about the Medicaid money. You're leaving it alone for a couple of years for Medicaid and you're suggesting to people that makes it all OK. But after those couple of years, it does get cut. They're not going to have the money. They will have to drop people. We've heard it from governor after governor.

BURGESS: The governors asked us for flexibility.

CUOMO: Not less money.

BURGESS: Well, the governors have asked for the ability to either do a block grant or a per capita cap or keep the existing. They will have the ability to make those decisions going forward.

CUOMO: But you're going to cut how much? That's just about what form the money comes in. The absolute number. See, this is what I don't get. Why don't you own the basic proposition of what's going on here? Which is we want to take money out of the system. We want to be able to say we took "X" million, billion dollars out and we're going to use it going forward when we do our tax cuts. But people are not going to be covered as they are now, and less are going to be covered? Why not just own that and let the political realities fall as they may?

BURGESS: How -- how about we want the money to be spent efficiently in the interest of the constituents and the patients? And I believe that's what this bill does accomplish.

CUOMO: But isn't that just a way of covering the reality of pulling money out of the system? Look, you won't even extend the tax credit for individuals to take it to their places of work. And if they're getting care through work, allow them to group up and use those tax credits so they could collectively bring the price down. You know that would make sense. But it would reduces the dollar amount that you're pulling out of this plan. So you didn't go for it. And that's the kind of thing that's happening here.

BURGESS: There will be -- there will be increased tax -- tax credit availability right now. If you have a subsidy great. Premium goes up; your subsidy goes up. But for those individuals who are below 138 percent of poverty or above 400 percent poverty, their premium goes up and it just goes up. It's a pre-tax out of pocket expense. This bill actually addresses that and provides tax relief to everyone in the individual market.

CUOMO: Right. But at the end of the day, Congressman, how is it not true that as a result of this -- look, and I know you guys are all hoping it gets changed in the Senate and somehow it saves you from the severity of this. But that you're going to have millions of people, or poor, many of whom voted for Donald Trump, not have coverage. And you're going to have people with pre-existing conditions who won't get coverage who would have if it stayed as a guarantee as it is presently.

BURGESS: No, I actually disagree with that -- with that premise. But I do...

CUOMO: How can it not be true? Tell me why you disagree? How can it not be true? If you're pulling money out of the Medicaid side --