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House To Vote On Health Care Bill Today; Comey: Huma Abedin Sent Classified Emails To Weiner; Trump To Sign Executive Order On Religious Liberty; President Trump And The Third Person. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired May 4, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] REP. MICHAEL BURGESS, (R) CHAIRMAN, ENERGY & COMMERCE SUBCOMITTEE ON HEALTH, MEDICAL DOCTOR: No, I actually disagree with that premise but I do --

CUOMO: But 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 and you're redefining who has to cover preexisting conditions? How can those numbers stay the same?

BURGESS: Is every dollar that is spent on the Medicaid side spent officially to the betterment of patient care? I mean, I delivered -- I worked as a physician for 25 years and I can tell you the answer to that question.

CUOMO: But waste, fraud, and abuse --

BURGESS: I do know that the government --

CUOMO: -- is always mentioned but never dispositive in terms of controlling costs. You know you're cutting the raw payouts after a couple of years. You know -- you know from your experience --

BURGESS: No, no --

CUOMO: -- in the business it has to affect coverage and that's what the CBO said.

BURGESS: The per capita cap arrangement that a governor could elect will increase by CPI medical plus one percent for the blind, aged, disabled, and children covered in their populations. That's a level of assurance for the governors where they know the income stream that is coming in, so they'll be able to adjust their measures accordingly. I think that is something that will be welcomed by the governors. Some governors may ask for a block grant. That availability is under this bill. That would be available to them. But I do agree with you this bill does go over to the Senate. I'm anxious to see. We've had a lot of criticism from our senators on both sides. They tell us how smart they are. I want them to work on this project as well.

CUOMO: I like that, they tell us how smart they are. Congressman Burgess, look, this is controversial stuff. A lot of people's well- being is at stake. That's why we have to test the propositions. Appreciate you coming on to do exactly that. BURGESS: Yes, sir, anytime. Glad to do it. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, be well. Let's see what happens with the vote today -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: OK, Chris. FBI Director James Comey spent hours in the hot seat yesterday so we will talk to one of the senators who questioned Comey about what surprised him.


[07:35:30] CAMEROTA: FBI Director James Comey faced four hours of questioning in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He revealed new details in the now-closed FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, (R) LOUISIANA, COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY: Was there classified information on former Congressman Weiner's computer?


KENNEDY: Who sent it to him?

COMEY: His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him, I think, to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the Secretary of State.


CAMEROTA: All right. Joining us now is the senator asking those questions, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. Good morning, Senator.

KENNEDY: Good morning, Alisyn. How you doing?

CAMEROTA: I'm doing well. You got some new information out of Dir. Comey there that we hadn't previously known about how Huma Abedin would send these emails from Secretary of State Clinton to her husband in order for him to print them out. And that prompted Sen. Lindsey Graham to ask Director Comey should somebody be prosecuted for sending classified information to Anthony Weiner, and then Director Comey said there's no Anthony Weiner statute. So what did you think of that whole exchange and information?

KENNEDY: I appreciated Comey's candor. He was -- he was forthcoming, he wasn't apologetic. Look, it's no secret. Comey doesn't get invited to many parties on Capitol Hill. He's about as popular as cholera. But I respect that about him. I mean, the impression I get of Comey is that he's going to do his job and he doesn't much care who gets mad at him. I questioned him at length about Sec. Clinton's email scandal or circumstances -- whatever you want to call it. He gave me straight-up answers. He answered the yes and no questions with yes and no. I also pressed him pretty hard on the investigation about Russia's interference with the last round of elections.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and so on that -- on that note what did you learn? What was new that you learned yesterday?

KENNEDY: Well, here's what I hope I learned, and I say that because I didn't get a chance to ask him this straight-up. I ran out of time. But what I wanted to say was look, this issue about the interference in our election has been raised. The American people get it. Not every American reads Aristotle every day but they know something's going on.

And now the FBI's involved. They've announced they're doing an investigation. Comey and his team have got to -- they've got to turn over every single rock -- every single one. They've got to let the chips fall where they may and after they conclude their investigation, whatever it is, they can't just do a press conference and say OK, we're finished, never mind, nothing there, or here's what we found and we're going to -- in terse, cryptic terms. He's got to call a press conference and say to the American people this is what happened. This is who did something wrong. This is somebody who didn't do something wrong. Here's what we plan on doing in the future to stop Russia from doing this.

We'll never stop them completely. I mean, this goes all the way back -- Russia tried to -- it's well documented -- interfere in the Nixon- Humphrey election.


KENNEDY: They tried to interfere in Ronald Reagan's reelection. They're always trying to screw with our elections.

CAMEROTA: But do you think there was something different in the 2016? Do you have any doubt in your mind that they did interfere in the 2016 election?

KENNEDY: There's no doubt in my mind based on the briefings I've had that they did interfere. There are two questions, though, that have to be addressed by the FBI. Number one, what was the extent, if any, of staff on presidential campaigns interacting with Russian agents? That's number one. Number two, OK, the Russians interfered. Did they influence the election and how do you know that? How do you quantify that? And really, number three, what do we do about it in the future?

CAMEROTA: And so, given that you think that James Comey should come out and make a statement based on whatever they find, am I to then extrapolate that you think that it was within his purview and his right and good judgment that he did make the statement about Hillary Clinton's email and that he did send the letter to Congress on October 28th that she now credits for her loss?

KENNEDY: Well, you know, I wasn't in his shoes. I don't know what I would have done, but he explained he thought he had two doors, disclose or conceal. He chose door number one. He's unapologetic about it. He explained this thinking. I don't think anybody would know what they would do until they're in those -- in his shoes. It was a tough call.

[07:40:10] But I will say this, this is my impression of Comey and I don't know him. I met him for the first time yesterday. He loves his job, he cares about the FBI, and he just doesn't really care who's mad at him and I like -- frankly, I like that about him. I mean, he's an equal opportunity aggravator up here and that's a pretty good -- that's a pretty good qualification for working on Capitol Hill as far as I'm concerned.

CAMEROTA: There you go. Susan Rice, the former national security adviser to President Obama. You would like her, I understand, I think, to testify in front of your committee. She does not want to. Will you subpoena her?

KENNEDY: You know, it's not my decision to subpoena her. I think she ought to testify. Now, if she's lawyered-up -- you know, if her lawyers tell her not to do it I'm sure she's going to listen to her lawyers. But I'd like to know. I'd like to hear her side of the story. There are generally two sides to a story. I haven't prejudged the situation. I want to hear what she has to say.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Senator, I want to ask you about something else that's happening the country right now and that's, of course, the flooding. There's been storms throughout the Midwest.


CAMEROTA: Missouri has had flooding, as has other states. I know that you have a plan to, I guess, cut down on flood insurance abuse? What's happening?

KENNEDY: As you know, FEMA runs the National Flood Insurance Program. Actually, they don't run it, they're in charge of it. They hire some private insurance companies to operate it. The private insurance companies hire consultants to help them -- lawyers, contractors, engineers. Most of those consultants do a pretty good job, some of them don't. Some of them try to screw people. There's been evidence introduced in federal court where engineers have changed reports, where lawyers have been dilatory.

The head of the Flood Insurance Program for FEMA testified in front of our banking committee. I asked him look, these bad actors, why don't you fire them? I know they're a minority but there are still some they're firing. He said I don't have the authority unless they're criminally convicted. I said OK, we're going to give you that authority and that's what my bill does. My bill says that the FEMA director of the Flood Insurance Program can pick up the phone and if there's a bad actor out there working for an insurance company that has a contract with the Flood Insurance Program --


KENNEDY: -- and the director thinks that they are committing bad behavior or fraud, he can say you're fired and they'll have a right to appeal. If people buy flood insurance and they flood, they ought to get their money. It's just --it's just that simple.

CAMEROTA: Well, that sure makes sense. Senator John Kennedy, thanks so much for being on NEW DAY -- Chris. KENNEDY: You bet. Thanks, Alisyn.

CUOMO: All right. The president is set to sign an order today allowing churches and other religious organizations to become more politically active. Is the order going to face a legal challenge? We debate.


[07:45:20] CUOMO: All right. So, President Trump is set to sign a new executive order this morning. You haven't heard a lot about it but what we understand is it would allow churches and other religious organizations to become more politically active. However, the measure stops short of offering exceptions for groups to deny services based on religious grounds.

Let's discuss what this is about and what the concerns are on both sides. We have Christine Quinn, former New York City Council speaker and president of Women in Need. And, Ben Ferguson, a CNN political commentator and host of "THE BEN FERGUSON SHOW". Ben --


CUOMO: -- why do you believe this order is needed?

FERGUSON: I think it's important because pastors should be able, specifically, to be able to speak about religious issues from the pulpit that might actually deal with politics without having to worry that someone is going to try to come after them politically or that the government's going to come after them and that they will lose their tax-exempt status.

There are many pastors, especially on the left, who have been very active in their community, even on political issues -- supporting Barack Obama, supporting $15 an hour minimum wage, supporting Planned Parenthood -- who have had the ability to walk out there and now they've got to be concerned and look over their shoulder --

CUOMO: Why do they have to be concerned?

FERGUSON: -- that someone's going to retaliate.

CUOMO: Talk about the Johnson Amendment. That's what this is about. What is their concern?

FERGUSON: Well, their concern is the Johnson Amendment when it was passed, by then Congressman Johnson, who said we didn't -- they did not want non-profit groups to be able to be raising money, basically, to then go into political work. It was never intended to go against churches. In fact, if you look back at the debate when it was passed churches didn't even come up. They were specifically concerned about an individual who would set up a non-profit and then turn that into basically a political action group where people could give anonymous --

CUOMO: All right.

FERGUSON: -- money to that group. And then, all of a sudden, they could become politically active. They had no intent for this to go after pastors --

CUOMO: All right.

FERGUSON: -- or religious organizations.

CUOMO: Christine, you're shaking your head. And I must point out you were framed just there with the crucifix on one side --


CUOMO: -- and the American flag on the other. Your parents will be very proud.

QUINN: Exactly, but does it count for Sunday, Chris? That's what I want to know.

CUOMO: That's all -- you've got to be there. It's a sin if you're not. So, what are your concerns?

QUINN: Well, you know, I appreciate Ben's description but let's go through the facts a little more. He's right, then-Congress member Johnson passed this amendment in 1954, I believe it was. It was strengthened in 1987. In fact, one institution has been prosecuted, if that's the right word -- lost its status because of the Johnson Amendment.

CUOMO: Censured.

QUINN: Right. Oh, thank you. So there isn't a rampant prosecution going on here which --

CUOMO: Well, what about the concerns that there could be?

QUINN: But you know what is curious? This is now the Trump administration, so if there wasn't rampant censorship under an administration which I believe some people who have the same concerns Mr. Ferguson does -- the Obama administration -- why would all of a sudden Donald Trump's IRS start going out there overly using the Johnson Amendment when that has never been the case? I think --

CUOMO: So what do you think it's really about?

QUINN: I think this is really about -- and let also add pastors or rabbis or imams, they can go out and endorse candidates. They can say what they think. They can't -- they can do it as American individuals. They can't do it standing from the pulpit and making their church a political place -- or their synagogue or their mosque -- because remember, these are religious institutions and above all else --

FERGUSON: But, Chris -- QUINN: -- they need to be places with open doors that I can walk into and know I will be heard.

CUOMO: But why is there an LGBTQ sensitivity about this?

QUINN: Right.

CUOMO: What's the concern? I just want to get that out there.

QUINN: Well, because I believe -- yes, thank you. I believe this is what Ben said, with all due respect, a smoke screen. This is about exactly what the head of the National Interfaith Association said. Rabbi Moline said this is an attempt to allow churches to inject more dark money into elections. That's what this is about.

FERGUSON: If that's the case --

QUINN: It is a way to take -- violate the separation of church and state --

FERGUSON: All right, Chris --

CUOMO: All right.

QUINN: -- and allow right-wing --

CUOMO: All right. So Ben, what's your take on that?

FERGUSON: First off, if you look at the facts you have more than 90 churches that have been investigated for "being too political from the pulpit." I'll give you a classic example. There was multiple churches just a couple of years in Houston that were targeted and they were actually subpoenaed for their sermons to see if any of the pastors had said anything about traditional marriage or gay marriage. They all had to lawyer-up. They all were talking about it from a religious perspective.

They also were trying to subpoena churches for what they were saying about the issues of birth control or abortion. If you're Catholic, that's a very sensitive issue --

[07:50:00] QUINN: I am.

FERGUSON: -- that the pastor should be able to talk about that without having to worry that one individual might be offended and then goes to the government and tries to silence and, in essence, shut down your church by taking away --

QUINN: Ben, that's --

FERGUSON: -- your tax-exempt status.

QUINN: That -- I can't --

FERGUSON: Well, let me finish one other thing. Wait, hold on, hold on. Let me finish one other thing. This is important. If you are a liberal pastor or a conservative pastor and you genuinely feel that what you're saying from the pulpit applies to the doctrine of your church and the bible you should have the freedom to not have to worry that someone wants to shut you down for speaking about that from the pulpit. You shouldn't have to say I'm going to go to out to the parking lot and then give another sermon because I'm afraid if I say the same thing in this church among my congregation in a religious place --

QUINN: But you know what, Ben?

FERGUSON -- that somehow we're going to be shut down.

CUOMO: All right, Ben.

QUINN: What you can't do --

CUOMO: You have the final point, Christine.

QUINN: What you can't -- you can stand up -- and I've been in many religious institutions where this has happened -- and say this is happening the halls of Congress or city hall and it's a bad thing. But you can't, therefore, then -- you can't in the pulpit. You have to go in the parking lot and say so vote against Chris Quinn. I have been in those establishments. I can't speak to the investigation. What we can speak to is a law passed in '54, strengthened in '87, one establishment, one religious group censored. You are making a smokescreen to allow dark money to take --

FERGUSON: That's a large burden to put on a pastor.

QUINN: -- control of our elections.

CUOMO: All right.

QUINN: It's classic Donald Trump.

CUOMO: All right. So there are the two sides.

FERGUSON: It's not.

CUOMO: Ben, thank you very much.

QUINN: Yes, it is. It's discriminatory money.

CUOMO: Christine -- and he says it isn't.

FERGUSON: It's not.

CUOMO: You decide for yourself. Thank you very much to both of you -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. There's massive floods drenching part of the Midwest. Meteorologist Chad Myers on what today will bring, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:55:50] CUOMO: More rain headed for parts of the Midwest already hit with record flooding. I mean, you hear rain you're like OK, I get it. No, you don't. Take a look at the scene. This is in Pocahontas, Arkansas. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has your forecast and as you know all too well you have the problem when the water comes and you've got a bigger problem when it leaves.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well,absolutely, sure because you have a lot of clean-up after that. This could easily be a billion-dollar disaster, Chris, no question. The rain is still coming down, not as heavy as it was. Just to give you an idea of how many counties here are either under a flash flood watch or a warning, all the way from almost Detroit back down inside St. Louis.

Everywhere you see red there was six inches of rain in the past week. There are some spots that are purple. That's 10 inches of rainfall in a week. That's two months' worth of rain in a week and you can't take that anywhere. It's going to flood. There will be some showers and rain for the Kentucky Oaks day on Friday. It should be dry for the Derby, although there may be some showers. Really, we're not going to expect that much more rainfall in that area. North of there, yes, maybe two to three more inches but the damage is already done. There's already so much water on the ground it just has to run off. A nice pleasant cool weekend for you, Alisyn, though, up in the Northeast.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much. Just as I ordered, Chad. Thank you very much.

All right. On a much lighter note,I think it's safe to say that President Trump is a fan of Donald Trump. Our Jeanne Moos looks at why the president keeps referring tohimself in the third person. Watch this.

CUOMO: Oh, Cuomo loves these stories.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's first when it comes to the third person --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump.

MOOS: -- and this week he did it in a tweet. That's Trump, himself, tweeting, "Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?" which prompted author J.K. Rowling to poke the president. "I wonder whether Trump talks to Trump's self in the third Trumperson when Trump's alone?"

TRUMP: If Putin likes Donald Trump --

You wouldn't even be hearing about the word immigration if it wasn't for Donald Trump.

Trump was able to get him to give something. I don't know what the hell it was but it doesn't matter. MOOS: This is a man who tweeted, "Congratulations,Donald" on his own "APPRENTICE" ratings. He said, "Thanks, Donald" when consumer confidence went up. But, Donald doesn't have a monopoly on thanking himself. Remember this guy --


MOOS: -- thanking himself for lower gas prices? You know, there's actually a technical term for this.


MOOS: Psychologist Kevin Volkan has two theories for President Trump's use of a third person.

KEVIN VOLKAN, PSYCHOLOGIST: I think it's either he's branding himself which you know, of course, he's very good at and I think he does that almost unconsciously. And I think also this could be, you know, indicative of narcissism where, you know, you're constantly referring to yourself.

TRUMP: No side tracks, Donald. Nice and easy.

VOLKAN: You want the world to revolve around you.

MOOS: Psychologists say toddlers are often illeis before they fully grasp the concept of I and me, like Elmo.

ELMO: And now, Elmo has a question for you.

MOOS: Tweeted one Trump critic, "He gives third person talkers like Cookie Monster a bad name."

COOKIE MONSTER: So, Cookie Monster alive.

MOOS: Forget cookies. The president likes his own name in his mouth.

TRUMP: And then Donald Trump -- Donald Trump -- Trump -- Donald -- Donald Trump.

COOKIE MONSTER: Cookie Monster.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: Stay on point, Donald, stay on point.

MOOS: -- New York.


CAMEROTA: OK. Any Cookie Monster cameo is a great piece.

CUOMO: I'm actually going to give him a little defense on this and here's why. I heard --

CAMEROTA: I heard it's a Cuomo thing. CUOMO: Well, Cuomo is OK with this and I'll tell you why. Cuomo is a fair man. And politicians sometimes wind up doing this because there is such a pressure on the projection of how things should be received. And they will say like -- oh, you heard Obama say "thanks, Obama" because they start thinking about how people react --

CAMEROTA: To them.

CUOMO: -- so often they can see it.

CAMEROTA: Didn't "SNL" do the "Bob Dole says yes, Bob Dole likes this."

CUOMO: That's right, that's right. You know, there's a little bit of it. Does Trump take it to a higher level, maybe? Cuomo's not sure.

We are following a lot of news this morning. Today is supposed to be the day that the House pushes through a new health care deal. It's billed as a win, but for who? Let's get after it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to pass this. We're going to pass it. You've got to be optimistic about life.