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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego; Interview With Florida Congressman Ted Yoho; Russia-Trump Investigation; Senate Starts Working on Trumpcare; North Korea: CIA Plotting to Kill Jim Jong Un; Trump Plaque Commemorates Civil War Battle That Never Was. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 5, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Planning to kill dictator Kim Jong-un in a biochemical assassination plot to be carried out by CIA terrorists planted inside the country. This is an allegation that mirrors the plot of a controversial movie. Could any of it be true?
And river of blood. As President Trump spends the weekend at his New Jersey golf course, there is new focus on a marker at his Virginia club commemorating a Civil War battle that historians say didn't happen. Combined with his recent inaccurate marks about Andrew Jackson, it is raising concerns and questions about the president's understanding of the Civil War.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Brianna Keilar. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We are following breaking news tonight.
Sources are telling CNN that the Senate Intelligence Committee is now prepared to subpoena records from former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and others if they don't turn over details of their communications with Russia.
Page responded with a scathing letter to the panel, saying it should ask President Obama, who Page believes had him surveilled.
Also, after a flurry of activity that finally pushed a health care bill through the House, tonight, the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is facing a much slower and potentially more difficult next phase.
While President Trump touted his much needed House victory, Senate Republicans made clear they intend to write their own bill and they announced that a group of moderates and conservatives are going to work on it. This is a group that does not include any women.
And new tonight, questions about a marker on one of the president's golf courses that commemorates a Civil War battle that historians say never took place. President Trump previously defended this plaque, telling "The New York Times" that unnamed historians named have told him -- quote -- "Many people had been shot there trying to cross the river."
We are covering all of this and more this hour with our guests, including Republican Congressman Ted Yoho and Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego. And our correspondents and specialist are also standing by for us.
I want to get straight now to this breaking news.
CNN's chief security national correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is working this story for us
And, Jim, this was really quite a brash response from Trump associate Carter Page.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question, a fairly stunning rebuke.
This is the Senate Intelligence Committee, which I might note is chaired by Republicans. Senator Richard Burr made this request to Page and others demanding records of conversations and meetings with Russians during the campaign, which we know is the subject of an FBI investigation.
It's being investigated by the U.S. intelligence community as well, but Carter Page, who was identified by President Trump himself, then president -- then a presidential candidate Trump during the campaign, as a senior foreign policy adviser, refusing in extremely colorful terms.
Let's quote from his letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee. he said -- quote -- "I suspect the physical reaction of the Clinton/Obama regime perpetrators will be more along the lines of severe vomiting when all the facts are eventually exposed regarding the steps taken by the U.S. government to influence the 2016 election."
There you see Page in effect, Brianna, turning the subject of this investigation on its head because it's Russian interference in the election which the Senate Intelligence Committee and others are now investigated. Quite a charge there from Carter Page. He certainly didn't in his letter or any of his interviews tell us why, what is behind this charge against the U.S. government.
But, of course, it is interesting to note it does echo things that President Trump himself has said about the Obama administration.
KEILAR: That's a good point.
So, the Intel Committee wants records not just from Carter Page. They're looking at other folks as well.
SCIUTTO: That's right, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, who, for a time, was the chairman of Donald Trump's campaign, Roger Stone, who is something of a firebrand in conservative media, allegedly was in touch with WikiLeaks before some of these releases targeting the Democratic Party, Michael Flynn, who was of course the national security adviser before he was fired.
We don't know their responses yet, but we do now know that the Senate is prepared subpoena, to legally subpoena Page and others if they refuse this request.
KEILAR: Wow. We will see if that happens. That would be -- I mean, that would just be very unusual.
All right, thank you so much, Jim Sciutto. We do appreciate it.
KEILAR: Now, for the 14th weekend in a row, President Trump is visiting one of his own properties.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta is traveling with the president.
And, Jim, the president left town with this health care victory in his pocket. Tell us about what is going on where you are.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. President Trump is taking another break from Washington, although this time he is not down at Mar-a-Lago. He is spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
And the president is feeling confident he has improved his game when it comes to health care, even though there are plenty of hazards that lie ahead in the Senate.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The president's prognosis on Trumpcare sounds like it'll be a cinch in the Senate, tweeting: "Big win in the House, very exciting. But when everything comes together with the inclusion of phase two, we will have truly great health care."
And the president is promising Trumpcare will be a big-league bargain for consumers.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Premiums are going to come down very substantially. The deductibles are going to come down. It's going to be fantastic health care.
ACOSTA: But White House officials acknowledge the Senate, where the Republicans hold a slim majority, may be the biggest hurdle yet.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We expect there to be some changes, but we expect the principles and the main pillars of the health care bill as it exists now to remain the sane.
ACOSTA: Moderate Republicans have already isolated their biggest problems with the bill out of the House, namely, that it weakens protections for Americans with preexisting conditions and reduces funds for the Medicaid program for the poor, not to mention it hasn't even been analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office to determine how many consumers might lose coverage.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: When the House passes a bill, rushes it through before they know what the CBO score is, it tells you it is not really about health care; it is more about politics.
ACOSTA: Even conservative Republicans with Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy wants to guarantee care for people with preexisting conditions.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: I asked, does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test? Would a child born with congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life? I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test
ACOSTA: That's in reference to late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who revealed his baby son was born with a congenital heart problem, a condition that could strike rich or poor.
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": If your baby is going to die, and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't matter how much money you make.
ACOSTA: But the microscope is already on Senate Republicans who formed a health care working group that doesn't include any women, a reminder of the nearly all-male gathering at the White House for the president's Trumpcare victory lap.
TRUMP: This really is the group. What a great group of people.
ACOSTA: Critics are wondering whether the president even knows what's in the current bill, after he lavished praise on the Australian health care system to that country's prime minister. As it turns out, Australia has universal health care run by the government.
TRUMP: I shouldn't say this to our great gentlemen, my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do. But we are going to have great health care very soon.
ACOSTA: The president tried to clean that up with a tweet. "Of course Australians have better health care than we do. Everybody does."
SANDERS: I'm saying that the president was complimenting a foreign leader on the operations of their health care system and that it didn't mean anything more than that.
ACOSTA: And despite all of the presidents' bold predictions and promises, the White House is not ready to embrace the name Trumpcare. White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters earlier today you can call it whatever you want, but, of course, Brianna, as we know, the Obama administration was slow to embrace the name Obamacare too -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, they certainly were. All right, Jim Acosta, thank you so much.
Let's get more now on all of this with Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida. He's member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
I do want to talk health care with you in just a moment.
But, first, I want to talk about Carter Page, because we're now seeing this letter that he sent to the Senate Intel Committee. And it is incredibly hostile. What do you make of this?
REP. TED YOHO (R), FLORIDA: You know, that just came out and you saw the Senate Intelligence Committee said they are going to go ahead and investigate it. And I think let it take its course. And let's see what comes out of that and then follow that path of whichever direction it takes you.
KEILAR: It's not just that they are going to investigate it. They are talking about potential subpoenas here.
KEILAR: What do you think about that move?
YOHO: Well, I think if it is warranted and justified, I think that's what they will do and they will follow that path.
And, again, all Americans want to find out and get to the accurate information, so that we can make the safeguards in place or, you know, make sure that people weren't involved in things they shouldn't have been.
KEILAR: Why wouldn't he just cooperate? Why wouldn't Carter Page just cooperate? Because it seems like critics and Democrats are saying that that's proof in way that he's guilty.
YOHO: You would have to ask Carter Page that. I don't know.
KEILAR: Do you think it would be better for him to just cooperate?
YOHO: I think it should go through the investigation process and let that come out.
KEILAR: OK. All right, let's talk about health care.
You were a strong no, as you said, on the original GOP health care bill. And you voted yes on this -- on this attempt.
KEILAR: Why the change of heart?
YOHO: Well, in the first one, we weren't doing a hundred percent repeal. We're not in this one. We're getting close. On the first bill, premiums were going to go up for the next two to
three years. Seniors were going to get charged more. We didn't have the safeguards and the guarantee that preexisting conditions were going to stay in there.
And then with the work of that Mark Meadows did with the Freedom Caucus, what we saw was that they were going to drive the premiums down. We made sure that the preexisting conditions were going to happen with that last amendment that got put in there and that it had a Medicaid reform in there, but it had the safeguard that with the pool of money that was put in there, the--
KEILAR: The $8 billion?
KEILAR: OK, the $8 billion for preexisting conditions.
YOHO: Yes. And it still doesn't repeal it a hundred percent.
So I was left with two choices. I either keep the Affordable Care Act in place forever or I take the American Health Care Act, that is 80 percent of it repealed.
KEILAR: And sort of reform it in a way.
YOHO: Yes, the reforms that were needed.
So you said one of the things that bothered you about the first one was you were looking at the numbers, you were looking at the prices go up. How do you know? Because the CBO, Congressional Budget Office that would tell you if the prices had gone up, they haven't even issued their analysis.
YOHO: It was things the we have heard from insurance commissioners and different companies that said these prices were going up for the next two to three years.
KEILAR: But the AARP says that, if you have a preexisting condition, for instance, and as you get older, of course, you are more likely to have one, that the premiums for the year under this plan could go up to more than $25,000.
They are not on board with this. One of your objections to the first bill had to do with cost for seniors. So, how do you square that?
YOHO: Well, again, if you look at the safeguards that were put in there with the MacArthur amendment, the preexisting conditions were going to be locked in. They couldn't go up further than what was the law would allow. (CROSSTALK)
KEILAR: If there's no lapse.
YOHO: If there's no lapse.
KEILAR: If there is no lapse in coverage.
But we've seen analyses that say 30 -- there are 30 million people who could fall into that lapse of more than 63 days between having insurance and then getting--
YOHO: Well, you are going to always hear that story out there.
If you heard before, with the Affordable Care Act, you know, our prices were going to go down on our premiums. You can keep your doctor. So there's a lot of jockeying out there and advertising, false advertising.
And then if you heard the CBO talking about how many people were going to be covered with the Affordable Care Act, they anticipated 24 million people signing up. And they missed that. It was less than -- it was a little over 10 million people.
And a lot of those people came from insurance policies that were canceled because of the Affordable Care Act. And then you look at the amount of people or the amount of insurance companies that are pulling out of different states, the amount of access to insurance companies, this was on a death spiral, and if we did nothing, it would have been a lot worse.
And it was unsustainable as far as the cost. So, we had to step in and do something. We couldn't continue the Affordable Care Act.
KEILAR: Can you say to your constituents in Florida, if you have a preexisting condition, your premiums are not going to go up because of this bill that I voted on?
YOHO: I don't think I could have said that with the other one. But I can say, if you have a preexisting condition, you are not going to lose coverage. You're going to have the coverage.
KEILAR: But you can't guarantee them that the price isn't going to increase?
YOHO: Well, our goal is to make sure it doesn't.
But if you go back to the original one, you know, our premiums were going to go down. We were sold a false bill of goods on this one.
KEILAR: I hear what you're saying. But could you pledge to them that premiums are not going to increase more because of this bill? YOHO: I feel certain that I could say that, yes.
I anticipate -- when you have insurance companies pulling out of states, you have less competition. You have less companies selling products. So that drives the cost up.
Our plan with the reforms that we're making is going to open the insurance market and with competition, prices are going to go down. And so I feel very certain.
But as far as making just a blanket guarantee, I'm not going to do that, and I don't think anybody can do that. But I feel certain it's going to be better than it was the way it was, because we know what happened with the way it was. My insurance, I'm 62 years old, and it has been going up for the last six years.
KEILAR: You look much younger than that, I will say, Congressman.
YOHO: It is the camera.
KEILAR: Is it does not take years away. It adds them. No, OK, the bill, though, you don't think it's perfect, right?
YOHO: Absolutely not, no.
KEILAR: Where do you see the issues in that bill, even though you voted yes for it?
YOHO: There are several things in there.
One of them is -- and this is one of my big bone of contentions. I said it leaves the skeleton or framework of the Affordable Care Act. Under the Affordable Care Act, subsidies came into play, first time in American history, outside of Medicare and Medicaid or the VA, where we would tax citizens, take money from them, give it to other people to subsidize health care.
This bill, the American Health Care Act, gets rid of that, repeals it, but then it goes in and replaces it with advanceable refundable tax credits. It's the same thing. And it is government-controlled health care. And we know from just history--
KEILAR: How is it the same thing?
YOHO: Because you are taxing people, taking money from them to give to other people to buy health care. And so it is the same thing.
It is government running health care in a sense. And that's the thing that if that scaffolding stays in place, future Congresses can come back and add to that. And that's why it is so important that we went ahead and we got this passed, so that we can get as many reforms in this as we can. The other thing, you know, you look at the 23 taxes that were under
the Affordable Care Act. Those are gone. The individual and the employer mandates, those are gone. The penalty where the government says we're going to fine you for not doing what we say you have to do, those are gone.
And this will open up the market. And you are going to see an expansion on jobs on this, too. One of the things under the Affordable Care Act is they lowered the full-time work from 40 hours down to 30. We are going to change that back under the -- Dr. Price will do that as secretary.
KEILAR: Take a look at this scene yesterday.
YOHO: Can I turn this way?
KEILAR: You are familiar with it. Yes, you can just look at one of those screens. OK, this is the scene yesterday in the Rose Garden.
YOHO: It was a great scene.
KEILAR: But you have to admit, Congressman, that this is highly unusual for a bill that has not passed both chambers. Isn't this like celebrating at halftime?
It's like going -- that's why you go into the huddle. You go into there to celebrate the things you did well.
KEILAR: But this is not normal.
YOHO: Well, it is a different presidency.
But I think this is the kind of thing we need to do more of, because the Senate is going to look at this and they are saying, you know what, these guys are serious about getting this over there. They are going to see the support with that many senators, or, I mean, that many congressmen at the Rose Garden, spur of the moment, to come show the president that we're supporting what he's doing.
Now it's time for the Senate to act. And I think you are going to see a different Senate dynamic.
KEILAR: But couldn't the Senate just leave you high and dry and make you silly--
YOHO: Of course they could.
KEILAR: -- being there in the Rose Garden?
YOHO: But who are they leaving high and dry? Us? Or are they leaving the American people high and dry? KEILAR: Well, some -- I think it seems like a lot of House
Republicans, including yourself, who voted for the bill, the expectation is it's not going to look like this when it comes back to you.
YOHO: Well, we have to wait and see.
KEILAR: Are you banking on that? Are you banking on some changes that you think--
YOHO: No, I know there's always some changes.
KEILAR: But are you banking on changes in the Senate that you think will actually make it a better bill, that you will feel it's a better bill?
YOHO: I think some things. We have talked to some several senators. They want some plans, some different things changed in there. But I don't want to go into that now.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman, well, we will get into that later. All right, Congressman Ted Yoho, thank you so much. Always appreciate you being with us.
YOHO: Hey, thank you. Have great weekend.
KEILAR: You as well.
And just ahead, Democratic reaction. Congressman Ruben Gallego is standing by to join us live and react.
We will be right back.
KEILAR: Tonight, the Senate is signaling that it sees the newly passed House health care bill as just a starting point and it plans to craft its own legislation.
I want to get more now with Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego from Arizona.
And first off, Congressman, I want to play a segment, a little segment of video for you from the House floor yesterday. And then we will follow up on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I want to thank the president of the United States for his steadfast leadership. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D), ARIZONA: Where's the score? Where's the score?
RYAN: In his address -- Mr. Speaker?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House will be in order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So was that you, yelling, where's the score?
GALLEGO: Yes, it was.
I was demanding, because I think everyone needs to know what is going on here, what is the CBO score, how many people are going to be without health insurance? And, really, this has just one big lie laid that has been laid upon the American public by Speaker Ryan and the Republicans, trying to rush this bill through.
There is no reason why they're rushing it through. They are just trying to rush it through before the CBO score comes out try basically to get this vote done because they are afraid of what the truth is.
KEILAR: But I remember Republicans yelling things on the floor once. I was near the chamber when someone yelled baby killer. Someone yelled you lie at President Obama when he was in the chamber.
With that in light, have you thought about that yesterday? Do you stand by that? Was that a good decision?
GALLEGO: Well, what is a really bad decision is the fact that 24 million people are going to lose health insurance. What is a really bad decision..
KEILAR: OK. So, we will talk about that. So, you don't regret yelling, basically?
GALLEGO: No. No. No.
KEILAR: OK. OK.
GALLEGO: This is a new time in politics, where people are just blatantly lying and essentially producing policies that are going to kill people.
So, I think the old time of civility needs to go, until we actually go back to the rules. But right now we are about to kick off 24 million off health insurance. Somebody yelling for accountability and asking for CBO is not the thing we should really be worried about.
KEILAR: So, does it give you any comfort when you look at this bill, which, as you're right, it has not been scored. We don't know cost of it. We don't know if and how many people would lose coverage, although there is an expectation of that.
Does it give you comfort knowing that this is not bill that ultimately we will see, if we see a bill at all?
GALLEGO: Absolutely not, because two things are occurring here.
Number one, Trump has no idea what he is talking about. I mean, just yesterday, he was praising the universal health care system of Australia while trying to destroy our health care system.
Two, Paul Ryan has absolutely no morals when it comes to what he hopes to bring in terms of health insurance. He is more focused on making sure that the top 1 percent gets their tax cut than to make sure that Americans have lower premiums and more coverage.
You know, we have heard in politics all time that you are robbing Peter to pay Paul. In this instance, we are essentially going to be killing Peter to make sure that Paul gets his tax cut. And that's going to be something that I think will be a blemish upon the Republican Party for many years to come.
KEILAR: But you say the speaker has no morals?
He has been amoral about this whole situation. He has lied repeatedly about what is going to be the outcome of this insurance bill when it comes to individual coverage, when it comes to essential benefits, when it comes to, you know, the amount of people that are going to be covered altogether.
And let's look at the facts. He is rushing this through right now just to make sure that there is no CBO score. And for what? Basically to satisfy the ego of President Donald Trump. That is all that this is about.
KEILAR: So, what would you do? Because your state of Arizona is an example, it is often held up as an example of how the ACA is failing constituents when you're talking about the cost of premiums.
What would you do? What are a few policy solutions that you want to improve Obamacare?
GALLEGO: Oh, absolutely.
Number one, you should look at also Arizona, because we are a full Medicaid expansion state, something that I worked on when I was in the statehouse as leadership. We passed it with a Republican governor, Republican state Senate, Republican state House.
And we have brought health insurance to 400,000 people and have been able to bring down premiums overall.
Number two, you need to reinsure the risk corridors, something that the Republicans essentially sabotaged and made it more expensive because essentially insurance companies were not being helped out while taking care of the neediest of people.
Lastly, you know, I think it is also important that we start assuming and/or moving to allowing more people to jump onto Medicare, especially people that are getting closer and closer to retirement age.
I think that would relieve a lot of pressure when it comes to the insurance markets and, at the same time, you know, bring more coverage even to younger people who also really do want to be part of the insurance system.
KEILAR: Now, Democrats, obviously, are going to wield this vote that House Republicans took like a weapon against them in the midterms.
But I wonder if you think that it may also be important for your party to take a position, to have a plan, not just about why the Republican plan is, in your estimation, terrible, but what Democrats would do to improve Obamacare?
GALLEGO: Well, we have always been on record to work with the Republicans, Donald Trump and whoever else we can to improve the Affordable Health Care Act.
KEILAR: I guess I'm talking about taking a clear policy position, not just saying that you are available to be consulted, but a clear policy plan that would offer voters a clear alternative.
GALLEGO: Sure. Right.
And to be clear, we have. We have talked about how we are going to bring down premiums. We talked about ensuring that people stay on Medicaid and also other health care reforms that would help bring down the cost curve of health care.
We have talked about making sure that we could bring down the eligibility age for Medicare, so more people would be able to join Medicare at a younger age and have healthier lives into your senior years.
These are the kind of conversations that we have been having for many years. And we believe that the Affordable Health Care Act can be improved. What we know for a fact, though, is that what the Republicans have introduced in Trumpcare is not a replacement to the Affordable Health Care Act. It is an entire destruction of our health care system, disguised in health insurance, just to make sure that the top 1 percent gets a very, very nice tax cut.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman Ruben Gallego from Arizona, thank you so much for joining us.
And we do have breaking news that is coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. It actually appears that another major candidate in a presidential
election is claiming that he has been hacked and documents are being posted on the Internet. We are going to bring you details straight ahead.
KEILAR: We have some breaking news coming in. As Congress and the FBI investigate alleged Russian hacking into the U.S. presidential election, we're getting word of another leak of documents associated with one of the candidates in this weekend's presidential election in France.
[18:33:24] I want to bring in CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
This is like deja vu, Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. Alarming deja vu, and it's happening right now.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials have been telling us for some time that Russia, emboldened by its interference with the U.S. election, might try to do the same in Europe, in France, in Germany. Elections happening this year.
What we're seeing now, just tonight, less than 36 hours before the French presidential election, certainly fits this pattern. Though it's not clear yet who's behind it. The target here, Emmanuel Macron. He is the front-runner by a large margin in the French presidential election over the nationalist, Marine Le Pen. A massive dump of documents, some nine gigabytes of e-mails, photos, very much just up to April 24, a little more than a week ago, all of these files coming out right now released on the Internet.
Now, the Macron campaign confirming this leak, saying that they've been the victim of a massive, in their words, coordinated hack. Though they go on to say that these e-mails show nothing illegal, just the normal communications of a campaign.
But listen, Brianna, you said it. It fits the pattern. We're familiar with what we saw during the U.S. presidential election campaign. Very targeted dumps, targeting Hillary Clinton and her campaign. And now, just before the election in France, something very similar.
U.S. intelligence, French intelligence not saying definitively that this is Russia, but it certainly fits a pattern that we've seen here -- Brianna.
KEILAR: They're not saying definitively, but do you think we will learn that in the coming days?
SCIUTTO: Well, this is just coming out right now. We do know that the Macron campaign before tonight has said that they've been targeted by hacking, that they believe the origin of which is Russia. But remember, it took the U.S. Intelligence Committee some matter of weeks before it went public with its own assessment that those hacks of DNC e-mails, et cetera, were perpetrated by Russia. But remember, it took the U.S. Intelligence Committee some matter of weeks before it went public with its own assessment that those hacks of DNC e-mails, et cetera were perpetrated by Russia it took them some time, so you'd have to imagine here it would take some time to determine that with -- with certainty.
But again, it's that pattern that people I speak to keep coming back with, and this fits the pattern.
KEILAR: And we don't know what the effect of the information in this -- in this hacking is going to be, right?
SCIUTTO: Of course we don't know. People, though, it's out on the Internet now. You could imagine, people are going to be reading it--
SCIUTTO: -- over the next 24 hours. You find embarrassing communications in there, it's possible.
Is it enough to turn an election where the front-runner, Macron, by many of the polls, has a lead of 20 percent? Who knows? But as you and I know from our own experience, polling does not always match up with the final result. So this is really an alarming development just in the final hours before that election.
KEILAR: Yes. Maybe this could depress voter turnout. We'll see.
Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
KEILAR: I want to get more now with our specialists and our analysts. We have Jackie Kucinich, Mark Preston with us; Jeffrey Toobin and Ron Brownstein.
Ron, react to this, that we're basically seeing a repeat happening now in the French election.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it just goes to show, I think, how misplaced the original reaction was in the U.S.
You know, I live in Los Angeles now; and I remember when North Korea hacked Sony, the original reaction was, "Wow, aren't all of these details fascinating." And it was only after time that people realized the more important story was that a foreign intelligence service had hacked an American company.
The same was true here in the U.S. Last summer when the DNC information and then the John Podesta information came out. In the media and public, the initial reaction was, "Wow, look at all of this kind of inside look at, you know, what's happening behind closed doors," when, in fact, the larger story from the beginning was Russia interfering systematically in the U.S. election and, as Jim said, emboldened by that.
I don't think anybody is surprised that they -- if, in fact, this turns out to be Russia interfering in France, maybe interfering in Germany, all with the goal of weakening the western alliance and promoting candidates who they see as supporting the weakening of the western alliance. So I think this kind of is a retroactive reminder that the bigger issue here from the beginning has not been the partisan advantage. It's been kind of the systematic attack on our institutions by a foreign intelligence service.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: If I could add, it is not coincidental that it was to help Trump and to help Le Pen. Both of whom, as we were just saying, is -- are trying to weaken the western alliance. It's not that they are just randomly so in chaos, Russia.
They are helping candidates that they believe will help Russian interests.
KEILAR: It is strategic.
TOOBIN: Remember, Le Pen went to Moscow in the middle of the campaign. I mean, she has made no bones about the fact that she wants a closer relationship with Russia. We've spent months detailing the context between the Trump campaign and Russia. So again, it is not a coincidence that they are helping Le Pen just as they helped Trump.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know what's interesting about this, too, Brianna, is that the Russians have been doing this for a very long time. If you go back to the early '60s, Tim Naftali was telling me on my Sirius XM radio show, that they were the ones that were putting out a lot of false information about the conspiracy theories about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
So again, this isn't new for the Russians, but they are certainly finding a lot of success.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But I think this is why it's so important these investigations into the Russian hacking are taken seriously so this can be prevented next time the U.S. has an election. And so this doesn't happen again in this country and perhaps other countries can learn from whatever is found.
KEILAR: I want to turn now and talk about health care, although I could talk -- it seems like this is sort of the new political warfare or the new warfare. We can talk about this for a long, long time.
But I want to talk about some of the folks, Jackie, who voted yes. Even Republicans who voted no who are still vulnerable because of this House vote.
Who really stands out to you as incredibly vulnerable? And how much of an impact might this have, or is it too soon to tell, in the midterms?
KUCINICH: Certainly, those 14 members who voted for this bill are returning home to ads. Democrats are ready for this. Someone like a Carlos Curbelo. The California Republicans. California Democrats are looking at this as a campaign issue. This is an opening for some of these members that have been there for a while.
KEILAR: These are all of the folks who -- they won, even though Hillary Clinton won their districts.
KUCINICH: Absolutely. So those are the people that are going to be in the crosshairs. But look, Charlie Cook, I think, adjusted 20 races, as a result of this vote, and one of them, to your point, was Kauffman, from Colorado, he voted "no" on this bill. And yet, he's still in trouble. So to your point, it didn't really matter. This bill is bad.
[18:40:04] KEILAR: We saw Democrats vote "no" on Obamacare and still losing their jobs on that.
PRESTON: Yes, I mean, this is certainly something that's going to, no matter how you did vote, if you're a Republican, you are going to wear this, as Hillary -- rather Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi said the other day. They're going to tattoo it on your forehead, and they're going to make you own this bill, which is anyways, I'm still surprised. While it was a short-time political win. It's -- I thought it was a long term, bad political strategy, Brianna, to actually put these Republicans into that corner and force them to take this--
KEILAR: Ron -- and Ron, you wrote an article in the Atlantic about this very topic, what this means for the midterms for Republicans.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Yes, I mean, you look -- you look, 14 of the 23 Republicans in districts that Clinton won voted for it. More broadly, 46 of the 61 in districts that voted Democratic in either 2016, '12 or '08 for president voted for it.
But I think the key is the California contingent. I mean, you know, California has been such a reliably blue state. We are used to it being a bystander in national elections.
But this vote, I think, puts it right at ground zero for the 2018 election. Because California is a state that probably benefitted the most from the Affordable Care Act, nearly 4 million people gaining coverage, a decline in the insurance rate of over 50 percent.
And yet every California Republican in the House voted to repeal the law, including all seven in districts that Hillary Clinton carried, some of them by considerable margins. And I think that, you know, if you look at those seven who are out there. And to some extent, it's a failure by Democrats to mount more effective challenges against them in 2016 when Clinton won the state by more than any Democrat since FDR in '36.
But for 2018, this means more money, more recruitment, more focus. And there's probably no way for Democrats to win back the House.
KEILAR: It's a great piece worth checking out in "The Atlantic," for sure, if you're trying to figure out what this vote means.
I want to ask you, Jeffrey, about this -- well, really, it was a double-down, a tweet by President Trump when it comes to us Australia's health care system, right? He compliments Australia's prime minister. He says, "You have better health care than us. Of course, they have universal health care.
And then you have the spokeswoman for the White House Sarah Huckabee Sanders trying to just say what I think a lot of us think is true, that he was just trying to be complimentary. This wasn't a real deep dive on policy.
But then Trump tweets out again that everyone has better health care than the U.S. Isn't this odd for him to be talking about this so soon after this win?
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, look, you know, we know Donald Trump, you know, he says intemperate things now and then. But I think, you know, what's gone on with this health care bill, there's another participant here who is very important. And that's us in the news media.
Is that, you know, we are going to hear so many claims and, frankly, Republicans saying, like you just -- you just had the congressman saying, oh, you know, pre-existing conditions are all taken care of.
You know, we have to be accurate, and we have to be fair in saying that that's not true. That is just not true. That this bill does not protect people with pre-existing conditions in the way that they had been protected of under the Affordable Care Act.
And I think we have to be very careful and very accurate in terms of what actually is in this bill. And the Congressional Budget Office will help, too.
KUCINICH: And Jackie, real quick to you, final word. Speaker Ryan said the opposite of what Jeffrey is saying there. He says it does protect. What does that mean for him?
KUCINICH: I mean, Speaker Ryan has -- his popularity has gone done since Donald Trump has taken the presidency. And perhaps down the line, it will question his leadership ability, ability to lead this conference. If those -- if that doesn't come true.
KEILAR: He's in a tough spot.
KEILAR: Jackie and Mark, thank you so much. Jeffrey, Ron, do appreciate it.
And just ahead, with tensions already high, North Korea accuses the U.S. of working with South Korea on a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:48:43] KEILAR: On top of repeated threats of nuclear war, tonight, North Korea is making a new acquisition against the U.S.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is working this story for us.
Tell about this rather bizarre story, Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Bizarre to say the least, Brianna. North Korea claiming the U.S. is behind an assassination plot. What's their motivation for saying this? That maybe the big question.
STARR (voice-over): North Korea has accused the U.S. and South Korea of plotting to assassinate Kim Jong-un with a biochemical substance. Is it just propaganda or could it possibly be true?
North Korea's state-run news agency made the assassination claim in extraordinary detail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): An atrocious terrorist group that was planted inside North Korea under a covert and meticulous preparation by the CIA and South Korea's National Intelligence Service for the purpose of committing a biochemical terror against our supreme leadership was recently detected.
STARR: A U.S. intelligence official declined to comment. A South Korean official said their government knew nothing about it.
A Pentagon spokesman telling reporters --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm familiar with the media reports, but familiar with no reality that would match them.
[18:50:01] STARR: North Korea has had a history of making unfounded claims. CNN was not able to independently corroborate this latest allegation.
SETH ROGEN, ACTOR: You want us to assassinate the leader of North Korea?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?
STARR: But it all sounds like the move "The Interview" which angered Kim and he accused the U.S. government of being behind the making of the film. It's widely believed he ordered a 2014 cyber attack on Sony Pictures in retaliation.
A former CIA officer says the latest allegation is not credible.
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: First of all, there's no authority. The CIA would need what's called a lethal finding, which has to be approved by Congress and the president, something like that would leak out immediately. And, secondly, it doesn't have the capability to operate in North Korea. It's a police state, complete lockdown. There are no CIA agents running around.
STARR: North Korea, now a priority for U.S. Special Operations Forces. The top commander openly telling Congress he's increasingly getting ready for what he calls contingencies in Korea.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Countering Russian aggression is the number two priority, is that correct, General Thomas?
GEN. RAYMOND THOMAS, COMMANDER, U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND: I'll tell you. It's being challenged by our preparations for Korea.
STARR: Those preparations are making Special Operations Forces able in the event of war to attack North Korean nuclear sites and even secretly conduct sabotage missions, a defense official tells CNN.
STARR: So, what could be North Korea's motivation? U.S. officials say when North Korea does things like this, which can't be corroborated and appear unfounded may be trying to make a message for its own people to appear to be stronger, to appear that the regime feels the West is their enemy -- Brianna.
KEILAR: It could be internal messaging.
Barbara Starr, thank you so much, reporting for us from the Pentagon.
Just ahead, "River of Blood". A solemn plaque at President Trump's Virginia golf club. It's said to mark the site of a Civil War battle but historians say it never took place.
[18:56:35] KEILAR: Civil war monuments and memorials dot the Eastern U.S. but a plaque on one of President Trump's golf courses is getting a lot of attention.
CNN's Brian Todd explains -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this is one of the crown jewels amongst President Trump's luxury properties but history is a serious subject in this area along the Potomac and scholars say a prominent feature right in the middle of Mr. Trump's golf course here blatantly mischaracterizes history.
(voice-over): On the banks of the Potomac River, Donald Trump spent millions renovating a golf club here.
TRUMP: This is a very special property. I bought it six years ago at the height of a bad market. The world was collapsing. I saw something that was very special. TODD: Between the 14th and 15th holes of the Trump National Golf Club
in northern Virginia, a stunning view of the Potomac River and a stone monument with a flagpole. Patrons are treated not only to manicured greens and fairways, but also to a tribute to a Civil War battle. The inscription reads, quote, "Many great American soldiers both of the North and South died at this spot. The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as the River of Blood", a compelling inspirational narrative with one problem.
RICHARD GILLESPIE, HISTORIAN, MOSBY HERITAGE ASSOCIATION: It didn't happen. There was no mass bloodletting at this point along the Potomac River.
TODD: Local historians Richard Gillespie and Jim Morgan have made their careers on researching what happened here during the Civil War.
GILLESPIE: Confederate patrols, walked along this same path, four man patrols.
TODD: Gillespie says the only troops known to have died near this point on Lowes Island were two Union soldiers who crossed from the Maryland side and were killed by Southern farmers in 1861.
Morgan says there was one significant skirmish at Ball's Bluff but that was about 10 miles upriver.
JIM MORGAN, HISTORIAN, MOSBY HERITAGE ASSOCIATION: A lot of federal casualties. There were some 223, I believe, men killed, federals, killed, and many of their bodies, perhaps 100 to 150 of their bodies, washed down the river.
TODD: Still, too far away, these historians say, for the claim on Trump's plaque to be accurate.
We weren't allowed to videotape on the golf club's grounds and the general manager declined to speak to us on camera. As we skirted along the river, Gillespie showed us another important spot just a few yards from Trump's plaque.
(on camera): Just a stone's throw over here, there was an important event during the war?
MORGAN: Yes, that's Rowsers Ford, stony crossing across the river. That's where General JEB Stuart took his confederate cavalry corps across the river, June 27th-28th, 1863, on the way to join General Lee at Gettysburg.
TODD: And no bloodshed of that?
MORGAN: No bloodshed on a post crossing.
TODD: When "The New York Times" first reported this story, Trump defended the plaque. Quote, "That was a prime site for river crossings. So, people are crossing the river and you happen to be in the civil war, I would say that people were shot, a lot of them." Trump said several historians had told his aides that the site of the
plaque was known as the River of Blood but he couldn't name the historians. Trump called "The New York Times", quote, "Many people were shot. It makes sense."
Gillespie and Morgan say Trump's plaque doesn't bother them since it's on private property.
GILLESPIE: It's overblown, overspoken, perhaps. It doesn't offend me. Perhaps somewhat amuses me.
TODD (on camera): Even though he didn't want to speak to us on camera, the club's general manager called President Trump a great man. And on the plaque he said, who's to say that didn't happen?
Several club members wouldn't talk to us on camera either. But one member told me, quote, "I'm sick of everything being blamed on President Trump" -- Brianna.
It doesn't offense me. Somewhat amuses me.
KEILAR: Brian Todd, thank you.
I am Brianna Keilar. Thank you so much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.