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Senate GOP Leaders to Meet Tomorrow to Discuss Bill; Sally Yates and James Clapper to Testify on Russia Probe; Protesters Hit the Streets After Historic Vote in France; Kushner Pitch Chinese Investors with U.S. Visa Promise; Trump to Unveil Names of 10 Nominees to Federal Courts;. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 8, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Fall apart and said, oh, my god, look at the disaster, and forgot to say in parentheticals that we created. This is a thing that could have been easily avoided by just simply amending the process instead of trying to destroy it and then trying to start from scratch, which of course is now where the Senate has to end up.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Kayleigh, this is only a win for the Trump administration if you actually get a bill passed, if you actually get something signed into law. So then Susan Collins comes out, Republican senator, and says, this is never coming before the Senate, we're starting from scratch. And then you have Dave Brett, a congressman from the House and the Freedom Caucus, saying if they change one iota, you're not going to have 218 votes.

Where does that leave this White House on this?

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: With a lot of work to do. You know, there's no doubt about it. You have at least four senators who are saying, look, I reject the Medicaid provisions and the pre-existing provisions of the House.


MCENANY: And you have three on the other end, on the conservative wing, the Rand Paul side, saying, I don't want to give an entitlement in the form of tax credits. So this is a gargantuan, monstrous task they have ahead. And it's going to take coming together. It's going to take compromise on part of the Freedom Caucus. And I think one thing they could do, add some teeth to this pre-existing conditions waiver, say, look, states, you have to prove to us you have a working system before you get a waiver, and if we give you one, we're going to put in a revocation provision that says we can take back that waiver if in fact it stops working. And it's going to take negotiating on both sides. The question is, can it be done?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, the issue there -- and again, as I can see Democrats saying, yes, well, Tom Price, you know, from HHS, is going to be the guy who determines that waiver? I could still see them saying that's problematic there but it would have more teeth, absolutely, than the current system. Angela Rye, to the notion that you are having insurers now pull out of

states, you know, in Virginia there could be several counties with only one insurer. In Iowa, you know, there are insurers pulling out left, right and center. Some counties with no options or barely any options at this point. There's a problem right now that's going on with health care. The system cannot stay exactly as it is, can it, Angela?

RYE: No, it can't. And I think that's the point I was getting to earlier on. When you sabotage a system by trying to repeal it over and over again with no solutions, this is where you end up. So I think Senator Manchin actually said it best talking about this new plan. Medicaid -- taking Medicaid away from folks in West Virginia is just as problematic as someone in an inner city. You have to figure out how to strengthen and bolster a system. Health care is not a partisan issue. It is a right, contrary to what Raul Labrador and lots of other folks believe and actually say. This is something that we need to work on together.

I think the president said it best yesterday when he said we have to have the courage to ensure that United States citizens are covered.

HARLOW: And covered in a way that's affordable because that's a complaint I've heard from a lot of folks about Obamacare. They can't afford it.

RYE: Poppy --

HARLOW: But also on the other side, Angela -- I've got to get Kayleigh for a last word. But also on the other side, the unaffordability issue plays both ways here.

Kayleigh, final thoughts here. I just want your response to what Reince Priebus said this weekend on FOX News talking about Republicans being rewarded for this. Listen.


REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: There are sometimes in life you have to do what's right, not what's politically expedient. We're going to do our jobs as legislators to get this thing done. I think that the Republican Party will be rewarded.


HARLOW: I mean, maybe, you know, we were talking earlier about those 63 Democrats who lost their seats after voting for Obamacare, Kayleigh. Is this something, a tough vote that is going to reward Republican lawmakers in the end?

MCENANY: It will be determined by the facts on the ground. Look, if people are able to keep coverage and premiums come down, which the CBO score shows premiums coming down but also people losing coverage, if they can ameliorate the first half, make sure people keep coverage, they will be rewarded in the end, and I do think it's important to point out, Obamacare, it's not just an amending issue, it is in an actuarial death spiral, according to one insurer -- those were his words.

It's falling apart at the seams. Amending won't work. Repealing is what's necessary, but Republicans do need to keep in mind the consequences of their own bill.

RYE: What CBO score, though, Kayleigh? Yes, I just -- Kayleigh referenced the CBO score just quickly. The CBO score was from the bill two months ago, so I think we owe it to the American people to be honest about that.

BERMAN: We have no CBO score on the current bill. That is a fact as it stands right now.

Kayleigh, Angela, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

RYE: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right. Coming up for us, it's not just Sally Yates testifying today. Also the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is on the hot seat. Why his testimony is so critical. We'll dive into that next.


[10:38:51] BERMAN: All right, in just a few hours, we are going to hear from former acting attorney general Sally Yates. What did she tell the White House about Michael Flynn's contacts with Russia before she was fired by the president?

HARLOW: And joining us, CNN counterintelligence analyst Philip Mudd, a former CIA counterterrorism official.

Nice to have you here. If you were questioning Sally Yates, what would your number one question be to her today?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: What did you tell the White House and what was the urgency with which you told the White House? The second question is going to be, can you give me some background on the seriousness of the allegations?

Poppy, one of the problems, just to close here, that she's going to have when she answers that question, and I guarantee it's going to come up is, she's got to be careful talking about the specifics of individual Americans, Michael Flynn, because she was privy to private information. But that question of what did you tell him and what was the message that you got and the urgency they got it with I think is the number one question.

BERMAN: Why does the urgency matter so much, Phil? Because the White House acknowledges that Sally Yates told them, told the White House counsel, Don McGahn, got a heads-up, the White House says. So why does it matter if it was an urgent heads-up as opposed to say a casual heads-up?

MUDD: Well, the question they've got is two-fold. First, why did it take them so long to ask him to leave the White House? [10:40:04] But the second is a serious question about ethics at the

White House. If you're getting a warning that someone has inappropriate contacts with foreign officials, one of your questions has to be, is it appropriate for that person to sit around the table when we're having sensitive policy discussions about that issue? So I want to know whether the message was, you know, there's something going on you ought to think about. I doubt that's what she's going to say. I think the message is going to embarrass the White House today, John, and I think it's going to be -- forget about a heads-up. I walked over as a senior Justice official to tell them one of their people was doing something completely inappropriate and they sat on it for a while.

HARLOW: And the reason why it matters is her belief -- and we'll hear more about this today -- that Russia could have leverage over Michael Flynn and could use him to their -- whatever they would like to see because of those communications that were not disclosed.

Let me ask you about Carter Page, right? You were on another not-to- be-named network --

BERMAN: Moonlighting.

HARLOW: Moonlighting.

BERMAN: Two-timing us.

HARLOW: And you're talking about Carter Page --

MUDD: Excuse me?


HARLOW: You were talking about Carter Page. And the fact that we know he came out on Friday and said he's not going to give these committees the details of his conversations with the Russians. He sort of quipped, they can go ask the Obama administration for those, alluding to surveillance and the FISA warrants, et cetera.

MUDD: Yes.

HARLOW: But you said look, he's chump change, don't pay attention to Carter Page. Why do you think he doesn't matter at all?

MUDD: He matters halfway. What I was saying is he's out in the public domain, and therefore, people like me talk about him. Other people, for example, Paul Manafort, are less out in the public domain, there's less information, they're engaging less with the media, so Carter Page is the subject of an attack because he's made himself a public figure. That said, I do believe we shouldn't underestimate the fact that the Russians might have seen him as a great access point in the campaign. Forget about whether he was senior or not, he knows a lot about who was who, who was making decisions on policies, what Starbucks they went to. That kind of information for an intelligence officer's pretty valuable. BERMAN: And Phil, you make the case that you think the FBI is doing

behind the scenes -- and this is quite separate from the congressional investigation.

MUDD: Yes.

BERMAN: You think the FBI is trying to find someone to flip, trying to find someone to lean on and do what?

MUDD: Ask them to talk about other people, typically more senior targets in the investigation, because remember, half the story here can't be told. They're not going to talk to the Russians, so they've got to look at things like travel records, financial records, interviews. They've got to look at discrepancies in interviews, which is one reason this takes so long. If somebody lied in September, you've got to go talk to them again in January, and they're looking for one person, two people to say, well, instead of going to federal prison, I'd be happy to give you the real scoop. That's critically important when they can't talk to the Russians.

HARLOW: All right. Stop going on those other networks, and we'll have you back.


BERMAN: Phil Mudd, thank you very much. Stay loyal.

MUDD: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. On the streets right now, growing protests, this after an historic election there. Not much of a victory lap for the new president-elect. What does this all mean? We'll be there live next.


[10:46:57] HARLOW: All right, at this moment in the streets of Paris, riot police accompanied by many, many, many protesters who have gathered there, many of them union members. They're protesting what is an historic election in France.

BERMAN: Yes, a few hours ago, the president-elect, Emmanuel Macron, he met with the outgoing president, Francois Hollande. Francois Hollande announced the inauguration for the new president will be Sunday. They don't mess around in France.

Want to go to the streets of Paris, back to what we were seeing before, those protests with the riot police. That's where we find Isa Soares. Not much of a honeymoon for the president-elect in France, Isa.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, not a honeymoon, John, and definitely not a victory lap, at least with the images that we've been seeing this morning. What started off as 300 or 400 people now led to 1,000. Now as you can see behind me starting to disperse somewhat, but this is -- this was yesterday a historic election. We saw many people who didn't even expect to get to the final two make it to the presidency, to the Champs Elysees, against a woman who obviously also a populist that many didn't expect to get to the number two. She lost, of course. She wanted to win. She lost, but it is a huge number for her, more than 30 percent or so, something that her father, who started the party, couldn't even achieve.

But what you have now, John, is pretty much a divided country. More than 11 million people voted for Marine Le Pen. Almost 10 percent who voted blank, and that basically means not wanting one or the other candidate. And whilst we're hearing so many people say, you know, he is -- Macron is the new JFK, many are worried here about what that will mean for them because he doesn't represent them.

I've been traveling up and down the country to get a sense of what worries people, and people feel disillusioned by the elites, by the political parties. And although he has got a new movement, he doesn't a party yet, it's a movement, many are very worried about his reforms and what he's promising, and the fact that many say he belongs to the elites -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Isa Soares for us in Paris right now, just a few days to get ready to take over for the fifth republic.


BERMAN: Isa, thank you very, very much.

HARLOW: All right, coming up, new concerns this morning about the Trump administration and conflicts of interest. This time, it involves Jared Kushner's sister and wealthy business owners in China. Wait until you hear this.


[10:53:31] BERMAN: All right, an apology this morning by the company owned by Jared Kushner's family after a pitch to Chinese investors by Kushner's sister seemed to suggest that an investment would give them access to this administration.

HARLOW: Our Cristina Alesci on the conflict of interest beat joins us now. This was stunning when I was reading it as it was developing. I was like, that really happened? That really happened?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Essentially what this boils down to is it suggests the Kushner family is willing to use its proximity to the administration for personal benefit.

Here's what happened. The Kushners are trying to court wealthy Chinese investors through a program called EB-5. Under EB-5 a wealthy person can invest $500,000 in a job-creating program, like the real estate development, in exchange, that person gets a path to citizenship.

Now here's the problem, though, the EB-5 is controversial for its own reasons. The problem is, during this presentation, Jared's sister drops Jared's name in the presentation and his role in the administration. Also, the investors, the prospective investors were shown a slide with Donald Trump's picture on it that suggests he was a key decision-maker in the EB-5 program.

Now based on our reporter who was in the room, people came away with the impression that a Kushner investment was safer because of this direct connection with the administration versus another EB-5 program that a competing developer --


HARLOW: They can't get rid of this program.

ALESCI: Exactly.

[10:55:02] So the Kushner organization this morning apologizing, saying, quote-unquote, "Miss Meyer wanted to make clear that her brother had stepped away from the company in January and has nothing to do with this project. Kushner Companies apologizes if that mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors. That was not Miss Meyer's intention."

But here's the thing, we are talking about China. In this culture, proximity to power is valuable, and family connections are also valuable, so it's very likely that the Kushners and the organizers knew what those images and what those words would relay to the audience.

BERMAN: She chose to talk about her brother. She chose to talk about the fact her brother works in the White House. She chose -- or maybe she didn't choose -- but certainly someone there knew there was a picture of the president up on there on the screen as well. This stuff sends a clear message.

HARLOW: Nothing ever happened. Like there's outrage, and then --

ALESCI: I've been reporting on conflicts of interest for months and months and people are outraged. Ethics experts are laughing at this apology today. They're on Twitter harassing the administration, and essentially, it seems like, you know, it doesn't really stick in terms of the impact to the family, in terms of the impact to the administration. But the other problem here is that the administration, Donald Trump does hold sway over the fate of this controversial program that directly benefits his family. There is conflicts everywhere. It's riddled with them.

BERMAN: You know, and again, EB-5 visas are controversial because you're selling visas. I mean, outright.

HARLOW: It's easier for rich people to become citizens than poor people.

BERMAN: You can buy. Yes.

ALESCI: And that's why members of Congress, some of them don't want to end the funding of this program --

HARLOW: Sure. And it was going on under President Obama, too. This program is not new.


HARLOW: Thank you.

ALESCI: Of course.

BERMAN: Cristina Alesci, thank you so much.

HARLOW: All right. President Trump unveiling the names of 10 nominees to fill federal judgeships today.

BERMAN: Yes, two of those from a short list to be possible Supreme Court picks. This list was disclosed by the Trump campaign during the election season.

Want to bring in CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett.

Laura, you know, 10 names, clearly the administration, as any does, wants to try to remake the judiciary in its ideological image.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, that's exactly right, John, and President Trump is expected to announce, as you said, a slew of conservative judges to the federal bench later today, both federal district court judges as well as federal appeals court judges. Of particular note, we've got several from the list of past Supreme Court nominees. Number one, Joan Larsen, who's expected to go to the Sixth Circuit. She's on the Michigan Supreme Court. We have also got David Stras, hailing from Minnesota, expected to go to the Eighth Circuit, as well as a professor at Notre Dame, Amy Barrett, going to the Sixth Circuit. And finally, Kevin Newsom who is going to the 11th Circuit and he clerked for Justice Souter.

So lots of former Supreme Court clerks now going to the federal bench as President Trump starts to begin to fulfill those 120, roughly 120 vacancies on the federal bench -- John.

HARLOW: Laura, also, the president's travel ban today, 2.0, if you will. Big day in court. What happens?

JARRETT: Yes. Yes, that's right. The travel ban is back in the spotlight, so to speak, today, in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. And you'll remember back in March, Maryland-based federal judge blocked the core provision of the travel ban that banned foreign nationals from six Muslim majority countries from coming to the U.S. and so the crux of the issue for the Fourth Circuit today will be whether the district court got the law right when he examined Trump's statements from the campaign.

As you will remember, he made a litany of different statements about Muslims. And so, the question will be whether he was allowed to look at those statements from the campaign when evaluating the constitutionality of this executive order -- Poppy.

BERMAN: How much longer do we have in this appeals process at this point, Laura? What's next and where? JARRETT: Well, so the case will go before the full bench today on the

Fourth Circuit. And we were actually hearing about two significant recusals actually. We were accepting all 15 judges, but we've now learned that two of the more conservative-leaning judges who have recused themselves, Judge Harvey Wilkinson and Judge Duncan. So that means 10, 10 Democratically appointed judges will be hearing this travel ban case, 10 out of the 13. And so after this, the next stop is the Supreme Court.

HARLOW: And you'll be there for us all along the way.

Laura Jarrett, thank you very much.


HARLOW: Thank you all for being with us. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.