Return to Transcripts main page


Today: Senate GOP Health Plan; Trump Back on the Road; Georgia on Their Minds. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 22, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:11] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Republicans just hours away from revealing their health care plan, negotiated in secret. How does it affect you, and how can it win enough support to pass a vote next week?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I'll tell you about the Democrats. I am making it a little bit hard to get their support, but who cares?


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: OK. President Trump doesn't seem to mind the Democrats opposing him at every turn. The president taking a victory lap in Iowa after the Republicans win in the Georgia special election.

BRIGGS: That loss in Georgia has some Democrats revolting. Nancy Pelosi is hearing growing calls for change of leadership in the House.

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: Good morning.

KOSIK: I'm sitting in for Christine Romans. She's probably getting some much-needed R&R.

BRIGGS: She is. Last day of school for the kids, I believe.

KOSIK: Absolutely.

It is June 22nd.

Up first, Senate Republicans coming out of the shadows to unveil their plan for overhauling Obamacare. Until now, details of the GOP health care bill had been a closely guarded secret with a handful of senators working behind closed doors.

BRIGGS: Here's what we know about the plan. We'll see it later this morning -- 9:30 a.m., he tells the Senate about this. It slows down the time frame and the House measure for rolling back the Medicaid expansion. It also improves tax credits for low-income and older Americans from the House version. It offers states more flexibility on these waivers to opt out of Obamacare regulations, including essential health benefits.

KOSIK: It also takes away money for Planned Parenthood for a year. And that move could wind up violating Senate budget rules the GOP is using to pass their bill with only 51 votes. But several critical issues remain up in the air, and those include a fund to fight opioid abuse, efforts to stabilize the market during the transition, away from Obamacare, and at timing of the repeal of Obamacare taxes.

Also still unclear, the faith of coverage for preexisting conditions.

BRIGGS: That is big.

Politically, Senate GOP leaders face a possible repeat of the fight over in the House, trying to find a balance that will satisfy both the conservatives and the moderates, earning enough votes to pass.

We get more now from CNN's Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Dave, good morning. And, finally, we're going to get a chance to see exactly what the Senate has planned in terms of reforming health care in the United States. The senators will meet first thing in the morning today to get a briefing on exactly what is in this bill.

And then later in the day, it will be posted online for everyone to see. For many senators, this will be the first time that they're seeing any of the text of this bill. This despite the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hopes to vote and pass this bill by the Fourth of July recess.

Now, we do expect there to be some of those key Obamacare provisions that were taken out of the House bill reinserted into the Senate bill. And there will be a change to Medicaid expansion. It will be rolled back but in a much more gradual way than is expected in the House bill. They cut it off in 2020. The Senate won't even begin the process until 2021.

Now, White House staffers were briefed on the bill last night here on Capitol Hill, and I spoke to Marc Short, the White House legislative director, as he was leaving that meeting. He stopped short of saying that the president is ready to endorse this bill, but he did say in his mind, we are all one step closer to ending the nightmare that is Obamacare. It will certainly be a busy day up here on Capitol Hill -- Alison and Dave.



KOSIK: OK. Ryan, thanks very much. And as we mentioned, the Senate GOP health care bill will delay the

rollback of Medicaid expansion to at least 2023, but millions of Americans may lose coverage even sooner that that. And that's because many states won't have the money to keep running the program. It has to do with the federal match rate. The expansion winds up covering 11 million low-income adults in 31 states, and the government covers 90 percent of the cost. That's a higher rate than for traditional participants.

But Medicaid has a huge turn rate. If adults drop out, they have to re-enroll at the lower traditional rate. And that's where states run into problems. At least eight have rules that end the expansion early if the match rate drops below 90 percent. Many other states will have to freeze the program if federal support decreases.

Medicaid is the biggest source of federal funding for many states. And cutting the expansion helps reduce Medicaid spending by at least $200 million the next ten years. Of course, that leaves the question open, are senators even going to go for phasing out the expanded Medicaid?

BRIGGS: We have no idea, do we?

KOSIK: We have no idea.

BRIGGS: I mean, there are a couple different camps. There's not just the moderates and the conservatives. There's also some in the middle, really concerned about Medicaid.

KOSIK: Yeah.

[04:05:00] BRIGGS: So, Planned Parenthood, you worry about Murkowski and Collins. Medicaid, you worry about Portman and Shelley Moore Capito.

This is going to be a tough needle to thread.

KOSIK: It will be.

BRIGGS: Good luck you to, Mitch.

All right. President Trump touting the Republican health care plan as he got back on the road. The big campaign-style rally in Iowa. The president exulting after the Republican victory in a Georgia special election. The president also said publicly for the first time he wants solar panels on that southern border wall, assuming it gets built.

Senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny traveling with the president has more from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, President Trump taking somewhat of a victory lap Wednesday night at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- his first visit west of the Mississippi since taking office. And, Iowa, of course, one of those blue states he turned red last November, winning by 10 percentage points.

But he was not talking about that victory. He was talking about the victory in the Georgia special congressional race. That's what he started out talking about. But he also ran the gamut, speaking more than an hour, about twice as long as the White House initially said he would, clearly reveling in the support from Iowa Republicans here.

But he started talking about health care and the bill moving through the Senate.

TRUMP: So, we have a slim 52-48. That means we basically can't lose anybody. And I think and I hope, OK, can't guarantee anything, but I hope we're going to surprise you with a really good plan.

You know, I've been talking about a plan with heart. I said, add some money to it. A plan with heart. But Obamacare is dead.

ZELENY: Now, of course, much of his speech here in Cedar Rapids need a bit of fact-checking and a bit of a reality check as well. He's not been the most successful president of record, he's not passed the most bills. That's what he left supporters believing here.

But in reality, the president almost wistfully at the end of his remarks talked about how he wished Democrats would come onboard, how Democrats would help with tax reform, health care reform bill, even with infrastructure. It will be fascinating to see in the coming months if he actually reaches out to some Democrats to get some support, because Democrats know they also need to have more of a record, and they also need to not obstruct if they hope to win in 2018.

But the president flying back to Washington after a visit here. Of course, much on his plate remains in Washington today -- Dave and Alison.


KOSIK: OK. Jeff Zeleny, thanks for that.

And a growing number of Democrats are looking for a leadership shakeup after that devastating loss in Georgia's sixth district. Some are even suggesting it's time for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to go.

Listen to Congressman Tim Ryan and Seth Moulton, both Democrats, calling for a new generation of leadership to move the party forward.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You think Nancy Pelosi is more toxic than Donald Trump?

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: You know what, the honest answer is, in some areas of the country, yes, she is. As unfair as it is, there have been a lot of people that have spent a lot of money running negative ads against her. And I think that in certain areas like in some of these special election districts, it doesn't benefit our candidates to be tied to her. And it's not fair, but it is true. And there's a reason why the Republicans are still using it.

REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It's clear that I think across the board in the Democratic Party we need new leadership. It's time for a new generation of leadership in the party.


BRIGGS: So, Democrats have lost all four special elections since President Trump took office, including Georgia where Jon Ossoff was defeated despite a campaign that raised over 23 million bucks.

KOSIK: Three Democrats in the Senate now joining their house colleagues, pushing the White House to review Jared Kushner's security clearance. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Al Franken, and Hawaii's Mazie Hirono, echoing concerns expressed by House Democrats about the first son-in-law and senior Trump adviser.

BRIGGS: Among those concerns, Kushner's meeting with the head of a Russian state bank and his reported attempts to set up a backchannel to communicate with the Russians during the transition. A similar letter from 18 House Democrats points to an executive order that requires suspension of the security clearance of any employee who's under investigation as a national security risk.

The White House declined comment on the Democrats' request.

KOSIK: The FBI is investigating the stabbing of a Michigan airport police officer as terrorism. A 50-year-old Canadian man, Amour Ftouhi, is in custody, charged with violence at an international airport. More charges could be added. The FBI says he attacked Lieutenant Jeff Neville with a foot-long knife after lingering at the Flint's Bishop International Airport for about 40 minutes.


DAVID GELIOS, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, DETROIT FBI: He was carrying baggage. He went into a restroom. He spent a little time in the restroom, dropped both bags and came out, pulled out a knife, yelled "Allahu Akbar," and stabbed Lieutenant Neville in the neck.


[04:10:08] BRIGGS: Police say Neville fought back as another officer subdued the. Neville is expected to be OK. According to the FBI, the attacker entered the U.S. legally last week. Officials say it appears he was lone wolf and that no one else was involved. The suspect remains in custody until a detention hearing next Wednesday.

KOSIK: So glad that officer's going to be OK.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

KOSIK: All right. President Trump weighs in after high-level talks between the U.S. and China. Was there any movement on how to deal with the growing threat from North Korea? We're live in Shanghai.


KOSIK: The Trump administration says the U.S. and China share a common concern about the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear missile program.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosting their Chinese counterparts to discuss the growing crisis. For months, the White House has been lobbying China to exert more influence over the Kim Jong-un regime.

[04:15:06] BRIGGS: At his rally last night in Iowa, President Trump praised China's president but also sent a message that he expects more from Beijing.


TRUMP: We've had a very good relationship with China in all fairness. And I do like President Xi. I wish we would have a little more help with respect to North Korea from China. But that doesn't seem to be working out, but I do like the president a lot.


BRIGGS: The meeting with top Chinese officials comes days after the death of Otto Warmbier. The American college student spent 17 months hard labor in North Korea before he was sent home in a coma. Warmbier's funeral is today.

CNN's Matt Rivers live from Shanghai with more on the high-level meetings and where the two countries go from here.

Good morning to you, Matt.

It's a question of, what the Chinese are willing to do? What they're willing to do to push the North Koreans? Do you get any sense of where they'll go here?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a question that successive administrations have been asking starting with the Clinton administration going on down the line to the Trump administration. They all want China to do more when it comes to North Korea, and secretaries of defense and state yesterday telling their Chinese counterparts they expect China to do the same thing.

What China always says in response, when they respond to that kind of criticism is, we are doing enough. Look at in 2016, we helped draft two different U.N. Security Council sanctions against the regime, and we are enforcing those to the fullest. Critics will say, though, that what China says and what China does are two very different things, that they regularly exploit loopholes in those sanctions and continue to trade with the North Koreans, essentially giving an economic lifeline to the regime.

The reasons for that are many. Not the least of which that North Korea acts as a buffer to the tens of thousands of U.S. troops that are currently stationed in South Korea.

And so, the big question now moving forward for the Trump administration and, frankly, a question we don't have an answer to yet, is if the Trump administration feels that China isn't doing enough to push the North Koreans to stop developing these weapons, what is the Trump administration going to do next? We don't know the answer to that.

And the broader impact, how will this affect the U.S./China relationship in other areas like the South China Sea, like joint trade between the world's largest economies? That's another outstanding question that really has broad implications.

BRIGGS: Matt, trade between North Korea and China, is it still up since the Trump administration took over?

RIVERS: In fact, it's risen. In the first quarter of 2016 compared to 2017, total trade volume between China and North Korea rose nearly 40 percent. So, yes, while China is doing things like banning coal imports from North Korea, it is still trading with the North Koreans in a major way, and it is absolutely providing an economic lifeline to the Kim Jong-un regime.

BRIGGS: All right. Good stuff. Matt Rivers live in Shanghai for us -- thanks, man.

KOSIK: Yes, it's questionable whether or not China's going to use the economic influence to make any headway.

BRIGGS: It does not appear so.

KOSIK: It does not, not at this time.


KOSIK: All right. The U.S. is denying claims by ISIS that American forces destroyed a mosque of critical significance to the Islamic state. We are live in the Mideast with why this matters, next.


[04:22:43] KOSIK: Dueling claims this morning about who's responsible for blowing up a Mosul mosque considered the birthplace of the Islamic faith's self-declared caliphate. ISIS blames the U.S. coalition -- a claim U.S. officials say is 1,000 percent false. Iraq's military putting the blame back on ISIS.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is live for us in Amman, Jordan, with the latest.

Can you clear this up, why this back-and-forth blame game about who blew up this very symbolic mosque?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alison, throughout this long and bloody fight to recapture Mosul, if there was one moment that Iraqi forces were looking to as a moment where they would be able to announce a victory over ISIS, even at least symbolically, it would be the recapture of al-Nuri Mosque. That is where Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the leader of the group, made his first and only appearance back in 2014, declaring the caliphate.

So, if there was a time when the Iraqi forces would be able to say that they have destroyed this caliphate, it would be by taking that mosque. And that is something they have been doing for months, trying to get closer and closer to the mosque in the heart of the old city of Mosul. And in recent days, they did start this new push, and they were aiming to recapture al-Nuri mosque by this weekend, that is the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

But on Wednesday evening, we heard from Iraqi commanders saying that ISIS blew up the mosque and that iconic leaning minaret of al-Nuri Mosque. And shortly after that, we started seeing these claims by ISIS-linked accounts and their so-called news agency on social media saying that it was the U.S.-led coalition with an air strike that destroyed the mosque. Of course, the U.S. coalition completely denying that and saying that they have monitored the area around the mosque recently, and they did see the movement of fighters and explosives and the Iraqis also pointing the blame at ISIS here.

And you can definitely add the al-Nuri mosque now to a long list of historical religious, and archaeological sites that have been destroyed by the terror group in Iraq and Syria over the past three years, Alison.

[04:25:02] KOSIK: And certainly the human toll that this war has had, as well.

All right. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh -- thanks so much.

BRIGGS: All right. A touching moment at a congressional women's softball game.


BRIGGS: That's Capitol Police Special Agent Crystal Griner throwing out the first pitch. All right. Let's make it two pitches. She was not happy with her first throw.

Griner was shot in the ankle last week after a gunman opened fire at the Republican baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The attack left Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise critically injured. He's been upgraded to fair condition.

And Crystal Griner, a former softball player and basketball player, she wanted another shot at that. She's entitled, indeed.

KOSIK: She certainly is.

All right. Senate Republicans ready to release their health plan, and the president isn't counting on much bipartisan support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We would not get one Democrat vote because they're obstructionists. They're obstructionists. We wouldn't get one Democrat.


KOSIK: It's the question we're all asking -- what the heck is in this health plan? What's not in it, and can it pass?