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FBI Investigating Flint Airport Stabbing as Terrorism; Senate GOP to Unveil Health Care Bill Today; Interview with Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 22, 2017 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's not OK that these people with their experience feel uncomfortable in this position. That's something that should be looked at and not just dismiss as hey, they should be so sensitive.

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: If their feelings are so sensitive, they should perhaps find other work.

GREGORY: Oh, come on, it's more than that, Ambassador. I don't think you should be dismissive. It's more than their feelings. It's the appropriateness of how you conduct yourself as president of the United States. I think you know that.

WOOLSEY: You cannot have obstruction of justice without there being a crime.

GREGORY: I didn't say that. You're not listening to what I'm saying. This is not a question of a crime. It's a question of appropriateness. We can separate the two. But you know --

WOOLSEY: You may not think it's appropriate, it doesn't matter.

GREGORY: It's what they thought was inappropriate. You don't know that he wouldn't become the subject of the investigation later.

WOOLSEY: That wasn't the subject of their back and forth. The subject of the back and forth was -- he asked three times am I being investigated.

GREGORY: But that could change. But that could change.

WOOLSEY: Three times the head of the FBI, three times the head of the FBI told him, no, you are not under investigation.

GREGORY: At that point. At that point. How is that not clear, that that could change, number one. Even if it's an intelligence investigation, they felt uncomfortable the president of the United States was asking them to do something that they didn't seem right.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You guys have made two good and competing points. Let's let leave it there. Just one point of legal clarification. Obstruction of justice can be interfering with a legal proceeding. It doesn't mean there's necessarily an underlying felony or misdemeanor. But a lot of this will have to be sussed out and you see how complex it gets. That was a good discussion.

Dana, you're the best. David and Ambassador, thank you very much.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We also have new details about the terror suspect who stabbed a police officer at the airport in Flint, Michigan. We have a live report next.


[06:35:05] CUOMO: The FBI is investigating the airport stabbing of a police officer in Flint, Michigan, as a terrorist act. The knife- wielding suspect is a Canadian and now in custody.

CNN's Ryan Young live at Bishop International Airport in Flint with the latest. What do we know, my friend?


We're in the area where that attack happened. This is outside the security checkpoint, but this is it, right here where that man was attacked, that officer. I want to show you this. This is the area where the FBI with surveillance video believes the man walked in with two bags, walked into the bathroom over here, came out with the knife, saw the officer and stabbed him in this area.

That was a 12-inch knife with an eight-inch blade. He then screamed, according to the FBI, Allahu Akbar, during that stabbing.

There was another airport worker who is in this area. They started struggling. All this playing out outside security. When you see this area, it's covered now, because this is where all the blood was.

They were able to arrest the man. At this point, we know the officer will survive and we know President Trump has been notified about exactly what happened here. But he hasn't made a statement just yet -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, thank you very much for walking us through what happened there. Thank you.

Meanwhile, what's in this new Senate Republican health care bill? Today it is being unveiled. What are the issues that could sink the bill? We discuss it all. We have new reporting next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope we're going to surprise you with a really good plan. I said I've been talking to a plan with heart. I said add some money to it, a plan with heart. But Obamacare is dead.


CAMEROTA: All right. That's President Trump saying he hopes the Senate's secret health care plan has heart. We are just hours away from learning what is in that plan. It is set to be unveiled by Senate Republicans today.

So, let's discuss what we know with two reporters who have been covering this for a long time. We have senior policy correspondent for Vox media, Sarah Kliff and senior editor of "Reason" magazine, Peter Suderman.

Great to have you both and have you sharing your reporting.

Sarah, I know that you've been covering this since 2009. What is the headline as you see it today?

SARAH KLIFF, SENIOR POLICY CORRESPONDENT, VOX MEDIA: So, I really do see this bill as Obamacare light essentially. One of the things we know about this bill is that it's really rolling back a lot of programs in Obamacare, not entirely, but making them less generous. So, we're expecting less individual tax credits who buy in the individual market, Medicaid expansion being phased out in 2021.

[06:40:03] And we will see if this bill can thread the need to appease more conservative Republicans, people like Mike Lee from Utah, Ted Cruz from Texas and more moderate senators, people like Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Susan Collins from Maine. They're trying to hold together this big coalition, and we'll see if this bill can do it.

CAMEROTA: I mean, just one more question, Sarah. It doesn't sound like it's going to appease Murkowski and Senator Collins from Maine if there's no funding for Planned Parenthood or it takes away the funding for a year or so.

KLIFF: Yes, I think that could certainly be a key issue. You know, this is something that both of those senators have spoken about, feel passionately about.

Another big issue is Medicaid. One of the things they're going to do in this bill, as we understand it, is change the rate at which Medicaid spending grows. It sounds like a wonky thing that it actually can be a really big deal, because it determines how much money the Medicaid program gets each year. Both of those senators have been pretty vocal on Medicaid, along with other senators in other states who expanded the program. So, you know, they're talking about big changes to the health care system that are going to be unveiled in this bill today.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, Peter, tell us about your reporting, what you've determined about why Senator Mitch McConnell is pushing for this bill to be voted on next week when Senator Rand Paul for one says, I don't know what's in it, I need to read it first. Why the rush?

PETER SUDERMAN, SENIOR EDITOR, REASON MAGAZINE: Right, that's something that Rand Paul has been arguing here for a long time, not just with this bill but with the House bill. I think what McConnell's calculus is here is, if they debate the bill -- the longer they debate the bill, the less popular it is going to be. If you look back at house versions of this bill, they polled at less than 20 percent in March. You've seen some polling indicating that the basic framework for this bill has been getting less popular over time.

And so, I think McConnell looks at this and thinks we want to get on to other agenda items, any talking about this, any explaining of it. Any -- there's not really a case we can make. So, let's just move forward on a vote.

I mean, it's really been kind of remarkable how little time Republicans have devoted to explaining what is in their bill and how it would benefit people. And I'm not even sure that they're planning to be doing that today after the bill is released.

CAMEROTA: I mean, you know, this flies in the face of we have to pass the bill to see what's in it. Republicans made hay out of it for years from, that famous quote from Nancy Pelosi.

So, let's look and see what we can glean about what is different in this from the House bill. There's a lot of word salad on your screen. So, I will -- I'll go to the experts.

Sarah, what do you think the big difference is between the House and the Senate bill?

KLIFF: So, I think one of the big differences is the thing you see about income tethered subsidies. Again, that sounds like word salad, but it actually matters a lot. This means there will be more generous subsidies than people who are lower income.

This is a big change from the house bill which tether your subsidies to your age, so you could be making $20,000 or $80,000 and still getting the same amount of help from the federal government. What we don't know right now, though, is how generous those subsidies are going to be. Will they be at the point where health insurance would be affordable for someone who earns $20,000? So, that's a pretty big change.

You know, the Medicaid expansion is another significant change. They want to push the rollback back of that back a few years. However, at the end of the day, you're kind of looking at ending this program, whether you do it in three years, in six years. You are talking about ending a program that currently covers about 14 million Americans or so.

So, that is -- you know, a few more years for that program, but ultimately ending at the same result.

CAMEROTA: Peter, I know there's sort of a contrarian theory that part of why Mitch McConnell wants to do this quickly is because he doesn't want it to pass. Just tell me the logic.

SUDERMAN: So, I don't know if I think he doesn't want it to pass. I think it is possible that he doesn't have a strong preference one way or the other. The Republican agenda also includes things like raising the debt ceiling, getting to tax reform. This bill would help them get to revenue neutral tax reform.

But I think that McConnell may look at this and think the politics of this are not great. Look at the way it's polling. Look at Republicans' total unwillingness and inability to explain and defend this bill.

Again, I just think it's remarkable we have not seen any Republican come out and give an extended defense and explanation of how this bill will work and what is going to be in it. In fact, just as early as this week, just a couple days ago, Republican lawmakers in the Senate said they didn't even know what was in it, they didn't even know who was writing it.

And so, McConnell isn't even defending this to his own people. This is the first time they are going to get to see the full text of the legislation today.

CAMEROTA: All right. Thank you both for sharing your reporting with us and walking us through it. It will be very interesting to see what happens in a few hours.

Sarah, Peter, thank you.

KLIFF: Thanks.


CUOMO: Fifteen inches of rain in some places. That the downfall of Tropical Storm Cindy making landfall in Louisiana. A lot of communities are under water already.

Chad Myers has the latest forecast. Where is more coming, next.


CUOMO: Tropical Storm Cindy making landfall in southwest Louisiana. At least 17 million people in this storm's path.

This is a live look at the town of Cameron. Now, it's dark, just early morning there, but the rivers are already spilling over their banks, in part helped out by that stiff wind, and the flooding is only expected to get worse.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has the forecast.

You know, people, if they don't hear the word hurricane, they're like, how bad can it be? It can be really bad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It sure can. Even with the storm surge of three feet and then you get another two or three more feet coming down a river, that is when it gets bad, Chris.

This weather is brought to you by Xyzal, the allergy medicine for continuous 24-hour allergy relief.

The storm came on shore a few hours ago when southeastern Louisiana, not that far from Beaumont-Port Arthur, kind of the southwestern, southeastern corner of Texas, southwestern Louisiana.

There's heavy rainfall expected today, flash flood warnings just about everywhere across the eastern part of this storm.

[06:50:01] Now, it does move eventually toward the Northeast and even toward New York. We will see some rain from this in New York on Saturday afternoon. So, it kind of spreads itself a round a front.

But here is what you can expect now for the next couple of days. Here is what we've had over the last couple days. Very heavy rainfall across the coast of New Orleans, all the way into Pensacola and even towards San Destin, and even had a couple of tornadoes yesterday, water spouts coming onshore.

But there is more rain coming. That's the rub. Still more, four to six inches of rain coming on top of the four to six.

So, Alisyn, that's where it gets tricky. That's where we see the flooding day after day. Forty-eight hours' worth of rainfall, that's too significant. We're going to see some rivers over their banks.

CAMEROTA: Oh my goodness. OK, thank you for keeping an eye on that for us, Chad.

Meanwhile, House Democrats calling for Jared Kushner's security clearance to be revoked because of the Russia investigation. Democratic member of the House Intel Committee joins us on that, next.


CUOMO: All right. Should Jared Kushner have his security clearance pulled? What are the Democrats going to do to try to keep the kind of health care they think this country should have, and what does it mean that our intel chiefs, you know, relayed information about what the president told them to do in terms of expressing to the public what he felt privately about the Russia investigation?

[06:55:10] Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut. He is a member of the House Intel Committee, to take on these issues.

Let's start with health care. We hear that we're going to get a reckoning of the Senate bill. What do you know about it? What are you expecting?


Well, the word around here is that Republican senators will meet in a couple of hours this morning to get a look for the first time at a bill that is supposedly a little bit like the House bill, but in some ways -- in some materials ways different. And, of course, I think we Democrats will probably see it afterwards, the world will see it afterwards, which points the one of our main concerns which is, you can't do anything quite as big as health care in terms of effecting individuals all over this country and almost 20 percent of our economy.

I remember in '09, we got accused of rushing the process. Our process took months, it was open. There was debate. There were hearings.

CUOMO: Right.

HIMES: This bill has not seen by anybody. Health care is complicated, Chris, but from what we hear, this is a bill that takes a lot of money from the Medicaid program for people in nursing homes, people who aren't wealthy and gives it to households making more than $250,000. Boy, I tell you, if that's the fact, are we ever in for a rollicking couple of weeks here in the Capitol.

CUOMO: All right. So, we'll see what it has in it. Is there some fair criticism going on here that the Democrats have been standing on the sidelines too much? You know the ACA has problems. You know, especially in the individual market, it has not worked the way you need it to as lawmakers and you've been too passive. Fair criticism?

HIMES: Well, as you know, Chris, there's a process here in the Capitol known as reconciliation.

CUOMO: Right.

HIMES: Reconciliation is pretty technical, but it is a way to get something through the Senate without effectively any Democratic votes. From moment one on the House side, they said we're doing this alone, and in the Senate side from a moment, when they said we're using reconciliation.


CUOMO: You could have had a public campaign of competing ideas. You could have said, hey, look, if you want to fix what's there right now, we know there are problems, don't throw the baby out with the bath water, do this, this and this. You could have done a lot of things, but you haven't.

HIMES: Well, Chris, people like me -- I was a supporter of the Affordable Care Act back in 2009. People like me have been saying for years this was a good step forward for the American people, covered millions of people. But yes, it has problems.

CUOMO: Right.

HIMES: Like everything else we do around here, and yes we have some ideas.

So, fast forward to, you know, January or February here in the Capitol. The Republicans say we are doing this alone. As we got wind of what was being done to the American people for a bill you know, because you've seen the polling, is about as unpopular as anything that's gone through here in a generation.

Instead of saying, hey, we've got a better idea -- mind you, this is for the last couple months, we have been sounding the alarm about exactly what this health care bill would mean to a lot of vulnerable Americans. That doesn't mean we don't have an idea. It just means that it's an all hands on deck moment where the American people need to understand what is about to be done to their healthcare.

CUOMO: But, ultimately, you'll have competing ideas and you need to get different ones out there if you want those to be the ones that win.

Next topic, Jared Kushner's security clearance. On what basis can you pull his security clearance?

HIMES: Let me quickly address what you just said, absolutely. And we do this on a regular basis. I've been sounding the alarm and other Democrats have as well. If we don't come up with affirmative ideas, this party is in a lot of trouble, no doubt.

CUOMO: Agreed.

HIMES: Jared Kushner, I would tell you, you know, there's a lot of questions about Jared Kushner as there are around people like Paul Manafort, and Carter Page and, of course, Michael Flynn. He needs to come before the Congress and explain if the press report is true, that he was in a meeting asking for a secret backchannel perhaps in a Russian diplomatic facility, he needs to explain that because that raises some real questions.

He's in the Middle East right now, trying to negotiate some kind of peace agreement. You cannot do that without access to classified information. You know, in this country, you're innocent until proven guilty. He's got some questions to answer about exactly what was driving that statement --

CUOMO: But you really believe that you know anything right now that would warrant pulling his security clearance, or is this more about politics?

HIMES: I want to answer that question the way I'm answering a lot of questions about an ongoing investigation. I'm not going to sit here just as nobody should say I know the answer, here is what's true. That's because there are three investigations under way.

What I can tell you without question is there are some very serious questions that Jared Kushner and many other people need to answer before we're comfortable with the notion that they are acting impartially, objectively and with the good of the country in mind.

CUOMO: Why pull his clearance before you know the answers to the questions?

HIMES: Well, as a practical matter, that's not going to happen. I know there are some people calling for that, and I they they're calling for that because there are some big, important questions. And remember, Chris, you know, as become evident with Michael Flynn, here's a guy, and you know, the stories were out yesterday, here's a guy who the deputy attorney general told the White House could be comprised by the Russians, could be subject to blackmail.