Return to Transcripts main page
Senate Republicans to Publicly Release Health Care Bill; President Trump Holds Rally in Iowa; Interview with Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina; Intel Chiefs Tell Investigators Trump Suggested They Refute Collusion with Russians. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired June 22, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obamacare is a disaster. It's over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have a good bill, you don't need to keep it secret.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A working graph will be released. All of the concerns people have will be dealt with.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Health care is personal. It's not political.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russian government orchestrated cyber-attacks for the purpose of influencing our election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not clear that President Trump takes this seriously as the assault on America that it is.
TRUMP: They have phony witch hunts going against me. And you know what? All we do is win, win, win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, June 22nd, 8:00 in the east.
And we are just a couple hours away from the big reveal. Senate Republicans will finally unveil their health care bill after weeks of secrecy. So we will explore what is in the bill and how it differs from the House bill.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is back in his element. He was at a campaign rally last night in Iowa celebrating Congressional victories in his time as president, and, of course, slamming all of those who oppose him. A stunning comment about his wealthy cabinet and advisers is certainly raising eyebrows.
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live on Capitol Hill. Suzanne? SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Of course,
the Senate health care legislation has been shrouded in secrecy, and that has really frustrating a lot of the Republicans even those key ones who are necessary for this to pass. All of that's going to change in about 90 minutes or so. They'll get the full briefing of this bill, and then at 11:00 it will be made public, posted publicly. And CNN has got an advanced look at this which, of course, is subject to change.
TRUMP: I hope we're going to surprise you with a really good plan.
MALVEAUX: Senate leadership hoping to appeal to both moderate and conservative Republicans with a bill that is expected to phase out Medicaid expansion starting in 2021, a year later than the House bill, and defund Planned Parenthood for one year, which could be a deal breaker for two key Republican senators. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes since no Democrat is expected to support the bill.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: They made it clear they're not interested in helping.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: In is bill is mean, very mean.
MALVEAUX: The bill is not expected to include the controversial House proposal that would allow states to decide on protections for people with preexisting conditions. But the Senate may allow for a new set of waivers that could eliminate essential health benefits. There are still details we don't know about the bill that could decide its fate, including when Obamacare taxes will be repealed, how much money allocated for high-risk pools, and how the Senate will calculate the distribution of tax credits which are expected to be more generous than the House plan. Already some Republicans are expressing frustrations.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I can't imagine, quite honestly, that I would have the information to evaluate and justify a yes vote within just a week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you satisfied with the process right now?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: No. Of course not.
MALVEAUX: Whatever the final draft, Senate aides tell CNN Republican leaders want President Trump to stay far away from the negotiations, describing an earlier meeting as, quote, "kind of a disaster." The president has not yet endorsed the Senate bill but sounded hopeful at last night's rally in Iowa.
TRUMP: You know, I've been talking about plan with heart. I said, add some money to it. A plan with heart. But Obamacare is dead.
(END VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX: The Congressional Budget Office score is expected as early as tomorrow, then it will be followed by a Senate debate next week and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, of course wanting to bring this to a vote by the July 4th recess, really giving very little time for lawmakers or the public to read or amend this legislation, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Suzanne, thank you very much, appreciate it.
President Trump taking a victory lap, as you saw there. His first campaign rally in months, actually, touting back-to-back congressional wins, slamming opponents, Democrats, the media.
CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more. The crowd was eating it up, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure, Chris. It's been a few weeks since he did one of these rallies, almost eight months since the election that brought him here to the White House. And Republicans in general had a lot to celebrate after the special election wins this week. The president back in campaign mode leaving the worries of Washington behind him, at least for a night.
TRUMP: All we do is win, win, win. We won last night.
JOHNS: An energized President Trump returning to the environment he loves the most, a campaign rally.
TRUMP: It's always terrific to be able to leave that Washington swamp.
JOHNS: Going after his favorite targets, the media and Democrats.
TRUMP: And they've been unbelievably nasty, really nasty. I am making it a little bit hard to get their support, but who cares.
[08:05:01] JOHNS: While touting his border wall.
TRUMP: We're thinking about building the wall as a solar wall. This way Mexico will have to pay much less money, and that's good. Right?
JOHNS: President Trump rallying his loyal supporters with this immigration proposal.
TRUMP: Those seeking admission into our country should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.
JOHNS: A rule that is already the law of the land. And reiterating this rather vague concern about China's influence on North Korea.
TRUMP: 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.
JOHNS: The president also touting his wealthy cabinet picks before making this eyebrow-raising statement.
TRUMP: They love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions, I just don't want a poor person. Does that make sense?
JOHNS: And only briefly mentioning the Russia investigations hanging over his administration.
TRUMP: They have phony witch hunts going against me.
JOHNS: But Mr. Trump is silent about Russia's interference in the 2016 election, an issue the White House continues to dodge when pressed for the president's position.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing.
JOHNS: A former homeland security secretary of state testifying today evidence of Russian meddling is undeniable.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: In 2016 the Russian government at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself orchestrated cyber-attacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election. That is a fact, plain and simple.
JOHNS: One of the president's lawyers had suggested this might be the week the president would reveal whether there are recordings of his conversation with the now fired FBI director James Comey. No word on that at least so far, and I guess we have been told by the president that journalists will be disappointed with the answer to that question. Chris and Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: All right, thank you, Joe. You've give us a lot to discuss. Let's bring in our panel.
CUOMO: Any answer would be good.
CAMEROTA: You'll be disappointed. No doubt. Let's bring in our political panel. We have John Avlon and Alex Burns, our CNN analysts, and national reporter for CNN Politics M. J. Lee. Great to have all of you. M. J., you're reporting, what will surprise everyone today that's in the bill or not in the bill?
M. J. LEE, CNN POLITICS NATIONAL REPORTER: Yes, well, we knew that this was grog to be a very tough needle for Senate Republicans to thread. Just like in the House, there are conservatives and moderates in the Senate Republican Congress and they really want different things. I think Medicaid is a great example of seeing how they tried to give something to conservatives and to moderates as well. We know that Medicaid expansion is going to be phased out more slowly than in the house version, but the cuts to the Medicaid program are actually going to deeper. The federal subsidies are going to be tied to income, not age, as was proposed in the house bill, but the eligibility threshold is going to be lower, so another example of giving something to moderates but giving something else to conservatives as well. Planned Parenthood is going to be defunded for one year. This, of course, is a very big issue for someone like a Senate Collins or Murkowski.
CAMEROTA: Possibly a deal breaker?
LEE: Possibly a deal-breaker, but that is the big question, is it going to be a big enough issue for some of these senators to actually say I cannot vote for this bill. As the details come out I think that is going into to be the way to think about these issues. Is there going to be one issue that actually hangs up enough senators they say, no, I can't get behind this bill? Or do they basically accept the fact that they're going to be a lot of things we don't like but at least we got some things out of this plan.
CUOMO: The Catch 22, John, it's if you feel that this bill is on some level going to be so hurtful to your constituents it will affect your political future, which is what that CBO score, 23 million being off, and now a reckoning that there's certainly going to be less money, and less money means less ability for a lot of people to get care, then you're going to maybe be forced to vote against it. But then you would be held out as a Republican who did not do the one thing that Republicans have promised to do for seven years, which is repeal and replace Obamacare. How do you deal with that?
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The larger standard is whether it does right by your constituents and whether it does right by your conscience. Party pledges are one thing, and they appeal to a narrow base, but there is a higher standard when it comes to bills that actually affect people's lives, and conscience and constituent impact is the right one. Look, Mitch McConnell has a tough line to walk. As M. J. just described, he's got 50 votes he's got to do. Remember, Obamacare passed with 60 in the Senate. This is a narrow standard, narrower base, but McConnell is trying to not lose enough moderates or conservatives. Those two things are intentional. But it's a problem of their own making because they haven't tried to build a broader coalition around this bill. They're trying to do the minimal viable option because they don't have the latitude to pass something broadly popular.
CAMEROTA: But Alex, is it possible that just by presenting it, just from having rolled up their sleeves and secretly going into negotiate it and presenting it that they've fulfilled their promise to come up with something and it actually doesn't have to pass? Or would it be political suicide for them if they didn't vote on it and it didn't pass?
[08:10:13] ALEX BURNS, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": I think it's an open question whether the Republican base is going to punish lawmakers if they don't literally repeal Obamacare root and branch, or whether, as you say, there would be a sense that, look, they gave it a shot but that Washington swamp is a pretty rough one.
And I think to John's point, they're caught between, yes, the harm to their constituents and they pledge they've made to repeal Obamacare. They're also caught between the conflicting promises that they've made about repealing Obamacare. They didn't just say we'll get rid of this law. They said we'll get rid of this law and we're going to replace it with something that lowers cost, gives more coverage, and improves the quality of coverage, right? That's the standard that they're ultimately going to be judged by politically. Not just, did you get rid of the old system? That's the mistake Democrats made in 2009, 2010, thinking getting rid of the old health care system that everybody dislikes would be enough to get you rewarded.
CUOMO: And you'll have this battle of the perception versus the reality, and we saw that on display last night at the president's rally last night. He had the crowd working last night, and we want to play you one part of it, because it deserves your consideration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Somebody said, why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? I said -- no. It's true. And Wilbur is a very rich person in charge of Commerce. I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just don't want a poor person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: What do you make of that? In certain positions in the government he doesn't want a poor person? A rich person is better for the job.
AVLON: And he specifically said in positions in the cabinet dealing with the economy. So let's go back to the founding just for fun. What Donald Trump just said is that Alexander Hamilton would have made a lousy treasury secretary, the man who devised our financial system because he was poor, he was an immigrant, but he was smart. And I still want you to --
CUOMO: I know almost the entire score. It's that it bothers me. I've never heard a leader say this. There's nothing wrong with being wealthy. It's certainly an American ideal. It's aspirational. It can change your life, and many do it to great benefit to others. But the idea, M. J., I've just never heard a leader say, you know, when you come right down to it, in certain things, I'll qualify it, the rich are just better than the poor at it? And they applaud. I've never heard that before.
LEE: You know, this is just another example of seeing the president have a very different standard for what make a good politician or someone, you know, who is qualified to be in public office. We know that having money doesn't translate to being good about or understanding the economy. We know that being good at business deals, for example, doesn't mean that you are able to go out there and make good political deals. But this has been his sort of ammunition all along throughout the campaign. This is the way in which he sold himself. So I don't know how surprising it is that he is saying this about the very own people he has choice to put in his cabinet.
CAMEROTA: I agree. Also, we heard from the people who voted for him, who are his ardent supporters. He's a billionaire. He must know something. He's successful. He's going to share that with us, the secret mojo with us. That is aspirational, and why wouldn't they like that?
BURNS: And the funny thing is that as much as he's presented himself as someone who would challenge Washington, take on Washington, a lot of what he does is saying stuff that other politicians think and don't say, right? And you know, when was the last time we had a treasury secretary, commerce secretary, who was forget about poor or forget about middle class, merely affluent rather than just really rich? Whether or not they say it, this is standard politicians, that presidents use for these cabinet offices and others all the time.
CAMEROTA: But they just don't say it?
CAMEROTA: That's interesting.
CUOMO: I do not know that we have a lot of people who believe that the poor aren't at competent at the rich when it comes --
CAMEROTA: He's just saying it differently. What Alex is saying is they still install them in these positions of power, they just don't mention that they think they're better than the --
AVLON: Right. And what Alex is arguing also is that Trump seems refreshingly honest because he says these things that other folks won't say despite his difficulty with honesty in issues of fundamental substance. But the fact the audience is applauding when he ha BREAM: says you have got no chance serving in my cabinet is kind of stunning.
CUOMO: All right, up next, a CNN exclusive. The nation's intel chiefs, the president had conversations with each about the Russia probe and what he would like to see. Dana Bash has exclusive reporting on their take on what they were asked, why, and what it meant to them, next.
[08:18:28] CAMEROTA: In about an hour, Senate Republicans will finally reveal their health care bill. So, let's bring in the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Republican Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, to talk about that and so much more.
Good morning, Congressman.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Good morning. How are you?
CAMEROTA: I'm doing well. Are you comfortable with how this whole Senate side thing has gone down where it was behind closed doors and lots of Democratic senators saying they don't know what's in the bill?
GOWDY: I don't know enough about the Senate process to tell you whether I'm comfortable with it or not.
CAMEROTA: You've not heard on Capitol Hill that they were doing it behind closed doors secretly?
GOWDY: No. I've read it. And I don't doubt it.
I try really hard not to give the Senate advice. They're good to not give the House advice. We've got our own issues and problems on the House side. So, my energy should be spent sorting out our problems and not giving advice to the Senate on theirs.
CAMEROTA: Fair enough.
Are you comfortable if they overhaul the House health care bill? Or do you think there was room for improvement with that one?
GOWDY: I do think there was room for improvement, and I think health care is -- you know, it's interesting, Alisyn. In the Declaration of Independence, it says the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Access to health care is fundamental to all these of those. It impacts every single one of us and I am open to anyone's ideas that makes it better and I wish we were in a less political environment where we could take on major challenges like health care and like entitlements.
That's not the environment you and I find ourselves in right now, but every one of us needs access to health care and access to health insurance.
[08:20:04] And if someone has a good idea, I'm all ears.
CAMEROTA: All right. Well, let's see what they announce this afternoon.
OK. So, let's talk about something that you are intimately connected with, and that, of course, is House Oversight as well as Intel, and the ongoing Russia investigations. As you know, Congressman Elijah Cummings, top Dem on your committee, House Oversight, has sent a letter to the chief of staff of the White House, Reince Priebus, in which he writes that there are credible allegations that employees may be unfit to continued access to classified information. And, therefore, security clearances are supposed to be suspended. He's talking about the president's top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Do you think Jared Kushner's security clearance should be suspended?
GOWDY: Alisyn, I am interested in working with anyone who wants to safeguard classified information. The past five months have been really, really difficult for those of us who want to safeguard classified information. It's flashed on almost every website and almost every major newspaper.
So, I welcome anyone's help who wants to safeguard classified information and in a more robust process for the granting of security clearances. But when I read Mr. Cummings' letter, it should have been directed to Robert Mueller, and it wasn't directed to me. Those are allegations of crime. If you have completed a security application and you omitted material
information or misrepresented material information, that's a crime. And I promise Bob Mueller Tuesday night that I was not going to do anything wittingly or unwittingly that interfered with his probe.
That used to be what I do for a living. I'm very sensitive to staying out of his lane. If Elijah wants to make accusations of a crime, that's up to him.
CAMEROTA: But did --
GOWDY: But I'm going to let Bob Mueller figure it out.
CAMEROTA: Fair enough. But from what you've heard on House Intel, do you think it rises to level of a crime?
GOWDY: You know what, Alisyn? My mind is not wired that way. I can't take 20 percent of the information and then draw a conclusion.
We're meeting with Dan Coats this morning. So, I'm gong to add to my body of information, my body of evidence this morning. It's when you interview the last witness that you can draw a conclusion. You can't do it after you interview the first one. Let's hear it all.
But keep in mind, Congress doesn't grant security clearances. That's an executive branch function. You did not hear me call for Secretary Clinton's security clearance to be suspended or Cheryl Mills or Huma Abedin. That's an executive branch function.
And again, the legislative branch has enough issues with itself. We don't need to do the other two branches' jobs.
CAMEROTA: And when you meet DNI Dan Coats, what if he shares with you what he apparently shared with other investigators as has Admiral Rogers, that, again, the president suggested to them that they publicly state that they had seen no collusion between Russia and team Trump? Do you think that that is appropriate for a president to suggest to those intel heads?
GOWDY: I don't know all the facts, Alisyn. One thing I'm going to ask Mr. Coats is, not only what was said, but what did he hear? How did he take it? What was the tone? What was the context?
We have special counsel that is looking at all matters criminal and quasi-criminal. House Intel does have a role to play, and this would be within our jurisdiction. But, again, there's Coats, there's Mike Rogers, there's Mike Pompeo, there are lots of witnesses to talk to and I'm just really reluctant. I wouldn't do it for you and I'm not going to do it for President Trump.
I'm not going to draw conclusions until the end of the investigation. I just think it's fair to the process.
CAMEROTA: I understand, but only because we have this exclusive reporting today on CNN do I want to press you on it, because generally speaking, if the executive were trying to give suggestions to people involved in an investigation that you, that your committee, on oversight or intel were involved in, would you find that to be appropriate?
GOWDY: Well, you made two assumptions. Number one, that the reporting is accurate. Number two, that that was suggested.
And I guess what I'm saying is, I think in serious investigations, look, I think Dana does great work, but her job is different from an investigator's job. Her job is to report. Our job is to figure out what really happened, the context in which it happened.
At the end of an investigation, if someone has done nothing wrong, it's not inappropriate to ask the district attorney or someone else to say, hey, since you had me under the cloud, do you mind telling people I'm not under a cloud anymore? That's probably not appropriate to do on the front end of an investigation, because I don't think anyone would be able to answer that question fully.
So, I need all the context. I need to hear from everyone who was a part of that conversation to see if their testimonies match up, if there's corroboration, if there's' contradiction. That's the way you do serious investigations.
[08:25:02] And I know we're not used to it in Congress, but we do political investigations. But this is really serious and there's a reason I think your viewers are going to wind up trusting Bob Mueller more than they do Congress, and that's because the executive branch runs serious investigations and we try to do it in five-minute increments with anonymous sources.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Trey Gowdy, we appreciate your candor on this as well as all the topics. Thank you so much for being here.
GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. Let's get some more on this issue. CNN's exclusive what two top intel officials said about their interactions with President Trump on this investigation.
CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash live in Washington with the details.
What do we know?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, what we gathered from our sources is really the first glimpse of what the two top intelligence chiefs said behind closed doors to special prosecutor Robert Mueller's team and to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee in separate meeting last week.
Now, multiple sources tell me and Evan Perez and Manu Raju that the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and the National Security Agency director, Admiral Mike Rogers, said that President Trump suggested that they say publicly there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. In these closed doors meetings with special prosecutors, at least their team and the Senate Intelligence Committee, both intelligence chiefs described these interactions with the president about the Russian investigation as odd, and uncomfortable, but they also said that they don't believe the president gave them orders to intervene in the investigation.
Now, you may remember that in their public testimony earlier this month, both Coats and Rogers said they felt they had not been pressured by the president, but it got pretty contentious in the hearing, they wouldn't offer specifics about their interactions with the president until they could do it in a classified setting. And that's what we're reporting about now this morning.
Now, we should also say that the fact the president had conversations about the Russia probe with these intelligence chiefs was initially reported by "The Washington Post" last month.
Now, one of the multiple Democratic and Republican sources that we talked to for the story told us that both Rogers and Coats reported to members of the intelligence committee that Trump wanted them to say publicly what then FBI Director James Comey had told the president privately, that he was not under investigation for collusion, but neither thought the president was asking them to do something they didn't want to do, and they also didn't act on the president's suggestion.
Now, ultimately, Chris it is going to be up to Robert Mueller and his team to decide whether these revelations are relevant to their investigation. We should also say that CNN reached out to the White House, to the DN, to the NSA and Mueller's office for the story and, Alisyn, they all declined to comment.
CAMEROTA: And you justified heard Chairman Trey Gowdy, who complimented your reporting but said that he was reserving any judgment until the very end, which could be a while.
CAMEROTA: OK. Dana, thank you very much for all that reporting.
BASH: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Up next, Democrat election losses are piling up. Now, some are calling for a change in party leadership. So, we will speak to one who says it is time for Nancy Pelosi to go.