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Interview with Rep. Kathleen Rice as Democrats Debate Pelosi; Funeral for Warmbier; Senate GOP Unveils Health Care; Wounded Capitol Officer Throws First Pitch. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 22, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:32:11] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats are in a bit of a jam. They lost a ton of seats at the state level that led to redistricting decisions that worked against them on the congressional level and then they lost the presidential election to a known underdog and now they've lost four straight contests where they were trying and really trying in Georgia with more money than ever been put into an open seat congressional race like that to turn some districts and they failed. So, what does this mean for message? What does this mean for their way forward?

Joining us now is one of the Democrats who thinks it's time for change, Congresswoman Kathleen Rice of New York.

Congresswoman, it's good to have you on the show.

REP. KATHLEEN RICE (D), NEW YORK: Thank you for having me, Chris.

CUOMO: So, time to speak truth to power? Time to say, Nancy Pelosi, I love you, but you are not right for the times. We need new blood. Are you willing to say that?

RICE: Yes, and I've been very vocally about this actually as far back as last November after we did not pick up the seats that we should have picked up. You know, this is not an easy conversation, Chris. I would rather be sitting here talking about how we are in the majority, we're going to protect health care for every American and we're not. And the reason why we're not talking about that is because we don't have a seat at the table. We need a winning strategy. And I think the first step to getting to a winning strategy is a change in leadership.

CUOMO: Who do you think it should be?

RICE: I -- it's not up to me to decide. We have a very robust caucus. What I am trying to do is to move us in a direction where we have the conversation that is so necessary now. You know, Chris, if you were talking about a company that was posting losing numbers, if you were talking about any sports team that was losing time and time again, you -- changes would be made, right? The CEO would be out. The coach would be out. And there would be a new strategy put in place.

We need a vision, right? Where do we want to go as a party? And we need a message. How are we going to get there? And I just don't think that the leadership that we have right now can take us where this party needs to go.

CUOMO: Whom do you see as your leaders? Who are the big names in the party that you look to as, they represent who we are at our best?

RICE: Well, see, that's one of the problems, Chris. You know, we ask ourselves a lot, who is the leader of the Democratic Party right now? And not -- no one really comes up with an answer, right? We can talk about Chuck Schumer, and Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Pelosi --

CUOMO: Bernie Sanders? Do you consider him a Democrat?

RICE: Well, Chuck Schumer does. I mean he's in the leadership of the Senate. I don't think he is, but he is in that hierarchy. But that's just -- that's the problem. We don't have that one voice that defines us as a party and gets --

CUOMO: Who do you look to, congresswoman? If you had to put a name in there, who do you look to?

RICE: Well, I look to a lot of my colleagues now. We have a lot of talent in the Democratic Party. The problem, Chris, we don't have infrastructure in our caucus that allows more voices to be heard. And that's the problem. And we have to look at this very soberly and seriously now because we are coming off just loss after loss after loss. And I don't want to sit in a room and hear the conversation that, guess what, we're not losing as badly as we did a year ago. Isn't that great? No, we're still losing.

[08:35:26] CUOMO: Close is only good in horseshoes.

RICE: Exactly.

CUOMO: No, I've been hearing that from a lot of you. So, you have a couple of decisions to make. The first one is, not necessarily in this order, but Hillary Clinton. Should she continue to be put out there as the face of your party and as some potential leader in the future?

RICE: I think she's made is very clear that she plans -- does not plan on running again. And that's probably a good thing. We need to move forward. We have a lot of great people in the Democratic Party that can kind of take that mantle from people like Secretary Clinton and others

CUOMO: And the next big consideration is, all right, so if you move Clinton off to the side and that's going to have to involve telling her not to be your main opponent to the president, because then she will remain your putative head if she is the main person opposing the president from your party's side. You didn't get to, well, who are you guys anyway? And there is this notion that even though you have more Democrats in this country than you do Republicans, you have not motivated that base because they don't know who you guys are anymore and that you became more the party of P.C. than the party of the middle class and the working family.

RICE: That is true. And right now what we have to do as a party is figure out what direction we want to go in. There's no question that Democrats still represent the middle class, helping people, create a safety net, give people opportunities, you know, that -- protect people's health care, a woman's right to choose, make sure that every person gets a quality education and that there are jobs out there and that people are trained for the jobs of the future. But that message --

CUOMO: So what happened?

RICE: I, look, this economy --

CUOMO: What happened? I mean when I met you, you were in Nassau. You were a hard-charging prosecutor out there. You were dealing with a raging drug problem that continues. And people were saying to you, man, we need more. We need more money. We need more changes. And, you know, you wound up getting into politics in large part because you were like, I can't fix it from here. I can prosecute drug addicts all day long. Occasionally get a dealer. It's not going to get it done. That doesn't seem to be the motivation for a lot of people in the party anymore.

RICE: No, and I can -- look, I can only speak to my own motivation. I've got to be honest, Chris, it stinks being in the minority, right? We don't even have a seat at the table. And so I am having this conversation so that we, as a party, can do whatever we have to do to get back at the table in the room making the decisions.

Look, the senate is about to unveil a health care plan that we know is going to force 24 people to no longer have health insurance, it's going to increase premiums for seniors by five-fold. It's going to --

CUOMO: Chris Collins says not in New York. That you guys will be fine because you have a one to one payment ratio there. So the old won't suffer. They'll be the best shape in the country.

RICE: And Chris Collins is really good at making the case, his case. But the fact is, if and when this is implemented, we're going to see that it is just going to be devastating, not just to states like New York, but to states all across the country, to say nothing of the millions of people who are suffering through one of the worst epidemics that we face now as a country, the opioid epidemic. They're just going to get clobbered. There's not going to be any treatment for them.

So we, as a party, if we want to help people, we need to get back in the room making the decisions. We have to come up with a strategy, with a message that resonates with people all across this country, but, most importantly, we have to have a credible messenger giving that message.

CUOMO: So you've been outspoken about this. Have you heard from Nancy Pelosi?

RICE: No, I have not. And I understand. Look, politics is a rough business, Chris. You know that given your personal history. But you can't -- you have to -- you can't take things personally, OK? And -- and, by the way, let me say, this is not personal -- anything personal between me and Nancy Pelosi. I have enormous respect for her. She has been a great leader. But like every leader, in time immemorial, it's time for people to know when to go. And sometimes it's hard to get people who are in power, who are used to that, to say, you know what, I need to step back and do what's best for this party. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi believes that she is the one that can lead this party. I happen to have a different opinion. And I think it's important for people in my position to not be afraid, to speak truth to power. And this is, again, not personal. I want to get back into the majority so we can protect working people, we can protect the middle class, and we can have a future for our children.

CUOMO: Congresswoman, thank you for making the case on NEW DAY. Appreciate it.

RICE: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

[08:39:57] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Chris, up next, remembering Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died days after returning to the U.S. from a North Korea prison. A report from his hometown, next.


CAMEROTA: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Senate Republicans will release a draft of their health care plan today. It will be the first time the American people and even some fellow Republicans see details of this bill.

New CNN reporting, intel chiefs telling Special Counsel Rob Mueller's team that President Trump suggested they publicly refute claims of collusion between his campaign and Russia. But sources tell CNN, the intel chiefs did not believe that Mr. Trump ordered them to intervene in the probe.

President Trump back in campaign mode at an Iowa rally Thursday celebrating Republican victories in two special elections and slamming Democrats and the media.

The FBI investigating the airport stabbing of a police officer in Flint, Michigan, as an act of terrorism. The suspected lone wolf attacker is in custody. The wounded officer is said to be recovering.

[08:45:06] Tropical Storm Cindy making landfall in Louisiana. States of emergency have been declared in Alabama and Louisiana. The storm could bring up to a foot of rain in some areas.

For more on the "Five Things to Know," you can go to for all of the latest.

Meanwhile, there's a funeral service for Otto Warmbier. It will begin in just a few minutes. It will at his former high school in Ohio. Warmbier died just days after being released from more than a year in captivity in North Korea.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Wyoming, Ohio, for us.

Tell us what's happening there, Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just outside of Cincinnati, it is a day of celebration of Otto Warmbier's life, says his parents, and the entire -- they've opened this funeral up to the city and people have turned out. I want to show you what's going on here.

The center where it will be held, the art center, holds about 800 people. They have overflow area in the cafeteria and the gym. Twenty- five hundred total and they're just about to reach capacity. Also in attendance will be Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan for the Trump administration, as well as the Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell. Interesting as well, Ambassador Joseph Yun. He is the person that President Trump dispatched to Pyongyang to bring Mr. Warmbier back just over a week ago. He will be in attendance as well. Senator Rob Portman, who represents Ohio, obviously he is here. He has helped throughout the year and a half that Mr. Warmbier was imprisoned. He spoke about what this day means.


SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: This process has been a window into both evil and -- and love and good. Today we're seeing the good. Everything you'll hear about Otto is that he -- he lit up the room. And, again, that the tragedy here is that that promise in life was cut short.


MARQUEZ: Now, a very, very simple service they will have today. His brother will speak. His sister will speak. His friends will speak. It will be officiated by Rabbi Jake Ruben. It is not expected to take a long time, and then he will be laid to rest.


CAMEROTA: OK, Miguel. Obviously, we can see from behind you how important it is to that community and beyond. Thank you very much.

Well, back to Capitol Hill. Senate Republicans are about to take the wraps off their secretive health care plan. What's in it? Will it pass? We get "The Bottom Line," next.


[08:51:10] CAMEROTA: Senate Republicans set to release details of their highly secretive health care plan today and comedian Jimmy Kimmel had his own unique take on it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buried deep in a hidden chamber --

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: In such darkness, behind such closed doors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lies a mysterious plan --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are my constituents not allowed to see the details of what's about to happen to their lives?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That could wreak incalculable destruction --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's one of their most terrifying things that's about to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And only one man knows its mysteries --

Mitch McConnell and the chamber of secrets, coming to America, much too soon.


CAMEROTA: Let's get "The Bottom Line" now with CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

That's hilarious.


CUOMO: Yet, true. I mean it's very hard to report on something we have such scant details of. But what have you learned about what's going to happen today?

BASH: Well, we're going to hopefully get to see the legislative text in a little bit more than a half an hour.

But, look, certainly the process now to repeal Obamacare in the Senate versus actually putting Obamacare in place is very different. It was lengthy. There were, you know, scores of hearings and so on and so forth. But I cannot tell you how many blisters I got on my feet standing outside closed-door meetings that Democrats were having about what they were putting together in the final days of the Obamacare legislation. So, working behind closed doors is not new.

The biggest problem, as you've been touching on all morning, Alisyn is what the impression is of the people who actually have to vote on it. And when I say people, I'm just talking about Republicans. Democrats, they're not playing ball on this. It is just Republicans. And even some who were in the room -- this is for Chris, Hamilton references this morning -- in the room where it happened, are not getting the details and won't get the details of this legislative text until 9:30. That is the danger zone, particularly when you're talking about the conservatives who are probably the most likely to walk and not be part of this. And Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two votes. He's got to get 50. He only has 52 Republicans.

CAMEROTA: And I mean is it still your understanding from stalking the halls of Congress, as you do, that -- we've been reporting that there are at least three people on the fence? Is that still -- or are there higher numbers now? BASH: Oh, I'm sure there are -- there are higher numbers. There are

definitely higher numbers of those on the fence. I think it's fair to say most people are on the fence at this point because they genuinely haven't seen it. But, you know, it's -- it's that -- that whack-a-mole situation when it comes to any kind of compromise. Again, this is just in the spectrum of Republicans. On the conservative side, the more that you give Medicaid expansion, give in to Medicaid expansion and let that go for many more years, the more you are careful about the regulations --


BASH: The more you lose conservatives.


BASH: And so that is really the issue. That's what they've been trying to get, that -- that finite middle, if there is one, in these conversations behind closed doors.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about what happened last night. There was this congressional women's baseball game. Softball. Either one. And you were the announcer. And there was just this -- I mean, honestly, it was a very special night because of the return there of Krystal Griner. Tell us about it.

BASH: It was so -- it was so cool. I mean it was amazing to watch and to be a part of. Right, I was -- I was an announcer, along with Andrea Mitchell, our colleague from NBC, and Senator Amy Klobechar. We do this every year. And we were told that it was very likely that she was going to be able to be released from the hospital to come and do what you're seeing here, but we weren't sure until the last minute, but she was, in fact there. And I, you know, got to announce that she was -- that she was there.

[08:55:12] And just the emotion. I mean you can only imagine the emotion of everybody there. And the leaders of both parties and both chambers were there to see it and to pay tribute to this American hero who was just -- you know, trying to protect Steve Scalise. She was, and is, on his detail. And in that job that she was doing, ended up saving so many -- by all accounts, so many lives. There's no question, so many lives, just by doing her job incredibly well. And, obviously, as you saw there, taking a bullet herself. But she's doing really well and she was really excited to be there. And it was just a -- just a nice feel-good moment that was so welcome after everything that has been going on.

CAMEROTA: It seemed like it. I mean she was in a wheelchair, but it sure seemed like she was in good spirits there.

BASH: She sure was.

CAMEROTA: Dana, thank you very much. Great to see you.

BASH: Thank you. You, too.

CAMEROTA: CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman will pick up after this very quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

[08:59:57] In just a few minutes there will be no more secrets between us, at least in matters that deal with one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Senate Republicans meeting behind closed doors to find out what is in their own health care plan. They finally get to learn what is inside, then we do.