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Real-World Impact of Defunding Planned Parenthood; Audio-Only White House Press Briefing. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired June 23, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] RICK NEWMAN, ECONOMIC ANALYST & SENIOR WRITER, YAHOO! FINANCE: -- emergency room, they have to be treated anyway, even if that they don't have insurance and somebody has to pay for that, and that generally gets passed through the system and insurance rates go up for everybody.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
NEWMAN: That's how that gets paid for.
BALDWIN: That is just one piece of this.
Rick Newman, thank you so much.
Another piece of the Senate health bill, a provision to defund Planned Parenthood for one year. That could be a sticking point for two Senators, Susan Collins from Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. These ladies say that they will introduce an amendment to actually remove that piece out of this bill.
CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, has a look at how the funding cut could impact one expectant mother in California.
ARIANA GONZALEZ, DEPENDS ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Daddy's home.
DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After suffering infertility and three miscarriages, Ariana and Kevin Gonzalez were thrilled when Ariana became pregnant with daughter, Bailey, but they were worried, too.
GONZALEZ: We needed to make sure that this pregnancy was going to stick and it was going to be healthy. And in order to do that, off to Mexico we went.
COHEN: That's right, off to Mexico. That's because the Gonzales' live in El Centro, California, in a county federally designated as a medically underserved area.
Ariana has health insurance through her job as a high school teacher but there simply aren't enough doctors to go around, so she was going to have to wait six weeks to see her obstetrician.
That's why Ariana was relieved when a Planned Parenthood clinic opened in her town, filling the void. But now she's worried all over again.
UNIDENTIFIED SENATORS: The ayes are 217 and the nays are 213.
COHEN: Because the American Health Care Act that passed in the House of Representatives defunds Planned Parenthood. The new Senate proposal would do the same. That could force her clinic to close, the clinic where she gets birth control and gynecological care. And if it closed, she would be right back where she started.
(on camera): If your clinic closes down, you would leave your country to go get care?
GONZALEZ: Yes. Yes, and I know people might be thinking that's a little bit drastic, and it is.
COHEN (voice-over): She doesn't want to leave her doctor to see a doctor and face this long line at the border, but right here, over the border in Mexico, there are plenty of doctors ready and waiting to see Americans.
Republicans say Ariana shouldn't worry. She'll have ready access to care in the United States. Because while the health care bill takes money away from Planned Parenthood, it provides $422 million to beef up federal health centers, like this one in her town, that don't provide abortions.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: For every Planned Parenthood, there are 20 federal community health centers. They're vastly bigger in network. There are so many more of them. And they provide these kinds of services without all the controversy surrounding this issue.
COHEN: But many experts say community health clinics can't fill the void that would be left by Planned Parenthood closures, that they simply don't have the capacity.
So now Ariana has a message for Senators before they follow the House and vote to defund Planned Parenthood.
GONZALEZ: If their doors are shut, you'll be driving your own constituents to an entirely different country in search of health care, and that's not America.
COHEN: She says she hopes and praise that Senators won't send her away from her own country to see a doctor.
GONZALEZ: I think it's -- it's shameful, and I think that they should be embarrassed.
COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, El Centro, California.
BALDWIN: Elizabeth, thank you.
Coming up, Johnny Depp makes this outrageous remark about assassinating President Trump. Why this rhetoric from Hollywood is really crossing the line.
And jurors in the Bill Cosby trial are speaking out, saying that they worked together as a family, why they decided not to convict Bill Cosby on assault charges.
Stay with me.
[14:37:57] BALDWIN: All right. Let's get you now to the White House to the briefing we can't see but we can hear. This is the Q&A portion with Sean Spicer, just wrapped moments ago. So here is that audio.
SPICER: ... have now.
And with that, let's get in some questions.
QUESTION: The -- the president this morning, in an interview with "Fox and Friends," seemed to indicate that he thinks the special counsel may have some conflicts of interest, one being his friendship with Comey, another being the fact that a lot of the people that he's hiring, bringing on, special counsel's office, were either Hillary Clinton supporters or the president said he -- some of them had even worked for Hillary Clinton.
Does he -- is he still ruling out firing the special counsel?
SPICER: Nothing's changed on that, in terms of his position on...
QUESTION: And his position is?
SPICER: That while he retains the authority -- anyone who serves under him (ph); I believe Steve and I had a healthy exchange with that -- but -- but that he has no intention of doing that.
And does -- does he -- he seemed to suggest this morning there might be a circumstance under which Mueller should take himself out. Can you tell us...
SPICER: I don't -- yeah, that's one, obviously, I would refer to Marc Kasowitz, in terms of the president's legal strategy on that. But I -- I'll just leave it at that. But good try.
QUESTION: Sean, on health care, what is the president's current outlook on the Senate bill, given some of the reservations that some of the senators raised yesterday? And does the president feel that Senator McConnell should pull the bill next week if he doesn't have the number -- the -- the numbers to pass it or it's a tight (ph) vote?
SPICER: Well, I would approach that in the same way we approached the House bill. I'm not going to be -- I wasn't prescriptive then with Speaker Ryan, in terms of -- when they're ready to vote, they'll vote. Senator McConnell has said that he wants a vote next week, and that's up to him to run the chamber the way he sees fit.
But the president is very supportive of the bill. He wants to work with -- with all the members to improve it in any way that need -- that can -- can help facilitate that passage and make it a stronger bill.
And he intends to work with all the individuals. He's got a lot of respect for the four senators, in particular, on the Republican side that have come forward, wants to work with them. But, you know, I know Senator Manchin talked about potentially getting some Democrats together, and the president welcomes that.
QUESTION: Sean, thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you.
What is the president's level of involvement at this point in terms of trying to push the bill forward or not? Can you give us a sense of whether he's making calls?
He's not -- he's had a couple calls with Majority Leader McConnell. As you recall, I think last week we had six senators here. I wouldn't be surprised to see that continued involvement.
As you recall, it's a very similar situation as to what it was in the House, right, that he has several House members come in and out prior to the lead-up to the vote and as the vote got closer, the -- in working with the whip team in the House and the Legislative Affairs team here, he identified members that had concerns or continued to call them. I, you know, expect a similar process at this point.
But he's had meetings with members. He's on the phone with Senator McConnell. But also Secretary Price, Seema Verma, the Legislative Affairs staff, chief of staff and others are intimately engaged in this, having conversations with senators, providing feedback to the president, he's providing guidance back as far as how we continue to tweak it.
But I think we have a fairly robust discussion going on right now. Ashley (ph)?
QUESTION: Sean, what is the vice president's role in the Senate health care bill? How involved has he been? And how involved do you see him being going forward?
SPICER: The president -- the vice president's played a very important role. He's been up there -- he goes to the policy lunch once a week, he's constantly on the phone with them and he's -- he's been a huge asset as he was in the House side.
But again, I -- to Maggie's question, I'd say right now it's a fairly similar process, right? The Legislative Affairs team is identifying concerns that individual members have or ideas and suggestions that they have, feeding them back to the team and then, you know, asking for the president's input technically on -- on some of those technical matters and providing feedback.
So as we get closer to that vote, you know, we were -- we've been pleasantly surprised with a lot of the support that's already come out and I think we'll continue to work through, in particular the four individuals who -- who've expressed some ideas and concerns and we'll -- we'll get to it.
QUESTION: So you're saving the president for the tail end of the process? Is that what you're saying?
SPICER: No, I think -- and Maggie can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think, you know, she was asking what the process was and I think that we're following a similar pattern, which is he has engaged with them. I mean, I think we've talked about the number -- the individuals he's had over to the White House and met with, and he's also had some pull- asides here and there when they've come over for different things. So he is personally engaged with them.
The question about -- Maggie had specifically asked about phone calls, and I think that while he has addressed it here and there, the type of push that you saw at the end of the vote before the House, you know, we're not at that phase where he's -- yeah. And just because of the nature of -- you know, these are individuals and because of the numbers, the Senate being what it is and the numbers that we have to get to 50-plus-1 is in a different place than the House, where you have many more members to address.
QUESTION: When you look at the House bill and the Senate legislation, is the Senate legislation the preferred vehicle for this going forward?
SPICER: I think the president's very supportive of the Senate bill. There's a lot of ideas in there. He's talked about having heart and he likes a lot of the reforms that have been in there. He's committed to making sure that no one who currently is in the Medicaid program is affected in any way, which is reflected in the Senate bill and he's pleased with that. He -- so I think he is very pleased with that bill and he wants to continue to push it forward. But in the same way, the way he dealt with the House, I mean, if there's other ideas and amendments as the bill moves forward that strengthen it, he's all ears.
QUESTION: What's the -- the argument he's making or plans to make to the senators he's trying to get on board? Is it a policy- focused argument, getting to the nitty-gritty, or is it a larger argument about this being -- this being the last best chance or the best chance to keep a campaign promise?
SPICER: It's a good question, because I think it depends on -- on the senator and what their concerns are. I mean, if you look at some of the individual senators that have expressed concerns from Rand Paul to Ted Cruz, there are differences in what their individual concerns are. And so it's not a holistic approach to -- but I think the overarching point that he's made very consistently is that Obamacare is dead and that it is not a binary choice. It's not keep this or take that; it's this system is failing and we must act. That is the overarching point that he's made to all of these individuals.
One interesting point is that when you actually look at the House side in particular, you've got 113 members of the Democratic caucus that are co-sponsors of -- of single -- universal care, the Bernie Sanders bill. It's a $32 trillion alternative.
SPICER: So if you think about it, the -- the bill that the House -- the House bill that got passed that's the basis of what the Senate worked off of has a net savings.
The -- what the majority of House Democrats support is not maintaining Obamacare, but the majority of that conference is actually supporting the Bernie Sanders universal health care bill, which is a $32 trillion, one-size-fits-all, government-run, no-competition- forces, no-market-forces bill. And I think that that -- that is really what the choice has become.
If you -- I mean -- it's not -- if you think about this, the majority of Democrats in the House aren't backing Obamacare. What they're backing is a government takeover of universal care that doesn't have any market forces, that's going to cost our country $32 trillion. And I think that that's the real choice that exists.
QUESTION: One more.
QUESTION: Just in response to tapes, you see that Congressman Schiff said yesterday, talking about, "I don't think we can accept this as the complete answer," referring to president's tweet. His problem with it was that the president was really just talking about himself, and that Schiff would like to see in writing a response that covers the entire White House. (inaudible) the tweet suggested that maybe someone else has recordings. Does the White House plan to deliver some sort of official written response to Schiff and the House Intel Committee?
SPICER: I believe -- and I have to follow up -- but I believe that there was some communication that we have to have by close of business today. So I'll figure out if that's going out.
But I mean, I think the president was clear, he was asked -- he said he would follow up on whether he knew of this, and I think he's answered it very clearly.
QUESTION: Just real quick on Medicaid, you mentioned a moment ago something about Medicaid. I want to make sure I'm clear.
So, is the president comfortable with the changes to the Medicaid program in the Senate bill and how that would, you know, roll back the expansion on a certain date? Is he comfortable with that aspect?
SPICER: I think right now, as I said, he's very supportive of the current bill, so.
QUESTION: And real quick on Qatar, does the White House have any response to the demands that the Saudis have made at this time (ph)?
SPICER: The four countries that are part of that, we believe it's a family issue, and that they should work out. If we can help facilitate those discussions, then so be it, but this is something that they've -- they want to and should work out for themselves.
QUESTION: (inaudible), Sean.
First of all, (inaudible), regards to (inaudible) one of those demands would be to shut down Al Jazeera. The United States generally has spoken out in favor of free and independent press (inaudible) in this case.
But -- does the White House believe that it's appropriate that the free press is something that's on the table for the restoration of diplomatic relations?
SPICER: Again, I don't -- we're not -- we're willing to play a facilitating role in those discussions. But that's a -- a discussion that those countries need to have amongst themselves. And so, until we're asked to -- to join that and facilitate it, I'm not going to get in the middle of that discussion.
QUESTION: And I have a second question.
In this morning's Washington Post there was an item about the president inquiring about his health. Wondering, is Dr. Jackson (inaudible) the military office, the (inaudible) medical unit, the president's personal physician at this point? Has the president seen him? And will the White House commit to releasing the annual physician's letter that has been customary of presidents for years?
SPICER: I know Admiral Jackson travels everywhere with the president, so he consults him regularly. I don't have an update on his particular vitals, but I will follow up on the letter. But I know that Dr. -- Admiral Jackson's intimately involved in the president's care, and provides him, you know, feedback on whatever medical issues he has.
QUESTION: Does President Trump think special counsel Robert Mueller is partisan?
SPICER: I think his comments this morning speak for themselves as to his views on Robert Mueller.
John Gizzi? QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.
Two brief questions.
First, it was reported on one of the networks that the president referred to the American Health Care Act as a mean bill, and he wanted more money that was coming in. Did he actually say that? Or can you confirm or deny whether he used that term to describe it, and call for greater funding for parts of it?
SPICER: I -- I would tell you that I don't comment on private conversations that the president has.
QUESTION: All right.
And the other thing I do want to know was, on Tuesday night, in a public conversation, his speech that he delivered in Cedar Rapids, the president called for legislation that would deny welfare benefits to illegal immigrants for five years. It has been widely reported that that has been on the books for 21 years, going back to when President Clinton signed the omnibus welfare reform legislation in 1996.
Was that a misstatement on the president's part? Or was he aware that this is already on the books?
SPICER: The president's aware that that law exists. I think the president's concern generally speaking with all the immigration laws is that they're not being enforced. We've got several laws that are on the books, but they're not being enforced. I think the president believes that we need to do what we can.
SPICER: I mean, obviously he's been very clear on immigration, and on -- especially from our southern border. But that law, while on the books, has not been enforced, and clearly either needs to be reexamined, enforced, or -- or new legislation needs to be introduced.
SEAN: I'm sorry. Hallie?
QUESTION: (inaudible). I have two questions for you. One is a follow-up from earlier in the week.
You were asked whether the president believes Russia interfered with the 2016 election and said you hadn't had a chance to have that conversation. So I'm wondering if you've had that conversation, and if so, if the president is concerned about that interference.
SPICER: I have, thank you.
And the only point that I would make, just as a point of clarification...
SPICER: ... some other countries did as well.
QUESTION: (inaudible), "I think it was Russia, but I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people."
SPICER: There you go. Thank you.
QUESTION: And so does he stand by that?
SPICER: This whole row is getting an A for effort.
QUESTION: Is he concerned about that, Sean?
SPICER: Of course. He's concerned about any country or any actor that wants to interfere in our elections. I confirmed that he stands by the -- but he's -- and he's taken two, I think, very large steps.
One is cyber-security, to make sure that he signed an executive order, his homeland security advisers working diligently to make sure that we take steps to protect the integrity of our election system and all of our other cyber defenses.
And then secondly, he instituted an election commission that is making sure that we look at all of how we're voting and to make sure that we maintain integrity in all of our voting process, to make sure that we have faith in it.
And that includes cyber. It includes voter ID. It includes all sorts of systems. I expect that commission to have several announcements in the -- probably the next two weeks, and potentially, you know, some hearings in July.
But there's going to be continued activity.
But the president takes that very seriously, and I think those two actions in particular point to his commitment to it.
QUESTION: So, to follow up on that, then, Sean, what do you say -- we've talked to dozens of state officials who say they simply have not heard much from this administration regarding how to protect their own voting systems. SPICER: Right.
QUESTION: What do you say to those critics who say you're not doing enough?
SPICER: I think those officials, state and county, and, I think, down to the municipal level, will get a letter next week from the commission, asking them to help facilitate some transfer of data back to us so we can begin the process of a thorough review of the systems.
And we will continue to engage them and find out ways that we can strengthen the integrity of our system and make sure that we have the utmost confidence in our voting system.
QUESTION: Thank, Sean.
Front row gets an A for effort (OFF-MIKE).
SPICER: All right. You have a lot to live up to.
QUESTION: Whoo. Whoo.
QUESTION: Question about health care.
Obviously, the House bill and the Senate draft discussion -- they are similar, but they're different. Does the president, at this point, have a preference of either one? And if so, which one?
SPICER: I think right now he's, as I mentioned, very supportive of the Senate bill. Let's get that passed, and then, obviously, you know, we'll go to conference. And so there's elements of the Senate bill that he's very pleased with, but let's -- our goal is to go through the process, get it passed through the Senate and then have that discussion in conference.
QUESTION: Let me ask you -- comments that you made this morning, you had talked about -- you were asked about the strategy, and you talked about how several high-level people within the administration have been providing technical assistance, working with members and Senate leadership to ask -- or, to talk, rather, about additional changes that might be necessary.
I'm curious as to what those -- specifically what those additional changes in the Senate bill that you view might indeed be necessary.
SPICER: I think you've got four Republican senators in particular that have expressed -- each one of them has concerns, and in order to get over 50 votes, we're going to -- we'll listen to them, and to others that'll help strengthen the bill and get us to that point.
But that's -- that's -- part of that -- that's part of the process. Same thing that we did on the House side, too. QUESTION: So nothing specific from the White House point of view as far as...
SPICER: Well, I don't want to -- I mean, again, this is a discussion that we'll have with those senators. But I'm not going to telegraph it right now.
As I mentioned, you correctly quoted me from earlier this morning, that we're going to have those conversations with them, find out what additions, suggestions, ideas they have that strengthen the bill and help it move forward.
QUESTION: Real quick (inaudible) follow-up on health care.
Is the president eager enough to get rid of Obamacare that he would accept a bill that he doesn't like? Or if he doesn't get what he wants out of the Senate and/or out of conference, would he veto it and make them go back to the drawing board?
SPICER: Well, of -- in theory, if he doesn't like something, he's not going to sign it.
QUESTION: I mean, but does...
SPICER: As I -- I mean, I -- he's -- I've said, he's very supportive of the -- of the Senate bill as it stands. So I don't think that's going to be a problem.
QUESTION: And the follow-up to that is, there are four members of the Republican Party who say that the problem with it is that it's really too much like Obamacare, and they want to see it completely jettisoned. So...
SPICER: That's not entirely accurate.
QUESTION: Well, all right, I'm paraphrasing. But...
SPICER: Again, he'll work with them, and our staff will work with them, and we'll look at issues that can get us there.
But I think -- you know, and I mentioned Senator Manchin himself also noted that he would -- he would like to sit down and work, and I think if we can find -- we can grow that number even larger, we would love to do it.
QUESTION: ... the Democrats?
SPICER: Senator Manchin's a Democrat.
QUESTION: Yeah, I mean, other than...
SPICER: He mentioned that he might have some additional folks that -- that are -- have expressed to him a -- a willingness to work together. And I think the president's been clear, if anybody has a willingness to move this forward and get it done, he'd love to be -- work across party lines.
QUESTION: Thank you, Sean.
We saw the president's tweet about China's role in the North Korea crisis. He just met with Mattis and Tillerson, who have met with their Chinese counterparts yesterday.
Can you characterize at this point what he thinks about China's role on North Korea, and whether he's preparing to impose what are called secondary sanctions on Chinese entities that are flouting international sanctions?
SPICER: I will not comment on the second part of that for obvious reasons. But good try.
Look, he remains hopeful that we can work with China, both politically and economically, to apply the pressure on North Korea. He commented personally, and I'll reiterate, that he is -- continues to be very troubled by what happened to Otto Warmbier, and -- and would like to see China do more.
QUESTION: He's not -- so he's not hopeful -- sorry (ph). He's hopeful, he's not impatient at this point? He hasn't lost patience with China?
SPICER: I -- I just would say that he -- he remains hopeful that we can find a way forward.
QUESTION: I want to ask you about Russia, because this week, the Russians canceled planned talks in St. Petersburg. It's been widely reported that two weeks from now, in Germany, the president and Vladimir Putin are supposed to have some kind of talk on the sidelines at the G-20.
Is it the president's intention to have a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Germany?
SPICER: Obviously, Steve, we're -- we have a lot of countries that we will probably have bilaterals with on the sidelines of the G- 20, as well as during the visit to Poland. Not -- that wouldn't happen during that. But there are countries that we are planning bilats with, both during the stop in Poland, as well as during the two days that we'll be at the G-20.
QUESTION: Does the president want to meet with Vladimir Putin?
SPICER: I think that he understands that we have a role -- we -- we -- to the extent that we can work with Russia to solve some problems and to cooperate, if we can find that willingness, that -- we'd like to do it. And when we have an update on the schedule, as we grow closer to the G-20, I'm sure we'll provide that to you.
QUESTION: How would you describe the current state of American- Russian relations?
SPICER: I don't -- I don't know what word you're -- I mean, they -- they had -- we're -- we maintain a -- a -- you know, I'll give you a good example.
We continue to have deconfliction with them in Syria. I think that's a positive thing. I think we enjoy normal diplomatic relations with them. And as the president has said very -- on numerous times, that if we can find areas of agreement with Russia, especially with respect to the fight against ISIS, area -- you know, safe zones in Syria, then we'll do it. But it's got to be on terms that are in the best interests -- in -- in our national interest.
QUESTION: (inaudible), Sean.
When the president tweeted out earlier this week that China's efforts at applying pressure on North Korea -- his words -- has not worked out, was he referring to the idea that China has not applied the -- the necessary pressure on North Korea, or that North Korea has received that pressure, and it's simply not responded to whatever pressure China has applied?
SPICER: I will just say that, as I mentioned to Olivier, he remains hopeful that -- that they will continue to apply additional pressure; that we'll seek a better outcome in terms of what -- in terms of North Korea.
But I'll leave that tweet for itself, and -- and continue discussion through diplomatic channels.
QUESTION: So -- so, when he seemed to, sort of, abandon the idea of getting China to apply that pressure to North Korea, at the same time, it's -- let me -- let me just finish. At the same time, it seems as if Secretary Mattis and Secretary Tillerson are going to continue to that effort. Is there a conflict there in terms of what the president wants to perhaps not do and what the secretaries of defense and state want to do in applying that pressure to North Korea and to China (ph)?
SPICER: So, can you just expand on that just a...
QUESTION: Yeah. Well, it -- it seems like, you know, the president's given up on trying to get China to apply pressure.
SPICER: I don't know -- I don't -- yeah, I don't -- I don't think that's true.
As I -- I -- I may have mentioned, he -- he remains hopeful that they will apply both diplomatic, political and economic pressure to force North Korea to do the right thing.
QUESTION: Sean -- so, two questions for you.
One, just on the tapes, in an interview this morning, the president said he believes his tweet about the tapes
influenced Comey to tell the truth at his testimony.