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Clock Starts as GOP Unveils Health Bill; Trump: No Comey Tapes. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 23, 2017 - 04:30   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that they'll probably get there. We'll have to see. You know, health care is a very difficult situation.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump calling for holdout Republicans to get behind the Senate's health care plan. Can the parties build support after the bill was met with early pushback?


[04:30:05] JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I've seen the tweet about tweets. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Sorry to disappoint you, Director Comey. President Trump says he did not record oval office conversations before firing you. Is it too late to reverse the damage?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

There's kind of a sense of deja vu for Republican lawmakers this morning, only this time, it's not the House trying to hammer out a deal to repeal and replace Obamacare, it's the Senate, working to balance the demands of both moderates and conservatives as GOP leaders attempt to get a health care bill passed in a matter of days.

The version unveiled by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now meeting pushback from the rank and file, though, with just two Republican votes to spare. Four senators are saying no already. Four because of the reasons that they have a lot of concerns about it.

BRIGGS: Ten other Republicans refusing to commit, saying they want time to review a bill that was under lock and key until yesterday. And, of course, the entire Democratic caucus totally opposed.

On the policy front, the Senate bill mostly mirrors the House version. Some key changes. More on those in a moment.

Our coverage begins, though, with CNN's Ryan Nobles.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Dave, good morning from Capitol Hill where senators haven't really had all that much time to digest this 142-page bill. But if the early reviews are any indication, this is going to have a difficult time being passed and being passed quickly.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, could have a problem on both sides of the political spectrum. There's a group of moderate senators voicing concerns about the bill. This group already a little queasy after the House bill that was passed from a month ago. He also has a problem on the far right, as well, as a group of four Republican senators have said that they cannot support the bill in its current fashion. Among them, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You have to -- you have to be honest with people, and it has to be paid for. So, if we're not going to pay for it and we're going to keep a lot of stuff that was in Obamacare, I think we can do better than this. My hope is not to defeat the bill but to make the bill better.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: It's not enough just to pass a bill that has Obamacare repeal in the title. We've got to actually have legislation that fixes the underlying problem.

The key to getting an agreement, to getting a bill can pass is we need common sense reforms in the bill that lower the cost of premiums.

NOBLES: Now, this group of four conservative senators have said that they are willing to negotiate on this bill. But the timeline here is very brief. We have yet to hear from the Congressional Budget Office. They're expecting to weigh in sometime at the beginning of next week.

But Mitch McConnell has said that he wants the bill passed before the Fourth of July recess. If you look at the calendar, that likely means that this bill needs to head to the floor sometime before next Friday if they have any realistic possibility of getting it passed before they head home for summer break.

Alison and Dave, back to you.


KOSIK: OK. Ryan Nobles, thanks very much.

And from a policy standpoint, the Senate Republicans' bill largely lines up with the House version that was passed in May. But there are important differences. For one, the Senate bill provides funds to stabilize the Obamacare exchange market during transition years, including key subsidies for insurers.

BRIGGS: On pre-existing conditions, the Senate version requires insurers to cover those patients, but it also allows states to seek waivers so insurers can offer less comprehensive policies. That means people with pre-existing conditions might not be able to buy or afford policies that cover all the care they need like mental health services or prescription drugs.

KOSIK: Now, the Senate bill also eliminates the rule requiring everyone to have insurance. But unlike the House bill, it would not levy a 30 percent surcharge on people who let their coverage lapse.

BRIGGS: Many Senate provisions are the same as the House bill. Children covered on their parents' plan until age 26, eliminate the requirement for workers to offer affordable -- for employers to offer affordable coverage for workers.

KOSIK: OK. So, President Trump kind of stayed out of the negotiations getting the bill through, but where is the president in this? The White House says it will play a part in hammering out the final health care plan, once again after President Trump mostly stayed out of the Senate's work so far.

BRIGGS: Now, as to whether the White House can get these reluctant Republicans to sign on, here's what President Trump had to say --


TRUMP: I think that they'll probably get there. We'll have to see. You know, health care's a very difficult situation. If you look, the Clintons tried to get it. And after years and years, they couldn't do it.

Obamacare was murder for them to get, and now, it's failed.

[04:35:03] It's virtually out of business. Obamacare is a disaster. And we're trying to do something in a short period of time.


BRIGGS: Obamacare's namesake also weighing in. President Obama posting a statement on Facebook, quote, The Senate bill unveiled today is not a health care bill. Simply put, if there's a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family, this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple of weeks under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

KOSIK: President Trump's self-inflicted scandal ending where it began with no tapes of the president's one-on-one with then-FBI Director James Comey. After weeks of teasing, the president made the big reveal on Twitter, naturally, with more than a dash of blame deflection. With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance intercepts, unmasking, and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are tapes or recordings of my conversations with James Comey. But I did not make and do not have any such recordings.

BRIGGS: In other words, never mind his may 12th tweet out of nowhere. James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.

So, why reveal this now? A senior administration official tells CNN it became clear the president had to come clean before a congressional deadline to hand over Comey tapes. If they exist by today, the official says the president has been amused by all the obsessing over the tapes. Another associate of the president told CNN if he doesn't regret this, he should.

For more let's bring in CNN's Athena Jones from the White House.



The president finally answered a question we've been asking for 41 days, but his tweets saying he did not make and does not have any recordings of his conversations with James Comey raised questions, questions that still haven't been answered.

During the off-camera press briefing, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly said things like the president's tweet speaks for itself or the president's been perfectly clear about this or about that, when that is not at all the case.

For one thing, the president's tweet denying that he has tapes seems to suggest that someone else might. That he might be being surveilled. That's an idea that Sanders dismissed.

What still isn't clear is why the president sent that tweet out in the first place. Many viewed it as an attempt to threaten Comey. Was it? Or was it an attempt to make sure that Comey spoke truthfully about his conversations with the president?

Sara Huckabee Sanders was asked that very question and didn't give a very clear answer. So, still, more questions about why the president decided to go this route -- Alison, Dave.


KOSIK: All right. Athena Jones, thanks very much.

And if Trump's tweet was an attempt to intimidate Comey, it seems to have come back to haunt the president. Earlier this month, Comey testified he quickly realized recordings could support his side of what happened between the two in the Oval Office. Comey later had a friend leak his detailed memos to a reporter which set off a series of events that led to Robert Mueller's appointment to head up the Russia probe.

BRIGGS: President Trump now weighing in and refusing to give the special counsel a vote of confidence.


INTERVIEWER: Should he recuse himself? TRUMP: Well, he's very, very good friends with Comey which is very

bothersome, but he's also -- we're going to have to see. I mean, we're going to have to see in terms -- look, there has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion. There has been leaking by Comey. But there's been no collusion, no obstruction, and virtually everybody agrees to that. So, we'll have to see.



That question, by the way, was should Bob Mueller recuse himself, a former marine, highly decorated, highly respected man on both sides of the aisle. Meanwhile, CNN first to report the House Intelligence Committee planning to interview former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta next week as part of its investigation into Russian meddling. Emails leaked from Podesta's hacked account caused major headaches for the Clinton camp in the heat of the 2016 election.

KOSIK: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi brushing off grumbling from within her own party declaring she has broad support among House Democrats. Some of those colleagues were meeting behind closed doors to discuss forcing her out. New York Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, who went public calling for Pelosi's ouster this week, hosted a dozen Democrats to strategize. A defiant Pelosi making it clear she's not going anywhere.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I think I'm worth the trouble, quite frankly. I love the fray. I know I'm not disrespectful of people's views.

[04:40:02] I respect any opinion that my members have. But my decision about how long I stay is not up to them.


KOSIK: Congresswoman Rice admitting to CNN part of the problem is no one has emerged as an alternative to Pelosi. Criticism of the Democratic leader has mounted as Democrats have lost special elections in the House.

Facebook has been accused of dividing America. But founder Mark Zuckerberg says the company's new plan will do just the opposite.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK FOUNDER: If you want to agree on things that the country is divided on, the first thing that you need to do is connect over your common humanity.


ROMANS: He doesn't always talk, so we've got clips. More of CNN's exclusive interview with Zuckerberg, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:45:02] KOSIK: It's been a tough year of tough questions for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. How does the company combat terrorism, fake news and a filter bubble that divides the country?

In an exclusive interview, Zuckerberg tells CNN's Laurie Segall that Facebook is overhauling its mission statement. So, the plan is to connect communities, not just individuals.


ZUCKERBERG: People are connecting over something that they have in common. There's research that shows that if you want to engage on issues that you disagree on, right, things that society is divided on, the first thing you need to do is connect over your common humanity. So, that can be as something as simple as we both have families or we both like a TV show together, we both like the Chicago Cubs, or whatever it is.

So, bringing people together and creating communities is a lot of what we can do to help create more civil and productive debate on some of the bigger issues, as well.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: What have you had to learn from the spread of misinformation, or what have you learned to make sure that people can really connect?

ZUCKERBERG: Yes. I mean, the biggest thing that I've learned as I've traveled around is that great communities have great leaders who are engaged and who just feel an ownership of taking care of the people in their groups. So, one of the things that I think that we can do is just empower leaders and all these folks who want to start communities around the world to do this.


KOSIK: And despite the political tone, Zuckerberg says he'll make an impact with Facebook's two billion users, not just in the political arena.

BRIGGS: The NBA draft in the books, no surprise. At number one is the Sixers use the top pick on Markelle Fultz. The Sixers hoping the Washington Huskies point guard will help turn the franchise around. Fourth straight year with the top five pick.

Minutes later with the second pick, the Lakers taking UCLA guard Lonzo Ball. Like clockwork, Ball's outspoken dad LaVar stealing the spotlight once again from his son. LaVar Ball bragged Lonzo will help lead the Lakers to the playoffs in his first season. Lakers coach Luke Walton saying the bold prediction will only make Ball's rookie year more challenging.

Number three, the Celtics snagging duke standout Jason Tatum. Boston had the number-one pick, traded down with the Sixers in exchange for a future first rounder, and a major trade also going down ahead of the draft. The bulls shipping all-star Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for guard Zach Levine and Chris Dunn. The Bulls and T-Wolves swapping first round selections and now, that T- Wolves team is loaded.

KOSIK: That was like the Grammys. That was the event.

BRIGGS: Yes, exploding on Twitter, or so I hear.

KOSIK: That was the highest trending topic for seven hours on Twitter or so I hear.

BRIGGS: A big deal. The kids, they love it.

KOSIK: Yes, especially mine.

Nearly 30 million people under a flood threat as what's left of tropical storm Cindy pushes northeast. Derek Van Dam joins us from the weather center.

Good morning.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. Nearly 30 million Americans under a flood threat today. This is all thanks to the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy moving across the central and eastern U.S. It's actually getting absorbed into a cold front that's slowly moving eastward. You see all the moisture available with the system. It's producing a significant amount of rainfall. In fact, we're anticipating anywhere between three to five inches from Louisiana through the Ohio River Valley, parts of Tennessee, even into Alabama and north Georgia. We have the potential for locally higher amounts, as well.

Look at this -- we also have the potential for severe weather today as the system moves east. Large hail, damaging winds, isolated tornadoes, parts of the West Virginia, southern Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, northern Mississippi, and Alabama. It will be a very muggy afternoon across the eastern seaboard into the Mid-Atlantic States. Look at the temperatures for the afternoon -- 90 for the nation's capital, 82 for New York.

But you know the second you step outside with that humidity level skyrocketing, it will feel even warmer yet.

Back to you.


KOSIK: OK, Derek, thanks very much.

Uber may be in the middle of a crisis, but employees at a competitor are being told not to gloat. CNN's "Money Stream" coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [04:53:28] BRIGGS: Iraq's prime minister expressing confidence that ISIS will be pushed out of Mosul within days. Haider al-Abadi says that ISIS effectively declared its own defeat by blowing up Mosul's historic al-Nuri mosque. Still, Iraqi troops are trying to contain the remaining ISIS fighters in the old part of the city.

Jomana Karadsheh live for us in Jordan with the latest.

Good morning to you, Jomana.


As we heard from the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi sounding really optimistic saying that they expect to declare liberation and victory in Mosul in the next few days. Of course, this is not the first time that we've heard such timelines from Iraqi officials. If you look at before the start of the battle for Mosul last year, they were expecting that it would be over by the end of 2016. And eight months later, the battle is still going on.

That said, it is still possible they might be able to do that, but it is not an easy task. If you look at what is left of Mosul, what they are fighting for right now, it is a small part of the city, Iraq's second largest city. They have captured most of it. So, now, they're fighting for the old city as you mentioned.

And the difficulty there is that very complex urban environment and also the geography of the old city. We are talking about these very narrow streets and alley ways that is very heavily populated. What we've seen is Iraqi security forces are unable to move in with their vehicles. They are dismounting, they're moving on foot, and they're also meeting a lot of resistance and threats.

[04:55:02] They are seeing ISIS snipers and booby traps and car bombs that ISIS has managed to plant around those really narrow streets. With all that, they are also very concerned about the civilian population. There are estimates out there was about 100,000 to 150,000 civilians still trapped, essentially being used as human shields. Half of them children, Dave.

BRIGGS: Ooh, geez. So the end might be near. But it won't come quietly.

Jomana Karadsheh reporting live for us in Jordan -- thank you.

KOSIK: One remarkable record apparently set in the battle for Mosul, a Canadian sharpshooter set a record by hitting an ISIS fighter from more than two miles away. The Canadian special operations command confirming the sniper took the shot from a high position and that nearly ten seconds elapsed from trigger to target.

Canada's "Globe and Mail" reported the shop and said it disrupted an ISIS attack. Officials wouldn't disclose details, and there are skeptics who doubt the shot. But "The Globe and Mail" says the kill was independently verified by video and other data. BRIGGS: The Secret Service says it is aware of an eyebrow-raising,

despicable comment from actor Johnny Depp made about President Trump at a film festival in the U.K. Here it is --


JOHNNY DEEP, ACTOR: When was the last time that an actor assassinated a president? I want to clarify, I'm not an actor.



BRIGGS: Depp's flip joke an apparent reference to actor John Wilkes Booth who, of course, assassinated President Lincoln. The Secret Service releasing a statement saying, quote, for security reasons, we cannot discuss specifically, nor in general terms the means and methods of how we perform our protective responsibilities.

Depp very quickly under intense criticism from all quarters. Conservative host Laura Ingraham just one voice calling him the pothead of the Caribbean. Johnny Depp jokes about assassinating Donald Trump, walk the plank, Captain Jack.

And Laura's probably dead on about that. He has walked the career plank.

I can't imagine anyone even in a left-leaning Hollywood can hire this man. Republicans and Democrats alike go see movies. I can't imagine America will support that crap.

KOSIK: Definitely not. He's a great actor. I love him in all of his movies. Many would say, listen, Johnny, stick to acting. Stay away from politics.

BRIGGS: There's no walking that back. There's no apologizing for that type of rhetoric.

KOSIK: All right. Let's move on to a get a check on CNN's "Money Stream." Global markets mostly lower this morning after Wall Street closed mixed. The Dow and S&P closing lower as bank stocks fell in preparation of their annual stress test.

The NASDAQ popping as health stocks rose more than 1 percent. They jumped after the Senate unveiled its health care bill, while crude prices rebounded half a percent. Right now, we're seeing futures higher.

Qatar Airwaves wants to buy a 10 percent stake in American Airlines, as American CEO, Doug Parker, he ain't too happy about it. However, he told employees in an e-mail that American can't control who purchases its stock. And Qatar would own $808 million worth if the deal goes through.

The world's biggest airline has been at odds with Qatar Airways. It claims the state-run company enjoys government subsidies and that allows it to expand in the U.S., hurting jobs. Qatar denies this, but it's one reason U.S. carriers want the Trump administration to review current aviation agreements.

All right. With a mass exodus of top executives at Uber, the company certainly is in the middle of a crisis. But a rival ride-sharing company, Lyft, is saying, listen, don't gloat. The founder sending out a staff memo to its employees saying, the faults of our competition don't do anything to deliver a better experience for our customers.

Uber has faced one PR crisis after another. This, though, has created an opportunity for Lyft. It raised $600 million in funding this year and saw an uptick in new passenger signups.

We've seen people talking about banning -- everybody should boycott Uber --

BRIGGS: Keep hearing that, but we don't see people follow through.

KOSIK: Not at least in New York city where it's a must that you have to take a lot of ride-sharing companies just to get around.

BRIGGS: Yes, Uber has proven that they can weather the storm through all of the crises so far.

All right. EARLY START continues right now.



TRUMP: I think that they'll probably get there. We'll have to see. You know, health care is a very difficult situation.


KOSIK: President Trump calling for holdout Republicans to get behind the Senate's health care plan. Can the party build support after the bill was met with early pushback?


COMEY: I've seen the tweet about tweets. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.


BRIGGS: Sorry to disappoint you, former Director Comey. President Trump says he did not record your Oval Office conversations. But is it too late for Trump to reverse the damage?

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to EARLY START on the longest Friday of the year. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: No, no, no, the summer was yesterday --

BRIGGS: But this the longest Friday --


BRIGGS: -- of the year. Enjoy all the daylight.