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Senate Health Care Bill Unveiled; Trump: No Comey Tapes; Iraqi PM: Liberation of Mosul Soon. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 23, 2017 - 05:00   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 party build support after the bill was met with early pushback?


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: 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.

[05:00:04] 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. A longer happy hour, my friend.

KOSIK: OK. Yes, more hours at the pool.

Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It is Friday, June the 23rd. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

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 with just two Republican votes to spare. Four senators say no. Four more say they've got concerns.

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, but some key changes here. More on those in a moment.

But, first, our coverage begins with 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. Our thanks to Ryan Nobles for that.

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


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. It's virtually out of business. Obamacare is a disaster. And we're trying to do something in a short period of time.


KOSIK: And Obamacare's namesake weighing in. President Obama himself posting a statement on Facebook saying this: 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.

BRIGGS: Let's bring in CNN political analyst David Drucker, senior correspondent for the "Washington Examiner."

Good morning to you, sir. Thanks for being on extra early this morning.

That perfectly promote your piece in the "Washington Examiner" about how Democrats are attacking this bill, using that word "mean" that President Trump used. But the question isn't about Democratic opposition to you. It's Republicans. Can they possibly get those four or two of the four involved, supporting it, without losing some of the moderates?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's going to be the challenge here. Mitch McConnell is a very crafty operator. He's a smart legislative tactician and he understands the pressure points of his members. So, I wouldn't underestimate him and his strategy.

My question is, can they do this in a week? I tend to think that eventually, Mitch McConnell will get the 50 votes he needs that would allow Vice President Mike Pence to make the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. It may take time.

The reason I tend to think they'll ultimately get there is because there is a lot of pressure on Republicans back home. [05:05:05] Now, every state is a little bit different. But from the

conservative grassroots, there's a sense that Obamacare should have been repealed months ago. I don't necessarily think that's realistic. I think they've been on a rather fast timeline. But a lot of Republican voters figure they've had seven years to figure this out, they've got a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and the White House. What is taking them so long?

And so, that is a competing pressure with trying to get a bill that is going to make everybody happy and solve the underlying problem that they hear about, which is my insurance is costing me too much, my deductibles are too high, and I don't have as much access to quality insurance that I would like.

KOSIK: So, clearly, David, Obamacare has its big issues. Many are saying these bills, not just the Senate version but the house, as well, they have their issues, as well. You look at the political consequences for so many of these senators, you know, you look at just the overhaul of Medicaid, that factor in the Senate bill, 20 senators represent states that went ahead and incorporated the Medicaid expansion into their states. Eighteen of them, 18 of those senators are up for re-election in 2020 and 2022. So, there are big repercussions if they wind up voting for something that their constituents can't really get behind.

DRUCKER: Right. And Republicans understand that full well because they've been profiting off Obamacare for the last three election cycles. They've seen what happened to Democrats.

And I think what people -- what a lot of Republican voters may forget or not understand is that when Democrats passed Obamacare, not only do they believe they were doing the right thing, they thought that eventually it was going to work in such a way that voters were going to be very happy with it and that Democrats would be rewarded by being re-elected and winning more seats than they had to begin with. It didn't pan out that way.

Republicans are acutely aware of that, which is why this has been at times a difficult process for them because they don't have any -- they're not under any illusion that the voters are going to rush out and embrace them for this, especially if heading into the 2018 midterm elections, their primary, immediate concern, the health care system which does need to be fixed isn't doing better than before they passed about the bill.

BRIGGS: Well, it's interesting that they've slowed down the Medicaid cutbacks, if you will, to after the 2020 election.

But enough on the politics of it. How about the policy of it? A full screen showed that the surcharge for letting your coverage lapse is now gone. The mandate is now gone.

The chief argument against Obamacare is that insurers are fleeing the market. Many Americans left with no options. How might this Senate policy bring back insurers into the market especially given what we're seeing on our screen right there? DRUCKER: Well, look, what insurers want is stability. And they want

to know that they're going to be able to make money by insuring people. I mean, they've found the instability in the current market problematic. Part of that is the fact that they don't have faith that the current administration will do what's necessary to buck up the Obamacare system.

So, if you create a playing field that they can all depend on, then you have a good chance they will --

BRIGGS: Sorry to interrupt, but with no mandate and no punishment for letting your coverage lapse, isn't that a disaster for an insurer?

DRUCKER: Not necessarily. I mean, look, people -- people want to have health insurance before there was a mandate. It's a -- it's something that a lot of people need. You don't -- I mean, I'm giving you an argument here. Obviously there are two sides to this. Some people believe without a mandate you don't have healthy, young Americans in the system that enables the health care system to pay for older people and sick people at rates that are not unfair and punitive.

But one of the reasons why the Obamacare market never worked as envisioned is that the penalties for not having insurance under Obamacare were never enough to get the young and healthy into the system in the numbers that were projected. And that has been part of a problem.

KOSIK: OK. So, let me switch gears very quickly. Not only health care made the headlines but the fact that President Trump --

BRIGGS: No tapes.

DRUCKER: What tapes?

KOSIK: There are no tapes.


KOSIK: How is this going to backfire?

DRUCKER: Well, look, I think that the president's impulsiveness in trying to corner his adversaries may have gotten the best of him at this point. And they eventually needed to say something about this because it was an issue that wasn't going to go away. And it's probably something that in the special counsel investigation, but also in the congressional investigations in the house and Senate Intelligence Committees, people were asking for tapes.

[05:10:04] And people wanted to know what the contents of the tapes were. If a president does record in the White House, those tapes belong to the American people, to the government. They don't belong to the government.

So, this is something they had to resolve. I think the way in which it is damaging to the president is the that it bothers him that we're discussing the Russia story again and that the idea that he's being looked at, his campaign at least is being looked at as possibly concluding with the Russians who we all know meddled in the 2016 election.

Why are we talking about it this morning? Because of the tapes issue. Why did the tapes issue arise? Because the president said he had tapes. I think when James Comey called his bluff we were always going to get to this point. Either he was going to have to show him or say it didn't exist.

BRIGGS: But even in stopping this ridiculous reality show, he insinuates that perhaps the intelligence community recorded him. This just makes my head hurt.

David Drucker, thank you so We'll talk to you in 30 minutes about what the president said about Bob Mueller and the special counsel ahead.

But next, Iraqi officials say Mosul may be liberated from ISIS very soon, but is that overly optimistic? We're live in the Middle East next on EARLY START.


KOSIK: Iraq's prime minister expressing confidence that ISIS will be pushed out of Mosul within days. Haider al-Abadi says ISIS effectively declared its own defeat by blowing up Mosul's mosque. Still, Iraqi troops are trying to contain the remaining ISIS fighters in the old part of the city.

Jomana Karadsheh is live for us in Amman, Jordan, with the latest.

So, I'm thinking that even after the liberation, Jomana, the governing process will have to kick in in Iraq.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You have so many challenges that come, Alison, after the liberation phase. You have the rebuilding, and I asked Iraq's president about this last month, how much they thought that was going to cost them. They said that they believed that the destruction, whether it's Mosul or other parts of Iraq by ISIS and the fighting is phenomenal, and they really can't put a price tag on that now.

And, of course, then there's the issue of rebuilding trust between the different communities and making sure that that sectarian divide that allowed for the rise of ISIS will not create that environment again to see another terror group emerge yet again in Iraq and capture territory like ISIS did.

Now, if you look at what is going on now, you hear optimism from the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, something we've seen from Iraqi officials in past, saying that we are going to see this declaration of liberation and victory in the next new days. And you would expect to hear something like that as Iraqi officials are trying to keep the morale of their troops and also the population high after this really long and bloody battle. But the fact of the matter, it is a tough fight still ahead. We are

talking, as you mentioned, about the old city of Mosul in the western part of Mosul. And this is a very difficult, complex, urban environment.

Geographically, we're talking about these narrow streets and alleyways. It is heavily populated. Iraqi forces have had a difficult time. They can't move with their vehicles in there. They have had to move on foot, meeting so much resistance, booby traps, snipers, and car bombs that ISIS has planted.

And, of course, the main concern as they move forward into the old city is the civilian population, estimates of 100,000 to 150,000 civilians. Half of them children, Alison.

KOSIK: So much to contend with before they even take hold of Mosul again.

All right. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, thanks so much.

BRIGGS: All right. So, one remarkable record. Apparently set in the battle for Mosul. A Canadian sharpshooter hit an is fighter from more than two miles away. The Canadian special operations command confirmed the sniper took the shot from a high position. That nearly ten seconds elapsed from trigger to target. Canada's "Globe and Mail" first reported the shot saying it disrupted an ISIS attack. That is stunning.

KOSIK: It really is amazing.

BRIGGS: OK. The 2017 NBA draft in the books. The top picks, big trades. Andy Scholes, big NBA fan and former Houston Rockets bellboy, breaks it down next in the "Bleacher Report".


[05:22:53] BRIGGS: Big night at the NBA draft just down the road from us. Many youngsters realizing their dreams as well as, well, one dad who stole the show.

KOSIK: The event of the week -- I guess besides Trump saying he doesn't have tapes.

BRIGGS: Well, yes.

KOSIK: I had to tape this, Andy Scholes, five hours of DVR-ing because my son couldn't watch this event.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, lots going on last night. Definitely one of the highlights of the NBA calendar. There are going to be a lot of teenagers in the NBA next season. A record 15 freshmen selected including the number-one overall pick, Markelle Fultz out of Washington. He's heading to the Philadelphia 76ers.

He had a pretty cool custom suit. A dozen pictures of his family and friends inside. And Fultz was rocking shoes basically made out of basketballs.

Now, as the second pick, the Lakers selecting hometown kid Lonzo Ball out of UCLA. All eyes Lonzo's dad LaVar when he got picked. Now, LaVar predicted a long time ago that his son would one day play for the Lakers. And LaVar had a new prediction for us last night.


LAVAR BALL, LONZO BALL'S FATHER: I'm going to tell you what -- Lonzo Ball is going to take the Lakers to the playoffs his first year. Come see me when he does. I'll have another hat on to say, I told you so.


SCHOLES: When LaVar left the building, he was showered with boos but was still nice enough to throw out his big brawler brand Lakers hat to all of the fans. He's just a nice guy.


DWYANE WADE, NBA PLAYER: I'm out here and look who a run into -- I run into this guy here. Man, get up off me -- you got on a wool suit, bro. It's hot out here.


SCHOLES: That was Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler together in Paris. I'm guessing Wade was not as happy watching the draft. The Bulls trading Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach Levine, Chris Dunn, and the right to swap picks last night.

Butler now reunited with his former coach, Tom Thibodaux, in Minnesota. Wade, the elder statesman, now on a rebuilding Bulls team.

The 26th pick, the Portland Trailblazers selected Caleb Swanigan out of Purdue.

[05:25:01] Now, Swanigan got an amazing story. He went from a 6'2", 360-pound eighth grader living in a homeless shelter in Utah to now an NBA player. Swanigan says his tough upbringing only going to help him in the NBA, because while some feel pressure on the court, he's dealt with real-life pressure. Basketball is fun for him now.

All right. Finally, Dodgers and Mets last night. This ball heading for the seats. You got to check out this dad -- he leaps up and makes the one-handed grab while holding his baby. Look, guys.

Mom, though, is not pleased about the situation. She immediately grabs the child back and acts like, what are you doing? The guy, though, just like, what, look, I caught the ball while holding my baby, I'm a hero.

KOSIK: Well, did you see how fast she took that baby out of him?

SCHOLES: Mom did not see it that way. Did not see it that way.


BRIGGS: That's a remarkable grab. Left handed --

SCHOLES: Impressive.

BRIGGS: With the bobble and not dropping the kid. Remarkable.

KOSIK: Multitasking at its best.

SCHOLES: I think he's still in trouble.

BRIGGS: You said moms multitask. You're right. Sometimes we dads can multitask, too.

Thank you, Scholes.

SCHOLES: All right.

KOSIK: The Senate's Republican leader says it's time to get the Obamacare repeal done.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: We've been discussing all the elements of this endlessly for seven years. Everybody will have an adequate time to take a look at it.


KOSIK: But is one week really adequate time? We're going to look at the proposal and the pushback within his party.