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Senate Health Care Bill Meets Fierce Resistance; Trump Admits He Doesn't Have Tapes of Comey Talks. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 23, 2017 - 06:00   ET



[00:00:00] SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Loosing their health insurance.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think that they'll probably get there. We'll have to see.

MALVEAUX: The Senate bill eliminates Obamacare's individual mandate, keeps insurance protections for preexisting patients but allows states to drop essential benefits which can mean skimpier coverage and fewer treatment options for patients, including those with preexisting conditions. It phases out Medicaid expansion starting in 2021, reduces income based tax credits and subsidies, cuts Obamacare taxes and eliminates planned parenthood funding for one year.

TRUMP: Little negotiation but it's going to be very good.

MALVEAUX: President Trump announcing that he supports the bill despite promising not to cut Medicaid on the campaign trail.

TRUMP: Save Medicare, Medicaid and social security without cuts.

I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.

MALVEAUX: Democrats say the Senate bill amounts to nothing more than a giant tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: This is barbaric. Frankly this is what oligarchy is all about. It's the wealthy and powerful saying we need even more tax breaks.

MALVEAUX: President Obama is criticizing the GOP's latest plan to repeal his signature domestic achievement, writing in a Facebook post "The Senate bill unveiled today is not a health care bill. Small tweaks over the course of the next couple of weeks cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."

The Senate bill sparking emotional protests outside the office of Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Police dragging away wheelchair bound demonstrators and disability advocates, angry over proposed cuts to Medicaid. (OFF-MIC)


MALVEAUX: I was here when those protests erupted and many of those people see this as a life or death issue if they do not get their care. The Congressional Budget Office is going to score the legislation next week. It's expected to have the Senate go through a debate and of course, Mitch McConnell hoping to have a vote by the July 4th recess. Alisyn and David.

CAMEROTA: Suzanne, thank you very much for setting that up for us. Let's bring in our panel now to discuss it. We have CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman and David Drucker, and Yahoo finance columnist and author of "Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback" Rick Newman. Great to have all of you here to help us analyze what's happening this morning. Rick I'll start with you. What do you see in this bill and who it is a victory for?

RICK NEWMAN, YAHOO FINANCE COLUMNIST: You know there are a lot of problems in the overall health care industry in the United States, rising costs, everybody feels that. Prescription drugs are very expensive. This bill does not address any of the actual problems in the health care. So when you hear people saying Americans need relief, they better health care, this does not do anything like that.

CAMEROTA: Why not?

NEWMAN: Because first of all, Obamacare only affects about 8 percent of everybody who gets insurance in the United States. Everybody else is going to feel no relief from this because it's not directed at them. They're targeting, you know, a relatively small portion for political reasons. I mean, because they said we got to get out of here. This is mainly about restructuring Medicaid. We're to hear this, you know, all the details on that. But it's worth pointing out AARP is against this, the American Medical Association, you know, representing all the doctors in the country, the American Cancer Society is against it. It's hard to find anybody out in normal America who actually supports this.

DAVID MICHAEL GREGORY, CNN HOST: It's actually -- there are real problems with Obamacare, the individual mandate. But there are a lot of successes because it has taken time for it to be absorbed into the health care system and so coverage is something that hospitals care a lot about, the insurance companies care about, you know, various ways that they're subsidized.

So, we're not really talking about much compromise, we're talking about a wholesale change which becomes difficult. Maggie Haberman my question is kind of the political end game. So here you got a president who's not really very involved in all of this. And at the same time you have Mitch McConnell who is pretty good strategically who's thinking about how this all ends. How do you see it ending?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, they are missing -- the Republicans are missing four senators. They need two to get there. That's not an impossible lift, right. I mean I think the language that you saw from the Republicans gave themselves generally some wiggle room where, you know, if they come back with some kind of an amendment that addresses their concerns you could see them then saying that they would be able to support this. I think that you can't underestimate Mitch McConnell's ability to cut a deal with his caucus and to get people in line.

I also think, look, I'm not actually sure how involved or uninvolved the President is at this point. What we saw with Donald Trump is what he has done which is sort of give a vague answer that gives him as much wiggle room as possible because at the end of the day he is a deals guy and everything is sort of a transaction. I think they will probably get there because they have basically made the calculus at the White House and in Congress that, you know, the leadership has that you need to do something. And to not do something would be worse for Republicans.

[06:05:09] And yes it is a political calculation because they have campaigned on repealing Obamacare cycle after cycle. And now that they have control if they don't do it it will be a problem.

CAMEROTA: But David, another thing the President campaigned on was saving Medicaid and Medicare. He said it over and over. So listen to this and we'll talk about where he is today.


TRUMP: Save Medicare, Medicaid and social security without cuts.

I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.

You're going to end up with great health care for a fraction of the price.


CAMEROTA: OK, David, this does cut it.

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You can have everything for nothing and it's all going to be terrific. I think the President is square up against what many politicians discover after they have campaigned on offering everything for nothing, which is it just doesn't work, the numbers don't up. But what Republicans on the hill believe and I think what is true is that the President is going to sign whatever they can get to his desk.

And so I think after his initial deep involvement in the House bill process that did not work well he backed off, he let Republicans in the House negotiate among themselves with involvement from the White House quietly as needed and that tended to work better. And that's what we're seeing in the Senate process.

Go ahead David.

GREGORY: No, no you finish. DRUCKER: And so I think as we watch the Senate process unfold there

are two things to keep an eye on here. One, the CBO score and the projections about coverage and premiums that come from it, Republicans that are deliberating will react to that and that will give us a better picture of where we are next week. Then two, the issue, and Maggie spoke to this, is the political pressure they feel from their voters at home that have issues with premiums that they find unaffordable deductibles that they can't afford, and they want something done.

And so, if it's a choice between passing something that polling has shown voters are skeptical of or don't like and doing nothing, they'll take their chances with the bill that people may not like because they're going to have to do something. They either have to prop up Obamacare and fix it or they have to pass something else, or everybody is going to be upset and their voters may not show up next year. And that's why I think they'll get this done.

GREGORY: Here's the issue, I think there's a couple f things. One is, Rick, you got a president who is, wants to campaign on this literally and in the next few weeks or shorter timeframe to get it done and then beyond that for the congressional elections who said this is mean and he wants health care with a heart. There's another big philosophical debate and that is, you know, this is really all about what should government be in the business are doing.

Should government be in the business of insuring tens of million of people who don't have insurance or not? And there's a lot of people in the country, conservative is saying no, government shouldn't be doing that because they can't do it right, and they look at the problems of Obamacare and say yes.

NEWMAN: And that's who's writing the bill right now and that is -- really the question is, should this be the government's job or should it be the private sector's job? There's lots of evidence that the private sector cannot get this done. I men we -- this has been going on for 30 years, 40 years, it's not a new problem. But I think -- look at some of those key provisions, you know, the Medicaid rollbacks don't happen -- really begin to begin to happen until, guess when, 2021.

So that's not only after mid-terms that's after the next presidential election. And In the meanwhile Trump is going to -- if this passes you will know Trump will call it terrific. He'll say, just trust me it's going to be terrific. And I think the real question is, as with so many other things, how many people care if Trump is true to his word? I mean some of his supporters don't care.

GREGORY: And this is an example too of Trump, you know, we always thought about Trump that he would outsource this kind of legislation to Republicans and the Senate. Now we're seeing that. We're going to go to winners and losers. I just want to pick out at this point Maggie, the individual mandate, one thing that I think is easy enough to understand about health care is that if you don't have young and healthy people buying insurance when you don't need it then it's out of whack because then old or sick people use it and that's what makes health care so expensive, economic. So -- there would be no individual mandate here. I don't see how it all works.

HABERMAN: I don't either. And I think that having not been able to go through the bill yet I don't want to speak to the specifics. But this is one many issues that might complicate things. One point I do want to make also to your point before about the politics of this, both in terms of the individual mandate and who gets the coverage and voters at home that David was speaking to.

There are a lot of voters at home in some red states who do like Obamacare, who do feel like they have generally benefitted from it. People in places like Arkansas. They were Trump voters and they are also still preferring what they had. So this is not some kind of a clean victory once it goes through even it's called and, you know, that the subhead is repeal Obamacare. There is still complicating factors here.

CAMEROTA: In fact we're having the former governor of Kentucky on with us to talk about this very thing where it has been a success for so many people there.

[06:10:04] But David, let's talk about -- we're trying to break it down. I mean, it's a 140 pages so we're trying to break it down to winners and looses, so we'll just put -- so let's put this up there. The winners is the wealthy, the young and healthy, GOP governors who fought Obamacare and some health industry group losers, poor, older, insurance consumers, people struggling with addiction. Let me just stop there because this is a big one. We've talked about this. All the people who banked on President Trump fulfilling his campaign promise to help people with opioid addiction and others. This doesn't address that. It doesn't help them. Go ahead David.

DRUCKER: Correct. And I I think you're going to see Senator Rob Portman from Ohio playing a key role in trying to amend the bill to try and address that particular concern under the reconciliation rules even though this thing does not go through committee. There's an open amendment process and everyone can offer up to hundreds of amendments. And we call it vote-a-rama around here. David will remember that.

And so, there are amendments and changes that Republicans in the Senate are going to try and make. And I think the bill in its current form will look different. I think the big question is can McConnell get this done before the end of next week or does it have to go into July after the one week 4th of July recess. That to me is the big unknown, but I think they'll up getting there.

CAMEROTA: And one last thing but I don't want to gloss over, we're out of time. The planned parenthood funding, that obviously is also sticking point for -- as we've heard senators McCaskill and Collins so we'll see what happens with that. Panel thank you very much. We appreciate your help on this.

Coming up on New Day, we will speak with President Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway. She'll be on our 8:00 hour to talk about all of this.

GREGORY: Looking forward to that. Also, President Trump coming clean now, Tweeting that he did not record his conversations with FBI Director James Comey. So why did he float that idea? Was it to intimidate him? We're going to discuss it with our panel, coming up next.


[06:15:48] CAMEROTA: President Trump finally admitting he did not secretly record conversations with fired FBI director James Comey. His admission ends a six-week long charade but there are signs it may not be over.

CNN's Joe Johns is at the White House with more. What's the latest Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Alisyn, today was the day imposed by House investigators for the White House to turn over any recordings if they existed of the President's conversations with the fired FBI director James Comey. The President ended the ruse the way it started, with a tweet that only served to raise new questions about the credibility of the man in the White House.


JOHNS: Trump finally coming clean, declaring that he did not make and does not have any recordings of his private conversations with FBI director James Comey before firing him. The tweet coming 41 days after the President first implied tapes may exist, an apparent threat that sparked weeks of speculation and refusals from the White House to give a straight answer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did President Trump record his conversations with former FBI director Comey?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President has nothing further to add on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he had no idea whether or not there was a taping system in the Oval Office. Could you try to find out?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do tapes exist of your conversations with him?


TRUMP: Well I'll tell you about that, maybe sometime in the very near future.

JOHNS: The President's admission couched by this cryptic message. "With all the recent reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information I have no idea whether there are tapes or recordings of my conversation with James Comey."

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If he didn't record these conversations, if they don't exist why did he suggest that they did? What was to be gained by that? Was this an effort to intimidate James Comey, was it an effort to discourage other people from speaking out?

JOHNS: A senior administration official telling CNN the President has been amused by the coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the President regret the tweet?

S. SANDERS: I don't think so.

JOHNS: A Trump associate telling CNN's Jeff Zeleny, if he doesn't regret this he should. The effort does appear to have backfired.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It didn't dawn on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation, there might be a tape. And my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square.

JOHNS: Comey testifying earlier this month that the President's tweet prompted him to leak memos of their conversations, which quickly led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, and ultimately to this Washington Post report saying the President himself is being investigated for possible obstruction of justice. President Trump now raising questions about Mueller.

TRUMP: Well he's very, very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome. There's been collusion, no obstruction. And virtually everybody agrees to that. So, we'll have to see. I can say that the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters.


JOHNS: The White House briefing today is expected to be off camera around 1:30 eastern time with the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. There have been only two on camera briefings in the last two weeks. David and Alisyn, back to you.

GREGORY: All right Joe, thank you very much. The White House doesn't want to face questions from reporters and apparently can't answer tough questions.

Let's bring back our panel. Maggie Haberman, David Drucker, and joining us Washington Post Congressional reporter Karoun Demirjian. Maggie Haberman, you're covering the White House every day. So you're seeing this up close. To just let it sink in, you have a president of the United States who threatened an FBI director with secret recordings that he didn't have and let this play out like a reality T.V. show and really set in motion with that one threat an entire set of circumstances in this investigation that probably led to special counsel being appointed because it was only after that threat that Comey say that he felt he had to release these memos publicly in order to get a special council appointment.

[06:20:04] HABERMAN: Look, we have seen Donald Trump have these sort of chain reaction series of self-inflicted wounds over the last two years. This one has potentially more dire consequences because it involves a legal issue from a sitting president. This President has operated in his mind a consequence free environment for a very, very long time. And I think still does not entirely understand or does not want to understand what the implications of all of this could mean for him, even if theirs is no, you know, evidence of collusion, even if nothing actually happened in his campaign and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

It is all of this aftermath that he has been stirring up. And I think you saw a tweet from him yesterday. It was very low key the way he did. You know, we've seen him hold press conferences around things like ending Barack Obama birth place lie. In this case he put out two tweets that were pretty carefully written, I think to get him away from the intimidating a witness potential charge.

CAMEROTA: Karoun why? Why did he do this? Why did he do tis 41, 42 days ago? What was the purpose?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, WASHINGTON POST CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well the timing of actually answering this question does have a reason. I mean the House intelligence committee had asked him for information by today. They want an answer about whether or not those tapes existed and in some sort of reckoning from the President. And if he had not actually said something it would have put the GOP in a tight spot, because the next step is subpoena.

Now the subpoenas from the congressional side do not carry that much weight, he could have continued to ignore it but it gets more serious politically --

CAMEROTA: Look, I get why he said yesterday he didn't have them. I don't get why he started 41 days ago with this charade. I mean was it to intimidate -- I guess it was to intimidate James Comey?

DEMIRJIAN: I mean, that's what a lot of people are speculating. Others are saying -- there are some Democrats who are saying, oh maybe this is going to be something that leads to establishing, that his intent was to obstruct the probe from going forward and to intimidate James Comey. Of course the reaction did the opposite.

But there's others saying, look the President does not seem like he's that organized in his thoughts and every time he sees the Russia investigation as a personal threat to him he just chooses to do something else. And this time it was to tweet about tapes in air quotes and see where that went. But he's doing via Twitter account various things to try to just throw off the Senate whenever he feels like it's getting to close.

GREGORY: Here is how all of this comes together. The President is alone in the Oval Office deciding that he will communicate for himself to the country and to the world. So, this whole business with not doing briefings, he doesn't trust any of the people out there because he doesn't think (inaudible) but he is on Twitter and he doesn't want to have to answer for any these questions, David Drucker. And what he's doing now, and this is amazing, is leading a campaign, a kind of one-man campaign against the special counsel on top of his own self- destructive behavior. This is what he said to Fox about his doubts about Bob Mueller.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he recuse himself?

TRUMP: Well he's very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome. But he is also -- 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 aggress to that. So we'll have to see. I can say that people that have been hired they're all Hillary Clinton supporters.


GREGORY: So David, he's not focussed but he's very disciplined and focussed when it comes to leading a campaign against this investigation.

DRUCKER: Right. And it sounds like he's laying the foundation to undermine Mueller's credibility.

GREGORY: He's already worked on Comey.

DRUCKER: Correct, if you talk to Republicans on the Hill and there aren't takers there, which lays the foundation you wonder with this president to eventually fire the special counsel. And that would be a disaster. But this is really a politically -- this is, I think, David, another example of how the President doesn't appear to have internalized the fact that he is President and speaks for the country. And instead, what he is doing is what he has always done, move to protect his personal brand.

And when you think about it, the whole episode of the tapes and then there weren't tapes and everything in between throughout the last 40 days creates an environment where he is driving the news cycle towards coverage of the Russia investigation which he finds to be such a personal affront and which apparently bothers him so much, but only because of the things that he has done and said that we are spending so much time covering this, because any president of any party that would have done and said what he did warrants news coverage. It is news worthy and it needs to covered, and that is the ironic part of this whole episode.

[06:25:09] CAMEROTA: Yeah. I mean look, his tweet yesterday ends up eclipsing the big health care announcement that everyone has been waiting for. But now he leads us to the next point, and that is that, this would have been a good time to ask the White House -- yesterday would have been a good time to on camera in a White House briefing ask the White House about their thoughts on the President doing this and what was behind it and his rationale.

But they had a no camera briefing. Watch in fact where they tell us to turn off our cameras. Give you guys a second to finish those log shots.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon. This morning the President continued his week of events highlighting technology and how it will continue --


CAMEROTA: You're not allowed to have the camera on. So, what's happening?

DEMIRJIAN: Look, I think you have seen this White House continuing to struggle with the communications problem. We've seen this for several months. And I think one of the President's problems frankly with the Russia issue is he treats it like it is a P.R. problem as opposed to a legal problem, and that is where he is getting himself in trouble.

I think there's a couple of things, I think you have a streams of briefing room tape where you have Sean Spicer or Sarah Huckabee or whomever saying, you know, I'll get back to you on that. I haven't spoken to the President on that. I don't know. The President has come to believe, Kelly (ph) and I were told that they are a "Spectacle".

And look, complaints about the briefings and about the way reporters act in the briefing room is not new to this White House. There have been complaints about this going back to the Clinton era. So, I mean to be fair, it's not as if this all started here. The part that is troublesome is that it is of a piece with efforts to be less transparent that we have seen with this administration on a number of issues. And that is --

GREGORY: And let me just make -- the other administrations have talked about it being a spectacle and journalists trying to use these on camera briefings. The bottom-line is you got to take tough questions. This is the age of television. Even "New York Times" is posting video as well as their stories. They've got to be accountable. The problem is when you have a President who often doesn't tell the truth he puts his people in incredibly difficult positions. They can't answer for him and he doesn't trust them on top of it.

So I'm sure Kellyanne Conway on a few minutes is going to blame it on, you know, journalists there, just do their job and answer questions like --



DEMIRJIAN: Can I say one -- who quick things actually. One is, in terms of people like Kellyanne Conway, I think she is another person who's in a very tough spot honestly, because she's basically one of the only people who still does interviews for that White House. And I think that she gets hit pretty hard every time she does. There are reasons why, but I do think it is important to put perspective on that. The other thing that is important to put perspective on, David Gregory, you mentioned about this President telling the truth. James Comey and Bob Mueller are not close friends. They know each other. They were professional colleagues. They work together but they are not besties. And this is another thing where you see the President throw something out there and he to makes everybody else try to prove or disprove it and it's troublesome.

CAMEROTA: Now that's a great point. And we appreciate Kellyanne Conway's willingness to come on and answer questions. And we will be welcoming her in our 8:00 hour. Thank you very much panel.

So listen to this, two jurors are going to take us inside their deliberations in the Bill Cosby trial. They offer very different accounts of how the jury was unable to reach a verdict and why. So we have a live report for you next.