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GOP Leaders Push For Vote Despite Opposition; Calls For Pelosi Resignation After Dem Losses. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 26, 2017 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Have a good day. We have got a lot to get to.

Good Monday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. John Berman has the day off.

Right now on Capitol Hill, the clock is tick, tick, ticking. It is the countdown to a vote on the Senate health care bill or a legislative time bomb that is essentially ready to implode. It depends on who you ask this morning. Possibly both.

Senate leaders are pushing for a vote this week even as President Trump backs away from many hard and fast deadlines. That's because five fellow Republicans say they can't support this bill in its current form. And that number could grow.

As early as today, the Congressional Budget Office could release its assessment of the bill with the numbers. Those numbers that were hard for the House to swallow on their bill. How much will the ObamaCare repeal impact their premiums, and how many people could lose coverage as a result? The critical numbers, they could come out any moment.

Let's go straight to Capitol Hill. Suzanne Malveaux is there. Good morning.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. Well, a lot of people watching for that number, potentially to come as early as today. Over the weekend, we saw really some preemptive moves from the President. President Trump reaching out to the Republican leadership.

Also, saw Senator John Cornyn, the Majority Whip, number two Republican, doing the same, trying to get a temperature check from senators, especially how the CBO score could impact what they end up voting for.

One of the things they're going to be looking at is how it compares to the House CBO score, which was devastating in terms of headlines. Twenty-three million people estimated to lose their health care coverage over the next 10 years. So they're going to be looking for either political cover or potentially an opening to actually support this.

At the same time, the super secret process that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went through was aimed at giving pieces of legislation to the CBO to see, in fact, how did it measure up and how they could tweak it before this major analysis comes forward. That might not be enough, Poppy, for both moderates and conservatives.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: They've promised too much. They say they're going to fix health care, and premiums are going to go down. There's no way the Republican bill brings down premiums. It's a foolish notion to promise something you can't provide.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: It's certainly going to be very difficult. For my part, I'm very concerned about the cost of insurance for older people with serious, chronic illnesses, and the impact of the Medicaid cuts on our state governments.


MALVEAUX: And President Trump, over the weekend, acknowledging that, yes, he did call the House version of the health care bill mean. But he is also tweeting this morning, really, not addressing the deep division within his own party but blaming Democrats, saying this in his tweet, "The Democrats have become nothing but obstructionists. They have no policies or ideas. All they have is delay and complain. They own ObamaCare."

So, Poppy, we're all going to be taking a look at the CBO score. Not necessarily going to be a big surprise to senators who are looking at this. But what is going to unfold is the amendment, the debate, on the Senate side.

HARLOW: Right.

MALVEAUX: -- and whether or not there is enough compromise for these senators to sign off on this.

HARLOW: Right. There's room to give in this bill, no question. Is there enough room for all of the senators that want changes? That's the big question. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much, on the Hill. We're waiting for that score.

Also this. Normally, this wouldn't be much of a headline, a sitting President accepting the findings of his 17 intelligence agencies. But in this case, it is newsworthy. This morning, President Trump is finally acknowledging that Russia did, in fact, meddle in the U.S. election, but he says the Obama White House shares in the blame of that.

Just moments ago, he continued his attack on the former president, tweeting, "The reason that President Obama did nothing about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win and did not want to rock the boat. He didn't choke. He colluded or obstructed, and it did the Dems and crooked Hillary no good."

Joe Johns is at the White House with more this morning. Not a tweet about the health care fight but yet a continuing attack on his predecessor, also on his opponent, and a focus on the 2016 election. Do we know why?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the tweet storm continues, and this is clearly an attempt by the President to go on offense on this issue. This is the very same president who raised doubts about Russian interference in the last election. Now, he is raising questions about President Obama's response to Russian interference in the last election and accusing President Obama of not doing anything about it. Of course, that's kind of a big deal, if you will.

[09:04:51] The Trump administration's last tweets, over the weekend, suggesting the Democratic National Committee essentially engaged in a big, Democratic hoax by declining to get help from the Homeland Security Department on the issue of hacking. The President, in an interview, on offense again. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just heard today, for the first time, that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it. But nobody wants to talk about that. The question is, if he had the information, why didn't he do something about it?


JOHNS: Now, what President Obama did do is he expelled 35 Russian diplomats. He also closed a couple of compounds in the United States that were being used by the Russians. But many Democrats and some others have indicated that, in their view, it was too little, too late.

All of this, of course, comes on the heels of that "Washington Port" report indicating that President Obama really did not want to find himself in the position of being perceived as trying to help Hillary Clinton in the campaign, Poppy.

HARLOW: Joe Johns at the White House this morning. Thank you, Joe.

Let's discuss all of this and, of course, the health care debate with David Drucker, CNN political analyst and senior congressional correspondent for the "Washington Examiner." Ryan Lizza is here, our CNN political commentator and Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker." And Amber Phillips, political reporter for "The Washington Post."

David Drucker, to you first. So not only is it looking backwards to an election he won, but this is a President who called, you know, the Russia line of questioning, if you will, investigation, et cetera, a hoax, a witch hunt.

Now, he's acknowledging the meddling and he is saying President Obama colluded. What's the end game? Because you can't it both ways, either it's a hoax or it's not. Or it's Obama's fault or it didn't happen. I don't --


HARLOW: I'm confused.

DRUCKER: And I think we need to stay tuned for the next tweet storm because the President is impulsive. He seems to react to these stories in the moment. There doesn't seem to be much strategy or forethought behind it.

But I do think that if you want to take what the President is saying today at face value, there's not necessarily that much wrong with the idea that he is saying that this all happened under his predecessor and that his predecessor bears some responsibility. But what is missing, now that he is President is, and here is what I plan to do about it.

HARLOW: Right.

DRUCKER: It's a very serious problem.

HARLOW: You know, Ryan Lizza, we went back this morning to look at the transcripts of Comey's testimony earlier this summer.


HARLOW: And when he was asked, you know, by two senators, including Senator Manchin, about conversations, did the President bring up to you often his concern about Russia hacking the election, et cetera, et cetera? And Comey said, repeatedly, you know, no, I don't recall those conversations. Those were not a focus of this President.

And now, granted, as David points out rightly so, this did happen on President Obama's watch, and one of his administration members told "The Washington Post" they felt like they choked. But the President didn't seem to have it top of mind in his six conversations with former FBI Director James Comey.

LIZZA: No. I mean, Comey's testimony and all of the reporting about this suggests that neither President Trump or any senior officials in his White House have been terribly interested in getting to the bottom of what Russia did in the election. If they really cared about that as much as his latest tweets suggest, they would be much more forceful in endorsing the work of the various committees in Congress that are looking into that, or maybe they would have endorsed, you know, Senator McCain's idea of having an independent panel to get to the bottom of it.

The other things is, remember, in late December, when the Obama administration put together the package of sanctions, closed down the two Russian compounds, and kicked out the diplomats, during that 24- hour period, President Trump's national security adviser, with Trump, has suggested in the past, in Trump's knowledge, was having conversations with the Russians, essentially saying, hey, wait, don't respond because we'll be a little bit softer and we'll have a new relationship.

So all the public commentary and what Trump was saying and doing was, I don't care about this Russian meddling. We're going to reset relations with Russia.

HARLOW: Right.

LIZZA: So he has really changed his tune with this latest series of tweets.

HARLOW: All right. Let's move on to health care because, Amber, that is top of mind for the Republicans in the Senate certainly right now, and especially Mitch McConnell.

I thought there was a great nugget out of "Axios" this morning. Josh Holmes, who was McConnell's former chief of staff, had this to say. He said, "It really is a 747 landing on a suburban driveway." Just to give you a sense of how hard this is going to be, right? He's really working with 51 votes because they can't count on Rand Paul whatsoever, flipping him at all.


HARLOW: But if anyone can do it, it's McConnell, a man who knows his conference inside and out and is good at this stuff.

[09:10:01] PHILLIPS: Sure. That being said, he kind of started off on the wrong foot by negotiating or writing, excuse me, this health care bill in secret with his staff and with lobbyists, and then throwing it out there. And top committee members in the Republican conference hadn't even looked at it, and then saying, OK, we're going to vote on it next week.

The reason McConnell did that is because this bill, he figures, is as close to compromise as one can get. And right off the bat, they kind of expected two, three, four conservatives -- Rand Paul and a trio of lawmakers -- to say, you know, we're not going to vote for this bill as is but maybe we can do some amendments and make it work. I don't think they were expecting some of the backfire they're getting from the more moderate sections because this bill was aimed at trying to appease Republicans who just can't go home and say, yep, I voted to take away your Medicaid. And we saw that last week.

HARLOW: Let's listen to one of those. Republican Senator Dean Heller with a bomb thrown on Friday in that press conference and then listen to this.


SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: The greatest lie in health care in the last 10 years was if you like your doctor, you can keep him. That was the biggest lie in health care. Here is the second biggest lie. If this bill passes, the second biggest lie is your premiums are going down. And there isn't anything in this piece of legislation that will lower your premiums.


HARLOW: There isn't anything in this piece of legislation, David Drucker, that will lower your premiums. That hurts.

DRUCKER: That is the biggest dagger you can throw at this because, what is the number one issue for Republicans in terms of repealing and replacing ObamaCare? And that is bringing down premiums and bringing down deductibles. That is the complaint that Republicans are hearing from their constituents. That is their number one goal.

But we see with Dean Heller -- and this is part of the problem some Republicans are having -- he's got a Republican governor in his state who is very popular, who has embraced the Medicaid expansion, has concerns with --

HARLOW: He is also so critical of it, Brian Sandoval.

DRUCKER: Yes. And so Dean Heller doesn't have any cover and he is running for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

DRUCKER: That has sort of been trending a little bit left. And he, himself, is trying to thread a needle because he has been, like just about every Republican, in favor of repealing and replacing ObamaCare. But now, he's dealing with the political gymnastics of trying to do so while not having it backfire on him the way that ObamaCare itself backfired on Democrats.

HARLOW: Ryan, to you, as, you know, Republicans -- the country, really -- braces for the CBO score, because if this becomes --


HARLOW: -- or some version of it the law of the land, that score matters for every single American that's going to count on this. You have a promise from the Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to Dana Bash about premiums yesterday. Listen.


TOM PRICE, SECRETARY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: The plan in its entirety will absolutely bring premiums down because you increase competition. You increase choices for individuals. You allow folks to be able to purchase the kind of coverage that they want, not that the government forces them to buy.


HARLOW: He promises premiums are going to go down. Everything I've read about this bill, and in reading the bill, it's all phased in. So if they go down, they go down later, and it's not an immediate relief. And also, they're banking on young people buying into this without being mandated to do so. Is that a promise this administration can keep?

LIZZA: Well, it was a problem with ObamaCare and it's a problem with this health care bill, is that politicians don't like to admit the basic fundamental fact about health care reform, is when you're changing the system, there will be winners and there will be losers.

And, you know, thank God we have an independent CBO that can actually spell this out for us. Yes, premiums will likely go down, you know, under this bill and the House bill for certain people. If you are younger and more healthy, there's a chance that this legislation would lower your premiums. If you're older and sicker, most of the estimates are that your premiums are going to spike.

That's what health care reform is all about. It is tradeoffs, right? You know, ObamaCare mandated younger, healthier people in the system essentially to help subsidize the older and the sicker. They're reversing this here.

So, you know, when a politician says, oh, the bill is going to do X, the next question should be for whom, right? What are the tradeoffs in your legislation? Because we know there's no magic wand that gets everyone better health care at lower prices. If there was, we would have done it a long time ago.

HARLOW: As Dana correctly asked Secretary Price --

LIZZA: Absolutely.

HARLOW: -- playing a Warren Buffett sound bite for him, saying, what will this do to your tax bills? He didn't exactly answer but it's an important second part to that question, indeed.


HARLOW: Ryan Lizza, Amber Phillips, and David Drucker, thank you all very much.

Also, we have a lot ahead including, given these new tweets from the President about Russia, a CNN Special Report, "THE RUSSIA CONNECTION: INSIDE THE ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY. That is tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

[09:15:00] A lot ahead for us this hour. Decision on the President's travel ban could be moments away, a decision on whether or not the Supreme Court will take up that case. We'll be getting an answer in moments.

And passengers say it was like being in a washing machine, 30,000 feet up, a flight so terrifying the pilot actually told everyone to pray.

And while Washington battles over health care, we go to the heart of the country, the heartland and see firsthand the impacts of Medicaid on Americans.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have kidney disease. I have congestive heart failure. I have Crohn's disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fibromyalgia. I don't have insurance of any kind.


HARLOW: This morning, the president up and tweeting. Moments ago, he wrote, "The Democrats have become nothing but obstructionists. They have no policies or ideas. All they do is delay and complain. They own Obamacare." This, of course, on a critical week for Senate Republicans on their health care bill.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. She serves as the chief deputy whip of the House. Nice to have you here. Let's begin with your response to the president. You've been very clear about your feelings about this Senate health care bill.

[09:20:04]You tweeted recently "The Senate GOP bill is every bit as cruel and effective as its ugly counterpart in the House." Here's the thing, though, the Senate version keeps more in place of Obamacare than the House version does. It does so -- you know, to the extent that some Republicans say this is not a full repeal and, therefore, they will not support it. Is there anywhere where Democrats can work with Republicans on this, on the Senate version?

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Well, as it stands, the Senate bill has major winner one, and that is the repeal of all the tax cuts that go to the richest Americans, pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and insurance companies, and for everyone else, Poppy, this is the largest rollback of basic services for Americans than we have ever seen in the United States history.

HARLOW: Congresswoman, what I'm asking you is you would admit that there are places and people for whom Obamacare falls short. You've spoken to them. I've spoken to them. Is there room in the Senate legislation to work with Republicans? Are there things you can do together to make this better?

SCHAKOWSKY: Well, there are certainly things that we can do together and we've been asking for seven years, since the passage of Obamacare, to sit down with Republicans, because we knew that there were things that we could do better in Obamacare.

But we would be very hard to fix a bill that actually will cause hospitals to close, that will close nursing homes, that will charge older Americans five times as much as younger people for their health care, that will decimate the Medicaid that is providing opioid care to millions of Americans, for example.

And so I think that we would have to start from scratch and if the Republicans think that this is going to be done by the July 4th recess, I don't see it.

HARLOW: You have some of them like Senator Jon Cornyn pointing to August 1st as the deadline. So we'll see what happens this week. It is a big week. Let me ask you about this because you have such a big role, obviously, as deputy whip. As you know, your party did not fare well at well in these special elections.

Republicans won all of them and has led House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to come under fire from some. You have been an ardent supporter of hers. Do you believe she has the message to lead your party forward in 2018 to the midterms into the 2020 presidential election? Is she the voice needed for the party right now?

SCHAKOWSKY: You know, I heard that there were Republicans, when they failed the first time with their House bill say if Nancy Pelosi were our speaker, we would have gotten the votes that we need. No one is better in bringing together the Democratic caucus than Nancy Pelosi. She has run circles around speakers of the House. She has gotten things done that Democrats and the minority have never done before. There is no ground swell in our caucus.

HARLOW: So what is the message, then, for the Democrats, for the party moving forward? Because the front -- if you look, for example, at (inaudible) Sunday take yesterday -- just listen. I want your response to exactly what he said in "The Washington Post."

He said, "Right now the one discernible message is opposition to President Trump. He went on to say what's needed is a message that attracts voters beyond the blue state base of the party." Would you agree, does your party need that? Does it need more than talking about Trump, Russia investigation to sell voters?

SCHAKOWSKY: First of all, I don't think that is all that we're talking about. The Democrats are for an economy that works for everyone and not just the richest few in our country, the CEOs and millionaires and billionaires. And if we haven't gotten that message out effectively, we certainly are doing it right now. And, let me say Jon Ossoff --

HARLOW: Why didn't that work any of these special -- I know these are tough districts. Why didn't it work in any of the special elections?

SCHAKOWSKY: Look, the reason that those Republicans were appointed to the administration is because they were considered safe, Republican districts. The Ossoff district, 6th district in Georgia is the 71st most likely district that Democrats can win. In other words, there are 70 districts that will be easier than that.

You know, maybe we should have depressed the expectations a bit more than they were. But this was a very, very hard district and we improved the performance by double digits in order to -- you know, to do better. If we do that well around the country, we will easily win the 25 seats that we need, and we are prepared to go out and do that, to organize, to spend the money.

[09:25:04]And speaking of organizing, I am hoping that in these few days that are left before the recess that all of your listeners will call their senators and say the president is right. This is a mean bill. Each call makes a huge difference.

HARLOW: Just to be clear, the president said mean bill about the House bill, not about the Senate bill. You say we will easily win those 25 seats to flip the House. We'll have you back on closer to then and see if it can happen. Thank you very much, Congresswoman. We appreciate it. SCHAKOWSKY: Thank you.

HARLOW: We have a lot ahead. Is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy ready to hang up the robe and retire? A lot of people talking about that this morning. We are live on the steps of the high court where we could learn more in just moments and his choice could be a legacy maker for President Trump if, indeed, he does retire. Stay with us.


HARLOW: A pivotal day for the Supreme Court as the justices are set to issue their final rulings of the terms. Still to come, decisions on the First Amendment fight over separation --