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Court Reinstates Part of Travel Ban; GOP Leaders Revise Draft; GOP Braces for CBO Score; White House Press Briefing. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 26, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:20] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon, I'm Ana Cabrera, in today for Brooke Baldwin.
Underway right now, the White House holding yet another press briefing that you are not allowed to see our hear live. The White House has banned live on-camera coverage off Press Secretary Sean Spicer answering questions from journalists for a third day in a row. We will take the audio just moments from now, as soon as it wraps up, when we can release it.
But first, a victory of sorts for President Donald Trump. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that it will hear the travel ban case. And that won't happen until October. But in the meantime, the justices lifted certain parts of the Trump administration's revised travel ban. And that means some of his controversial executive order will go into effect. And roughly, according to a White House memo obtained by CNN, 72 hours, that's Thursday.
There were three justices who did issue descents, Gorsuch, Alito and Thomas, all of them feeling the court didn't go far enough. The White House had previously suffered a string of lower court defeats. The lower court citing religious discrimination. But the president called today's ruling a clear victory for national security and he released this statement that said in part, "my number one responsibility as commander in chief is to keep the American people safe. Today's ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our nation's homeland."
CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett is joining us now with more on today's ruling.
Laura, who is and who is not affected by this decision? Give us a sense of just how many people are affected by this?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Ana, the bottom line of today's decision all comes down to an individual travelers' connection to the U.S. And the court has now fashioned a rule, if you will, that says, if you have a bona fide relationship with a person or an entity in the U.S., then you can come into the country. And the Supreme Court tried to give some examples of what this might look like. So if you have a family member here in the U.S. or you've been admitted to a university here in the U.S., then you can come into the country. But many questions still remain, Ana, about how this is going to be interpreted on the ground and who is going to decide the close calls, if there are questions about what really counts as bona fide.
Now, in terms of how many people this actually affects, it depends on who you talk to. The president is claiming a clear victory, saying the court's decision allows his executive order to become largely effective, but the immigrant rights group who argued this case in court sat on a call with reporters earlier this afternoon, that's actually a pretty small slice of the pies that has zero connection to the U.S. and are going to be now banned, Ana.
CABRERA: OK, so explain what parts then remain on hold?
JARRETT: So the core parts of the executive order, the ban on those travels from the six predominantly Muslim countries and the ban on all refugees, those parts of the executive order will not go into effect, at least for now, while the court's deciding, you know, what to do with it until October, as long as you have a connection to the U.S. But if you don't, if you have no connection, no family here whatsoever, then you are not allowed to come into the country. And now it's just a matter of time until this implementation plan officially begins.
CABRERA: All right, Laura, stand by with us.
The Department of Homeland Security is saying today's ruling restores to the executive branch crucial and long-held constitutional authority to defend our national borders.
Let's bring in the rest of our panel. Joining Laura is CNN political director David Chalian, CNN legal analyst and constitutional attorney Page Pate, and CNN political analyst David Drucker, who is also senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner."
So, David Chalian, President Trump put out a statement claiming victory. How big of a political win is this?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I mean I think it's a - it is certainly a political win for him. I mean this is a policy issue that has thwarted him from the earliest days of his administration and now he gets to claim a victory here. Obviously, as Laura was just telling you, it is not a ruling that says completely exactly the ban that Donald Trump wanted to put into place can no go into place. That's not happening.
But you saw his statement. He is now able to say the Supreme Court is agreeing with me in part and is giving me back the tools I need to keep the country safe. It gives him, after a lot - several lower courts were saying, you're out of bounds here. You may be even acting unconstitutionally. That kind of clear, we're not putting any of this in place, is no longer valid now that the Supreme Court has this ruling.
So after stumbling out of the gate on this issue, revising it, being thwarted by the courts, Donald Trump, on the issue of the travel ban, now has some good news to tout. CABRERA: Page, the courts say people who have, quote, bona fide
relationships with people here in the U.S. can still travel here. Is it clear to you what that means?
[14:05:08] PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely not. I mean the court did give us a couple of examples in the order today. They said, if you're situated like the plaintiffs in the independent cases, the individual cases that have come before the court, if you have an immediate family member, certainly that will qualify. If you have a guarantee of admission to a United States college, university, that will qualify. If you have a firm job offer from a U.S. company, that will qualify. But beyond that, we don't know. I mean the easy cases will still be the easy cases. People who have absolutely no connection to the United States, they're going to be covered by the travel ban. They will not be allowed to come in. But it's the close cases that I think will cause the problems here. You may have judges across the country weighing those interests differently and a bona fide relationship in California may not be one in Maryland. So I think it remains to be seen how it's going to play out on the ground.
CABRERA: And that's the bigger question is, who is going to decide what qualifies as a bona fide relationship and how is that process going to work?
PATE: Right. I think we're waiting to hear from the administration on how they're going to make this determination. Perhaps agents at the border, at the airport, will make the initial determination. But if that happens and it goes against the person who's trying to gain admission, you know that's going to be challenged in court. You'll take it up with an immigration judge or a federal district court, and that's where we can enter into all these inconsistent decisions. And I think that's why the lower courts did what they did. They issued their injunctions broadly to cover everyone so you can put the entire ban on hold while you litigate the merits of the case. And that's not what the Supreme Court chose to do.
CABRERA: David Drucker, the full ban is not going into effect, as Laura Jarrett just pointed out. We won't know the fate of the full travel ban under October. That's at least when the arguments will be heard. Do you think the president should be taking a victory lap?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think he should because he got pummeled when it didn't go his way and it's only natural to - if it's a policy that he cares about, he now sees it moving forward, at least to some degree. And so I think it's understandable that he take a victory lap and he feels good about it.
I do think, however, that he would be in a much better position, and I think that the country would be in a much better position, if he explained further what is behind the policy itself. Not just that he would - it's understandable, in other words, that he would want to curtail entry from certain parts of the world. I mean Syria is one where you talk to experts and they will tell you, it's hard to vet people in a country that is immersed in a civil war. Where do you go to actually check people out? But the countries that they put on this list seem haphazard and random. And when questioned, the admission has fallen back on the findings of the Obama administration, saying, we're simply we're doing they're doing. But after the initial 90 days that the president envisioned has long passed, and I think the question now arises, all right, what have they been doing in the interim to try and put a clamp down on what they were worried about, which was entries into the United States from refugees that might cause us harm. And why these countries still, and not other countries, I think all of that in explanation would actually put this policy heading into the fall when the courts are going to hear it and there's going to be, you know, eventually a decision, give the president a chance to actually have a much broader sense of support and maybe put to rest concerns that this was all the fruit of his originals Muslim ban.
CABRERA: All the issues you just brought up are likely to come up when those arguments are heard come October.
So, Page, how does approving this portion of the ban impact whether the rest of the ban goes into effect when they do hear those arguments in October?
PAGE: Ana, I think it's going to be incredibly important. I do agree that the Supreme Court is going to really get into the nuts and bolts of how the Trump administration is justifying the ban. I think they're focused right now on the fact that it is temporary and I think that's why we kind of hear a reframing of this executive order already by the White House, not calling it a ban as the president had, but making it sound more temporary.
I think since it appears we have three justices who will likely side with the administration, it's going to come down to one or two justices, perhaps the chief justice, Justice Kennedy. So they're going to want to see the nuts and bolts. Can the administration justify such a very complete ban, or will they try to scale it down a little bit? That remains to be seen.
CABRERA: And, Laura, speaking about those three justices that would have allowed the full travel ban to go into effect, what was their reasoning?
JARRETT: Well, they were really balancing the equities on both sides and saying, look, the Trump administration is saying we need this for national security. The plaintiffs were obviously saying they were harmed by this. But when you look at the balance of those two, we have to side with national security because of the risks that are opposed and because we think the people who are being blocked have no constitutional right to be here in the first. And so that's how they were sort of balancing a bit.
But as Page points out, that was only three members of the court. And so in order to bring them around for the full court later on, they will need either the chief justice or Justice Kennedy to come to their side.
[14:10:11] CABRERA: Let me read what Justice Thomas wrote. Again, he was one of these descenting justices. He says, quote, "Today's compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding - an peril of contempt - whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country."
So, David Chalian, it's going to be crucial how the implementation goes. Remember when the initial travel ban was ordered, that was version one, that caused chaos throughout the nation. That is still up in the air how this is going to unfold, David.
CHALIAN: Courts - you know, that was not playing to the Trump administration's favor at all. I think Justice Thomas gets at Page's point earlier, which is that in the close cases, this is going to be difficult to implement. So those three justices, looking at Thomas' words there, that were totally in line with the administration on this and likely will be in the future, one of their arguments perhaps that they'll be making to their fellow justices in the fall is, is that you - you have to have some kind of uniformity here. They side on the side of uniformity of putting the ban in place perhaps. But nonetheless it gets it exactly what Page was describing, which is that those very close cases is what's going to make implementation so tricky, differing definitions of bona fide relationships.
CABRERA: David Drucker, the president has to be happen to see his judge that he appointed, Judge Gorsuch, rule in his favor.
DRUCKER: Well, knowing Trump, he probably does, but I think you look at Neil Gorsuch, and conservative jurist, and I don't think this - his opinion is surprising. Look, the courts have always given deference to the executive on national security matters. And so, I think that this is the ruling that we always expected would happen when this thing finally wound its way to the Supreme Court. And I wouldn't be surprised in the fall, after this thing is argued, to see the court end up siding with the president.
The courts have never determined, other than constitutional issues, that the president needs a rational reason that the American people approve of or understand for making national security decisions. And I've recommended politically that the president would enjoy broader support for his policy, that it would be better as a matter of foreign and domestic policy for these things to make sense and be explained.
But he is granted the power under the Constitution on make these decisions. And so where Gorsuch came out on is where I think we always expected him to be. And, look, in today's 6-3 ruling, even though part of this is going to be argued, you still, in a sense, had a right and left agreement that the president - that only part of this should be stayed and the rest of it should go into effect.
CABRERA: All right, David Drucker, David Chalian, Laura Jarrett, Page Pate, thank you all and we appreciate the analysis.
Any minute now we will bring you the White House press briefing. How the administration is reacting to the travel ban ruling.
And the Republican's Senate health care bill. A CBO score is due out this afternoon. Will Republicans have the votes?
Also, a pro-Trump group now threatening to pour big money into the health care fight to influence Republican holdouts. Their first target, a Republican senator up for re-election. We're back in a moment.
[14:17:11] CABRERA: Welcome back. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera.
Time is dwindling as pressure is mounting for the most powerful Republican in the Senate. This begins the final full week for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get the 50 senators he needs to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. That's the Senate's version of the plan to replace Obamacare.
And moments ago it was just updated and McConnell hopes his chamber will vote on it before Congress recesses for Fourth of July. Of course, the Fourth is next Tuesday.
Listen to this quote from one senior Republican aide. "I say this doesn't get better with time. It just doesn't. Every extra day we spend on this is 24 hours for someone to get further from yes."
Right now these five senators continue to be far from yes, including Senator Rand Paul, who will join us next hour, and that's three more senators that Republicans can't afford to pass this health care bill.
Now, the number may still grow once the Congressional Budget Office releases its analysis of the plan. And we just learned the CBO score is coming out at some point this afternoon. Of course, we will bring that to you as it happens.
CNN's Phil Mattingly is joining us now on Capitol Hill tracking every twist and turn on this.
Phil, what is in the updated version of the Senate proposal?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So it's really just one change. And, Ana, I think the interesting element here is you talk about the senators that have already said they're opposed to a discussion draft that came out last week. This change specifically isn't going to address a lot of their concerns. It won't address any of them, actually. But it is an important change for the bill and, as you noted, the CBO score that's coming out today.
This is called a continuous coverage provision and essentially what it means is, if somebody loses their insurance or stops paying their insurance for more than 63 days, they would have to wait six months before they could get back into the market. Now, the rationale for this is not unlike the individual mandate that Obamacare has. Something that would be repealed in this Senate bill. You're trying to incentivize younger, healthier individuals to make sure they get into the marketplace. That should expand the risk pool, bring prices down a little bit. So they're trying to get - add a mandate without actually calling it a mandate or having a mandate. But it's an important piece to have in there.
And when you look at coverage numbers, obviously the House bill showed that 23 million over the course of 10 years would be - fewer would have coverage based on that House bill. Obviously Republicans quibble with how that modeling was actually conducted. But when you have some type of element trying to force individuals to have coverage, that should help the coverage numbers. So while this was a late addition to the bill, it is something Senate staff have been working on for a number of week and working on it with the CBO. So the expectation is this will be factored into the CBO score this evening. A very important CBO score. A CBO score several key holdout senators have pointed to as kid of the next thing they want to see before they make any decisions. So that will be factored in.
Could and should help the overall coverage number and that will just be kind of the next step forward as we try and figure out what bigger changes will be put in there to try and bring some of those wary senators, and most notably wary senators from kind of either side of the ideological polls inside the Republican conference, to try and bring them on board to get to that magic number of 50, Ana.
[14:20:10] CABRERA: And who is that latest addition appealing to? More of the conservatives who are holding out or the moderates?
MATTINGLY: It's not necessarily - it wasn't put in to try and bring people on board. It was trying - it was more or less put in to try and make markets work more effectively. It was something that was in the House bill. A different kind of format of it and a different iteration of it. That would penalize people financially, 30 percent on their premiums, if they decided to drop for a longer extended period of time. This is about making the marketplace work. It's an important provision, one that they've been working on for a long time. But one that wasn't finalized when the discussion draft came out last week because, and this is very important, the way they're doing this through the budget rules, they had to make sure that this would actually be compliant with those budget rules. That's what allows this to pass on a simple majority. They feel like they're there now. That's why this was included into the draft.
CABRERA: All right, Phil Mattingly, keep us posted. Thank you.
And let's talk about this further. Joining us to discuss, Lanhee Chen, former policy director for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and former adviser to Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign. Also with us, Chip Roy, the former chief of staff for Senator Ted Cruz, one of the "no" votes currently. Chip is now the director of the Center for the Tenth Amendment Action at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Lanhee, let me start with you. Which side do you think is going to have to give in if this bill is going to get passed, conservatives or moderates?
LANHEE CHEN, FORMER PUBLIC POLICY DIRECTOR, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: I think that's a really tough question to answer, Ana, because you've actually got some problems from both sides. You've got some conservatives who are expressing a point of view that maybe this bill mirrors elements of Obamacare too much, and then you've also got the moderate who are uncomfortable with what's happening with Medicaid. The really is that this piece of legislation is about as delicate of a balance as you're going to find between the two sides and for that reason it's going to be very different to move in one direction or the other without upsetting one side or the other.
CABRERA: Chip, do you agree? We know that in the House it was the Freedom Caucus who eventually got a few more things thrown in to get the House bill passed. Do you think Ted Cruz and those who support his reasoning to not vote right now for supporting the bill, do you think he's going to get what he wants?
CHIP ROY, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR SENATOR CRUZ: Well, first, thanks to the Freedom Caucus for at least getting some waivers in the bill so that states have some flexibility or we wouldn't even be talking about that if the Freedom Caucus hadn't put up a bit of a fight back in April.
But I find it interesting that the greatest - so-called greatest deliberative body in the world, the U.S. Senate, introduces a bill, the text of which we see late last week, and now the leaders are saying they're going to vote on it by the end of this week. And I think that's why a lot of the American people are raising questions and that's why there are a number of senators kind of at all ends of the spectrum, but, obviously, particularly some conservative who are raising concerns because they don't believe that the bill does nearly enough to lower costs, lower premiums.
And I think the issue that you've just raised gives away the entire game. I mean the fact that they are now adding in a provision to force there to be a penalty for not having coverage really underscores the fact that if you don't free up the market with a preexisting conditions requirement, it doesn't work. The math just simply doesn't add up. So they recognize that and -
CABRERA: So you think - you think that insurers should not have to cover people with preexisting conditions?
ROY: Well, it does - insurance doesn't work if there's a forced requirement to have coverage for preexisting conditions. Now, I say that, as I think I've noted to you before, as somebody who's a cancer survivor and understands very much what a preexisting condition looks like. But you can't have an insurance market function if you're going to force the market to take people in after they're sick. You can fix that through high-risk pools, you can fix that through better Medicaid provision, and there are a lot of things we can do, but -
CABRERA: But that's how - but that - but high-risk pools was exactly the problem before Obamacare came around. People with preexisting conditions weren't getting the coverage they needed to be able to afford health care.
CHEN: Ana, I think -
ROY: Well, the biggest problem - go ahead, Lanhee. CHEN: I was just going to say, you know, on high-risk pools, Ana, I
think the big challenge has always been, frankly, they haven't been properly funded. I think one of the things that both the House and the Senate bill try to do is to create a mechanism to help to cover people who do have these preexisting conditions through moving it toward a more market-based mechanism.
To Chip's point, I think this regulatory reform is absolutely crucial. The Senate bill actually does include, in my mind, a very important provision that would give states greater flexibility around designing their own health care programs. That's one of the reasons why I do think the Senate bill is the right step forward, even though there are a lot of things in there.
I think as conservatives we'd love to see more regulatory reform, but the reality is, this is what we have in front of us right now. If we want to turn back Obamacare, this is the vehicle we have to use.
CABRERA: Guys, let's take a look at the latest poll on Obamacare real fast -
ROY: But, Ana -
CABRERA: And then I'll let you respond, Chip. I'll just throw this out there, though.
You know, Obamacare and the GOP replacement plan were recently polled and this is the first poll of 79 that the Kaiser Family Foundation has done since 2010 that shows a majority approve of Obamacare, or see it favorably. Its popularity continues to rise while the GOP plan is hovering right now about 30 percent support. So why would Republicans vote on a bill that is widely unpopular. Chip?
[14:25:03] ROY: Well, I think it's inexplicable why they're pushing a bill that's polling - I mean it's - I've seen polls below 20 percent. But I think to Lanhee's point, and we agree that some of the greater flexibility is a good thing. But the problem is a lot of that is on the essential health benefits, doesn't get to the root problem that involves the community rating the preexisting condition. The high-risk pools weren't working before because they weren't, as Lanhee pointed out, structured properly. But if you set them up the right way, you can have a market that works.
And, look, we're talking about 330 million odd Americans, 170 million are covered by employer-provided care, 60 million by Medicaid, millions more on Medicare. We've got a - the group of Americans who need coverage. And we've got maybe 2 to 4 million that are in that preexisting condition camp. We're the greatest country on the face of the earth. We can solve that problem for them without turning the entire health care market on its head. And I think that's where Republicans are getting this wrong and not providing market-based solutions.
CABRERA: Chip Roy, Lanhee Chen, out thank to both of you.
The White House press briefing, by the way, just wrapped up. Let's listen in.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- glad to take a few questions.
QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.
SPICER: Kristen (ph)? Sorry.
QUESTION: Over the weekend, in an interview on Fox, President Trump seemed to acknowledge that he does believe that Russia interfered in the U.S. election.
Is that how that statement should be interpreted? Does he believe that Russia interfered in the election?
SPICER: The statement that he made in January is consistent with what he said the other day, which is that he believes that Russia probably was involved, potentially some, you know, other countries as well could've been equally involved -- or could've been involved; not equally. And he stands by the statements that he made in January.
QUESTION: And just a quick follow-up.
You know, over the past 48 hours, he's really been hitting his predecessor hard for -- for not doing enough to respond to that. So what is he doing or what does he intend to do different?
SPICER: Well, there's two -- two aspects to that question.
One is, you know, if you believe the story that was written, that means from August to November 8th two things: one that -- that if you believe that, then -- then they did know about this and they -- what -- there are some serious questions about what they did or did not do in terms of acting.
And the second is, I think it's then pretty clear that they knew all along that there was no collusion, and that's very helpful for the president.
But as to the point of what he's doing, that continues to be what I mentioned the other day. He signed an executive order on cyber- security to strengthen our ability to combat anybody from interfering not just in our elections, but in a lot of key infrastructure -- cyber infrastructure.
And secondly, he's got a commission that will continue to have more activities this month looking holistically at the election process to make sure that we're taking all the steps to protect the integrity of our voting systems.
QUESTION: Sean, the president tweeted that his predecessor did nothing in response to this Russian meddling. I'm curious what you think that Barack Obama should have done.
SPICER: Well, I -- I don't -- I think -- you know, it's not just the president. I think Congressman Adam Schiff ranking Democrat on the Senate -- on the House Intelligence Committee, expressed very similar concern with what wasn't done.
Obviously, I don't have all the understanding of what they knew and when they knew it. But there does seem to be a bit of hypocrisy in terms of what they didn't clearly do if they truly believed all of this was happening.
But they -- as I mentioned to Kristen (ph) just a second ago I think what's also important to note is -- is that if they did know all this, then they clearly do know that there wasn't a collusion.
QUESTION: At the time, though, what I'm sure a lot of us remember is in August and September and October of last year, the president was saying -- Mr. Trump was saying, "I'm afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest. We're running against a rigged system."
On October 19th at the debate he was asked by Chris Wallace, "Will you absolutely accept the result of this election?" And he refused to say.
Is there any reason to think that -- that Barack Obama given all that should've done more? Does the president believe that -- that given what Mr. Trump was saying at the time, that Barack Obama didn't do enough and may have choked, I guess is the way to put it?
SPICER: The president addressed that in the tweets, Steve. Obviously, he does think he should've done more if he knew all of this.
SPICER: Again, I -- I don't -- I have not asked him what additional steps, I think he -- his tweet made it clear that he does believe, if you believe the story, that he should've.
QUESTION: Sean, thanks.
Can I ask you about the Supreme Court decision today? They -- they said that anybody that has a bona fide relationship with another person or another entity is still permitted. So in a way it limited the initial or the second executive order.
So I'm curious if the administration feels that what is now permitted by the Supreme Court does indeed protect the homeland.
SPICER: Well, I -- I again, I think it's a positive step forward, as I mentioned at the outset.
The Department of Justice in particular is reviewing this, in terms of both its implementation and its impact. So I don't want to get too far ahead of -- of all these brilliant legal minds as they review the impact.
But I think -- as I noted, I think the president feels -- he's very, very pleased with -- with the 9-0 decision.
QUESTION: And let me ask you about health care.
John Cornyn said over the weekend that August 1st --