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Senate's new Game Plan on Health Care; Merck, Mondelez Victims of Global Cyberattack; Trump Administration's Warning to Syria. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 28, 2017 - 04:30   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This will be great if we get it done. And if we don't get it done, it's just going to be something that we're not going to like, and that's OK and I understand that very well.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump makes his personal pitch to Republican senators to get health care done. It worked in the House. Will it work in the Senate as they try and get a deal done after this week delaying a vote?

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

It is a heavy lift ahead for Senate Republicans.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: It certainly will be.


KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik.

[04:30:00] It's 30 minutes past the hour.

And there's a new game plan on health care for Senate Republicans. One, postpone a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Two, instead, try to hammer out a new version by the end of this week that will somehow satisfy both moderates and conservatives. And three, send lawmakers home for the July 4th recess where they can mull the details. That also includes, though, giving them a chance to hear from angry voters, which isn't exactly part of the plan.

BRIGGS: So, this comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bowed to mounting opposition forcing him to delay a vote until after the recess. Senators would now vote when they return to Washington, presumably, the week of July 10th. After McConnell announced the delay, President Trump hosted Republicans for a frank discussion at the White House. More on that in a moment.

KOSIK: Despite the hold up, don't assume though the Senate bill is dead. After all, the House managed to pull back from the brink to rally and pass their health care bill in May. So, what will it take to rescue the Senate bill?

Phil Mattingly begins our coverage from Capitol Hill.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alison and Dave, it was what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn't want, having no vote on this week. This was the week they targeted. This was the week they thought they needed to get health care done.

This is the week they will not be getting health care done. For one simple reality, they don't have the votes. The votes aren't there yet and because of that they will be postponing.

Now, what does that mean going forward? Well, this is what the majority leader had to say.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: We're continuing to work on reaching an agreement that will involve continuing discussion to the end of the week and we'll not be turning to the bill on the floor of the Senate until a couple of weeks after.

I think everybody around the table is interested in getting to yes, interested in getting an outcome, because we know the status quo is simply unacceptable. It's a very complicated subject. I had hoped as you know that we could have gotten to the floor this week, but we're not quite there. But I think we've got a really good chance of getting there.

MATTINGLY: Now, guys, the outstanding issues here aren't a secret. Majority leader, he knows exactly where his members are, all 52 of them. He knows what the Medicaid expansion state senators need to come on board. He knows what conservatives want on the regulatory side of things for them to come on board.

The real question is, how do you balance those competing demands? How do you thread a needle that up to this point, they simply haven't been able to thread? It's an open question that senators at least hope to answer in the days ahead. I'm told that several senators are going to be staying in town, going to try and hammer out these details, before they actually leave for recess, getting the CBO score, have an opportunity to really digest things before they come back to the Capitol for a possible vote.

But the reality is, and this has been stated by several Republican senators -- this doesn't become easier with time. This doesn't become easier with time. These divisions, internal divisions, ideological divides, those don't get any easier just because a couple of days have passed.

So, there's still a lot of work to do. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell making very clear, he's giving his members an opportunity and the space to get to yes. The question is, will they get there? Dave and Alison?

(END VIDEOTAPE) BRIGGS: Thank you, Phil Mattingly.

President Trump himself trying to spur Republicans across the finish line. Take for example this tweet: I just finished a great meeting with the Republican senators concerning health care. They really want to get it right, unlike Ocare.

Afterwards, several senators called White House meeting positive, constructive and not tense. We're told many senators aired their concerns about different parts of the bill.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more on that from the White House.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, it's back to the drawing board in some respect for Republican senators on the health care bill. President Trump on Tuesday summoned all Republican senators here to White House to get them all in one room, the East Room of the White House, to hear their concerns.

I'm told by senators it was a venting session, a listening session, but President Trump made clear not passing anything is simply not an option.

TRUMP: We're getting close, but for the country, we have to have health care. And it can't be Obamacare which is melting down. The other side is saying all sorts of things before they even knew what the bill was.

This will be great if we get it done. And if we don't get it done, it's just going to be something that we're not going to like, and that's OK and I understand that very well.

ZELENY: I talked to one Republican in the room who said, I think we'll get there, but who will vote for it, how we'll do it, we're not sure right now.

But don't forget, even if it passes the Senate, it still has to be recycled with the House version of the bill. Now, we are talking some point in July, perhaps late July before this top Republican priority may get through -- Dave and Alison.


KOSIK: OK, Jeff. Thanks very much.

Also at that White House meeting, several senators making it clear a pro-Trump group hasn't been helping matters by running ads against a senator who opposes the current health care bill.

[04:35:02] The ads by the group America First have been slamming embattled moderate Dean Heller of Nevada.

A source telling CNN that President Trump got the message and he claims he didn't know about the ads. America First says it's now pulled the ads because Heller decided to come back to the table.

BRIGGS: The ads angered Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, so much so a source says he called White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to complain although, technically, Priebus has no say in them. The source says he called Priebus because he thought the ads were stupid, counterproductive and because McConnell feels he has to protect his members whether he agrees with them or not.

KOSIK: What else is being affected by the Senate delaying the health care vote? What else? Stocks.

Wall Street fell sharply after the announcement. And that's because it raises the questions about the future of President Trump's economic agenda. The promise of tax cuts and deregulation, that's what's fuelled stocks to record highs, but the president has said he wants to tackle health care first. Investors, they want him to move on.

The S&P 500 saw its biggest one-day loss in six weeks, while the Nasdaq fell 1.6 percent. Both were also being weighed down by tech stocks.

Google parent company Alphabet sparking the sector's decline. Shares dropping 2-1/2 percent after E.U. antitrust regulators hit the company with a record $2.7 billion fine. But investors aren't the only ones questioning Trump's agenda, so is the International Monetary Fund or IMF. It cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth this year because the IMF is blaming the president's highly uncertain policies and the agenda that hurts middle class Americans. Officials initially welcomed the president's plan for taxes and spending but says it's become evident that many details about these plans are still undecided.

So you saw stocks really rally on the hope and the dream that some of these policies would get passed. And now, you see the obstacles that those efforts are running into.

BRIGGS: Hold their breath for a while.

OK. Hillary Clinton's campaign manager John Podesta defending former President Obama's response to the Russian hacking in the 2016 election. Podesta spoke behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference. He later told reporters Obama tried to make the best judgment on behalf of the American people. It comes after "The Washington Post" reported on the Obama administration's struggle to find an appropriate response to Russian meddling.

KOSIK: Meantime, the House Intel Committee will hear from long time Trump associate Roger Stone in closed session next month. Stone had asked for a public hearing but says it's more important to resolve the question of Trump campaign collusion with Russia which he believes was nonexistent. Stone has defended his contacts with the online persona who claims responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee.

BRIGGS: Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz is dropping a proposal that's raising some eyebrows. Chaffetz calling for members of Congress to receive a $2,500 a month housing allowance to ease the cost of living for lawmakers in Washington. He says dozens of members, himself included are living out of their offices.

Granted Washington is expensive, but rank and file members of Congress receive a yearly salary of $174,000. It's $194,000 for those in leadership, like Chaffetz, and according to the latest numbers from the Center for Responsive Politics, the median net worth of a member of Congress in 2014 was about $1.1 million. If this ever happens, Chaffetz won't benefit. His suggestion comes just days before he resigns from Congress. That's what allows him to make his suggestion like this, knowing it's not going to be politically popular in this environment.

But, look, 40-plus members of Congress live out of their office.

KOSIK: They shower at their office.

BRIGGS: It's just a reality. Not easy for some of those working so hard.

KOSIK: All right. It's only been a month since the WannaCry virus hit computers in 150 countries. But cyberattacks are once again wrecking havoc across the globe. We're going to tell you who's affected and who could be behind it, next.


KOSIK: Big companies and government agencies across the U.S., Europe and Russia struggling to recover from another huge malware attack. They include companies like Merck, Mondelez, WPP and Russian oil giant Rosneft. Ukrainian firms and agencies have been hit particularly hard.

This virus dubbed Petya is similar to WannaCry ransomware that hit computers in 150 countries. Ransomware infects and locks a computer. And then, it demands $300 in bitcoins to open it up.

Petya also spreads through a similar flaw in Microsoft Windows. Microsoft released a security patch in March, but the virus targets anyone who hasn't updated their system.

BRIGGS: Cybersecurity and law enforcement are investigating.

For more, let's bring in CNN's Nina Dos Santos live from London where several companies were hit.

Nina, good morning to you. What do we know about who might be behind this attack?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question everybody is trying to answer this morning, Dave. And, you know, this is a month and a half after the WannaCry attack that is, you were pointing out before, paralyzed about 200,000 computers in 150 countries and still, we don't know who was behind that.

People suspect that North Korea might have had a hand, but there's been no confirmation of that. Now, early yesterday, when this cyberattack started in Ukraine, the Ukrainians are very quick to say that perhaps Russia had a hand in this, but then we saw Rosneft, the big oil and gas company in Russia, and some state lenders in Russia saying that they had been infiltrated as well.

So, that again doesn't lend credence to the theory that Russia may have been behind this attack. It could be really some bedroom hackers that's exploiting the same series of the tools that were leaked by the NSA, from the NSA around March of this year.

[04:45:03] And that is the fear that people are talking about in the cyber security community is that these tools have been leaked and we're now seeing variance of something similar to WannaCry that are being traded on the Dark Web. Some saying that you can buy access to this kind of software for as little as $22 and mount a big destructive cyber attack like this.

This is similar to WannaCry in the sense that it locks down people's data and asks for a bit coin ransom of $300. But what's different is it doesn't seem to be so destructive and so quick to spread like wildfire on day one. But the fear is that this could continue to permeate through people's computer networks for more time to come. For the moment, there is no kill switch and that's what really worries people here.

BRIGGS: Hopefully, this one does not spread.

Nina Dos Santos live for us in London, thanks so much.

KOSIK: Tensions against spiking in Venezuela after a helicopter launched grenades and gun fire over the capital supreme court building. President Nicholas Maduro condemning what he calls an armed terrorist attack. Officials say soon after the attack, a man posted a video online declaring opposition to his country's criminal government. They say that man who identified himself as Oscar Perez was the police chopper pilot behind the attack. Perez said he took action to urge people in Venezuela to fight in defense of their constitution.

And a milestone for Facebook. Its monthly users are now more than 50 times the population of the state of California. Whoo! We're going to tell you how much that actually is on "CNN Money Stream", next.


[04:50:47] KOSIK: In just a few hours, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and she's sure to face questions over President Trump's blunt public warning to Syrian President Assad about ordering another chemical attack. While the statement caught some off-guard, the White House says top intel and defense officials were part of the process. Now, we're getting a better idea what led to the warning.

CNN's Barbara Starr has more from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Alison, U.S. military officials had been watching this air base in Syria for some days. It was the same airbase that the Syrians used to launch their last chemical attack back in April. But over the last couple of days, they grew concern about what they were seeing there, and what they were seeing was a Syrian aircraft move into a shelter with chemical weapons capability nearby.

So, the obvious concern was, were the Syrians getting ready to launch another chemical attack against civilians?

That is what led to the White House warning that caught a lot of people by surprise. Not top cabinet officials but within the State Department, within the Pentagon, a lot of people didn't know that warning from the White House was coming.

The real goal is to avoid, officials tell us, avoid any additional U.S. airstrikes. What they are hoping is that the Russians will work to influence Assad and get him to back off and not launch another air strike. But if he doesn't back off, if he were to proceed, U.S. military officials are letting it be known they have everything in place to strike again -- Dave, Alison.


BRIGGS: Barbara Starr, thank you.

The White House says its warning to the Assad regime was the equivalent of, quote, putting someone on notice.

So, let's bring in CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.

Nic, good morning to you.

Can the Russians influence Assad to prevent another chemical strike and do we think they are willing to?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The first -- the first part of that, can they? Yes, it appears that potentially they can. Will they? For the moment, it appears again in the affirmative there.

If we just look at this sort of sequence of events here, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has a conversation, a phone conversation Sunday with his opposite number at the Kremlin, Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister there in Russia. And according to the Kremlin, at least, the issue of chemical weapons does come up.

The next thing down the line, we hear a condemnation coming from the Kremlin saying this is an unwarranted and uncalled for, you know, attack on the leadership of Syria, what the White House -- the statements from the White House. But we also then later hear from the Kremlin that they also condemn the possible use of chemical weapons. So, you have that narrative there.

By Tuesday, the general -- the chief of general staff of the Russian military forces, General Valery Gerasimov, goes to Syria, goes to the Russian main airbase there and President Assad meets him there. And there, according to the Kremlin, they discussed the coordination between Russian and Syrian forces. So, the picture that's building here is, we don't know precisely what was said between Gerasimov and Assad, but the potential there was for a warning to be given not to use chemical weapons.

And you've got to ask, why would that be? Well, every time, Assad uses chemical weapons, Russia knows that, potential brings international engagement in Syria in a bigger form. One step closer that would undermine their own ambitions in Syria, would undermine their regional ambitions in the Middle East.

And from the U.S. perspective, there's a real recognition that if the cruise missiles were launched that could hit Russian men and material on the ground in Syria, and that could bring an escalation.

So, right now, it appears -- it does appear that the answers are yes and yes, that the message may have been delivered and it may be being listened to.

BRIGGS: And here we are about a week away from a potential meeting between Putin and Trump at the G-20.

Nic Robertson, thanks.

All right. We'll have the latest on the healthcare battle in a moment but, first, let's a look at what the late night comics had to say after the word broke the Senate vote had been postponed.


[04:55:05] STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Senate majority leader and unacknowledged love child of Admiral Akbar, Mitch McConnell, has promised he will pass Trumpcare before the July 4th recess and they have got to because McConnell knows if they do not pass it now, there's a serious danger that someone might read it. So, there are a lot of good reasons not to have the vote this week. OK? McConnell would have lost, and that's it.

Twenty-two million people would lose their health coverage, 22. That's a big number. That's a big number. I admit. Now, to put that number into perspective, if you laid 22 million people end to end, it could reach Canada where they could get health care.

SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: Senate Republicans delayed on the vote on their health care bill to repeal and replace Obamacare because they didn't have enough votes. But since when have Republicans let a little thing like not having the majority vote get in their way?


BRIGGS: Seth Meyers is on fire.

KOSIK: I love it. I really it.

BRIGGS: He has been on fire this year.

KOSIK: All right. From laughter to money, let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stocks and U.S. futures are lower this morning after U.S. stocks fell. Wall Street sliding lower when the Senate delayed its health care vote, and that's because -- it went to raising a lot of questions about the future of President Trump's economic agenda. The president has said he wants to tackle health care first, but investors, they want him to move on to what they want, tax reform.

The S&P 500 had its biggest one day loss in six weeks, while the Nasdaq fell 1.6 percent. Both were weighed down by tech stocks.

Google parent Alphabet sparked the sector's decline there. We saw shares dropped 2.5 percent after E.U. antitrust regulators hit the company with a record $2.7 billion fine.

For the first time ever, gas prices will be lower on the July 4th holiday than on New Year's Day.


KOSIK: This is according to GasBuddy. I know you're excited.

It projects an average of $2.21 a gallon. That's down 12 cents from January. So, typically, if you prices are actually 47 cents higher.

We often see gas prices spike in the summer months because of this sort of collaboration of forces. More people drive. Stations use a more expensive blend of gas.

But we're seeing crude oil continue to drop. That's driving down prices. Oil actually down more than 20 percent this year.

Facebook just hit a 2 billion number, 2 billion monthly users. That's equivalent to more than 50 times the population of the state of California and it makes Facebook the largest social app in terms of users. So, that's more than YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg celebrated this milestone in a post saying this: We're making progress connecting the world. And now, let's bring the world closer together.

That statement echoes Facebook's new mission, after facing a lot of criticism for dividing people by creating partisan echo chambers. The company is now focusing on community, not individuals. I have taken a Facebook hiatus because I can't stand all the discourse.

BRIGGS: Yes, a lot of noise.

KOSIK: Too much.

BRIGGS: Not all in the positive direction.

KOSIK: I hear you. BRIGGS: OK, a lot to get to as the health care bill now heads for the July 4th recess. EARLY START continues right now.



MCCONNELL: It's a big, complicated subject. We got a lot of discussions going on and we're still optimistic we're going to get there.


BRIGGS: Will the evolving Republican strategy to pass a health care bill takes another turn? GOP Senate leaders are working on big changes after calling off the vote. Can they strike a balance to find enough support to get this bill through?

It is a long road ahead and they are headed for July 4th recess.

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik, sitting in for Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, June the 28th. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And there's a new game plan on health care for Senate Republicans. They're going to try to hammer out a new version of repealing and replacing Obamacare by the end of this week to let members consider the bill during the upcoming recess. And it comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bowed to mounting opposition in his own party and delayed the vote he said would happen this week.

BRIGGS: Senators would now vote when they return to Washington presumably. That's the week of July 10th. Now, lawmakers who hold town halls during recess would also have to answer to their constituents before a vote. But all we've seen is news of two town halls.

After Senator McConnell announced the delay, President Trump hosted Senate Republicans for a frank discussion at the White House. More on that in a moment.

BRIGGS: Despite the holdup, don't assume the Senate bill is dead. After all, the House, it managed to pull back from the brink to rally and wind up passing their health care bill in May.