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Vote on Senate Health Care Bill Delayed; Merck, Mondelez Victims of Global Cyberattack; Trump Administration's Warning to Syria; Florida Gatos Win College World Series. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 28, 2017 - 05:00   ET



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: 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.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: 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.

[05:00:01] After all, the House, it managed to pull back from the brink to rally and wind up passing their health care bill in May.

BRIGGS: All right. So what will it take to rescue the Senate bill? Let's ask CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian, author and

professor at Princeton University.

Good morning to you, sir.

KOSIK: Good morning.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

BRIGGS: All right. So, let's start what went wrong here? Was it specifically the policy? Or was it the process of crafting this behind closed doors? The first time they all met together was yesterday to air their grievances.

ZELIZER: Look, if you had a closed door meeting and came out with something attractive to the party, it would have passed. So, I think in this case, it's the substance. It's the impact of the bill that scared moderates like Susan Collins that she can't see a way around the impact it will have on Medicaid and at the same time, conservatives are not happy that this doesn't go far enough. That's a substance issue. Not a process issue.

KOSIK: You know, we see Mitch McConnell. He's got quite the reputation on Capitol Hill. In your --

BRIGGS: Some compare him to LBJ, who was the minority and majority leader.

KOSIK: In your op-ed, Julian, you compare him to Lyndon Johnson. But the reality is, there's a huge divide going on here between conservatives and moderates. They're not seeing exactly what they want in the Senate bill in its totality. There are a lot of sticking points. The millions more insured, the higher premiums, the Medicaid changes.

What's it going to take for Mitch McConnell to get everybody to bridge this gap, to get everybody on the same page? Now, mind you, he is saying he wants everybody to kind of decide what they want before recess, but a lot is going to change when they go on recess.

ZELIZER: Yes, I'm not actually sure he can do it. I think in this case, you have a bill that doesn't bridge the two wings of the party and will not win a single vote from the Democrats. It's unclear whether McConnell, who's spent most of his career as an obstructionist can actually serve as someone who sells a bill, sells the ideas to public.

And right now, they are going back to recess for a week where there's many public events. Parades and marches, governors, members are out there, and they're going to hear it in states like Nevada about what's wrong with this bill. So, I'm not persuaded that there's anything he can do to put this back together again.

BRIGGS: Yes, his chief accomplishment has been obstructing in the past, Mitch McConnell. Can he lead? That remains to be seen. Let's bring in now, from Zachary Wolf, digital director for CNN


Good morning to you, Zach.

So, let's talk about which direction this bill heads. There appears to be about $180 billion in room to make deals. To Julian's point, do they go in the direction of Lisa Murkowski, of Susan Collins, or do they go in the direction of Rand Paul, of Lee, of Cruz, and try to get the conservative wing onboard? Where do you think it heads in the recess?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL DIRECTOR: Well, you know, I think a lot of that has to do with what he was talking about, what happens out there in the country, is it going to be conservative activists who are frustrated that they didn't get this done, or is it, I think, more likely going to be more liberal activists who are frustrated about the idea of losing, you know, health care or Obamacare, you know, whatever the case may be, but you know?

And the facts of the matter have not changed. The facts of the bill have not changed, even if they go back to the drawing board. And let's not forget, even if they can a find way to pass this through the Senate, say they go towards Lisa Murkowski to pass it that way, then they have to go back and pass it through the House.

BRIGGS: Right.

WOLF: So, you know, it's hard to see a way forward with the puzzle pieces that they have.

KOSIK: You know, Julian, thinking about -- you sort of take a step back on what's sort of transpired over the past couple of weeks, how much of this is a messaging issue? Because, you know, Dave made a good point. You didn't see everybody get together until they were at the White House, where you finally heard the president get out in front of this.

Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're getting very 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.


KOSIK: OK. So help me through this here. He says it's going to be OK if it doesn't get passed?

ZELIZER: Right. That's exactly what he said. So, here, you have members of Congress trying to figure out in the

Senate, do we take this controversial vote? And the president saying, well, it's OK if it doesn't pass.

I think that's a central problem in this whole debate that Senator McConnell is dealing with, meaning POTUS, meaning President Trump. Right now, he's not a very strong leader. He is sending mixed messages, including messages that undercut the Republicans. And if there is a messaging problem, that messaging problem is in part President Trump, who is not effective for the Republicans on this health care debate.

BRIGGS: No idea what you make of that if you are a United States senator trying to solve health care in the United States.

[05:05:05] Well, either way.

Zach, let me bring you on this, on who the president is to these Republican senators? Is he a guy with an approval rating in the high 30s, who threw House members under the bus by calling a bill he celebrated mean? Or is he a guy they want to get behind his agenda, they fear and they respect?

WOLF: The first one, I think probably in a lot of ways. He probably -- he has a lot of support I think in certain parts of the country, but those are parts of the country with people who are probably going to support whatever bill comes through.

You know, the fundamental thing here is that you have a part of the caucus that wants to fundamentally change Medicaid and a part that doesn't. He's sort of referred to that as a mean thing now. So, it's hard to see how they go backwards from it. But then you have all these conservatives to, you know, satisfy in some ways and oh, by the way, it's OK if we don't pass anything at all.

That's not exactly I think the vote of confidence you need if you're going to ramrod this thing through which is what they're going to have to do.


KOSIK: You know what struck me, Julian, and you can chime on this, too, Zach, the seating chart that we saw in the White House yesterday when we saw, you know, after their field trip, the senators taking a field trip to the White House, we saw Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski next to him, and next to Collins, we had, of course, Senator Heller who has been under fire for sitting on the fence and not -- obviously not being too comfortable going with the bill.

What do you think, Julian? Do you think this is sort of the art of the deal with something that President Trump prides himself on to keep those people he's trying to win over close to him physically?

ZELIZER: Sure. That's how he imagines it I'm sure, that he can twist their arm or he can say something the right way that it will convince the moderates to accept a very conservative bill that in the end won't change much because it's true, it has to get through a conservative House.

But he won't win them over that way. What Senator Collins, for example, is looking at is the CBO report on 22 million people losing health insurance. So, you could sit next to the president, you could sit across the table from the president, but those are the numbers that are on her mind.

So, he's going to need something better. Senator McConnell will need something better to convince her to switch her vote from a no to a yes and face the consequences of that back home.

BRIGGS: Medicaid expansion is at the heart of all of this. That's the key to Obamacare and that's what Republicans, conservatives want to reform. How they solve that question we don't know.

But, Zach, real quickly, Alison mentioned Dean Heller from Nevada, the one Senate Republican up for reelection from a Hillary Clinton won state. How big of a backfire was it to target him with these ads from a super PAC?

WOLF: Well, he didn't change his mind so I don't think it worked. And then, also, there's always been this sort of, you know, protect your own mentality in Washington. You know, Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment, don't speak ill of another Republican. And here they are attacking somebody who hasn't taken a vote yet on a bill and is also endangered.

It was an interesting -- it's an interesting strong arm tactic. I don't think it worked.

But, you know, we're not at the end of this yet. I suppose it's possible they could, at the end of the day, come up with some magic bullet or bill that satisfies everyone. But in this case, it was a strange thing to do I think and it drew the frustration of a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill.

KOSIK: And there, you were looking at those super PAC against Heller that were running and now been pulled.

All right, Zachary Wolf, thanks for joining us. Julian, we're going to bring you guys back because there's more to talk about.

WOLF: Thanks.

KOSIK: OK. It's only been a month since the WannaCry virus hit computers in 150 countries. Now, another big malware attack is wreaking havoc across Russia, Europe, and the U.S. It's targeting government agencies and global firms, including companies like Merck, Mondelez, WPP, and Russian oil giant Rosneft. Ukrainian firms and agencies have been hit particularly hard, including the monitoring system at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

This virus dubbed Petya is similar to WannaCry. Ransomware infects and locks a computer and then it demands $300 in bit coin to open it up. Petya also spread through a similar flaw in Microsoft Windows. Microsoft did release a security patch in March, but the virus targets anyone that hasn't updated their system.

We don't know yet the source of the attack. The Ukraine initially blamed Russia, but then they were attacked. And while some experts say the virus spread from software in Ukraine, but we do know the virus uses hacking tools believed to be stolen from the NSA, and cybersecurity and law enforcement are investigating. However, they do advise that you shouldn't pay the ransom if you're affected. Instead, victims should update operating systems and back up data now before it's too late.

BRIGGS: Don't close out that update software thing. Update your software.

Ahead, we're getting new insight into the why the White House warned Syria not to launch another chemical attack.

[05:10:06] There's hope the Russians can stand in Assad's way. We'll get more from the Pentagon and Barbara Starr, next.


BRIGGS: Welcome back.

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 cuts some off-guard, the White House's 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.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Dave, Alison, U.S. military officials had been watching this air base in Syria for some days.

[05:15:02] 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.


KOSIK: All right. Barbara Starr, thank you.

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

Let's bring in CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson on this.

Nic, what do you think? Can the Russians influence Assad to prevent another chemical strike?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think on the one hand, Alison, we've heard a lot of bluster coming from Russia that this is unacceptable, you know, threats to the leadership of Syria. That's sort of been their main line.

But at the same time, they've also said that they condemn the use of chemical weapons and the very fact that they sent their chief of general staff, one of their main military strategists, if not the Russian army's top military strategists at this time, General Valery Gerasimov, they sent him to Syria, he went to an air base, he met on that Russian airbase with President Assad and there, according to the Kremlin, they discussed the coordination between Syrian ground troops and the Russian airforce, which is the way that mostly they've been operating in Syria.

So you can see they're not saying that he went there and told them not to use chemical weapons, but they did say they're talking about the coordination of how they fight together. And we do know that in Syria, Russia is concerned about the use of chemical weapons because we know that that could bring a big international involvement and engagement in the Syria conflict, bigger than it is now and that could upset Russia's strategic plans in Syria and in the Middle East at large.

So, you know, when you look at the surface at least so far -- again, there's nothing that says Assad will listen to the Russians. He has his own agenda but he does need the Russians. So, perhaps, yesterday, we did see the Russians leaning on Assad and passing that message, if you will, although the Kremlin does push back on it. And, of course, the Syrian media backing Assad, as well as call this, you know, provocation ridiculous. But the reality is, it does appear that message may have been conveyed.

KOSIK: All right. We shall see if the Russian influence actually does anything.

CNN's Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

BRIGGS: All right. We'll talk some sports. Ahead, the Florida Gators in some exclusive company after winning the national championship in college baseball. Coy Wire with the details in this morning's "Bleacher Report".


[05:22:52] BRIGGS: The Florida Gators winning the college baseball world series for the first time in school history.

KOSIK: Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Good morning.

BRIGGS: Hey, man.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, guys.

Our intern Kaitlin (ph) is wearing bright orange today. She's a Florida fan. I can't wait until our boss comes in. She'll probably be wearing a gator outfit. Florida fans going crazy. Now only the fourth school in history to win titles in baseball, football and men's basketball.

And an interesting note in this series, Dr. Jerry Poche, father of LSU pitcher, Jared Poche, the school's all-time wins leader, saved an elderly Florida fan's life during Monday's game. Along with another LSU dad, performing CPR until he was in stable condition until paramedics arrived, so a great story there.

But as far as this game, it was close the entire game, but the Gators scored four runs in the eighth inning, putting the Tigers out of reach for the title. Florida wins 6-1 in this sweep in the series, winning their first title in their 103-year history.

The World Series champion Chicago Cubs are making a second visit to the White House today as they're in town to play the Nationals. Manager Joe Madden says it's voluntary for players and it has to do with the fact that the Ricketts family, owners of the Cubs, have strong ties there. Chairman Tom Ricketts who donated to Donald Trump's campaign said he thinks the president thought it would be fun to have an unofficial visit with the team. The Cubs visited the White House in January when Chicago native President Obama was still in office to celebrate the Cubs' world series title, the first one in 108 years.

Adam Jones is going to have to go to Jared, get some jewelry. A big swing shattered his necklace in the Orioles game against the Blue Jays last night. I mean, the jewelry pieces flew everywhere. He was picking up the pieces at home plate. Even the umpire Angel Hernandez had to get in on the cleanup work.

The game was delayed for quite some time. The guys in dugout had some fun, too. Good news for Jones though, his team did get the win 3-1.

And --


MICHAEL JORDAN, FORMER NBA STAR: You want to know the secret to victory?

[05:25:01] Fail to make the varsity team.

MATT RYAN: It's been 108 years since (INAUDIBLE)

SERENA WILLIAMS: Be on the wrong side of the biggest upset of your sport.

JORDAN: You really want to know the secret to victory?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great (INAUDIBLE) for Matt Ryan who was in utter disbelief.

RYAN: Defeat.


WIRE: Matt Ryan, Serena Williams and others starring alongside Michael Jordan in a rare ad appearance, revealing that one of their keys to success is defeat. Their failures have fuelled them. They found strength in their struggles. A unique ad by Gatorade highlighting the flip side of some of the biggest wins in sports. That's cool stuff, guys.

Phil Jackson, in other news, there in Big Apple might be out of New York as early as this morning. ESPN reporting that the Knicks owner James Dolan could announce it today. CNN has not yet been able to confirm that report as of this moment but something to keep our eye on as the morning progresses.

BRIGGS: Yes, the Vertical also sharing the reporting.

Maybe Phil Jackson can build on that ad. Failure is what he's done here with the Knicks.

KOSIK: Inspiration.

BRIGGS: What is he, 80-166 in three years. So --

WIRE: Not so great as a president, but 11 championships as a coach, the most ever in the NBA.

BRIGGS: And 24 million left on his deal here in New York.

Coy, thanks, my friend.

WIRE: You're welcome.

KOSIK: Thanks, Coy.

BRIGGS: All right. Republicans with a major shift on health care. A vote this week is out. Instead, they'll work on a new plan that can pass the Senate. That's a tall order if you believe key members of the chamber.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I think the bill would have to be fundamentally changed, and tinkering around the edges is not going to be sufficient to secure my vote. Now, if there's going to be a major rewrite of the bill, then obviously I'm open to taking a look at that.