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Senate GOP Delays Health Care Vote Amid Opposition; Trump Associate Roger Stone to Testify Before House Panel. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired June 28, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: It's a big complicated subject.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: This was a disaster, and I'm glad the American people were able to defeat it.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The bill, overall, needs to look more like a repeal bill.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a chance to do something very, very important.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: No matter how the bill changes around the edges it is fundamentally flawed at the center.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several days before the exposure of John Podesta's e-mail, Roger Stone seemed to know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His testimony is going to be extremely important.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was happy to cooperate in their investigation of Russian interference.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), VICE-CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The one person who still denies this intervention seems to be the president of the United States.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, June 28, 6 p.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off, and I am joined by one of our best, Clarissa Ward. It is good to have you, and we're going to need you today.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be here.
WARD: There is news that is in your wheelhouse.
Here's our starting line. For seven years Republicans have been united by a simple battle cry: repeal and replace Obamacare. Well, the troubling realities of that same pledge now has Senate Republicans divided.
Mitch McConnell, the famed tactician, dealt a blow, forced to delay a vote on Trumpcare as they try to rework their plan. That setback putting President Trump's deal-making skills to the test again. There are now nine Republican senators against this GOP bill. Can the president, a self-described master negotiator, win over votes?
WARD: Meantime, longtime Trump associate Roger Stone agreeing to testify next month before a House panel on Russian's election interference. Stone is expected to challenge testimony of former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, who met with investigators on Tuesday.
And of course, we'll talk, as Chris said, about President Trump's warning to the Syrian regime about chemical weapons. A top aide to President Trump says Assad should not test the president.
We have it all covered. But let's begin with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, live on Capitol Hill -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Clarissa.
Well, the future of the Senate health care bill is really uncertain this morning. Senate leaders are still trying to get some sort of agreement this week. Senate leaders, despite that hopeful talk, however, really seeing the same hurdles that they are facing, they faced over the last couple of months.
Now, in terms of the House, they were able to resurrect their own bill in the spring. And the real question this morning is, can the Senate do the same?
TRUMP: 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.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Senate Republicans again reworking their health care bill after another another stinging setback to the GOP's seven-year effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
SCHUMER: We will not be on the bill this week, but we're still working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place.
MALVEAUX: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looking to win over the nine Republican senators currently opposed to the bill, after being forced to scrap a vote this week.
MCCONNELL: Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo or the markets will continue to collapse; and we'll have to sit down with Senator Schumer.
MALVEAUX: President Trump convening Republican senators at the White House discussed the path forward, flanked by two key skeptics of the bill. TRUMP: We're getting very close.
MALVEAUX: The president, who has largely remained on the sidelines, optimistic despite fundamental divisions within the party between conservatives and moderates.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The central focus needs to be on lowering premiums. The current draft doesn't do nearly enough to fix that problem.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I have so many fundamental problems with the bill that it's difficult for me to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns.
MALVEAUX: Multiple senators voicing concern over this attack ad, commissioned by a pro-Trump super PAC, against vulnerable Republican Senator Dean Heller, because he's against the Senate bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're opposed to this bill, we are opposed to you.
MALVEAUX: Sources tell CNN Heller raised the issue with the president himself after McConnell personally reached out to the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, calling the ad a stupid move that set the cause back significantly.
COLLINS: I was amazed and appalled to learn that any Republican group would be running negative ads against Dean.
SCHUMER: We know the fight is not over. That is for sure.
MALVEAUX: Senators expected to take heat from their constituents when they head back home for the July Fourth recess.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an angry constituent!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sit down; you're done!
MCCONNELL: Some members have town halls, and some don't. We'll -- we'll see what happens.
MALVEAUX: And get ready. Many prominent groups, medical associations, advocacy groups are expected to also lobby senators over the break. It is far from certain whether or not more time for Republicans will gain, or garner more support for this bill, or even if there are going to be significant changes -- Clarissa, Chris.
CUOMO: Suzanne, "We'll see what happens." Those are uncommon words for Mitch McConnell. He usually dictates what happens. Not this time, though.
Let's discuss that. We have our panel: CNN political analysts Maggie Haberman and David Gregory; and CNN Politics editor at large Chris Cillizza. He is the author of the new CNN newsletter, "The Point with Chris Cillizza." That is a catchy title.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT AND EDITOR AT LARGE: True.
CUOMO: ... Mitch McConnell known for getting his ducks in a row. A reputation well-earned. What went wrong this time?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Mitch McConnell, according to a bunch of people involved in these talks, kept some people who could have played sort of a moderating influence on where this was going, let him know that this was not headed toward a good end out of the process early on. The president also has not been very involved. Some of that is by design.
I think that it's hard to overstate the degree to which the anti-Dean Heller ad did play a role in this, that that -- that freaked out members of the GOP Caucus. Because it was -- they were -- it was meant to send a signal, meant to say that there was going to be a price for going against the president.
However, Dean Heller is really embattled. It created the impression of sort of chaos. And you saw what happened. You saw Mitch McConnell call Reince Priebus, the chief of staff to the president, and say, "This is beyond stupid. This is not something we should do." Those ads then came down. You could argue it brought Dean Heller back to the table. Very credibly, I think can also make the argument that it hurt their case.
And in the end, Mitch McConnell as an institutionalist is going to try to preserve the institution. So he saw this was not going to happen this week, and he yanked it pretty quickly. The question is where this goes now. And it's not clear to me that in this short time frame they will be able to basically, you know, soothe everyone's concerns about Medicaid cuts, about tax cuts for the wealthy, about the things that are problematic for them to take back to their constituents.
WARD: And you mentioned, Maggie, the role or the involvement of the president there or perhaps the lack thereof.
David, I'm just curious to get your response. We saw those images of the president sitting with the senators. It all seemed rather jovial, even. But how tough a time is President Trump going to have persuading now up to nine senators opposing the bill? And do you think he'll even have a hands-on approach? So far he doesn't seem to get really into the nuts and bolts of making policy.
[06:05:07] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, well, and certainly, in terms of health care, that's been the case all along. I mean, I've spoken to people who have met the president in earlier iterations of the health care fight in terms of coming up with a policy. He appeared totally disengaged from the complexity and the detail of it. And so I think he was happy to outsource this to Senate leaders to work on, as much flak as they took for the process.
I think he's doing what he can do at this point, which is to use his bully pulpit, but also to work it internally and to work it more quietly. But the heavy lifting has got to be done by Senate leaders. And you know, you have a mix of ideological opposition to how health care has emerged as essentially Obamacare light. Those who are more technocratic and want to get in there and figure out what's wrong with back Obamacare, that's ultimately where this may go; and that may happen with the work of some Democrats, as well.
And I think the president at this point is left to try to cheerlead for this on the sidelines and try to mitigate how much damage is done by exposing this process to all the light and all the opposition that senators are going to face when they go home.
CUOMO: So Chris, let's talk about the "why" here, why they're in this fix. You have competing interests. You have the fact that there's undoubtedly less money that's going to go into Medicaid that's going to affect poor kids. It's going to affect people in nursing homes, and it's going to disproportionately affect Trump voters, you know, non-college-educated people from 50 to 64, especially in states where he needed those voters. So there's that one.
Then you have the Ted Cruz, Paul Johnson wing who say, "And by the way, you're not bringing down premiums." Those are going to be two tough things to put in balance.
CILLIZZA: Yes. Because they just work at counter purposes. Donald Trump on the campaign trail essentially said, "Obamacare care is bad. I'll fix it. It will be better for everybody. Everybody's going to like it."
It does not take a policy maven to understand that is not a policy. Right? He is not engaged in any meaningful way in the policy; views himself as sort of the face of the brand, with the brand being the United States.
If you engage even in the smallest way with the policy, you realize -- breaking -- you can't get your cake and eat it, too. And that's sort of what this is. You -- I just find it hard to believe that you are going to find a solution that Susan Collins can be for and Rand Paul can be for. You have to decide which side you're going to move it.
And the problem is, the early reporting suggests they're going to move it more conservative, which is what they did in the House. Well, you have Susan Collins. You have Dean -- the aforementioned Dean Heller. You have Rob Portman in Ohio. You have Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. And remember, you can only lose two. This isn't the House, where you have 20-odd seats to work with. Right? This is two seats. And I just -- I'm very skeptical.
I mean, McConnell has to come out and say, "Well, look, we're going to fix it." But there's a reason that he wanted the vote before July Fourth, because he knows it's going to turn into even more of a political pinata over this recess.
GREGORY: We should remember, too, that they faced long odds in the House, and it looked like all the momentum was gone. And they came back to do it. We've seen this play out on big health-care-related bills in the past going back to prescription drugs under Medicare, and they can pull it out in the end if there's a feeling -- and McConnell, I'm sure, is making this point, which is that the political price we'll pay for failing it is we'll be really high. It will be higher than you would think is appropriate.
CUOMO: Although to the point that you were making with Maggie -- that Clarissa and Maggie were making, they weren't attacking their own in the House the way they did this time with these ads.
CILLIZZA: Chris, the margins -- the margins are different. I mean, it's just -- when you have two seats to work, two people to work with rather than the 20...
CUOMO: And this was supposed to be the easy route.
CILLIZZA: Can't give anybody a pass.
CUOMO: This was the easy route, because this was, you know, done on the reconciliation path, which they only need 50 votes. Obamacare they did with 60.
HABERMAN: They did. Just to go back to the point, though, of attacking their own, one of the complaints you heard out of the White House during the first round of negotiations, the one where the vote was yanked before they came back, was that "We had no air cover. Nobody was supporting us from our side. All of the opposition groups were going at it."
You can argue this didn't quite work out the way they had thought, the anti-Heller ads. And there were some other senators' words that could be tied in there, too. Those came pretty late in the process, and I think that is -- that is true. But you can see where the White House was coming from on it. They basically felt as if their flank was exposed.
CILLIZZA: And by the way, just to quickly add to Maggie's point, if you go back and ask the Obama folks what went wrong with the messaging on Obamacare, they will tell you, politically speaking, they will tell you, "We didn't have enough outside groups playing tough." I mean, that was always -- the idea that this is something that the, "Oh, I can't believe Trump's people did this." This is what the Obama people wanted, maybe not those exact tactics as Heller, but they always want outside messaging to help sell this thing, defend and serve in some ways as the stick for some of these wavering senators and House...
[06:10:31] CUOMO: Clarissa, what do you make of the "Wall Street Journal" article?
WARD: Well, that's exactly what I wanted to talk about now, and maybe David Gregory, you can weigh in. A couple of blistering editorials today, but one particularly in the "Wall Street Journal" which says, "Americans know that Republicans run Congress and the White House and that they promised to do something about the problems of Obamacare. Do Republicans really believe voters in 2018 will blame GOP failure on the president who left town two years ago? Democrats can tell you how well that strategy worked out in 2010." Some pretty strong words there, David, coming from the "Wall Street
Journal." I mean, is this essentially now the only interest Democrats have is to step back and let it fail, essentially?
GREGORY: Well, I think it's -- look, there's an ironic possibility here that maybe this process will actually work in the end. The conservative cause was to repeal Obamacare, to pull that back, to lessen what the federal government does in the individual insurance market. That is likely not to prevail.
But they may get to a point where they realize they've got to work with Democrats and attack those failures in the exchanges, those regulatory failures that are raising premiums. And maybe there could be some modest work done, and maybe it's better than modest that actually makes some of the fixes that are really necessary to the Obamacare, original Obamacare system. That would be Washington actually working. And we might actually get to that place even if conservatives in the end are disappointed.
WARD: OK, David, Chris, Maggie, our all-star panel we'll be talking to a lot more. Thank you so much. And of course, you can sign up for Chris Cillizza's new online newsletter, "The Point with Chris Cillizza" at CNN.com/ThePoint.
CUOMO: Congrats to Mr. Cillizza. Well-deserved.
All right. We have a big show ahead. Coming up on NEW DAY, we're going to talk to players who are in this process: Senators Ron Johnson and Shelley Moore Capito. OK, so there you have two senators who are on different sides but joined in their reluctance to this bill but for different reasons. We also have Ben Cardin and Angus King. So we're going to balance it out, as well, and give you all takes on where your health care is going to wind up.
WARD: President Trump's long-time confidant Roger Stone set to testify before a House panel in a closed-door hearing next month about Russia's election interference. The news comes just one day after Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman, John Podesta, was grilled by the same committee.
CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with more. Joe, what can you tell us?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Clarissa, the significance of this is that House investigators are now digging down into one of the big mysteries of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Whether Roger Stone, a long-time ally and confidant of President Trump, was somehow forewarned that damaging information was about to come out about the Hillary Clinton campaign, including the e- mails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.
Roger Stone, what he's saying is that he's denying knowledge that this information was going to come out, even though he did have some online Twitter contacts with Lucifer 2.0, the hacker who claimed responsibility for hacking the Democratic National Committee e-mails. There's a statement here from Roger Stone that says, "I'm confident
that Podesta most likely repeated his lie that I knew in advance about the hacking of his e-mail and am anxious to rebut this falsehood. I'm still unhappy that my testimony will not be in public, but I believe it's more important to resolve the question of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign which I believe was non-existent."
After Podesta's appearance before the committee in closed session just yesterday, among other things, he refused to blame the Obamacare administration for failure to respond properly to Russian interference in the election.
Back to you, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Joe, appreciate it.
Up next, we're going to have a little bit more on Roger Stone's upcoming testimony before the House Intel Committee. We had him on the show here. And he was pretty adamant that he wanted this to be in public. So the question becomes why isn't it -- why isn't it public? Why is it behind closed doors? There may have been some political concern about his grandstanding. We'll put it to the panel next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[06:18:47] JOHN PODESTA, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think the president and the entire administration were dealing with an unprecedented incidence of the weaponization of the fruits of Russian cyber activity; and I think they were trying to make the best judgments they could on behalf of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, defending President Obama's response to Russian election interference moments after a closed-door meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee.
Meantime, President Trump's associate, Roger Stone, set to go before the same panel next month.
Let's bring back our all-star panel: CNN political analysts Maggie Haberman and David Gregory; and CNN Politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza.
Maggie, let's start with you. We know now Roger Stone going to testify next month. However, it will not be public, as he had originally wanted. It will be private. What are perhaps some of the factors that went into making this private rather than public?
HABERMAN: I think the biggest factor is that Roger Stone is known for showmanship, shall we say, in terms of -- in terms of public displays. I think there was a concern by the committee that it would become something of a show, that you know, he would make statements that might be far afield, that it would not be relevant. They thought this would be a more containable hearing.
[06:20:15] And it's not dissimilar to what we saw for someone like John Podesta, for instance, right? We obviously saw -- have seen other people in things related to this investigation testify in public, but this is different.
I do think it was interesting. Stone's statement was that we read before was that, you know, he was eager to talk to them, eager to testify and to talk about collusion, which he believes doesn't exist and that "I believe" caveat is something I have not heard him say before. And it's the first time...
WARD: Gives some wiggle room.
HABERMAN: Well, not really for himself but about other people. I can't speak to the actions of other people. It's not dissimilar from what we've heard the president say which is "I can only speak for myself, not other people on the campaign."
CUOMO: We had Stone on here. And we tested him on these different principles. His main avenue of discussion with them is going to be about his own social media activities, what he knew from some of these sympathetic hacker types.
But it was an interesting match-up, David Gregory, of having Podesta and Stone. You could look at it two ways, political candy, right? This is interesting for us. But I wonder what it means in terms of what path they're on in this investigation. You know, where does talking to Podesta and Stone really take you?
GREGORY: Well, I think it's two different things. I think Podesta and his e-mail are part of the underlying offense here. What happened, what didn't they do to better protect themselves? And there's kind of the evidence trail there of what the actual interference was on the part of the Russian government.
But this is a political process, and I think, you know, Roger Stone complaining about not being able to speak publicly is part of, A, his grandstanding, but if you're a Trump supporter, you know, you do shake your head and say, "Wait a minute. I thought we'd have a chance here to really attack this process as being off-base and going after the president, you know, incorrectly and, you know, give him his due."
And, look, I think the work the committee does when it does it more quietly is more effective. It's like a grand jury. We're trying to understand, based on who shows up, what direction they're going. I think they're going in all kinds of directions to try to fully understand this. And there's a lot of the public record that we do know. But there's so much that we don't know, or at least how all these things fit.
And I think whether it's a Podesta or a Roger Stone, we're still operating much more on the margins of what that activity was.
WARD: And Chris, I mean, you heard Podesta's statement as he came out, talking about Obama's response to the interference. Did it sound strong enough to you? It sounded maybe a little -- a little weak, to be honest, in terms of the allegations that have been led -- alleged, leveled at the Obama administration about the response to Russian hacking, or I should say about the lack of a more robust response.
Do you think his statement was likely, in any way, to kind of curtail those fears or accusations?
CILLIZZA: No. But I also think it's probably unreasonable to expect a statement from John Podesta who we know but the average person doesn't, to -- to have that effect, Clarissa. I think it was -- if I had to describe it in a word, it was sort of dutiful. He knows that if he comes out and says, "Yes," given his prominence, given his ties to the Clintons, given who he is, if he comes out and says, "Eh, we probably -- Obama probably could have done more," it becomes a massive story. He just essentially says, "Well, we did what we could at the time. We were dealing with something that we had never seen before."
WARD: But couldn't he have offered a more robust defense: "Hold on a second. We did this, we did that, we did this"?
CILLIZZA: Yes, of course he could have. That's why I would say dutiful. Certainly not over -- over the moon in defense of Barack Obama. Look, it seems to me that on the merits, they could have done more.
I mean, obviously, you've got hindsight being 20/20. But they certainly could have been more aggressive.
The way you give them a pass is to believe that even they were not aware of the scope of this. That they saw the tip of the iceberg above the water, and there was a huge piece underneath that they were only marginally aware of until they sort of dug in.
The less kind analysis of that is, they knew -- they were concerned about its impact. They thought Hillary Clinton was going to win anyway, so what was sort of the point?
But I don't think -- John Podesta is not going to solve that problem for Barack Obama, even if he had been full-throated which, to your point, Clarissa, he wasn't.
HABERMAN: I think -- I think part of it is that, if you were one of the Clinton people, you see that President Trump is -- the only time we have really heard President Trump acknowledge, you know, with no caveats, yes, this was Russia, was so that he could blame President Obama. We have seen that repeatedly over the last several days.
[06:25:03] So I think that, just looking at it, if you are a Clinton person, my guess and not based on some reporting, my guess is that they don't want to drive a further wedge, given that the president -- the current president is already trying to.
CUOMO: What's your read on Manafort registering as a foreign agent? That doesn't have much retroactive impact to his lobbying activities, who he worked for, what money he made and how that was handled. But what does it suggest? HABERMAN: Well, it suggests a couple of things, but one of which is
that it's not, you know. It's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) violations, not violating a foreign agent, has tripped up other people. I believe it came up with Michael Flynn, and it's one of the things that's being looked at with him.
So what it tells me is, you know, a couple of things that could be happening here and that we don't know for sure, but one of them is that the lawyers probably told him that he needed to take care of this before any other thing came up in these various investigations. It could mean a wide range of things. It's a lot of money that he then acknowledged being paid by a pro-Kremlin party.
And so what it's going to do is, at minimum, we don't know what it means legally. We do know that politically, it is going to make it all -- all the harder for anyone close to the Trump team to say nobody around us had anything to do with Russia. It just becomes one more thing to point to.
CUOMO: And his guys pushed back very hard on the notion that Manafort's activities in the Ukraine benefited Russia. They pushed back very hard on that. We'll see what the facts.
Maggie, Chris, David, thank you.
Another story for you this morning: a helicopter opens fire on Venezuela's Supreme Court. That's right. It may have been a failed coup attempt. What the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, is saying about that attack next.