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Axelrod on Divided Government: Is Compromise Possible?; Senate GOP Delays Health Care Vote Amid Opposition; Trump Associate Roger Stone to Testify Before House Panel. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 28, 2017 - 07:00   ET


AXELROD: I don't think -- he wants a win.

CUOMO: He wants a win.

[07:00:04] AXELROD: He promised his base that he would get rid of Obamacare. And I think that, for him personally, destroying what he sees as a legacy of his predecessor seems important to him, but the details don't matter to him. That makes it very difficult to bring people together.

You know, I remember President Obama meeting with Republicans and Democrats, and he had a goal in mind. And he -- and he worked with each side -- there were 160 Republican amendments in the Affordable Care Act -- to try and arrive at some kind of consensus. So you don't see that today. And it's -- the country is poorer for it. There were a lot of people desperate for some sort of solution here.

CUOMO: Well, maybe -- that's our best hope -- is the desire of the American people for something better and something real to come out of it, maybe that may light a fire.

AXELROD: In democracy, that's supposed to be the answer.

CUOMO: We'll see. We'll see. Axe, always appreciate it. Nice to see you.

AXELROD: Good to see you.

Good to see you here. Visit more often.

CUOMO: And we say the same to you, our international viewers. It's good to have you. Please come more often. "CNN NEWSROOM" is next for you.

For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY's going to continue, and we have news to get after. Let's do it.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We know the fight is not over. That is for sure.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: It's going to take a few weeks to try to figure out something we can all agree on. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is more than a mean bill. This is a

destructive bill.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I believe we can get to "yes." I believe we will get to "yes."

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Stop the sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're getting very close, but for the country, we have to have health care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of disturbing elements to this story relative to Roger Stone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He bragged about the attack on John Podesta. He bragged about his friendship with Julian Assange.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: This administration disagrees with all of the stories that his campaign colluded with Russia.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Alisyn is off. Clarissa Ward joins me this morning.

It is great to have you.


CUOMO: We've got big news this morning. Senate Republicans have spent years promising something that sounded simple: "We will repeal and replace Obamacare." But it isn't simple. It was never going to be simple. And now that reality has divided the party on that signature pledge.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the famed dealmaker, forced to delay a vote and try to rework a plan. President Trump's deal-making skills are going to be put to the test, because nine Republican senators publicly opposed the bill and for very different reasons.

WARD: Meanwhile, long-time Trump associate Roger Stone agreeing to testify next month before a House panel investigating Russia's election interference. Stone is expected to challenge the testimony of former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, who already met with the same investigators.

Also, there's another warning from the White House to the Syrian regime about chemical weapons.

We have it all covered. as always. So let's begin with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, live on Capitol Hill -- Suzanne.


Well, the future of the Senate health care bill is far from certain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dramatically changing, lowering his expectations before, from promising there would be a vote by the end of the week to now saying he hopes to make 50 people get more comfortable, feel more comfortable in his words. The House was able to resurrect their bill in the spring.

And the big question now is whether or not the Senate can 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.

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

CRUZ: 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.

[07:05:11] MALVEAUX: Multiple senators voiced 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 on 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. There are going to be a number of prominent medical associations and advocacy groups that are also going to be lobbying Republican senators over the break. It is far from certain whether or not this additional time the Republicans have will help them garner more support for the bill, whether or not there are going to be even any significant changes to the legislation -- Chris.

CUOMO: You've got people coming at it with problems from very different directions, so that's going to make it even more complicated. Suzanne, thank you very much.

Another big story this morning, you have 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. This comes just one day after the same committee grilled Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman, John Podesta.

CNN's Joe Johns live at the White House with more. Podesta was a closed-door meeting, as well. Roger Stone wanted it to be public, of course.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Closed-door session for Roger Stone. That's going to come in late July. The significance of this, Chris, is that House investigators are now digging down into one of the more mysterious avenues of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

They are now looking into the question whether that long-time ally of President Trump, Roger Stone, somehow had fore knowledge that damaging information was going to come out about the Hillary Clinton campaign, including the e-mails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, who also appeared in closed session before the committee just yesterday.

Roger Stone, of course, denies that he had any fore knowledge. He did issue a statement which, among other things, referred to Podesta's testimony which has not been made public. That statement says, "I'm confident that Podesta most likely repeated his lie. I knew in advance about the hacking of his e-mail, and I am anxious to rebut this falsehood. I'm still unhappy that my testimony will not be in public, but 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 committee appearance, by the way, he did at least refer to the Obama administration's handling of Russia interference and essentially refused to say there was anything wrong with it.

Chris and Clarissa, back to you.

CUOMO: Joe, appreciate it.

Let's bring in the panel: CNN political analyst David Gregory; associate editor and columnist for RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard; and CNN Politics reporter and editor at large, Chris Cillizza, the author of "The Point with Chris Cillizza." You can sign up for his newsletter at You'll make his mom very happy.

David Gregory, what happened with McConnell? We did not see this coming this way. We knew there would be pressure. But there's this belief that McConnell could get it done. He's famed in his reputation for being able to get his ducks in a row. How big a blow is a delay?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it allows the opposition to grow. Once these senators go home, there's organized opposition against them. There's more light in the process. It was a mistake not to have more light. They thought they could write it privately, work out some of the differences and move quickly.

We've seen in the Obamacare fight that the more public pressure came, the more difficult it was. And of course, they had to get 60 when they were dealing with Obamacare. It was party line vote there, as well. So there's a lot of difficulty here, because you're trying to reconcile two very different sides. You have a real conservative movement here that wants to repeal Obamacare.

You have more moderates who are, frankly, wary of -- wary of the politics and the policy of taking back -- pulling back an entitlement that's already been given and cutting short the Medicaid expansion, covering fewer people. It becomes very difficult to do that, despite how many problems there are in the marketplace.

[07:10:14] But I do think we have to also pull back, and David Axelrod was talking about the polarization that we're seeing in this health care fight and in Washington. True.

But maybe, just maybe the process might work the way it's supposed to, which is you get to a place where you don't achieve what you want from a conservative perspective. You've got to start dealing with Democrats. And maybe you might get to a more constructive place of dealing with some of the problems within Obamacare that have to be addressed. This is bigger than politics, because the policy has so much impact,

is so complicated to implement over time.

WARD: Chris, given what David is saying there, do you think -- can Trumpty Dumpty be put back together again, or is this bill dead?

CILLIZZA: Short answer: I don't know, which is the answer to everything in the Donald Trump era, essentially. You know, people ask me for predictions. I say, well, I didn't think that the guy who's the president would be the president. So take that as a caveat. It always can be until it's officially dead, and it's not officially dead.

I'd be in the skeptical camp, Clarissa. David mentions this. The longer a complex piece of legislation sits out, the more your political opponents can pick at it, can point things out, can hammer you on things like the CBO report.

To me, what you would need is not really tinkering around the edges. You would need significant change to get the CBO score, particularly as it relates to the uninsured, down.

Now, what's hard here is, I'm talking about a political calculation. These are people's lives, right? So is 15 million uninsured better politically than 22 million? Yes. Is it enough? Maybe. But it's still 15 million more people who won't have insurance. That's a very hard thing to talk about in raw political terms and for a member of Congress to -- to be OK with.

I'm -- I am not sure that you have -- you're able to find a bill that gets Rand Paul and Susan Collins. Now, if you lose the two of them, you can still pass it. But that means you've got to get Mike Lee and Ted Cruz. And then, in the centrist column, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Dean Heller. It's just -- the math is very difficult. Always has been, always will be, almost no matter what you do with that bill.

CUOMO: You're starting to have a discussion within the Republican ranks about taking a different approach to this, like we're seeing with the immigration debate. Instead of doing one huge omnibus bill, maybe you start taking it on in parts. We'll have to see if they keep going in that direction.

A.B., the main problem with this situation is it doesn't live up to its name. It's supposed to be a better law than the ACA, but it's not covering as many people, so that's not better, and it's not lowering premiums the way they said it would. So that's not better. And this is a fundamental proposition, no?

A.B. STODDARD, COLUMNIST, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right. And what we keep -- we keep sort of trying to debate -- discuss this and analyze this as one big bill, but remember, so much of this is on -- is a really two-track process.

You look at the Club for Growth and the conservative -- the conservative movement that is opposed to this bill, because it is truly not a repeal over Obamacare, because it keeps so much of it; because it's still going to provide a real safety net from government and allow government to sustain a role in the health care industry.

And then you see people on the business side saying, "We -- you know, we need a win." You see President Trump saying, "We just need a win." They don't -- really not -- they're not so concerned about what's in it. They're concerned if the Republican Party cracks up and can't do this, they can't move on to tax reform.

And so that's why you see some shakiness in the market and some concern here that this is really going to go to pot. And so, if you look at the policy versus the politics, it's an amazing turn of events from just back, you know, in the seven years when they were promising to repeal it, root and branch; they really wanted to.

Now you actually have Republicans defending Medicaid. This is a totally new turn, given you know, an entitlement that they now can't take back. And so when they promised that this was going to lower premiums, you have Susan Collins or Rob Portman from Ohio saying, "Wait a minute. It might lower premiums, but we're going to offer these people less than what they have." They're going to have to pay more out-of-pocket. And they're going to look at this care a year, a year and a half from now and say, "This is worse for me."

So forget the fact that you've ripped away the mandate and people don't have to buy what they don't want to buy. The conservative argument is really gone to the back burner, and it's really about people that have something that can't have it now taken away by the mean Republicans.

[07:15:04] And so the whole debate within the party has shifted. And that's where you see this dissonance between President Trump, who really just kind of wants a win, is not really focused on what's in it, and then these -- you know, these two factions of the moderates versus the conservatives. They're fighting it out both on politics and policy; and that's why I don't think they can come up with a solution.

WARD: We have a new tweet now from the president, who says, "Some of the fake news media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in health care. Wrong. I know the subject well and want victory for U.S."

David, that certainly has been an allegation, that the president has not been engaging in the kind of nuts and bolts of the -- of this bill. Do you think that's a fair assessment?

GREGORY: Well, first of all, in terms of the last part of his tweet, I think that's absolutely right. I mean, I think he certainly -- he does want the change he's been campaigning for and advocating for.

My information from people who have met with the president along the way in this process is that he did not have a level of depth and understanding of the complexities of this bill throughout that process.

CUOMO: He said as much, by the way, David, as you remember.

GREGORY: It's right.

WARD: It turns out health care is pretty complicated.

GREGORY: Right. And he didn't realize it was complicated. So sorry. He's going to have to accept that criticism and live with that. He was not in a position to uniquely drive the process.

Look, he's also made a decision, and I think it's a debatable decision but there will certainly be defenders of it, which is that he wants to let Congress do its thing and -- and negotiate this the best it can. And then he comes in where he can.

Now, to the extent that he had people associated with him and the party hammering Dean Heller in Nevada, that was a huge tactical mistake and sewed more chaos within the Republican caucus. He's got to own that, as well.

So you know, he is a confident guy, as we know. But he is out there saying yesterday, meeting with people, this may not work, and then we know it won't be a good outcome.

I just keep coming back -- over the past many months, remember what former speaker John Boehner said. This will never get done, because Republicans will never agree on health care. And that's a -- that's a philosophical issue. That's a legitimate, principled division within the Republican Party and the Democratic Party about how government gets involved and administers these kinds of regulations in the individual market.

CUOMO: Well, also...

CILLIZZA: By the way...

CUOMO: Chris, go ahead.

CILLIZZA: I would just -- a quick fact check on that, just while we're doing it -- not on David, on Donald Trump.

The fake news media didn't -- he's responding to a piece in "The New York Times" that Maggie Haberman, who was on earlier with us, had a part in, about the meeting with Republican senators and how it went. The allegation that he's light on details comes from a Republican senator. Now, not a named Republican senator, which I guess would qualify as fake news, but -- in Donald Trump's mind, not mine. But that's -- that's not from the news media. That's from a Republican senator.

And second, Donald Trump has said as much repeatedly, that he's the big picture guy. Right? He's not the in-the-weeds guy. Look at his career outside of politics. He's the face. He's the face of the brand. He doesn't do the intricacies of the deals. He comes in at the end and closes them, shakes hands and goes on TV and talks about them. So this is not inconsistent with who he's been his whole life.

CUOMO: And the closer reputation remains to be seen on this level. Let's see how he does now, during this break.

A.B., Chris, David, thank you.

Now, you're going to get more depth of perspective of what the president means in this process, because we have these people on, on your screen right now. They represent the full spectrum of political belief.

You've got Republicans who are against the health care bill, senators Ron Johnson and Shelley Moore Capito, and they're going to tell you why. You've got Democratic Senator Ben Cardin. You've got independent Senator Angus King. They'll talk to us about what the president means in this process and what their reluctance is on this bill.

WARD: So will Democrats be part of the healthcare discussion, given the growing Republican opposition? We will be asking Senator Ben Cardin. That's coming up.


[07:23:15] WARD: Senate Republican leaders have delayed the vote on their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, but Democrats say the fight isn't over yet. Our next guest warns delay doesn't mean defeat.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Thank you so much for being on with us. First of all, just your reaction to the delay.

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, first, it's good to be with you.

And secondly, I think it does give us more time for the American people to understand exactly what was in the Republican bill. I do hope that Democrats and Republicans can come together now and deal with the challenges that we have under the Affordable Care Act.

As has been pointed out, we want to get the premium costs down and there's ways that we can do that working together, increase the subsidies for low-income families, look at ways that we have predictable funding for the cost sharing that has caused in my state the premium increase to be larger than it needs to, because they don't know whether those payments are going to be made.

WARD: And yet, we heard yesterday Mitch McConnell saying that the Democrats are not interested simply in cooperating or working with the Republicans. Has there been a reluctance on the behalf of your party to work more closely with Republicans on this issue?

CARDIN: Well, what we won't agree to, we're not going to agree to cuts in the Medicaid program that hits our most vulnerable people. We're not going to agree on tax cuts for the very wealthy. We want to improve the Affordable Care Act. We don't want to make it worse.

So look, when we need more competition, let's look for ways we can get more competition, such as public options similar to what we have under Medicare.

Let's also look for ways of bringing down the overall costs of health care, take down the costs of prescription medicines, which we know is way too high here in America. Look at delivery systems that can help save money by the way we deliver care in America.

[07:25:10] Democrats and Republicans have worked together on this issue in the past, and we should work together now in order to make our health care system stronger.

WARD: And yet, there seems to be have been this resistance for Democrats to get more involved.

Let me ask you specifically, if this bill falls in defeat, what steps will the Democrats take to work with the Republicans to come up with a plan that everyone can agree on that actually helps the American people? Because right now, the perception is that this is politics over policy.

CARDIN: I think what we are insisting upon is we're not going to move in the wrong direction. We're not going to cut the Medicaid program that's just going to knock people off of coverage and make it more difficult for our states and make our most vulnerable people more vulnerable to health care costs and not being able to get care. We're not going to do that because they're doing it solely for the reason of giving tax cuts to the wealthy.

Where we can agree is make the system work better by finding ways to get more competition, reduce the cost, particularly in the individual marketplace. That's the major problem.

But it's interesting. In my state, my largest insurer says the reason why their premium requests were so high in the individual market was because of things that the Trump administration did, the uncertainty on the cost sharing and not enforcing the individual mandate. So there's been some self-inflicted problems in the Affordable Care Act that the Republicans have supported. We don't want that to happen.

Let's see how we can build on the success of the Affordable Care Act.

WARD: OK. Well, we'll see.

I want to shift on another topic for a moment now, which is the White House's warning to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria that they believe another chemical attack was being planned, that that attack would be met with a strong response from the U.S.

What do you make of this? Do you support this, and does the president need to think about renews or changing the wording of this AUMF, of this authorization of the use of military forces? Should Congress be involved with this?

CARDIN: Well, a few points here. First, the use of chemical weapons is absolutely outrageous, and we must make it clear that that will not be acceptable, and there will be a reaction on the use of chemical weapons. Secondly, the president does not have authorization from Congress to

use force against the Syrian regime. He should come to Congress and get the authorization for use of military force. That's our responsibility, the congressional responsibility, and he does not have the authorization under a 2001 authorization that was used against Afghanistan originally.

Third, we don't have a coordinated policy as it relates to Syria. He has not shared that with the American people, and he's not shared that with Congress. He has to come to Congress and the American people and tell us what the game plan is.

How do we get to a resolution? There's no military victory for the United States and Syria. We need the parties in Syria to come together. Assad must leave. We need a leader that will represent all of the communities, and we have to focus on getting rid of ISIS in that region.

WARD: And I just wanted to ask you quickly, as well. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, saying that this next time, if it happens again, we won't just go after the regime; we'll go after their backers in the form of Russia and Iran. Do you think that's part of the impetus here? Do you see this administration as wanting to go after Iran, specifically, I'm thinking?

CARDIN: Well, I don't know what they mean by that. If we're talking about a larger military engagement of U.S. troops in Syria, that's a very serious matter, and we need to have a game plan. We don't have a game plan.

As I've talked to experts in this area, they tell me there is no military victory. I don't know how you can win a military victory, particularly with American ground troops there. So I don't know exactly what they're talking about, but I don't want to creep into a military campaign in which there really is no military victory.

OK, Senator Ben Cardin, thank you so much for joining us.

CARDIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So you have the Democrat perspective there. Of course, you have Republican senators who are in the midst of their own struggle to come to grips with this bill. So now they have some time to think about it with their constituents. What changes will they ask for? We ask Senator Ron Johnson next.