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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Health Care Struggle; President Trump Attacks Female News Anchor Over Her Looks; Despite Push, GOP Cautions There Could Be No Deal Tomorrow. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired June 29, 2017 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So, how's that first lady anti-cyber- bullying campaign going? Good?

THE LEAD starts right now.

President Trump taking to Twitter to address an issue of importance to him. Veterans, jobs, North Korea, Syria? No. He personally attacked cable news hosts, including the nasty comment about the physical appearance of a female host.

And now he's facing bipartisan backlash.

One thing the president hasn't tweeted about so far today, health care. Republican senators still haven't reached a consensus, as their deadline for consensus quickly approaches. Now, of course, Republican senators say this may not happen tomorrow after all. So what is the latest?

[16:00:13]

Plus, beating back ISIS. We will take you to the front lines in Iraq, as the terrorist group loses control of a historic mosque.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to start with the politics lead today.

It might officially be energy week at the White House, but the main fuel being provided is to anyone who has concerns about President Trump's temperament and those who see him as unpresidential and even misogynistic.

The president this morning, apparently unhappy with criticisms being made about him on the MSNBC show "Morning Joe," lashed out on Twitter -- quote -- "I heard poorly rated Morning Joe speaks badly of me. Don't watch anymore. Then how come low-I.Q. crazy Mika, along with psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me? She was bleeding badly from a face- lift. I said no!"

A reminder, this is the president of the United States.

This, of course, just a few days he talked about the need to unite the country, to heal, and after first daughter Ivanka Trump bemoaned how nasty Washington and politics are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVANKA TRUMP, ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: There's a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience. But this isn't supposed to be easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The White House today said that President Trump was merely punching back, fighting fire with fire, since the hosts of "Morning Joe" have attacked President Trump.

And this is indeed how President Trump sees it, that criticism from the media or anyone needs to be fought back.

It's been very clear ever since the campaign banned reporters from "The Des Moines Register" from attending his events back in 2015, because Mr. Trump didn't like some of the editorials the newspaper wrote, that he has a problem with criticism.

This president, who first came to political prominence, by the way, by questioning whether the first African-American president was born in Africa and thus ineligible for the presidency -- he wasn't.

He has made it clear that he will do everything he can to undermine anyone seeking to hold him accountable, whether the FBI director or the media. Just since Monday, the president on Twitter has attacked CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post." They are all fake news, he tweeted.

That's just since Monday. Now, the White House today complained that we in the media focus too much on his tweets, suggesting that we cover them disproportionately, citing a conservative organization study of how many minutes have been spent covering different topics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You can't say you want to talk about policy, and then you look at the numbers and they just don't lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, viewers of this show know that we focus quite a bit on policy. But we, of course, cannot ignore wild statements being made by the president of the United States.

So, as long as Sarah Huckabee Sanders is talking about numbers, we thought we'd take a look at the president's tweets since this became president. And this is unscientific analysis.

But in our analysis of the 770 tweets from the president's personal account since his inauguration, we found the plurality of them were general arguments comments or arguments and many that were benign presidential tweets about meetings or the like or exultations to make America great again.

But in terms of specifics, specific issues, roughly 85 tweets were attacks or complaints about the press. This compares with about 67 tweets specifically about jobs, using the word jobs, and roughly 27 tweets about veterans or the military.

Those are the numbers in our analysis, our best good-faith effort to categorize all the president's tweets.

Now, about his tweets this morning, the White House today said that the personal attack on the appearance of Mika Brzezinski was exactly why he's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think the American people elected somebody who's tough, who's smart, and who's a fighter, and that's Donald Trump. And I don't think that it's a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The American people elected someone to fight, yes, but to fight for them.

These nasty personal tweets against individual cable news anchors or those more broadly seeking to undermine any critical journalism, I'm not sure how that serves the soldier in harm's way, or the hungry child in the inner city or in Appalachia, or the unemployed factory worker in the decimated factory town.

Eighty-five tweets attacking the media, 67 about jobs, 27 about troops and veterans? Really? The numbers just don't lie.

Let's bring in CNN's Sara Murray. She's at the White House.

And, Sara, with so much of the president's agenda in play today, these tweets clearly taking everyone in Washington off-message, including the president's aides.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.

There's so much the president could have been focused on today and plenty of news coming out of the White House, including the fact that the president is going to be meeting with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20, including the pivotal health care vote that going to be coming up in the Senate.

[16:05:08]

But, instead, the president is taking aim at the media and doing it in a very personal way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY (voice-over): President Trump setting off a firestorm today, as he blasted this out on Twitter.

"I heard poorly rated Morning Joe speaks badly of me. Don't watch anymore. Then how come low-I.Q. crazy Mika, along with psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me? She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"

The White House doubled down on Trump's outburst at two MSNBC anchors.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't think you can expect someone to be personally attacked day after day, minute by minute and sit back. Look, the American people elected a fighter. They didn't elect somebody to sit back and do nothing.

MURRAY: But lawmakers from both parties slammed the comments as inappropriate, sexist, and beneath the office of the presidency.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I think it's so blatantly sexist.

REP. LYNN JENKINS (R), KANSAS: To refer to a female's face, someone that is involved in politics, it's just not appropriate.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We have to treat each other with respect and civility. And the president's tweet was completely inappropriate.

MURRAY: Trump's unwelcome outbursts distracted from his agenda and drawing scorn from the same senators he needs to back the GOP health care plan. It's the latest example of Trump making tasteless comments about women.

On the campaign trail, he criticized his former GOP opponent Carly Fiorina's looks, retweeted an unflattering photo of Senator Ted Cruz's wife and took aim at another female journalist, Megyn Kelly.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her whatever.

MURRAY: In perhaps the most damaging moment of Trump's presidential campaign, this 2005 video came to light.

D. TRUMP: And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.

MURRAY: When nearly a dozen women accused him of making unwelcome advances, he denied it. Trump apologized for his caught-on-tape comments while shrugging them off as locker room talk.

D. TRUMP: This was locker room talk.

MURRAY: Now the crass commentary is coming from the Oval Office.

The women in Trump's life has shuddered at political attacks directed at Trump. I. TRUMP: It is hard, and there's a level of viciousness that I was not expecting.

MURRAY: Melania Trump even vowed to take up cyber-bullying as a cause as first lady.

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: We have to find a better way to talk to each other.

MURRAY: But, today, her spokeswoman said only this: "As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MURRAY: Now the president did turn back to his own agenda this afternoon, delivering an energy speech to cap off what was meant to be energy week. He talked about cutting back regulations. But, of course, he did all of this after he sparked outrage among members of his own party by taking to Twitter -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray at the White House for us, thank you so much.

Let's bring in my political panel.

So, let's just dive right in.

First of all, Mary Katharine, I guess that cyber-bullying campaign has a big caveat. If you have been attacked first, you can attack back 10 times as hard, and that's cool. I'm not sure how effective that cyber-bullying might be, with that caveat.

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I -- frankly, I said at the time of the announcement of the cyber-bullying campaign that she might just be messing with us, given the fact that we know all -- the way that her husband operates online.

I think that might still be the case. This is how Trump does business. It's obviously disgusting. It's obviously out of line. He was attacked personally on the show.

TAPPER: Sure.

HAM: It was not a policy agreement -- disagreement that he was discussing.

And yet pushing it to that point means that, what, everyone talks about this today, when you could be talking about Kate's law or energy or whatever it is that the president would like to talk about, but it turns out this is what the president would like to talk about.

And that's -- the thing that I see here is that still no one is capable of telling him, let's not.

TAPPER: Yes, or he doesn't... (CROSSTALK)

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Or doesn't have the opportunity to do that.

TAPPER: Yes.

And let's posit that, obviously, Joe and Mika have said some very rough things, but we do in is this country, or at least we used to have a standard where we expect the president to act better than we expect, well, everybody to act, but also specifically cable news hosts. That's not the standard. I certainly hope I'm not the standard.

PSAKI: Well, look, I think working the White House is tough. It requires a suit of armor on some days.

I was there on and off for eight years. You covered the White House when I was in there for a bit of time. You have disagreements with reporters. You disagree with how things are covered, with information that is or is not shared.

But the reality is, when you're not getting legislation done, when your approval rating is in the 30s, when you're under investigation, you're going to be criticized. Put your big boy pants on, put your big girl pants. This is the White House. It's hard. It's difficult.

[16:10:06]

And the American people are watching. So, I think what he said, obviously, people are disgusted by it, but I think we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that there's really thin skin going on here, when in reality this is a place where you need to be tougher than that.

TAPPER: Yes. And President Obama would throw an elbow here and there, but nothing like what we saw this morning on Twitter.

PSAKI: Sure. Correct.

TAPPER: Stick around. We're going to squeeze in a quick commercial.

Coming up, more female Republican lawmakers are reacting. That's next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead and the growing condemnation of President Trump's Twitter attack on a female journalist this morning.

My panel is back with me.

And later in the show, the three of us are going to talk about health care reform and some serious policy.

But it's not like it's -- this policy is unaffected by what's going on.

Here's a sampling, Mary Katharine, of some Republicans on Capitol Hill, their reactions to the president's tweets.

Senator Lisa Murkowski says: "Stop it. The presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down."

[16:15:06] And then you have Senator Ben Sasse saying, POTUS, please just stop. This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office.

I think next, we have Lindsey Graham saying, Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with the American politics, not the greatness of America.

Those are three people he needs, especially Murkowski, to vote for his health care bill. Do you think he cares?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think he's thinking about that part of it when he's doing this. I don't think -- I don't think there's often a grand strategy, but yes, on a really practical level, he needs these folks to come along with health care.

TAPPER: And two women senators.

HAM: Right. And he does this in other areas as well. It's like just shooting himself in the foot. And this guy also, by the way, in addition to like not knowing who is going to attack on Twitter, they don't know if it might be them at some point.

TAPPER: Right.

HAM: Which is a thing if you're taking a really hard vote on something that is a really hard bill, you want to know that this guy has your back and he's not changing his mind four days after he lauded a bill in the Rose Garden about the content of that bill. And so, I think they're in a precarious situation and whether Trump fans like those senators or not, he needs those senators for this particular thing.

TAPPER: Yes, he does.

Jen, we were talking about in the break about every president to a degree takes criticism personally. And you have to behind closed doors walk away from responding, because, obviously, some criticism is unfair, some criticism stings. But this is -- I mean, it's no less of a decision that the three of us make when people attack us on Twitter.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. I think, look, I think speaking probably for all of us, we've all been attacked on Twitter on --

TAPPER: Probably right now.

PSAKI: Probably right now. You know, I was the victim of Russia propaganda going after me, going after my family. So, this is part of the reality. I'm not saying it's OK. I wish

there was less going after each other at the staff level. That's really picked up a lot in Washington the past couple years.

TAPPER: Yes.

PSAKI: It's a huge shame because these are all public servants regardless of which side of the party, or which party you are a part of. But the key piece here is that there somebody telling him he shouldn't do this, maybe not before.

Is there somebody telling him and going into the Oval Office now and telling him, this messed up your day, this is a terrible decision? Does he ignore them? Does nobody go in there? We don't really know that and that's a huge problem.

Every president needs at least one person who will tell them, something is bad. It was a bad decision. It's hurting their agenda.

TAPPER: I just got to say as a father and I know you two are mothers, I don't want to have a president of the United States that I point to and say, this is how you should not behave, kids.

HAM: Well, you know, I've wasted a couple of nights fighting with people on Twitter who are mean to me and, like, it's a waste of time and the president's time is arguably more valuable than mine. So --

TAPPER: Arguably? I would say inarguably. But OK, Mary Katharine and Jen, stick around. We've got a lot of health care to talk about later.

The clock is sticking and now there's concern that GOP senator leaders won't be able to reach a deal on health care before their self-imposed deadline. Where does the Senate version of the health care bill stand now?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:22:12] TAPPER: We're back with more on the politics.

Republican leaders in the Senate are trying to piece together a new health care deal. Right now, nine Republican senators publicly opposed the legislation today. More meetings with the purpose of reaching a compromise within the Republican Party in the Senate to turn those no votes to yes votes, all without losing the support of those current onboard.

And despite a push for a deal by tomorrow, Republicans are now cautioning that might not happen after all.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has the story for us from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All day long in the halls of the Senate, Republican members were ducking in and out of private meetings, hammering out changes to the currently stalled health care reform bill.

SEN. ROGER WICKER (R), MISSISSIPPI: I just saw a genuine determination on the part of people, center right and maybe more center left, in the caucus to get to yes.

NOBLES: But exactly what those changes are and which members are moving closer to a yes is still unclear. And the senators at the center of the debate are reluctant to say which way they are leaning.

SEN. DEAN HELLER (R), NEVADA: I'm not going to negotiate with the press here on what it's going to take to get to something favorable for the state of Nevada.

NOBLES: Nevada Senator Dean Heller who has been a vocal opponent to the new bill has been a part of negotiations but was unwilling to get into the details of the bill's progress.

HELLER: But bottom line is this bill is not good for the state of Nevada, I'm simply not going to support it.

NOBLES: Heller's resistance is just one example in the divide between moderate and conservative wings of the party. Conservatives want to rein in the cost of Medicaid including gradually ending federal funding for the expansion of the program under Obamacare. Nevada is a state that expanded their Medicaid roles. It stands to lose billions in federal funding under the current draft of the bill.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Changing the growth rates of Medicaid to make them a little more generous might help some, but if you do too much of that you're going to lose other people.

NOBLES: But while the GOP seems to be pretty far apart what doesn't appear to be happening yet is an opening for Democrats to join the conversation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is warning conservatives to build consensus, because if Democrats join the negotiations, the less conservative the bill will be.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: We've made good progress and we'll keep working.

NOBLES: And there are plenty of moderate Democrats like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin who are ready to deal.

REPORTER: Have anyone Republicans approached you? You're kind of person that they would talk to. Anyone talked to you about it?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Yes. We're working, we're just working a little bit. We'll be talking. It will happen, hopefully.

NOBLES: Meanwhile, the White House is taking a more active role in the negotiations with both Vice President Mike Pence and senior adviser Kellyanne Conway making trips to the Hill, all with hopes that at least a framework of a deal can be struck before Congress leaves town.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And GOP leaders today are really downplaying expectations that a deal could be struck by tomorrow. They said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell never really imposed that deadline. But even at this hour, senators of all stripes are furiously meeting, trying to come up with some sort of a breakthrough.

And, Jake, it might have to happen today, because there are no votes scheduled for tomorrow, meaning most of the senators are heading out of town.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Nobles in Capitol Hill for us, thanks so much.

So what changes need to be made from moderate to conservative Republicans to agree on legislation for health care?

Republican Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey weighs in, next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

You're looking at a live look at the floor of the United States Senate.

Right now, as we're back with our politics lead, Senate Republicans are working trying to reach a deal to repeal and replace Obamacare.

And joining me now is Republican Senator Pat Toomey of the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He's a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Budget Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Thanks for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: So, you and I have something in common. We're both Pennsylvanians.

TOOMEY: Yes.

TAPPER: There are nearly 2.8 million Pennsylvanians covered by Medicaid.

TOOMEY: Right.

TAPPER: Seven hundred thousand are covered under the Medicaid expansion.