Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Promises "Big Surprise" on Health Care; Blockbuster Trade Shakes Up NBA; President Trump Spreads Fake News While Blasting Media. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 29, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:58] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We're following breaking news out of the Vatican. Australian Cardinal George Pell, one of Pope Francis' top advisers, is facing sex abuse charges.

Authorities did not provide additional details yet about accusations in his home country. But we do know that they include, you know, an unknown here is the ages of the victims. We're just being told that there are multiple complaints.

Cardinal Pell denies the allegations and says he plans to take leave from the Vatican to defend himself.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, growing concerns that Venezuela is on the brink of civil war, its attorney general now barred from leaving the country, her assets frozen, this after the brazen helicopter attack -- you remember, we showed this to you yesterday -- on the country's Supreme Court. The chopper was found in the rural part of the country, but the pilot is still on the run.

Embattled President Nicolas Maduro and his supporters framing the attack as a coup attempt since the political and economic turmoil began three months ago, clashes between protesters, counter-protesters and security forces have killed at least 75 people.

President Trump accepting an invitation from the new French president to join him for Bastille Day. They're going to attend a parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 14th. That's going to mark the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I. American and French troops are expected to march side by side during the event.

The White House says the visit will strengthen ties between the two nations. That will be quite a sight to behold.

WARD: It certainly will.

CUOMO: We haven't seen U.S. troops lined up parallel with another nation any time recently.

WARD: Absolutely.

President Trump promising to deliver a big surprise on health care. What could that mean? We have a live report from Capitol Hill. That's coming up next.


[06:36:50] WARD: President Trump promising a big surprise on health care as GOP leaders scramble to change the Senate bill with the hopes of winning more support for their plan.

CNN's M.J. Lee is live on Capitol Hill with more.

M.J., any ideas what the surprise may be?

M.J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big question right now is can Mitch McConnell get this done, get this deal done by Friday? Friday is the deadline by which Mitch McConnell now wants to have a new health care bill and send it over to the CBO.

But you're absolutely right, Clarissa. Maybe the president knows something we don't know yet. He did promise yesterday a big surprise on the health care front.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Health care is working along very well. We could have a big surprise with a great health care package. So, now, they're happy.

REPORTER: What do you mean by big surprise?

TRUMP: I think you could have a great, great surprise. It's going to be great.


LEE: Now, yesterday, we did see the negotiations in full force. A number of Senate Republicans who have expressed reservations about the Senate bill or have opposed it altogether walking into Mitch McConnell's office, members like Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, Shelley Moore Capito, all going in to meet with the Senate majority leader.

And McConnell wasn't the only person that these lawmakers were meeting with. They were also there to meet with CMS administrator Seema Verma. Now, we're told by these lawmakers that she talked the lawmakers through what the bill's impact would be on Medicaid and actions also that the CMS could take to help these states.

Now, I mentioned the CBO earlier. The reason that Mitch McConnell wants to get to a deal by Friday is also because he needs to get a new bill sent to the CBO so a new score gets back to the Senate. And his goal right now is to take a vote as soon as members come back after the July 4th recess.

But I will tell you that even the most optimistic lawmakers say Mitch McConnell has a long way to go -- Clarissa and Chris.

WARD: All right, M.J. Lee. Well, let's bring our panel now. We have CNN political analyst David

Drucker and "Washington Post" congressional reporter, Karoun Demirjian.

Karoun, let me start with you. I just want to show our viewers some polls that have come out about what the average Americans feel about this health care bill. And, frankly, it's not good. You look at all of them, 16 percent in favor, 17 percent in favor, 12 percent in favor. Even a FOX News poll, just 27 percent in favor of this bill.

It seems like a very unpopular bill, I guess, Karoun. But the question becomes: can the surgery be done to change this by tomorrow?


You've seen quite a lot of really negative headlines come out about this bill, whether we're talking about number of people that will -- you know, poorer people that will see their cost burden go up for health care, the number of people that are being kicked off Medicaid, the number of people that will lose their insurance.

And -- so, there's this disconnect between, you know, people saying, oh, we want to change health care in this country and then what you actually -- the changes are. And also, it's very difficult to communicate what all the changes are to the public because it is a very arcane piece. It's complicated.

But the problem for the Republicans right now is that the numbers aren't necessarily going to add up if they try to do a quick fix.

[06:40:02] If you try to placate the moderates who are afraid of the Medicaid numbers going down, you start to lose the good numbers that you have in terms of deficit reduction which Republicans are trying to tout. If you make other changes to try to fix the amount of things that can be covered, that will start to affect the premiums in the longer term.

And so, you can't appease one side that's upset without taking something away from the other side that they won't like. Since you're dealing with two extremes of the party right now, odds are, you know, a tradeoff for one is going to be a negative for the other. And you have this math problem of both making the bill's numbers work but making the vote's numbers work. And to do that within 24 hours when you're talking about the guts of the bill, that's a very, very difficult thing to do.

And so, you're talking about basically getting the GOP conference to a place where this is something they can live with. The question will be: will that be the ideal goal that will actually get them to vote for it? That another week after they go home and listen to their constituents, can they just get something they can live with if they don't necessarily believe is necessarily making things better? And they're going to get public feedback now because they're going home for the Fourth of July recess before they vote. CUOMO: But, Karoun, the only shot they had at better with any type of

reasonable basis of proof behind it would be that they have the tax savings, right? I mean, that was their only argument for better. They couldn't make the argument for better in a rational way when it comes to these people who are on Medicaid.

So why isn't it -- pivoting over to you now, David Drucker -- that there is a way to fix this in terms of what's fueling all these negative public perceptions by doing what the president suggested? Put more money back in. So, yes, you're going to have the same tax savings, but you will have some, and you may not have the same premium drops, but you weren't having great premium drops anyway once people look at the actual numbers, but you could greatly reduce the harm and maybe that gets you to what he would call a surprise.

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think regardless of what they're able to come up with over the next 48 hours, there's no deal until you have a CBO score and people have reviewed it and they've been able to make addiction from there. So, wherever we --

CUOMO: But you see them knocking that down. We saw it with Senator Johnson yesterday, and we heard it from other Republicans in an echo effect afterwards, that the CBO was using the wrong baseline to score this.

DRUCKER: Right, but it doesn't -- I know, Chris, but it doesn't matter because politically they're going to score -- they have to score this, and politically they're not going to actually come to any conclusion until there's a CBO score, they've looked at it and see how it plays, no matter what they're saying about CBO and the fact that it's not a proper gauge for what this bill can do. Look, I think you raise a good point in that there are different ways to fix this, and we saw Republicans openly discussing on Wednesday, eliminating a lot of the tax breaks in order to make this less -- make it look less like a tax break for the wealthy and try and add some of that money back in.

But on the conservative end of the spectrum, this is both a philosophical battle and a battle over lowering premiums and deductibles. Conservative, number one, want to see the Obamacare architecture go away. And they believe that's the only way over the long term you're going to bring down premiums and deductibles.

The projections for doing that haven't been something so great that you've been able to turn public opinion on this. But they believe that would actually do the trick, and they're already not going to get what they want in that regard.

WARD: Clearly, a lot of work remains to be done. We'll see what that big surprise may be.

Karoun, David, thank you so much for helping us break it down.

A baseball umpire being called a hero. How he saved a woman's life hours before the game, that story, we'll have it next in the "Bleacher Report". (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:47:45] CUOMO: NBA free agency doesn't begin until Saturday, but the drama is already under way. You're seeing all these trades. We just had a huge trade.

Andy Scholes has the details in "The Bleacher Report".

What do you think, this is all reaction to the Warriors, people see it as a super team and now they want their own?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Chris. And the NBA all about super teams now.

And the Houston Rockets apparently trying to be the next one. The team acquiring nine-time all-star point guard Chris Paul yesterday in a trade with the Clippers. Paul will now play alongside James Harden in Houston, giving one of the best one-two punches in the NBA.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey saying yesterday the league is a weapons race. You're either in the race or on the sidelines.

All right. It was not a routine trip to the ball park for a major league umpire yesterday. While walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh, John Tumpane came across a woman who climbed over the rail and was about to jump, that's when he sprung into action.


JOHN TUMPANE, MLB UMPIRE: No, I said, I'm not going to let you go. I said let's talk this out and get you back here. She was like, no, just -- no one wants to help me, just let me go. I said, no, we're here to help. She's like, you'll forget me tomorrow. I said, I'll never forget you. I promise on that.


SCHOLES: Now, Tumpane was able to hold on to the woman, Clarissa, until help arrived. She went to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries, and Tumpane actually said he hoped to touch base with her again at some point.

WARD: Amazing story, Andy. Thank you so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

WARD: While President Trump is lashing out at the media over so- called fake news, but it was President Trump who championed birtherism and exaggerated his inauguration crowd size. Does the president have any ground to stand on when he talks about fake news? We'll have that next.


[06:53:33] CUOMO: President Trump intensifying his war on the media, claiming we spread what he calls fake news which seems to be defined as news he does not like. But let's not forget, it was the president himself who became one of the original purveyors of fake news.

Here are just a few examples of this proposition. Watch for yourself.


TRUMP: Three weeks ago when I started, I thought he was probably born in this country and now I have a much bigger doubt than I did before.

INTERVIEWER: Based on what?

TRUMP: And you know what -- his grandmother in Kenya said he was born in Kenya and she was there and witnessed the birth.

INTERVIEWER: You brought in congressional leaders telling them you lost the popular vote because of millions of illegal votes, three to five million illegal votes. Three to five million illegal votes?

TRUMP: Well, we're going to find out. But it could very well be that much.

We had a massive field of people. You saw them, packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field.


CUOMO: Because the numbers didn't match up to his perception of them was. But these are some of the examples. There's so many. "The New York Times" put out this huge list the things that president has said that don't square with the facts.

So, let's discuss what's really going on here. We've got Brian Karem, the executive editor of "Sentinel Newspapers", and CNN political analyst John Avlon.

Brian, you have been in the center of the storm here. You went at it with Huckabee Sanders about the idea of this bullying from the White House.

[06:55:02] And they have certainly broken new ground in dealing with what they don't like being reported by saying it's all fake.

And let's be honest, it's been effective.

BRIAN KAREM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, SENTINEL NEWSPAPERS: It has been effective. It's been problematic as a reporter to try and cover something and to vet your facts and then to have people believe other than the facts that you know to be true. It's a difficult proposition.

It's one that's made more difficult by the fact that the press by its very nature, we're a competitive group, and so it's not often that we work together very well. So, it's very easy to divide and conquer. And that's what this administration has done and has done very successfully and continues to do.

And it's disheartening that so many people will believe what is said without at least checking the facts out themselves.

WARD: John, the question of the White House briefing, this has become a really hot topic. Should they be able to have more control of it? Should it be live? Should it be audio only?

We heard, actually, recently, Ari Fleischer come out and saying we support no White House briefing, embargo it, and let it be used, but not as live TV, better for the public, the White House, and the press.

What are we -- is the White House just trying to control the flow of information here? Is that what we're seeing?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course it is. Let's not dignify it too much by saying that it's effective. What it is, is an attempt to contain the shame that they often bring upon themselves by being forced to lie on behalf of a president who seems to be requesting it. Defending the indefensible is exhausting personally and to your reputation when you do it from a position of executive power.

But this does go to basic questions about the role of the free press in holding a president accountable. And the attempt to undermine systematically the credibility of the free press is something dangerous. It's dangerous to take on the credibility of an independent judiciary.

KAREM: Well, it's also problematic -- I mean, it is effective with certain members of the public, those who already agree with him. As far as the rest of it goes, Larry Speakes, Ronald Reagan's press secretary, once famously said, don't tell us how to stage the news and we won't tell you how to report it. That's fine.

But this administration is telling you, don't tell us how to stage the news and we'll tell you how to report it. You can't have it both ways.

CUOMO: Well --

KAREM: And that's what they want to have. That's the battle that we face every day when we walk into that press room. Are they going to go live for us? No. Are they going to be on camera? No.

Well, they've done some things that have helped transparency, the bottom line at the end of the day is, it's very ineffective when you have a president who constantly tweets out that we're the enemy of the people and that we are fake media.


KAREM: And that undermine, as you were saying, it undermines everything that goes to a free press. And that's one of the pillars of our republic. And it's necessary for a republic to exist to have a well-informed electorate. And you can't do that if you're not able to get to the people that you cover.

And in President Trump's case, he's had one, one press conference in the first six months he's been in office. One full press conference.

AVLON: Yes. Look, I think, there's no question we're heading into Fourth of July weekend. The Founding Fathers absolutely understood explicitly an enlightened opinion was necessary to a self-governing people. That's why the free press is enshrined in the First Amendment.

And let's not given a degree a normalization about the president tweeting out and calling the press the enemy of the American people. That's not within the bandwidth of normal in American history. And moreover, there's a real problem when the president is fixating on his critics and press, rather than trying to sell health care, rather than trying to deal directly apparently with the Syria confrontation, but is totally fixated according to his Twitter feed --

KAREM: Exactly.

AVLON: -- about criticizing journalists and trying to call independent outlets that have been in existence for decades fake news because they have the temerity to criticize him, or call out what is objectively a lie.

CUOMO: You know what, though? This is an introduction for a lot of people to Donald Trump. I was thinking about this yesterday after our conversation, is that, why aren't I more surprised by this? Why aren't I getting this?

I mean, I'm often a target of what happens here, Brian, and I understand that comes with the job.

But this is what Mr. Trump has always done, when he was posing as his own PR person, when he used to plan pieces here in the New York tabloids and he would then attack the tabloids for being fake, at the same time that he was planting stories, him looking at the media and saying, you guys forward B.S. narratives when this was the guy who birthed birtherism and took it on, and that he consistently plays games with reality by saying, I'll get to you in two weeks or you've got a big surprise coming.

This is what he has always done.

KAREM: Or Comey better not have -- there better not be any tapes. You watch out --

CUOMO: That's right. This is what he's always done. What's interesting, though, is that now, he is no longer Mr. Trump. He's the president of the United States, and with that comes a credibility. He's got a whole team counting on him within his own party.