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Republicans Suggest Repealing Obamacare, Replace Later; Summer Heat's On Christie; States Say No To Trump's Request To Release Voter Registration Data. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 3, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:42] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Congress is in recess this week but work is going on behind the scenes to craft a compromise to get the Republican health care bill passed in the Senate.

Our next guest says the Democrats will work with Republicans when they stop talking solely about repealing and start thinking about fixing the Affordable Care Act. That man, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, joins us right now. Senator, thank you so much for being with us.

All the talk over the last few days is with this new notion -- we heard it from Ben Sasse, we even heard it from the president on Twitter -- saying that maybe what should happen here is that the Republicans should vote to repeal first and then replace a year or so down the line. What do you make of that?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, that would be terribly irresponsible. It leaves such uncertainty in the insurance marketplace that it will cause chaos and it will cause a lot of people to lose affordable coverage.

Look, we want to improve the Affordable Care Act. Not repeal it, improve it. Deal with the cost issues of the cost of premiums or the cost of health care. I hope Democrats and Republicans can work together in a way that we can provide more coverage to people and better quality coverage --

BERMAN: Do you --

CARDIN: -- at a more affordable cost.

BERMAN: Do you hope they can work together because one of the criticisms that we're getting from Republicans right now is that look, Democrats won't even talk to us. They won't help us craft something.

CARDIN: That's just not true. Democrats have talked with Republicans. We've been doing this for many months, trying to get together to see areas that we can improve the law. They were not -- they weren't interested.

This bill came out of nowhere. It didn't come out of committee hearings, it didn't come out of any committee markup process. It was the creation of the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and he sought no input from Democrats at all. There's been no effort to bring Democrats into the process and the reason, quite frankly, is that the bus is moving in the wrong direction. They're trying to reduce coverage. We want more people to have affordable quality coverage.

BERMAN: So, Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, has a proposal right now that the states would be allowed to offer plans that don't cover the Obamacare protections -- maybe getting rid of preexisting condition protections -- as long as there was at least one plan in every state that did offer those Obamacare protections. Is that a safe option?

[07:35:00] CARDIN: No, it's not because what you're going to do is get very, very high-risk pools which makes -- those premiums are not going to be affordable for the American public. That's why we need to do this together. And that's the concept of the Affordable Care Act -- not the concept, it's a law -- that allows all of us to join together so that someone who has a serious illness, women who will need obstetrics coverage, mental health and addiction -- those services are available at affordable rates.

But when you start dividing it up you're going to have winners and losers and a lot of people will not have affordable coverage and won't be able to get access to care.

BERMAN: So a lot of the talk over the last 48 hours, even before that, has been the statements that the President of the United States has being -- has been making on Twitter, whether it be about other media members, whether it be about CNN, posting the wrestling video over the weekend. Do you see this as fun, a joke, or incitement of violence -- or somewhere in the middle?

CARDIN: You know, this is the President of the United States. I find it very much demeaning to the office and weakens, I think, the presidency and America. So, no, I find it very serious, what the president's doing.

The impact it's having is distracting from the fact that the president has not been able to get a health care bill done. The president has not been able to get any major bill. Immigration -- no bill's been submitted or tried to get done. What he's done in the environment. We haven't had any work with the administration to get an agenda through Congress. So he enjoys the distraction but it is very, I think, damaging to America -- these tweets.

BERMAN: You say enjoys the distraction. Congressman Scott Taylor of Virginia, a Republican, was just on moments ago. He said you guys are getting played, man. He basically said that every time we talk about what the president is focused on Twitter -- his attacks on the media -- that it is actually harmful to us and to what we should be covering. Your take on that?

CARDIN: No, I think you have to cover this. This is the President of the United States. That's the role of the free press is to hold us accountable. So when the president does something that's wrong, and I think that video play was absolutely wrong, you've got to cover it. But you are being -- the president's using this to distract from the

debate we should be having on how the health care proposal would cost 22 million people their health coverage. How it would weaken quality coverage with mentalhealth and addiction services. How it would raise the premiums on many people to where they can't afford to have health insurance.

We should be talking about that during this week -- Fourth of July break -- but the president has a way of using the media in a terribly irresponsible way and a way that you have to cover -- in a way that he doesn't have to deal with these issues.

BERMAN: But we are talking. We did -- you and I, just moments ago, talk about health care.

I also want to talk about the upcoming G20 summit where the president will be traveling. He leaves on Wednesday and will meet with Vladimir Putin in sort of a pull-aside meeting. We understand he's going to discuss Ukraine and Syria but will not talk about the Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Is that a mistake?

CARDIN: I get very concerned about the president's conversation with Mr. Putin because I know what he has expressed -- that he admires him and he respects Mr. Putin's leadership. So it concerns me because we should be playing with a much tougher hand. Russia attacked us. We should have imposed new sanctions.

We have legislation in Congress I'm very proud to be part of that's passed in the United States Senate, it's now in the House. I think we would have had a stronger hand if that bill could have been on the president's desk before the G20 meeting.

So we need to be very tough with Russia. This isn't just business as usual.They attacked us, they're still in Ukraine. What they're doing in Syria is contributing to atrocities. So the president needs to be tough and I'm afraid that he's going to like pretend that business as usual and that's not in America's interest.

BERMAN: We will see when he meets with the Russian leader later this week.

Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, thanks so much for being with us. Happy Independence Day.

CARDIN: Thank you.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie soaking up the sun with family and friends on a beach closed to the public because of his government shutdown. Now he's really feeling the heat. We have the latest, next.


[07:42:55] BERMAN: All right. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie under fire for spending Sunday with his family at a state beach -- a state beach he personally shut down because of a budget standoff and then, arguably, lying about his time there. This government shutdown is now entering its third day in New Jersey.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us now with the very latest -- Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So how did we get here, you know? That's one of the key questions here. How did we go from the state shutdown to talking about Governor Christie on the beach?


Well, let's backtrack a little bit here. State legislatures, as well as Governor Christie, have not been able to reach a budget compromise. The governor insists on the passage of a health insurance bill along with the state budget. Well, that hasn't happened but the result, a partial state government shutdown and the closure of dozens of state parks and public beaches over the Fourth of July holiday.

That means families can't make their way onto the Garden State's public beaches, except one. Photos emerging showing Governor Christie on Island Beach State Park. This is the barrier island where the state-owned governor's retreat is located.

Christie, being asked about this criticism about the governor -- the man who is being blamed by many for shutting down the beaches -- being on the beach. This was his response during his last press conference yesterday.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Now, it didn't Claude, but go ahead. I didn't get any sun today. No, no, there's no one at Island Beach State Park. There are no lifeguards, there's no one to pick up the garbage. There's no one providing any services at Island Beach State Park.

REPORTER: So my question to you --

Next, next -- excuse me, next, next. I'm done. We're talking about the closure of government and you're talking about your TMZ stuff.


SANDOVAL: Well, the government spokesperson also addressing this -- or at least the governor's spokesperson addressing this saying that as the governor just mentioned, there are no lifeguards, no trash services. In Brian Murray'sown words, nothing special.

But I can tell you guys I was at one of these state parks yesterday. People are upset. There are many people who are now --


SANDOVAL: -- being -- to change their plans because they're unable to have a little bit of fun in the sun unless you are the state's governor.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

BERMAN: Yes, well the family -- and the family is big so at least 10 people --


BERMAN: -- seemed to be enjoying the sun right there.

I want to bring in MattArco,political reporter for "The Star-Ledger" and "" Matt, thanks so much for being with us.

[07:45:04] Again, the key words we heard from Governor Christie there, "I did not get any sun."

CAMEROTA: And that --


BERMAN: But the photos seem to indicate otherwise. Explain to me those remarkable images that we're looking at right now. How did they come to pass?

MATT ARCO, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE STAR-LEDGER AND NJ.COM (via Skype): Well look, I -- real quick on the "I did not get any sun." What happened was, on Sunday, Christie was taking a lot of heat for being at the beach.

And Claude, you know, my colleague, was working on another story about -- we had heard that lifeguards were actually called down to monitor the family as they were in the water. So when he opened up his question he preferenced it well, it looks like you got sun and the governor knew what was coming so that was his snark back to my colleague.

And now it's actually -- what he didn't know and what actually my colleague and I didn't know at that point is about an hour earlier another person from our newspaper had just flown over the governor's mansion on Island Beach State Park and I guess he had the door open of his small plane that they rented and he was snapping pictures of the governor with his family.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh. Matt, one of the funniest things about these photos -- I mean, first of all, they're so damning because, you know, he's just like caught red-handed.


But the fact that he's like leaning back there in his chair looking so happy on the Jersey Shore because the Jersey Shore is awesome, and he is just soaking it in.

BERMAN: You're digressing.

CAMEROTA: I am digressing. So Matt, what has been the reaction in New Jersey to this?

ARCO: Look, you know, this is definitely bad optics for the governor. Right now what we have going on in Trenton is that we have the governor and the top Democratic lawmaker in the Assembly, Vincent Prieto, at a stalemate. Neither wants to budge and for the past two or three days one has been blaming the other for the reason of a shutdown.

Look, Chris Christie shut down the government but that's because the Democrats in the -- the Democrats in the Democratic-controlled legislature hasn't sent him a budget so he has to shut the state government down.

But nobody in New Jersey knows who Vincent Prieto is. Everybody in New Jersey knows who Chris Christie is. He's not popular right now and now these photos come out so I suspect people will be more angry. But what Christie has working for him is Vincent Prieto and everybody else in the State Assembly and State Senate is going to be on the ballot later in November.

Chris Christie is not, he's done. He's made that clear. And yes, this doesn't -- it's not a great optics game for him today but I suspect he's going to be digging his heels in further and he's not going to budge just because he's not on the ballot.

BERMAN: Yes. I mean, that's the face of a guy who's got no blanks left to give, as it were on the beach, with an approval rating of 15 percent, not up for reelection. Let me -- and also the face of someone getting caught in a lie, saying he's not getting any sun.

Let me just read you the statement from his spokesman. "Yes, the governor was on the beach briefly today talking to his wife and family before heading into the office. He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on." So that is the official explanation from the spokesman of the New Jersey state governor.

Guys, thanks so much for being with us. Fascinating to see --

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Polo.

BERMAN: -- this at play (ph).

CAMEROTA: OK. Red and blue states are pushing back against releasing voter information to the White House. We'll hear from two state officials who refuse to comply, next.


[07:51:37] CAMEROTA: More than two dozen states are pushing back against the Trump administration's request to release voter registration data to the president's commission on voter fraud.

Why? Well, joining us now are two secretaries of state who say they will not comply with his request. Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky, and Alex Padilla of California. Thank you both for being here. Great to see you. Secretary Grimes, why? Why don't you want to release this information to the White House request?

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES, KENTUCKY SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, elections are something, Alisyn, that are left specifically to the states, especially when we're talking about voter registration. More importantly, the question put not only to secretaries across the nation but to Americans is if the president asked for not only your name and address, but your date of birth, your party affiliation, your entire voting history, and your last four digits of your Social Security number, would you want to give it to -- not only to the president, but to the federal government?

The answer that I've received from Kentuckians, resoundingly and overwhelmingly, is no. They don't want this information turned over to the federal government. They don't want a national voter registration database the same way they don't want a national gun database. And importantly, I think the timing with which this request has come to secretaries across the nation is suspect --

CAMEROTA: Why? What do you think his --

GRIMES: -- especially during a week when the president has started his reelection campaign.

CAMEROTA: But what do you think --

LUNDERGAN GRIMES: Well, if you look at what -- if you look last week, Alisyn, at what happened. We had within the span of the president starting his reelection campaign at the Trump Hotel, the defunding of the Election Assistance Commission through a House Appropriations bill, and in the same breath a request to every secretary for every registered voter throughout the United States.

Individuals in Kentucky and millions across this nation simply don't want to put their information in a government's hand that has trouble, especially since January, keeping things confidential and, importantly, creating what would be a dream for any foreign actor seeking to meddle in our elections.

CAMEROTA: Secretary Padilla, do you agree? And, you know, it's been pointed out -- we just had Congressman Scott Taylor on a second ago and it's been pointed out by others in the administration -- this is all public information. It's out there --


CAMEROTA: -- so what's the problem with handing it over to the White House?

PADILLA: Well I -- well, Alisyn, that's not exactly true. We can go state-by-state and cover what state laws require for when and how voter information can be shared. There's a lot of restrictions on it. Voter information, it's not public information. It is available to the public for certain types of uses and every state has those laws governing how that data's used. But I think more fundamentally, let's understand where this request is

coming from. It's coming from a commission which has yet to meet, by the way, so we know nothing about how they intend to operate in a way that's transparent and accountable to the public. But it's a commission that was based -- that was formed on the president's fixation of massive voter fraud, which study after study shows is simply not true.

So I admire my colleague, Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, and the majority of secretaries who have stepped forward and said that we have problems with this request. We're not going to comply because as secretaries of state across the country it's our duty to protect the privacy of voters, protect the integrity of our elections, which we're doing -- well documented -- and to protect the voting rights of Americans because that's what the target is for this commission.

[07:55:07] CAMEROTA: Secretary Lundergan Grimes, President Trump says that you're hiding something. Here's his tweet. "Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished voter fraud panel. What are they trying to hide?" What's your response?

LUNDERGAN GRIMES: Well, Alisyn, you've had a lot of mansplaining that's going on here this morning and the president may like to operate 140 characters at a time about gossip and encouraging to try to create chaos. That's not how we as secretaries of state operate. We, importantly, don't want to put information in the hands of the federal government where they've given us no security controls and an unsecure Web site that they actually wanted us to upload this information to.

I'm not going to be putting 3.3 million Kentuckians' information in a public domain where it could be up for grabs to any foreign actor or, especially, any hacker. Data experts, especially over the course of the past weekend as this request has come forward to secretaries, have said this is something that should not be done.

This, on top of the Congressional Black Caucus, who reiterated the same concerns that we have as secretaries of state about moving us backward to the days where poll taxes were required to actually go cast your vote. And many can acknowledge yesterday was the anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. We need to be moving forward with our elections. Secretaries of state across the nation are doing that with our election administration reforms.

This is simply a government overreach. It's making government bigger, something Donald Trump told us he would not do by creating a hashtag fake commission.

CAMEROTA: Secretary Padilla, you are not guilty of mansplaining, of course, but perhaps you can --

PADILLA: Thank you for that clarification.

CAMEROTA: -- explain the president's often-repeated claim that three million illegal people voted in California. You know, he's claimed it so much that I've encountered some of his supporters and voters who believe it -- who've quoted it back to me.

And then, when we just had Congressman Scott Taylor on, you know, he's confused about whether or not there's vast voter fraud. Let me just play for you what he said about this.


CAMEROTA: Do you think that there's widespread voter fraud?

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: I don't believe so but I don't know, and I don't have a big problem with them looking into it.


CAMEROTA: So, Secretary, what do you say to people like that who just don't know? Maybe there is vast voter fraud. Maybe millions of people voted illegally in this past election. How do you -- how do you refute that?

PADILLA: It's something we have to do on a daily bias, unfortunately, and Alison, maybe you and I can send that congressman the stack and stacks of studies and reports and investigations that there already has been over the last several years on voter fraud because they all show the same thing. It is exceedingly rare, it is always very isolated, it is statistically nearly non-existent, so it shows that the current laws and protections are working.

You know, the president's fixation on massive voter fraud, I believe, is due to the fact that he lost the national popular vote and his ego just can't accept that so he's got to drum up an excuse. Unfortunately, this excuse has some danger with it.

Now you have a commission and you put not just Vice President Pence but Secretary Kris Kobach, our colleague from Kansas, in charge of the commission -- somebody with a long and well-documented track record of championing voter suppression laws, discrimination, anti-immigrant policies, et cetera, and that's supposed to guide us forward when it comes to civil rights and voting rights? I don't think so and our participation with this commission would only legitimize the effort.

So I can't in good conscience participate. I err on the side of protecting the privacy of California voters, protecting the voting rights of voters across the country, and we're just not going to, you know, play their game.

CAMEROTA: So, Secretary --

LUNDERGAN GRIMES: Alisyn, if I may?

CAMEROTA: Yes, very quickly, last --


CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead. Last --

LUNDERGAN GRIMES: I have to agree with Secretary Padilla. There's not enough bourbon in Kentucky nor enough wine in California to make this request sensible. We have secretaries across the nation. Indeed, no state is fully complying with the request and I'm proud that Kentucky and California are leading the way.

CAMEROTA: Those are some good bourbons you have there, Secretary, and some great wines as well. Thanks to both of you for being here and explaining all of this and getting the fact out. Thank you.

PADILLA: Thank you. Have a great Independence Day.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.



THOMAS BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: He's beaten up on cable platforms so he has a right to respond to it.

REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: We need to protect freedom of the press. There is a responsibility on everyone, including the President of the United States.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fake media is trying to silence us but we will not let them.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: I just hope he grows into this job.

CAMEROTA: President Trump is preparing for the G20 summit and his first face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone wants to know whether President Trump will bring up Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Both sides are playing down expectations.