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Putin on Resolving North Korea Crisis; Dems Dial Up Pressure on Senate Bill; Trump Praises Jobs and Economy; Sports Headlines Updates. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 4, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: More information on this Fourth of July. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, says that it is important for Russia and China to push their initiatives to resolve the Korean peninsula crisis.

So, that being said, Julian, it appears as though the Russian president is getting out in front, really controlling what potentially could happen at the G-20. It's the Kremlin who says it will now be a bilateral meeting between Putin and Trump and it's from the Russian president now saying that North Korea is also going to be on the table in discussions during this G-20. So what do you read from this in terms of how Putin may be in the driver's seat of these issues?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Putin has been very eager to be in the driver's seat of handling the problem in this region. The interests of Russia are not the same as the interests of the United States, so President Trump needs to be careful.

But there is an opportunity here. The Russians are coming to the G-20 Summit very eager to have some of the sanctions removed, to have some of the compounds that were seized by President Obama given back. And this is a chance for President Trump, through diplomacy, rather than through threats and force, to try to get the Russians and the Chinese to cooperation in this threat that destabilizes the region.

WHITFIELD: So, Tara, Trump said via tweet that China needs to do more. And now in this statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin says it is important for Russia and China to push initiatives to resolve the Korean peninsula. Do you see that this dialogue and negotiating, if you will, between these nations is something that will be front and center during the discussions between Putin and Trump?

TARA PALMERI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. This is a priority, obviously, for Trump to deter the aggression by North Korea. The thing that most -- the world is watching is how will Trump, you know, make this known to Putin and how will he communicate the priorities of the U.S. General -- National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster said that Trump is really going to come into this meeting, you know, playing it a little bit more loose, less prepared and using more of his free-wheeling style. The problem is, is that he's meeting someone like Putin, who is always prepared, who is extremely meticulous, you know, a former KGB officer and, you know, Trump needs to make his best case that North Korea is at the top of the agenda. He also has to deal with China, which, obviously, has its own issues with the U.S. for signing a weapons deal with Taiwan and they have some grievances about that. So Trump really needs to learn the dance of diplomacy and we'll see if he's capable of doing that while optically the world is looking at how he embraces Putin.

WHITFIELD: Right. And, Betsy, perhaps it could have been loose when it was a sideline meeting, but now that it's a bilateral meeting, which is far more formal, at least according to the Kremlin, again, we have not gotten confirmation from the White House that it will be a bilateral, but according to the Kremlin it will be. It means more time, it means private time together. There's also a moment where it will be in front of the pool cameras. Reporters could be asking questions. How does this change the dynamic, Betsy, of Donald Trump's demeanor, and just as Tara was saying, Vladimir Putin is very accustomed to having a much more controlled demeanor in -- on a stage like this. But what about for Trump?

BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE DAILY BEAST": It's certainly a good question, and I think it's probably not safe to make a prediction as far as how Trump behaves when he's having this meeting, both in public and in private. Folks at the Pentagon this morning, for instance, are concerned not just about the fact that North Korea has had this successful ICBM test. They knew they had this missiles. They weren't expecting the test to be successful. But also that because President Trump has -- has less of an understanding of the history of North Korea's nuclear weapons program, that he might overreact, might respond in a way that's not proportionate and make a volatile situation even more complicated. Of course, that's going to be a concern headed into his meeting with Putin as well. That because he's a neophyte to politics, something that he ran on and he campaigned on, that he might not necessarily have the understanding of diplomatic norms and of how these interactions are supposed to work that could keep a complicated situation from being worse.

Important context here too is that Reuters reported yesterday that the president of China, President Xi, told -- said that he and the Russian government agree they're very concerned about the United States' current missile defense system that's set up in South Korea. Both the Kremlin and the Chinese president seem to concur that they think what the United States is currently doing to protect South Korea could potentially actually be an incursion on those two countries sovereignty. The fact that North Korea just tested an ICBM, though, makes it less likely than ever that we would actually dial back our support for South Korea. So that's something that's likely to be an issue for Trump and Putin. The question is, does the election meddling overshadow the entire conversation?

[09:35:06] WHITFIELD: And that's an interesting point I want to return to, but right now I did learn that the Security Council has confirmed now this bilateral meeting between Putin and Trump, even though again we have not heard it from the White House, but the Security Council says it indeed is going to happen just as the Kremlin said.

And so, Julian, you know, just a little bit more on a statement coming from President Putin about, you know, the importance of Russia and China talking, discussing, coming to the table about North Korea. I have a quote now here from President Putin that says, "there is, of course, the whole question of the Korean peninsula, the building of peace and stability is very important to push forward our joint initiatives on setting the Korean problem with a view of immediately freezing the ballistic missile strikes and also dealing with the U.S. deployment of weapons in South Korea," to Betsy's point. So, Julian, what is he really saying here?

ZELIZER: Well, look, the United States can't weaken its commitment to South Korea. That won't work. That won't help the situation. This has been a central ally in the effort to put pressure on North Korea. It's the same as our efforts to engage China. So this is a place that there could be actually considerable tension with Russia.

Look, there's something very important that President Trump has to do, actually, and it is to affirm his commitment to NATO. Something he has not done. That's a big factor in creating an alliance that will strengthen our ability in that --

WHITFIELD: Do you see that potentially happening on this trip?

ZELIZER: I don't know if he will do it, but I think it's actually quite urgent. It's something Putin needs to hear. For all the bluster, this is something that he has not said. And I think it would be very helpful to the administration.

PALMERI: I've heard from senior administration officials that they don't plant to reaffirm Article 5 and his affirmation to NATO. They feel like they've already done that in the Rose Garden speech and in prior, you know, talk. So I don't -- I have been told from the White House that that won't be happening.

WHITFIELD: Well, we'll see if the spontaneity --

ZELIZER: I think this is --

WHITFIELD: Of it might change the dynamic at all.

Right. All right, Tara Palmeri, Julian Zelizer, Betsy Woodruff, good to see all of you. Happy Fourth.

ZELIZER: Happy Fourth.

WHITFIELD: So it is the July Fourth recess for Congress, but senators won't get a break when it comes to health care. Democrats ratcheting up the pressure to kill support for the Republican bill.


[09:40:48] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.

This July Fourth is sure to bring fireworks from Republican senators. GOP Leader Mitch McConnell delaying a vote on a hotly contested health care bill until Congress returns from its holiday recess. Democratic now seizing on that extra time to try to raise outrage over the bill and potentially kill it. With me now, Democratic strategist Adam Green. He is also co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, one of the groups protesting the bill. Also here, CNN political commentator and conservative radio host Ben Ferguson.

Good to see both of you. Happy Fourth to both.



WHITFIELD: All right. So, Adam, to you first, what is your group planning? What's the ultimate goal?

GREEN: The ultimate goal is to make these Republican senators come face-to-face with their constituents, many of whom would be kicked off of health care. Today, Louisiana senators woke up to a headline that said, quote, "why target the kids?" Similar headlines are all across the country in places like Maine, West Virginal, Alaska, pressuring Republican senators. And our organization, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is actually running TV ads in four vulnerable Republican states, West Virginia, Texas, Arizona and Nevada, making Republicans come face-to-face with the real stories of real people who will be kicked off of health care and posing the question, why would you do this to their constituents.

WHITFIELD: So you mentioned you're targeting specific areas, Nevada, Louisiana, West Virginia, but are you also targeting specific senators?

GREEN: Yes. So Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia is seeing TV ads all over TV this weekend in every media market featuring someone named Priscilla, whose daughter has a disease that if she was kicked off of Medicaid she would likely die. And she basically poses the question, you know, this is immoral, why would you do this to my child? And similar ads are running and targeting or pressuring Ted Cruz in Texas and Dean Heller in Nevada and Jeff Flake in Arizona.

And one other interesting thing, by the way. You know, today's a unique day where people can actually go to July Fourth parades and likely access Republicans who are hiding from their constituents. Of note though, Dean Heller in Nevada has chosen not to go to the parades in Reno, which is very big, or the parade in Las Vegas, which is very big. But, instead, he is going to the town of Eli, Nevada, which has a population of 4,000, that you have to drive five hours from if you live in Reno. So it's interesting that Republicans, despite the fact that it's the Fourth of July, are still trying their best to hide from their constituents but I think the constituents will prevail.

WHITFIELD: So, Ben, particularly for those senators and representatives who are going to be at Fourth of July parades, they're going to come face-to-face with the sentiment from their constituents, but how can they counter the messages coming from resistance campaigns like what Adam is spelling out?

FERGUSON: You know, I think resistance campaigns are pushing an agenda and the average American is pretty smart on how health care affects them specifically and directly. And there's two parts of this. If you're a congressman or you're a senator and you're out there today, you just have to have a real conversation and get rid of a lot of the fear mongering. I mean we've heard this every time that Republicans have tried to do anything on health care, even though we know Obamacare is failing. There are a lot of people that have lost -- lost their health care because they have nobody in their exchange that they can even access to or there's only one plan that is a high deductible plan. And using people and their personal stories to say, if this person is kicked off Medicare in a commercial ad, she will die, I think that is -- is the sickest and the most disgusting part of politics in a debate you can have to play off people's fears.

WHITFIELD: But it is life and death for a lot of people if they don't have access to medical care, particularly if you're older or if, you know, you have special needs then it really is a life and death issue.

FERGUSON: Well, but there's -- the key word there -- right, but there -- and -- I understand that, but there's no indication -- right, but, Fredricka, there's no indication that those people are going to lose Medicare. It's fear mongering by people that are out there that are trying to appeal to the worst in individuals and try to tell them that somehow they're going to die. There is no one that was dying before Obamacare from issues like this. There's no one that's going to die during Obamacare from issues like this. And we don't -- we live in a country where we're not going to allow a little girl to die and we're going to cut off her Medicare. That's just not been historically accurate and that's not what the Republicans are trying to do now. And I think that's the sickest part of this debate.

GREEN: First of all --

[09:45:03] WHITFIELD: All right, Adam.

GREEN: First of all, it's Medicaid. First of all, it's Medicaid. Second, I think it's a Freudian slip that you keep calling it sick, because that's literally what it is. And when you say there's no facts, there are facts. The Congressional Budget Office, the head of which was appointed by a Republican, Tom Price, who's now the Health and Human Services secretary, they say that 22 million people will be kicked off of health care. And it's not a subjective (ph) thing, it's an objective thing.

FERGUSON: That's not accurate. Many of them are walking away.

GREEN: No, it's an objective thing. You take away Medicaid, which is people's health insurance, they will not be able to see a doctor.

FERGUSON: It's just not true.

GREEN: What's not true? If you don't have health insurance, you can't see a doctor.

FERGUSON: Sir, with all due respect -- with all due respect, you have to -- let's be intellectually honest and not fear monger the American people because, one, I'm one of those that's actually on the exchange. I'm on an Obamacare plan right now. There was only one plan offered to my family. It's an extremely high deductible plan.


FERGUSON: Let me finish real quick, OK. The second thing is, I care a lot about pre-existing conditions because I have family members who are fighting cancer right now and I want to make sure that as they get older that they have the appropriate coverage, especially when it comes to retirement, since my mom is over the age of 65.

My point is this, you just said that 22 million Americans are all of a sudden one day going to get a letter in the mail that's going to say, sorry, we're no longer going to be able to take care of you. That is not true. Many people will choose, a, to actually get off of insurance by them choosing to do it. That is not being kicked off of insurance. And the second thing is, to imply that someone is going to be kicked off of Medicaid --

WHITFIELD: Well, the CBO -- but the CBO report dos say that more than 20 million people would -- could potentially lose their coverage as they know it now. So --

FERGUSON: I -- right. No, but some of them --


FERGUSON: Right, but we also lost our coverage, you know, before Obamacare. Remember, I was first (ph) going to keep my doctor and I wasn't able to keep my doctor. I was told I was going to be able to keep my plan --

WHITFIELD: But that's -- those are the latest numbers based on -- based on the latest plan. But we -- you know, but, Ben, when you talk about the fear mongering, when people do have pre-existing conditions or if they are indeed counting on Medicaid in order to take care of their special needs kids --


WHITFIELD: And they're hearing that it could be gone, removed, jeopardized, compromised, this isn't fear mongering, this is a reality for a lot of people. So are we -- can we be careful about the whole fear mongering thing and really talk about the concerns that people have.

FERGUSON: Let's -- let's be -- let's talk about special needs. There is nothing in this bill that is going to take away -- there is no line in this bill. If you've read this bill, which I've read it, there is nothing in there that would take away care from special needs children. That is part of the fear mongering that's been put out by the left and activist groups who want to stay the way things are, which, again, is not serving people. There's a lot of Americans right now that don't have health care or don't have actual health care because their premiums are too high so they can't even use it. But to say that you're going to attack -- there's -- I mean I would not be in favor of -- of a bill that took away care for someone with special needs. If you know anyone that has special needs, if you know anyone that's handicapped, if you have a family member that has cancer, it's personal. This isn't political.


WHITFIELD: Right. It is personal. OK, go ahead, Adam.

GREEN: $800 billion (INAUDIBLE). People depend on Medicaid for their insurance. It's a mathematical fact that millions of people will lose their insurance if they're on Medicaid.

But one more thing. Not just the 22 million people will -- who will lose their insurance, but people beyond that, regular people who aren't even affected by Medicaid or Obamacare will also have their insurance watered down because the Senate bill -- health insurance companies, you don't have to cover x, y and x.

FERGUSON: (INAUDIBLE) watered down.

GREEN: You don't have to cover cancer if you don't want. You don't have to cover prenatal care if you don't want.

FERGUSON: That's not true. That's not true. There's no -- there's no clause in here to not cover cancer. That is a lie.

GREEN: That is absolutely true. The facts (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: All right, we're --

FERGUSON: There -- no matter what you (INAUDIBLE), there's no -- there's no clause that says that you can't not cover cancer. That is absolutely not true.

GREEN: It's not a lie. (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: Well, a -- OK, a -- a, nothing seems to be concrete, and that is helping to perpetuate these concerns that many of these lawmakers will be hearing when they do go to their Fourth of July parades today or in other fashions people are expressing their concerns about what is going to happen next because right now still people don't know.

Adam, Ben, thank you so much. We'll leave it right there for now.

FERGUSON: Thanks. Happy Fourth.

WHITFIELD: All right, Happy Fourth.

GREEN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, the president is praising the jobs numbers and the economy right now, but is it really as great as he makes it seem. His economic score card right after this.


[09:52:18] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Poppy and John in New York. So, after slamming the media, including this network, the president of

the United States is apparently shifting his focus on Twitter from personal attacks to touting foreign relations and the economy. In a series of tweets, Trump said the unemployment rate is at its, quote, "lowest level in years" and the job numbers are, quote/unquote "great." But, are they great, the job numbers and all that good stuff?

Let's talk about this with CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

All right, so what's the reality? What's different from then, now?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's so fascinating because the candidate Trump took numbers just like this and didn't believe them and said the United States was in a near depression. President Trump looks at these numbers and celebrates them and even takes credit for them.

So let's start here with jobs. Job creation has been strong. For several years it has been strong and the unemployment rate is quite low here. But when we compared sort of the first five months of the year, we're going to get fresh numbers, by the way, on Friday. The first few months of the year, about 600,000 jobs created. That's the bar on the right. But it's a little slower than the prior couple years.

Let's look at this stock market, because he says the Dow is at an intraday high and the mainstream media ignores it. Well, we talk about it every day. And, yes, the Dow has done well. Look at this. This is the S&P 500, which is a broader gauge, more likely what's in your 401(k). That's just since the election. That's up 16 percent, Fredricka. That is a great number.

Now let's put it in perspective.

WHITFIELD: So is that because of promise?

ROMANS: Yes, promises of tax -- deregulation and tax reform.


ROMANS: But look at it on top of the years prior. We've had an amazing bull market. Some would argue we're nearing the end of what has been an economic cycle of recovery and stock market gains. One thing about those stock market gains that I think is interesting is that it means the investor class has done very well under Donald Trump. The working class, however, that connection hasn't been made quite yet, and that's what many are hoping his tax policies will do, help the working class. But no question the investor class has been enriched over the past six months.

WHITFIELD: So the jobs number -- OK, unemployment is promising. It's a continuation. There was a lot inherited into this administration. But jobs numbers and the U.S. auto market, where are they?

ROMANS: That's a good -- a good point, too, because the president has made a big push about getting the automakers to make cars in the U.S. And we're seeing kind of just as we're seeing the president come into office, just coincidentally you're coming to the very kind of peak of what we've seen. Auto sales seem to be peaking here and you've had six months in a row now of auto sales falling, which is something to really closely watch here because car sales are a big, important part of the U.S. manufacturing base. And after a gangbuster few years, now you're starting to see that slow. That will bear watching for sure.

[09:55:02] WHITFIELD: Is that something about loans?

ROMANS: That has something to do with the fact that there have been so many incentives and so much pent up demand for autos that there were a lot of -- the average length of an auto loan right now is 69 months, which is really long. So that's part of it. But also it's just the cycle, you know? I mean we sold a lot of cars for a lot of years and now it's slowing down a bit.

WHITFIELD: All right, Christine Romans, good to see you. Happy Fourth.

ROMANS: You, too. You, too. You, too.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much.

All right, a very tough day and journey for Venus Williams, who's at Wimbledon. It was a very tearful moment facing questions from reporters. For the first time she's talking about what it was to be involved in a deadly car accident in Florida.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.

Venus Williams in tears after her match at Wimbledon yesterday. The American tennis star was asked about a fatal car accident that she was involved in earlier last month in Florida. Coy Wire has more in today's "Bleacher Report."


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Hi. Good morning to you, Fred.

Let's get you caught up real quick. According to a police report, Venus is responsible for the accident you mentioned in which a 78- year-old man was severely injured and later died. Police say Venus violated the right of way at an intersection where her car was t- boned. She's being sued by the family in a wrongful death suit. Venus was overcome with emotion yesterday when she was asked about that accident after her opening match at Wimbledon.


VENUS WILLIAMS, FIVE-TIME WIMBLEDON SINGLES CHAMPION: There are really no words to describe like how devastating and -- yes, I've been completely speechless and it's just -- yes, I mean, I'm just -- maybe I should go?



WIRE: Can't imagine how she was able to play. Venus won her first match over unseeded Elise Mertens, but clearly this tragic accident weighed on her emotions afterwards.

Two weeks after announcing he'll get professional help with his medications and after being charged with driving under the influence in May, Tiger Woods released this statement yesterday on Twitter. He said, "I recently completed an out of state private intensive program. I will continue to tackle this going forward with my doctors, family, and friends. I am so very thankful for all of the support I've received."

Philly's player Freddy Galvis has had quite the day. Yesterday he arrived at the hospital at 3:00 a.m. with his wife Anna as she went into labor. At 6:00 a.m. they were blessed with the birth of their second daughter, Nicole. Well, the two decided that Freddy should go to work that day. So the Phillies posted this photo on the Jumbotron celebrating the new parents, saying "our family grew today." Well, then, with hospital band still wrapped on his wrist, he put a new meaning to birthday bash when he smashed this home run in the very first pitch he saw on the day. What a day for Freddy as his Philly's go on to get the win over the Pirates 4-0.

[10:00:11] Fred, that is a feel good story for you this morning.

WHITFIELD: Aww, go Freddy and company.