Return to Transcripts main page


Storms in Midwest; Trump Jr. Told of Russian Effort; Contradictions on Russian Sanction Discussion; GOP Health Care Bill on the Brink; Interview with Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 11, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:33:10] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Severe storms are pummeling the Midwest as rain drenches the Northeast. So let's get all of our forecast from CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray.

It certainly was a deluge this morning here, Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, lucky for New York City, it is moving out, but Boston getting the brunt of it now. This weather report brought to you by Purina, your pet, our passion.

Yesterday was a rough day as well. We had a lot of showers and storms across the Ohio Valley. We had 30 hail reports, 77 wind reports, 10 tornado reports. And you can see, better weather across New York City. But we are getting a lot of rainfall across Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and all of this is going to spread to the East as we go throughout the day.

We're also going to see several rounds of rain. A lot of areas where we saw the severe weather yesterday could see more storms this morning. And we're also going to look back here to the West, the upper Midwest. We are going to get more severe weather as we go throughout the day today.

So the area we're going to be watching is this area right back here across central portions of Minnesota. We're going to see damaging winds, large hail, the possibility of isolated tornadoes. You can see that enhanced area right there. So that's the bull's eye we're going to be watching throughout the afternoon.

As far as temperatures go, a little bit cooler today because of the cloud cover, but we do get the heat back on by tomorrow, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jennifer, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

So, all rise, here comes the judge. Rookie sensation Aaron Judge, Yankee, of course, what a show at last night's all-star home run derby. This man is a mountain. He is 6'7", 280 pounds, 47 home runs over three rounds. Four of them traveled over 500 feet. Is that far? Yes. Most fences are 300 something in the corners, 400 or so to dead center. He went over 100 feet past that.

[06:35:03] CAMEROTA: So this was at the hotdog stand outside of the stadium? That's where the ball landed?

CUOMO: I mean this is the one that goes in the water --


CUOMO: That hits the guy in the head in the boat --

CAMEROTA: Right, right, right.

CUOMO: Where the people are running with the -- he kept hitting them that distance. He is a monster.

CAMEROTA: That's a great story.

Meanwhile, back to one of our top stories, did President Putin and President Trump discuss sanctions during their meeting last week? The White House says one thing. President Trump says another. Which one is it? Ambassador Nicholas Burns is here to talk about it.


CUOMO: "The New York Times" releasing new details about that meeting between members of the Trump campaign and a Russian lawyer. The report claim Donald Trump Jr. received an e-mail before the meeting making it clear he would be offered compromising information about the Clinton campaign, and this is the key part that advances the understanding of the story, and that the information he would get would be part of a Russian government effort to boost his father's campaign.

[06:40:09] Joining us now is former U.S. ambassador to NATO and a Harvard Kennedy School professor, Nicholas Burns.

Ambassador, thank you for being with us.


CUOMO: Do you see issues raised by the solicitation for this meeting, the acceptance of that solicitation?

BURNS: Well, if it's true, if the report is true, and we don't know if it's true, it's a very, very serious report because any time anybody in our government or in a political campaign have -- think they have information that might come from the Russian government, you have to turn that over to the FBI and alert them immediately.


BURNS: You don't take the Russians at face value. Because Russia is our strongest adversary in the world and because Russia is run by a former KGB operative. And so you just can't work -- it's illegal to work with foreign entities like that in an election campaign. And that out to have been clear to everybody involved. CUOMO: What if you don't really know who you're dealing with or what

information you're getting? That seems to be the early defense for Don Jr., that I didn't even know who I was meeting with. This e-mail would be disruptive of that, but who knows if he read the e-mail, who knows if he paid attention to the e-mail, who knows if he believed the e- mail. What does that mean in terms of the analysis?

BURNS: Well, I think -- I'm not a lawyer and obviously this is for the special counsel, it's for Robert Mueller, it's why he's in place. He's a very credible person in Washington.

And, of course, to be fair to Donald Trump Jr., this all depends on whether or not the story in "The New York Times" that came out late last night is true. But the angle you asked me about is in my domain, in foreign policy, you can't work with the Russian government against an American presidential candidate. If that's true, that is a serious -- a very serious offense.

CUOMO: All right, so let's now move into your wheelhouse, what happened in the meeting between the president of the United States and the leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin. One of the issues was sanctions. Now, we seem to be getting competing versions of the truth from the White House. The president tweeted this about sanctions with respect to Russia and their discussion in the meeting. "Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin. Nothing will be done until the Ukrainian and Syrian problems are solved." A pretty straightforward statement. However, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary for the White House, then said this yesterday.


QUESTION: Did President Trump discuss sanctions with the Russian President Putin at the G-20 Summit?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY (voice- over): I do know that it was mentioned specifically. When you asked about sanctions, I know there's a little bit of a question there. And there were sanctions specific to election meddling that I believe were discussed, but not beyond that.


CUOMO: Well, what do you make about that? That's an apparent contradiction. What do you make of it?

BURNS: Well, the White House is in confusion. Obviously there have been several iterations of this story. And then, Chris, you have -- to compound it you have a competing narrative from the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, who was in the meeting.

So the essence of this story is this. We know that the Russians engaged in a cyberattack in our election. Our intelligence community is sure of that. Putin has denied it. Of course you'd expect Putin to deny it, given the person he is. The president of the United States should take the side of our election -- our intelligence community, rather than Putin, and he ought to get -- he, Donald Trump -- should ought to get behind the sanctions bill in the United States Senate which was voted out 97-2. It's now in the House. The Trump administration is trying to block it or water it down and there's got to be a penalty here to Putin. If he gets away with this, he's going to think that we're naive and he's going to think that he can do this again in the 2018 midterm elections?

CUOMO: Now, this has been a recurring issue, was what actually happened in this meeting? Did the president ask the Russian leader about sanctions or did he tell him he knows that he did it and what else was discussed? In your experience, do you usually have somebody present during these meetings with these heads of state, even at the G-20, to record the conversations so you can have an accurate output?

BURNS: We normally, in past governments, did not actually record the meetings. We had note takers. And sometimes there were very senior officials. Normally the national security adviser would have been in this meeting and he or she would have taken notes. Some interpreters take notes as well. And so there's always a record of presidential meetings with every foreign leader, especially with a leader like the Russian leader. And it's very important that those minutes be quite specific because here you have a situation where the Russians are saying one thing, we're saying another and, clearly, those two stories don't add up.

[06:45:05] But, Chris, I come back to just judgment here. The president has to support his own intelligence community. What kind of a leader would he be if he disavowed them in favor of a KGB operative in the Kremlin?

CUOMO: Well, the issue seems to be not that the president is ostensibly favoring a KGB operative, but he's favoring himself and he believes that the implications of this Russian interference are bad for him politically and that's why he was shy on them. However, it wound up putting him in a box when he was then face-to-face with the man he needed to hold accountable for the crime that he was uncomfortable acknowledging up to that point.

Ambassador, thank you very much for joining us.

BURNS: Thank you.

CUOMO: As we learn more, we'll come back to you for your perspective.

And coming up in just minutes, we're going to talk with Congressman Adam Schiff. Now, he's an important player in all this because he's the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. What does he make, Alisyn, of this Don Jr. situation? What does he make of what happened in that meeting with the president?

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, another big story. Democrats are calling for compromise and what they call common sense reforms on health care. What do those look like? That's next.


[06:50:07] CAMEROTA: The GOP health care bill is on the brink again. Ten Republican senators are still against the current plan. So how will they change the bill to win over more votes? Joining us now is Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. He's a member of the Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees.

Good morning, senator.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Good morning, Alisyn. Good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: I know that Democrats have always said, here we are, Republicans, we're ready to work with you, we're ready to compromise. Republicans, obviously, have pushed back on that and said like their phones aren't exactly ringing off the hook with you guys willing to step in and help in this morass that is health care. But if they called you today, what are the let's say two things that you believe that you Democrats and Republicans could compromise on?

MERKLEY: Well, the first thing is to reestablish reinsurance, which was essential for an insurance company to go into a new market and create competition on the exchange. A second is to lock down the cost- sharing payment that lower the premiums and lower the deductibles. And a third would be, if I can go to a third, it would be to take on the high cost of drugs. Across America people are just outraged about how the cost of drugs are driving up the cost of health care.

CAMEROTA: So what's the impediment? I mean those sound commonsensical. What -- when you -- have you picked up the phone and called your Republican colleagues and suggested that?

MERKLEY: I've had many conversations about these types of pieces. The fact is though that the heart of the Republican bill is dismantling Medicaid. What would that mean for my state, 400,000 people on the Medicaid expansion lose health care. That's a non-starter. We're not going to help dismantle the health care system. We're going to help make the current system work better. That's what the American people want to see us do is work in a bipartisan way to solve the problem and make things work better.

CAMEROTA: Look, you've called it diabolical because of those numbers. You put on a FaceBook post that you felt that this was a diabolical plan because it would leave 22 million Americans, including 400,000 Oregonians, off the roles. You hear what Republicans say every day. They come on our program and they say this, that Obamacare is failing -- this is what they say -- and that health care costs have spiraled for people and their premiums have gone up and that it's just an untenable situation.

MERKLEY: Over the last three days, I've been in 12 cities in rural parts of Oregon, Republican parts of Oregon, held a number of town halls, main street walks. What I hear is, Jeff, thank you for saving our health care system. One out of three individuals in rural Oregon is on the Oregon health plan, which is Medicaid. If the Republicans would actually talk to their constituents, they would find out that people want peace of mind that they're covered, that they can get coverage. And, yes, the premiums are still too high on the exchange, but the Republicans are making it worse by both the cost sharing problem and the re-insurance program. So it -- they're destroying the very thing they're criticizing.

CAMEROTA: Senator Schumer, yesterday, sent this letter to Republicans. I'll read a portion of it. "We stand ready to work on these and other reforms to the current system and urge you to join us in advancing measures that would have an immediate impact on improving the health care system for American families. When he says advancing these measures and these reforms, which ones are he -- is he talking about?

MERKLEY: I think he's talking about the same sorts of things that I'm discussing, how to make the marketplace work right, how to lower the premiums, how to lower the deductibles, how to make it -- the access easier and more stress-free as you move from one health care plan to another.

CAMEROTA: So what's going to happen --

MERKLEY: I wish -- I really wish we'd go further because what I'm hearing in -- even in these conservative parts of my state that I lost by 30 percent, 40 percent when I was running for re-election, what I'm hearing is the system is way too stressful. I've been asking each audience, I've been saying, how many people here ten years ago would have supported a single payer Medicare for all and it's a small number. And then I asked, how many now, and the hands just go up throughout the room. People are so stressed about the complexity and difficulty of our health care system. Can we make this simpler?

CAMEROTA: What's going to happen here, senator, because, as you know, the president is pushing Republicans to get this done, certainly before the August recess. There are ten Republicans currently who say no to what exists. But it sounds like Mitch McConnell is still at it and that they're still trying to cobble together something. What do you see happening this week?

MERKLEY: Yes. Well, you see Senator Cruz says in order to support this bill, that he's got to have his amendment, which completely dismantles the ability to have common pricing and protection against pre-existing conditions. That bill would eviscerate the essential benefits philosophy where a health care policy is actually a policy that covers something. You know, the president has criticized almost every single day fake news. But what we have in the Cruz amendment is a pathway to fake insurance. We've been there. We know that didn't work. We knew that we had insurance policies not worth the money they are printed on. And you get the young and the healthy getting those -- those very simple policies that cover virtually nothing and then you have a death spiral and high cost policies for folks who are older who have medical conditions.

[06:55:21] So the Cruz amendment is absolutely a huge mistake. And I think a lot of moderate Republicans are saying that they can't support something like that and that they can't support something that dismantles the Medicaid expansion.


MERKLEY: So I don't think there's a pathway right now.

CAMEROTA: So you see no vote happening this week? You see no vote happening before August?

MERKLEY: Well, there's always surprises, but I don't see a -- right now that there is a pathway to get the 50 votes that the majority leader needs. And that's a good thing for America because at some point maybe the Republican leadership will quit running such a partisan charade and decide to actually make the health care system work better.

CAMEROTA: Senator Jeff Merkley, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.

MERKLEY: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Let's get to Chris.

CUOMO: All right, thanks to you, our international viewers, for watching NEW DAY. For you, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, several people linked to President Trump's campaign meeting with a Russian lawyer as the White House adamantly pushes back. There are new developments that shed light on what was known before.