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Pelosi Wants Security Clearance Revoked; Questions over Trump's Knowledge of E-mails; GOP Has No Votes to Spare; Revised Health Care Bill; Trump Leaves Paris. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired July 14, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: So we've been talking about Russia for months, but this reporting, this meeting that Don Jr. took, and Jared Kushner attended, raises the bar. Conservative writer Charles Krauthammer put it this way in "The Washington Post" this morning.

He said, "the evidence is now shown. This is not hearsay, not fake news, not unsourced leaks. This is an e-mail chain released by Donald Trump Jr. himself. It turned out to be incompetent collusion, amateur collusion, comically failed collusion. That does not erase the fact that three top Trump campaign officials were ready to play. The evidence is damning."

So, Lynn, what's your take on that. Did he hit the nail on the head here?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Yes. This is a significant part of the story. And this is why these investigations take so long because you start following the different strings of investigations. And the part that the Trump White House, and President Trump doesn't seem to have gotten, is, if I walk into a bank and I say, this is a hold-up, it doesn't matter if I actually get the money and walk out with it. I've committed a crime just by going in and announcing the hold-up.

And the significance of these e-mails that we know have been released by Don Jr., which should, to the people out there who are so skeptical of news and sourcing and documentation, this was released by Don Jr., so that adds gravity to the story, too. And this is harder to brush away, which then makes other people perhaps more willing to talk. In investigations like this, sometimes it takes time to convince people, to pressure people, to tell everything they know.

BROWN: Right. And, you know, it's interesting if you look back, months ago the White House strategy was to distance itself from some of the people that were under investigation as part of the Russia probe, including Paul Manafort, including Carter Page, including Roger Stone. But now you have the president's son releasing this e-mail exchange about meeting with the Russian lawyer and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who's current in the White House.

So, we will continue to follow this, see how it unfolds.

Tara Palmeri, Lynn Sweet, David Swerdlick, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

SWEET: Thank you.


BROWN: And scrutiny intensifies for the White House as new questions emerge regarding when numbers of the Trump administration became aware - members, rather, of the Trump administration became aware of Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer. What impact, if any, could it have on the president's agenda? A member of the House Freedom Caucus joins me up next with his thoughts.


[09:36:34] BROWN: Well, the White House is once again on the defense over Russia this morning. As new revelations about the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer and how to respond to it could open up more staffers to scrutiny by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Sources tell CNN that White House aides and the legal team for his son-in-law and top aide Jared Kushner began strategizing in late June over how to deal with disclosure of e-mails about that meeting. There's just one thing, those sources also say President Trump's lawyer was not involved.

Well, that news even as reports claim that the president himself approved Don Jr.'s statements on the matter. Those statements would change multiple times in just a few days were, according to a person close to Kushner's legal team, quote, "a public relations disaster."

Joining me now, Dave Brat, Republican congressman from Virginia, and member of the House Freedom Caucus.

Congressman, thank you for coming on.

REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: Hey, you bet. Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: First question to you, Nancy Pelosi just said Republicans are enablers. Do you agree?

BART: I missed it. Are neighbors?

BROWN: Enablers. Enablers.

BRAT: Enablers. Well, I don't know, that's not - I mean she's doing politics. That's all right. I heard the last segment, the bank robbery analogy and someone drives a getaway car they're guilty. And so - I mean, I'm an economist, not a lawyer. But what you got to do is just name the statute that's been violated. We're a nation under laws, not of men. And so if there's proof that a statute's been violated, then there's an issue.

If there's not - I think a couple issues have gotten conflated. There's been the Russia messing around in our elections. I don't think anybody's denying that. Obama knew about that a full year ago and didn't do much on it. And now that's still in play. And we have Mueller investigating that. Then the other issue is the Democrats are upset that President Trump won the election. And so they've been saying impeach, impeach since day one. That's obviously more political.

So you've got to separate out the political. We have a probe going forward on the Russia piece. On the political piece, if you find a statute that's been violated, then you got it. But, you know, my senators in Virginia are getting, you know, apoplectic. Mark Warner's seeing smoke everywhere he goes like he's in a "Cheech & Chong" movie. And Kaine now thinks the son is worse than Benedict Arnold. I mean it's - we've gotten a little hysterical and we should just get grounded and we're - remember we're a country under the law.

BROWN: But then you have people like Charles Krauthammer who come out and say, look, that this - this is, you know, this is collusion and maybe awkward collusion, armature collusion, and he's referring to this meeting between the president's son and his son-in-law and this Russian attorney. So for some it seems this - this seems to be sort of more of a turning point. Do you think Republicans on Capitol Hill should be more outspoken about this?

BRAT: Well, I mean, there's collusion everywhere. But the question is whether a statute's been violated. There's collusion between CNN and the DCCC and "The Washington Post" and I don't complain about that. It's not illegal. I think it's unethical, but it's not illegal. And so we all wish the politics would fade away. And so collusion - I mean that's not in the statute book. And so I just go back kind of the fundamentals on that piece -

BROWN: Right, it's the campaign finance law of whether he accepted the solicitation of a contribution or something of value from a foreign government.

BRAT: Right, and that -

BROWN: And that's where the big question -

BRAT: Right, and if - right, if you - if they crossed the line there, they crossed the line. Then you follow the law.

BROWN: OK. So we've heard these calls, including just moments ago from Nancy Pelosi, for Kushner to lose his security clearance. Others say that he should be fired. What do you think at a minimum should happen given these new revelations and the fact that he's had to update his security clearance form now three times?

[09:40:15] BRAT: I don't know what the - I man you just follow the standard protocols. I don't know what those are. I'm busy doing health care and the budget today and the debt ceiling and tax reform, et cetera. And so I'll leave that to the lawyers. I'm an economist. I try to hang in the numbers realm.

BROWN: OK, let me just ask you, before we go to that, what would you advise the White House on how to handle this, the Russia controversy? Because clearly - and we've heard this from others on Capitol Hill, that it's sort of taking away from the work that you're doing and what you're trying to focus on. But a lot of this is because of the way the White House has handled it, the conflicting statements over the meeting, the fact that they weren't transparent from the get-go. What would you advise?

BRAT: Well, I mean just be as open and transparent as you can. I think Donald Jr. came out on TV, on "Hannity," and laid it out pretty raw for a half-hour. I mean that's pretty good to go on the record on camera. It's not easy doing this, right? And so I think that's a good thing. It shows the American people there's nothing to hide. And if they have had a few little missteps on reporting stuff on forms, I mean at first - this thing's been ongoing for a year, so everyone's kind of worn out, right? I mean there's been so many Russians involved and none of its stuck.

BROWN: Well, that's part of the problem, though, it's been going on for a year.

BRAT: Yes.

BROWN: Now we're finding out about this new meeting between the president's -

BRAT: Well, I know. Right.

BROWN: So, I mean -

BRAT: It's always some new meeting though. I mean none of it stuck for the whole past year. So now there's a new meeting. We all get excited for another day. And will this stick? I don't know. And so we'll see.

BROWN: Well, but what's interesting - but, I mean, if the meeting were - it explicitly says in the e-mail that, you know, it has to do with the Russian government wanting to help the Trump campaign.

But I want to move on to what I know you're very interesting in -

BRAT: Yes.

BROWN: And what you alluded to, you're very hard at work on -

BRAT: Yes.

BROWN: And that is, of course, health care.

BRAT: Right.

BROWN: Repealing Obamacare has been at the core of Republican election campaigns, policy prescriptions and more for seven years really.

BRAT: Yes.

BROWN: What is the impact on your party if you can't get this done?

BRAT: Oh, it's huge. I mean and that's not as huge as failing on tax reform, but it's huge. We voted 50 times to repeal. The Freedom Caucus put in a bill with Senator Rand Paul and then on our side Mark Sanford to repeal fully. And the goal has always been to bring the price down. Obamacare's in the ditch right now because it focused almost solely on coverage, right? So everyone's covered but they can't use their coverage because they can't afford the deductible and the prices are going up 25 percent. And under the Republican bills, the prices keep going up, too.

And so everyone want - longs for the day when they could just go out and a young person could go buy a - just a standard insurance policy out of college without going bankrupt. And so we've got to focus more on the price piece.

And the Democrats have good input, right? Pharmaceutical prices are through the roof. There's good input. They can give in on this process. We can all work together on it. But it's got - the goal has to be to get the price down. I taught economics for 20 years.

And this all started after World War II with the employer-provided piece and that incentivized overconsumption of health care. And that's in Econ 101 books across the nation. And it's not partisan. It wasn't a partisan deal. We're overconsuming health care and now we have a crisis and it's linked to every other issue.

Medicare and Social Security are insolvent in 2034. We have $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. And those are the pieces that are bumping up against our tax reform piece. That's the holy grail. That's the piece - if we fail to get the rates down for corporations and individuals and put money back in their pocket and get their kids back in some jobs out of high school and college, the American people are rightly cranky right now. Wages have been flat for 40 years because productivity's been flat.

So, how do you fix productivity? And no one appears to know the answer. I mean it's fairly stunning. You have to incentivize business to be more productive. There's only one way to do that. And so that - that, to me, is the most important piece. But we have a logjam with this health care piece and then raising the debt ceiling and that - those pieces are getting in the way of doing tax reform. And that's the home run.

BROWN: All right. It's all sort of complicated there.

BRAT: Yes, it is.

BROWN: Republican Congressman Dave Brat of Virginia, thank you very much.

BRAT: Yes. You bet. Thanks, Pam.

BROWN: And on that note, it could be a busy weekend for the president and Senate Republicans as they try to marshal votes for another shot at their repeal and replace effort, as we're learning one more "no" vote could kill it again


[09:48:44] BROWN: A crucial weekend ahead as the Senate GOP works to garner support for its revised health care bill. Two Republican senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, say they'll vote against it. That means out of the remaining undecided senators, the party can't afford to lose one more vote if they hope to pass this bill.

Joining us now to discuss, Stephen Moore, CNN's senior economics analyst and former senior economic advisor for the Trump campaign. And Jonathan Gruber, economics professor at MIT and one of the architects of Obamacare.

Gentlemen, nice to have you on.

Stephen, I'm going to start with you.

This new bill maintains parts of Obamacare, like taxes on the wealthy. Is this a true repeal?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, no. The answer is no, it's not a clean repeal, and I would have preferred that. But it gets rid of, you know, what's worst about Obamacare. It is going to - this Republican bill - and, by the way, Pamela, I met with a number of the Republican senators last night. They are getting very close. I think they're going to get the 50 votes they need and the vice president will probably -

BROWN: You do?

MOORE: Probably have to cast the tiebreaking vote here to pass this.

But the main feature is that it's going to allow younger people to face much lower premiums. And that's a big deal. So I think it will make it more affordable. You'll get wider coverage because the cost of insurance will go down

[09:50:06] BROWN: And how will it do that in terms of giving lower premiums for younger people?

MOORE: Yes, it's a great question. So what it does is, one of the most insidious features of Obamacare is it required everybody essentially to buy these Cadillac coverage plans. They cover for things like contraceptives and dental care and, you know, drug abuse addiction and things like that, that a lot of families don't need. And for young people and healthy people, they could buy a stripped down plan that would really provide them true health insurance if something, you know, catastrophic happened to them and they could pay, you know, 30 percent to 40 percent less insurance.

Now, I know Jonathan's going to say, oh, but people with pre-existing conditions are going to be harmed by that, but there - I want to tell your viewers, there's a pool of money in this bill that will provide funding for people who do have pre-existing conditions. So I think that's a phony argument.

BROWN: So, Jonathan, this amendment added by Ted Cruz would allow insurers offering Obamacare plans to also offer these cheaper, bare bones policies. How would that work in your view? JONATHAN GRUBER, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF

TECHNOLOGY: Well, one thing I like about Stephen is he's much more honest than the politicians. He honestly explained what happens, which is this provides cheap insurance for younger people and excludes sicker and older people. So I'm going to disagree on two things of what he said, however.

The money that's put in - essentially what this bill does is create high risk pools. It segments the older, sicker individuals in the high risk pools. Stephen's right, with enough money you could deal with that. There's not enough money. OK. The amount of money that's put into high risk pools is not nearly enough to make insurance affordable for the sick and older people. These are the people that spend the bulk of dollars in our health care system. So in theory it might work. In practice, there's not enough money.

And the other thing that's very important to recognize is, when a common talking point you'll hear from folks like Stephen is, well, we shouldn't make younger people have, say, maternity coverage or mental health coverage, that's a legitimate point. But remember the consequence of that. That means that you're saying that people who want maternity coverage, namely women, and people who want mental health coverage, namely mentally ill people, should have to pay more for insurance. If you're willing to admit that, which I think Stephen is, but I think a lot of politicians aren't, then that's something you have to own.

MOORE: By the way there's a - here's a point of, I think, of agreement. I mean there was a famous moment - remember when Obamacare was being debated, when that women said very famously, you know, I was free contraceptives. And, you know, the point that we make as conservatives, there's no such thing as free contraceptives. Somebody has to pay for it.

And the real question is really one of individual responsibility. And I think this is a real philosophical difference between the left and the right. You know it's - Jonathan, it's not just young people who will pay lower premiums. It will be tens of millions of people who will pay lower premiums if they have life - a healthy lifestyle, if they don't smoke, if they get enough exercise, if they eat right, you know, if they don't do drugs and things like that.

Now, my feeling is, if you live a life - you know, a healthy lifestyle, why should you have to subsidize people who do smoke, who do overeat, who don't exercise and things. We want to encourage healthy lifestyles. And one of the ways of doing that is through a well-functioning insurance system. You have the right to smoke, but if you smoke, you're going to pay higher insurance premiums.

GRUBER: But, Stephen, what you're missing is before Obamacare, in - nowhere in the country could smokers be charged more for health insurance. Obamacare made that legal. OK. Obamacare was the first time that insurers were allowed to charge smokers more. So don't make it about smokers versus non-smokers or healthy versus not healthy.

MOORE: OK, but what - Jonathan, fair point. What - what about people - what about people who overeat, who are obese? What about people who use drugs?

GRUBER: You know what -

MOORE: What about those things? Those are not - you can't charge a different - under - it's illegal under Obamacare for these insurance companies to basically reward people for healthy lifestyles. You're right about smoking, but -

GRUBER: No, it's not illegal, but - Stephen, that's absolutely wrong.

BROWN: OK. Gentlemen -

GRUBER: Actually, Obamacare made it legal to vary the premiums for participation in wellness programs. Once again, the first time Obamacare expanded how much premiums could vary for (INAUDIBLE) and wellness. So here's what it comes down to, OK? Do you - if you think people should get to pay less because they're on wellness programs, that's in Obamacare. If you think people should pay more because they're fat -

MOORE: No, I'm not -

GRUBER: Hold on, let me finish. If you think people should pay more because they're fat, that's not allowed on Obamacare.

MOORE: Yes, why? Why isn't that allowed? Why isn't - but why isn't that allowed, Jonathan?

GRUBER: And that's the point I'm making.

BROWN: We've got to - we've got to end it there. I think I gave you both the same amount of time to speak and it is an important debate to be had and it's a debate that will go on and on.

Stephen Moore, Jonathan Gruber, thank you very much.

MOORE: OK, thank you.

GRUBER: You bet.

BROWN: Well, a shocking confession by a Pennsylvania man. An attorney says his client has confessed that he was involved in the murders of four missing men. We have the newest details.


[09:59:04] BROWN: Well, good morning. I'm Pamela Brown. Nice to have you along with us on this Friday.

Right now, President Trump is in the air, headed home to Washington, after a whirlwind trip to Paris. He started the day with a parade, but now he's bracing for turbulence over the Russia investigation and that controversial meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer. This morning new questions about who knew what and when. Sources telling CNN that White House aides and Jared Kushner's legal team began strategizing in late June about how to manage the disclosure of the e- mails they had just discovered. And another new report suggests that the president's own legal team knew about the e-mail chain more than three weeks ago.

And hours from now, a former Trump campaign adviser will be in the hot seat when he testifies behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee as lawmakers get ready to request more documents from Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr.

We are covering all of this. Let's begin with CNN's senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

Hi, Jeff.


President Trump, as you said, did wrap up his whirlwind trip of Paris here after spending some 30 hours or so here in Paris.