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GOP Health Care Problems with Delay; Trump Accuses Media of Distorting Democracy; A Chinese-American Sentenced Ten Yeras by Iran for Spying; Venezuela Votes Against Maduro; The Women Who Married ISIS Fighters. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 17, 2017 - 04:00   ET



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: New trouble for the Republican health care efforts as the CBO score is delayed and so, too, is a vote after a health scare for Senator John McCain.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And a brand new poll shows the president's approval dropping to record lows. The president is defending the number even as the Russia investigation hampers his agenda. In 70 years, no one at this stage of the presidential tenure --

BRIGGS: Not bad, really.

ROMANS: -- has had such a low, low 36 percent approval.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It's Monday, July 17th. It is 4:00 a.m. in the east and as we start with the latest on this country's health care.

It was a health scare though for a key Republican senator, the latest obstacle for Republicans trying to pass a new health care bill. There are new concerns though John McCain's absence could be longer than first thought.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announcing he'll postpone a vote because Senator McCain is recovering in Arizona after having a blood clot removed above his left eye. McCain's absence could jeopardize efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. With two Republican senators, Rand Paul and Susan Collins already declaring their opposition, McConnell needs every other GOP vote, all 50 to pass this measure.

ROMANS: Doctors describe the surgery of Senator McCain as minimally invasive, but CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, notes McCain does have a history of invasive melanoma in and around that area. McCain's doctors are now waiting for a pathology test to see if more treatment is needed. The health bill facing potential challenges as well. We mentioned Senator Collins is a no. Asked about the claim by the Vice President Mike Pence if the health care bill strengthens and secures Medicaid, Collins said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I would respectfully disagree with the vice president's analysis. This bill would impose fundamental sweeping changes in the Medicaid program and those include very deep cuts. That would affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society including disabled children, poor seniors.


BRIGGS: Reaction from state governors not much warmer. An intense closed door session Saturday, governors confronted the vice president and top administration health officials over the cost of the health bill that they'd impose on their states. Now, the administration team made a frantic bid at the National Governors Association meeting this weekend to win over or at least win the silence of skeptical Republican governors. Republican and Democratic governors said that effort left major questions unanswered.

ROMANS: Yes, they're being encouraged to innovate, to get block grants to have the federal, you know, the federal expansion of Medicaid benefits limited and that would somehow spur innovation. That is not an argument that any of those lawmakers took to heart. Meantime, the Congressional Budget Office will not release its latest analysis of the GOP health bill today as was expected.

It's not clear when it will do so. It's also unclear whether a new analysis will improve the bill's popularity with the public. Take a look at this new poll from the "Washington Post" and ABC News showing Americans prefer Obamacare to the Republican proposal by a 2:1 margin.

BRIGGS: That same poll bearing news that might rattle another president but that's drawing a shrug from the current White House occupant. President Trump reaching a new low in approval ratings, just 36 percent in the latest "Washington Post"/ABC News poll. That's down five points in the same poll at his 100 day mark in April. President Trump responding with a tweet that apparently wants to have it both ways, accepting and casting doubt on the same poll at the same time.

ROMANS: And he says the ABC/"Washington Post" poll even though almost 40 percent is not bad at this time, it was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time.

OK, first, it's actually the lowest approval rating at six-month mark of any president in 70 years, so not exactly not bad. It is a record at this point, a record low.

And second, the final estimate from the "Washington Post" poll was 43 percent for Trump, 47 percent for Clinton who posted 48.5 percent on election night. That's well within the poll's margin of error.

BRIGGS: Secret Service rejecting a claim by President Trump's lawyer that the agency would have prevented anything questionable from happening at that famous meeting now last June between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. Here is Attorney Jay Sekulow on ABC's "This Week" claiming nothing happened at the meeting that included several Russians and top members of the Trump campaign.


JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I wondered why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why did the Secret Service allowed these people in.

[04:05:00] The president had Secret Service protection at that point. That raised the question with me.

If Donald Trump Jr. himself said things should have been done differently, having said that again, none of that is violation of the law, that's more process.


BRIGGS: Problem being, this, well, true the president had Secret Service protection, the president did. But after that interview, the Secret Service said it had no responsibility to check out participants in the meeting because Don Jr. was not under its protection at the time.

ROMANS: The president's personal attorney's lawyer -- or comment, rather, also drew fire from some lawmakers including California Democratic Congressman Ted Leiu who tweeted this, Dear dumb as a rock Jay Sekulow, Secret Service's job is not to deter violations of federal election campaign act. That's the job of prosecutors.

Sekulow was also on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday where he reiterated that the president was not a aware of the meeting and not engaged in it. That assertion got a skeptical response from the top Democratic on the Senate intel committee, Mark Warner.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: I think if I had a meeting that involved Russian government efforts to try to help candidate Trump and hurt Clinton that I would remember that and frankly, it's a little bit unbelievable that neither the son or the son-in-law ever shared that information with their dad the candidate.


BRIGGS: All this came after we learned yet another person attended the meeting. Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin. The ensuing furor sparked a Sunday tweet storm from the president who said the media is distorting democracy and he added rhetorically Hillary Clinton can illegally get the questions to the debate and delete 33,000 e-mail but my son is being scorned by the fake news media.

ROMANS: We'll have to fact check that 33,000 e-mails and questions of the debate, then again, it's like not worth it. The White House looking to get back on message and stay there by announcing a series of additional themed weeks spotlighting domestic issues. The White House is starting with made in America. This week, made in America welcomes Dave Briggs, made in America. The

focus is on manufacturing. A White House spokesperson says products created in the 50 states will be showcased today with other events planned during the week. American heroes week and American dreams week comes later. Details yet to be announced.

BRIGGS: The White House has tried to highlight themes like infrastructure and workforce development week in the past, but those messages were largely overtaken by other news, often generated by the president himself. It is worth noting even though this week's theme is Made in America -- it will be a meme -- many items in President Trump's own clothing line and that of his daughter Ivanka are made overseas including countries like Bangladesh, China and Indonesia.

ROMANS: Yes, that's a small irony.

BRIGGS: Exclusively as far as Ivanka goes.

ROMANS: Well, many Trump products are made overseas, American factories are still humming, that's because of market forces frankly at this point not any specific policies. The U.S. dollar hit a 13 year high after the election and then prices have fallen. The dollar's prices have fallen amid excitement for Trump's economic agenda cools. They're down about percent this year.

Meanwhile, global demand is rising so a weaker dollar makes U.S. goods more attractive to foreign buyers. The Trump administration had not introduced many policies but with loose U.S. exports but that could change as it makes decisions on a number of really important items including a potential tariff on steel specifically Chinese steel.

American companies have long accused Chinese steel companies of boxing out U.S. completion and killing U.S. jobs. Experts expect this administration to announce tariffs any day now and Chinese and U.S. officials are set to meet this week. The two countries will discuss monetary and economic issues including trade.

BRIGGS: An American researcher convicted of spying and now sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran. Princeton University identifying the man as a history grad student, Xiyue Wang. The University saying he was arrested in Iran last summer while doing scholarly research in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation. The semi official Fars News agency saying Wang was accused of gathering information and that the ruling can be appealed.

Iran has a history of arresting foreign nationals and holding closed door trials. The State Department says it's aware of Wang's case but would not go into specifics.

ROMANS: All right, a big symbolic rejection of President Nicolas Maduro by voters in Venezuela. Ninety-eight percent of the more than 7 million people who cast their ballots sided with the opposition on President Maduro's plans to form a constitutional assembly without a vote by the people. The vote was organized by the opposition and has no binding result, but it was aimed at weakening President Maduro's legitimacy rather, days before his assembly is expected to convene. [04:10:07] Opponents see the Maduro assembly as a power grab as Maduro

grapples with the growing unpopularity. The economy there is just a wreck. It is a wreck and the daily misery of the people, once was a middle class and then --

BRIGGS: Yes, one of the emerging economies in the world and it is just a disaster. Also a disaster in Chicago, gunfire there claiming the lives of a little boy and an anti-violence activist. More on another brutal weekend in Chicago, next.


ROMANS: Just tragedy, a weekend of tragedy in Chicago. A little boy and an anti-violence activist among the dead in new bloodshed over the weekend there in the windy city. CNN affiliate WLS reports 10 people have been killed. Ten people killed, 37 others wounded since Friday night. Among them were 9-year-old Gustavo Garcia, who was a passenger in an SUV when he and a 31-year-old behind the wheel were shot.

[04:15:10] The driver is reported in critical condition.

Also killed was 58-year-old Willie Cooper who ran a nonprofit that provides jobs to south side teens. Police say Cooper died in a drive- by shot by someone with an AR-15 assault rifle.

BRIGG: One person is still missing after a family was swept away by flash flooding at a swimming hole in central Arizona. Police are saying nine people died when the floodwaters swept 14 members of the family downstream. Among the dead, six children between the ages of 2 and 13. A 27-year-old man is missing. All were near the Cold Springs swimming hole Saturday when heavy rains triggered the flash floods.

Academy award winning Martin Landau has died. His publicist confirming Landau suffered unexpected complications following a short hospitalization at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Landau probably best known for his Oscar winning role as Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood." And for playing master of disguise, the original 1960s "Mission Impossible" TV series. Landau was 89.

ROMANS: More fans are mourning the death of the man known as the father of the modern movie or the modern zombie movie, George A. Romero. He's long time production partner confirming Romero died following a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer, with his wife and daughter at his side.

Romero became a cult legend after writing and directing, "Night of the Living Dead" at the age of 28. The film spawned sequels, many sequels, and an endless procession of zombie film variations, some clever, some brainless, not unlike the zombies themselves. Romero was 77 years old.

BRIGGS: All right, next, CNN takes you to Syria, women joins ISIS looking for love and were left with despair.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want someone because I can't get my son (ph). (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Powerful stories from the wives of ISIS, next.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Twenty-one minutes past the hour. With ISIS defeat in Mosul, the battle shifts now to Raqqah and Syria, the capital of ISIS' so called Islamic caliphate -- crumbling Islamic caliphate. So far, among those rounded up as sympathizers women who married into the terror group. Now, they have not been charged with anything and what is essentially a lawless area and authorities are not sure exactly what to do with them. For now, they've been jailed and segregated inside a refugee camp in Syria telling our Nick Paton Walsh, the ISIS life isn't what they thought it would be.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don't kid yourself, they saw the videos -- girls, mothers, some who married into ISIS who knew what they were about but still came. Now, jailed in a refugee camp, stuck in limbo was ISIS collapses trying to go home. They want your pity and that you believe them when they say, it was all, all of it, a huge mistake.

They use women for sex?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It's very disgusting.

WALSH: Three Indonesian sisters say they paid thousands of dollars to get here, lured by the false promise of free health care and schools but ended up living off selling their jewelry and paying thousands to get smuggled out. It just wasn't as pure a caliphate as they expected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They say that they want to everyone to jihad for the sake of Allah, but what they want it's only about women and sex. It's disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard that if they marry a widow, they will get a thousand dollars.

WALSH: Single women arrivals like them kept in a commune while they look for husbands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The manner of the women inside the dorm, it's very different, it's very far from Islam. Harsh manner, gossiping, shout each other, backbiting and fighting between the women. I was very surprised when I see that.

WALSH: Zaida (ph) explains the dorm is a bit like tinder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When the woman arrives in this dormitory she makes a sort of CD, puts down her age, name, how her personality is like, what she looks for in a man. And men also post their CD's.

WALSH: This is like tinder of the caliphate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's dating so you meet, you talk for 15, 20 minutes, and then it's a yes or no. If they both agree, then they get haired. It's very quick.

WALSH: She says she came for a charity work but her husband was killed the second time they tried to flee. She's as appalled by the Paris terror attacks as she was by the coalition bombing of Raqqa and just wants to go back to France.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love life. I love to work. I love my jeans. I love my makeup. I love my parents. The only thing I want is to go back. I'm not far from the beach. I used to go to the beach every weekend in a bikini.

WALSH: In a bikini?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, in a bikini.

WALSH: May (ph) was a Syrian English teacher whose first husband was killed by a sniper in homs (ph) and said she was traveling to Turkey when she was way laid in Raqqa where she met and married a Moroccan.

WALSH: Were you looking for a man when you went to --


WALSH: So how come you found one just like you --


WALSH: Who's this guy next door?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't get the name to me.

WALSH: She says ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Adnani knew the love (ph))

[04:25:00] and allowed him not to fight. He's now in jail. She is disapproving of less pure love stories.

Did you hear other stories of women here came looking for husbands?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They look to the European men, that they are here and ISIS they are strong men, you know, with guns and they can protect them. It's an idea that is just like movies. Many of them were very shocked because when they get married from a man, you know, three, four days, one month and they divorced.

I know a woman, she was married six times and after three days, she goes to a court and asks the judge to divorce her. And when the judge ask her why you want divorce, she say he prevent her from making any, you know, sexual, you know, and she say I can't accept him. All the time thinking of my dying husband. So why marry him if you don't want him and he say I will send you to the prison and, you know, she was crying no, no, no, this is the last time, I promise. WALSH: Her husband was once arrested for smoking by the religious

police and because they won't talk to women, she had to literally enter a man's world to get him out of jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you know what, it was a crazy idea. I just put my husband's colors, his shoes, and I covered my eyes with black glasses and I lend a gun from my neighbor. I take it from them and I took my boy and let's go to the (INAUDIBLE).

WALSH: Would you do a man's voice now?


WALSH: That's how men sound, just deeper. These stories decide their fate here. Whether they stay in limbo or go home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bet you don't believe me. Isis speaks a language more than mouth. Don't you feel that there is a trust in my eyes?

WALSH: Yes. Your husband, what if you don't see him again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want someone to kill him because I can't kill myself. It's a suicide and I can't commit suicide. I just can't.

WALSH: Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, (INAUDIBLE) northern Syria.


ROMANS: A remarkable look inside this one piece of that story. Some of those women went there willingly after seeing the videos of the beheadings and burning people alive and drowning people in cages, went to find that ISIS husband.

BRIGGS: You do sit there and sympathize for the children who were dragged there unwittingly into this --

ROMANS: Or born out of that --

BRIGGS: -- into this hell or born into that, yes.

ROMANS: -- out of a crumbling ISIS caliphate.

BRIGGS: All right, ahead, new polling shows the president with record low approval. Now, another health care delay and the Russia investigation providing more setbacks for the White House.