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GOP Senate Bill Collapses: Trump Turns To Repeal Only; GOP Health Bill Collapses: Trump "Annoyed" By News; White House Official Admits No Real Effort To Sell GOP Bill; Impact Of GOP Repealing Obamacare Without Replacement; Special Counsel Seeks Info From Eight Person In Don Jr. Meeting; White House Worried Over Fate Of Kushner's Security Clearance. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired July 18, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: -- a process this body has used time and time again to produce consensus, bipartisan, historic legislation. The majority leader said in 2014 in a speech entitled restoring the Senate, to quote, this is Mitch McConnell.
"When the Senate is allowed to work the way it was designed to, it arrives along the political spectrum. If it's an assembly line for one party's partisan legislative agenda, it creates instability and strife rather than good, stable law."
I want to repeat that. These are the words of Mitch McConnell. I hope Leader McConnell is listening and remembers these words. He hasn't for last six months and it's only led to trouble for him and his Republican colleagues in the Senate.
So let me read it again, 2014 speech, restoring the Senate, author, Mitch McConnell. When the Senate is allowed to work the way it was designed to, it arrives at a result acceptable to people all along the political spectrum. If it's an assembly line for one party's partisan legislative agenda, it creates instability and strife rather than good, stable law.
Leader McConnell, I couldn't agree more. It's time to start over on health care. Abandon the idea of cutting Medicaid to give a tax break to the wealthy. Abandon this new repeal and run and use the regular order to arrive at a result acceptable to people all along the political spectrum as Leader McConnell once said.
I dare say it would create a much better result the American people as well. Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield the floor.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining us. You have been listening to Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, railing against the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it later.
Of course, this is after their original plan, the original Republican plan collapsed overnight. Hours after fatal defections killed the revised health care bill and the president's top legislative priority. President Trump says, now, stay tuned with a not so subtle hit also on some in his own party, tweeting this, I'll read it for you, "We were let down by all the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific and worked really hard. We will return."
And what does that return entail? Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says, it's now repeal only. A 2015 measure that would repeal Obamacare, but allow for a two-year transition to find out what goes in its place. That's why we say replace later.
So where does the support stand at this very moment for this new, yet old move? CNN's Phil Mattingly starts us off from Capitol Hill. Phil, talk about moving parts, minute by minute, where does the support stand now amongst Republicans for this move?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it doesn't look good. At least so far early this morning, and look, keep in mind, what's really happened over the course of the last 12-15 hours, Kate. It's been amazing the speed with which this is all occurred.
Obviously, two Republican senators came out last night opposing the Senate draft bill that they have been working on. That essentially killed that. Senate Majority Leader McConnell then announcing late in the evening that they would move forward on this repeal only plan.
Now we are getting a sense of where senators are right now. Senator Shelly Moore Capito already coming out and saying she is opposed to a vote on the repeal only plan.
You have Senator Susan Collins saying she is opposed to the procedural vote to even take up the repeal only plan. Obviously Senator McCain still not in Washington as he recovered from his health issues.
We also have Senator Rob Portman of Ohio saying he has serious concerns about the repeal only plan. So they kind of put this in perspective, Kate, where we currently are right now.
What Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has to do is essentially have a procedural vote to even move forward on to the repeal only plan. He needs at least 50 of his 52 senators to support that.
If John McCain is out, obviously that is a problem. That's one vote that is gone right now, if they don't wait for him to get back. Then you have Susan Collins already saying she is now opposed to that procedural vote as well.
So if they do not wait for Senator McCain to come back, they can only afford to lose one more senator. We are not even to the big all- Senate Republican closed door meeting this afternoon, and it looks like that is already on the brink of failure, kind of teetering at failure at this moment.
I think it's important to understand the background here. What Senator McConnell is doing is essentially calling the bluff of his members. Kate, they voted on this very bill --
BOLDUAN: In a very public way, my friend.
MATTINGLY: -- in a very public way. This is a bit of a Hail Mary, right. This isn't what they wanted to do. They wanted to do repeal and replace. They voted on this repeal only bill in the last Congress. The vast majority of current Republican conference voted for this bill.
Senator McConnell saying, look, you're on record voting for this. We can't figure out a way to do replace. Let's do this. If you vote against it, you will be flipping and flopping.
[11:05:07]Well, Senator Capito voted for that bill last Congress. She's already saying she won't. So obviously there are serious problems here. Real concerns on the Republican side that they can even get to a vote on actual legislation or actual amendments.
Kate, there's a very, very real chance by this afternoon, they won't even have the votes to move forward on the procedure.
BOLDUAN: I mean, this thing could have been over before anyone even knew -- sunk in that this was the new effort. I mean, we'll stand by and see. The lunch today is going to be hugely important. Phil will be there. Great to see you, Phil. Thank you so much.
So we have more news just in, the blame game is already starting. CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash has the details. Dana, what are you hearing? Because of course, you saw the president's tweet this morning.
He basically said, blamed all the Democrats, a few Republicans he's not happy with. Where is the sentiment right now? Where does the blame land, Capitol Hill or at the White House?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: All of the above and even those who I speak with who are quite candid in the administration, for example, admit that there is blame to go around.
And you know, even realtime, Kate, those of us, you covered the hill and big pieces of legislation like this, I have as well. Watching the way this was unfolding, the analysis that we were getting in realtime is where are the people out there talking about the positives of this bill?
BASH: Where is the support system? I talked to a senior administration official this morning who admitted that that was one of the key, key things lacking. The effort to engage the business community, conservative groups, get them on board and get them to release their grass roots efforts that tend to be vast and successful when they want it to be to get people on board.
Instead, what happened was there was a vacuum and the opponents both Democrats initially and Republican opponents kind of swooped in and filled that vacuum to destroy this bill because there weren't enough people standing up for it. Now the obvious question is, what about the bully pulpit? The president of the United States has the biggest megaphone. Why wasn't he out there supporting this bill, doing rallies, being more aggressive in terms of salesmanship? And again, the response I got was there's enough blame to go around -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: What does it say about the current relationship between the White House, the president, and his party on Capitol Hill right now?
BASH: I mean, just think about this. This whole thing went down when the president of the United States was having dinner with a group of Republican senators.
BASH: And as that was happening, they were blindsided. The president was blindsided by two of their colleagues, Senator Mike Lee and Senator Jerry Moran. I talked to one Republican senator who wanted to speak anonymously to give a sense of the mood inside the Republican caucus who said that the feeling is that was rude.
That was rude to do that to the president and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell. However, this Republican senator also noted, it just shows you what our guys think of Trump. Can you imagine them doing this to another president?
So, pretty tough talk there, kind of trying to lay out the reality of what it means to be a Republican and have President Trump in the White House. You know, usually these two entities work hand in glove. They were trying, no doubt about it.
But look, I think at the end of the day, what we were talking about this time yesterday with the president's approval rating at an all- time low, it goes to show you what it means when you are a member of Congress.
They are not really afraid of bucking the president, of bucking his -- his supporters, even though they, themselves voted on this issue to repeal and replace Obamacare. The biggest fear is constituents and the backlash they would have if they voted for something that they didn't support, that wasn't sold properly.
BOLDUAN: And of course, the same is true on the flip side. The president has no problem bucking his -- when he wants to make a point. He called the House health care version mean in order to try to move things along in the Senate.
So you can see this is cutting both ways in a very cutting and biting manner, in a very public way right now. Dana, great to see you. Let's see what happens next.
So if, a big if, if the Senate effort goes through, a repeal now, replace later, what then? What in the interim? What would that mean for Americans covered? What would that mean for you in the meantime?
CNN's Christine Romans is here to break this down for us. This is a very important question.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really is. There's been so much uncertainty for consumers and insurers over the past couple of years and now even today. Look, if you just were to repeal and not replace, that's the worst case scenario, Kate, just repeal and not replace. Congress not able --
BOLDUAN: No plan in place.
ROMANS: No plan in place. Congress not able to come up with a plan. You are talking 18 million more people uninsured in the first year, 27 million more in the third year and by the end of the decade, 32 million more.
[11:10:12]The reason why is because you would have no individual mandate. That is sort of the core of the backbone of the current law Obamacare. That means people would be able to leave. Healthy people would be able to leave.
And when healthy people leave, and maybe they are uninsured on their own volition, but they leave -- you have sicker and more expensive people in and that pushes up premiums.
That means insurers charge more for the rest of us who are in the system. So 20 percent spike in premiums in the first year all the way up to double by the end of the decade. So that is the concern there.
A second part of this concern here is this sort of idea you are hearing from some conservatives that if you repeal now and gave Congress a deadline, a two-year deadline, leaving Obamacare in place and then in two years insurers will know that there's some new law they'll come up with.
There's too much uncertainty in that. It's very hard to tell what it will mean for consumers in the near term. And markets, in fact, if you look at this, if you look at the dollar today, it has been sinking, sinking, sinking.
Because there's this feeling that if the president with all of this effort, the art of the deal president couldn't this through, what does that mean about tax reform and infrastructure, and important things that we are really enthusiastically greeted by the business community.
So the first kind of ding we are seeing in the hopes of the art of the deal the president will be able to get a deal on health care or anything.
BOLDUAN: And more time didn't help this health care deal. More time with even a future health care deal, what would this mean? Maybe that's adding to this. Great to see you, Christine. Important charts and figures. That's why we bring Christine here.
All right, so a short time ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke out. He was asked about this now collapsed Senate bill. Listen to what he has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, we would like to see the Senate move on something. We are proud of the bill we passed. We passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, to replace it with a better system.
But as you well know, the legislative process for it to work, the House has to pass a bill. We have done that. The Senate has to pass a bill for us to even move the process forward. That's the next step. So we are hoping that they can achieve the next step so that we can bring real relief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: You deal with your people, I'll deal with mine. That is basically what it is right now. Joining me now to discuss, CNN political analyst, "Washington Post" reporter, Abby Phillip is here. Yahoo! Finance columnist, Rick Newman, is here, and CNN political analyst, "USA Today" columnist, Kirstine Powers is here as well. Great to see all of you.
Where do we begin? Rick, let's start this fun with you today. On the idea of repeal now, replace later. If this was a winning path, why was this not the first path they took?
RICK NEWMAN, COLUMNIST, "YAHOO! FINANCE": Well, it's not a winning path. I mean, that's a hypothetical. It's almost impossible to contemplate. I mean, from a common sense perspective, it's just a stupid idea.
Anybody who runs a business or has to deal with practical matters doesn't say I'm going to revoke my business plan or my strategy and replace it with nothing and I'll figure it out as I go on.
I mean, nobody runs their life or business this way. People don't get it. I mean, it's a nonstarter. It needs to die, immediately.
BOLDUAN: Kirsten, what then? I mean, right now, I find it fascinating, Phil was laying it out and Dana was talking about it, too. Essentially what Mitch McConnell seems to be doing is forcing his own party or trying to call their bluff or force them into very publicly flip-flopping on their position. You voted for this in 2015 and now you are not going vote for it, now when you have a Republican president? Why is he going down this path?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Because what I think what they are trying to do is they trying to solve a political problem. They are not trying to solve a policy problem.
BOLDUAN: If it brings a lot of pain --
POWERS: An immediate sort of a problem. So it's not even a long term political problem. They made this promise. This is what the base thinks they want. Right now they want a repeal, and so they want to repeal it. They are not actually trying to solve the policy problem, which is there are some problems with Obamacare and it needs to be fixed. And so I think it may solve their short term problem, but in the long term, it's going to probably cause some more problems.
BOLDUAN: And from the White House perspective, we know, of course, Abby, that the White House's approach towards the Senate effort was different than it was in the House. He was much more involved and publicly involved with trying to get the House over the line.
You can see, maybe there is some remorse now coming from Dana Bash's reporting that they didn't do enough. Do you think that strategy changes going forward, this hands off approach to how the Senate handles health care?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think they are -- it's a little bit different. In the House, they were kind of involved in a lot of the hand holding of the Freedom Caucus members and really trying to kind of get individual members over the finish line.
In the Senate, they didn't do that. That's not necessarily what Mitch McConnell wanted them to do. To Dana's point, the question was, who was going to rally the outside support?
[11:15:02]Who is going to give senators when they go back home a little back up so their constituents support them in this effort. That is going to come from the outside, the business community, but also from the bully pulpit.
And there's no White House explanation for why the president never ended up going outside of Washington, outside his properties in Florida and New Jersey to sell this bill. They didn't do it. Now it may be too late.
You know, I just want to say to your earlier point about why this whole replace, repeal now and replace later is so extraordinary. Earlier this year, the House and Senate Republicans, they evaluated this idea and determined that it was unworkable.
It was not supposed to pass and it would lead to essentially disaster. So the idea that they are coming back to it actually shows more how desperate they are at this moment. They want to put -- make their members walk the line.
But also, you know, it seems like McConnell wants to prove that this is really in fact unworkable. They do not have the votes to do this. That will be demonstrated very quickly I've seen given where we are now, with at least two senators affirm no on moving forward.
BOLDUAN: Like very quickly, within this hour, we could find out if this whole idea is shot, if more people come out. I mean, seriously, stand by, everybody. The president, this morning, in a statement on Twitter, one of them was, "As I have always said, let Obamacare fail, and then come together and do a great health care plan. Stay tuned."
He mentioned the idea of letting Obamacare collapse in the past. That is not what he ran on. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will do it simultaneously. It will be just fine. We are not going to have like a two-day period or two-year period where there's nothing. It will be repealed and replaced.
Because Obamacare has to be replaced. We will do it and we will do it very, very quickly.
My first day in office, I'm going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk, getting rid of this disastrous law and replacing it with reforms that expand choice, freedom, affordability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That's not let Obamacare fail and then let's figure it out. What do you think the president's deal is?
POWERS: He wants a win on the board. He wants just to basically --
BOLDUAN: Intentional air quotes on that.
POWERS: He does this and he wants to move on and do something else. I want to address this idea if President Trump had been more involved maybe things would have gone differently. I think that that's probably unlikely.
And the reason I think that is we heard this a lot when Obama was president. If President Obama would spend more time with Republicans and negotiate with them, rub their backs and do all sorts of things and make them happy, they would come around and support him. The fact of the matter is, this is an extremely dysfunctional caucus.
BOLDUAN: But maybe it's flip side. If he got into the public and sold it --
POWERS: Sold what?
NEWMAN: The legislation is terrible. It's unsubtle.
BOLDUAN: Made a stronger case that Obamacare -- there are serious issues with Obamacare and we are here to help --
POWERS: But the problem is bringing people who have such radically different views. So the Democrats when they passed Obamacare had pretty much a unified view that health care is a right and government should be providing health insurance.
BOLDUAN: That was the basis where they could actually find --
POWERS: They had their disagreements, but they work somehow. You know, but the Republicans just even don't agree on that basic fundamental, ideological issue.
BOLDUAN: A lot of folks are writing about this. Is Washington being slapped in the face one more time with a reminder that once there is a benefit given to the American people, folks don't want to take it away.
NEWMAN: Yes! It's a truism. I mean, you can't take something away that is going to harm people. Honestly, the Republicans should get this off the table, sweep it under the rug, pretend it doesn't exist.
BOLDUAN: They can't do that, Rick. Not after seven years of promising to fix it.
NEWMAN: Well, it's going to happen one way or the other. They are either going to fail or they are just going to -- on their own say, let's get rid of this and let's get to something we think we might actually be able to do --
BOLDUAN: Take (inaudible) now or get gangrene later.
NEWMAN: They can do a better job on tax cuts. That's something they might be able to be competent at. If they were smart, they would get it out of the way and move on to tax cuts.
BOLDUAN: Abby, in one tweet, you have the president saying repeal now, replace later. The other tweet I read, he said let Obamacare fail, and then we'll figure it out. Can those two things be the same? They don't seem like it to me.
PHILLIP: Well, you know, in some ways, it reflects the idea -- what it really reflects is that the president doesn't really want to deal with this issue, he wants to move on. I think that the repeal now and replace later seems to be to him, a kind of similar thing.
Repealing now doesn't really fix some of the problems that are coming in 2018. I mean, we are talking six months from now when a lot of people are predicting these marketplaces are going to be in dire straits does not address that problem.
[11:20:10]And in fact, the marketplaces will be hurting next year if they go forward with repeal. I think Trump believes that if that happens, it will increase the political pressure from Democrats to help them replace it. I don't know if that's necessarily true.
I think Democrats know, and a lot of Republicans know that right now, Republicans own this entire thing. They own the health care system as it is right at this moment and they own whatever happens next year and the year after that.
So, there are a lot of people making the argument against this. This is one of those things that the president has been really, really stuck on. It shows you where his heart is. That's where he thinks his political instincts like right now. It's going to be very hard to dislodge that idea I think going forward.
BOLDUAN: We may be watching it play out in gainful fashion very publicly. Great to see you, guys. Thank you so much. Stick with me. Who knows what's going to happen this hour?
We are also following more breaking news, though, on Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russians at the Trump Tower during the height of the election. Investigators with Special Counsel Robert Mueller are now looking into the unidentified eighth person who attended this now infamous meeting.
Where President Trump's son, his son-in-law and Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman were promised dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government to help the Trump campaign.
With me now, CNN White House reporter, Jeremy Diamond. Jeremy, what are they looking at? Lay it out for me.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Kate. Special counsel investigators are now seeking information from that still publicly unidentified eighth person who attended that June 201 meeting at Trump Tower.
That's according to the Agalarov family attorney, Scott Balber (ph), who is also representing this eighth person. He spoke with CNN's Pamela Brown this morning. Here is what a bit of what he had to say.
"The eighth person has been identified by prosecutors. We are cooperating fully with prosecutors as a result of the investigation to preserve the integrity of the investigation, we are declining to identify him at this time."
Now Balber has said that prosecutors have not yet reached out to interview this eighth person. What we do know about this person is that this was an employee of the Agalarov family, a representative of that family in the United States.
And this is, again, just a small window into how this investigation is proceeding. We get very few details from Mueller and on this issue, the special counsel's office declined to comment -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: At the very least we know they are looking into this meeting now in a very big way. Jeremy, great to see you. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. More to come on that.
Speaking of that meeting, two other big developments we are tracking. Hear why the White House is seriously concerned at this moment about Jared Kushner, his security clearance and him losing his security clearance.
Plus, a statement from Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer raising eyebrows and creating more questions than answers. Did someone from the White House block them from telling the quote/unquote, "full story" before the "New York Times" broke it?
And brand new questions this morning about the death of a bride-to-be in Minneapolis. Why are police seems so quiet right now? The family is searching for answers. This happened Saturday night. One officer involved shot and killed her. What happened? We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: Brand-new concern this morning inside the White House that the president's son-in-law, his senior adviser, of course, concerns that he'll get security clearance taken away. This comes amid backlash over Jared Kushner's role in the now infamous Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer among others, of course.
Not only were Kushner and Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort in the room, they were also included on the e-mails ahead of time, in which Don Jr. happily agreed to the meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, dirt they said was coming from the Russian government.
CNN White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins is joining me now for more on this. So Kaitlan, on Kushner's clearance, if the president has the ultimate authority, what are White House staffers concerned about?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Kate, we are hearing for the first time from an administration official that White House staffers are concerns that Jared Kushner will not be granted his final security clearance.
Like you said, the president does have the authority to override a decision not to grant Kushner a security clearance, but he would do so with facing blowback from both political parties if he chooses to do that.
Jared Kushner has come under scrutiny ever since it was revealed that he also attended that meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer last summer.
But he's under the most scrutiny because he's the only one who works in the White House and has a top position in this administration and has access to classified and sensitive material.
And that's why a lot of the - it's not just Democrats, Republicans as well are calling for his security clearance to either be revoked or at least reviewed because they feel that if he wasn't the president's son-in-law, he wouldn't still have this kind of a security clearance because he failed to disclose those meetings on his security clearance form.
Now the White House isn't commenting on the status of his security clearance right now with Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters that she thinks the Democrats are just trying to play political games by calling for it to be revoked.
BOLDUAN: The statement that came out from Donald Trump Jr.'s attorney, I'll read you part of it, says, "Don Jr. and his counsel were fully prepared and absolutely prepared to publish or make a statement that was a fulsome statement about the nature of the meeting, what led to the meeting, what the conversation was in the meeting."
They said they were fully prepared. That's clearly not what happened at first. Who held them back? What are you hearing?
COLLINS: It's definitely not what happened. We did not find out the details of what really happened at that meeting until it was later about to be published by "The New York Times" and then Donald Trump Jr. published those e-mails.
Now what we are seeing as there are so many lawyers involved with this White House right now representing different people and those interests don't always align.
So while Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyer said that they were prepared to issue a statement detailing the full nature of the meeting, they didn't. He did not respond to request for comment as to why they did not initially prepare a full statement about the meeting.
BOLDUAN: Fascinating. All right, much more to come on that. Great to see you, Kaitlan. Thank you.
COLLINS: Thank you.