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Trump's Undisclosed Meeting; GOP Bill Dying on Senate Floor; Interview with Sen Bory Booker (D) New Jersey. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 18, 2017 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon for CNN Tonight. I'll see you tomorrow.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: A previously undisclosed Trump/Putin meeting revealed. How could that happen?

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

It turns out Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin were not done talking after their half hour G20 meeting stretched into more than two hours. They had another one-on-one conversation at the end of the dinner with each other with the world leaders that night. A conversation that lasted nearly an hour.

One of the White House somehow never got around mentioning it until now. The only three people who know what was said, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and a Russian translator. So, what was it all about and why keep it quiet.

Plus a GOP plan to repeal Obamacare down for the count. And President Trump says just let the health care of millions of Americans the healthcare that millions of Americans rely on, let it fail. I guess for this president the sign on the desk should read "the buck stops nowhere."

Let's get right to CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, our senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, also senior political analyst Abby Philip, White House reporter for the Washington Post.

Good evening to all of you. Jim, let's start with that second meeting that we're learning about between Vladimir Putin and President Trump at the G20, what happened?

JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Let's be clear. At international summits you often have pull asides, you have handshakes, you have casual conversations in addition to formal one on ones. So, in andation to the Putin/Trump formal one-on-one, the sit down that we already knew about, at this dinner, you're seeing pictures of it right now.

There was another conversation previously undisclosed as you said between Trump and Putin. It was not five, it was not ten minutes. It was an hour long. And what's interesting about this is that the other people present at the G20 dinner, U.S. allies, leaders of U.S. allies in Europe, they're the one who's found it unusual, strange at this dinner for the president to stand up, go sit down next to the Russian president and speak at that length of time, unusual to them. American allies.

And then not disclose it until and this is the latest in a series of meetings between people in Trump world and Russians, not disclose it until challenged by members of the media and others. And only today did they confirm this meeting took place.

LEMON: To talk about it. And usually for things like that there's a record of it. And the reason that the White House -- there's no American record of it. But the White House's explanation is that the only translator, the translator with the president, the only one only spoke Japanese. So there was one who was with Vladimir Putin who spoke Russian so that's why there was this Russian translator. There's no American record of this man.

SCIUTTO: Can I borrow your translator?


SCIUTTO: I mean, listen, there's a reason why you have others present in principals meetings like this so that you as a government have your own independent record, notes of this. You might do this in a business, you certainly do this in the U.S. government.

You will often have note takers who are career diplomats or at least translate areas. So here you have a conversation that we as the American people have no record of what was said in that conversation other than what the president will reveal if he reveals anything about it.

To this point, the White House has not revealed any details about it. At the same time, Russia, in addition to Putin's account has their own translator to give a record of it which can be used to their advantage if they want to. They can release details or they can color the conversation or they can release a false account of the conversation to Russia's advantage.

LEMON: Abby, here's what the president tweeted about that tonight. He said "Fake news story of secret dinner with Putin is sick. All G20 leaders and spouses were invited by the chancellor of Germany. Press knew."

So the dinner isn't in question. The questions are they're over this conversation with Putin. Why didn't we hear about this second conversation between President Trump and Putin sooner?

ABBY PHILIP, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: That's right. I mean, the dinner wasn't secret. I was actually I'm traveling with the president that night. And was sitting outside of the concert hall when this meeting apparently occurred. So that's not really the issue here. The issue is that the White House didn't want to acknowledge it seems

that the president essentially had a one-on-one with Putin that we can't independently verify what was said or what information was exchanged. The only account that we have of this meeting is what the president told his own aides.

You know, and I think the other issue is that this is a president who has no other kind of diplomatic experience. He has no political experience. And by contrast, Vladimir Putin is known to be a very, very skilled interlocutor in a moment like this, in meetings like this. He knows exactly how to represent his views, to his best advantage, and the president frankly just doesn't have as much experience with that.

[22:04:54] So, I think people are looking at this meeting and saying, it was putting the United States at quiet a disadvantage and that even if the president had wanted to have an exchange with Putin an hour long exchange suggests a much more in-depth conversation and the kind of thing that you wouldn't want to do without your secretary of state, a translator at least some other U.S. officials in the room to protect you, frankly.

LEMON: Yes. And he said, you know, if I had said anymore, I mean, I think it was that we could have gotten into a fistfight or something like that. I asked him did you meddle in our election, did you meddle in our election but never did the president talk about this particular exchange that they had.

Nia, I have to ask you, just when we thought there couldn't be any more questions, we learn about this. Does the White House really have any credibility when they say that this was a brief chat because it was a one-hour off the books meeting?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, CNN: You know, the short answer is no, they don't. I mean, this White House has a credibility problem, more broadly the president often saying things that just don't have any bearing in reality and then when it comes to Russia, Jim Sciutto talked about previously undisclosed meetings and yet again, here's another previously undisclosed meeting.

And we've just seen that, of course, with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner having to update his security clearance forms on a number of occasions to add meetings that he's had. We've had a sort of misdirection in terms of these meetings actually happened.

And then the substance of these meetings changing stories from this White House about what was actually said particularly in the Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort meeting sort of rolling disclosures about how people were in there.

So that's why I think you hear now republicans saying is this a White House that at some point will really practice what the Wall Street Journal called radical transparency when it comes to Russia particularly and put everything out there.

I mean, the president there is saying this is a fake news story and there are other leaders that were there. But really, it's Americans, right, who need to know what the president is doing and what is the substance of these conversations are.


HENDERSON: Because that's what he's doing. He's representing Americans. So it's one thing for other leaders to be there, but what about representation to Americans who voted for this president and who this president at least represents in those meetings.

LEMON: And what America is about. And that's what transparency if we want to know what happened in other countries of what their leaders did we would have asked their translators, right. But we don't have one to ask for America.

I want to ask you about this Donald Trump, Jr. meeting in June with the Russian lawyer. Apparently the identity of the eighth person now has been revealed.

SCIUTTO: That's right. The previous previously undisclosed meeting this one between the president's son, then now we know who the eighth person in the room is in addition to the lawyer. This is Ike Kaveladze, who is the vice president at the Agalarov's real estate firm, Agalarovs, this is a Russian oligarch. His son, as well was present at this meeting, a friend of Donald Trump, Jr.

He studied at the Moscow Academy of Finance. He is a U.S. citizen and speaks fluent Russian. But keep in mind he was tied to a previous money laundering probe. This of course, very much at the center of this investigation. Where does the mean lead you in effect.

So we now know the eighth person in the room. And when you look at the group of people in that room, this was not an insignificant meeting. You have the president's son, you have the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, you have the president's campaign manager at that time, Paul Manafort, later fired. You have Tom Goldstone who we've seen had a previous relationship with the president.

You have a Russian lawyer, well-known in Washington circles for lobbying for changes to U.S. sanctions, another Russian businessman well-known in Washington circles for lobbying to change U.S. sanctions and now this eighth person the vice president of the Agalarov's firm as well as a translator. These from both sides were significant players.

LEMON: So remember the video we had of 2013, right, at CNN, that exclusive video. Well, now that eighth person is there, too. That's unbelievable. What's happening here?

SCIUTTO: That's right. And listen, you can see him there circled.

LEMON: It's Las Vegas by the way.

SCIUTTO: And this is something that the CNN gained access to just a week ago. What this speaks to is Donald Trump's prior relationship with the Agalarovs. That's Emin Agalarov there to the left of that circle and now we have Ike Kaveladze present, as well.

Listen, Donald Trump is an international businessman. He's met a lot of people in his time, but again, this particular video here followed by another clip from the same time when they had dinner together with the Agalarovs and others, it shows that these people did not come out of the woodwork as it were.

There were previous interactions. The significance of those interactions we don't know the extent of it. But Donald Trump, Jr.'s characterization of this meeting is people we didn't really know came to us was something we didn't really know about. That has fallen, you know, successively including by an e-mail he himself revealed which described the intent of that meeting which was to provide damaging Clinton on it -- damaging information on Hillary Clinton sourced to the Russian government.

LEMON: Is this really happening?

[22:09:58] SCIUTTO: Listen, it is.

LEMON: I mean, I just have to be -- and sitting here and watching the video and saying I don't really know this family, I've never really hung out with them. We didn't, you know, we didn't know the people. I never met with anyone and then everything comes out to the contrary and they deny it. Is this -- I mean, come on.

SCIUTTO: You have a pattern of transparency, right? Now listen, that could go nowhere. We could learn that there was no significance to this. But the fact is that there was to the meeting themselves but there's a pattern of hiding meetings and interactions and let's be frank. The one we learned about today cannot be described as an insignificant meeting. It is the leaders of Russia and the U.S. who met privately for an hour.

LEMON: But here's the difference. When you say what I said that is shady. It is shady that you're drawing a conclusion about collusion or something. That's not it. It's this that their excuses are shady. They're not being transparent with the American people and the people who are asking questions. It's shady to say I don't know someone, I've never met them. And then there's video of you talking to them or you see pictures of you in meetings with them. It's just...

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, forget what we think. Listen to what republican lawmakers are saying, Wall Street Journal editorial page. It is many others who are raising these same questions here. And those are reasonable questions.

LEMON: Yes. Nia, let's talk about healthcare now. The president blaming everyone but himself in this latest healthcare failure. Here's the president today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let Obamacare fail. It will be a lot easier. And I think we'll probably in that position, where we'll just let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you the republicans are not going to own it.


LEMON: So Nia, he's saying let Obamacare fail. But now we're learning the president invited all the GOP senators to the White House tomorrow. What's going on?

HENDERSON: You know, we'll see if that meeting is more you know, sort of kumbaya symbolism with the republicans. Four of who at least defected in terms of the Senate bill that first version and then the repeal notion, as well. We'll see if this...


LEMON: Is this an attempt to stop marginalizing them maybe and to try to at least say some nice things about them and butter them up?

HENDERSON: I mean, possibly. I mean, I think it's probably going to be hard for this president to get much done in terms of substance in a meeting with 50 other people. I mean, this is the kind of work that he should have done month ago in terms of reaching out to some of these senators, people like Lisa Murkowski, people like Susan Collins, people like Dean Heller, people who had real issues with the direction of healthcare that was coming out of Senate leadership.

So, you now, I think this might be more symbolism than substance, but I do think the symbolism is also important for republicans who are very much battered and bruised after this setback with healthcare. Of course, you know, there are also things that are probably will develop on the healthcare front. I don't think this is the end of it as much as the president is talking about letting it just fail.

You know, I think a lot of republicans are troubled by some of his language there. It was language he has said this before. If you remember after the House bill failed he also said, just let it collapse and then the democrats will come running. And then he changed his tune.

So, I imagine this talking point which I think is cynical and certainly insensitive, because he's essentially saying let millions of people lose health insurance, you imagine that talking point might not stick around and we'll see what comes out of this meeting tomorrow.

LEMON: But remember also, Abby, the three female senators Lisa Murkowski, Shelley Moore and Caputo -- Capito -- Capito is how she pronounces it, and Susan Collins, they weren't included in the original part of this in the working -- workings of this.

PHILIP: Right. I mean, there are -- you know, to Nia's point, there are a lot of senators who have real issues with this bill. It is not just an issue of optics, it is because they don't think that the bill actually will help their constituents.

And those senators have been in a lot of ways fairly marginalized in the process of crafting the actual language. Now, you know, I think tomorrow's meeting at the White House is probably what you would expect from a president. You know, he's going to rally them, convey how important this issue is to them.

But deep down inside when you talk to people on the Hill, one of the bigger issues here is that the president is not in a position to mediate some of these disputes because he doesn't understand what's in the bill. He doesn't have a deep nitty-gritty understanding of the policy behind healthcare and that is one of the underlying problems here.

It's very difficult for him to twist arms with senators who are steeped in the details, who want to know how this is going to affect their constituents. And until that will problem is resolved until someone can really resolve the actual policy disputes, I think this bill -- this effort is going to continue to be.

LEMON: Abby, but shouldn't those senators have known when he said it's going to be day one, it's going to be easy, we're going to repeal and replace, shouldn't they have said OK, this is a warning sign that maybe he doesn't understand exactly how this process, would? Because now they're living it.

[22:14:56] PHILIP: Yes, I mean, I think that they -- I think many of them realized how hard it was going to be.

LEMON: Of course.

PHILIP: I mean, some of this is a problem with the Republican Party right now that they can't agree on healthcare. It's a long-standing issue. Former House Speaker John Boehner tried to warn us a couple months ago when he said it's just not going to happen. We've never been able to agree on what healthcare should look like in this country.

So it's not entirely the president's fault but the naivete has not worn off in terms of whether or not it's going to be easy or not.


LEMON: Well, OK. Here's the thing where you say that. Because this is a -- because, you know, there's a tweet for everything and they're coming to bite. This is 2013. He said "Leadership, whatever happens, you're responsible. If it doesn't happen, you're responsible." So?


LEMON: He's the leader of the Republican Party. The buck stops with him. If it didn't happen, who is responsible? Any one of you could take hat. Go.

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, he's obviously going to blame democrats. I don't think that's really going to work for him permanently.


HENDERSON: I mean, it would be like Obama coming in in 2009 and saying I'm just going to let the economy fail because Bush made certain mistakes on his watch and he didn't do that. He obviously did something very differently. And I think you know, at this point, he's the president.

His promise was that healthcare would be better in terms of the quality of it. It would be much, much cheaper and it would be easy to do. And none of that has come to fruition so far so he's -- I think his party is going to pay the political price with everything that goes on with healthcare from now on.

LEMON: Who knew -- who knew healthcare could be so hard. I've got to run. I've got to run, guys. Thank you all. I appreciate you coming on.

HENDERSON: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: When we come back, one of the democrats the president blames for the failure of Obamacare. That senator says the president's threat to let Obamacare fail is, in his words, "cynical and sinister." Cory Booker is here.


LEMON: It is a big night for news in Washington between the collapse of the republican healthcare bill and new revelations about President Trump and Russia.

Joining me now is Senator Cory Booker, a democrat from New Jersey. Senator, so good to have you on. It's an important time. I want to talk about to you first about what you tweeted. You said, "The fight isn't over. These efforts have to be completely defeated and then the important work of building upon the ACA must move forward." It sounds like you think that this Obamacare repeal effort isn't dead yet.

CORY BOOKER, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: No, I'm still hearing, you know, literally changing by hour about Mitch McConnell's plans who still one of the great masters of getting things through in the Senate. So I'm not letting my guard down until we see what we need to see, democrats and republicans coming together and starting to work together as opposed to the outrageousness of what we've seen already which is bills being crafted, plans being laid behind closed doors.

Not only without democrats involved. But Americans realize, this was without even America involved, without nurses or doctors or hospital associations. So, those sort of scheming from behind closed doors has to stop. We all have to realize that there's no democratic way to get this done or republican way to get this done. There's an American way to get this done.

Americans are happy with the gains we made under Obamacare but they know, all of us know there are improvements that need to happen. We need to get to a point where every American is covered with affordable quality care and that's the work we all should be dedicating ourselves to.

LEMON: Well, speaking of which, I want to get your reaction to hearing a president, President Trump say he wants to let Obamacare fail today. Doesn't sound like he's interested in working with democrats so that he doesn't own it. What do you think of that? BOOKER: I mean, that's not just cynical, it's actually sinister.

Here's a guy that promised consistently that he was, hey, only I can fix this, that I'm taking, I'm the guy. That I'm going to make healthcare for everybody. I'm going to make it affordable. It's going to be, I think the word he used was terrific.

Well, he's completely abrogated that responsibility, that's completely broken that promise. He outsources this healthcare process to people like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and didn't even try to reach out to one democrat in the Senate. Didn't call one democrat. Didn't call us up to the White House to try to work with us. A great dealmaker failed to make a deal.


BOOKER: And so now he's just saying that I'm going to imperil 30 million Americans? If Obamacare fails it's not just people are going to say hey, policy doesn't just fail. That means Americans will get hurt badly. And you'll see very devastating things happen. So that's not just a cynical way that's violating his promises. That's sinister and it's evil to plot against Americans like that.

LEMON: But he places the blame, he says, you know, if it does fail and he believes it is, he places the blame right at the foot, the blame right at the foot of democrats. Here's what he said earlier.


TRUMP: It would be nice to have democrats support but really they're obstructionists. They have no ideas. They have no thought process. All they want to do is obstruct government and obstruct, period. And in this case, think of it. So many good things we didn't get one vote and their plan has failed. And by the way, Obamacare isn't failing. It's failed. It's gone.


LEMON: Would you work with him?

BOOKER: Well, I mean, this is sad and his utterances, his bluster it's just sad and it's such a transparent lie. Democrats were not invited to the table. They were not allowed into the secret meetings. We had no hearings. He didn't call us up to the White House to have conversations to listen to our ideas.

And there are tremendous ideas on the Democratic Party and frankly, ideas over in the Republican Party. And so for him to say Obamacare failed, well, ask those people that have pre-existing conditions that are now covered. Ask those people that didn't have coverage that now have it.

Ask those folks as we've seen the bankruptcy, personal bankruptcy get cut in half in America, ask those folks that would have been bankrupt right now by medical bills that aren't because of the Obamacare.

LEMON: Yes. BOOKER: It polls well now. This is a guy who is making up lies. But this is what everybody should worry about right now is that Trump is trying to kill Obamacare. He's trying to sabotage Obamacare by threatening not to enforce the individual mandate, by threatening not to make the resources for so-called cost sharing available and he's even stop advertising for people to enroll which is essential to have healthy folks...


LEMON: That's affecting insurers. And they, because of the instability. You think they don't want to sign on. As a matter of fact, the study, there are studies that show that it's affecting that.

BOOKER: Right. Right before Trump was elected, the S&P, not a pretty independent financial analysis, talked about the marketplace as being strong and secure. And now since Donald Trump has inserted all this insecurity into it through his actions, his strangling and sabotaging Obamacare, you see a lot of insurers.

[22:25:07] Number one, I talked to the ones in New Jersey are racking up premiums because they will literally tell you the majority of this is because of the uncertainty being presented by the Trump administration or getting out of the markets all together.

LEMON: Can I ask you about this? Because and let's talk more about this, you know, democrats being obstructionist and what have you. Because it's not just republican who have work to do here and there's a new Washington Post/ABC poll that shows majority of Americans, 52 percent, by the way, it said the Democratic Party just stands against President Trump instead of standing for something.

Do you think democrats deed a better message? Do they have work to do? Do you guys have work to do?

BOOKER: Well, again, the messaging might be an issue but to me, the substance is what's important. You have democrats, in fact, me and Senator Casey and Senator Sanders put forward legislation, Senator Franken, frankly, as well, to lower prescription drug costs.

It's a good piece of legislation, it should get republican support. We put forth ideas to fix problems with Obamacare. Especially with those 18 -- 15 percent of people that don't get subsidies in the individual markets. I can go through the great ideas that I personally have put forth. I put forth with many of my colleagues. And I know that they are ideas that are favorable to republicans on the merits.

LEMON: Senator, while I have you here I want to talk about Russia, OK. So there's this new information now about an eighth person confirmed at this Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, he's a Russian immigrant working for a real estate development company doing Russian development. What questions do you have about this meeting and the people involved?

BOOKER: So before we get to the question, let's just understand with clarity what this is. These are people who were Russian contacts. It's plain in the e-mail from the title of the e-mail to the contents that they were offering the opportunity to collude with Russia to gain advantage in a domestic election.

And I talked to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I've talked to people involved with the republican campaigns and democratic campaigns. I haven't found one person that said just on the merit on the face of that e-mail they would not have gone, not only not gone to that meeting but they would have done the patriotic thing which is turn that over to the FBI because it's a clear evidence that a foreign power was trying to meddle into our elections.

So instead of that, Manafort, Kushner, and Donald Trump, Jr. literally the word was used happy, they were happy to go to such a meeting to seek to collude with a foreign power to undermine our election. That is not only outrageous and unacceptable, but it's possibly illegal.

LEMON: We are also learning, senator, that President Trump and Vladimir Putin had a second previously undisclosed conversation at the G20 summit that's according to sources. It was a social dinner. The two did not go to a separate room for their conversation.

The White House did release a statement and it says, "It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of the president's duties to interact with world leaders." Do they have a point with that? What do you think of that?

BOOKER: Yes. Look, under all circumstances, the President of the United States should be given all the latitude to uphold his oath and to represent the interests of our country. Again, under normal circumstances, if President Bush, President Obama did these things, I don't think they would rise -- raise any questions.

But the problem with this and the reason why it is natural to be skeptical of this is because our nation was attacked by Vladimir Putin who was seeking to undermine the very basis of democracy our electoral process and our president is diminishing if not denying that that happened. And it is under this web where his son, Donald Trump, Jr., literally entered into a meeting hoping to collude with that foreign power.

LEMON: So on the domestic issue, you recently unveiled a new bill with Senator Elizabeth Warren, it's called the dignity for incarcerated women act. It aims to make a series of common sense reforms to how the federal prison system treats incarcerated women in orders to reduce the negative impact incarceration has on the family members of women behind bars.

I mean, this administration the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in particular is taking a law and order approach to many criminal justice questions. Do you think the president would sign this bill if it got to his desk?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, thank you for bringing that up. We as a country need to own up to the crisis we have within our criminal justice system. Most Americans don't understand that the fastest growing group of people incarcerated are women. One-third, one out of every three incarcerated women on the planet

earth is here in the United States of America and overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly 886 percent of these women are victims of sexual trauma, they are disproportionately more so than men nonviolent offenders.

Seventy-seven percent of them are victims of partner violence. And we put them into environment where we subject them to indignities that are unacceptable where people should be help and healed.

[22:30:06] They end up getting hurt. And most of these women are parents of children, millions of American children are affected and we do, we put outrageous obstacles between these women and their ability to maintain parental bonds so that those children don't fall into crisis.

I'm very proud of the fact that we've gotten bipartisan support for so many of the criminal justice initiatives that I've been pushing from Rand Paul to Chuck Grassley. I'm proud of the bipartisan efforts.


BOOKER: We have an attorney general who is a drawback to a Byzantine era in our country, whose policies flying to face of republican governors, who are lowering prison populations and lowering crime.

I metaphorically threw myself in front of the train when I saw that he was moving towards the U.S. -- the attorney general position because he is a danger to America. His policies from his immigration policy which big city chiefs all around this country have said have undermined people coming forward with information about serious crimes to the way he's talking about criminal justice which will cost Americans so much more money and not make us safer. He is dangerous.

LEMON: Senator Cory Booker, thank you, sir. I appreciate your time.

BOOKER: I appreciate you so much. Thank you for having me on.

LEMON: And up next, President Trump says he'll just let Obamacare fail on its own. It's collapsing under its own weight. Is that true? We're going to fact check the president's claims next.


LEMON: Now that the republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is effectively dead, President Trump says he is happy to let the law collapse on its own. He's long called it a disaster. The fact is Obamacare is still the law of the land. So what happens now?

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obamacare isn't failing. It's failed, it's gone.


Reporter: with determination to overturn the affordable care act and his party holding majorities in the house and Senate, the president hoped for a last-minute charge to victory. Instead, he was forced into retreat.

We'll let Obamacare fail and then the democrats will come to us and they're going to say how do we fix it.

TOM FOREMAN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: With unshakeable determination to overturn the Affordable Care Act and his party holding majorities in the House and Senate, the president had hope for a last minute charge to victory. Instead, he was forced in to retreat.


TRUMP: We'll let Obamacare fail and then the democrats are going to come to us and they are going to say how do we fix, how do we fix it?


FOREMAN: What happened? After weeks of conservatives complaining the repeal effort was too timid, moderates concluded it was too tough especially after the Congressional Budget Office estimated 22 million Americans could lose coverage under the GOP plan.


TAMI LUHBY, SENIOR WRITER, CNN MONEY: For the republicans and for Trump, this may be a matter of politics but for millions of people out there you're talking about their health insurance. And for many it's a matter of life and death.


FOREMAN: It's a huge stroke of fortune for democrats who were bracing for Barack Obama's signature legislation to be decimated even as he tried to rally them on his way out of office.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Never in American history has the uninsured rate been lower than it is today. Never.



FOREMAN: Obamacare still has significant problems. Healthcare premiums are not going up as fast as they were, but despite democratic promises to the contrary, they are still raising for pretty much everyone.

Choice is an issue too with big name insurers pulling out of some state exchanges. Next year 38 counties are expected to have no Obamacare providers. Republicans have pounded away on such weaknesses.


TRUMP: And their deductibles are through the roof. It's an absolute disaster.


FOREMAN: But Obamacare is succeeding in a number of ways, too. Twenty million people who did not have health insurance before the law now do. People with pre-existing conditions have more protection and even though many republicans believe the system is economically doomed...


RAND PAUL, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: The death spiral of Obamacare continues.


FOREMAN: In a new report, the Kaiser family foundation has found evidence that the individual market has been stabilizing and insurers are regaining profitability.

That's a fancy way of saying not only is the program holding on despite its flaws, but unless republicans nudge it toward insolvency, their wait for Obamacare's collapse could be a long one. Don?

LEMON: Thank you, Tom Foreman. I appreciate that. I want to bring in Dan Hilferty. He is CEO of Independence Blue Cross which offers health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. So good to have you on.

And so we want to get down that, you heard the fact there from Tom Foreman that it's not collapsing under its own weight as many in the Republican Party are saying.

You cover 140,000 people in the Philadelphia area. When you hear the president say let Obamacare fail, I know you don't like to get political. But is this a callus approach to healthcare that millions of people are being provided?

DAN HILFERTY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, INDEPENDENCE BLUE CROSS: Don, I'd like to say as we look at it, independence health group, Independence Blue Cross, we see ourselves as an insurer that covers as many people within our jurisdiction be they commercially covered, Medicaid, Medicare.

And we've embraced exchanges from the beginning. We believe healthcare isn't democratic, it's not republican, it's a right for people to have. Over the first three years of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, we've been able to stay in the marketplace.

In fact, we're between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we're upwards of 300,000 lives that we cover. We'd like to stay in it. And so, whether that's repeal and replace that is effective, whether it's fixing the Affordable Care Act we think it's important that 10 million Americans continue to have coverage.

LEMON: Do you think it's fixable? Because that's what democrats - democrats say they don't to repeal and replace. They just want to fix what's wrong with Obamacare, keep the good parts and jettisoned the bad parts. Is it fixing?

HILFERTY: So here's how I answer that, Don. We have two U.S. senators from Pennsylvania, one democratic, one republican. Pat Toomey, Bob Casey. Incredible public servants. If you sit down with both of them, they have a lot of shared vision about covering our members, about making it more efficient and making it more affordable. If we could focus on the things that work, it doesn't matter what we call it, whether we call it repeal, replace, fix, let's just get it right.

LEMON: The Obamacare, Trumpcare or just whatever America care.

HILFERTY: Let's get it right, exactly.

LEMON: Right. Right. And get the ideology out of it. When you said when the president is outright wrong when he says that Obamacare is in a death spiral. Explain that.

HILFERTY: Well, I didn't say that. What I'm saying is that the -- when you think about what we have, let's not focus on a partisan approach to this. Let's focus on a bipartisan approach some of that will include fixing the things that are making Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act unsustainable.

[22:40:03] And that includes the subsidies that will keep people covered. That includes whether we shift to a tax credit program. It doesn't matter how you label it. Let's just get it right.

LEMON: You're an insurer I think you say of last resort. Would you say we're in a last resort now or no?

HILFERTY: Well, I would say when you think about it, the vast majority of Americans are covered either through traditional employer- based system or through Medicare or through Medicaid. That is the vast majority. We're talking about 6 percent of the population.

The other three in effect are working. Can they be improved? Yes, they can be improved. Let's focus on the things that make coverage available to the vast majority of Americans who haven't had in the past.

LEMON: So the last offer was to repeal it without replacing it.


LEMON: And so if it is repealed without replacing it without offering anything in return, what does that mean for people who depend on this people ask me what, does this mean for me if they do that.

HILFERTY: Right. So let's look, you've got to parse it, you've got to look at the expansion of Medicaid managed care. For the immediate future, that would not be impacted. It would go on as it is. For the exchanges what I've heard Leader McConnell, for example, who

has been I think a beacon of hope in trying to find a solution that there is an opportunity here to whichever way we go to over the next two years bridge toward the new system.

So I would say to our members, the folks that you talk to, listen, stay put. We firmly believe that your coverage will be there for 2018. If the federal government, if Congress and the president come together, fund the subsidies during an interim period of time while we look at how we can fix the program long-term.

LEMON: So how can people get insurance if it's not made available through their employer? Would it be more expensive? Is that a possibility?

HILFERTY: I think that is a possibility. I think there's a reason for subsidies. When you look at the expansion of Medicaid managed care, up to 138 percent of poverty, there's an opportunity for people to get covered who traditionally were not covered.

The working poor, for example, have had an opportunity through the subsidies to get coverage. I think costs in general are an issue. We've got work collectively through value based systems where we contract with hospitals based on outcomes. That's how we can begin to drive down costs so that more people can afford.

LEMON: What does that mean for pre-existing conditions? Would it matter if you're sick already if it's not provided by your employer?

HILFERTY: Well, I think one of the greatest changes in American healthcare is pre-existing conditions should not be a barometer of whether someone gets coverage or not.

What I'm talking about in terms of value based coverage, for example, the University of Pennsylvania, we signed a five-year contract where because we're working together they are guaranteeing that they will pay for any remission after 30 days.

That's about $80 million in savings. You think well, in the grand scheme of things it's not a lot. But if you extrapolate that across the country to every health system, it's billions of dollars over a five-year period time. Let's look at ways that the private sector in collaboration with government can begin to find real savings in the healthcare system.

LEMON: And it can be fixed we just have to work together.

HILFERTY: Regardless of what you call it, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, Dan Hilferty. I appreciate it.

HILFERTY: Thank you. I appreciate it.

LEMON: Thank you. I really appreciate it. Coming up, does President Trump want to let one of his biggest campaign policies fail as he marks his first six months in office? [22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This week, President Trump marks his first six months in office. And we're taking a closer look at his promises and where we stand now. One of his top campaign promises to repeal and replace Obamacare effectively dead tonight.

Here to discuss CNN contributor Jason Kander, as well as political commentator Jen Psaki, CNN contributor J.D. Vance, the author of "Hillbilly Elegy, a Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis," and CNN political commentator Scott Jennings.

So good to have all of you on. Thank you so much. J.D., I'm going to start with you. We're now six months in to this presidency. He came into office determined to undo President Obama's legacy, and today, Obama's signature achievement that the president said he would repeal immediately still the law of the land. What does this mean for this president now?

J.D. VANCE, "HILLBILLY ELEGY" AUTHOR: Well, I think one of the things it taught us is that there has never been a shared republican vision for what the replacement is going to look like. It's not just enough to say we're going to undo Obamacare. You also have to replace it with something.

And the worry that I have as a republican is that this same issue is going to crop up in tax reform, it's going to pop up in a number of other substantive areas of policy where it's not just enough to say you're against something. You also have to be for something and to be for something, you really need presidential leadership. You really need the Congress to actually have a shared vision of what's happening.

And what this particular battle teaches us is that there isn't a great amount of disagreement within the republican tent about what actually needs to happen.

LEMON: Jen, here's what Donald Trump said on the trail about Obamacare. Watch this.


TRUMP: Real change begins immediately with the repealing and replacing of the disaster known as Obamacare.

Get rid of Obamacare. It's going to be gone. It's going to be terminated.

Obamacare is a disaster.

We're going to repeal and replace the horror that's known as Obamacare. It is a horror. I will repeal and replace Obamacare which is a catastrophe.

You're going to have such great healthcare at a tiny fraction of the cost. And it's going to so easy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So Jen, it's going to be so easy. You worked in the Obama White House. Do you think the president understood what he was promising on the campaign trail?

JEN PSAKI, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: No, clearly not. I think you were making the point there that he promised quite a few times to repeal it, but taking something away from people, taking away their access to affordable care, their safety net to make sure that they won't be discriminated against for having pre-existing conditions. That's not easy politics. It's never easy. Health care is rarely easy politics.

[22:49:54] But I think what he is discovering and I think even McConnell is discovering is that getting big policy legislation done is very difficult. And as J.D. touched on, there's a lot of division in the Republican Party about how to get healthcare done.

There is about how to get tax reform done, and how to get a range of policies done. And the problem they have is they're running out of time in the legislative calendar right now.

LEMON: Hey, Scott, so Barack Obama was, has been Donald Trump's nemesis for quite a while. After all he was, you know, promoted and probably was the biggest promoter of the 'birther' movement, questioning whether President Obama was actually born in this country. Obama gave his revenge, got his revenge, remember at the 2011 White House correspondents dinner. Let's watch and then we'll discuss.




I know that he's taken some flak lately but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to the rest than the Donald and that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter like did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?


LEMON: A lot of people say it didn't crystalize his personal ambitions. The president denies that. How personal is this undoing of the Obama legacy for President Trump?

SCOTT JENNINGS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, I think President Obama was right to clap back at that moment because, you know, the whole 'birther' movement was ridiculous. And so the president was well in his rights to clap back that night.

I actually think a lot of what Barack Obama did as president fuelled virtually every republican candidacy for the president because you couldn't win without it. I mean, if you are running for president in the republican primary and you didn't want to undue the Obama legacy, you would have been left behind immediately.

And I think President Trump has proven to have some political instincts obviously he won the nomination and he well knew that if you don't want to unravel regulations, if you don't want to unravel Obamacare, if you don't want to undue a legacy hat republican primary voters really disapprove of you wouldn't make it in this primary.

So I actually think mostly it's rooted in policy and the fact that republicans wanted to see these policies unravel more than anything.

LEMON: Jason, President Obama and the Democratic Party took a huge hit, I'm sure you know that, for passing healthcare. They lost their majority in the House and after leaving office, President Obama talked about the choice democrats made back then. Here he is in May.


TRUMP: But they had a chance to insure millions and prevent untold worry and suffering and bankruptcy and even death. But that this same vote would likely cost them their new seats. Perhaps end their political careers.

And these men and women did the right thing. Because of that vote 20 million people got health insurance who didn't have it before and most of them did lose their seats.


LEMON: Do you think republicans could pay the same price due to inaction?

JASON KANDER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Sure. I think that, look, something stands out to me about that. Which is that you don't see President Obama doing there is talking about how he won when he got Obamacare passed. That's not what concerns him.

What he's focused on is that 20 million people round up with health insurance. So whatever happens here the way forward, whether you're a democrat or a republican is to focus on making sure more people have health insurance and that you deliver a quality product but that's not what President Trump is doing.

President Trump is saying today that he wants to continue to work to undermine it. He refers to it as letting it fail because he wants to win the political argument.

So I suppose after he's president when he give a speech, he'll talk about the political arguments he won but that won't actually help the American people. And as you can see from the polling the American people have picked up on the fact that he's a lot more concerned with how it looks for him than how it actually turns out for them.

LEMON: You know, you bring up something very important that I had not thought about because you talked about, you know, the lawmakers around him, right, the lawmakers who supported the bill and who lost their jobs and it didn't marginalized and he said that they stepped up and they did the right thing.

KANDER: He didn't call him loser or anything. He said they did the right thing.

LEMON: Yes. Interesting. I hadn't even thought about that before. You know, J.D., the healthcare bill that was signed into law March 23rd, 2010. Not the bill President Obama and Nancy Pelosi wanted. They had to give up a lot to get this passed including that public option that so many wanted.

If President Trump and the Republican Party were willing to compromise, do you think Obamacare would be repealed and replaced already?

VANCE: The question is compromise with who? And unfortunately what we learn in the past few weeks as the healthcare negotiations proceeded is the republicans needed to figure out first and foremost how to compromise amongst themselves. You had the moderates who thought the bill was too conservative, you got the conservatives who thought the bill was too liberal.

[22:54:58] And unfortunately, that meant you have a coalition that couldn't even agree amongst itself, much less bring something forward to the democrats to compromise about.

So, I really think the core lesson here is that when you have complex policy, you need presidential leadership to actually make it happen. That was the lesson with healthcare reform in 2010 with the Obama presidency, that was the lesson with Dodd-Frank during the Obama presidency.

Those lessons keep on popping up that unless the president takes an active leadership role unless the president really drive the agenda and says these are the goal post, these are the things that this reform has to accomplish, these are the things we can compromise on.

It's really impossible to get anything complex done. Republicans learn that lesson the hard way I think in the past few weeks and I really hope they take it to heart so that we can get some things done over something here.


LEMON: J.D., you think that's what he's trying to do tomorrow when he invited the GOP senators to the White House. Is it too little too late?

VANCE: Well, I would love -- I would really love it if that's what the president is trying to do. Unfortunately, I think healthcare reform at least for this particular cycle is probably dead. I don't see us reviving this effort in a successful way. But there's a lot more to accomplish over the next couple of years.

LEMON: Yes. Scott, I want to ask you about the House, the president has the House and he has the Senate. It's under republican control but President Trump said today they need more victories next year since the democrats are obstructing, he call them obstructionist.

But this is in September of 2012. You know there's a tweet for everything, right. He tweeted this. He said "Obama's complaints about republicans stopping his agenda are B.S. since he had full control for two years. He can never take responsibility."

Do these two have a lot in common that maybe this president isn't realizing?

JENNINGS: Well, the reality is when you control the government and the republicans do, the White House, the Senate, the House, you own the problems. You own the responsibility to govern and I think the voters last November they didn't vote for instrumentalism. They voted for sweeping change.

I mean, if they thought everything was going great, they would have elected Hillary and a democratic Congress to keep on doing what we were doing, but they didn't think and they were tired of the inaction of the six or the last eight years the Obama presidency.

They want things to happen. If the republicans don't deliver on things happening, wins on Obamacare, tax reform, job creation, they are going to punish the republicans. I think these voters are restless. They want change. If they don't get it they'll be held to pay.

LEMON: I need to -- Jen, I need you to weigh in because that tweet in 2012 actually that Obama was dealing with a republican House then. So, is that, you know, the fact now, what do you make of the fact now that blocking the president today that was coming from his own party?

PSAKI: Look, I think something J.D. touched on before is an important point to raise again here, which is the reason Obama got healthcare through is not just because democrats controlled the House and the Senate, Nancy Pelosi deserve a ton of credit, so does Harry Reid.

But because Barack Obama got a twinkle in his eye when he talks about healthcare. It was something that he morally believed needed to happen, that needed to be changed in the country and he cared about it deeply.

Now I don't know what Donald Trump cares deeply about. Maybe it's tax reform, maybe it's something else. But this is something that he didn't seem to care about and didn't seem to want to put his political Capitol in, even if it's just 38 percent of the country and I think that was a real problem more than almost anything else.

LEMON: I'm out of time. Thank you all. I appreciate it. Coming up, a bride to be shot to death by a police officer outside her own home. Now her grieving friends and family are demanding answers.