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Repeal Is DOA But McConnell Will Push for Vote Anyway; GOP Senators Speak After Meeting on Failed Health Bill; Schumer Gives Democratic Response on Health Care Bill; Trump: Let Obamacare Fail, Will Be a Lot Easier; Kato Kaelin Talks of Possible O.J. Simpson Parole. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired July 18, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:31:10] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, back to the breaking story. We've got our eye on the opposition on Capitol Hill. This whole luncheon has just wrapped with members of the Republican Party. Essentially, we're hearing repeal, and replace later, is DOA because of these three Republican Senators who are saying "no." We heard from Senator Paul saying he'd still like to hold a vote.
Here he is, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, as I indicated last night, it's pretty clear that there are not 50 Republicans at the moment to vote for a replacement for Obamacare. Consequently, sometime in the near future, we'll have a vote on repealing Obamacare, essentially the same vote that we had in 2015. I would remind everyone that in that proposal, there's a two-year delay, a two-year delay, which would give us the opportunity to work out a complete replacement on a bipartisan basis with our Democratic friends. So, that's a vote I think we're very likely to have in the very near future.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R-TX), SENATE MAJORITY WHIP: We got a sense of what the future might look like if we are unsuccessful in repealing and replacing Obamacare. We saw for the second time in a few days, Democratic Senators coming to the floor asking for tens of billions of dollars in tax dollars for insurance company bailouts. No reform, no change in the status quo. And after seven years, I think we can safely conclude that the structure of Obamacare is a failed experiment. That's why we want to change the structure of the health care delivery system as we stabilize markets, protect people from premium increases, and preexisting conditions exclusions. We're going to continue down that road because the alternative, I fear, is going to be a Democratic effort, strictly to bail out insurance companies with no reform whatsoever.
SEN. JOHN, BARRASSO, (R), WYOMING: After seven years of Obamacare, the American public knows what they have. They have fewer choices. They have higher premiums and less control over their own health care. Number of years ago, I voted to do a repeal of the Obama health care law. I am ready to make that complete repeal vote again. But of course, that's not enough. The people of Wyoming want more than that. They want to be able to buy the insurance that they want, that works right for them, not what the federal government in Washington, D.C., says they have to buy. So, I'm ready to vote to repeal, but we need a medical system not just as good as it was before Obamacare was passed, but we need a medical system and a health care system in this country even better than that.
SEN. ROY BLUNT, (R), MISSOURI: I think the only thing I could add to this discussion is at some point, we need to find out where the votes are. This is important work to be done. It affects families. It affects health care. We need to find out where the votes are, but there's other -- there are other things we need to do too. President this week is talking about manufacturing made in America. If you could pay the utility bill, if the transportation system works, those are the two boxes you check when you're talking about jobs. We all know the best place to get insurance is still at work where somebody else does the negotiation, somebody else reads the policy, ways that more people can get insurance at work is important. Tax structure is important. This has had a considerable amount of time spent on it. And sooner rather than later, we need to find out where the Senate is and move forward.
SEN. CORY GARDNER, (R) COLORADO: There are a lot of people out there today who seem to be spiking the football, trying to celebrate a moment that, for now, seems to leave the Affordable Care Act in place for today. But let me tell you what happens if you continue to spike the football. In the state of Colorado last week, it was announced that the average premium rate increase for the next year will be 27 percent. But that's if you're lucky enough to live in the front range of Colorado. If you live in the eastern plains or the western slope, you're going to pay 30 percent more or 40 percent more. That's spiking the football. On the American people who will continue to pay more under the Affordable Care Act that is collapsing. We will continue our work to get our job done to make sure that the status quo no longer stands and instead we provide relief to the American people.
[14:35:47] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We heard from some of your members. They were very critical of the process, some were critical of you, Senator Johnson was specifically critical, said there was a breach of trust. Do you feel that you and your leadership have been damaged in this process and that now you can actually usher this across considering those criticisms that you have heard?
MCCONNELL: his has been a very, very challenging experience for all of us. It's pretty obvious that we don't have 50 members who can agree on a replacement. A lot of people have been involved in the discussion and very passionate discussions. But everybody's given it their best shot. And as of today, we just simply do not have 50 Senators who can agree on what ought to replace the existing law. What we do have is a vote that many of us made two years ago at a time when the president of the United States would not sign the legislation that would repeal Obamacare and with a two-year delay give us an opportunity to build something better on a bipartisan basis. That's what I sense most of our members would like to vote on now, and we'll be doing that in the near future. (CROSSTALK)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You don't appear currently to have votes for that repeal plan. So if that vote fails, will you then begin working with Democrats?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think we'll have to see what happens. We will have demonstrated that Republicans, by themselves, are not prepared at this particular point to do a replacement. And that doesn't mean that problems all go away, and you'll have to look at our committee chairman and their ranking members. My suspicion is there will be hearings about the crisis that we have, and we'll have to see what the way forward is.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Past seven years, this year, seven months, no accomplishment. How are you going to explain this to the voters next year if you don't do what you campaigned on?
MCCONNELL: Well, we have a new Supreme Court justice. We have 14 repeals of regulations. And we're only six months into it. Last time I looked, Congress goes on for two years. We'll be moving on to comprehensive tax reform and to infrastructure. There's much work left to be done for the American people and we're ready to tackle it.
BALDWIN: That was not the look of a Senate majority leader who was pleased at how this whole process has gone, certainly, not how Senator Mitch McConnell had anticipated. The story is with Senators Lee and Moran, as of last night, they were the final "no's." So there are repeal and replace. And this, you know, seven-year promise from Republicans is a no-go so far. And then the next notion would be repeal now, replace later. Sounds like they may still try to hold a vote, not entirely sure, even though there are three Senators saying on that, "no."
Let's broaden this out, political ramifications of this. Matt Lewis is here, CNN political commentator and senior columnist for "The Daily Beast. Shelley Holliday is back with us, the "Wall Street Journal" politics and business reporter. And Jonathan La Mere, a White House reporter with the Associated Press.
Great to see all of you.
Let's go with what we just heard. We heard from Senator Paul a moment before saying he still is hopeful for a vote. But if they, thus far, have three Republicans saying "no," it's DOA, why hold the vote?
JONATHAN LA MERE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: The math doesn't seem to add up. One possibility would be this is Senator McConnell, who just might be frustrated by the process, who doesn't see a win here, doesn't see an end game, might be tempted just to try the vote, if it goes down, then you move on. Health care, as stunning that this is, this is something they've tried to do for seven years, if they can't get the ball over the goal line now, maybe they punt and say, let's move on to something else, let's move on to tax reform.
[14:39:59] BALDWIN: Matt, why keep losing? The optics of the whole thing would be like egg, poof.
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. It's unbelievable that we're in this position. It's July now. I think they wanted to do tax reform and health care by now. And maybe even infrastructure. I think the only rationale simply would be, all of these Senators voted before to repeal Obamacare, and they voted before when it didn't matter. Let's put them on the record now. Then Mitch McConnell can really wash his hands of it and say, we tried everything. We left everything on the table. But this is a quagmire. It is basically, you know --
BALDWIN: They're all in charge, Republicans.
LEWIS: They can't let go of it. They can't get it done, but they can't let go of it. It's sunk cost.
SHELLEY HOLLIDAY, POLITICS AND BUSINESS REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: And we have a president who is saying, I'm not owning this. Let Obamacare fail. I'm not owning it. And that's not possible when you have a Republican president and Republican Congress. I think, optically, there are a lot of Americans --
HOLLIDAY: I've been to town halls. There are a lot of people genuinely concerned about their health care. There are dozens of counties where insurers have pulled out, dozens of counties where Americans can't buy Obamacare health care.
BALDWIN: 38 counties.
HOLLIDAY: I would also make the point that one of my colleagues just tweeted, Christina Peterson (ph), that there were no women on the health care working group to begin with, and the Senators were criticized for this. We just saw a group of men come out and speak about the defeat, but it is three women who are ultimately sinking this effort to repeal a clean repeal.
BALDWIN: Capito, Collins, Murkowski.
HOLLIDAY: Capito, Collins, Murkowski.
BALDWIN: You're right. HOLLIDAY: And those are the women who are bringing this down. I think it's worth noting because from the very beginning, this group has been criticized for having no diversity, no women.
BALDWIN: Hold on a second.
We have Chuck Schumer. Let's get the Democratic response. Hang tight. We'll get him to the podium.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I'm proud to be joined by Senators Klobuchar and Heinrich. It's getting clearer and clearer that Senate Republicans won't be able to pass either their bill or a back-up plan of repeal without replacement. We Democrats believe that the time has finally come for our Republican colleagues to take us up on our offer of working together to improve the health care system rather than sabotage it. Evidently, President Trump is proposing a different path. He wants to throw up his hands rather than roll up his sleeves to work with us and solve the problem. But let's be very clear about what the president is proposing and where his path would lead. The president would not be, quote, letting Obamacare collapse. He is actively, actively trying to undermine the health care system in this country using millions of Americans as political pawns in a cynical game. By continuing to deny the insurance markets their certainty that they need to function, the president is playing a dangerous game with the health care of this country. So, our Republican colleagues here in the Senate have a choice to make. They can follow the president down a path that will lead to higher premiums, less care, and millions of Americans losing coverage. They can join President Trump in trying to sabotage the system and hurt millions of innocent Americans to try and make a political point that has failed already. Or they can start today working with Democrats. We can work together to lower premiums. We can work together to stabilize the markets. We can work together to improve the quality of health care. This isn't a radical idea. A group of 11 Republican and Democratic governors called for exactly the kind of bipartisan cooperation that we are calling for. A bipartisan group of governors. We Democrats have held the door to bipartisanship open to our Republican colleagues for months. It's time for the Republicans to walk through it.
SEN. AMY KLOUHAR, (D), MINNESOTA: Thank you very much, Senator Schumer, and thank you so much for the work you've done.
This is our moment. We have been waiting for this moment for months and months. In fact, for years, because all we have ever heard since we started talking about changes we'd like to see to the Affordable Care Act has been repeal, repeal, repeal. And now the last few months we are on, what, two versions of the House bill, two versions of the Senate bill, and every single time it seems to get worse. We are now at a position where only 17 percent of the American people approved of the last Republican version of the bill. So, the latest today we hear about is repeal again. And if they want to have a vote on that, fine, but I think we all know where this is going to end up. And this is going to end up where we should have begun, and that is working, Democrats and Republicans, on positive changes for the American people to the Affordable Care Act. We have never said that it was a perfect bill. In fact, the day it passed, I said it was a beginning and not an end. And that is why I am a strong supporter of Senator Kaine's and Senator carper's work. We were just on the floor asking our Republican colleagues to join us. The Republican legislature in Minnesota worked with the Democratic governor and made some fixes in our own state and we'd like to see us do that nationally. We have talked about sharing and I have a number of proposals --
[14:46:04] BALDWIN: We heard from Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and, you know, Senator Klobuchar as well, hearing her say, this is our moment. This is, you know, if you're looking at it from the prism of Democrats, this is obviously a win, the fact that this is not looking good for Republicans. But when we heard from Republican leadership a second ago, saying, please stop spiking the football, from the Republican lens, that's precisely what the Democrats are doing.
I've got my panel sitting here with me.
But before we chat about what we just heard, I want to play something that you alluded to a second ago. Hearing from the president of the United States earlier today saying, essentially, Republicans are never going to own this. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've had a lot of victories, but we haven't had a victory on health care. We're disappointed. I am very disappointed, because, again, even as a civilian, for seven years, I've been hearing about health care. And I've been hearing about repeal and replace. And Obamacare is a total disaster. Some states had over a 200 percent increase, a 200 percent increase in their premiums, and their deductibles are through the roof. It's an absolutely disaster.
And I think you'll also agree that I've been saying for a long time, let Obamacare fail, and then even's going have to come together and fix it and come up with a new plan and a plan that's really good for the people with much lower premiums, much lower cost and much better protection. I've been saying that -- Mike, I think you'll agree -- for a long time. Let Obamacare fail. It will be a lot easier. And I think we're probably in that position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Hang on a second because he's saying he's been saying let Obamacare fail. Let me play one more soundbyte and we'll talk to you guys. Just reminding everyone, on the campaign trail, on "60 Minutes" talking about repeal and replace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to do it simultaneously. It will be just fine. We're not going to have like a two-day period or a two-year period where there's nothing. It will be repealed and replaced. Because Obamacare has to be replaced. And 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)
BALDWIN: So, Jonathan, back over to you. You know, you remember him, covering him on the trail, to now saying today, we Obamacare fail and then Democrats come to us. Huh?
LEMIRE: Right. It was night after night, the declaration would be, on day one, we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare. And now, six months into his term, we're here. His statement today about the Republican -- I don't own this. It's a far cry from Harry Truman's, the buck stops here. This is someone who as a hard time, as a businessman, a candidate, a president, has a hard time accepting responsibility for failure. He's trying now on the Democrats, suggesting they're obstructionists even though they have no incentive.
BALDWIN: This is intraparty issues.
LEMIRE: Right. This is a rebuke from his own party. It's his inability to corral Republicans, particularly the most conservative Republicans.
HOLLIDAY: I think the risk for the president is he looks like he just wants to sink Obamacare. He doesn't sound like someone who wants to fix the system. He's not reassuring the public that yes, you will be covered. He's just really, I mean, I think it's also interesting after he just heard from Schumer, how much the Republicans, including the president, have lost the messaging battle here. They have been out messaged. They cannot communicate with the American people about what their plan wants to do, aims to accomplish. All you hear about is how Trumpcare kills people and that sticks.
[14:49:52] BALDWIN: Isn't part of the problem, Matt, on how Republicans just down the street from the White House really feel. They're not fearful of the president. There doesn't seem to be this sort of respect. We know the fact that when Senators Lee and Moran came out last night and said, this isn't happening, the president was sitting at a dinner and Republican Senators and it just shows what our guys think of Trump. Can you imagine them doing this to another president?
LEWIS: What's the line? It's better to be feared than respected or feared than loved. They don't love, respect, or fear him at this point. He was never going to be a transformational leader. He was always going to be a transactional leader but now there's not even a transaction. He can't threaten Republican Senators. He's tried. They've tried to do that. It's actually counterproductive.
I think part of the problem here is that when -- first of all, tackling health care is always thankless. It's like a land invasion in Asia. It never ends well for the people doing it. Even the Democrats who did it ended up losing everything, losing the House, losing the Senate as a result of it. But they actually had something they believed in. It was something that they had been fighting for, for generations. For Republicans --
BALDWIN: But don't you think Senator McConnell believes -- McConnell believes in this?
LEWIS: Well, here's the thing. I think Republicans obviously would like to repeal and replace Obamacare. It is not their purpose in life. This is not something that -- it's not a hill to die on for most of them, especially when you consider that the thing they were going to replace it isn't -- it's not a perfect free market alternative. They're not going to sacrifice their reputations, their reelection, and their legacy to pass Obamacare lite.
BALDWIN: We leave it. We see what happens. We see if they hold a vote, maybe to put a button on it, as you say, even though it may go absolutely nowhere.
Matt and Shelby and Jonathan, thank you so much. Appreciate the conversation.
BALDWIN: We are moments away from the White House holding its briefing amidst multiple fire storms, including the news that Robert Mueller has OK'd Donald Trump Jr and Paul Manafort to publicly testify. Stand by for that.
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[14:56:26] BALDWIN: O.J. Simpson will get a chance to go free when he goes before a parole board on Thursday. And it will be televised. Simpson has spent the last eight and a half years behind bars for his role in that robbery in the Las Vegas hotel room. But of course, he is best known, other than his sports legacy, for his, of course, acquittal in that 1995 murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.
Those changed by the Simpson murder trial, though, are not happy that he is up for parole.
Ashleigh Banfield, our host of "Crime and Justice," is there in Las Vegas.
We're going to see him on Thursday. You talked to Kato Kaelin, who says his life was forever changed by, you know, all of that in the '90s. What did he tell you?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CLN CORRESPONDENT & HLN HOST, CRIME AND JUSTICE: Listen, crime victims are a big part of the parole hearing, of course, on Thursday, but there are other victims of crimes, and Kato Kaelin, you might say, is one of those because he was catapulted, just jettisoned into stardom 22 years ago when he had absolutely no plans for that. And now 22 years later, he says he lives his life almost chastened by it. He lives by a timeline, always needing to document where he is, at what time, just thinking that grilling may come again, that cross-examination.
Here's how he put it when I asked him about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANFKIELD: If you had a chance to tell him something, if you had one thing that you could tell O.J. today, what would it be?
KATO KAELIN, WITNESS IN O.J. SIMPSON TRIAL: Well, if he's paroled, I would say, O.J., stay out of the news. Go spend time with your family. Don't -- don't do something stupid. That goes still with my opinion. I think O.J. Simpson was guilty in the first crime. But this is a guy who loves to be adulated. Just stay away from the camera.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: So, Brooke, what's so interesting about that is if he does get parole, he's not going to get up for October 1, so don't think he's going to walk out on Thursday, but it's a big milestone if he gets that yes.
Here's what's super interesting. There is one person who will be his parole officer, and that one person literally holds the keys to his life. Anything O.J. wants to do has to go through that person. And if that person says, you're not leaving Nevada, you're going into a halfway house, you're going to stay here, I'm not transferring your parole to Florida, I don't care what you want, that officer can do that. So, there could be some interesting developments after, if he gets paroled.
BALDWIN: Yeah, we'll be watching it. We'll take it live Thursday when it happens.
And we watch you each and every night on HLN, 8:00 eastern on HLN.
Ashleigh Banfield, good to see you. Thank you.
ANNOUINCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: All right, we continue on this Tuesday. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Good to see you.
We do begin with breaking news. First, the Senate Republican health care bill collapsing. Now this whole new idea by Republicans to repeal it now, replace it later, that's also in trouble. Because of these three women. Tree Republican Senators, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, all saying "no" to this whole notion of repeal only.
Moments ago, though, we heard from Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, indicating he will still push for the vote anyway. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: There's -- it's pretty clear that there are not 50 Republicans at the moment to vote for a replacement for Obamacare. Consequently, sometime in the near future, we'll have a vote on repealing Obamacare, essentially, the same vote that we had in 2015.