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Calls Continue to Revoke Kushner's Security Clearance; Republican Health Care Failure. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired July 18, 2017 - 3:00   ET




SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Consequently, some time in the near future, we will 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.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: So, after we heard from Republican leadership there outside of that luncheon, we heard from the Democrats, specifically Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responding, saying -- quote -- "We Democrats have held the door to bipartisanship open to our colleagues for months. It is time for the Republicans to walk through it."

For his part, President Trump says Republicans should take a hands-off approach.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let Obamacare fail. It will be a lot easier, and I think we're probably in that position where we will 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. We will let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they're going to say, how do we fix it, how do we fix it, or how do we come up with a new plan? So, we will see what happens.


BALDWIN: So, we want to lead this hour with Dana Bash, our chief political correspondent up on Capitol Hill there, and all of your fabulous reporting, my friend.

But let me just weave in the fact that as we have been doing television, the White House briefing is under way right now, and since we can't take it live, let me just tell you that the deputy spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is apparently placing blame squarely on the Democrats' shoulders.

So, there's that. But, Dana, let me just -- let's talk about Republican strategy here. They still -- listening to the Senate majority leader, he says he wants to hold a vote, even though he doesn't have the votes. Why?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Because there is so much frustration, really, exasperation, Brooke.

I just -- I'm just outside the Capitol now. I just came down to talk to you after talking to a lot of senators, as have our colleagues in the hallway after this Republican lunch, which was also attended by the vice president, I should add, and the White House chief of staff.

And the frustration is with and among themselves. They, Republicans, the Republicans understand that this was, in the words of Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina to me, a golden opportunity that they are missing, a golden opportunity to reshape health care policy, not to mention, Brooke, a political promise that these senators have made over and over.

Marco Rubio said to me: I promised not once but twice on the campaign trail, running for the United States Senate, that I would repeal Obamacare.

And that is why they want to have a vote, even if -- and it is probably likely to be a vote to get on the bill. It will likely just be a procedural vote, which, as you mentioned at the top of this segment, at this point, could fail, given the fact that you already have three Republican senators saying, you know, we don't even want to go forward with that.

But the frustration is there's no doubt, as much as the president wants to lay blame at the feet of Democrats, as much as he says that it is not going to be us, it's going to be them, meaning the Democrats, who will take the blame if we let Obamacare fail, that's certainly not the feeling among a lot of the senators here.

They understand it is their constituents that he is talking about. It is their constituents who are not going to get health insurance or health care and that they need to figure out a way to deal with it. But the -- you can sense, it is palpable, kind of the paralysis of Republicans inside those halls of the Capitol on how to do it.

It's actually nothing like I have seen before, particularly with somebody like Senator Mitch McConnell, who is known to be 10 steps, strategically and tactically, ahead of everybody else. He wasn't this time.

BALDWIN: No, I just -- you can sense that just watching him, looking at his face when he was speaking there at that pool camera. And, you know, when we heard from the president saying, you know, Republicans won't own it, we will let Obamacare fail, and then Democrats will come to us, you have had all this great reporting on the president's role in this and also the criticism against, you know, his level of engagement or lack thereof when it comes to health care.

Tell me what you have been learning.

BASH: Sure.

There's a lot of finger-pointing, as tends to be -- as tends to happen, I should say, when things go wrong. But I think, in this case, you know, you saw it kind of unfolding real time. And when I say it, it is from the White House, from the Oval Office all the way here to the Capitol.

The lack of a structure and a message and a system to push out the good things that they thought were in this Obamacare replacement bill, there was a big vacuum, and the Democrats came in and filled it right away by talking about all the reasons why it was bad for Republican constituents.


Conservative groups, some moderates came out and said all the reasons why they thought it was bad, whether it was Medicaid cuts or, again, from the other side of the Republican spectrum, ways that it didn't go far enough to repeal Obamacare, but not enough -- and I'm told this -- this is admitted to me by a senior administration official -- from kind of those who were supposed to be selling.

And part of the problem is business groups, who are traditionally with Republicans in selling legislation like this, silent. They weren't really courted, I was told, conservative groups, same deal. Many of them actually came out against it, and they were even, you know, sort of working the conservative grassroots to oppose this, as opposed to where they should have been.

And then, of course, the bully pulpit. It is the president of the United States. It is his legacy. He is the one who should be using that bully pulpit to get out and sell this bill, and he didn't do it. And so there's a lot of finger-pointing.

I should say -- I mentioned Marco Rubio. I asked him this question just in the hallway a short while ago, and his answer was, you know, sometimes, the president is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. We asked him to take a step back and let us do our thing. Maybe that was a mistake.

So there's a lot of second-guessing, a lot of 20/20 hindsight, and most importantly, beyond looking back, they don't know where they are at this point looking forward. And that is really the key thing that is really making so many people disgruntled, confused, and bewildered.

BALDWIN: It just says a lot to me when you, my friend, who has been on Capitol Hill for a few years, seeing the looks on the faces, you could feel it. It's just so palpable. That speaks volumes to me

Keep grabbing all this great color, Dana. And we will pop you back on TV. Thank you so much, Dana Bash, on Capitol Hill for us.

Politics aside, though, what happens if, to quote the president today, if Obamacare is truly allowed to fail?

Alexis Glick is here, economist analyst, to walk us through that.

And, listen, we were talking to Tami Luhby of CNN Money and she was saying it's already failing in 38 different counties. But if the president is saying let it fail, what does that look like, who does that affect the most?


And when -- here's the biggest issue about this concept of plan B right now, which is repeal. The CBO...

BALDWIN: Which, by the way, doesn't look good anyway.

GLICK: It doesn't look good regardless.

And the CBO already went out and estimated back in 2015, when this was discussed in the House, what the implications would be, and, Brooke, the implications are premiums would rise 20 percent to 25 percent out of the gate.

They would double by 2026. The number of uninsured would be upwards of 32 million. Currently, the Senate plan was 22 million, the House plan, 23 million. So, automatically, right away, you're going to have rising premiums, you're going to have less who participate in the mandate because the mandate will no longer be in existence if they are, in fact, able to repeal it.

They will be able to slow down the Medicaid expansion. But that's why all these people will come off health care. And if you look at just the 18 million people who will lose their insurance in the first year if they just do this two-year repeal strategy, that's the 18 million that actually joined Obamacare over the past seven years since the Affordable Care Act was put into law.

So, to me, repeal is not an option. And I think if you look at the consequences, you know, I mean, if you look at the consequences across the board, let's go back to the constituency, to the base that put them in office. You know, this is going to have an enormous impact on the elderly, an enormous impact -- you know, impact on the business community.

But Dana is absolutely right. The thing I would tell folks is go back to the process that happened during the Affordable Care Act. That took about eight months to go from start to finish.

BALDWIN: When Obamacare became Obamacare.

GLICK: When Obamacare became Obamacare.

This was jammed through. This wasn't a bipartisan process. And if you think about it right now, that's what we need to do and dial back. Here's the consequence, though. There's a consequence on the budget. There's a consequence on tax reform. So if you want to talk about...

BALDWIN: On getting this thing through with bipartisan support.

GLICK: On getting -- you know why they're so nervous right now? It's not just, we owe this to our constituency, but, remember, when the CBO just did the estimate on the Senate bill, it was $320 billion accretive to the deficit.

Well, now, what is the deficit implication of not doing health care and what does that mean for the future of tax reform? That means all of these things get delayed, so if you're just looking from an economist's perspective, this is a real danger to the economy in the long term. We're growing in a slow rate, stock market has been terrific.

But now we have got some real risk here that if we can't get this done, can we get tax reform done, can we get credits done, can we get infrastructure done? This pushes everything back.

BALDWIN: As we're coming upon the six-month mark for President Trump being in the Oval Office and looking at what has been accomplished. And if this doesn't get done, with these three female senators, it sounds like, this won't, then what about tax reform, which is a whole other conversation, which I'm sure we will have at a soon date.


GLICK: I will look forward to it.

BALDWIN: Alexis Glick, good to see you again. Thank you so much for all that analysis and the pennies, nickels and dimes this thing would cost.

We will come back to this first, but actually we're getting more breaking news here, this time on the Russia firestorm engulfing the White House. CNN is now learning that special counsel Robert Mueller has given the Senate Judiciary Committee the OK to question both Don Jr. and former campaign manager Paul Manafort in a public hearing.

The top Dem on that committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, tells us that Robert Mueller doesn't have a problem with them testifying. This is coming on the heels of a secret meeting that Donald Trump Jr. had in June of last year during the campaign with Russian associates where he was promised some dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr. released damning e-mails confirming the meeting at Trump Tower and revealing the fact that Manafort and President Trump's son- in-law turned top aide Jared Kushner were also in the room.

The White House now fears Kushner's security clearance could be in jeopardy. Plus, CNN has identified the eighth man in that meeting.

So, with me now, Jessica Schneider, CNN justice correspondent, and Manu Raju, senior congressional correspondent there.

So, Manu, first to you on your reporting and on Donald Trump Jr. and Manafort potentially testifying in this open hearing, what are you -- what are you learning about that? Might that truly happen? MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It could.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told me earlier today that Bob Mueller, the special counsel, has given her committee the all-clear to get testimony, to hear testimony in a public session of both Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, and Donald Trump Jr.

Now, both Feinstein and Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican who leads that committee, have wanted to hear from both Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. And Grassley's even threatened issuing subpoenas if he does not get cooperation from either of those two men, so that is possible on that front.

Now, separately, Brooke, the Senate Intelligence Committee moving forward with its own investigation, of course, into Russia meddling and trying to learn more about that Trump Tower meeting.

Earlier today, I had a chance to talk to Senator Richard Burr, Republican chairman of the committee, who gave his most explicit remarks to date about that Trump Tower meeting in saying that they do want to learn more about that as well. Here's what he said.


RAJU: Do you also feel like you understand everything about what happened in that Trump Tower meeting at this point?

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: No, absolutely not. I think that there's a lot to learn from that and we have reached out to the appropriate people and asked them to provide information for us and to testify possibly publicly.

But it's too early in that to draw any conclusions, but, you know, our job is to put the facts on the table and follow wherever it goes.

RAJU: Do you want Don Jr. public? Do you want that Don Jr...

BURR: I think you have got to ask Don Jr. to come in. Whether that's public or whether it's private or how you proceed and at what pace still yet to be determined by information that we learn between now and the time we make that request.

RAJU: Has he been cooperative, Don Jr.?

BURR: Oh, I think everybody in this administration has been cooperative up to this point. Yes.

RAJU: Thank you, sir.


RAJU: And, Brooke, the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier today did hear testimony from President Obama's former chief of staff, Denis McDonough, and will also hear from Susan Rice, the former national security adviser to President Obama, as part of the Russia meddling investigation.

Uncertain, though, when and if Donald Trump Jr. will come forward and when they will hear from Jared Kushner. Also, they have been seeking his testimony as well, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, so we stand by for that news.

What about, Jessica, this eighth individual in that meeting? He works for a Russian oligarch. I know we have video where you can see him with Donald Trump in Vegas back in 2013. Who is he and what was his role in the room?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, we do have that exclusive video to us that appears to show this eighth attendee standing just steps away from Donald Trump in Las Vegas in 2013.

There it is. You can see Ike Kaveladze. He's in the light-colored suit jacket directly behind Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, who's talking to Donald Trump on the eve of the Miss USA Pageant in 2013.

Now, our Pamela Brown has spoken extensively to Kaveladze's attorney, and we know that Kaveladze is the senior vice president of the Crocus Group. That's the real estate development firm run by Emin Agalarov and his father, Aras.

And his lawyer confirms that Kaveladze, yes, he was in fact in the room at Trump Tower for that meeting in June 2016. Of course, it also involved the Russian attorney, also the Russian-American lobbyist.

And now special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators are looking for information from Kaveladze about what exactly unfolded inside that meeting. The lawyer for Kaveladze, Scott Balber, he says that Kaveladze is participating fully and that the Russian-American attended the meeting in part because he actually thought he would be serving as the translator for the Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, but she ended up showing up with her own translator.


Kaveladze's attorney says he has never had any engagement with the Russian government in any capacity. However, it is noteworthy that, in 2000, Kaveladze was linked to a U.S. bank account that came under congressional investigation for possible links to money-laundering scheme, a billion-dollar money-laundering scheme.

However, Kaveladze was never charged with a crime in this. So, Brooke, all of this, though, coming out as Jared Kushner's lawyers, they are trying to tamp down on any questions that Kushner's final security clearance could be in jeopardy because of his attendance at that meeting.

A source close to Kushner says that Jared Kushner has already been interviewed twice by the FBI and there haven't been any problems yet. Kushner's attorney, Jamie Gorelick, also issuing this statement, saying: "Mr. Kushner has tried to be fully transparent and responsive in the background investigations process. We have heard no expression of concern from the FBI, and I think we would know if there were such concerns at this time."

Of course, the White House today in the press briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that the president has full confidence in Jared Kushner, but, of course, Brooke, this special counsel investigation as well as the congressional investigations, they are ongoing, and it seems really that this cast of characters investigators want to talk to is really only growing at this point -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: On the clearance, as we all know, the rules, at the end of the day, it is the president, who happens to be Jared Kushner's father-in-law as well, who can say yea or nay on whether or not he should be granted that clearance.

For now, Jessica and Manu, thank you so much.

Jessica mentioned some of the nuggets coming out of this White House off-camera White House briefing. We're getting the news. We're going to turn around two of our White House correspondents and talk through the headlines thus far. Stay with me. Back in a moment.



BALDWIN: So, we now know that the off-camera White House briefing just wrapped up.

A couple of headlines coming out of that, including, you know, who's blaming whom over this Republican health care bill failure, and also more on the fate of Jared Kushner's security clearance.

So, we have both Sara Murray who was in the room there listening in with deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and also with us, our CNN White House reporter, Kaitlan Collins.

But, Sara, first to you there in the room on health care. Who are Republicans blaming?

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we heard President Trump say pretty clearly earlier today that he's not going to take responsibility for the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, that's not on him.

So Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked, well, OK, well, then whose fault is it? She said the Democrats. Take a listen.


QUESTION: Who's responsible, primarily responsible, for what appears to be the failure of this health care legislation?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would say the Democrats. They're responsible.

QUESTION: Can you explain to me how... (CROSSTALK)


QUESTION: They're the minority.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Absolutely. They're responsible for passing Obamacare. They're responsible for creating the mess that we're in. They're responsible for being unwilling to work with Republicans in any capacity to help fix a system that they know is completely flawed and have publicly said so.

I think that it's pretty clear, and I think the responsibility lies on their shoulders.


MURRAY: So, here's the issue with that. There's a Republican in the White House. There are Republicans running Both Houses of Congress. And the reality is a lot of people who voted for President Trump are the people who are seeing their premiums go up. They're the people who are losing insurers in these pivotal health care markets.

They voted for this president to fix the problem, not to point his finger at Democrats and say, this isn't on me, this is on you, and I'm going to stand by and watch it collapse.

Now, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Democrats are stubborn, they're unwilling to come to the table. The president has called them obstructionists. But the reality is, we also have not seen this White House make a concerted effort to reach out to Democrats and to say, OK, if we're not going to do full repeal and replace, let's try to make some changes to this bill to improve it.

We have not seen that posture from the White House or certainly from Republicans on Capitol Hill. Maybe that's where we get further down the line, but it's the kind of thing that's going to anger plenty of conservatives. But it's certainly a little disingenuous to say that the reason that we're in this position, that we're not making progress is Democrats, when, you know, it's members of Trump's own party who wouldn't get on board with this strategy.

BALDWIN: Yes, no, this is an intra-Republican Party issue.

But just to follow up with you, we just heard from the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, talking after we heard from Mitch McConnell, essentially saying, hey, we want to lower premiums also. We Democrats want to lower premiums. Why not do some sort of bipartisan cooperation in this?

Do you think that the White House can bring Democrats to the table, I guess is what I'm getting at?

MURRAY: You know, Sarah said today in this briefing that the president is open to working with Democrats, but Democrats have been obstructionists, basically. But that is what everyone expected to happen when your baseline, when

your starting point is, we are doing repeal and replace. Democrats who voted for Obamacare, who voted for President Obama's signature health care legislation are not going to show up to the table when the plan is to repeal that legislation.

Going forward, is it possible we could see both sides come to the table on some of these health care fixes? Maybe, but it doesn't seem like that's the plan in the near future. It's certainly not what these staunch conservatives on Capitol Hill want to see, and that's part of the reason they voted against or they wouldn't vote for what we're currently talking about. It didn't go far enough and repeal, as far as they were concerned.


So that's one piece of the conversation there inside that the Briefing Room.

The other, Kaitlan, is sort of the future of any sort of security clearance with the president's top adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. What did Sarah Huckabee Sanders say about that?


As you know, Jared Kushner has come under a fair amount of scrutiny over the last few days after it was he revealed he also attended that meeting at Trump Tower last summer with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and the Russian lawyer who promised to have incriminating information on Hillary Clinton.


So, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked today about Jared Kushner's future in the White House and his security clearance. Take a listen to what she said.


QUESTION: Some congressional leaders, particularly Democrats, are very concerned about the trust factor when it comes to Jared Kushner and his security clearance and also still remaining in the job. What does the president have to say about his son-in-law right now in the midst of this storm with the fact that more information continues to come out after he gave his initial statements?

And they're concerned about the trust factor, when he has a critical piece of security clearance that deals with issues of trust. Is the president considering allowing him to stay or leave? And should he keep his security clearance?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't know of any changes that would be made. The president has confidence in Jared, and I'm not aware of any changes at all.

(END AUDIO CLIP) COLLINS: So, as you see, we have had a lot of Democrats and Republicans alike call for Jared Kushner's security clearance to be revoked or reviewed at least, because they say that, if he wasn't the president's son-in-law, that would happen to him.

BALDWIN: But also know that, ultimately, Kaitlan, it is up to the president to say whether or not a security clearance can be revoked or be granted.

And I imagine the White House is well aware of the calls for it to be revoked for Jared Kushner and the blowback he's received. How much of that do you think he cares about?

COLLINS: Well, he would receive a serious amount of blowback if he did choose to override the denial of Jared Kushner's final security clearance. And that's what we will be looking to see if that happens in the future.

BALDWIN: OK, Kaitlan and Sara, thank you very much in Washington.

And coming up next, we will talk live with one Republican lawmaker who correctly predicted what would happen with this Republican health care bill and actually warned his colleagues from the get-go.

Also ahead, the president raising some eyebrows by putting a hold on the announcement to say that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. Hear why next.