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Crucial Health Care Vote; Trump Intensifies Attack on Attorney General; Alisyn's New Book. Interview with WV Senator Joe Machin. Interview with TX Senator John Cornyn. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired July 25, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:42] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We are just hours away from a crucial vote in the Senate to begin debate and repealing Obamacare. President Trump tweeting this morning that Republicans need to, quote, step up to the plate, and he's blasting Democrats as obstructionists.

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Senator, thanks so much for being here.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Good to be with you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Do you know what health care plan you will be voting on today?

MANCHIN: Nobody -- nobody knows, I don't think. I've talked to all my Republican colleagues. They don't know either. So I think Mitch McConnell definitely knows what he's going to do and what direction that he's sending (ph) the (ph) leadership.

CAMEROTA: Why isn't he sharing it?

MANCHIN: I don't know. I really don't know. Here's the thing in a nutshell. I will say this, Alisyn, if you're voting to proceed, because they're saying, hey, just get on the bill and we can fix everything. If you're voting to proceed, you're voting to repeal, because that's exactly what will happen. And that means we don't have a chance to fix it.

And they're saying, well, Democrats are obstructionists. We're not obstructionists. I'm as moderate and as centrist as you can get. But I know the only place to truly fix something is to go through the orderly process of the committee.


MANCHIN: If you don't go to the committee, you can't get the expert witnesses in there, you can't get the facts, you can't debate it and find the best pathway forward. If it goes, just like proceed and we'll fix everything if you get on the bill, and, well, you -- they control the amendments. They can basically shut off the amendment process.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean -- MANCHIN: They have so much -- yes, it's not the right way to do it. And it has not gone through the orderly process. And we said, hey, put it back in the committee. The first vote we should take is recommit any bill they want to put forward into the committee process. That's the vote that should be taken.

[08:35:10] CAMEROTA: Well, look, it's not just Democrats that are feeling the way you are. Republican are too. Your Republican counterpart in West Virginia --


CAMEROTA: Shelley Moore Capito, she's on the fence about this, about voting for something to repeat before you know what's going to replace it. And there was a Republican congressman, Blake Farenthold, from Texas who seems to be calling her out. He got the region that she's from wrong, but he seems to be targeting her among other female senators. Listen to this.


CONGRESSMAN BLAKE FARENTHOLD, (R-TX): The fact that the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do is just absolutely repugnant to me. I -- you know, I -- if the -- the some of the people that are opposed to this, they're some female senators from the northeast, if it was a guy from south Texas, I might ask him to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr style.


CAMEROTA: What do you think of that, senator, number one? And is this the female senator's fault?

MANCHIN: I'd be OK to step outside with him. If he wants to talk on my people in West Virginia and throw them out in the cold, that's exactly -- I'm glad that Shelley understands that the -- our constituent base the same as I do. We have every demographic that's hit. It's not a -- it's not a perfect bill that we have. And the Affordable Care Act is not a perfect piece of legislation. It needs repaired.

We both agree to that. The we need to fix it. We need to try to get people healthier. We need to get people more accountable and responsible for their actions on the expansion. We need to protect and shore up the private market without collapsing. All of these things can be done, Alisyn, but we've got to work together. They don't want to. And here's people like that making the claims they're making. You know, that's -- that type of rhetoric is so uncalled for in this body up here.

We want to fix and repair things. And I'll work with Republicans, I'll work with liberals and conservatives, everybody. But the bottom line, at the end of the day, that we have a healthier population, was it more cost-effective to have them healthier in the workforce than on welfare. How about the sympathy you have for the elderly Americans who have given us everything. How about those who have preexisting conditions and high chronic illnesses. Don't we deserve some sympathy and compassion for them to have a healthy (ph).

I just -- I just -- I can't believe this process they're going through and the whole -- and sometimes the hard and calculated rhetoric that we see coming from the system (ph). It's uncalled for. It truly is.

CAMEROTA: Senator, next topic.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


CAMEROTA: He seems to have lost the confidence, I think it's fair to say, of the president. He is a friend of yours, Jeff Sessions is.

MANCHIN: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: You were the only Democrat who voted to confirm him. The -- does Jeff Sessions deserve this?

MANCHIN: I just said, Jeff, do your job. You have to do your job. But the bottom line -- everybody knows when you go and take a will and pleasure job, that means when you have a will and pleasure job you come and you leave when the term of the person you're working for, which is the president, or in my case when I was governor, when I had will and pleasure, when my term was over, everybody left and new people came in.

But when you lose the confidence and the president has a right to put his team together who he feels confident. I just would say, if that's the direction they're going to go, the next person who has to go through the confirmation of the Senate is going to have a challenging time to make sure that they're going to adhere to the rule of the law and not adhere to one person's wishes.

CAMEROTA: Yes. We've heard that before this morning as well.

Senator Joe Manchin, thank you very much. We'll, obviously, be following it very closely, what happens on Capitol Hill today.

MANCHIN: It's going to happen quick, Alisyn, I'm sure.

CAMEROTA: Thanks. Thanks so much.

MANCHIN: Bye-bye.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, if it's going to happen quick, has the senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, says, what's going to happen? Do the Republicans have 50 votes to proceed? Whatever that means. We're going to ask the man whose job it is to whip those votes, the Republican Senator John Cornyn, the whip of the Senate majority, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:40:47] CUOMO: All right, it is a big day today for the health care battle. There's going to be a procedural vote in the Senate, which is basically a vote deciding whether or not to proceed with debate on a bill in the Senate on health care. The Republicans have to have 50 votes to do it. It would sound like a low hurdle, but it isn't, because of the unknown and all of the politics surrounding the possibilities of health care.

So let's talk to the majority whip in the Senate, Republican Senator John Cornyn. He's in charge of counting votes for the Republicans.

It's good to have you on this important day, sir.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R-TX): Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: So, where do you stand with the math?

CORNYN: Well, if this were a normal situation, we would have 100 senators voting to get on this bill and begin the debate because every senator will have an opportunity to offer amendments to improve the bill and the Senate will be able to work its will. Unfortunately, this is not a normal time and our Democratic colleagues are simply staying out of the debate and -- even though they know that Obamacare has significant problems that need to be addressed.

That's why Senator Shaheen, for example, from New Hampshire offered bills that would pay billions of dollars to the insurance companies in order to stabilize the insurance market. We're willing to work to stabilize the markets, but we want reforms too. And that's what this bill gives us an opportunity to do.

CUOMO: A quick side note. Can you ensure that the president won't pull those subsidies? Because if you're going to do a bill to shore up these markets, you need those subsidy payments. The president had played with the idea of pulling them to further destabilize the ACA. Do you think you could guarantee anyone you work with that you could stop him from doing that?

CORNYN: We all recognizing that stabilizing the insurance markets is an important first step, but it's not the last step. And the president said if we pass a bill he'll sign it. So I'm confident we can do.

Right now, as you know, there is some question about it because of the way that the bill, Obamacare, was passed, whether or not they're mandatory or simply discretionary. So if we were able to pass a bill, it would end the debate and help stabilize the market.

CUOMO: Your Democratic colleagues say that they're saying out of this vote today for a couple reasons. That essentially it's a bait and switch. This will be a repeal vote. If you vote to proceed, you are therefore voting to repeal because that's the only thing on the table. And the idea of amendments, you have the numbers, so you can control what the amendments are and you'd box the Democrats out so they're avoiding it. What do you say?

CORNYN: I'd say that's not the case. Under the budget reconciliation process, the so called votorama (ph), every senator has a right to have their amendment voted on. And we'll be voting on a number of different amendments being offered by Republicans and I trust Democrats will offer some too, although I'm not sure they're actually interested in an outcome and actually passing legislation.

But every single senator, Democrats and Republicans, will have an opportunity to offer their amendment. And, yes, we will vote on repeal and a two-year transition. That's important to some of our members. Senator Portman and a number of the Medicaid expansion states have what they believe is a better solution than the status quo. They'll also offer that.

And I think on balance, what this better care act does is it improves the status quo and a no vote is simply a vote to maintain the status quo, which I think we all recognize is unacceptable.

CUOMO: Why the rush? Why not do it the ordinary way of going into the committee, having the hearings, brings in the testimony, and promulgating this policy the way you normally would?

CORNYN: Well, we've been debating it for seven years. And, unfortunately, health care has become partisan. That's really to the detriment of the country. We really need to get back to bipartisan health care legislating.

But, unfortunately, because of after three elections where our Democratic colleagues lost the majority in the White House, they lost the White House -- the majority in both houses, they realize what an albatross that Obamacare has been for them at the ballot box. And so they're now kicking it over to us and saying, OK, see what you can do. Can you do better?

[08:45:06] If we can't do better, then we need to simply go home. But I believe that we can do better. It would be even better yet if our Democratic colleagues would work with us and settle the partisan nature of health care legislation. That really doesn't serve the best interests of the country. We need to get back to that.

CUOMO: Let me get your head on something else that's going on right now. What do you say to the president and his open attacks of his earliest Senate supporter Jeff Sessions. He said he had a very weak position this morning. He should be going after Hillary Clinton and he isn't. You know what he said in his "New York Times" interview saying that Sessions had done the wrong thing recusing himself. He's been beating up on his own. What's your message to the president about Jeff Sessions?

CORNYN: Well, I know Jeff Sessions well. And h's a good and honorable man. And I think he's doing what he believes he's obligated to do under the rules that govern attorney generals. And that in order to restore the credibility of the Department of Justice and the FBI, something we sorely need after the last administration, that he made the right decision to recuse himself. I happen to agree with him, that he did, having participated in the campaign, like he did, I think in order to maintain the impression of impartiality, which is so important to building public confidence, that I think -- I think Jeff Sessions did the right thing.

CUOMO: Well, we'll see what happens. And if Sessions is removed or decides to step away because of all this heat, it will be interesting to see how colleagues like you react in the Senate.

Thank you very much for joining us. Good luck with the vote today. We'll be watching.

CORNYN: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: All right. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris. So today --


CAMEROTA: I introduced the world to someone very close to my heart beyond Chris Cuomo. Amanda Gallo. She's the idealistic journalist in my debut novel "Amanda Wakes Up." I will share the back story, next.

CUOMO: No, I can't wait. You must tell us now.

CAMEROTA: You must wait.



CAMEROTA: So, this is a very exciting day for me. My first book comes out today. It is a novel called "Amanda Wakes Up." It's about an idealistic young journalist trying to navigate the cable news world during a crazy presidential race.

So now to talk about it, I'm going to switch roles. I'm going to turn it over to our "Reliable Sources" host, Brian Stelter, who is going to interview me and ask questions about the book.

Brian, great to have you here.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I'm taking over. Thank you. Congratulations on launch day.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

STELTER: When you first told me you were writing a novel about the world of morning TV, I wondered how much was real and how much was fictional.

CAMEROTA: Well, you write what you know, as they say, for your first book. So it's based on my 25 years in news. The all of my experience in this business. And all of the sort of ethical dilemma as we face and the challenges that we face every day is melded in there.

[08:50:06] STELTER: It feels a lot like it's about the 2016 election. So when did you start writing? CAMEROTA: Well, I would have been a miracle worker if I had written

this during the presidential -- 2016 presidential campaign because, a, we were a little busy, and, b, I don't think books can come out that fast. But I wrote it during a presidential campaign, which was the 2012 presidential campaign.

STELTER: That long ago.

CAMEROTA: I started writing it in 2012, but I didn't know then that it was going to be a book. I started writing it because that was also -- we forget now that we've just lived through 2016 -- that was also a crazy presidential race. And it was filled with lots of colorful characters. And, frankly, I was struggling during part of that time because there were so many ethical issues, particularly when my boss at the time had one version of how he wanted things depicted. And so I started writing things down to try to kind of process.

STELTER: I think when people read it and they see these characters, they're going to think it's about 2016. So it's incredible that you did all that beforehand.

CAMEROTA: Well, look, I mean I knew that 2016 was coming. So as I was writing it, even in 2014, I was making a pretty safe bet that there would be a female president candidate --

STELTER: Right. Right.

CAMEROTA: And that there would be some sort of larger than life male candidate. Donald Trump was already threatening to run. So I can't say that those didn't end up coloring some of it. But I handed this book in -- I sold this book, I should say, at the beginning of 2015. And Donald Trump didn't get into the race until June of 2015.

STELTER: Your character's named Amanda Gallo. How is she like you? How is she not?

CAMEROTA: Amanda Gallo is very idealistic. And I like to think on my best days I am too. She's really trying to do the right thing. I think she figures things out faster than I did, to tell you the truth. But, look, it's not just about a young journalist. It's about the story of a woman in the work place and trying to figure out what the line is for her, what -- what -- when enough is enough, what she's willing to sacrifice for success. I think that all of us, you know, can relate to that on some level.

STELTER: And it's all in this morning show environment, which is so strange. Everyone wakes up at 3:00 in the morning and gets their hair and makeup done. It's such a -- it's such a weird, unique environment, this morning TV thing. What were you trying to tell readers about morning TV?

CAMEROTA: I was trying to peel back the curtain on what our lives are like because I've often thought that much of the fun story and interesting story happens behind the scenes. You know, all of the relationships that we all have and all of the decisions that are being made in real-time and the breathless quality to our job. And I've tried to capture that for the viewers because often I've thought, if there were a camera just trained on us, you know, during commercial breaks and everything that the audience would be fascinated.

STELTER: And there's a handsome male co-anchor that you have. Is he based on Chris Cuomo over there?

CAMEROTA: You mean the scathingly handsome Rob Lar (ph) in the book? Rob Lar (ph), the character, is based on some co-workers that I have had.

STELTER: A combination of several --

CAMEROTA: A composite.


CAMEROTA: Of several. He's not based on Chris Cuomo. However, I did steal some of Chris Cuomo's best lines. Chris, as you know, is very funny and so I stole some of Chris' best lines, with permission from Chris.


We saw last year a real-life stranger than any fiction. So do you feel like you're trying to top what actually happened last year?

CAMEROTA: Well, I couldn't if I tried, but I do think -- I mean -- something funny happened while writing this book, and that is that things that I had already written did come to pass.

STELTER: Such as?

CAMEROTA: The talk of illegal voting, OK, that illegal voting had somehow changed the outcome of the election. And, by the way, that's what Donald Trump also came to say.


CAMEROTA: And -- but I wrote it years before that. Because let -- you know, I mean the truth is, I'd like to pretend that I'm psychic, but apparently there are some carenial (ph) favorites. I had in here years ago written that Gisele Bundchen comes on the show and does yoga. I didn't know that Gisele Bundchen actually does do yoga and has a DVD. I think I gave Gisele Bundchen the idea.

STELTER: Oh, perfect (ph).

CAMEROTA: So there were all sorts of things that I planted and then, you know, my editors and I would scream when we realized that it was actually happening in real life.

STELTER: And the title, "Amanda Wakes Up," what is her awakening? What does she realize about journalism?

CAMEROTA: Well, you'll have to read it to find out. But she does go through an awakening. And basically, you know, she really, really tries to see both sides. And she realizes that she does have some biases, she does have some preconceived notions, and she does need an awakening for how to be a truly fair journalist.

STELTER: "Amanda Wakes Up" out today in bookstores everywhere.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it is.

[08:55:00] STELTER: Congratulations.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, Brian, Thanks so much.

CUOMO: That is great. So "Amanda Wakes Up" is one kind of baby. But we have more "Good Stuff." Other babies. New editions to the NEW DAY family. Take a look. One of our producers, Leslie Tucker Miller. Little boy an Saturday. Liam Patrick. Well swaddled.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

CUOMO: Mommy looking great. And our publicist, Neel Khairzada, also gave birth to a little boy, Leo Cameron. Moms, babies, all healthy. We love healthy babies. That's what's makes live worth living.

And this, your latest baby.

CAMEROTA: A long gestation period of five years for my baby --


CAMEROTA: That has been birthed today. Hope everyone will find it at their local --

CUOMO: Well, you are looking well.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

CUOMO: You've come through it well.

CAMEROTA: I feel good. I'm a little exhausted from it, but I feel good.

Available at your local bookstores today.

CUOMO: I am ordering 100 of them.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Great Christmas presents.

CUOMO: Which is only half of what you told me I have to buy.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for all of that. I really appreciate it.

Time now for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman. They'll pick up after this very quick break.

CUOMO: He has pajamas just like the ones on the cover. I've seen them.