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Heads of Military Branches Caught Off Guard by the Transgender Ban; Trump Lashes Out At Sessions (Again); 7 GOP Senators Break Ranks In Health Care Vote; Apple Supplier Foxconn Says It Will Build Big Wisconsin Factory. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 26, 2017 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: As is so often the case in the Trump presidency, today's story was told in tweets. There was some similarities in this morning's tweet storm from recent days. Another attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for instance, we'll talk about that throughout the hour.

But there was one big difference, a policy announcement that transgender people would be banned from serving in the military. No public announcement, no explanation as to how it's going to affect currently serving troops. Just three tweets and nothing but the tweets. Jeff Zeleny is at the White House with the latest. What do we know about this ban other than what was tweeted?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that's about all we know about the ban this evening. I mean, the president sent out those, you know, urgent messages early this morning saying, look, you know, the military service will not be allowed any transgender member of the service will not be allowed to be an active member of the military. But beyond that, it was left at that.

Just to give you a window into how things work here at the White House. There were background briefings today on what's going on in Venezuela, there was a background briefing for administration officials on what's going on with the job announcement in Wisconsin.

Anderson, for a major policy change like this, there was not a single background briefing. The administration officials we talked to were, quite frankly, caught off guard by this, they could not answer basic questions of what happens to those active members of the military who are Afghanistan individuals who may be serving in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

So, just in perspective, it was clear that this was an announcement that happened abruptly. It took people here by surprise, on Capitol Hill by surprise, and certainly at the Pentagon by surprise.

COOPER: Do we know which generals if any the president actually consulted about this, because he says in one of his tweets that this came about after consultation with his generals.

ZELENY: The president says "his generals" a lot. And some people actually in the military bristle by the words "his generals," they're the military's generals. But Anderson, we don't know which generals he's talking about. This has been discussed in, you know, in meetings and other things with the National Security adviser as part of the military readiness. But it was not on anyone's radar necessarily until this morning.

So again, it took people by surprise that there was -- at the White House briefing today, incoming new Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders simply didn't have the answers to the questions about what the next steps of these policies are or who these generals were. Anderson, for such a big policy decision, suc ha big announcement, it was very small in the details.

COOPER: So, if you're transgender and currently serving in the military, I mean, obviously you're wondering today what does this mean for your position. Are you going to get fired, are you going to get removed? What's going to happen?

ZELENY: It's a great question. It's a question that went unanswered today. Imagine if you're a transgendered marine or soldier or airman, you know, in Kabul or Irbil. There is no specific answer to what happens. But there is an interesting reaction I think on Capitol Hill. Senator John McCain, of course, back in Washington, battling brain cancer, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, he said, look, an announcement of this magnitude should not be done by Twitter. He also said any able-bodied legal American who wants to serve their country should be able to do so.

So Anderson, as this goes forward here, I expect considerable pushback on Capitol Hill, as this is decided. This may be President Trump's version of don't ask, don't tell, but it's a slightly different time from, you know, more than two decades ago here. So this is not the end of this today. I think it's the beginning of a long discussion here.

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks. A lot to talk about, Dana Bash, Scott Jennings, Charles Blow, Alice Stewart, and Christine Quinn.

Charles, I mean, is this to you just about politics, about diversion from whether the Russian investigation or Jeff Sessions or red meat to the base, because he's been criticized by folks from the base about Sessions?

CHARLE BLOW, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It seems like it - I mean, it could be all of that, we don't know. He didn't make a public statement about this.

But in any case, look at it both ways, either this is just something that he felt really passionate about and he wanted to do, which is an incredible thing to do to those servicemen, and or if it is in fact a diversion, he's willing to play with those people's lives. Right now thousands of transgender people putting their life on the line for this country.

Even the explanations that he offers in the tweets about you being a burden, that we can't pay for the medical -- those thousands of people are already receiving medical attention that they need and require, already. It's already baked in, right? This idea of bathrooms that people keep bringing up, they're already going to the bathroom. Like -- all of this is a canard. The Rand Corporation has studied this, found that it would have a minimal impact both in readiness and in cost. They're already there.

[21:05:10] We sometimes think about military deployment as people just thinking, I'm going to go for two years and I'm going to leave, I'm going to go for four years and I'm going to leave and go to college. A lot of people make the military their career. That is all they do. That is what they wanted to do. LGBT people are just like everybody else. They're patriotic just like anybody else. Some of them want to serve in the military, just like anybody else. To tell them -- and particularly this president, who received five draft deferments, to tell somebody else who volunteers to go, sir, you can't do it, it's just outrageous to me.

COOPER: Scott?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm not a military strategist. I did talk to an old friend of mine today who has been in the military for 21 years. And he did say there are some legitimate people on the ground in military who would say there are readiness issues that are wrapped up in these. But I tend to look at the world through the issue of politics, I'm a political strategist.

So, these issues around transgender rights, the transgender bathroom issue from the last election, this is at the core of what I think is the defining moment in our politics right now, the massive chasm that has opened up between rural and urban America. Today on this decision the outrage from urban America is what we're hearing. And what you're hearing privately from rural America is, I think the president was right about this. And I think this is all wrapped up in what we're seeing in the two parties. One party in the last election identified with nonurban America and one party identified almost exclusively inside urban America. And issues like this help explain it. And I think issues like this really help explain Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio.

COOPER: Given the fact that the president is from urban America and during the campaign talked a lot about, you know, equal rights for all citizens and talked about the LGBT community, is this then just about politics? I mean, it sounds like you're saying this is -- I mean, one way to look at what you're saying is it's a play to the base.

JENNINGS: Well, it's about politics if you consider that even though the president is from urban America, the reason he's in the White House is not urban America.

COOPER: Right, sure.

JENNINGS: And if you went to that rally last night in Ohio, and there were a lot of Democrats there, and you asked any one of them about this decision today, I bet you wouldn't find too many objections.

BLOW: We can't start believing that LGBT people don't exist in the south.


BLOW: That they don't exist in rural America. I'm from rural America in the south. The majority of parents, of gay parents, of children, do not live in San Francisco. Do not live in New York. They live in the south. And part of that reason is because they delay coming out, they get married first or have relationships first and end up having kids, but did they come up later, but they stay there. They don't try to escape. The raging HIV epidemic right now is not happening in New York.

BASH: Right.

BLOW: It's not happening in San Francisco. It's happening in the south.

BASH: Can I just say --

BLOW: The idea that they don't exist there is just not true.

BASH: I think, I might be the only one at this table maybe besides you who has been at the Trump rally and went to lots of them during the campaign. And ia think that your point is dead on about, when Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania changed from blue to red, some of it was just -- people couldn't articulate it, but it was the country was moving and changing way too fast, and faster than -- and it was a country that they didn't recognize. And that whether it was gay rights or other things that contributed to it.

However, having said that, on the flip side, you have a lot of public servants who just like John McCain seven years ago was against the don't ask, don't tell repeal, and he's for this.

COOPER: I think Scott's point is so accurate about the divide. But isn't then this just a wedge issue --

BASH: Yes.

COOPER: -- that's being used to stoke that divide? I mean --

CHRISTINE QUINN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: By the president of the United States. I mean, it is bad when any politician does that or any, you know, "leader in America." That's bad. And it's dangerous. I used to run the crime victims agency. After hate like this gets put out, we would see hate crimes rise against the LGBT community, you can track it.

But this is the president. He should never be throwing entire groups of Americans under the bus and saying they're less than other people. He should be or she should be the one who is bridging the divide, closing the -- bringing us together. And this is the opposite for pure political gain.

Leadership in elected officials is being defined by being a leader. All the president here is doing is playing, you know, to the cheap seats, and doesn't care at all who he hurts. And make no mistake, transgender children are one of the highest suicide groups in the country, so to speak. This will make transgendered children go to sleep feeling less than. And God knows what will happen.

[21:10:04] And let me just say lastly, God forbid there is some type of military tragedy today or the next few days. One of the last things transgender service members might have heard from their commander-in-chief is that they are unworthy. That is un-American and a Goddamned disgrace.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Just to think the cheap seat, as you referred to them, are conservative voices that have been silenced for the last eight years. President Obama and his transgendered policies are no longer in effect. We have a new president here and he is changing those policies.

How we got to this point is, we have conservatives that have represented these states, that helped elect the president, to Scott's point. Vicky Hartzler in Missouri, we have others, Mark Meadows in North Carolina, members of the Values Action Team, conservatives who are representing and listening to the voices of the people in their state. And they are saying we don't want to pay for this type of procedure for our military. We're not going to -


STEWART: -- the appropriations bill that uses money that way, this is not going to pass. And --

COOPER: There was reporting, I think, it was Axios reporting today that --


COOPER: -- this originated as, this argument in the House over paying for, you know, transition surgery for transgendered service members among some Republicans, and they approached the president about it. The president has gone far beyond the idea of should surgeries be paid for.

BASH: Joan Walsh reported that as well, on Capitol Hill it was about -- in the short term it was about the money for the -- taxpayer money that could be or couldn't be used for surgeries and for transitioning and all of a sudden they looked up and saw the president tweeting about a complete reversal of policy.

COOPER: The other question is, regardless of what you think about the policy, there's just the issue of the procedural way the president went about doing it. Is this the most effective way -- we have to take a break, but let's talk about that one when we come back. We're going to continue the conversation.

Also hear what Senator Tammy Duckworth told me tonight about her military service and the president's lack thereof.

Later, just what is the president's strategy when it comes to his attorney general? Another day, another tweet. Is there another shoe about to drop? Let's talk about that ahead.


[21:15:43] COOPER: President Trump's surprise ban on transgender military service members got a swift reaction from some veterans, some of whom now serve in Congress.

Earlier tonight, I spoke with Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth who was a lieutenant colonel in the army, and his Blackhawk helicopter was shut down in Iraq, she lost her legs, partially silver arm under Purple Heart. When I spoke with her she noted that the president had never served in the military and had this to say.


SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, (D) ILLINOIS: When I was bleeding to death in my helicopter after that RPG ripped through the cockpit of the aircraft, and an American came to save my life, it didn't matter to me if they were gay, if they were straight, if they were transgendered. It only mattered that they wore the uniform of the United States military. And I will always remember that. If you're willing to serve this country in uniform and you're willing to lay down your life to protect it, you deserve to be able to do that. And so many more Americans, including our president, has never worn the uniform. And he needs to back off, because I will stand up and fight for our transgendered and all of our military men and women.


COOPER: Well, the ban came as a surprise to many people in Washington including, we're learning, the conservatives who lobbied the White House on transgender policy. They say they were pushing to prevent the Pentagon from paying for transgender related surgery, not for an outright ban on transgender people in the military.

Back now with the panel. Scott, just in terms of how the president -- I mean, putting aside whether you agree or not with the idea of the ban, just how the president went about it? It is a major policy change from the previous administration. The previous administration basically encouraged by allowing this, encouraged transgender people in the military who were hidden to come forward and identify themselves. Now people have done that, and it seems like they're going to be fired. Is three tweets the way this should have been handled?

JENNINGS: Well, probably not. And I think at this point the White House needs to bring forward a cabinet officer, a military adviser, or advisers, to give a briefing to the press on, A, how it's going to be handled right now, and B, how it's going to be handled in the future, C, what does this mean, is there a time period under which we're going to enact this, and finally, how they arrived at the decisions, you know, what were the policy discussions that went on to get to the decision.

Back to the politics for just one moment, one thing we didn't discuss in the first segment, but I think is important, there's really only one transgendered soldier anybody in America knows, and that's the traitor, Chelsea Manning. You wonder how this conversation would have unfolded today if Chelsea Manning had not done what she did, leaking all the information, putting American soldiers and allies at risk. If that hadn't happened, we might not be having a different conversation today.

BLOW: But that's the thing that happens to most minority groups, you transfer the sin of one and make it the sin of all. And that is wrong to do.

In addition to that, there is no hierarchy of humanity. This idea that we are somehow assigning these people a lesser way of being and therefore we can now decide as a political matter or as a vote or, you know, that we have the ability to govern their bodies, govern the way that they articulate themselves in the world, is just outright wrong.

And in addition to that, I just have to bring up this point. This is the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman signing an executive order to desegregate the military. On that day, this president would make these tweets basically moving backward, away from more integration, more openness, more honesty in the military, and in the other direction. He stands in stark contrast in historical terminates to other presidents. For him to stand up last night and say I deserve to be on Mt. Rushmore, no, you may deserve to be behind some bars somewhere but you do not deserve to be on Mt. Rushmore.

COOPER: But what's interesting about -- I mean, just the -- you know, irony that this is done in the same day that anniversary, but some of those arguments, the same arguments about unit cohesion, this is going to be off settings, this is --

BLOW: A social policy --

COOPER: -- by allowing African-Americans --

QUINN: We heard it with African-Americans. We heard it with women in the military, you know, in combat, et cetera. We heard it with LGBT, lesbian and gay people, around don't ask, don't tell. We hear it every time there is an attempt to move the military forward to be fully embracing of who Americans are. And it's the same arguments at their core, you know, characterizations, groups, et cetera change, but they're the same.

You know, I just want to add, on top of all of the other things that were wrong about these tweets and this decision. It's yet another issue where President Trump is just a complete hypocrite. He said during the campaign that he stood with the LGBT community. As we saw earlier on your show, he literally just about wrapped himself in a rainbow flag, saying that gays and lesbians loved him.

[21:20:16] BLOW: That he was holding upside down, by the way.

QUINN: Correct.

BLOW: Just for the record. QUINN: You know, that's a whole other level that we won't go into. How do you do that? How do you be -- you're so political, you'll bring people in by lying to them and then wake up, and you're saying they're basically less than other human Americans.

STEWART: Here's the thing. I will be the first one to say from a communications at some point, this rollout for such a major policy initiative was not done properly. All these questions that we're still talking about and were brought up in the press briefing today they should have rolled those out --

COOPER: But they had no answers.

STEWART: There are no answers. And they certainly should have had some military people up there going forward. But that being said, he didn't make this decision in the back and he had lot of conservatives who actually take issue to the comparison of desegregation of the military with the LGBT issue. They see those as two completely different issues. They look at LGBT and using our tax dollars for services that they need. Conservatives in the religious right and people across the country in mainstream America take issue with that. That was the impetus for them even bringing this up with him. And why he made this decision.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, that -- I'm just -- the degree to which things have changed. I mean, as I came of age during the don't ask, don't tell time, and even before that, during the ban, you know, there were back to Scott's point about, we don't know many -- haven't seen many transgendered service members publicly except, you know, Chelsea Manning. It was the same way with gay service members. When I was a kid, you didn't see many gay service members, there are a few during the '70s, so I remember reading about, but whose names we knew and it wasn't until people started coming forward that that actually began to change.

QUINN: I just want to pick one more piece, you know, I think -- are there people who supported racial desegregation in the military who opposed this? I'm sure there are some. But I think it's very careful that -- we want to be very clear that people shouldn't misinterpret what you said, I don't think it's what you meant, but to in any way say that the leadership of the African-American and Caribbean-American and Latino-American community does not stand squarely with the LGBT community and the transgender community. Because we have seen that those communities come together in the most powerful ways. Leaders of the '60s civil rights movement who stood with King, standing at the gay marriage rally at the mall speaking out. So there may be one or two, I'm not saying you can't find an example, but in reality, we are together in a fight for human rights for all.

BLOW: And because I've done research on this, that language is literally exactly the same, exactly the same. That black people were genetically inferior, that they would not fight, right, that you could not expend the same amount of energy -- tied in money on them as you would other soldiers, so they didn't train them the same way.

You know, my grandfather fought in World War II, the first person to receive a medal from his group. But that racist commander of that group refused to approve any of those people who got injured on that trip. It was the same language. I'm just saying, they may resist the comparison, but the comparison is legitimate.

STEWART: I totally get that. Let me just say this one quick thing. From a conservative standpoint, and a religious right, they view this completely different. And everyone has a different opinion. They view this as you're born black, that's how you were born and raised. But they view transgender and LGBT, a lot of these issues, as a choice. I'm just saying, I'm not saying -- I'm saying that's how Christian conservatives a lot of them view that issue.

COOPER: Just a post script to discussion, we had last hour with Jeffrey Lord said the military shouldn't pay for Viagra. CNN Military Analyst General Mark Hertling e-mail with a good point, that studies show that sexual dysfunction is actually a major problem for soldiers who suffer from PTSD and there's also lot of host of other medical reasons people might be issued Viagra in the military.

Much more to discuss ahead, including the president's latest Twitter attack on his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he's not backing down. The question is why? What happens next? We'll talk it over with Maine Senator Angus King. Also want to get the panel's take as well.


[21:28:12] COOPER: The president is not backing down from his one- sided feud with his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. He attacked him, yet again, Twitter today. Earlier I spoke with Maine Senator Angus King about that. We started out focusing on the president's other tweets today about the transgender ban and how the heads of the military branches were caught off guard by the decision. We also learned Defense Secretary Mattis did know about the president's decision after he made it but before he went public with it. Here's my conversation with Senator King.


COOPER: Senator King, I want to start by asking about breaking news tonight that the service chief, who represents the four branches of our military were caught off guard by the president's announcement today on transgender service members. You're on the Armed Services Committee. How concerning is that to you?

SEN. ANGUS KING, (I) MAINE: Well, it's concerning because he mentioned in his tweets some reference to the generals. And I think it's a fair question who he was consulting with. Because there's an ongoing study on this issue, and everybody was surprised including John McCain, Joni Ernst, members of the Armed Services Committee along with me.

So, yes, I think the White House should be asked, who did he consult with?

COOPER: Do you believe that transgendered service members cause disruption, that it hurts military readiness, that it's an undo burden or expense?

KING: Well, number one, that's exactly what's now being studied. Number two, there was a study on this subject a couple of years ago by the Rand Corporation. And they found that there wasn't substantial either disruption or additional expense. My reaction immediately when I saw the tweets was, if we've got brave people that want to defend this country, they should be allowed to do so.

COOPER: So the White House wouldn't say what happens to service members who are transgendered who are currently serving. Do you have any idea? And is there anything that your committee would do to try to review this or prevent a ban, if possible, from going into effect?

[21:30:00] KING: I'm sure the committee is going to follow up on this, there's no question of that. And, I mean, again, the problem here is policy by tweet. There was no detail, there was no explanation. There was no background, no sources. And I just think it's not a very good way to make public policy. And yes, we are going to look into it, but to simply announce something like this with no consultation with the committee, I can assure you of that, and apparently -- well, I won't say apparently no consultation with the Pentagon, but I understand today the Pentagon (INAUDIBLE) questions to the White House.

COOPER: As far as your former colleague Attorney General Sessions' concern. The president continued to publicly criticize him today. What do you think he is trying to accomplish by doing that?

KING: Well, first let me say, the nub of this seems to be the attorney general's recusing himself early on in his tenure. And there's absolutely no question, Anderson, under the regulations of the Justice Department that he had to do so. If you're investigating a political campaign of which you are a staff member or somehow otherwise involved, you have to recuse yourself. If you read it, you say, oh, this sounds like it was written for this situation. So he had to recuse himself.

I don't know the motivation. It doesn't make sense to me, because this is a guy who was one of President Trump's most loyal supporters. The supposition is that this is an effort to somehow line up the ducks in such a way that Bob Mueller, Robert Mueller can be fired. Boy, I think that would be a terrible mistake both for the country and the president.

COOPER: If the president did end up firing Mueller, I mean, what would actually happen? Could you see a special prosecutor statute being passed?

KING: I could.

COOPER: What would that mean, exactly?

KING: Well, I think what would have to do the Congress would have to pass a statute authorizing a special prosecutor and some kind of appointment process by veto-proof majorities. And then, would be exactly where we are now, without the president having the power to make this kind of decision.

Nobody in our country is above the law. I mean, that's been established for, you know, since the very beginning. And that includes the president of the United States. But I think you would have a pretty strong consensus around here that firing of Robert Mueller is not something that could be just said, OK, we're going to move on from here.

COOPER: Angus King, Senator King, appreciate it.

KING: Yes, sir.


COOPER: Back now with the panel. I mean, Dana, again, this continues. I mean, obviously, the president believes there's some benefit for him to do this. It's not a complete impulse, lack of impulse control.

BASH: I honestly don't know if that's true.

COOPER: Really?

BASH: Yes.

COOPER: You don't think it's a strategic --

BASH: I don't know. But I think it's entirely possible and plausible that it is his impulse that he is so mad at this guy that he wants him to go. And he doesn't want to fire him. Which is a whole different question. There's a lot of criticism of the president among his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill for, you know, the way that he's basically trying to bully Jeff Sessions into quitting instead of just, if he wants him to go, just firing him.

So, I'm not sure what -- if there really is a strategy behind this. You know, we have been reporting for the past day or so about a concerted effort among those who are closest to Jeff Sessions, who are inside the White House. Steve Bannon and others among them, desperately trying to get the president to stop, not only because they are allies of Jeff Sessions, but because they realize that this is bad politics and policy for the president.

And just tonight, Chuck Grassley, who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate who would be in charge of a confirmation hearing if there were to be one for another attorney general, explicitly said, without, you know, prompting specifically in a tweet that the agenda for the Judiciary Committee is set for the rest of the year including no AG. So, I mean, that just kind of shows you the pushback from Republicans.

COOPER: I just want to play something that Lindsey Graham told Manu Raju earlier about the president's attacks on Sessions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I think anybody who is strong would use the power they have and be confident in their decision. So strong people say, I've decided that this man or woman can't serve me well and I'm going to act accordingly, and take the consequence. To me, weakness is when you play around the edges and you don't use the power you have.


COOPER: I mean, it sounds like he's calling the president weak.

JENNINGS: Well, and I think what Jeff Sessions has been saying through his actions and public communications is, look, you can fire me if you want to, otherwise, I'm going to be at the office enacting your agenda and doing a pretty darn good job of it.

I've been asking these guys to clear the air on behalf of all Republicans for days now. I hope Jeff Sessions and the president do clear the air, because I think Sessions was one of the best cabinet choices he made, conservatives love Jeff Sessions, they love what he's doing in office. And for this to drag on and on is detrimental to enacting the president's agenda, which ultimately is what all Republicans in Washington want to see happen.

[21:35:13] COOPER: Right, I mean, of all the people enacting the president's agenda, Jeff Sessions, whether you agree of what he's like -- whether he's doing or not, he's doing a good job of enacting the president's agenda at the Justice Department.

STEWART: He's doing a phenomenal job. And one of the main reasons why Trump was attracted to him in the first place and why Bannon put him on the radar for AG was his strong position on immigration. And he's working night and day to execute those policies.

Certainly, recently, with taking away funding for sanctuary cities, and also civil asset forfeiture program, these are key issues that he continues to execute even he's being trashed by the president.

In addition to Lindsey Graham, we have other strong conservatives out there that -- spoken on behalf of Sessions. We have Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and otherwise saying he's a man of dignity and honor. So, people wonder how in the world can Sessions still stay here with all these constant berating by the president. He's got a lot of support amongst his peers and we'll keep him where he is.

QUINN: The other thing I don't understand is, you know, the president has basically said, if I knew he was going to recuse himself on Russia, I wouldn't have appointed him. But it's the same president who said there's nothing going on with Russia, there's nothing to worry about. So if there's nothing to worry about, and there's nothing there, why does he care that the AG had to recuses himself? It really opens up more questions.

BLOW: We also have to look at timing, since we've been on the air, "The New York Times" published an article about this by Peter Baker Steinhauer, and they're pointing out that part of the agitation, and it is kind of visceral agitation, because his aides are telling him to cut this out and he won't do it.

And the part of the agitation is the family members who are now being dragged into the investigation. So, but he recused himself months ago, if Trump really had a problem with it, he would have been making a fuss months ago. But it is since, you know, Trump Jr., since Kushner have had to be called up to the Senate, that's when he's really gotten upset about it.


BASH: I think that's right. He has been saying privately, since Sessions recused himself, that he's upset about it. And there's no question, as it's gotten closer, he's been more public about wanting Jeff Sessions to recuse himself.

One thing I do want to add, another thing that is happening behind the scenes in the White House, is people, Ted Barrett and I are reporting today people are urging the president to consider what's known as a recess appointment, trying to wait until the Senate goes into recess, and put somebody in there which could last until the next Congress. The only problem with that is that the Senate, the past -- almost 10 years, hasn't gone to recess for this exact reason. And Democrats are on to this, and they are already strategizing about ways to make sure the Senate stays in session.

COOPER: We got to take another quick break. When we come back, breaking news on the health care front, the Senate Democrats trying some political maneuvering, more on the new tactic, next.


[21:41:53] COOPER: More breaking news on the health care front tonight. The so-called "vote-a-rama" is on hold for now. Senate Democrats insist on seeing the GOP bill before offering any amendments. Now this comes after seven Republicans defected to vote against a straight repeal plan this afternoon. Ryan Nobles joins us from Capitol Hill. So what are we learning about the new strategy from Democrats?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, as late as this afternoon, Anderson, we were getting reports from a number of different senators that they had hundreds of amendments lined-up to be put on the floor to be offered up for an up or down vote as soon as the 20 hours of debate concludes tomorrow afternoon.

But then late tonight, Chuck Schumer, the minority leader of the Senate, went to the Senate floor and said that they planned to not offer up any amendments until they see the specifics behind the Republican plan to offer up this so-called skinny repeal.

Now, it's important to keep in mind, Anderson, that we've heard about this skinny repeal, but at this point it's really just theory, it's a conceptual plan that Republicans have talked about, but they haven't offered up any specific language. So Democrats say they're not going to play this game, they want to see exactly what is in this bill before they move forward. And at this point, we could end up in somewhat of a staring contest tomorrow evening after that 20 hours of debate finishes up.

COOPER: And Republicans couldn't pass a straight repeal of Obamacare today. Was that any surprise?

NOBLES: It wasn't really a surprise that they didn't have the votes to pass the straight repeal. But it was a bit of a surprise that so many Republicans voted against it. A seven Republicans in total, including some surprises like Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Rob Portman of Ohio, and John McCain of Arizona. So when you have seven Republicans right now that say they can't support a straight repeal, that means that Mitch McConnell needs to pull back at least five of them for this skinny repeal, whatever it turns out to be, if they hope to get the 50 votes necessary to get this bill to a conference. The Senate Republicans still feel that that is possible. But right now, we don't know exactly how they're going to pull it off.

COOPER: Ryan Nobles, thanks very much. I want to bring back in the panel. For a lot of people, look, the details of this get in the weeds and mind-boggling, your head starts to swim. Do you have a sense for what's going to happen?

BASH: That so-called skinny plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is probably the only that has a snowball's chance in you-know-where to actually pass. And that's why the Democrats are doing this tactic, because we do only have concepts, and it's really basic, to get of the mandate and get rid of the medical device tax which is not been --

COOPER: What's the tactic by Democrats? What's the benefit of the tactic --

BASH: The benefit of the tactic is to force Republicans to actually --

COOPER: Come up with something.

BASH: Well, come up with something, but to actually put it in to legislative language so that they can have a real debate on it and not just surprise everybody at the end of the debate.

STEWART: You can't blame them for that. Certainly they should see what they're voting on, unlike, you know, we did with Obamacare. But what -- I think Dana is right, the skinny version will be the one that is going to be on the table. Talk is that it will include the consumer freedom aspect which is Ted Cruz's version, which allows -- whether you're shopping or selling insurance, you can have more choices. And also, Portman's amendment will also be included. And the key --

[21:45:08] BASH: On opioids?

STEWART: Yes, exactly. They want to make sure they also protect the Medicaid funding, which is what the states want and that's critical, because the senators are going to do what their governors want to do, a lot of them are up for reelection.

QUINN: Yes, but the CBO came out with scoring on the skinny repeal, and it could, according to the Congressional Budget Office, raise premiums by 20 percent, and 13 million Americans, which is certainly less than 31 or 22 but a lot of Americans, 16 million Americans could lose insurance. So I think it is very smart of Minority Leader Schumer and the other Democrats to force the facts out there. Because going from a total repeal to the skinny repeal sounds like, oh, it's not so significant, who doesn't want to lose a few pounds? But by doing this we're getting the real facts out there, 16 million Americans, 20 percent increase in premiums. Those are all things Americans, we know from polling throughout this process, don't want.

BASH: Except that before we actually have legislative --

QUINN: Correct.

BASH: -- language, the CBO is just guessing based on reports. We don't actually have the hard numbers. That's the standard state of affairs.

BLOW: -- I think that regardless of where you stand on the ideological spectrum, that's the thing that really irritates people about Washington, the idea that you be dealing with a sixth of the economy and nobody knows at this point, you're going to vote tomorrow but nobody knows at this point what the language is? How is it even possible? And then, this concept is like you were referring to -- trying to rebrand things to euphemism. You know, it's almost like trying to rebrand neo-nazis as Alt-right, no, neo-nazis, no. That skinny repeal taking away insurance from 16 million people, that's what it is. Stop trying to make it feel like it's nicer, kinder, gentler, it's not. It may be skinny to somebody, but to somebody who needs help, it's not skinny to them.

JENNINGS: Here's what Republicans say, they hate the taxes. They hate the individual mandate. They hate the premium spikes. They hate the lies that this bill was sold on originally all these years ago. And they hate the concept that failure to act here is leaving all of that stuff that they hate in place.

And so, getting over the motion to proceed was a huge deal, because had they not done that, that would have been an epic political failure. And now they can actually address some of these things Republicans have been screaming about for all these years. I don't know what the perfect solution is, but I know this, getting to a place where they can actually debate any solutions is a huge win this week.

COOPER: If they didn't have something to show for all this talk after so many years, that would be worse than having something that's bad?

JENNINGS: Absolutely. If you go out and promise people for seven years, we are going to repeal Obamacare, it's terrible, you know it, I know it, and you show up and you have full control of the government, and you fail on the core campaign promise that gave you the majorities in Congress and the White House? Oh, my gosh, that would be --

BLOW: -- part of the reason they're failing is because they were lying. They kept saying that they can give it better, cheaper, it would be easy to do, President Trump said this over and over again. He was just lying. He had no plan for it. He could not do it more cheaply. He could not ensure the same amount of people, or even more people which is what he said. He couldn't do it. He was just lying. And the reason they are failing is because they were lying in the first place.

COOPER: We got to take a break. We're going to take a quick break. When we comeback, President Trump announcing a new jobs deal in Wisconsin, that's next.


[21:52:11] COOPER: Well, President Trump is proclaiming a win on jobs today. The White House he announced a major new technology manufacturing plan will come to Wisconsin. The factory will be Foxconn who makes parts for Apple and other companies.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a great day for American workers and manufacturers, and for everybody who believes in the concept and the label "Made in the USA."


COOPER: Back now with the panel. I mean, Dana, the president is clearly touting this as a big victory.

BASH: And, you know what, he should. He should. This is what he campaigned among other things, but in terms of the economy, one of the main things he campaigned on and one of the biggest applause lines out in all over America was I'm going to bring the jobs back. And the notion of having the very first plant in America to make these L.E.D. screens and to do it in Wisconsin which he wasn't supposed to win and he did win. Probably not an accident that's the House speaker's district in Wisconsin, Paul Ryan, I'm told this, obviously, very instrumental in this. It's a big deal. And you know what, he gets a lot of well deserved flak for the things that he does that are wrong and the fact that he was part of something that could be very good for American jobs should be applauded.

COOPER: A lot of Democrats in the state are pointing to a lot of tax incentives that were given to this company to get the company that were there. The Democrats, locally, where this factory, they're not complaining about that at all because it's going to bring jobs to the area.

JENNINGS: Yes. This is a huge win for the president. It is exactly why the people in the Midwest that had previously voted for Obama and other Democratic presidential candidates rolled the dice on Donald Trump, because he appeared to be the most responsive to their issue, which is, we need jobs. And I guarantee tonight if you're sitting at the White House, most of political Washington is talking about the transgender ban and everybody out in the Midwest is talking about the thousands of jobs going to Wisconsin. That is a conversation matrix that I'm sure the strategists are thinking, this is OK. STEWART: And in reality, that's how it works. I worked in a governor office, and that's what you do. You go and you court businesses, and you provide tax incentives and you provide reasons for them to come build in your state. And, look, this company is investing $10 billion in this state and they're going to create up to 13,000 jobs. It's really difficult and defies my imagination how someone can find fault in a country creating up to 13,000 jobs. And this is -- it's a great day for the administration. That's what he campaigned on.

BLOW: Yes, but the sweet -- I mean, any time somebody gets more jobs, that's great. But it is a legitimate concern to know that the sweeteners are up front, right? And the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said it could be as many as $3 billion. It is an unprecedented number -- amount of sweetness for any company. That's not even an American company. It may bring jobs to America but that's not an American company. It's an unprecedented amount of money that we're giving away, and I think that -- one thing that kind of get some off in the framing about when we do -- the (INAUDIBLE), is the conservatives are always really upset about welfare, right?

This is another form of that. And we do it all the time. And there's a trans funds of tax collected dollars -- federal money in addition to state and local money. That is trans funds from all of America to somewhere where they want to score political gains. Now, the people, they will get jobs. But don't mistake the fact that this is also a form of wealthy, and we are doing it for them to have political gains.

[21:55:42] QUINN: And let me also -- and, look, if a lot of jobs come out of this, you weigh that against the benefits, it is also important, and I don't know if this is the case in this, to have claw backs in there. So if the jobs don't come in any deal you get the money back. What I heard from manufacturing leaders is this company has a very bad track record. I hope it doesn't prove so in this case, of making promises, promising jobs and not delivering.

At least we have to go back to what you said. You're probably right. People in the White House are probably sitting around with their feet up, you know, have a cup of coffee or beer or whatever going, this is a great day. It's a sad day. Anytime the president pitch one group of people, manufacturing workers against transgender Americans and he thinks he's won the media. It's a tragic day for the fundamentals of our country.

COOPER: We got to take a break. We'll be right back.