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Trump Frustrated with the Obamacare Results; President Trump's First Major Loss; Drama in the White House. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired July 28, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
ISA SOARES, HOST, CNN: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isa Soares.
JOHN VAUSE, HOST, CNN: I'm John Vause. We're live in Los Angeles. It has just turned midnight here on the West Coast, 3 a.m. in Washington on what has been a very dramatic night and a very dramatic morning. Thank you for being with us.
SOARES: Dramatic as well as an historic night in the U.S. Senate with republicans failing in their last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare, in the process dealing a massive blow to president Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 49. The nays are 51. The motion is not agreed to. The amendment is not agreed to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, John McCain cast deciding vote, joining two other republican senators opposed to the bill, that was Susan Collins of Maine, and Murkowski of Alaska.
Earlier, many republicans said they would vote for the bill but were hoping it never became law.
VAUSE: Majority leader Mitch McConnell said it was time to move on as he addressed the chamber after the loss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Now I imagine many of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are celebrating, probably pretty happy about all this. But the American people are hurting and they need relief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, McConnell's partisan shot prompted this response from the democratic leader, Chuck Schumer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I would suggest we turn the page. It's time to turn the page. I would say to my dear friend, the majority leader, we are not celebrating. We are relieved that millions and millions of people who would have been so drastically hurt by the three proposals put forward, will at least retain their healthcare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: It may have been late in the evening, but Donald Trump was up tweeting. This is what came out a short time ago. "Three republicans, 48 democrats, let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!"
SOARES: Well, let's bring in our panel, Gerald Kominski, the director of the Center for Health Policy Research from the University of California, Los Angeles. Politico senior reporter, David Siders, also Matthew Littman, CNN political commentator, John Thomas, and our correspondent on Capitol Hill who has been watching this drama unfold, Ryan Nobles. And Ryan, let me start with you. What a dramatic night. Bring us up to speed if you can.
RYAN NOBLES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, you laid it out very well there, Isa. We have to say, again and again, this is not what normally happens in Washington, D.C., particularly on Capitol Hill. Usually these votes go exactly the way that leadership in the Senate plans them to go, but that's not what happened here tonight.
And this vote has been in doubt for some time. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has tried every which way to try and get some form of Obamacare repeal on the floor in a way that would just get 50 republican votes. That's all he needed to get it past passed. And he has been turned down at every single opportunity, and the most dramatic of it being tonight.
And the person that was at the center of this drama was Senator John McCain. This after coming into Washington quite dramatically at the beginning of the week, after learning of a diagnosis of an aggressive form of brain cancer. He came all the way here to Washington to be involved in this process, to cast a ballot in this situation.
He initially voted to move the bill to the floor but gave a dramatic speech warning his colleagues at that time that they needed to find more bipartisanship and work together. And then when he felt like the process wasn't heading in the direction that he wanted it to, he was the person that cast the vote that eventually doomed this particular bill.
So now the question is, what happens next? As you guys mentioned, the majority leader Mitch McConnell says it's time to move on. He kind of put the onus back on democrats to come of -- come to the table with some sort of an idea of their own. But there's a good chance that Senate republicans start talking about other things, like tax reform and infrastructure, some things where they think they can get some wins, but this does not end the problem of healthcare here in the United States. Even though Donald Trump has been very critical of the Affordable Care
Act, he is right in that there are some real problems with that bill. Even democrats acknowledge that. But it appears at this time and place that republicans and democrats cannot get on the same page to pass something that would solve that problem. So, we're back to the drawing board is the best way to put it.
VAUSE: Back to square one, I think, Ryan. Just a couple maybe to color all details if you could clear up that during the night.
[03:05:00] Apparently, Chuck Schumer knew that McCain was going to vote this way a few hours before the vote actually went ahead. I don't know if you can confirm that. Also, McConnell clearly looked very upset. There are some reports that he may have been in tears at one point. Did you see anything, do you know, what can you tell us?
NOBLES: Yes, I don't know if he was. I never actually saw whether or not he was in tears. But I would tell you, just kind of looking at the body language of Senator McConnell, he's a pretty stoic person, this is somebody who has never that high, never that low.
But when he delivered that final speech today, he actually turned and faced his republican colleagues, and looked them right in the eye and said, you essentially let us down. That you know, we made a promise to the American people that we were going to repeal and replace Obamacare. This was an important step in that process. And you guys didn't do it.
And now we got to come up with some more -- some sort of a plan. You usually don't see him get that animated. And he was clearly upset by what happened here.
Now, in terms of Chuck Schumer, you know, they were, you know, kind of holding back their glee tonight on the Senate floor. They -- I think even many of them were surprised that this turned this way.
But we heard from a number of democratic senators from our CNN team that was outside the chamber, that said that, you know, basically McCain was dropping hints all week long that he was letting democratic senators know that he was unhappy with the republican bill, that he wanted to see some serious changes put in place in order for the bill to get his support, and those never came.
And that was among -- Chuck Schumer was among those who alluded to that. And I want to make one very important point about what happened here tonight. You know, this was a bill that Senate republicans, almost all Senate republicans, never wanted to see become law.
It was simply a vehicle to get to the next stage of the legislative process, where members of the other House, the House of Representatives would come together with members of the Senate and come up with some sort of a compromise bill that both sides could pass.
But John McCain, in particular, was so concerned that the House just might pick up the bill and pass it, and he did not want to see it become law, that he voted it down tonight. He essentially didn't trust Speaker Paul Ryan to deliver on that promise to get the bill to the conference. So there was a lot of drama. A lot of moving parts here tonight. And the end result was that the bill did not pass.
VAUSE: Yes. It's hard to pick the headline. The failure of healthcare, which a lot of people suspected was coming, John McCain, his legacy, the dash back, you know, risking his life to get to Capitol Hill.
Ryan, thank you for being with us. We go to the panel now. John, this goes up to you. I mean, it did seem after three days of debate amongst the GOP, there was suddenly this realization that a bill can become a law and they panicked and they were terrified that this bill, that would take away health insurance from 16 million Americans, and increase premiums by 20 percent, was actually -- could actually become the law of the land.
JOHN THOMAS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes. Here's the bottom line. Senator McCain betrayed the Republican Party tonight. Because what Senator McCain wanted was more discussion. And that's what this bill could have allowed. It could have allowed a bipartisan conversation in the House to go forward.
And at the same time, less than a year ago, when he's campaigned for re-election, and all of his ads, he said vote for Senator McCain because he's leading the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare. And tonight he killed the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare.
MATHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, no one stopped -- no one stopped the bipartisan effort on Obamacare except for Mitch McConnell. When Barack Obama first started the healthcare thing about seven years ago, Barack Obama went to the republican conference and took questions from the republican members. They offered republicans, they said what, do you want to see in healthcare to have us pass this?
Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama got it passed. Now we have the opposite situation with Donald Trump. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and they couldn't get it done. And Mitch McConnell has not asked the democrats to help at all. And the democrats -- this is not...
THOMAS: They weren't going to help anyway.
LITTMAN: Well, they would have if they actually went about this in a bipartisan way. When you say John McCain betrayed the Republican Party, he didn't betray the American people. John McCain has asked for this to be a bipartisan process. He's asked for hearings to be held on healthcare so the American people could know what's going on and we could work on this together.
SOARES: I think betrays conviction because he said right from the beginning that he didn't support anything, he didn't support the actual bill. So, I mean, the point that he was just making, you know, we almost shouldn't be surprised in many ways that this hasn't gone through, because so many of them didn't support -- didn't even know, first of all, what was in that bill in the first place, right, David? So how do you see it? Frame it up for us.
DAVID SIDERS, SENIOR REPORTER, POLITICO: I think it highlights fractures within the party. I mean, to hear the indictment of John McCain and to remember that it wasn't that many years ago, he was the party's nominee. This is now a party that, you know, this was a particularly tough bill to thread the needle, right, between republican lawmakers who had two different sets of needs, the more moderate republicans and the more conservatives, strict repeal conservatives.
And really, to frame it up in the grandest sense, it's just, it's a failure of the republican lawmakers right now to notch a victory. And of Trump's presidency.
[03:10:02] VAUSE: Gerald, if you look at the plan which still trying to get through the Senate, purely on republican votes, given the division within, you know, the republicans in the Senate, it seems an almost impossible task, to David's point. How do -- how do they get that compromise if they're not going to work with the democrats?
GERALD KOMINSKI, DIRECTOR, UCLA CENTER FOR HEALTH POLICY RESEARCH: I frankly don't know. Because if this bill had gone forward and they had gotten to conference, I don't know how you reconcile the differences between the Senate republicans and House republicans.
I did never saw a path where they could successfully resolve their internal differences. But I'll also add that I think one of the things that's so shocking to me about this process to date, is not that democrats weren't invited. But the major stakeholders in the healthcare system were completely shut out of this, doctors, hospitals, insurers, patient groups. Everyone was excluded.
And as a result we've seen the pull page ad in the New York Times saying we are against this, because we haven't been involved. Nobody's consulted us about the healthcare system. We're the ones who are providing the healthcare. Maybe we -- maybe you should consult with us.
LITTMAN: But there's also one other thing, which is the weakness of Donald Trump. He's not able to convince the people in his own party to vote for healthcare reform. They spent the last few days in internal feuds, rather than fighting or making the point or talking to the American people.
In Youngstown, Ohio the other day. He gave a speech at Youngstown. He's not getting the people behind him, and he's not getting Congress behind him, which is just this is a very weak presidency. I don't think we've seen anything like this. He's a 35 percent popularity and the republicans are not intimidated by what Donald Trump wants.
VAUSE: It's interesting, if you look at the people who voted no, it was Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and of course John McCain. The other senator from Alaska, Dan Sullivan he gave an interview to (Inaudible) basically saying that the interior minister tried to intimidate both of them, because Murkowski had opposed the procedural motion to move forward with the healthcare bill.
This is what he said to the newspaper, "I'm not going to go into details, but I feel that the strong pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop." Basically he said that Ryan Zinke had this, you know, troubling message for Alaska. John, is this the way to win over senators who may be on the fence?
THOMAS: I mean, there's the carrot and the stick approach. I would imagine they tried the carrot and that wasn't working, so they went to the next step.
VAUSE: But this is a pretty big stick.
THOMAS: Yes. I mean, what I'm going to be watching for the next coming days is, it looks like healthcare reform is dead for now. Repeal and replace there is no path like he were saying. So now the question is, can Trump shift blame? Can he shift the blame, not just to Senator McCain, but to democrats?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's done that.
VAUSE: This is so much of history.
THOMAS: No, but it's a big challenge, because voters should be holding the republicans accountable at this stage. But Trump is going to try everything he can to shift it back to the democrats, saying it's actually your law and you wouldn't work with us. And so now it's your fault.
SOARES: Well, the reality is that, many of them didn't seem to believe that Speaker Ryan, Paul Ryan, would actually stick to his words. So who is to blame when it comes -- I mean, perhaps we shouldn't have been here in the first place. So who should we be blaming?
LITTMAN: Well, I think it's a failure of presidential leadership. I mean, Mitch McConnell is in a tough spot to try to get this through. But the president has done almost nothing. When you talk about those three people who voted no on the republican side, he's attacked Susan Collins on Twitter. They went after Alaska to get because of what the governor's doing there.
John McCain who he said was not a war hero, famously John McCain was a prisoner of war for five and a half years. And Donald Trump has tried to intimidate all of these people and it's not working. So I think it's a filature of the presidential leadership. I just, we have an...
THOMAS: I don't think it would have changed it if he had played more nicely with John McCain.
LITTMAN: It wouldn't have help; it's not even playing nicely. It's actually if he would have known what was in the bill which he doesn't even know what is in his own legislation. THOMAS: The issue is the freedom caucus in the House and Speaker Ryan
can't even control his own freedom caucus.
SOARES: And David, the reality is that all this week, what we've been talking about is the in-fighting in the White House and not much attention that's actually been given to this.
SIDERS: It does seem like the president has some issues with managing the message.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the understatement of the century.
VAUSE: I mean, this is a problem with the president who is neither feared, nor loved. He hasn't go this way. The fight he enjoy, you know, Obamacare, what happens now? It's still the law of the land.
KOMINSKI: It is still the law of the land.
VAUSE: But it's still in trouble?
KOMINSKI: It is in trouble. In the following sense it has been destabilized this year because of everything that's taken place for the first seven months. We'll have an open enrollment season that's going to open in November. The president still has some authority to disrupt this market. There's something known as cost during reductions.
That if they stop, these markets are going to be more destabilized. If the government stops enforcing the individual mandate and sort of lets that be known, that destabilizes the market.
[03:15:03] It almost accomplishes what republicans were trying to do with these bills. So this open enrollment season is going to be very challenging.
VAUSE: OK. We will take -- it seems like -- let's take a short break.
VAUSE: Please stay with us, a lot more of coverage on what's been a historic defeat for the Republican Party when it comes to healthcare, also a very big blow to U.S. President Donald Trump. A lot of questions about what this means for the rest of his agenda. We'll take a short break and we'll be back in a moment.
PATRICK SNELL, SPORTS REPORTER, CNN: Hi there, I'm Patrick Snell with your CNN world sport headlines.
With a new European football season just around the corner, some added spice to the final pre-season fix to stateside on Wednesday night. It was Lionel Messi who had the first real chance in this Barcelona versus Manchester United game just outside Washington, D.C.
His long-range grazer striking the post before Paul Pogba reminded us what he's capable of with long range that he's kept out there. The most expensive player in the world right now. Pogba had it. It was Neymar who eventually sealed the win, giving the Catalan side and on the glimpse of what they'll be losing if the Brazilian joins Paris Saint-Germain. This off season 1-nil (Inaudible) to the final.
Heading to the Netherlands now, a 2015 World Cup semifinalist England have reached the last eight of a major tournament once again. The English gifted the lead when Portugal keeper Patricia Morais kicked it straight to Toni Duggan. And on a 50th cap, she makes no mistake.
England would go on to get the winner Nikita Parris, in her first tournament start with the all-important strike. Then they're poised to meet the French in the quarters. A nation they haven't beaten since 1974.
Didn't take long for American swimmer Katie Ledecky to overcome defeat. Ledecky bouncing back to help team USA to win gold in the 4 by 200 meter freestyle relay at the worlds in Budapest. The American sealing top spot in the time of seven minutes 43.39.
That's a look at your world sport headlines. I'm Patrick Snell.
SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date. We've been following breaking news in Washington where a republican-backed plan to repeal Obamacare failed on the U.S. Senate floor just a short while ago. The 49 to 51 vote was a huge defeat for President Trump.
VAUSE: Senator John McCain was among three republican senators who voted against the so-called skinny repeal. The vote was a last-ditch effort for Senate republicans to pass something to trigger negotiations with the lower House and to at least try and make good on their long-term campaign promise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: So, yes, this is a disappointment. A disappointment indeed. Our friends over in the House, we thank them as well. I regret that our efforts were simply not enough this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[03:20:08] VAUSE: Well, as news spread that the bill had failed, demonstrators outside Congress burst into cheers, all of this as the political fall-out from the failed healthcare plan is now just beginning to sync in, in Washington and around the United States.
Joining us now, once again, David Siders, senior reporter for Politico, democratic strategist, Caroline Heldman, and Shawn Steel with California's Republican National Committee. So, we're just learning, Shawn, that apparently Donald Trump spoke by phone with John McCain. He called the Vice President, Mike Pence, who was on the floor of the Senate, asked to speak to Senator McCain. They had a brief conversation and then Senator McCain voted against the bill.
So what does that say about John McCain, and what does that say about President Trump? SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN: You know,
John McCain when he was campaigning for re-election, he thought he had some problems and he ran hard. Over 60 percent of his commercials talking about how he's going to replace and repeal Obamacare. And then the best part is, his explanation after the vote, saying well, I really want to replace, repeal Obamacare, but I didn't quite like it doing it this way.
So he's doing a real political act. He's saying he was for the bill until he decided to vote against it. No, he hates Trump. And that's the primary motivation. You know, the liberal spin, the democrat spin, he's such a wonderful human being, so loving and caring. No, he hates Trump. He wanted to stick it to Trump. That's his major motivation. And I understand, it's politics. But I think he did us a favor.
A partial reform of Obamacare still would have been Obamacare. We still would have had the problems, premiums increased, not getting their own doctors, poor quality care. Now it's all democrat all the time and they're responsible.
SOARES: Let's give -- this is what senator John McCain has said on the issue. He said, "From the beginning I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers cost and improves care for the American people. The so-called skinny repeal amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish these goals."
It goes on but I want to pick at another part of this. The speaker's statement at the House would be willing to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.
STEEL: It's a complete deception, it's complete disinformation. It's complete political speak. It's swamp talking. McCain has become the great creature that he's always been, he's a swamp man himself.
VAUSE: OK. David, what is McCain's legacy now? Where does he sit in all this?
SIDERS: Hugs with democrats after the vote.
VAUSE: And some republicans too. At least two others.
SIDERS: Carried them along.
SIDERS: I think for most people, it will further an image, whether rightly or wrongly taken that he is a maverick, which is something he obviously embraces, and casting a vote like that, clearly has that effect on his legacy.
VAUSE: You know, the thing, he did say on Tuesday that he wanted to go back to the old ways of passing legislation in the Senate. He wanted a committee to be formed. He wanted hearings. He wanted input from democrats. He wanted a debate. All this bill was being processed, it was all secret, no one knew what
was in it, McConnell was trying to get it through on republicans only. So maybe now do you think there is a chance it will go back to the way as John McCain says, it should be?
CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think John McCain is saying he wants to go back to the way it was before McConnell came in and decided to do just a scorched earth and oppose anything that Obama put up, anything that the democrats put up.
With that said, I don't think anything will change. I think that's probably still the strategy, given the hyperpartisanship that's been fostered in the Congress under our first black president. It does have a lot to do with race, it has to do with stoking racial resentment and the party, the Republican Party moving further to the right.
The democrats have moved not much at all in terms of ideology. But certainly there's an intransigence there that's not going to go away. And I think it's wishful thinking, but I don't think McCain believes that either.
SOARES: Shawn, I see you raising your eyebrows but before you answer, you give some feedback on what Caroline said. I mean, what does it do to the Republican Party in terms of fissures and fractures within the party?
STEEL: There's a great polarization in American. The scorched earth was invented by the democrats, and especially when they controlled the Congress. You couldn't do anything, breathe anything, republicans need -- and so, let's face it, both sides have been intransigent, both sides had been very tough.
And the Democrat Party is no longer, there's no moderates left in it. It's an extremely progressive group with a few token conservatives.
HELDMAN: But they didn't show that, Shawn.
STEEL: But that's...
VAUSE: Will you...
STEEL: ... the votes do and the personalities do and the positions do. Other than that, the data doesn't support it.
VAUSE: So how many times did the Republican Party repeal Obamacare when it didn't matter? Seventy times, I think. So, you know, when the rubber hits the road, when it really actually matters and you get a bill through, it doesn't happen.
STEEL: Well, it's not very happy that McCain who campaigned on it to get re-elected...
VAUSE: Senator McCain he's just one, but there was, you know...
STEEL: But you know what, again, in a week from now, we're not going to be talking about it.
[03:25:01] VAUSE: I bet you we are.
STEEL: You might be talking about, but no one else is going to be talking about it.
SOARES: I mean, sorry. I also must say, we're talking about McCain, he voted no. We know many republicans didn't even want to vote for it in the first place. The other two people -- two women...
STEEL: It was a bitter pill. I agree with you. That's the good news.
HELDMAN: They wrote it at noon.
STEEL: You got a lousy bill, it's hurting a lot of people and you own it.
HELDMAN: They wrote it. It is eight pages. They pounded out the details at noon. They start that with Obama...
VAUSE: On the back of a napkin in a restaurant somewhere.
HELDMAN: Right. And it is eight pages long, and then they vote on it at midnight. I mean, what is this slap dash...
SOARES: Yes. Well, let's just remind the other two people who voted against it. We can just bring that. It was Susan Collins of Maine as well as Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, both who have been pretty steadfast, haven't they, Caroline, in how they've seen this from the beginning.
HELDMAN: They have been. And there were other female senators too who had grave concerns about this. I think it's important to note that women were entirely left out of the process, female senators initially. It was 13 white men who sat in a room and came up with a plan that most republicans didn't like.
Twelve percent of the American public likes the House plan. Seventeen percent likes the Senate plan. This is wildly unpopular. Obamacare has never been so popular because the republicans flubbed this so poorly.
STEEL: So wrong, so much of the time...
SOARES: But I wonder.
STEEL: A hundred percent against reality. Bringing out the race card and the gender card at the same time is amazing.
HELDMAN: You can look it up, you can actually just look it up on Google.
STEEL: I can look it up. No, you should look it up on Google.
HELDMAN: Fifty-one percent of the American public likes the Affordable Care Act.
STEEL: And that's why you said Hillary is going to win. By the way, did you know that Hillary is not president? Hillary lost.
HELDMAN: The election is over. I don't know if you know this, and a lot of republicans...
STEEL: And I've got news for you, the polling is fake.
HELDMAN: It's over. The election is over.
STEEL: I know you lost.
SOARES: Caroline is trying to get in here, Caroline, I wonder whether both Susan and Lisa Murkowski would have gone a different way if they had been part of the process.
HELDMAN: Well, I think we would have had very different legislation had they been part of the process. I know it was brought up earlier in the evening about the fact that women actually do produce different legislation. It matters having women in office. It matters that we have 51 percent of the population that is female and only 20 percent of Congress, both Houses, are female.
And it matters because there are three studies showing that women do a few things. One is they're more collaborative, they're more likely to compromise, so more legislation gets passed. But also, they bring in more factors to consider. So, I think not only would the process have gone differently, but the content of the bill would have been very different.
SOARES: And not just women like her, the doctor who was joining us in the last hour, saying, you know, having doctors involved, having insurance companies involved, all of that.
VAUSE: All it take.
SOARES: Plenty to talk about.
VAUSE: And there's a lot more to come. And it's not just healthcare. Because there is massive in-fighting.
VAUSE: Open warfare in the Oval Office.
SOARES: Absolutely. President Trump's new communications director goes up to top aides in the White House in a profanity-laced tirade. Highlights from Anthony Scaramucci's, rather, colorful, I should say, interview. That's next.
[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JOHN VAUSE, HOST, CNN: Welcome back, everybody. It's 12.31 here in Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
ISA SOARES, HOST, CNN: And I'm Isa Soares. You are watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles.
Now shock for republican lawmakers overnight in Washington where they suffered an enormous defeat in their effort to repeal as well as replace Obamacare. Senator John McCain cast the deciding no vote on the so-called skinny repeal measure, and that means Obamacare remains the law of the land.
VAUSE: U.S. President Donald Trump not happy. He tweeted this out during the early hours. "Three republicans and 48 democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal, and watch."
SOARES: Meanwhile, and watch -- meanwhile, back at the White House, a really ugly power struggle has gone public in a rather big way. Incoming communication director Anthony Scaramucci called the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza and viciously attacked Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. He accused Priebus of leaks and then he got really, rather, nasty.
VAUSE: Yes, then he got nasty. I hate to highlight here. This is from the New York article. "Reince is a paranoid schizophrenic, paranoiac," Scaramucci said. He channeled Priebus as he spoke, "Bill Shine is coming in," Bill Shine of Fox News is at the dinner. "Let me leak the effing thing and see if I can something blocked these people the way, something blocked Scaramucci for six months." I have no idea what any of that means.
SOARES: A lot of expletives.
VAUSE: OK. They can tell you if we see a lot. We have on the republican side, Shawn Steel and John Thomas, and on the democratic side, Matt Lippman and Caroline Heldman.
OK. Let's stop and look at the front page from the New York Post for Friday edition, "It's survivor White House." Center stage, reality TV star Donald Trump." Certainly, a lot of in-fighting right now within the West Wing. But I'm wondering, Matt, is it really survivor right now or is it more
MATHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Donald Trump obviously likes the drama.
LITTMAN: But the problem is, that while all this drama is going on, he's not fulfilling the agenda for which he was elected. So, today healthcare reform failed. Tax reform, so far, nothing. Infrastructure, nothing. And that's the problem, is that there's all this drama and in-fighting inside the White House.
But also, Scaramucci is probably not the right person for a White House communications job. That's another problem. You know, another person who kisses up to Donald Trump isn't the answer when you're having communications issues. Hiring a professional who knows how to do that job might be the right move. This guy seems to be in love with publicity, even this publicity, which we would consider probably terrible. This to him is fantastic and I think Trump likes it.
SOARES: Well, this is how Scaramucci pretty much explained what happened. As we can read a tweet from him, he said, "I made a mistake in trusting a reporter. It won't happen again." I mean, he basically calls the reporter. He knows he's on, you know, the record. I mean, a White House communication director...
VAUSE: Did not say off the record.
SOARES: He didn't say off the record.
JOHN THOMAS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, I'm not sure he has the experience to know that you don't state something that's off the record. It's on the record. And that's part of the problem. To Matt's point, you know...
[03:35:00] SOARES: But important to note, Ryan Lizza actually went back to him after when he called him, they had a conversation, and then the next day he followed up. So you can't say he didn't -- he wasn't aware of this conversation.
LITTMAN: He probably knew the call was being recorded, which it was.
VAUSE: But Shawn, this is the thing, I mean, when are they going to get some experienced people in the White House who actually know how to actually make the White House work?
SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN: Scaramucci really had a great debut. And then he had an incredibly strange conversation with a reporter that he really honestly believed that was off the record. He couldn't, because he really, he said things that you wouldn't even say to most people in life. He's embarrassed about it. And it shows one thing.
This is such a different White House. It really drives the liberals crazy. The Trump supporters understand that they elected a bull in the China shop and they want all the furniture destroyed. And that's, you know, and you know, they're comfortable with that.
Now, what Scaramucci do -- does in the next couple of days, he's going to -- he's going to -- has to be more transparent, he has to be more open, that's what people elected Trump for. Because he's the most unfiltered president of our time.
VAUSE: OK. You said it drives the liberals crazy. It's driving the conservatives crazy as well. This is Mark Levin from his radio show on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK LEVIN, RADIO HOST: Do you think this kind of internecine warfare makes America great again? It makes these guys look stupid, moronic, pathetic! That's not how you serve your president, in my view.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Caroline, Mark Levin master of understatement, I guess. But you know, we should note, though, that apparently this war between Scaramucci and Priebus is actually being egged on by the president.
CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. And it's not serving him. Bless your heart, Shawn, but this is not good for the president. It's not just liberals who are upset about this. This president has the lowest approval ratings of any president at any point...
STELL: You're relying on the polls again?
HELDMAN: Yes, you know, it's data, numbers, I know facts are scary.
STELL: Good luck.
THOMAS: Well, he's still at 80, 90 percent with his base.
HELDMAN: Nineteen-point-five percent of the population voted for this president. He has a steady stream of seven months of self-inflicted wounds. We can't act like this is normal. We can't act like...
STEEL: But his base hasn't abandoned him yet, Caroline. That's the issue.
HELDMAN: His base -- his base has not abandoned him but his base is small and he has not been effective in pushing legislative agenda. And Scaramucci is just the latest in a stream of amateurs in the White House. It reflects poorly on the presidency and it reflects poorly on this particular president. SOARES: It has distracted the White House from the policies and
legislative agenda then they should be focusing on, Matt.
LITTMAN: Well, of course, the legislative agenda is kind dead in the water. The idea that big tax reform would happen, it's not happening.
LITTMAN: There's a semi-tax reform plan that came out today, not that great.
VAUSE: OK. We're going to take a short break. Stay with us. A lot more coverage out of the White House, the in-fighting and of course the failure to pass healthcare. Stay with us.
[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Twelve-forty-two here on a Friday morning, and we are covering breaking news out of Washington, where republicans and U.S. President Donald Trump suffered another stinging defeat in the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
SOARES: John McCain joined two other republican senators in defying party leaders and casting deciding no votes on the so-called skinny repeal measure.
VAUSE: The latest chaos engulfing the White House seemed to be summed up perfectly in one photograph. Here it is, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on the left, apparently is staying mum so far about Anthony Scaramucci's expletive layered tirade, specifically directed at him.
SOARES: Well, the Trump administration's communications director tore in to Priebus in a phone call with journalist Ryan Lizza, according him -- accusing him of leaks and calling him a paranoid schizophrenic.
Well, let's see what the rest of the world thinks of the latest White House drama. Steven Erlanger is the London bureau chief for the New York Times joins us now. And Steven, I want to get your reaction to what has unfolded here in the U.S. in the last few hours.
How is Europe reacting to not just how dysfunctional this House, Steven, the White House seems to look but also what has happened in the Senate tonight?
STEVEN ERLANGER, LONDON BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, two things, I mean, one, it looks like another chapter in a strange, tragic comedy, at least from here. Anyone who looked at the Trump campaign might have predicted this kind of White House and they would have been told, no, no, no, Trump will calm down and Reince Priebus will control things, and he'll be even more like a normal republican.
Well, he isn't. And you see that, number two, in the health defeat, which he just suffered because he has three members of the Republican Party, including John McCain who as we all remember he had derived for being a coward, and now praises as a hero, who voted against him. Because Trump is not a traditional republican. And what he's wanting to do, particularly on healthcare, bothers a lot of republicans.
Now, his base, may be very happy with all the liars poker talk coming out of Scaramucci and the White House, but as we've learned from Europe, populism does very well for a time, but it tends to be a minority. And over time, you know, Trump has got to get his ship on course. Or he's going to find, as he's done with the healthcare bill, that his own party will desert him. And it may get worse after the midterm elections.
SOARES: And Steven, I was reading through some of the European newspapers, from U.K. France, and Spain, one in particular really stood out to me. I want to show our viewers, the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper and how they describe, basically the presence of Scaramucci in the White House.
[03:44:58] This is what -- this is what it write. "Anthony Scaramucci moves quickly but not always coherently. In so many ways the new White House communications director is so much like his boss, grotesquely entertaining like a drunken party before the projectile vomiting begins."
I mean, is Europe just laughing at the state of the White House. I mean, there's so much more of that editorial that I could have read to you, but paint us a picture of how Europe sees it. Is Europe basically laughing at this administration?
ERLANGER: Well, laughing, I think, through tears. I think, you know, understand the Guardian is a very much left of the center newspaper.
SOARES: Very much so.
ERLANGER: And that sounds like a fun editorial, but doesn't represent all of Europe's views. There are a lot of people -- you know, we need the United States. Britain needs it. NATO needs it. France needs it. You saw that in the way Emmanuel Macron welcomed Trump to the Bastille Day, flattered him, because everyone knows Trump loves flattery.
You see it in the way Angela Merkel tried to appeal to him through his daughter Ivanka. Everyone wants the United States to take a leadership role and to be responsible for the security of the west.
Now, Trump is reluctant. He's been reluctant. He sort of campaigned on America first. He feels allies, including the Germans are taking advantage of the United States, and he will have an impact, particularly on trade issues. But they're hoping and this is why no one's really laughing, that Trump can get his ship in order. No one wants a failed White House. No one wants a failed presidency, and no one wants a ludicrous presidency.
SOARES: Steven Erlanger, the London bureau chief for the New York Times. Thanks very much, Steven for giving us the European perspective. Great to see you.
ERLANGER: Thank you.
VAUSE: You know, it's always the projectile vomiting that ruins a party. OK. Think about that. We'll take a short break.
SOARES: That was so good.
VAUSE: Back in a moment.
DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Good day, I'm CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.
Time for a quick look at your weather watch across the U.S. If you find yourself in the big apple this weekend, you have a bit of a temperature roller coaster. Twenty-eight degrees for your daytime high today. But look at Saturday, cloud cover rain and cooler weather settling in. Temperatures in the lower 20's for a change.
It's all thanks to a cold front that's sagging south across the region allowing for mild weather to impact the Ohio River Valley, the Midwest and into the New England coastline. Still hot and humid across the southern portions of the U.S., with monsoon moisture impacting the four corners region allowing for a few showers and storms.
We do have the potential for flooding rainfall this weekend focusing in across the Mid-Atlantic states, we could easily pick up 100 millimeters of rainfall over the next two days thanks to some of the slow-moving thunderstorms.
[03:50:00] In fact, the National Weather Service across this area has issued flood watches across this region. Pennsylvania, West Virginia, into Maryland, as well as, New Jersey and then into Delaware. That's where we have the potential for flooding.
The other big story, the heat across the south. We focus us in across south central Texas near Dallas, where highs will soar into the upper 30's. It factor in the humidity levels easily into the lower 40's for the afternoon. Twenty seven for Chicago, 32 in Denver. Much more comfortable along the West Coast.
SOARES: Now, it's certainly been a week, as well as a night of high drama in Washington. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions knows better than most, doesn't he, John?
VAUSE: Yes, for weeks he's been on the receiving end of constant stinging criticism from his boss, the president. And he says it hurts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it's kind of hurtful, but the president of the United States is a strong leader. He is determined to move this country in the direction he believes it needs to go, to make us great again. And he has had a lot of criticisms and he's steadfastly determined to get his job done, and he wants all of us to do our jobs, and that's what I intend to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK, joining us for this last block here, we have Matt, Caroline, Shawn, and John. OK. Jeff Sessions also standing by the decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, that which has angered the president so much. Again, this is Sessions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: I talked to experts in the Department of Justice people who are trained in that. I'm confident I made the right decision, the decision that's consistent with the rule of law. And an attorney general who doesn't follow the law is not very effective in leading the Department of Justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Matt, a perfectly reasonable logical explanation which will have absolutely no impact on Donald Trump.
LITTMAN: Well, it's very important to know that the Trump administration is not about job growth, it's not about tax reform. It's really about the special prosecutor's investigation. So the reason why he's trying to get Jeff Sessions out of there is because he wants an attorney general who can come in and fire Mueller.
And that's really what's going on here. This is really what the administration is fighting for now, more than they're fighting for any of the business of the American people. For Trump, it's all about them not looking into his business, his taxes, and that's what's going on here in terms of the Jeff Sessions.
SOARES: Shawn, is he over the worst, do you think?
STEEL: First of all, everything I just heard is completely wrong on many levels, the economy is spanning, the economy...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stock market.
STEEL: The stock market, jobs are good and getting better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shawn.
STEEL: And more than that, you know, the stock market is up. What's really going on is that, you got a swamp creature called Mueller that's in charge of the investigation that's hired hard core leftist democrat attorneys that have one mission in mind, that's to put Donald Trump in jail, with his family.
So Jeff Sessions -- Jeff Sessions made a spectacular error in having Mueller even appointed in the first place. And not even controlling that agenda.
Now, Sessions is a gentleman. He's a movement conservative. He and I both served together, chairman of Alabama (Inaudible). I was chairman of (Inaudible) I really like the man, but he's naive. He plays the old republican game of trying to be the gentleman, trying to be proper. The democrats go for the throat.
LITTMAN: I do have to say, I do get annoyed when people are full of crap. And the wages are down from the end of the Obama years. Jobs are down from the end of the Obama...
STEEL: You're out of your mind.
LITTMAN: Those are facts.
STEEL: Those are fake facts.
SOARES: Stock market is up.
LITTMAN: Stock market is up. And then in terms of the liberals who work for Mueller, they're not liberals who work for Mueller. These people contributed less to the democrats than Donald Trump and Anthony Scaramucci did. So none of that is true and people shouldn't take that...
STEEL: That's silly. That's a silly argument. They're lawyers!
VAUSE: Go ahead, John.
THOMAS: Sessions is actually in a good place politically, because he's taken the high road. First of all, he's not hurt. He's a big boy. He understands that this is a game. But also he has some protection, because his colleagues in the Senate like him.
And they also understand that if he did -- if he was removed, it would be a big black eye on the party. So as frustrated as I think Trump should be about this, Sessions is sitting there, saying, yes, sir, may I have another?
VAUSE: Caroline, I'd like to bring you in, because you've been very quiet because unless they are talking to you. Essentially, the problem with Jeff Sessions being ostracized by the president in many way, sort of sums up the problems in the White House. There's no loyalty coming from the president. He demands loyalty from everyone around.
[03:54:59] HELDMAN: Right. And Jeff Sessions is the canary in the coal mine, right? If Donald Trump cannot get along with him and be loyal with the man who was loyal with him early on in his candidacy...
VAUSE: Even wore the hat. HELDMAN: ... then who -- right. He even wore the hat little big on
his head Yes. Took me back to 1988, filling the helmet. But yes, so if he can't be loyal to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who can he be loyal to?
And you're absolutely right. That this is the first step in removing Mueller. And I'm sorry but the actions of an innocent man are not to try to remove the person investigating you, investigate the investigators, go after the attorney general who rightfully recused himself because he lied to the Senate during his confirmation. Are we forgetting why...
THOMAS: The issue is not about innocence or guilt. It's derailing his political agenda. It's hurting its political capital and that's as frustrating...
SOARES: Trump is hurting Trump.
VAUSE: Last word to Shawn.
STEEL: Trump could have easily fired him and he could do it at any time. He's putting a lot of pressure on. But I think the real play could be, and it should happen any day, exciting times, that Sessions resigns, Congress is out of session, and we have a beautiful new attorney general...
VAUSE: Chuck Grassley says you're not going to have an out of recess appointment because...
SOARES: We've been hearing that he doesn't like to say you're fired, so we don't know about that.
VAUSE: But we like to say goodbye which is what we're doing now.
SOARES: Thank you very much to all of you.
VAUSE: Thanks, guys. Thank you for staying up.
SOARES: You've been watching CNN Newsroom live from Los Angeles. I'm Isa Soares. Thanks for...
VAUSE: I'm John Vause.
SOARES: And thank you very much for keeping us company.
VAUSE: Thanks for the last two weeks. You're back to London?
SOARES: I am, indeed. VAUSE: I'm going home.
SOARES: Rainy London. Bye.
VAUSE: See you next week.
[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)