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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview with Governors John Kasich of Ohio and John Hickenlooper of Colorado. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 31, 2017 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm going to talk with Governors John Kasich and John Hickenlooper, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:34:07] KEILAR: We're back with our politics lead. Obamacare will still be alive when lawmakers return to Washington next week. So far, Republicans in the Senate have been unable to come up with a repeal and replace bill with enough votes to pass. And on Wednesday (AUDIO GAP) stabilizing the insurance markets.

Today, the Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, and Colorado's Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, unveiled their bipartisan plan to fix the American health care system and they are both joining me now.

Governors, thank you so much for being with us here on THE LEAD. We do appreciate it. And we have a lot to cover certainly when it comes to your health care proposal.

Real quick, I want to ask you though as you're looking at what's going on with Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, what do you think, Governor Kasich, about this state and the federal response?

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Well, so far, everything I understand, it's been enormous.

[16:35:01] But what's been the best thing is that people from all walks of life, all walks of life have made enormous contributions. I mean, it's all the way from sports stars like J.J. Watt, to social media stars, including the Kardashians, and then lots of money from across the country, from to the Salvation Army, to the Red Cross.

Here in Ohio, we've sent some first responders, some firefighters. We stand ready to send whatever we can. I'm sure John has done the same. My family's made a donation.

And look, it's just an unbelievable, devastating situation. And more you watch it, the more you can put yourself, you really can't, but you think about --

KEILAR: Yes.

KASICH: -- how difficult it must be for those people down there. But God bless them and America hasn't been this united in a long time as it relates to this.

KEILAR: No, we are all certainly thinking about them. Governor Hickenlooper, as you are seeing what's happening, are you feeling confident in the response?

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: Yes, I think the response has been comprehensive and intense and we've got some planes and helicopters down there. We've got a number of our National Guard down there. Obviously, we're raising money just like every part of the country is because we are all one and out in Colorado is a big state for outdoor recreation, and I've been amazed at how many duck hunters and anglers, fishermen are out there using their boats to rescue people. Probably more rescues by these private individuals and are obviously heroic first responders.

KEILAR: It's phenomenal to see everyone pitching in. You both are right there.

I want to talk about health care that's why we have you here today, because you unveiled your plan to stabilize the individual markets. So, Governor Hickenlooper, can you just explain to folks at home how you can keep the cost of medical coverage, things like procedures and prescription drugs down while making sure that the care is good.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, that's the basic goal. And I think it's -- funny way, Hurricane Harvey, I mean, everyone down there doing what they can, it's bipartisan. It's transpartisan, and that's really what Governor Kasich and I have been working on. When John and I first started talking about this, the idea was to say, how can we control cost, but at the same time, not sacrifice anything in quality.

So, things like making sure that we have the cost, making sure that we control the cost reduction opportunities to make sure that we increase the size of the pool, in many cases we have a concentration of the high cost individuals who have chronic conditions, and everyone else was not getting insurance. Part what have we're proposing is to make sure that we have some form of reinsurance that the federal government will support but allow it to be dictated by the local states, giving them the sufficient flexibility that we can by having a larger pool really control costs.

And I do want to say also that transparency kind of is woven in this, but letting -- having more devices and more ways that people can really see what procedures, what medical, you know, influences, what they are going to cost, not influences, but medical procedures or any kind of a surgery or anything, know ahead of time what it's going to cost.

KEILAR: Yes, because it does vary certainly as you start comparing things. So, Governor Kasich, there's also this idea that you would have cost-sharing subsidies, something that Governor Hickenlooper mentioned there, that you would promote enrollment and you have a stability fund, you would stabilize risk pools, a lot of these are fixes that insurers and governors have been calling for, for some time. This would include the individual mandate which is a crux of Obamacare. So, how do you sell this to Republicans who say look, these are just

fixes and it keeps Obamacare in place?

KASICH: Right. Well, you have to think about this in three ways. And we have had six other governors sign up, including the head of the National Governors Association, Brian Sandoval, who happens to be a Republican.

Look, there's three ways: first of all, you have to stabilize the markets because things are in a frenzy and the markets could melt down, which means that millions of Americans would lose health insurance. So, think of it this way, we have the car is in the ditch and we need to get it out of the ditch and stabilize the situation which is exactly what we do here.

But secondly, we then give states the ability to bring any type of innovation they want as long as they're not dropping coverage for people and as long as the coverage is going to be reasonable where people are going to have comprehensive coverage. Let me give you an example of what I mean. You're 25 years old, we're going to give you catastrophic coverage, we're going to give you health savings account, and we're also going to make sure you get primary care. That's comprehensive, OK? That is the definition of comprehensive.

And so, what we're going to do with this is we're then going to let the states be able to innovate dramatically within certain guidelines, but they'll have much power.

And then thirdly is what John was just talking about, the ability to begin to pay now for performance, not for quantity, but quality medicine.

[16:40:08] So, initially, stabilize the insurance markets so it doesn't collapse. Secondly, let the states have the ability to innovate dramatically and to be able to make sure that we can -- we can make sure people have coverage that they don't lose what they need. And then finally, change the whole way in which we think about health care.

This should have -- this should satisfy about everybody because look, if you're a Democrat and you want to double down on Obamacare. You can. And if you're a Republican and you want to design your own plan within certain guidelines because we don't want people dropping folks from coverage, you can do it. And I'm excited about the possibility of having the responsibility to design a plan that fits us, just like all the other 49 states can do.

So, I think this goes right down the middle. And I want to tell you, John Hickenlooper, he's terrific, his staff has been terrific. Our staff has worked well together. And we think we have a document that is absolutely a framework for how to get through this mess and move on.

KEILAR: When I hear everyone will be happy with health care, I am a little skeptical, I will tell you that from the past. But, Governor Hickenlooper, you're aware that Kamala Harris,

Democratic senator, is now going to co-sponsor Bernie Sanders's single payer health care bill, Medicare for all when it's introduced in September.

What is your case to make to Democrats to say don't go that direction, go this direction that I am putting forth with Governor Kasich?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, the single payer, especially at this moment in history, it's hard to see it getting traction in Congress. And what we're proposing here is admittedly incremental, it's not going to transform the entire health care system in one fell swoop, but it is going to allow us to stabilize these private markets. It's going to allow us to begin the innovation that John Kasich is talking about of really stepping forward and allowing states that ability to innovate. That's how -- I mean, we're going to have substantial changes and really strengthen the entire system.

KEILAR: I do have to ask you since I have you both here because you were both shooting down speculation that you can be running together in 2020, we whipped up a little something, just a little --

KASICH: For what? Running for what?

KEILAR: You know, not dogcatcher. OK?

KASICH: What is it we're running for?

KEILAR: You know, the big White House.

So we whipped up a little something. It's just a little poster just to give you a taste what have it would look like. So, I don't know, isn't that a little enticing, Governor Kasich?

KASICH: There's a lot of stars around that. I -- listen, I hope my wife doesn't have the show on tonight. I want to eat dinner at home. I want to be able to get in my home. And if you guys are cooking something up, I've got to make sure that I can sneak in and tell her I wasn't a part of this.

KEILAR: That's not a no.

KASICH: Look, Hickenlooper looks so good on that. It's really enticing. He should seriously think about it.

KEILAR: And you know there's options here. There's options here. Look, we can also switch it up, you can see that -- Governor Hickenlooper, I mean, what do you think about this? Could this be a possibility for you?

HICKENLOOPER: Now, we're talking, now we're talking.

No, I don't think it's going to happen. And I admire and I really enjoy working with Governor Kasich. He's been a great partner. And I think we are going to find things question work on together -- KEILAR: But what would make it happen? What would make it happen?

With so much convention being thrown out the window when it comes to politics, what might make you consider something like that?

KASICH: Hey, listen, Brianna, here's the situation, what is so astounding to me is that John, successful, small businessman, terrific guy, and I am working together and people like can't believe it. They can't believe that a Republican and Democrat can get together. This is the way it used to be.

And let me suggest one other thing, we're not doing this because we want to run for something. We're doing it because we think we can help people. And as I said just in an interview not long ago, why is it any time anybody does anything good, there's suspicion as to why they're doing it?

Now, what we're seeing are people doing wonderful things in Texas not because they want anything. See, it brings out the best in us. Life is short, and, you know, what I think John and I both answer to is the Lord's call that we can give everybody a chance and lift everyone. And that's what we are all about, plain and simple, and that's the end --

KEILAR: We appreciate both of -- we certainly appreciate both you being with us. And seeing is believing. The two of you here working on something together, reaching across the aisle. Governor Kasich, Governor Hickenlooper, thank you so much.

HICKENLOOPER: Thank you.

KASICH: You're welcome. Thank you.

KEILAR: We're going to take a short break and we'll be right back with our top story, the recovery from Harvey in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Turning to our "WORLD LEAD," American fighter jets sending a warning to North Korea, the U.S. and its allies staged a fiery show of force just hours after Kim Jong-un renewed his missile threat against the U.S. territory of Guam, flying some of its most advanced state of the art stealth fighters and bombers over the Korean peninsula in a bombing drill, a live fire drill there. CNN's Will Ripley is joining me now from Pyongyang, North Korea. He's the only Western journalist who is inside of North Korea right now. Will, tell us, what is North Korea's response to this bombing drill, very clear message being sent by the U.S. and its allies?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Essentially North Korea shrugged it off, Brianna. They put a statement in the late evening hours here relatively quickly after that bomber flyover by the United States. They called it a rash act because they say the United States is upset about their intermediate range missile launch which is true. The United States certainly not happy that they launched their Hwasong-12 missile over northern Japan. But the North Korean statement didn't promise further reaction as a result of the bombing flyover. They're used to seeing this kind of thing from the United States. So it wasn't a particularly strong worded reaction from North Korea. Of course, we'll have to see if there's any physical action to come. It hasn't happened yet.

[16:50:00] KEILAR: Tell us if really you can just explain a square for us what the Japanese Prime Minister is saying. He's saying that President Trump and he are in total agreement when it comes to their responses to North Korea, but President Trump has talked about fire and fury. He said they're locked and loaded. He just tweeted recently that talking really isn't going to be the solution here. What does that mean? Can you explain that to us that they're on the same page? It seems that they are anything but.

RIPLEY: We know that the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe publicly is always going to say that he's in lock step with the United States and President Trump. I mean, the U.S.-Japan alliance is the most important relationship for Japan. That's why you saw Prime Minister Abe race to the United States shortly after the election. Obviously, the two leaders have differences in style, but their end game, their end goal is pretty much the same, which is they want to diplomatically and economically isolate North Korea. Even though President Trump said that talking isn't the answer, he's not saying that a military option is the answer. Nobody thinks that a military option is a good idea on the peninsula because of the catastrophic consequences.

But what the United States would like to see and in fact, Japan and the U.K. came up with a deal is they're going to try speed up the pace of implementing the seventh round of U.N. sanctions. They're going to continue to try to pressure China to do more to sanction this country. They basically want the regime cut off completely, financially, so that in the United States view, they will -- they will be desperate and come to the bargaining table willing to talk about their weapons program. But of course the North Koreans would point out, they lived through famine in the late 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of people died of starvation. They're doing much better now. They're much more self-sufficient now than they were back then. And even during those difficult times, the regime still stayed in power Brianna, and they still kept launching missiles.

KEILAR: Will Ripley, thank you so much from North Korea.

Breaking news in our "POLITICS LEAD. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that lawyers from President Trump met several times with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and that they have submitted memos arguing that the President did not obstruct justice by firing former FBI Chief James Comey. So to my panel here, Kirsten Powers and Mary Katharine Ham, what does that mean when you have the White House dismissing this investigation, but privately, Mary Katharine, it seems like it's a very different story. How concerned are they?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think they're probably concerned. I think perhaps some were concerned more than Trump seems publicly. But this is always a dichotomous White House, there are always many messages at one time. And I think they should be concerns and they should making that argument because that's the arguments that lawyers should make in defense of the President. But Trump will continue to be Trump in public.

KEILAR: What do you think?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I want to hear their argument, right?

KEILAR: Of course.

POWERS: No, I mean seriously, because it seems to me to be sort of a pretty obvious case of obstruction of justice. Some sort of interest in the legal, you know -- we've kind of heard the political argument I think, but what's the really deep legal defense of this since there really was no other reason to fire him but to obstruct his investigation.

KEILAR: Meaning if it's not the public or will the initial public argument --

POWERS: Yes. Are they making a different argument?

KEILAR: It was because he had messed up with the Hillary Clinton e- mail investigation, you said he did it with Russia in mind.

POWERS: Well, and the President himself said in an interview afterwards that it was because of Russia, right? So they had their sort of initial response, but then he later said, you know, no it was actually because of the Russia investigation. So it just seems like an open and shut case. So I'm wondering if they're making a different case.

HAM: Well, I think there have been like pretty procedures, legal minds who have made the argument that like, no this doesn't actually rise to this. So I imagine that something along does winds as well.

KEILAR: So, today very important news that the U.S. is retaliating against Russia, closing the Russian consulate in San Francisco as well as two other offices. This coming in response to the fact that Russia is mandating staff cuts at the U.S. mission in Russia. Where do you see this going?

POWERS: Well, I mean, it's good that there was a response and the State Department says this was supposed to be something that was proportionate, not something meant to escalate. Of course, Russia's you know, responding sort of overly dramatically and suggesting this is an escalation, but in fact, it really does seem like a proportionate response and a fairly mild response frankly considering that all that Russia has done in the past year.

KEILAR: Is it mild? Is it proportional, what do you think?

HAM: It did seem to -- it seemed to make a point about being proportional.

POWERS: Yes, right.

HAM: It seems to me like it's sort of counterpunching in a Trumpian style in foreign policy or in diplomatic relations and that where he's up to, also the San Francisco consulate for Russia, a very nice, large piece of property.

[16:55:08] KEILAR: That is a good point. Which I'm sure costs a pretty penny. Senior administration --

POWERS: Not that Trump cares about this kind of thing.

KEILAR: Right. Not -- sure not. Senior administration sources saying that look, there's no Russian embassy staff being expelled, right? They can be reassigned. They're just moving them from this consulate in San Francisco and from annexing in Washington and New York. So does that make it mild? In that regard?

HAM: Well, it could be more smoke than fire, I think certainly.

KEILAR: That it's just a message.

HAM: It felt mild to me.

POWERS: But I thought, you know like I said, they seem to be making a point that they didn't want to do something that was going to escalate problems with Russia.

KEILAR: Because if they do, where does that head if it does turn into an escalation?

POWERS: Yes. But then we sort of go back to the fact that -- I just don't feel like there's been enough done to respond to all that Russia has done. So in that context, this just feels a little bit like they can say they did something.

KEILAR: It's looking now like the investigation into potential, well we know some campaign contacts with be it Russian individuals or officials that it's like expanding. Because now off source telling CNN that the New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman is looking at notes, he's comparing notes with the Special Council when it comes to Paul Manafort, the former Head, one of the former Heads of Donald Trump's campaign. This would move things to a state level in a way. And is that -- is that an active effort to try to stop Donald Trump's pardon power from reaching Paul Manafort?

HAM: I mean there are two things Brianna, there is the element where his powers are blunted on a state level when it comes to state charges, but the other part of this that I think that's interesting for the political play out is that Sneiderman is recognized a as part of the Democratic machine in New York. He's a New York guy with whom Trump has had a New York feud and we're going to hear tons about it if he's involved in this. And I do think with Trump's voters, it gives him a political weapon to say look at this guy they brought in. He's here with me forever.

KEILAR: It really does.

HAM: It really does. POWERS: Yes. I think the only explanation is what you said is that they are hoping to get around, you know, so that -- because the fear is of course that people don't cooperate because they think that Trump is going to pardon them though. I think that's a risky game to play frankly. So -- but I think that they would only do it if they had a good reason because of that fact that Sneiderman is so political. And look, they're all -- Attorney Generals in New York are all elected and they're part of a party, but he is really particularly very political and has this already problem with Donald Trump. I mean, he's the one that went after Trump University. So Trump is really going to use an (INAUDIBLE) to say like, are we supposed to say take this seriously? They're in bed with somebody who's such a hyper partisan Democrat.

KEILAR: Of course he would. If the situation were reversed, you would see the same thing. I want to talk about DACA, the protection for dreamers. Young people who came to the U.S. illegally, but as young people. They came certainly with their -- with their parents and they've had some protections under the Obama administration to protect them from deportation. So right now, we know that the Homeland Security Department is there at the White House. They're meeting on the future of DACA, protecting 800,000 undocumented immigrants. What happens to the dreamers if the President decides I'm getting rid of this policy?

HAM: Well, I mean, there's a lot of details in that. How about how their work permits would end at some point.

KEILAR: But they would expire, but they would -- they would -- sometime but eventually --

HAM: Right. What I think is interesting about this is it seems like maybe there's a turf war going on today where someone in the White House was trying to make this look as if it was over when it was not in fact over. It was very interesting to me because --

KEILAR: It broke in another network and then at the White House briefing, the spokeswoman and the Homeland Security Advisor were definite that this was still under consideration.

HAM: Yes. So as they're moving forward and considering this, I think it's interesting that this White House is often all over the place and whenever it was, April or June, the immigration memo actually preserved Obama's memo. But I do think that like this is a real weakness of the phone and pen president -- presidency. It's like you've put these folks actually in pretty a bad position where they have applied, where people have their information and you don't know who will become president next. And that's where why Congress should pass something on this lines.

POWERS: Well, that's the problem with it -- is that people came forward. They sort of came out, you know, expecting that they were going to be safe. And now if they withdraw this, they're targets, right? They have targets on their backs basically.

HAM: And their information is obviously known. It is filed with the government as well. POWERS: Yes. And so -- and the reason they came forward was because

they thought they'd be safe.

KEILAR: Yes. Kirsten Powers, Mary Katharine Ham, thank you so much to both of you.

Be sure to follow THE LEAD on Facebook and Twitter @THELEADCNN. That is if, for THE LEAD, I'm Brianna Keilar in for Jake Tapper. I'm turning you over now to Jim Sciutto filling in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, rescues, and evacuations. Urgent rescues are still taking place in Harvey's wake. Rescuers pulling people from the water and from rooftops.