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Feds Wiretapped Former Trump Campaign Chair; Last-Ditch Obamacare Repeal Effort Gaining Steam. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 19, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANAYST: That doesn't prove that they are, but it certainly suggests that the FBI had more than a hunch and they did it twice. So on two occasions they had enough evidence to persuade a judge to approve this kind of wiretap.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: As you heard, I was asking Shimon about some of the reporting, some of the intelligence suggested that it appeared that Manafort was encouraging Russians to get involved, but it's unclear exactly what that means. What is the universal possibility when you hear that?

TOOBIN: It's very hard to delineate the entire universe of possibilities. But remember, we do know that all the intelligence agencies agree that Russia tried to help Hillary Clinton lose this election and Donald Trump win this election. Whether it was efforts on Facebook, whether it was WikiLeaks. The question at the heart of this investigation is, did anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign encourage Russia, participate with Russia, in those efforts to help Trump? That presumably is at the heart of what Mueller is looking at.

BOLDUAN: One of the many things that he is looking at, at this very moment.

Jeffrey, stick with me.

We're going to bring in to join the conversation Asha Rangappa, a CNN legal analyst, also a former FBI special agent who conducted classified investigations of suspected foreign agents.

To the point that Jeffrey was getting at, Asha, to wiretap Manafort investigators had to get a FISA warrant of course. What did they need to do, what did they need to show, what exactly did they need to say in order to convince a judge to go along?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So I got FISA warrants when I was in the FBI and I can assure you it's very difficult. You just don't walk into a court and order a FISA. It's not a Starbucks. So you have to actually have conducted an investigation for usually a period of many months, where you're getting -- whether it's intelligence from our agencies, maybe you're digging through their trash or conducting physical surveillance, you're gathering a lot of information in order to show a court that there's probable cause to believe that as Jeffrey said, this person is knowingly acting on behalf of a foreign power and engaging in clandestine intelligence activity. So they are -- they are looking like they are spying on behalf of this foreign government. And what your intent is, what you're trying to convince the court is, that if you commence this electronic surveillance, again you are already using other techniques, we need to use the other technique because we believe that in these communications, we're going to get more foreign intelligence about what this foreign intelligence service is up to and how this person may be participating in it and potentially other people who are involved. Because, you know, intelligence agencies are human source based services, just like our CIA. They're recruiting people on the ground. You want to know who they're working with.

BOLDUAN: Also, humans who are doing these investigations. I bring that up because you're back in your old post you were not blind to the world going on around you. Would there be an extra level of scrutiny that would be offered or demanded for a FISA warrant for someone who is so closely linked to the president-elect or the president of the United States?

RANGAPPA: Absolutely. So in the FISA statute itself first of all, there is a broad provision that people, especially U.S. persons, cannot be surveilled based on solely first amendment activity and political activity is given some of the biggest protection under our first amendment. This is going to be something that is going to be looked at generally, anything associated with a political campaign, very carefully. Then on top of that, you have an active, ongoing election. Now look, the FBI has a very checkered past OK in the '70s they were doing some incredibly sketchy stuff involving political figures. They don't want to touch this with a 10-foot pole if there's any doubt, especially when it goes to a court. There has to be that additional level. Then they get to a court and the judge looking at this, now this judge has no skin in the game, this is an Article III federal judge with life tenure who's going to be looking at this, that judge will give it an extra level of scrutiny of to make sure that, you know, this is the check on the executive branch on the FBI to say I want to make sure you're not up to something, you know, that you're not supposed to be doing. So I think at every level, particularly given the target, particularly given that, you know, there was an election that was under way, careful scrutiny.

BOLDUAN: Jeffrey, of course, when you hear the word wiretap if you follow the news or the election or the president at all you know where everyone's mind goes, to the tweet that he put out in March that created such a problem for him and created so much confusion. Does anything in this that you see coming out in this report, does anything that we've learned now overnight and today, does anything contradict what the FBI and the Justice Department put out in their statements in response to the president's tweets, essentially saying they have no information that supports those tweets?

[11:35:03] TOOBIN: Right. The most important tweet that you're talking about is the one where he said --

BOLDUAN: President Obama had my wires tapped.

TOOBIN: In Trump Tower. There is nothing in this report that suggests President Obama had his wires tapped in Trump Tower. The only possibility it seems is that Trump's voice was picked up on a wiretap of Paul Manafort's phone, somewhere, whether in Trump Tower --


BOLDUAN: That's something we don't know, right?

TOOBIN: -- on his cell phones or most taps are on cell phones, not land lines. So no, it is -- it does not vindicate this -- Trump, this tweet by Trump, earlier this year. And it is worth pointing out that then Director Comey, the Department of Justice more recently, have all said there was no --


BOLDUAN: The Department of Justice under Jeff Sessions says they do not. I think the statement was we confirm that there are no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4th, 2017, tweets.

TOOBIN: Which seems pretty categorical to me.

BOLDUAN: Asha, give me your final thoughts.

RANGAPPA: Well, I think that there are tapes and so to the extent that there are associates of the Trump campaign who have been captured in some of these communications we know that they are going in to some of these committees to talk and those committees -- those statements that they made can be prosecuted if they're false and they may be called to testify in front of a grand jury or become targets of Mueller's investigation. So I think this changes the game a little bit in terms of both putting pressure on people who may have something to add and definitely on Manafort.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

RANGAPPA: Because, you know -- and I think that he probably has way more information to give and the criminal angle that Mueller is pursuing is I think intended to pressure him into providing more information on the intelligence front.

Yes. All right. Asha, Jeffrey, great to have you. Thanks very much.

A lot more to come in this for sure. Coming up for us, a new health care push, but will Republicans face the very same problem -- how the GOP's last-ditch effort to overhaul Obamacare could come down to, say it with me now, just one Republican Senator vote against.

We'll be right back.


[11:41:51] BOLDUAN: At the top of the hour, Senate Republicans will be meeting behind closed doors for their weekly lunch. The lunch not a surprise. I don't know the menu. I can't tell you. The topic is a last-ditch effort to pass an overhaul of Obamacare called the Graham- Cassidy bill, Graham and Cassidy came on this show to unveil their plans here just over the summer. But since then, the effort didn't really go anywhere or did it? Speaker Paul Ryan is calling it the best last chance for Republicans to fulfill their seven-year campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. But the clock, it always is on Capitol Hill, is ticking on this one in a big way.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is on Capitol Hill watching all the movement here.

Ryan, what are you hearing right now? Are the votes there?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, if this seems like a report we did for you about a month ago, that's because it's exactly the case. In fact, you could probably you find one of those and hit play and we would be in the same spot. We're in a razor thin margin --


BOLDUAN: So fun for you to do it again.

NOBLES: Exactly. We're essentially at a razor thin margin here of Republicans trying to push through another health care reform bill. This one slightly different than the one that they presented about two months ago, but again, essentially, it's the same group of players that we're keeping an eye on. Right now, our whip count is pretty fluid. A whole bunch of Senators who remain in the undecided camp. Only one Senator, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, is an outright no, but the other Senators that voted no in the past, Senator John McCain, Senator Susan Collins, they are definitely in the leaning no camp right now trying to be won over by the supporters of this bill, lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. Others like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is cautious in her approach, wants to see the bill play out before making a definitive decision. The big difference here is we may not get a full score from the Congressional budget office for several weeks, until after the September 30th deadline which is crucial to the passage of this bill, which means a lot of Senators will be flying blind as far as the impact of this bill long term but they are trying to convince them they know their numbers are strong, this is a viable alternative, it will be better for their individual states because of the flexibility this is going to allow states in terms of block grants and they believe that they can evenly push this over the finish line. Like it was two months ago, it is going to be very close.

BOLDUAN: It is going to be very close and it's going to be very close because not only the timeline but what is in the bill. It is similar, but it is not the same from the bills that have been proposed and pushed and failed in the past. Lay it out. What's in this bill and what's different this time and very much the same?

NOBLES: Let's talk about what's the same and one of the reasons they will have hard time pushing it through because it is pretty much a wholesale repeal of Obamacare. It will get rid of things like the individual mandate which is a core tenant of Obamacare. It's going to keep in place some of the tax credits that made Obamacare what it is. Now what it does do, which is slightly different, is takes the bulk of this funding and wraps it up into individualized block grants issued to the states and that will give the governors some level of control as to how they will issue their Medicare payments. Now the reason they're making this pitch to these individual governors because they feel that there's a funding imbalance right now in terms of Medicare, especially through Obamacare, where there's a small group of states, highly populated states, that are getting the bulk of the funding. The pitch they're making to a Senator like Dean Heller who is, of course -- was on the fence and a no vote at one point that Nevada would do better under this plan and the thought being if you put it in the hands of the governors they will be able to make easier decisions for their individual citizens.

Of course, the problem is, Kate, there are still Medicare cuts in this bill. That's one of the reasons that Susan Collins of Maine has been reluctant to get behind in and Democrats still feel these core tenants of the bill that rip away the things that they feel were important in Obamacare are now gone and that's one of the reasons that if this is going to get done, it's going to be done with all Republican support. Keep in mind, Kate, even if we get it through the Senate, even if it passes through the Senate of 50 votes, it then has to go to the House and will likely not be able to be changed so the members of the House will have to vote on it as is if they want to pass it and right now we have no idea what rank-and-file members of the House feel about this bill as it currently stands.

[11:46:33] BOLDUAN: We have no idea on a whole lot of fronts and not a lot of time.

Ryan, thank you so much.

All right. Let's talk about it. Joining me CNN commentators and analysts, former Republican Senator and presidential candidate, Rick Santorum here, Doug Hye, the former deputy chief of staff. Brian Fallon, a former spokesman for Hillary Clinton's campaign. And Kirsten Powers is here.

Senator, I must start with you because you were very much involved in the conception of this health care plan. No matter how great the policy is, in your mind, there is a very important thing that is missing as Ryan pointed out. The official score from the official score keeper of legislation, the CBO. Why are you OK with them moving ahead with a vote without knowing the full impact?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First off, CBO has communicated to the Republican sponsors of the bill they will have a score in time for there to be a score before the final vote. So I think we're pretty confident that will be the case. Let's just be honest, there's really two chunks to this bill. One as mentioned before, is the per capita cap on Medicaid scored by CBO and there really aren't any substantive changes to it and that score is known and out there and been there for months. The other part is a block grant that takes the money from all the Obamacare taxes, the only taxes that are repealed under this are the taxes on employers and individuals because of the individual and employee/employer mandate and the medical device tax. It's about $250 billion in taxes. It's not small, but it's all related to the employer and employee mandate. The rest is block grants to the state. Let's be honest, how difficult it is to score a block grant that says this is the money every state is going to get. So there really isn't a whole lot of question here about how much money this will cost. It's pretty laid out in the bill and that's why we're fairly confident CBO will get a score. BOLDUAN: Kirsten, something similar was said by Senator Ron Johnson,

one of the now sponsors of the bill. He said it this morning for our viewers, listen to this.


SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R), WISCONSIN: CBO takes so long, this is actually pretty simple. We're taking $1.2 trillion of Obamacare funding and we're pretty well attaching to the Senate health care bill which has already been scored and doesn't take a rocket scientist to kind of add those two figures up and give us the score we need to actually vote on this, but CBO is CBO and they're saying they need weeks. I reject that notion and think we can decide based on the information we already have.


BOLDUAN: Do you think that's going to be good enough for skeptical Republicans?

KRISTEN POWER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Susan Collins is going to be the main one who has been concerned about the CBO score, right. So I mean we're only talking about a few people here basically Rand Paul, John McCain, Susan and Lisa Murkowski. These are people who have been skeptical. McCain seems to be moving in the direction of the bill because his governor of Arizona has endorsed it. You still have, you know, Rand Paul seems pretty entrenched and that leaves Collins and Murkowski and Collins has been very clear .

The rest of the people don't seem to care that much about the CBO scores because they got bad scores and they seemed OK. I call them bad in the sense that people will lose their health insurance. For Republicans that's not the concern. The concern is not about universal coverage. It's about sending it back to the states and letting the states decide what they want to do. What are they going to do with the block grants and what that means in terms of people being covered by health insurance.

[11:50:21] BOLDUAN: Brian Fallon, the voices in my head say you are shaking your head.

BRIAN FALLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I can't believe that are Republicans are considering going ahead with this. You don't make a sequel to a movie that bombed at the box office. It had a 17 percent approval rating and this is worse than the original. The CBO said they might be able to examine some of the impacts, but they are unlikely to publish a number of how many people will lose coverage under this new proposal. That is the critical number. This bill is not following regular order. If John McCain is going to be consistent for why he voted against the bill last time, he should be voting no. They are doubling down on cuts to medicate. People like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins and states that expanded medicate populations will see deeper cuts and those states that have done the right thing by accepting federal funds to cover low income populations. I didn't think it was popular to have a bill that was less popular than that over the summer. They are making it here. (CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Brian, Brian, with all due respect, Brian, as someone who drafted the bill and can tell you the details, you are wrong.

FALLON: It's not rocket science. Can you tell us as you are sitting here today how many peel will lose coverage?


SANTORUM: Brian, you're wrong. You're wrong.


SANTORUM: Yes, I can, Brian.


FALLON: Is it 22 million like the last bill?

SANTORUM: Brian, Brian, other than the money that is taken out because of the employer mandate, all the other money is going out to the states. If the states want to put an employer mandate and the state of California wants to do an employer and individual mandate, they can. What does it mean? California would get a lot of their money back. They don't have to put up a 10 percent match. You didn't mention that. Our bill doesn't require them to put up a 10 percent match to get their funds.


SANTORUM: If you allow me to finish.


SANTORUM: Secondly, we also allow for 15 and up to 2915 and 20 percent of the second block grant that was Obamacare spending to be used to help the basic Medicaid program. States will have a flexibility if there is a shortfall, they can use money from the other block grant that doesn't require a match, Medicaid does require it, to be able to help out. They will have flexibility to be able to deal with both of the populations. There is less money, yes. Some states like Massachusetts and California and Oregon, about five or six straights that are very high cost and expensive Medicaid states will get less money under the bill. Almost every other state will do better? They run more efficient programs --


FALLON: What are about Louisiana?

SANTORUM: Louisiana will be fine.


BOLDUAN: Hold on a second. (CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Let me bring in Doug on this.

One of the things that we heard from Senators who haven't been able to say where they land is that they need to learn more. They need to learn more about the bill. They need to know more about the bill. I do wonder, is there some benefit to the fact that the country has not been talking about this health care plan and been very focused. The news cycle and the elected officials, the White House, everyone has been distracted, if you will, and focused elsewhere, but not on health care. North Korea, hurricanes. Is there a benefit that the eyes of the country may not be on this debate to getting this through?

DOUG HYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the eyes of the country have been on the health care debate for seven years now. We have been heard that Republicans have been unable to do anything. They are right. I think this is an Elvis Presley moment for Republicans right now. It is now or never. We have a September 30th deadline and we tried to do things in the past and failed. In 2014, when I worked on repeal and replace --


BOLDUAN: It's now or never on a 50 vote. It's not now or never on getting something done. You need to deal with the regular order which is a 60-vote threshold.

HYE: I don't have high hopes on anything bipartisan, but we can talk about the Hillary 2008 campaign was a terrible movie. We had grown ups and grownups two. This happens in politics all the time. If you are Republicans and have been campaigning on this for seven years, this is the time to act.

[11:55:01] BOLDUAN: If you are a Republican Senator and didn't like the things in this bill and previous renditions and you will be expected to vote for it in this bill, that can be a tough pill to swallow. What do you say to Rand Paul who said this is Obamacare that redistributes the money.

SANTORUM: I have something momentarily that responds to Rand Paul in great detail --


BOLDUAN: Give us a preview.

SANTORUM: The preview is that Rand Paul said this doesn't repeal Obamacare. What doesn't it repeal? They are right. The Medicaid expansion goes away. We repeal Medicaid expansion at the end of 2019. The tax credits and the cost share reduction payments to insurance companies go away. The mandate to buy insurance goes away. The mandate for employers goes away. All of these things, everything that Obamacare is goes away and is repeal and replaced by a system that says we are going to equally apportion money based on 50 to 138 percent to every state. California's poor people will get the same amount of money as New Hampshire.


SANTORUM: That's a fair system and not what Obamacare is today.

BOLDUAN: Guys, thank you so much. We'll see where this goes. Still are the votes there? No one has the answer to that.

Thank you very much.

Coming up for us, all eyes on Hurricane Maria after the storm devastated islands already in its path in the hard-hit Caribbean. Where is Maria headed next. It is a category five, still.

Stay with us.