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Fight over Health Care; Pelosi Faces Protesters; Maria Tears through Caribbean; Antigua Feels Hurricane Maria; Trump U.N. Speech Today; Manafort Wiretapped; Clinton on Election Legitimacy. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired September 19, 2017 - 08:30   ET



[08:33:56] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Senate Republicans are trying to make a last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare. Four senators have introduced new health care legislation. They hope to get the 50 votes that they would need to pass it by the end of the month without a full CBO score.

Earlier, we spoke with one of the architects, Senator Ron Johnson, about it.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: But CBO is CBO and they're saying they need weeks. I just reject that notion. I think we can pretty well decide based on the information we already have.


CAMEROTA: All right, let's talk about this and more with Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

Good morning, senator.


CAMEROTA: What do you think of this new legislation? This Graham -- you know, there's four senators behind it, Graham, Cassidy and you just heard Ron Johnson there.

SHAHEEN: Well, this is just more of the same in a new package. This is a bill that would deny millions of Americans health insurance. It would mean that Medicaid, which 70 million Americans depend on in New Hampshire, the expansion of Medicaid has provided health care coverage for thousands of people, including people with substance use disorders, which is a huge challenge in New Hampshire and so much of the county. And what it would do is kick those people off of their treatment. It would wind up making -- meaning that people with pre- existing conditions would have to pay more or they would be denied insurance coverage.

[08:35:13] So this is just the same kind of mean-spirited effort to deny coverage to people across the country. And --

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean Senator Johnson sounded pretty bullish on it this morning. He seemed to suggest that some of the holdouts in the previous legislation that we've seen, some of the Republican holdouts, Lisa Murkowski, Senator John McCain, that they were going to be able to find some sort of deals, give them some sort of sweeteners for their state that would get them onboard to pass this.

SHAHEEN: Well, that may be the case. They are certainly reshuffling money so that it's going to many red states and New Hampshire have -- or we would lose $410 million. In Ohio they would lose upwards of $2 billion.

So the issue here is that it's the same problem with the process. This is legislation that hasn't had a hearing, that hasn't had bipartisan support. And the sad thing is also that it's going to derail attempts by Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, who are making a strong, bipartisan effort to address the immediate uncertainty in the insurance market that's affecting so many people across the country. So it's really hard to understand why there is this driving effort to pass a partisan piece of legislation that would deny people their health care.

CAMEROTA: Speaking of bipartisanship, I want to ask you about what you've seen in terms of protecting the dreamers. As you know, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer sat down with President Trump and in what many saw as a surprise move, President Trump seemed to side with them over his Republican colleagues in an effort, they say, that they'll craft something to protect dreamers.

And then something unusual happened yesterday, senator. Nancy Pelosi, who by all accounts is trying to protect the 800,000 dreamers, was met with this backlash. She was in San Francisco. She was at a news conference. And young -- I believe dreamers, certainly young people, were shouting at her and chanting. Let me play a moment of this so you can react.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've cut off the dreamers who are here to speak.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you've had -- and you've had (INAUDIBLE).

CROWD: Let us speak! Let us speak!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've had your time.


CAMEROTA: Part of what they were chanting there was, "let us speak," which she seemed to be allowing them to. But why is she, of all people, getting this backlash from dreamers? SHAHEEN: Well, listen, dreamers, young people across this country are

frustrated because they came to the country through no fault of their own. They were brought by parents. They want to contribute to this county. They want to go to college. They want to join the military. They want to get jobs and be Americans, which is what they are. That's -- this is the only country most of them have ever known.

CAMEROTA: But she's trying to protect them. I mean she's the person who's pushing the president to help, right?

SHAHEEN: Well, you know -- well, she is. And I think the good news is that we've heard from both Republicans and Democrats who believe that we need to do something to protect the dreamers. And that's one I'm certainly going to continue to work on.

CAMEROTA: But, again, I'm just confused about why they're holding Nancy Pelosi at fault here? Do they not like that she's working with the president on this?

SHAHEEN: Listen, you'll have to ask them. Who knows who's stirred up this kind of animosity. What we know about the Russians and their interference in the 2016 elections is that they tried to increase divisions within this country. We saw it again in Charlottesville. So, we don't know what is behind this. But what we do know is that we need to take action to protect the dreamers, to allow them to stay in America.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about what's happening today at the U.N. What are you looking for? What do you want to hear President Trump say?

SHAHEEN: Well, I hope the president will continue his more moderated comments about the role of the United Nations in the world. It's very important for peace keeping efforts and important to help address negotiations in hot spots around the world. And I hope he will talk about the importance of American leadership in the world.

We know that's what countries across the world are looking for. And when we don't continue our leadership position, then countries like China and Russia and other rogue nations step in. So it's important for us to continue a leadership role and I hope the president will reaffirm that.

CAMEROTA: Senator Jeanne Shaheen, thank you very much for being with us on NEW DAY.

SHAHEEN: Thank you.


[08:39:57] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hurricane Maria now an extremely powerful storm tearing through the Caribbean and aiming right at Puerto Rico. We'll bring you the latest forecast track. That's next.


CAMEROTA: Hurricane Maria has regained category five strength this morning as it tears across the Caribbean with 160 mile per hour winds. This is what it looked like overnight as this storm thrashed the island of Guadeloupe. That's scary. This storm is expected to make a direct hit on Puerto Rico tomorrow.

So meteorologist Chad Myers has been tracking it all morning for us.

What do you see at this hour, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the surface wind, 160, but the hurricane hunter aircraft flying through put out one of the drop suns (ph), kind of like a weather balloon but it goes the other way. They just found 118-mile-per-hour wind at 700 feet up. So a very big storm. Certainly a cat five. And it's not going to lose a lot of power because it's right over very warm water and there's no shear there.

So, Puerto Rico, you're in the way. Now is the time to make the final preps, get into a safe place. Likely some of the houses, not the safe place. Get in someplace. It will be uncomfortable. There will be a lot of people in the strong buildings. But 3.5 million people need to get out of the way, 3.4 by the latest census. Look, 1930, last time we had a big storm, there was only 1.5 million people in Puerto Rico. Florida, obviously, a little bit more than that because of the migration down there.


[08:45:14] BERMAN: All right, Chad Myers for us. Thank you so much.

Obviously Hurricane Maria's wrath is being felt by islands that were hit by Hurricane Irma. That includes Antigua, where CNN's Michael Holmes joins us live with more.



Yes, all night and right through this morning so far you can see the conditions behind me. The seas are just pounding out there off Antigua. The palm trees -- there are several trees are down here. There's been some damage to the hotel that we're staying in, actually.

But the real concern is Dominica. Now that island was hit dead on by Hurricane Maria. A cat five at the time. We heard from the prime minister before communications went dark that his own house had been badly damaged. He has been evacuated.

We have heard from ham radio operators who got word out that there has been major structural damage there. We talked to a charter pilot who flies these islands for a living and he said a couple of years ago a tropical storm did enormous damage on Dominica. Well, this was a cat five. So we can only pray that things aren't as bad as they might seem to be at the moment.

Communications down. We're not sure what is going on there. Guadeloupe also hit. As I say, that -- that storm, that hurricane is 120 miles southwest of where I am now and you can see what it's doing to Antigua.


BERMAN: All right, Michael. Michael Homes for us in Antigua. Thank you so much.

We're going to keep an eye on Hurricane Maria all morning.

Now here's what to watch.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:30 a.m. President Trump addresses the U.N. General Assembly.

4:00 p.m. Attorney General Sessions talks about sanctuary cities.

4:30 p.m. Former Vice President Biden hosts a jobs roundtable at the University of Delaware.


CAMEROTA: OK, less than two hours from now, President Trump will give his first speech before the U.N. General Assembly. What are the stakes? We have "The Bottom Line" with David Axelrod, next.


[08:51:04] BERMAN: President Trump about an hour away from one of the biggest moments of his presidency so far. He will give an address to the United Nations General Assembly. This is not his first international speech, but the stakes are higher this time and the audience no doubt bigger.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod.

David, thanks so much for being with us.


BERMAN: First speech to the General Assembly. It's always a big deal. Arguably a bigger deal for this president who has more questions to answer from the international community.

AXELROD: Oh, without question. You know, the whole premise of his presidency, as stated in his inaugural address, is America first. We're going to look after ourselves. Everybody else has to look after themselves. He's been highly critical of global institutions. He's suggesting that, you know, sovereignty issues concern him, suggesting that they're not carrying their load.

And so, you know, he's facing a very skeptical body there. So this is going to be a very challenging speech. But at the end of the day, I think he's probably as much concerned about domestic audiences as he is the international audiences.

CAMEROTA: I mean you were in the White House, obviously, when President Obama did this. Do these things, do these speeches tend to shift the sands geopolitically? Are -- is -- are real policy and news made here?

AXELROD: Actually, I think it does. You know, the president of the United States has enormous power. I've always said when president's speak it's -- it can send army's marching and markets tumbling. And here you have the world gathered to hear from him on American policy. And so I do think it's significant. It's not -- it's -- this isn't just another political event.

BERMAN: This is happening with this new CNN report out overnight, the CNN exclusive that Paul Manafort, the one-time campaign chair for then candidate Donald Trump, had his phones wiretapped. FISA warrants twice during the campaign. What's the lasting impact? This is more than a drip, drip, drip. This is sort of a flush or a torrent of water coming down on him.

AXELROD: Yes. well, I think that the -- to me the thing that caught my eye was that they were -- they had wiretapped him after the election as well and into the first months of the Trump presidency. Did they capture conversations between the president and Manafort talking about this particular case? And did the president, in any way, signify to Manafort that he's got his back?

You know, these are questions we don't know the answer to. But certainly if I were the president's lawyers, I'd be concerned about that. And clearly the government is squeezing Manafort very hard. And that's how these investigations work. You take down people below your top target and you squeeze them and see what you can get.

CAMEROTA: Hillary Clinton was asked about this yesterday in terms of if there were a bigger bombshell, if the Mueller investigation leads somewhere to a real smoking gun, something really significant, what would she do? Let's listen to this.


TERRY GROSS: Would you completely rule out questioning the legitimacy of this election if -- if we learn that the Russian interference in the election is even deeper than we know now?


GROSS: You're not going to rule it out?

CLINTON: No, I wouldn't rule it out.


CAMEROTA: So, what would that look like?

AXELROD: Well, I don't know. And I'm not sure, when she answered that question, that she knew either. I think she's been sort of subtly questioning the legitimacy of the election in many ways for some time. Her book very much focuses on the Russia incursion, on Comey. But I don't know what recourse there is, honestly. We have constitutional processes to remove a president. I don't know that there are processes to invalidate an election.

And, you know, I'd be very careful about how we approach all of this because, at the end of the day, this is about a larger issue, which is our democracy. And we don't want to undermine peoples' faith. We want our processes to work properly.

[08:55:07] BERMAN: Is that being careful, what the former secretary said?

AXELROD: I think she was answering a question, but I don't think she was reasoning it through to what that would mean. I think people imputed from that she meant that somehow the election is invalidated. And I'm not sure that that's what she was suggesting. I mean she'll have to speak for herself. But I kind of read that and said maybe more is being made of it than we should. I think she thinks that there are questions about the legitimacy of the election right now, but I haven't heard her say what -- that she thinks that something should happen as a consequence of that.

CAMEROTA: David Axelrod, great to see you. Thanks so much for "The Bottom Line."

AXELROD: OK, you guys. Have a great day.

CAMEROTA: OK, CNN's special coverage of President Trump's address to the U.N. General Assembly will start after this very quick break with Wolf Blitzer taking over.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There's breaking news we're following here in the United States this morning. I'm wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

Hurricane Maria taking direct aim at Puerto Rico, after it lashes Dominica as a category five monster. The island's prime minister says they have lost all that money can buy and replace. We're watching this monstrous storm's path.