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Trump talks Russia Hoax; Kimmel's Stand on Health Care; Push to Repeal and Replace; Social Media and Trump. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 22, 2017 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00] HEATHER NAUERT, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Believe what's a hoax.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Did not believe it's a hoax. Does not believe that Russia's meddling is a hoax.

NAUERT: Look, it is clear -- and this administration and the entire government has been clear -- that Russia meddled in the campaigns in the election. That is inappropriate, OK? Absolutely inappropriate. No one takes issue with that whatsoever.

CAMEROTA: The president does.

NAUERT: No one takes issue with that whatsoever. What they did, and the president has been clear, the administration has been clear, was wrong. And I'll just leave it at that.

CAMEROTA: But then why is he calling it a hoax?

NAUERT: Look, I don't -- I can't speak for the president on that, but the president has been clear about this in the past. I'm not certain which specific tweet you're talking about. But what they have done in meddling in the election is absolutely clear. We continue to have conversations with the Russian government about many activities that they are involved with and we continue to look for areas where we can work together with the Russian government. And that would include Syria, for example, where we have a cease-fire that is held for more than two months now. That is a significant opportunity and a great opportunity to try to eventually bring peace to Syria.

CAMEROTA: And that is the good news. But in terms of stopping Russia from ever doing it again --

NAUERT: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: What's the plan?

NAUERT: Look, that's not -- that's not in our wheelhouse at the State Department about that. But we have conversations with Russia about many issues. They're involved in a peaceful pressure campaign when it comes to North Korea. They're helping and assisting with that, and we continue to look for areas where we can work with Russia on areas of mutual interest. But, we are always clear at the State Department, we are more than

happy -- and we do this often -- call them out for any bad activities. We do that when it comes to cracking down on human rights groups -- which they do in Russia -- for limiting free speech in Russia. They do that as well. We are very clear that when our interests diverge, we call them out on that. We will not back away from standing up from democracy, human rights, freedom of speech and all the things that Americans stand for. And we make that very clear with Russia.

CAMEROTA: Heather Nauert of the State Department, thank you.

NAUERT: Thank you. Good to see you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Good to have you in studio.

NAUERT: OK.

CAMEROTA: Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so you've been following what's happening with Jimmy Kimmel. He had a really tough situation with his own child. And he and his wife learned if, you know what, if they didn't have the money they have, their kid could be really jammed up, not just right now, but going forward into the future. And it made him somewhat of an advocate on the issue.

Well, now, he's in there, all right, and he's getting beat up by Republicans and he's giving back and then some. We have a senator who's mixing it up with Jimmy Kimmel and says this Graham-Cassidy Bill is good for you. John Kennedy joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:36:36] CUOMO: If it's going to happen right now, it has to happen next week. The Senate is set for a health care showdown because they're trying to get this bill passed as part of the reconciliation window. And it ends on September 30th.

Now, our next guest is a yes on the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill and he is a no on hearing from Jimmy Kimmel about it. Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana joins us now.

Senator, good to have you here to make the case.

Jimmy Kimmel took it to you on his show. I'll play it for the audience. I'm sure you're aware.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: Listen, lady, for -- I don't know how many times I have to say it, I'm not pretending to be an expert. I'm asking why people like you aren't listening to actual experts, like the American Medical Association. But I understand the jest of what he's saying, I should not be the guy you go to for information on health care. And if these guys, like inbred John Kennedy, would tell the truth for a change, I wouldn't have to. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, you know, he's a comedian and he's using some tough talk, arguably ugly talk. He was responding to you saying Kimmel's a funny guys, but I don't think anybody would confuse him with a well- respected health care expert. I wouldn't take advice from Charlie Sheen either.

What's your response to the latest salvo?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: Mr. Kimmel is a funny guy. That was a funny clip you showed. I didn't see his show last night, but read about it this morning.

Look, I hope Mr. Kimmel's son gets better. He's a dad. I'm a dad. My son had a serious illness at one point, and I remember how I felt. I was a -- I was a wreck. And Mr. Kimmel is entitled to his opinion. This is America. You know, you can believe what you want.

But I can believe what I want, too. And the way I analyze the bill is this. the Affordable Care Act, Chris, is not perfect. Nor is Graham- Cassidy. There's no free lunch and you're not going to get one with this bill. But the litmus test for me is, is the replacement better than the Affordable Care Act? And at this point, for me, that's a year.

Now, I add two caveats. If this bill is brought up on the floor, there are going to be a lot of amendments. We will probably be there all day and all night, maybe two days in a row. So I want to see what the amendments do.

Number two, I say this to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, if people start making special deals and certain states get special treatment at the expense of my state, I'm going to be very unamused. I don't think that's right.

CUOMO: All right, so let's look at this a little bit, senator. I hear you. Let's look at some of this.

KENNEDY: OK.

CUOMO: One, it is a special deal by definition, because this reconciliation window is an end run around regular legislation. You know it. I know it. Anybody who researches this knows it. So this is -- this is pulling a fast one any way you look at it, and that's why they're trying to get it through by next week. So the process is what it is. There's no guarantee any amendments get put on this, unless McConnell wants them put on. And the kind that you're talking about, protecting the kind of people who are going to get beaten down in your state, your governor says it, the guy who runs Medicaid in your state says it. He probably won't be for those kinds of amendments.

So I'm asking you, you say it's not as good as the ACA. Your own governor, your own Medicaid guy says you're wrong. The premium is going to go up. You're not going to have the money for Medicaid expansion. The needy people, like so many you have in Louisiana, are going to suffer and they're going to suffer in exchange for giving the government tax dollars to go play with in tax reform. You'll have money after this, but who suffers because of it?

[08:40:32] KENNEDY: Well, two points.

Number one, I disagree with you about the amendments, Chris. Under reconciliation, amendments are unlimited. The Democrats can offer as many amendments as they want. So can the Republicans. It's not like -- it's not like --

CUOMO: Right. I know you can offer them up. I'm saying there's no guarantee they get it -- they get attached to this legislation.

KENNEDY: That's true. I agree with that. Not -- that's true.

CUOMO: And McConnell is not feeling what you're saying you want. And Graham and Cassidy aren't feeling what people like you are going to want from states where you have such a big pool for the impoverished and needed who are going to get cut out if the money's not there for Medicaid. Your governor has said it.

KENNEDY: The second point I was going to make is that all these projections about the impact of the bill, I don't understand how they're able to make the projection because the whole -- whole bill is premised on giving large amounts of money -- it will be billions of dollars -- to the states and allowing the states to devise their own plans. Now, I don't think anybody knows what kind of plans they're going to devise.

For example, a state like Louisiana could take these billions of dollars and establish a high-risk pool. It is a fact, which my governor knows, by the way, that 10 percent of the American people spend 67 percent of the health care dollars. Fifty percent spend about -- about 5 -- about 50 -- no, 5 percent spend 50 percent.

CUOMO: Right.

KENNEDY: That's the -- ought to be the target. So you could take this money, set up a high risk pool for those folks and it would lower the premiums on the people who are in the high-risk pool. And that's just one option. But all these studies that are coming out, unless they're clairvoyant, they don't know what the impact of this bill is going to be because they don't know what states are going to plan (ph).

CUOMO: Fair point.

One substance point and one process point.

KENNEDY: OK.

CUOMO: The substance point is, your governor's constructive argument and other ones who are dealing with populations of the impoverished is, you're giving me a lot of money, true, and I like the control, but it ain't enough and I can't match it. I'm not going to be able to keep these people on the rolls. High-risk pools are really expensive and usually show under coverage.

They did, during the ACA extension period between when they could get the markets up, they tried high-risk pools. They're really pricy and they under cover the venerable people that you're talking about.

The process point is, senator, how can you respect and go along with this process when the reason we can't know how it's going to turn out is because you're not letting the CBO score it? McConnell's rushing it through and people like you are endorsing that move.

So you're right, we don't know what it's going to do and we don't know because the CBO doesn't have the time to score it. And your party is using that to play to advantage. Your own criticism is being used as leverage in this situation. How can you vote for a bill when you know it's not going to be scored?

KENNEDY: I don't see how CBO can score it. How can they score the unknown? How can they predict for California --

CUOMO: No, no, no, they can score the impact. They've done it before. This is what they do.

KENNEDY: No, no -- no, they can't. No, they can't. No, they can't, Chris. They can't score this bill.

CUOMO: What do you mean, no, they can't? This is what they do.

KENNEDY: Because -- because they don't know what the states are going to do.

CUOMO: But they make -- they make projections off the need of these states. We know how we do this. This isn't -- this isn't alchemy. This isn't guesswork. This is what they do.

KENNEDY: What if a state -- no, they don't. They can't. This -- this thing can't -- we're just going to have -- we're just going to have to agree to disagree that the CBO might be good but they're not magical.

CUOMO: Well, we can, except that to your own point, the unknown is a danger because if the state is not insistent on doing what they need to do for these people -- and I'm not ascribing negative motives. I'm saying, let's say with pre-existing conditions, well, you have to cover them if you want a waiver and you have to do the right thing. They decide who gets covered and who doesn't. And the companies decide how much they charge. And when you take those two elements out of what you have right now with the ACA, you inject risks. And risk, as we have seen, time and time again, often winds up going to the detriment of the people who need the help.

You know this. I don't mean to tell you your own situation. You know it better than I ever will.

KENNEDY: Well, let me try it this way. We're not -- we're talking about 7 percent of the population. If you add up all the people who get subsidies under Obamacare and all the people added through Medicaid, that's about 7 percent of the American people. [08:45:07] If you're on Medicare, this bill doesn't impact you. If

you're getting insurance through your employer, which is 61 percent of the American people, this bill doesn't impact you.

Those 7 percent of Americans are very important. But in order to help those 7 percent of Americans, and it didn't do -- the Affordable Care Act didn't do it adequately, the Affordable Care Act punishes a lot of the people who aren't wealthy among the other 93 percent.

Now, this bill, in my opinion, you may disagree, and like I say, this is America, you can believe what you want, but I think this bill is going to lower --

CUOMO: No, I just test the argument. Go ahead, senator.

KENNEDY: I understand. I think this bill is going to lower costs.

CUOMO: For who?

KENNEDY: That's the most important thing -- for everybody.

CUOMO: How? It's (INAUDIBLE) impossibility?

KENNEDY: That's one of the most important --

CUOMO: How can you pull money out, let the companies charge whatever they want to people who are vulnerable, and it becomes less expensive. Less expensive maybe for someone like me, thank God I'm healthy and young enough where I'll get an advantageous policy.

KENNEDY: They can't charge whatever -- they can't charge whatever they want --

CUOMO: Well, says who?

KENNEDY: But they can't charge whatever they want. For example -- well, let me explain.

CUOMO: Please.

KENNEDY: This new plan will be run through the CHIP program. CHIP stands for Children's Health Insurance Program.

CUOMO: Right.

KENNEDY: CHIP requires that pre-existing conditions be covered. On top of that, if a state wants to make a change, they call it a 1332 waiver --

CUOMO: Right.

KENNEDY: Then it has got to get permission of the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

CUOMO: Right. KENNEDY: That -- the standard that's being used, I'll admit it's normative, but the standard being used is the change, is the new proposal adequate and affordable. And --

CUOMO: Right, but the protections that you're going to have in this bill and going forward are less than those which are there right now. Remember --

KENNEDY: Yes, but let me give you an example.

CUOMO: The ACA wasn't just about saving money, though, it was about insuring outcomes of the needy. That's why. That's why those protections matter. But, go ahead, senator, final point to you.

KENNEDY: It sure wasn't about -- it sure was not about -- it sure wasn't about saving money. I mean calling it the Affordable Care Act is a misnomer.

CUOMO: Well, look, the rate of increase of premiums, though, is less than it was before the ACA.

But, go ahead.

KENNEDY: I don't -- I don't -- I don't agree with that. Let me give you a (INAUDIBLE) example.

CUOMO: Well, you don't have to agree with it, but that's a fact. The rate of increase is less.

Go ahead.

KENNEDY: A small town accountant in my state, making about 70 grand a year. Before Obamacare he was -- he chose an insurance policy, he was paying $750 a month.

CUOMO: Yes.

KENNEDY: Affordable Care Act wiped that out. He had to buy on the exchange. He's paying $1,700 a month.

CUOMO: Yes. He's not alone.

KENNEDY: If -- is that -- when you compare his after tax -- if you had to compare his after tax income to the cost of the health insurance he's got to buy now, he's spending a third of his after tax income.

CUOMO: Yes, he's not alone.

KENNEDY: He's not happy.

CUOMO: He's not alone.

KENNEDY: And he is -- well, and he is --

CUOMO: The individual markets have problems. They needed to be addressed. KENNEDY: They do.

CUOMO: There are a lot of people who did have their rates came down. There are a lot of people who are in a better position.

The interesting thing I'm hearing from you, senator, is the actual -- the opposite argument that I'm hearing from your leadership. You're leader -- you just said, look, the overwhelming majority of the country won't be even impacted by this. Sixty percent get it from their employer. Then you've got Medicaid -- Medicare. And so we're dealing with about 7 percent, and they matter.

KENNEDY: It's true.

CUOMO: And we want to make sure that they're right, but they're only 7 percent.

Your leadership does the opposite.

KENNEDY: No. No, they're important, 7 percent, Chris.

CUOMO: They make it sound like for every accountant story that you can tell, you have huge numbers of people who are covered now, literally millions who wouldn't have been covered otherwise, and people who need special protections and special care who wouldn't have gotten it otherwise. And you're saying, scrap the whole ACA, your leadership, to help those who got beaten up in the individual markets. Baby out with the bathwater.

You're actually saying the opposite now, which is, most people are going to be OK, so don't worry, but we're going to help this -- this special part, the 7 percent as well, but nothing's perfect. There're opposite arguments that are going to be on the same floor next week. A little interesting, no? Kind of shows the disarray involved here.

KENNEDY: Well, let me try it another way. You're pretty good. Let me try it another way. If you make, let's say, $10,000 a year, that's your total income, in many states right now, under Obamacare, you're not covered. You're not covered. Under Graham-Cassidy, a state could choose to cover you. Now how's that for --

CUOMO: A state could. I'm just saying, the unknown is a risk, senator. And, unfortunately, we're going to wind up telling these stories, Alisyn, me, the team here at CNN, we're going to wind up telling these stories in the months and years to come about who gets treated the right way and who gets treated the wrong way and why. And that's why there's so much concern.

KENNEDY: And you should, Chris. And you should.

CUOMO: But, senator -- well, we'll be on it. You know that for damn sure. But what I'm saying is, I appreciate you coming on the show to make the case. You are always welcome. I appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

[08:50:01] KENNEDY: Thanks, man, I appreciate it. CUOMO: All right, and next week, in fact, come back, senator, because that's the big week. Al right, you can come on, you can have as much time as you want.

KENNEDY: I look forward to it and maybe we can talk about tax reform, too.

CUOMO: You know, I would love that. We didn't have time today and I know that -- the audience should know. I know you're hearing a lot about the GOP that are going to do tax cuts for the wealthy. This senator, GOP, Louisiana, is all about reform for the middle class. It's an important proposition. A little premature. We'll get to it.

Take care, senator.

KENNEDY: Thanks, man. Thanks, man.

CUOMO: All right. All right.

Now, this debate matters, all right? It's hard to have it in little pieces like this for me and Alisyn, but Monday night, a special live town hall debate moderated by Jake Tapper, Dana Bash. Look at the teams. Team debate. Senators Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, the authors of this bill, on health care. Monday night, 9:00 p.m. only. You can't ask for better than that in terms of finding out what it's about.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, right, and taking everybody's questions. That is going to be great.

CUOMO: Huge.

CAMEROTA: All of the, you know, audience will ask them questions directly.

CUOMO: Hug.

CAMEROTA: So, The Trump presidency, as you may now, has often been tied to Twitter. Bill Weir joins us with a look at his CNN special report "Twitter and Trump." That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:55:12] CAMEROTA: President Trump and Twitter, one of the most important political relationships of our time. In a new CNN special report "Twitter and Trump," Bill Weir explores that relationship and the evolution of presidential communications.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But as communication evolved, the presidents we remember took existing tools and made them their own. Teddy Roosevelt courted (ph) cartoonist in a whole new way.

FDR spoke into a radio microphone.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This is war.

WEIR: Like no president before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And It became mandatory listening. And everybody would lean forward and hear what the president had to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me a chance, will you, please.

WEIR: And while Truman and Eisenhower were the first on TV.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

WEIR: JFK and Reagan --

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Tear down this wall.

WEIR: Are considered the best.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president of the United States tweeting new criticism.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: This was delivered on Twitter.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump tweeted this, quote --

WEIR: Which brings us to number 45.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll do it verbally. I'll do it on television. I'll do it on Twitter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: And Bill Weir joins us now.

Bill, great to have you here.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's good to see you again. It's good to see you.

CAMEROTA: We're leaning in for what you have to say.

WEIR: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: So tell us what we need to know about this relationship.

WEIR: Well, you see -- did you see the big book. We've got the big book of tweets tonight we're finally going to break out there. We wanted to give sort of a physical reminder that these words will be studied by historians for centuries, taught to kids. And it's normalized now because --

CUOMO: Hope not.

WEIR: Well, maybe it should be. It's normalized now because it just comes like a fire hose. This morning is pitch perfect Donald Trump tweeting, right? He averages about six a day. He loves the mornings when he's on TV.

CAMEROTA: We've noticed.

WEIR: The word he uses 9 percent of the time far more than anything else is "fake." And he goes after perceived enemies, both home and abroad. This morning he's tweeting after Kim Jong-un. He's going after, quote, crooked Hillary Clinton. And it's so fascinating to go back to the very beginning to see how he learned how to use Twitter, how it evolved, how he weaponized it by the time it came.

CAMEROTA: How did he learn how to use Twitter?

WEIR: A guy, a publishing company, a digital publicist said, you've got to try this new social platform. Donald Trump was already taken. He says, how about Real Donald Trump. It's more authentic. And Trump's like, yes, I like that. I like that.

And despite that, this guy ran the account for eight months.

But eventually you can see the moment he took over, you can see in the -- in his vocabulary, his tone. And we wanted to give it the broad scope. Talked to celebrities he's attacked and presidential historians and people in the intelligent services who worries he's giving too much away every day.

CUOMO: Yes. All legit questions. It is so good to have your mind put on this because what he tweets matters.

CAMEROTA: All right, we'll be watching.

WEIR: I hope so. Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Bill.

Bill's special report, "Twitter and Trump," premieres tonight at 9:00 Eastern only on CNN.

CUOMO: CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman starts right after this quick break.

Please, stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:11] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Top of the hour. 9:00 a.m. Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman.