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Trump to Cut Off Cost-Sharing Subsidies; Trump Poised to Decertify Iran Nuclear Deal; California Fire Death Toll Climbs; Cubs Beat Nationals in Series Clincher. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 13, 2017 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:01] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Scrutinize what read and those social media networks.

EARLY START continues right now with the latest moves from the Trump administration.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, President Trump aggressively moving to dismantle a key part of Obamacare. The Democrats, they call it sabotage.

BRIGGS: And happening today, and yet another move to walk back Obama administration policies. President Trump will announce a new strategy towards Iran. He is expected to decertify the Iran nuclear deal.

ROMANS: And the deadliest week of wildfires in California history. The death toll is rising and 400 people are still missing.

I'm just captivated by this "L.A. Times" story about this couple who survived the fire in their neighbor's pool. Six hours in the dark, everything burned around them. Great story. It shows you the context and the scope of this disaster.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. We'll have the latest on those fires shortly. It's Friday, October 13th, 5:00 a.m. in the East. It is 2:00 a.m. in California.

Breaking overnight, though, a stunning move by the Trump administration that could come as soon as today. The White House announcing President Trump plans to cut off the cost-sharing subsidies that help lower income Americans buy health insurance on the Obamacare marketplaces, eliminating these direct payments to insurance companies has the potential to drastically increase costs for some Obamacare customers.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer releasing this scathing joint statement. It is a spiteful act of vast pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America. Now, millions of hardworking American families will suffer just because the president wants them to. ROMANS: The move is the latest effort by the White House to dismantle

parts of Obamacare. Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding these so-called health association health plans, and also making short-term health policies making attractive. Critics say both changes will create a loophole health insurance market with lower premiums and skimpier coverage. That would severely undermine the Affordable Care Act.

Joining us this morning, "Washington Post" political reporter, Eugene Scott.

Good morning.


BRIGGS: Good morning.

ROMANS: The president said let it implode. There's letting it implode and making it implode. That seems to be what the White House wants to do, find ways to undue the philosophy and spirit of Obamacare which is if you get everybody in there, sick and healthy, it's better for everyone.

"The Wall Street Journal" saying the Republicans are trying to defuse the Obamacare ticking bomb without blowing themselves up. And on Thursday, the GOP cut the first wire. President Trump signing the executive order that will begin to revive private insurance market. That's from "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board. I think we have that? We don't have that.

Anyway, that was interesting to me. At what point do they have to own it? Because the president says millions of people are going to have good, good healthcare.

SCOTT: I've seen critics say now. They have to own it now, if Congress who backs up the president's decision, this now becomes Trumpcare. You've seen people on both sides of the aisle criticize it. We've seen Lamar Alexander, Republican senator from Tennessee, says he does not want the payments to the insurers to end immediately because it could hurt people with pre-existing conditions, seniors, women, a lot of these constituents that many of these lawmakers are counting on to vote for them in 2018. The Democrats, like Tim Kaine, have a huge problem with it and called it sabotage, as we've seen Nancy Pelosi and other ones.

ROMANS: Three weeks -- three weeks to open enrollment.

SCOTT: Right, yes, absolutely. And they can lose -- insurers are expecting I think at least $7 billion this year alone.

BRIGGS: They're on solid legal footing, the Republicans. Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, said the bailout of insurance companies through unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system.

These are unlawful and unauthorized payments, are they not? They are on solid legal footing here.

SCOTT: Well, we saw --

ROMANS: That judge's ruling is being appealed, right?

SCOTT: Right. And it looks like Paul Ryan said they will consider dropping the lawsuit depending on what Congress in responses to the president's decision.

BRIGGS: But can this make health care, to Christine's point, great? Could this improve healthcare in the country?

SCOTT: Well, I think what the president and Congress are going to have to prove to people is that this won't hurt seniors. This won't hurt people with pre-existing conditions, and it won't hurt millennials. Actually like it's people don't think One of the top concerns of millennials from this administration is healthcare across the board. And people assume they are healthy and benefit, but millennials have health issues as well.

ROMANS: Right. Well, and, look, if you don't get sick, you're fine.

SCOTT: Right, right.

ROMANS: That's the whole point of Obamacare. You don't know, if you're a healthy millennial, you're one car accident away from having a problem and a free existing condition.

[05:05:00] Now, the short-term plan I think is sort of interesting, because right now, you can get the skinny short-term plan, three months. They want to make it I think nine months. So, if you're between jobs -- I mean, "The Journal" points out that's great for somebody between jobs.

The Obama administration had always been against those because then you siphon off the healthy young people into the short-term plans, then that makes it more costly for everybody else in the Obamacare exchanges.

SCOTT: Right. And we have seen rand Paul say if you make the changes, the small business owner can enter into a plan that benefits them in a way that doesn't hurt them as if the current options are not working for these groups of people. But as you said, people -- employment situations, their health situations, family structures change overnight. And this is -- these plans, the critics say, don't factor in those kinds of changes.

BRIGGS: Politically, it's interesting to see the Republicans not legislate through executive order, exactly what they were critical of Obama for doing.

ROMANS: Very good point.

BRIGGS: But let's turn the page to John Kelly, the chief of staff, extraordinary press conference yesterday at the podium, hammering the media to their face. They almost said we appreciate it, at least how you're going about it. But he also made it clear he's not here to control President Trump.

SCOTT: Right.

BRIGGS: Here's what the chief of staff said.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I was not sent in to -- brought in to control him. You should not measure my effectiveness as a chief of staff by what you think I should be doing, but simply the fact is I can guarantee to you that he is now presented with options, well thought out options. Those options are discussed in detail with his team. Then he comes up with the right decision.


BRIGGS: So there is no controlling the wild erratic tweeting of the president of the United States. How should we view success from the chief of staff?

SCOTT: What I took from that that he said it's his job to make sure the president has the best information possible, the best options, the best conversations to make the best decisions. I think what we have to determine, looking at these decisions that the president has made going forward, has John Kelly provided him with what he needs to make the best decision, right?

So, at this point, when we see the president make a poor decision or a harmful decision, even with information like healthcare, we can look at John Kelly and say, did you give him what you said you were there to give him so he could help benefit the American people as best as possible?

ROMANS: All right, so much to talk about. We'll talk about decertifying the Iran deal next time to come, come in about a half an hour. Talk to you. Eugene Scott, "Washington Post".

SCOTT: Sure, great.

ROMANS: All right. It's now one of the deadliest fires in California history. State officials say 31 people have been killed in four northern California counties, 400 people still reported missing. Sonoma County officials are conducting searches now for people in these burned areas.

BRIGGS: Ten of those killed identified yesterday, ranging in age from 57 to 95 years old. This satellite image just published by NASA gives you sense of the huge extent of these fires. High clouds obscuring parts of the burn area. But you can easily see the long trails of smoke that run from the north to the south near the coast.


BRIGGS: Just devastating fires out there.

ROMANS: All right. Happening tonight, President Trump will announce a new strategy towards Iran. He is expected to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. Could the move set the stage for another nuclear crisis?


[05:12:29] ROMANS: President Trump is expected to decertify the Iran deal today despite the international community's assessment that Tehran is in compliance. The president's plan will put the burden on Congress to find a way forward and it's raising concerns about a potential backlash that could set stage for another nuclear crisis.

BRIGGS: All right. Let's bring in CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, live in London this morning.

Great to see you, Christiane.

ROMANS: Good morning, Christiane.

BRIGGS: The talking points just released from the White House on this and it starts with the quote from president, it is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government ends its pursuit of death and destruction.

What's the sense? This is a bad deal but one the United States should stay in?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, this is something that under the Trump administration and even in the campaign everybody has been looking at and fretting about because there are not just the United States but Russia, China, the European powers, it's an enshrined U.N. document now from the Security Council, and, of course, Iran.

It took a long time, according to all the American officials who bargained for many months, more than a year over this, and struck the toughest deal that they possibly could, to deal with the issue that was considered the most dangerous issue emanating from Iran and that was a potential nuclear weapons issue. So, this deal is not perfect in that it does not deal with all the other issues that America is concerned about. And the rest of the world is concerned about, whether it's interference in Syria, whether it is interference in the region whether it is the accusations of supporting terrorism, all the other things that the rest of the world does not like about Iran, they couldn't get a whole basket deal to put everything in. Nobody was ready for that to happen.

But the United States believes strongly that the most serious threat to world peace was a potential Iran nuclear weapons program. And therefore, that is what this deal is about. And that is what it has enshrined, that that's not possible for Iran under this deal.

So, you can imagine all the international community has been reacting very, very strongly. They have been trying to lobby the United States not to refuse to recertify, which apparently President Trump plans to do, though it's not stated in the points that the White House has put out just now. ROMANS: It sounds like the president doesn't like this deal, but he

goes one step shy of killing U.S. participation in it, you know, trying to send the message that I don't like this deal, but we're sort of in there.

[05:15:01] I mean, he says -- he's leaving it to Congress to figure it out, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Well, here's the thing, he doesn't like the deal and for whatever reason he made a big deal of it on the campaign trail, as if his base really gave a damn about the Iran deal or not. So, with colorful language about how this is the worst deal the United States is suffering and the United States hasn't gotten anything out of it, he's now having to sort of pony up to that kind of campaign language.

Now, this deal, as I have said, envisions under the deal at least a decade and longer of many of the provisions that categorically stop Iran from any kind of nuclear weapons program. It has been certified by the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear agency, as working.

And I spoke to some really hawkish people about this. For instance, Israel has never liked the deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not liked the deal and his former defense chief and former prime minister, Ehud Barak, did not and was very hawkish on Iran, but told me yesterday that it's a done deal and it would be bad for Israel and bad for America to pull out of the deal. This is what he said about it.


EHUD BARAK, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Yes. The deal, we believe, is a bad deal. I was hawkish on Iran during my service with government. It is a bad deal but it's a done deal. So, to decertify it now, it is basically throwing it to Congress, Congress will pull out of it.

The real story is that the Iranians will be served by it, because other parties will not pull out, neither Chinese, Russians or the Europeans. So, they -- the Iranians will keep harvesting the benefits of this deal while the decertification will legitimize the intentions in the future to break out at will and explain it to the American behavior.


AMANPOUR: He went on to say that this at this time would be negative in regard of trying to contain the North Korea program, which is a nuclear weapons program, which actually has ICBMs and which actually is a very major nuclear threat. So, many people are talking about that.

But certainly we had word from the Russian foreign ministry that they expect everybody a signatory to this deal, which is a U.N. Security Council resolution, to abide by it. We know that President Trump has been speaking to Prime Minister May, President Macron here in London and in Paris. They want this deal. They insist they're going to keep to the deal.

So, the real question now is, Christine, the real question, is Congress going to pick up this decision by President Trump and decide actually to get out of the deal by re-imposing sanctions? If Congress does that, we're in a whole new territory and many believe an insecure territory that will not be in the U.S. national security interests.


BRIGGS: Not sure Congress could declare today Friday at this point. How they will get this done remains a mystery. Go ahead.

AMANPOUR: Remember, it's several month. Congress has a few months to decide. It's important situation that has been put in Congress' lap right now.

BRIGGS: Yes, hugely consequential.

ROMANS: Christiane Amanpour for in London this morning, great to see you, Christiane. Have a wonderful weekend.

BRIGGS: Thank you, Christiane.

All right. To baseball, for the third straight year, the Cubs head to the NLCS, but it took a wild hard-stopping win over Washington to get there. Coy Wire with more in the "Bleacher Report", next.


[05:23:02] BRIGGS: All right. Roman's Cubbies one step closer to defending that World Series title.

ROMANS: I know. Coy Wire with more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

My family is so tired this morning. My little kids are so happy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine, you say you're apologizing to their teachers, huh? Somebody a little cranky today?

ROMANS: A little tired, a little tired.

BRIGGS: Staying up late.

WIRE: Staying up late. This is game five winner-take-all. Cubs/Nationals. This game stretched well past midnight but worth staying up for. It was like a heavyweight title fight. The Cubs facing a 4-1 definite. Addison Russell would sting like a bee, ripping this ball into the corner in the fifth inning. That was a two-run double. That put the Cubs up 5-4.

Chicago scored seven straight runs. It's kind of a turning point, but they would have to hold on for dear life, just up 9-8 in the bottom of the ninth. Closer Wade Davis has his first ever seven-out save, his first ever seven-out save. Cubs win, break out the champagne. The third straight trip to the NL championships series. While

Washington D.C.'s sport team streak of not reaching a championship series or conference championship dating back to 1998. That's the longest active streak in sports.

Game one of Cubs/Dodgers is tomorrow night on our sister channel TBS. First speech is at 8:08 Eastern.

Let's go to the NFL. Finally, a strong match-up for Thursday night football. Eagles/Panthers, both 4-1. No sophomore slump for last year's number two overall pick, quarterback Carson Wentz for the Eagles. He had three touchdown passes.

This is a guy who won five national titles at North Dakota State. Now, he has Philly fans could we maybe make it or take the Super Bowl? Eagles get a win here, 28-23. And they're now at the top of the standings as the first team in the NFC with five victories.

Best moment of the night, after the game. Check out Malcolm Jenkins dancing to the Atomic Dog. Those are some moves to get you moving for Friday.

[05:25:02] Get your weekend started early.

All right. Other NFL news, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension is back on. He was originally granted an injunction that put his ban on hold. But yesterday, a federal appeals court granted the NFL's request to drop the injunction.

The suspension was given after a year-long investigation into allegations of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend. It's effective immediately. No charges in that case however were filed.

Trending on this morning, an anonymous user who routinely and deftly defended commissioner Roger Goodell on Twitter turns out to be none other than his wife. The "Wall Street Journal" discovered it was Jane Skinner Goodell, aka, Joan Smith on Twitter, putting journalists in their place if they posted negative or false tweets about her husband.

The former Fox News anchor says it was a, quote, silly thing do and done out of frustration and love. She said, I have always passionately defended the hard working guy I love and always will. I just may not use Twitter to do so in the future. That account is no longer active.

BRIGGS: Jane is great. I think you can understand the desire to defend your husband.

ROMANS: It would be hard to have a spouse in a high profile position like that and hear, you know, criticism and stuff. You know, you got to --

BRIGGS: Ask Gisele and others who have defended their husbands in sports.

ROMANS: I have never said I feel bad for Gisele. That is never -- I don't feel bad for Gisele for any reason whatsoever.


ROMANS: Coy Wire, nice to see you. Thanks.

WIRE: Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, two of the most consequential decisions of the Trump presidency, dismantling Obamacare and decertifying the Iran deal. One step closer today.


TRUMP: This is the worst deal. We got nothing. We got nothing.