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Trump To End Key Obamacare Subsidies; California Fire Death Toll Climbs; President Trump Poised To Decertify Iran Nuclear Deal. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 13, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:55] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, President Trump aggressively moving to dismantle a key part of Obamacare, while the Democrats are calling it sabotage.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Happening today in yet another move to walk back Obama administration policies, President Trump will announce a new strategy toward Iran. He is expected to decertify the Iran nuclear deal.

BRIGGS: The deadliest week of wildfires in California's history. The death toll is rising and still, 400 people are missing. If there's any good news, the winds should quiet down a little bit today.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Breaking overnight, this 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 released this 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 President Trump wants them to."

BRIGGS: This move is the latest effort by the White House to dismantle key parts of Obamacare. Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at expanding so-called association health plans and at making short-term health policies more 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 to discuss all this, "Washington Post" political reporter Eugene Scott. Good to see you, my friend.


BRIGGS: All right. Here's what "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board writes about this.

"Republicans are still trying to defuse the ticking Obamacare bomb without blowing themselves up and on Thursday, the GOP cut the first wire. President Trump signed an executive order that could begin to revive private insurance markets."

Are they clipping the first wire or are they speeding up the clock?

EUGENE SCOTT, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, what they definitely are doing is making this seem like it's becoming Trumpcare because these changes seem to be so drastic compared to what Obamacare is fundamentally that it's just going to be a different program as a whole.

And this is something that some Republicans like. You have people like Rand Paul, from Kentucky, who's been a huge critic of Obamacare, saying this new plan will give opportunities to working-class Americans and small business owners to figure out how insurance could work best for them.

But there are so many other critics that are saying that actually is the exact opposite of what this could do and cause significant harm for people with preexisting conditions, for people with disabilities, and seniors, and women, and low-income Americans.

ROMANS: Well, and that's the core of it, right? The core of it is Obamacare with all of its flaws, and there are many -- Obamacare is about getting everybody into the same system so that the healthy have offset the sick and you never can be denied coverage or pay sky-high premiums or sky-high out-of-pocket costs for an illness or a preexisting condition.

These three provisions that I see here -- two of these three provisions I see her don't have those Obamacare protections in them.

SCOTT: And as a result of that some people are concerned that people who are healthy will opt out of this option that the president has put forward. People like millennials and people who don't have preexisting conditions who pay into the system in a way that benefits Americans who are --

ROMANS: Well, they'll want those short-term plans --

SCOTT: Right.

ROMANS: -- especially people who are between jobs or don't have a job. They'll want these short-term plans instead of three months for a skimpy -- for a skimpy plan you can get up to nine months. The Obama administration really discouraged people from those.

SCOTT: Sure. ROMANS: Wanted to keep them very short because you're going to siphon off the young, healthy people --

BRIGGS: Right.

ROMANS: -- and leave everybody else to pay higher premiums.

SCOTT: Right, and because life changes so much you don't know how long you will need a short-term plan or if it will need to be extended, or if you get sick or if you change your job or move or have a family situation. That happens to most Americans very regularly that affects what they can do if they don't have an insurance plan that will be stable regardless of life changes.

[05:35:07] BRIGGS: Two completely opposite approaches to health care --


BRIGGS: -- but one very similar way of legislating, and that's through executive order.

SCOTT: Right.

BRIGGS: Although, the Obama administration took a ton of heat --

SCOTT: Sure.

BRIGGS: -- from Republicans for doing so.

SCOTT: Right.

BRIGGS: Here are the stats on how President Trump is doing not just the same thing but is far outpacing his predecessor in terms of executives orders signed. How do they push back against that criticism that they're doing exactly the thing that they knocked Obama for?

SCOTT: Well, there wasn't a lot of specification on the campaign trail but -- regarding the president's concerns with executive orders. But many conservative lawmakers push back on executive orders, arguing that some of them were unconstitutional.

I think --


SCOTT: Right. I think what they're going to try to argue is that executive orders used correctly sometimes are appropriate.

And, Rand Paul, one of the main critics of President Obama's executive orders, seems to be supportive of this one --

BRIGGS: He is.

SCOTT: -- and thinks that they are different. Whether the American people are going to see it, it's not even clear, especially because what the American people are probably going to be focused on is the possibility that they might not get the health care they want.

BRIGGS: Well, on this specific one there could point out these are unauthorized and in their words, illegal payments.


ROMANS: Right, and so that's a legal battle going on there.

SCOTT: Sure.

ROMANS: Three weeks to open enrollment, boys and girls, so it's going to get really interesting.

Let's talk a little bit about Gen. Kelly. He took to the podium yesterday. Kind of a breath of fresh air at the podium, you know, with his Boston accent --


BRIGGS: It sure was.

ROMANS: -- and his --

BRIGGS: A straight shooter.

ROMANS: He is a straight shooter.


ROMANS: He talked about the criticism -- he was asked about the criticism the president received for his tweets, saying FEMA can't be in Puerto Rico forever. Some saw that as insensitive --


ROMANS: -- as a kind of implied threat to the Puerto Ricans and to the San Juan mayor.

But, Gen. Kelly was asked about that and this is what he said.


GEN. JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: This country -- our country will stand with those Americans citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done.

But the tweet about FEMA and DOD -- read: military -- is exactly accurate. They're not going to be there forever. And the whole point is to start to work yourself out of a job and then transition to the rebuilding process.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: A more nuanced way of saying what the president said in a tweet.

What did you make of his performance yesterday?

SCOTT: Well, I think it was insightful in terms of helping us understand what he is there to do. So many reports have said that he's been there to bring order to a White House that's quite disruptive and chaotic. And he said that he's not there to control the president, he's there to provide the president with the best information possible to make the best decisions possible.

Regarding that situation related to Puerto Rico, and let us not forget the U.S. Virgin Islands as well --

ROMANS: Right.

SCOTT: -- no one expects the U.S. government to be there forever. But they don't expect to be talking but leaving immediately or so soon when so many people still have no power, no water, and lack the basic resources they need that didn't seem to be a big concern with providing in Texas and Florida.

BRIGGS: Yes. As we have pointed out, we're still in New Orleans.


BRIGGS: FEMA is still taking care of them --

SCOTT: Sure.

BRIGGS: -- 12 years later --

SCOTT: Right.

BRIGGS: It takes years --


BRIGGS: -- to rebuild these situations. It was an odd veiled threat.

Eugene Scott from "The Washington Post."

SCOTT: Thank you, guys.

BRIGGS: Have a great weekend, my friend.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

BRIGGS: All right.

It's one of the deadliest fire sieges in California history. State officials say 31 people have been killed in four Northern California counties. Four hundred people are still reported missing. Sonoma County officials are conducting searches for people in burn areas.

ROMANS: Ten of those killed identified yesterday, ranging in age from 57 to 95 years old.

This satellite image just published by NASA gives some sense of the huge extent of the fires. Some high cirrus clouds obscure parts of the burn area but you can easily see the long trails of smoke that run from north to south near the coast.

And the stories of people being -- just quickly having to leave their homes.


ROMANS: It's so frightening -- losing everything.

There's a story in the "L.A. Times" this morning about a couple who -- it happened so quickly for them they had to jump in their neighbor's pool, stay --

BRIGGS: And wait it out.

ROMANS: -- six hours. The choices were freeze to death in 55-degree water or burn to death, and they made it.

BRIGGS: Can you imagine having --

ROMANS: They made it.

BRIGGS: -- to choose between those two?

ROMANS: They made it.

BRIGGS: Wow. All right.

Happening today, President Trump will announce a new strategy toward Iran. He's expected to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, but could the move set the stage for yet another nuclear crisis?


[05:43:38] BRIGGS: President Trump expected to decertify the Iran nuclear deal today despite the international community's assessment that Tehran is in compliance.

The president's plan will put the burden on Congress to figure out a way forward and it's raising concerns about a potential backlash that could set the stage for yet another nuclear crisis.

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

And I can only imagine the international community wringing its hands over the prospect of the United States, you know, undermining this hard-fought deal.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, it was hard-fought. And I tell you, it's going to be interesting to see how the president verbally describes what he's going to do about this part of the new Iran strategy because the White House has just published and just made public the new Iran strategy that apparently, they've been talking about there for many months now.

And it does include quite a harsh crackdown on the Revolutionary Guards, for instance, in an attempt to try to put in one basket all the outstanding issues about Iran that bothers the world.

And then you have a section at the very end about the JCPOA as it's called -- the Iran nuclear deal. And we're not quite sure what he's going to say about it and what formula he's going to use. Is he going to refuse to recertify, is he actually going to actually decertify, is he putting it to Congress? We will wait to see about it.

But here's the thing. It was very difficult to get, it was a long time in coming. And it was about the one thing that the whole world, including the United States, believed was the most serious threat from Iran, and that was its potential or its desire in the future to potentially have a nuclear weapons program.

[05:45:14] I spoke to Jake Sullivan, who was the Obama administration State Department official and who, along with former official Bruce -- I'm sorry, Bill Burns -- had started the secret talks with Iran before even these formal negotiations took place.

This is what he told me.


JAKE SULLIVAN, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: This was an incredibly tall mountain to climb. It wasn't just the years of negotiations, it was all the years that led up to it. Building a global campaign of economic pressure that brought Iran to the table, marshaling the international community through the permanent five members of the Security Council, plus the European Union and Germany to come to the table together.

And then, all those long days, weeks, and ultimately, years of negotiating with the Iranians to produce an outcome that doesn't give us everything we would like under the sun, but it gives us everything we need to put Iran's nuclear program in a box and to avert the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.


AMANPOUR: So you can imagine the officials who were involved in this, whether in the United States or around the world -- Europe, Russia, China, Iran -- are looking at all this, making comments, and saying particularly, this is the last time that you want to actually ditch something that makes the whole nuclear danger more secure when you're facing a real and clear present danger from a country like North Korea which actually has bolted the stable, which does have nuclear weapons and ICBMs, and is gradually perfecting that technology.

So, we've heard from the Russian Foreign Minister who says that after a conversation with Sec. Tillerson that Russia will abide by this deal, still, and calling on the U.S. to continue to abide by it because it is a U.N. Security Council resolution.

We'll see what internal U.S. politics means.


AMANPOUR: Whether the Congress -- the Republican-controlled Congress will decide that it wants to have that weight on its shoulders to reimpose new sanctions and potentially, fully unravel this deal.

It appears for the moment the Trump administration would like to thread the needle. In other words, so that he himself, the president, doesn't have to say those words that he finds so objectionable about certifying the deal. Perhaps letting him not do that and hoping and trying to persuade Congress not to impose sanctions that would unravel the deal.

BRIGGS: Yes. I mean, in the context of what's going on with the health care battle it hardly inspires confidence that Congress has the wherewithal to figure this out.

You mentioned, clearly, the international community's opinion on staying in this but is there a consensus that this is a bad deal, albeit one we ought to stay in?

AMANPOUR: There isn't a consensus that it's a bad deal. There's a consensus that it's not a full deal.

I spoke to -- not a European -- I spoke to Barak -- sorry, Ehud Barak, the former defense and prime minister of Israel -- a hawk all his life -- who said that yes, of course, for us it's a bad deal. We would want everything in the deal -- missiles, you know, terrorism.

Everything about Iran that bothers the international community they would like in one neat basket to be able to tie up. Of course, that is the perfect scenario. But all those who spent the years and months negotiating know that neither -- in no scenario was that going to be possible.

And it's important to remind people and to go back to the Bush administration. Remember that this started -- this attempt to pressure Iran economically and then have secret talks started under the Bush administration, continued in the Obama administration, and eventually produced this deal.

And remember especially, that when military hawks in the United States say oh, we'll deal with this militarily, you know. Let's hope that day doesn't come because even under the Bush administration, they decided that this was not a viable option. That they couldn't really deal with it militarily.

And, Israel would threaten it would do -- couldn't do it alone and President Bush persuaded Israel that this is not something that the Americans were going to do to help Israel.

So I've heard that even in the Israeli government that they're saying OK, Mr. President Trump, say what you have to say but don't ditch this deal.

ROMANS: All right.

BRIGGS: And to your point, decertification is not anywhere in these White House talking points. It should be an interesting day.

ROMANS: All right, Christiane Amanpour. Thank you so much, Christiane, for stopping by this morning.

All right. The president's frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago are costing taxpayers. We're going to tell you how much. Details on "CNN Money Stream," next.

All right. Would you consider sending a wedding invitation online? The founder of Paperless Post wanted people to have that option. Here's how the company is using technology to bring people together face-to-face.


JAMES HIRSCHFIELD: I was actually organizing a birthday party for myself. When it came time to send invitations I realized that I didn't have a budget to send a paper invitation. But I also didn't really have an option to send a digital invitation that reflected all the care that went into the event.

There was a space in the market for an invitation platform that combined sort of the beauty of paper correspondence with the efficiency of web technology.

[05:50:10] And so I called my sister and I sort of pitched her the idea. She was the first person that I mentioned it to. She suspended disbelief and decided to explore the idea with me more.

I felt at the time, as a 21-year-old, that anybody could start a tech company and I had no idea how difficult it would be. The story of building a startup is just a string of challenges and disappointments, and uphill battles peppered with some big successes if you're lucky.

When I think about some of the hardest times that we faced and I think about what it would be like to be working with someone other than my sister, you could imagine everything falling apart.



[05:55:27] BRIGGS: It turns out the Interior Department flies a special flag whenever Sec. Ryan Zinke is in the building.

According to "The Washington Post," a security staffer goes to the roof and hoists the secretarial flag when Zinke enters the agency's Washington headquarters. When he leaves, the flag comes down. It's apparently a military tradition resurrected by Zinke, a former Navy SEAL commander.

A department spokesperson defends the personal flag practice, telling the "Post" it's a quote "major sign of transparency."

The House of Representatives approving a $36.5 billion disaster aid package to help victims struggling to recover from a string of devastating hurricanes and wildfires across the country.

But the president appearing to put a deadline on how long federal agencies would help Puerto Rico, tweeting, quote "We cannot keep FEMA, the military, and the first responders, who have been amazing under the most difficult circumstances, in P.R. (Puerto Rico) forever."

That tweet not sitting well with the mayor of San Juan who shot back on Twitter saying, "POTUS, your comments about Puerto Rico are unbecoming of a commander in chief. They seem more to come from a (quote) hater in chief."

Meantime, the governor of Puerto Rico, who has largely stayed away from criticizing the federal response, tweeting "The U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are requesting the support that any of our fellow citizens would receive across our nation."

The Trump administration is celebrating the release of a family held for nearly five years by a group linked to the Taliban.

American Caitlin Coleman and her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle were kidnapped in 2012 while traveling in Afghanistan. She was pregnant when they were taken. The couple had two more children while in captivity.

U.S. intelligence agencies had been tracking the hostages and shared information with the Pakistani military when the family was moved into Pakistan's tribal area. Officials say they were freed by Pakistani security forces in a rescue operation that included a shootout.

The family, however, is still in Pakistan. A senior U.S. official tells CNN the husband refused to board a U.S. plane bound -- because he is concerned about facing law enforcement here.

Stay tuned to that interesting situation.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money Stream" this morning.

Global stocks mostly higher this morning after Wall Street fell. However, U.S. stocks are still near record highs.

Blame bank shares for the drop. They fell after earnings from Citigroup and JPMorgan. Both banks though, beat Wall Street's expectations but set aside more money for credit card-related losses, raising concerns about consumer credit.

Don't feel too bad, though. Banks are expected to report record profits. JPMorgan, alone, earned $6.7 billion just last quarter.

The Secret Service paid Mar-a-Lago tens of thousands of dollars over just a few months. That's according to documents obtained by CNN. The total, $63,700 taxpayer dollars, mostly for hotel costs. This tab is from the president's frequent visits to the so-called winter White House.

While the secret service routinely pays private businesses, government ethics hawks worry that Trump personally profits from these visits. The Trump Organization and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Russian-linked meddling in 2016 did not end with Facebook and Twitter. It even extended to YouTube, Tumblr, and even Pokemon Go. That's right.

A CNN investigation found one Russian-linked campaign used those platforms to exploit racial tensions among Americans. The campaign titled "Don't Shoot Us" posed as part of Black Lives Matter. The campaign's Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts are currently suspended, but the group's YouTube channel and Web site are still active.

For Christine Romans, I'm Dave Briggs.

That will do it for EARLY START. "NEW DAY" starts right now. Have a great weekend.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just keep hearing repeal, replace, repeal, replace. Well, we're starting that process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a repeal or a replacement. It is an undermining of Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is common sense. It will help to provide lower costs and more competition for people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It, frankly, makes a situation that needs to be fixed much worse.

TRUMP: It was one of the incompetently drawn deals I've ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If U.S. walk away from this deal, then who will trust America?

ERNEST MONIZ, FORMER ENERGY SECRETARY, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: If the president chooses to not certify it will start a process of isolating us from our allies.

REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: As flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.