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President Trump Signs Executive Order Ending Health Care Premium Subsidies under Obamacare; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly Addresses Press; President Trump's Tweets on Puerto Rico Examined; 31 Dead, Hundreds Missing in California Wildfires; Soon: Trump to Decertify Iran Nuclear Deal. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired October 13, 2017 - 08:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, ladies, thank you very much for the great conversation.

We're following a lot of news this morning, so let's get right to it.


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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not a repeal or a replacement. This is an undermining of Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's common sense. It will help to provide lower cost 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 most incompetently drawn deals I have ever seen.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the president chooses to not certify it will start a process of isolating us from our allies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As flawed as the deal is, I believe me must now enforce the hell out of it.


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

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, October 13th, 8:00 in the east.

We have a lot of breaking news this morning. President Trump says he will immediately stop paying billions in subsidies that help millions of poor Americans afford health care coverage. This move comes hours after the president signed an executive order allowing alternative health plans that skirt some of the law's requirements. The president calls Obamacare, a, quote, "broken mess."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The argument is that many of the moves that he is making by executive order right now will actually make the ACA a mess.

Another major decision coming from the White House, in just hours the president is expected to announce that he will not certify Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. Now, he certified twice that Iran is complying, so this will be a change. He's backing away but not pulling out of the agreement entirely. We'll tell you about the president's new strategy for Iran and what he is asking Congress to do.

But there is something else that deserves some voice this morning. We will be covering the news, but please look at the service members on your screen. They all gave their lives in Niger for this country. Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, Staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sergeant Bryan Black, Sergeant La David Johnson. These are names you have not heard come out of the president's mouth or on Twitter. For all of the things that he talks about, he has not mentioned these men or their sacrifice, and it's something that needs to be called out. We have to respect and remember their sacrifice. Our best to their families and loved ones.

All right, we have everything covered for you this morning. Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He's live at the White House. Joe, what do you know?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. I have actually reached out to the press office here at the White House to ask why the president has said not anything at all about those green berets, and still no office from the White House press office.

But on this issue of health care here at the White House, the president was up bright and early before 6:00 a.m. eastern time tweeting, "Trying to get ahead of the national conversation." And here's the second tweet that he put out this morning. It says "Obamacare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great health care it deserves."

But make no mistake, the president is putting his own imprint now on national health care insurance, the kind of insurance that is regulated by the federal government, and he's done it without an act of Congress.


JOHNS: President Trump upending the health care market, scrapping critical subsidy payments to insurers that help nearly 6 million lower income Americans pay for health care. The payments, which will cost the federal government about $7 billion this year, set to end immediately. Without the subsidies, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that exchange premiums will rise 20 percent next year and increase the national deficit by $194 billion over 10 years. The move could force many insurers to flee the marketplace entirely.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We pay hundreds of millions of dollars a month in subsidy that the courts don't even want us to pay, and when those payment stops, it stops immediately.

JOHNS: President Trump has threatened to end the subsidies for months, but lawmakers in both parties have urged the administration to continue the payments in the short term to stabilize the markets. The White House declaring Thursday that the government cannot lawfully make the cost sharing reduction payments.

Democratic leadership blasting the decision as a spiteful act of vast pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class before insisting that President Trump will pay a price for this decision. House Speaker Paul Ryan applauding the move while Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tweeted "Cutting health care subsidies will mean more uninsured in my district. POTUS promised more access, affordable coverage. This does opposite."

[08:05:08] It comes hours after the president signed an executive order allowing people to buy cheaper, more basic plans, something experts say will drive up the cost of premiums for sicker patients.

TRUMP: This will cost the United States government virtually nothing, and people will have great, great health care.

JOHNS: President Trump legislating through executive order despite repeatedly attacking his predecessor for doing the same.

TRUMP: You have a president that signs executive orders because he can't get anything done.

Right now Obama goes around signing executive orders. He can't even get along with the Democrats.

JOHNS: The significant decisions coming ahead another consequential announcement this afternoon.

TRUMP: That deal is an embarrassment to the United States.

JOHNS: President Trump set to announce he will decertify Iran's compliance with the nuclear agreement, a move that kicks the issue to Congress but stops short of withdrawing from the agreement entirely. Lawmakers would then have 60 days to decide on whether to reinstate economic sanctions lifted under the agreement.


JOHNS: And just now we've heard from the president once again on Twitter, a notable change in tone from yesterday when he suggested that the federal government, FEMA, and the first responders could not stay in Puerto Rico forever following the hurricanes. He sounds completely different this morning. "The wonderful people of Puerto Rico with their unmatched spirit know how bad things were before the H's," presumably that means hurricanes, "I will always be with them." So the president singing a different tune this morning on the issue of Puerto Rico. Back to you.

CAMEROTA: It sounds like he has heard some of the criticism and is clarifying his position on all of this. Joe, thank you very much.

Here to help us understand everything that is happening in an out of the White House, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for the "New York Times" Maggie Haberman. Maggie, great to have you here. We'll get to Puerto Rico in a minute, but we want to start with the big changes in health care. President Trump, as you know, hated executive orders when President Obama used them. He has now used more than twice as many or more than twice as many as President Obama had at this point in his presidency. What is going on inside the White House with health care?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, the White House -- parts of the White House, anyway, people in there are frustrated by the lack of movement by Congress. This has been going on now for many months going back to the spring. The president is frustrated, too.

To your point, we often talk about how there's a previous Trump tweet for all occasions that happen when he is now president. There's also a radio interview or a TV interview for most occasions. And as we saw he condemned executive orders when his predecessor was doing. He is discovering that actually working with Congress is not as easy as he sold it on the campaign trail.

There is not unanimity or harmony on how to deal with Obamacare, how to proceed with it. And so there was a meeting that the president had with the GOP Senate caucus during the summer where he talked about a wide range of issues, but one of the issues that he talked about was health care, and he talked about how he wanted to end the CSRs, the monthly subsidies, and he had been talked out of it. And one senator in the room told him as soon as you do that, we will own health care, the GOP will be responsible for blowing up Obamacare. That is how we will be seen. We are set to find out exactly what that's going to look like now.

CUOMO: So what is the plus-minus on this move? What are they thinking they gain?

HABERMAN: Look, they are thinking that they have made a pledge for a long time as a GOP Congress running over several terms that they were going to repeal Obamacare. You noted in an earlier segment that Obamacare has actually become more popular. Republicans have taken the election of Donald Trump as a signal the public actually did want a change, and they feel like they needed to do something in order to have essentially a menu of accomplishments for the GOP Congress to run on next year.

Again, everybody does not see it this way in the White House. Certainly everybody does not see it this way in Congress. But their feeling is they have talked about it for so long they have to do something to make a move. However, the move is going to result -- almost everybody agrees -- in higher premiums. And I am not sure how that is going to play out well.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that, because it sounds like a result in higher premiums for maybe the upper class? It's hard to know --he's getting rid of the subsidies for the lowest income people among us. Is there any fear that that will come back to bite him? I know that he bills it as a bailout to insurance companies that he's going after, but what are the political ramifications?

HABERMAN: It's a risk. Again, I don't know specifically how this is going to look. And I know what the White House says, and I know what health care experts say about what this is going to look like and who it's going to affect. There's a fairly broad sentiment outside the White House from the expert class that this is going to raise premiums of middle class people.

[08:10:04] And again, we will have to see how this plays out. If that is what happens that is politically very dangerous, and so they are taking a huge gamble, this White House, in order to be able to say we got something done in an otherwise pretty stalemated year.

CUOMO: All right, so this is good insight into this kind of collective wrestling with a campaign promise versus an economic and social reality.

Let's go to Puerto Rico and these recent haphazard shifts in tone by the president. I am assuming this isn't part of any kind of a collective thought process. He seemed to be going after renewed criticism by the San Juan mayor when he said we can't be there forever, and once again kind of layering blame on Puerto Rico. And then today he seems to be shifting tone, but he's still making a very tortured point, which is they know how things were before the hurricanes. What is his notion as far as what you can tell from the people around him about what this gets him, saying you had debt problems, you had infrastructure problems, and somehow that means that what happened with the hurricanes is understandable?

HABERMAN: There has been a pretty shared sentiment extensively within the administration that the issues with Puerto Rico's debt and its infrastructure and all sorts of actual structural problems prior to the hurricane has made it much harder to make a smooth recovery effort, and this president, as we know, is very concerned about how he is perceived, whether he is blamed or seen as doing good.

So he thinks he is framing an argument, and he is, as we know, everything with him, and almost everything with him, and therefore almost everything with this White House is reactive. You don't see them trying big positive stories, or trying to tell a positive story about this administration. It is very often this person is wrong, they did xyz, I am much better. So he's been in a cycle of responding to the San Juan mayor, and that's what we saw. He is genuinely angry and frustrated. Whether he should feel that way or whether this is smart to express is an entirely different issue.

And so what you see today is what we have often seen where you will get the first tweet, which is what he really thinks, and then you will get some massaged message from aides which is what appears later. CAMEROTA: Let's talk about what happened yesterday in the press

briefing room, because it was so interesting. Chief of Staff John Kelly, a man normally avoiding the spotlight, I mean, famously trying to avoid the spotlight, appeared at the podium to it seems like extinguish any rumors that his time may be limited in that role. Let me play for everybody what he said to the press yesterday.


JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I would just offer to you that, although I read it all the time pretty consistently, I'm not quitting today. But I don't think I am being fired today, and I am not so frustrated in this job that I am thinking of leaving.

Unless things change, I'm not quitting, I'm not getting fired, and I don't think they will fire anybody tomorrow.


CAMEROTA: Maggie, how did that moment come to pass?

HABERMAN: It was really something. The president wanted him to go out there and wanted him to address this constant -- it's not even a low-grade fever at this point, it's a medium-grade fever -- that things are in turmoil, that Kelly is thinking about exiting at any given moment.

Look, Kelly dealt with the most extreme questions about this administration and his tenure there, right, which are, are you quitting right now? Is this incredibly frustrating? Do you want control of the tweets? He went through all of that.

He did not say what the president claimed he had said, which was that this is the best job he'd ever had. He said it was the most important job he'd ever had. He made clear he does not see his mission as controlling the tweets, or at least he's not publicly going to say that, but he is trying to increase the flow of good information to the president so it can affect the president's decision making.

But it is safe to say that both the president and the White House have gotten frustrated with being bitten constantly by essentially bugs either internally in the White House or outside of people who want to see Kelly do poorly. That doesn't mean that Kelly is going to be there for seven more years, as the president also claimed. Most people would be surprised if he would last another year. On the other hand, most chiefs of staff don't last that long in the White House. It's a grueling job.

I do think he wants people to visibly see him. There's a recognition in this White House that they have not always been smart in engaging the media and in trying to respond, and I think that's what this was.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and I mean, calling the media an enemy of the people is not always the best engagement.

HABERMAN: No, it's not the smartest. I think John Kelly genuinely does not believe that the media is the opposition party as Steve Bannon often said. I think that Kelly has an enormous record of service obviously, lost his son to this country, and he believes very strongly in duty and honor, and I think he believes in the First Amendment.


That does not believe -- mean that he believes everything the press writes is great.


HABERMAN: Does not mean that he is happy with everything we do. I am very aware that he is not. I think many of us are.

But I do think that he is trying to change the way they have engaged with the White House press corps over many months. I think there's a recognition that they basically walked out on January 21st and lit a bomb and then had been dealing with picking up all the pieces since then, and they are trying to do it better.

CUOMO: So, Maggie, let me ask you something. I don't know if you saw the top of the show. You know, of course, that we lost service members in Niger as part of an operation there. The president hasn't mentioned a word about it. What do you know about that?

HABERMAN: Look, this is actually a running theme in this White House, right? If you think about what happened with the service members lost on the USS John McCain, you did not hear the president talk about that. There was a general belief that the reason he didn't talk about it -- I mean, he talked about it eventually but it was pretty late and pretty muted.

There was a sense that he didn't do it because the ship was -- shares the name of a -- not name for him, is name for his father. But shares the name of the senator who the president likes the least, and who has been the most critical --

CUOMO: If we blamed him for the loss of life, he would then talk about it, maybe?

HABERMAN: As I said earlier, it's all reactive. This just has not been a high priority of his. We have seen him repeatedly enjoy the role of comforter in chief when it involved traveling to a location like a hurricane or the horrific shootings in Las Vegas.

He's not doing that here. It's a bit mystifying.

CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, always good to talk to you. Thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right. Other important news that's going on right now. Out west, 31 people dead. Hundreds missing in those raging wildfires in northern California. This is the deadliest week of fires in California's history.

CNN's Ryan Young is live in Sonoma with more.

We see you have the mask on because the smoke is so thick, so acrid, and they are having a lot of trouble controlling the fire. What's the latest?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are. This is tough terrain, Chris, and you look at the mountainsides these firefighters are going into, and you have to call them heroes, because there's more than 8,000 of them right now battling in 24 shifts to kind of control this fire.

We move closer to where the firefighters are fighting the fire, and we are definitely feeling the affects when it comes to just the lungs and in terms of us breathing. I want to show you something off to the side here. That's one of the production lights there, and it looks like it's snowing in the distance. That is ash coming off the mountainside.

Of course, right now in the middle of wine country, this is amazing to see some of the smoke plumes in this area. If you look in the distance, you can see a dairy that was completely destroyed. When you think about how fast this fire has been moving, the fact that so many hundreds are still missing, that's the scary part.

Cadaver dogs have been brought in at this point and they will start to do those searches in some neighbors where people have not been found. You look at the ages of some of the people who have died, you can tell they were probably not able to get out of their homes in time, it is going to be another tough 24 hours for firefighters. But, of course, everyone is hoping they will be able to knock some of the flames down in the near future -- Alisyn.

CUOMO: Oh my gosh. Yes, just so tragic when you look at the ages of the folks who were tracked there, and the staggering number of missing. Thank you very much for the update from there.

All right. So, President Trump will announce this morning he is decertifying the Iran nuclear deal. What does that mean, and why now?


[08:21:11] CUOMO: In just hours, the president is expected to announce a new strategy on Iran, and part of it will be saying that Iran has not complied with the historic nuclear deal, but falling short, we believe, of pulling out of the historic accord.

Let's discuss the move, the timing, and the implications with CNN national security commentator Mike Rogers, and president of Eurasia Group and editor at large at "TIME" magazine, Ian Bremmer.

Mike, good to have you with us as always.

So, take us through it. The timing and tactic, how do you see it?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, the tac -- this may not be the worst thing. There's only one thing that concerns me about it, so let me back up. There's been a lot of problems Iran caused in the region, and they still maintain a weapon smuggling operation throughout Middle East, that's a huge problem, continue their testing on missiles, including what some believe could be leading toward an ICBM test, all of those are very, very concerning, because they can all be a part of both the trouble they're causing and getting to a full weaponized nuclear program.

But what the president has done -- here's the one interesting thing. The only concern I have, this might get Europe engaged in the discussion to help on the missiles and the trouble they're causing in the Middle East, but I don't know if he can control the back end of it, and that's the only part that concerns me about his approach.

CUOMO: It's a big concern, right? It's almost a God forbid scenario, Ian, is that -- you know, obviously, it's a little bit of a low bar to say it's not the worst move that we could be seeing when you are dealing with a potential nuclear power not too far in the distant future.

But if you do this, one, forget about the hypocrisy of having certified it twice, since you've been president, now, you are decertifying. although allies and inspectors say nothing has changed. Putting that to the side, your allies don't like it and Iran says, if you do this, we are going to react to it. So, what's the long game here?

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT OF EURASIA GROUP: Well, it's not really saying that the Iranians are not compliant. Trump has the right to decertify if he sees this deal is not in the fundamental interests of American national security. I think that's the clause here that they are actually going to use. Then he kicks it to Congress.

Now, I will say, the Iranians are making $18 billion additional out of the fact that the oil restrictions have been removed from them since the Iranian deal was signed, they want that money. There's actually a little give on the Iranians to cooperate more if the alternative is that cash maybe turned away. And I think --

CUOMO: So, even if they won't negotiate, you believe that that's just the first line position, and there may be actually some room for renegotiation.

BREMMER: I don't think they will renegotiate the deal. I think that we could potentially get additional things from Iran. The deal was very narrow in terms of -- for example, their level of cooperation with Hezbollah --

CUOMO: Right. It wasn't about that.

BREMMER: -- which the U.S. considers a terror organization, ballistic missile testing, which they're in breach of United Nations Security Council resolution.

CUOMO: Right.

BREMMER: That kind of thing. But for the Americans to accomplish that, you would really need a president and administration that has very strong relations with American allies in the region, in Europe, and can work with the Russians and Chinese effectively. That's a very high bar for this administration.

CUOMO: So, Mike, why now, especially when supposedly the front burner is North Korea, and trying to find a diplomatic solution, why do this with Iran now?

ROGERS: I am not sure of that answer, other than we have seen recently the introduction of explosives and IED type of components that resembled all the things that Iran was putting in to Iraq and Afghanistan early in the war. We're seeing they're going to show up in Afghanistan.

So, I imagine, if you're in that intelligence business and you're seeing that reintroduction of those really lethal IED weapons components likely coming from Iran, I would imagine the intel folks said, hey, we have got to do something about it.

[08:25:10] And remember, that $18 billion that Ian talks about is money they are using to fuel all the bad activities in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, in Syria and Lebanon.

I think that maybe that frustration is, listen, we have got to do something about it and can we get our European allies engaged in helping us fight that problem and the ballistic missile problem. I think this is that happy medium. It doesn't do away with the deal but will ramp up the pressure.

Now, will it work? I'm not sure. And I do agree with Ian, you've got to get our European allies in on this conversation as early as possible in order to get a good outcome.

BREMMER: The why now is actually pretty simple. Three -- this has to get recertified every three months, and three months ago when Tillerson said, yes, the Iranians are in full compliance, and, by the way, everyone internationally agrees that they are fully compliant with this deal, even the Israelis will tell you that privately and they're no friends of Iran.

Trump was apoplectic and Trump said publicly at that point, he said they are not compliant with the spirit of the deal and I don't even think they are compliant with the actual deal, and he was saying internally, get me out of this, I am not doing this again.

Well, now, three months have passed, here it is again. But the good news is that everyone, even the Israelis and Saudis have been telling the Trump administration privately, you do not pull out of this, because if you do, you're going to be by themselves. Some of it have said it publicly as well, and I think the Trump administration understands that very well.

CUOMO: I don't get it. I take you point, Ian, and thank you. But I'm saying it creates a fundamental confusion, which is, if everybody is saying you can't pull out, you have to assume Iran has a few good sets of ears itself, right, too, Mike? A few understand that reality better than you, so presumably they know that people are telling the U.S. you can't back out of the deal, so where is your leverage to get them to move to not back out of the deal.

ROGERS: Right. And he is really not backing out. So, it's a technical difference here, but he is decertifying it which means there's a period of time before Congress can go back and react to the information they will get if they are going to redo sanctions.

And I think what the president's staff is doing here is trying to build some time on trying to get an agreement on these other things. At least that's what I hope they are doing.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: Because this pressure could use -- could be used to get our European allies to say, OK, we got it and we're going to have to do something about their missile development and something about their funding terrorism across the Middle East, so let's work on that in the next 60 days. If that's the outcome, Chris, this could be a good thing.

The one thing you worry about, does Iran react in a way you can't control to get to the diplomatic table? So, there's some risk in this, no doubt.

CUOMO: No question about it. Ian Bremmer, thank you very much.

Mike Rogers, as always. Appreciate it.


CUOMO: OK. The president scrapping some Obamacare health subsidies that benefit the poorest Americans. What are the consequences of this? Our experts are here, next.