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Trump's Third Travel Ban Blocked; Senate Democrats and Republicans Reach Deal on Obamacare. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired October 17, 2017 - 15:00   ET



DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: And I give McCain already the Bronze Star for that fight, because I think he will defeat Trump if it gets to being who's right about what the -- or democratic ideals are all about.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, John McCain will be a formidable ally, no doubt, in that debate.

Douglas Brinkley, Tim Naftali, thank you so much to both of you.

It's now the top of the hour. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Brooke Baldwin.

We're beginning with our breaking news.

CNN is learning two bipartisan senators, two senators, one Democrat, one Republican, say that they have reached a deal in principle on health care.

Now, this time Patty Murray, a Democrat, and senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican, are reaching across the aisle. And their goal here is to stabilize Obamacare, rather than, as the president has requested, just let it implode.

During a news conference a short time ago, President Trump said that he actually endorses this deal, at least in the short-term. Listen.


QUESTION: Apparently, Lamar Alexander has said he has made a deal with Patty Murray to stabilize Obamacare. Has the White House been involved in those negotiations? And will you support that deal?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, we have been involved. And this is a short-term deal, because we think ultimately block grants going to the states is going to be the answer. That's a very good solution.

We think it's going to not only save money, but give people much better health care with a very, very much smaller premium spike. And you look at what has gone on with that. Also, much lower deductible so they can use it. Lamar has been working very, very hard with the Democratic, his colleagues on the other side. And Patty Murray is one of them in particular.

And they are coming up and they are fairly close to a short-term solution. The solution will be for about a year or two years. And it will get us over this intermediate hump, because we have, as you probably know -- we have -- either have the votes or we are very close to having the votes. And we will get the votes for having really the potential of having great health care in our country.

So they are indeed working, but it is a short-term solution, so that we don't have this very dangerous little period.


KEILAR: We're going to have more on that about-face on health care from the president in just a moment.

But we have some breaking news that I want to bring you right now.

This has to do with a federal judge blocking travel ban 3.0., President Trump's new travel ban, just one day before it was to go into effect.

I want to go to correspondent Jessica Schneider. She has the very latest on this.

What has happened here, Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it is deja vu all over again. It's travel ban 3.0 that has once again, as we saw in the two previous travel bans, this has been enjoined by a federal district court judge.

This time, the decision coming out of Hawaii. Now, it is interesting. It's Judge Derrick Watson. And Judge Watson was one of the judges as well back in March who also struck down the travel ban 2.0 executive order as unconstitutional. He stopped it from going into effect.

So it's important to note that the president's travel ban was supposed to go into effect tomorrow. Now, this was the latest iteration of the travel ban. It pertained to six different countries, not all of them Muslim majority, as the administration pointed out. It also included Venezuela.

Some government officials were actually banned from that, but at this point, that travel ban that was supposed to take effect tomorrow, it will not go into effect, because of this federal ruling out of Hawaii.

One thing I want to read from you -- from this opinion from the judge, he basically said that this third try at this executive order, it -- quote -- "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor. It lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be detrimental to the interests of the United States."

So the judge there saying that administration has not proven that barring these people would help the situation in the United States. And he also said that the executive order -- quote -- "plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the Ninth Circuit has found antithetical to both Section 1152 and the founding principles of this nation."

So, Brianna, just to reiterate, this travel ban, the third version of it that was supposed to go into effect tomorrow, a judge, a federal district judge in Hawaii, has now ruled that this travel ban cannot go into effect, that, at this point, he says it appears it is unconstitutional.

And he's stopped it from going into effect. So, once again, the administration's third try at this struck down by a federal court judge -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Jessica Schneider has the very latest on this.

If you wouldn't mind standing by for me, I want to bring in Jeff Toobin, our chief legal analyst, to talk to us about this.

Jeff, what is your reaction?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this is the continuing saga of the travel ban.


What is interesting about this ruling is that travel ban 2.0 was supposed to be addressed by the Supreme Court this month. But the court dismissed that case because it was moot. Travel ban 2.0 is no longer in effect.

But what I think is almost certain now is that this ruling about travel ban 3.0 will be on a rocket ride to the Supreme Court. And we will get a resolution one way or another. I think each time the Trump administration has revised the travel ban, it has become more likely to be upheld.

It is more narrowly tailored. There's more explanation for the basis for it. Obviously, the federal district judge in Hawaii was not persuaded that this one was constitutional. But I think the Trump administration is in better shape defending travel ban 3.0 in the Supreme Court, rather than the two earlier versions. And I expect they will have the chance sooner, rather than later.

KEILAR: Jeff, by the Supreme Court passing on travel ban 2.0, because 3.0 was going into effect or had been drafted and was going to go into effect, that wasn't the Supreme Court's way of signaling how it felt about 3.0, right?

It's just the point was moot and this has to go back through the process of being potentially challenged, as it now has been by a lower court?

TOOBIN: No, I don't think we should draw any conclusions about whether travel ban 3.0 will be upheld based on the dismissal of the case involving travel ban 2.0. That was just a procedural matter. The Supreme Court had no real

reason to address travel ban 2.0 because it was moot, it was not, it was no longer in effect. I think this is likely to be a closed case in the Supreme Court. But I do think the Trump administration probably has a better chance in the Supreme Court than it has particularly in these courts in the Ninth Circuit Court, in the region covered by the Ninth Circuit, Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States, where most of these cases have originally come up, which tend to be the more liberal courts in the country.

The Supreme Court is certainly more on the conservative side.

KEILAR: All right. Stand by for me, Jeff Toobin.

I'm bringing in Tim Naftali, presidential historian, back in with me.

OK, this is quite some breaking news here, as we have learned that a judge, a federal judge in Hawaii saying that the travel ban, the third attempt that the Trump administration has made at it, that it is not constitutional, at least according to him, so Jeffrey Toobin telling us this will be on the express train to the Supreme Court now, Tim.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: And Jeffrey would have a much better sense at what might happen there.

KEILAR: The legal ins and outs.

NAFTALI: But let me -- but this is just a reminder to the president that there are three branches of government and that at least the judiciary...

KEILAR: Co-equal, co-equal branches.

NAFTALI: And the judiciary is pretty healthy.

What I'm looking to is see is how the president reacts. In the past, he's dropped the presidential demeanor and gone right after the courts when he hasn't gotten a response or a decision that he liked. So let's see what he does today.

Best thing for him would be to say nothing and just appeal it. But we never know with Donald Trump.

KEILAR: Well, that seems unlikely that he would do that, right, considering what he has said about the courts in the past.

NAFTALI: It's a shame. It's very important for every member of the triad, constitutional triad, to show respect for the other. It's part of the deal. You play in this game, you play in that sandbox, those are the rules.

If you're in Congress, if you're in the judiciary, if you're in the executive branch, you have got to show respect. It's necessary. And let's hope. Let's hope against hope that he does.

KEILAR: All right, well, we're going to continue to explore this in a moment. Tim Naftali, thank you so much for that.

I want to go back to health care, though, the president endorsing a deal that has been agreed to, at least on sort of the structure of a deal, you could say, between Democrats and Republicans, and extending those cost-sharing subsidies that provide many Americans health insurance that help them pay for health insurance.

The president endorsing that after just putting out an executive order that would have abolished those subsidies.

So let's get to CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly who can help us with this, because this is something that the president by E.O. was going to eradicate, but that was obviously unpalatable to Democrats and Republicans on the Hill, Phil.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On some level, kind of sparking talks that had actually, Brianna, been ongoing for a number of weeks now between Senator Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate Health Committee, and Patty Murray, his Democratic counterpart who is from Washington.

They had been negotiating on how to make CSRs basically come from Congress, how to make these subsidies to insurance companies that allow them to bring down premiums for individuals that are in the marketplaces, come from Congress, and not be subject to the executive branch just for the reason that the president proved just a couple days ago, that he could cancel them.


So here's what this deal actually entails right now, what Democrats want. They would get two years of funding for the subsidies,these the cost-sharing reduction payments.

They would also get a little north of $100 million in Obamacare outreach funding, so essentially the ability to try and more or less get people into the exchanges, let people know enrollment is happening, those sorts of things.

What Republicans would get -- and, Brianna, this is extremely important if this deal has any future whatsoever -- is on the regulatory flexibility side. We heard a lot about this during the repeal and replace debate. And we heard about this in kind of every reiteration of it from 1.0 to Graham-Cassidy at the end.

States want the ability to apply for waivers and get waivers from Obamacare related to tailoring their regulations to better serve kind of their constituents, their state customers. This has been particularly onerous in the past, by design. Obamacare didn't want states to be able to opt out of lot of the regulatory protections that are in the law that currently stands.

What Republicans would basically get out of this is twofold. One, they would get kind of a change in how the measure of whether or not a plan is affordable is actually constructed. That would, in and of itself, grant a lot of flexibility in terms of how the states could actually structure their plans.

The other thing they would be able to do is it would speed up the waiver process, which right now a lot of states deem very, very onerous, and would also give other states to ability to almost mimic in the near-term another waiver that another state has gotten.

So, say, Alaska, which has a reinsurance program which allows them to take federal money and help pay down premiums for others, another state could get that almost immediately if they apply for it.

So the regulatory piece is a very big deal if this has any future in a Republican-controlled Senate, obviously a Republican-controlled House as well. And for the Democrats, it's not secret they want these CSRs, these subsidies. They want them funded. They want the Obamacare money as well.

That would be what they would get out of the deal. The big question now is, where does this deal go from here? It has the president's endorsement. Obviously, it has two key Senate leaders' endorsement, but there are many steps left to go, Brianna.

KEILAR: Especially as it preserves a key part of Obamacare, despite the president saying Obamacare as he sees it is dead.

All right, hang tight for us, Phil. We will be back with you.

I do want to talk more about the health care deal, including reaction from Republicans. Where are they on this? Next.

Plus, President Trump claims the recent victory over ISIS in Raqqa was thanks to his changes in the military. Hear what Senator McCain had to say about that. I will also get reaction from an Air Force lieutenant colonel.



KEILAR: A big bipartisan agreement with potentially a solution to the end of, well, as the president had planned, subsidies to pay for health insurance for many Americans.

This could lead to saving that for the next couple of years, at least for a number of people.

So, joining me now to talk about it, we have senior politics reporter M.J. Lee, CNN political commentator Mary Katharine Ham. She is a senior writer for "The Federalist."

This is pretty fascinating, M.J., and this was a discussion that was already in progress, but it seemed like the president saying that he was going to get rid of these subsidies that help so many people pay for their health insurance spurred a discussion between Patty Murray, a Democrat, and Lamar Alexander, a Republican.

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sure. Alexander and Murray had actually been talking about trying to reach some kind of bipartisan deal for months now. But Alexander ended up announcing when Graham-Cassidy appeared to be going somewhere -- this is now a couple of weeks ago -- he said these bipartisan talks had to go on hold.

Now, when that Republican bill ended up not going anywhere because Republicans didn't end up having the votes, these talks sort of started up again. And, you know, the way that this sort of played out at the White House today was pretty fascinating because it was literally within minutes that the president was bashing the CSR payments, saying that these payments line the pockets of insurance companies.

It was during that time sort of simultaneously that this deal on Capitol Hill was announced. And then when the president was asked about this bipartisan deal, he appeared to endorse it, saying, well, this is a short-term solution. They have been working really hard.

And I think seeing how the president actually talks about this issue going forward is going to be really interesting and key to whether he is able to rally these Republicans, many of whom are skeptical about supporting something like this, whether he ends up really sort of pulling his weight and talking to individual members and saying, we need to vote on this so that it becomes law.

Already, we have a number of conservative Republicans who have said, there's no way that I'm supporting something that basically props up Obamacare.

KEILAR: That's right, because this is not a done deal, as we heard Phil Mattingly just report, Mary Katherine.


KEILAR: This could require some shepherding by the president.

HAM: Yes, so the upside of this is that it would be a constitutional way to do these payments. Before there was no appropriation, there was no law, it was not in Obamacare, and the federal judge was like, nah, you can't really do it that way.

There was an appeal in place by the Obama administration. The Trump administration said, no, we're not going to appeal that. This is not a good way to do this.

So this would be a way to actually put it into law. Now, whether it succeeds is another issue. I'm not a huge fan of bailing out insurance companies to solve this problem anyway, which is what -- these payments are to insurance companies, not to people who actually have trouble paying their premiums.

And the idea is that it gets passed along. But, yes, I don't think the president has a lot of ideological commitment to any position in the health care debate. And he is like, sure, go ahead and pay these guys if that's the deal that gets done. I think he has a huge issue with that.

KEILAR: Does he end up owning this, then, what is -- he calls it short-term, but when I think short-term, I think three months. This is a two-year deal. So, if this goes forward, Mary Katharine, may he end up -- may this end up being Trumpcare?

HAM: I think there's an element of that, although the extent to which Trump ends up owning anything is questionable, because he's so changeable and things don't seem to stick to him.

As soon as he changes his mind, he's like, oh, declare victory and move on. So I think there's some question as to whether he's politically affect by these things, as other people are.

But, yes, I don't think he would mind getting a deal done. And that would be the deal that Trump got done, ironically, the one that keeps this annoying part of Obamacare in place.


KEILAR: Let's talk now about -- there's so much news going on this hour. It's a very fast-pasted hour.

A federal judge has now blocked the travel ban 3.0, the third attempt at the travel ban.

I want to bring in now Jamie Metzl. He's a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He used to be on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.

OK, so react to this news that you have a federal judge in Hawaii, Jamie, who is saying, no, this isn't constitutional. He said the same thing about the second travel ban, and it seems like this is destined for the Supreme Court now.

JAMIE METZL, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It will and we have this same problem, is we have a president who, as a candidate, was very clear about what he was doing and the intent and the goal, who has used all kinds of demagoguery and even racism in advancing this agenda.

And then they rejigger it and say, well, now we're not going to let North Koreans come into the United States, and there were no North Koreans even coming. And so it is not really fooling anybody. And I think that the federal judiciary is doing its job in holding the president to account.

KEILAR: What do you think, Mary Katharine?

HAM: Look, I think from the beginning of this process, there's something that the Trump administration could learn from it, which is that there's value in doing things in a thought-through and methodical way and making sure that everybody has the notes about what you're going to do. And I think had they tried, for instance, perhaps this version on the

first try, they would be a lot farther along in actually making a policy that might do something that, by the way, the American people are OK with,some more vetting and making sure that we don't have folks from failed states coming and not knowing exactly who they are.

But we're three times in now, and that's because they didn't do this in a methodical way from the beginning.

LEE: And I think even months later, there's still talk about this parallel universe in which the Trump administration had rolled out the first version of the travel ban in a more effective way, where it was clear how it would be implemented, exactly what would go into it.

And a lot of folks wondering, if they had done it sort of right or in a more sort of advantageous or strategic way the first time, would the administration be dealing with the situation where they're now on version 3.0 and unclear what will happen to this, you know, goal, this political goal that is very, very important to the president?

KEILAR: We have been seeing a war of words between President Trump and Senator John McCain.

Senator McCain delivered really a thinly veiled and scathing speech last night, kind of excoriating very much not just President Trump, but really his world view. And then President Trump said that he had better be careful, he's been very nice, so sort of a threat back at Senator McCain.

And then just moments ago, Senator McCain, CNN tracked him down in the hallways there in the Capitol, and here's how he reacted.


QUESTION: Were you trying to -- were you addressing the president or Bannon or the group in total?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think that what is clear is what I was talking about is an environment here of non-productivity, of a reversion to the attitude of the '30s, which was one of the major reasons why we fought World War II.


KEILAR: So, Jamie, when you hear that, and, clearly, these are two gentlemen who see the world very differently. And they see the role of the United States in the world very differently.

When you see John McCain saying about warning to a return to isolationism that could lead to a world war, what do you think?

METZL: I think that we're at an incredibly dangerous moment for our country and the world.

President Trump is taking a sledgehammer to a global world order that the United States spent 70 years meticulously building. And the entire -- the peace and prosperity of the entire world rests upon that foundation.

By saying that President Trump is going back to the isolationism of the '30s, it was this period that led to the miscalculations and all of the problems that eventually left the world in ruins. And, right now, what I think Senator McCain, who is an incredible American patriot, is trying to do is to make this be equivalent of 1954, when Joseph Welch and President Eisenhower said to Senator McCarthy at the end of four years of witch trials, this madness has to stop.

And I think for this country and for the world, the madness of the Trump administration needs to be reined in.

KEILAR: Does this speech have that effect, Mary Katharine, especially as -- Senator McCain, I mean, it's a very -- it is a pretty scary warning, what he's giving.

He was saying last night, don't dismantle, essentially, the world that you have helped order, that you helped organize. But does it have any real effect?

HAM: Well, I'm probably between McCain and Trump on the idea of the American leadership and isolationism vs. interventionism.


But there's a part of this that I think, look, McCain is allowed to say what he can say, because once somebody calls you a bad POW, go for it. Right? You can fight that until the end of the time.

But there's a part where he says that this is unpatriotic to sort of be sold on this, he called it half-baked nationalism. But there's a part of this where an animating part of his party and the nation and crossover Democrats who voted for Trump really are skeptical of interventionism in the mold of the McCain style, for good reason, because there were many, many deaths and treasure and blood lost in the Middle East, that people are very skeptical of that approach to things and being on the McCain end of that spectrum.

So I think that is a political reality that McCain has to deal with as well. And using that word unpatriotic I think spreads that beyond Trump and what he's selling to people who adhere to something a little bit more isolationist.

METZL: But it is not just about interventionism.

This post-war international order is part based on America playing this role of policeman.

HAM: That's the part where I agree with McCain.


METZL: But it's in part based on the United States setting standards, whether through international law or international institutions, that create a foundation for global peace. And that is as much of what President Trump and this administration is

destroying, is about the failure to intervene or failures of intervention, as the climate change agreement or the United Nations. All of these institutions that have kept the peace for so long are now fundamentally at risk.

HAM: Well, I and the folks who voted for Trump would argue that they haven't actually kept peace that well and that something like the Iran deal basically gives Iran license to become a nuclear power, and that that is actually not a great way to keep peace either.

The question remains, what does the Trump doctrine -- what is it and what does it lead to?


METZL: And can you replace it with something better? Certainly, you can imagine it, but can this administration deliver?

KEILAR: All right, Jamie, Mary Katharine, M.J., thank you so much to all of you.

Next, President Trump has thrust his chief of staff into a firestorm over his comments about fallen troops. I will be getting reaction from an Air Force colonel, plus details on the investigation into the mission that led to the death of four U.S. soldiers in Niger.