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Trump Fires U.S. Atty. After Promising He Could Keep Job; White House Fence Jumper Appears In Court; Pence Pitches GOP Bill As Party Remains Divided; The Big Challenge To "Repeal And Replace" Obamacare; So I'm Marrying A Robot: Love & Tech; CNN Poll: Melania Trump's Approval Ratings Way Up. Aired 8-9- ET
Aired March 11, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Now, sources say Bharara was completely blindsided by this order to resign, mainly just a just a few months ago, President Trump asked him to stay on as a U.S. attorney. The two even shook hands on it. CNN Justice Reporter, Laura Jarrett has more details. Laura?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Ana, in a pretty stunning last 24 hours, we're learning more about what exactly U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, was told, when and by whom. The acting Attorney General, Dana Boente, called him and asked him if it was true that he was not going to resign, that he was refusing to resign. He indicated that it was. Boente then later called him and told him if in fact that was true, then the President was firing him.
Now, what we don't know is what exactly has changed in these intervening months because as Bharara says, he was told back in November at Trump Tower that he could stay. And the President told him to go out to the cameras and tell him that was the case. But now, we know that something has changed and he has been fired.
Now, a career prosecutor in the Southern District Attorney's Office will take his place. June Kim will be the one who will stand in his shoes now, but we are not hearing much from the White House about how all of this transpired. Sean Spicer, earlier today, referred us to the Justice Department and the Justice Department did not have much to say other than Preet Bharara is no longer U.S. Attorney. Ana?
CABRERA: All right, Laura Jarrett. Thank you. Preet Bharara was just one of 46 U.S. Attorneys asked to step down. But his role specifically as the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan is one, if not the most high profile law jobs in the U.S. want to talk about that with CNN's Sarah Ganim, she's been following this story all day for us. So Sarah, when you look at all the attorneys the President could have, you know, really made a statement with, this guy was pretty prominent.
SARAH GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was also one of the most well- respected, most powerful U.S. Attorneys in the country. Preet Bharara was appointed almost eight years ago by President Barack Obama. He had been Chief Council to Senate Minority leader, Chuck Schumer. Schumer, as you now know, has emerged as one of the chief adversaries of Donald Trump. But back in 2009, it was Schumer who encouraged President Obama to appoint Bharara after one of his investigations led to the resignation of then Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales.
Bharara's office eventually prosecuted everything from terrorists, like the attempted Times Square bomber, to international Russian crime bosses to the Hacking Group Anonymous. But Bharara is perhaps best well-known for going after corruption cases, notably, Wall Street corruption.
This Time magazine cover, you can see here from 2012 says it all says, "This man is busting wall street." They called him The Enforcer. And he was greatly feared on Wall Street. He prosecuted dozens of insider trading and securities fraud cases including Bernie Madoff's brother.
Of course, his corruption cases went beyond Wall Street, too. Bharara was appointed by a Democratic President but he was well-known for his non-partisan investigations, going after both Dems and Republicans. And until today's firing, he was in the middle of investigations involving the offices of two of the most powerful Democrats in the State of New York. The first one, he was set to try several former aides of Governor
Andrew Cuomo, who were accused of bribery and of bid rigging. He was also in the final stages of an investigation of New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, looking at allegations of pay to play.
Bharara headed a very important Federal District. This is the Southern District of New York. This is where Trump Tower is. So, any federal investigation including anything, including wiretapping or anything else, would likely involve this office. And of course Ana, you know, we know that U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. But in talking to people today, I have heard that this was quite a surprise to people in this office especially because he was told --
GANIM: Bharara was told back in November by the President that he would keep his job. So, hearing that he was going to be fired was a shock for that reason.
CABRERA: And not only does that play such a big role, his position in this particular U.S. Attorney's Office, but the fact that he was told his job was saved, and then the turnabout here.
GANIM: Right. That was indifferent.
CABRERA: Sarah Ganim, thank you. In just a short time ago, we did get a little bit information as to why President Trump may have reneged on his promise to keep Bharara on.
Now, a source close to the President, telling my colleague, Jake Tapper, that Mr. Trump's promise was made as a gesture to Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. Now however, since all of this happened the last few months, the White House has seen Schumer as leading unprecedented oppositions.
Joining me to discuss further, CNN Political Commentators, Mike Shields and Ryan Lizza. Mike, to you first. You severed as a Chief of Staff to Reince Priebus while Priebus led the RNC. By the way, Ryan Lizza is the Washington Correspondent for The New Yorker. And Mike, I do want to start with this. Why would the President do this about face? Is there a strategy behind it?
[20:05:02] MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, it's not just this particular U.S. Attorney that's been asked to resign. I think it's important to understand that there are 46, you know.
SHIELDS: When Bill Clinton came in, he immediately dismissed --
CABRERA: But he was the one who was told he was going to be -- his job was saved.
SHIELDS: Yes, but - right. But I think if he was --
CABRERA: That's why we're focusing on him specifically.
SHIELDS: Right. And I understand he has a high media profile and I fully expect him to be signing e-mails for Democrats for office and speaking at the DNC and creating sort of creating a partisan profile for himself. I mean, that sort of what people do when they make this big a deal out of something.
Look, the fact of the matter is, there are Democrats that were appointed and when you're appointed by a Democrat President, you can expect to be let go by the Republican President. When Eric Holder fired U.S. attorneys when he - when Obama took over from President Bush, he was asked about it and he said elections have consequences. And so, you're seeing the consequence of the election here. And I don't think this is -- I think this is the first step by President Trump. I think he's going to start rooting out Obama appointees across the administration. This is just the first step. There are 46 U.S. attorneys here.
This is a high profile one and so people are going to pay attention to it but it's really just a part of a rooting out of Obama Administration people and that's exactly what he should be doing.
CABRERA: Ryan, is this just kind of a standard proceed or is Bharara a victim of political warfare?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I have to agree with most of what was just said. You know, I think it's really important to distinguish when we're covering Trump with the episodes that really break with political norms. And there have been quite a few and those that are frankly business as usual. And I think the, you know, the warning that you were going to be fired as a U.S. Attorney came on November 8th and -- now look, you have two mitigating factors here that, you know, are interesting. One, he did have this private conversation with President-elect Trump in trump tour and seems to have had some assurance that he could go out to the cameras and say he would be staying on. And it's probably worth finding out a little bit more about if he characterized that conversation correctly and if so, why did Trump change his mind.
Now remember, back then, Trump was dealing with a lot of people, a lot of issues. I doubt he was all that up to speed on U.S. Attorneys and what the tradition is about having them stay or not. But I have to say, I find it a little strange that a U.S. Attorney would just outright say, "No, I'm not going to resign. You have to fire me." I feel like it's incumbent on Mr. Bharara here to explain why he hesitated, why he wouldn't resign. If there's something that -- where he has some case that he should not have been fired, I think we deserve to know about it.
CABRERA: Mike, do you see it that way that he may have been grand standing?
SHIELDS: Absolutely. I mean, you know, you don't get on the --
LIZZA: Hey, I'm not saying necessarily he's - I'm not saying he's necessarily grand standing. That's certainly a possibility. He looks like someone that could have a bright political future. I'm just saying there must be something else.
SHIELDS: Well, let's put it this way. He has a media profile. He has a high media profile. The guy tweets a lot, he's on the front cover of Time Magazine. I don't think anyone even wants that particular U.S. attorney's job unless they want to be high profile. It's probably the most high profile U.S. attorney's position.
And so, the people that are going to seek that and rise to it are people that want to do this. And so, once he know he's going to be like go, he's going make the most out of it. Like I said, just don't be surprised if you see him signing e-mails for left leaning groups or the DNC and that he's speaking at the convention for the Democrats.
He has a partisan job, he was appointed by a partisan President, he's close to Chuck Schumer, a new President's coming, he's got rid of him. He's going to put his own U.S. Attorneys in there.
And I think, you know, in terms of the case matter, there's plenty of career people that are going to continue to investigate the things he's investigating. It's not as though this administration has sort of the friendliest relationship with Wall Streets. It's a pretty populist bent that the administration has, so I think you're still going to see the work being done there. But President Trump ought to have his own Justice Department. He ought to have his own U.S. attorneys; he ought to have his own people in his administration.
And so, this guy's going to grandstand about it. But the fact of the matter is this is pretty much a routine thing to do.
CABRERA: But Ryan, the way -
LIZZA: That's why I say - yes.
CABRERA: The way it happened so abruptly is not routine, right?
LIZZA: Yes. CABRERA: I mean, we do know that a lot of past Presidents have come in and they have cleaned house. And so, that part was not necessarily unusual or surprising. It's the fact that he came in and said, "You're out today."
LIZZA: Yes. It sounds like they could have given him a little bit more notice and that the -- there's some reporting that Attorney General Sessions did have a conference call with most of the attorneys -- to the U.S. attorneys, I think on Thursday, if I got that correct. And this wasn't mentioned. So, it was a bit of a surprise and I don't know the history about how long you're given, as a U.S. Attorney, to clear out your desk and if this was shorter than the tradition, then you know, fair enough, I think these folks have a good argument that perhaps, they weren't treated with as much respect with a longer deadline than they would have liked. But you know, I don't want - I think it would be unfair to leave viewers with the impression that it's unusual for a President to pick his own U.S. Attorneys - it's not.
LIZZA: And I really think if Bharara has some reason that he would not tender his resignation, I think he should explain publicly what it was. Maybe there's a valid reason that none of us understand or are thinking of and I feel like, you know, hopefully, we'll hear from him and explain why he didn't want to do that. Is there some sensitive investigation that he's overseeing that he had reason to make a claim that he should stay on longer?
[20:10:13] CABRERA: It's interesting that you're saying that Bharara needs to come forward and provide more information because we heard from David Gergen and others earlier who say it really is incumbent upon President Trump to come forward or maybe not President Trump but a member of his administration, perhaps the Attorney General, to explain why Bharara would be, you know, fired after he was initially told that he would retain his job, Mike.
SHIELDS: Well, like I said, Eric Holder -
LIZZA: I don't think he'd do that. I think both sides can explain.
SHIELDS: Like I said, when Eric Holder was asked about this in the Obama Administration, his answer was elections have consequences. That's the response, that's the reason. And so, look, you don't hear any of the other 46 U.S. Attorneys saying, "Oh, I've got an investigation, too. I refuse to step down." And so, look, I think this is the first step. I think you're going to see more people that are Obama Administration people being let go.
I think if you were appointed by the Obama Administration, you shouldn't be shocked that at any moment, the clock is ticking, that you're going to get fired as soon as a new administration comes in. And I think anyone that's in Washington who works in politics knows that if you work in one administration, you could get let go. In fact, even within an administration, you work at the will of the President of the United States and at any moment, he decides he doesn't want you to be there appointed by him anymore, you could be let go.
And so, none of this -- this is all completely routine and I agree with Ryan, I think it would be interesting to hear why he wants to - why he wouldn't just step down like the other 45 U.S. Attorneys apparently have done. And see -- maybe he'll tweet about it or we'll read about it in Time Magazine.
LIZZA: And look -
LIZZA: Maybe it's as simple as the fact that he would have this guarantee from the President and he wanted a deeper explanation of why he was being let go after that. And that's fair. If he really did have a guarantee from President-elect Trump, you can understand why he would be surprised.
CABRERA: Oh, you guys both are sharing potential reasons for all of this happening.
LIZZA: We don't know.
CABRERA: Certainly, are left with more questions than answers at the moment. Mike Shields and Ryan Lizza, thank you both for sharing your thoughts and the insight that you have.
LIZZA: Thanks, Ana.
SHIELDS: Thank you.
CABRERA: We appreciate it. Up next, the late night alarming security breach at the White House. Let's talk more about this. A man climbed over the iron fence and made it all the way to the pillars of the Executive Mansion before he ran into a Secret Service Officer and that's where his run ended. The President happened to be inside the White House at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Secret Service did a fantastic job last night. I appreciate them. Secret Service did a fantastic job. It was a troubled person they're saying. The Secret Service was fantastic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's Athena Jones is at the White House. Athena. Tell us more about this man who President Trump has also called as a troubled person and just how close to the doors of the White House he actually got.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Well, his name is Jonathan Tran and he is 26 years old and from California. We're learning more from that court appearance he made earlier today, the criminal complaint and the sworn statement of the arresting Secret Service Officer. I can tell you though that he is going to be arraigned in Federal Court on Monday. That is the plan and he will be held until then because a judge found probable cause that he could be a risk -- a danger to the community and a flight risk. But we're learning from the sworn statement that Tran -- this incident happened last night at 11:38 p.m. when this arresting officer saw Tran walking on the East side of the South grounds of the White House Complex. He was walking close to the exterior wall of the White House Mansion. So, he was right next to the residence. He was approaching the South portico entrance to the White House. You can see it there on the screen. It's that back semi-circular entrance. You often see the President using it to the part the White House could head on, to the right on Marine One.
He was wearing a hooded sweater or jacket and was carrying a backpack. At one point, the suspect hid behind a White House pillar before proceeding closer to that South Portico entrance. Now, in the backpack that he was carrying, the suspect was carrying two cans of mace, one of which was inside his jacket pocket also, a U.S. passport, an Apple laptop computer and a book written by President Trump. We don't know which one and a letter he had written to President Trump that mentioned Russian hackers and said he had information of relevance.
Tran also alleged that he had been followed and that his phone and e- mail communications had been read by third parties and that he had been called a schizophrenic. So, some interesting details emerging from the criminal complaint into this very serious breach of security. Ana?
[20:15:49] CABRERA: Thank you, Athena Jones at the White House Courts tonight. Now, the Republican push for a new health care plan is facing criticism on both sides of the aisle. Coming up, I'll talk to the Democratic Governor of Colorado and see what it would take to win his support. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[20:20:13] CABRERA: The rest of CNN NEWSROOM and the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare is now pitting Republicans versus Republicans. Vice President Mike Pence, putting pressure on his own party who are thinking about bucking this new bill. Taking his case to Louisville, Kentucky, the home state of Republican Senator Rand Paul, who as you know, has been an outspoken critic of this House GOP Proposal. I want to bring in John Hickenlooper, the Democratic Governor of Colorado. Hello to you, Governor Hickenlooper and hello to Colorado, my home state. Glad that you're joining us.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER, COLORADO DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR: Exactly, nice to see you again.
CABRERA: Yes, likewise even if it is via satellite. I do want ask you about this health care reform issue because we know President Obama admitted back in October, the Affordable Care Act isn't perfect. Hillary Clinton also made that admission while campaigning. How would you improve Obamacare?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think a lot of us have recognized it was a, you know, something it was an act in progress or play in progress. I think the key thing is not to roll back and take people that have gotten health care coverage and take it away from them. Certainly, the tax cut, $600 billion to go to the richest, one percent probably not the key thing right now. I think we should work together and I think Republican Governors, Democratic Governors are willing to come. We have direct experience with this, with the implementation of the ACA and let's look at - maybe we have to change how much everyone gets but everybody should have some basic level of health care.
CABRERA: And I think Republicans agree with that based on what they have said the goal of their legislation is to lower the cost of health care, to increase access to health care. Is there anything that you can point to specifically about the Republican plan that you think will not accomplish that?
HICKENLOOPER: Oh, my gosh. If you look at -- it's a gigantic cause shift to the States all over the country. I mean, if you're going to cut out the federal support in 2020 from the 90 percent that was committed to in the original Affordable Care Act. I don't know of --
CABRERA: That Medicaid expansion that we've heard thrown around.
HICKENLOOPER: Yes. I'm sorry, the Medicaid expansion. That -- there's not a state I'm aware of that can sustain that. They'll be forced to cut back on the coverage and you're going to have kids, elderly with disabilities, there will be a significant impact to rural health care. I don't see how you can say that in way, it's better. And any cost savings are coming on the backs of the States. They're going to have to get that money from somewhere.
CABRERA: What has happened though isn't necessarily working for all parties involved. Anthem, the massive health insurance, says without significant changes to the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, as we've been describing it, is going to extract itself from a number of states where it's offering coverage currently. So what do you say to those insurers who are demanding changes or else?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think the appropriate way to deal with this issue is to bring Anthem, bring the insurers together, sit down with Republicans and Democrats. Let's not do - I mean, the Republicans complain so bitterly that you know, that the Affordable Care Act was pushed through so fast, and yet now, they're doing the same things themselves. I mean, it's haywire, right? It's something kind of thrown together at the last minute. It's the weakest kind of wire. Let's see if there's a way to get the insurers and some governors who have got experience in implementation.
You know, over the last year and a half, our Medicaid has been flat on a per person basis for the first time ever. We're controlling that cost. We bent the cost curve down. Some States like Ohio have held back cost down for four and five years. Let's take those best practices, work with the insurers, and let's all work together, collaborate what a concept for Washington and try and try to make a system that really works. CABRERA: When we've heard from Pence today, he talked about giving
more power to the States, letting States make the choices of where to prioritize funds. He has said in the Republican plan says that they would give States grants as a substitute for some of that Medicaid funding that you currently receive in places like Colorado. He's also talked about the tax credits that would be based on age, so, somebody who is younger might get a $2,000 tax credit where somebody who's older would get a $4,000 tax credit. Are some of those potential solutions to the current problems with Obamacare and laws?
HICKENLOOPER: I don't think so. I think that, you know, just going strictly on age, I mean, if you're an older person, a senior and in a lower income situation, you're going to be worse off than you are today. You're going to see a lot of people in rural Colorado, rural America that are going to be worse off. Again, I think that a lot of these changes --
CABRERA: Why do you think that? Why do you think people will be worse off?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, what they're doing is they're shifting it, so right now it's need based. I think our shift is surely to age base. When you take out the need component, and you look at people the same age, that means those who are older but have, you know, don't have the same income, they have less income, they're going to be worse off because you're kind of passing some of their subsidy to, you know, other people that are better off, have had more income. Same thing the tax credits.
A lot of the experts think that by doing those tax cuts which don't come up front, you have to apply for the tax credit later, you know, at the end of the year. A lot of people just won't get their health insurance. There are some people saying six, 10, 15 million people could end up without health care based on this plan.
CABRERA: Governor, I wanted to ask you a question about Marijuana Legalization because I've covered it so much being there in Colorado and I know when talking about economic issues, it has been a big economic driver. We'll have to have you back to discuss that further, in another segment down the road. But before I let you go, to anyone who may be looking at you as the man to step up in 2020 for the Democratic Party and take on President Trump, what do you say?
HICKENLOOPER: I say that I've got the next two years. I've got actually 667 days in my term.
CABRERA: Oh, but who's counting, right?
HICKENLOOPER: Exactly. I have it on my calendar on my cell phone. Every day, a lot of my Senior Staff do because we've got -- we're working on workforce training, we're making Colorado the healthiest State. You know, U.S. news and world report called us the number one economy in the country last week. We want to focus on that. I'm not forming a pack, I'm not forming any committees, I want to do everything I can in this job over those 667 days just to demonstrate a State can work with the Federal Government, we can work together across partisan lines. I mean, what this country needs to do is more collaborative decision making, right? More compromise.
CABRERA: Well, I hear you say you're not committing to running for President, but you aren't ruling it out. Is that correct?
HICKENLOOPER: Yes, I'm going to be very busy for the next couple of years. Let's put it that way.
CABRERA: Governor John Hickenlooper -
HICKENLOOPER: It's running for - I'm going to be busy running Colorado.
CABRERA: All right. Well, great to have you on. Thanks again for sharing some time with us. Coming up, imagine battling an incurable form of cancer, and then losing your health coverage? Unfortunately, that's the reality for some Americans- a look at the real problem, the real people, their struggle for health care.
[20:30:00] CABRERA: All over the country, everyday Americans are facing the harsh realities of the current health care system, the uncertainty of what's ahead and the fear of not having insurance coverage in the future. CNN's Brynn Gingras traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee, where a major insurer is about to pull out of the state's Obamacare exchange program. Watch this.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For Melissa Nance and her fiance, Wade, this mobile home is their means to living out the couple's dream of driving cross-country. Recently, though a new reality set in.
MELISSA NANCE, INSURED THROUGH AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: I was diagnosed with leukemia.
GINGRAS: An incurable form of cancer. A basket of prescriptions keeps her going.
NANCE: Now, I'm a sick person. Before, I wasn't.
GINGRAS: Right now, her treatment is covered through the Affordable Care Act, but insurer Humana recently announced its pulling out of Obamacare exchanges across the country leaving zero options for about 40,000 customers in the Knoxville area, so people like Nance may be without coverage by the end of this year.
NANCE: Sort of like I battled cancer and survived and now, I'm having to -- I feel like battle and fight to make sure that I have health insurance and it's exhausting.
MICHELE JOHNSON, TENNESSEE JUSTICE CENTER: (INAUDIBLE) melting down.
GINGRAS: Michele Johnson head the non-profit that helps people across state access health care. The panic she says, crosses party lines. JOHNSON: These are folk who voted for Trump or didn't vote at all, or maybe for Clinton. But mostly, people are calling very afraid and they're calling -- wanting
us to say everything is going to be OK.
GINGRAS: The company blames quote, "an unbalanced risk pool", meaning fewer healthy people on its roles, hurting business. Humana's leaving follows a recent move by two of its competitors. Tennessee's health care system is already fragile. Three quarters of the state's counties have one health care provider through Obamacare, according to the state's department of insurance.
JOHNSON: It means that we don't have a very bright future. It means that we're on very, very shaky footing.
GINGRAS: And politics are in play.
PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF THE REPRESENTATIVE SPEAKER: Options are disappearing fast.
GINGRAS: A republican-sponsored repeal bill is moving through Congress. The proposed bill would get rid of Obamacare's individual mandate, but matches its predecessor by offering tax credits to purchase health insurance and maintaining coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
NANCE: Selfishly, I'm glad that pre-existing conditions are lifetime (INAUDIBLE) covered. I think that we need to have a broader picture and look at what's best for our community as a whole.
GINGRAS: Not everyone in this red state agrees. Health care was a major election issue here and many like small business opener Catherine Ian believe it needs a complete overhaul.
CATHERINE IAN, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: We're paying more enforced type of expenses and we feel like we're getting less and less benefit out of it.
GINGRAS: For Nance, it's worth everything, and without an insurance plan she can afford, her motor home intended for travel may be what's needed to save her life.
NANCE: I guess the plan is I'll move. It comes to that.
NANCE: It's that or die. So, you know, what else would you do?
GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN.
[20:04:41] CABRERA: Just ahead, the health care reform bill is facing major opposition from democrats, of course, but it's also being challenged by many conservative republicans. We'll hear why next in the CNN NEWSROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CABRERA: Welcome back. When republicans vow to repeal and replace Obamacare, they expected they face major criticism from democrats. They weren't wrong there, but earlier, I spoke with Democratic Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut who said there was nothing that could convince him to support this republican effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN MALLOY, UNITED STATES GOVERNOR FROM CONNECTICUT: It will take insurance away for millions of people. It will gut Medicaid; it will cause people to lose their lives; it will cause hospitals to close; it will cause other clinics to close.
In - on - I'm in my 60s. If I was to go to the marketplace under this plan, I would have to pay probably about $8,000 more for my coverage. That's what they're doing, folks. Everyone wake up and understand that this is repeal and replace with the emphasis on repeal and really not replace. What they're going to do is make you sicker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:09:50] CABRERA: So, democrats aren't the only ones who don't like it. Philip Klein, managing editor of the Washington Examiner and author of "Overcoming Obamacare: Three Approaches to Reversing the Government Takeover of Health Care". Phil, thanks for joining us. So, you wrote an opinion piece earlier this week, and you said, "Calling this new reform plan conservative just because republicans created it is a farce."
PHILIP KLEIN, WASHINGTON EXAMINER MANAGING EDITOR: Well, basically, this plan keeps a lot of Obamacare's regulations in place. These are the same regulations that have driven up the cost of insurance, leading to the skyrocketing premiums that republicans have been attacking for years. It also replaces Obamacare subsidies with very generous new subsidies. And yet, despite doing -- making all of these nods to Obamacare, it still leaves itself vulnerable to attacks from democrats such as you just heard that they're throwing millions of people off of health insurance and gutting Medicaid.
So, it is in a sense, the worse of both worlds, if republicans had actually adopted a true free market plan, they'd be being attacked like - from democrats just as they are now, but they'd be on more a defensible ground. They'd be able to point to a plan that spends a lot less and that drives premiums down that really creates a free market and that really expands choice.
CABRERA: So, let's just take a slice of what you just spoke of and that is driving premiums down. To do just that one thing, what is the solution if what is already out there isn't working, and what has been proposed by republicans in the House, Republican Speaker Ryan, isn't working according to what you just said?
KLEIN: OK. Well, it's very clear. Obamacare's premiums are high because they force everyone to buy very comprehensive health insurance. Now, they say that's good because it provides more benefits, but what if you don't need that comprehensive health insurance? You're still paying a very high price to purchase more insurance that you need. And that's what's driving young people out of the insurance market and causing Obamacare to collapse. So, the solution is an additional government control. It's throughout those regulations to allow people to purchase the insurance that they want. If they want more comprehensive insurance, they could pay for it. If they don't and they just want a basic plan that covers them and protects them from financial ruin in the case of a major catastrophic illness, then they should be able to purchase that. That's what conservative health care has always been; that's what republicans promised; that's what Paul Ryan is claiming this bill does, but it simply does not.
CABRERA: So, what would it take to get more conservative on board the plan?
KLEIN: I think that what you're going to have to do is try to attack the regulations, and if not, another option is to move it up the date where they're claiming that they're going to repeal this thing. Because the other part is that under the bill, as written, it doesn't really start to unwind the real spending until 2020, which is a Presidential Election year. And so, many conservatives are skeptical that when I was heating up, that they're going to somehow repeal a law that they have been afraid to repeal now.
CABRERA: Now, the Congressional Budget Office still hasn't issued the report on how much this repeal plan would cost. That's expected to happen soon. Does that change the game at all or is it just another speed bump for a bill that Speaker Ryan seems determined to push through the House?
KLEIN: I think it's going to be problematic because it's going to re- enforce the conservative criticisms that I set up top, because it's going to show that it's still going to be very costly, because there is $100 billion in various grants to states. They're dolling out probably hundreds of billions of dollars for all of this spending for the new tax credits that they're issuing, and also, because they're repealing most of the Obamacare's taxes, that's going to deprive them of tax revenue.
CABRERA: It's not simple, is it? Philip Klein, thank you for joining us -
KLEIN: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: And sharing, really, the one side of this whole argument as we explore all the different pieces to a complicated thing, which is health care in America. Thank you again.
Coming up, real love and robots. Can humans find love in a machine? Laurie Segall will take us inside a sex robot factory whose founder says "(INAUDIBLE) human connection simply isn't needed for happiness."
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:45:00] CABRERA: Addicted to your smartphone? Well, that's
nothing compared to this. How about sex robots with artificial intelligence, or a woman engage to a robot? Do I have your attention now? CNN's new series "MOSTLY HUMAN" with Laurie Segall explores love, sex and the growing powers of modern tech in our daily lives. Here's a preview.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNNMONEY SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Do you remember the first time you said I love you?
TEXT: It must've been around April.
SEGALL: Is there any particular part of him or feature that you really love?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His eyes. I like his eyes.
SEGALL: We're outside out of Paris, like a couple hours outside of Paris, and we're here to celebrate a (INAUDIBLE) engagement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got cake, I've got champagne, I've got some luxury macaroons because it wouldn't be a French engagement party without these things.
SEGALL: This woman has spoken to us openly about being completely head over heels in love, and she does not speak English very well, so (INAUDIBLE) is a friend and colleague, and was kind enough to translate for me.
TEXT: When I see him I am simply happy. He brightens my day.
[20:50:12] SEGALL: But Lily's love story is quite different from other great love stories you might have heard, because Lily is in love with a robot.
CABRERA: CNN Tech Senior Correspondent Laurie Segall is joining us now from South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. Laurie, I am intrigued. Give us the back story on this woman and her robot. I'm confused how there could be such a strong connection.
SEGALL: You know, I was, too. It is the first robot engagement party I've ever attended. It was very, very have interesting. We -- she's right outside of Paris and we went and, I said, "How could you love a robot?" She actually 3D-printed this robot. She's put the parts together. It's kind of Pygmalion if you think about it. And she said, you know, "Love is love," and I said to her, you know, "Did something happen to you when you were younger that impacts who you love or what you love?" And she said, "No, this is -- this is just who I am."
And get this, this is one of the most fascinating things she said to me. She said humans are irrational. Well, a robot is never going to cheat, it's never going to lie, and it was just this weird vulnerable moment, but this is kind of what the show is about. Right? It's about looking at a relationship with technology and then looking at these French stories, and saying, OK, you know, where could things go? What are the things we're not talking about?
This actually took me to a robot sex doll factory in California where I met a guy who's building sex robots that looks very, very much like beautiful women, and they're actually adding artificial intelligence. So they're adding almost-like robotic brains to these women. It's unbelievable, and they're creating an app that's like the real-life her that lives in your phone and it will ask you about your deepest fears, and get to know you when you plug it into the robotic head. The rest is history.
It's very, very strange. And I said to Matt, the guy who's creating these robots, "Well, don't we need human connection to be happy?" And he said, "Laurie, I don't actually think we do." So, there are some shocking moments you'll see in the series where we hear some things that are little bit controversial but, you know, we try to look at it through another lens.
CABRERA: I have so many questions. I'm going to watch the series. I want the answers. But just getting back to that initial little tease that we gave everybody. I mean, is that woman programming this robot herself?
SEGALL: Yes, yes. She is -- the idea, she's adding artificial intelligence. She said the idea is to bring him to life. And the first thing she's going to program him to say is "I love you," Ana.
CABRERA: Well, I guess that's one way to have a partner who does what they're told. Laurie Segall, thank you so much. Really appreciate it. You can stream the show on CNNgo starting this Sunday.
And coming up, Jeanne Moos on Melania Trump's rise from third wife to First Lady.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVOR NOAH, COMEDY CENTRAL THE DAILY SHOW HOST: Look at - look at her eyes. You can see in her eyes, she's like, "You guys don't know what he's capable of."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:55:00] CABRERA: Ever feel like you just don't see much of the new First Lady? Well, however little folks see of her, it apparently isn't hurting. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports the First Lady's approval ratings are up. Way up.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hail to the chief? Hail to the chief's wife! DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Melania!
MOOS: She's doing better than the chief in the polls. Of course she's less visible, although she hosted an International Women's Day luncheon. The White House wouldn't let the press stay for her speech.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right this way, guys.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
M. TRUMP: Your excellencies, esteemed representatives --
MOOS: Melania Trump is now held in high esteem by 52 percent of those polled by CNN/ORC. That's compared to only 36 percent before the inauguration. Tweeted one fan, "she has given class, elegance and a reverence for God back to this country."
Grumbled a critic, "easy to have a great approval rating when no one ever sees you or hears you speak."
M. TRUMP: Our Father who art in Heaven.
MOOS: Though we've heard her pray and read Dr. Seuss to kids at a New York hospital.
M. TRUMP: Your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet.
MOOS: We hear a lot about shoes full of Melania's feet. As a former model, she's under a fashion microscope. "Oh, no, she didn't! Melania Trump wears one dress two days in a row." Even her body language with her husband is micro-analyzed, leading to calls to "free Melania," "blink twice if you want us to save you."
NOAH: You know who I always look at for like the truth? Not Melania, but I look at her eyes. Look at her eyes. And you can see in her eyes, she's like, "you guys don't know what he's capable of."
MOOS: Comedians take their shots. So do cartoonists. "I will now be the first lady instead of the third wife." But her approval still jumps 16 points. Turns out men favor her more than women, 58 to 46 percent. Tweeted one guy, "This just in, old white republican dudes approve of ex-model wives." But Melania is climbing in the polls, her way.
Jeanne Moos, CNN New York.
CABRERA: And we want to give you an opportunity to really get to know the First Lady. Up next, we have a CNN special report, "MELANIA TRUMP: THE MAKING OF A FIRST LADY." I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. I'm so grateful to have had your company tonight. I'll be back tomorrow night at 5:00 p.m. Eastern with four more hours live here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Have a great night.