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CNN NEWSROOM

Health Care Bill; Kremlin on Russian Election Interference; U.S. Attorney Standoff with Trump; Late Season Storm to Slam East Coast. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired March 13, 2017 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Austan Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. He's also a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, and Stephen Moore, CNN's senior economic analyst and distinguished visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Stephen advised President Trump when he was a candidate and sometime after.

Gentlemen, thanks so much for being with us.

Tom Price, Stephen, said those comments, no one will be worse off financially under this plan. Are those problematic comments, Steven?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, if the Republicans get it right, that will be true. I would counter by saying that almost - there's tens of millions of Americans who are worse off under Obamacare. Obamacare has led to skyrocketing costs of health care. We saw, you know, 22 percent increases across the country in terms of premiums last year, which is a huge pinch on American families. I was just in Arizona a week or two ago.

BERMAN: Yes.

MOORE: In Arizona, premiums have doubled. So it's hard for Republicans to do anything worse than -

BERMAN: Yes, but, Stephen - Stephen, I do understand - I do understand, Stephen, I do understand premiums have gone up in many places and Arizona is one of the worst places. But if you're saying no one will be worse off financially, the CBO could come out today and say 5 million people will lose their insurance, ten million people will lose their insurance. If you are losing your medical insurance, aren't you worse off financially, Stephen?

MOORE: I think Republicans need to take that off the table and say, we're going to cover everybody who's covered under Obamacare, but we're going to do it in a way that reduces their costs and that does it in a way that increases competition and allows people to keep their own doctor and their own health provider. And you do that through a competitive free enterprise model and Obamacare has moved away from that.

BERMAN: So, Austan, you've been smiling, but let's wipe that smile off your face, because I will remind you - I will remind you - MOORE: He's smirking. He's not smiling.

BERMAN: When candidate Obama and then President Obama was trying to pass Obamacare, he promised repeatedly, if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. And that did not exactly turn out to be true for everyone. So on this issue of promise and deliveries, is this a little bit of deja vu for you here today, Austan?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look the deja vu part, the irony here is that - that declaration by Obama that the Republicans love to go over and over and say he lied because he said you could keep your plan, the - only 2 percent of people were affected that could not keep their plan or couldn't keep their doctor. It was only a sliver of the individual market.

What they're saying here is literally going to apply to tens of millions of people. The reason why they are not going to get up and say what Steve Moore just wanted them to say, that everyone will be covered and they're going to do it in a way that saves costs, is because they can't say that. The CBO is going to put out a number today that's going to make completely clear that millions of people are going to lose their insurance. The cost is going to be higher. Premiums are going to skyrocket even more than they would have skyrocketed without this, and it's going to cost the government money.

So that is why we're less than two months in. They have developed a life-threatening fact allergy in the administration and they don't - now you see them saying, oh, don't trust anything the CBO tells you. Don't trust the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And it's really kind of embarrassing what they're doing.

BERMAN: Stephen, this time, you were waiting patiently here. Your response?

MOORE: Well, look, the health insurance market right now is in a death spiral. And - and, Austan, I just disagree with you. I think what's happening is the costs are exploding at such an accelerating rate that you're going to see more and more - if we just stay with the current system, we're going to see more and more millions of Americans losing their health insurance because they can't afford to pay for it. I mean I know a lot of families personally who say, look, if these cost escalations happen, I'm just going to drop my health insurance and go naked without health care. So that's a big problem. We cannot stay on the course that we're on right now.

Now, look, Austan, I agree with you, is the Republican plan perfect? No. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed about this. But to stay with the current system is a train wreck. I do think, look, how can you say that it's going to cost more, for example, if you allow people to buy insurance across state lines so that you have more competition. I - I live in Virginia. I have auto insurance in Iowa. Why do I need to have my health insurance in the state that I live in? Let's have much more competition. You're a great economist, Austan. You know this. I learned it from you. When you have competition, prices fall.

BERMAN: Austan?

GOOLSBEE: Look, we want competition, but the two things to emphasize are, number one, Steve Moore's description of the health insurance industry is completely factually not correct. If you look at the cost of health care delivery -

BERMAN: He just said he learned it from you.

GOOLSBEE: If you look at the costs of health care over the last six years, the costs have risen at the slowest rate in the last half century. Where there are problems are on the exchanges in Republican states where they have done everything they can to try to undermine and blow up Obamacare. So, fine, in those states they need to address various problems.

[09:35:03] That's not what the Republican plan is doing. And the CBO is going to make that completely clear. Millions of people are going to lose their insurance and what Tom Price said is that he was actually parsing his words because they're trying to set the stage that, if you lose your insurance, that he's going to say you're financially better off because you don't have to pay for insurance now because you aren't able to get it. And that's why I was smiling, because that's ridiculous.

MOORE: John, I - let me just make one point about this.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

MOORE: That I think a lot of people don't understand. Under almost all these Republican plans, whether it's what the House Republicans want, whether it's what Obama wants, whether it's conservatives, all of them would basically say you have a two or three-year phase-in so that Austan, for the first two or three years people can stay with the insurance that they have right now. That allows the insurance markets to evolve into a free enterprise.

GOOLSBEE: OK, and then they lose it.

MOORE: No, but then - then you have a new insurance system that lowers costs - I mean, look, what - if you look at the insurance market, it's true that costs have - have - are not accelerating that they were, you know, ten or 15 or 20 years ago, but that's because the overall rate of inflation in the American economy has fallen. Health insurance is still rising at twice the cost of everything else in the economy. Why is that?

BERMAN: All right, Austan Goolsbee, Stephen Moore, that is a question for another time. We will get to that next.

GOOLSBEE: For next week.

BERMAN: And I love having you guys on. It's a great discussion. I really do appreciate it.

MOORE: Thanks.

GOOLSBEE: We always have a good time.

MOORE: Thanks.

BERMAN: All right, Russia hitting back after Senator McCain tells CNN there are still a lot of shoes to drop when it comes to the investigation of U.S.-Russia ties or ties between Russia and the Trump campaign alleged during the election season. Why the Kremlin calls the senator's remarks absurd.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:41:06] BERMAN: This morning, you know who says it should not be blamed for allegations that Russia interfered in the U.S. election? Russia. In a one-on-one interview, a Kremlin spokesman tells CNN, the U.S. is humiliating itself by admitting that another country could have manipulated the election process.

I want to bring in CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen.

Fred, this sounds like victim blaming.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly what the Russians are doing. And it's really interesting to hear here, some of the frustration at the political dialogue that's going on in the U.S. right now and also some of the allegations that are coming forward as well. And then, of course, John, over the weekend, on Sunday, you had Senator John McCain here on CNN, on "State of the Union," once again saying that he believed that there could be new things that could come to light. And that, of course, is something that really angered the Russians even more.

First of all, let's take a listen to what Senator McCain said there on "State of the Union."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There's a lot of aspects of this whole relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin that requires further scrutiny. And so far I don't think the American people have gotten all the answers. In fact, I think there's a lot more shoes to drop from this centipede.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: Shoes dropping from the centipede. He's obviously saying that he believes there could be new revelations in the future.

Now, we were on a call earlier today with Dmitry Peskov, with the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. And he said that the Russians are sick and tired of hearing allegations and negative remarks about Russia, like the ones that you just heard from Senator McCain. He singled out Senator McCain, calling those remarks that we just heard there absurd and also accusing Senator McCain of being biased against Russia. Now, of course, all of this in this big complex as the Russians are

very critical of some of the things that are being said in the U.S. And as you say, Dmitry Peskov was on Fareed Zakaria's show, "GPS," just yesterday where he said that he believed Russia was being demonized. And it was interesting because in was right in response to one of Fareed's questions as to whether or not Russia was involved in hacking around the U.S. election. Let's have a listen to what Dmitry Peskov said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN: The answer is very simple, no. The answer is very simple, no. And the fact that Russia is being demonized in that sense comes very strange to us. And we are really sorry about that because this is - this - the whole situation takes us from - takes us away from the perspective of getting our relationship to a better condition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: So all of this, John, obviously keeping with the Russian narrative that we've been hearing ever since a lot of these allegations started, saying that what's going on right now in the U.S. is hysteria, as Dmitry Peskov put it in another video, and at the same time saying that Russia had nothing to do with any sort of hacking around the U.S. elections in November, John.

BERMAN: You get a feeling it may not be quite as simple as he suggests.

Frederik Pleitgen in Moscow for us. Thanks so much, Fred.

Tonight on CNN, we do have a new documentary that explores this question, did Russian President Vladimir Putin use his power to elect Donald Trump? The CNN special report, "The Most Powerful Man in the World," airs tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

A powerful federal prosecutor firing off after he says he was fired by Donald Trump. What exactly did his intriguing tweet mean?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:49:03] BERMAN: New questions this morning after 46 federal prosecutors were asked to resign by the Trump administration. One of those attorneys, Manhattan Prosecutor Preet Bharara, says he was fired after he refused to resign over the weekend.

CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett joins me now.

Bharara out against his own wishes and now the question is what happens to all these cases?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, so there are career prosecutors all over the country that will take on the torch here and carry through with those investigations. But Bharara is not going away quietly, John. Yesterday he tweeted out, "by the way, I know now what the Moreland Commission must have felt like." And that tweet was raising a lot of eyebrows yesterday trying to figure out what exactly he meant because the Moreland Commission, as you might remember, was set up in 2013, and then abruptly disbanded. And so the question -

BERMAN: And it was investigating New York state politics, right?

JARRETT: That's exactly right, public corruption. And so the question is, well, is Bharara kind of indicating that his firing was somehow political? Is he hinting that something was suppressed here? And he hasn't said anything - a follow-up tweet, at least not yet. So we might have to wait and see.

[09:50:10] BERMAN: And there's also this intrigue about, remember, Preet Bharara was asked to stay on by Donald Trump, then, you know, President-elect Trump, during the transition. He was asked to stay on. He was asked to go out and announce he's staying on. So he kind of has a little bit of whiplash, I think.

JARRETT: That's exactly right. It's kind of like the rug was pulled out from underneath him. And sources are telling us that a lot of U.S. attorneys felt that way. They didn't have any notice. And they were kind of blindsided on Friday, even though administrations do this all the time. President Clinton did it. President Bush did it. But it's the speed with which President Trump decided to do this that's causing the backlash.

BERMAN: Yes, the U.S. attorneys are not usually kept on for a long period of time. Usually they're given a little bit of notice and, you know, allowed to leave when a new one is appointed. This was, you know, pack up the boxes and go, right?

JARRETT: That's exactly right.

BERMAN: All right, Laura Jarrett, great to have you here with us. Thanks so much.

JARRETT: Thanks.

BERMAN: All right, the man who jumped the White House fence and nearly made it into the executive residence is in federal court today. Twenty-six-year-old Jonathan Tran made his first court appearance over the weekend. Secret Service officers found Tran just before midnight Friday carrying a backpack. He had mace inside. President Trump was in the White House at the time.

New threats to Jewish centers over the weekend on the Jewish holiday of Purim. At least five centers reported bomb threats. A center in Rochester, New York, was evacuated for the second time in a week. No devices were found, no arrests made. Authorities believe this weekend's acts could be part of a larger trend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK HENDERSON, BRIGHTON POLICE CHIEF: There was other centers across the country that, at the same time, also received threats same - in the similar manner, by e-mail. We do believe that this is part of, as I mentioned on Tuesday, a larger picture, the national trend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Jewish centers in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Houston and Vancouver were also targeted. That makes more than 150 incidents reported in the U.S. and abroad since January.

All right, the good news is, spring is just around the corner. The bad news is, there's a giant blizzard in your face before you get to that corner. We'll give you the forecast, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:56:24] BERMAN: Brace yourselves. An epic and unwelcome blizzard about to hit 95 million of us in the northeast. New York and Boston and Philadelphia, Washington, all anticipating fierce winds and maybe more than a foot of snow.

Meteorologist Chad Myers is here.

Chad, thanks a lot, pal.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I know. Every time I come here, there's always something. You never invite me for like sunshine, John. John? Invite me for something nicer once in a while, would you?

It's going to be an ugly, ugly couple of days here. All the way from Boston to New York, Philadelphia, all the way down to D.C. So our big story is that the storm comes in from the south. It brings up moisture from a very warm Atlantic Ocean. Now, it's relatively warm. It's a few degrees warmer than it should be, but it's in the 40s and 50s, and that's like a lake-effect snow event, but it's an ocean effect. So think about Lake Erie compared to the size of the ocean.

There comes the snow. It's heavy tomorrow. Somewhere around 8:00 in the morning here in New York, around noon for Boston, already snowing in D.C. by morning rush, so get ready for that. Winter storm watches, warnings, advisories, or blizzard warnings for 95 million Americans across the northeastern part of the United States.

There goes the storm. By the time Wednesday comes in, it's gone. It's completely over.

Here are some of the numbers, though, that the weather services are putting out across the country. The minimum that the National Weather Service figures in New York City is going to be 11. The most that could possibly happen, a scary 23 inches of snow. That's the most, that's the outside, if everything goes very, very wrong.

Now, the most you're going to get in Boston, somewhere around the same, 20-something. The minimum, nine. So even if it misses, John, this is still a major storm. People are going, you know, you guys always talk about this, you always think it's going to be bad and it never is. Well, the minimum in Philadelphia, seven, the maximum, somewhere between 19 to 23 inches possible. It depends where the track of the low goes. If it's a little bit farther out to sea, we don't get mixing over the cities, we won't get that rain-snow mix. So it's just going to pile up as deep as you can possibly imagine. And then the winds are going to blow 45 miles per hour. That's why there are the blizzard warnings out there for today. The storm goes on by, it's completely over by Sunday into Monday of next week and everything melts. But for now, it's not melting.

And this house, John, I have pictures of it, something over near Rochester, is not going to melt I think until August. That's what happens when you get an 82-mile-per-hour wind blowing over Lake Ontario, blowing right off the sea there, right off the lake and right onto this guy's property. A chisel? I mean this reminds me of like "The Deadliest Catch" where they're chiseling ice off the deck of the boat trying to get the boat not to sink. This is going to take a while to melt I'm afraid, John.

BERMAN: It looks like the fortress of solitude. That is superman's, in fact, porch on Lake Ontario. And, Chad, just to be clear, this is not melting, though. You said Sunday, Monday casually. This is sticking around for a week.

MYERS: It does stick around. That is part of the problem. We're not going to see a lot of sunshine to melt it. We certainly don't get in the 40s. And if you get 20 inches of snow on the ground, it's going to take a long time to melt all of that off.

BERMAN: As I said, Chad Myers, thanks for nothing, pal.

MYERS: Sorry.

BERMAN: We'll get more forecast later on.

MYERS: All right.

BERMAN: The next hour of our NEWSROOM begins right now.

All right. Good morning. I'm John Berman. Thanks so much for joining me this morning.

I will see your conspiracy theory and raise you a microwave. The House Intelligence Committee set a deadline of today for the Justice Department to provide the facts behind President Trump's evidence-free claim of being wiretapped by President Obama. Again, that deadline is today. Senator John McCain says absent these facts, the president should retract his claim.

[10:00:05] And while we're on the subject of fantasies, counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, she went on TV and she dropped a giant implication bomb. At a minimum she provided a rhetorical