Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

GOP Health Bill in Peril, Republicans Backing Away; Graham, Whitehouse Press Conference on Trump's Wiretapping Claims; Trump Speech to Automakers on Rolling Back Obama-Era Fuel Rules. Aired 2:30- 3p ET

Aired March 15, 2017 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: They met with folks at the White House yesterday and one source tells me that the Senators pretty much got an acknowledgment that the White House that changes are going to have to be made and not clear whether this was said explicitly or reading between the lines but in its current form is not going to make it through Senate. And this is problematic for a couple of reasons. One, it under cuts that the White House, House and Senate are on the same page, and clearly, they're not. Second, House Republicans do not want to vote as it is. They hear that this House bill they may have to vote on soon is actually not going to be the version that the Senate ends up getting, why would they want to take this vote that is potentially compromising.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: There's nothing in it for a House member to go out on a political limb and vote for a bill that could be politically unpopular with his constituents when he goes home because maybe he has an older constituency that wouldn't do well under this bill, take a tough vote knowing that the Senators won't have to take the tough vote.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Take one for the team.

BORGER: That they're going to change it on the floor and it would come back to the House, so what's the point of that?

BALDWIN: I'm wondering how House Speaker Ryan would feel about that.

We have some sound. This is House Speaker Paul Ryan saying, in terms of the author, it came from both the House and the White House. Here he was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE (voice-over): We wrote this bill with our friends in the White House and the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED TALK RADIO SHOW HOST (voice-over): Which friends in the White House? Which friends?

RYAN: Meaning the Trump people.

UNIDENTIFIED TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: But which ones. RYAN: Tom Price, all those guys, the health care people. The point

I'm saying -- by the way, I talked to Reince and Bannon on this a number of times. We are all on the same page, absolutely, with the president. The president is bringing members of the caucus down there saying we need you to support this, we need you to support his. They're making phone calls to members saying this is the right way to go, this is what we want to do.

UNIDENTIFED TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: Doesn't want it to be called Trumpcare. They want it to be called Ryancare.

RYAN: It's called the Health Care Act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: David Chalian, to you.

By the way, that was a radio interview just from this morning. He says all on the same page.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. Come here, President Trump, I want to put my arm right around you and make sure you're attached to this.

To Gloria's point, I would just say the one thing -- and I think what Sean Spicer's point was, the member of Congress could go home and say to their constituents they repealed Obamacare, that's the promise they have made time. And again, and when you hear Sean Spicer saying that line about this is the vehicle, this is really the only piece that the White House and leadership seem to have at the moment to really sell, which is this is how you deliver on the eight-year promise we have made to voters that we are going to repeal Obamacare, there's no other way to do that. That is up against of what you showed at the beginning all the perils of what the CBO scored, the 24 million over 10 years, the increase in premiums, 25 percent cut in funding in Medicaid overall. Then the particulars are not nearly as good to go out and sell as the overall concept to repeal Obamacare.

BALDWIN: Might, though, be, David Chalian, pure fantasy. This is from Senator Lindsey Graham. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This thing will collapse, Obamacare, under its own weight. We're trying to do too much too quick as Republicans. We're running through stop signs, like the CBO letter, much like President Obama did. Slow down, get it right. You're not going to get 60 votes to buy insurance across state lines. That's a fantasy in the Senate. If you think that's important to health care reform, it's never going to happen in the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: David -- and then to you ladies -- just the notion that Senators would say, no way, Jose. CHALIAN: This is one of the biggest problems that Paul Ryan and

Donald Trump have at the moment, which is you are promising on some future not yet existing legislation to the members that they are going to get to be able to sell this complete package of what replacement looks like. CBO can't score what those non-existent bills look like yet. And Lindsey Graham saying the political reality is where are you getting 60 votes in the Senate at all in trying to replace this, so it's a big warning sign that beyond this bill right now is just as he said fantasy at the moment. There's nothing on paper.

BALDWIN: So, ladies, why has President Trump, since this has been the promise from Republicans, and now he's championing it as the president, repeal and replace, he's been so quiet.

BORGER: Go ahead.

LEE: No, I think that's --

[14:35:10] BALDWIN: Actually, forgive me, but we have Senator Graham.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: -- March 8, 2017, that they would be responding with a classified briefing I think to the chair and ranking member. We'll give you more details as they become available to us, but this letter was a pretty simple question. Was there a warrant issued by any court anywhere allowing any surveillance of the Trump campaign, operative, and please provide the information used to obtain a warrant if a warrant was requested and denied would also like to know that. So apparently, the FBI has contacted my staff that they will be at some date in the future, providing us an answer to this and a classified manner.

And with that I'll turn it over to Senator Whitehouse before moving forward.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, (D), RHODE ISLAND: I think one of the things that we have tried to do here is to proceed outside of a classified setting. The Intelligence Committees are working in a classified setting. The added value I think that this subcommittee's work provides is to be able to have a public discussion.

If a small town wakes up one morning to find that all the shop windows on Main Street has been smashed, it is appropriate and indeed it is incumbent on the police chief to reassure the town that law enforcement will be looking into that incident. It's even legitimate to say here are the people I have assigned to it and certainly legitimate to say and we intend to get to the bottom of this. In my mind, the unclassified Intelligence Committee intelligence community report is smashed I smashed windows all up and down Main Street and is now not only appropriate but incumbent upon law enforcement to say we are looking at this, we intend to get to the bottom of this and we have these resources dedicated to accomplishing that purpose. That is an entirely appropriate act for law enforcement in those circumstances.

It has added significance when you are dealing within our constitutional separation of powers. It is not in my view, appropriate for the executive branch of government to either tell or suggest to a legislative investigative subcommittee that they should hold back or not proceed or otherwise restrain themselves in our legitimate investigative function one, which President Wilson, years ago, said was indeed to be even prefer today our legislative function in order to not compromise on going law enforcement investigations and at the same time not confirm that law enforcement investigations ongoing. That is a recipe for having the ball plop between the second baseman and the shortstop.

We are entitled to investigate under the Constitution. They have executive responsibilities, and if we are only connecting with one another in a classified fashion, I don't think that serves the public interest. So we will pursue this further but that's my initial reaction to this news.

[14:39:31] GRAHAM: And to build on that, Senators Grassley and Feinstein, the chairman to the ranking committee, have been very supportive of this committee. I saw Senator Grassley a few minutes ago, and I think there's an attitude of the committee that we need to get answers to the American people in the appropriate fashion. The current president says that he believes that the former president maybe not personally but the former president through the government surveilled his campaign. In fact, he says he's extremely confident there was surveillance of the campaign. I have no evidence of this, but I can tell you, it needs to be answered because it's never been raised before.

And so what I'm try do trying to do is get answers raised by President Trump. And it's very reasonable to ask the FBI and Department of Justice did you ever seek a warrant, was a warrant every obtained about the Trump campaign, if the answer is no, we will know that didn't happen, if the answer is yes, they would be pretty stunning to me because they would have to have probable cause. I don't know what the answer is, but it's the right question to ask. We met with the director March 8th and Senator Whitehouse and I said we want to know if there's a criminal investigation with the Trump campaign and ties to Russia because we're about to launch an investigation of all things pre-2016 campaign. But Congress is proceeding fairly blindly. I think we all will be better off if we knew if there was an investigation or not. If there's not one, we'll take into consideration how he might do things differently. If there is, we don't want to run afoul with it. All I can say is I still don't have the answers to those questions. I like the director of the FBI, Comey. I think he's a fine man. The Department of Justice has a responsibility here, too.

So I just want to let the American people know that this subcommittee with support to have chairman and ranking committee that we're going to get an answer to whether or not the Trump campaign surveilled, was a warrant every requested, one ever issued. And hope to be able to ask the question, is there an active investigation on the criminal side to have Trump campaign regarding ties to Russia. Director of National Intelligence Clapper said a couple weeks ago that he had no evidence of collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russia. But the best way to find out definitively is to have people charged with that responsibility today to tell us. And we're going to get there. I don't know how we get there, but we're going to get there together. We're going do it as Republicans and Democrats. We have a chairman and ranking chairman that support us. We're going to explain to the American people what Russia is up to.

BALDWIN: We're going to pull away from Senator Graham and Senator Whitehouse. Really important what they're talking about.

But here is President Trump talking just outside of Detroit, specifically to automakers, on rolling back Obama-era fuel rules. Let's listen.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: NAFTA, a total disaster. There were 280,000 workers, today the number is 165,000 and would have been heading downward big league if I had not been elected. I can tell you. Plenty of things were stopped in their tracks, a lot of bad things were going to happen. A lot of places weren't going to get built. There are getting built right now in other locations.

The number of auto plants in the state have been cut by a third. Motor City once set the standard of living for the nation, now it has suffered under the decades of failed economic decisions that have stripped our country of its jobs and wealth.

The Transpacific Partnership, another disaster, threatens states, like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and so many others, with the loss of countless more jobs. That is why I'm proud to say I followed through on my promise. And, by the way, many other promises. You have seen what's happened. Many.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: And immediately withdrew the United States from the TPP. I kept my word. The assault on the American auto industry, believe me, is over. It's over. Not going to have it anymore.

We're setting up a task force in every federal agency to identify and remove any regulation that undermines American auto production or any other production, including the production of high-end, low-end, big, small, every form of automobile and truck.

[14:45:00] During my first week in office, I brought American auto companies to the White House. Mary Bara (ph) is here, Mark Field is here, Sergio (ph) is here, and others. And none of them ever got to see the Oval Office before because nobody took them into the Oval Office, our presidents, they employ tens of thousands of people, but I brought them into the Oval Office because they're going to be expanding their companies.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: But they all told me the same thing. They explained that the previous administration promised a so-called midterm review of the federal fuel efficiency standards. It was necessary because the standards were set far into the future, way, way, into the future. If the standards threatened auto jobs, then common sense changes could have been and should have been made. Just days before my inauguration, the previous administration cut the promised midterm review in an 11th-hour executive action. Today, I am announcing that we are going to cancel that executive action.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We are going to restore the originally scheduled midterm review. And we are going to ensure that any regulations we have protect and defend your jobs, your factories, we're going to be fair. We're going to be fair.

This is an issue of deep importance to me. For decades, I've raised the alarm over unfair foreign trade practices that robbed communities of their wealth and ability to provide for their families. They have stolen our jobs, stolen our companies and our politicians sat back and watched. Hopeless. Not anymore. As a private citizen, I looked really with sadness as massive shipments of foreign cars have been dumped onto our shores while the same countries have shut their borders to our cars. We take them, come on, folks. No tax. Don't worry about it. We make cars. They don't take ours. Not anymore.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Since NAFTA was approved, we've lost nearly one third of our manufacturing jobs in the United States. Since China entered the World Trade Organization we have lost 60,000 factories. Hard to believe. Our trade deficit last year reached nearly $800 billion. Who is making these deals? I can take anybody in the audience, you will do better, believe me. These statistics really should have shaken up Washington to do action but nothing happened, but something did happen. Happened on November 8th. Believe me, it happened. Happened for you. But the politicians made excuses. They have said these chronic trade deficits have helped us to win friends abroad. I don't want friends abroad if that's what's going to take. Do you see that, where they say, no, it's good for us? Because people like us need support. They don't like us. They think we're stupid people. But no friendship is strengthened through economic abuse. Because we have been abused. And no country can long lead the free world if it doesn't protect its industries and care for its people and protect its borders.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: America will be respected again, and you as workers will be respected again, believe me. You will be respected again. Soon. Now. I think it's already happened.

[14:50:37] Our great presidents, from Washington to Jefferson to Jackson to Lincoln, all understood that a great nation must protect its manufacturers, must protect itself from the outside. Today, I will be visiting the home of Andrew Jackson on the 250th anniversary of his birth. They say my election was most similar to his. 1828, that's a long time ago. Usually, they go back like to this one or that one, 12 years ago, 16. I mean, 1828. That's a long way. That's a long time ago. In supporting tariffs, Jackson said, I look at the tariff with an eye to the proper distribution of labor and to revenue, and with a view to discharge our national debt. We owe $20 trillion, $20 trillion with our policies. America cannot be a wealthy country if special interests game the system to profit from the exodus of our companies and from the exodus of our jobs. We must embrace a new economic model. Let's call it the American model.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Under the system, we will reduce burdens on our companies and on our businesses, but in exchange, companies must hire and grow in America. They have to hire and grow in our country. That is how we will succeed and grow together. Which means nobody can beat us, nobody can beat us.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Because whether we are rich or old, brown, black or white, we all bleed the same blood of our patriots.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Great Americans of all backgrounds built the arsenal of democracy, including the legendary Rosie the Riveter, who worked here at Willow Run. You know that.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: 75 years ago, during the Second World War, thousands of American workers filled this very building to build the great new airplanes, the B 24 Liberator. At peak production -- listen to this -- it's not the country that we've been watching over the last 20 years -- they were building one B 24 every single hour.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We don't hear that. We don't hear that anymore, do we? We'll be back. We'll be back soon. Most amazing people. And while that's incredible, it's a tribute really to the team work, determination and patriotism that lives on today in each and every one of you. Great people. You're great people. Now these hundreds of acres that defended our democracy are going to help build the cars and cities of the future.

So I ask you -- that's fine, because you're right.

So I ask you today to join me in daring to believe that this facility, this city and this nation will once again shine with industrial might.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I'm asking you to place your faith in the American worker and these great American companies.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I'm also asking you to respect and place your faith in companies from foreign lands that come here to build their product. We love them, too. Right? We love them, too.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I'm asking all of the companies here today to join us in this new industrial revolution. Let us put American workers, American families and American dreams first, once again.

May God bless the American worker. May God bless the Motor City. And may God bless the United States of America.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

(CHEERING)

[14:55:04] BALDWIN: President Trump standing there in Michigan, outside Detroit, a state he won. He talked to auto workers about rolling back Obama-era fuel efficiency rules.

But also key is what was not mentioned. He is traveling down to Nashville tonight. He will talk health care. He will be traveling with some friendly conservative press. The question will be what and how he talks about it, as he's been so quiet on that specifically.

And of course, not answering any questions on the wiretap allegations from his tweet two Saturdays ago.

I've got M.J. Lee and Gloria Borger still with me.

Pretty typical President Trump, talking to auto workers. It's just sort of what he didn't say that struck me.

BORGER: Right. It wasn't one of his sort of usual campaign style rallies. I think he was a little bit -- he's reading off a prompter, a little bit more subdued. It's clearly a difference here. And I think that's on purpose. I think there's a lot going on and I think he didn't want to talk about any of it. And he didn't. So he talked about reducing standards and trade and of the litany that you would expect would do very well in Michigan.

BALDWIN: Right.

BORGER: And then moved on.

BALDWIN: He will be moving on tonight.

That's what I wanted to ask you about. It's a campaign rally in Nashville talking to voters trying to sell this new Republican bill.

LEE: Right. And there are so many moving pieces right now. We don't know what version of the House bill is actually going to emerge. We don't know what kind of changes Senators are going to want to make. We don't know who really has ownership of this bill right now either. It's pretty telling when nobody wants the bill named after them. The White House says don't call it Trumpcare. Paul Ryan says it's not named after him. It's not Ryancare. Kevin Grady way, a few days ago, was saying threaten reporters, don't dare call it Bradycare. So does President Trump come out and say this is my bill and I own it or are there serious changes that are going to have to be made?

BALDWIN: Quick break. I know you want to --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: No, no. It's just I think there's division inside the White House on what exactly the president ought to be doing on this.

BALDWIN: They acknowledged today there were some changes to get through.

BORGER: Yes. There's a lot of people inside that White House who don't like it either.

BALDWIN: Yeah.

Gloria, M.J., thanks so much.

We'll be back after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

We just heard from President Trump outside of Detroit talking to auto workers about jobs and deregulation. What we did not hear from President Trump was any mention of his wild accusations that his predecessor at the White House, then-President Barack Obama, had ordered wiretapping at Trump Tower. Didn't hear that.

A top-ranking Republican who --