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Paul Ryan: No, I Don't Believe Trump's Wiretap Claims; Ryan Heaps Praise On Trump In Health Bill Process; Fierce Backlash To Trump's New Budget Blueprint; Two Judges, Two More Blows To Trump's New Travel Ban; Words Matter: Trump's Rhetoric Haunts In Ban Rulings; Trump's Tough Run: White House Fighting Fires On Several Fronts. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired March 16, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: -- score what Tom Price is going to do to further bring market competition and freedom, bring prices down. So we're very confident that this bill, which already shows lower premiums, combined with things that Price will do, and also state-based high risk pools.
Let me just go back to one thing and it's hard to quantify. We had a really good risk pool in Wisconsin. Utah had a very good risk pool. When you have a risk pool that covers the catastrophic costs of people with catastrophic illnesses, the rest of the insurers, the rest of the insurance pool don't have to pay for those costs.
So by directly helping support the people who have preexisting conditions with their catastrophic costs, all other insurance products don't have to price that into their insurance and you dramatically stabilize and lower the price of insurance.
Now CBO can't quantify that right now because they haven't looked at the new risk pool Wisconsin will be setting up as a result of this law. So we're very confident we're moving the ball in the right direction. We're restoring market freedom.
We think this approach is just much smarter and better on how to deal with getting costs down, improving access, including people with preexisting conditions. You are the one I was pointing to earlier, sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) members of Congress should get their insurance, where do you think members should get their insurance?
RYAN: We wouldn't have Obamacare. I haven't given any thought to that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Realizing you are the speaker of the House and not the leader of the Senate, Senate Republicans have really dismissed this bill. It seems all but dead on arrival over in the Senate. How successful will you be as speaker if your bill passes and makes it through the House and then they sort of start from scratch over there? Realizing this is a legislative process, you've got a lot on your plate. How successful --
RYAN: I'm not the majority leader of the Senate. So my job is to move bills through the House. Let me describe to you in one word what all this is about and what is happening, legislating. This is legislating. This is going to the regular order process.
Here in the House, we are going through four committees. We constantly get feedback. We constantly get suggestions from members and we're working at bridging those gaps to make improvements in the bill so that we have a bill that can pass.
And we feel like we're making great strides and great progress on getting a bill that can pass because it incorporates the kinds of feedback from members of all walks of life in our conference. I have not heard from those senators. The senators who have been critical of the House bill, none of them have called me.
So I'm not sure what exactly their concerns are. All I would say is, senators are not helpless with respect to the House. The House passes its bill, it sends it to the Senate, and then they get to take it from there.
Senators, if they have a concern or an issue are free to amend that bill when it goes over there. That's part of the legislative process. So I can't speak to why a senator doesn't want a bill to pass here or what, but they'll have every opportunity to make a change to this legislation, because that's how legislation is written.
The House passes a bill, the House amends a bill, sends it to the Senate, the Senate brings up a bill and then the Senate can amend a bill, and then we go to conference. That's the legislative process.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the president's budget, some of your Republican colleagues have voiced serious concerns about potential cuts to the State Department. Even the president's own defense secretary in the past raised some concerns. Are you concerned about the consequences of slashing the State Department budget?
RYAN: Honestly, I haven't looked at the budget functions. That's Function 150. I haven't looked closely at what they're proposing in Function 150. This is the beginning of the budget process. This is what I immersed myself in for two decades here.
When the president submits a budget that is the beginning of the budget process. Then it goes to the budget committees, then it goes to the appropriation committees. We'll have a full hearing about how priorities will be met.
But do I think we can cut spending and get waste out of government? Absolutely. Where and how and what numbers? That's go we'll be figuring out as time goes on. This is the beginning of that process. Thank you.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks for joining us. That of course was House Speaker Paul Ryan, talking about many things in his weekly press conference. Health care, of course, the health plan the Republicans are working to put together.
Also talking about the budget. But also making news on the president's wiretap claims, echoing the House Intelligence Committee chairman's statement of yesterday, Ryan saying just now that the committee got to the bottom of the president's claim and no such wiretap exists. What Ryan said is, "We've cleared that up," an important bit.
But let's get back to the big news and the big focus for the big issue facing Congress right now, what to do about health care. With me, Steve Moore, a CNN senior economic analyst, distinguished visiting -- you just say it, Steve, it's too hard to get out of my mouth, at the Heritage Foundation and former economic adviser to the Trump campaign.
[11:05:12]Rana Foroohar, who has the hardest name who I never screw up, CNN global economic analyst and global business columnist for the "Financial Times," and M.J. Lee, CNN national politics reporter. M.J., thank you for having the easiest name on the entire panel.
OK, so we watched Paul Ryan there sticking -- a couple of things stuck out to us, but right off the top, Paul Ryan, despite what you hear from conservatives and moderates and the dissent and the factions within the Republican Party, what you hear from Paul Ryan just now is we are very pleased with where we are. We are right on track. What headline stuck out to you?
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: I think what really stood out to me in his press conference is his emphasis on President Trump's role in being the negotiator. Yes, he said he's very happy with where things are, yes, he said again, Congress is working hand in glove with the White House. But he emphasized over and over again not just once that President Trump is playing the role of bringing people together and actually bridging the gap --
KEILAR: He's leaning into it a little more than we've heard before. What does that tell you?
LEE: Yes, we have to keep in mind that for the last couple of weeks Ryan has been very focused on saying we don't want to make any substantial changes to the House Republican bill and by the way, we have the votes, and by the way, everyone is on the same page.
But interestingly, now he's saying that Trump is playing a big role in bringing these different factions in the Republican Party together. And I think that's noteworthy, especially coming after President Trump's own speech yesterday where he said, quote, "We welcome the health care debate and its negotiation."
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: That shouldn't surprise us too much, though, because I mean, his bestselling book was "The Art of the Deal."
KEILAR: I totally agree. This I think is kind of an important -- I don't know if you call it a nuance, but an important kind of shift from Paul Ryan, because one of my questions to you, Steve, who at this point owns this bill? Because as of yesterday it sounded like the White House is saying it's a negotiation, and Paul Ryan is saying, wait, we're all tied to this, and then you have the Republican factions say this wasn't us at all.
MOORE: It doesn't really matter who owns this bill right now. At the end of the process, this is Donald Trump's bill, right. I mean, he's the president and it will be his bill. He's the one who is going to sign it into law. So he has to play -- I agree with you, he has to play a much more active role.
Republicans are all over the map. I'm part of some people at heritage who went over with other groups to meet with Donald Trump earlier this week. He's trying to bring in everybody, what do you want, what is it going to take to get your vote. I agree, I don't think getting this through the House is going to be a big problem. The Senate is really difficult.
RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: When I heard this bill first put forward, I thought, oh, my gosh, the Republicans are following the Democrats and what they did under Obama, which is lose a lot of political capital by taking on health care first, the flawed approach to doing it.
And so I think that that's why cohesion for the Republicans is crucial because you know, what we saw in the last administration is if you screw things up on health care, if you lose people on health care, it makes it tougher to get the rest of your agenda through.
KEILAR: From the policy perspective, Steve, when you're looking at this, and what you heard from Paul Ryan is we're working to bridge the gap, this is the bill and we're working to make it work. The details are clearly the most important part, how far over do you lean to conservatives? Do you make any concession to moderates? It seems you're not going to get both. But tinkering around the edges, is that going to work?
MOORE: Yes, I think it will. This is going to happen. I've been saying this for the last couple of weeks on CNN. This is going to happen because it has to happen. Republicans can't afford to fail on this one. So they will at some point get the 50 votes in the Senate and they will get to 218.
But it's a slug-it-out process and you've got a lot of members on the right who are biting at Paul Ryan's heels, saying we can't vote for this, it doesn't have enough reforms to move us fast enough to free enterprise system.
Then you have some of the moderates who are very nervous about that report that came out about people losing their insurance, that's something, Kate, they'll have to deal with. They'll have to assure the American people, we have got reforms, lower cost, more choices, there's going to be more competition, but people are not going to lose their insurance. I don't think they'll get this through if the American people think 15 million people will lose insurance.
KEILAR: If they go home and they start getting held at town halls, exactly. MOORE: But you can do it, though.
FOROOHAR: Timing is the big question here. I'm going to actually push back a little bit and say, I don't think tinker at the edges is going to work. I think that we have a fundamental problem in the U.S. health care system.
I mean, if you look at the U.S. health care in international comparisons, we are vastly more expensive than France, which is the next country down the line here with poorer outcomes. I don't think (inaudible) is going to fix that.
But I think in the short term, what's going to be really interesting is if you have, as the CBO has said, 24 million Americans possibly losing their health care, and the problem getting -- even if it evens out in the longer term, getting worse in the short term, how is that going to affect midterm elections?
When are these cuts going to kick in and what are the political ramifications? I would be very worried about that if I was a Republican.
KEILAR: And no matter what -- and no matter what any Republican or Democrat would tell you that, of course, is part of the calculation in how you're going to vote on this, for any member of the House --
[11:10:03]MOORE: Are you saying they take politics into account? Shocking!
LEE: I want to just point out, Trump can do as much negotiating as he wants. He can have as many bowling parties as he wants at the White House but as you pointed out, I mean, there are --
KEILAR: Bowling parties are funny for some reason. Everyone laughs when we talk about bowling parties. Keep going, M.J.
LEE: There are fundamental differences within the Republican Party on what they want. I mean, conservatives do not think that this bill in its current form goes far enough. Moderates basically think that it goes too far. And I don't know how Trump, even if he negotiates a lot, how he can bridge those differences.
And I think the big question is, at some point, does he decide in conjunction with leadership, this is as far as the bill is going to go? And then does he actually pick up the phone and do the kind of lobbying individual members that we have not seen yet?
KEILAR: When does he determine which group, faction, it's OK to -- guys, stand by, Manu Raju was in the press conference with Speaker Ryan, asking some questions, you asked that first question right out of the gate. He seemed to make news, again, Manu, as Devin Nunes made news yesterday on the wiretap front, sounds like we heard some news from Paul Ryan as well. MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, that's right. I mean, specifically about whether or not he believes President Trump and President Trump's assertion that he had been wiretapped and Trump Tower had been wiretapped under the orders of Barack Obama.
Now, that is, of course, something that we have not seen any evidence of. Members of Congress have not seen any evidence of. Paul Ryan has said for the last couple of days that he has not seen any evidence.
But what he said today was interesting when he said, "I don't believe that," I asked him, do you believe the president, and he said, "No, and we've cleared that up." That was a bit further and also an indication that members of Congress really want to get past this story as the White House struggles to clear this up.
And as the president himself seems to double down and suggest that he didn't say anything incorrect and that there is going to be evidence that he will present to the House and Senate Intelligence Committee in the couple of -- in the coming weeks.
Now, also President Trump saying last night, citing press reports about being spied on -- although those press reports never really said that President Obama ordered those wiretaps, I tried to ask Paul Ryan about that, if he was comfortable with the president suggesting that.
He said that -- he sort of the sidestepped that question but specifically said he does not believe the president about being wiretapped, another sign that there's so much skepticism.
And that President Trump either clearly misstated, clearly was wrong, was false, on his statements, or needs to actually provide some evidence immediately to members of Congress who are investigating this very issue.
They have not seen anything yet. We'll see if James Comey, when he testifies next week, adds any more clarity to the situation.
KEILAR: Yes, and without implying any intention to what the president was intending to do with the tweets so you can be sure if that if this was a headache to begin with for Congress and for the speaker, the headache is not going away, from what we just heard from President Trump last night.
Manu, you're all over it. Thank you so much. We'll get back with you. Guys, I want to finish out, talking about the other big policy issue that landed on the plate of Congress right now is the president's budget blueprint. Yes, they're always wish lists coming from any president. How much wishful thinking though is in this budget?
MOORE: It's an opening bid. One of the things that I see in this budget is, it's exactly what Donald Trump said he was going to do, has been saying he's going to do for six months. He's going to increase the size of the military, to increase our national security. He's going to build a wall. He wants money for infrastructure and he wants to cut other programs. KEILAR: On the flip side, aren't you also seeing that he's not -- it doesn't include some of his promises like balancing the budget, bringing down the deficit? All of those types of things. He's not touching entitlements.
FOROOHAR: Yes, no absolute reduction in taxes on the very wealthy, you know, things like that.
MOORE: Well, wait a minute, though. I mean, he just came out -- the Republicans has just came out with a plan on health care that cuts federal spending by a trillion dollars over the next ten years, and reduced the deficit by $300 billion, and yet people in the media are criticizing it, and then they're saying he doesn't want to cut the deficit. I mean, you can't have it both ways.
FOROOHAR: Listen, I agree the deficit is a problem, but there's also an issue with the fact that the health care plan that's being proposed is potentially going to leave a huge gap in the middle and lower end, which efforts has -- no, itself has economic costs.
A third of Americans that cycle in and out of poverty every year do so because of a health care emergency. It depresses wages. You know, companies have to pay more for rising health care premiums. I think that they will rise in the short term under this Republican plan. That is a huge issue.
I think the fundamental issue in our economy is a lack of demand, the fact that most people in the middle haven't seen real wage increase in 20 years. And health care is a big part of that and lowering taxes on the wealthy --
MOORE: You're right about that. The big increase in health care costs are what are happening right now under the current system. The Obamacare is like the hidden (inaudible). We can't keep doing this, no.
[11:15:07]FOROOHAR: The CBO says that this would stabilize in the next few years. The Republican plan will cost premiums to go way up in the short term.
MOORE: That's what they said when Obamacare passed. This year, 25 percent increase in premiums. Next year, 25 percent increase in premiums. When I go on the country and ask people -- one of people's biggest concerns is the rising cost of their health care under the current system.
FOROOHAR: Our health care system is an accident of tax policy since World War II that we need to fix at a base level. Both of these things are Band-aids on an underlying problem.
KEILAR: What I love right here, this is what I love, even when you ask about a budget blueprint, with anyone who covers Congress knows, Congress decides what the budget will be, if they get to it. But the important thing to think is when you're talking about budget, the focus is exactly where it is. It has to be about health care. That's where the budget is pointing to. MOORE: I've lived through a lot of these budgets before. I worked for Ronald Reagan. I worked with Newt Gingrich --
KEILAR: And you're still alive and smiling.
MOORE: If the president wants to get the budget, Congress likes to play Santa Claus, they don't want to cut any of these programs that Trump wants to. We'll see if he succeeds, but when you have a $20 trillion national debt, you have to do something about downsizing this government.
KEILAR: It's all about priorities and those priorities definitely don't line up with pet projects for members of Congress back home.
KEILAR: That's where the problems begin and only begin right there. Guys, great to see you. M.J., thank you so much, my dear.
Coming up for us, another major blow to the president's new travel ban, a second judge putting it on hold. Why the president's words are coming back to haunt him?
Plus say what you mean and mean what you say or maybe not. After Republicans leading the investigations into the president's wiretapping claims now say there's no evidence. Is the president trying to wiggle out of it? A new meaning of those tweets and a new promise. Be right back.
KEILAR: Breaking news right now on the revised White House travel ban. On the day it was supposed to take effect, which is important to note, the new and improved version is now facing legal trouble on two fronts.
A federal judge earlier this morning in Maryland putting a hold on the president's executive order. That piggy backs a similar ruling in Hawaii just yesterday. Both judges slamming the order for religious discrimination against Muslims. President Trump had something to say about that last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way, we no longer are, believe me. This is the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Let me bring in right now justice reporter, Laura Jarrett, for much more on this. So Laura, the White House rewrote this order, remember, to avoid legal challenges like this. What exactly are these judges taking issue with? LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, that's exactly right, Kate. It's really a constitutional problem at this point. The judges in both Hawaii and Maryland this morning are saying, yes, the Trump administration may have excluded travelers with green cards and visas this time around.
But that doesn't remedy the fact that there's still a 90-day ban on foreign nationals from the six Muslim majority countries in the revised order. It's that ban, Kate, combined with what Trump said about Muslims during the campaign that has led courts to conclude that this order was infected from the very beginning with religious animus.
The judge in Hawaii said, look, this is a preliminary determination, it doesn't necessarily foreclose future legislative action. But the taint of the campaign, he found, hadn't changed and based on the current record, the revised executive order has to remain on hold - Kate.
KEILAR: No word yet from the Justice Department in response to this, right?
JARRETT: So far no reaction from the Justice Department or the White House, but both came out hard last night against the ruling in Hawaii. The Justice Department vowing to fight the ruling. The president saying he's ready to take it to the Supreme Court if necessary -- Kate.
KEILAR: It might just end up there. Laura, great to see you. Thank you so much.
So joining me now to discuss this and the implications going forward, CNN political commentator, Jen Psaki, a former White House communications director under President Obama and also a former State Department spokesman.
CNN political analyst, David Drucker, is here, a senior congressional correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," and CNN political commentator, Kayleigh McEnany. Guys, great to see you, thanks for coming in.
So Kayleigh, the president last night, he called it a watered-down version, the revised version, a watered-down version. Does that imply two things, one, he thinks it's less effective, and two, the arguments against the first ban still hold against the second?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I do think he thinks it's less effective because he himself has said, "I want to stick with the first ban, I think it was more protective." But you know, it doesn't -- (inaudible) what Alan Dershowitz said this morning, it doesn't matter so much what the president said, whether he calls it watered down or not.
He referred the fact that this second ban was produced with the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security, with the input from the attorney general. This second ban was scrutinized. You remember when they delayed it for an extra week because they were debating whether to put Iraq in there or not.
This one was put together with a lot of thought and effort. So I don't think it matters if President Trump says it was watered down or not.
KEILAR: It's funny, but when it comes to the president's statements, the judges care a lot about that, about then-Candidate Trump's statements, and even those close to the president.
I want to play two sound bites of statements essentially that were referenced in these rulings by these judges. One is the president, then-candidate, and then another is not, this is one of his aides. Listen, Jen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.
[11:25:05]STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE PRESIDENT: Fundamentally, you're still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country, but you're going to be responsive to a lot of technical issues that were brought up by the court. And those will be addressed. But in terms of protecting the country, those basic policies are still going to be in effect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Jen, you're no fan of the ban, but from a communications at some point, from all the conversations that you were ever involved in, what's your reaction when someone who is not the president himself, his aide, Stephen Miller who you saw right there being used against the ban in this court ruling? What do you think of that?
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I don't think the intention of president Trump or his team is unclear here. They want to prevent individuals from Muslim majority countries from entering the United States, many of whom would obviously be Muslim. That's what the judges took issue with.
The other problem they have here is that they say this is an effort to keep the American people safe. You can't find a national security expert around the country who is going to argue that that's true. In fact the opposite is true.
It gives more fodder to our enemies. So they have a couple of problems here, but I don't think it's unclear what their intention is, which is why you heard the judges say that in both of their remarks.
KEILAR: Politically speaking, David, where do you think this goes from here? Do you think that -- if it goes to the court, it could take some time? Do you think there is a going back and doing this a third time in revising it or do you think politically that the White House, the president, has already had a political win, he promised he would try to do this and he's tried? DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there are two different issues here. There's a national security implication of whether or not the ban can take effect, and then there's the political implication of how the country views, how the president is handling national security.
I think what this second ban, given the care that went into it and all the exceptions that were made, I think the president is on much firmer ground here both legally and politically.
First of all, as a matter of politics and policy, this puts him much closer to where Republicans in Congress have been on this issue, believing that there are certain countries that are just so lawless and broken down, you can't consult with people and do the kind of proper vetting that can prevent potential terrorists from taking advantage of western refugee policies.
The issue with the president is that this for him is always going to be colored by the fact that during the campaign, he called for a Muslim ban. He called for a religious test for people entering the United States. And his first ban right out of the gate was all about that.
And so that's always going to color the politics of this. There is also the issue of, even though this does fall into standard Republican national security policy, and Republicans were talking about this a couple of years ago, long before Donald Trump, before we knew he would be president.
We haven't seen a lot of national security studies backing up, even coming from his own administration, backing up how this would help him prevent domestic terrorism. And so that is a part of what he's dealing with, but I think eventually he could win this on appeal and this ban could go into effect.
KEILAR: So this also comes, Jen, kind as a button, if you will, on a pretty rough 24 hours for this president. You've got health care on the rocks, unless you talk to Paul Ryan, then everything is great. You have the House intel saying there is no evidence to back up the president's claims of being wiretapped by President Obama.
And now you have his revised travel ban being put on hold by the courts. Of these three issues facing the president, these three problems, which is the most urgent for him to deal with?
PSAKI: It's hard to pick. I think the health care bill is in a pretty precarious spot right now, you see Republicans dropping off on a daily basis and there are significant changes that would need to happen to that bill I think to keep their support, whether it's on the Medicaid cuts issue, Planned Parenthood.
There are a lot of areas where people in his own party are running away from this bill. How much he cares about getting that through, I don't know the answer to that. But I would say that's one of the most urgent pieces on his agenda right now.
KEILAR: All right, guys, we have to leave it there for this very moment. Great to see you all, thank you so much.
Coming up for us, President Trump changing his story over his explosive and now proven baseless wiretapping claims. Why he is defending his tweets, and where he now says he got the information?
Plus live pictures of Capitol Hill where President Trump will be heading very soon as his party's health care bill just passed one hurdle, on to the next. Stay here, guys.