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Trump Vows to Fight for New Travel Ban; Courts Block Revised Travel Ban; Trump's St. Patrick's Day Luncheon Speech; Growing Opposition to Health Care Bill. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired March 16, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:05] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us, and it's a busy one.
House speaker Paul Ryan vowing to salvage the Republican health care plan, insisting all is fine, even as he is forced to revamp his plan because of an internal Republican revolt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: I spoke with the president about a half hour ago. I speak with the president pretty much every single day. I spoke to him twice yesterday. So we are clearly in sync on this. We're working very hand in glove on this, and the president's team. So we're working extremely closely. This president is getting deeply involved. He is helping bridge gaps in our conference. He is a constructive force to help us get to a resolution so that we get consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare. It's been very helpful. And so we're working hand in glove.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Did you get the message there? Hand in glove? More details on that fight in a bit.
The first Trump budget now hot off the presses. It proposes more money for the military and deep cuts in overseas spending, foreign programs and environmental protection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are proposing a budget that will shrink the bloated federal bureaucracy, and I mean bloated, while protecting our national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And the president lashes out after another big court setback. Take two of his travel ban is blocked, just as it was about to take effect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We're going to fight this terrible ruling. We're going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court. We're going to win. We're going to keep our citizens safe. And regardless, we're going to keep our citizens safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With us to share their reporting and their insights this day, Margaret Talev of Bloomberg Politics, Dan Balz of "The Washington Post," Perry Bacon of FiveThirtyEight and Karen Tumulty of "The Washington Post."
I want to just show you some pictures. Just moments ago, the president's up on Capitol Hill. He's going to a great, annual tradition here in Washington, the annual St. Patrick's Day Lunch. The Irish prime minister walking up the steps at the Capitol there with the president of the United States. You'll see in a moment there, House Speaker Paul Ryan, other members of the congressional leadership greeting them. Green ties. There are traditions here in Washington. That luncheon is about to take place in the Raeburn Room. The president will speak. We'll take you there live in just a few moments.
Back, though, now to a big setback. The president was told of the travel ban ruling just before a big political rally last night in Nashville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You don't think this was done by a judge for political reasons, do you? No. This ruling makes us look weak. This is a watered down version of the first one. This is a watered down version. And let me tell you something, I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, I think the president's lawyers will dissuade him from going back to the first one. But by going all the way, the administration did recalibrate this one. They did take into account the prior ruling, which the president was harshly critical of the judge and the legal findings in that. They say they'll take this one up to the Supreme Court. But what does this mean, to lose twice in your first 60 days in court on a signature campaign initiative, what does it mean, a, for the travel ban and homeland security policy and, b, just for the momentum of a young presidency?
PERRY BACON, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: In terms of the travel ban, if you read the judicial opinion, he keeps focusing -- the judge focuses on Trump's comments during the campaign and comments Stephen Miller said -- made a few weeks ago. The way I read the opinion, it's going to be hard for them to find a travel ban that courts approval of because the courts are going back and saying, you campaigned on a Muslim ban, so anything you do on this issue we view as a Muslim ban. So I'm trying to figure out how they're going to write one that will be viewed as constitutional. KING: Although Alan Dershowitz said -- he's a liberal mind you -- the
Harvard law professor said this this morning on CNN. "In the end, if the president stops talk, there's a good chance this will be sustained on appeal."
MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Well -- well, it will certainly be harder to use his words against him, you know, in a court of law.
TALEV: But, look, I think the White House was always (INAUDIBLE) for a court challenge on this, whether it was the initial one or this one. But if you're preparing for a Supreme Court fight anyway, you want two things. Number one, something that's more likely to withstand scrutiny in the high court. And I think they think by several of the modifications, including the provision on protecting Christians, taking the Iraqis out of the mix, some of those modifications, this can better withstand that challenge. And, number two, the timing matters and they want Gorsuch on this court by the time that gets to the high court.
KING: Right. But for a young president, Dan, to lose twice in the courts, now he's facing a decision, how much time and energy do you want to put into this? And if you take it all the way up to the Supreme Court I assume -- that's a process that takes months and the administration's argument is that we need this yesterday.
DAN BALZ, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You know, they might well prevail if they take it all the way up. You're right, I mean the delay on this is an embarrassment. I mean particularly to have this happen the second time. It is a district judge. It's a temporary restraining order. It's not a definitive ruling on the legality of the entire process, but it is a very tough, harsh ruling. And as Perry said, it uses Trump's words and others around Trump against them in a way that makes it more difficult for them to claim that this is something other than what the judge claimed it is.
[12:05:09] KAREN TUMULTY, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Although perhaps the lesson here for Donald Trump is that his words have consequences, which is something that is not a reality that he really had to confront on the campaign trail. This -- this is the difference between campaigning and governing.
KING: Right, especially on such sensitive issues. So let's look at the court ruling. The judge -- the administration argued, run -- start the clock on January 20th. Start the clock when the president was inaugurated as president of the United States. You cannot go back, they say, to the campaign. The judge disagreed. This is part of the ruling. "The government appropriately cautions that in determining purpose, courts should not look into the veiled psyche and secret motives of government decisionmakers. The remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry. For instance, there is nothing veiled about this press release. Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." That was the initial Muslim ban. Now, the president has said since, he
gets it, this is not a Muslim ban. But the problem is, his words, Rudy Giuliani's words during the transition, the president called me and said, find a legal way to do this, including this. This is an interview with Anderson Cooper in the middle of the campaign. And, again, the administration says this isn't fair. This is candidate Trump. You cannot -- courts should only judge President Trump, but the judges so far disagree.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think Islam hates us.
There is a tremendous hatred, and we have to be very vigilant. We have to be very careful. And we can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States. And -- and --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I guess the question is --
TRUMP: And of people that are not Muslim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: To Karen's point, I mean the president can't erase these words. What he needs is someone on his legal team to convince a judge somewhere that that was then, this is now, and that they've crafted this policy more carefully. Can they do that?
BACON: The problem -- one problem being that some of the words since the election have also indicated this is viewed this way, too. Miller -- Stephen Miller, I was referring to earlier. I think that's one of the things that was mentioned in the ruling.
I do think that the -- the -- maybe another judge might think this is more narrowly drawn. You do have -- you do have a -- like Margaret said, you do have one fewer country. You do have the idea that they're not, you know, -- you're not stopping college students who are here or doctors or people who already had visas. And the policy is more narrow. And -- and I know judges we think of as being impartial and not being swayed by politics in a lot of ways, but you don't have the same kind of intense opposition of people going to airports and so on as you had the first time. So I do think maybe another court might view this in a slightly different context because it's not as politically charged. The opposition is not as strong. The ban is a little more narrow.
KING: They did say they wrote it more carefully.
I want to remind you, we're going to take you up to Capitol Hill in just a moment for the annual St. Patrick's Day Luncheon. I'm told the speaker of the House is about to introduce the president and he has a Guinness in his hand. If there's anybody who might need a drink at this moment in time here in the House, I'd give him what he's having -- given the way (ph) he looks, but, look at that, happy -- happy, public face right there.
TUMULTY: Day drinking on Capitol Hill. What could possibly go wrong.
KING: Yes, and there's -- and there's gambling in the casino.
But to this point, there's no indication that they'll blink this time, right? Last time they read the Ninth Circuit and the president's lawyers told him, sir, instead of fighting this version, let's write a new version.
TALEV: No, there -- there's not a third try. This is it.
KING: Yes. Right. Right.
TALEV: This is it.
BALZ: And there are a number of justices on the Ninth Circuit who indicated that they think this could be, well, legal. So, I mean, depending on the mix of who they get, they might be OK.
BALZ: I would just say -- I mean, it's going to have to go through the process. But I think Margaret's right, they're not going to -- you know, they're not going to rewrite it another time.
TALEV: That -- that would (INAUDIBLE).
KING: The process, it takes months. And, again, one of the things taken into account are things the president said during the campaign. But another thing, and Perry mentioned this, taken into account by this judge is things said by his own aides after the first ruling. Stephen Miller, the domestic policy advisor, someone who we know is a conservative, who attacked the judges who issued the first ruling, and also said, yes, we're going to rewrite this, yes, we're going to take into account what you wrote, but we're going to find a way to do it that gets us the same policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISER: 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 very 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)
KING: Did they pay a price yesterday -- and, again, this is one judge, Dan, as you rightly note. We'll see how this goes. But did they pay a price yesterday for their bravado, essentially? For not saying, OK, let's not go out there and say anything provocative and let's let some gentle, smart lawyers go out and talk, not, you know, bullheaded policy people?
BACON: Yes, they want to defend the ban really strongly, and that interview was a mistake. If you're a White House and you don't want to be quoted in the judicial opinion saying you defended a ban that we think is unconstitutional. So I think that was a mistake by Miller and I assume the -- in the future, on the other hand, Donald Trump is still making remarks that are not very careful on this issue and getting Donald Trump to give very carefully legal remarks may not be the easiest thing to do if you're his staff.
[12:10:01] TALEV: Yes, Steve Miller can restrain himself all he wants to, but when the president himself will still go out there right after the, you know, yesterday happens and say, this is watered down. We should have just stuck with the first one. Let's go back to the first one. It doesn't really matter what Steve Miller says.
TUMULTY: But, and, also Margaret brought up a point of political timing here, the confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch begin on Monday.
TUMULTY: This is going to provide a big part of the frame for them. And this, I think, was not the context in which the Trump White House would have wanted this Supreme Court nomination to be discussed.
BALZ: I think the other aspect of this, as John indicates, is that every time there is a rebuff, wherever it's coming from, it suggests that in one way or another the administration still hasn't got its act together. They've struggled from day one on a variety of fronts and this is just another example. Again, we don't know where this is going to end, but, you know, it's one more nick, one more nick in their -- in their -- you know, in their armor and that -- that has a cumulative effect over the way people think about the competency of an administration.
KING: Right. And to that point, where we talked specifically about the travel ban, which was a signature promise of the campaign, which evolved from a Muslim ban into seven countries, majority Muslim countries, then six majority Muslim countries. Now we'll see if they can defend it in the court. But does it affect the broader momentum of the president? We're 60-plus days in right now? We're going to talk in a few minutes about the health care battle. We're going to talk in a few minutes about the president's first budget, which is a pretty dramatic statement about priorities. We know that he lost the popular vote but won the election. He's been in a tough spot politically from the outset. Does this hurt or help or -- oh, I'm sorry, the president of the United States speaking right now at the annual St. Patrick's Day Luncheon up at the Rayburn Room on Capitol Hill. Let's listen.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Speaker Ryan, for that wonderful toast, although I've heard better jokes.
And thank you to all of our friends and distinguished members of Congress for joining us here today. Great honor. And a really great honor to be with you, Vice President Pence... (APPLAUSE)
... and all of our friends welcoming Taoiseach. That's my new friend, my new friend. This is a great guy.
And Enda -- you know, you are something very special. We saw -- we talked, and I think we'll -- we're friends now, too. Right? And it's really an honor. Thank you. Thank you.
Thanks, Enda. Appreciate it.
Also the delegation members, very, very special. Spent some time together and we're going to have a very, very great long-term relationship, a we would with Ireland anyway, but this is a very special group. So I very much appreciate it.
We're here today to celebrate America's commitment to Ireland and the tremendous contributions, and I know it well, the Irish immigrants and their descendants have made right here in the United States and throughout the world.
The very first St. Patrick's Day parade -- I've spent a lot of time at St. Patrick's Days parades over the years, I will tell you that, was held in my home town, New York City, on March 17th, 1762. With each subsequent year, the Irish people marched, passed another accomplishment, and celebrated another very hard-earned success. And they have had tremendous success all over the world, but in this country they have had tremendous success.
Over the years, they marched past the beautiful St. Patrick's Cathedral, now an immortal monument to the faith of Irish Catholics in America. They celebrated their shared success in American society with the election of John F. Kennedy.
TRUMP: They fought for America in war, in combat, and their battlefield courage has earned admiration and acclaim throughout the world. They have great courage. The proud tradition that started in 1762 has flourished and is now celebrated by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds all across our very beautiful and very special land.
As we stand together with our Irish friends, I'm reminded of that proverb -- and this is a good one. This is one I like. I've heard it for many, many years and I love it -- "Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you."
We know that, politically speaking. A lot of us know that. We know it well.
(APPLAUSE) It's a great phrase.
The people of Ireland and the people of the United States have stuck together through good times and bad times. Over many centuries, we have built a bond that thrives, inspires and endures.
And with us, it's gonna be closer than ever before, I can tell you that.
So, as we celebrate our shared history and our enduring friendship, let us commit ourselves to working together, as we will, to build on that bond to the benefit of our citizens for many more generations to come.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God always bless our deep and lasting friendship and relationship.
[12:16:27] TRUMP: We love Ireland and we love the people of Ireland. Thank you very much for being here.
KING: The president of the United States, Donald Trump, brief remarks there. The Irish prime minister to his -- the president's right, the left on your screen right there. This is the annual tradition. The day before St. Patrick's Day with a traditional lunch up on Capitol Hill. The president, the prime minister, the congressional leadership as well. Big crowd on hand to celebrate this tradition.
A quick break for us here.
Up next, on the travel ban, hardly the only bit Trump agenda item in trouble. The GOP health care plan? Well, that's off to rewrite, too.
[12:21:08] KING: Welcome back.
A third House committee today gave its blessing to the Republican Obamacare replacement plan. So, consider that progress. But progress with a big caveat. Some of the Republicans who helped get the plan through the Budget Committee voted yes only after being promised there will be changes before the measure goes to the full House. That was not the way House Speaker Paul Ryan wanted this process to work, but he nonetheless says all will be fine in the end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: Well, we're making those improvements and refinements based upon the feedback we're getting from our members, and the president of the United States is the one who's been mediating this. The president of the United States is the one who's bringing people together, sitting around a table, hashing out our differences so that we can get to a consensus document.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Consensus document. Now, in addition to major policy differences in the Republican family, the speaker is also facing a political storm. Many Trump loyalists don't like the speaker's plan. They don't want this approach at all and they're critical of the speaker. The speaker, though, says the relationship that matters most is fine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: The president has a connection with individuals in this country. He goes -- no offense, but he goes around the media and connects with people specifically and individually. This is a power that we haven't seen since Ronald Reagan. And so what this president is showing is that he knows how to connect directly with people. That helps us bridge gaps in Congress and get Republicans unified so we can deliver on our promises. And that is extremely constructive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Says it's extremely constructive today. Last week he sent his emissaries to the president and said, don't negotiate now.
KING: Please don't negotiate now. Let me pass my bill as written through the House, then we'll -- let's negotiate when we get to the Senate. Let's not negotiate every step of the way. So what happened?
TALEV: So you see what he's doing, right? I mean he's -- Paul Ryan's very polite. And so it's hard to see what he's doing. He's taking this out of his lap and putting it in President Trump's lap. He's saying, you're the one who said --
KING: Ryancare just became Trumpcare?
TALEV: It certainly did, at least Paul Ryan would like it to be. But he had a plan. The president kind of helped blow his plan up, although I think his plan would have had some problems anyway because there are these existing different factions and Ryan has said, OK, you're the boss, you're the president, we all want to work together, you're going to be the one to lead us out of the forest now.
KING: Now did -- that's a great way to put it because did the president blow up the House plan or did the president help Speaker Ryan get to the problem faster, in the sense that he had a lot of trouble here. Now, the speaker's hope was that he could fully or just push Republicans into voting for the House plan, saying it's going to get changed in the Senate. Please, it's coming back to us. But the president's argument is, well, if this thing was not going to pass the House or was such a risk, let me help you.
TUMULTY: Right. Yes, what blew up the speaker's plan was the fact that the speaker wrote it without talking to his own members. And this argument that the Senate is going to change it is actually a scary one for House members. So you're essentially saying to them, be on record voting for something you hate that is going to damage you with your base back home, and then the Senate will fix it. Well, that is just handing a weapon to your primary opponent. That's encouraging somebody who might want to be your primary opponent.
KING: And yet -- and yet the Republican Party, because of its victories, is a more diverse party right now. Can they pass it any other way? Can they get one big compromise because it's very hard to get a Susan Collins in the Senate, a Lisa Murkowski in the Senate, to sign off on something that you're going to get the Freedom Caucus to sign off on in the House? So how do they do this then? Do they have to have everybody go to the White House and negotiate one deal and then everybody votes, or are we going to have a messy process where, to your point, some House members are going to cast votes, the Senate is going to strip that part out and they're going to say, great, welcome to 2018, I'm going to get thumped.
BALZ: I think the speaker indicated that we may be headed for a very long conference some time later in the spring between the House and the Senate, but that begs the question of what they -- what they have in those individual bills.
I mean the members are in a very difficult position, obviously. If they don't pass something, they're going to get creamed by the people who say -- you know, who -- who sent them there on the one, single, big promise we're going to repeal Obamacare. If they pass anything similar to this, they're going to get creamed by people who are going to lose their coverage based on what the CBO report says.
[12:25:15] Now, the administration has fought back against that. The speaker has fought back against that. But nobody's yet come up with a credible answer to how you solve the problem in that bill. So, you know, I think they're just going to go in fits and starts. And the idea that the speaker has deafly handed this to the president, I suspect the president will find an (INAUDIBLE) way to hand it back to him at a critical moment.
KING: That may have been the conversation going up the Capitol steps.
TALEV: A half an hour ago, yes, right.
KING: The president reached into the jacket and pulled it out and gave it back to the speaker there. But the president was on the road last night. And you heard the speaker there. And he believes this. We make fun about some of this, but he knows he need the president to go out on the road and to go to states, especially states where Republicans are squishy on this, the speaker needs the president to go out and prove to those members, my voters are still with me. You need to vote for this. And I will back you up if you do. Even if it's a risky vote, I will back you up. I'll nudge you to get there and I'll back you up after.
Listen to the president on the road. And my question, as we listen to the president, is this what the speaker wanted at this delicate moment?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The House has put forward a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare based on the principles I outlined in my joint address. But, let me tell you, we're going to arbitrate. We're going to all get together. We're going to get something done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I think the speaker loved that up to the first half. The House -- the House has put forward a plan that matches what I wanted outlined in my address. But the, we're going to arbitrate part, that means essentially the door's open. And as long as the negotiating phase is open, you have a very -- again, a very diverse -- this is -- you know, some of this is about politics, but a lot of this is about principled policy. The conservatives say, no, the government shouldn't be in the health care business. We shouldn't -- you know, this should be free market. Push it out. You have other people saying, well, even if I didn't like Obamacare, it created this system and I'm not going to have the number of people without health insurance double from 28 million to 52 million. So as long as the president says we're going to arbitrate, how long does this process last?
BACON: Right. Paul Ryan is a very intelligent person. So he was trying to write a bill that met the goals of the moderates and the conservatives already. It's not -- there's not some easy tweak here that's going to unify the caucus. I don't know -- yes, that's why -- that's why he's worried about the changes. Any change to the right annoys the moderates. Any change the opposite way does the same. So it's really hard to find what exactly -- you change Medicaid, you might lose ten votes very quickly. It's really hard to figure out how you arbitrate.
Second point is, they're trying to get this thing done quickly. They don't want to turn this into Obamacare 2009, we're spending 13 months on this. So the more you say it's open season for discussion, the more it becomes like a long, drawn out process that they're trying to avoid.
KING: And the more you have senators -- we're talking about the House issues, and then the moderates in the Senate, but you also have Tea Party people in the Senate, like Rand Paul, who's out publicly. Again, you can settle differences in a family quietly or you can do this publicly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: So I think Paul Ryan's selling him a bill of goods that he didn't explain to the president that the grassroots doesn't want what Paul Ryan's selling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUMULTY: By the way, that sound you hear is a lot of schadenfreude on the part of the Democrats. It's sort of, welcome to health care politics (INAUDIBLE).
BACON: Who knew health care was so complicated.
KING: Yes. Yes, who knew? Who knew?
All right, everybody sit tight. Up next, another test for President Trump. The White House releases its budget blueprint. Bottom line, cuts for virtually every nondefense agency. So now the battle begins.