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NEW DAY SATURDAY
GOP Health Care Bill Vote Thursday, 216 Needed to Pass; Sources: DOJ Report Does Not Confirm Trump's Wiretap Claim; Manhunt Underway For Teacher Accused of Kidnapping; Doctors Risk Live to Save Syrians; Home Explodes in Maryland Neighborhood. Aired 8-9a
Aired March 18, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: The report that was submitted to Congress does not confirm what President Trump and the White House have been saying that he was wiretapped under the orders of President Obama.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I didn't make an opinion on it. That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on Fox.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano's commentary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President of the United States is a compulsive liar.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Confidence in words and in action over a new revised health care bill.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's going to be passed pretty quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea is now pursuing programs that would allow them to present a clear threat to the continental United States. All options are on the table.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He went undetected on the south side ground for more than 16 minutes before finally being caught at the entrance to the residence just below the president's bedroom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Saturday. We have been waiting for you. I am Christie Paul and --
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: I am Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell. It is great to be with all of you. President Trump is now finding some fires on several fronts this morning.
PAUL: He is waking up at his luxury resort in Florida still sticking to his claims that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign helped by a British spy agency.
SAVIDGE: Plus, it's going to be a big week ahead for his administration. First, we're going to have that Russian intel hearings that will take place on Monday where top intel chiefs will be testifying then it's going to be followed by Supreme nominee, Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearing and also Republican leaders plan to vote on Thursday is looking like to repeal and replace much of Obamacare.
PAUL: CNN's Washington correspondent, Ryan Nobles is with us now. Ryan, good morning to you. So we know that the president met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. We watched it yesterday. Brought up the wiretap issue, do we know where things stand, the status of that meeting now that it's over?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: By all accounts, it seemed as though the meeting with Merkel and President Trump seems to go pretty well, but there is no doubt that the press conference was a little bit awkward. As you mentioned, the wiretap issue did come up, but it was only after he was pressed on the topic by a German reporter.
And not surprisingly President Trump did not back down not only from his claim about President Obama, but also, from an accusation level by his press secretary about the role of a British intelligence agency, and the role they may have played. Listen to that moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: As far as wiretapping, I guess, you know, this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps. And just to finish your question, we said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television, I did not make an opinion. That was a statement made by a talented lawyer on Fox, and so you should not be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: Trump awkwardly inferring to a Wikileaks revelation that the U.S. had conducted surveillance on the German chancellor during the Obama administration and then defending Sean Spicer's reference to a Fox News Channel segment where commentator, Andrew Napolitano, suggested that Britain's GCHQ helped Obama spy on Trump.
That claim even yesterday could not be backed up by Fox News Channel. It is like the tension between the British and the American government, the U.K. strongly denying the report. But Spicer and the administration refusing to apologize for pushing it.
But Christi, even though those press conferences were a little bit awkward, it is clear both the German and American government understand how important that relationship is. So by all accounts, the meeting seemed to go pretty well.
PAUL: So looking forward to Monday, the first public congressional hearing on Russian meddling into the U.S. election, any indication there's any sort of bomb shell that's going to be dropped?
NOBLES: Well, certainly everyone is going to be waiting for that halt that there are some sort of huge revelation that comes from these hearings and there are certainly going to be witnesses that could provide those bomb shells.
Mike Rogers, the National Security Agency director, and FBI Director James Comey, the question is just how much will they be willing to reveal particularly because this investigation into Russia's alleged hacking of the American election continues to be ongoing.
So they may not want to reveal too much information. The question that Democrats will certainly pin on both of these men is just how much evidence if any is there is into Trump's claims about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower.
The Department of Justice has said there is no evidence. The FBI has said there's no evidence. Perhaps, we'll get it on the record on Monday.
[08:05:04]PAUL: All righty, Ryan Nobles, always good to see you. Thank you.
NOBLES: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: All right, let's bring in now, CNN Politics editor, Juana Summers, and CNN political commentator, David Swerdlick, who is also assistant editor of the "Washington Post." Hello to all of you.
We got no evidence so far according to officials, but Trump is not apparently apologizing about this whole issue of wiretapping and certainly not apologizing to the British. They are pretty upset. They're calling their claim nonsense.
I'm wondering, Juana, does this in any way damage the relationship particularly between the intel community, between the U.K. and the U.S.?
JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS EDITOR: I think there are certainly an open question as to whether or not it will. What we are seeing here is really unprecedented. It is been two weeks now since President Trump took to Twitter suggesting the still baseless claim that his predecessor tapped him at Trump Tower.
So far neither he nor other members of the administration nor federal agencies have come forward and brought any evidence that says that this is actually true. That not only damage the relationships between the U.K. and the U.S. in terms of intel that you mentioned, Martin. But it could also have an effect that delegitimizing this president in other places around the world.
SAVIDGE: David, does this warrant the president offering some kind of an official apology? Either to the British or many would say to President Obama? DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean it probably warrants it if, in fact, we get pass Monday and no further evidence is revealed, that suggests that there was any validity to the charters that President Trump leveled in that four tweet, tweet storm from two Saturdays ago.
But I don't anticipate President Trump will apologize. That's not his style and it's not accident that that's not his style. Throughout his career, Martin, President Trump has proceeded with, you know, never apologizing when he's called on the carpet for statements like this.
That was his memo throughout the campaign. That's how he's proceeded since he's been president and throughout the transition. You know, this goes all the way back to early in his career when he was mentored by Roy Cone, who is one of Joseph McCarthy's lawyers.
He has sort of instilled in himself this idea that you always push forward and you don't apologize and you don't look back. You deny and keep going. I think that's what we are seeing here.
SAVIDGE: Right. And he's not the only one to come up with that kind of ideology, although, maybe the precedent so far. Big day Monday as you already pointed out there, David. We are hoping to hear more about the potential of, you know, Russia's meddling in the election. We have our FBI director to be among those expected to testify. Are you expecting to hear something really big and revealing?
SWERDLICK: I'm sorry, Martin, about Russia?
SAVIDGE: Yes. Do you expect the hearing on Monday to deliver some real significant information or insight?
SWERDLICK: Well, you know, here's the thing. I think it will be important as Juana said a moment ago to get FBI Director Comey on record about what exactly the FBI's role is or at least to the extent that he's allowed to say what I'm devoting classified information, what the FBI's role is.
But I think the broader implications of all the reported investigations around the Trump's team and contacts with members of the Russian government, I think it is going to be ongoing and still going to play out over a long period of time.
I don't expect us to get to the bottom of what was going on with conversations between General Flynn, former national security adviser and the Russian ambassador. Some of these other discussions I think are going to still unwind over the coming weeks and months.
SAVIDGE: All right, Juana, let me turn the subject now to President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, do you think that this is going to be smooth sailing as far as getting him approved?
SUMMERS: Look, I think that certainly he does seem to have consolidated support among Republicans in the House. Some Democrats say including Chuck Schumer, one of the leading Democrats in the Senate say they may block him.
The biggest question I'm watching as those confirmation hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee began on Monday is whether or not Judge Gorsuch will be asked about Donald Trump's travel ban, again, being held up in the court despite the revisions the administration has made.
Whether or not there is anything that he will say that will contradict what we've heard from the oval office. This is just as many conservatives are saying is (inaudible), who is a strong -- Antonin Scalia, who is strong staunch conservative.
How he will weigh in on the legality of this travel ban, something that the Trump administration has that, they are willing to take it all the way to the Supreme Court. I think that will be the one of the biggest things we are watching for.
SAVIDGE: All right, David, we got to turn to healthcare too of the new GOP plan that also we expect is going to come out on Thursday. It could be huge. Do you see all Republicans being on board? There has been a lot of push back within his own party.
SWERDLICK: Yes. I think it is going to be a pretty close call. I'd hesitate to make a prediction. Republicans need 216 votes in the House. Normally you'd need 218, but the House has five empty seats so 216. You know, it could go either way based on a couple of either moderate members who think the bill goes too far in cutting back on Obamacare or whether you have some of these more staunch conservative, members of the Freedom Caucus saying that this bill is too much still like Obamacare.
[08:10:10]But I think the bigger problem for Republicans going forward is number one, even if it does pass the House, Martin, it's going to have to get pass the Senate. And I think the considerations are different for some senators who represent whole states rather than these very safe comfortable either Democrat or Republican House districts.
And then if it actually does manage to pass both Houses and go to the president and become law, Republicans are now going to sort of own the consequences of whatever comes out of a healthcare law and it is clear from the statements they're making and even the fact that the White House has not fully back this bill that Republicans are concerned about what happens if that law actually goes into effect.
SAVIDGE: We got to leave it there. It's going to be a big week. Thank you both, Juana Summers and David Swerdlick.
PAUL: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the last stop of his Asia tour, China, and he's trying to rally support for reining North Korea. We are going live to Beijing for more on why that could be obviously a tough sell.
SAVIDGE: Also 25 House Republicans planning to vote against the healthcare bill. That's Thursday unless there are changes made. The president remains confident he will have enough votes to pass. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We'll have great healthcare. It is going to be passed, I believe, substantially pretty quickly. It is coming together beautifully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: OK, so the Trump administration's foreign policy is definitely front and center this morning as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson holds meetings in China. It's his first major trip abroad and it comes at a crucial time in a region that is currently filled with uncertainty.
PAUL: At the top of the agenda, the growing nuclear threat of North Korea, of course. The U.S. is hoping China can help reign in Kim Jong-un. Plus talking down the risk of a possible trade war between the U.S. and China, the world's two largest economies and finalizing plans for the Chinese leader to visit President Trump next month. So how can Secretary Tillerson get allies on board with his plans while protecting U.S. interest?
Here to discuss, CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN international correspondent, Matt Rivers, and on the phone, former ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Christopher Hill. Thank you all so much for being with us.
Matt, I'd like to start with you. What do we know about Secretary Tillerson's meetings today?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We do know that he will spend a little under 24 hours on the ground here in China, a relatively short visit, and as you mentioned, North Korea very much at the top of the agenda.
And simply put things are tense in this part of the world and the United States and China have a disagreement as to how to best deal with what's going on with North Korea.
The United States says North Korea's only major ally in the world, China should be doing more to get Pyongyang to stop its weapons development program. China says it's doing enough already and that the United States should directly negotiate with North Korea to help solve the problem.
The secretary of state did have a brief press availability earlier this afternoon and he talked a little bit generally about his meeting with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Foreign Minister Wang affirmed again China's longstanding policy of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. We also exchanged views and I think we share a common view in a sense that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right now and that things have reached a dangerous level. We have committed ourselves to do everything we can to prevent any type of conflict from breaking out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: And so keeping things diplomatic there to be sure. The Trump administration wants to take a new track with its North Korea policy. But it has not given any specifics as to how it will differ from frankly the past 20 years of administrations, both Democratic and Republican who really haven't been able to truly solve this ongoing crisis in the Korean Peninsula.
PAUL: All right, Matt, stay with us. Ambassador, I'd like to bring you on board here. You just heard Secretary Tillerson talking about his conversation with the foreign minister there saying they are committed to a nuclear free Korean Peninsula. So do you see that just talk from China at the moment or are there some logistical issues to making that happen?
CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO REPUBLIC OF KOREA (via telephone): Well, my suspicion is that in private they discussed the differences that we had with China and publicly discribed the similarities that we have. Indeed there are a lot of similarities that Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Minister Wang suggest, China really would like to solve this problem and does support denuclearization.
The issue is how to get there. China has increasingly agreed to go along with U.N. sanctions. In fact, they recently made a rather important decision not to buy in any North Korean coal which has to hurt very much the North Korean economy.
But China is not really been willing to kind of go beyond that and I don't think there are too many people believe that U.N. sanctions in of themselves will bring North Korea around on this issue.
So I think it is very much a working progress. I have to applaud Secretary Tillerson for, you know, he was toughen his public statements in Korea but when he went to China, he went privately and talking to the Chinese. I think it is a kind of good start. And ultimately, if there is going to be a solution to this, the solution is going to include China.
[08:20:04]This notion that we can just outsource it entirely to China it's not going to happen nor is the idea that we solve it on our own going to happen. So it's got to be some kind of agreement with the Chinese on how to make this happen.
And certainly just doing the U.N. sanctions does not seem to be enough and in the meantime, I think Secretary Tillerson needs to kind of overcome what is become a kind of mountain of mistrusts between the Chinese and the new U.S. administration. PAUL: OK, so General Hertling, I would like to bring you in here. He mentioned a good point of sanctions and tough language that has not deterred Kim Jong-Un in North Korea. There was a line that Tillerson said this week that really caught a lot of people's attention when he said, let me be clear, the policy of strategic patience has ended. If that's true, what is the replacement and how plausible the pre-emptive strike do you think is with the U.S.?
LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: That's a key question, Christi, what is the replacement? It is good to get rid of old things and taking a different tact towards this direction. But Secretary Tillerson talks to the Chinese representatives, you can bet that the number one priority on our agenda is North Korea and denuclearization.
But the Chinese are going to have multiple things on their agenda, access to the East and South China Sea. What they're going to do with the Spratly Islands, trade routes, and the emphasis on Taiwan, all of those things are on the Chinese mind and Korea is just an element of what they are going to talk about.
Now in terms of our relationship and rebuilding what we are going to do with North Korea, I will tell you from my old days on the planning staff in the Pentagon, there were multiple contingency plans for North Korea.
One was certainly the defense of South Korea against any North Korean attack, but the more troublesome ones where any kind of human assistance requirements if the regime implodes or any kind of disaster release requirements.
That's one of the things that China is most concerned about with what might happen in North Korea would be an implosion of the government or massive migration problem like we are seeing in Syria. We cannot afford that.
The other thing that's problematic is the fact that while we may be concerned about North Korean weapons or intercollegiate ballistic missiles. There is also (inaudible) of multiple rocket launchers and artillery pieces trained on the population of Seoul, which is less than 30 kilometers from the North Korean border and it contains 10 million South Koreans.
So they are very troubled by any kind of retaliation or any pre-emptive strike we might consider for North Korea.
PAUL: Well, Ambassador, President Trump tweeted just in the last 24 hours, North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been playing the U.S. for years. China has done little to help. What can Secretary Tillerson do knowing that the president has put a statement like that out there?
HILL: Well, I think there has been a lot of strategic mistrust between China and the U.S. And I think the Chinese's concerns about the Korean Peninsula goes beyond the issue of refugee flows, who I believe will actually impact South Korea more than China in the event of the North Korean implosion.
So I think this mistrust has to do with the notion that the U.S. would be taking some kind of strategic advance against China. Let's say there were some kind of unification with the Korean Peninsula in the future.
I think the Chinese worry that somehow the U.S. will have troops in the northern part of the peninsula (inaudible) North Korea that we would be having listening posts, and that overall, there would be a perception in China that China has lost this game and the U.S. has won this game.
So I think there needs to be a real discussion of what ultimately U.S. objectives are and the peninsula and whether those objectives can be figured in by the Chinese so that we will have some common objectives.
Clearly, the Chinese are worried about this whole issue because they see pushing on North Korea to be pushing on something that may collapse and they really don't like the idea of not having any context of what it is going to look like in the future.
So I think Rex Tillerson is going to have this deeper conversations with the Chinese and hopefully, there can be deeper conversation in the coming summit meeting.
I mean, ultimately, this issue is going to require Chinese (inaudible). They have a great interest in the Korean Peninsula and certainly as much as we do and it is not more. So we need to have serious discussions with them about this.
PAUL: All right, Ambassador Christopher Hill, Matt Rivers, Lt. General Mark Hertling, I appreciate having all of your voices in this conversation. Thank you for being here.
[08:25:01]SAVIDGE: Coming up, we are going to update you on a story we've been following this morning. New developments in that Paris airport shooting. The suspect hours before involved in another shooting with police. We are going to take you there live after the break.
PAUL: We have some new developments this hour out of France that we want to update you on.
SAVIDGE: Authorities are saying now that the man killed a short time ago in Paris' Orly Airport, he was trying to grab a soldier's gun was earlier in a shootout with police. CNN's Melissa Bell is live outside of that airport with the latest for us -- Melissa.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Martin, the situation here remains quite chaotic, of course, as you can imagin with both terminals of Orly Airport still closed and all these hours after these attack. Now as you said a moment ago, things have become a lot clearer
than they were here, authorities are clearly now calling this a terrorist attack and an anti-terror investigation has been opened to try to work out precisely what this man had been planning out.
This was a man who was stopped by police in his car very early this morning on the outskirts of Paris. He went to get his identity papers and then shot the police, wounding one of them, one of them remains in hospital this afternoon.
He then carjacked a car before getting -- making his way to Orly Airport and attacking that soldier trying to take her weapon before being shot by two of her colleagues. So a fairly chaotic series of events. And, the picture that's emerging was of a man, and we don't know what he was planning to begin with. And I think this will be the subject of that investigation that's been opened, who went through that police check wounding that policeman before stealing someone's car in another part of the outskirts of Paris and making his way to Orly Airport here trying to seize that weapon and failing.
We've heard from both the interior minister and the defense ministers who were here earlier to update journalists on precisely what had known.
Now, at the time, they were being very cautious still about calling this a terrorist operation. That's now changed the Elysee Palace, France's presidency has now put out a statement calling this a terrorist attack and saying that he was doing all it could to try and keep French citizens safe, Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: All right, that's an interesting update. Melissa Bell, thank you very much.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: While Republican leaders need 216 votes Thursday to pass the health care bill in the House, 25, however, are resisting. Take a look at them here. That's enough to block it. Can minds be changed? Well, we're going to ask Congressman Charlie Dent, who's leaning against it. Next. Stay close.
[08:35:55] PAUL: 35 minutes past the hour right now. And you know what? The clock is ticking towards Thursday vote in the House on health care bill courts. Republicans need 216 votes to pass it. Mike Pence is in Florida later today to help sell it but, you know, it may be a tough sell at the end of the day.
SAVIDGE: That's because 25 House Republicans have said that they won't vote for it or that they're leaning against it. And that's enough, of course, to cause it to fail.
Congressman Charlie Dent is a Republican who has his own reservations about the bill rolling back Medicaid expansion before 2020. Here's what he said recently.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CHARLIE DENT, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Taking that date back from 2020 to 2018 will be a huge problem. A huge problem and that will cause votes. Like I said, I have concerns of the bill now as it is with the 2020 date taking it back to 2018 as a non-starter for many of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: And, Congressman Dent joins us now. Good morning to you, sir. It's always good to have you on the air.
DENT: Hey, thank you for having me on the program.
SAVIDGE: This bill has been tweaked as we know and now the president is expressing confidence that he will have enough support from House Republicans. Are you going to vote for it?
DENT: Well, as I said, I've had serious reservations and concerns about the bill in its current form. I've mentioned a few issues that the tax credits in their current form seemed to be insufficient for many Americans to buy insurance, particularly those who are lower, moderate-income working Americans. You know, it seems to me that if they're older, particularly the ages of 50 to 64, that those tax credits are not sufficient.
On the Medicaid piece, yes, moving the date back is a non-starter from 2020 to 2018. But I've also received the letter from the governors, Governor Kasich and Sandoval and Snyder and Hutchinson who've recently sent a letter to us, you know, expressing their concerns with the Medicaid component.
There's not enough flexibility to the states right now. The baseline, you know, what will that -- what will it actually costs and how much money will the states actually be receiving initially for Medicaid. So there are issues beyond moving the date from 2020 to 2018. Of course, there is the United States Senate as well, which has indicated that they're not going to take up the House bill in its current form, that they would not pass it in its current form.
So, these are all some of the issues that many of us have been expressing.
SAVIDGE: Let me ask you this, the House Republican Leadership has, I believe, set a vote for the bill on Thursday. Is that set in stone? I mean, or could it change?
DENT: Well, obviously, anything can change. I think the House Leadership is pretty determined. I've said all along that it seems like there's been too much of a focus on arbitrary timelines and artificial deadlines all to improve the baseline for tax reform. And I believe that health care has to be a discussion about health care and the people that we're going to be impacting with our decisions.
So I've often felt that we're moving this at times a little bit too quickly, and particularly as I hear comments from the Senate saying that they do not like our bill in its current form, that they would not pass it in this form. SAVIDGE: Well, I bring that up because I was up in Michigan and I was
talking to Trump voters, Trump supporters. They like the idea of repeal it and replace. But they are wondering, what's the rush? Why do you have to move so quickly? Why not, you know, take some time and do it right.
House Speaker Paul Ryan is stressing that this is a moment in history to pass this bill, but why the rush and could it be a mistake to just try and get it done so fast?
DENT: Well, what I do know is that the Senate will not move as fast, they never do. I've often joke that the Senate has two speeds, slow and glacial. And there are occasions where they can move it to lightning speed.
But generally, it's a slower pace there. So, we can rush this thing over to the Senate knowing that they are going to make very substantial changes to this bill. It is important that we get it right, rather than get it done fast.
Also, I would add to you -- to mention that, you know, at the end of the day, I believe this health care, when we all know there are very serious problems with this law. But parts of it need to be repealed, parts of it need to be replaced, parts of it need to be repaired, reformed and overhauled, and parts of it will be retained.
[08:40:07] And so I think we got to go into this discussion now, right, there are people who really dislike Obamacare and I dislike it, too. The -- but we also know the parts of it all have to be maintained. Everybody knows that. And there are people who really love Obamacare, you know, who also recognize this thing does need to be changed. So I think we have to, you know, get focused here.
And I'm -- call me overly optimistic, but I do think we need to find some level of bipartisan collaboration to provide for an endurable, sustainable health care reform. If we do this on a simply partisan basis, I suspect we will have the same problems that the Democrats had and we'll be continuing to fight this issue, you know, ad nauseam.
SAVIDGE: Well, before I let you go, well, we haven't got a lot of time. I want to ask you about the wiretapping issue. You know, we know that the Justice Department report now has come out and said that there is nothing to indicate Trump's claim that there was, in fact, a wiretap that was done by the former administration. Do you think now is the time for the president to apologize or to at least just come out and say, "Hey, it was a mistake to say this."
DENT: Well, look, yes, there was -- apparently, there was no evidence or proof to support the charge that former President Obama may have tapped Trump Tower or candidate Donald Trump at the time.
So I would retract the words if I were in his shoes, I think he should retract those words. For me, I would apologize. I think it would be appropriate to do so. And frankly, it's time to move on. I mean, doubling down on this now, this discussion about the British somehow being involved which apparently is also not true. You know, I think the administration needs to move on. That, you
know, we've had enough discussion about this and these types of distractions keep us from focusing on the really important substance of policy issues, whether they're health care tax reform or foreign policy, whatever the issue may be.
SAVIDGE: Very true, it is a distraction, there's a lot of work that needs to be done. Congressman Charlie Dent, thank you very much for joining us this morning.
DENT: Thank you for having me. Great to be with you.
SAVIDGE: All right now, let's bring in our CNN political commentator, Jack Kingston. And Jack, you just heard, of course, the congressman there. Want to point that Republicans were being told who is not necessarily onboard with the current health care bill.
Are you concerned that it's not going to pass the House on Thursday and then, you know, that's pretty big embarrassment?
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I believe that the president is doing everything he can to get the votes. You know, there's a cross pressure because for Charlie Dent and people who states did expand Medicaid, they look at it a completely different than the many states whose governors decided not to expand Medicaid.
And so the president in the House Leadership has a choice, do you address -- which group do you address and which group gives you a net gain and votes? I listened to Marsha Blackburn and Steve Scalise after the White House meeting yesterday. And, they felt like, in fact, as I understand it, all the RSC, the Republican Study Committee members who were there did change their votes from a lean no to a yes.
And, it will be seen and that escalates as a very good vote counter but, you know, the president and all leadership is always faced with this, which direction do you go that was going to get you the best gain?
SAVIDGE: Well, let me just ask you for a quick answer, is it going to pass or not?
KINGSTON: It's going to pass.
KINGSTON: Yes, it's going to pass and as Congressman Dent said, the Senate is going to have its own version, its own directions. And so there will be some more changes. But I believe that the House is going to get the votes and it's going to get done.
SAVIDGE: And then you heard the congressman also say that it is time for President Trump to just come forward and say that whole wiretapping thing was a mistake, it didn't happen. What do you say?
KINGSTON: I don't think he needs to do that. I think that his point that there has been some surveillance, there's been a lot of hearsay out there that's been taken and run with and charges, that there's been collusion, I think, perhaps, that maybe both sides could come together and say, "You know what, we're going to go ahead and agree with all the national intelligence that has said, there has not been any collusion and we're all going to move on together." And maybe --
SAVIDGE: But when it comes to hearsay, I mean, he's the commander in chief and he's the one that has spread it here. So should he not just put a period on it and say, "Move on", because it has been a distraction and there's a lot of work that the administration needs and wants to do.
KINGSTON: I think his tweet is far less of a distraction than the Democrat's absolute insistence. In fact, doctrine at this point that there was collusion between the Trump administration and the Russian government. I think the charges are really to this point of absurdity that Jeff Sessions would meet with the Russian ambassador in his Senate office are on the public stage of the Republican National Committee and talk about collusion. And yet, that's what the Democrats seemed to be satisfied that, "Oh, that's plenty of evidence and let's go with it."
I think one of the big questions that they could all get together on is who leaked the conversation that General Flynn had, granted General Flynn should not have had the conversation.
[08:45:08] But the leaker, that's a felony. And perhaps, Democrats and Republicans would come together and say, "You know, this in fact is a very serious issue and we need to do something about it."
SAVIDGE: All right, Jack Kingston, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate your opinions as we appreciate it all. Thank you.
PAUL: Well, a former teacher is on the run this hour wanted for kidnapping a 15 year-old former student, his wife now pleading for him to do the right thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your family wants their pappy back. Please do the right thing and turn yourself into the police and bring Beth home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: There is a manhunt on the way for a former teacher and you really need to pay close attention to this.
PAUL: Yes, he's accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old girl. We're going to show you some of the images, new images that police released, this is Tad Cummins, they believe. He is now on Tennessee's most wanted list. Want to get more in this developing situation from CNN Correspondent Scott McLean, who's been looking at this. This is every parent's nightmare -- [08:50:06] SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
Scott McLean: -- at the end of the day.
MCLEAN: You're absolutely right. And the situation is getting fairly dyer. An AMBER Alert has been out for 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas for four days now, but authorities, they really do not have a whole lot of information to go on.
The last time this -- the pair was actually spotted was on Monday and no one knows exactly how far they may have gotten. As I mentioned, police are extremely concerned at this point. And now, even Cummins' wife is asking for him to come home.
JILL CUMMINS, SUSPECT'S WIFE: Tad, this is not you. This is not who you are. Please do the right thing and turn yourself into the police and bring Beth home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): An emotional plea from the wife of Tad Cummins, a Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping one of his students, 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas. She was last seen Monday near Nashville. Authority say she is in imminent danger. This morning, a nation wide manhunt after investigators said they've received an alarmingly low number of leads.
JOSH DEVINE, TBI PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: This point, we received about 175 tips into the TBI but none at this point has produced a credible citing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Friday, Cummins was added to the state's top 10 most wanted list. Investigators said, Cummins may have groomed Elizabeth, abusing his position as a teacher and possibly sexually exploiting her, while carefully planning the disappearance.
The pair is thought to be traveling in a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tags. Cummins, who's wanted for aggravated kidnapping and sexual exploitation of a minor, is believed to be armed with two hand guns.
DEVINE: An AMBER Alert is ongoing. And it has been several days since anyone has seen Elizabeth Thomas or Tad Cummins. Our concern is growing by the moment. We want her home, we want him in custody.
MCLEAN: So, on Monday, Thomas was dropped off at a restaurant near Nashville. Cummins was seen pumping gas on surveillance nearby. Beyond that, authorities have seen Cummins or they think that he was indicator Alabama after that. The concern here, though, is that with so few spottings and so much time past that perhaps they're outside of the Met (ph) that police originally cast in this case.
SAVIDGE: (Inaudible) kind of thing, yes.
PAUL: Yes. So, I guess our question is, in terms of what we're seeing, is there an indication this was planned?
MCLEAN: Yes, absolutely. So, this is a strong possibility that police are suggesting that certainly Cummins planned this, it's not clear what Thomas knew about this at the time. But we also know, according to police, that Cummins took out a loan against the value of his car for about $4,500 prior to. So, that would at least give him a few days of cash on hand, so that they didn't have to use any bank cards or anything like that. So, again, it seems like he was preparing for something, it's just not clear exactly what.
PAUL: Oh, my goodness. All right, Scott McLean, thank you so much. We appreciate it and hopefully somebody will recognize something and call that family (inaudible) peace.
SAVIDGE: Up next, why a house in suburban Maryland suddenly explode? It's still a mystery.
[08:57:34] PAUL: Well, almost 5 million Syrians have fled their country and for those that are left behind, life can be unbearable.
SAVIDGE: One charity is on the ground providing medical care as civil war rages around them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): According to the United Nations, about 400,000 people have died so far in Syria's civil war.
AHMAD TARAKJI, SYRIAN AMERICAN MEDICAL SOCIETY PRESIDENT: It's like really waking up from death. You cannot see a lot because dust is all over the place. You see blood on your clothing and you don't know if it's yours or somebody else.
CUOMO: Dr. Ahmad Tarakji heads Syrian American Medical Society, a medical relief organization providing care on the ground.
TARAKJI: Our goal is to heal Syria and relieve the suffering of the people.
CUOMO: The organization has a network of 110 medical facilities with a team of 1,700 doctors. The charity says, hospitals are prime targets during air strikes.
TARAKJI: The response to that, we created mobile clinics where people are being treated outside the hospitals.
CUOMO: The medical team also provides psychiatric care, especially to children.
TARAKJI: Children inside Syria have seen a lot of suffering. What did they do to suffer this? Our hope is that if we are able to heal those children, then the future will be better.
CUOMO: A long-term goal is to rebuild hospitals and communities, and rebuild the lives of the Syrians.
TARAKJI: We want to stand for our humanitarian values that we all share and believe in.
SAVIDGE: More information on the Syrian American Medical Society, go to CNN.com/impact.
PAUL: We want to show you this. Investigators are working to try to find out why a home exploded. This was at a Maryland suburb happened early yesterday.
SAVIDGE: The explosion was caught on a neighbor's doorbell camera. There is the incredible video. It's lighting up the night in the middle of the neighborhood. No neighbors were injured, and we have to stress that, but they are still trying to find the home owner. That blast blow out windows and several cars and about a dozen homes. And a lot of children were sleeping when glass fell on them next door. But again, amazingly, they were not hurt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounded like a bomb went off. When we came running out an d my neighbors across the street were yelling, a guy said, "It's down here." I ran down the street.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some reports from the neighbors indicated that there was firearms and ammunitions within the structure. Yes, we are of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[09:00:06] SAVIDGE: The explosion was so powerful, the home next door had to be condemned because of this significant structural damage. Again, no serious or even significant injuries.