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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Growing Anxiety Over North Korean Threat After New Missile Test; House Intel Chairman: Trump Communication Possibly Collected; Sen. Speier: Nunes Revelation Orchestrated By WH; Rep. Trump, GOP At Risk of Health Care Bill Failing in the House; Interview with Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky; Police: 4 Killed, 40 Injured in London Terror Attack; Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 22, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER HOST: -- All right, Barbara. Thank you. Kate Bolduan picks up our special coverage on Erin Burnett OutFront.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN HOST: Next, breaking news. Democrats crying foul after the top republican in the House Intelligence Committee revealed that Donald Trump's communications may have been incidentally picked up by the intelligence community. It's a time for an independent investigation on Trump and Russia.
And the other major breaking story tonight, terror attack in London, four dead, at least 40 injured. The investigation ongoing. Was it ISIS?
Plus, does President Trump have the votes? Hours before the house votes on the republican healthcare plan, one congressman just changed his no vote to "hell no." Let's go OutFront. Good evening everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, breaking news. A stunning battle in Washington tonight. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee revealing today Donald Trump's personal communications may have been incidentally picked up by intelligence agencies conducting legal surveillance. Nunes arrived at the White House today to personally brief the president on this finding. He also briefed the media which infuriated democrats who say that he left them all in the dark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) CALIFORNIA: The president needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there and I have the duty to tell him that. What I've read seems to me to be some level of surveillance activity, perhaps legal but I don't know that it's right and I don't know that the American people would be comfortable with what I've read.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But tonight, democrats are calling Nunes out, saying it was a purely political move on his part today. They accused him of trying to give the president cover for his baseless charge that president Obama wiretapped Trump's phones. The top democrat on that very same house committee, Adam Schiff, saying now he has grave concerns over what the chairman revealed. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi going much further, charging Nunes is now in her words deeply compromised in saying that he cannot possibly lead an honest investigation. Athena Jones is OutFront for us tonight at the White House. So, Athena, this is a pretty stunning twist in an already complex and highly charged political story.
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is highly charged and it is complex, Kate. And this announcement by Chairman Nunes was clearly welcome news to the White House today. They've been under fire for the past three weeks because of the president's baseless claim that he says predecessor was spying on him. And while Nunes' statements today in no way confirm that widely debunked claim, they did muddy the waters a bit, raising questions about surveillance collection.
And the White House seemed pretty eager to make sure that reporters had a chance to go out and speak with Chairman Nunes, announcing that he was headed to the stakeout cameras here after his meeting with the president. A short while later, they did not do that when members of the Congressional Black Caucus were headed out to speak. A top republican stepping squarely into Trump's political storm. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes says President Trump's personal communications could have been picked up by investigators through, "incidental collection of intelligence, not involving Russia."
NUNES: This is information that was brought to me that I thought the president needed to know about incidental collection where the president himself and others in the -- in the Trump Transition Team were clearly put into intelligence reports that ended up at this White House and across a whole bunch of other agencies, and I thought it was important for the president to know this.
JONES: Nunes also said he was alarmed to discover the names of U.S. Citizens involved in the Trump Transition or otherwise associated with the incoming administration in a few dozen intelligence reports. A practice he referred to as unmasking. A White House ally who was on the executive committee of the Trump Transition, Nunes came to the White House to brief President Trump. The top democrat on the committee said Nunes' actions make a good case for an independent select committee investigation, adding --
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If you have a chairman who is interacting with the White House and sharing information with the White House when people around the White House are the subject of the investigation and doing so before sharing it with the committee, it make -- it throws a profound doubt over whether that can be done credibly.
JONES: The president later said he felt somewhat vindicated by Nunes.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I somewhat do, I must tell you. I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found. JONES: Nunes agreed, telling CNN --
NUNES: President Trump to some degree is right that, you know, he did end up in some intelligence reports.
JONES: But that is not what Trump tweeted three weeks ago in a series of predawn messages that began -- terrible. Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism. But Nunes also said the revelations did not in any way confirm the president's unsubstantiated claim that President Obama spied on Trump Tower.
NUNES: Well, I've always said from day one that there wasn't a physical wiretap of Trump Tower. I still don't have any evidence to show that of that at pull.
JONES: Democrats on the intelligence committee said they were not familiar with the evidence Nunes cited and one member of the committee said the community said the communications in question were senior- level people talking about Trump, not Trump himself, calling it mostly gossip about what Trump was planning for his administration. The Nunes news comes as the president faces a credibility crisis of his own making. That's according to the usually friendly Wall Street Journal editorial page, writing today of his refusal to retract his widely refuted wiretapping claims, saying, if he doesn't show more respect for the truth, most Americans may conclude he's a fake president.
Now, there's absolutely no sign that the president or the White House plans to retract his accusations against President Obama, and to be clear about what Chairman Nunes said today, he cannot say for sure that the president's communications were collected, just that they might have been. A Nunes spokesperson has declined to respond to Congressman Schiff's allegation that Nunes was working with the White House instead of the House Intelligence Committee that he chairs. It's that same committee as you know that is charged with probing the Russian, Russian meddling into the 2016 election and his ties between Russian officials and Trump associates. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Athena jones, thanks so much. OutFront now, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier. She sits on that very same House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thank you so much for your time.
JACKIE SPEIER, (D) CALIFORNIA: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: So, Congressman Schiff, the top democrat on the committee's investigation coming from Nunes today. He says that he now is basically reeled out that Chairman Nunes can run an impartial investigation into the Trump Campaign and the ties to Russia. Do you have confidence in Chairman Nunes?
SPEIER: I would agree with ranking member Schiff. I mean, we can't have a presidential whisperer running the independent investigation by the intelligence committee on the Russian interference in our elections and what relationship if any Trump Associates had with the Russians. BOLDUAN: I mean, Congressman, that gets to something else that Schiff
said, I mean, he said that kind of to your point, you said a Trump whisperer, if you will. Nunes needs to decide according to Schiff his words whether he's chair of an independent investigation or a surrogate of the White House. Those are remarkably harsh words about his colleague on this key committee. Do you think Chairman Nunes is working for the White House on this?
SPEIER: Well, don't forget that Chairman Nunes was part of the transition team and provided advice to then candidate --
BOLDUAN: Right but that was a long time ago and he's now running this, you know, running this investigation.
SPEIER: I think what we have to underscore here is that this investigation loses all credibility unless he makes a profound apology for what he did and moves forward and speaks about the independence that he's going to show in terms of this investigation. You know, we're an oversight committee. The intelligence committee is oversight. If he was made privy to something, he should have brought it to the committee for our oversight of the agencies that we have authority to observe and to critique.
BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, Nunes said today he felt just the way the timing went today, he got the information, he informed the press, and then he needed to get over to the White House to inform the president. You don't think that holds water?
SPEIER: No. There's no urgency. There was absolutely no urgency to him racing over to the White House. I think this was pure theater. I think in many respects it was probably orchestrated by the White House. President Trump --
SPEIER: How so, Congresswoman?
SPEIER: Well, because I do - I don't believe he just ran over there. I think there was communication between the White House and Mr. Nunes before he made that trek over there. He announced it to the press. I mean, this has all the stage craft that you might want in a great spy novel on another thing. So, I think the hearing this week was very clear. The republicans were more interested in looking at leaks, and ironically what's the first thing he runs over to the White House with, a leak.
I think that we really have got to recognize that there are three equal branches of government, the legislative branch is one, certainly the intelligence committee has a responsibility to take this responsibility that's been given to us and independently evaluate it, not run over to the president whenever you get a particular leak and that's the way it looks.
BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, what I'm hearing you say is it's kind of done for you. And you're not even -- are you even leaning over the possibility that this committee can conduct this investigation or do you think the committee because of the chairman's actions in your view has lost all credibility, it's done? SPEIER: Well, I would say this. Unless he takes steps in the next
few days to change the direction in which he has been taking this committee, we probably are done. Now, the problem of course is then there is no house investigation. There's only going to be a senate investigation. And I think that would not be good for the American people.
BOLDUAN: So the president after being briefed, he says that he feels somewhat vindicated by what Congressman Nunes told him. I mean, Nunes make clear though he did make clear though that the original wiretap claim that the president made is still wrong. But if you do allow for the revised White House argument that they now mean the president was subject of general surveillance, Chairman Nunes told Jake Tapper this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NUNES: It does appear like he -- his name and people and others ended up into intelligence reports. So, I mean, look, you can -- you can make what you want of it, but, you know, most people would say that is surveillance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, he's seen these reports. You all have not yet. You haven't seen these reports. Do you leave open the possibility at all this could be surveillance of this president? This could in some way vindicate the president?
SPEIER: You know, I like to look objectively at the facts. I don't have any facts in front of me yet. So until I have that opportunity, until he shares his purloined documents with us, we can't make that assessment.
BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, what now? So now it sounds like the chairman feels this way, the democratic leader of the committee and you as well feel completely opposite. Are you going to -- what happens now?
SPEIER: Well, we have a hearing tomorrow on another issue, but I'm sure it's going to come up. We'll probably want to go into some kind an executive session to talk about it. And it will no doubt be a topic of conversation tomorrow.
BOLDUAN: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it, Congresswoman.
SPEIER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thanks. So OutFront with me now, CNN Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston and White House correspondent Sara Murray. Guys, geez, Louise, what a day. Mark, if you were sitting at home watching this, you have whiplash right now. What is going on?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I would be absolutely confused. I wouldn't really understand what Chairman Nunes was doing. I might actually believe him if I'm a Donald Trump supporter, which is exactly what the White House wanted, and honestly, Kate, I would be shocked that the White House didn't know about this before Chairman Nunes went down there to brief Donald Trump. For him just to get the information just seems too easy.
And if that information was out there floating around as he says it was, you would have to assume it would have made it way to the White House in some form or another before the chairman went down there today.
BOLDUAN: And so in that respect, Sara, President Trump said that he does feel somewhat vindicated by all of this. What are your sources telling you at the White House right now?
SARA MURRAY, CNN AND WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House certainly believes that this is sort of the beginning of the vindication that they have been insisting all week long would be coming. I spoke to a source earlier this week who said, look, there wasn't actual wiretapping but there was some kind of backdoor surveillance of the president. And this seemed to be the kind of thing that they were hinting at.
But the thing that sort of perplexing about all of this is we obviously saw Congressman Nunes come out and say this does not prove in any way the president's initial wiretapping claim. But to make it more confusing he also said the president did not seem to know about these intelligence reports in the first place, which gets us back to the initial question of why would the president have put out that wiretapping tweet? So you sort of end up running around in circles a little bit to get the evidence to "prove what the president put out initially."
BOLDUAN: Yes. You kind of say -- we know one thing. The wire -- the literal wiretap didn't happen.
BOLDUAN: But now what are you dealing with, it seem really unclear. And what is also unclear is kind of where this White House is right now, Mark. I mean, they're -- at the very least they seem to be at a fork in the road. You've got the republican healthcare bill, which they're really focused on. That's in trouble. You have more Russia clouds circling overhead and then you have approval ratings. You've got this new Quinnipiac poll showing President Trump's approval rating is at 37 percent, a new low. How does that factor into all this?
PRESTON: Oh, it becomes a smokescreen. I mean, what happened on Monday was terrible for President Trump when you have, you know, two of our top intelligence law enforcement officials going out there and saying that they had seen no evidence that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. Now, you're going into tomorrow's vote on healthcare and it's very much on the edge. We don't even know if the bill is going to pass and we've seen this time and time again from President Trump or his associates, redirect, redirect, redirect, throw up a smokescreen.
And that's what appears to have happened right now. And if I'm wrong in saying that, it's only because that's the pattern we have seen so far. But it is -- what I found really strange, I mean, other than a lot of things that Chairman Nunes --
BOLDUAN: Everything that's played out today.
PRESTON: Right. Everything. Was this one particular quote. He said about President Trump, he needs to see what's out there on him and it's up to him to decide whether or not it was a proper collection or not or if it met a threshold. As Congressman Speier just said, there is a separation of government. There's three branches of government. There's the executive branch, the judicial branch, and the legislative branch. Why would the president be -- why should he get to see information that's being collected potentially to bring a case against him or against his associates?
BOLDUAN: And why is he the one to determine that? Sara, real quick from the White House standpoint, the week that they're having, are they concerned about the week that they've had so far?
MURRAY: I think that's a great question to ask at the end of the night tomorrow. If they can manage to get this healthcare bill through the house and they can prove that this president really is a dealmaker and can get things done amid all of the chaos that's playing out, they'll think it's a very good week. If this healthcare bill goes down, then you have a week that just looks even crazier and sort of challenges the notion that this is a president who in fact can maneuver Washington and can actually get his legislative agenda moving. That is what's at stake tomorrow.
BOLDUAN: (INAUDIBLE) a big win on a big promise can change momentum even though the clouds are still there. Great to see you guys. Thank you. OutFront next, new questions about former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and ties to a Russian billionaire. Tonight the White House can't distance itself from Manafort fast enough.
Plus, does Trump have the votes to pass that healthcare bill? Our guest tonight, a republican voting no and also says if the bill passes Trump could be a one-term president.
And on a much lighter note, Jeanne Moos on Joe Biden in a favorite flashback, which is a BDF.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a big (BLEEP) deal.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Joe.
BOLDUAN: Tonight the White House trying again to distance President Trump from his former campaign chief Paul Manafort.
SPICER: He was hired to count delegates, which is what he did and he was successful at it as he'd done for George Herbert Walker Bush, Gerald Ford and Bob Dole.
BOLDUAN: But Manafort did a lot more than just count delegates as campaign chairman. The reason the White House wants some more distance, it may have to do with another report today of close ties between Manafort and Russia. This time a report that Manafort earned millions of dollars from a Russian billionaire to promote the interest of Putin's government around the world. It is a charge Manafort denies. Tom Foreman is out front.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The White House was already running away from the president's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, but now the president's team seems to be in a dead sprint, insisting lawmakers, law enforcement, and intelligence officials have all reviewed allegations the Russians may have had American help hacking the last election and --
SPICER: We've seen zero evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, and that's not going to be changed by a former business dealings of a -- of a campaign staffer from a decade ago.
FOREMAN: Just a staffer? Not according to other prominent republicans during the race.
NEWT GINGRICH, (R) FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help get this campaign to where it is right now.
FOREMAN: But those business dealings, the press secretary was talking about a new revelation that Manafort worked for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska alleged to have secretly promoted Russian President Vladimir Putin's agenda with Manafort making millions. Deripaska says the money was for business consulting. Manafort says the work did not involve representing Russian political interest. And the White House jumped on the story at dawn.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: I take Paul at his word that he was working on business interests for Oleg and it wasn't tied to the Russian government.
FOREMAN: But the president's team must now also prepare for Manafort maybe being grilled by the Senate Intelligence Committee over documents purporting to show he made even more money from the pro- Russian former president of Ukraine. CNN has no independent proof Manafort did anything improper and he denies all the allegations. But listen to Senator Mark Warner talking to Erin Burnett.
MARK WARNER, SENIOR UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA: We know what Russia has done to interfere in the electoral process. Now we have to see what kind of combination or conversations took place between folks affiliated with the Trump campaign and the Russians.
FOREMAN: And there is Manafort's former partner Roger Stone, also a Trump ally. Late in the election, stone correctly predicted a dump of hacked information damaging to the democrats. It came from Julian Sssange's WikiLeaks, and since Assange has ties to the Russians, critics suggested Stone must too. Stone called it a flat lie. Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump were working for the Russians> Please. It's tedious and no evidence in the possession of our vaunted intelligence agencies proves this. And indeed there may be nothing to find. That is certainly a
possibility. With all of that smoke, lawmakers want to get some of these people right in front of them so they can question them directly and see if there is some fire. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Great question tonight. Thank you so much, Tom. OutFront with me now, Juliette Kayyem, she served in the Obama administration as assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and Jason Miller, he of course is a senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign and communications director for the presidential transition team. Great to see you both. Thanks so much. Jason, you work communications for that campaign for a long time. Can you say with a straight face that Paul Manafort in the words of the press secretary played a very limited role for a limited amount of time?
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER FOR TRUMP CAMPAIGN: I'm not going to come on and try to qualify exactly what Paul's role was. I think it was pretty obvious in the public what his -- what he did. He came on board in spring. He left the campaign in summer. And so there was a block of time when he was on board with the campaign. And so full stop on that, that he worked for the president for a number of months during last year. Now, what he's being attacked on today is work that he did or pitched or proposed doing a decade earlier and has absolutely nothing to do with the president of the United States or his campaign.
What we do know is that during this time that we know whether it's Mike Morrell or James Clapper, or Senator Chris Coons or Chairman Devin Nunes, all these folks have gone through and said there is absolutely no fire behind the smoke, there's any aspect of collusion or anything else. And as you correctly were talking about earlier in the show, what we do know is that the president of the United States was being systematically surveilled this past fall, and I think that's the big story and what's really problematic here.
BOLDUAN: I'm not sure we're saying systematically surveilled this fall. This was all after --
MILLER: I would describe it systematically surveilled. Absolutely.
BOLDUAN: That is to be -- that is to be investigated by the committee, and I will tell you this is all since the election. This was all post the election is what Devin Nunes says. Juliette, from your perspective, this is multiple connections in terms of the stories that are out there now going back to Manafort with ties with pro- Russian entities. Republicans, not democrats, republicans like John Mccain, Susan Collins, this has raised serious concerns for them. From your -- with your background from Homeland Security, are those concerns founded?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think they are and I mean a couple things. Of course there is just the question of why even Paul Manafort was so quick to deny his ties to Russia. I mean, I think that's part of the concern is these constant sort, you know, we didn't have anything to do with Russia, whatever, and then these stories. Even they're 10 years old, I mean, you know, I would agree that, you know, this is an old story.
What I want to say, though, to your viewers is the problem is that these cases of conspiracy and collusion take time to form. This is what Comey was telling the public during the hearing. There is not going to be a silver bullet. There is likely not an e-mail between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump saying let's do this for the -- for the campaign. Nonetheless, there is enough information now to suggest to a person looking at all of these different pieces that on the spectrum of benign behavior and potential conspiracy or collusion we're nowhere near benign anymore.
And I think that's the point of Comey's willingness to come forward about this investigation and that's where the Manafort -- new story about Manafort falls in. It's just another piece. It's not going to settle the issue. But to totally ignore it or to deny his relevancy with the campaign is to say, well, I can take each of these pieces and say everything's fine. You're not getting most republicans agreeing with that theory and certainly not getting a lot of democrats.
BOLDUAN: Jason, the mere fact that the White House is working relatively hard to try to distance themselves from Paul Manafort on this, where you acknowledge without saying that he did have a very big role in the campaign, the fact that they're working and trying to distance themselves from Manafort now, does that tell you they are troubled that there could be something there with regard to Manafort?
MILLER: I don't think so. I think what they're trying to do is set the record straight and try to put things into proper context. As I said --
BOLDUAN: I'm not saying record straight. He's had a serious role on that. I mean, he wasn't just (INAUDIBLE) he was on stage with Trump doing an audio check helping him I mean, I saw it all play out. I mean, it was way more than that.
MILLER: Right. But I think we're talking past each other just a little bit here. And I'm not trying to qualify his role during that stretch.
BOLDUAN: Got it.
MILLER: I think what -- I believe that the White House and the administration are trying to do is make it clear that Mr. Manafort worked for the campaign for a set amount of time. The issues that are being raised were a decade previously. Had nothing to do with the president, going into the fall of general election, nothing in the transition team. Mr. Manafort had been dismissed well before then. As I think they're trying to put it in the proper context of the amount of time that he worked with the campaign.
So -- but again -- but going back to the point here, what Mr. Manafort's really being attacked on, look, nobody really cares about Mr. Manafort. What they're trying to do is trying to attack the president by attacking someone who previously had worked for him. I think that's really what's going on here. I think most people can take a look and see that's what the case is. Otherwise you wouldn't have such a stein people like Clapper or Morrell or Coons or Nunes saying that there's absolutely no there when it comes to this issue of collusion in Russia.
And one other thing I'd say is, look, over the past year, you know, I spent hundreds of hours around the president and the campaign team. And never once did I hear this talk about some supposed collusion or coordination or inside knowledge of other people doing other things. So this idea that too many people on the left are trying to cook up, there's somehow some coordination with a foreign entity, I think that's really disrespectful to the presidency and I think it's damaging for the long term.
BOLDUAN: Republicans though are concerned a well, is that right? But Juliette, have a final word on that.
KAYYEM: Just quickly, just Jason said a couple things about Clapper and Morrell, I just want to say for the record that's actually not what they said. But the one important thing about the next step is -- and that should be of concern to the White House, is that Manafort and also Flynn are now clearly under some sort of investigation. One of them will talk. And if there is evidence of collusion or cooperation or conspiracy, they will talk about that.
And so I think one of the reasons why the Trump campaign is sort of not distancing, you know, sort of -- not sort of throwing Manafort under the bus but sort of -- you know, they're not even critical of Flynn anymore is because they don't know if Flynn or Manafort is willing to talk to federal investigators about what they know. That's the next step.
MILLER: But Also under investigation -- also under investigation they're going to find out whoever was surveilling the president and I think that person's going to be in a lot of trouble.
BOLDUAN: We'll -- we will -- and we will be happy to report when all of this -- when all of this develops. Great to see you guys. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
MILLER: Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Well, the following breaking news right now. Racing against the clock, hours to go before the House vote on Republican plans to repeal and replace Obamacare and President Trump trying to seal the deal with undecided Republicans. CNN's whip count, though, shows the numbers are not looking good at the moment. Twenty-seven House Republicans officially on the no side or leaning that way, and that is, of course, more than the GOP can afford to lose.
Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is the American health care act.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House Republicans still hope to secure a victory Thursday after nearly a decade of railing on Obamacare. They are still scrambling for votes, relying on President Trump to close the deal.
RYAN: I am so pleased and impressed with Donald Trump and mike pence who are really leaning into this thing, working hard, talking to members, brokering things, getting it done, leaning into it.
MATTINGLY: But it may not be enough.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I said that we believe that the best approach is to actually start over.
MATTINGLY: Despite a full-court press from the White House and House GOP leaders, as it stands, there are 27 House Republicans leaning against or outright opposed to the Obamacare repeal plan, driven mostly by the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who despite intense lobbying from President Trump and Vice President Pence insists they have 25 no votes according to an aide. The group met privately Thursday over pizza.
Their efforts were bolstered by two senators, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, both of whom were urging the members to block the bill.
(on camera): What's your message to freedom caucus members who may be considering voting for this?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: That I think principles are important and that often when you feel very strongly that something is not going to work, that that's more important than loyalty to party, frankly.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Undercutting a delicate balance GOP leaders hope to strike, one that can draw enough support from all sides of the party.
RYAN: You've got to have a bill you can get buy-in from a big tent, wide caucus party, the Republican Party, that can actually pass, which is what we're putting together. No one gets everything they want.
MATTINGLY: Sources tell CNN the behind-the-scenes efforts have gone full bore with White House visits, private calls and texts in a desperate push to flip wary lawmakers. The divide also splitting key outside GOP supporters, with Republican stalwarts including the Chamber of Commerce, and National Right to Life calling for support, and conservative groups like Heritage Action and Club for Growth urging members to stand against the bill. Those efforts are clearly having an effect. House Freedom Caucus members continue to block any clear path to passage.
MEADOWS: We believe that we need to postpone the vote and get it right.
MATTINGLY: And, Kate, just a few minutes ago, a major -- potentially major development on this bill, House leadership aide telling me they are open to a change in the bill. It would be a change that the House Freedom Caucus members have been requested, a provision to strip out Obamacare's essential health benefits. Now, it hadn't been included up to this point because they were worried it would actually get through the Senate procedural rules. Now, that is in play.
President Trump is calling Freedom Caucus members who are currently meeting privately as well. The speaker is currently meeting privately with other members as well. This appears to be starting to move in the right direction. The question is, can they get it done by tomorrow?
BOLDUAN: Phil, great to see you. Thank you.
OUTFRONT now, Republican congressman from Kentucky, Thomas Massie.
Congressman, thanks so much for the time.
REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R), KENTUCKY: Hey, thanks for having me on again, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
So, you have been a no vote on this health care bill. That's been no surprise. According to Twitter today, you've changed your vote as of this afternoon.
BOLDUAN: From "no" to "hell no". Please explain, Congressman.
MASSIE: Well, I thought I would double down. There's a lot of speculation as to whether members are changing their votes right now and I just wanted to let people know that I was steadfastly in the "no" category. Frankly, I think that's indicative of a lot of my colleagues. I've counted 30 conservatives who are voting no on this, and they really aren't changing their position and haven't changed their position in the last 24 hours.
BOLDUAN: That's very interesting because you hear a very different message from the White House and from Republican leaders right now. The White House saying that the momentum's all in their favor, House Speaker Paul Ryan saying they're adding votes, not losing votes today, and a spokesman for Mark Meadows, who you know very well, the chair of the Freedom Caucus, is striking a bit of an optimistic tone, a surprising optimistic tone. His spokesman saying that we're hopeful we can get something done and they're working with leaders on it all throughout the night.
Do you sense the momentum is shifting in Speaker Ryan's favor?
MASSIE: Well, let me tell you how the leadership can be right and I can be right at the same time.
[19:35:00] I told you we've got 30 hard noes that aren't changing. In fact, there were a lot more than 30 noes on this and those people just aren't vocal. I witnessed the leadership on the floor working on members of Congress that aren't on anybody's list as being no. So, they probably got problems that they are fixing that everybody doesn't even know about yet. So they may have switched ten members but not ten members on my list, not two members on my list.
BOLDUAN: You still think this bill has no chance or do you think it's changing tonight, and it does have a chance tomorrow night?
MASSIE: Well, they're meeting in the Rules Committee right now upstairs. And they're not going to make any changes in there that are going to change 30 of the Freedom Caucus or other conservatives like myself from no to yes, like the changes just aren't that drastic.
And I think we could get to yes but I think it's going to take this bill going down tomorrow. They may pull the bill from the floor or they may push it to the floor. If they do, I think it will fail.
BOLDUAN: You still think no matter though the White House and the House speaker think that they've got the momentum, the wind is at their back, you still think that they are, I don't know, making it up? You don't think that they get there?
MASSIE: Well, that's -- those are the key words, momentum, wind at their backs. They're not telling you they have the votes because they don't have the votes. They're using a lot of euphemisms and they're sounding really optimist optimistic. But I can tell you they're in trouble.
BOLDUAN: During the meeting yesterday when President Trump visited you all, he warned you voting against this could mean some of you lose your seats and also that Republicans could lose the majority. Do you believe it?
MASSIE: We're afraid he's a one-term president if this passes. We are trying to save him. The phone calls to my office are running 275 against -- versus four. Only four votes from my constituents who are in favor of this. So, this electorally voting for this is bad today and it's going to be really bad in two or three years when the changes start kicking in and health insurance prices start going through the roof.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, you also know politically, this president is a man that is known to take names. This is a man known to have a long memory for those who go against him. Do you fear that he'll campaign against you when you vote no on this?
MASSIE: Well, he's been to Kentucky, which -- you know, I'm from Kentucky.
MASSIE: He was there this week and Pence was there the week before. But, frankly, in Kentucky, the vote against this bill is still the right vote. Whether Democrats are for no or Republicans are no, there's just no constituency for this bill in Kentucky.
BOLDUAN: So if this bill fails, you will not blame yourself, of course. You aren't going to place blame on yourself. Who are you going to say is to blame? Is it Paul Ryan or is it President Trump?
MASSIE: You know, when President Trump took the advice of Heritage Organization, the Federalist Society, and came up with a good Supreme Court nominee, he was a hero. But then when he started taking the advice of Paul Ryan and lobbyists here in Washington, D.C., his ratings went down ten points. I hope that's what he sees from this, that we're trying to save him from bad advice and maybe he'll start taking advice from those conservatives again.
BOLDUAN: So, then, who's to blame if this fails?
MASSIE: Who's to blame? Well, you know what, this shouldn't fail. After the bill goes down tomorrow, we can go back to the drawing board and they can bring conservatives to the table instead of just trying to break their kneecaps and twist their arms after the bill is written, and then we can all take the credit for a good bill.
BOLDUAN: So, when it does fail you can come back and tell me who you blame.
Congressman, it's great to have you. If it does fail, let's put it that way.
BOLDUAN: Thanks you so much, Congressman. Thanks for your time.
MASSIE: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, new details on the deadly terror attack in London. We'll speak to one man who watched it all unfold.
Plus, on a much lighter note, Jeanne Moos on Joe Biden's return to Capitol Hill and why it's such a big f-ing deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: This is big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Thank you, Joe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:42:47] BOLDUAN: Breaking news: the death toll rising after a horrific terror attack in the heart of London. The killer plowing into helpless pedestrians on a crowded bridge this afternoon before abandoning his car. Officials are now saying four people, including an officer, were killed, 40 people are now being treated for injuries. The attacker is also dead tonight.
And police just announcing that they believe the attack is Islamist- related terrorism. Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT in London.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Gunfire and chaos in the heart of London. 2:40 in the afternoon, a gray SUV crossing the famous Westminster Bridge heading towards the parliament building. The vehicle suddenly mowing down pedestrians on the bridge, including three police officers. Two people were killed here.
One woman recovered alive from the Thames River below. First responders describe still others with catastrophic injuries. Two women crossing the bridge in a bus when they heard the commotion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I turned around and saw the car plowed into a lady underneath the wheel and you could hear screams and along the bridge because we were only crawling along the bridge. There was bodies literally --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Must have been about ten bodies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least 10 or 12 bodies.
ROBERTSON: The vehicle then crashing into the security gate surrounding parliament.
Alan Parry was on the opposite side of the bridge.
ALAN PARRY, EYEWITNESS: I was walking along amidst a crowd of people when suddenly I heard this enormous crash and bang. Next thing I saw, a guy who I assumed to be the driver of the vehicle get out and race away.
ROBERTSON: Around the corner, Kevin Shofield spotted a man on the run.
KEVIN SHOFIELD, EYEWITNESS: I looked to my left and I saw a man force his way through a security gate. He went straight for a police officer, wrestled him to the ground. And then another police officer approached. And the attacker got up and walked towards him with arm outstretched carrying a weapon.
ROBERTSON: In the end, an officer was stabbed to death just inside the parliament grounds. Police then shot and killed the attacker. This stunning photograph showing a police officer pointing his weapon at someone on the ground, a knife trapped under his right foot.
[19:45:08] Nearby, another photo shows a member of parliament rushing to the aid of one of those injured.
London police immediately treating the incident as a terror attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All move back again, please.
ROBERTSON: 2:46, six minutes after the first panicked calls, ambulances and a chopper arrive for wounded.
A young doctor was among the first on the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we all just went out and helped, got blankets and (INAUDIBLE) helped them --
REPORTER: How do you train for these things?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not for that.
ROBERTSON: With parliament on lockdown, Prime Minister Theresa May is hustled into a car and whisked away. At nearby Buckingham Palace, the queen inside, the gates are quickly locked.
ROBERTSON: And now, the police are saying they believe they know the identity of the attacker. They say they're investigating his motivation, his associates and his preparation. But as we look at the sheer scale of this attack, so many people injured, I've seen video of the scale of the attack on Westminster Bridge. And you see people over at least 100 yards, possibly more, the side of the road, the sheer scale of this beginning to sink in, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Nic, thank you.
And OUTFRONT now, the former Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, he's joining me now. He was an eyewitness to this attack.
Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you so much for your time on what is undoubtedly a horrible day for so many.
You arrived just seconds after this all happened on the bridge. We see this video that you took. But can you describe what you saw and what you heard?
RADEK SIKORSKI, EYEWITNESSS TO LONDON ATTACK: I was just in a taxi going the other way from the terrorist car that he must have passed us. I looked up when I heard what I took to be a minor collision and then I saw people on the tarmac and on the pavement. And at first I thought, well, a car accident, but then as the taxi moved on, I saw that the victims were spread over some distance.
BOLDUAN: You heard it before you saw it. Can you describe what you heard?
SIKORSKI: It was a sound of a car hitting -- to me it sounded like a sheet of metal. So it sounded like a minor traffic collision.
BOLDUAN: What injuries did you see or could you gather from the car that you were in?
SIKORSKI: Obviously, I was some distance away, but I saw one gentleman bleeding heavily from his head. He was already being helped. People had already rush to help. So I thought I'd better warn others that there is something dangerous happening in the area. BOLDUAN: Police, of course, are now saying that they're investigating
this as terrorism right now. Was that your first thought when you came up on this?
SIKORSKI: No, not at first. At first, I thought it must be an accident but when I saw the victims spread out over distance of 100 yards or so, then, of course, Nice and Berlin came to mind.
BOLDUAN: Foreign Minister Sikorski, thank you so much for your time.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT with me now, Paul Cruickshank is here, a terrorism analyst.
So, Paul, you've been watching this all throughout the day. Now that we're hearing from police, they're calling it an Islamic-related terrorism. Of course, everyone is going to wonder, is this ISIS? What are you picking up?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERORRISM ANALYST: It has all the hallmarks of an ISIS-inspired or ISIS-linked attack. I mean, we've seen vehicle attacks from ISIS-inspired attackers, and ISIS-linked attackers in Nice, in France, last July 6. It is six people killed.
We saw in Ohio State in November here in the United States. Fortunately, no one was killed, but in that attack, the perpetrator actually drove a car into people and got out and tried to stab people but was shot dead by a local cop.
We saw that M.O. in the Berlin attack, that was actually a Tunisian extremist who perpetrated that who was in touch with ISIS in Libya.
So, this is very much the kind of attack they're calling for in their propaganda.
BOLDUAN: Why this kind of attack? Because -- what do you know? Like, because it's easy to do?
CRUICKSHANK: Exactly. And it's very difficult to get hold of weapons in Europe, even more difficult in Great Britain, just very hard. And so what they're doing is saying, well, here's another option for you to carry out mass casualty events, get a car or a truck.
BOLDUAN: Does it surprise you -- does it surprise you there isn't a claim of responsibility?
CRUICKSHANK: I think it's early days yet. It would surprise me if there's no claim of responsibility by this time tomorrow. They sometimes take a little bit of time. What they tell these perpetrators it's almost as important to launch the attack as it is to help ISIS claim ownership.
[19:50:08] Very important for them to sort of claim allegiance to Baghdadi on social media or upload videos --
BOLDUAN: Often right before they go --
CRUICKSHANK: Yes, so we could see something like that come out.
BOLDUAN: Thank you, Paul. Thank you so much. Horrific tonight.
On a much lighter note, Jeanne Moos is joining us with Joe Biden remembering his BFD moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Thank God my mother wasn't around when that comment was picked up years ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Former Vice President Joe Biden returned to Washington, in Capitol Hill today, to speak out against the GOP health care bill, this time of course without cursing.
Jeanne Moos flashes back to that moment that made history.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There were cheers, there were smiles, there were hugs seven years ago as Obama signed Obamacare and his V.P. gushed praise.
BIDEN: I've gotten you well enough, you want me to stop because I'm embarrassing you.
MOOS: Actually, the embarrassing part was still to come.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: T-minus ten.
MOOS: And as Joe Biden dropped the F bomb.
[19:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.
BIDEN: This is big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
MOOS: That big bleeping deal became known as a --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A BFD.
MOOS: And the former vice president is reminiscing fondly.
BIDEN: What happened is one of you guys were able to read lips. I was looking this way.
This is big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
Thank God my mother wasn't around when that comment was picked up years ago. MOOS: Back then we called it "The Curse of Biden". Very few of our
favorite Biden bloopers actually contain curses. They range from miscounting.
BIDEN: A three-letter word -- jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.
MOOS: To prematurely pronouncing the death of the Irish prime minister's mother.
BIDEN: God rest her soul although -- wait, your mom's still -- your mom's still alive. Your dad passed. God bless her soul.
MOOS: He said this to a politician in a wheelchair.
BIDEN: Stand up, chuck. Let him see you. Oh, God love you. What am I talking about?
MOOS: But Joe usually managed a good recovery.
BIDEN: Stand up for Chuck.
MOOS: Now, instead of Bidenisms, we have Trumpisms.
TRUMP: Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
MOOS: But Joe Biden did. Joe may occasionally miss the mark, but, hey, we miss that.
Jeanne Moos --
BIDEN: This is big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.
MOOS: -- CNN --
OBAMA: Thank you, Joe.
MOOS: -- New York.
BIDEN: Oh, my goodness.
BURNETT: Oh my goodness is right.
We'll be right back.
BOLDUAN: All right. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'll be back in for Erin tomorrow. We'll see you then.
But "AC360" starts right now.