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GOP Pulls Vote on House Health Care Reform Bill; President Trump Reaction to Failure of Health Care Vote Examined; Senator Lindsey Graham to Hold Town Hall; New Information Released on London Attacker; Critic of Vladimir Putin Killed in Ukraine. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired March 25, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:06] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning. So glad to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. It's 10:00 here on the east coast, and you're in the CNN Newsroom.
No deal, to vote, no Obamacare repeal, at least for now. Today President Trump and the Republican Party are trying to move forward after their signature campaign promise was put on the shelf.
PAUL: GOP lawmakers still grappling with yesterday's health care defeat, and defeat coming at the hands of a faction of House Republican critics who would not budge despite hours of deal making. House Speaker Paul Ryan conceded defeat yesterday, saying Obamacare is the law of the land.
BLACKWELL: The fate of that law and the 20 million people who gained coverage from it still rests in the hands of the Trump administration and the Republicans in Congress. The president says let Obamacare fail on its own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode. It is exploding right now. Many states have big problems. Almost all states have big problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: This morning our team of political correspondents and experts standing by to break all of it down for you and look at where we go from here. We want to be begins with CNN's Ryan Nobles for more on the finger pointing going on in Washington even still this morning. Good morning, Ryan.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, good morning to you from the White House. And at this point the Trump administration is just trying to brush off this setback, acting like it's not that big of a deal and that they're ready to move on to bigger and better things. But make no mistake about it, this was a pretty big setback for this administration. Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act was a major campaign promise by Donald Trump during the campaign. And yesterday he wasn't necessarily blaming Republicans but Democrats. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because now they own Obamacare. They own it, 100 percent own it. And this is not a Republican health care. This is not anything but a Democrat health care. And they have Obamacare for a little while longer until it ceases to exist, which it will at some point in the near future. And just remember, this is not our bill. This is their bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And even though he's publicly blaming the Democrats for this effort to repeal Obamacare failing, there is some angst within the administration about the priorities that House Speaker Paul Ryan laid out, and perhaps taking on health care first was a mistake, that instead they should have taken on something with more broad Republican support like tax reform.
Regardless, this was a reality check for this president, learning the ways of Washington much different than running a private corporation. He needs members of Congress if he's going to enact this bold agenda. So they're going to have to live on and fight another day, Christi.
PAUL: All right, Ryan Nobles, so grateful to have you here, thank you.
BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux live from Capitol Hill. Suzanne, for four cycles Republicans have used this repeal and replace mantra to get into seats and majorities. What are they saying this morning?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Victor, they have to go back to their constituents there in their home districts, trying to explain what happened and why they weren't able to come together on this key legislation here. As you mentioned, seven years Republicans putting this forward as a signature platform issue.
Now, what we see here among the Republican Party, it is deeply divided. It is in disarray. You have the House Freedom Caucus members, they feel quite emboldened that they were able to maintain their opposition, that they were consistent with this all along and essentially killed this bill. You have the moderate Republicans who I have spoken to who say they are just relieved they didn't have to put their signature on a bill that potentially would have left millions of people without health care coverage.
At the same time they're very concerned that their party is leaning towards the right here, and they feel like there has to be some way of uniting their party together to get some things done, whether it's an infrastructure project, immigration and trade deals, that they have to find common ground as well with the Democrats. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CHARLIE DENT, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: They moved to a repeal and replace strategy, but the replace was just too rushed. There were artificial timelines, arbitrary deadlines, all to improve the baseline for tax reform. This debate should have been more about the people who were going to be impacted by our decisions. And to reform Medicare and to create tax credits for people in the exchanges, this was going to be very hard work. I don't think it could have been pulled off in 60 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And Democrat lawmakers, for their part they are elated this weekend, talking to their voters, to their constituents. And they say they are quite prepared to go after Republicans on a number of fronts, first and foremost that they are going to filibuster Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
[10:05:04] Secondly, they're targeting 15 Republicans of competitive districts who voted yes in the various committees for the repeal and replace Obamacare plan. And third, they are also calling on Republicans and the president as well to move forward and try to fix Obamacare, that this is something that they owe the American people. They've identified ways of changing it and that that needs to be part of their legislative agenda. Victor?
BLACKWELL: A lot to sift through, Suzanne, for us on Capitol Hill, thank you.
PAUL: Let's get to CNN national political reporter M.J. Lee for more on House Speaker Paul Ryan. As Suzanne was just saying there, M.J., they have to look forward, put one foot in front of the other. What is his biggest challenge as he does so?
M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: No doubt about it that this was a tough, tough week for House Republicans, but it was an especially hard time for House Speaker Paul Ryan. Just keep in mind first of all that of course health care is an issue that Paul Ryan has been talking about for a long time. But this Republican bill that they put forth in the House this was actually based on Paul Ryan's plan called A Better Way. What he learned this week was essentially that too many of his own colleagues rejected his own plan to do away with Obamacare. So this was a personally difficult moment for Paul Ryan this week.
And second, if you just think about the political dynamics in Congress right now, this was the first real big legislation that Paul Ryan tried to move through the House under President Donald Trump, and he failed to do so. He could not bring the two factions that really had his own party and his own conference divided together. And now that President Donald Trump is in the White House, now that they have a Republican in the White House, this is when it really matters, because keep in mind, Republicans have passed in the past bills to repeal Obamacare, bills to change the health care system. But now they really know that this is the moment when it counts, and when it came down to it, they really couldn't get it done.
And I was in the room yesterday when Paul Ryan gave this press conference basically acknowledging his defeat, and he was very forthcoming about these dynamics in his own conference. Take a listen to what he said about growing pains within his conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We were a 10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do. You just had to be against it. And now in three months' time we tried to go to a governing party where we actually had to get 216 people to agree with other on how we do things. And we weren't just quite there today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: Ryan has been clear that he wants to move forward on other issues like tax reform, infrastructure. But the question right now is how can members of the Republican Party come together on those issues when they couldn't come together on health care.
PAUL: All right, M.J. Lee, thank you so much.
BLACKWELL: Let's continue the conversation now with CNN political analyst and national political reporter for Real Clear Politics, Rebecca Berg, and Professor of politics and journalist and Morgan State University Jason Johnson. Good morning to both of you.
JASON JOHNSON, PROFESSOR OF POLITICS AND JOURNALISM AT MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Good morning.
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So Jason, let me start with you. This was sold, at least the repeal, maybe not the replacement, was sold as a give-me after the election. You had Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, and now you had a Republican president. I want you to watch the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, on the day after the election. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: And so to your specific question about repealing and replacing Obamacare, this Congress, this House majority, this Senate majority, has already demonstrated and proven we're able to pass that legislation and put it on the president's desk. The problem is President Obama vetoed it. Now we have President Trump coming who is asking us to do this. So with unified Republican government, we can fix this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: More than 60 times they voted to either undermine or defund Obamacare and now they can't get through a single vote to get it to the Senate. Put into context what this means for the Republicans.
JOHNSON: I mean, this is a choke job so bad that the Falcons are making fun of them.
BLACKWELL: Too soon for Falcons jokes! Too soon!
JOHNSON: I had to throw it out there, Victor. Literally, you have like a 30-member majority in the House, you control the Senate, you control the presidency, you're soon going to control the judiciary. There is absolutely no excuse for the Republicans not passing this for any other reason than their own incompetence and hubris.
And there are two big consequences to this, Victor. Number one, who is going to listen to Paul Ryan now? No member of Congress right now who has a seat up in 2018, especially a seat that's competitive, is going to put their neck on the line for a guy who can't get this policy done. And it also shows that President Trump's threats don't matter. He threatened everybody, hey, if you're not going to vote for this, I'm going to come after you. Obviously his threats are now empty. So this is a really weakened party, and this is a huge embarrassment and just a pathetic example of government.
BLACKWELL: Rebecca, huge embarrassment, and thus far we know that the president has not taken any responsibility. And they're heaping praise on one another. The president loves Paul Ryan, Paul Ryan loves the president.
[10:10:07] At some point as we approach 2018 and they have to go back to these districts to get votes, Republicans in Congress are going to have to blame someone. Does that change sooner than getting close to the midterms?
BERG: Well, I mean, the blame game is already sort of unfolding behind the scenes, at least. We're seeing reports from unnamed advisers on Capitol Hill and in the White House blaming each other for this unraveling.
But as Paul Ryan said at his press conference yesterday, what this comes down to is that Republicans as a whole need to learn how to govern. And this includes the president, who said yesterday in his remarks that he learned a lot from this process. Remember, this is someone, President Trump, who has he never worked in Washington, has never had to try to pass a major piece of legislation or even a minor piece of legislation. And there is a learning curve there. It's not easy to govern. Getting elected is one thing, one skill set. Governing is quite another.
And so Republicans on Capitol Hill who have been either in a majority with a Democratic president or in the minority, and a president with no governing experience, they'll going to need to learn how to get legislation passed, and clearly they are not there yet, as Paul Ryan said yesterday.
BLACKWELL: Jason, I saw you shaking your head there on the monitor.
JOHNSON: No, that's not an excuse. When you get called, you get off the bench, you do your job. And even Paul said, look, they've sent legislation, they've sent legislation to President Obama that got vetoed. This has nothing to do with learning how to govern. This has to do with learning how to be a responsible legislator.
It proves that all those different times, Republicans had seven years to improve the very clear problems with Obamacare. There are clear problems that everybody understands. But it proves that all those times they were voting against it, and the bill that they handed the president, they never expected those things to work. They never expected to face the real consequences of their legislation. And now that the light of day is on them and everyone is going to hold them accountable, they choked, because they don't want to govern. They just want to be in opposition. And that's the disappointing because there are things about Obamacare that should be fixed, and it's not going to happen.
BLACKWELL: Rebecca, what role does the president's, let's say unorthodox approach to Republican orthodoxy -- let me explain what that means. He may not necessarily stand 100 percent with the conservatives, with the moderates. He wants a "W." So when you go to the president, you offer these amendments, these changes, he could lose half the team just to get the "W." We've talked a lot about how the president has to learn to work with a diverse GOP House. They've got to learn to work with this president as well.
BERG: That's right. And, you know, you mentioned that Donald Trump is not a traditional Republican, and that's absolutely true. And so there were some people on this who were thinking, well, why didn't he reach across the aisle to work with Democrats? And it's really just the political climate that is going to make that very difficult for Donald Trump.
And it will be interesting to see on future initiatives, so when you start looking tax reform, when you start looking potential infrastructure projects that he has been pushing, will he be able to just push the Freedom Caucus to the side, say I don't need to work with you, I don't need your votes, I'm not going to go to the right on this bill. Can he then work across the aisle with Democrats for the good of the country? Chuck Schumer said yesterday was saying, if they take repeal off the table, we'll work with them on health care. But that's a nonstarter for a lot of Republicans. So on these future issues, will Donald Trump be able to say I want to make this a bipartisan effort? That's a big question.
BLACKWELL: Jason, I want you to listen to something the president said just a few days ago in Louisville, Kentucky, trying to sell this health care plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is our long- awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare. We can get this bill passed in some form so that we can pass massive tax reform which we can't do until this happens. So we've got to get this done before we can do the other. In other words, we have to know what this is before we can do the big tax cuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: OK, well, so this, meaning the health care bill is nothing because they didn't pass it. What does this mean now for tax reform?
JOHNSON: It means tax reform is going to be even more difficult, Victor, because, you know, look, the Republicans may get away with just cutting taxes, which is fine. But tax reform where you have to really go through the arcane laws and figure out what entitlements are we going to change and what deductibles are we going to change, I don't think they're going to be able to do that.
You have to look at this, if you step back for a second. This is three L's, right, three L's from Trump. He was wrong about the Muslim ban. He keeps losing on that. He was wrong about the wiretapping, and now he's wrong about the Affordable Care Act. And these are all things that he said he was going to do, and he's only been in office for 60 something days.
So again, if you're a member of Congress, the most dangerous thing that can happen for a president is when members of Congress start thinking that their fate and the president's fate are separate. And going into tax reform, these guys are going to be thinking about their own districts and they're not going to be thinking about President Trump's legacy.
[10:15:02] BERG: And we're already starting to see those divisions laid bare, especially on border adjustment, which is going to be a major feature, Republicans' think, of their tax reform on the House side. You have Republicans already saying in the Senate and in the House, that's a nonstarter for us. We don't want border adjustment. So if you have Republicans already in disagreement on those major features of potential tax reform, this is going to be pretty messy, I would say.
BLACKWELL: We'll see how this impacts the rest of the agenda. Rebecca, Jason, thank you.
BERG: Thanks, Victor.
PAUL: President Trump has touted his skill as a bargainer to get things done, even wrote the book on it. But some say there was no art in this deal.
BLACKWELL: Plus the president puts the blame for the health care failure at the feet of the Democrats. But is that misplaced?
[10:20:06] PAUL: So the next move on Obamacare is President Trump's. Minutes after House Speaker Paul Ryan shelved the GOP replacement bill, the president repeated the claim that Obamacare is on the verge of collapse, went so far as to say that it will explode.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode.
It's imploding and soon will explode. And it's not going to be pretty. So the Democrats don't want to see that. So they're going to reach out when they're ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and former assistant chief of staff for Georgia Governor Nathan Deal with us now, and Jason Johnson is back, politics editor at TheRoot.com and professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Brian, I want to get your reaction to what the president just said there. He said it's the best thing they can do but I'm sure a lot of people who have Obamacare don't feel too good about that statement.
BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There are about 10 to 11 million people who are on Obamacare. And when we say they were talking about the exchanges, although that's half of what Obamacare is, the other half is Medicaid expansion, which is something we need to come back to.
But the people on that exchange are already very frustrated about what they're facing. They've got premiums going up in huge numbers every year, high deductibles that they simply cannot afford. I do not know about you, but when I go to the doctor, I see signs on the front desk that say "do not take these insurances at the exchange." That's not access to health care.
The president is right, the exchange is imploding. Providers are pulling out in huge numbers. It can't go on. And the people that this is aimed at helping can't afford what is offered to them. And on Medicaid, the other half of people who are covered by Obamacare are on this Medicaid expansion. Many, many states, close to 20, never expanded. And the bill that did not get voted on yesterday would penalize the Republican states, largely Republican states, that did not expand Medicaid. That's something that they're going to have to go back and fix. Republicans from those states have got to make sure that their interests are defended because the Medicaid expansion allows some states to get billions more than others. And so there's a lot of pain. That's why Donald Trump can't stand by for too much longer because the damage of Obamacare continues.
PAUL: And let's get to that, because, Jason, an article in "The Washington Post," Bob Costa talks about how he got this call from the president yesterday saying, "Hello, Bob, so we just pulled it." Can you imagine Bob Costa at that moment? But in this conversation President Trump blamed the Democrats, saying they didn't get one vote, that Obamacare is going to explode, that he was a team player. Then he said, "I'll fix it as it explodes. They're going to come to ask for help. They're going to have to. Here's the good news. Health care is now totally the property of the Democrats." How confident are you, Jason, that Democrats will end up going to President Trump for help?
JOHNSON: They have no reason to. This is an important piece of context here. One, there are problems with the Affordable Care Act. Everybody knows that. There are also benefits. These exchanges have been problematic in a bunch of different states. You have some Republican states that in trouble because they didn't want to expand one way or another. There are plenty of things that can be fixed.
But from a political standpoint, and this is where President Trump is wrong, there are 435 members congress. There are only 192 members right now who were in office in 2010 when this got passed. So anyone who suffered political consequences from passing the original Affordable Care Act, they've already lost their jobs. They're not worried now. This idea that they're going to come begging to Donald Trump to get some assistance down the road is not going to happen.
What is going to end up happening is that if the Republican Party attempts a boondoggle like this again and doesn't come up with a solution that both lowers costs and increases coverage, and that's what everybody wants, it will continue to be their fault. There is no way that President Trump controlling these branches of government can blame Democrats for what is essentially a failure of Republicans to be prepared for seven years.
PAUL: We know Hillary Clinton tweeted yesterday talking about the Victory of 24 million, as she said, at risk for losing their health insurance. At the end she said, the fight isn't over yet. We'll have to push back on future bad ideas. Brian, to his point, to Jason's point, they can't go about tax reform the same way they went about this. How do they do it?
ROBINSON: Well, with tax reform, as was said earlier, it's easy to cut taxes. It's easy to it the 218 votes you need in the House there and to it over to the Senate. It's much harder to do tax reform if there's going to be a loser. That's what we're running into now. With repeal, no one seemed to worry about it before we knew there would be no loser because Obama would veto it. Now we would own any potential plan that came out and the consequences of it. And we're going to be judged on what we're doing on health care and on taxes in the midterm elections.
[10:25:02] So voters are not going to blame Democrats for what is happening in October of 2018. And that's how we need to approach this. Our voters have been promised health care reform. They've been promised tax cuts. They've been promised a dramatic reduction of the corporate tax which would allow businesses to bring jobs and capital back onto our shores. We have to deliver that.
PAUL: Jason, last word.
JOHNSON: Here's the thing. That hasn't happened, right? What we've seen since President Trump got in office is a rise in hate crimes, Muslim bans, you know, increasing the likelihood of cutting EPA support that you need in Republican senatorial districts. He hasn't been bringing jobs back. That's what people wanted. And until the Republican party actually fulfills the promises they made during campaign '18, Democrats have no reason to work with them. They can watch this circular firing squad and retake the House in 2018.
PAUL: Brian Robinson, Jason Johnson, thank you both so much.
BLACKWELL: The facial expressions during that segment were enough. If you watched it with the sound down, I think you understood what was going on.
All right, President Trump's plan to repeal Obamacare has failed. What kind of effect could it have on the rest of his term? Just ahead, why the president might want to rethink applying his business skills to getting bills through Congress.
PAUL: Also, without a new health care plan, will the GOP let the much-maligned act fail? Or will it take steps so that millions of people will be able to keep their insurance coverage?
[10:30:57] PAUL: It is so good to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.
"Let Obamacare explode," that's the directive from President Trump after the GOP's health care replacement plan died before they even called the vote on the floor.
PAUL: President Trump and the House Speaker Paul Ryan this morning now vowing to move on and tackle tax reform, but both concede the job of rewriting the tax code just got significantly tougher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: I will not sugarcoat this. This is a disappointing day for us. Doing big things is hard. Obamacare is the law of the land. It's going to remain the law of the land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: The blame game has already started. White house publicly pointing the finger at Democrats, not at Speaker Ryan, though. Trump telling reporters, quote, "I like Speaker Ryan. He worked very, very hard."
BLACKWELL: President Trump is about two-thirds now through the first 100 days of his administration. And the question now is, after the blistering failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, what is next for the White House?
Let's talk now about the reality of the first 100 days. Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian is with us, and on the phone, Mike Leavitt, former secretary of Health and Human Services. Good to have you both with us this morning.
Mr. Leavitt, I want to start with you. You were the HHS secretary for President George W. Bush's second term. You were there when he tried to re-launch or reform Social Security. And you'll remember, the president said these famous words. Let's play it. All right, if we don't have it, here is what he said. He said, quote,
"I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it." Well, he spent it trying to push through that Social Security reform and it failed. What is the impact of the new administration, coming in, spending that capital on something that fails? What's the impact?
MIKE LEAVITT, FORMER HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, I think there are many. I think Mr. Brinkley will validate, but there are many administrations who fail in their first attempts. I remember the Clinton administration took on a number of issues that they failed with initially. And it has an impact. It does.
I would, however, point out the fact that the obituary on health reform may be prematurely written here. That is to say, Trump and Ryan may well be just allowing the Freedom Caucus to marinate in the juices of their failure. There are a lot of opportunities over the course of the next six months where they can bring this up. And I think it's notable that Speaker Ryan did not allow the bill to fail. It still sits out there. And so those who believe that this is just gone away, I think may be premature.
BLACKWELL: Well, of course it gets more difficult to do as you get to the midterms and all of these members have to go back and run again. Let me come to you, Douglas. We heard from David Gergen just yesterday, something that is getting a lot of attention. He's worked for four presidents, Republicans and Democrats. Here is what he said about the president's first 100 days thus far.
OK, so we don't have that either. Here is what he said. Let's just play what he said. He said that these are apparently the worst 100 days of any presidency he's ever seen. He says, "I think when you add it up in totality," he said, "this was the work week of his presidency. I actually think this is the worst 100 days we've ever seen in a presidency." What do you make of that?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENT HISTORIAN: I agree with that, and he's been saying for the last week. Why? I think Donald Trump doesn't have control over his own party as you've just seen. There are really three factions. There's Trumpians, there are conservative Republicans, maybe the Freedom Caucus if you want to call them, and then there are establishment, more moderates. And in order to be successful, you have to own your party. Trump has been unable to do that, as we just saw.
But beyond that, the Michael Flynn problem, the very fact that he's under federal criminal investigation by the FBI for nefarious activities with Russia, I mean, all of this just casts a very dark cloud over the first 100 days. It doesn't mean he can't rebound from this. The big problem Donald Trump had was believing his own campaign. Jimmy Carter did that in 1976, which is "I'm an outsider, I'm going to drain Washington, I have nothing to do with D.C." And suddenly you're in the White House. The White House is in Washington, and you've got to make deals and you've got to negotiate, and hence Trump has come up empty-handed here. BLACKWELL: Douglas, let me stay with you for this question. We've
seen several times over the last, I guess 60 days, this president has not taken responsibility. Do we have that sound, guys? Tell me if we have it or don't, so we can move just past it. OK. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We were very close. It was a very, very tight margin. We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren't going to give us a single vote. So it's a very difficult thing to do.
That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on FOX. And so you shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to FOX.
My generals are the most respected that we've had in many decades, I believe, and they lost Ryan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: You heard that last comment in reference to the Yemen raid. This is not apparently a "the buck stops here" president, Douglas.
BRINKLEY: No. He's constantly looking to blame somebody else. In this case, however, he didn't really throw Ryan under the bus, but I can't believe Ryan's leadership is secure. I'm not imagining that a lot of these Republican Congressmen and women that are running for reelection want to be seen in photo ops with him. He lost. Donald Trump talks about winners and losers. Ryan lost. Maybe he can resurrect himself, but I think he is the one who ended up damaging his professional career the most by convincing Trump to go along with him on this.
BLACKWELL: Secretary Leavitt, finally to you, the last time that one party had control of the White House and both chambers of Congress was back in 2004 to 2006. You were in office there in the George W. Bush administration. Assess the players this time around. Apparently at least they seem to be more polarized than they were during that period. Would you agree with that?
LEAVITT: There's no question, and I think Douglas very clearly outlined the problem. There are three factions within the Republican Party. And this is the reason that Speaker Boehner left. It was the reason I think Paul Ryan was reluctant to accept the job. You'll recall he got the job at the insistence because he was the only one who could hold it together. And I think this demonstrates exactly why.
BLACKWELL: All right, Secretary Mike Leavitt, Douglas Brinkley, thank you both.
LEAVITT: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Christi? PAUL: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham holding a town hall in South
Carolina later today, the first time that he's going to address residents since the GOP health bill collapsed. Live update for your from the Palmetto state, next.
[10:42:26] PAUL: So what are people who wanted Obamacare to be repealed and replaced this morning saying? Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is going to find out. He's holding a town hall in South Carolina in about an hour and a half. It's the first time since the health care bill failed that people are going to have a chance to voice their concerns to him face-to-face.
He held a similar town hall in Clemson a few weeks ago. The climate could be a lot different this time around. CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval is live in Columbia. So help us understand what people may be saying there and what they're preparing for today.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you this, Christi. People want to hear more about just some of the latest attempts to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. So people want to hear more about, for example, that ongoing investigation into the Russian meddling in the election. They want to hear more about what they may get from their South Carolina senators who perhaps work on education here in this state.
But going back to that main topic, though, yesterday's developments in Washington, that is still heavy on the minds of individuals. We had an opportunity to speak to some of those folks here in downtown Columbia earlier this morning. Here is a bit of how they feel about yesterday's development in Washington. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't like the bill that was proposed, so I was glad. On the other hand, they need to do something to fix the existing system which they didn't do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like the Obamacare at all. I think that it was -- it was pushed through. And, you know, now Trump is trying to push through something, but at least he's honoring the other votes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are some things about it that might -- you know, could be better. But I think that's up to Congress. You know, that's up to Congress to work together to be -- to put aside the bipartisanship and everything and kind of work on how to improve it instead of just trying to repeal and replace it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Those are three separate opinions there that essentially give you a window or some insight into what some of the people here in South Carolina have to say. And much of that we expect to be covered during Lindsey Graham's town hall which should taking place in only a couple of hours. I had an opportunity to speak to a small handful of people who are
already here, already at the convention center waiting to make their way inside. And what's interesting here, Christi, is we have a really big batch and a mixed batch of opinions here. You have not only perhaps more moderate Republicans who tend to agree with many of Senator Graham's proposals and pitches. But at the same time you can also expect very conservative Republicans. And then of course on the other side of the aisle, yes, there are even some Democrats here as well would feel a bit uneasy about the South Carolina senator's pitch to essentially allow Obamacare to, in the senator's own words, "collapse and replace."
[10:45:10] There is concern about that. They hope that the senator will perhaps bring another solution to the table today. And as you mentioned a little while ago, the last time we heard from the senator on his home turf only a couple of weeks ago, things got very heated very quickly. So it will be interesting to see what happens today especially after yesterday's developments in Washington.
PAUL: I was going to say it was very dicey back then. We'll see how it is today, you're right. Polo Sandoval, we appreciate it. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.
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[10:51:30] BLACKWELL: The president is up and tweeting. "Obamacare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great health care plan for the people. Do not worry." All right, moving on.
PAUL: New details this morning on the London attacker that we have. We're learning that Khalid Masood made several visits to Saudi Arabia. He went on a pilgrimage in the Saudi Kingdom and even worked there as an English teacher.
BLACKWELL: But he was not on the radar of the security services, he did not have a criminal record. The police are investigating the British-born attacker and how he became radicalized. Of course the investigation comes after he killed four people and injured several others in this rampage earlier this week in the heart of London.
Ukraine's president calls it a Russian state terrorist act. Russian leaders called the accusation absurd and claim Ukraine is turning into a lawless state.
PAUL: By the way, another critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin is dead, gunned down on Thursday in broad daylight in Ukraine's capital city of Kiev. CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen joining us live from Moscow with details. So what do we know, Fred, about the status of the video that's coming out? We want you to walk us through it. But I do want to just give you all a heads up, some clear warning, because I don't want you to be too disturbed by it, but the images here are really hard to watch, Fred.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are hard to watch, some very graphic video. It's actually surveillance video of the assassination as it took place. You're absolutely right, Christi, it took place right in the heart of Ukraine's capital Kiev at a Hotel called the Premier Palace which really is right in the city's center.
What appears to be happening or what this video appears to show is Denis Voronenkov, that former Russian lawmaker who defected to Ukraine walking down the street with a bodyguard because he was already afraid for his life. A man comes from behind, first shoots Denis Voronenkov. The bodyguard then tries to intervene. He gets shot as well, was only lightly wounded. And then the attacker shoots Denis Voronenkov again several times before running off.
Now, we know that the bodyguard was able to get himself at least partially up and fire a couple of rounds at the attacker, killing the attacker. He later died in hospital. So as you said, certainly another critic of the Kremlin, of Vladimir Putin, who is dead this time in Kiev. The Ukrainian authorities, as you said, blaming the Russians. The Russians for their part saying that any sort of accusations are absurd. They say, look, this is just the beginning of the investigation and no one should be pointing fingers just yet, Christi.
PAUL: What is it about this victim, though, Fred, that would make him a target?
PLEITGEN: Well, he certainly was someone who was not liked by the Kremlin, was not liked by many politicians here in Russia. He was actually a member of parliament in Russia until not too long ago. He defected to Ukraine in 2016 and then became a big critic of the Kremlin, the intervention in Crimea, for instance, which of course was annexed by Russia. And he also said he had information about Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovych, who was also someone who was very close to Vladimir Putin, who had to flee the country in 2014.
There are also some who say he might have known things about what they say are Russian international financial dealings. So certainly didn't have a lot of friends here in Russia. At the end of it all, nevertheless, the Russians are still saying there has not really been an investigation just yet. They call these allegations absurd. And as you were mentioning before, they're saying Ukraine is turning into what they call a terrorist state that can't defend its own citizens, Christi.
[10:55:08] PAUL: Fred, what are the conversations that are being had there about Putin and British Prime Minister Theresa May and their recent meeting?
PLEITGEN: That's a very interesting question. And it's really one of the things that of course is being talked about a lot here in Russia, certainly one of the things that is on the agenda. But one of the things that's very important to the Russians is they really want to get back on the international stage. They want sanctions to be lifted. And that's certainly one of the things that was being said here in Russia in that past meeting.
PAUL: All righty, Fred Pleitgen, we so appreciate all the information. Thank you for walking us through it.
And thank you so much for spending some time with us this morning. We hope you make great memories today.
BLACKWELL: There's a lot more ahead in the next hour of CNN Newsroom including a look at what Republicans on the Hill will do next and what's on the agenda for the White House after the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. That's at the top of the hour with Fredericka Whitfield.