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Trump Administration Asks for $1 Billion for Border Wall; Ryan Speaks Out on Health Care Bill; CNN On Ground in Devastated Mosul. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 28, 2017 - 11:30   ET




[11:34:144] SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The Trump administration is requesting additional DHS funding to build a border wall and hire a deportation force. Instead of spending taxpayer dollars on a pointless wall, we should be investing in creating jobs and fixing our infrastructure, not in separating American families, harming kids, and local economies, who are without workers who work so hard. And I've heard from small business leaders who are worried that they won't have the workers they need, which gets our economy growing.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That was Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, right there. He was responding to President Trump's ask, the Trump administration's ask for $1 billion to cover the first installment of the border wall between the United States and Mexico. That would cover some 62 miles, and also some replacement fencing in San Diego and the Rio Grande Valley.

For more on this, senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin.

Drew, you've been all over this. You've been digging much deeper into the border wall and the administration's plans and the cost and the reality of it. What does this really mean right now?

[11:35:23] DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it means that Customs and Border Protection wants to start building a wall, really right now, Kate. This is money they want immediately to start getting this wall, this promised wall, built. But it's a lot of money for a little bit of wall. And we can show you, according to the documents we've obtained, Customs and Border Protection says they need 14 miles of replacement fencing in the San Diego sector, another 14 miles of new wall in the San Diego sector. That's mostly land that the federal government already loans. But in Texas, which you already had up on the screen, they want 28 miles of a new levee wall system, so that's a combination of a levee wall and border protection, and also six new miles of more border wall in that Texas region.

Really, this is low-hanging fruit. This is obviously places where Customs and Border Protection says it really needs this kind of wall. But it's pretty darn expensive when we calculate this out. This comes out to roughly $16 million per mile extrapolate that out and you're surpassing all the estimates that we've seen for the 2,000-mile wall. By our calculations, now if you would do this kind of wall everywhere, it would be up in the $32 to $41 billion range. So, it is a lot of money, and obviously, this is the first down payment on President Trump's campaign promise.

BOLDUAN: And already it might become a huge political fight on Capitol Hill. Chuck Schumer saying that if they ask for it, it might lead to a government shutdown, I think.

GRIFFIN: Yeah, well, I mean, there's no doubt about it, that Democrats don't want to spend any money on this wall. Obviously, Mexico is not paying for this portion of the wall.


GRIFFIN: I don't know if they'll pay for anything else. But also, behind the scenes, Kate, there's a lot of security officials saying we don't need these walls. At most, we need fences, fences we can see through. And in many parts of this border, we don't need a wall at all because of the terrain and the other things that we already have -- predator drones, sensor testing, other kind of surveillance activity -- that wouldn't require a wall.

So, there's going to be a lot of fight over the wall, and especially over the money to pay for it when we see these huge figures.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, that price tag is definitely something that's going to get a lot of attention.

Drew, thank you so much.

We're going to also have more on our breaking news coming up. Anger and frustration is how it was described inside the first meeting of the House Republicans since the health care bill failed. Now there is word this issue isn't going away so quickly. Details next.


[11:42:13] BOLDUAN: House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking moments after the first meeting of House Republicans since the failure of the Republican health care bill. He said this. Listen.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We all want to make it easier for families to pay the bills and take care of their loved ones. We all want a system in health care where everybody can have access to affordable coverage. We have more choice and competition. We don't want a government-run health care system. We all agree on these things.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: They're all on the same page now, and it's not going anywhere. That issue is not going away, says House Speaker Paul Ryan. What changed from Friday?

The panel with me now, CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston, is back with me. And CNN political commentators, Kayleigh McEnany and Symone Sanders, are joining us as well.

To refresh our memories of what we heard Friday and a little bit after that, Mark, Donald Trump, "I think we have to let Obamacare go its way for a while." Paul Ryan, "Obamacare is the law of the land. It's going to remain the law of the land." Greg Walden, who helped write of the bill, "This bill is done, the bill is dead, we are going to focus on other issues at this point."

That is not what we heard coming out of this first meeting, this first huddle of House Republicans. What's changed?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: So, one of two things. One is they heard from their constituents who said you ran on this issue for seven years, and Donald Trump really had this as one of the legs in his three-legged stool or four-legged stool of what he was going to get accomplished in the first 100 days. It was either constituents, or frankly, Republicans had a "coming to Jesus moment" and said, you know what, we just can't abandon Obamacare. We can't talk about it failing. We need to do something, because "A," it's the right thing to do, and "B," they have to run for re-election in 2018.

BOLDUAN: And "C," we have the majority of the House, the Senate, and we have the White House.


BOLDUAN: Kayleigh, this is a change from overnight. Yeah, overnight, because even yesterday they were saying they weren't going to be talking about it anymore. Do you think this is a better strategy? Because what we were hearing is, next up, tax reform. Next up, infrastructure.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this is a better strategy. Look, this is what the president ran on. He also ran on tax reform. He also ran on jobs and immigration. But Obamacare is something that motivated the formation of the Tea Party that motivated these conservatives to stand up. So, to abandon it full force and say, look, hey, we didn't get it passed, so now I'm giving up entirely, it's an unpalatable solution and one that will not win any of these Republicans re-election. This was a hard loss on Friday, but it was a temporary glip, and I love that they're back at the drawing board and trying to come up with something.

BOLDUAN: Back to the drawing board, Symone, but what do they come up with? Because they spent time crafting this bill. Paul Ryan came out and said this is the best bill that we have. This is it. It's a binary choice. It's this way or no way at all.

Do you think the failure from Friday to now has changed any of the political calculus for Democrats to get on board with Republicans on a health care repeal?

[11:45:04] SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely not. Look, I said this on Friday when it failed, Republicans are literally in charge of Washington right now, and they cannot seem to get anything done. So, I don't think there's any incentive for Democrats to jump in the fray and essentially save Republicans on this issue. I think that if they want to come back to the drawing board with a plan that builds on the enormous success of the affordable health care act, aka, Obamacare, maybe some Democrats would be willing to listen and come to the table, but the fact of the matter is, that bill on Friday was an extreme, extreme bill that did real damage to not just Democratic constituents, but Republican constituents, people, voters across the spectrum, and that is something that the American people, Democrat, Republican or independent, just aren't going to stand for. So, this does have real implications for 2018, and I don't see how they come out of this clean.

BOLDUAN: Well, and one of the big questions I have right now is, where is the Freedom Caucus on this? Obviously, they were the conservative group that was kind of the linchpin that many Republicans blamed for the failure. The president himself even kind of tweeting that and blaming them. Deirdre Wall, speaking to one Republican coming out of this meeting this morning, said that folks in the Freedom Caucus are probably feeling a lot of heat right now. Feeling a lot of heat is something I think in covering Congress, the Freedom Caucus has felt many times.


BOLDUAN: But they don't often change off their position. Do you think the Freedom Caucus has changed what they believe in where this health care bill should be headed in the last 24-48 hours?

PRESTON: No, absolutely not, because they've already won on where they are in their position, so perhaps we could see this bill move a little bit more to the right or more to their liking. Let me just add one more thing that I think might have happened, potentially, is that you talk about infrastructure funding, you talk about tax reform, two incredibly hard things to do. To go back to health care, try to recraft this bill and then try to bring Democrats in, and then if it doesn't go through, then to try to blame Democrats is probably a better political move than to try to go and try to get an infrastructure bill through that's going to cost an incredible amount of money that will be near difficult, if not impossible, to get done. And we all know that tax reform is such a gigantic thing to do that it probably wouldn't happen.

BOLDUAN: If your conference is saying we're not done talking about health care, I don't care if you are, House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan needs House Republicans to work with him to get infrastructure and tax reform through, so you've got to listen to the conference in some way.

Symone, last question to you. We're talking about two other issues, that the last we had heard from the White House and everyone else, they're moving on to. There are reports this morning that they were not only moving on to look at infrastructure and tax reform, but they were talking about tackling both of the items at the same time. Two complications issues to tackle in Congress. If you bundle complicated issues, does it make it any easier?

SANDERS: No, it doesn't. This just means that the White House absolutely has no clue about what they're doing. One, if they think they're going to get infrastructure through and they couldn't even get the Freedom Caucus on board for health care -- infrastructure costs a lot of lot of money. The Freedom Caucus doesn't want to spend any money, so what makes you think they're going to vote for an infrastructure bill? I think that the White House -- look, they're not asking me, but if they were, I would suggest that they slow it down and they actually get a real plan in place. Democrats, on the other hand, they also have to have some plans in place. We just cannot be against everything that the Republicans are doing and point fingers here. We have to bring something to our constituents to the table. And people in the states, people across the country, they would like to see results. I don't think tax reform and infrastructure is going to get done. The people want health care. They like their Affordable Health Care Act. They like Obamacare. They need to build on that success, and I think that's what we need to get done.

BOLDUAN: Wait until tomorrow. Maybe we'll get a new direction of where the focus is in the House and Senate at the moment.

Guys, thank you. We'll watch this throughout the day.

We're also keeping a very close eye overseas. CNN is on the ground in Iraq as the U.S. investigates the deaths of potentially dozens of civilians. Is a coalition air strike to blame? See what we found on the ground.

We'll be right back.


[11:52:59] BOLDUAN: We have new video just in where the scene of dozens of civilians were reported killed in Mosul. And now the U.S. is investigating whether coalition air strikes were responsible. At least 112 bodies have been recovered. That's the latest reporting.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, went into Mosul near the neighborhood devastated by this strike.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The instruction here in western Mosul appears to be significantly more vast and widespread than it was in the eastern side. You also see that there are a lot of these really narrow alleyways that wind deeper into the neighborhoods. That's one of the challenges that the security forces are facing.

You barely see any civilians, but you see how the areas and how bustling the areas would have been. Part of the challenge when it comes to trying to protect the civilian population is that, even though the Iraqi government did encourage people to stay put in their homes, even if they wanted to leave, they wouldn't have been able to because ISIS would not allow them to leave these neighborhoods. ISIS was holding everyone that lived across this entire city as human shields.


DAMON: He's saying that ISIS, as the forces were coming through, began to decrease its presence. So this family felt that they could stay.


DAMON: That's the other reason why they couldn't go, obviously, because it was very difficult for them to try to flee.

The day before this area was liberated, ISIS took her husband away.


DAMON: They had no food left and he went out to buy food to try to get them some food, and ISIS took him away.

She's still here because she's waiting for her husband who's the little girl's uncle to come back. Now she's just hoping that, somehow, he's going to return home.

The people here are trying to get information as to which route may or may not be safe, and where there are possible sniper positions. The sounds of battle are still all around.

And just in being in this one small part of western Mosul --


DAMON: -- one begins to get a little bit of appreciation for the intensity of the battle, just how terrifying it must have been for those civilians that were stuck amid this, and just how massive the task of eventually rebuilding this city is going to be.


[11:55:41] BOLDUAN: Amazing.

Arwa Damon is joining me now from Irbil, Iraq.

Arwa, what is your biggest takeaway from being back in there on the ground?

DAMON: It is just how densely populated these areas are, how brutal and vicious that warfare is. There are no rules. ISIS is holding families as human shields. The Iraqis are trying to advance. Air strikes, no matter how precise, can quite possibly cause secondary explosions, cause other buildings to collapse.

Plus, in the vast majority of cases there are families that are hiding inside these buildings that ISIS is using as fighting positions, which puts the Iraqi security forces as they move forward in a very difficult position. They are really going to have to engage, as they're now saying they're going to, in a lot more House-to-House combat if they're going to try to clear these ISIS fighters out. Even that will potentially have its toll on the civilian population. In fact, according to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, between the dates that are under investigation both by the U.S. and Iraqis, the 17th of March to the 22nd, some 22 civilians, so far -- sorry, some 300, more than 300 so far are believed to have been killed.

So you really get the sense that after everything the population has been through, under ISIS for two and a half years, and now really there is no way for a family to know how to keep itself safe.

BOLDUAN: Unbelievable in seeing their faces when you meet those families in western Mosul.

Arwa, thanks for bringing us the story. Thank you.

We'll be right back in a moment.


[12:00:01] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thanks, Kate.

And welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

President Trump takes aim today at a major Obama administration climate change initiative, rolling back an executive order on greenhouse gas emissions that the new president's EPA chief says --