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GOP, White House Look For Big Health Care Win; Trump Slams 100- Day Milestone Despite His Own Contract. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired April 21, 2017 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to Pentagon right now and bring in Ryan Browne to join us with the details.

Ryan, what are you learning?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, John, you see, these Russian bombers, these two Tu-95, nuclear capable barrel bombers flew, as you said, about 700 nautical miles off the coast of Anchorage. Now, these flights remain in international air space, but they are a violation of what's called the Air Defense Identification Zone, and the U.S. tends to respond to that and escort these planes out of the area.

Now, again, this is the fourth in as many days. Previous to this, the last time Russian bombers approached the western coast of the U.S. was in 2015, so U.S. defense officials are seeing a major uptick. One defense official said there is no other way to look at this other than some kind of strategic messaging from Moscow.

So, again, this is definitely noteworthy. The U.S. military does these types of flights around Russia and other places, so these flights are common. But four in as many days is definitely a notable uptick.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you for the reporting. Bring us more as you have it. Again, we don't know at this time whether or not the U.S. Air Force scrambled any of their jets in response to this. Let's talk about it with David Rohde, our global affairs analyst and also national security investigations editor for Reuters.

You hear about this. You hear about buzzing warships, et cetera. Talk to us about why this matters and especially four times in four days.

DAVID ROHDE, NATIONAL SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS EDITOR, THOMSON REUTERS: It is unusual. Four times in four days is a signal. As the Pentagon official said, there's some messaging going on here and some signaling. So the question is, how does President Trump respond?

And to be fair, you know, this is why people questioned this constant talk during the campaign of, you know, we can be friends with Russia. You know, then the chemical attack happens in Syria, and there's actually a Russian role in covering it up. So this is a big challenge, I think, for his national security team. And how will Trump respond? Will it be a muted response or an

aggressive one? I don't think they'll be any military force or anything like that. It's just, what does he say? Does he tweet something, or does he make a statement?

BERMAN: And often, you hear from military officials, this happens, right? Russians buzz us. We buzz them.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: This happens. That doesn't make it not dangerous and that doesn't mean it isn't of consequence. And into the point that Ryan was making, that there's no other way to interpret this other than as a strategic message from Russia, what's the message?

ROHDE: That they are, you know, pushing back militarily. And they have buzzed American ships. There was one in the Atlantic -- this has happened over and over again. It's not just this one incident off of Alaska, so it will be very interesting. And this will be a test sort of, what does Mattis do? What does McMaster, you know, which fashion a way out of this crisis?

BERMAN: But is this a deliberate sort of in your face from Moscow after the condemnations that the Trump administration gave over Syria?

ROHDE: I think it is. And I don't understand it because, you know, we are much more militarily powerful, and no one wants a military conflict. But I don't quite know what they gain by doing this. It's not an accident.

HARLOW: What's Putin, like, goal is here? That's the question.

ROHDE: Yes. I mean, maybe for his domestic purposes, it shows Russia is strong, and he's, you know, standing up to the Americans. But I don't know where it gets him strategically.

HARLOW: Also, another big story this morning. An Egyptian-American, a charity worker, who has been in prison in Cairo for three years, released, who is home on U.S. soil, very grateful to the Trump administration for negotiating this release.

This comes after the meeting just a few weeks ago that the President had, President Trump, with President el-Sisi of Egypt, where he calls him fantastic. He didn't address, at all, human rights abuses in the country. I mean, this follows the Obama administration not allowing him el-Sisi at the White House, a very different policy.

The President was criticized by many for that. But now, David, I mean, look at this result that the previous administration was not able to achieve.

ROHDE: It's a success for the Trump administration. This should be lauded. This is an aid worker. She was helping children, and she was accused and held in jail for three years, instead, of trafficking in children. But what this shows is the problem with the Sisi government. There's

been widespread repression. There's a new video circulating of Egyptian soldiers killing supposedly insurgents. They staged that they were fighters but they actually executed them. So is the Trump administration pushing Sisi to improve his management of his own country and stop the repression?

BERMAN: It's a double-edged sword, isn't it? On the one hand, the Trump administration has given more recognition, more respect to the Sisi government than the Obama administration did. On the other hand, you know, he did get Aya Hijazi free, which is something the Obamas could not do.

ROHDE: True, but it's a gift. It's a gift from Sisi to Trump. It's one American being released. Will Egypt, which is not doing well in the Sinai -- ISIS is growing in the Sinai. Will Egypt change its approach to terrorism? It's the long-term question that matters.

HARLOW: It's a long game. So Tony Blinken who worked in the Obama administration in the State Department said this morning, quoted in "The Washington Post" as saying, "This could have a negative effect long-term."

Not obviously, it's incredible, for this family and for the American people to have this aid worker back, but that this could reinforce Sisi's crack down at home, empower him to think he can do more. Do you buy that assessment?

ROHDE: It might. Let's be fair to Trump. Maybe this is the beginning of a relationship, you know, that the two governments can work together now with this new president and Sisi. But they can't just drop it.

[09:05:06] They can't just say, great, we got this one American home. The administration needs to push for a long-term strategy to help Egypt stabilize economically and, again, fight ISIS more effectively.

BERMAN: There is an American home this morning who was imprisoned for years now, and that, in and of itself, is a good thing. David Rohde, thanks so much for being with us.

ROHDE: Thank you.

BERMAN: A lot going on this morning. It is the President's 92nd day in office, but who is counting? He is! A lot!

Just moments ago, he wrote, "No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, and it has been a lot, including Supreme Court, media will kill."

Now, you know, he is right. A hundred days, it's a ridiculous standard, totally arbitrary, senseless. Ninety on the other hand, 90 --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: The facts to back that up. The biggest number staring the President in the face this morning, though, is 216 because, this morning, the White House is applying new pressure on the House to find those 216-odd votes to get a repeal and replace of ObamaCare through.

The President says he has a deal that is getting better and better and really, really, really good. Those are his words. But do Republicans in Congress see it that way?

Joe Johns is at the White House for us. So do they?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, to be honest with you, this is very much a work in progress right now. Our sources on Capitol Hill tell us that the latest proposal that has been floated could bring in as many as 18 to 20 conservative votes that weren't there last time around. But they still have to go through the process of putting out legislative language.

We're told that could happen today. It could happen tomorrow. Also, there's supposed to be a conference call tomorrow. A lot for House Republicans to do.

Apparently, one of the big things causing heartburn is the question of getting rid of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act relating to pre-existing conditions. That apparently causes a big problem, especially for moderates.

Meanwhile, there is another concern. That's about passing some type of a spending bill that would keep the government running past April 28th. The current spending bill expires on midnight of the 28th.

The President of the United States, the Congress, have to do something or else there could be a partial government shut down. The President was asked to try to prioritize the big issues that are up in the air right now. Listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: OK. I want to get both. Are you shocked to hear that? And we're doing very well on health care. We'll see what happens, but this is a great bill. This is a great plan, and this will be great health care.

It's evolving. You know, there was never a give up. As far as keeping the government open, I think we want to keep the government open. Don't you agree? So, yes, I think we'll get both.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: The White House wants money for the President's border wall included in any such spending bill. Democrats say that's a nonstarter. And as far as the health care proposal goes, Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, has called it a moral monstrosity. Listen to her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Now, they say they're going to jam another health care bill next week. Let me just say they're in a lose-lose-lose situation. You can put lipstick on a sow and call her Monique, and she's still a pig. That's what this bill is, it's the same terrible bill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: So there is a lot to do, a short time to do it. And the President's 100 days run out just about the time there could be a government shut down if there's not a spending bill passed. Back to you, John and Poppy.

BERMAN: All right. Joe Johns at the White House. The question is, is this new push for health care overhaul, is it for real? What do Republicans on Capitol Hill say about it right now? CNN's M.J. Lee with us here.

M.J., you've been working your sources. Real or not real?

HARLOW: Yes.

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, you know, I'm tempted to call this health care 2.0, except we don't yet know exactly what is in this bill. So here's what we do know.

We know that the leaders of the Tuesday Group and the House Freedom Caucus -- so this is the members of the conservative wing and the moderate wing of the House -- they have been in discussions over the Easter recess. And they are trying to get to a deal that could bring on board some of the previous no members into the yes category.

Now, as of right now, we also know that the White House badly wants to get some sort of action on health care, especially before the President reaches his 100-day work. But the reality right now is that there is no legislative text, and nothing has been communicated, as far as we know, to the broader conference.

[09:09:58] HARLOW: Well, and what could be so different this time around? I mean, how are you going to do something dramatically different that isn't going to, you know, alienate one side or the other? I mean, that was the problem. If you're going to take away even more to please the Freedom Caucus, then you're just going to get more Tuesday Group members who don't want to sign it.

LEE: That's right. That is the pressing question. And we actually spoke to a member of the Freedom Caucus, Dave Brat, earlier today. And he was expressing a lot of confidence that, if this deal gets through, then most of the Freedom Caucus could be a yes. Let's actually listen to what he have to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. DAVE BRAT (R), VIRGINIA: That language is not that hard to come up with. It's just allows states to opt out in some of the regs to bring down price. And so those are two of the big pieces, a couple little pieces, on the regulatory framework, and then I think we can all get to yes.

And that's what the goal is. President Trump was very good in the negotiating process. He said yes, we said yes to him. And then somehow, something in the swamp said no and so we waited another couple weeks.

Vice President Pence came over, met with all of us. He had a great compromise. That's what we're working on right now, it's the text of what he said. And if that goes into play, we're all a yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: So that is one congressman who is sounding confident. But I can tell you, according to the folks that we've been speaking to in the last 48 hours or so, there is a lot of skepticism.

First of all, next week, the calendar is complicated because they have to deal with the government funding issue. And then this philosophical divide that you were talking about, Poppy. So if the White House does want a vote next week, they are going to have to win over a lot of skeptics first.

BERMAN: They don't come back until Tuesday. Then you have a question of, will be CBO score it?

LEE: Right.

BERMAN: And that will take another day or two. Then you have the question of scheduling a vote. I mean, it's really hard to figure out the math.

HARLOW: Try and find that by Saturday. By Saturday.

BERMAN: Yes, hard to do.

HARLOW: What Congressman Brat just said, opt out of some of the regs' little pieces. These aren't little pieces.

LEE: Right.

HARLOW: If they are talking about the community rating, what that would do is mean that insurance companies no longer have to insure all of us equally. That if I have a pre-existing condition, I'm going to have to pay possibly a whole lot more than you for my insurance, which essentially means, for some folks, they can't afford it. These aren't little things.

LEE: Right. And keep in mind that these members have been away on recess for two weeks now. They've been holding town halls where a lot of constituents have said, look, we know what is in this bill and we feel like, based on what we're hearing, that protections for people with pre-existing conditions might go away. So people are paying attention to the details and a lot of members are going to come back having heard those concerns from their constituents.

HARLOW: M.J. Lee, thank you. Nice to have you here.

We have a lot coming up this hour. We're talking to a member of that more moderate group of Republicans, that Tuesday Group that you just heard about. Does he think the ObamaCare repeal can actually be revived and get through?

Also, new development this morning. That deadly attack in Paris just days before the crucial election there. One candidate calling for the closure of all, what she calls, Islamist mosques in the country, just as President Trump, this morning, dips his toe and Twitter into French politics.

BERMAN: And going from on the run to in the courtroom. The 50-year- old teacher who kidnapped his 15-year-old student in court very, very shortly. We have some new details just in about how this national manhunt came to an end.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:17:18]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The White House turning up the heat on Congress or at least trying to in an effort to try to get an Obamacare repeal bill passed to the House by the president's 100-day mark. If you are counting, that is next week.

Joining us now to discuss, Illinois Republican Congressman Rodney Davis, who is a member of the so-called Tuesday Group, a group of more moderate Republicans in the House. It is nice to have you here. Are you directly involved in these conversations?

REPRESENTATIVE RODNEY DAVIS (R), TUESDAY GROUP MEMBER: Well, I speak for myself today, not the Tuesday Group. And, yes, I have spoken with folks in the White House, folks in our House leadership, and my colleagues about how do we make health care delivery system in this country better?

Yes, I have done that over the break along with meeting with many of my constituents and many who don't agree with where I stand on health care. But the bottom line is we have to do something to address the 60 million people in this country who don't have insurance or can't afford the coverage they have.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So what's the secret sauce here, Congressman? What's in this deal? The text isn't out yet so we haven't seen it. Maybe you can tell us.

DAVIS: I wish I knew what was in this so-called deal. I think we're still negotiating and talking about what plan is going to work to get the votes to pass the House. The Democrats have decided that they don't want to do anything. As a matter of fact, what they're telling those 60 million people, 20 percent of our population is that their status quo situation where they can't afford to use coverage or don't have coverage is OK. And that's wrong --

HARLOW: What they're also saying, Congressman, is according to the CBOs marking of the last bill, you know, more folks will remain insured under the current plan than under the last plan that you guys put forward. However, do you see the urgency that the White House sees to seemingly get this done at least through the House by the 100- day mark? If you have been engaged actively in these conversations over the break and you don't even know what the text is, why the rush?

DAVIS: Well, the rush isn't -- there is not necessarily a rush, but the bottom line is we ought to be able to come up with solutions that are going to work. We have the base text of the bill. It is working to make that better. And that's the same process that we use when we legislate any bill.

And that's something that we have been able to accomplish as a majority in writing the initial bill. But we ran into problems and we know we've got to make it better, and that's what we're doing, trying to work together as a team to make it better.

I would hope that the Democrats would want to work with us to address many problems that even former President Bill Clinton put forth a few short months ago in regards to the current health care system under the Affordable Care Act.

BERMAN: Congressman, you know, calling me a little bit skeptical here, though. You know, there have been reports of a break through between the Tuesday Group and the Freedom Caucus yesterday.

[09:20:04]But if you don't what's in the deal and you've been talking to the White House and other members of Congress, is there really a deal? Is there anything actual tangible here, or is this just a lot of hope?

DAVIS: Well, there is always a lot of hope and there is always a lot of discussions, but a deal is when we actually pass the bill.

BERMAN: A deal is when you put something on paper. I'm just curious if there's actually -- if you have agreed on compromises yet or if that's still in the future.

DAVIS: There is a lot of things we talked about even before we left for the Easter district work period to go get more ideas from our constituents. We talked about things and areas where we could find common ground and a lot of those discussions have been ongoing.

So when we see different proposals come out and we talk to each other about other ideas, those are the things that we're going to put together in this and our effort to bring this to a very fruitful solution hopefully in the next week.

HARLOW: All right. So you've been home talking to your constituents, are the folks in Illinois, you know, the taxpayers that pay your salaries willing to live with a deal where states have the option to opt out of this community rating, meaning that folks with pre-existing conditions could be charged a whole lot more by insurance companies to get coverage? Are they willing to live with that? Can you live with that if that is in this new draft?

DAVIS: That's a complete misconstruing of the discussion that we have been having and what's been reported.

HARLOW: But Congressman, it's not. I mean, those are the facts.

DAVIS: No, it is.

HARLOW: You allowed states to opt out of this, then in turn companies can indeed charge folks with pre-existing conditions more. I'm not saying they will. I'm saying that can happen.

DAVIS: See, what we're not discussing is under the current plan states have options to go for waivers for many provisions under the Affordable Care Act and many states have. What we're saying with this last reported issue that we have addressed is there still would be a federal requirement on EHBs and essential health benefits.

I am not going to be for a plan that's going to allow for pre-existing conditions to not be covered. Waivers can be requested, but that doesn't mean they're going to be and they are very limited in this discussion.

And if that becomes the discussion point, the key thing we lose sight over the fact that we are talking about covering pre-existing conditions. Our plan covers those who want to remain on their parents insurance until age 26.

Our plan does not discriminate against those who have had a disease they didn't ask for like my wife had 18 years ago and implementing taxes. We stopped that.

These are the things that didn't work in the previous health care delivery system before the Affordable Care Act. Now we're fixing them, too.

BERMAN: OK. We'll have to see what's in the bill before we could decide whether it's covered or not. We'll take your report now. There's no text so we don't know for sure. Can I ask you one other thing?

You've got until next Saturday to pass a spending bill or else the government could shut down. The White House is asking that funding for the border wall be included in this bill. Are you willing to shut down the government perhaps to get border funding in?

DAVIS: I'm not privy to any of those discussions. I would say I don't see an appetite to have a government shutdown. I was part of Congress during the last government shutdown. It was very frustrating to somebody like me who went to Washington to govern.

I would hope that the Democrats would want to come to the table and help us avoid this shutdown rather than doing what they're doing on the health care debate, which is sitting on their hands and it is adversely affecting 60 million people in our country right now under the health care system they decided to defend. BERMAN: For the border wall, if that's a sticking point, you don't think it's worth having in there if it means they are inching closer to a shutdown?

DAVIS: You know, I don't think there is any appetite for a shutdown. We will see what proposals are out there and they will be able to debate those proposals and see where they go.

BERMAN: OK, Congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it, sir.

DAVIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Now, you heard it here earlier, the president slammed the first 100-day standard. He called it ridiculous. But again just days ago he was touting his own success at 90 days and then of course, there was the 100-day plan that he touted to make America great again. So is this the great 100-day flip-flop? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:28:41]

HARLOW: This morning we're inching closer to the 100-day mark of the Trump presidency that is just eight days away. Two big goals for this administration comes through with wins on health care and of course, funding the government and of course, tax reforms.

BERMAN: That's right. Joining us now, Chris Cilizza, CNN Politics reporter and editor-at-large, Jackie Kucinich, CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," and Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor at Spectrum News.

All right, let me give you another dramatic reading of the tweet from President Donald Trump on the issue of the first 100 days. He said, "No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days and it has been a lot, including the Supreme Court, media will kill."

The ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, now, Chris Cilizza, I'm old enough to remember during the transitioning campaign where Donald Trump had the contract with the American voter for the first 100 days, the 100-day action plan.

I'm old enough to remember what was it like, Tuesday, when he was bragging about how much he'd accomplished in 90 days. So he didn't invent the 100-day standard, but he certainly embraced it now and now's calling it ridiculous.

CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: And by the way, John, the media didn't invent the 100-day standard either. FDR did, coming out of the great depression, he had put a big emphasis on getting a ton done in the first 100 days to try to rebuild optimism and momentum in the country.

Look, type in Gettysburg speech, Donald Trump into the internet, you will find the speech in October in which Donald Trump says that the election coming up the following month, November 2016, is a referendum on whether people --